EVE Fanfest exploded in 2014 and almost broke the internet when it was announced that Katee Sackhoff would be voicing EVE: VALKYRIE’s lead character Rán Kavik. In the aftermath of many questions we received about her involvement and the game itself, we called CCP GAMES and spoke to Executive Producer Owen O’Brien on the game’s development, what we can expect from Katee’s character, building an entire world in Virtual Reality and some potential science fiction/Battlestar Galactica Easter eggs you might find while playing the game.
We’d also like to thank CCP GAMES’ Adam Kahn for sending us in-studio photos of Katee Sackhoff’s EVE: VALKYRIE Rán voice-over sessions.
BSG-M: For those who don’t know; what exactly is EVE: VALKYRIE?
Owen O’Brien: EVE: VALKYRIE is an online space dogfighting game using the new VR headsets that are coming out. You’ll be able to play it, using either the Oculus Rift or Morpheus system.
BSG-M: It’s set in the EVE Online Universe; What can you tell us about that?
Owen O’Brien: EVE Online is an online game that’s been running for over 10 years now. Our game is set in that universe and covers an event that happens in that universe. It brings back characters that some of the EVE players will be familiar with but new players don’t need any experience with the EVE universe at all. The premise allows new players to jump right in. You’re basically an immortal space pilot working for a character called Rán who is leading a renegade splinter group away from a fraction called the Guristas. Everything new players need to know is “you’re a space pirate and you go out to do what pirates do. You go out, you fight and you make profit.”
BSG-M: You’ve just had your big EVE Fanfest Event in Reykjavic, Iceland – How did that go?
Owen O’Brien: EVE Fanfest is our biggest event of the year. We usually keep a lot of announcements until Fanfest. In 2014, we announced Katee Sackhoff would be voicing the Rán character. This year, we had updates on a number of things: a new map, a new game mode, new ships. We also launched an offline tutorial mission that takes place in a stereotypical EVE convoy and ambush. We wanted to fulfill the fantasies a lot of EVE players had of being in a small craft during a big space fight, much like you would see in Battlestar Galactica, actually. People got to experience it with the headset, and really get to feel what it’s like to have the VR headsets on.
BSG-M: What are some of the strengths and innovations of EVE: VALKYRIE
Owen O’Brien: This is a game that was built up around the VR headsets, it’s wasn’t adapted and fitted from a regular computer game to the VR world. It was built by a small group of enthusiasts who started it in their spare time before it became a fully fledged project. The major innovations come from the VR system. The experience of actually putting on the headsets and being in another place is like something you can’t describe. It is like being in an episode of Battlestar Galactica, or Star Wars or Star Trek. Any of those big space-driven shows, really. I guess the level of immersion as players. You have a full 360° view. It’s perfect for dogfighting where you have to keep looking around and behind you. It’s great for situational awareness. There are plenty more technical innovations that we did. EVE: VALKYRIE will just offer some very cutting edge tech that isn’t even out there yet.
BSG-M: EVE: VALKYRIE is literally on the forefront of something brand new?
Owen O’Brien: Yes, the commercial VR headsets haven’t been released yet. We’re developing leading edge technology that is still being created step-by-step. There’s a myriad of small technical details that went into making this game but for the common person, the major innovation is: you go somewhere else, you are someplace else and you’re in a cockpit of a star fighter.
BSG-M: What has been the reaction of those that have tested the game?
Owen O’Brien: Anyone who’s tried the game said they were absolutely blown away by it. I haven’t seen anyone walking away from testing EVE: VALKYRIE going “meh”[laughs]. There are those who’ve tried using the headsets and those who haven’t. The people who haven’t probably need to be convinced by the people who have. But we are definitely believers.
BSG-M: What are you still hoping to improve before the release?
Owen O’Brien: In terms of the game itself, we’ve got our base ships up and running. We’ll keep developing and improving those. Then we’ll keep working on various big upgrades and additions you can make to the ship. I think right now, it’s more about adding and creating more content. A larger variety of ships and maps. I think we’ve got a game we really like, but we’d like to add some more tactical depth to it. We want to be the best multiplayer game in VR and for that, the game must keep evolving, not just the 1st time, but the 10th time and the 100th time you play it. We’re actually reaching out to the EVE community and getting their feedback, which will help us make the game better.
BSG-M: Once released, Valkyrie will be available through Oculus Rift & Morpheus, but which (other) consoles can people expect to see the game on?
Owen O’Brien: At the moment, all we’re talking about are Oculus Rift & Morpheus. We don’t know if other platforms will be added in the future.
BSG-M: Any idea on a release date to the general public?
Owen O’Brien: The release date will depend on when the actual VR headsets come out, so it depends on the manufacturers of the headsets as well. I can’t really tell you a definite date.
BSG-M: Why release a VR game now, and not wait until the technology is more mature?
Owen O’Brien: Some people probably will, that’s the reality of any new technology. You have the early adaptors, then it reaches the critical masses and then it goes into the mainstream market. CCP GAMES has made the decision to go all-in on VR because we believe in it. We believe it’ll go into that mass market and everyone who tests it will be convinced. We want to be at the forefront. In VR, I’d say we’re probably one of the most experienced game developers right now. If people want the future today, they will go out and get the headsets when they can. We’re aware of the fact that the initial market will be the more tech-savvy customers and fans of EVE or shows like Battlestar Galactica who will jump right into it.
BSG-M: Going around online, some people seem concerned that the VR system might not fully support EVE: VALKYRIE’s amazing graphics; what can you tell those people?
Owen O’Brien: I would disagree strongly. The outtakes you’ve seen online were taken from using the Oculus Rift system. There are new versions of the VR development kit coming out all the time. We’ve been lucky enough to see the latest versions and they’re another huge leap forward from the versions people may have seen or played at FanFest. I have zero concerns over the technology or the resolution. When the game gets released, it will look awesome, and it’s going to be awesome!
BSG-M: Katee Sackhoff Voices Rán, when did she get involved with EVE: VALKYRIE?
Owen O’Brien: We approached her late 2013. When she tried on the headsets, she was amazed. I think she’s involved with this because of the technology and because…well, it’s just like being in a Viper. She was involved from really early on. We were still developing the storyline for her character. Katee has a lot of attributes we wanted Rán to have, so she’s a natural and perfect fit for the role.
BSG-M: Is there a backstory/background for Rán Kavik?
Owen O’Brien: Rán Kavik is the commanding and fearless protagonist of EVE: VALKYRIE. Born into the Gallente federation, a race in the EVE universe that thrives on entertainment media, she was a daughter of one of their most prominent military simulation designers. Raised in an environment of virtual warfare tactics and aerial combat becoming a fighter pilot was her destiny.
Years later Rán awakes in a clone vat. Her consciousness stolen at the point of death and transported into an approximation of her body. She’s been drafted into the Guristas. A group of mercenaries looking to build a private army. With their motives unclear and the circumstances of her death suspicious Rán breaks off to form a faction under her own leadership. An army with her agenda. The Valkyrie are born.
That’s just her basic backstory but we’ll start releasing more and more details about the story and her character as time goes on
BSG-M: What was the reaction you received when Katee Sackhoff was announced to be voicing the lead at Fanfest 2014?
Owen O’Brien: It was huge! It made my job very easy on stage because it was such a popular choice. Surprisingly, in this day and age, we managed to keep it a secret until we released the video, so I was very pleased that there weren’t any leaks. For the audience, she’s the perfect person for the role. A lot of Valkyrie fans will be BSG fans as well so it made everyone really excited.
BSG-M: What was her first reaction to the graphics/the game?
Owen O’Brien: My biggest regret to date is that I didn’t film her reaction when she first put the VR system on, because it was perfect. She was swearing a lot and throwing a lot of F-bombs. And that was just sitting in the launch tube and waiting for her craft to launch. Since then, the graphics have improved. We’ll probably have her try it again, somewhere over the summer to get a new impression of the game’s improvements and to keep her updated on how it has progressed.
BSG-M: What’s it like for the voice actors involved to voice computer game characters?
Owen O’Brien: It varies. With katee, we gave her a script and I described her what was happening. But as an actress, it’s not a problem for her to dive into that world. As we get further into development, we’ll be showing her the actual missions with placeholder actors or voices and then she can see exactly what she’ll be acting to.
BSG-M: Which other actors have voiced or will voice characters for EVE: VALKYRIE?
Owen O’Brien: That’s yet to be decided. We do have a couple of characters we’ll be bringing into the game that we’ll be needing voices for. As to who else will be cast, we don’t know yet.
BSG-M: As the executive producer to EVE: VALKYRIE; What exactly is your involvement with the game?
Owen O’Brien: I’m responsible for the whole product. Everbody reports to me. I make sure it comes out on time and on budget. Since the development studio is quite small, I’m also heavily involved in the design and the creative direction of the game. We’re very hands-on here. I’m pretty much involved with all aspects of the game, ultimately I’m in this industry because I love making games and giving that creative direction.
BSG-M: We’ve read that you were hugely involved in getting Katee onboard for EVE: VALKYRIE. Did you think of her because of her character in Battlestar Galactica or…?
Owen O’Brien: Yes, I’m a big Battlestar Galactica fan. To me, she was just the obvious choice. I wanted a game with a strong female character. I actually wanted to approach her for a previous game I made, Mirror’s Edge, and I don’t know why we didn’t back then. So she was my immediate first choice. I think it was the chance of being involved in this new technology that really excited her to come and work with us.
[BSG-M Note: Mirror’s Edge was created by the DICE development Studio for Electronic Arts – EA Games]
BSG-M: You basically had to build the VR version of EVE from the ground up, what has that experience been like for you?
Owen O’Brien: I think, if you’re going to make a VR game, a space dogfighting game is a good place to start. It’s much more forgiving in terms of simulation. There’s no real ground for comparison. First of all, you’re seated in a cockpit so you’ve got that as a reference around you. There’s no real concept of up or down or hard deck like you would have in a World War II fighter for example. The setting was perfect. We really wanted to use the EVE lore and assets. Having this huge canvas which has been running for over 10 years with a lot of interesting stories and factions fighting each other, is the perfect backdrop. It gave us a huge boost rather than having to create all of it from scratch. It allowed us to focus on what’s really important. Making the dogfighting fun and making the VR work. I really think it’s a perfect marriage.
BSG-M: What were/are the biggest challenges you faced while developing EVE: VALKYRIE?
Owen O’Brien: One of the challenges was the resolution of the sym tech, which has since then improved exponentially. There were some initial issues with the hardware which we needed to improve to limit simulation sickness (motion sickness). That’s a challenge I think we’ve overcome right now. Another thing that can be challenging in Virtual Reality is the U.I (User Interface). It can get very tiring for the player if there’s too many things moving around on-screen at the same time; for instance on your helmet visor. We’ve learned that just because you cán plant things in several layers of depth to create 3D, doesn’t mean you always should. But as is the case with developing any new technology, there’s always so many new things you learn and have to start taking into consideration.
BSG-M: Just because we have to ask, any Battlestar Easter eggs in the game (I.E. will Rán utter a frak-bomb?)
Owen O’Brien: I can’t promise anything. I know Katee used “frak” in her Fanfest video. I’m a big fan myself so I’d love to have some references to BSG in there and maybe some sly references to other sci-fi shows like Star Wars or Firefly. We have to be careful we don’t infringe any copyright [laughs]. But I do think nods to other sci-fi universes will always be popular with our players.
BSG-M: Last question, there may or may not be any direct references, but to which extent are science fiction shows a source of inspiration for the ultimate look of the game?
Owen O’Brien: Talking about Battlestar Galactica, I think players will find a lot of things which might be similar to the show. If you look at – for instance – our launching sequence. It might subconsciously be referenced to the launch of a Viper. So – of course – there will be nods. Maybe not consciously but definitely subconsciously. We do get inspired from the big battle scenes and that’s the sort of feeling we want to translate to our game. We want to give our players that feeling of being in a sort of Viper when there’s Cylon baseships flying around your head and attacking you. So I hope everyone who enjoys watching Battlestar Galactica will also like the game!
We would like to thank CCP GAMES, EVE: VALKYRIE’s Executive Producer Owen O’Brien and CCP GAMES’ Adam Kahn for their time, all their help and sharing their insights and these photos with us.
For more info on CCP Games and EVE: VALKYRIE go to
This new Gameplay teaser was released at Eve Fanfest 2015
Go to the following page for the HQ photos of Katee Sackhoff voicing Rán Kavik in-studio: