EVE-Dust Fanfest

This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss the things said at Fanfest about Dust514 and the EVE-Dust link.

I was going to write thgis a couple of days ago but still wasn’t over whatever I picked up in Iceland.  I’m still not but at least the computer screen isn’t blurred anyomore!  Yesterday I spent time finishing up and submitting a couple of things to the True Stories site, I’ll come back to that once submissions have closed and explain to you why you should totally up vote my stuff. 😉

For now, back to Fanfest.  As last it was last year, Dust514 was prominently displayed everywhere at Fanfest this year.  I know that this annoys some EVE players, but in all fairness I think that EVE-Online got equal attention, if not more.  Flicking through the program book quickly and I’d say that EVE had more roundtables and presentations,  although the keynotes did come acrss Dust-heavy.  Which really shouldn’t have surprised anyone.  Fanfest has always been one of CCP’s main marketing events and the keynotes, particularly CCP PRESENTS, is the climax of that.  What I did find annoying was a nearly 30mins of repitition from the Dust keynote into CCP PRESENTS talking about individual items being added.  You have a graphic with missing drop suits?  You’re adding those missing dropsuits?  It wasn’t a big surprise the first time I heard it. My wife isn’t a gamer but she still found it painfully obvious. 😉

Dust514 is CCP’s big new thing and represents a huge investment for them so it would have been stupid of them to do not push Dust514 hard.  This was my fifth fanfest and I have never noticed such a strong press presence as this year, CCP were pitching hard to them, all of us and those 200,000 unique visitors to the fanfest stream.  Don’t forget, this was the EVE Fanfest.  Not the EVE-Online Fanfest, it is the Fanfest for the EVE Universe now, and has been for awhile.

Having said that, the thought really doesn’t bother me all too much, other than it is going to get harder to get a ticket if I ever try to make a 7th Fanfest.  Actually that thought does make me a bit sad.  Hmm.

What I saw of Dust over Fanfest left me feeling pretty optimistic about its propects for the next couple of years, it is recieving some very impressive graphical updates this week that put it in good stead for some time to come visually.  The one thing that still bothers me, and that I didn’t hear anyone mention at all, was the PS4.  I think Dust on the PS3 will be able to stay competitive for awhile as not every PS3 owner is going to grab a PS4 at launch, but I still want to know what CCP have in mind about the upcoming next gen consoles could be out in 6 months.

For now though, Dust is on increasingly strong ground and gaining momentum.  CCP expect that the combined EVE/Dust PCU record to break 100,000 by the end of the year, which suggests they are confident that Dust will soon exceed EVE’s player base if it hasn’t already.  Impressive.

So Dust is being upgraded heavily on the graphics front, having some of its equipment holes filled in (dropsuits, weapons, vehicles) and Planetary Conquest is coming out in a limited form.

As a storyline buff, I strongly suspect that Karin Midular, currently in a coma, is going to die.  That or her unlikely revival somehow opens the door for Metropolis to become the first and only region open to planetary conquest.  CCP are expanding the EVE-Dust link here, but on a limited scale.  I think there are two reasons here, first because they want to get it right before making it too far reaching, and secondly because they want to ensure that the feature generates conflict and is in demand.  Spreading players out across too many planets too soon could remove the need for conflict as there is room for everyone.

This is the feature I wrote about previously where Dust players within your corp or alliance controlling planetary districts will afford bonuses to Capsuleers in EVE such as increased PI output or a starbase fuel/production bonus.  I’m still not sure if that will be enough to get EVE players excited to use the link, but it is a tangible connection.

More intesresting to me was some of the future plans which I would like to think may not be all that far away.  Space elevators.  CCP have a guy tasked with this element of the future vision, and it is becoming more specific.  Dust514 is not going to have a crafting component added to the game, but it will have resource gathering and it will have player-made items – only the players who make the items will be EVE-Online players.  CCP have deployed what I very much feel is right logic here; why overly complicate a game intended to be an action packed shooter with a crafting system, when EVE already has a fully formed system and players who want to use it?

Space elevators will become corp-owned(?) economic hubs where resources gathered in Dust514 (apparently through killing Rogue drones in its PVE mode) are transported ‘up’ into EVE and turned into new gear by Capsuleers who will then eother sell it or presumably ship it back down to the troops.  I got the impression that the space elevator might posess manufacturing slots for Dust gear, but that probably isn’t set in stone yet.  This whole cycle was very much pitched as a corp-level activity and necessitates interaction between players of the two games.

The other note-worthy, yet completely pie in the sky, concept that was pitching is boarding parties.  While showing examples of future new environments for Dust, the engine room of a Titan was shown.  As mind-blowingly brilliant as the image of capital ships being boarded in the middle of an epic space battle is, I don’t expect to see that happening for a long, long time!  Still, it’s nice to dream. 😉

What both of these features do have in common however is players of both games interacting together closely, in both peaceful and violent ways.  That is precisely where CCP need to take this relationship and I am optimistic that they are pushing in the right direction, however broad it may be at the moment.

What is good for EVE in all of this however is that if Dust is the commercial hit CCP are hoping for (and things are looking good right now) then EVE-Online benefits by association.  We are likely to see EVE’s subscriber numbers climb if Dust players realise that having an EVE account unlocks new options for them, or even if they just get curious from the experience of being orbital striked too many times.

More people playing EVE?  More content for us all.  Maybe its not such a bad thing if CCP want to flog Dust514 to the press afterall?

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