Thursday, June 30, 2011

The artstyle and feel of DUST 514

For the fans of EVE there is one unique artstyle, design and attitude that is very attractive and unique. CCP does great job blending everything new that is coming into EVE to feel like it is still EVE, and they will do the same with DUST, but in slightly different way.

Concept art, and overall design of EVE is mix of black, dark green, and dark orange colours. The game is very focused on making players think they are in actual space station or space itself, and with upcoming nebulae designs and all graphical updates to EVE, the entire immersion just increases. Now, this kind of art direction is not for everyone. Many people will say that EVE seems like that "everything's the same" at first glance, and that's one of the reasons why people get less excited to play it.

With recent upgrades to Captain's Quarters to EVE and more personality to ships themselves by upgrading their actual weapon looks, CCP surely is working hard not to change feel of EVE, but make it more "high-res", if you will.

DUST is different beast. It is rough mixture of black, grey and red. It has unique attitude compared to EVE, and not in a negative sense. Entire game feels so far like "ninja version" of EVE: how soldiers look like, how ships look like and overall how the atmosphere is designed for the game.

We obviously did not see even 10% of the possible terrain/station designs or all the vehicles, but for what we know, we can safely say that DUST will have very exaggerated feel of constant conflict, death and destruction wherever you go. From the "A Future Vision" trailer we can clearly see how much CCP is working on the explosions, armour details and all the tiny things that matter: even how smoke and fire looks like:

Why red? Because we are soldiers down here, and we spill our own blood on this ground that we are fighting for. Why black? Because we are all the same, and in war there is no difference from a soldier to a soldier. Why grey? Because we will eventually die and lose some battles, reminding us that this is not "My Little Pony", this is war.

Personally as a designer, I am so excited to see more armour types and weapons than anything else. Hell, I bought Dramiel in EVE Online before I even had any skill to even navigate it. Why? Because it is so well designed ship. The sexiest frigate ever. That's why I like the entire feel of DUST so far. It is not EVE (as in copy paste things, because you can't do that), but it is CCP style on the ground. It is exactly enough different from EVE but not enough to be completely different game when you look at two of them separately. That of course is coming from CARBON and it's incredible ability to adapt to any artwork you throw at it. I'd imagine that even if you want to design simple scope for a sniper rifle it would look so polished, so high-res and badass that people would drool over it's design. That's what I'm impressed the most about.

To me, the most important thing about the game artwork and design is the first five minutes of it. It has to be able to say "I have this this and this and I look like this. Deal with it." and that it sets some high bars about itself. Interface design is also important, but not as important as the terrain, how my gun shoots, how much dust will the ship raise while landing my fresh tank to the battlefield. We already know that there will be different variations of damage and therefore different effects when that damage hits whatever it hits. On "A Future Vision" trailer for example, you can see that the tank that is coming from a fire is shooting very bright flash before actual smoke appears and that may mean that tanks can shoot EM damage, Explosive damage, Thermal or Kinetic damage, same as EVE ships.

Personally, I find it funny that DUST will be PS3 exclusive as well (from artwork standpoint), because both DUST and Playstation 3 have that dark black style to it. Hell, I bought PS3 specifically for DUST and I will most probably never play anything else on it *stares at his PS3 box that is not even open*... Also, people might expect DUST to be comparable to HALO somehow... and there is no a single thing that is even remotely similar to HALO except that both games take place in space. Artstyle is completely different: where HALO is shooting more towards superhero-colourful style and big things shooting other big things, while DUST is in it's own world where not one mercenary can change entire battle but together they can, therefore making that unique feel of actual (i will repeat) war.

I hope that I gave you a little bit better impression on what you can expect from a game if you never played EVE before or saw all possible (3) trailers for DUST, or connected to DUST. Now Halldor was mentioning by the end of his interview why DUST 514 is called like that, and obvious "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" if the first one to be recognized, and that's with a reason. "one universe // one war" is very common thing you hear from CCP representatives and that is perfectly explaining that there is always something in the universe that is going on and that there is always something changing despite your activity. Soldiers will die, ISK will be spent, battles will be lost. But on the other side of the universe, there is someone else that might help you and avenge your life and blood you spilled for the money you never earned. Just imagine DUST version of this video:

There is always result to anything you do. And the game design and atmosphere of it will motivate you even more to be (in) your character and have better experience whatever you do: building your soldier army in your corporation, conquering solar systems, or destroying entire enemy alliance by taking over their final planet in nullsec. "The universe is yours".

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The rising economy/balance questions on DUST 514

Now, a few questions raised at the very beginning of a and it's very first blog post from CCP Praetorian, and that is: how balanced the game will be, and how good is the "hybird business model" with Aurum and ISK at the same time... That questions is raised also because many EVE players are up in arms about Aurum and it's current state in game. At the moment, Aurum ratio to PLEX is 3500:1, meaning that for one month of game time you can trade 3500 Aurum. One month is $15 (or 1 PLEX = $19,95).

Problem emerges when we ask ourselves: How much Aurum we will see in DUST, and how deep will it go in terms of game balance? Main question is if the rich people will be able to buy the victory just by throwing money at the game? Will I be able to speld $2000 and just fit best items on my tanks and snipers and steamroll everything around? Now of course, this brings up another very important thing. PLEX is bought for either real money (mentioned above, for $19,95) OR by ISK (around 350 - 400.000.000 ISK in EVE, and prices vary, but is put by people who buy it for real money). That basically means that the system is not that broken as it seems at first and that hardcore DUST players that earn billions of ISK will still be able to actually buy PLEX and therefore buy Aurum without spending a single $ for it. Now, if there is certain limit to how much Aurum you can have, or purchase in one month that would be ok (mostly), but it all depends on how much you can obtain and what things you can buy with it.

Best current solution that I see is that CCP mixes Aurum and ISK perfectly, as in: you can not simply buy entirely fitted tank for Aurum. That way people who pay for items in-game, will still need to play the game for ISK, or sell PLEX and get ISK, which is huge money sink to anyone that plans on paying everything and not actually earning a thing on his own. Again, it all depends on a prices and Aurum status compared to ISK. We currently can't observe Aurum and ISK status in EVE because it will change most probably over time, and besides, Aurum (at the moment) is used only for vanity items that most of the skilled players don't care about anyway (ok some of them do, but most of us would like to buy other stuff and not $30 shirt). The bottom line is that PLEX can be split into either ISK or Aurum, but still bought only for real money.

I will now paste here the actual quote about the business model planned for DUST (at the moment), and then, taken into consideration what I wrote until now, you can judge things yourself.

CCP Praetorian said:
Our business model for DUST 514 differs from single retail purchase and optional premium DLC of other games on the market. Instead, DUST is designed to utilize virtual goods sales. I will leave details of the economy system to our resident economist, Eino Joas, who will go over all of this with you in a devblog soon-ish, but here is how this works on a high level:

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. Players are able to purchase different gear to equip before deploying into battle, using InterStellar Kredits (ISK), the in-game earned currency of the EVE universe, or through real money currency, called Aurum (AUR). This provides players with flexibility and adaptability in how they approach a combat scenario. Certain items are only available through ISK transactions, while others are only available through AUR. These are then traded freely on a player-driven secondary marketplace.

Of course, your rivals will aim to do the same, fueling a perpetual arms race between merc outfits, with an expanding range of options available in lockstep with your character's progression. Each side of a given conflict will create character armor and vehicle loadouts with a mix of raw killing power, physical augmentations, and sophisticated electronics. Those choices will factor into your strategy for defeating your opposition.

DUST 514 will be continually developed and improved upon over time and there will always be new features and aspects to DUST just around the corner. Oh, and all expansion packs will always be free.
We are patiently waiting for details on this subject, but whatever the solution may be, I'm sure CCP will make it so that both hardcore and casual people will enjoy the game proportional to their dedication time.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why is DUST next-gen but in other sense

CCP has always been known by their tradition never to make games easier, or more loser-friendly. They love the fact that game can punish you, and that you learn fastest from your own mistakes. DUST will not be different, if you decide to dedicate yourself to it.

Many people ask me "are you not worried that stupid console fps gamers will invade EVE universe and ruin it for other smarter people?" and my response will always be No. Why? Well, DUST will, in fact, be a little bit engaging and easier to get into than EVE, but the complexity that we were talking about since the beginning of this fanblog, will still remain. That is what will scare "classic console fps player" away from the game. The fact is that CCP is doing something for the first time in the gaming industry, and those are two things: Merging PC and PS3, and also, bringing "thinking man's" game to consoles. That simple fact that game will require you to play it very actively in order to be successful is reward within itself, just like EVE. You rank up, build up your character for long time, and you simply have that satisfaction of being more and more powerful as game progresses.

Eventually, you will have your own corporation, your own team of DUST mercenaries that will gladly die for multibillion contract from space that is issued and then enjoy being the best mercenary (or mixed) corporation in the universe that controls the most planets in game. But here is the thing: you can not accomplish that just by playing this game casually 1 hour a day. No sir. CCP will never do that because it would simply ruin the game balance as one universe (one war). Dedication towards the game will be rewarded, and only best of the best will be able to claim the throne of the most successful DUST mercenary within New Eden.

If your goal is set to be one of the best out there inside of the game world, you will need to get yourself ready within EVE online as well. The best way to get familiar with the universe, like me, is to just explore the universe. This does not mean that you must go and try EVE in order to be successful within DUST, but it would be recommended to get to know some people in it. As you know, game will heavily depend on the EVE players and their contracts with DUST players, so why not get in some corporation within EVE, get to know the people, and then launch yourself as mercenary within the same corporation as ground force? That is one of my plans. I am at the moment in the process of getting to know very good corporation that will also have DUST players, but it would be rather beneficial if those players knew what's going on in the universe ahead of time.

Entire idea of making MMOFPS is new, and we have yet to discover what other features CCP planned for us, but for now, we do know that "" domain is registered by CCP (!) and that they really have intention of merging these two games together, and therefore this will be double unique game by it's genre and also by it's setting, but not by it's stunning graphics or high end technology that all those fancy new FPS games use and have no soul or depth whatsoever.

I don't expect DUST to be massively popular, but it will develop dedicated playerbase that will be always there, just like EVE players. Question is, how many EVE players will completely move to PS3? Most likely handful of them, but those new players that are already PS3 owners and want to try the game, will count as the biggest number. I just hope that those players will be up for the challenge, and that they will, just like EVE players, remain dedicated to it and form entire community around it and consider it like another way of life.

EVE with it's 400.000+ subscribers is doing great, and with one universe, one server that is running for everyone,  EVE and DUST have beautiful potential to become even more developed "intelligent man's playground" than before.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The User Interface of DUST 514

The biggest thing and the most important thing of the "thinking man's" game is user interface, and thing you notice straight from the get-go. It is your tool you use all the time like in EVE Online, or the thing you will notice if it is pretty or not in a FPS game (during the gameplay itself anyway). So far DUST 514 has very very clean user interface during the gameplay:

As you can see, on the bottom left you can see your, very similar to EVE, meters. First meter is your shield, and second is your "structure", or life itself. To the right, you can see your ammo count and indicator what is going on with the weapon at the moment. Also, crosshair is changing colour depending on if you aim at your enemy or at your ally or if is it "neutral" aim (or not aiming at anything significant). FPS interface is rather good and minimalistic so far, and there is nothing else to be added or removed for a console controls and interface itself, taken in consideration that it is indeed made for console gameplay.

Second interface of the game is the "passive" interface, or pre-action interface. This one looks even more similar to EVE, according to some screenshots from E3 where we saw Fitting Interface for vehicles in DUST.

In the middle, you have your vehicle you are fitting, and around it your have slots in which you put things like armour, weapons, ammunition etc. To the left you have all possible details you can have about the vehicle when it's fitted and also there are "War Points" that are earned by completing objectives / killing things in the field, which may be used as Loyalty Points in EVE, or similar to those, to purchase items and equipment. To the right, you have information about specific part of the vehicle, in this case: cannon. This specific cannon also requires achievement to be used it seems, and that is one of the new features of DUST, that specific items are not just gonna cost you ISK and War Points, but they will also require you to have specific experience before using them. Also, you will most probably have interface for interacting with EVE players, agents, mission objectives and market transactions etc, but overall, interface will feel like one and very smooth and amount of information you will see on the screen will be very well packed.

Unfortunately, screenshots from E3 are in very limited supply, but since we are at the moment talking about UI, that's about it for now! The UI does look very exciting and clean so far, and I can't wait to get my hands on the game and experience this part of the game myself on screen.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Races of New Eden

Maybe you already know, but in case you don't, DUST does indeed share races of EVE Online. You will be able to be any of these with a lot of customization options. Currently in EVE Jovians are not available or playable, so that remains mystery for us to be seen further on in game. We can speculate that they will appear in EVE in pre-DUST events, and therefore explain their existence and role in the universe. We can find a little bit more details about Jovians here.

As for other races, they are very unique and distinguishable from each other. Every single one has it's own architecture, religion, and way of life. Big thing in EVE is always faction warfare, and very often you will see these races fight each other just because they are different and want to rank up in their faction. Of course, things are not that simple, and there are some limitations on FW.

Once you pick your race, you will get a lot of things characteristic for it, so for example Amarians in EVE gain stronger passive armor tanking and laser warfare spec etc. We don't know what DUST will give us when we pick our race, but for sure there will be some unique things to choose from. Question also raises if we will also see unique design for every race in DUST for weapons, armor and vehicles, same way EVE is, but that is for the future updates.

Read on the details about each race, taken from the official website:

Click the image for full-size territory preview

The Amarrians rule a vast Empire, the largest and oldest of the four empires. Ruled by a mighty Empress, this vast theocratic society is supported by a broad foundation of Minmatar slave labor. Amarrian citizens tend to be highly educated and fervent individuals, and as a culture adheres to the basic tenet that what others call slavery is in fact one step on a spiritual path towards fully embracing their faith. As a result, the Empire remains the most stable and militarily powerful nation-state in New Eden, despite several setbacks in recent history.

Click the image for full-size territory preview

Of the four major races of New Eden, none has endured more turmoil than the Minmatar. Once a thriving tribal civilization, the Minmatar were enslaved by the Amarr Empire for more than 700 years until a massive rebellion freed most, but not all, of those held in servitude. Modeling their recovery after the Federation's success, the Minmatar Republic was born. But despite rising to prominence on the world stage, more than one third of the present-day population remains enslaved. The Minmatar people today are resilient, ingenious, and hard-working. Many of them believe that democracy, though serving them well at first, will never restore what was taken from them so long ago. Instead, they long for a government truly reflective of their tribal culture, and remain deeply attached to their enslaved kindred. They will forever resent the Amarrians, and yearn for the days before their accursed ships ever reached their home skies.

Click the image for full-size territory preview

Founded on the tenets of patriotism and hard work that carried its ancestors through hardships on an inhospitable homeworld, the Caldari State is today a corporate dictatorship, led by rulers who are determined to see it return to the meritocratic ideals of old. Ruthless and efficient in the boardroom as well as on the battlefield, the Caldari are living emblems of strength, persistence, and dignity.

Click the image for full-size territory preview

Champions of liberty and fierce guardians of the human spirit, the Gallente Federation is the only true democracy in New Eden. Some of the most progressive leaders, scientists, and businessmen of the era have emerged from its diverse peoples. Pioneers of artificial intelligence, the Federation once relied almost entirely on drone fleets to defend its beliefs and borders. But the limitations of this technology and the lack of a human element—both in terms of a military strategy, and as a means of spreading influence— eventually reached a critical point. Today, Gallentean starships are manned by some of the bravest men and women of New Eden.

Jovian society is mysterious and difficult to comprehend. For this and other reasons it remains very much closed to the other races, and few foreigners reside within the Jovian Empire.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Another interview with Halldor Fannar

Here is another interview (with a bit lower quality compared to others) with Halldor. Hope you enjoy this one and find a bit more info about the game!

Stranded Part 2

Just now, on the official site, CCP Remnant posted "Stranded" continuation! You will definitely enjoy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

CCP Not fooled once.

Just few hours ago, site and others, including DUST 514 were brought down by a silly hacker attack. CCP took the attack seriously and simply unplugged entire thing out of the wall, the way every company should do until they resolve the issue and prevent any further damage. Here is CCP Manifest with his news on the devblog:
A message from our COO.

At 17:00 UTC today, CCP became aware of a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) against the EVE Online cluster and web servers.
Our policy in such cases is to mobilize a taskforce of internal and external experts to evaluate the situation. At 17:55 UTC, that group concluded that our best course of action was to go completely offline while an exhaustive scan of our entire infrastructure was executed.

While some may feel that such a drastic reaction was not warranted, it is always our approach to err on the side of caution in order to ensure the best possible service for our players and the security of their personal, billing and account information.

We understand the effect this disruption has had for our players and apologize for not having been able to explain fully to the community what was going on. In these cases it can often be counterproductive to containment to give out information while we are in the process of evaluating the scope of any potential problem.

Our taskforce concluded at 22:05 that neither the game servers nor the CCP infrastructure had been breached. Further, we can also confirm that no personal details such as users’ credentials or credit card numbers were exposed through this incident.
The servers were brought back online at 23:00 and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Again, we sincerely apologize for this disruption.

Jón Hörðdal
Chief Operating Officer

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

DUST 514 FAQ - what we know so far


Q: What is DUST 514?
A: DUST 514 is free to play MMOFPS (Massively Multiplayer First Person Shooter) game for PlayStation®3 that is directly connected with EVE Online universe - New Eden. Universe consists of more than 5.000 solar systems, and over 60.000 planets. You are a mercenary in DUST, soldier that is fighting for control of those planets/solar systems together with or against other EVE Online and DUST players. Game is based on contracts, strategic coordination and control of space. The more you control, the more money you have. Both games share same economy and currency called ISK. Entire game runs in real time and nothing is scripted or predefined. Every action you make has direct impact on the universe around you and is seen in that same moment you pull the trigger. Find more details on the official about page.

Q: Is DUST 514 coming to PC?
A: Currently, DUST 514 is PlayStation®3 exclusive game and there are no announcements or plans to make it on any other platform as far as we know and as far as CCP stated.

Q: Is it going to be subscription-based?
A: Stated in a press release, game is going to be completely free to play with microtransactions (that will not break game balance). Also, check the official PlayStation Blog post by Brandon Laurino!

Q: Can I communicate with EVE Online players?
A: Yes. You will be able to use voice chat or chat channels that are dedicated for communication between EVE Online players and DUST 514 players.

Q: Is DUST going to be as complex as EVE?
A: DUST is shooter, but don't expect Serious Sam style game. You will need to learn a lot of things - managing corporations and alliances, knowing who to trust, and most importantly - being a good player. There are many things you will need to fit to your vehicles, know what weapons to use, armor types, implants etc.

Q: Do I have to cooperate with EVE Online players?
A: You don't, but if you want to experience entire universe, you should. EVE Players will be able to help you, but there is always other side of ambition. You are mercenary, and you work for them. You can always decide not to fulfill their wishes and scam them or trick them somehow and still get away. That is something that is very common in EVE if you don't pick your contacts carefully. There might also be possibility to get contracts by NPC Agents, similar to EVE, but that is currently just a speculation.

Q: Someone mentioned leveling up and training. How is that supposed to work in FPS?
A: Just as in EVE, you are training your passive skills for combat. Your armor will be able to sustain more damage, you will move faster or shoot and reload quicker eventually. You will also be able to operate vehicles more effectively, shoot different types of weapons, or snipe down people more precisely. Skills take (at first) hours, and then days to train, and they are being trained in the background, just like in EVE (or at least that is our impression).

Q: What are the objectives of the game anyway?
A: They vary from encounter to encounter. But overall, your goal is to control specific area of the planet that you are fighting for. You control that area, you control resources. In the end, you will be able to control entire planet with EVE Players, and therefore become rich and more powerful mercenary that dominates entire systems. But don't get cocky too fast, there is always someone crazier than you are.

Q: In E3 2011 debut trailer I saw in the end a planetary base shooting down huge ship in space with some huge beam. What the hell was that?
A: That is, from what we've understood from a trailer, a weapon called "Skyfire Battery" that is capable of destroying specific things in space. We have yet to get final confirmation from CCP on what exactly it can destroy or be used for except destruction.

Q: How do I travel from planet to planet?
A: That will be (speculation) transport "on rails" most probably, and will take some time. You will not be able to control the transport. You will be primarily on the planets, fighting for the territory and managing your corporations. Currently, it is unknown if you will have your home base on planet or on some specific station since details were not revealed yet.

Q: Can I meet EVE Online players physically in game?
A: Currently there are no plans on being able to meet EVE Players in game face to face. That may be plan for upcoming game development, but on release - no.

Q: So I basically buy weapons, armor and vehicle and steamroll them?
A: No. You will be able to customize every single thing you carry with you in the battlefield to it's finest detail. For example you will be able to fit specific armor types (not limited to your race) to your battle tank or specific damage type shells that do specific things - again, similar to EVE. There are bunch of different shields, armors, implants you can use on your own character, weapon and armor types for both you and your equipment. It is not simple at all if you want to be fully effective on a battlefield.

Q: I am old school EVE Player, so I'm used to lowsec and nullsec mostly. Will there be DUST combat in those areas as well?
A: Yes, confirmed by Halldor Fannar in the interview.

Q: Will DUST 514 fully support Mouse and Keyboard play as well as Sharp Shooter?
A: Yes and yes.

Q: Did the beta test start for DUST 514?
A: It did not start. First phase of the beta test will be closed beta test and it will cover EVE Online subscribers. If you are one, you can apply here. If beta starts, you will be informed via this site as soon as possible, and hopefully get a lot of footage from it when NDA is lifted.

Q: Is beta going to require PS+ subscription in order to be picked once PS3 players get their chance to get in?
A: This is currently unknown. One of the questions that you have to answer while applying for beta via EVE Online account management is if you are PS+ subscriber, but that may be just data collection and not "a-must".

Q: PlayStation Vita support?
A: DUST 514 will come to Vita, but in a form of a Companion app. Read more about that plan here.

Also, some more questions got answered in "Questions from the flock" article from Grideris. Check it out!

Want to know more? Tweet @CCP_CmdrWang, community manager for DUST 514, or post your question in the comments of this post and I will gladly answer and add them to the FAQ itself.

The concept and integration of DUST 514 - E3

and integration:

Welcome to the base.

Welcome to DUST 514 base, place where you can expect a lot of everything DUST 514 related.