The first devblog specifically related to DUST 514 has been posted. Speaking as a communications professional and someone who loves reading between the lines, there were so many interesting references in this release.
Let's take this:
You turn on your PS3, and launch DUST 514. You choose the character you created before, and log onto our servers.A lot of other people have said this too, and I agree with them: I can't help thinking PS3 exclusivity was a massive mistake. DUST 514 should have been ported as widely as possible. Since the quote specifically states that you'll be using "[CCP's] servers", that says to me that the challenge of linking PS3 players and Xbox 360 players wasn't technical, but on the business side. Either Microsoft proved too difficult to work with for some reason, or Sony offered some kind of incentive to CCP to make DUST PS3-exclusive. It's unlikely that the question of why this choice was made will ever be answered.
The other question this raises is whether there's a future now for Planetside 2, which was gently announced by Sony back in September 2009. The answer would now seem to be "no." Still, there's not going to be any lack of competition. I count at least four other major persistent shooters released or close to release this year, including Fallen Earth and FireFall.
Next, there's this:
You worked hard getting there, training the right skills and acquiring all the right blueprints.This says to me that DUST will follow a very EVE-like model for skill training. I wrote about upper limits in leveling the other day. Every game with a physical avatar has these upper limits, but as I mentioned, EVE does not. Will DUST? That's going to be a key question. The second clause indicates strongly that market purchases are going to be a key element of the game as well. The implication here is that items that are destroyed are destroyed permanently and have to be rebuilt using blueprints. That is common in EVE, of course, but not at all common in avatar-based MMOs. Is this similar to the gold penalty I'm told that WoW players pay if they're killed in PvP? Or is it more similar to the massive infrastructure that has to be built for a player to be competitive in EVE PvP?
EDIT (8/Jun/2011): Yeah, they're definitely using the EVE skill model. More in my next post.
This raises a second interesting question which is related. The notes also mention a "preferred fit", which again echoes EVE language in ship fittings. Presumably, this means that you're going to have to purchase blueprints for a lot of different fits...
Here's something else that jumped out at me:
With DUST 514 we intend to provide an open setting and give players the tools to define and be part of the experience. We do this instead of spoon-feeding the player, as is the case with "theme park" games where everything is a directed experience and an individual’s impact and influence on the world is minimal.This says pretty clearly that there will be no or very limited PvE in DUST. In the past, CCP has talked about there being a PvE element to DUST wherein players could participate in faux battles in faction warfare as one of the four major EVE races. This would appear to now be off the table. Not providing "directed content" is also an EVE choice and means that CCP is going to be relying on DUST players to provide the stories and the drama.
Then there's this:
EVE Online players can join DUST 514 corps. Likewise, DUST 514 players can join EVE Online corporations.That one is going to have a number of impacts all across EVE. How many EVE players judge the threat of a potentially hostile EVE Online corporation by the number of members that it has? Some of those numbers are likely to become wildly inflated after a free-to-play game allows hundreds of thousands of PS3 owners to sign up for EVE corps. This will also probably prompt a lot more churn from EVE players switching corps, either looking to escape hundreds of PS3 players on their corp's comm channels, or who are fooled into joining corps that appear more active than they actually are, due to the same hundreds of members listed in their corp information, but not actually active in EVE.
It also raises the question of how EVE players and DUST players will communicate audibly. So far as I'm aware, there isn't a version of Teamspeak for the PS3. ;-) So presumably, CCP assumes that this will happen via EVE voice.
The whole economy section is also interesting to me. Here's the money quote:
DUST 514 will, as EVE Online does, have a dynamic virtual economy and market that offers the tools that will give you a competitive edge, when used skillfully.First, notice the phrase that isn't there: "player-driven." As in, maybe the economy is going to be player-driven, but I think it's more likely that it's going to be game-driven. There doesn't seem to be any real information here about crafting yet, something that was promised for Incarna, but only vaguely hinted at for DUST. Looks like it won't be making the first release. Second, that phrase "competitive edge" seems to be code for "you can use RL money to buy better weapons, vehicle, armor, et cetera." So it's likely that there are going to be more and less successful mercenary companies in DUST, depending on how big their RL bankroll is. The Pandemic Legion of DUST will be interesting to find: having a lot of disposable income does not generally travel hand-in-hand with having a lot of twitch gaming skill, and vice versa. ;-)
So, lots of interesting stuff here! And the DUST 514 website now has quite a bit of content. I'm going to go through some of it now and see if I find anything else that jumps out at me...