Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Friendly Fire, Grouping & Chat

When looking to make a game above and beyond the call, it is a good idea to look at the top titles of the past couple years. Battlefield 3 is a top tier title, and a very good game, but there are two glaring omissions that prevent it from being a truly great tactical game. CCP, as you develop your next enjoyable experience, DUST 514, we like to point out a couple things that we felt DICE could have done better.

Friendly Fire - If there is one aspect that separates hardcore games with consequences from cookie-cutter mainstream games of the casual variety, it's friendly fire (ff). Games without it are missing a critical element requiring players to carefully choose their targets or risk harming their teammates. Features like bombing runs, mortars, grenades, and even undisciplined gunfire instantly become horribly unbalanced when players are immune to them for no other reason than they happen to be on the same team as the person pulling the trigger. The first SOCOM made the mistake of incorporating Friendly Fire OFF and was rewarded with "force field" grenade and gunfire barrages that players took advantage of by having a number of their immune-to-injury forces rush forward to secure critical choke-points and other high-value areas due to a game loophole. This generation of players is too resourceful for gameplay elements like this. The only person immune to lethal ballistics, energy, etc is the person who isn't in the area.

Grouping - Quite possibly the most important part of playing social, team-based games is the ability to play with your friends. While there are certainly players that enjoy playing by themselves, or fighting for that impossible victory with players they are unfamiliar with, there is an entire hardcore community of players that want to play with people they know. To overlook this fact is to quickly and forever alienate the 'familiar players.' For these players to be happy, there must be options to group up, easily regroup if player(s) are disconnected, STAY grouped up despite player limits (meaning that if 20 of them are grouped and enter a 16-player game, the other four will stay together), and eliminate the risk of random players breaking their teams up. This may seem a bit excessive to some, but some of the more organized players do not enjoy the totally 'fun' experiences with random players. It's important to allow them the option of not having that experience if they choose.

Voice Chat - Developers too often overlook the social aspect of gaming. When people can communicate, strategize, banter back and forth, identify other like-minded players, group together and hear their enemies (limiting our interaction with rivals to message boards is so last-gen), games take on a whole different meaning. The experience goes from one with nameless, faceless players that just happen to be on our team, to one where we identify that we're part of a real community, and that we're playing with other PEOPLE who are our teammates. While MAG had many flaws, one aspect that was above criticism was their chat system. The result of that was the formation of a hardcore community complete with heroes, villains, and other notable personalities that players will always remember. Additionally, the ability to talk to every friendly player in-game is an aspect BF3 overlooked with the complete lack of a 'Proximity Chat System.' While every person can or will want to have access to every chat channel, can a game really call itself tactical when we can't ask a player right next to us to for some ammo, medical attention, or relay simple instructions such as 'Hey, go around this building and flank the enemy while I hold their attention here,' simply because we aren't in the same squad? This is a mistake games with depth simply cannot repeat. Proximity Chat is a necessity in the shooter genre.

Most important, however, is a chat system that works. While we understand that the ability to connect players to the game (and keep them connected) is priority, developers simply cannot make the mistake of advertising features that are broken or that only work intermittently. BF3 HAS a chat system, it just fails to work when too many mics are logged in or at peak times, turning a potentially great team-based game into a single-player experience. Chat, as the BF3 developers are quickly discovering, is priority as well.

In conclusion, while we agree that "opinions are like assholes, everyone has one," we think these 3 details are a fantastic way to make DUST 514 better. If DUST is going to be the game changer, let's start with the small things. EVE has shown that if you forget those, things don't go well.

Editors Note: For the love of shooters, implement these.


  1. +1 couldnt have said it better myself

  2. agree. little things first! chatting with an eve player is why i'll buy this game, but being able to talk to the guy next to me is why my clan will.

  3. im all for FF, but they have to make sure all mercs dont look alike. give us something like ally designators so we dont shoot people by accident. agree that shooting through teammates is corny in bf3.

  4. YES! too many titles with broken chat/grouping at launch recently. cough! socom 4!cough! bf3! no excuse for that.

  5. YES YES YES no? (just kidding)but srsly YES!!!!!

  6. You guys need to play EVE Online if only to get a better understanding of what DUST514 is going to be like. Then you'll see your worries are focused on too small a picture.

    DUST514 is planned to be tightly integrated with an existing universe of players and organizations. Members can join player run corporations and be able to group using a hierarchical structure of both persistent parent group (corporation) and a non-persistent (Fleet)/(Wing)/(Squad)

    EVE Online has built in voicechat, that I suspect is going to work with DUST514. Currently it lets you talk in different channels including your corp or fleet, or even whichever Chat channel you join. Long term goals include timely coordination from team members from both games.

    And as for Friendly fire, my bet is that it will be available at all times, because in EVE Online You can shoot anything, even your structures or ships that you own. While there are areas that are safer than others, conspiracies, spying, espionage and back-stabbing are all part of the game as well. That's one thing that CCP has made a very open-ended sandbox game that the players drive everything. Without Friendly fire how would you be able to carry on that time honored tradition?

    Just my 2 cents...

  7. dont forget adding people to your group. say you play with a guy and want to add him to your group, it cant be a big-time headache to add him to your party. make it quick and easy.

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