HilmarPeturssonHilmar Veigar P├ętursson has a bold vision for CCP with the mission statement “To create virtual worlds more meaningful that real life.” He believes that after someone’s basic needs on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are met, then humans will always be searching for ways to bring more meaning and self-actualization in their lives. A lot of those current methods are through consuming physical objects that require a lot of natural resources to produce. Hilmar’s long-term vision is for virtual world’s like CCP’s massively multiplayer online role-playing game of EVE Online to be able to satisfy this human search for meaning through virtual objects and experiences that are more sustainable in the long-run.

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CCP recently raised $30 million dollars to work towards Hilmar’s vision to create virtual worlds that are more meaningful than reality because it can be more sustainable for the earth in the long-run. He recognizes that it’s a grand vision, and that some of it could be seen as controversial. But he’s dedicated to working towards a grander vision where our needs for finding deeper meaning in our lives doesn’t have to come at the cost of the earth.

It may sound a little odd that CCP is working towards this larger vision by releasing two dogfight space fighting games starting with Gunjack for the Gear VR and EVE: Valkyrie for the consumer launches of the Oculus Rift and Playstation VR. But Hilmar says that they’ve spent over three years experimenting with optimizing the game design mechanics for virtual reality, and they they decided to make a self-contained experience based up previous failures. Specifically, he talks about how Dust 514 aimed to be an interface to the EVE Online world through PS3 console-based portal, but that ultimately it didn’t quite work out as well as they had hoped.

Learning from that experience, they want to discover the strengths and weaknesses of the virtual reality medium first with EVE: Valkyrie and Gunjack without trying to shoehorn it into the EVE Online world. They’ve learned not to bite off more than they can chew so that they can iterate and more organically discover how VR will be able to interface with their EVE Online virtual world.

Hilmar also talks about the game design process for EVE: Valkyrie and how they iterated over many years in order to create a game mechanic that user’s could eventually master. There’s a progression between different ships, and they’re using quite a lot of sophisticated 3D user interfaces and information that’s available in the cockpit that will take some time and practice to really master. He says that you can really appreciate and see how good you can get at the game when you play against some of the developers who have been playing it for years now.

There were a number of people who were recommending that I track down Hilmar at the Virtual Reality Intelligence conference because they really found his talk there to be really inspiring. I have to admit that I was initially skeptical about the vision to create virtual worlds and experiences that are more meaningful than reality, but I can definitely appreciate CCP’s grander vision to work towards the ultimate potential for virtual reality in helping to make the world more environmentally sustainable. And given their most recent round of funding, then CCP has a really great shot at helping to make that happen.

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