Friday, December 23, 2011

Eve Online And Dust514 - Part 2

I really hate sitting down to write something when I have an outrageously negative mindset.  Go ahead, call me a 'bitter' Eve veteran if you want, but the fact is CCP screwed up the Incarna expansion so badly, and it cost them so dearly that I just don't see a positive way Dust514 can be integrated into Eve-Online without it becoming a complete disaster and forcing even more of their customer base away from the game.

That statement holds true (for me at least) regardless of how good of a First Person Shooter (FPS) Dust514 turns out to be.  Needless to say, it must be an outstanding one to even compete on the market.

I truly hope I'm wrong here.  If you couldn't tell, I love Eve.  I've met some incredible friends through that game - friends I've kept in touch with for years even though we've moved on to other frontiers and live across oceans.  Eve offers so many unique things about it (some which also contribute negatively to the overall experience) that it will always remain one of my all time favorite games.  I feel CCP can learn a lot from Incarna; but I also feel that after losing 20% of their workforce and facing countless amounts of scrutiny from their player base that CCP will overlook the lessons learned in favor of trying too hard, and ultimately stumble over themselves like so many development companies have done before during recovery periods.

Again, let's hope I'm wrong.

The fault with Dust514 lies inherently within its key feature - it must be integrated with Eve-Online.  In doing so, both worlds have to meaningfully contribute with each other - and in order to do that, they must (to an extent) rely on each other.

In a symbiotic relationship scenario (like the one we're looking at here) Dust players will rely on Eve players, and Eve players will rely on Dust players, equally.  We don't know much about it - which is part of what makes the future seem so dim - we only know Planetary Interaction (PI) will be the keystone for their involvement.

That's a mistake on CCP's part - because Planetary Interaction directly involves only one thing so far, and that's the market and production-based players in Eve.  So I get that resources can be controlled and jockeyed via Dust Mercenary's competing over PI installations - and that's a cool idea, but making one world rely off the other is nothing short of a terrible idea.  Forcing players to communicate cross-games isn't something that's been done before, and in software production that's usually something you stay FAR away from unless you have the resources to continually invest and develop it to its full potential.  Again, CCP lost 20% of their workforce last year, they aren't 'doing fine'.  They're probably just 'doing'.

For starters, Dust514 is only available on the PS3.  What happens if the PS4 is released next Christmas?  (The PS3 isn't backwards compatible, hopefully Sony fixes that with the PS4, but I won't hold my breath).


The Playstation Network (along with the majority of Sony's servers) experienced a good amount of downtime this year from a combination of hacking attempts and natural disasters.  What happens if that occurs again, and this time Eve-Online is directly effected as a result?  Do you think the players will stand for their Eve experiences being disrupted because the Dust servers are offline?  I think not.  After all, look how many people still complain about Eve's hour of down time every day.


What happens if Dust flops?  If it's a mediocre shooter in an already-flooded market, it'll die quickly, make no mistake about that.  Eve is a very successful game by MMORPG standards, but its not a well known game outside of that niche of gamers.  It's unlikely you'll find people willing to abandon Halo, Call of Duty, and Battlefield titles to play (or even try) Dust unless there's some massive incentive.


Any of the three situations described above leave Eve's population looking for Dust players in order to achieve goals.  Either they won't find anyone, or it'll take a considerable amount of time.


But in the end, Dust using PI as a touch point will only directly effect producers of market goods and anyone using PI as a source of supplemental income.  What about players that do neither?  They probably won't care about Dust at all.  That's bad.  Also, how/why will Dust players care about Eve?  We already know that they can instantly-queue for deathmatch type games at any time, why compete over contracts, etc. if money is available through other means and lacks the complexity of communicating with someone in another game?


Perhaps you could work Dust into the sovereignty system for 0.0 space, allowing players to hire mercenaries to assault control towers, space stations, etc.  That could be worked out as advantageous to one side, but ultimately not game-breaking as the number of ships (and the skill of the pilots) fielded would still provide the greatest advantage to an alliance looking to take over an objective in space.  But perhaps mercenaries could disable shields, or damage armor from the inside if victorious, speeding things up a little bit.

That would solve one of the problems above because even if no Dust players signed up, the outcome is still decided by players and their actions, instead of waiting around for resources to accumulate and hoping you will still have control of the PI installation when the time comes to get them.

When it's all said and done, I hope CCP learns from its mistakes and develops Dust with some of the great features Eve fans have come to love, like ship outfitting.  We know that vehicles will be a huge part of Dust, and that fitting them will work similar to how capsuleers outfit their ships in Eve now.  That's a huge drawing point if done correctly - aside from guns, most FPS titles don't offer any true customization to their features these days.  Dust could be the first FPS/MMORPG that not only offers true field-noticeable customization BUT integrates with an already successful MMORPG.  Let's hope they develop that to its maximum extent.

I'll keep researching Dust and watching it's development closely - while its a title I'm not optimistic about, its one I'm anxious about.  I can't wait to see how CCP pulls this off, and to another extent, I hope it helps to rekindle the fire for many Eve vet's like myself who are devoted to the game, but somewhat disappointed with where it's gone lately.

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