A tiny group of players incorrectly predicted the demise of Dust 514 last month after games like Halo 4 and Black Ops 2 dramatically reduced the playerbase. While we understand that the casual shooter fan is often enamored with new, shiny, flavor of the week releases, we are still a little concerned with some shrinkage in regards to active players in closed testing. Players should be getting more excited as we inch closer to release, not less. This is a beta unlike any other but steps must be taken to excite closed beta participants a bit more. We’re addressing CCP here, as we understand that there are freezing, lag, crashes and other beta issues that are beyond your control and that a new build can’t be released every week, but there are still other strategies that can be used to keep people excited to play. The best thing to consider is the ability to change, earlier builds had dominant Heavies, higher health, Swarm Launchers that were Godly against infantry and the weekly SP cap has been widely discussed. Sometimes a path that is planned has to be altered because it doesnt mesh well in gameplay. As long as the Powers That Be understand that they can keep an open mind to making better decisions Dust 514 is in good hands. Here are a few of the other things we can see being improved.
1. Expand Grouping
– Here again this massive concept is being limited by its tiny squads and limited communication. Why can’t we follow our friends into matches yet? Where is the proximity chat? Why can’t we merge groups? Where are the higher level commanders and why don’t they have the ability to address squad leaders or every solider under their command? Four man groups simply wont do, and while the Team Chat feature is an option, how exactly do you tell non-squad members to join it? Let’s say the dropship pilot your gunning for needs to bank right or watch the swarm launchers to his left, how do you tell him? What about telling your LAV driver to watch out for the mines directly ahead? Is this really the kind of game where we can only ask our squadmates for ammo? Give mature players the ability to communicate on a more broad level and reject the notion that each squad is an independent entity. THINK TEAM. Players wont start to operate as a team until they have the tools to do so.
2. Keep Showing Progress
– We’ve heard wonderful things like swarmlaunchers will be fixed, we’ll soon see grid-based maps, a way to lie prone, a Daily SP cap and that hit-detection and gunplay will improve but its better to actually see these things in action. Our post NDA list of fixes has undergone so much editing because of the fact that things that were issues have been resolved. Bravo CCP, keep up the good work.
3. Keep Innovating
– Continue to do away with the dated aspects of the FPS genre. We love the persistence and consequences that finite gear and a true economy offers, never stop eliminating horrible mechanics like quick scoping, spawn camping and unbalanced weaponry and vehicles. 3rd person social areas and currency will change shooters forever. Very few games have ways for individual soldiers to highlight targets and few things are more tactical, give us that option in Dust 514. In short, keep pushing the envelope.
4. Bring Back Dev Blogs
– These must return. They served multiple purposes, one of them them was keeping fans without closed beta access excited about the game’s progress and they also told participants about future mechanics they would soon see. There’s nothing like getting a peek at the future of a title. We admit that resources certainly need to focus on crafting this title but keep in mind the buzz for this game is still being built and Dev Blogs serve a marketing purpose as well.
5. Start the Public Beta
– It may be time for a huge influx of players into this potentially revolutionary game. For all intents and purposes it seems like the next build will make the game infinitely better and it could be time for everyone to get excited about their forthcoming experiences in New Eden. Experiencing this game’s depth before release may be better than a great tutorial in terms of making players more comfortable. Consider opening it up to the public sooner than you anticipated.
6. Keep Communicating
– Playing in a true beta is both good and bad. Few of us have actually watched a game being crafted and tuned to perfection, so its great to see the progress but oftentimes players can grow impatient during the wait between the fixes and improvements. Its no one’s fault, the things this title is attempting are far beyond anything thats ever been done and fans of this depth are just ready to see it in action. We’ve coined the phrase “build fatigue” as a way to describe the point where players are tired of the flawed [and often abused] gameplay mechanics of an older build. As much as you can, please continue to keep fans in the loop in regards to what is being tuned, added or taken out and the ETA on new builds. You have also done a great job on the forums of having devs respond in threads and we’d hope this will continue. There’s nothing like hearing directly from the people who are building the game.
– The concept behind this game is massive and so to, must be the gameplay. 24 vs 24 is simply too small for a game of this scope and magnitude. With the available area on the maps shouldn’t we see more players? Hopefully 48 player matches are the smallest instances we’ll see in Dust 514. We’re crossing our fingers that EVE scale conflict isn’t far away.
8. Beta Events
– The Testers Tournament was simply a great idea, the newest event Get ISK or Die Trying would be a great idea if vehicles still weren’t badly imbalanced. Events have the potential to get gamers excited about new content and other specialty instances. Weekend events where players try new maps, get more ISK, test larger groups, try out new equipment, fly jets or compete against other corps is a great way to keep beta testers locked in and interested. That said, as testers we have to understand that the first duty of this beta test is not for us to to play before everyone else, its for the devs to work out the game’s issues.
9. Lift the NDA
– We defer to CCP to all thing related to the business and marketing of their product, we want to make it clear that all we offer are suggestions. Why? Because the risk is theirs and theirs alone. Its easy for someone with nothing at stake to chime in about how stupid a developer is for low weapon damage, slow strafe speed or releasing on a certain date. Only CCP has done the research that will determine if this title ultimately fails or succeeds. Although at this point we think the NDA is outdated at this stage. What Dust is offering is good enough for the general public to see. But its your call.
10. Friendly Fire
- In the end games that try to straddle the fence of hardcore and Casual so often fail. Why? Because you can’t please everyone thats why. This so often results in hybrid title that fully pleases no one and gives would-be fans aspects of a game they despise. Were there a lack of FPS titles this strategy could work but with the genre being flooded, this seems like a losing strategy. Look no further than the failure of SOCOM 4 for proof. Zipper tried hybrid gameplay that long time hardcore fans rejected for its casual elements and that COD fans never bothered with because their title had ALL of the mechanics they were familiar with. Given the learning curve, Dust 514 will be a niche title and CCP must embraced this. Trying to make the game too accessible and dumbed down could backfire horribly by alienating the hardcore crowd. EVE is all the proof anyone needs that hardcore mechanics can work. Early beta gameplay has shown us mercs who can shoot through their teammates to no effect, horribly inconsistent tank fire that doesn’t affect friendlies and few will forget the orbital strikes that only hurt the other team. Friendly Fire is one of the most basic dividers of casual and hardcore gameplay in FPS and we sincerely hope this title finds itself on the right side of that debate.
As always, we’ll continue to attempt to help push and publish ideas that innovate gameplay as much as we can. Have any ideas that need sharing? Be sure to contact us at [email protected]