DUST 514 Interview: Changing Console Shooters Forever

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DUST 514 Interview: Changing Console Shooters Forever

We haven’t heard a great deal about DUST 514 since it was shown at E3 2011, other than that it’s a first-person shooter connected to the vast sci-fi universe of PC MMO EVE Online, and that it’s coming exclusively to PlayStation 3. When developers CCP made the trip from Iceland to London to outline their vision for this new addition to their immensely popular EVE universe, I came out of the meeting amazed at the scale of the project. Suffice to say, DUST 514 is not just another shooter.

After the meeting, I interrogated Brandon Laurino, Executive Producer at CCP, to find out exactly why PlayStation 3 owners should be getting excited.

PS.Blog: With EVE Online, CCP already has a huge, engaged community. Why are you now trying to break into the console FPS market?

Brandon: EVE Online is an incredibly deep MMO and, for better or worse, that comes with a typical perception that it is complicated. The common joke is that you have to overcome a ‘learning cliff’ to get involved. Part of the thinking behind DUST 514 is to address those preconceptions; we accept that there is a barrier to entry with something as deep as EVE Online and we wanted to make it more accessible, providing another portal and dimension into the EVE universe. What’s more accessible to a gamer in this day and age than a shooter?

Why did you specifically choose PlayStation as your partner in making that happen?

Brandon: Obviously, we were attracted to the power and the feature set of PlayStation 3, but it really came down to Sony’s willingness to work with us in bringing an MMO to the platform. There have been attempts to bring MMO games to consoles in the past but we believe we’re now in a position to do it properly, using existing features on PS3 and the PlayStation Network, and collaboratively developing new features to support our vision.

Can you elaborate on your vision for a ‘proper’ MMO?

Brandon: We’re breaking so much ground with DUST 514: we’re not only building a full console MMO; we’re building one that feeds into another MMO on a completely different platform [PC]. We’re breaking more ground by bringing the microtransaction business model to a console shooter for the first time. All of this was inconceivable not too long ago, and it’s the partnership between CCP and Sony that’s finally making it happen.

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Talking about the connectivity between DUST 514 and EVE Online, is this something that’s going to most benefit EVE players or is there equal benefit to those players first experiencing the universe through DUST 514?

Brandon: It runs both ways – you can be sure that we’re very conscious of that in our design, we run through all the different use cases constantly to ensure its well rounded. EVE Online players can continue playing just the way they are and new players can jump into DUST 514 and get a traditional shooter experience, if that’s what they like. There are aspects that are consistent between the two platforms, such as in-game currency, and there are ways that EVE Online players can impact events in DUST 514 and vice versa, all without harming the overall ecosystem.

Because we have this living universe we call EVE – a single shard server, where all EVE Online players and all DUST 514 players are literally in the same universe, not a bunch of split instances, with a huge variety of dynamics and interdependencies within the ecosystem of the sandbox we’ve created – people playing DUST 514 and people playing EVE Online are essentially providing user generated content for each other, just by their sheer presence and their actions in the game world. To give an example, for a player fighting on a planet surfaces in DUST 514, the actions of the EVE Online players can trigger epic moments and provide support that is completely user-driven. Similarly, a DUST 514 player could trigger an event from the ground and do something spectacular in EVE Online. This emergent behaviour and gameplay is only possible with our level of connectivity. These are the broad strokes, the gameplay and interactions run a lot deeper than that.

In that case, what’s to stop an EVE Online veteran blowing my corporation out of space?

Brandon: We have some rules of engagement that ensure nothing drastic happens without some kind of fair warning and time to prepare, this is basically carried over and expanded upon from large scale player-driven warfare in EVE Online, where sometimes users are coordinating battles involving tens of thousands of players at once. Additionally, there are things that you can earn or build, independently in DUST 514 and / or EVE Online, or collaboratively between the two, that will mitigate those scenarios.

Putting the philosophy to one side for a moment, what is DUST 514 going to be like to play when you’re on the ground, in battle?

Brandon: Essentially it’s a vehicular combat game on an extremely large scale, and then when you move into installations and outposts, it’s more infantry based. We’re using Unreal Engine 3 and we’ve incorporated a Mega Terrain engine into it that lets us create huge levels with varied terrain, with a vast array of vehicles ranging from buggies to tanks to aircraft. Typically, you would use vehicles to traverse the landscape and engage in closer combat when you deploy into outposts, but there is a huge amount of tactical freedom, way outside of those broad examples.

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There’s some familiarity for players of shooters in that we have general classes or playstyles that we’ve worked out, such as light infantry and heavy weapons, but we’re hesitant to label them that way because we have something called the Fitting system – something that has been entirely ported over from EVE Online – where you can attach all manner of weapons and equipment to your character and your vehicles. It’s better to think of it like the character systems found in the deepest role-playing games; you can have the broad classes that are familiar to shooter fans, but there is massive freedom to expand on or go totally outside of them.

What’s the plan for expanding content in DUST 514?

Brandon: Right off the bat, we have literally thousands of in-game items built into the system; likewise, in terms of scale, you’re looking at a conflict taking place across thousands of planets, so we’re not just talking a dozen maps – we’re talking an entire universe of planets and areas of engagement within them. That’s the difference in scale we’re looking at here, and taking our experience with EVE Online and also, some inspiration found in the best microtransaction based MMOs, social and mobile games, and we’ve set up our workflow so that we can iterate and add new content very quickly. In terms of scale, depth and volume of content, DUST 514 will easily be the biggest multiplayer FPS on the market – also by virtue of being an MMOFPS, not just an FPS.

Talk us though how your beta is going to work.

Brandon: Just as we have done with EVE Online, we’re going to be telling a story with each of the events that happen in our game. To give a bit of context, in EVE Online you play as the pilot of a spaceship – a capsuleer – and in DUST 514 you play as a mercenary on the ground. It’s going to be a bit weird if, all of a sudden, we release the DUST 514 beta and all these mercenaries suddenly show up in the EVE universe, so the setting is that the first small group of players that get access to the Private Trials will be the first trial of this new mercenary technology in the context of EVE Online. Just as you’re helping to test the game in the real world, in the EVE world you’re taking part in war games organised to test this new mercenary technology.

With our Private Trials – we’re not calling it a Beta, but Private Trials in both the real world and the EVE fiction – we’re not taking the usual “on / off” method of rolling out a build and then taking it back and tweaking it, then rolling it out again; when we roll out with those first few users we are introducing mercenary technology to EVE, our “game as a service begins”, and the story will continue from there as that technology develops, further empowering the DUST 514 mercenaries from test subjects in war games to ultimately allowing them to take hold of their own future. It’s what we call a thematic rollout.

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There will be people out there who will look at DUST 514 and assume it’s an EVE Online spin-off. How would you counter that?

Brandon: We’re not thinking of it in that way at all, I suppose is the easiest way to respond to that. The EVE universe is comprised of three experiences: one is the classic EVE Online play, “flying in space” or what we call FIS; there’s WIS or “walking in stations”, where you can now get out of your ship and explore the interiors of space stations; and the final piece is DUST 514 and we’ve nicknamed that SIF, or “shooting in face”. None of those three are spin-offs, they’re experiences of equal value that can be played independently or fully connected. If you’re connected then you’re going to get the rich emergent gameplay that runs through all three.

We have so much to talk about, much of which is new territory for me. Is there anything we haven’t mentioned that you really want to get across to our PlayStation.Blog readers?

Brandon: I hope it comes through that what we’re developing is a truly new experience on PS3 – on consoles in general. It is the deepest shooter with the richest universe ever conceived and, on top of that, by bringing to market an MMO with microtransactions, we could be changing the face of console gaming forever. This is groundbreaking stuff, but user choice is at the core – it’s playing the game however you want to play it. If you want a quick experience, you have it; if you’re looking for something deeper, it’s there. If you want to pay a very small amount of money to play, you can; if you want to be heavily invested, you can do that too. We’re providing a more extensive array of options than has ever been seen in a console game.

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163 Comments

  • I will need a demo. I was excited for the idea at first… but when I saw it in action.. it looked like a terribly generic shoot…. Not even a good one…

  • Awesome

  • Incredible. I gotta say DUST is the Only shooter I’m looking forward to personally. A tactical game that will expand and improve even more so than what MAG tried to do. This game is going to be special.

  • My last name is Laurino also!
    Haha

  • As an avid MAG player (former) If all you play for is the FPS element you will be out of your depth, the MMO, RPG elements like those in MAG as well as the EVE elements mentioned in the article are going be the “gems” of the gameplay, a Demo will not do justice to depth and play-ability of what DUST *should* offer., If it has the clan-ability, clearly defined leadership roles, and chess like strategy of MAG, combined with everything promised so far for years now, I wont be needing a demo, I will be needing a new controller and spray foam for my ear peice. :)

    • I like the spray foam bit.

      Yeah, as you said, there’s a great amount of depth to DUST but really that’s what’ll give you all the freedom to do some things you probably haven’t done in a shooter before.

  • this looks amazing. im a big fan of innovation in games especially shooters, hope i get into the private trials

  • Hmm… an FPS MMO, intriguing. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for this one!

  • This SOUNDS really amazing. . . BUT I hope they put out as good as a game as they are making it sound. The guy being interviewed sounds really confident which is good but I’ve seen EVE online gameplay and it’s without a doubt one of the most boring look games I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Regardless though this idea for a game is really unique and sounds like a lot of fun. Though when he says “micro-transaction” all I can think of is “cash shop” which I hate cash shop games cause if you want to get anywhere in them you end up spending WAY more money then you would on a MMO with a monthly charge.

  • Never played EVE Online, but this would be a great intro to that universe
    .

    • It is, and there will be a number of things that connect DUST players with EVE players. The communication tools of course, various game mechanics, and we’ll also be looking at ways of keeping EVE and DUST players connected on a community level as well.

  • It would be cool to voice chat on the Vita with a group of people on EVE
    (Basically use the PS Vita as a team speak client)
    I’ve been checking out Dust514 quite a lot and it looks better every time…
    It reminds me of MAG, but on a much much much grander scale… Can’t wait to play the beta :)

  • how come when developers come out with a fps game, they gotta say “we’re changin the face of fps’s”? basically takin jabs @ the cod franchise. like the sayin goes “if its not broke, dont fix it”. i kno im bein a lil bias, sorry

  • @ Joyce139: I can’t tell if you’re being serious or just trolling, but I hate everything about Call of Rehash. It’s an annual scam on Activision’s part. If you’ve played the original Modern Warfare, you’ve no need to buy any other COD that came after it. They’re all the same. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” doesn’t even begin to apply here. Call of Duty has always been broken and as a brand needs to be incinerated as soon as possible, but the Call of Duty vermin will continue to give into Activision’s lies. Blame yourselves for the death of innovation.

    In short, have fun purchasing the same game over and over again. A sheep in its finest form. I’ll be supporting the developers who deserve the money, thanks.

  • Please add these to DUST 514;

    Offline and online mercenary training.

    Players can learn all the maps, weapons and vehicles in offline & online battles with bots and friends.

    Split screen different PSN log in

    LAN support for Lan parties

    Map editor

    Unranked VR Free For All:
    Some corporations have free for all training facilites for mercs to use before going on missions. it allows mercs to use any weapon before purchasing it and the option to become comfortable with all vehicles

  • This looks awesome, but when is it coming out?

  • This is for the vita too right?

    • I can’t say much about Vita at this point, but it might be best to picture a scenario where you’d see some aspects of DUST 514 extended to PS Vita. If there are some specific ideas you might have in mind about this, we’d be interested in hearing about it in the comments here.

  • I play Eve Online, and Dust 514 just keeps blowing me away. It looks awesome.
    I read some comments above me, there is no monthly subscription its going to be microtransaction meaning you can if you wish pay for items within the game. Much like other Free to Play MMO’s.

    As for Eve Online itself being difficult to get into. Yes it can be, but also at the same time can be very rewarding. For me its the people who I fly with and chat to on team speak that makes the game for me.

    • My first few months playing EVE Online were pretty hardcore, just learning as much as I could as fast as I could. Most people I know probably didn’t take it to that extreme but I guess that’s just me – I like to dive right in. I think it was the fact that it’s a very involved MMO that drew me to it. DUST is a more accessible way to have those experiences though. I’m really looking forward to seeing what EVE and DUST players accomplish together in the sandbox as well.

  • Server Browser and Macthmaking

    Unranked lobbies
    Players can host their own rooms with custom maps,weapons
    options (shotguns only,sniper and pistols only),vehicles options,
    gametypes including free for all and tdm,,objective round based games, etc

    3rd person mod

    Community mods: Community submits mods which CCP
    makes available as DLC for unranked custom lobbies

  • Mouse and Keyboard support like (Unreal Tournament 3 on PS3,
    allowed or disallowed by the lobby host)

    Text Chat and voice chat optional muting and blocking. Open Mic and push to activate mike and mic shuts off after you stop speaking, like Unreal Tournament. best mic sytem ever

    Text Chat can be turned on or off and has optional font sizes and colors so players far away from their tvs can read them or have a bot read it like unreal 2004 and MS text reader programs do

    PS move Support

    PSP/Vita support;
    If the full game cannot be on the vita at least the above VR Mercenary Training or at least stat
    tracking and messaging on the psp and vita

    Spectator Mode and Replay Theatre so we can learn from eachother and catch
    haxrs, cheatas and maybe some lions ;)

    I think the game has spawn selction via drop pad which looks sweet :)

    So far the game looks good but like every other shooter.add the above and it will be
    The Best FREE TO PLAY SHOOTER EVR :)

  • So an FPS MMO like MAG? Cool! Looking forward to more details and the beta. :)

    • You can find out more at DUST514.com, and we’ve got a pretty good lineup of info to share with you all between now and launch.

  • So far the game looks good but like every other shooter.add the above and it will be
    The Best FREE TO PLAY SHOOTER EVER :)

  • Im excited for this game.

  • I stopped reading when I read that the game is using the Unreal 3 engine, what a let down. I was looking forward to Dust514 too, but I absolutely cannot STAND the Unreal engine, everything about it is sub-par.

    Oh well, the anticipation was fun while it lasted, what a shame.

  • Everytime I hear “MMO” I think WOW. After reading this, its peaked my interest and will definitly have to check this out. I’m a hardcore FPS fan and this might get me into a new game genre.

    • WoW is certainly the dominant title in the MMO industry, but EVE is a very different type of MMO. Gritty sci-fi universe; thousands of solar systems; and it’s all one galaxy – you’re not playing on a particular named server or shard. It’s one vast, open sandbox setting.

      There’s a great amount of freedom in *how* you play as well – no classes, ‘professions’ are rather freeform so you can engage in piracy, exploration, run an alliance of hundreds or in some cases thousands of other players and try to claim as much of the galaxy as possible, be a spy, a saboteur, a thief. All of these things are possible. More, actually. I tend to not use the word ‘hardcore’ when describing an MMO, but it really does fit EVE.

      We do see DUST as having a certain appeal to very competitive FPS players who are really dedicated to their title(s) of choice. Hopefully as we reveal more about DUST you and others will see more of the potential in what we’re providing.

  • Make it better than MAG, and you might have a chance. Although it doesn’t take a lot to make it better than that.

  • Can’t wait for this. I’ve been playing EVE-Online since 2004 and haven’t once let my subscription go out lol. So that’s a good solid 7 years of playing it. So this is just going to be even better for me. Can’t wait! I really hope console guys give this a shot and really try to stick with it because trust me CCP know how to make a deep involving game.

    It might not be the one for you pick up and play COD run around types. But according to them they are making it available to you guys too. But seriously – give it a go when it comes out and don’t try to play it like COD.

    • Hey there old timer! You’ve actually got a few years on me. I started playing EVE in 2007. Glad to see more EVE players posting here. I think you’ll be pleased at how many aspects of DUST will have a similar feel to EVE. And that’s really a key point, EVE and DUST are the same universe. It’s all one thing, experienced in two different ways – as a capsuleer and as a mercenary.

  • i just look somes EVE online gameplay and this game look soooo boring… wtv

  • How is this different than anything else?

  • the guns look lousy i hope thats not the final product

  • two words… EPIC

  • looking forward to learning more

  • I think this is going to beat my FPS Exhaustion.

  • I’ve been interested in this game since the blog’s coverage of the game at E3. That is until I saw the part about microtransactions. That shot a b.b. into my balloon and deflated my excitement considerably. Still looking forward to this game though only not so much as before.

  • Need some new gameplay video, some of that shown is as old as the announcement trailer.

  • How is this an MMO?

    When I think of MMO i think of something large scale, for example i could walk across the whole planet and bump into 1000 different players in the process, or 500 of us could gather in one spot andjust have an epic large scale shootout/war (with other players coming in only increasing the count). Planetside would be a perfect example of my vision of a REAL MMOFPS

    Yet this game speaks of this like 16vs16 battles and 32vs32 etc etc…thats not MMO, in that case CoD and Battlefield are MMOs too because THEY can do that too.

    MAG would be more of an MMO than this bewcause at least 256 players could exist on the same map. (but MAG isnt an mmmo because in MMOs ppl dont meetup in a lobby they get transported to themap toplay.. instead you can freely venture to the site of battle in a huge open world) So hows this an mmo?

  • After all

    MMO =/= Persistant world.

    there are games with persistant worlds that are not MMOs as well as MMOs that dont have persistant world… as for “larger matches” thats just it “matches” sounds too controlled and CoD like, there shouldnt be “matches” there should be a huge open world I canexplore and dozens if not hundred of people could just decide to go at it at any given time. a prime example of what an MMOFPS should be like is Planetside, Ive never even played the game but from what Ive seen and read it looks and feels more like an MMO than what Dust 514 is portraying

  • Hopefully this will relieve some of the worries people have about CCP taking the time to get this right:

    According to an interview posted on youtube in 2009

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSqM0gVI0TE&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

    they had already been working on the game for 3 years, and since the game won’t be out this year, that means they will have been working on it for at least 6 years. While that doesn’t guarantee a good game (I’m looking at you Duke Nukem Forever), I think it means they’re willing to take the time and spend the money necessary to make the game what it needs to be.

  • I hope this ends up being in a way, like planet side. Planet side had a huge balance issue when it came to defending your bases. You just couldn’t. You’d always lose. I’m keeping my eye on this game though, could be a huge hit!

  • Sounds interesting. I’ve never been interested in MMO’s but I might check this out. Concerned about probable subscription costs though.

  • “from buggies to tanks to aircraft”
    YES! Flying vehicles! Yet another great thing that is making this my most anticipated game. I hope you aren’t jerking my chain, CCP!
    I have loved everything I’ve heard so far about this game. If you guys pull off what you’ve been saying – I will certainly send a bunch of microtransactions your way.
    Seriously this could be the FPS to end all FPS, for me.

  • heyugetoverhere, go back to UT if you want that [DELETED]. DUST is about corporation warfare, not mates having skirmishes. The concept of “ranked” doesn’t even apply, it’s about a conflict of interests and an unimaginable volume of wealth.

  • I’ll be buying and playing this, the concept is too amazing for anyone to not try. It seriously amazes me.

    I don’t know how often it needs to be said that the game has no monthly subscription for people to get that it doesn’t have one. >_>

  • Hi everyone, I’m James (aka CCP Shadow), the Community Manager for DUST 514. I’m going to pop in here and answer those questions I’m able to field. You’ll probably see me in here a bit over the next week or so.

    I’m seeing some names I remember from the last time I was here, which is good (and also from the DUST514.org fansite – which, by the way, is a great place to connect with other DUST fans).

  • hey shadow , NuMbz_SyN4LiFe on twitter

    1. The War Room that was mentioned in the last dev blog would the table in the center have like virtual maps of the terrain u preparing to fight on so u can plan ur attacks in advance?

    2. Any word on the max player count?

    3. I mentioned this to u way back on twitter but what sort of clan support we looking at? some ppl were really disappointed that MAG didnt provide any real way to schedule and setup clan v clan matches

    4. Games like this NEED a large player base to keep it goin to find matches quickly, MAG is an example of this, game with low population makes u gotta wait longer to get into matches

    5. PS Move support, we need alot of options. Example: some ppl might want a fixed cursor in the middle, some might want a really tiny deadzone, some might want to configure their buttons how they want. Gotta provide Options and alot of these other devs dont do it.

    6. How will clones be handled, lets say my corp has 1000 clones stockpiled can we deploy with all 1000 for a match? is there a limit? and what happens say my corp enters a match with 50 clones but only used 25 to win do we get to keep the 25 unused ones in that battle for a next one of would those be lost?

    • Hi, and I of course I remember you!

      For a few of these, I’m actually going to have to check on what I’m cleared to reveal. (Snipers are prepared to cut me down.)

      I’ll come back!

    • Sorry, my body was obliterated on a molecular level, but sheer force of will allowed me to return and continue as a whole being. You’ve asked questions about some things, here’s what I’m able to respond with —

      The War Room — long term plans are for the type of scenario you mentioned, but initially – at launch – most tactical planning (done in-game) will happen over voice chat.

      Max player count — it’s entirely possible that we might push the max player count higher than what we’re looking at right now as we prepare DUST 514 for Private Trials. So, I can’t give you a definitive answer on this yet. That max player count is also impacted by the use of vehicles, etc…. Sorry but I can only just ask that you sit tight on this question until we’re ready to reveal this.

      Clan support and scheduling — This won’t be there in Private Trials but at or post-launch, what we are looking at in-game corp calendars used to schedule matches, which would be auto-populated when attacks are initiated on Surface Infrastructures. Again, this is me talking about the future, and is not something I can guarantee will go in, nor when.

    • Also, and this is for DUST at launch and NOT during Private Trial — you asked about clones.

      There is a minimum clone count required for every game mode (it differs per game mode) and a maximum cap as well. In corp matches, clones that are taken into a match but not used, are retained if victorious and lost to the enemy if your side loses. Again, this is long-term planning and is not something that will really impact gameplay in the upcoming Private Trials.

      Hope this was helpful.

    • Oh, last thing I wanted to add. I am watching the feedback you and others have been providing via Twitter. I can’t always respond to it, but just know that it’s being seen. Thank you for that.

      07

      Shadow

  • I hope this game lives up to expectations.

    Also, more gameplay vids please.

  • how are people going to be selected for the “private trials”?

  • Very impressed with the design challenges of Dust514. This is an age where console fps are often designed to be discarded just as soon as everything is unlocked – and just in time to buy the next instalment in the series. Dust514 follows a different path: its brief is to keep the players’ engaged, interested, playing and enjoying; and to do so for the long term. Here’s to the designers, the developers, the imagineers and the creators.

    • Thank you. And yes, that’s a key thing to note about DUST 514. It’s a continually evolving experience, both in terms of the game we provide for you all, but also in terms of what you’re able to do in the game universe. What you can establish, and what you can alternately destroy. The social aspects alone are interesting, even moreso as it ties into EVE Online. I think for us, DUST 514 will never be “complete” like most shooters out there. It will just change and improve over time. Glad you can see the significance of what we’re doing.

  • Will there be any Home support for this game, I would love to start corp recruitment but the fansites for dust have not been yielding any results.

    • Yes, there will be. I wish I could say more on this, but for now I just want you to know that we have our eyes on Home too.

  • Been playing Eve since 2006, rubbish at consoles, eve is the only thing I play. My kids want to come knock mummy out of the sky with DUST, please don’t disappoint them. And they would love the Private trial …
    :)

  • Ive always thought mmo’s were a cool idea just never found one for me because I am on console and and fps/new rpg fan. If I continue to be impressed by this game it will be a definite buy :)

  • This look interesting.
    Only 2 things i hope won’t happen
    First is that Microtransaction won’t make those who spend money completly overpowered i don’t mind spending some money on a mmo but it really suck when i spend 50-100$ and i’m worth nothing next to thoses who have spended a few thousands $.Money make the game run but shouldn’t make peoples completly out of reach for the others.
    And second i hope it won’t be overpriced like in most F2P mmo 20$ for a 30days suit is crazy it’s just virtual items and i saw much worse buying a crystal for like 40$ just to get a 5str more well i really hope it won’t be like that.
    If it’s isn’t like that then i will most likely play this game.

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