Don’t despair thinking that the entire EVE universe is collapsing into a single title just yet; the black hole theory has yet to be proven, and CCP’s virtual reality offshoots are still flying. In fact, Gunjack 2: End of Shift just made the jump to a new platform, announcing its arrival on Samsung Gear VR this week.
The virtual reality shooter, which puts the player inside a capital ship gun turret to blast EVE universe ships, now is available for $9 for Gear VR players. It’s also still available through Google Play.
Fly — and shoot — on, CCP!
The trouble with seeing VR images on a non-VR screen is, well, they don’t really carry the same sort of impact. The new OrbusVR trailer is full of stuff that probably looks a fair bit more technically impressive on a VR headset, after all. But it’s still a good trailer, and if you already have a headset kicking around (and possibly collecting dust), this might be the motivation you need to put it on and try the game out for early access.
Fortunately, the trailer isn’t just limited to beating things up; it shows off the game’s combat, but also things like pet ownership, gathering, exploration, and social gatherings along the way. You can watch the whole thing just below, even if you have no interest in VR for yourself but want to see what the first game made specifically for it looks like in action.
The production schedule for OrbusVR is speeding right along, and the game is just about ready to head into early access. For a given value of “just about,” anyhow; November is still going to be all about the closed beta starting on November 15th. But when that ends on December 8th, players can mark their calendars for the early access head start on December 13th, and from that point on the game is playing for keeps.
Yes, really; the game’s early access period will feature no more wipes or rollbacks, whether you’re part of the headstart or have to start on the general early access period on December 15th. That’s also when fans will be able to gift the game to others, incidentally. So if you’re excited for the game but don’t like playing MMOs when you know there will be progress wipes, get ready to dive in with a will in mid-December.
Good news, EVE Online
is pretty happy with how the game’s Alpha clone system has worked out, all things considered. In fact, the studio is so happy with how it’s worked out that it’s giving Alpha clones a wider array of options in the game
, starting with a new set of skills that these free players can train. No more faction restrictions, battlecruisers and battleships are now available, and both small and medium Tech II weapons will all be added to the Alpha training repertoire. So everyone get get in on the big space battles.
Those big space battles will be taking place in plain old two-dimensional displays, of course, as the developer recently shut down its VR division (and apparently gutted EVE’s community team – we’ll have a detailed report on that soon). This prompted several developers to chime in and assert that the VR game industry isn’t dead, although the cutting loose of CCP’s heavy investment in the field certainly doesn’t indicate a robust installed base or healthy growth. The developers chiming in do admit that it’s not a field in which there’s lots of money to be made at the moment, although all things considered that alone doesn’t seem to have made the decision for CCP.
Icelandic business website mbl.is has just reported that EVE Online developer CCP Games is planning to close two of its offices and cease all VR game development. The move affects over 100 staff worldwide, with the Atlanta office in the United States being closed and the Newcastle studio being sold off. The Newcastle office was the development house responsible for the VR dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie, which released as a bundled launch title for the Oculus Rift and has since been released on PlayStation VR and as a non-VR PC title.
The move will see CCP pull out of the VR market for the time being, focusing instead on PC and mobile development. The studio secured a $30 million US investment specifically for VR games back in 2015, and CEO Hilmar Pétursson revealed back in March of this year that the company had only recently broken even on that investment. Despite having some success with Valkyrie, Gunjack, and its recently released VR sports title Sparc, CCP acknowledged the limited opportunities and growth it sees in VR as a platform over the next several years.
Rob Pardo is no longer with Blizzard, but he can still count World of Warcraft‘s success as a big feather in his cap. So it seems natural that after a recent speech at View Conference in Italy someone would ask him when we could expect VR to start hosting MMOs in the future. Pardo isn’t enthusiastic, at least in the short term; he stated that we’re a long way off from seeing VR tech supporting a full-fledged MMO experience.
I just think it’s going to be a really long time until we see something as complex as an MMORPG in VR. But one day, I’m sure one day we’ll see the Holodeck – I just don’t think it’s any time soon.
He elaborated by explaining that for such a title to really work, you need the technology to be fair lighter and more accessible, advanced to the point where it’s not going to make people sick, and also develop input devices that really work well for navigating an MMO within that space. And all of those hurdles come before you start designing a fun game. It’s an interesting point of view to consider, especially when we’ve already got a VR MMO on the way.
It might seem a little early in OrbusVR’s life cycle to be super invested in the endgame, but the release of the game’s third closed beta on Friday marks a shift in its development pattern. The game is no longer just about making things work, but about letting people know what the game is all about. So it’s probably for the best that the game is talking about its endgame content like the Wild Zones, dangerous areas with deadly beasts, powerful crafting items, and limited open PvP (you can’t loot items like equipped gear, and you’ll be marked as a bandit for attacking unprovoked, but you can steal crafting items).
Not your sort of endgame? That’s fine; the game also has endgame dungeons to drop powerful gear, so you can avoid that PvP if you’d rather. There’s the basic Tradua Mines dungeon to explore, and beyond that you can collect Essence Shards to turn even leveling dungeons into more powerful challenges that will force you to fight your way through. So you have a few options for what sort of endgame you wish to explore.
CCP Games’ annual EVE Vegas event kicks off in less than a week on October 6th, and once again MassivelyOP will be on the ground to get the latest on the future of EVE Online, EVE: Valkyrie, Sparc, and more. This year’s event is shaping up to be the biggest one yet, having sold out weeks in advance despite moving to a larger venue in The Linq Hotel and Casino. EVE Vegas is the largest community event for players in North America and serves almost as a mini-Fanfest for those who may not be able to make it to Iceland.
While the event is mostly a social gathering and an excuse to get drunk, it will also give CCP an opportunity to get critical feedback ahead of EVE Online‘s Lifeblood expansion on October 24th. We’ll hear more about the upcoming Resource Wars dynamic PvE gameplay, get an update on the development roadmap for EVE, and see a variety of player talks and presentations. We’ve also been told to expect some cool surprises this year, and we may get an opportunity to follow up on the recent record-breaking heist and betrayal that happened in-game.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at what we can expect from next week’s EVE Vegas 2017. If you have any questions you’d like me to ask players or developers, post them in the comments!
Welcome… to Jurassic Park!
What, that’s not this thing? Oh, sorry, our bad. Welcome… to ARK Park! At least it rhymes!
The virtual reality off-shoot of the immensely popular ARK: Survival Evolved is coming later this year. In a new teaser trailer, players can witness the tranquil delights of a dino-themed park, reject it, and then start shooting up the place. It’s all we know how to do, now that video games have raised us to be mindless killing machines.
“In teams of up to four, players enter the wild to collect resources and dinosaur genes, which they can later use to unlock blueprint to forge items,” Studio Wildcard said in a press release. “You would also have the options to raise newborn dinos to mountable full-grown adults. In a special story mode that caters only to hardcore fans, players need to protect the humankind from raging dinosaurs with weapons of their choice.”
It’s a well-known maxim in gaming circles that younger players have more time but lack disposable income while older players have the money but find themselves short on that “free time” angle. It may come as no surprise then that this spectrum extends to interest and investment in virtual reality.
Superdata published a survey — in helpful infographic form — that shows the relation of gamers’ age to their willingness to dive into VR and their ability to spend money on it. The younger set have a 74% rate of interest in the platform, but this drops to 54% by the time you get to middle-aged gamers. However, the advent of jobs in a person’s life seems to help with spending, as older gamers are willing to spend up to $47 more than their younger counterparts on VR.
The sweet spot here are 18 to 35-year-olds, of whom two-thirds are interested in VR and willing to drop $277 on such devices. It’s not mind-blowing, but it is interesting as we continue to push into this new age of technology and gaming. You can check out the full chart after the break.
A couple of weeks ago, we ran a story on ARK Park that included the image above, which just cracked me up. I mean, I get that VR games have an extra challenge when it comes to how they’re going to display your inventory in a believable and immersive way, but I was figuring that would manifest as a bag you can virtually rifle through, or store shelves at the merchant. I didn’t figure on a 3-D view on a panel within your field of view — it seems like a step backward for immersion.
That got me thinking about what I want out of MMO inventories in general. I’m playing Guild Wars 2 right now, and I have to say that the basic inventory right out of the box with even just a few option tweaks is one of the best in the genre, full stop, thanks to good color coding, a wallet, sorting bags, a “one bag” feature, the automatic compact option, and above all else, that “deposit all materials” clicky. I have to use several mods in top-end MMOs like World of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls Online to get my character inventory to this level, and even then this is just slicker. And that’s before I get to the shared bank and crafting — for me, the ability to craft without hauling crap out of my bank or bag is the number one thing I look for when it comes to MMO inventories (and I’m so glad to see it becoming more and more common!).
How about you? What’s the most important feature of MMO inventory systems?
MOP reader Sally recently pointed us to a series of articles on virtual reality and augmented reality tech that when taken together make for an interesting discussion on two terms most laypeople seem to use interchangeably.
- In January following this year’s CES, Yahoo tech columnist David Pogue rolled his eyes at “gushing” over VR and argued that augmented reality was far more interesting.
- In April, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg gave a speech suggesting that the future of VR is bright but that the equipment was a hindrance to socializing — that augmented reality, with transparent glasses, is the future.
- Electronic Arts said basically the same exact thing just four days ago — that VR is still years away from mass-market consumers but that the company is focusing on AR in the shorter term.
- And finally AltspaceVR, a startup that was offering a social VR chat aimed at businesses, is closing up shop, having run out of funding. Its userbase was only 35,000 people monthly, and it’s not even the only VR company to close down this year.
I have to say that I see much more utility and promise in a Shadowrun-like tech future of augmented glasses than in cumbersome game devices, but am I wrong — and are the money men wrong? Is our future in virtual reality or augmented reality?
If you’ve been longing for the chance to play an MMO in VR but haven’t yet been in the closed alpha for OrbusVR, the good news is that you’ll get your chance on Friday. The game’s closed alpha attracted roughly 450 people to test out the game, and it’s moving into open alpha on July 28th. Anyone who registers a free account on the game’s website will be able to step in and play.
Assuming you have a VR headset to handle the game, of course. So maybe not everyone will be there.
If you’ve got your headset and a burning desire to see what the game has on offer in this stage of development, there’s a helpful guide available for getting the game downloaded and installed while first exploring. Players who like what they see are encourage to shell out for the full version, of course, but it’s by no means a requirement if you want to see what the hype is about.