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...