As the numbers of active Dust players continue to fall many will notice our blog has shifted into what can be done to improve the game. Why? In hopes that the issues preventing player retention and game growth can be resolved. Telling the stories of New Eden is nice, but is useless with the game still badly in need of better gameplay and more variety of experience. We cant in good conscience write about the dominant forces in Planetary Conquest when so many core aspects of the game are still broken or missing. We’ve seen the effects of this honesty take shape. Our last interview request [which we made over a month ago] with CCP has still gone unanswered. A CCP Dev has even blocked us on Twitter. We’re unmoved however, while legions of ‘yes men’ may line up to tell CCP ‘good job’ by refusing to ask the hard questions, we have consistently criticized the poorer aspects of this game, which to date has been universally rejected by not only gaming media but also casual, hardcore and EVE players.
Anyone who is telling you ‘everything is alright’ is lying.There has always been a vocal troll element wishing for Dust to fail for one reason or another, that group has a twin that sings CCPs praises regardless of missteps. There has also been a reasonable group of gamers that want to see the game succeed but are willing to be critics when necessary, we consider ourselves part of the latter and we feel this group is critical to providing balance.
Time is of the essence because not only is the playerbase shrinking but newer shooters are on the horizon. A new console will be here shortly, Dust can quickly become non relevant and a complete afterthought. Its tiny playerbase cannot survive a major exodus. For this reason our goal here has always been to spur the progress of Dust from afar and ask the hard questions when necessary. Not to try and get a job at CCP. And ask yourself, can you really trust a community voice preoccupied with staying in CCPs good graces and befriending devs they want to work with instead of telling them where they went horribly wrong? We respect the developers craft and dont claim to know remotely as much as they do regarding coding and the massive text files that make up the games we love, but what we can do is effectively tell them the aspects that dont translate well into gameplay and where their math is inconsistent. But lets be clear, many of the things we discuss below have the benefit of hindsight. For example, we were big supporters of the differences in gear and skills like sharpshooter, but the fact is they were mistakes and translated horribly into gameplay. Our list of where CCP went wrong starts with the decision not to delay the game:
Early Beta – This may ruffle a few feathers but it needs to be said. The Uprising build should have been players first experience with Dust. Now we’re not saying that there weren’t issues and complaints with that particular build but we’re talking about the graphic quality, framerate and base mechanics.
The main point here is simple: The first versions of Dust that players were given access to were so breathtakingly bad and bug filled that they turned countless players away forever. Now does this mean beta access should have been delayed? Yes and this would have been more than acceptable.
While players will whine and complain about delays, if they are interested they will remain so when the game finally releases. Many players saw something that resembled a PSOne game, saw no way it could ever be good, and deleted it immediately. Dust was announced on 8.18.09, was the first beta really the best product they could deliver after 3 years of development? If Dust is to become a PS4 title it cannot make the same mistake, it must not be released into closed beta or shown before it is capable of competing with or surpassing what contemporary shooters are offering.
Health – Protostomping is possible because of one reason. Because the health of high sp players makes them extremely difficult to kill and the opposite is true for low sp players. This post by new player Hyperthraz echoes the issue that new players have with the consequences of the health gap tinyurl.com/lr9ktwu One of the defining characteristics of bad and good shooters [and most frustrating aspects for shooters in general] is shooting an enemy multiple times only to have them turn around and one-shot kill you in return. Sadly, this is at the core of how Dusts health gap translates. We won’t mislead you, we initially thought this was a good separator as well, but now its evident that this is at the core of why so many players fail to stay with Dust. Because they can’t compete for an extended period. Most shooter fans simply wont grind for 60-90 days just to be able to compete with higher level players. We realize this level of separation is at the heart of many MMOs but its alien to the shooter culture. The benefit of hindsight also tells us there is a better alternative. Dust did a great job separating some weapons and the same should have been done with gear and health. BF3 is widely considered the best shooter of our age. It has great hit detection, weapon variety, great movement and a great engine. It takes roughly 1-5 shots to kill any infantry in the game regardless of their skill level. This provides a number of benefits that makes the game noob friendly while still rewarding skill. Dust could separate weapons by sight type, zoom, number of attachments, clip size, overheat & jam frequency, rof, recoil, spread and strafe speed allowed and still be a game that rewards high level gear. An advanced assault rifle with 60 rounds that has two customization slots [a red dot sight and a stabilizer] has a decided advantage over a STD AR with iron sights and 40 rounds, but in the subtle way that still rewards player skill instead of providing a unprecedented advantage to the player with better gear.
The same is true for protection. Provide subtle advantages over lower level players instead of a huge resistance gap. Shield and armor values should follow a similar trend, similar values as militia tier but reward advanced and proto levels with higher repair & recharge rates and lower movement penalties for better armor. This wont make higher level players Godlike but will still provide them with distinct advantages like recovering from damage faster, rather than the ability to soak up four times as much punishment as a new player.
Game Modes – We wish we could have a long talk with the person responsible for deciding that a game tied to one of the most content heavy MMOs in gaming could survive with a single very dull game mode and a variation of this mode. We refuse to even recognize Ambush [which is another name for deathmatch] as a mode. With a game with as much lore as EVE, the variety of experience in Dust is embarrassing. Dust should have the most unique, creative and numerous game modes in FPS but stumbles along with Skirmish and Domination? This is totally unacceptable as there have been wonderful gamemode suggestions for over a year with zero implementation. Even people who are fans of what Dust is trying to accomplish can be expected to continue playing without any variety of their experiences. Many have left the game as a result, and trying to win fans back is much harder than doing the things that keep them around to begin with.
As always, we’ll continue to attempt to help push and publish ideas that help establish, enhance and grow the Dust 514 community as much as we can. Have any ideas that need sharing? Would you like to join our staff as a writer? Be sure to contact us at [email protected] Part 2 of this series will be released early next week.