Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Friday, June 10, 2011

DUST in the wind

There's been an absolute ton of DUST-related information released in the last 36 hours or so.  The floodgates are truly open.

Let's start with the most basic, a post from CCP Shadow on the EVE Online forums.  This one confirms a simple fact: DUST 514 will NOT be free to play.  What there is instead is a fee to download and install DUST that will then be converted to Aurum, the virtual currency of the game.  After you've bought the game, there's no monthly subscription to continue playing.  But, you need money to play DUST.  So that's the first thing: CCP doesn't understand the F2P model.

The lack of Xbox 360 support turns out to be pretty easy to undertand as well.  There are two primary factors involved.  First, with the strong link between DUST and EVE, there was a requirement that DUST be able to talk to EVE's servers.  By default, the XBL network doesn't allow this, and Microsoft was unlikely to relax that restriction for a small publisher like CCP.  Second, the PSN is a bit more forgiving of the anonymity that CCP wanted to make available for DUST players (similar to what EVE players enjoy).

That information is from a long interview Rock Paper Shotgun scored with Torfi.  He notes that CCP was very concerned about "cannibalizing" the EVE audience and wanted to introduce the EVE universe to a completely different audience that hasn't had any exposure to CCP games before.  Other items of interest in this interview:
  • As I mentioned a couple of days ago, skills will be on a skill point model.  Therefore, you won't be locked into a given specialty and can assign skill points to any area that interests you.
  • They're looking at 32-40 people per match.
  • Contrary to what I thought, PvE will be available, but purely in high-sec for grinding ISK.
  • Low-sec and null-sec will be where PvP matches are fought.  Sov battles will take place in null sec.
  • Sony apparently made CCP simplify many of the elements in DUST.  (I'm afraid I got a bit of a laugh about that.)
An amusing quote from this interview:
[A nullsec player] can choose to ignore [DUST], but as with any tactic if anyone else is doing it, then he will probably not be very successful.
And as I said, there's tons of articles about DUST out there.  Here are some of the other major ones.

This post on the Wall Street Journal blog is pretty short.  Major reveals in this one:
  • Creating clones in game will have an ISK cost, and there will be a finite number of these clones available per battle (so no or few suicide charges).
  • You start with projectile weapons, but can buy laser and plasma rifles later.
  • The planet-based doomsday was "just for show" and won't be in the game's initial release.
    PC Gamer cornered two other senior CCP officers at E3, focusing on whether DUST would ever be a PC game.  They echoed Torfi's comments that CCP was very concerned about "cannibalizing" the EVE audience.  Apparently, they got their talking points in order in Iceland before going to E3.  ;-)  In particular, though, he added they've found from their research that a lot of people have TRIED EVE, but only a small number of people STAY with EVE.  They're looking at this as people being open to the EVE universe, but wanting a different gameplay style.  Thus, DUST.  Other reveals in this article:
    • They recognize that they're not very good at explaining EVE to potential new players.  ;-)
    • DUST will be exclusive to PS3 "right now"... whatever that means.
    The GamesBeat website has a short article about DUST as well, but it adds lots of new items:
    • Further confirmation of the skill points approach, and everyone in DUST will start with zero skill points.
    • There will be NO regenerative health.  You have shields and health.  Shields regenerate, but health does not.  Run out of health, you're dead and you have to respawn from your limited stock of clones.
    • Expansions to the game will be free to download and install, just like EVE.
    • They're using the same version strategy as EVE, with everyone required to be at the latest version of the game to play.
    • Money will be used to purchase weapons, armor, and "visual customizations."
    • Average play time for DUST should be 20 minutes per session, compared to three hours for EVE.
    And finally, as I was writing this entry, Massively published a long entry summing up all the major points.
    • This article confirms that you will have to pay to download DUST for the first time, but that payment will be converted into in-game currency when you enter the game.
    • The game will include planet-based mining and automatic artillery batteries that you can call upon.
    • CCP will be implementing regional server clusters to handle DUST's load on Tranquility.
    So, all in all, some good info!  CCP still doesn't understand the F2P game model, of course.  But that said, I'm pleased to see that CCP is being so open with information about their new baby.  Let's hope it keeps up right up to the beta.

    One interesting thing, though: will DUST start the skill points race that dominates so much of EVE's culture?  How many people who have no interest in DUST will sign up for accounts anyway just to get that SP counter ticking right from day one?  ;-)  It'll be interesting to see...

    1 comment:

    1. I don't think that CCP "doesn't get" the free to play model, they simply aren't interested. F2P works in environments where a single server can handle several thousand, even a hundred thousand players. Maybe it's a good idea to apply an entry barrier (to keep server costs low) and lock people in (with "free" ingame currency) at the same time. They don't need 10 million DUST-players, the need paying ones.

      I still don't think the multiplayer shooter itself is a really strong idea. There are so many established games in the market: Halo, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Team Fortress… just to name the top tier. They have to compete here, that's no easy task for a developer with zero experience in the field.
      Another problem: The console audience doesn't really "stick" to a single game. There is a huge fluctuation, even among the established games… people migrate to the "new" Halo not because it's a better game, they migrate because it's new. It will be really hard to keep a game interesting over years for the console audience where a blockbuster multiplayer title is released every 6 months at least .

      The problem with people trying EVE and quitting isn't that EVE is no adrenaline fueled console shooter, it's the boring grind- and waiting-based core gameplay mechanics. In a world with countless awesome games, who wants to wait for months before he can even try the interesting parts? I hope DUST is a first step of redefining the basic gameplay elements of EVE… maybe in 5 years EVE itself will get a new realtime-action space combat system?

      - Ben

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