Monday, August 29, 2011

Player Interviews: Lokekar

Our next interview is with Lokekar, a MAG player who bucks the standard FPS stereotype. Use the link below to read some of his views on Console & PC Players, why non-combat roles are important, how MMOFPS' differ from Persistent Shooters and why he might join an EVE Corp.

1. How did Dust first catch your eye?

Back when Dust was a not even named Dust I heard about it from my brother that plays EVE. We both liked the idea. At the time I remember liking the idea of the games working together yet being different games and genres. But there were two things that kept me from being a fan at that time. The first was that initially the rumors were that it was going to be an Xbox only title. Personally I will never buy an Xbox. The second reason was that I rarely if ever played a FPS. When I did it was only co-op campaign mode.

2. You're a former MAG player, do you feel like that has made you better prepared for Dust?

The question sounds simple right, but there is a lot of unknowns about Dust. MAG fans are dreaming that Dust will deliver everything they wished MAG had. When I watched the 2009 Dust game play demo my initial thoughts were 'Did this inspire MAG and Section 8??' So I guess it is natural people are drawing comparisons but we really do not know any specifics as of yet about how Dust will really play. Lots of speculation but hard facts? The only hard facts I have seen so far are that it EVE and Dust players can impact one another and work together for mutual benefit.

Personally I only played FPS occacionally and only ever cared about playing through the story. I was a mediocre player at best and had no desire to better my skills. So of course when I played LAN with friends I would get slaughtered easily. MAG was the first that actually caught my eye and made me want to play. I could play a COD title LAN for  about 30 minutes before I would want to throw up. The gameplay just sickened me, not sure why but it was like eating pound after pound of sugar. Sure it tasted good at first but after a while I was sick. MAG on the other hand was like a good loaf of sourdough bread. Tough as nails on the outside but soft and chewy once you got in. The flavor makes it unique and special. It was while playing MAG I finally developed FPS skills. If people look up my player card in MAG they will see I have played 700+ hours and have a acceptable KDR. So I owe MAG for teaching me how to play an FPS in general. At its heart Dust will still be an FPS just like EVE at its heart is a spaceship combat game. Yeah I learned in MAG about how to play, what teamwork is required to succeed and the like but until I get to play Dust I will really not know how better prepared I am compared to the Halo, COD, BF fan.

3. Apparently, some of the trash-talk in interviews has been interpreted as false bravado by some EVE corps in anticipation for Dust 514, whats your take on it?

First I laugh. After that I always remind myself that when people volunteer to say something it is because the feel strongly about it, and yes that includes myself. That is a simple understanding of  statistics. If you want to know how the average EVE player and future Dust player really feels then you need to go out and ask a couple thousand of them at random.Otherwise we only get to hear the loudest voices. Also think on the part of EVE they have a good reason to be concerned about how Dust will affect them. There is no question that it will affect them. They are like my nephew holding his favorite dirty blanket. If I try to wash it  then he will kick and scream. We have to trust CCP to do this right and given their track record I am hopeful. So to sum it up people are concerned and some handle it better than others.

4. What clan were you associated with in MAG?

I played with the Havok clan in MAG for about 9 months. I considered myself a merc in MAG and would always vet when I could and change faction at the same time. Havok has branches in all the factions even before the introduction of alts so I fit in well. I eventually left to a variety of personal reasons but still fondly remember my time with them and think well of their teamwork and the skills I learned while shooting face with them. I was a random for a while till I could not stand all the clan invites I was getting and created my own clan so I could have breathing room and be left alone. I took a break from MAG for about 6 months while I focused on other things and came back as a way to brush up on my FPS skills while waiting for Dust. I am collecting clan invites like trophies again as a an ego boost.

5. What one feature would you love to see in Dust?

Non-combat roles. Tempted to leave that simple but I will explain. Sure there this is a FPS but I would love to see the skills that have nothing to do directly with combat. Such as planetary management, logistics, manufacturing, construction, mining etc. There are people playing EVE that never have jumped into a capsule for a combat op. I would love to see the same in Dust. Why? Because I would love to watch some combat oriented Dust corp collapse because they only knew how to run around and shoot people. I would laugh so hard. If non- combat roles are part of it then that is likely to happen, and often. That is why I partly scoff at the all the super grouping of MAG clans, especially the elite ones, what happens when all they can do is run around shooting things? Dust has the potential to be a game where the better corp wins not only because they can lay the smack down in the combat zone but also because they dominate their opponents in the non-combat roles. That is what I would love to see.

6. Do you prefer MMOFPS or Persistent Shooter?

(not sure what you mean exactly by this question so I will answer in two different ways)
Well do which do you consider MAG to be? Personally to me MAG fits the first and initially attempted to fit the second. MAG is a Massively Multi-player Online First Person Shooter. After all MAG stands for Massive Action Game. Silly title in a lot of ways but they were probably looking more for a cool acronym than name hence why they just call it MAG and not Massive Action Game.

If you hand not guessed, to me MMOFPS and PerS are different game types, similar but different. MAG could not be the second since in the scheme of things it did not matter who won the match really. Nothing of importance happens to the maps hinged on each match. Dust wants to go that way. The satellite uplink was destroyed last match? Then it is NOT THERE this time around, or it is under construction, or being repaired, or the enemy now controls it. The world is persistent. A lot of discussion on the MAG forums was about, how to make the outcome of a match matter to the player and have visible reminders of past failures and success.
In my opinion Zipper made tentative steps in the PerS direction and it sounded like more were to follow. In the end MAG ended up being more generic now then when it was launched. What MAG sounded like at first was a big draw for me. My actions could have a big impact on everything, good or ill. Having whet my appetite with MAG I am hoping Dust meets it.

7. Is there such a thing as too much Persistence or Consequences-style gameplay?

That is a tricky question. I play some games because there is long lasting consequences and others I avoid because of it. I do not like Mass Effect for example. Yeah I know I am in the minority. The game play itself does not interest me. I also disagree with how the creators view the consequences of some choices. So I am not a fan of the series. If it had been a linear story I proabably would have played it through once to know it, or would have been interested in knowing the story. Scripted consequences are the hardest to make natural and believable when the player has an impact. That is where CCP has succeeded with EVE. They have given the players a bare bones set of story but along side gave the mechanics that let the players create their own stories and fill out the universe. In everything I have read or heard about EVE it focuses on what players have done not what new quests/story CCP has released in the latest patch. That is a striking difference to how Blizzard handles WoW for example. CCP handed players a universe and said "Have fun!" Blizzard wants us to play in theirs according to their story.

8. The ZSA has been under fire from numerous elements in EVE (apparently our interview went viral on Twitter when we added the #dust 514 hash-tag) and its seems a few former MAG clans are disassociating themselves from the alliance. Is this an example of the difference between Console and PC players?

Players are players. We all play games that we like to play. I have played games on every console and a great number on PC. So where do I fit in the neat compartments stereotypes create? And to make it even more fun to fit me in one right now I do not own any consoles or a PC. And yet most players do not have just one console or only a PC. The problem as I see it is that people want to see a difference between people just because of what system they play on primarily. I logged over 700 hrs in to MAG. Does that sound like a fickle console player? People want to divide up sides already and the beta is not out yet. Pointless in my opinion, the people that succeed will be those that bring the advantages of both to the table.

I figure that what started this whole ruckus is that CCP decided to make Dust a console only game (Microsoft made it a PS3 exclusive). Naturally PC players were not pleased that the latest shiny toy from CCP would require them to play on a different platform. That is an issue they should take up with CCP, not with people that want to play the game, even play the game with them and build something even better than New Eden is already.

9. large-scale games usually depend on large numbers of players to participate, is there a flaw with that system?

Ask CCP, they will likely know that answer much better than me. All I could say is that if the game is compelling then you will have large numbers. An example is the COD series. It has a large scale player base because a large number of people find it compelling to play. I don't but that does not stop the millions in sales.

10. In our Jeremy Dunham interview, he mentioned "scaling" as a way to deal with lower population numbers, do you agree?

Lower population numbers are a result of people losing interest right? So you can either can say that our game does not have lasting monetary value to allow us to constantly generate interest and then introduce scaling systems for its decline, or you can do the harder and better option of helping generate constant interest in the game. The latter option is done some already in the form of DLCs as a way of keeping the revenue and interest fresh.

A persistent world generates its own interest. Player interaction is at the heart of all things labeled with MMO. If players are given enough tools they generate their own stories to fill gaps. They generate their own compulsion to play. I probably would have stopped playing MAG a couple months sooner than I did if I did not have a clan I was involved in and felt a part of. I had earned all the trophies and even met my own goal of getting a Mr. Badwrench ribbon on Escalation. (For those not in the know: that ribbon is given for destroying 5 vehicles in a match, in escalation there are static vehicles used for spawn points that for all intent and purposes are meant to be unreachable  and thus un-destroyable by opponents.)

11.  While we haven't seen any marketing yet, it doesn't seem like Dust is aimed for the casual market, with the low attention span of many console gamers, can it succeed by being so hardcore?

I disagree with the question on two points. Somewhere I read there will be an instant action mode. Perfect for casual players or people wanting to learn. Then there will be other modes including planetary conquest ones. Second everyone knows that the most successful form of advertising is the sort you can not buy, word of mouth. That is how I got into MAG and how I learned about Dust. So far it looks like players are doing a fair bit of advertising for CCP. Which I think is great so they can spend more money on the game and less on trying to market it. Also with 350-400,000 players on EVE they in essence have 350-400,000 sales people if EVE players want their friend to play Dust. MAG did not have that sort of grass roots support and I never once saw an ad for MAG yet it sold over a million copies. So I am not worried at all for Dust.

From a competitive point of view the fewer players playing Dust the more valuable and thus higher paid they all become. So saturating the market with mercenaries could be viewed as a great way to make them all dirt cheap. Since I will be a Dust merc you can imagine which scenario I prefer.

12. Have you made the decision to join a Dust Corp yet?

Nope, I might, horror of horrors, join an EVE corp. Seriously though, I will play the game and get a feel for it before becoming competitive in it. I did that with MAG and it served me well. It also depends on what I can do. My ideal role would be anti-armor (Mr. Badwrench anyone?) and then be the non-combat support. How useful it would be to have one full time in a corp as opposed to finding a specialist for specific mission is yet to be seen. Kinda silly to send sniper into a close quarters combat mission.


  1. kindly keep all statements related to the interview above, thanks.

  2. Very good/interesting answers Lokelar, cant say the same for some of the simplistic/silly/driven questions of the interviewer.


  3. Thank you.

  4. so your removing comments now? your such a tool.