Thursday, February 6, 2014

GOONS & TEST: Where's the Sandbox in Dust 514?

A funny thing happened on the way to EVEs utter and complete non-concern for Dust 514.

PC players got a brief taste of the 'Ground War Window' into New Eden and liked the view. Sadly, like many other would-like-to-be fans of the title, they kept looking for reasons to stick around but simply couldnt find any. Dust simply lacks any of the aspects that make EVE great. In one of the most meaningful threads we have seen on the forums, members of two of the largest alliances in EVE addressed many of the issues they have with the Dust 514 experience.

The realization is both sobering and disappointing for the people that play in search of the sandbox. While Dusts potential is incredible, the simple truth is this: In its current iteration it is a small lobby shooter with a tiny but hardcore playerbase. It has few social aspects and fewer things to do outside of shoot faces. Those that understand the dynamics of critical mass understand it could easily be a game teetering on the precipice of mass exodus. A single step in the wrong direction could easily reduce its single feature: Battle Queues, into the five minute wait-to-play that killed MAG and simply isnt realistic in the current FPS climate. Dust 514 needs active players badly, and for that it needs to 1) properly introduce those new players to New Eden 2) make certain this window into New Eden shares the same unique qualities with the original and 3) keep providing those players with reasons to stay.

This discussion on the forums is unique because it isnt the constant complaints of console players. These are tried and true veterans of EVE well versed in 'HTFU' that enjoy what New Eden has to offer and have the foresight to see what advantages ground forces will give their stellar empires. Sadly what follows is so much of the 'we came, we saw, we left' that Dust is famous for. Few games have the kind of free advertising that EVE constantly provides and fewer still deliver so little payoff. What can be said when the largest, most patient and motivated groups of players begin to leave? The community has seen a small jump with the MAG server shutdown but what will prevent these players from being pushed away like so many others? Especially with Dust suffering through one of its most trying periods with the current state of gameplay with HAV/Rail Rifle/Combat Rifle Dominance. The points made during the discussion are both poignant and require answers. Some of what took place:

0. Where is the proper introduction for new players that prepares them for one of the deepest, most complex games ever to grace a console? Have you seen the state of blueberries in Dust 514? Training by osmosis isnt working.

1. Where is the clear and obtainable plan for Dust? The time for pie-in-the-sky fluff designed to instill hope and not much more is over. When will Dust make/do anything in EVE? When will dust bunnies be a resource that EVE uses to accomplish a goal?

2.  CCPs expertise is in creating games that give the player a strong sense of risk vs reward, with tight social components and the tools needed for drama and intrigue. Properly develop that and other shooters won't even be competitors, because it will be at a fundamental level a different type of game. As long as the shooter mechanics and content aren't atrocious people will overlook that, because those things have little to do with the promise that dust has been trying to deliver on.You should always emphasize what you're good at and do just enough of the other stuff to get by. Kinda like how you always armor tank a gal logi or an archon. You can try to shield tank them, but in doing so you're giving up your advantages.

3. Mercenaries must have the ability to participate directly in the eve economy. Players must enjoy some economic and/or political benefit from the appropriate and inspired strategic application of Dust forces.

4. Hilmar spoke about Starbucks, Porches and Manolo Blahniks yesterday. Dust needs more of all three..particularly Starbucks. The game has nowhere to enjoy coffee with other drinkers and self identify, the social aspect and feeling of being in New Eden just isn't there.

5. Dust players need to be able to fulfill contracts from Capsuleers that affect the lore, the political landscape of Nullsec, the territorial balance of Faction Warfare, and/or the industrial engine of Highsec in a way that is predictable enough to be strategically applied and countered. Dust players need to be able to buy and sell on the market with an intrinsic scarcity of goods that inspires trade between mercenaries and between mercenaries and capsuleers.

6. Dust players need to be fully integrated into the corp/alliance structure of eve with a full API, robust communication, and a proper mirroring of roles.

7. Create a Dust 514 Test environment on SiSi and release a downloadable test client for the PS3 to allow players to test out changes much like they are doneso for EVE Online.

8. Revisit the possibility of offering players an optional subscription plan for their accounts. I.E. sell Dust MLEX (Mercenary License Extensions) on the PSN network market that will provide tons of benefits to their account for 30 days on top of the boosters they already have. Make sure the benefits are worth it, hell even provide passive skill gains on all characters on the account instead of just one.

9. No Corporation Armories. Even if there wasn't a secondary Market, a Corporation Armory could be a point where people can donate their useless salvage for newbies who might need it.

10. No API. At this point, saying it will come with CREST is an excuse. A stop gap under the legacy API system should have been used with a plan to grandfather it out once CREST became the new hotness. This would allow COMMUNITIES such as mine and the Mothership of the CFC in general to come together despite what happens in either game.

11. Poor Implementation of Corporation Management Tools (Dust Side). If the goal at last year's fanfest was to have DUST corporation/alliances stand on their own feet then the current state of corp tools is inexcusable. Not only do you need an EVE character to properly manage corps and alliances; sometimes they are the only way.

12. DUST is not Battlefield. DUST is not Call of Duty. DUST is not lobby shooter 52 for the PS3. DUST is an extension of the EVE universe, the EVE mentality, the EVE community. So why is it that DUST is so segregated and oblivious to EVE? When B-R5 happened, did DUST care? Did DUST even hear about it? And more importantly, did a single person in EVE think about DUST during the several hours the battle raged?

13. So, to me, the answer seems simply. Instead of spending months upon months tinkering with the deck chairs on a sinking ship, trying to micromanage DPS numbers on rifles and other pointless nonsense, CCP needs to work to make Dust 514 the FPS version of EVE online. We all know no one plays Eve Online for the fast paced twitch gaming, and the people playing Dust 514 aren't playing it because it's the pinnacle of FPS game design. The majority of the player base are simply tolerating the gameplay in hopes that at some point it will "mean something."

14. One game mode after all this time? Virtually no MMO elements or core foundation? I love the fact that Dust is in constant development but that doesn't mean you don't even attempt to release the game in a finished state. I came here for New Eden. I heard tales of Spies, Corporate Theft, Caldari Prime, Jita, Massive Battles, Stations and Titans. I've still yet to see anything but Scotty...

15. The MMO aspect of Dust boils down to talking to people in chat rooms. We cant even navigate the local channels. Where are the open social areas where New Eden's finest are famous for backroom deals, betrayal, politics and all the other skullduggery? At the very least give us something to do besides login and wait for a match to start in the lobby. Why havent you given players the tools to create their own content yet? bounties anyone? player conflict defines MMOs and when EVE/Dust corps cant create contracts, train their players or properly manage their alliances/corps and the ability to avoid war by district locking is the norm something is amiss.

16. The game needs that EVE side in Dust to keep this game interesting because... well that's the only reason most people are here. That link is what makes it unique but that's it, I do agree that the FPS side needs to be worked on also but both need to be worked on a lot now. Without that MMO side there's nothing but a promise from CCP to keep people in the game but with bad FPS mechanics it could keep new people away from dust 514.

17. Where are the super sized battles like Asakai or B-R5RB? one of my biggest issue remains the fact that 16 people can determine who owns a district on a planet in Dust.

18. Dent and I always got a long pretty well, we were both trying to build Dust programs in the two largest alliances in the game. I never had any problem with the Subdreddit guys, even when things went nuts EVE-side. Everyone wants the tools to make integration better, and we're all nerds after all. v0v

19. The string of brilliant design decisions was already made and has yet to be realized. It was all that hurf blurf during last fanfest about 'showing other FPS players the prison they are in.' He means making the metagame as described in the OP a real thing to care about. It's been just about a year since official release and our metagame is pathetic. The planetary conquest that no eve player cares about at all. Full stop. Only dust players that care are the forum warriors and those that are churning out free isk with perpetual district locks. When is it our turn to say "I was there?" Don't tell us Soon™ anymore. Get out a map and put an X on it. That X could be in 2016, but put it down and commit to it. Hate on planetside 2 all you want but they have a roadmap and things on it sometimes don't get pushed back and happen. I'd be playing that if only they'd start introducing new content instead of shuffling around the old crap.

20. With that said, CCP doesn't have the resources to create an AAA shooter that could truly compete with the likes of Battlefield or Call of Duty. On the other hand, Eve is an undeniable success on the MMO market. If CCP has to choose between making Dust a better FPS or a better MMO, I really hope they stick with what they're good at.

Ironically the same day this discussion took place, CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar spent the day speaking on the psychological aspects of gaming at the DICE Summit in Las Vegas. Coincidence? We think not. Some might even say his commentary inspired this discussion. At present there is little emotional connection that binds players to Dust 514 and this is disappointing as New Eden was developed with this at its core.

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. If I ever see soon™ again CCP will be sorry. it wasnt funny to begin with and is even worse now.

    1. CCP needs to print out this article and tape it to the wall in their shanghai studio.

  2. its important to dispel the notion that capsuleers hate dust. IMO many want to like it but here again, are waiting for it to feel like new eden.

  3. '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 chaging ownership by firing at them is pretty ridiculous and it's the one place where Dust makes absolute sense to EVE.'

    this was a comment from the same thread by SPERG's Aran Abbas, he's right.

  4. Templar One introduced new mechanics like hot extractions, assassinations and recovering the assets from downed ships. None of which we can do in Dust. would be epic if we could scramble mercs to get the salvage from a ship lost over a planetary conflict. battle over caldari prime a great example.

  5. somebody wake me when we can be the MCC cmdr and drop in assets instead of letting the AI put turrets behind buildings and all other kinds of foolishness.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. It's debatable whether CCP is good at designing games at all. EVE has a hardcore audience, and it's definitely unique in the MMO field (which is why it has its hard core audience.) But the game itself, EVE Online, is terribly boring and poorly designed. The only reason EVE continues to exist is because players have made the metagame (the game outside the actual crappy game) exciting.

  8. If playstation now puts this on a PC client, I think you'll see an upswing.

  9. I play DUST, and it getting seriously boring, same maps, same guns, terrible new player experience, no different styles of game modes... ambush, skirmish, domination using the exact same maps does not count as diversity. CCP keeps messing around with the same mechanics by nerfing one weapon, buffing another, making others obsolete, Can not test weapons or gear before wasting a months worth of skill points to even see if that fits your play style. Some corps work together to run planetary conflict matches where they do not take any objectives and amass over 30,000 skill points over and over, earning millions of free ISK per match and padding their skill points with no risk.

    I am personally losing interest.

  10. District locking is not the problem. District locking is a symptom of a greater problem. CCP wrongly thought it would be best to be sure small groups are given power and not held back. This was done with the intention of helping small friendly groups to be able to compete with the big dogs and stop zerg groups from ruling.
    This was completely wrong to do though. Instead it allows small elite groups to rule, and for massive groups with large portions of the player base with very little. By favoring the elite it has ruined PC mode and given far too much control to too few people.
    People do not lock their districts for fear as people pretend and e-peen stroke. It is out of boredom from fighting the same group of ringers no matter who you attack. Groups do not even get to defend their own home, they pay the small elite groups that rule PC mode.
    We need to remove the help for little elite groups that never needed assistance, and to make having a larger more organized organization actually mean something.

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