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DUST 514: An Exclusive Interview with Creative Director, Atli Már Sveinsson

Posted Wed, Oct 09, 2013 by Dalmarus


DUST 514 continues to grow its player base day by day and the hard work of the development team is clearly starting to pay off. In the past, I’ve expressed my concerns about the game’s tutorial system and I wasn’t the only one. One of the major features Update 1.5 brings to the table is a complete New Player Experience (NPE). You know a feature is important to a company when it gets its own acronym! Recently, we stole a few moments with DUST 514’s Creative Director, Atli Már Sveinsson, to ask him some questions about what players can expect with the latest update and what plans the team has for the future.


Ten Ton Hammer: “It’s been a while since we’ve visited the DUST 514 universe. In fact, I think the last time we spoke was at E3 this year. I know the team has been hard at work during that time so can you give us a quick overview of the major changes and additions to the game?” 

Atli: “After the launch on May 14 we moved into a fast and iterative one month release cadence, which is something that has not been seen before on consoles. This has allowed us to respond to feedback from both media and the community, and address some of the core issues of the game. We've overhauled aim assist systems, tuned progression and item balance, added in a daily bonus system along with a handy welcome screen and much more.” 

Ten Ton Hammer: “CCP is getting ready to release a major update for the game soon. The community is abuzz about some of the upcoming changes with Update 1.5. What’s the most exciting change/addition fans can expect?” 

Atli: “Uprising 1.5 is a focused release. We are not pushing out a huge laundry list of changes, but focusing on few key enhancements and additions. Some of the highlights of the release include the new NPE, which is a feature we are very excited about seeing the impact of, and we have added in more ways to earn war points through support. There are other smaller features and a host of bug fixes and balance changes as well, but overall it’s focused on these key areas of enhancements.”

 

Ten Ton Hammer: “If a player has been away, perhaps since launch, what are some ways they can hop back in and be up to full speed quickly?” 

Atli: “Character progression in DUST is not based on levels as you can find in most other MMO´s. We are following the EVE style skill progression, where the focus is on the players ability to specialize fairly quickly into his or her battlefield role of choice. This ensures that the gap between veterans and newcomers is bridged early on in the new player’s life as a mercenary. There are ways to speed up this progression through boosters.” 

Ten Ton Hammer: “A big piece of Update 1.5 is a completely revamped new player experience. There was a lot of frustration from some players at launch and I know the team talked a bit about making a new tutorial when we sat down with them at E3. What can a new player expect when they first enter the game?” 

Atli: “The wall of text style NPE we had before has been removed out of the game and replaced with a far simpler and more accessible task based system. Players are not forced to complete these tasks, but completing them is valuable as they dish out rewards. This is the first step for us with this new system, and we will be adding things to it and modifying as we learn more about how it performs out in the wild.” 

Ten Ton Hammer: “EVE Online is known for its intense learning curve, and in terms of information/skill overload, DUST 514 shares the same reputation. What are some ways the development team is working to make that information easier for players to digest?” 

Atli: “We made important improvements to the skill system earlier this year, and have continued hardening the item progression tree throughout the monthly releases. With the new NPE and future additions to that system, along with further refinement and simplification to the progression system, we are making things easier to understand.”

Ten Ton Hammer: “It was recently announced that unlimited use items (Blueprint items) would no longer be available through the in-game market once Update 1.5 goes live (though they will still be available through the PSN Store via the Veteran and Elite packs. For our readers that may not be familiar with the game, can you talk a little bit about what those items are and what this new change means for players?” 

Atli: “DUST is based around a consumption based economy, and what we have found is that relying too much on BPO´s (Blueprint Originals that allow infinite copies of an item to be spawned onto the battlefield) is offsetting the play style of players in a negative manner. We will not remove all of them as you say, and players will still have access to militia items that ensure that they are able to deploy onto a battlefield even if they do not own more advanced items.” 

Ten Ton Hammer: “What were the underlying factors for the decision to remove Blueprint items from the in-game market? Are there concerns about players feeling this will shift the game into Pay-to-Win territory?” 

Atli: “We are confident that reducing seeding of these items into the economy will be economically beneficial for players in the long run, especially upon introduction of player trading and the player driven marketplace early next year, and it definitely has a positive impact on the minute to minute battlefield gameplay. As always, we will be monitoring this closely and see its impact on the economy and the overall game.”

 

Ten Ton Hammer: “Even though Update 1.5 is just around the corner, what are some of things you’re most excited about in future updates?” 

Atli: “We have a lot of important fixes and changes to the game coming up in later monthly releases, but next year we will be working towards much larger expansions. One of the earlier expansions will focus on major improvements to Planetary Conquest and more push towards a player driven economy. More resources between the two games will be added, and of course the introduction of a full blown market that allows players to trade items. It will be very exciting to see what the community does with this, in both DUST and EVE.” 

Ten Ton Hammer: “Thanks for taking the time out of your day to answer these questions for our readers, Atli. Take care and we’ll see you in Vegas later this month!”

 

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