Gamasutra recently spoke to producer Thomas Farrer of Shanghai-based CCP Asia's Dust 514, its PlayStation Network shooter which operates on the same servers as the Reykjavik-based mothership's MMO EVE Online. The two games are fundamentally joined, and players of one game will have a meaningful effect on the players of the other.
"We're not looking at innovating at all the kind of typical areas that you see. We're looking at the way you connect to the world that you're playing in, and the way that you connect to the communities and people that you're playing with," Farrer told Gamasutra.
But there's another side of that story. Since the shooter hooks so fundamentally into the MMO, a conversation with someone on the MMO side was also important to understand the scale of the company's vision for the shard universe.
To that end, Gamasutra also spoke to Torfi Frans Olafsson, EVE Online's creative director, about these plans. What follows is an interview about how the seeds of these ambitions were planted before the company even began.
"We think the shooter market is ready for this. People want to do this," Olafsson told Gamasutra. To find out why, read on.
I find the link between the two games fascinating because, as far as I'm aware of, nobody's really doing anything like it.
Torfi Frans Olafsson: No.
From this point forward, you have to make design decisions in tandem, ultimately.
TFO: Well, some of the things.
Obviously, not for everything.
TFO: Yeah. That's been really exciting. It's been a challenge as well. We have teams working at either office, working on connecting the game and aligning the connection. There's been a lot of flights back and forth to Shanghai. We have really good video conferencing equipment and a lot of meetings and so on.
But in the end, I think we pretty much have the same... We know the design principles of CCP really well, which rely heavily on emergent empowerment of the users, basically trusting the player and being somewhat fearless in your designs, throwing things out and just being ready to react. And not putting people on rails is a huge thing for us. We get hugely annoyed when we're on rails in other games. So, it's going really well.
The fact that you can patch EVE as much as you want. That's not something you're going to run into with the PS3. There's going to be cert. So, does that scare you?
TFO: It's a client. We run the server, so while it's difficult to patch the client, it's much easier to make minor adjustments and tweaks to the server. And also if you're simply changing the balancing, that can be done like overnight. That can be done without changing any client code.
We have a lot of experience in this. We have been running EVE since 2003, so there's been a lot of improvement on that end. We have a lot of experience in changing the engine of the formula one car while it's still driving.
That's true. It's just that the console space is a new space, which has a lot of significant differences.
TFO: We just think it's exciting. We think it's great, like it's a challenge, and we're learning something new. But we also brought along a lot of really hardened console veterans onto our team. So it's not all news to us, even though the old CCP, like the original EVE development team, we are learning new things.