Thursday, June 27, 2013

New Battle Contracts


Dust 514 is innovative in many ways; its connection to a PC MMO, the level of depth in character building, and its overall ambition. In many ways however, it is far from being original or compelling. One of such areas that Dust 514 is lacking is the battle contracts, or "game modes" it offers. Right now all we have are neutral point capture modes, and team deathmatches. This blog entry will highlight possible battle contracts that I believe should be added to make Dust a more compelling gameplay experience.


1. Obviously, bring Skimish 1.0 back:


I am not alone in thinking that it should have never been removed in the first place, many share these views within the Dust community. There is good news that this mode will return to Dust, but however it doesn't seem to be a priority to CCP. The return of Skirmish 1.0 needs to be a priority. Skirmish 1.0 was one of the reasons I fell in love with Dust despite how terrible the closed beta was when I joined, and it made me believe that one day the game could eventually replace MAG. For those not familiar with the original Skirmish mode, it was an attack and defend mode similar to MAG's Sabotage, but reversed; instead of attackers trying to capture and hold some objectives to unlock a new objective to destroy, attackers had to destroy 2 objectives and then move on to capture and hold a series of objectives. The first set of objectives were defense relays which controlled various installations, and the second set of objectives were the defender's null cannons which the attackers had to disable long enough for their MCC to dock with the outpost.


2. Ambush (Extinguish):


Based on a post I read on the official Dust forums, a variation of Ambush where players are only allowed to spawn on CRUs, and a team loses when all their CRUs are taken by the enemy. This Ambush variation would be a fun hybrid of team-deathmatch and objective gameplay since the CRUs would effectively become objectives to steal from the enemy to extinguish their spawn points.


3. PVE:


At Fanfest 2012 CCP excited the Dust community with the announcement of a PVE mode against deadly rogue drones. They said it was suppose to be out by later that year, but I suppose things don't always go according to plan. They mentioned a mode where you explore the district and hunt own rogue drones to destroy their hive, and another survival mode. There is so much potential in PVE, drones are only just the beginning. We could take contracts to fight against the cyborg hivemind slaves of Sansha, we could fight pirates, and more.
As an MMO, Dust needs to have strong PVE options. PVE battle contract would add the most out of any new battle type since it would introduce a completely different way to play; cooperative instead of competitive, and it would allow new players a relatively safe environment to learn the game. This is why I believe a strong PVE mode is the most important game mode addition CCP can make right now, and it should be a serious priority, even more so than Skirmish 1.0.


4. PVPVE:


One of the fun ways to expand on PVE is to have another team to compete against in addition to the AI enemies. One example of such a mode that could work would be to have 2 teams fighting to take control of a district infested with rogue drones by hacking points around the map to take control of the industrial facilities on the district. The team that takes control of a certain amount of objectives first wins, but the drones can hack the objectives. Drones could be attracted to the sound of gunshots, which would not only lead to more intense battles, but also allow for players to fire their guns near an enemy-controlled location on purpose to attract drones.


5. Confrontation (3 stage battle):


This idea is slightly inspired by Killzone's Warzone mode. A game mode composed of 3 stages. Winning 2 out of 3 means victory. If a team won the first 2 stages, then the 3rd stage should be skipped. Here is my thread on the subject. Below is a list of the three stages, and how this will work:
  • Stage 1 - Defense Relay: Neutral (no attacker/defender). Both teams fight over a defense relay which gives winning team control of the installations and outpost in the next stage. Holding the defense relay fills a bar, and the first team to fills their bar first wins the first stage. This is akin to Domination since there is only one neutral objective. There could also be variations where there more than one defense relay.
  • Stage 2 - Oupost Control: Attack/defend. Defense relay winners become the defenders of the outpost, and their clone reserves increase by 100 because of the clone stored in the outpost. Attackers must breach the outpost and must plant charges to destroy the bulk clone storage sites (and decrease defender clones by 100) to win; 5 sites each containing 25 clones for example. Defenders can win by depleting the attacker clones. Losing stage 2 for defenders means the extra 100 clones is destroyed.
  • Stage 3 - Ambush: Neutral. We all know how Ambush works. Ambush is the logical continuation of Outpost control; in Outpost Control both teams try to take out the other's clones, the attackers do it by blowing up clone storage sites, and the defenders do it by just killing the attackers. Once the clone storage sites are destroyed, it only makes sense that it would just be Ambush.


6. Clone Theft:
Testers Tournament Unlock 4/5 Preview

Since planetary conquest is based on eliminating enemy clone supply from a contested district, it would make sense to have a game mode centered around taking the supply of clones away from the defenders. Here is the thread on the subject. This mode wouldn't just be limited to planetary conquest (I would like to see them in NPC-contracted public battles as well), but it makes sense for it. Here is the idea for such a battle contract.
  • The attacking team starts with however amount of clones they bring to the district when in planetary conquest. When in a NPC-contracted battle, the attackers will have 100 clones.
  • The defending team has however many clones they have on the district. When in a NPC-contracted battle, defenders will have 200 clones.
  • Attacking team must get past the the initial defenses which include turret installations supply depots, and CRUs. All these defenses are controlled by the defense relays (making defense relays the 1st objectives).
  • Once the initial defenses are gone, the objective then becomes to hack a control center inside an outpost to open a hatch on the top of the outpost so the RDVs have access to the stored clone reserves (in the form of crates full of clones). The defenders can recapture the outpost again to shut the hatch.
  • When the outpost hatch is open, the attacker's RDVs will fly to there, and capture crates of clones; each crate could be 25 clones (or some other number). Assuming the objective is held by the attackers, the RDV takes a crate once every 2 minutes.
  • The victory condition for both teams is the depletion of the other's clone reserves, but basically the attackers get the option of stealing clones from the defenders to do it faster, which will be needed since defenders will likely have more clones.
  • Clone crates stolen in planetary conquest will yield ISK equal to the value contained clones for the attackers if the attackers are successful. If the defenders win, then the clones stolen will return back to the defender's district.


7. Battles with 3+ team variations:


Much like MAG's Escalation DLC mode, and the squad deathmatch mode of the Battlefield series, having some battle contracts with more than 2 teams can really spice up gameplay. The obvious Applications of this are that it allows for Skirmish and Ambush variations with more than 2 teams, but this also allows for totally new game modes designed for 3 or more teams. The beauty of these sorts of games is that they allow for "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" sorts of emergent gameplay tactics.


8. EVE-Contracted battles:


These is perhaps the biggest of important type of battle contracts needed for this game to truly fit within New Eden, and for Dust and EVE to have a real connection. The original premise of Dust 514 was that Dust mercs could be hired by EVE players to wage war on their behalf over their valuable industrial locations. These battles could take place on planets, moons, space stations, and eve inside the starships of EVE players (as was mentioned as fanfest). Such battle contracts could play similarly to Skirmish 1.0 and should come in 3 flavors, depending on what the EVE player can afford:

  • Sabotage: The cheapest of the options. In this sort of battle contract, the Dust mercs will be hired to sabotage a valuable target in EVE while another team is hired to defend it. This should deactivate the target long enough to provide the owners' enemies a chance to strike.
  • Destroy: For a higher price, the Dust mercs can go even further and completely destroy the planetary or lunar industrial facility, space station, or starship.
  • Steal: The most expensive of the contract options, the attackers are hired to steal and transfer control of the target for their employer. 


9. Single merc Infiltration mission:


Dust may be a team based game, but there can still be battle contracts that allow mercs to go in alone to have a solo experience once in a while. I propose an infiltration mode in which one mercenary infiltrates a drone colony, avoid detection, and eventually hack a core to detonate the colony. Stealth modules would be greatly beneficial in such a mode.

10. Sansha attack escort:


This could be either PVE, PVP, or PVPVE depending on if Sansha uses his cyborg slaves, or if he also hires mercs, but this could give Dust mercs an opportunity to escort and defend civilians from being captured and forced to join the slave hivemind. Imagine a mode where mercs arrive to escort VIPs [or hot drop in and secure them from captors] from a hotzone and get them to an escape point. The mercs could either spawn with the vips or have to secure them from their captors. Then they would have a choice of up to five points to extract them to on large maps.

I dream of a day when we Dust mercenaries spread throughout the EVE universe like a glorious virus, feared and hated. I want us infesting the vital structures of the universe's industry, making our impact felt across the stars, and deciding the fate of empires with our battles. Battles that will surpass all other shooters in both scale, complexity, and impact. May this dream one day become reality.

According to CCP LogicLoop, stages, and defense relays are currently broken since they built upon the original Skirmish 1.0 code to make the current Skirmish. It should also be noted that CCP LogicLoop is always pushing to make Skirmish 1.0 a priority. There are certain issues that would make 3+ team modes also be hard to perform. These suggestions are not nearly as easy to do as I may make them sound, but in the future hopefully they will be possible. 

13 comments:

  1. I hope CCP reads this. Great job I like most of these ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome modes, you should be hired by CCP so you can show them how it's done lol

    ReplyDelete
  3. love this...would like to see some sort of escort as well.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I really loved Skirmish 1.0 and really hope they bring it back soon.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good post. Dust has one game mode and its Skirmish. Dom is skirmish with 1 objective. deathmatch is not a game mode. PERIOD.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have an idea for a mode called War Chest. Two teams battle for control of a strongbox containing ISK, Aurum, or some other valuable material. The attackers attempt to transport the box to one of several hacking relays. They must get the box to three or more relays in order to decrypt the code and seize the contents of the strongbox. The defenders, meanwhile, must attempt to scramble the code by hacking the box in order to secure it. Whichever team succeeds at their objective first must transport the box to a pickup zone and defend until an RDV arrives to transport the strongbox and the mercenaries offworld. What do you think? A good idea?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was playing last night and something hit me. I would love to do a battle with just the members of my corp, and with corp issued ground assest (vehicles and turrets) with a set number decided upon before hand by either a commanding officer or a vote by corp share holders. These ground assest could then either be supplimented by the individual mercs (at thier cost), or they could be all that is available for the entire mission. The cash reward would be whatever the corp accepted for the contract, less expenses, and either devided evenly, based on battlefield contribution, or a tiered based system based on shares or vestments.

    Of course all of this would only be possible if the corps were managed and run more like they are in EVE.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I would also love to see more options for out of combat play, and even an option to invest some of my hard earned money in a corp (either NPC or PC controled). That way when I lose 2-3 Heavy Commando Dropsuites, which totally wipes out any cash reward for a mission, I still have another option of making some money.

    ReplyDelete