Monday, October 7, 2013

Where Dust 514 Went Wrong [part 3]

 In the final part of our look back at the mistakes Dust made, we look at the decisions made regarding Open World, Strategy, Social Aspects, Variety and Core FPS mechanics. The bevy of features and stellar gameplay using all of these aspects in a casual game [GTA Online] means the time for CCPs excuses has run out. The company had the market cornered on Persistent Shooters with customization and economy less than two years ago, but Rockstar recently used the same format and did a considerably better job. Know this, they wont be the last developer to do so. CCPs ideas for deep gameplay are in the open now.

Open World - How did this game, with locations like this make that mistake? MMOs cant survive without social tools, player conflict and relationships. Many former Dust players are now playing GTA Online and lets be clear about this: Rockstar Gets It. Its like they took notes on everything CCP botched and added it with aplomb. PVE? check. Bounties? check. Huge groups? check. Talking indicators? check. Proximity Chat? check. Arch Enemies? check. CONCORD style authority to prevent chaos? check. Subtle Gear Upgrades? check. No Massive health gap between new players and seasoned vets? Double Check. They even added a plethora of things to do when you are tired of shooting people and just want to interact with others or simply the environment. MMOs simply have to possess a number of non-combat activities. Social areas were promised over a year ago and are still yet to be seen. The same is true of virtual training areas or even the ability to explore our districts. We have to ask: Whats New Eden without the ability to tour the Jita Trade Hub, Caldari Prime or any of the other home planets, stations, ships or planetary colonies and structures in an open world setting?

No Variety - There simply arent enough things to do in Dust 514. Think about this for a moment: New Eden is one of the most content heavy MMOs in history. You have spying, mining, industry, politics, a complex economy and even pilots for ships large and small. But in Dust, if you arent an FPS killer the game simply doesnt support you. There is one game mode [skirmish] and a single variation of it [domination] The Battle Commander is still rhetoric, pilots are forgotten, and weapons like flash grenades, claymores, drones and mortars dont even exist. Assets still cant be deployed and we still dont have access to the racial versions of each class. Lastly, the differences between the classes seems to be vanishing when they should be expanded upon. Scan Profiles arent fleshed out and the differences in turn speed, movement and CPU & PG need reworking.

Core FPS Mechanics - One look at rail turrets on vehicles is an example of how bad aiming is. Trying to hit a moving target with it is like winning the lottery. Where is the ability to paint targets? The hit detection is better but still wouldn't be considered good by any means [Except if you have an Assault Rifle of course] On that note, the decision to give certain weapons aim buffers [the aforementioned ARs] and not to apply it universally is weapon favoritism of the first order and a terrible idea in general. Dust has a color icon that turns red when correct aim is achieved and user hit data like this needs to be expanded upon. Tactically relevant FPS staples like prone are still absent and its mind-boggling. No one wants to see dolphin diving, but eliminating it as a useful tactic is as simple as dramatically slowing the animation down, making it a terrible idea in combat. Lastly, no one could have known this, but the ability to deploy a mobile spawn point has proved to be among the most game-breaking mechanics in a shooter, while we think Drop Uplinks should have to be scanned/seen instead of visible from the tacmap, they must 1) Cancel each other out if two are within 50m of each other 2) limited to one per person 3) have an enormous CPU/PG cost and 4) separated instead by amount of spawns. 5 for militia, 10 for advanced and 15 for prototype.

Strategy - Most expected Dust 514  to be one of the most hardcore experiences in FPS when it was announced. In reality, it embraces casual mechanics excessively. No friendly fire? Where are the options for retreat or surrender in Planetary Conquest? In the same vein, why are attackers limited to one clone pack when attacking a district? Imagine the guesswork and metagame created if they could decide both on how many simultaneous players [limited by gametype of course] participate and the amount of clone packs? As long as they can afford it. Blind each side to the size of the enemy force until the game starts and watch gameplay improve considerably by losing its predictability.

Test Server - We have to wonder why there isnt one for Dust? We couldnt think of a better way to test balance before making changes or adding new mechanics to the game. We applaud what CCP is trying to do with depth, but the amount of data and how it meshes in Dust is dizzying. Allow yourselves a better chance to succeed by thoroughly testing changes with a small portion of the playerbase before adding them to gameplay.

Merging New Eden - Dust 514 and EVE ignore each other. Cross-platform play is a misnomer. Theres no reason for EVE players to risk their ships to help their Dust corpmates, and Dust players can do little to influence the PC side of New Eden. This needs to change in a big way and soon. We've referenced how EVE ships should only be limited by refire times in regards to orbital strikes but adding planetary weaponry is a necessity first. In the meantime, there are still countless ways the game should provide incentive for interaction. Why don't EVE pilots have access to RTS-style maps with troop positions? Where are the orbital scans that reveal enemy locations? Shouldnt EVE pilots have a number of non-attack abilities to supplement planetary forces? Give corps the ability to lower their clone costs if they can use their own EVE ships to move clones. Where is the ship boarding and station attacks by infantry? In the end the games need to benefit each other.

Grenades - Poor design still urges people to use these weapons in CQC which is head-scratching. Grenades should be the only handheld weapon with more than 1m of splash damage, but simply cant be a weapon you throw within 10m of you unless you want to take as much damage as your target. As an aside, giving users the variety of the New Eden equivalent of flashbangs, and poison gas grenades is important.

Team Deploy - Risk and loss dictates groups will want to play this game together and without incompetent strangers in many instances. By disallowing this you urge them not to play. The increases to squad size are important. Why is the scope of Dust still so tiny? Where are the options for engagements with 32, 64, 128, 256 and 512 simultaneous players? The scope of New Eden is massive. Dust would do well to meet or exceed this standard.

Before the release of GTA Online excuses were probably worth listening to. People listened when fanboys said 'no one else is doing it' but now another developer is and doing it considerably better. While Dust has solid elements it simply cant compete in the current landscape. We arent suggesting it should be cancelled, as its potential has no limits. It might be best to treat the PS3 version as a beta test, add devs that have considerable experience with FPS and relaunch a true visionary AAA title on PS4 after gameplay with a high level of excellence is achieved, and not a moment before.


  1. For the record, we support CCPs efforts with monthly updates to get Dust back on track. The game has a number of holes but its obvious they wont stop supporting it nor should they. it will eventually be a quality game at some point.

  2. Great article. Pretty much sums up the problems. Also does in a pragmatic way without all the poison that is present on the Dust 514 forums at present.

  3. The answer to why all these things arn't in game yet is one of two possibilities.

    a) CCP pulled back the majority for funding for dust after initial disappointing metrics. It now is being developed slowly on a skeleton staff.

    b) CCP is developing Dust on the super cheap to maximise profit for its (Private) shareholders, Dust was developed in full, but was released 50% complete. In order to keep future development costs low, CCP are going to drip feed the other 50% of the full game into the game as time goes on and then spin it as "constant content development". Real development is happening but its all "low hanging fruit" and balance passes.

    1. These are serious claims. Please cite your source or I call bullshit.

    2. i sure hope that isnt true. would never play this game again if they were holding it back on purpose and still taking peoples money.

  4. I think the billet points are totally valid. I find it nearly impossible that CCP is unaware of any of this. Therefore, it begs the question; why has none of this happened. I don't expect CCP to explain itself. That fact make continuing to play this game a bit of a gamble. Personally, im banking on them getting it time.

  5. I was one of the first people to play dust and played it religiously for almost 2 years. The thing that enticed me was the possibility and potential of the game. But not only did things start slowing down, but in my opinion in some respects the game got worse. I dont think that anyone who was around at the time for it can say that the later iterations where better than the original 1.0 skirmish.

    My opinion was that CCP where way too cautious. If someone had told me what "launch" dust 514 contained back in early early closed beta, i would have slapped them out of disbelief.

    The whole game just seems like a massive let down, and while i was sad to leave it after investing so much of my time and effort into making the game and its community better, between CCP's broken promises and BS from the community, I took my leave. Maybe I can find a new game.

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