Monday, August 19, 2013

Where Dust 514 Went Wrong [part 2]

Our first piece detailing the missteps made with Dust certainly made the rounds. Evenews24 is kind enough to repost our pieces and some of the comments and feedback on their comments section were relevant, accurate and provided good insight. To many, at the heart of much of the problem was the fact that CCP promised big but delivered tiny. One fan said 'There's a mysterious, inexplicable, and hideous disconnect between the vision that they hyped and the product they've created. To be on the receiving end of that makes me feel a little violated.'  

Our suggestion regarding the health change was easily the most debated part of our last piece, though most agreed with it. Tiercide talks have resulted, and we hope they continue. One poster pointed to the KDR of many veteran players as proof that the health gap makes the game unplayable for rookies and isnt a good shooter at the core. Its a good point, as most shooters have good players that range from 1.5 to as embarrassingly high as 4.0 KDR for the top tier snipers. In Dust a 4.0 KDR is the starting point for most good players and we've seen as high as 11.0 for active players. This simply cant be, we cant stress how bad this is. Its an example of the ridiculous gap between new and veteran players and how it renders the game unplayable for the uninitiated. And from a lore aspect this defies explanation as well. Are the GEKs plasma rounds really that much hotter than the Exiles? Are the complex plates really that much thicker than the militia ones? Should they be? Giving the GEK a red dot sight and a larger magazine would outclass the Exile in a more subtle way that would be acceptable [and reward player skill] as would making complex plates lighter with a faster repair rate.

Recently we decided to add a voice to this series for more balance. Dennie Fleetfoot of Dust University has decided to be kind enough to provide his opinion here as well. We decided he was a good selection as he has access to a smorgasbord of opinions from casual players. He shares his opinions on where Dust went wrong here as well. Our list starts with casual mechanics:

Casual Mechanics - We cant detail how bad casual mechanics hurt this game without discussing splash damage. If ever there was an aspect that hurt player faith in CCP it was this one. To be blunt, it gave many serious doubts regarding whether CCP had the people to properly code FPS. Let the record show that any discussion regarding OP weapons usually centers around weapons with AOE damage. Why is splash an issue? Because in a shooter, aim is king. Splash Damage that does 80% of direct damage cheapens this. You essentially reward people for missing their target and there's no incentive whatsoever to aim. Case in point: The Flaylock Debacle which is now the MD Debacle and soon to be Forge Debacle. Splash damage for handheld weapons should be reduced to 30% of direct damage and 1m of range. We want to be clear about this: Noobtubes and other weapons designed with unskilled users in mind fail at the core because what the skilled player can then accomplish breaks the game.

The AFK phenomenon is almost as bad. Its to the point where the players who do this taunt the devs. Can you imagine cheaters in another online game being so bold? Especially because Dust is one of the few games with the lore and economy mechanic to combat this. All it ever took to eliminate this kind of behavior was AWOL occurences on the permanent files of mercs that refuse to fight and auto kicks. Couple that with higher tier games eliminating mercs that have a high AWOL % and you instantly have incentive not to do this kind of behavior. Wasnt Dust supposed to be persistent? A history or reputation of mercs that refuse to fight that follows them would seem pretty basic. Lack of Friendly Fire was another poor decision as allies being immune to AoE weaponry [making their spam even worse] and the complete non tactical nature of any game that allows us to spam weapons without risk of damage to allies. The instant teammates have nothing to fear from tactical strikes and can use our grenades as force fields or cover, the game loses all value for hardcore players. Rage Quitting is another tradition in gaming that CCP could have rendered moot, but they refused to step up. Here again, adding Deserter instances on the permanent file of mercs that flee rather than fight and adding a % threshold to higher tier games would have largely resolved this. A record of how many times mercs abandoned their teammates has serious value in terms of shame & ridicule not to mention their dependability.
DFF:  For me casual mechanics are really the sort of gameplay items that should've been
tweaked and fixed as per feedback by the beta testers. That failure is what is harming the
game in the eyes of those players that decide to try it now and putting them of continuing
to invest their time.
Splash damage as of the changes of 1.3 are about right now, with a possible slight
nerf to the Splash from the Mass Drivers or their rate of fire. But if they were left as they
are I wouldn't complain. AFK'ing is really a matter that we should talking about in the past
tense by now. There have been a number of perfectly simple to understand solutions to
the problem from the community. Whats troubling to me is that this wasn't picked up in the
QA in house with the alpha build. In a SP grind game players are going to want to get the
maximum SP with the minimal effort. So it seems a massive oversight and highlights a
level of naivety to allow a predictable and avoidable exploit to last as long as it has.
Friendly fire is I think as it should be, with the public NPC corp sponsored matches
free from it in High Sec and in PC matches with the full fat version. Perhaps Faction
Warfare should have a limited amount of Friendly Fire with perhaps the OB's having it
turned on. But thats for someone who plays FW to comment on. I've had a few matches of
it and there isn't a level of reward for doing it that appeals to me personally. Deserters is a
problematic one to sort out as the level of disconnects is still too high to penalise players
for leaving a match when there's no way to detect if its a deliberate DC or a genuine one.
When the game becomes more stable this can be addressed then.

Communication -  You had to appreciate the irony when it was revealed that the horrible chat system was the source of many of the games lag and disconnect issues. The chaos of everyone chatting in the same channel hurt game performance and made communication difficult. Worse, it had no foresight, can anyone imagine larger games with up to 24, 32 or more players chatting in the same channel? Clusterfuck comes to mind. Simple is better. MAG had a great chat system Dust should have copied rather than try and reinvent the wheel and fail horribly. Other basic chat features that the game neglected were allied prox chat, talking indicators, in match icon and the embarrassingly basic voicechat on by default. These missteps left us with a game that relied on teamwork and communication, but simultaneously rendered players cut off from the same teammates  they were supposed to be talking to. To say decisions like these lacked any logic is putting it mildly.
DFF: Again the few simple additions that are needed to improve the player experience
should have been put in the game at the alpha stage. Voice chat should've have been on
as default from day one. No one can give me an explanation as to it being not that holds
water. An indication as to whose talking is again the kind of thing that we shouldn't be
talking about as a missing function. I've never been a fan of proximity chat so it omission
from the game is one that I've not missed in any way. A simple icon in chat channels that
gives the status of a player as being in a game, squaded, AFK or not wishing to be
disturbed would be a huge plus in a corp channel such as ours which can have over 70
players in it at peak time and you're looking to squad up.

 Better Math - This part of the game simply has to be consistent, while it largely is done well, there are still some headscratching decisions. The armor/shield disparity still needs looking at. Why are shield based suits like the caldari able to armor tank? There is no rationale for shield based suits to have a large amount of low slots when the reverse isnt true. The Plasma Launcher is an AV weapon so poorly designed that its only effective vs infantry. If its refire time is going to be so lengthy it has to do more damage. The fact that it cant one shot militia LAVs is comical. The laser rifle is another head scratcher. Why would the STD, ADV and PRO versions of any weapon do the same damage? Proximity explosives have horrible hit detection, damage and the decision to give every vehicle a proximity detector is among the worst we've seen in the game. Finally, since Flux grenades are wound only weapons [they only affect shields] they simply have to have a bigger effect radius.
DFF: The new plates and armours were a welcome addition as an armour tanker myself.
But simple maths should've informed their usefulness in comparison to shield tanking and
found them lacking before release. Still, I'm a fan of CCP buffing rather than nerfing a
mistake so I'm sure they'll get sorted out soon enough.

Tutorial - To us, this was a core misstep and one that got the game started off on the worst foot. Simply put, a game this complex needed a detailed and mandatory walkthrough detailing key aspects like fitting, market overview, icons and basic combat. What new players got wasnt worthy of the name and was a guarantee that new players would be woefully unprepared and unfamiliar with what they were about to experience.
DFF: Where is it? The current NPE in Dust makes the ones in Eve look like a six year
doctorate course. And as it was confirmed to me by members of another corp, what they
say to players in local chat to Mercs wanting answers to questions that the tutorial fails to
address can be boiled down to three words. 'Join DUST University'. I've posted ideas and
proof of concepts to the CPM and CCP however and the feedback I've received has been
positive so perhaps we may see improvements in the builds to come.

User-Friendly - Other aspects of FPS often taken for granted that werent include were automatic ladder interaction, a join game mechanic to follow allies, the vaulting obstacles made famous in BF3, the ability to paint targets, basic aspects like XP for destroying enemy equip, more accurate HUD compass, weapon customization and common sense additions like a functional Warbage map. One or two of these aspects being overlooked would have been acceptable, but the combination was evidence that the devs working on the game were out of their league in regards to putting together a AAA shooter.
DFF: Ladders have been a particular bug bear of mine for at least a year now. There
seems no consistency as to their use. Some maps seem to have easy to operate ladders
with it being very responsive to interaction while others will only allow you to climb them if
you're precisely at 90 degrees to them, with the sun on your back and a S in the day.
There should also be the ability to slide down them quickly when you come under fire and
stop being a sitting duck while climbing them.
Joining a game could be a little slicker in its execution. With the upcoming
matchmaking changes we might see an improvement to this as a need for the
matchmaking to work. What we should see an end to is the joining of a game that is about
to end. There is surely a point where a game should stop accepting new players from the
Vaulting over obstacles would be nice but before we have that lets work on the
inability of our Mercs to walk over a map and not get stuck or trip over a digital blade of
grass. Or their failure to climb a hill my 83 year old Gran could make it up...
Painting targets is a very Eve thing and its inclusion in Dust would be nice but lets
make sure its done right. I'd have only class of suit able to do it and it should come at a
cost. Perhaps an increase in your own signature.
Why am I still not getting WP for destroying uplinks and hives? Why cant those
players using a codebreaker hack them for their own teams use?
The Warbarge map stop being a confusing wireframe mess of abstraction and be a
detailed, solid blocked and useful tool for the discussion of tactics before a match.
North, South, East and West on the HUD compass please with a range finder for
the optimal and effective ranges of the weapon you're using.
Tech 3 weapons should eventually happen but only when the Eve/Dust industrial
link is established as a way for Eve players to make a living from Dust. Making them care
about it.

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 the final part of this series will be released later this week.


  1. ouch. u were kind of rough on them but it was all true.

  2. I like how u talked about the game in the past tense. #bust514

  3. perfect breakdown regarding the flaylock when good players get ahold of poorly designed noob tubes all hell breaks loose.

  4. Noob tubes done right can be devastating in a vet's hands but still combatted by other skilled vets. Dust has an issue where players dont want to vary their tactics and love FotM but also the flaky manoeuvring about the maps and hit detection makes the issue worse.

    On ladders they are flaky and I think light classes should be able to use them much more quickly but you are wrong about one point - You can press X (iirc) to jump off the ladder.

    Vaulting/mantling of some obstacles (those damn boxes at least) need to be in this game given the stamina but if they did that I guess many would avoid skilling into cardiac regulators.

  5. Dust is crap, let it go.

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  7. "Tech 3 weapons should eventually happen but only when the Eve/Dust industrial
    link is established as a way for Eve players to make a living from Dust. Making them care about it."

    I think you got it backwards Danny. We need a way to make a living off of EVE players. Making us care about EVE is more important at this point. I have fought and won many P.C battles without the aid of Eggers. A O.B from eve is nice and all, but not necessary for victory.

    F.W needs to have higher ISK payouts that come from an EVE players pockets, not an NPC's. Also, F.W should be limited to only player run corps. If they are to matter, they why should just anybody be allow to enter them? Contracts should be put up by an EVE corp/alliances and sent to a corp in Dust. They could show up in the corp battle tab in the neocom to be accepted or dismissed. If the corp looses, they recive nothing and the EVE faction doesn't use them again. We are mercs, there should not be a loyalty system as some suggest. The almighty I.S.K is the only flag we should march to.