Scaling the Universe of DUST 514

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Scaling the Universe of DUST 514


I am a Server Architect on DUST 514 and, in this devblog, I would like to cover at a high level some of the online technical aspects of DUST 514, including the challenges we have met and the approaches we have taken in handling them.

As a server architect on the project, I am responsible for integrating the DUST FPS multiplayer battles into the EVE universe, as well as optimizing the DUST battle servers to perform even better. Unlike normal FPS multiplayer games, DUST 514 has heavy MMO elements. And unlike normal MMO FPS games, DUST has heavy interaction with one of the most successful MMO space games – EVE Online! This imposes challenges on what technologies we should use in order to have this level of interaction with EVE, while keeping FPS gameplay as smooth as possible.

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While continuing to rely on the Unreal 3 engine for the FPS multiplayer gameplay for DUST, the interaction with the rest of the EVE universe should naturally take advantage of utilizing some existing EVE online technologies. Think about a simplified flow of how a DUST battle might begin:

An EVE corporation issues a battle contract to seize a territory on a given planet that is currently owned by another corporation; a group of DUST mercenaries comes to accept the contract as the attacker for the bounty the contract offers; another group of DUST mercenaries comes to accept the contract as the defender, so they also get a reward if the territory is protected. When the number of each team has reached a pre-determined minimum, the EVE server logic would instruct an appropriate DUST battle cluster to spawn a battle in it. This provides the battle server with all the necessary information regarding the prospective battle upon launching, and the DUST mercenary clients will then be forwarded to join the battle accordingly. After the battle is finished with everyone getting (or losing) their share of the benefits, the battle server process will then be terminated by the EVE universe.

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So the EVE universe needs to manage the lifetime of DUST battle servers as well as communicating with them when needed, while we also need to make sure that the latency sensitive FPS multiplayer gameplay goes fairly for the participating DUST players. I won’t go into a deep technical discussion about how we solve the challenges involved here, as we are still exploring all the possibilities to find out the best balance point to map physical DUST battles nicely into the EVE universe!

Unlike traditional FPS multiplayer servers, we will host DUST battle servers around the globe. Since the centralized server hardware resources are pretty limited in number, we have to find ways to utilize existing server resources as much as possible. Instead of having a dedicated server machine to host one battle, we aim to have a dedicated multi-core server machine to host as many DUST battle servers as possible!


We have done a bunch of significant performance optimizations to the FPS engine we are using both on the server side and the client side, so each DUST battle server is now happily hosting a satisfying number of concurrent DUST players. Again, I will not go too much detail on how we achieved that, but rest assured that the DUST battles will be very scalable.

As always, we are continuously making improvements to every aspect of DUST 514, to make DUST an enjoyable experience for all of our future players!

Comments are closed.


  • Sounds like you’re working hard. I’m very excited to see how this turns out.

  • It sounds like if Dust 514 and Eve Online will be almost one in the same. Does this mean if I have a Eve Online account, and Dust 514, will I be able to transfer ISK back and forth.

  • this has grand epic scale written all over it. i was excited when it was announced at e3! i wonder what the final cap will be for dust battles….ohhhh the possibilities, lol.

    However i need to read about Eve..

  • Wow. Halo on steroids.

  • wow haven’t heard from this since e3…………

    • We’ve published some info about DUST 514 at PlayStation.Blog since E3. A quick search above should reveal a few articles if you’d like to check it out, most recently an interview with our Executive Producer, Brandon Laurino. There are also news items, dev blogs, and DUST Chronicles at

  • I was SSOOOO stocked for this! …then I found out its running unreal engine.

  • Hey folks. This is James Egan (aka CCP Shadow). I’m the Community Manager for DUST 514. Your comments and questions, I hunger for them. I’ll answer what I’m able to speak to, but for the more technical questions, I’ll need to grill CCP Lin on your behalf and relay those responses to you.

  • Please announce the Beta/Release date. that will determine if i get certain other shooters. -Thanks

    • Release is Summer 2012. As to beta, I can’t talk about the dates yet, but we’ve got a different approach to beta in general. I’ll quote our Executive Producer from his recent PS.Blog interview here:

      “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.”

  • Can we get a larger resolution on the functional block diagram please? Its awfully small even when I try to zoom in to it on the flickr page its hosted on. Thanks.

  • I like the interaction between Eve and Dust 514

    Is this CCP’s first FPS?

  • This might be the most ridiculous ambitious game ever. You guys got some serious cajones for attempting this. Very interested in seeing this being released and actually understanding how it works. My guess for the release date, if ever released, is Spring 2014.

    • Hi FriedConsole,

      We need to wear very loose pants to accommodate said cajones, and the release is a bit closer than you predicted – it’s Summer 2012. We announced this date at this past E3.

  • Hey shadow huge fan of eve online, and really looking forward to Dust514. Any word on the private beta start date and what is the critera to het in the beta? My clan mates from MAG BHD(Better Hide or Die) cant wait to play Dust514.

    • Hi bullyboutya, yep seems that a number of MAG clans are showing an interest in DUST 514. And glad to see another EVE player here too. The Private Trial dates are one of the most-asked questions I get. I’m not cleared to say exactly when this begins, but I can say it’s pretty close.

  • Looking Sharp i still hope this game is promising.

  • Will Eve players transport Dust 514 players around Eden? And will any Dust 514 battles take place in low sec?

  • are you able to answer any questions on the setup of the game haw far the interaction will go with eve and dust players will we be able to meet theyre avatars and work on battle plans or something to that sort or just hang around when theyres no battles to be fought and i thought the private trials were supposed to be sometime at the end of this year? just wondering to what extent the questions can be answered lol =)

  • 1. how many planets, we gona play on? 2. is there one map for each planet or more? and will there be move support like killzone or like resistance

  • Can’t wait guys. I hope you guys really put a lot of effort into this!

  • I also want to know if their is some special criteria for getting into the private trial. And I want to say this is the game that got me into Eve Online. Thanks for making this happen.

  • So CCP Shadow, can you send me a free PS3?

    Joking aside, it’s awesome to see more details on the goodness behind the scenes. Just wondering, do you have any sort of idea as to where you are going to establishing the server clusters? I ask mainly because I know in Australia we often get shafted thanks to our remote location, and I’m sure there are plenty of other countries in the same boat. Also, how feasible is inter-region play going to be (eg US-EU or Asia-US)? Is the game going to be built to try and handle the high latency (because unfortunately we don’t have neutrinos transporting our data or quantum entanglement yet)?

  • oh i have another question will theyre be a way to keep leachers out of the battles since most will be by merc corps and if theyre are any open slots theyre will be a random player thrown in to even the playing fealed but sometimes theyres players that just leave themselves logged in and leave so when the game is over if the team won he would be added into the reward even if he didnt contribute anything at all wouldnt that be a hinderince to the team will theyre be a way for the commander to remove or substitute someone of his choice into the game if it deamed necessary?

  • *field sorry x_x do that sometimes lol

  • So first off, long time EVE player (about 7 years now on and off).
    I’ve been following Dust with a keen interest since it was first unveiled at EVE Fest and snapped up a copy of EDGE magazine which had a 15 page article in it about three years ago now.
    SO, my question is this CCP Shadow!
    You say that you’re shooting for a Summer 2012 launch date, Will you put that back if the game needs more tweaking / polish?
    I for one, would be MORE THAN HAPPY to wait. I mean, I don’t want you and the guys of the CCP Dust team to rush to try and make a summer launch. I would be more than happy to wait till mid 2013 if it meant I got a really good robust/solid game that worked!

    I ask this as I’ve seen quite a few FPS/MMO hybrids (admittedly not with dusts levels of MMO components or the cross game mechanic) and would not want to see DUST 514 following in their image.. because, honestly, they’re pretty bad and dust has the potential to be, as has been said before, ground breaking!
    I for one will be there DAY 1 blasting away, and I know people who feel the same way and we all share the same fears in that respect.
    I appreciate it if you cannot answer this; but I just had to ask!

  • Ive been gaming for 30 years I never get excited over betas but I hope and pray that im picked to participate in dust514 beta. The concept built around dust514 was made for an old gamer like me. Fyi Shadow Dust514 will be flooded with clans from MAG. As a matter of fact a lot of clans from MAG is already recuriting amd forming alliances lol.

  • @ + bullyboutya on October 28th, 2011 at 10:06 am said:
    same here hope to get into it aswell and youre right in the psforums all the M.A.G. players are talking about it they also have quite a bit of info allready posted on the new dust forum so im dure theyre wont be a shortage of players in dust when it launches lol

  • MAG Clans [7>] unDefiable and [MoD] Men of Destruction are both ready for Dust514.. We talk about the game constantly, and every new lil bits of info is talked about xD
    Can’t wait to test the game out..

  • This game sounds awesome. I hope this game is as good or better than MAG. If it is, I’m afraid that it will kill the player counts on MAG. What are you going to do to encourage teamwork (like MAG does with the Resuscitation ability and giving lots of XP to those who heal)? I hope you let everyone into the beta/trial. I got hooked on MAG by the beta and I’ve been playing it ever since.

  • This game looks beautiful so far.

  • Hey James, things are sounding (and looking) great for Dust so far. Do you guys have an idea when you’ll be making an announcement on a private beta?

  • Is it possible that we could get a higher resolution version of the flow diagram at the end of the post? Even with some zoom in on flicker I can’t read the text on the current one.

    Additionally, I’m obligated to ask whether we’ll be getting more low-level information about Dust before the beta drops. Don’t get me wrong- understanding parts of how CCP is overcoming the challenge of your admittedly ambitious cross-platform plans is extremely interesting, but it would also be interesting to know thing like, say…how many resources would a mobile command ship cost.

  • This game looks like my shooter game for 2012! Also can’t wait for to see how Dust and Eve connect later on!

  • i have an idea for a NPC battle lets say pirates took over a NPC station or whatever haw about you send merc teams to clear it out and the tations have like security systems we have to fight through to get to the pirates in the command bridge or something like that just giveing ideas or we raid a pirate outpost/jeadquarters you know like quests to get important documents or something so it doesnt all have to be centered in battlefield warfare

  • lovin the consept but dissapointed about using unreal. would loved to see it run on that new id engine did u see those graphics on rage?

  • Nice one, can’t wait!! At least the trial is “pretty close” and not Soon(TM) I remember the day that Tranquility went online, and the mad rush to create the corp names, and get mining, a slow build-up may well work better, bringing in the active clans to get the ball rolling.

    I’ve already bought my PS3 just for Dust :) now I just need another TV so I can play EvE and Dust at the same time lol

  • I have a clan up and running on bf3 and still looking for a few good soilders. Feeding Off Greatness is the name of the platoon. if you are interested just hit me up on psn: xenonative and put FOG in the subject. you will always find someone to play with no matter what time of day or night and our motto is to get kills and fun doing it.

  • What about letting users host their own servers? That would certainly take a load off of EVE/Dust servers, not to mention help cut costs!!!

  • Very ambitious title to say the least. Quite possibly the most ambitious title I’ve seen all gen. However, being so ambitious, it can be made or broken by so many seemingly insignificant factors, which is all the more reason why I am desperate to get some taste of where this thing is going and how to feels/runs. I certainly hope we get some real content on it soon (i.e. live gameplay, recording of menus/customization, item, detailed game specific details, trials, etc…).

  • Hi @ll.

    So with all the official information……

    In my opinion we will get the “private trial” with the next winter expansion, because EVE has to be updated for the new stuff. That’s why the “private trial” is not so far away ;-) I think that all of us can join the private trial but the players are limited. They say that corporations have to create contracts with the DUST players. CCP will limit the contracts and the amount of players. If someone wants to play DUST in a “private trial” he must be quick to get such a contract.

    Can’t wait…. Go Go Go

  • I’m eagerly anticipating this game, glad its an MMORPG FPS, I excell at tacticle gameplay. For those complaining about the unreal 3 engine, dont worry, the issues that engine had on PS3 were ironed out a while ago. Mass Effect 2 on PS3 is beautiful and it was ported by lazy EA. If even they can get an UE3 game to look and play right on PS3 anybody can. I would absolutely love to get into the private trial *crosses fingers* If all goes well this will be the only FPS I ever play anymore, it has everything I ever wanted in a shooter seemingly. I feel like I’ve outgrown the traditional console FPS, those games are basicly the same as the PSOne/N64 gen. I loved MAG for its tacticle play, too bad its not an MMO so the issues MAG has will likely never get fixed. So glad this is an MMO so any bugs, glitches, inbalances will get fixed and new content and updates constanly added. MAG was on its way to being my shooter of the forever, but its unbalnced. Sever always wins, not fair, but the gameplay is so darn fun so I still play it. Valor stand up!

  • I have a friend who loves EVE Online. I always thought it was a spreadsheet with graphics. Will this be a FPS (First Person Spreadsheet) ?

  • will the game become large e like a real MMOFPS at some point in time? because right now it doesn’t seem like an MMO when youre just having small 32vs32 skirmishes (estimate) at a time.. when I think of MMOFPS i think of something like planetside where you can walk around on a HUGE open world and interact with thousands of other players, possibly even engaging in epic scale battles with literally 1000s of ppl going at it at the same time…. or at the very least 128vs128 like MAG i mean with 128 ppl shooting at me thatll be enough to make it FEEL large and epic.. i mean with that many ppl its not like Im gonna try to count and make sure its a lot right?

    after all on EVE online hundreds of people engage in combat against one an another at the same time in a large open reaches of space instead of being confined to one small area on the map where only a few ppl fight it out at once… sure im guessing Dust will start small but is it a possibility that It might and can open up and be more like EVE online or planetside? Id happily give you guys all my money for that experience (or Sony could grace its console fanbase with PlanetSide 2 as well.. either one would make me happy)

  • Man, it really would have been awesome if you could use your Eve ships in Dust 514. I mean I know it will be a bit unfair since people who own battleships or bigger capital ships will just decimate other players if that was possible in Dust 514. But still it would be pretty cool if you could.

  • i have a Question CCP. If you are nobody in Eve, Can you be somebody in Dust 514 or you’ll be just a generic mercenary?

  • I’m a long time FPS and MMO fan looking for something different and I’m VERY interested in this project. But like most gamers, spending $50-$60 on an ‘unknown’ game is scary (just look at FFXIV lol).

    So I’m wondering if this Private Trial will be open to the public or by invite only? Thanks!

  • this game looks insane. cant wait!!!

  • Go CCP!!! im a big fan and long time capsuleer 5 years to be exact and Im realy looking forward to Dust 514 \m/

  • Looking forward since it looks like a decent shooter. We also get to see how Iceland can make games!

  • smh @ some ppl. Why would ppl want 128v128 like MAG?
    for 1 those battles NEVER felt like 256 ppl it felt like 32 v32 x4
    2nd ppl who constantly asking for these ridiculous player counts dont sit back for a second and think that the higher the number goes the longer the wait to get into a match, that was one of MAG’s biggest flaws…u would spend 10-15mins at times just sitting waiting for a queue to fill up. The game will need to sell extremely well and SUSTAIN a dedicated following just to keep those matches goin at a decent rate with minimal wait time

    plus large zerg fests hurt teamwork
    32v32 is a good number imo but the latest info we have on player count via vid interview this past june said they were looking into 30-40 players per match.

  • @shadow couple questions, the War Room in the last blog would the table in the middle be used for pre battle planning? example: brining up a virtual map of the terrain u will be fighting on so u can plan strats before the match launches?

    2. Someone mentioned on a fan blog about things like coordinates/grid system on the map plus what are the chances of having gadgets similar to those found in BF3?

    3. would there be a revive mechanic where u can revive a downed soldier thus saving him from using another clone?

    4. How will the skill system work, exactly like EVE or tweaked a bit to more suit the FPS crowd?

    5. The knifing mechanic and suppression mechanics are done excellently in BF3. Its a FPS so ur knife/melee should be a last resort and only OHK like an assassination in BF, suppressive fire in BF adds another element and tactic to the game ur thoughts on this in DUST?

  • So pumped and you better believe Red Guard (MAG Clan)is ready for the Dust to clear.
    Check us out

  • I don’t care about this, but how about World of Darkness with Werewolves, lycans, vampires, mages, etc? I know you bought CCP and the world of darkness

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