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

Hot on the tails of Update 1.5’s release, we caught up with Atli Már Sveinsson to ask him about the recent update and future plans.
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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 href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/dust-514/opinions/the-learning-cliff-continues">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
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

style="color: rgb(0, 204, 204);">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
and additions to the game?” 

style="color: rgb(255, 204, 102);">Atli:
the launch on May 14 we moved into a fast and iterative one month
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,
address some of the core issues of the game. We've overhauled aim
systems, tuned progression and item balance, added in a daily bonus
along with a handy welcome screen and much more.” style=""> 

style="color: rgb(0, 204, 204);">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.
the most exciting change/addition fans can expect?” 

style="color: rgb(255, 204, 102);">Atli:
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
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
fixes and balance changes as well, but overall it’s focused
on these key areas
of enhancements.”

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style="color: rgb(0, 204, 204);">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?” 

style="color: rgb(255, 204, 102);">Atli:
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
players ability to specialize fairly quickly into his or her
battlefield role
of choice. This ensures that the gap between veterans and newcomers is
early on in the new player’s life as a mercenary. There are
ways to speed up
this progression through boosters.” style=""> 

style="color: rgb(0, 204, 204);">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?” 

style="color: rgb(255, 204, 102);">Atli:
wall of text style NPE we had before has been removed out of the game
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
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.” style=""> 

style="color: rgb(0, 204, 204);">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
players to digest?” 

style="color: rgb(255, 204, 102);">Atli:
“We made
important improvements to the skill system earlier this year, and have
continued hardening the item progression tree throughout the monthly
With the new NPE and future additions to that system, along with
refinement and simplification to the progression system, we are making
easier to understand.”

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style="color: rgb(0, 204, 204);">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
(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

style="color: rgb(255, 204, 102);">Atli:
“DUST is
based around a consumption based economy, and what we have found is
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
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

style="color: rgb(0, 204, 204);">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
shift the game into Pay-to-Win territory?” 

style="color: rgb(255, 204, 102);">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
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.”

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style="color: rgb(0, 204, 204);">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?” 

style="color: rgb(255, 204, 102);">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
the two games will be added, and of course the introduction of a full
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.” 

style="color: rgb(102, 204, 204);">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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