Signs of Life

This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to talk some post-Fanfest Dust514 developments.

Dust Taking cover

I might have gone a bit quiet here on the blog just lately, but that doesn’t mean things haven’t been happening.  I just haven’t been keeping up with writing!  My excuses are being otherwise busy with :stuff: (blame summer) and being sick for most of the week (blame biology).

A few things have come up on the Dust514 news front just lately though so I thought I’d touch on those.

A developer spotlight went out on CCP Rattati, along with his personal thread which I found interesting.  The way I interpret this is that CCP Rouge has effectively delegated the maintenance of Dust514 over to CCP Rattati while he focuses on Project Legion, which is still being talked about as a prototype rather than a full blown game.  In effect Rattati is operating as a ‘junior producer’ while his boss tackles the more ambitious undertaking.

The dev spotlight does make me like Rattati, as he describes an approach to the game much like my own.  I’m not a hardcore player ploughing in hours every day, rather I’m picking up the controller and playing in short but frequent bursts.  Also his KD ratio sucks a bit, like mine! 😉

Rattati draws an important distinction in his thread that bears some consideration I think.

Next Steps

• A clarification on “server side changes“ versus “client updates“. Most of the attributes of items can be changed in our backend system, called CATMA.
• Adding new weapons and dropsuits with existing functionality, changing weapon damage, dropsuit hp and slots, pg and cpu values, and most of the values needed for balancing items and roles can be changed during server downtime.
• Things like terrain, texture, models, animations, functionality, UI and more, cannot be changed server side and need a client update. These changes are unlikely, but theoretically possible.
• In the short to mid term we will exclusively be focusing on server side changes

I don’t think that anyone is going to be shocked to hear that the upcoming releases for Dust514 are unlikely to be massive updates, given that the very same team is now also working on the game’s successor.  But it is important to be hearing it from CCP and what we can actually expect.

My expectation is that the ‘short to mid term’ probably means anything up to six months or so.  If so, we should only expect server side updates.  If it  requires a new model or texture, it is highly unlikely to happen.  So we can rule out any more weapons, maps or vehicles unless an artist happens to use their 20% time to finish something up.  CCP allocate their devs free time to pursue unscheduled projects that they feel are of benefit, which is where a lot of EVE’s ‘little things’ UI enhancements have come from in the past couple of years, and I think some/most of the existing ship redesigns.

I was thinking that this would mean updates would be primarily about balance changes, then I saw the thread describing Hotfix Aplha.  So yes, the immediate future is about balancing.  I think Hotfix Alpha sounds pretty excellent to be honest.  There are many things in there that sound sensible and needed, such as making Assault Rifles more competitive and curbing Combat Rifles a bit without nerfing them into the ground.  I like that AV grenades are being buffed and anti-vehicle options in general, the options have been a bit too restrictive in my experience as I tend to find myself either without AV options to hand or in an AV-dedicated suit with suddenly nothing to shoot at.  I probably need to get into Commando suits more often!

CCP can certainly do a lot of good for Dust514 by extensively and systematically ironing out the balance issues and generally making the range of existing options more appealing.  Much like CCP have managed to pull off in EVE over the past couple of years with the ship ‘tiericide’ initiative.  The difference here though is that EVE combined the balancing with adding all-new ships and modules to fill the gaps, we aren’t likely to see much of that for Dust.  Things will be all about making best use of the existing content by the looks of things.

The big community news of the week is that elections for CPM1 are officially happening!  At last!  CCP have now opened the floor for candidates to officially register themselves.  They have also announced that it will be an STV7 vote and that any account more than 90 days old with 60 hours total play time can vote.  They also took the time to point out that:

The CPM’s primary duties still pertain to DUST 514. CPM1 will have limited initial involvement with Project Legion.

So if your primary motivation for running is to shape Project Legion, you may be disappointed. 😉  I know why CCP have pointed that out.  It is very tempting to run for the CPM in order to get that very opportunity!  However, I think that CCP are going to be keeping a tight lid on Project Legion at this very early stage in its development. I suspect that the CPM will get to see a few things over their term, but probably not much.  It will be far more important that the candidates set their sights on the game we already have, not that other game we may someday get to see.

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