Monday, May 5, 2014

Ashes to Ashes...

"There's been a change of plans, Dust Bunnies."

Like many members of the community our blog writers were both shocked and disappointed to learn that Dust 514 development was being slowed to a crawl. For more balance we decided a piece with two perspectives would be best so that more than one voice could be heard.

Mike: Imagine being a backup QB brought into a football game at halftime down by four touchdowns. This was the situation CCP Rouge inherited as the new EP of Dust 514. With apologies to CCP Jian, Dust was in such a poor state that the 'Do we just cancel this?' discussions had to already be in full swing. CCP has investors so there's little doubt the Powers That Be didn't have a full understanding of what the metrics were saying. 'This is game is so bad that we squandered all the early buzz, and in its current state we can't give it away.' was what they had to be thinking as the initial reviews and metrics came in. It was a game so bad that the active playerbase for a game that was free to download and play was 0.1% of the consoles that were available. In a scramble to save Dust they decided to take the project to PC where they had a strong playerbase courtesy of EVE. Why? A few reasons, while the PS3's outdated architecture certainly played a role in not allowing Dust to come anywhere close to its potential, that excuse falls on deaf ears as it was the format CCP chose. The main reason it failed is simple: DUST BOMBED BECAUSE OF POOR QUALITY, CONTENT AND IMPLEMENTATION. It was an unfinished, overly complex 16v16 lobby shooter pretending to be an MMO with no tutorial, bad graphics and even worse shooting mechanics.

We love the way Dust revolutionized the dated aspects of shooters and tried to push the envelope with persistence, limited assets, tactical options and customization but a game has to deliver on its core first, or its the savant who can do high level computations in his head, but can't spell their own name.

Our blog will live on and will cover EVE: Legions [if it gets the greenlight] as we're a New Eden entity and we support the vision of a ground-based MMO in EVE. But looking at the aftermath of Fanfest we'd urge CCP to find a way to do right by the 100,000 or so Dust players that you abandoned, deceived and disrespected at your feature event three days ago.

  "I would like to say that with what I have seen today at Fanfest that has happened with Dust 514, I can no longer trust a company such as CCP. To hear what I heard today just displeases me to a massive extent, and makes me feel that the product I'm paying for will change too drastically and the amounts of false advertising I have noticed; I would like a refund of the days remaining and in conjunction with my privacy rights, I would like my account deleted. I can no longer support a company that did what I saw today to the Dust community, I wish to take my business elsewere, and not support a company that shits on families and their fan base at their own event. Good day.
 
Above is an example of many of the forum posts we've seen over the last few days related to CCP's missteps regarding Dust. The most surprising part is that it was written by an EVE player. As a smaller company with a loyal but small following, earning the wrath of a vocal playerbase in the age of social media can be dangerous. Players desperately avoid wasting money on bad games they can't return due to the DMCA, so recommendations and word of mouth can be the difference between success and failure. Dust 514 has a small but loyal community who are valuable from a feedback, testing and suggestion standpoint. Turning your backs on them isn't a good idea. The time may come when you need a console playerbase to support your business model. Shocker: EVE may not always be solvent. Console players won't forget a developer that was less than honest in dealings with them when its time for EVE: Valkyrie to sell copies on the console.


Bruce: Right on cue, now even people at CCP like VP Sean Decker are willing to admit Dust 514 was horrible. Because lets face it, the Dust that we were forced to play had nothing in common with the vision gamers were sold. Gamers were punished with a bland lobby shooter that looked bad, had horrible shooting mechanics and had none of the scale that it promised.

We don't care if current devs take offense to some of our criticisms, the facts are the facts: Dust wasn't even good enough for a marketing campaign. It was on the playstation ticker and a few banners on websites but the commercial never ran. Here again, CCP had seen the metrics and the reviews. They chose to slink off into the shadows and act like the game had never been released, and who can blame them? The core mechanics were so breathtakingly bad that it was essentially laughed off the stage upon release. Its metacritic score [62] is a direct indication of how bad the finished product was and how much gaming media knew it.

The company line now is that CCP can't achieve the vision for Dust on the PS3. That's fair, but they decided to go into a different direction in October. SEVEN MONTHS AGO. And this is were they stooped to the depths usually reserved for hated companies like EA. Instead of continuing to slow-develop this clusterfuck of a game in a slowed down beta and advise the community of their plan to develop it on better architecture, they pretended their piss poor effort was worthy of commercial release and started taking money from consumers for the 'privilege' of being glorified testers. Nothing is more low and deceptive and CCP needs to make amends for this.

Lastly, to the CPM: You aren't villains, but sitting by and watching CCP do three major events in the last 45 days pushing AUR gear [a cash grab if ever there was one] and seeing players spend money because they didn't know Dust was being phased out? Is that what's come of the group designed to represent the community? If ever there was a time to resign in protest [like Cazaderon] leak info or suggest people not attend Fanfest this year, this was probably it. NOTE: Cazaderon you will forever be held up as a shining example of what it means to put the community first. You sir, have our utmost respect. The short story of what happened at  Fanfest:


Now that you're amused, we've outlined an eight step process that needs to happen going forward.

1. Apologize - This is by far the easiest and most necessary thing that needs to happen initially. Its up to CCP to decide who and where.

2. Refunds - 1) Announce Dust's decreased development level along with the other server messages. If players continue to spend money on AUR gear and boosters they're doing it knowing Dust is being phased out. Similarly, we'd suggest offering a universal refund to Dust players that want it [with accompanying SP/Gear reset] consider VP Decker's admission: Dust was a lemon and you know it. Is it moral to ask players who feel robbed to pay for it?

3. Commit - Though they had no reason to, the Dust community invested in your game based on promises that it would achieve. Stop with the non-commital responses related to Legion/Dust. Move forward with your dev process and commit to migrating characters and their assets. If the same assets/skills aren't moving over, award them with the equivalent, ISK or with unallocated SP to represent the missing value. In short, make this happen even if you have to manually save player names and have them send images of their total SP.

4. Be Patient - I have little doubt that bean counters pressured CCP into the commercial release of Dust before it was ready. We can see it now: 'We've been in beta for over a year and this project isn't making any money!' So the game released in a putrid state and predictably, bombed. Mistakes like these can't be repeated. Dust/Legion operates on a rock-paper-scissors balance philosophy that can never work if the paper and scissors aren't included at launch [see tanks] adding content later is a great idea, but the game must have a solid foundation with all of the ground floor mechanics and items when it releases. While iteration is fine, the product must be in a finished state before it ever sees the light of day.

6. Involve the Community - What reviews and lack of players haven't already confirmed, the comments section of any article about Dust 514 should. The game was an abject failure, it took years just to get the shooting mechanics to a subpar level, as they still cant be considered good. While some mechanics Dust tried to implement were welcome additions, many [like killer logis, firing from cloaks, the combat rifle, plasma cannon, and AV balance] should have died in a conference room. Others [a proper NPE, prone, battlefield hierarchy, prox chat and numerous game modes] were critical but left out. Moving to PC makes no difference if the same terrible decision-making and lack of balance follows. Legion can't be a prettier interface with the same below average gameplay. CCP mentioned using Dust players for feedback going forward. Follow through on this and actually listen to them. If you knew everything about making a good shooter? YOU'D HAVE MADE A GOOD SHOOTER! You didn't so being too arrogant to consider what the community wants and urges isn't a bad thing. We already know the alternative. We're putting together a community-led team known as Council 1359 who will be creating suggestions and priorities in an organized whiteboard fashion. Understand however, that with the time already wasted on Dust, this group won't be in the mood to watch the same mistakes be repeated.

7. Redeem Program - We're of the opinion you can never redeem yourselves for the 'red wedding' fiasco that some now refer to as the Dust Keynote. Still, an attempt has to be made. Guarantee Dust players a spot in the first beta of Legion, and early access to its forums, give them unique blueprint gear and starting AUR in-game in addition to having their characters transfer over fully [BPOs included] reach out to the Dust players who attended Fanfest and right that wrong. Do something, anything to restore the confidence lost at Fanfest.

8. Communicate - There must be a complete paradigm shift in the way that CCP interacts with the Dust/Legion community. Communicate with the players on a regular scheduled intervals and provide them with relevant information. Second chances are rare, if you botch this atleast give players the opportunity to jump ship at the first hint nothing has changed.

We think the incentive is obvious. In the age of social media, a company like CCP simply can't have a PR disaster like what took place three days ago. Like we referenced above, no company with less than 1M total players can risk an entire community of disgruntled users calling them thieves and scam artists if they want to sell new products. We hope to see and hear about some of the changes going forward.

9 comments:

  1. Dust players should get in the beta for Legion indeed, after all that time where we put up with all the games problems and how there was hardly a connection to EVE. Where they're starting from with Legion isn't bad right now, when they have a beta ready for us it'll be so much better than what Dust ever was with PC hardware being so much better than what the ps3s hardware was CCP will be able to do so much more and faster.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've played Dust 514 since closed Beta. Having played Everquest in the past I had no problem spending $20+ a month on merc packs. I thought of it as an investment in the game. I liked their model... instead of paying $69 one time for a game and being stuck with what was originally put out as is... Dust 514 promised constant evolution and improvements. I believed what the dev's said about where the game was going. (integration into eve where not only could eve players bombard dust but we could shoot eve players, massive maps and massive player battles, PS Vita Neocom ("this is a real thing we are working on, not vaporware") I bought into the dream CCP was selling given their long run with EVE 10+ years. I was looking forward to Dust 514 reveals at fanfest.

    I understand the consoles limitations and was not able to handle what CCP's vision for the game should be and understand that they are a business and have to make a profit to exist.... some explanation and openess may have softened the blow but the way they handled this was a knife in the gut.

    Even though it seems like they will be able to realize their vision on PC their handling of this situation has left me with a lack of trust for the company I once admired. How can I believe the dream they are selling for Project Legion?

    Dust got me interested in trying out Eve. Now I am too leary to continue investing my time and money or even think of doing it with Valkyrie. #lostfaithinccp

    ReplyDelete
  3. CCP Rouge's first post-fanfest words tothe community: Firstly, I want to address the concerns about character migration from DUST 514 to Legion. There has been some concerns about what exactly we are looking to migrate. We are looking to migrate everything we can about characters from DUST 514, including names, corporation membership, skill points, assets and ISK. We have not yet decided how this would translate to the new items and progression system in Legion, but we want to make sure that the time, effort and money you invested in DUST 514 in Legion is carried over.

    Secondly, I wanted to address the questions about what type of payment model we are looking to use with Project Legion. At this stage, we have not finalized the details of the monetization model, there have no discussions yet about moving away from a free-to-play model.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't wanna pay a subscription fee for Dust 2.0

      Delete
  4. "1. Apologize - This is by far the easiest and most necessary thing that needs to happen initially. Its up to CCP to decide who and where."

    I was one of the many who went on the forums to vent my anger at having spent a year of my life and around 150 dollars (20 of it after the announcement because I was too busy to visit the forums and they made no effort to announce anything in the game or on the playstation store). CCP's response: give me a warning that I would be expelled from the forums for ranting. I only posted once, it was 1 normal length paragraph and I had every reason to be angry and months later they had the audacity to give me a warning for ranting. That is the antithesis of an apology. CCP is an unscrupulous company. Full stop.

    ReplyDelete