Footprints in the dust.

DUST514 goes into beta testing next month and, in a few days, EVE Online’s capsuleer community – freshly decanted from their pods in Iceland will be getting their hands on the console game for the first time.  Whilst there will be a few ardent dustmites at FF2012 the overwhelming number of players are surely coming at DUST from the perspective of being PC players of EVE Online.

Quite how those players will react to DUST514 is yet to be seen – gamers are gamers after all and a goodly number are going to like it and a few might even purchase a PS3 in order to play it, but for the rest a fair few are more likely to walk away a bit bemused: a nice game but what has it got to do with EVE Online?

We’ve all heard the CCP line to date, that DUST514 will open the “EVE Universe” to a wider player base but what does that really mean? Do CCP expect players to migrate from DUST to EVE because they like the IP? Does EVE somehow become a more popular MMO because it has an associated FPS console sibling?

The other question, which CCP are seemingly refusing to be drawn into discussing is quite what the interaction between DUST514 and EVE Online will consist of.  A recent chat with the devs revealed this…

“ISD AeolusWind > Multiple Players ask: How will DUST affect current EVE soverignity mechanics.
CCP Wolfman > The exact mechanics behind planetary conquest will be revealed at a later date once we’re totally satisfied with them”.

“ISD AeolusWind > Akelica asks: will there be a market between eve players and dust players? I.e. eve players manufacturing vehicles and dust players buying them?
CCP Nothin > To put it shortly, that’s definitely a direction we’d want to eventually take it, but we’re still discussing the exact details of this interaction and how much of it we want in the beginning.”

So precisely nothing then.

What gives? Are CCP saving their powder for a spectacular reveal at FF2012? Well yes that’s probably quite likely but experience of prior FanFests has proven time and time again that CCP reveals “awesome” at FanFest but no actual detail.

Planetary Interaction, Walking in Station all got massive hype at prior FanFests, whilst their delivery was less than stellar. My suspicion grows by the day that for EVE players at least DUST will appear as a rather dull contracts process. We wont be manufacturing battle tanks or launching drop ships from orbit, or pouring over strategic maps with our dustmite brethren.  What seems imminently more likely is will be putting up contracts in much the same way as we might with courier jobs.

Exciting stuff.

“Your next shot will topple Empires!”

The other side of this proverbial coin is what the DUST players perspective is.  Will DUST players care, or even notice, who they are laying down their immortal lives for? Presumably a contract created by a player in EVE will appear to a DUST player in some fashion – which that player (or team) accepts.  What’s the interaction between these two player groups? Is either party reliant upon the other in any respect? A big concern must surely be that the DUST players simply pick who ever is splashing out the most cash to them and they carry on regardless meaning that – to all intents and purposes the EVE player has just paid out of his pocket for a glorified random number generator.

The answer to many of these questions lies of course within the EVE player base – they currently do care about who has sovereignty of this or that system: without those long standing feuds EVE is nothing but a series of interconnected dots.  Which means those players are really needed to be embedded, heart and soul, into DUST.

Embedded. Heart and soul. Playing it even?  Except they’re probably not: its on a console, not on a PC. And that will almost certainly be what emerges from the hangovers in Iceland – good game, but what does it have to do with us?


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