Testing out the testing thing

This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss tonight’s mass testing and the stuff I prodded on the Buckingham test server.

I have decided to try something a little different today; I am sat on the Buckingham test server waiting to join in on today’s mass test.  I don’t go on the test servers very often and despite intending to join in on a mass test or two before now, I never actually have.  Time to do my bit in the name of SCIENCE! Or something like it.  😉

What is interesting about tonight’s testing is that it is slated to stress testing some of the first features we have seen of the fabled EVE-Dust link.  I’m hoping to see anm orbital strike or two although it won’t be players firing them off.  The time of this test has apparently been selected in order to maximise the number of available Dev’s to populate the Dust-side of the testing.

The test is an hour away but I have already seen a couple of interesting things.  One of them is the addition of ‘Tactical’ ammo types to the market.  Only one type is currently listed each for Projectile, Hybrid and Laser, each only available in Small size.  Which I have loaded into a 280mm Howitzer on my Vagabond, ‘just in case’. 😉

Interesting stuff!  This seems to pretty clearly show that our selection of ammo type will have tactical implications beyond simply raw damage output.

Presumably some ammo types will be better suited for high damage pinpoint strikes while others will deliver larger AOE strikes but lower damage or other effects.  Could thermal cause heat damage to a Dust player’s dropsuits?

The other part of the orbital strike dynamic on show is the districts.  As Dust514 will initially be limited to Temperate planets, the district beacons are only present around Temperate worlds.  I was wondering how they show up to an EVE player, and it turns out quite clearly.

Mousing over the district highlights the area on the surface and brings up the connect text.  Clicking on the district itself switches the text to ‘connecting’, followed by a notification stating that “There are no battles present at this district”.  I guess if there were then you would see whatever the interface is for launching an orbital strike.

First impressions are that I like the look of the interface, painting it onto the planet’s surface has a nice feel to it and will hopefully create some sense of interacting with the world rather than the overview.  I imagine that is very much what the UI designers were hoping for.

There are some tweaks being made to the chat channel UI, with local chat count being split into Pods & Soldiers icons and a new cog icon for viewing channel settings.

So we will at least be able to differentiate between EVE/Dust players pretty easily, which is nice.  I’m sure that someone will find some means of measuring how many people are playing each game sooner or later.

Also, when you join a fleet your wing and squad names now show up next to the member count, which is a nice little quality of life tweak.

The only other thing I’ve spotted of note I have already seen reported, and that is the indicator in Factional Warfare systems of how much system contesting is being affected by Dust merc activity.  The outcome of Dust matches will make it easier or harder for the militias to capture systems, and the extent of this is displayed in the upper left corner of the screen.

Test time!  First up a mass jump.  There are about 350 people in this test and my traffic control immediately went to 160 seconds.  Didn’t actually take that long thankfully.  Now we align for a fleet warp….and another mass jump countdown.  Getting some TiDi lovin’.  And so it continues for a few systems.  One of these days CCP will come up with something to kill the jump lag beast, but shall it be today?

Using Devhax, the destination system is at 50.0% ‘Dust modifier’ – not normally possible but done for purposes of coolness apparently.   We warp randomly between districts (scattering ourselves around) before rallying on one district beacon.  Interestingly, it seems that district satellite landmarks only appear in the overview when a player is present at the satellite.  This means that there will be a clear flag to everyone else in system if you are hanging around at one of them.

Then a TEST alliance Aeon arrives and explodes; we were told not to bring caps for this test…. 😉

This time I can connect to the district.  I briefly saw some shock-wave effects on the district and a locked target style icon flashed up at the top of my screen with a character name I don’t recognise.   The dev’s were being a little cagey on voice comms about what exactly we were seeing but then I suppose they aren’t ready to reveal all just yet.  Orbital strikes do appear to be working though. Without more context to what was going on, or direct involvement in the bombardment, it isn’t easy to build much of an opinion on things as yet.

I like the presentation of what I have seen, and there seems to be a range of tactical options emerging.  I can imagine a scenario where a Dust ground team goes into an engagement with a specific setup (Armour-based dropsuits/vehicles) with a support ship in orbit packing tactical ordinance to complement their strategy (EMP ammo to knock out shields).  The ship tasked with providing the orbital strike would either need to lurk in system near to to the district satellite but hidden, or sit on top of it and be ready to defend the position until called in.  How you coordinate all of that in a live war zone should be interesting.

And then I had a CTD.  Bugger.  By the time I was back in the game I had missed the mass move to the combat area so missed out on the PVP part which was kinda annoying but no big deal.

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