hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

How CCP made a virtual reality spaceship dogfighting sim

1:00 PM on 05.17.2013 // Joseph Leray

EVR changes EVRything

EVR opens with a pilot in the cockpit of a small ship, docked in a cramped launching tube. After a short countdown, the ship is fired out like a bottle rocket, the compact hangar giving way to the sheer expanse of space, littered with fragments of asteroids, a scuttled Minmatar Tempest gunship, and the remains of an ancient cathedral.

It’s one thing to move a character or a ship through a three-dimensional space, but it’s another to strap on a virtual reality headset and be able to look left and right into infinity, to look down and see a set of hands clutching a flight stick.

I imagine being launched from the Battlestar Galactica in a Viper would feel like the first thirty seconds of EVR.

It’s not long before my screen starts flashing red, my cue to start swearing at no one in particular: some red-shipped scumbag is tracking me with a salvo of missiles. I swivel my head over each shoulder, curse some more, and then glance overhead, the space around me filled with friends and foes, neon lasers, and space debris, but no incoming rockets.

I wait a few more beats and then accelerate, hoping to outrun whoever and whatever is chasing me. It works, and I live to go on a warpath of my own: I pick off three or four red enemy ships before my luck runs out.

After my EVR demo, on my way out of the press room, I run into a man named Nate Mitchell. He’s the vice president of product at Oculus VR, the company that Kickstarted the virtual reality headset that EVR uses. He asks me if I liked the demo, and I say yes.

“The Oculus isn’t even out yet, and they’re already making stuff like this,” he gushed. “Can you even imagine?”

Andy Robinson is an artist at CCP Games who works on EVE Online. By his own admission, he doesn’t get many chances to talk to the media -- that’s for lead designers and executive producers. But when he sat down at a table full of journalists to chat about EVR, I was more than happy to listen. Put plainly: EVR is a prototype of a virtual reality spaceship dogfighting game built for the Oculus Rift that uses some assets from EVE Online.

It was built by a group of nine developers and artists in accordance with what CCP calls “the 20% rule”: free time during normal working hours that can be used on personal projects and cool ideas. CCP actually contributed to Oculus’ wildly-successful Kickstarter and had dev kits on hand. Robinson explains that keeping all sorts of hardware around the offices is simply part of CCP’s culture and that their Reykjavik offices are full of things to tinker and experiment with.

The project started as a neat proof-of-concept, but as more and more CCP devs got involved -- and as they realized how fun it was -- the team made a hard push to have a three-minute demo ready for Fanfest 2013. The entire project took seven weeks of nights, weekends, and 20% time, and the result is a thrilling look at what could be in store for virtual reality-enabled videogames.

Robinson estimates that 85% of the game's art was made from scratch. EVE Online’s ships didn’t scale well enough to be used with EVR’s depth of field, and there weren’t any existing assets for the cockpit or launch tube.

There’s no denying that part of the thrill of EVR is the simple act of flying through space, of watching it open around, above, below, and behind you. During early playtests, people had to be taught to look around with the Oculus Rift headset, which Robinson called “being deprogrammed.”

More than that, though, EVR’s real hook -- and the great thing about virtual reality in general -- is that it manages to handle lots of complexity with a small number of elegant, simple controls. Not only do the ships travel at a fixed speed, but the camera and missile-guidance mechanics are both controlled by moving Oculus Rift headset.

The end result is a full-scale, first-person, virtual reality dogfighting game that only uses three buttons: two triggers to fire lasers and missiles, and one joystick to steer -- piloting a ship in genuine virtual reality is less complicated than playing Call of Duty.

The goal for EVR was to re-create the feel and atmosphere of EVE Online and “subvert it, open it up to a new style of play,” explains Robinson. EVE Online executive producer Jon Lander agrees: “We wanted to expand what’s going on in the EVE universe.”

In that sense, it’s possible to contextualize a project like EVR alongside Dust 514: projects designed to drill down to the more granular aspects of the EVE Online universe, to explore the small cogs that turn EVE’s vast economies and war machines.

Unlike Dust, which was formally released earlier this week, CCP’s official stance seems to be that EVR is doomed to be a one-off experiment, a curio for Fanfest 2013 attendees to reminisce over. There are “no current plans to take it any further,” Robinson says.

For those interested in playing EVR at some point in the future, however, there remains hope: in 2005, an in-house team developed an atmospheric flight prototype that allowed players to pilot down to the surface of New Eden’s numerous planets. The idea was never really incorporated into EVE Online, but it became the basis of the dropships in Dust 514. EVR may have a similar fate.

Nate Mitchell was also on hand during the final Fanfest keynote to sing EVR’s praises. He called it the first true multiplayer virtual reality game while Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP, mused that maybe “something will come of it.”  

“No matter what happens, the guys working on this are going to continue,” Robinson told me with a hint of defiance. “This is a passion for us. Given time, we can make this much, much better.”



Joseph Leray, Former Features Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Joseph Leray is a long-time features contributor, reviewer, and (self-styled) editor-at-large for Destructoid. He lives in Nashville with a menagerie of pets and a Final Fantasy IX obsession. more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Forgot to mention that I celebrated completing Persona 4: Golden by binging on a bunch of totally in-canon doujins. Including, but not limited to, Yu on genderswap't Yosuke. [img]http://i.imgur.com/Ex0MgjW.jpg[/img]
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
If you love Splatoon and Transformers you may want to check theyetee.com today. http://theyetee.com/ Let's just say the shirts are... Splatfest themed. [img]https://www.filepicker.io/api/file/j2AnOnQvRZqustSU45JP[/img]
Zack Furniss avatarZack Furniss
BREAKING: Dtoid is at the IGN Lara Croft Go party. You can hold live snakes because why the fuck not, but one snake is missing...
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
someone help i think i'm writing what is going to be my longest blog yet
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
[url="http://nintendoeverything.com/yacht-club-on-the-shovel-knight-amiibos-origins-nintendo-on-third-party-figures/#more-216265"]Interview with Yacht Club Games that miiiight basically confirm Shovel Knight isn't getting a Nintendo boss/level?[/url]
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Spent most of my day going back and playing Assassin's Creed: Unity. I really quite enjoyed it. It's a good game.
Bardley avatarBardley
Reserved my copy of The Phantom Pain today and my car died on the way back home. Thanks Konami. On the plus side, I got to ride in a tow truck to the auto shop. Felt like an elementary school field trip or something for a few minutes.
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Humble Bundle End of Summer Sale! Get a free Stealth Inc. 2 maybe? I dunno. Just signal boosting for no particular reason. Maybe 'cause I got a free game? Least I could do. https://www.humblebundle.com/store
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
I gotta to admit: it feels nice to be able to play a Pokemon game without thinking to myself "oh shit, I got to fill up my Pokedex". It's nice. Oh yeah, and for the record, I'm playing through Soul Silver.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I enter the Gamestop. I set a Toad plushie atop a Yoshi plushie. I set Mario to go down on Kirby. I leave the Gamestop.
gajknight avatargajknight
Niero, just killed a man, Put my dick inside his head, cummed my load and now he's dead. Niero, we had just begun, But now I've gone and thrown it all awayyyyyy. Nierooooooo, ooooooooh.
guitarvillain avatarguitarvillain
That thought sends shivers down my spine.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Lacking recording/social features aside (I actually do love that aspect of the PS4), I've been really enjoying my Xbone. Sunset Overdrive is like Saints Row meets Tony Hawk and lovingly self-aware.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Wait, wasn't that Pokemon Detective Pikachu game supposed to come out this year?
sakesushi avatarsakesushi
Humble Bundle End of Summer Sale! They're doing it wrong though, putting up [url="https://www.humblebundle.com/store"]Stealth Inc. 2 for free[/url]
Snaveage avatarSnaveage
Just cleared out a whole village fultoning every single guard. I AM BIG BOSS.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Metal Gear Solid - Marriage - Revengeance [youtube]https://youtu.be/YN470wKT9PM[/youtube]
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
Divinity: Original Sin 2 stretch goal lets you be a spooky skeleton. This is what I have dreamed of.
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
Going on the record saying a Borderlands movie is a terrible idea.
Tubatic avatarTubatic
Watching Free To Play. I kinda want to try DOTA2, though I'll be very bad at it. Its a very good story of pro-gamer culture, so far. Good Stuff.
more quickposts


Contest!


destructoid's previous coverage:
EVR


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!



Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -