Monday, February 10, 2014

EVE Sitdown Part 1: GOONS talk Dust's future

In the aftermath of some of the best discussion ever on the Dust forum [aka the thread that wont go away] Our blog recently had a sitdown with the infamous Goons and talked Dust, good times were had by all. Bombs were dropped. See our blog tomorrow for our sitdown with TEST.

Paradox  Goonfeet - CEO
Samahiel Goonfeet - COO

1. 'I've said it before and I'll say it again and it'll be just as worthless a comment for CCP as it ever was, but: make station capture in EVE require Dust mercs. Stations changing ownership by firing at them is pretty ridiculous and it's the one place where Dust makes absolute sense to EVE.' We saw this suggestion and loved it...what other roles could dust bunnies play in EVE?

The key is to give both games roles that aren’t reliant on one another. You want the roles these games play to dovetail and work in tandem and not be required to do one thing or the other. Making one game required to achieve a goal wouldn’t work and would only serve to alienate one player base or the other. DUST mercenaries should have roles that are irrespective of what happens in Space (and vice-versa) but can offer a compelling reason for EvE and DUST to cooperate.

The current iteration of Faction Warfare is a great first step towards showing what we might be able to achieve on the ground. If this was polished and iterated on, it could be a compelling tide-turner. Further, DUST Mercenary Control could reduce Sov costs if a number of planets blue to the System Holders reaches a certain threshold. At the same time, this could afford a number of benefits to the Mercenaries on the ground: increased salvage gain at the end of matches, increased payouts, or any number of things.

A third role a DUST character could play is general sabotage of EvE space-structures: Territorial Control Units, etc. Winning matches within, could sabotage and offline these structures early giving the winning team a foothold in space.

The basic commodity that the DUST mercenary is providing is labor. This is something Kane Spero and I have talked about a lot. The general notion is that the dust mercs offer the capsuleers shortcuts to traditional objectives, or the ability to influence things outside their traditional sphere. The classic examples are of course the ability to affect Planetary Infrastructure, Shift control indexes in Faction Warfare or Incursions, or affect POS fuel costs in Molden Heath. These are a good start, but they lack a visceral and compelling sense of impact.

Though it might seem a natural fit because of our background, I’m actually really paranoid about DUSTs application to Sov Null. There’s a lot to go wrong there, and I think the risks at this stage far outway the possible rewards. Faction Warfare, Low Sec, and Player Owned Stations seem to be a much safer starting point.

I would love to see capsuleers issuing contracts to take down POS shields, steal moon goo or reaction products, disrupt local chat as an intel source, affect LP payouts on plexes or ratting income, and other such inventive and disruptive, but not war defining, affects. A fun off the cuff idea for sov null might be liberating assets trapped in hostile stations, one gruelling battle at a time.

An idea I’d particularly like to see is DUST tied into the exploration mechanics. So that Data, Relic or Ghost sites, once located hacked and looted by capsuleers in the traditional manner, can be contracted out. Both teams would have a timed race to hack and hold a central objective (ala domination) in a hostile environment after which the winner (if any) gets rewarded by the capsuleer and the capsuleer gets some bonus loot delivered to his hangar.

2. What has to happen so that the social components of Dust 514 more resembles New Eden?

The single most important thing to build a robust DUST 514 community, akin to that seen with EvE Online, is the release of an API.

An API with endpoints for Employment Histories, Wallet Histories, Skill Sheets, and Asset Lists. APIs allow for corp tracking and keeping track of their members and easier authenticating of new members. It allows for more robust EFTs and skill-training programs. An API could even lead to the potential for a DUST killboard. Nearly everything that has to do with EvE these days, relies on a robust and open API for characters, corporations, and even alliances.

DUST only players, however, don’t even have access to their own corporation or alliance’s API. They are are restricted to EvE players to get those keys for them.

There’s basically two contexts for intra-faction communication. The first is immediate in game communication that is objective oriented. Robust ingame voice comms are really the only way to handle this due to hardware constraints and the fact that it’s really hard to text chat while being shot in the face. EVE traditionally handles this through Mumble or Teamspeak because EVE Voice is unreliable and difficult to administer for large fleet fights. An overhaul/upgrade of EVE voice’s backend and customizability would be the obvious solution. But that might be precluded due to software or licensing reasons we’re not aware of.

The second is socialization and orientation outside of matches. In EVE this is rarely handled with in game channels. Chat rooms are typically too fast moving, too crowded, and too timezone dependent for anything outside immediate announcements. This is usually handled with third party applications like Forums, Jabber, Mumble servers, event calendars, wikis. For most of the established EVE groups this infrastructure is already in place, but it’s security is entirely API dependant. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here we simply need to give mercenaries the ability to securely access this infrastructure.

There’s a larger question here of how do we indoctrinate new players into the New Eden mindset; get them grounded in the lore, the factionalism, and the idea that New Eden is a fundamentally social experience and the social nexus of that experience is the corporation. That is largely depends on a robust New Player Experience.

3. Both Templar One and the battle over Caldari Prime saw ships crash on the surface of planets.

These were great mini-events, though heavily scripted,  that needed to go further. The Battle for Caldari Prime energized some players, while it confounded others. Many aren’t used to, or even aware, there’s an expansive wiki on the New Eden universe and were therefore lost as to who Tibius Heath was, or why they should care. Both events became just a cool map with some okay rewards. A more immersive experience is required. This could happen through game videos that are pushed out with an Update (like the old Introduction video) that gives a short :30-1:00 long SCOPE news alert about anything happening.

When I played EvE, on the login screen, there was a news feed ostensibly run by The SCOPE. These text-blitzes had news reports of things happening in both Player-Controlled Alliances as well as NPC ones. At the very least, this should be on the DUST login screen as well. Little touches like this, allow for greater immersion in the world and show the stakes that are on hand for the Mercenary.

4. EVE is well-known for its industry. What roles can mercenaries fill here?

Industry in EvE is a tough nut to crack and one where some in EvE Online are chomping at the bit to produce items for a new segment of the population: DUST Mercenaries. Some have been rather disappointed that they cannot sell to DUST characters as of yet. As I personally have never done much of industry in EvE Online, I won’t speak at length about it. However, for industry and for the Economy to work, you need to have Scarcity. Scarcity is the golden rule in why and how economies work the way they do. Scarcity is why labor (which DUST Mercenaries are already primed to provide) and massive wars break out.

I really don’t envision DUST mercenaries producing anything myself. As I said earlier their chief commodity is labor. I could definitely see them being sent into hostile environments to retrieve materials (Lets have a volcano map with actual lava!) for industrialist or explorers, but at the end of the day they’re passing the raw materials along in exchange for sweet, sweet isk.

What we absolutely need is a marketplace for trade, and the ability for EVE to produce our weapons and sell them to us. Markets are dependent upon scarcity of resources. That’s the entire point of trade. I would definitely say we need to remove NPC weapons past militia and standard from the market. It’s kind of an interesting lore note that the weapons and vehicles we use are not in a hangar somewhere but DRMed blueprints that are rapidly produced on site. These BPCs, especially advanced, and prototype variants need to be researched and produced by capsuleers, and access to them has to not be universal (restricted by affiliation or location). The racial variants from the LP store are already a step in the right direction.

5. Console players are familiar with game modes whereas EVE simply provides the freedom to do a particular action, where do these two philosophies meet?

I don’t believe that Game Modes are completely foreign to an EvE Player. They are just looked at in different ways. The greater scale of different types of roles one can play as an EvE player: combatant, pirate, industrialist, scammer are all a type of play style that appeal to some. In EvE PVP for instance, this is further delineated into small-gang PVP all the way to the Sovereignty Grinds that make the news every so often.

DUST’s game modes, however, are far more traditional: capture the proverbial flag, capture and defend, and deathmatch style. The biggest difference here, is the symmetrical warfare involved that make DUST far more polite than its big brother of EvE Online. In a major way, this is where the true difference lies. While this is admittedly theory-crafting, introducing more Asymmetric Warfare into DUST could be that meeting point.

The ability to surprise attack a district, the ability to bring more friends than the other guy, the ability to hop from map to map to map. Or, even, ransoming the clones generated on a district could marry what we have already with the future of the game.  

6. What FW mechanics would you add so that the two games could better support each other?

A better way to decide and dictate where in the war-zone you will be fighting. The current system of waiting for the battle-finder to decide the location, forcing you to scramble to tell your OB support, and then waiting for that OB support to jump as far as 10 jumps to get to your location, is poorly thought out. It adds unnecessary hurdles where there shouldn’t be while making it a hassle the whole way around. This is especially true when trying to sync two or more squads. Which brings me to my next point…

Team Deploy. One of the biggest things people enjoyed in PC was the ability to play solely with their corporation and alliance. This is a point that should be kept in mind. The ability to fight as a team builds camaraderie, instills trust, and gives everyone a taste of how to fight as a larger unit. It shouldn’t be surprising that people want to queue sync with their corporation and/or alliance mates.

The only reason that I can think of why this isn’t implemented, in at least Faction Warfare, is an alarming lack of foresight on CCP’s part.

7. Ship boarding will continue to be a holy grail of the interaction between the two games. Do you see any instances where it fits?

Unfortunately, I do not. The main reason for this is just the way EvE Online works. Though I am not a programmer, how I reason this is impossible is because of server ticks and Time Dilation. As it stands, there’s a two to three second lag between EvE and DUST without Time Dilation. With Time Dilation, the desync between games becomes more than a little insurmountable.

As an alternative I propose that storming stations could be far more attainable with current technology on both sides. Station Storming could happen on its own, cause a station to go into reinforced mode -- or be sabotaged in another way. Mercenaries could gain from being paid directly by the corporation who wishes them to do it. Corporations stand to gain by a lowered requirement of structure shooting.

Aside from the technical reasons Paradox already mentioned, I object to it because an EVE Pilot should only lose control of his ship to EVE events that he has some kind of tactical control over. Furthermore the mechanics of queuing two teams, deploying, and fighting only to have the battle prematurely end due to a titan bridging out/being Doomsdayed/Node Crashing seems like it would be frustrating.

8. How should CONCORD affect Dust mercenaries?

This is a far more difficult situation and probably more pertinent to a possible PVE. CONCORD punishes those who do ‘bad’ things in high-security space. As we’re unable to do ‘bad’ things in DUST, Burn Jita for instance, it is hard to consider where CONCORD would have any hand in DUST at all. Further, strictly according to Lore, Mercenaries are approached directly by the Empires and are (at least in Faction Warfare) punished by those same Empires directly.

With EvE: Rubicon loosening the bonds of CONCORD to the Player Controlled Empires in any case, it is probably best to table that thought until later.

The one thing that I do think of are payments to CONCORD for holding Planetary Sovereignty. Though, this is a system I’m honestly dubious on.

9. When the War Barge is a pilotable ship in EVE or an AI mechanic with travel time, what new game mechanics open up?

Further contracts, suicide ganking, and piracy all stand to see a boost in EvE Online. In DUST 514, the all important logistical metagame begins to take shape. With it, DUST 514 corporations are now forced to consider the best times and the amount of clones to take to battle. Good lines of Logistics are really the heart and soul, and the thankless job, of any and all wars in the New Eden Universe.

This important piece of the game would now find its way into DUST 514.

I spent a good chunk of my EVE career in MINILUV which is Goonfleet’s HighSec division. We were one of the few groups that was completely self funding because we made a habit of blowing up freighters near market systems and stealing their cargo. During wartime we were usually tasked with interdicting enemy logistics along the natural choke points that exist in New Eden’s trade networks.

Unless war barges have some pretty sharp teeth, or friends who know what they’re doing, I guarantee that they will be easy soft targets, and many battles will end before the boots even hit the ground. I definitely don’t recommend depending on autopilot to get you anywhere alive.
10. Talk to us about the corp & alliance tools that are necessary in Dust.

Alliance formation and management do not exist from the DUST 514 client, period. At the moment, it requires an EvE character to make, make the Executor Corp, set up the automated payments to CONCORD, and manage the corporations within that Alliance. These tools are absolutely and positively non-existent in the DUST 514 client or its associated website. This forces a reliance on EvE Online characters that, frankly, undermines its ability to stand on its own feet.

Corporation Management Tools are so anemic as to be non-existent. The roles system has been implemented poorly and we have identified a number of major security holes between DUST’s handling of these roles and the EvE Client. The most famous of these was Corporation Shares and using EvE characters to steal the Corporation from unsuspecting DUST CEOs who did not know that the EvE database automatically creates these shares. The inability for a DUST CEO to claim the shares of the Corporations they create, and therefore protect their assets, was inexcusable. CCP’s reaction to this major hole in corporation security, was likewise, inexcusable.

Further, with a lack of any ability for a DUST character to find and acquire CORP and Alliance APIs from the DUST website, means that DUST characters are managing corporations with both of their hands tied behind their back.

11. We think the player conflict that Bounties, Player Contracts and War Declarations fosters is a brand of player content. Is allowing players to create important?

It is absolutely essential. Nothing in the New Eden Universe is handed to you on a silver-platter. While there are Missions and a form of PvE, this pales in comparison to the player-created content that EvE Online is famous for. Bounties, Player Contracts, and War Declarations are only the tip of this iceberg as player-created content goes above and beyond what you can do from within the game client. Without the tools available to create content in DUST 514 there is no player created narrative. Without this narrative, it is a sandbox without sand.

12. You're in charge of designing the player market in Dust, what features are necessary?

A Corporation Armory where we can dump salvage we aren’t going to sell and can trickle down to our newbies. You will also need Buying and Selling Contracts, that allow players to sell their salvage to a specific group of people. The Secondary Player Market will need Buy and Sell Orders, which allow people to fill contracts for, say, 100 GEK-38 Assault Rifles for a specific price. Next, you will need direct player to player item trading for any amount of money that was agreed on by those parties.

Finally, you will need a market where the NPC seeded prices fluctuate depending on War Zone Dominance and other factors within and without battle. For instance, Drop Uplinks might be prohibitively expensive or non existent in systems held by Minmatar forces. In your local, the market might yield cheaper prices for your home-race’s goods while there might be a mark-up for NPC seeded goods from other races.

I’d just reiterate the points that I talked about with industry. Markets depend upon scarcity. NPC seeding especially universal availability is always bad. The opportunity to acquire one type of good must come at the expense of another. The methods you use to vary that avalibility be they sanctions on certain BPCs by the Empires, availability based on standings or LP,  salvage, PVE rewards, or EVE production are all viable solutions. I particularly like EVE production, but I might have a profit incentive for that one.

13. Fix the NPE for us.

Start with a system of Academy Matches that gradually lets people out into the greater game. As it is now, you have one or two games and then you are let out, without warning largely, into the greater game population. I nickname this ‘The Wall’ and hitting this wall after thinking you are okay, has been a huge source of frustration for Newbies. Academy Tiers could be a good idea, something that gradually upgrades your Academy

The current Objective Based NPE is a good idea, but does not go far enough. It needs to go further in depth, either through videos or through railroading to show more of the game. This could be where PVE could shine. In the old EvE Online NPE, it began with a long story-line mission that showed the new character some of the basics of what to do, how to use the market, and some other salient points. Other Contracts with AI on the other side and specific instructive situations would be a good iteration.

We’re at a little bit of a disadvantage on this question because we generate our NPE in house. Basically we only recruit from an external community and our newbies are immediately handed a guide we update after every patch, given charts on how to allocate SP, handed some basic fittings for vehicles and suits, given ingame channels and an IRC to idle in and ask dumb questions, and told that if they play solo they are doing it wrong.

Obviously CCP can’t afford to be so heavy handed, and our approach only works because of our unique community. But there needs to be a much gentler transition before we let the ProtoStompers run all over them.

I would definitely support at the very least a video, and preferably a PVE match that puts you into squads and gives you squad based objectives to work towards. For example, requiring someone to hack a console that slowly opens a door while the rest of the team holds off waves of drones.

Finally, it needs to be made clear that corporations exist, vastly improve your in game experience, and “here’s a convenient place to peruse the recruitment ads”. I wouldn’t object to a graduation ceremony after the academy that plays a video and says “You’ve graduated/been kicked from the NPC corp, and are now a free agent. If you want to not die, you should probably find a player run corporation to fight for.”

Double finally, all of this needs to be optional because that would be annoying as shit to be railroaded through the second or third alt down the line.

Final Thoughts

Right now, as an Alliance and as a Corporation our aim is simple. We want the tools and the ability for DUST 514 to stand as a game unto itself, to see its community flourish, and to see those social mechanisms that are so important to a Massively Multiplayer Game come into being. We want to be able to create our own narrative. Only after that happens, can we begin to think about how DUST 514 will dovetail with EvE Online.

Postscript: From my point of view the most critical and immediate issue is one of communication. Improvements along the lines that we’re discussing take time, and must be handled carefully and incrementally. But, and this is a very important but, that time and that patience can only be expected of the playerbase if they’re informed of the direction in which things are heading, what the general shape of things to come are, and a timeline of when that can be expected.  Uncertainty is incredibly psychologically stressful. In the face of it, people will almost always find a way to opt out of the situation. The best way to manage expectation is through constant and respectful dialogue.

As it stands now, the level of communication is not nearly enough. While writing these responses we’ve been on skype with former and current  CSM and CPM members; we have forum threads with posts by former CCP devs; we have channels of intel guys, market guys, and industry guys who love to pour over every blue tag for the slightest hint that might give us an edge; and we still have only vague notions, intimations, and outright rumor to predict what is coming out at Fan Fest, much less a year or two down the line. This is not an environment that breeds confidence in investing either time, energy, or aurum in the future of this game. I can only imagine how much worse it must be for the small corp of mag veterans, the returning EVE bittervet, or the solo console player burned out on COD.

 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


  1. entering a POS and pushing through to destroy the shield generator would be epic. would help pilots

  2. I would like to see mercs contracted out to protect industry/miners from attacking mercs/drones/ai who want to make off with their resources or simply disrupt the flow of the spice :)

    this should be in both pvp and pve.

  3. Dust has to lose the symmetrical warfare and gentlemans rules to combat to raise the excitement level. Give corps the ability to bring more forces than the other guy and surprise attack.

    Roving 16 man bands of tryhards controlling New Eden is a travesty.

    1. Agreed, TEST pulling in 128 and Blobbing all in sight...

  4. pilots need to HTFU about ship boarding. its coming so prepare urselves!!!

    1. As a capsuleer I agree with you there. per usual GSF trying to influence gameplay so their sov isnt affected. this makes no sense

      'an EVE Pilot should only lose control of his ship to EVE events that he has some kind of tactical control over.'

      If ship boarding required special ammo as has been discussed not being hit by it is your tactical control. Especially if ships can fit defensive CRU's to defend against it. A pilot conversing with his defenders checking on the status of dealing with a boarding party would make for some awesome interplay.

    2. ships can self destruct.

    3. My major concern is actually the timing issue. The philosophical line about player controls of their ships was more of a knee jerk, spur of the moment idea. If you could couch the trigger for the battle in a proper path of escalations with counters I'd be fine with it.

      My main issue is that EVE battles are spontaneous, unpredictable, and fast. I don't feel mechanically that a Dust battle can be properly staged with two teams forming, deploying, and fighting in the time your typical titan gank takes. Maybe for a battle like HED or 6-VDT where everything was staged ahead of time and based around a timer, but in heavy time dilation a typical twenty minute dust match's effect would be applied 3-4 hours later. Furthermore battles like B-R and Asakai were based on spur of the moment exploitation of unpredictable mistakes.

    4. self destruct? so? ur telling me you'd sacrifice a ship that cost hundreds of billions of ISK because mercs storm onboard? they are cannon fodder and revive in a clone right after, I wonder who the better of that engagement?

      if doomsdaying invaded caps becomes a thing it will be the dumbest thing in EvE ever.

    5. When it comes to boarding a ship maybe it should only be able to happen to Titans. Not sure how huge corp and alliance battles go in EVE online but i'm sure you want that Titan destroyed or at least disabled.

  5. ready 4 the direct P2P trading where I can sell a guy the ten Thales I have. dont forget to add a confirm transaction for both sides before the sale goes through CCP! Scams are going to be afoot, I guarantee it.

  6. Who are the individuals you're interviewing tomorrow for TEST?

  7. Dust Mercs should be able to create, through conquest and stability of regions, ground installations that shoot down EvE ships from warring parties, and then place them on planets that EvE pilots have to visit as a matter of necessity.

  8. I hope CCP is brave enough to implement some of these good ideas. And I hope the community will honor this, even if it isn't perfect from the start.