We got the chance to talk to CCP's David Reid about DUST 514 and the final few weeks of development and testing before launch. David was eager to talk a lot about the game, but we focused on a few topics that really impacted the EVE community, namely, the integration between EVE and DUST. CCP is taking some major steps to link the two games and are truly breaking new ground. There's a huge update coming to the DUST beta later this month, and we talked about how the team's changing the game leading up to launch.
David first explained that EVE and DUST are now geared up for testing on their Singularity Server. As EVE players know this is basically their version of a public test server. With both games running and being stressed on this server the devs will get a clear picture on what will happen on the Tranquility Server, which is the live game. Yes we both laughed that it is called Tranquility. David said that everything running on Singularity now is the full dress rehearsal to bring the game up to speed. If the game plays well on Singularity then it is a clear path to launch. There is still a lot of refining and integration to go through while testing. Also, Singularity testing allows CCP to make sure disaster scenarios get attention before the game goes live.
With all of these software elements being integrated, I asked David about the Matchmaking system being put into the game. David said that CCP wants to make sure DUST is friendly to FPS players and matchmaking gives them a familiar system to work with to get a feel for the game. We agreed that EVE players have a much more in depth approach to game play. MMOs in general have a deep curve when it comes to getting a feel for the high levels of game play. So Matchmaking will help FPS players get up to speed on the EVE game and universe in DUST. It will also allow for game play before they start making major economic decisions about their character, corporation, and all important economic aspects of the EVE universe. David did not want to take anything away from hardcore FPS players, knowing that they learn quickly, but also the matchmaking is for MMO players alike who just want to find quick battles with their friends.
One of the cool sounding game mechanics in DUST is the idea of the "orbital strike." We loved that term and asked David to give us some inside info on how this game element will come into play. Basically, orbital strikes are a great tool to further link EVE with DUST. On top of the normal battlefield where a character calls in an airstrike, the strike also cost money and resources. Someone has to pay for this devastation. Therefore, this type of transaction will be done through corporations and politicking in EVE and DUST. Mercs may decide to make an orbital strike attack as part of their contract with a major corporation. Or, corps will use orbital strikes strategically to get planets or districts under their control for valuable resources. David was very excited about how many different things this one game tool could mean to players, not to mention how awesome it will look on the DUST screen.
One of the best parts about the new update, at least for PC gamers like ourselves, is that you'll be able to put a Mouse and Keyboard to use in the PS3 game when the patch hits. Just plug them into the USB ports on your console, and you'll be good to go. Should the M&KB players have too much of an advantage, the match-making filters will eventually be able to keep dual-shock players separate from M&KB players, so there's no need to worry about "fairness".
Another game mechanic that we talked about was the Galaxy System. This system allows for players to fight over strategic planets in DUST. With such a hectic political climate among the corporations, DUST players will know where the strategic battle lines will be drawn. It also maps out the galaxy with different types of planets. Just like our own galaxy there will be gas giants and water planets. David was open to the idea of all types of Sci-Fi elements coming to the game in this way. For now DUST is launching with terrestrial planets only. However, there are endless possibilities ahead with the galaxy system tying everything together.
David summed up our chat about the post launch plans for DUST 514. He said that more than anything CCP wants to create a good honest MMO for players in an open universe shared between the two games. DUST is definitely being viewed internally as a "service game" taking player feedback into account and making changes as they go. However, once that live service is running successfully, then the team can add onto DUST and EVE together. They do have a roadmap of features already planned for the game, but having a successful launch is first on the priority list. Dave summed up his thoughts by saying that EVE and DUST really are the beginning for what CCP can do with this universe. The team is super focused on DUST right now heading into launch, but CCP continues to look at ways to bring more to the EVE universe (and both games) in the future.