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EVE Fanfest 2016 - Understanding the Purpose of Project Nova

Previews By Gareth Harmer on April 24, 2016

EVE Fanfest 2016 - Understanding the Purpose of Project Nova

MMORPG.com: There’s almost a glut of shooters at the moment. Overwatch, Battleborn, Paragon. How are you hoping to find a unique space or nice for Project Nova?

Arnason: All of these are 6v6 MOBA-inspired games. All of them are $60 franchises, AAA quality, pay-to-play games. If we can deliver a similar game, a solid offering in the free-to-play market, that’s one thing. But the distinction is still, there’s a flavour of the month happening in the cartoon-fantasy era of shooters. Team Fortress 2 has owned that for a long, long time. Overwatch is coming, like Blizzard does, to take over existing markets with a great game, like they usually do. You can see Lawbreakers – that’s a 6v6, and you can see Battleborn; these are $60 games, and we’re just not competing with them.

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No-one is offering 16v16 tactical team-based gameplay, in sci-fi especially. Right now, our inspiration isn’t necessarily our competitors. You have Planetside 2, which is last generation, no offence. It’s been going strong for a long time, but it’s not the new guy. You have Warframe, similar to some of the things that we’re doing, but a third-person co-op PvE game. You have Destiny, a massive success, at least from a gameplay perspective – I have no idea about the business – that’s blending all kinds of things. It’s the first MMO shooter in some sense. I would be most concerned about a Destiny PC version – that would be the most overlapping game that I could see. But still, for PvP, it’s casually competitive, it’s gear and loot-based, and it’s 6v6.

MMORPG.com: How much are you planning on pulling on the EVE universe? Not just having bullets, but lasers, rockets, little mini drones, and so on?

Arnason: As much as humanly possible. It’s something that has always inspired me to have that universe to draw upon, and I’m investing a lot of time personally to getting it right. Last week (I came [to FanFest] a week early), I’ve had meetings with the Reykjavik art team, I’ve had meetings with the lore team here. I really want to nail the explanation for clone technology and cloning.

If you’ve played Bloodborne or a Dark Souls game, they have this way of peaking your interest with these loading screens. They put some some strange artefact and you read about it, maybe three sentences, or a quotation, and that’s cool. Maybe you want to discover something about it or you saw something that may not even be relevant – an obscurity to you. I’d like to incorporate way more of those things to random loading screens. Nothing you need, just to deepen your immersion.

On the art side, we have a lot of concept art, we have a lot of spec sheets for the right colours of each faction - like the RGB value of Amarr Gold – we have these things in a big bible of art, so those things should all be translated into the game to get that feeling of immersion. I want you, if you deploy into a ship, to know within seconds if it’s a Caldari, Amarr or Minmatar ship. I want you to understand that.

MMORPG.com: On top that, how much are you planning to incorporate player social structures?

Arnason: I want to connect into EVE thematically at first, just like a Star Wars novel. The next step is social, with having the same character structure. That’s already working in Dust 514, so we’d just want to emulate that so you can belong to the same corporations and alliances.

The second would be to take that social structure, and let you own land or districts, just like you had planetary conquests in Dust. That’s a feature that we want to carry over and improve if we can, but at least have that persistent ownership of something.

The next step for me is an economic link between the two games. And every time I say that, to players at least, they kind of jump to conclusions. ‘So, ISK is going to be running freely through…?’ No, it’s not going to happen. It’s never going to happen. It’s too complicated, the return on investment is not worth it. It may be interesting to write about in The Guardian or something, but it’s really not interesting to a player.

If you have a district, maybe you can harvest something from that. There’s no value to you as a Dust player, there’s only value to an EVE player. If an EVE player wants you to own a district just to get that, you have true interaction, a true reason to collaborate. The use of that, it doesn’t matter to me. I’ve talked to Andie [Nordgren, EVE Online Senior Producer] about that before. It could be a sidegrade, it could be a cosmetic item, it could be a construct in EVE you can see, it doesn’t have to be anything really. It’s just a fact that someone wants it, and someone else can give it to you.

Then we can talk about gameplay. Orbital bombardments, to me, was a selling point. It really didn’t matter, except to very few people. It’s not something I can sell to a new player: ‘One day you’ll be able to do this!’, because there’s no way I can guarantee that. I want to find the gameplay that is actionable to a new player, at least.

MMORPG.com: When will we know that you’ve reached the next step?

Arnason: I think we have to pass our internal gates, and then we can really say what the future of the project is. I’d expect some form of communications when that happens, and I’d say during the summer we might say something about what happened.

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Gareth Harmer / When he's not blasting or fireballing his way through a virtual world, Gareth "Gazimoff" Harmer can be found dissecting the mechanics of online games. Chua at heart, he's also our resident columnist for all things WildStar.