DUST 514 Interview: Changing Console Shooters Forever

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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?

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?

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.


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?

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?

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?

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.

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?

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.

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.


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?

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?

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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2 Author Replies

  • @ James

    I’ve been keeping an eye out on this for a long time now!

    Thanks for the information ;)

    Any news or info on when the BETA is to be expected?

    Kind regards

    • No timelines were revealed in the interview but I had a good meeting with the studio and I’m pretty sure we’ll have the news here on the blog when it is revealed.

  • This looks interesting I will have to keep an eye on it. I have never played EVE online so I have no idea how I would take to this game.

    • Hi scottad, we’re expecting that there will be a number of players interested in DUST 514 that don’t have a background in EVE. DUST 514 is really another way to experience the universe we (really our players) created with EVE Online; it’s a huge player-driven setting. Ultimately, EVE and DUST *are* the same universe.

      DUST won’t quite have that same complexity/learning curve that EVE is known for, but still a pretty good amount of depth, customization/flexibility in roles and tactics employed. And of course there are a number of MMO elements to DUST.

  • @ James

    I purchased your favourite game (Resident Evil 4) & I still haven’t played it yet! I know, I know you can slap my wrists now ;)

    The thing is RAGE has kept me hooked like no other game has. The game is a masterpiece & when you overlook some of the annoying texture loads, you can truly see that this is a GOTY contender!

    Sorry to be off topic :)

  • i tried to get into EVE once having played Frontier Elite many money ago but go lost in the complexity. I’m hoping that while Dust514 has some cool features and alot of depth that its not going to be too confusing to get players drawn into it. Also is this going to be free to play and funded by micro transactions?, or do we have to buy the client and pay a sub? or do we have to by the client then it’s free to play but pay to win?

    • DUST 514 has a complexity that separates it from other shooters out there, but not overwhelmingly so. We want to make this a game that remains accessible to players unfamiliar with our MMO, while holding enough depth to keep people engaged with the game and the game universe they’re affecting, even shaping to some degree.

  • that meant to say many moons ago. lolz

  • I am very interested in this.

  • This looks amazing! I so want to play this! Hopefully it lives up to my expectations!

  • will Dust 514 players be able to fly ships in space and go to other planets? or will they be stuck on 1 planet the whole game?

    i know nothing about EVE so sorry if this seems a stupid question…

  • So is this a boxed title, or a cheaper PSN one with microtransactions?

  • Looks like a futuristic Battlefield just for PS3!

  • @ShadowGandalf: As I understand it players are galactic mercenaries i.e. they can be hired by the starship captains to fight on battles across the whole universe.

    • That’s correct. DUST 514 players are mercenaries, and can accept contracts from EVE Online starship pilots (called “capsuleers” in EVE’s lore) in various locations in the EVE universe. Actually, DUST and EVE players can also be part of the same corporations and alliances — sort of EVE’s analog of guilds/clans in other games.

  • @ Osahi_be

    PSN title.

    It was announced a while back that it would be free, but you can pay for micro-transactions, but we’ll see!

  • I don’t understand how they can offer something that sounds so big for a nominal download fee?

    Also – I gotta buddy up with a whole load of EVE players, I want airstrikes at my disposal!

    • There will be many opportunities to make allies (and enemies) among the EVE player base. Should be fun to see how this all plays out.

  • I don’t normally have much antipication for games, however since this was announced I have instantly realised how awesome this will be and without a question of a doubt will be totally all-over-it, I just which it was out now.

    Finally a shooter game where your actions really do play a bigger part.

    Also, is a shard server used to store dead-drops in infamous, if so I want one!

  • I can’t wait, this is so awesome on so many levels.

    Being a hired gun for a people-run EVE corp is a brilliant concept. My wet dream is to be a lone scout on a hilltop, painting a mining platform with an IR laser target designator for ORBITAL BOMBARDMENT, and then GTFO before the enemy’s security detail mercs (other DUST 514 players of course) spot me. Make that happen :)

    I hope EVE and Sony can keep the sheer ruthlessness of the EVE universe in DUST 514 – there is absolutely no room for carebear behavior in there, and friendly fire should be ON for the truly spectacular change of tide during battle. For the uninitiated, backstabbing is a time-honored tradition in EVE.

    • DUST is part of the EVE universe, so yes the things that make for fantastic stories in EVE Online – even the possibility of espionage, treachery, and so on – can (and likely will) happen in DUST 514. It’s one of the things that drew me to EVE Online in the first place, and it does make for an interesting game setting.

  • PS3 Exclusive? COOL!:P

  • dust looks epiiiiic!!!!!!!!!! i remember the e3 trailer and it looks so tasty that they should sell it at burgerking

  • Wasn’t the ICO/SotC content supposed to be available today?
    Whilst I’m on the subject of missing content, where are avatars that I was supposed to receive when I purchased Resident Evil 4 almost a month ago?

    Not cool PlayStation!

  • This would look alot better if I could pay £40 for the game and that would be the end of it. Microtransactions and subscriptions for games suck.

  • Microtransaction business model = pay to win.

  • James Egan

    Hey folks, my name is James Egan (aka CCP Shadow) and I’m the DUST 514 Community Manager at CCP. I just want to say hi, and let you know that I’ll be jumping in to answer some of your questions in the coming days as I’m able to.

  • Sounds a bit MAG to me… and we all know how that turned out.
    We’ll have to see about this game. I’m still not convinced. Interesting though.

  • Oh yay another samey FPS with drab almost colorless graphics… Great for those who for some bizarre reason lap up this stuff but it’s stuff like this which is killing my interest in video games as a whole.

  • Hi James Egan thanks for the reply with the extra information, I will look forward to trying this game in a demo/beta ;)

  • Awesome interview, looking forward to the ‘SIF’ experience!

  • I have two questions
    Is this free, if so what is it that you pay for.
    And, do you play with PC players.
    Never heard of this before but I am interested. I will definitely get this if is free and if I have money left on may wallet I may pay for extras.

  • Thanks James for the answers. I’ve played EVE quite a bit, but have been playing PS3 games lately.

    As for MAG comparisons, it was and is a very good shooter – this is coming from someone with 15+ years of FPS experience. Hopefully Dust 514 will be out before I get tired of BF3 :)

    James, the interview only touched upon the social aspect and integration of the MMOFPS. Will there be a contract system to create missions by EVE corps and players for Dust players, or will the contracts/missions be generated by the game(s)? Are you planning to weave Dust as an integral part of capturing and holding onto planets to exploit their resources for EVE players and corps, or are you planning to use Dust mercenaries as infiltrators, saboteurs and capturers of POSs (player-owned space stations), or something else?

    I would imagine lack of keyboards for most of PS3 players will be a hindrance, but in-game voicecomms might be an option to alleviate that shortcoming.

    • Hi again. The contracts issued from EVE capsuleers to DUST mercenaries will essentially generate combat scenarios for DUST 514, but there will be other contracts offered automatically for different battle types.

      To address what I can of your other question, we’re not presently planning to send DUST 514 mercs into EVE’s POSs, but I do remember this being talked about/requested by EVE Online players who spoke with us about DUST at the last EVE Fanfest.

  • i wondered where the news about this game, or is it ‘experience’,?.went , i cannot wait to see if it is everything that it sounds like, but if it is i and maybe others will have a ‘small’ problem,..as you are aware some clever person introduced trophies into ps3 games a while back, and though my opinion is they ‘ruin’ what gaming is, (for me) i still find myself looking to earn them,..so if this is, like i believe it may end up bieng (for me) ie a modern world of warcraft, in that basically you don’t ‘really’ play much else, if thats your thing etc,.. then how can psn justify giving the mandatory 12,?. trophies per psn game,?… in fact if it is going to be as big/time killing as i’m hoping it will, not even the standard 51,?. trophies are going to do, i think the most i have seen (trophies) in a game and 4,?. dlc’s is around 91,.. now i know this shouldn’t even come into it, yet it will be a major factor on how much interest is both shown and in my case paid to (and for) this game, personally if i am going to spend x amount of time in a game then i’d want the trophy system to reward me as per for it,.. sorry to bring this up etc.

  • Nothing new about the psv version?

    • It would be better to think of DUST and Vita in terms of aspects of DUST extended to that platform, rather than played on. We don’t have anything concrete that we’re ready to announce about this yet though.

  • this looks like a PS3 version of halo. Therefore, shut up and take my money!

    • I see that comparison made pretty frequently, based on the screenshots and videos we’ve shown so far. As a player of both titles, I can tell you that DUST is a very different type of game.

  • hæ, gott að heyra að ccp er að ganga vel :)
    örugglga eftir að kaupa þennan :)

  • So.. about that MAG sequel…

  • Hope this game gets the support it needs, better not end up as a poorly sold game. I want this game to succeed but wondering why it isn’t on PC too when their main fans are PC gamers.

    Looking forward to seeing more though, i like PS3 most mainly because of it’s exclusives.

    • Our goal with DUST 514 is to reach out to a wider audience, extend the EVE experience to different gamers. We’ll certainly have EVE Online players in DUST 514, in fact that’s really important to me as DUST’s Community Manager, but releasing DUST 514 for console does let us reach out to more people on a new platform for CCP.

  • well Iam looking foward to this one,Iam a pc & ps3 player superb,just need more info on this

  • My PS3 has Artificial intelligence (AI) because every time I go on eastenders my PS3 quits off it almost like it don`t like eastenders or something and dose the same for Tom Clancy Splinter Cell HD what if I get this Dust 514 and my PS3 don`t like it what then, I not be able to play before you know it bob (my PS3 name bob) will be sneaking on the internet looking at other PS3.

  • Heys James,

    Looks awesome, love the scale of the thing.

    Soo.. are you wearing pants right now? :)

  • I call shenanigans, “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””

    Yeah right, walk in station does not yet exist. The captain’s quarters is what exist, you can look at your own avatar in an empty room… Wow the freedom (sarcasm not withheld)

    CCP get your ship back on course or wither in the storm

  • Hi, game looks awesome! So, do you have to pay to play the game? If so, will I just have to pay once? or will I have to pay a monthly charge? Thanks!

  • I’d like to how the game works without the micro-transactions and how those micro-transactions will affect the game. Is it just the case the micro-transactions allow a player to jump ahead or do they have access to items and facilities not available to someone that just plays?

  • Looks really interesting,just hope the gunplay is of a decent standard.
    Any idea when the release date for this is going to be?

  • re: Pants

    Hahahaha, ok good to know ^^!

  • re: POS captures by Dust players (EVE player owned space stations, they cost a LOT and are run by EVE corps (ie. guilds), but are also good source of income.)

    To balance the risk of losing a POS, the capsuleer (EVE player) owners would have to get additional perks on top of current ones from owning POSes in EVE. If you roll out an update which allows their capture, the value of all current POSes goes down for the owners due to added risk of losing it, and costs up due to contracts for security details – along with the risk of getting backstabbed by one :)

    For example, there could be a 24-72 -hour window in which Dust mercs on opposing sides duke it out for the control of a POS based on corporate affiliation. During this time EVE corps could support their mercs with weapons and gear, and hinder the attackers with close air support and such. Given that they can get through to the star system in the first place. Warhammer Online has a similar structure for capturing towns, so in case you haven’t taken a look at their implementation it’s worth it.

  • continued

    POS capture is an intriguing concept which could increase fun for everyone involved if it’s balanced well, though. The more the Dust mercs can actually impact the EVE world, the more immersive and compelling the gaming experience for both Dust and EVE players.

    And just for the record, Fridays are pantless.

  • Love the James double team comments on 37 :D

    • Yeah, well if you’re working at a video game company and you’re not having some fun, you’re doing it wrong! :)

  • @james egan…….. i see you have made some replies to a few comments, yet you skipped mine, i am sorry that you never had a answer/comment on my post (no30) not because of the ‘apparent’ disrepect i now feel that you and others,? at scee/ps blog have for me, as yes i have been Very critical of them in the past couple of months, The main reason i regret bieng blanked is that i fear i may be right in that this ‘possible masterpiece’ may not have or even taken into account that console gaming just will not be feasable for a game that won’t offer what a large majority of the ‘console’ market now view as a Must have, the stupid trophies etc,… now i am sorry to tell you that, great as this game looks and how tempting it seems, it simply will Not take off, or at least remain air/space bourne Without you and sce/sony working out a acceptable trophy system, ie using myself as example there’s been weeks that i earn 50 plus of those (annoying) rewards, and theres been other trophies that i’ve spent nearly a week chasing,.. see why i call them ‘annoying’. ..will cont in min

    • Hey chrisandsheva,

      I didn’t reply to your question because I quite honestly don’t have an answer to it yet. The DUST 514 that I playtest regularly is not a game experience driven by the acquisition of trophies and I don’t know what plans are in the works with trophies. I’ll inquire, and if there’s anything I can pass along on this, then I will.

  • hi James is the game going to be keyboard & mouse compatible for the ps3 ?

  • @james egan…….. ok so what i am basically saying is that i Want to play this game, or something like it. and i don’t think it ‘Sounds’ anything at all like halo (imo) which is why If it is as good as i am bieng led to believe, and the ps3 really does have access to a ‘universe’ then unless you’s come up with some sort of monthly, heck even weekly purchasable dlc type content that will give the avarage hardcore/ordinary, ‘Console’ owner the chance to keep on buiding up those trophies then it will be like another mag,.. not knocking that ‘game’ but people (console) gamers did lose interest in that after a while,…… i don’t know how i must sound to you or anyone reading this, banging on so much about the subject,.. but i cannot stress to you guys enough just how much of a make or break ‘problem’ that they will become, if you haven’t taken them into consideration,… and yes you read correctly earlier, me, and many others would Pay for the chance to ‘Earn’ them whist playing this dream like sounding experience, i mean i spend about £40 a week on avarage on games, now Why should i mind spending less than that, If dust is even half what your saying it is.?

  • @James Egan

    There are rumors/confirmed facts that Sony will allow Valve to use keyboard and mouse as a controlers for Counter Strike game on PS3 platform, can i ask you what do you think about that? Its kind of new door that are opened for devs… if one can, others can too ;) Eve could be much more complex with that kind of “functionality”

    • I will cleverly reflect that question back to you. Ha! I asked this above, but I’m curious what your thoughts are about this, the good and the bad.

  • What is EVE Online, will it require you to link up on something else or something, lol, im confused.

    • EVE Online is a sci-fi MMO, set in a galaxy that has thousands of solar systems. Even though we have a cluster of servers that operates the EVE universe, there are no ‘shards’ or servers that players need to choose from as with most other MMOs. It’s all one huge setting, and one that the players influence as “capsuleers” — starship pilots who use cloning technology to attain power (and immortality, more or less). Territorial control for EVE capsuleers is a major aspect of gameplay.

      So, within those thousands of solar systems are many more planets. These planets are the battlegrounds for DUST mercenaries. Some of whom will work with EVE capsuleers in plans for dominance, or will fight to resist them.

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