Update: This interview was originally published at the end of October and is being re-published since Project Nova has been delayed, and potentially, re-designed.
At EVE Fanfest earlier this year in Reykjavik, Iceland - where CCP Games HQ resides - we caught up with CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson to discuss a game we've been inquiring about for years, Project Nova.
Project Nova is a standalone first-person shooter with co-op and PvP elements set within the EVE Online universe. It builds off the Project Legion prototype that was playable two years priort at EVE Fanfest 2016 and is the spiritual successor to the PlayStation 3 exclusive DUST 514 which shared a direct connection the EVE Online, ideas that in practice, ended up not quite living up to the potential. Project Nova will avoid directly connection the the single, shared EVE Online universe but in the long-term, the hope from CCP Games is that they can one day meaningfully connect them.
Our interview covers the recent acquisition of CCP Games by Pearl Abyss, the long-awaited official unveiling of Project Nova, taking learnings from Warframe, and the current state of VR - something CCP Games has long been a pioneer of.
Screen Rant's Rob Keyes: I’m very excited about EVE Vegas because I’ve been waiting for Project Nova for quite some time. And in Iceland, you told me, you promised, that it would be playable this Fall, and it is. You've delivered. How are you feeling about it now?
Hilmar Veigar Pétursson: Really good. It's good to be kind of like the cat out of the box. And start to properly get going on the journey of getting feedback and starting to tune based on what we're learning.
So, we only got to play a bit of it, but what I played, was polished. It ran well. It looks beautiful and I know from talking to [game director] Snorri Árnason, the Alpha happening next month is a real Alpha, looking for feedback. How far away are we from like a Beta or like an actual release with it?
Hilmar: I mean, it's hard to say. It's based on what we learn in the Alpha. Like you said, an actual Alpha.
With the Pearl Abyss acquisition coming in, does that change anything in the development slate for this game or give you guys different resources?
Hilmar: No, not really. I mean, the overall thesis of the partnership with Pearl Abyss is just to continue to operate as is. So, there's no kind direct impact. I mean, obviously, as months and years go on, there's bound to be kind of opportunities to work together on different things.
In Iceland, we talked about other shooters in terms of which ones are inspirations and the way the industry was moving. Now that we know it's a PVE and PVP game, like EVE Online is, are there certain games in the industry that you're drawing inspiration from or are looking to compete against?
Hilmar: I think I'm going to look a lot about the journey for Warframe. I think both the development story of Warframe and also how Warframe plays is kind of a set of inspiration. I mean, could also look at that journey, it's very similar to Eve's. Even EVE was an inspiration for them and now they're an inspiration for us.
That’s funny. That game was made in my backyard. I live in Canada near London, Ontario [where Digital Extremes is located]. That's amazing. It's minutes from where I live.
Hilmar: I think it’s hugely impressive how they've organized the development of that game, like how they have continued to develop, what it’s risen to by now. I've played quite a bit. I mean it's fun to play.
Yeah. They announced this week, they’re announcing like an open world coming in November. That's interesting. They’re changing quite a bit. So, it's very clear that Project Nova is a PC-focused, hardcore shooter. Does that preclude the ability that years down the road, that it could come to a new console or something like that?
Hilmar: Absolutely, it could come to consoles. I mean it's made on our new Unreal Engine 4, it’s easy to port over. But, we're just focusing on getting that right. One of the elements from Dust  was trying to do too many things at the same [Laughs]
Yes. And trying to connect it all at the same time. Still, it's pretty cool.
Hilmar: I know, it’s pretty cool. And I hope we get to that at some point.
The model makes sense long-term.
I want to ask you about Unreal. When that announcement came out in the summer, that all your unannounced projects will be developed on Unreal Engine going forward, are those projects all EVE Universe set projects as well?
Hilmar: Yes. And also, we're working on another MMO in London, which, I haven't really disclosed the IP but...
With Echoes and War of Ascension, there are multiple mobile games on the way and there’s a huge future there for that. Do you guys have other ideas for other mobile products in the EVE Universe as well?
Hilmar: We have ideas, but right now, we're just finishing what we started on this front. But obviously there are many different things you could do.
Are any of your ideas VR related [laughs]?
Hilmar: I have a lot of ideas [laughs].
We also spoke last time about EVE Fanfest, next year, changing, going to different locations. And now it's going to a player's house too which is pretty intense. Has it been solidified whether you’re going to which countries?
Hilmar: It probably has. Like Paul Wright [Project Nova Lead Designer] probably knows. There’s a lot going on. It's hard to keep track of everything. I've seen some dates firming up.
Is it going to come back to Iceland in the feature?
Hilmar: I mean we're going to have one in 2020.
Oh, in Reykjavik. That's my favorite place. EVE Online coming to China. That's a massive market. Are you guys forecasting that being as big or bigger there than it is now?
Hilmar: It could be, but we're not forecasting it as such. We are expecting healthy growth from everywhere with our partners NetEase. But I think us and NetEase see the opportunity. The market is huge. If you do a good job, it could be a really, really big thing for EVE.
With NetEase publishing it in the China area, are the pay models all different for that region?
Hilmar: No, they are now the same. Now the game is free to play, there's Alpha and Omega. Those all move over to China.
So, it still applies the same?
My last question then, what are you most excited for next year?
Hilmar: What am I most excited for? I think I'm most excited for EVE. I think EVE is on a bit of a roll right now. And we’ve rejigged how we organize our development. This year, which I'm excited to see, what's going to a return in terms of actual kind of modifications and results for the game.
The announcements yesterday, the keynote seemed to be big and very exciting. I’ll ask you this as well. How long ago did the Pearl Abyss thing start to happen?
Hilmar: I had the first call with them, I think, December last year.
Did they reach out to you guys?
So, they were interested in you from the beginning?
So, it didn't take that long to make that all happen.
Hilmar: No. It took less than a year.
Is it easy working with them, another MMO dev?
Hilmar: Yeah, it's really. It's weird just like working with them and working with NetEase. Because we're all MMO developers. There's just so much shared understanding of what the topic is. I often find it easier to work with other MMO developers, even if there’s cultural and language barriers rather than developers that haven't made MMO’s.
What does that change for you though? Partnering with them for what CCP does for EVE products, does that change your ideas or give you more resources? What does it do?
Hilmar: We are just entering into this on a very simple stand-alone basis, just continue to do what we do. But I mean obviously there are opportunities in learning from each other, collaborating on things, and all that. But we’re just going to move slowly on those things. Those things are best done slowly. If you start to brush into, into kind of development that spans locations, it's better just to do that slowly and surely, rather than rush into anything. So, it's more or less just nothing changes but over time we will look for opportunities to do cool things together.