DUST 514 was officially announced at GDC Europe / GamesCom in August, but CCP was reluctant to share more information until they could do so before the fans at the 2009 EVE Fanfest in Iceland.
Even though DUST 514 was officially announced at GDC Europe / GamesCom in August, CCP was reluctant to share anymore information until they could do so before the fans at the 2009 EVE Fanfest in Iceland. After the special presentation, we sat down with CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson and Creative Director at CCP Asia, Atli Már Sveinsson to talk about DUST 514, EVE Online and how they'll compliment each other. Check it out!
ZAM: Dust 514 is a persistent universe where the characters and the world will be persistent and every battle will be significant and all of the outcomes will affect both worlds. Can you go into some detail as to how persistent some of those features are going to be, and how they will affect both EVE Online and Dust 514?
Atli Már Sveinsson: Obviously the character progression is quite persistent. Your wealth is persistent, or not. But in terms of conquests or control of planets, this is, I think, the main thing that is certainly persistent.
Hilmar Veigar Pétursson: The fundamental communication between the games is that players can contract Dust mining rings to fight over territories on the planet. Where we go beyond that initial standpoint is something where we sort of go with the flow, as we've always done with our game design ideas, where we see where people take the ideas, and we follow the track. So we're very much thinking about the link and Dust alone as a model and DUST together with EVE. So it's really starting there and leading from there.
Atli: Character progression in Dust is slightly different. Well, very different than in EVE. It does not use a skill system. You do not need to have a certain skill to use a particular vehicle or something, other than your other skill, obviously. But that doesn't mean that we just allow everyone to get that ability. We control it with an achievement system, which controls the access to bigger and bigger stuff.
ZAM: As far as characters go, you mentioned yesterday that if you want to be a medic, you're not going to choose the class; you're just going to bring the associated gear that you need to be a medic. What about the traditional levels or ranks, both cosmetic and actual attributes that help the player?
Atli: That is mostly in the NPC part of the game, the actual warfare, there will be a rank system. There is an enhancement for players, in how they want to rank themselves. We do have little bits of the standard stuff, where you can compare yourself against your friends, or against the top 20 or the top 100. But that's not really the ranks you're talking about; we're talking about Sergeant or Corporal, for example. It's in the hands of the players. What they want to call themselves within corporations they can choose.
ZAM: From an economic standpoint, CCP has taken the stance that DUST will go with EVE and EVE will go with DUST. In what ways will that be possible? To really make the two games interdependent on each other?
Hilmar: They're interconnected, they're not co-dependent. Dust stands on its own. They're linked together and they have their own departments. We begin with planetary control and then we take it from that. But we're very much focused on developing separate departments so that they stand on their own. The link is not the necessity for either game to function, but it adds definite value to both games.
Atli: We firmly believe that it is in the benefit of both games to have a regulated economy in Dust, to begin with, and de-regulate as we learn more about what can be done with it.
In what ways are Corporations in Dust 514 going to be different than the traditional Corporations in EVE Online?
Hilmar: Well, they're filled up with different people. That's fundamentally what's going to make them different. With the corporational system in EVE, the features are locked around controlling inventories and things of that nature. That's something that we developed after launch when we saw what people were doing and what type of tools they needed to be more efficient. I would imagine we're talking very much the same route with DUST, where we start with the basic features, look at what people are doing, and then have structure follow form.
ZAM: As far as the dynamic battlegrounds go, with the dynamic infantry spawning points and the fog of war. How does that element of Dust 514 separate itself from other shooters that exist today?
Atli: For the most part, it's about control. It's entirely up to the players how they advance their forces. We do not have staff pick control points that you have to capture. Well, you can capture the outposts for fuel, but that's not really winning. You win by holding those and killing the other guy and obtaining more land. But yeah, I think it differs quite a bit. You can order in a vehicle wherever you are. Provided you have enough war points, you can deploy installations wherever for your infantry to spawn, provided you have enough War points and situational awareness. That degree of control, I don't think exists in other games.
ZAM: Let's go into War Points and being able to spawn vehicles and spawning guys wherever you want. First of all, how do you gain those War Points, and which ways will those war points be used, and how broad are the strategic elements involved in placing vehicles in certain spots? What kind of strategic elements exist that allow the player to utilize those points more effectively?
Atli: With the objective system that the Commander has, you can influence, but you cannot dictate to the infantry. Nobody likes to have some other player that says "go there or I'll kick you out of my infantry." But the Commander can create these incentives, and in that way, influence can control where they go with the war points, which you accrue by killing people and capturing stuff.
ZAM: And War Points are individually earned?
Atli: Squadrons have War Points as well, like a percentage, almost a tax. This allows them to order in squadron specific stuff. A special vehicle, called a squadron command vehicle, is one that squadron mates can spawn in and have six guns with them, so it's like a fortress, and you can drive in and stuff—only available to squadrons. So you have to work together, you have to donate into this pool one way or another. And then the commander has his pool of war points that comes from whatever his infantry achieves.
ZAM: Kind of like a Pyramid?
Atli: Exactly. And this creates a kind of symbiosis, so the commander facilitates them, but for him to be able to facilitate them, the infantry has to achieve something. They have to work together.
ZAM: What kind of things is the commander going to be able to facilitate, and how much control will he have of the other overall battle. Is it really still up to the individual players to listen to what he's saying, or will there be some forced movements that he can make?
Atli: He will have off-map support, and he can order in missile strikes and tactical intelligence, where he clears the fog of war for the whole team to see where the enemy is. He cannot give stuff to individual characters, and he cannot win the match on his own.
ZAM: So that's more of a strategic element. But can he attack, can he do things like orbital strikes and, I hate using other games examples, but Planetside, you know the CR5s - they could do the orbital strikes. Will those kinds of things exist for Commanders?
Atli: The off-map support and it uses the war point system as well. It's reliant on getting war points, producing it.
ZAM: There will be so many players that are just on the ground shooting each other, and then there's going to be that one commander. What kind of players do you think will be playing those commanders, and how are players going to be able to access that? Is it an end-goal to become a commander, or is it just another thing that you choose to be?
Atli: We do not plan to allow total noobs to become commanders. You have to go through a certain school, like advanced tactics in EVE, something like that. But any player should able to become a commander. Whether you're a good one or not; that's up to the players to judge and maybe they will not vote you as a commander, or maybe they will vote you off because you are so bad. That's up to the players.
ZAM: And since it's match based, it's not going to be a problem with too many commanders, there's only one per side? Do you see that "I never get to be the commander; I want to be the commander!" the constant fight to be the commander?
Atli: Find other friends!
ZAM: OK, so it's something that encourages team play. What about the players who just want to get in there? You know, the traditional first person shooters who want to hop in, kill some people, and then leave? Is it still going to be enjoyable enough for them?
Atli: There is the theatre of war, like we call it. It encompasses the factional warfare of DUST, which is the empires fighting, the factions fighting. And then the EVE / DUST link and the DUST corporations also have their warfare and stuff.
Hilmar: But the focus is very much on that player. I'm going to hop in and have fun. EVE is a more long term commitment. We wanted to add that type of game play in the EVE Universe without compromising the strengths of EVE, because obviously 300,000 people love EVE as it is today. But we wanted to make something where you could get into the action right away. So our focus is very much on that.
Atli: I don't expect a majority of the community to be that "day to day" basis in Dust. I think most of them will be more looking for the instant gratification. It's our job to make sure that they are exposed to how cool it is.
ZAM: One of the things that I noticed in the game play presentation was how accurate, or at least from what I saw, with the flying, for example, it looked like a flight simulator. It looked very accurate in the movements and transitions. Are you planning to allow accessories other than the controller? Like a joystick or something like that? Assuming Xbox or whichever console you decide to go with, support that?
Hilmar: What we are, beyond just focusing on delivering an awesome console shooter, is really a lot of ideas, and how to develop it from there. But it's just too early to talk about beyond just delivering an awesome first person shooter on console. But there are certainly opportunities to add a lot of things to it, because it's an exciting, overall, concept. But it's also dangerous to go too far on the breadth. We're really trying to focus on delivering an awesome experience. From there, we'll build on that.
Atli: It is a full fledged MMO. We have expansions planned and continuous development.
ZAM: As a predominantly hardcore first person shooter fan on the PC, I love my keyboard and mouse. In the past I really struggled to not go the console route, because I just don't enjoy it as much. What can you say to the PC Shooter who's really excited about this game, who might not get to fully experience the game because of these limitations?
Hilmar: There are also a lot of people that love playing online shooters on consoles, and they like it in their style. These are different preferences, and it's difficult to cater to both. We really want to focus on whichever side to really gain the appreciation of the crowd by focusing on them. If you were to do both, you're going to end up with a compromise. So we're focusing on this, and if I'm going to move forward from that, it's speculation at this point. But we are really trying to build a product for that crowd; because in our survey of the landscape, that is probably the crowd that is least likely to play EVE. So we're trying to invite players to see the deep EVE Universe.
ZAM: What is your personal opinion on allowing keyboard use? Do you find that it creates an unfair advantage, letting a player use a keyboard and mouse, rather than a traditional controller?
Atli: We haven't really tested it that much, so we can't really say if there is a real advantage. We have things like sticky reticules and other systems to help. If you would have a hybrid, where you allow certain players with keyboard and mouse, and certain players with controllers, you'd have to turn off those sticky reticules.
Hilmar: But anyway, we're focused on that; what flows from that is for later days.
Andrew "Tamat" Beegle