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Incarna opens up the possibility of selling people virtual goods. They could be superficial or non-relevant from a pure gameplay perspective, but people can still enjoy them.
NW: So, one of the things we’re trying to have is really "realistic" or "lifelike", I don't know exactly... but the avatars feel real, and when you look at a scene, it just feels like something out of a movie. I really, really don't want to have quest givers standing there with a big exclamation above their head. I want it to just look like this really cool sci-fi dark setting, and everybody fits in.
Hellgate: London had these towns, and there were just quest givers all around. I was like, "They're just standing there. They don't even look like they fit into their thing at all. My immersion is just ruined." So, I don't want to have that sort of thing happen, and part of making the realism, making the illusion work, is gaze attraction and how the various avatars respond to their environment.
Something we've been talking about a whole bunch -- we haven't made it yet, but this is something we really want to do -- is have metadata on all the characters so, for instance, if a big alliance leader walks into the room, everybody goes, "Oh, that's that guy," and you can just see the scene change, and that sort of thing.
And maybe he's wearing some interesting clothing, you know. And it actually has an effect on the world in some sort of way that makes them feel... And this is an intrinsic sort of motivation, you know. This is like the relatedness...
The way it would be, say, if like Bill Gates walked into the room or something. Everyone would turn and look.
NW: Yeah. Exactly. Everyone would turn and look and maybe "Oh, that’s... Ooh, can you believe it? Wow. Hey, it's him!" So, we want that sort of thing. See, this helps the relatedness of the newer players, too.
It would be interesting for us if he walked in the room just as much as Bill Gates would be like, "Here I am in the room, and people are looking at me and I'm this rich guy," but he's probably used to it by now. But if you were like, just sitting at some bar, the most famous person in EVE walks in, that's a cool thing for everybody, especially if the scene makes it feel like it actually fit together.
And it would communicate to the new players that there's somewhere to go also, you know what I mean? It's not just atmosphere; it's also information.
They'd say, "Look, this is like an achievable thing within the context of this game," right? That's kind of interesting.
NW: Yeah. Who knows how it's going to pan out? [laughs]
I'm really curious about this, but maybe I don't know if you're the person to ask. The thing that I find really fascinating about Dust is the way it's intended to play into EVE. That sounds really innovative but also scary.
NW: Yeah, it is scary. [laughs] I mean, I don't know, I don't think we should delve too much into Dust because we haven't really been talking about it much, but yeah, as the lead game designer of EVE, I'm very protective of the EVE players.
My whole goal when designing the EVE side of the link to Dust is, I want it to be something that the EVE players want in their game. It has to feel like this makes sense, and just basically, you know, "I fly a battleship, but of course there's marines on the ground, and of course if I would want to attack this installation, I would pay marines to do it, and they would just run and do it." And who cares if they're on a console or another PC somewhere? This is just the fighting that happens.
But, yeah, it's a challenge, but we're having a lot of wins lately in getting this link. I mean, we showed it off at last Fanfest, and I suppose we'll show something else off at the next coming Fanfest and have, like, whatever the next stage is, and how it is.
Yeah, it's cool. We've got a couple test kits around the office in Reykjavik, and we're able to play. Not that we're necessarily developing it, but we can hop in, run around, and shoot at stuff. It's mostly just vertical slices of various stuff. You wouldn't show it off to people, but it's definitely interesting times.
It seems like between that and sort of the stuff with Incarna, you're broadening the scope of what EVE represents. You're saying like to your users, "Look, EVE has had a very obviously robust gameplay system that's been very attractive to tens of thousands of people, but we're expanding their universe to include new perspectives."
NW: Yeah, for sure. I mean, that's our journey from being the ultimate space trading MMO to being like the ultimate sci-fi simulator. A while back, when somebody took Star Wars and Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica and Babylon 5 and put the EVE logo up next to it and said like, you know, "We want EVE to be one of these sci-fi household names at some point in the future that people just go, 'Yeah, EVE. That's that thing that has all this stuff in it.'"
Just like a lot of people know about The Force and Wookiees and things like that. You, know, same with people know about the guys with red shirts in Star Trek die. Eventually some day we want people to know little tidbits about EVE, and they don't necessarily play it, but some day we want that to be... And people to play it on a PS3 and a PC and on iPhone and just, you know, everywhere, a sort of pervasive thing.
The complicated thing to do is to do it with the intelligence and thoughtfulness that you're already known for. If you wanted to make bad Resident Evil-style movies, I'm sure you could.
NW: Yeah, yeah.
I'm sure you've been approached, right?
NW: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
But you don't because that's not the foundation of your success.
NW: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. And we're like... I think we would do ourselves a disservice if we would do that. So, Star Wars is big enough that they can come out with crappy video game after crappy video game, and it's really not going to hurt...
Most Star Wars computer games, or games on consoles and stuff, are pretty bad. There's only a few Star Wars games that you can name that you can say were even good games. X-Wing, maybe, is one of them. But I don't think we could just come out with a whole bunch of bad EVE stuff, because we're not big enough yet to do that. But, I mean, at least we're getting in a stage where EVE trailers are played before Tron. I mean, that's a step in the right direction.