Tuesday, March 5, 2013

CCP: Embrace the Social

Social Aspects are the gift that keeps on giving and the key to longevity. Literally. One look at the explosion of Social Media is an example of how vital the ability to encourage social interaction is. Especially in gaming. Games that lack social aspects might as well be single player. As they make players feel cut off and alone. They block the ability to form bonds, relationships and any connections whatsoever. The question needs to be asked: What's the point of any teamwork oriented game where you can't communicate? Titles that deny the social are a dying breed, and lets face it they should be. The PS4 Announcement focused a great deal on social interactions and CCP must embrace this in Dust 514 as well.

3rd person Social Areas - The cat is out of the bag. For a time it seemed Dust would be the first FPS to take advantage of the third person social areas but Bungie's Destiny reveal confirmed a hangar area that will essentially be identical. As always, good ideas are meant to be copied. Below is a breathtaking view of something they're calling a Hangar. Its a massive Social Hub from Bungie's new IP. For all intents and purposes it looks like a sprawling area that can be explored in third person reminiscent of Final Fantasy 11. Why are these important? Because they provide a productive downtime from constant pew pew. These social places will be the areas where alliances are born, recruiters will shine and plots will see life.

Communication Tools - Failure to accept the importance of social can lead to a game where people feel unconnected. New Eden Corporations can grow to enormous sizes. Is the CEO expected to speak to each person individually to update them on new info, goals and operations? first suggested by ZionShad, a Corporation Bulletin Board would shine in a title like this. Communication is critical and a bulletin board would wait patiently to update players on anything they missed the moment they login. The BF3 co-op missions are a perfect example of social duality, while they can be played without mics, it results in a clunky, lacking, uncooperative experience where you're stuck trying to guess what the other person is doing. Add mics and all over a sudden you can follow your partners lead, watch his back, cover him, tell him you've got the right covered and yell out 'runner' when there's a person you missed. The experience is night and day. How a game as tactical and team based as Dust expects to succeed without some manner of Battlefield Hierarchy, Proximity Chat and Voice Chat active by default is beyond us. OMG social moments in shooters so often go overlooked. It can be as simple as a Platoon Leader outlining a good plan of action in the War Room, hearing a Logi say 'Don't worry, i'm repairing your armor' in a firefight, a teammate advising you that 'Ammo is to the right if you need some.' Or the ever present 'Look out, there's a guy behind you!' and 'Hey i'm down you got a nanite injector, blueberry?' The person playing loud music or screaming over the mic can easily be muted, but lack of communication tools is a mistake no team based shooter should ever make.

Emotes - Gameplay has to account for people who don't have mics. While emotes can be used to greet and communicate basic expressions in social areas, they also have combat functions. Situational vocal emotes are also great because they communicate a situation or need. MAG had a dialog system where friendly fire resulted in the shooter automatically screaming 'Get out of the way! or the victim yelling 'Watch it buddy!' and 'Blue on Blue!' it was basic, but effectively communicated the idea that you were shooting the wrong person. Players who bled out said 'I'm not gonna make it..' While downed players screamed 'Medic!' when they hit the ground and "Youre a lifesaver!" when revived. These act as perfect indicators to keep players alert of their surroundings and how they can help teammates. It would be nice to see vocal emotes that addressed lack of ammo, requests for a nanite injector and armor repair in this title. Employers [even NPC ones] should also express their pleasure or disgust with our performance after we attain victory or suffer defeat. This popular fan made trailer did a great job showing us what we should hear from the contract holder before and after a battle. Even if its only text, feedback or instructions from the employer would do so much for Immersion. Make us feel like mercs.

Customization - Individualism can be bigger in an FPS world where there are very few variations on looks. Dust can set itself apart if it delivers on the promises of what the 'paint bucket' can offer. Players have craved a way to give themselves and their weapons a unique look for some time now. Including the face creator, corp logos and tags and places to advertise in New Eden will be the start of something big.

Command Structure - Random games in Dust 514 will never even achieve a basic level of organization, tactics or teamwork as long as players aren't melded by some kind of battlefield hierarchy. Games of Skirmish & Ambush can be among the most frustrating and disorganized because mercs are totally unconnected. Aren't we hired by the same entity with one goal in mind? Why then, is each player separated into their own independent entity that shares virtually no goals with the team? While F2P is the best thing that could have happened to this title, right now Dust is drowning in a sea of players who are clueless regarding objectives and teamwork. More games are lost due to clueless play and poor teamwork than are won by tactics. Dust sorely needs an organizing principle and a more effective initial walkthrough. Matches desperately need a ground commander [platoon leader] who can change spawns, talk on a command chat to squad leaders, address the entire team and spawn with any squad under their command. There is plenty of good criteria with which to select a PL [Mics, WP] and SLs every match, but we would also have people apply for this responsibility and complete a leadership course to be eligible. We've  heard arguments that urge ignoring resources and structure in public matches and to leave them as a chaotic free for all. We disagree wholeheartedly. The public match will be a high traffic area where all corps will recruit and participate. It cant be dismissed as worthless and trivial. It will be most players first introduction to the game. If it is left as devoid of teamwork, structure and tactics, who can fault players for playing this game like another COD or assuming its a title where individual numbers and KDR is the ultimate goal?

Notable Locations - As I sit here and look at Bungie's Destiny reveal and see the art and locations like Hellmouth, The Black Garden, The Mars Exclusion Zone, The Moon and Images of the mysterious Traveler its obvious Bungie understands how important it is to create a world for their new IP. DCUO understood as well, as that title absolutely brings the comic book universe to life. There's nothing like going to the Superman statue or visiting the Bat Signal. EVE should do the same with New Eden. Its notable locations and lore rivals any one of the IPs above.

Player Content - The proper social tools allow players create their own content. This is a good thing. One look at Burn Jita, PRO's massive player count, ContraBanJoe's 128 player stampede, MAG's TTT Weekend and the New Eden Live Trials shows how creative players can be when given the ability to communicate. Maybe its a coordinated attack on an enemy, agreeing on the price for a 'hit' at a tavern or meeting with The Mittani in Goon Space to negotiate a cease fire. The possibilities are endless.

Make no mistake, games like Destiny are officially the competition. Why? Because developers want players to enjoy their experiences and spend hours in the worlds they create. We're even rewarded for the more time we spend in these fantasy places. Unfortunately there are only so many hours in the day and chances are we'll only choose one title in which to spend our gaming hours. Its on the developers then, to give gamers a reason to choose their creation over another. Never forget this. Gamers have many choices in regards to what they can enjoy. If FPS fails to innovate, there are many other genres, sandbox experiences and developers ready to fill the empty spaces they leave.

 As always, we'll continue to attempt to help promote and publish ideas that help establish, enhance and grow the Dust 514 community as much as we can. Have any ideas that need sharing? Would you like to join our staff as a writer? Be sure to contact us at magww@live.com


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  3. corp bulletin board is gold; would show new members that joined, message of the day, posts by directors and ceo and could show people director level and higher who money was awarded to and anyone that got kicked out or left.

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