CZ Minutes: Diversification

The past week has seen CCP announce another game set in New Eden – Gunjack. The question for the CZ staff this week is a simple one – should CCP continue to attempt to diversify their portfolio and avoid putting all their eggs in one basket by producing different titles on different platforms aimed at different audiences or should lessons have been learned from the mistakes made with World of Darkness and Dust 514? Have at it folks… Apoth: A (hopefully) cheap to produce project out of the Shanghai office to tap into the cool new mobile VR market which is easy to get into and will hopefully net a good profit while introducing a much wider spectrum of people to the EVE Online universe and thus potentially other games in that universe as well is all good in my book. Niden: As far as investments and risk-taking go, this isn’t a big one. I agree with Apoth’s view on it. Something instantly accessible as just a pick-up game could potentially work if it’s designed well. I mean some of the greatest successes in gaming history have been just simple games for everyone, like Angry Birds. It’s not a hardcore gamer’s game, it’s just easy entertainment for anyone. Therein might lie the contradiction however; getting into VR even just on the Samsung platform requires an investment by the player. It might be easy to get into by VR standards, but it’s no Angry Birds. Maybe it could be a new Wipeout – a game that was based on simple principles, but done so well and with such good taste for game mechanics that it was a success for over a decade in the console world. Mayrin: I think Gunjack is pretty cool. I love the idea of teams hacking on and testing prototypes to find the ideas that make for a fun game. However, I wouldn’t say I’m excited for Gunjack. Despite its shortcomings, Dust 514 has mechanics that connect it directly to the greater EVE universe. As a standalone product, Gunjack is similar to the 2000s-era lore articles, and in a new and excited medium. It provides a slice of the non-capsuleer universe and promotes the rest of CCP’s products. For EVE players like us, more hype means more individuals playing. That leads to content for all of us. But if CCP really wants to get me excited about a VR product set in the EVE Universe, it needs some active and deeper connection to the game I already invest my time into. MukkBarovian: When I first saw it I wondered how VR and the old arcade space shooters with enemies that fly set patterns in formation would work together. The realism of the VR may jive badly with the arcade enemies. On the other hand this game looks like a lot of fun. Tarek: I haven’t been super interested in arcade-style shooters since back in the days when I was a kid and you still had those in actual arcades. I really liked the look and feel of this one though. Nice voiceovers, gritty atmosphere and the great EVE ship designs help to make it something special. I really liked the moment when the Abaddon warps in. Just like in the Valkyrie trailer and gameplay demo it is amazing to get a feeling for the immense size of those ships. They look truly intimidating from such a perspective. Who knows, maybe that will attract some people to EVE. It could work negatively though when people come from an action-based game like this to a much more strategy-based one like EVE. Time will tell. For the rest, well good for CCP if they make money on this. Relying too much on one game is a precarious business model. Not even Blizzard does that despite owning the MMO with the most mass appeal. eve_gunjack_title_official Neville Smit: I tried an early version of Gunjack at Fanfest, and loved it. I agree with Niden that it’s not going to be the next Angry Birds, though – it’s too much of a niche product. That doesn’t mean that CCP should not try to diversify their portfolio – of course they should, if the cost-reward ratio is attractive enough. That’s just good business. However, I think they’ve learned their lesson about straying too far away from their EVE Universe base of intellectual property. The more they can tie new titles into EVE and leverage that content, the more cross-promotional potential they create. I can see people trying Gunjack who don’t know anything about EVE, and then wanting to give it a try on their PC. Similarly, I suspect we may see some new player influx from Valkyrie. (The reason we didn’t see that from DUST 514 was because console players and PC players are rarely the same animal. Now, Project Legion, running on PCs – I think that would succeed, if CCP ever releases it.) Forays into additional EVE-related titles could be extremely valuable if CCP found new ways to incorporate lessons learned from them back into EVE Online. After sampling Gunjack, I wondered how CCP might add some of that kind of gameplay into EVE. This can’t be like the hacking container spew mechanic, which was thankfully removed – that was simply annoying. Mini-games with real action, like in Gunjack, would be much more fun. Imagine what a “walking in stations” avatar-based feature could be like if you switched to your virtual reality headset after you docked, and you became the avatar? Now, that would be a completely unique gaming experience – it would give “EVE is Real” a whole new meaning. Hey, CCP: if you’re not working on it already, develop a VR version of Mind Clash, set inside EVE Online, and blow us all away. General Stargazer: When i first saw this announcement the first thought that went through my head i will admit was “Oh no, please release one of your games in development first before doing another..”. I just didn’t want to see something else being announced then falling by the wayside because the development wasn’t there. Not to mention the fact that the major CCP offices around the world have dedicated operations teams – Manchester for Valkyrie, Shanghai for Dust and Iceland for Eve, so where was this going to fit in? I know they have offices in San Francisco and Atlanta but thought they were relatively inactive now? – which developers are going to be working on it and not “the other” projects or are they bringing in new people? That being said, i know CCP are pushing to be world leaders in VR games, which is a fantastic thing, but the gamble at the moment is waiting for the world to get the peripherals. A lot of my concerns about development however dissapeared when i saw a video from Rocket Beans TV that had interviewed CCP (Jean-Charles Gaudechon (EP For Dust) and Andrew Williams (Lead Designer for Valkyrie)) at Gamescon in Germany ( In it they are asked “So whens it finished?” (Time index: 29:40) we are given the response “we are talking weeks to get it done and released, so probably the next few months it’ll be out and on the Oculus Store” which suggests to me that its development is done and they are just polishing. So, my only concern now is them just marketing it in a sensible way (maybe a one off low cost ?), because lets be honest, its not something that just eve players will be interested in – its a “missile defence” style game, that originally came out on the Atari in 1980, brought up to VR level and themed for spaceships. Tarek: its a ‘missile defence’ style game, that originally came out on the Atari in 1980, brought up to VR level and themed for spaceships.” Nothing wrong with that I’d say. Those old arcade games were amazingly exhilarating and addictive. Many of us who play complex FPS games or even something weird as EVE today learned the ropes of computer gaming and in-game controls from games like that. If VR is supposed to be a thing it also needs games with a high replay value that are simple yet a good teaching tool for that sort of gaming environment. I was also concerned about the exact thing General Stargazer is touching upon. Why are they starting something new before their other products are finished again? This time, however, it sounds like they just churned Gunjack out of some Valkyrie alpha engine, and then it can be the ideal gateway-drug/learning-path to the much more complex Valkyrie and then, maybe, eventually the plunge into the deep flooded cavern system that is EVE. I hope they don’t fumble it. CCP lost quite some credit with the broader gaming community because of the WoD debacle. They can ill afford another one.  
Tags: cz minutes, Gunjack

About the author

Xander Phoena

The good looking, funny, intelligent member of the team, Xander set up Crossing Zebras with Jeg in April 2012 mainly because he was talking too much about Eve on his other podcast. Playing the game for almost five years, Xander still has absolutely zero clue about how to actually play Eve but somehow still manages to talk a good game.