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 never played eve online befor but Dust made me look into this universe which if i may say it looks pretty good. but i got a few question’s

    1.If the dust players and eve players are interacting with each other does that mean like eve players can deploy support for dust players if the dust players request for it and or like can eve players attack the map by using some type of giant cannon blast on the planet to wipe out some of the enemys?

    2. This is about the ps vita… i dont own a ps3 but im most defently get a ps vita asoon as it comes out because im always on the go. so my question is: is this game really gonna be for the vita? If so do we expect it to come out the same day as the ps3 version will come out?

    3. When brandon said eve online has WIS. Can the mercs actuly do the same thing when they have no missions to do?

    • OK, some good questions there.

      Yes it’s our goal to have players on both sides (EVE and DUST) coordinating efforts. Specifically, our DUST trailers have shown orbital strikes from space impacting the ground, and destructive blasts from world surfaces fired into space.

      As to PS Vita, I can’t yet speak about when and to what extent DUST will be seen on Vita, we have announced (at E3) that we’ll extend the DUST experience to Vita (and Home).

      As to socialization in DUST 514, I’d suggest reading this dev blog we’ve written on the subject, particularly the mention of the War Room: http://www.dust514.com/en/news/article/2041/tools-of-the-trade

  • I really cannot wait for this game! I have been following the devolopment of the title for a long while now and what can I say it appeals to me on so many levels! As many of the previous posters, I am an avid MAG player (since the beta). To be quite frank, MAG has spoilt the FPS scene for me (when it comes to MP) because, quite simply, it is leagues above the previous and current FPS on the market. IMO Dust could simply blow the FPS market to pieces for this generation if all goes to plan!

    The scale of the game is just incredible, and to think that your actions, not only effect, but will influence decisions that fellow Dust players, and also EVE players will make during their play – no other game can offer this. On some sites, I have seen people concerned that, due to the scale of Dust that it may only be for the hardcore gamers, however I think that it will have something for everyone allowing people to get lots of enjoyment from the game, yet still be as hardcore or as casual as they wish.

    All I can say to CCP, is keep up the good work, and roll on the beta/release :D

    • Hi matsmcfly,

      I like reading these comments. Really do. You definitely get what we’re doing with DUST.

      Also, DUST 514 will definitely have appeal to the ‘hardcore’ FPS player, those who are very competitive – but not to the exclusion of all others. We want to provide a gameplay experience with DUST that can fit both the more competitive player who wants to really go for it and use the setting for all it’s worth, and those who would prefer to just drop in and fight more casually. I think we’re hitting the right balance there. But ultimately it’s all of you who will decide. I’ll be listening.

  • I must say, this looks pretty special :)

  • Is this gonna be a fps or a strategy game? Seems to me a little bit of both. Considering that there is a command ship, tanks, etc. And you are in the battles. Decisions, decisions.

    • DUST is a shooter, but has a number of deeper MMO elements to it. There is a good amount of strategy involved, whether that’s what you’re doing out there in combat in unison with your fellow mercs, or how to prepare for battle before the first shot is fired… what you choose to take out there in terms of gear.

  • After reading through the comments I think you guys really need to bring it home to the players that this game does NOT require a subscription, as it’s clear people don’t seem to get that. I also really look forward to playing it and seeing how the console and PC users interact. I saw there were various races, are they all human or just humanoid? It’d be neat to have non-human bipeds on a squad alongside human ones. I know EVE’s got a great character creation feature and to see that put to use in an FPS would just make the artist in me swoon. Anyway, I’m sold on the concept and I hope the game really picks up a major following. I hate MMOs on principle and DC Universse Online did little to change that but Dust514 may be the ticket to get me into MMO’s. If nothing else, it has earned my respect for truly trying something different using a genre (First Person Shooters) that has grown a little stale. Kudos!

    • The four playable races in EVE Online are the Amarr, Caldari, Gallente, and Minmatar. (There are additionally different bloodlines within each race.) Given that EVE is set in a far flung future, these races are actually the descendants of humanity. So, they’re all “human”, essentially.

  • I’ve been wanting to play EVE for a little while, but my dinosaur computer wouldn’t run the demo :P
    Dust 514 is a game that I look folward to buying. I’m very glad it’s not a subscription game, I wouldn’t be interested at all otherwise.
    I think the only thing that would stop me from getting it would be if it has an overload of blood/gore or an M rating. Little kiddos in the house don’t need to see all that and I’m sure that there are others out there that feel the same.

  • people have bad memorys they said durin E3 that no fees would be made only buyin ingame stuff

  • I have played EVE for over 2 years now and I think DUST 514 is going to be a great addition to the universe. Like they have said before and in response to the fearless newsletter you can not pay for win which is good because it would make new players hesitant to play. If CCP can pull this off they would be rolling in some monies. As their favorite saying is this will come soon™ so dont hold your breath.

    I have a question though: why call the game Dust 514 and what does 514 mean?

    • Hi DocDot, good to see more EVE players interested in DUST 514, and Soon™ in this case is Summer 2012.

      The 514… we do not speak of this… ;)

      There are SO many theories out there. I’ve seen biblical references, info people have sifted through the EVE Chronicles and various EVE lore, much more.

      I’m not saying the answer is to be found in here at all, but this where the EVE Chronicles are kept, if it’s of interest to you:

      http://www.eveonline.com/background/potw/ — some excellent stories in here, many of them quite dark, and give a lot of background on the EVE universe.

      http://www.dust514.com/en/chronicles/ — is where our smaller but growing DUST Chronicles can be found, several of which are written by our own CCP Remnant, who is here with us in Shanghai on the DUST team.

  • also how does a flying command center cost more than my Tengu?!??!!?!?

  • So when can we expect more Dev blogs like you promised on Twitter? :3 Interviews like this are certainly great for publicity, but I’m hungering for more of the nitty gritty details, like how the sov system will be affected by Dust and other specifics for how I can turn my serious business internet guns into serious business internet spaceships.

  • One thing I really want to know and get sorted. Can a Dust corp belong to an alliance in EVE? I ask this so I know whether or not I can participate on both the EVE side and the Dust side of the battle. If this is so, then this will raise this game to another level epic for me.

    • Monavie_The_Red,

      Looks like DUST may in fact be elevated to another level of epic for you, then. The corporation system in EVE Online, similar to guilds/clans in other games and supported by game mechanics and communication tools, will let EVE and DUST players be part of the same corps and alliances.

      It will be possible to be part of a player-run corporate entity in the EVE universe that operates both in space and on the surfaces of worlds. Essentially, one game experienced through both EVE Online and DUST 514.

  • Will PS+ users have access to these private trials? I’d like this question to be answered as soon as possible so that I may tell my friends about it. I have a subscription to PlaystationPlus for one year and though it has some interesting uses, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t join it specifically to get into these private trials.

    Thanks for the blog and looking forward to future devblogs!

  • After being spoiled by MAG and all of its lovable faults, other FPS games seem mundane and dull. I am anxiously awaiting the release of DUST 514 after being VERY impressed at the depth and scope of my meager 14 day EVE Online trial.

    What excites me most about DUST 514 and its integration with EVE is that CCP has found its focused niche in the gaming market and has committed to providing a top quality gaming experience for PC players and will now be expanding to console gaming. If that same level of commitment transfers over, I think we’ll find ourselves a game that will entrench us for a long time.

  • I give all FPS games a try COD never buying another, BF i will continue to buy,MAG i loved that game when i was on it.Now this game DUST514 its a must buy for me i will be on it DAY 1.OH thats the main ones i play i didnt really mean all just the main ones.

  • nice shadow, anxiously awaiting that reply :)

  • The gameplay looks interesting, but why not use the full potential of the PS3 such as Killzone and Resistance. I hope they improve the graphics

  • i’ve played EVE online before it was a beautiful well made game i’ve also played many first person shooters and well yeah it is extremely boreing now just pretty much run and gun, stab, noob tube they’res no real strategy its pretty much who gets the first shot off “twitch skill” this game looks and sounds too good to be true but if it does give this experience to console players and in extent pc gamers it will be ground breaking to have console and pc players working together to make changes in the control of so much territory for sure a must have i’ve allready started spreading the word about it and hopefully it just keeps going this is the future of gameing looking forward to its release and or trial release .=)

  • i have a few questions tho haw can console gamers apply to the trial of this game since theyre will only be a few people chosen or do we have to subscribe to a website to receive new letters about it. also will dust merc avatars be able to meet eve capsuleer avatars in the mercenary barge since its in space shouldnt it be possible just a thought lol id like to kind socialize with the people im counting on to supply me with airsupport kinda like in pshome you know . oh and if a vehicle is destroyed will we have to buy a new one also the modules and attachments we add on it or if its destroyed we just cant use it anymore until the match is over or do we have to pay to repair it just wondering ^_^

  • seeing as its a sony exclusive id sure PS+ users would get in since this is gonna be a big game and one of the big selling points of PS+ is for these early access betas

    Also another question: would there be a repair tool/mechanic as vicious mentioned? and would there be a revive mechanic where u can rez fallen comrades before they bleed out?

  • yeah true thats 1 of the main reasons players buy ps+ but since this type of game play in this massive scale has never really been done before i would think that they would have some type of well known game testers to check the stability of it hopefully they dont have to take it from a 10.0 type of game to a lower score because they have promised quite a bit im looking forward to all of the feachers promised im thinking theyre not going to answer our questions just yet until theyre ,ore sure on what they want to put in it to make sure its a great game and not make it pretty much 1 sided bye adding something that could give a distinct advantage pretty much time will tell but theyres is some type of nano inhibiter i think thats what they called it that you can use to heal youreself maybe theyll make it so you can heal someone else if they have some type of suit life support kinda like a last stand system but id be greatful if they would answer our questions even if were all the way in the back of thecomments lol

  • im already in a dust corp. But thats not the problem, the problem is that DRF is taking over EVE and there is no one that stand a chance! ;(

    /a guy from AAA

  • alright mmofps ive been dreaming forever! just wondering about the ingame money aspect could i as a dust 514 player run my own virtaul corperation?

  • oh and any kind of release time? this year? next year…i really wanna know

  • To be honest, I’ve been following this game ever since its announcement at E3. I check the official Dust 514 site almost every day to see if anything new has been released about this game. This interview answered a lot of questions of mine. the thing that blew me away the most was simply the depth and scale of this game.

    I tried EVE online in order to try to comprehend the scale, and by the end of the trial i realized I had only scratched the surface.

    I would love to get some more information about the “Private Trials” such as when they are starting and how I can get involed

    Hopeing to hear back from you,
    JTKozius

  • from what ive read the private trial would be some time at the end of this year and the full release would be in summer 2012 and also i believe you can run youre own sorporation i think its only a dust corp tho like only mercs atleast from what ive read and you can then form alliances with eve corps pretty much like a like individual corps but running under the same flag as the leading corp

  • and i doubt theyll reply this far into the blog post pretty much you have to look for the info youreself but try the psforums theyres alot of info theyre from M.A.G players that are planning on moveing to dust514 when it comes out

  • I play EVE Online for over 5 years now. From all i have seen now in EVE, i’m sure that Dust 514 will be an impressive action game, with great graphics and deep content.

    Quote: “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.”

    I hope they put much more people in that team. The crafting part could make the differencen between a Shooter and Social Game. in EVE there already a lot of crafters in the game. Please build a MMOFP”Game”, not a MMOFP”Shooter”.

  • I’ve been with EvE-Online since day one and am very excited about DUST514, is there any news yet on how the trial accounts will be selected as I am very keen to see how the interaction between my main in EvE and my merc will work.

    I am also intrested to see how the isk in EvE will affect DUST players, having been around long enough to see those with large amounts of isk tend to fair easier than those that don’t and if the game does support moving the currency between the two environments this could make it very one sided for casual players trying to fight against the established EvE alliances.

  • MAN this game sounds amazing. Great job sony and ccp. But i have one question, will u have to pay online for this game or will it be free to play like it is for the psn network multiplayer??

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