Monday, April 1, 2013

The Ides of May


At last, we officially have a date for Dust 514's new content. At last, now we know when the most significant improvement in the game's history will be here. The anticipation is there, but also a bit of pressure. If large portions of the game arent 'playable' or the core game isnt firmly established, many players could be drawn to more 'complete' games. This is dangerous because there is no guarantee players that leave will ever return. The arrival of titles like Defiance, GTA and many others loom large, so this update must provide the most solid foundation in Dust 514's short history.


New Visuals - While we are admittedly fine with the level of graphics, we understand there is a brand of player spoiled by great visuals that needs pretty pixels to play. For that reason we hope this update is more than simply adding a few more pixels, shadows, vegetation and other often overlooked elements. The more 'graphically picky' players will barely even notice subtle changes to graphic quality. Much of the core game still needs a bit of polish [i.e. tutorials, communication and corp management] so resources that take away from this must certainly be worth it. If youre going to do something, do it right. Lets see outstanding graphics after the update. Make the IGN posters who said Dust 'looks like a PS2 game' eat their words.

Planetary Conquest - This is the cherry on top of  Uprising for many. Alliances and other organized groups have waited months for the opportunity to own real estate in New Eden, its the reason they play the game. Many will finally get to see the persistent aspects of the game that interested them to begin with. But the lack of battlefield hierarchy still looms large here. Where are the platoon leaders and the command channels for squad leaders to coordinate? These are necessary tools. Keep in mind, as well that organized groups are motivated and won't like anything left to chance [or randoms] a piece of advice, this aspect of gameplay will fail horribly if groups like Zion TCD or PRO cannot launch into a Planetary Conquest gametype with the ability to fill their team with nothing but people from their corps or alliance. Its the reason they have spent months recruiting players and other corporations. If a match consists of 48 total players, they must have the ability to group 24 players of their choosing into the fray. Anything less than total control over their destiny and the forums will not be a happy place.

Accessibility - HUD Improvements and user friendly features often go overlooked. But never forget that true accessibility comes in the form of a great tutorial. Make no mistake, the initial tutorial will dictate the success of this game. We've reiterated many times how insufficient the introduction to the game is. The NPE is grossly lacking. Writers like KageHoshi have suggested well-done alternatives for months and we hope Uprising brings with it renewed efforts in regards to this. In some circles there is this belief that 'good guy players', Dust University and other benevolent organizations within the game will provide an in-game tutorial for new players. First, depending on the playerbase to train new players is folly and always has been. There is also a large segment of 'know it all' [sometimes just non-social] players who will never accept training from other players. More importantly, is there some 'press x for Dust University' feature we dont know about? Unless there is, or some 'always on' advertisement for them, new players will never have a chance to benefit from what they can teach. They will be confused by the skill system, unfamiliar with the controls, get owned in a few games, declare the game 'stupid' and never be heard from again. Metrics should be telling CCP what many already know, while the Dust was quick to reach 1M accounts, its growth has slowed to a crawl since then. The NPE has a lot to do with this. You must provide the basic tools for players to prepare and be successful. But at this stage, we're tired of beating a dead horse. You know where the weaknesses in the NPE are, either you will fix them or you wont.

We hope that other accessibility improvements include battlefield hierarchy, timestamps in chat, voicechat on by default, proximity chat, an EVE clock, better orbital strikes notification, bleed out timers, ranges for down teammates, target painting, squad invites from the chat menu, the expansion of squad size, and the ability to follow allies into games. The decision to force players to wait for a game to end for grouping with their allies was a horrible one. Also, assets like Drop Uplinks and Nanohives must stop vanishing and should be static and visible at all times. We also have to add, however that the squad and game size needs to expand at a more rapid pace. New Eden is a massive environment and the larger maps will be barren with simply 32 mercenaries to occupy them. Allowing larger groups to occupy every space in a game mode is their right. Dont nerf their ability to organize and punish them for being motivated. Afraid for the casuals? As long as there are larger incentives [like Planetary Conquest] for the hardcore players to work towards, ambush style experiences and a variety of game modes with lower tier queues separated by skill level [and even group size] it will never become an issue.

New Content - For those who have been playing Dust from the beginning, this is long overdue. We can't imagine how they went a year playing simply Skirmish & Ambush. We salute them for doing a great job testing the game and providing feedback. The new weapons, gear and equipment are welcome additions but are largely a given, as are the vegetation and the map variety we would expect from an entire galaxy of planets. A word of caution, however. If players are given variations of Skirmish and Ambush that are considered 'new' game modes? Prepare for stalled player growth. Variety must be a big part of what Dust offers and familiar, bland and 'done before' game modes will not help this title. There's no reason every contract type in New Eden shouldn't be available at some point. As a piece of the MMO Universe of EVE, Dust has the opportunity to appeal to a more varied playerbase than any shooter before it. If, of course, it has modes that cater to different playstyles. We cant stress the need for a range of game modes enough. Any less than five new options after Fanfest and you're doing it wrong.

Some of the other elements that haven't been confirmed but are probably necessary additions are:

Corp Training Rooms - These allow the more motivated groups to work on their tactics and perfect their gameplay. It also prevents them from preying on newer players in Ambush. While no SP should be gained in training rooms we hope to see shooting ranges, map recreation, obstacle courses, vehicle training, corp wargames, turrets, AI and a high level of customization that allows corps to train at a high level.

Corp Applications - Shouldn't we be able to respond to corp prospects from the application screen?

Corp Armories - This and the player trade market are necessary. But we'd like to see this implemented first if at all possible. The ability to dump assets into a corp holding available for those who are specced into them is paramount.

Starmap - This great feature needs to make a glorious return if for no other reason than to show the game's depth and identify sovereign territory.

Racial Dropsuits - Hopefully the IGN video wasn't just a tease. Adding the racial forms of each dropsuit class is a must.

News Tab in Neocom - First suggested by Codebreaker93 this feature would advise us about upcoming events, updates and even server down time. All the things you currently have to find out from the forum.
This would be very useful. Too many players are oblivious to relevant information and this would do a great job educating them.

Corp Chat - We dont support the decision to eliminate corp chat, but we understand this is a business. To be fair, CCP has 'given away' a great deal in regards to this F2P title. Most importantly though, the functionality for corp chat is in place. Allow CEOs to purchase these if its such a big deal, just bring them back in some form.

Corp Bulletin Board - One of the best suggestions we've seen so far this one comes from ZionShad. Large corporations are a nightmare to run. CEOs need tools to assist them. A corp bulletin board that allows messages of the day and updates members on corp news and transactions is a great idea. This feature could pop up when a corp member logs in and update them on any information they missed while they were gone. It would provide the ultimate connectivity in larger corps when the CEO cant be expected to interact with everyone.

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

10 comments:

  1. the update needs to be retail quality or I wont stick around.

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  2. I would love to get updates from a bulletin board that showed Directors who $ was given to and who joined or left the corp.

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  3. This game better come out with something worth staying!

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  4. good read. I agree it needs tons of game modes

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  5. Defiance comes out tonight prepare to lose player count ccp!

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    Replies
    1. I can't wait for Space to lose their money on that. Their company would deserve to lose out on that investment after destroying the channel.

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  6. I think Dust will be better than Defiance but it needs serious improvement in Uprising.

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  7. excited about Defiance tommorrow!

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