Monday, June 24, 2013

Hardcore Gamers leaving Dust?





 Many have recently predicted the demise of Dust 514. We dont agree, but there are several obvious core issues that have yet to be addressed for a game that has [shockingly] had a retail launch. The problem is that many natives are growing restless. Player numbers are dropping and the CCP strategy of 2,5 and 10 year roadmaps that works well on PC, is failing horribly with console players. More concerning is the fact that the patience of many in the hardcore playerbase seems to have reached its limit. These players are CCP supporters but now are wondering whether the game is still a place for them, as a nasty crop of questionable-at-best casual mechanics has crept into the game. With no word from CCP, they have no clue whether shameful elements like the cartoony LAV issues [aptly named Mariokart 514] are issues they intend on fixing or working as intended.

Its certainly not doomsday as we havent even seen a major marketing push, but CCP needs to address these issues before they spiral out of control. A recent poll showed bugs, technical issues and poor FPS mechanics as players chief complaint. Many recent changes have also tuned weapons with the unskilled player in mind rather than the skilled one. This breaks the game and fails at the core because if the average skilled player can get 30 kills with a Flaylock, the skilled player can triple that. This is the reason noob tubes in any form is a bad idea. Right now the forums are a wasteland of negative threads and shitposting that would turn away any new player curious about the Dust 514 experience. Now is the time to communicate and resolve this, as it may be too late in the coming months.


Here are the outstanding issues we see that must be resolved:

 Dominant  Fits - Dust has an extraordinary level of customization but what good is any of it when combinations like the Proto Logi, Contact grenades, Godlock pistol and Balac-21 AR absolutely dominate everything else? This is made even worse by the fact that logi suits are intended to be support suits but poor design has made them the everyman, ultimate soldier with limitless health and space for every piece of equipment one needs on the battlefield. While other suit combinations are certainly available, anyone who wants to compete is essentially forced to use the 'One fit that rules them all.' Members of the CPM warned us about the flaylock pistol at Fanfest but now its poor design is painfully obvious. Contact grenades take us back to the debacle when all grenades had 2 second fuses. Even worse they act as arcady, close quarters one hit kills for those with the AUR or SP to possess them. Many have suggested a system where grenades have to be equipped for use instead of L1 and they may be on to something. Is the design team is schizophrenic? One look at how the shotgun is balanced shows us cheap kills and unbalanced weapons arent intended and that CCP 'gets it' [sniper rifles and forge guns fit this pattern as well] but the next its like all the noob tube elements of FPS' past [LAV Roadkill, MCC Sniping, Flaylock pistols] are on full display. The game needs to make a distinction so that hardcore players looking for more depth and a paradigm shift in FPS know whether this is the place for them or whether to move on.

Do the Math - Dust's depth is its strength. The customization is breathtaking. Sadly, some of the values and figures aren't well thought out. Why wear enhanced reactive plates when normal armor plates and an enhanced armor repairer are more effective and have a smaller CPU/PG cost? Is the Gastun's HMG an officer weapon? Then why does it have essentially the exact same stats as the Boundless save a single point damage upgrade? The Plasma Launchers needs to one shot most LAVs if its refire time is longer then the forge. If the Laser Rifle variants all have the same damage [this has to change, btw] shouldnt the higher tiers have much higher range and ammo? The devs cant make errors like these because all it does is create 'dead items' that will only take up space in the marketplace and that no one with half a brain will purchase.

Inconsistent Aim Mechanics - Poster Prius Vecht said this recently 'all weapons should operate like the AR, think about it guys. this engine sux its horrible at physics, hit detection and it wont even attempt destructible environments. A car going 5 mph can kill you and a fall from 2 feet can badly injure you if ur in the air long enough. why are they even attempting weapons with splash, arc and other advanced stuff when they cant even get point and shoot right?

even if all projectiles have no travel time it will be a better improvement over what we have now. Dust needs to have the most basic fps system because the engine is so bad. the problem is they are trying to add all these complex mechanics and the engine cant handle it.'


And he's right. The Dust 514 engine is dated and not very good at physics. The hit detection is poor at best. Take the vehicle RAIL turret as an example, try firing this weapon at an enemy for an example of how bad the gunplay is. Couple this with a system where weapons crosshairs are more 'guides' than accurate indicators of where rounds hit and you have a real issue. A game like BF3 can get away with adding bullet drop, weapon arc and other sophisticated mechanics as it has an engine that can handle it. Its in CCPs best interests to use the Keep It Simple mantra. Currently we have a system where inconsistency reigns and as gunplay is a core mechanic in Shooters, this cant happen. Dust needs a much more basic system where 'red' crosshairs on stationary targets indicate hits and should discontinue anything to do with arc, projectile travel time, bullet drop or anything more involved than aim, shoot and hit. When the engine is upgraded this can be revisited but we have to crawl before we can walk.

Eliminate Casual Mechanics - Dust 514 is too complex to be a mainstream game and reviewers like IGN, Gamespot and Gametrailers have destroyed any chance it had with the casual shooter audience. But if it continues to embrace poor casual mechanics it will lose its hardcore players as well, leaving it with nothing a la SOCOM. We recently witnessed the ability for players to snipe from MCC. This is appalling and needs fixing. We cant go into all the ways rewarding players with kills from their spawns is bad. The AFK phenomenon has gone on for too long and destroys the lore. Wouldnt auto-kicks and AWOL occurences on the perm files of mercs have resolved this? Dust 514 would seem to be the game with legitimate penalties for rage quitting with Deserter occurences on the permanent files of mercs but again the devs have to step up. The game must stay consistent with limiting high damage, low skill requirement weapons by balancing them with low range and ammo, movement penalties and slow fire rates similar to the Shotgun, Forge Gun and Sniper Rifle. Splash damage must also be lowered universally. Reward player aim, no weapon in the game [save grenades] should have splash damage that is even remotely close to its direct damage. Finally, the LAV issue is so comical, laughably bad and lore breaking that it threatens to destroy the game. Every time one of these cutting edge, Terminator level suits is instantly killed by a vehicle moving at 10mph [the argument can be made they should survive even full-speed impacts] because of the bad physics engine we cringe. That the engine renders LAV impacts instant kills but HAVs cannot grind you under their tracks renders us speechless.

Back End Issues - The constant disconnections, mic bugs, the shameful framerate and the lag. For a game with a max of 32 players Dust simply does not perform well. Planetary Conquest is more a game of which corp can better deal with the constant technical issues than anything else. Can anyone blame players for not supporting a game with this many technical hurdles? Look no further than the total failure of Brink to know how online players treat a game that doesnt perform well.

Tutorial - While every account cant always be active, Less than .5%  during peak time for a F2P game that has over 2M accounts is bad, that the peak numbers are dropping is more of a concern. The fact that people try the game and then never return is an indictment of the introduction and nonexistent tutorial. Even worse, veteran players are beyond frustrated with blueberry teammates that have no clue what they're doing. Proper tutorials educate new players. Had Dust 514 been a shooter like any other there would be no need for an indepth PVE walkthrough, but it is the most complex shooter on consoles. For months we harped on the total lack of a proper NPE and how it would affect players first impressions and retention. Now that prediction is coming to pass.

Matchmaking - Properly separating a playerbase of less than 10,000 is difficult. While we want to lower the instances of 'Proto Stomping' MAG is proof that proper matchmaking is only successful when you have enough players. Still, Dust needs more tiers and players need incentives not to seek out easy prey. Instant Battles should have by far the worst salvage and lowest ISK payout. Faction Warfare should be the median, NPC and Player Mercenary Contracts should have the highest payouts and best salvage and naturally the top players will gravitate here rather than farming noobs. Providing unique game modes with countless different objectives will provide the variety necessary to keep players engaged. Lastly, lets see a system where the Instant Battle Academy prevents veteran players from creating new characters just to troll rookie players. When one character leaves the academy the entire account should no longer be eligible.

Vary Winning and Losing - We touched on this months ago. Theres simply no reason to care about the shared team goal in Dust and by extension nothing outside of ourselves. Very little difference between winners and losers causes players to invest little in the game overall and put individual metrics like KDR before anything to do with the team goal. Arent we mercs that are hired to complete jobs? Outside of FW employers should compensate based on results. Losers should get 30% of the ISK that the victors get and zero salvage.

Command Structure - With the success of the command ladder in MAG, its staggering to see the lack of any kind of organizing element in Dust. There is no platoon leader and no overall shared team goal. Each squad is essentially a lone group with no ties to each other. Communication needs major overhaul as the only options are either the chaos of everyone talking on one channel or being totally cut off from other groups on squad chat. Theres also no ally proximity chat for those on the squad channel. We question the foresight of a system like this. Can you imagine larger games with 24, 32 or more players on one channel? Clusterfuck comes to mind. Recently the devs have hinted that the open comms are the culprit regarding some of the connection issues. We're hardly surprised, we can't think of a worse setup than the comm system Dust has currently. Not only is the compartmentalized chat MAG had more efficient, but apparently it wasted less bandwidth on voice as well.

PVE - The necessary variety this will add to the Dust experience can't come soon enough. The tutorial must contain an indepth PVE experience.

Poor Design - Why would anyone put easy to use contact grenades in this game? Dont you remember how bad it was when all grenades had a 2 second fuse? For balance it seems like lower skill requirement grenades would do less damage and have a smaller radius as well. One of the best suggestions we've seen recently came for Bendtner92, and we've seen it a lot recently. It may be time to use L2 to switch between grenades and equipment, and R2 to switch between weapons. L1 should allow us to paint enemy targets. Is it any wonder no one uses the Plasma Launcher for AV? It cant even one shot stock LAVs and its reload time makes a second shot basically impossible. Afraid it will become the latest noob tube? Lowers its efficiency vs infantry to 20% and the problem is solved. Unlimited ammo for tanks and vehicle turrets breaks the game, especially given the finite ammo amounts everywhere else. The Flaylock simply cannot be a more effective, less expensive version of the Mass Driver. Dust should have lengthy entering & exiting animations instead of the instant in and out of vehicles mechanics. Speaking of LAVs, the HP bonus was unnecessary and the speed and total HP must vary just like they do for dropsuits. We can see Scout LAVs having the speed of the current versions but stock LAVs must be slower. Logi LAVs having more protection is fine, but they should by far be the slowest. Why is there no incentive to use the active scanner? Shouldnt it reveal enemies and their equipment and reward those who use it with points if those targets are killed? There still isnt a way to paint targets and the current system lasts all of 5 seconds, perhaps L1 can resolve this as posted above. Dropship pilots and their style of play still isnt supported. If CCP wants a variety of players to enjoy Dust they must reward them with the ability to progress.  The system that reveals the position of drop uplinks needs fixing, reward savvy mercs for hiding their uplinks. Uplink detection should be limited to active scanners and the scan proximity of the dropsuit. Speaking of which, suit profile, dampening and scanning must have a more tangible effect on the game or it will continue to be ignored.

Massive Battles - While solving performance issues is a priority first. Dusts version of massive simply cant be 24 vs 24 player battles. If this is truly New Eden 64v64, 128v128 and even 256v256 must be the goal.

EVE/Dust Connection - The connection between the two games is a misnomer and doesnt have to be. A great discussion on the feedback forum echoed what we have always said regarding cool-downs for orbital strikes rather than War Points. Still, EVE players should provide more than simply orbital bombardment. Subtle perks like the ability to reveal enemies on the battlefield, disrupt enemy communications and deliver assets and vehicles. Maybe EVE players should provide a more consistent and faster transportation in New Eden. Where are the non-lethal EMP strikes? We cant think of players more ready to handle the RTS overview that the MCC Commander was supposed to have than EVE players. We should have the ability to choose either an EVE or Dust player to oversee our battles and assist the platoon leader. Lastly, we dont know what logistical hurdle would have to be leapt, but shared third person social areas would provide the link of communication that is still lacking between the two games.

Game Modes -We cant tell you how disappointed we were with the latest dev blog. Here we were assuming it would talk about some of the new game mode ideas being implemented but instead it went into a monologue about how difficult they were to create. With a game with as much lore as EVE, the variety of experience in Dust is embarrassing. Dust should have the most unique, creative and numerous game modes in FPS but stumbles along with Skirmish, Ambush and Domination? This is totally unacceptable as there have been wonderful gamemode suggestions for over a year with zero implementation.

As always, we'll continue to attempt to help push 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

16 comments:

  1. ok game, lack of game modes killed it for me.

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  2. You want diversity but push for nerfs in all weapons not AR. Thanks to people like you lasers are gone from the game, MD are a joke, and tanks are glass cannons.

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    1. Agreed, the tears of the unwashed masses flooded our once great landscape, leaving nothing but appeals to the lowest common denominator in it's wake. Yet they don't stay, HTFU is not their mantra.

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  3. spot on regarding flaylock and contact grenades

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  4. Good article spot on with everything.

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  5. Yep... Now who's to blame... CCP, CPM or us (the players)?
    Prob all of the above in some ways.

    I think a revive is now in order.

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  6. I part about inconsistent aim mechanics just sounds strange. They should never get rid of the ballistic projectiles. They are a great thing, and if they take that away the Plasma Cannon will become the new OP weapon. This is not even an issue that matters at all when it comes to shooting or aim.
    Maybe if it was just talking about the same old "bad hit detection" I often hear people talk about while assuming they just missed and can not accept the fact, or realize it may be a lag issue.

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  7. Also, since when did MAG ever properly balance the teams? DUST 514 balance is about the same as MAG's in that if you get a corp/clan on one side you see that side dominate and red line the enemy.

    The only sense in which MAG balanced the map was because there were so many people on the map, and I think that would help DUST a lot. If more people can be added at the same performance level, it should be done now.

    The best way to balance a small group of elite players is to flood in the DUST bunnies.

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  8. sorry but if people are using grenades in close quarters you have failed as a game designer.

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  9. With all of the bullet points listed,it's becoming more and more obvious that CCP is just too much over their heads with the development of Dust.There are just waaaay too many things for them to fix in a short amount of time before people move on to what the PS4 and Xbox One have to offer.

    At this point I look at it in either one of two ways:
    1)CCP was too ambitious with Dust 514,and now their incompetence has been exposed for the whole world to see.

    Or

    2)This entire experience of Dust on PS3 is nothing more than a beta for Dust's real release on PS4,which is what CCP had planned all along.

    That's it,there's no middle ground.It's one or the other.

    My personal opinion is that I lean more towards #1 do to the fact of how the progression of the game has been developed.It seems that they have built it backwards with core shooting mechanics being the least important aspect of the game,while putting more emphasis on selling shit on the market and taking your money.

    Lack of communication from the devs is also a tip off to me of them thinking,"Oh shit! We've really fucked this thing up haven't we?".If it were people that were really confident in their abilities they would have more fleshed out time tables or when things are going to be implemented,and when certain things will be fixed,instead of the silent treatment for a couple of months,or the ever ubiquitous,"SOON TM".

    This game now reminds me of a huge commercial jet liner that's spiraling into a deadly nosedive with none of the pilots skilled enough to pull it back up and get it right.

    CCP is running out of time.The rats are jumping ship,and if this game isn't up to snuff "SOON",this thing will be pretty much dead before the year is out.

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    1. totally agree, not many ppl will be sticking around once the ps4 is released with Destiny and The Division

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  10. honestly Uprising has been mostly a waste of time, there are only three things that are great from Uprising. One the Nerf on those laser rifles, I was so sick of seeing everyone using those dam things. Two the Graphics update , although graphics don't make a great game Dust 514 looks better. Three Domination is a pretty cool battle mode. Other than that everything else was kinda pointless, I don't see why they couldn't bring the new weapons and vehicles into the build we had before. PC is just a really expensive Skirmish mode, New players still aren't taught how to play the game.

    But there is hope since they are switching to monthly updates.

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  11. Very well written, MAG Worldwide.


    As Th3rdSun suggest first, I lean toward CCP have too much over their heads with Dust. I don't think they have this magic Playstation 4 build that will surprise us all.
    I've talked to a dear eve players, who have been along from the very beginning until 2011, which said that the CCP is suffering from terrible corporate governance, which he had confirmed from both former and current employees. They made a few (major) mistakes based on misconception/bad understanding of consoles, and lack the skill and capacity to pull it through. I hope they learn. But i fear it will be too late by then.

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