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Team Avatar and the future of our prototype

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Author
CCP Bayesian
#1 - 2012-10-09 12:08:08 UTC
Back at the end of February CCP t0rfifrans announced Team Avatar and that one of our priorities was prototyping, specifically to:

"...create playable gameplay prototypes of gameplay features and try them out within the team, and within the company... The purpose of all this prototyping is to make sure we provide a strong vision for avatar gameplay, have a good demonstrable idea of why it is engaging and better understand the technology we will need to create in order to make it a reality."

The prototype itself has been finished and has been presented internally to the company stakeholders, the CSM and finally to the company as a whole. The feedback from that was overwhelmingly positive. So on to the information!

Extra-Vehicular Activity, Wrecks and Exploration

There has been an idea kicking around CCP for a long time now about an ideal starting point for avatar gameplay. That is exploring hazardous environments in order to get awesome stuff. Think scanning down a site before entering it in order to find and salvage artifacts, technology and other goodies. Sounds straightforward and it would be but for the dangerous nature of delving into long lost places where time has taken its toll on the structure and the previous owners may not have left things in a benign state. In true EVE style throw in the added dangers of lurking competition and things have a chance to go south fast. The inspiration for this comes from a lot of different places, back to the original Aliens films, Event Horizon, the cleanup of Chernobyl, high-altitude mountaineering, games such as Space Hulk, Minecraft and Moonbase Alpha, to name just a few.

Over three months we concentrated on the minute by minute gameplay of actually being inside a long abandoned structure, the hazards that it would contain and how the players might deal with them and any uninvited guests. We used the Unity engine which is a great game engine for prototyping in as it lets us create environments and gameplay very, very fast and iterate on it equally quickly. A lot of our art is much more abstract (a "grey box") than you’d see in a final game. This is due to us concentrating on the gameplay first and foremost whilst also recognizing that ambience plays an important role in how a game feels. We do throw in the occasional EVE asset here and there for flavor but those are not descriptive of any final theming or style.

The gameplay premise is simple, players move through our abandoned structures with their fitted Extra-Vehicular Activity suit, using their wits, tools and teammates to deal with the hazardous environment. Some of us are enthusiastically and maliciously killing teammates for personal gain. We’ve even allowed two teams into the environment to really let all hell break loose.

It’s a part of the EVE Universe

There have been a lot of questions on the forums about how this integrates with EVE. Whilst this isn’t the core focus for us at the moment it is something we are thinking about long and hard. Like DUST514, this part of EVE should contribute to the overall economy as well as supporting its own ecosystem. Right now we’re thinking that these abandoned structures are so dangerous, radioactive and toxic, that they can only be entered with special suits. Obviously with access to clones you aren’t worried about radiation and long term health effects of hazardous lifestyles. You probably all smoke and eat lots of bacon as well and besides robots won’t survive the violent EM fields. Robot electronics would toast, thus only teams using gear that involves crude electronics, like found in EM resistant military hardware can go in and recover the technology that lies within.
One example of a link with EVE gameplay we’re thinking of would be to put implant manufacture into the hands of players and making avatar gameplay part of the resource gathering chain it has. We want to make Avatar gameplay a viable and vibrant part of the Universe without forcing anyone that doesn’t want to use it from having to use it.

A benefit from the EVA game is that a lot of the technology that would need to be developed to properly deliver the EVA experience would be directly useful in providing social areas and tools in stations.

That just sounds like one idea...

We decided to concentrate in depth on the one idea that has kept resurfacing from lots of different places within the company. We’ve had several others and collected a lot both internally and from the forums. One example would be a Station based espionage system. The beauty of the EVE Universe is that these ideas aren’t mutually exclusive for the most part. So whilst I think we are fairly sure of the initial gameplay direction there is lots of scope for expansion.

EVE Software Engineer Team Space Glitter

CCP Unifex
C C P
C C P Alliance
#2 - 2012-10-09 12:08:19 UTC
It has been fantastic to see the Avatar team show everyone that there is meaningful gameplay using more than just your ship as your agent in the EVE Universe. The prototyping work they have done in Unity has allowed them to rapidly explore different themes and make a game which is challenging, fun and in the true spirit of EVE.

At CCP we are now making sure that when great gameplay concepts such as these come along, we take time to assess what would be required to take them out of the concept phase, into our engine, through pre-production and into production. We must also consider how it interacts with everything else we are doing both within EVE and CCP as a whole. One of the great achievements of this piece of work is that it has really proved it is possible to rapidly iterate on new experiences without having to make a huge investment up front.

Once this prototype was demoed and I had played it (being beaten by CCP Explorer and team in the process), then came the next part. Working out what would be needed to put this concept into the game for real. The team worked together to put a pre-production and production plan together using what they had learned over the previous months and also the lessons learned from the Incarna efforts from last year.

The result of that planning highlighted that right now, we do not have the time or people to build this without impacting what we can deliver for our players who are flying in space. To create this will mean a considerable investment which will take time to put together and also a new focus for us just at a time when we as a company have another new game coming into the EVE Universe (yes DUST 514, I’m looking at you).

So, all that being said, we have a great concept to expand the EVE Universe but now is not the right time for us to take that step. It’s a step I very much want to take but I want to take it when it won’t mean removing developers and focus from flying in space. So, for the time being, watch this space with regards to exploration gameplay for EVE avatars. The Avatar team will now be turning its attention to features it can put out for EVE in our winter expansion and beyond.

Executive Producer

Adoro
Caldari Provisions
Caldari State
#3 - 2012-10-09 12:10:52 UTC
An avatar used to be a little picture everybody ignored with the occasional "dude your face". I still treat it that way...
James Amril-Kesh
Viziam
Amarr Empire
#4 - 2012-10-09 12:10:56 UTC
EVA, eh? That's actually not such a bad idea for avatar based gameplay.

Enjoying the rain today? ;)

Jonah Gravenstein
Machiavellian Space Bastards
#5 - 2012-10-09 12:13:58 UTC
Yay Team Avatar makes a comeback Big smile, would it be possible to have an official dev blog and a sneak peek at what you've been working on? I know that there was one in the works a while back but it never materialised Cry

In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.

New Player FAQ

Feyd's Survival Pack

Alice Saki
Nocturnal Romance
Cynosural Field Theory.
#6 - 2012-10-09 12:14:44 UTC
TATTOO'S :D

FREEZE! Drop the LIKES AND WALK AWAY! - Currenly rebuilding gaming machine, I will Return.

Thor Kerrigan
The High and Mighty
Carebear Abortion Clinic
#7 - 2012-10-09 12:18:57 UTC  |  Edited by: Thor Kerrigan
Guns... or clubs? And Strip-clubs!
CCP Bayesian
#8 - 2012-10-09 12:22:17 UTC
Jonah Gravenstein wrote:
Yay Team Avatar makes a comeback Big smile, would it be possible to have an official dev blog and a sneak peek at what you've been working on? I know that there was one in the works a while back but it never materialised Cry


This forum posted is an edited version of that devblog and sorry the video won't be coming out. We should be doing another roundtable at fanfest though.

EVE Software Engineer Team Space Glitter

Jonah Gravenstein
Machiavellian Space Bastards
#9 - 2012-10-09 12:24:44 UTC
CCP Bayesian wrote:


This forum posted is an edited version of that devblog and sorry the video won't be coming out. We should be doing another roundtable at fanfest though.


Bugger Sad, was worth a try though P

In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.

New Player FAQ

Feyd's Survival Pack

Bubanni
Corus Aerospace
Corus Conglomerate
#10 - 2012-10-09 12:30:43 UTC  |  Edited by: Bubanni
sounds cool... but don't focus too much energy on it... you still need to fix much more in space also... I would rather have you develope this slowly, while fixing in space faster than having you rush this stuff out

(as response to unifex)

Supercap nerf - change ewar immunity https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=194759 Module activation delay! https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=1180934

Pak Narhoo
Splinter Foundation
#11 - 2012-10-09 12:31:46 UTC
Good to see CCP is focusing its talents and not smearing them out over lord knows how many projects.


Sounds great tough! Big smile Meaningful avatar play.

Don't forget to use one of those bars you see/saw floating in some missions to put those in use as well, when ever you get to allocate the sources needed for this. When ever I ran into those I always thought of 'Porky's in space'. P
Anslo
Scope Works
#12 - 2012-10-09 12:32:32 UTC
So does this mean you're unlocking our doors this winter and ungrounding us?

[center]-_For the Proveldtariat_/-[/center]

Destination SkillQueue
Doomheim
#13 - 2012-10-09 12:33:25 UTC
Anslo wrote:
So does this mean you're unlocking our doors this winter and ungrounding us?


No.
Pak Narhoo
Splinter Foundation
#14 - 2012-10-09 12:36:01 UTC
Anslo wrote:
So does this mean you're unlocking our doors this winter and ungrounding us?


Shocked How in himmelsname did you get to that?
Heian Galanodel
The Thalanide Crew
#15 - 2012-10-09 12:36:29 UTC
Looking forward to it! I can wait. Patience. Waiting.

/me looks at his wristwatch.

Waiting.

/me taps foot.

/me looks up and sees people.

/me smiles and waves.

"An acorn that is unafraid to destroy itself in growing into a tree."

-David Zindell, The Broken God (1992)-

Anslo
Scope Works
#16 - 2012-10-09 12:38:56 UTC
Pak Narhoo wrote:
Anslo wrote:
So does this mean you're unlocking our doors this winter and ungrounding us?


Shocked How in himmelsname did you get to that?


Well the door needs unlocked to go get the EVA suit?....I just want non-spaceshippy sci fi gameplay sprinkled with the spaceship gameplay. This isn't supposed to be space ship only. Eve set out to be the world's largest and greatest SCIENCE FICTION SIMULATOR, not just a spaceship simulator.

[center]-_For the Proveldtariat_/-[/center]

Benny Ohu
Chaotic Tranquility
Snuffed Out
#17 - 2012-10-09 12:43:36 UTC
Clearly we need total darkness, a suit flashlight that stops working, an infrared camera and rogue drones that don't show up on an infrared camera

and magnetoboots, these are essential
Anslo
Scope Works
#18 - 2012-10-09 12:48:19 UTC
Benny Ohu wrote:
Clearly we need total darkness, a suit flashlight that stops working, an infrared camera and rogue drones that don't show up on an infrared camera

and magnetoboots, these are essential


I'd rather see those

*SPOILERS*

zombie caretaker things the architects left behind that attacked the first Amarrians to explore inside a Sleeper facility

*SPOILERS*

than any rogue drone.

[center]-_For the Proveldtariat_/-[/center]

Destination SkillQueue
Doomheim
#19 - 2012-10-09 12:50:10 UTC
Benny Ohu wrote:
Clearly we need total darkness, a suit flashlight that stops working, an infrared camera and rogue drones that don't show up on an infrared camera

and magnetoboots, these are essential


Well it would be kind of disappointing to enter an abandoned radiation filled space station, that is too hazardous for complex electronics to work, only to find out that all the lights and artificial gravity are working without problems.
Alice Saki
Nocturnal Romance
Cynosural Field Theory.
#20 - 2012-10-09 12:51:08 UTC
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee


(Zero Gravity)

:P

FREEZE! Drop the LIKES AND WALK AWAY! - Currenly rebuilding gaming machine, I will Return.

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