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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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Limited applicability

In the law, there's a term that's used sometimes: "limited applicability."  When applied to a legal decision, it means that a broad statement in the decision only applies to a limited audience, or under limited circumstances.  It doesn't apply to everyone.

The other day, I wrote that I'm not going to be playing DUST 514.  And a few people asked me for a more detailed justification why.  If you don't care about this bit, rejoin me three paragraphs down.  The reason, I stated, is because from an MMO FPS I'm looking for a more casual experience but I didn't explain that fully, so I'll do that now.  I don't want to have to train skills for months or pay a premium in order to sit in a tank or use a sniper rifle.  When I want to play an MMO FPS, I want to jump right in and play a game where it's my own skills and knowledge that matter rather than my character's.  And I want a lot of different options right from the word go: I want the game to conform to how I feel like playing that day.  Global Agenda was a great choice for me because right on log-in, it asked me what I felt like doing that day and advancement in that game was quick.

My overall single favorite shooter ever made is probably the original Ghost Recon.(1)  In particular, the advancement system was very clever.  In the original Ghost Recon, you were given a squad of soldiers with skills in stealth, accuracy, toughness, and leadership.  For each mission, you were given a target number of soldiers you could bring along, and you'd bring along the ones you wanted based on the mission objective.  And then during the mission, you played one of the soldiers yourself.  This allowed you to jump right into the action in four different roles depending on what you felt like doing that particular mission.(2)  You could also hop between soldiers mid-mission if you felt like doing something different all of a sudden or wanted to see what an individual soldier was seeing.  After you came back, each surviving member of the unit got a point that they could use to further enhance one of their four skills.  That was it.

The game could have been made more complicated by introducing a Lieutenant character that had to be trained and whose perspective you had to stick to.  The game could have been made more complicated by making you stick with your initial character choice throughout the mission.  And the game could have been made more complicated by making soldier advancement deeper and more complex.  But had any of those things been done, I wouldn't have liked it as well and it wouldn't be my favorite shooter ever.  I liked it because it was complicated and realistic enough.

DUST 514 is, in its way, too realistic for me.  I want a more casual MMO FPS.  That's why I won't be playing it.  But I still hope it succeeds in the marketplace.  My opinion of the game is my opinion of the game for myself, not for everyone.

Even more intriguing, though, I had a couple of people spin my opinion around and fire it right back at me.  NavyDingus asked it the most eloquently:
This post raises a pretty big, important question, so forgive me if I bust out a little geek philosophy of my own here. You say that you wouldn't want to play another game where skill training is based in real time, where players have to train for years in some cases to get certain gear or fulfill certain roles, where there will be constant drama between the old, rich Dusties and newer players. That's definitely a fair perspective and I'm sure many EVE players would agree with you.

But it certainly begs the question "Why do people start playing EVE in the first place?" Are they just ignorant of what EVE is really all about, and by the time they do figure it out they're too sucked in to quit?
Jakob Anedalle was the most concise:
Wait, so why shouldn't all of us Eve newbies say the same thing about Eve?
And this was such a great question that I wanted to address it separately.

Again, my feelings about DUST 514 are applicable to me.  They're not necessarily applicable to you.  Somewhere out there is my gaming mirror image: he's looking for a super-realistic, super-involved shooter and DUST 514 is going to be perfect for this person.  But he also wants to play a space game that's more casual and to this person I would have recommended Black Prophecy until it shut down a few months ago.  Maybe today I might recommend Star Trek Online instead.  These two games aren't for me because I want a more complex involved space game experience and that's why I play EVE Online.

But I only have room in my life for one EVE Online.  Two is too many for me.  In space, I want the sandbox.  In ground combat, I want casual.  Had DUST's skill system been dialed back a few notches, it might have fit the bill but DUST is being aimed at a specific audience.

So I'd spin it right back around again and fire it over to the questioners: do you want a very deep, immersive sandbox of a space game where it will take you years to master the game?  Then if so, EVE Online is for you.  If you want that deep, immersive sandbox of an experience in a ground combat game instead, then DUST 514 is for you.  But I think the person that gets fully into both of them is going to be pretty rare and I'm not going to be part of that group.

Anyway, just a little clarification, in case you were curious.  Thanks for the question to all those who asked it!  Not quite the Comment of the Week (that's coming), but it came damn close!

(1) Yep, I know about Ghost Recon Online, but I won't be playing it.
(2) Yes, quite similar to World of Tanks.


  1. I concur. I like Eve for its high-impact gameplay, and I like shooters like TF2 for their low-impact gameplay. Win or lose, it doesn't really matter.

    However, I'm not the target market for Dust. Its target market is not pubbies like me; it's for a bunch of guys who want to work as a clan and go up global rankings and generally be hardcore.

    This market is the 'eve mindset': battles are important, your squaddies are important and enduring, and the opponents are organised, competent and unpredictable.

    Having said that, I'm perfectly ok with being the Dust equivalent of a rvb noob: I go in, blow up a few drones in Dust pve, and play some pub matches with nothing important on the line, and logoff mid-match because I don't really care about how much my team mates miss me.

  2. Do you boycott steam and Origin too? What are the implications?

  3. I'm with you on this one, Jester. I have a PS3 and participated in the DUST closed beta, but I'm not going to continue playing.

    I think that CCP went the wrong way with skill training for DUST - it should be more like the original America's Army, where you did the PVE training scenarios to unlock the skills to use a particular weapon.

    Your weapon skills in AA depend on your actual gaming ability; your weapon skills in DUST depend on your wallet.

  4. CCP made a critical error with skill training on DUST.

    FPS games have a very high turnover rate in players, unlike MMOs. Most of my friends jump on the latest and greatest FPS game, but move on quickly. They don't want to spend months waiting for skills to train up. They are not going to invest years into a single FPS game.

    Also, they aren't looking for immersion. They are looking to kill things. They want to get into the coolest and biggest weapons as quickly as possible, but they also don't buy into the P2W mentality.

  5. Fair enough, but I'd recommend at least logging into DUST once in a while (read: once in a blue moon); the militia gear doesn't require any skill-points to use and if you're anywhere near competent you can pub-stomp no problem.

    Thank you for the post; was worried you had gone bitter on us!

  6. I quite enjoy blowing up protosuits and tanks that players have spent millions of isk on (or even better, Aurum) using nothing more than the free militia gear. Player skill > skill points in Dust514, just as in EVE. In fact, one of the biggest complaints on the Dust514 forums is that there isn't -enough- range between the free gear and the Aurum gear for it to be worth buying (but they do it anyways, because you can see it die left and right in matches).

    There are starter fits for everything - sniping, anti-vehicle, assault, logistics, and you can swap roles in-battle at supply points.

    All that to say, I can understand not wanting to buy a PS3, that's fine, but there's little you "have to do" in Dust 514 to drop in some matches, play it from time to time with friends, and have fun. I certainly hope that as many CSM8 candidates as possible at least try it out from time to time, and keep an ear to the ground as this new chapter in New Eden unfolds. The Dust514 community will still need your help working with CCP, Ripard, whether you play the game or not...

  7. DUST 514 with the skill training dialed back... sounds an awful lot like Planetside 2 to me.

    Current shitty buggy patch aside, it's been pretty fun these past few months.


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