August 2009 Archives

Dust 514

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First off, an apology for the lack of updates recently.  I've been working on some writing and my personal life has been a bit of a mess lately, so I let the blog slide for a couple weeks while I got my head together.  There's some big Eve news this week though, so I can't really stay silent for too long.  I'll be talking about Apocrypha 1.5 later this week after it is deployed on the 20th (both storyline and gameplay aspects), but today's big news is obviously Dust 514, announced this morning at GDC Europe by CCP Hellmar.

Bits and pieces of Dust 514 have been leaking since last FanFest, when a short bit of gameplay video was used during CCP Oveur's presentation.  A few weeks ago, the trademark was registered and that leaked out.  When I saw it last year, I suspected it would be a standalone game using the Eve IP.  However, it sounds like CCP has something considerably more ambitious in mind.  According to the GDC Europe presentation, Dust 514 will be an MMO for consoles that is tied into Eve's sovereignty system (though Hilmar was very coy about a PC version, which makes me suspect there will be something to tie in to the Eve client announced at FanFest).  The game certainly looks very slick from his presentation, and it's supposedly been under development for 3 years already, so it may coincide with the changes to sovereignty supposedly being announced for the winter expansion this year.

I have a very mixed opinion about the game at the moment -- on the one hand, this kind of vertically integrated gameplay is something I've sort of been wishing for for a long time -- it's what Star Wars Galaxies should have been (if you fold in ambulation).  To see CCP embracing that concept is pretty impressive, and it's extremely ambitious -- something I am pretty excited to see.  Eve was a big gamble -- a niche product that is very different from the other MMOs out there.  It's reassuring that they are still willing to take that kind of chance.  An FPS/RTS has a lot of potential just as a game on its own too.

However, the integration with Eve -- and the focus towards consoles -- has me a bit worried.  I admit I'm a PC gaming snob, so I'm already a little iffy on consoles as a rule, but setting that aside, I do not think major Eve alliances are going to be very happy about the fact that their well-being may, at least partly, be in the hands of people they have no direct control over.  It's already stirring up controversy on Scrapheap Challenge.  Even if there are other components to the sovereignty game, people are notoriously unhappy with gameplay elements that are out of their control.  That's certainly a strike against it.

Second, while I may be a PC snob, I also admit that there are some games that work much better on consoles -- driving games, platformers, party games, and many others (they just don't happen to be genres I generally enjoy).  However, there are games that I think play far better on PCs -- FPSes and strategy games.  Even the console gamers I know tend to agree on that point.  Here we have CCP releasing a game that is an FPS/RTS hybrid on a platform that doesn't seem to be particularly suited to it.

For me personally, I don't know that a persistent FPS/RTS holds much promise for me.  One of the things I like about dropping into a game of TF2 or CoD4 is that I can suck as much as I want in that half hour or hour and start fresh the next time I come back.  Honestly, the experience system in CoD4 is about as close as I want to get to a persistent FPS.  Admittedly, I'm obviously not the target demographic then (even if it comes out on PC), and no one says the game has to be for everyone, but that does color my perceptions somewhat.

The last issue I have with it is a storyline issue -- something about "cloned troopers" which has a lot of issues in the Eve context.  Cloning is supposed to be extremely expensive and restrictive, which is why only capsuleers and the insanely wealthy have access to it.  In addition, we've been told for the last year (at least) that life in Eve is cheap.  So why have expensive cloned troopers if just having a ton of conscripted rabble is just as good and half as expensive?  Supposedly this is tied into the next Eve novel, which also makes me worried -- but I'll withhold judgement until we learn more.

I'll definitely be looking forward to hearing more about it at FanFest (and hopefully seeing more than a 60 second teaser trailer), so until then I'm not sure there's much more I can say.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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