Recently we decided to add a voice to this ‘Where Dust Went Wrong’ series for more balance. We were amazed at much of the dialogue it generated. Some considered it scathing, but most interpreted it as the relevant but honest and necessary piece it was intended as. Dennie Fleetfoot of Dust University has decided to be kind enough to provide his opinion here as well. We decided he was a good selection as he has access to a smorgasbord of opinions from casual players and has been a fixture in the community.
He agreed with many of our points, but also disagreed with some. Keep reading for his thoughts on Dusts quality, Aiming and Matchmaking and his predictions two years ago.
There are many things that are correct in your recent article and anyone with even a basic understanding of the problems with the game would have trouble arguing against.
That said I think it a little harsh to say where ‘Dust’ got it wrong. It’s easy in hindsight to point out where the wrong decision was made but CCP Games were breaking new ground and in a genre they were unfamiliar with. The new monthly iteration pattern that has come into effect in the last few weeks is already making tangible results and in a time frame that we have not seen before in the protracted gestation of the game.
I agree strongly with you that where we are now in the game should’ve been the point where the players first got contact with the game. 1.4 is due to hit before the end of the month and it includes aiming and matchmaking fixes. These two game mechanics should have been the two that were nailed and made immutable in the alpha stage of the game before the other content was even considered.
But they weren’t and while I said that its easy to say in hindsight where something went wrong, I bring these two up because I predicted that problems with these two would happen two Fanfest’s ago to a senior member of CCP. My prediction was based on a decision made two years ago by CCP and has dogged and slowed down development of the game to the point where the fourth point release after the official launch of the game is addressing Aiming and Matchmaking of all things. Fundamental elements to a FPS and only now are we getting them sorted. Or at least starting to get them sorted. It would be hugely optimistic to think that CCP would hit a home run to fix them with just one point release.
So what was this decision that I predicted would screw up the development of the game? Well, first we need a history lesson.
Most of this will be old news to those players who’ve been following Dust since its announcement in 2009. It was originally going to be a PC game. And with that comes a lot of expectations and standard requirements. But here I need to go on a slight tangent because Dust shares a similar history with another older but infinitely more successful console FPS. A game that also started as a desktop PC game, to be even more specific a Mac game. It was made by a company that were known as a Mac developer but another company, Microsoft, saw the potential of this game as a launch title for a new console they were making. A console you understand, NOT a PC.
What then happened has become legend. Microsoft engineered a controller specifically for this game and in doing so created a controller so suited for console FPS that while it could do many games very well, it excelled at FPS games and the Xbox became the home for the FPS console game. That game was of course Halo. And for many FPS players it remains the gold standard for how a game is so well partnered with a consoles controller.
Think about it. Microsoft, developer of Windows, champion of the PC ditched the Mouse and Keyboard because its console didn’t come with one in the box.
So why didn’t CCP do the same when it decided to make Dust a console game?
Again, history plays a part.
CCP has been accused of breathtaking arrogance when it come to the wishes of its player base, forcing decisions and changes that do nothing for the player experience. Anyone playing during Incarna knows that only too well. What CCP also do and more times than some would admit to, is pandering horribly to its players, even to the detriment of the play experience.
And so it was with Dust when they made it console only. Eve players who’d expressed interest in Dust where incandescent with rage about this change. How dare CCP spend THEIR money on making a game for a console that would tie in with their beloved Eve. They’d have to use a controller of all things. Disgusting.
And so CCP made a choice, pandering to its eve players and saying ‘Well you can still you a mouse and keyboard!! It’ll be just like playing a PC FPS, Honest!’. (I actually heard a Dev say that at Fanfest 2012) What CCP forgot to take into account is that nothing would make these players get a console. EVER. Even now, over two years later there is a massive contingent of Eve players who will have nothing to do with Dust because and I’m quoting a member of the Eve community ‘Only retards play consoles’.
So pandering to a group of players, wanting nothing to do with the game anyway has crippled and slowed development of two of most important elements of an FPS, Aiming and Matchmaking. Having to take into account two so disparate control methods as part of both has long been considered impossible and here perhaps CCP’s arrogance came into play again and they thought they could pull of what no other game has managed to do in three decades of gaming.
Its been decisions like this that hurt Dust more than anything. Not wrong decisions, but decisions made as compromise when compromise was never going to work. As further vindication of this view, Sony, developers of what is seen as Dust’s main competitor with its launch on the PS4, Planetside 2, announced two weeks ago that the servers of the PS4 version will be separate from the PC. Sony made some noise that it was about the difficulties of patching and updates (even though the PS4 is a souped up PC at heart) but they’ve admitted that the PS4 players just couldn’t compete against the superior Mouse and Keyboard in beta testing so they’ve decided to split them rather than cripple the play experience of either group of players. While at Fanfest I spoke to Dust Dev’s who wish they didn’t have to deal with two control systems.
What is needed now that CCP seem to have got their act together with the faster updates is strong leadership from the top. A search for a new EP is currently under way. They need someone not only prepared to make the right decisions and work with the community but they also need someone who will stand up to the community when they know that they must.
Compromise, sometimes, is not preferable.