Friday, 27 December 2013

In with the new.....

So 2013 is nearly over and the first anniversary of Dust 514 joining the Sisi test server prior to the beta going open is nearly here.

January 10 is also the date I consider DUST University being 'born'. It was when we could finally accept people into the UNI proper, without the need for my temporary corp 'Kevall's UNI Dust Bunnies' which served us well in the closed beta.

Nearly 8 months from the official launch of the game I'm relieved to say its in a much better state. Oh, it's still buggy as hell and has quirks that I no longer consider as those of personality but rather as just annoying as hell and wonder why they still haven't been fixed yet. Yet despite of these handicaps I still enjoy playing and raging against the game in equal measure and I still can't shake off the potential future that the game has.

However, it is also clear to me and to anyone else that plays it, that future is not on the PS3.

This is a debate as old as the game itself but the truth of the matter is that it was business reasons that the game has started its journey on the Playstation 3. And it's those same business reasons that ensure that its future MUST be on console and console only.

I don't claim to have inside information, it's just simply what I would've done if I'd have got the job. But I think its a safe bet that that the first thing that the new EP CCP Rouge did, once his feet were under the desk, was to re-evaluate all design decisions made with the game up to the point when the EP role became vacant.

It's no secret that the game started development on the PC. But if the history of game design proves anything at all, it shows that the beginning is never set in stone. Halo, that seminal Xbox shooter, defining an entire genre for over a decade, started life as an RTS game on the Mac. 

The brutal truth is that had CCP continued developing the game for PC, it would never have left beta. Some might argue that it still hasn't but there simply isn't a business case for it to be on PC. 

In a bloated freemium FPS PC market, it would remain a niche product, of only any interest to Eve players. It could not survive as a Freemium game on that format only, once the economic link between the games becomes established. The way the game funds itself, Aurum, would be rendered moot by the vast ISK wealth available to the players of Eve. And as to the notion that Aurum items allow you to use items earlier than your skills would allow, well, you'd have to get rid of the passive SP accumulation for a PC version and make all SP gain active.

I've been playing Eve for nearly five years and ISIS came in Rebicon and showed me that I needed 80 days to gain mastery of a Veletor. But I'm patient. I set up the skill plan and I'll wait 80 days for that to happen, while I tootle around New Eden in my Assualt Frigates. 

You seriously think that Eve players would stand for having play a game to earn SP for it after a decade of the Skill Queue? Not going to happen. And besides, CCP have those players subscription money anyway. 

And what about those players that fund their Eve time paying PLEX in game. That would be two games that CCP would be providing free of charge to them. 

Not a good way to make money I'd hope you agree.

It's future is on the consoles. It's earning ability and expansion beyond a niche product can only be found on the consoles. Because despite its problems, there is still nothing that will provide a link to a gaming universe as rich and diverse as New Eden. And that is nothing that console players have experienced before.

And as to those that cling to the hope that it will at some point arrive on the PC, well the truth is that such a move would kill it dead within a month on both formats.

The console players with their controllers wouldn't last 5 minutes against the gaming mouse and keyboard rigs of PC elitists and they'll leave the game. By the same token, those same PC elitists wouldn't stand for having their precious KB&M gimped so that the console players had a chance. CCP would be spending all their time combating player hacks to get over the gimping. 

Waste of development time all round putting it on PC now. The PS3 can't hack it anymore however. It doesn't matter how 'laser focused' CCP are on the PS3 when you keep banging up against its technical limitations and mind-buggeringly complex programming language. 

In order to ensure the game can show its true promise, it needs to jump to the next gen consoles. The Xbox One would be my prefered option if Microsoft allowed CCP into its 'Walled Garden' of Xbox Live but we all know that is unlikely to happen. A shame because despite the huge improvments to Sonys Duelshock 4 (a fine controller by the way), the controller for the XBox One STILL kicks the snot out of Sony's. 

Both the next gen consoles are based on PC's and so are easier to programme. We know from experiance just what CCP can do on PC. 

But this transition must happen sooner rather than later. And don't tell me that CCP haven't already done at the least a feasibility study about a move to the PS4. It would remarkably dumb of them to not have done that. The galling thing is that I'm reliably informed that the compiling of the code and port over the PS4 is not an insurmountable task given the power of the newer console.

With the monthly iteration pattern now ended (don't expect 1.8 before the tail end of January) and the subsequent longer gaps between patches now expected, CCP need to announce some movement of the question of a move from the PS3.

And what better time of the year is there to signal change than in the new year? 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

So.....Where's my flying car?

So for those of a certain age, growing up in the UK in the Seventies and Eighties, Micheal Rodd was the technological equivilant of Yoda. He, along with his fellow presenters on the seminal BBC show 'Tomorrow's World', showed us the future. And the future was cool.

Some of it, like the example above they got spectacularly right. I'm still waiting for my flying car however Michael.

But to be honest, would my life be vastly improved should such a marvel be finally here. Not really, I'm reluctantly forced to admit. The mobile phone is a different matter...

Now why do I speak of such things? Well, I'm using it as a analogy I hope. The fact that something that seemed so cool as a flying car, could be completely usurped by something as mundane as being able to make a phone call from a wood. 

Dust 514 is suffering from a case of the 'Tommorow's World' syndrome as well. What seemed so cool just a year ago like the Rail Rifle hasn't really blown me away or effected my day to day enjoyment of the game like the simple ability to delete all my mail. It the easy to navigate mundanities that conspire to make the biggest impact I find. And I've found that this way of thinking is making the glacial development of the game almost bearable.

That may sound defeatist but I assure you it it not. Just two days ago in my previous blog, I admitted that that I'd pretty much lost all hope of the MTAC's making it to Dust anytime before the inevitable arrival of the game on the PS4. But thinking back to the flying car and Tommorrows World, is my current level of enjoyment of the game diminished by them not being here yet? And the answer is no, it is not.

So is there anything else in the games future, as yet not arrived, that could withstand that level of inspection, one is forced to ask. The answer is that there isn't. They are an unknown factor. They're merely cool to have if possible.

And they are the product of a design process that was being led by another who is no longer in charge of the game. Should they made surplus to requirements? The answer is of course not. They are cool things to have as aspirations for the future. 

But they shouldn't shackle the current man in charge to a course that he might not want to go or more importantly, a path that he thinks is unnavigable. CCP Rouge has been brought in for a reason. You don't hire someone of his qualification to steer a course charted by another. Particularly if the compass was too close to a magnet when that courses was charted in the first place.

As to what course Rouge may chart for Dust 514, we are not yet sure. CCP likes to keep things close to its chest, always has. But I think its time that we as a player base should no longer hold him to promises made by another. We are likely to come away disappointed and disillusioned. 

But I'd still like Tomorrow's World to have the odd flying car some time...

Saturday, 9 November 2013

'We want ponies in our dropships'

So the word around the campfire is that the marketing team is finally getting round to having its first real meeting with the CPM.....

Skipping past the fact that its taken a full six months to get to this point and leaving that to others to explain as to the reasons for it, this is an excellent oppotunity to get some SERIOUS monetisation into Dust. 

The simple fact that the current offerings from the store are to be blunt.... piss poor.

With the removal of the BPO's there is nothing of value to a player. Burning through an earned in game currency with a system that costs when you die is no problem. As long as you earn the SP and actually learn to play the game well, you can comfortably budget for your drop suits and should you wish to use Aurum items till you're skilled enough in SP to purchase the ISK equilivant then there is no problem and still a market for them. 

That need for those type of items is going to around for as long as the game is. But burning through real money once your skilled enough to fund your needs in game is kinda dumb.

The stampede to purchase the militia BPO's and the Veteran and Elite Packs before they 'retired' should make it obvious to even the most jaded marketing suit, what it is that the Dust players want....


Seriously, since the packs were announced as being phased out, how many Drens, Covenant and Blood Raider LAV's have you seen? A hell of a lot is the answer. 

Now, without going into all the economic reasons for this, trust me when I say that keeping the BPO's as sale items was going to scupper CCP's plans for the player market in Dust. They had to go and they're going to cause some problems till CCP decide what to do about them. For the record, I'm in favour of them being used for manufacturing in Dust and Eve but that is some way away. 

But what of permanence? The beauty and value of the BPO was that you could create a free fitting that, with the correct use of Skill Points you could make it as good as an advanced level suit. How it looked was irrelevant.

But the Dren suits do look rather drab don't they.... 

If only there was some way to add a bit of colour to your suits. Suits that relected the NPC corps and factions of New Eden. Suits that reflected the player corp you are in. A Mercenary quarters that better reflects your tastes. Art on the walls perhaps? Spoils of war, kept on a shelf...

And what if thet were permanent and you had some way to show them off to other mercenaries? Not only in your corp but others as well as you fight on the planets of New Eden. How much would you pay to have the latest designs to chose from? 

How much would you pay for a Golden Gun?

How much would a CEO pay to have a corp Uniform in game? An MCC decorated with the flag of his corp on the walls. How much is a Limited edition camo pattern for your troops worth? Corp insignia on your Vehicles? Patches and ranks on the suits of your officers?

They wouldn't have to just be purchased with real money. Perhaps a discounted price in the store for the cost of some ISK (another handy possible ISK sink to control inflation in game). 

This kind of vanity item market has proved very successful for other Fremium titles in the past and continues to be so. The only mystery is why haven't CCP pursued this before now ans an Extra income source..

And how annoyed would the Eggers be if the Bunnnies got Ponies before them?

Thursday, 7 November 2013

From a drip to drinking from a fire hose.

For those that are unaware there has been some movement on the CPM's role and how it works with CCP. The main problem is that a lot of the playerbase are currently saying 'CP...What?'. 

Now this is not the fault of the members of the CPM and indeed CPP Dolan posted a sit-rep on the  status of the CPM here.

In it he makes clear that the CPM have been working hard but that CCP have dropped the ball, so to speak, as to how they integrate an advocacy group such as the CPM into the daily working practices of the development team's. As I've said before, this was likely the result of the change over to a monthly iteration pattern, to quickly address the problems that were evident in the release of Uprising in May.

But how should the working relationship between the CPM and CCP progress in the future now that the Dev's have acknowledged the problems of the past and spoken about rectifying them?

Before that however, we must first reveiw the reasons as to why there is a need for the CPM in the first place. In the above discussion thread there has been some heated debate as to the legitimacy of the CPM and some calling for its removel. Some of the reasons given on both sides of the arguement have a good deal of merit and some has been tin foil millinery of the finest quality. But ultimately I think the pro's of such a group, far outweigh the cons and that the playerbase should really have no fear of embracing it. 

The main need for a small advocacy group is one of speed and turnaround. There are many ways feedback can be gained from the playerbase in a detailed way. Forums, questionares, mailshots and such like. But the main problem with them is one of time. It takes time to organise, distribute and analyse the data this sort of data collection returns, which is so much better used in terms of long to medium term goals and objectives. In the case of day to day development when a problem may crop up, such methods are useless. Feedback may be needed in a very short time and a fresh set of eyes may spot a potential problem that hadn't been envisioned.

People can become myopic when laser focused on a particular problem and concerns for the 'bigger picture' often not come into the equation. Games developers are not immune to such problems and need the occasional reality check from an outsider to slap them back onto course.

Another reason for the need of a CPM is the sheer scope of a game such as Dust 514. Changes in design don't just effect individual players, but large groups of players, each with a different way of operating, that because of the sandbox nature of the game, the Dev's aren't even aware of. A small group of players, picked/elected from the whole playbase can identify problems that CCP didn't even take into consideration. And thats before we even take into account that we are being integrated into an established gameing universe..

Now, I've been chipping away at this blog for a few weeks now and its seems that in the time since Dolan's above post there has been a substantial upsurge in the CCP/CPM relationship. Indeed from his own weekly reports thread in The Councils Chamber CPM member, Heinrich Jagerblitzen, has stated that they have have gone from a drip to drinking from a fire hose.

This all very encouraging and for those planning to stand for CPM, knowing that CCP are now actively involving them in the future development of the game, after so many stop and starts, and that the CPM is now having an impact. The main problem however is that, short of the for lack of a better term, politically motivated hard core of players, the general community is unaware of the turnaround of the CPM fortunes. 

And this is of huge concern to me. As someone who is going to stand for the CPM the very fact that the majority of my potential electorate are oblivious to this is deeply troubling. It plays to to fears of those against the concept of the CPM because they're worried that it will become an Elitist group, serving only themselves and those that voted for them. We've all seen the lack of faith in our real life elected officials grow more with each suscessive election after all. Why should internet politicians be any different?

With this growing involvement of the CPM in design changes to the game, its now time for CCP to start really pushing the CPM as a way to work with the community. They already have several ways to do this that I've mentioned before. Mailshots, questionares, forums and such like. But these are a scattershot business, reliant on the recipiants taking part.

But a more direct approach is needed for the electorate of Dust 514, to ensure they are made aware of the CPM and they job they do. We now have the Daily Update when we first log into Dust. This should be used more often for items of interest to the community, Extended Downtimes, hotfixes, reminders to read the forums for the up to date news from CCP and New Eden. For the December Events, special contracts have been coming up to fight the Dev's. Why cant this be extended to members of the CPM or those standing for election for it? Emails, direct to each Mercs mailbox (a hint from me that mailing lists in Dust would be a good idea), direct from CCP would be a huge help as well.

We now have a dedicated community Manger with CCP SabreWing, who has been making great inroads in his time at CCP already. CCP Logibro, a respected former member of the community, is now acting as the CPM liaison. And with the regular tweets and forum trolling of CCP Foxfour and CCP Nullabor, those that take the time to find out, know what is coming up.

But its important that CCP now play their part in this exercise, to promote the CPM becuse its members have a handicap of CCP's making. The NDA.

I'm not going to debate the merits of the NDA here. I perfectly understand the reasons for it being there but with a community, as hungry for infomation as the citizens of New Eden, it causes real friction between the CPM and the community they represent. 

For many, the explanation 'It's covered by the NDA', is one so infuriating that it's makes them question the need of the CPM in the first place and resent those that are on it. This is counter productive for CCP as the CPM is an important tool and to have the player base resent them is not at all helpful.

Now I'm not saying the wall of the NDA should come crashing down but CCP should learn from the mistakes of the past and be more a Reed in a breeze and less Oak in a tempest. It would be enough for CCP to say that something is being worked on and the CPM are involved. Nothing given away but acknowledgment that work is being done and the concerns of the community are being addressed. 

For too long we have had an eduring attitude of secrecy from CCP and its work on Dust. I understand why. We've had so many promises that are yet to bare fruit, CCP are now afraid to say anything at all. I personally now dont believe for a minute, that the mythical MTAC's and Fighters will make an appearence in Dust, till it makes it debut on a more powerful system. The fable of attacking the ships of Eve from within, will remain just that for at least 3 years at the current rate of development. We still just have the one racial knife after all...

Ultimately, the success of the CPM is up to CCP themselves and how they promote its real value to those that doubt its need. It's not up to the CPM to do that job and until CCP make the effort to educate the community as to its value, the real life attitude to 'politicians' is the likely winner in any election.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

'I want to praise you like I should'

So the song goes.

But I cant do it without exception CCP. Oh, don't get me wrong. The work you've been doing since the flawed release of Uprising has been great. I've been loving all the point builds that have fixed the core stuff and if the foundations that 1.6 today will put in place, will allow for the 'content heavy' 1.7 to have just some of what I suspect is in it, then I'll be very happy.

But its the little things. Those features that have fallen through the cracks because they should've been added to make new features work even better. But for some reason, they've been overlooked. Missed and more worrying perhaps, not even been thought of as being required.

Like the Roles of 1.5, many in the community would consider them as merely 'Ease of Life' stuff, not real content in any way. But I assure you, the cumulative effect of them would be a massive boost to the game and to the community. And while not an expert in any way, I can't imagine that it would require a huge ammount of Dev time to add them in a hotfix rather than wait till a point build.

Corp Mail

Now hang on I hear you all cry... we got that in Uprising and you Fleetfoot, was the one that was screaming the loudest for it! What more do you want?

Well, that is all true of course. But it's introduction and how it was implemented necessitated the addition of two support features for it, that inexplicably and for no good reason didn't get added.

Mark all as Read and Delete All. (UPDATED) CCP FoxFour tweeted me shortly after this blog first went up with a picture Hows that for service folks!

Seriously guys, why did these get overlooked? And what makes it so difficult to add them? Now, to a new player these don't mean nothing to them. But to the veteran player base... they would be awesome. Why?

This all starts on the 10th January 2013. The day Dust 514 went live on the Tranquility server. Now, without boring you with the details, the mail system in Eve is quite extensive and when the game was moved to TQ then mails that were in the system, including any corp mails sent the old way, welcome mails, Alliance mails and notifications started to build up in in players mailboxes.

All of them.

So come the day of the Uprising we had a LOT of mail to sort. Hardly the best use of a Merc's time. And if you were a CEO or Director in a Dust corp you got a notification for every application and one for every acceptance of a player that had happened since the 10th of January to the 15th of May.

By the time of Uprising, we'd had around 1500 players go through the Uni at that point. That was a lot of mail to delete. And with no 'Delete all' option.... I shudder at the thought of how bad it would be now it the mail system came in now. We've had closer to 4000 players in the Uni by this time.

The silly thing is however, that the Dust Mail system uses the Eve Mail system and most if not all its functionality. It's why I use the Eve client to send a corp mail. I can increase the font size and colour. Use paragraphs and formatting and when it arrives to the members on the PS3 it's easier to read on a TV screen. The Dust side is just lacking the UI to access it all. But seriously, how hard to add the delete all button.

It's also limiting the use of the corp mail in Dust. There are players who aren't as OCD as me so see the red circle with 900 mails and dont even bother reading them. Sort it out CCP.

Chat Channels

Again, something that is not thought off as content but it is the primary way that Dust players co-ordinate operations both in and out of corp. They, like the mail, share the same system as Eve. So why can't a channel created in Dust have the same admin controls as in Eve? We don't perhaps need much but surely the creator of a Dust Channel in the Dust client could have basic mute and kick powers of those in their channel? I'm sure Drunk Night would love that. 

Inviting to Channel shouldn't mean having to add a player to you contacts first either.

We have a couple of channels in the Uni created Eve side so as to give us more control. We could have passwords Dust side to stop unwanted players joining the channel. But its better to create it Eve side and change the settings so that only members of your own corp can join it. You can also block known trolls as well. Ease of use perhaps but still bloody useful to have in your quiver. So why should only those corps that have access to Eve have that advantage.

Forum Access

Directors and the CEO have access to 'The Board Room' in each Corps forum on the offical Dust Forums. It would've been nice to include the option for Non directoral roles to be able to access The Board Room too. 

Message Of The Day

The average TV screen size is now 40 inch or above. Thats a lot of screen real estate that can be used for informing your members of chat rules, procedure, standing orders, whatever you want in fact, at the top of a chat channel when they log on. It can be added on the Eve side no problem. Why can't it been seen on the Dust side? Why can't it be added Dust side while we're at it?

Theres probably a lot of other things that I could think of as well as others that the player base could mention too but these are the top 4 that annoy me. None are very big in of themselves but combined they would make corp building much easier, prevent burnout and provide much needed polish to a UI that is in need of a newer finish.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

'What we have here is failure to communicate...'

As some of you know, I'm not much of a forum warrior. I prefer to read them, take ideas on board and make my point if I feel I have something to add or contribute. 

What makes it more difficult as well, is that the forums are in something of a toxic state at the moment. There are a number of 'Open Letters', usually the same QQ'ing as normaly happens but writen in a semi polite manner that tricks you to read the full post before you realise that what they really want is the pony that their Dad always promised them. There's the more upfront 'CCP are morons' types that mistake abuse for the language of diplomats and the weekend warriors that provide mathematical 'proof' that every weapon, save one is OP in the hope that CCP will not notice and leave the one they've skilled into alone.

All this is of course symptomatic of an underlying concern of mine which I'm sure you can guess from the title of this blog. Communication between CCP and its Dust player base is in a considerably bad place right now.

Now this would normally not concern me as much as it does now but things are becoming apparent to me, that I feel it would be remiss of me to not speak of my concerns. I say this not only as a long term player myself but as the leader of the largest Corporation in the game.

One of the forums I do read regularly is the Council Chamber, the forums where the players can post questions and concerns direct to the CPM. It's one of the few places where a certain level of civility and decorum is still practiced in the Dust forums. Its also where CPM Member Heinrich Jagerblitzen posts the excellent CPM weekly reports. 

It's always been something of a concern of mine however that there has never really been the equivalent of these reports from a member of CCP. It isn't the job of anyone member of the CPM to do that. Their side of the story in their dealings with the CPM is always as important and does get reported with the Eve version, the CSM.

But I've been trying to remember a Dev Blog or meaningful post by CCP regarding their interactions with the CPM since Fanfest. If anyone could point me to the drection of one, please do. But does this not worry anyone? Seven months since Fanfest and even I dont know with absolute certainty which of the Shanghai team is responsible for the daily interaction with the CPM. I can reel off a list of the Dev's that communicate all the time with the player base via the forums and Tweets but not the one that has the full responsibity of liaising with the CPM?

And Heinrichs weekly reports are long past being weekly. And indeed the other members of the CPM don't post as often as they once did. Now, those unfamilar with the members of the CPM might say, well CCP chose the wrong people clearly. But they didn't. They couldn't have picked a more passionate group of players to work with. I'm not going to dismiss the chance that real life issues may have impinged on the time they may have to dedicate to CPM duties for a couple of them but all of them? Statistically unlikely and as a bookie I know all about whats unlikely. 

So two options remain as the logical explanation for this slowing down of information from the CPM. Either the NDA is tighter than a ducks arse and they're unable to tell us anything, in which case why have a CPM in the first place? Or the second, more likely option in my opinion is that the CPM aren't being told anything of consequence or even worse, not being utilised by CCP at all.

Now, I'm not on the CPM and nor do I claim to have some inner window on whats going on behind the firewall of the NDA but I do have the experiance of playing Eve for over four years and Dust for over a year and I know that CCP have a really lousy record for this sort of thing. They are not good at it and it could be reasonably argued that CSM8 was the first that CCP actually figured out how to use effectively after eight years of trying.

But CCP have an excellent chance to remedy this for Dust. A new EP is now in place and a number of key roles in the Shanghai office have been filled (keep an eye on the job postings for CCP if you really want advance knowledge of what they're planning). The monthly development plan is likely to revert to a more managable 3 month release cycle when the vehicle balancing is in place. Once the more hectic monthly cycle is done, CCP can have more time to bring in the CPM earlier on design decisions so they can truely be the sounding board we want them to be and stop issues such as the Flaylock happening again BEFORE they get to Tranquility.

Using the Squad Finder, they can now have Dev created Squads. We can now see them playing the game from time to time, asking questions and getting feedback direct from the players while in the game. Use Twitch TV. Have matches with Dev's streamed or recorded so we can then give time references when we see the problems that they might miss.

But the single greatest thing that CCP could do is give us a figurehead for Dust. Someone who is responsible for dealing with the concerns of the CPM, pointing them to the right developers in the team and engaging directly with the player base via twitter, forums and Video blogs. And that's all they would do. Dust 514 NEEDS its own CCP Guard.

When the avenues of communication are clear to all, without the filtering or excuse of an NDA getting in the way, when a publicly accessible and regularly updated roapmap is visible to us and when we have full confidence that the CPM are being utilsed as they should (And how I'd want to be engaged should I find myself on it) then CCP's job will be so much easier. The toxin in the forums will subside (some will still want ponies) and the player base will be much happier and more willing to engage meaningfully with the makers of this game that we love so much.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

I went to Fanfest and all I got was this patch....

Following the disappointing news that vehicles were not to get their rebalancing in 1.5, it emerged that nearly all my Christmases were coming at once.

Corp Roles were on their way. 

Not only that but the member list was getting a coding revamp, eliminating the need to make a cup of tea while waiting for it to download. A Squad Finder, familiar to those that play Eve Online was making its debut too. Along with several needed nips and tucks and a rendering improvment. And the beginnings of a relevant and considered New Player Experience was being added and will grow based on feedback.

Not exactly the new content that many have been clamouring for... 'where are our new weapons?' was the refrain being wailed in the forums, like the loss of a beloved pet. And yes, in the traditional sense of what is expected in the gaming world, it wasn't new content...

It was far better than that.

This is the begining of a new phase in the development of Dust 514. The beginning of its true integration into New Eden. Dust is maturing. And corporations will pave the way. The creation and development of new corporations in Dust are vital to it's long term growth. It will be where new players can come in meet others with similar goals in the game and create their own Corps. And making these corps easy to run and maintain is essential.

We have seen many corps in the game burn out and blow away in the wind. There are the usual reason given by those who chose to gloat about the demise of an enemy. 'We ran 'em out of Molden Heath.... We beat them every game.... We scared them.....' blah, blah, blah, bblllaaaahhhh.

The truth is far more mundane, dull and really only known to those who run or have run a Corp in Dust 514.

Running a large Corp or Alliance is hard work.

Seriously, once you get past fifty memberrs, the work load leaps up to the point where it's a second job. And then when you have to take several time zones into account.... you start jumping at sudden noises.  Security is the main bug bear for many in New Eden but an essential part of it. The meta game is strong and there are plenty that would stab you in the back for a few million ISK. But for the longest time the only role was Director, other than the CEO. A complete nonsense if all you wanted was someone to process applications while you doing something else important, like sleeping.

Obviously there comes a point where you have to start trusting people. And thankfully I did. I've got a great team of players wanting to do what the Uni does. Help others. Some have moved on to do their own thing in Dust 514 but the work they've done carries on. And I want players to move on. It's how this game will continue to grow.

And grow it will. We will likely have player trading in place by Christmas. In order for that to work its logical to asume that some sort of revised inventory system needs to be in place in the game. Once thats in place, its only a small leap of faith to imagine a corporate inventory to be be needed. All of these steps will and have always needed roles in order for a corp to funtion at its best. 

You still going to say that all this isn't content?

We also have a new Excutive Producer joining the good ship Dust 514, CCP Rouge. The appointment of such a senior figure should speak volumes as to CCP's long term commitment to the game. There are still those with a narrow minded field of vision that believe that CCP should ONLY be concentrating on Eve. That the distraction of Dust, Valkyrie and World of Darkness is taking funding from the parent game and its development. Well, a quick check on the Sisi test server of some of the stuff coming up in Rubicon frankly rips that arguement to shreads. Eve's development is being harmed by CCP's spliting of focus? I'm calling out bullshit on that one. It's just the bittervets bitching as usual.

Its like saying that Blizzard should ring-fence all its profits from WoW, only using them for further development of that game and not on Starcraft. Or that Apples iMac profits shouldn't have been spent on the R&D of the iPod. I think we should be thankful that these folks aren't in charge at CCP.

So welcome CCP Rouge. It'll be a while before we are able to see the direction he wants to take the game. But I'm liking the future as he see's it from the interviews he has done and the attitude he showed, when I tweeted him about the community poking CCP with sharp sticks because we care..

'Bring it on. Thats how great games are made!'

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Turning a corner...

Well, its been a week. 

A week where I've personally been really busy in Real Life and not had as much time with the latest point build of Dust, 1.4, that I would've liked. But after a shaky start with the matchmaking I've become  very impressed with this latest iteration 

Theres been the usual whining about certain things. The aim assist for DuelShock users is too strong is my particular favourite. Almost exclusively, this particular whinge has been uttered by M&KB users. Well you got your chosen control method buffed to the point that there is none of the restriction you first had in the game. And as its the best control method ever according to that small electronic  xenophobic core of you that considers controller users as fools, finding that your having to work a bit harder just tells me that the aim assist is now just about right. Helps that the hit detection no longer seems to use a D20 as well.

The new maps are too big..... are you kidding me??!!

1.5 is all about the vehicle balancing. They're going to get the love that they so desperately need and they need some maps that are going to allow them to shine and become indispensable. And we need to be introduced to those maps first. The snipers aren't happy about them either. Lets be clear now, the ONLY reason some are complaining is that they maps are of such a size they have to come out of their precious redline to hit anything. That's right, they have to become combatants rather than KDR whores and cowards. Well, boo-boo for them. 

Splash damage from explosive infantry weapons still needs a bit of a nerf with Massholers becoming prevalent again. The removal of squad shared Tacnet info has been a big success with the active scanners finally finding their feet and becoming as important as drop uplinks in an equipment slot. 

New rendering effects, removal of memory leaks and the Neocom getting some love, with my usual spam of mistaken replies to the welcome mail almost disappearing over night with the new send box rather than just pressing X and just being a little faster overall. 

Theres still a couple of problems. Corp Tax income should filtered to find the info you might want and the history of it needs to go back a few days rather than a few minutes. Corp chat channels need admin powers being granted to Dust players rather than just Eve players in that channel.  

As mentioned, 1.5 is all about the vehicles but CCP Wolfman confirmed that new weapons are coming too. My own expectation on that point is that the Caldari and Minmatar equivalents of the AR and Scrambler Rifle will be joining us with maybe a surprise or two. 

1.6 has been hinted at as being about the Corp UI with roles finally making an appearance. My own hope is that we might be taking steps towards the fabled Eve/Dust finally become important with some introduction to the economy of Eve and maybe beyond towards the the end of the year. 

But who knows as to CCP's plans. All I know is that 1.4 seems to have turned a corner in the development of Dust and it finally knows which way it needs to turn.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

'Idleness is the parent of psychology' Neitzsche


Its corrosive powers can be devastating to an unengaged mind. It can lay low the most focused of intellects, groups and even entire economies.

So is the case in Dust at the moment. Players are starved of content, playing with the same friends, day in, day out, can lead to repetitive strain of the mind. 

Without a constantly evolving and expanding gaming experience, MMO's can die a premature end. That is not to say that Dust is dying. Far from it. There is content coming, some really good content in fact. But Dust players are currently playing the role of a dog, looking up the street from the window, waiting for its master to come home and chuck it a stick.

And that ain't no way to play a game.  

Like that waiting dog, we jump at the slightest glimpse of movement at the corner of the street, returning to our barely restrained desire to play and ready to pounce when we do finally see that stick.

So what do we do in the meantime?

We do what is expected in New Eden, we play the meta game. Or rather, we attempt to. A lot of the Dust players, freshly arrived in New Eden are not used to this level of intrigue. And most are failing miserably at it. But this is through no fault of their own. Expectations of the meta game in Dust are high. But these expectations are fuelled to a unreasonable level because of the history of the meta game in Eve. 

Why unreasonable you ask?

Eve has a decade of content, history and participation. The opportunities for the meta are vast, practiced and unrestrained in imagination because the content is there to support it. Content that Dust simply does not have in place yet. The most exciting thing to happen in the meta game is the current PC war. Player generated, involving hundreds of Merc's but gossamer thin in depth and barely papering over the cracks in a game mechanic that after 3 months of iteration still can't fire the imagination of the majority of the games population. 

Oh we have a couple of Districts to be sure. But ours is not a occupation based on the thrill of conquest, rather a way for us to create a form of meta game from the only spade available in the sandbox. A way to pursue our educational goals. 

But rest assured, when that first bucket finally drops into the sandbox, we're going to be very practised with that spade.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

CPM move forces CCP to finally gets its arse in gear?

While not exactly a cause for putting up the bunting just yet, it would seem that the recent CPM meeting with senior members of the Dust development team has resulted in a 'clearing of the air' according to CPM menber Hans Jagerblitzen in his latest post in The Counci's Chamber.

This is of course should still seen as good news for the future health of the game and should be welcomed by the community as a positive step in the right direction.

It should also in my opinion, finally put a nail in the coffin of the debate about if the formation of the CPM was just misdirection on the part of CCP. There has been a number of times now that the CPM have proved their value. Changes to PC, the Academy, the open statement that led to this clearing the air. Their value has also been shown when they've not been consulted. Had they been asked, the current debacle of the Prime Tourney would've have been entirely avoided.

Yes, they weren't elected. And perhaps some have been less visible or as effective as they could've been. But the question of should they be here in the first place is now an answered one. I for one have been grateful for their service so far. As for those that still continue to pour scorn over them purely because they weren't elected as the beta CPM and should only be concerned about setting up the voting process for CPM1.. Well, you're beginning to sound like a broken record now and generally being ignored by the majority of the community as someone who can't get over that they didn't get an invite to a party.

Any elections for a CPM1 would follow the same pattern with the CSM. Voting would be in the weeks building up to Fanfest 2014 and the result announced there. Meaning that the term of the beta CPM0 would be at least 10 months in length. To expect them to just concentrate on a voting system is frankly a nonsense. The CPM1 won't want to waste their time 'clearing the air'. Procedures need to put in place for not just the next CPM but the ones that come after. And that is what CPM0 are doing as well the voting system.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

So why is Dust struggling to retain those that come and try it?

Well, first of all, it's not because the game itself is too hard. Lets get that out of the way right now. We don't have to teach rocket science in DUST University just a few basics for most and more specialised training for those that want it, like our Squad Leader Certification programme.

And its not because the community is intimidating. There's a few trolls and to be honest a small number of arseholes intent on ruining the fun for others, likely because Daddy wouldn't get them a pony. But these are very much in the minority and rightly derided by the remainder.

The main reason is that it's not FUN!!!

I mean the game itself. I've has some hilarious times playing in the right squad and thats been fun. Fusion Commander, Reevira, TrueXeros, Otera, the sadly missed 3 bird, Naedeus, Phyxitt and dozens of other too numerous to mention both in D-UNI and outside. Playing with these guys and gals is fun.

But the game itself is too much of a grind. It's inconsistent and it's horribly imbalanced in favour of the proto gearheads. 

Not to put too much pressure on one of the community's favourite Dev Team's, True Grit, I'm now firmly of the opinion that a comprehensive matchmaking system is going to be the thing that stems the loss of new players and retain them better. Not new content, though that is nice and always to be welcomed, or eye candy like 'God Rays' and perhaps even more important than the fixing of 'Murder Taxis'. Matchmaking that keeps the newer players separate from the vets and their larger wallets, SP counts and need to to proto stomp newbs in order to make them feel that they're a great player.

I've never been able to understand the need to proto stomp the newbs in pub matches. And those that do it still HAVE to take some responsibility for the low take up of the game once a new player starts. With the now laughable 400 WP needed to leave the 'Academy' matches new players are just getting slaughtered!! And thats not fun!!! Oh I'm sure that the stompers are having fun while they give each other a metaphorical reach around, congratulating themselves about how good they are. But the new player, the people that the game REALLY needs right now are put off the game because of these clowns.

Which is why the matchmaking isn't going to be enough in the long run. What we need is a filter system for newer players to ease themselves at their own pace. We already have such a system in place fortunately. The meta levels of the equipment. Allow players to dictate which matches they can join. A new player can select a Skirmish match and ask the game to place them in one where the only fits allowed are Militia or Standard fits only. The game then places them in a queue while it finds players  wanting the same criteria and are within a million SP of them in total. As they get better and more comfortable they can up the Fit levels till eventually they are in Proto matches should they wish. 

I'd still allow higher SP players to use a Militia fit in a Proto fit filtered match should they choose to do that. One of my great pleasures in the game to to take out multiple Proto using players, who have the gear but no idea with my BPO/advanced combo Dren suit. The majority of Proto fit users STILL don't realise that the game pays you less ISK for killing inferior equipped mercs, And the more of them you kill the less it pays... They must be losing soooo much ISK per match and wondering why they're not rich? I kill loads of these guys. I hardly ever lose more than 6 10K fits a match and depending on how many LAV's and Tanks I take out, I'm making 200-300k a match! And yes, my KDR is still above 1 thank you very much.

This is why I'm personally looking forward to 1.4. Seeing what it can do place the newer players in a fun environment, while making the proto users fight amongst themselves.

Who knows.... they may even discover there that they're not actually as good as they thought. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

So.... I'm going to stand for CPM. I must be crazy right?

So after some thinking and maybe a bit of cockiness creeping in, I've decided that I can make a more direct contribution to how Dust 514 progresses from here. And so I'm going to stand for election in the first elected CPM.

I like to think that steering DUST University from the closed beta to what it is now, gives some indication as to the affinity and warm regard I hold for Dust 514 and the community that has grown around it in the last year. It also means that my respect for what CCP are trying to achieve has also grown during that time.

There are very few of the large developers that would've tried to do a game like Eve. And there are fewer still that would succeed in making such a game last 10 years. But despite being a small developer at the top of the world (or maybe because of it), CCP have achieved the near impossible. A single shard universe so large and detailed in scoop and having its own history, that no one has managed to top it.

And CCP are making it even larger with the addition of DUST 514.

But before you all come to the conclusion that I'm a creature of CCP, like all things you love, there are times when you hate them too.

Dust is so far behind its promise right now that some are questioning its continued survival.  I admit there are even times when it makes me want to bang my head against the wall. I usually bang the Duelshock very hard against the wall instead. Meaning that I'm now on my fifth one after getting the PS3 for Dust a year ago.

My recent piece that I wrote for the Duster Blog after they very kindly asked for my opinion isn't exactly a love letter to CCP. Some of the cursing I've come out with on Boots On The Ground is a little embarrassing considering the ban of gutter language I have in D-UNI. But these are only because I love the game, so I get cross with CCP when they make mistakes.

But despite these frustrations I've done very little gaming other than on Dust. Oh I've dabbled a with The Last Of Us and played some Skyrim on the 360 but its Dust that has captured my imagination in a way that only one game has before. Eve Online.

I recently did a video on my YouTube channel detailing my opinions as to why the naysayers are wrong about the demise of Dust. As much as I want to poke CCP with a sharp stick at times I want them to succeed more.

So what do I think I can do on the CPM. Well, I've no real interest in the political realities of New Eden, so Planetary Conquest and the meta game around it are very dull to me at the moment. I don't think they represent value to a new player, just the established ones. And this game needs new players. A lot of them and it needs them fast.

And for that there needs to be a sense of fun back into the game. A sense of enjoyment and just having a blast with friends, rather than the pitiful grind of an SP dungeon.

There also need to be a complete dismantling of the laughably poor New Player Experience of Dust 514, and a rebuilding of it from the ground up. Even with the game in such an incomplete state, there's more complexity than any other FPS out there. Its a comment I get in application after application that arrives in the DUST University inbox. 'I'm lost!! Please help!!' is the usual cry from a new Merc. And some of the old ones too, truth be told...

The game needs to explain itself better. I've already submitted ideas to CCP and I've had  positive feedback from them on it. We can do a lot in D-UNI but the game can't rely on us and others do all the work for it.

So that's what I want to focus on should I be lucky enough to get the chance. Work for the new players so they stick around, enjoy themselves and provide targets for the older ones....

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Protostomping is out of hand

As those of you that follow me on twitter know, I occasionally make assertions as to the size of the real life equipment of a certain breed of player, is inversely in proportion to the level of equipment they use in the Pub matches of Dust 514.

Part of this is the usual putting down of your opponents in battle to encourage your own troops, a tradition in armies since the beginning of time. Part of it it is to get a bit of a rise from the twitterspere. But it is a serious point that I'm trying to make. Proto-Stomping as its become known, is a detrimental problem in keeping newer players interested in Dust 514.

Now, the easy way to dismiss this and many do, is the phrase that we hear a lot from the veteran Eve and Dust community.


But this a simplistic, naive view and an incredibly short term one at that. The game already has its hard-core, they're not going anywhere. But for the game to grow beyond the point where it achieves the critical mass required for it to become an essential download on its current format, the PS3 and the future ones it will appear on, it needs a continuous supply of fresh blood. And this is where our problem lies.

The game is hard enough as it is for a new starter with an almost bewildering array of customisation for your newly formed clone. What we don't need is veteran players going out of their way to make it as hard as possible to get any enjoyment or sense of accomplishment in the game.

I was was asked for my input prior to the launching of the Academy playlists for the new players. Anything that makes it easier for the new player to get acclimatised to the harsh realities of New Eden is something I'm always going to support. But I didn't take into account the more nefarious elements of our community taking that idea and twisting it for nothing more than their own amusement.     

If you've set up a couple of new accounts, as I have, to test the Academy matches to give feedback to CCP, something very obvious is happening. Experienced and veteran players are going in these matches, fully aware of how to squad, the tactics to use for each map and how to get the best out of the basic equipment available to new mercs. And they go in, expressly for the purpose to kick the snot out of some noobs for nothing more than the lols. 

Well, thanks a lot for that you ignorant pricks, is an easy thing to say.

Obviously it would be pointless to try and blame CCP for the more sociopathic tendencies that reside in all of us to a degree but it is symptomatic of a serious inadequacy in Dust 514. The complete lack of a discernibly working Matchmaking system.

How do I come to that conclusion you ask? This is as you've said, experienced players coming into Academy matches just to be arseholes. 

Well, actually it isn't. Once you do a bit of thinking about it and you know, ask them why they do it. 

Frustration is why they do it. 

There are always going to be players who only ever going to better than average at the game in comparison to others. Partly because of their own innate skill levels, partly because they don't have the time to grind the SP for the skill tree. And these players are hitting a proto equipped wall. The higher tier of players, the ones that are very, very good and have the SP's to invest aren't the ones coming to Academy matches to stomp noobs. They've no need to do. Because they win enough as it is.

I've said before, to help ease the pressures on new players in Academy matches, CCP shouldn't just limit the amount of times an account can create a new merc to play in Academy matches It should be a limited amount of times a PS3 unit can do it, using the individual MAC address of each PS3.

But that would mean that the frustrations of those average players will have no outlet. They lose more matches than they win. They keep getting killed by the same players. And so we run the risk of losing them as players as well as the new ones. 

Dust becomes nothing than a niche game, never fulfilling its full potential.

To solve the problems of Academy matches and help the new players which we in DUST University exist to serve, CCP must fix the Matchmaking system. And they need to do it soon.


Sunday, 19 May 2013

"You sunk my Dristrict"

So we got Awoxed. 

You might've heard about it, if not here is the story that got broke on’s-first-recorded-awoxing-incident

I'd just returned from work and due to a timing miscalculation on my part, I missed getting into the battle myself. This is now a personal regret of mine but not for the reasons you might think.

I wasn't upset because I thought I might be able to stop it. It wasn't because I'm the only one with the access to pay such a ransom should we wish to be stupid enough to do so. And it wasn't because I was denied the chance to rage at Model No 0001 verbally.

It was because it was freaking hilarious!!!!

As the photo grabbed at the time by a D-UNI Merc shows, we were loving it.

I'm so proud of Flaminlus saying cool when he did. And Celus laughing.

Now obviously, this was all happening just as I was logging on and firing up my venerable iMac, launching Skype as it did so and logging me into @GimbleB's BOTG chatroom. I told the amassed Mercs present, the situation in real time as it unfolded. Lioso was there at the time, leading to the above piece. 

Now, it would seem that this was indeed the first case of Awoxing in Dust's PC game. Some CEO's may consider this to be a humiliation, a public flogging from which there is no recovery.

But I'm not wired that way.

What this does is cement DUST University into the history of Dust 514. It also alerts the other corps of a game mechanic exploit that some may not have been aware of. A service we are happy to provide. 

The silly thing is that I said this was going to happen at Fanfest only a few weeks ago. I spoke to the Dev's and members of the CPM about it. We discussed ways to counter it or at the very least make it harder to pull off. I think I even said that I bet that we'd be the first to fall victim to it because of our open door policy on recruitment. 

I'm a bookie in real life. I should've made a book on it right then. I'd have made much more than the 100m that they wanted. 

The game should give Corporations the chance to infiltrate a a rival and do this sort of meta-game. But it should be hard to do. It should be because a spy has carefully worked their way up the corporate ladder, gaining the level of trust and access they need so that when they flow, the tears taste sweeter.

Using a currently broken mechanic to do it, kinda diminishes its impact and all it did was produce tears of mirth. 

Friday, 17 May 2013

So, a funny thing happened on the way to Harpa...

So we are now in Molden Heath via Reykjavik and Fanfest.

Fanfest was a great few days. Thanks to a windfall courtesy of Barclays screwing me over on PPI and 14 years of compound interest, my budget this year was considerably larger than last year. So I signed up for everything that was available. I was also there a full day earlier so I could enjoy the city and the country itself a little more than last year.

That plan went by the wayside once it became apparent that many of us New Eden acolytes had also thought to come a little earlier this year too. 

And they were in the pub.  

Well, it was a no brainer really. The tourist pamphlets got tossed onto the desk in my hotel room and I made my way to The Bar With No Name and reintroduce myself to an old flame called Brennivin. 

The Black Death is a drink perfectly suited to the ethos of New Eden. Much like the infamous learning cliff of Eve Online its effect on the human physiologically is exponential. After five or six of them, one's natural reticence to tell someone that they're doing their job wrong when you yourself have no understanding of how they go about that job, decides to go whale watching, leaving you in the pub getting dangerously close to being a bit of an idiot.

You have to give kudos to the Dev's of CCP. Not many in their industry would be prepared to put themselves in a position where they could be open to some very harsh criticism. But what they have on their side is Reykjavik itself. There is something so relaxing about the capital of Iceland that seemingly makes it impossible to get angry for long with anyone or anything. It helps that the Dev's know better than you whats broken and are so prepared to admit they might've nerfed your favourite AR a little too much.

What also helps is that they are all without exception great guys and girls to meet. You follow someone on twitter. You converse with them over the internet, you poke and prod them with ideas, suggestions and criticism and the concept that you might actually meet them seems far removed from the actually reality of your normal life. So when you meet them and the real life versions of them are even cooler than their digital projection, its a total delight. 

It's also a chance to catch up with members of your corp or alliance. It felt a little weird from the previous Fanfest. Last year I was a sophomore in EVE University. A basic training completed in the world of New Eden but unsure as to where I was going to go and do in that virtual world. In short I was comfortable in the University and unwilling perhaps to stick my neck out and try my own way in the world.

That was of course to change and it was entirely CCP's fault that it did. And it's because of the Unifubared Inventory that I'm now in the position where I am today. Because my particular playstyle in New Eden as an Eve pilot and a certain level of OCD (a trait it seems that many in Eve share), inventory boxes play an important part of that playstyle so I was very active on Sisi testing it all out and giving feedback to the Dev's on the forums. The complete concenous of all the players at the time was that it was no where near being ready for TQ and shouldn't be delployed....

So of course it entered TQ and and fucked me over in its unremitting awfulness. (its been fixed now of course). Denied the pleasure of playing Eve, which at the time rapidly became an exercise in self loathing, I spied the closed beta code for Dust 514 that I'd recieved at Fanfest. I purchased a PS3 and waited for the beta to start. The rest is history.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

So it's been a busy week....

As most of the eve-verse now knows Kelduum Revaan, stepped down from his role of heading the Ivy League after 3 years so he can start playing some Eve again.

So where does leave leave DUST University?

Well, with me in charge of course.

I'd known for a about a week that Kelduum was stepping down and he'd appointed me as his successor. So some things had to be done.

Our forums are more tidy with less glue. I've made a start on creating a dedicated and departmentalised management team to run a 650 Merc corporation. And I've been thinking about the longer term plans of DUST University and how this weeks Planetary Conquest is going to play into that.

On the whole I think that its going to be a great new feature of the game. Like a game of Slay or Risk wrote large with even larger guns. The placement of the 250 districts is going to be a crucial matter. I mean some of us corps are rather big, we'd like a bit more room than most and D-UNI would like to own some real estate.

After all, what's the good of a University if it doesn't have a Campus?

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Screaming Leporids and Dust 514 corp UI

This week saw the creation of the DUST University 101st 'The Screaming Leporids'.

Not an elite battalion. More a volunteer force to represent D-UNI against select corporations. Players who want the challenge that these opponents will give us. But more importantly than that, it will provide a pool of disciplined Merc's willing and able to pass on what they've learnt in corp matches to the rest of the UNI in the pub games and the soon™ to be arriving Training Room.

But Dust 514 doesn't make this easy to do.

At all.

I am by no means an expert in Eve Online Corp UI, and buried in amongst the menus and sub-menus, right clicking and window collapsing might be the means to do we want to do in Dust and more. But even my inexperience tells me an important fact.

This Eve corp UI shouldn't be allowed anywhere near Dust. Ever.

We have seen little in the way of what to expect in terms of a finished UI in Dust or even where they are goings with it. That's not surprising, CCP have rightly been showing of the shiny in the gaming press and let's face it, OB's are just cool to watch. But as fun as the game play is, as cool as OB's are to watch this isn't what's going to make this game a success.

The Eve/Dust link is what will sell it. Well, duh I hear you say. Thanks for that pearl of wisdom Captain Obvious!!!!

But the UI controlling that link is notable by its absence in the Dust Client. It. Just isn't there. The crux of the matter is this. EVERY feature that a CEO in Eve has at their disposal must be at the finger tips and joypad of a CEO in Dust. EVERY feature that a Merc needs to exist in New Eden, marketplace, ISK transfer, contracts, contacts, mailing lists, email, etc etc needs to on the PS3.

CCP Nullabor, a man who I believe truly understands what's needed in a Dust UI, tweeted me a few weeks back in answer to some of these concerns that Dust's corp UI needs to be 'less clumsy than Eve'. Well that's true. But first of all it needs to be there in the first place.

The longer our wait for an improved corp UI and Dust/eve link UI in the PS3 or even a glimpse of its then the more likely my nightmare scenario will come to pass. What is that scenario?

An 'Eve-lite' PC client or a app on iOS, Android or the Sony failVita just for corp use.

Because it means that the Eve/Dust link is a fail at birth. Even if its just a 'stop gap', Dust is already dead if this happens. CCP may as well pack up Shanghai and go home.

CCP needs to start getting proactive in this matter. We need dev blogs, videos, imagery, anything that will tell us SOMETHING of what to expect. They need to start doing all that now. It's two months to Fanfest and nearly two since the Chromosome build. Operating a 400+ member corp in Eve with its clumsy but working Corp UI is not easy. Operating one with a truncated UI..... well, as Sandy B says to Keanu after he punches a hole in the fuel tank 'What? Were you feeling you needed another challenge or something??!!'

Friday, 8 February 2013

So days shy of month since joining TQ....

And as of last night DUST University has 315 Bunnies..


I'd like to thank all off them for showing faith in D-UNI and what we hope to achieve in the future.

As to the speed of that achievement, well that's up to CCP.

Running a corp of such size is a second job with the tools one has to use at the moment. I'd like to delegate a bit, I really would. But as a couple of recent incidents prove, corp theft is going to be as much of a problem in Dust as it is in Eve.

It's not that I don't trust anyone you understand. But with DUST University being the sister corporation of one of the more famous and respected corporations in New Eden I feel a great sense of responsibility to do this right.

I want Personal Officers to accept applicants when I'm not able, without making them a Director, Be be able to send a corp mail from my PS3 without messing up everyone else's mail inbox. And I'd like to do it all from my PS3 without the need of firing up my laptop to use the Eve client.

We now have the return of the Player Corporation forums on the official Dust 514 website. This is a start in the right direction but serves as a reminder of how much further we have to go.

But we'll make it. I'm sure off it.

Monday, 21 January 2013

I sit here a hopeful Merc....

I was present during one of Eve University's regular Q&A last night.

I was pleased and gratified at the number of questions we had about Dust and Dust University itself. I tried to answer as best as I could while dancing on the edges of the NDA. What was being asked genuinely encouraged me that Dust has the interest of many players of Eve and the increasing member numbers of Dust University delights me no end. I feel that I'm a part of the beginning of something special.


There is a group of folks that no amount of numbers or happy talk is going to convince them of the merits of Dust and what it can bring to New Eden. They are entrenched in a dogma that will not let them see beyond their gaming mouse and keyboard.

That dogma is PC gamer elitism.

The refusal to believe that gaming on any format other than PC has any form of merit and is to sneered at. In a word, snobs.

I'd like to believe that it's just sour grapes that CCP decided to go down the populist route and make Dust 514 for consoles and not for their precious PC's. But it's deeper than that. The fact that it makes perfect financial sense for CCP to go for an untapped source of income and introduce a new audience to the wonders of New Eden makes no dent in the mindset of such players.

The increasing of the population of the world they like to play in and the opportunities that will bring them in the long term doesn't seem to interest them. They think Dust is something that isn't going to effect them. It's new form of PI.

And for the moment they may be correct. But not for long.

It was very telling that in the first section of the freshly released minutes of the recent CSM winter summit that CCP Unifix, Jon Lander, pointed at an iPad and wondered out loud why PI wasn't being done on that rather than being tied to using an Eve client.

Increasingly in the mind of CCP, New Eden is a destination for players to make a trip to do things they couldn't do anywhere else. And CCP want to enable them to get there as quickly as possible and more importantly however they want to get there. The mode of transport is increasingly irrelevant to CCP. It's what Crest and the new generation of api is all about, enabling access to New Eden via browsers, smartphones, tablets and other mobile platforms.

Oh, the quintessential way to play Eve is always going to be on a desktop, don't get me wrong on that. But the influence of those players that stubbornly refuse to embrace the new ways is going to diminish over time. What's the point of cornering the market in a secluded section of the galaxy, sticking to the model thats served you well in the first 10 years of Eve when someone can hire PS3 Merc's to destabilise the sovereignty of your trade routes or play the stock market to your disadvantage from the comfort of an app on their iPhone. That's what's the second ten years of Eve is going to be about.

Ditch your snobbish prejudices now. They're going to get you creamed in New Eden soon.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Corp and squad UI needs a TOTAL overhaul CCP!!

Well, this getting silly now..

The current UI in Dust has always been inadequate for these two tasks but as Dust University starts to approach 100 members, it's now becoming a major problem.

I've needed to start dual boxing. Not to do OB but just to run the corporation. This is not good news for Dust in general.


Well this is a fundamental point that goes to the heart of the whole Dust/Eve link and the way the two games interact. And it's something that I think, CCP have yet to realise themselves as yet.

Dust 514 is a console game.
Eve is a desktop PC game.

Read that again and you'll see the enormity of what the problem is.

With the way the UI currently is within Dust it's clear that CCP seem to think that anyone running a corp in Dust is going to fire up Eve and use the corp UI in Eve.

However...... once the game launches and takes off the way I expect it to, console players are going to demand a fully working corp UI in Dust 514. You should able to run a corp in Dust without going anywhere near a PC.

And this again raises an issue that has irked me a little about Dust from the day I first played it at Harpa in Reykjavik back in March.

CCP can't seem to cut the umbilical cord between the PC origin of Dust's genesis and the game as it stands at the moment on the console.

It's a console game. Lets say it out loud again..

It's a CONSOLE game.

You see the point I'm making here I hope. There are elements of Dust that so clearly aimed at he PC FPS market that have NO place in a console game. I understand why they have made it like that. It's only natural to want to placate those fans that may have been upset when CCP decided to go the console exclusive route but keyboard and mouse control have no place on a console game. It should be a level playing field for all Dust Players because its a CONSOLE game!

KB&M is a superior control system. It immediately gives a huge advantage to those using it over the base control system of the PS3 controller. CCP should ditch it right away. Oh you'll get a hardcore of the Dust beta crowd complaining but once this goes open beta and then launches the number of people using the KB&M will be so, so small as a percentile that it would make no sense to spend resources on its development. Better ditch it now and spend the time saved on making the default PS3 controller feel better to use in the game. After all, it comes in the box with every PS3.

This reminds me a rather lively and interesting conversation I had with CCP Flying Scotsman in a bar, in the Iceland capital. The beta that I had played that day, I told him, felt like a PC game being operated by a poorly configured cheap third party PC game pad. That there was reason why the control system for Halo was still considered the gold standard for console FPS was because Bungie build it from the ground up for the controller the Xbox would be using. The one that came in the box with the console. Not one you could by later at PC World.

And in many ways, Dust STILL feels like a PC game controlled by a poorly configured cheap PC game pad....

It's time to cut the apron strings CCP. You made a choice, now go all the way with it..

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Stuck in Geneva Airport and away from the PS3

All things considered I'd rather have been snowboarding but I've been away while CCP flicked the switch.

Dust 514 and Eve are one.

Dust University is taking applications in game. Thank you Kelduum for doing that by the way.

I'll be soon joining you and shooting peeps a lot.

See you soon and shoot true.