DUST 514 was originally a pitch (that started in a bar - of course, hehe). While the game was always going to be an FPS, it was originally going to be a single player FPS that started a female Gallente bounty hunter. This was thought of and conceptualized for approximately 6 months before an official pitch was made to create an FPS MMO. The project was green lit and the team was off. Or rather, they would have been, if it weren't for the fact that space was at a premium. At one point, they literally ran out of space and as luck would have it, Epic Games was kind enough to allow a few developers use some space in one of their buildings.
It is stories like these that remind us of the amazing lengths artists and developers will go through to ensure their vision is created. Checking out the past is fun, but I know what you really want to hear about is the future. To do that, there’s one important factor to think about first and it was a challenge the development team had to figure out – How do you ease a game into an already existing game without compromising the details that makes each enjoyable?
That question is still unanswered and perhaps will never see a complete answer. For now, the team has been doing it slowly (perhaps too slowly for some DUST 514 fans), but they’re continuing to merge the two games. The first area players saw this happen was with factional warfare – ground battles could affect the territories of empires in space. While it’s been implemented, there are still a number of improvements to this system the team hopes to make.
For one, there has been a real lack of immersion for the DUST 514 players. Even though the battles they were having would sometimes assist those in space, there has been no indication of this for DUST players. It also hasn’t been easy for those EVE Online players to tell there was a ground battle taking place. This may be alleviated by plans to introduce a faction loyalty system into the game. Players will be able to choose a faction to play for. The more they play for that faction, the higher their standing with it gets. The higher their respective standings are for a faction, the more loyalty points they can while fighting for that faction in matches. Hopefully, this will see the rivalries on the ground equal the epic space wars we’ve seen take place over the years.
The loyalty point system will also mark the removal of ISK (in-game currency) from the current contracts players can take. The idea behind this is to create a market more similar to that of EVE Online where players can buy and sell items they’ve earned with faction loyalty points. Giving players ISK for completing contracts is not really the way of things in the EVE universe. This will create a supply/demand market that players will not only be able to use for practical combat use, but also allow the introduction of a missing meta-game from DUST 514 – playing the market.
Another item of interest being added to the game is friendly fire. The developers have always favored giving players limited means to grief their fellow players. Not so much to ruin someone's game but enough to instigate some intense battles. Normally, I’m 100% against any type of griefing, but considering the EVE universe as a whole, I agree it’s something that makes sense for the game.
The biggest upcoming changes that interested me were the modifications being made to the way orbital strikes are handled. In the future, orbital strikes will be 100% controlled by EVE Online players. This means that players will be able to request orbital strikes, but unless there are ships in the area that choose to respond, there will be no strike forthcoming. It sounds crazy, but before you jump to conclusions about the development team having lost their minds, it’s important to note that this change is being made specifically due to player requests. Remember, this is EVE Online we’re talking about and the harsh realities of an uncaring universe are par for the course here. In fact, it’s those times in the past when the development team has appeared to stray from such harshness that the player reaction has been most negative.
Keeping in line with the thread of push and pull in the EVE universe, EVE Online players will also have the ability to disrupt the strikes of opposing factions. Whenever a strike is requested, if there is a ship of the appropriate faction in the requested portion of space, and if that ship chooses to initiate a strike, a countdown timer will being. If any ship of an opposing faction enters a certain radius of the strike zone, that countdown timer will be put on hold until there is only one remaining faction in control. It’s sounds intriguing and I’ll be interested to see how it pans out in practical application.
Planetary conquest is another system that is currently being reworked by the DUST 514 team. They’re working very closely with the EVE Online development team on this one, as EVE players will be much more involved in this type of warfare moving forward. Not a lot of details are available yet, but it was confirmed that a new ship called a War Barge will be entering the list of ships players can pilot. This ship will play an integral role in the conquest of planets moving forward.
It’s always cool to have a chance to listen to a developer talk about a project their passionate about and the DUST 514 presentation at EVE Vegas was no exception. As always, everything listed in this article should be considered carved in Jell-O since anything can happen in the world of video game development. Fingers crossed everything goes according to plan.