Wednesday, 13 May 2015

So why do I still love Dust 514?

I honestly couldn't tell you in a simple sentence.

Perhaps a personal history lesson might be the best way, detailing via increasingly tedious minutia the  personal changes in my gaming life? But the simple truth about such details is that their peak level of interest is usually only shared with a demographic of one.

Maybe an examination of the games more singular mechanics, unique in the FPS market could offer illumination to the uninitiated... but that is likely to be an emotionally bereft composition to read through.

Or possibly an overarching essay on the games history could present to you, the reader, an understanding as to the vice like grip the game still holds over me?

However, any one of these approaches, singular or in combination, are only ever going to succeed in getting no further than the surface gloss.

And none would give you a straight answer to the question posed in the title of todays missive, why do I still love Dust 514?

It's a question that I've asked myself a lot in recent months. Not because I need to find a justification as to the time and energy I spend on it, my enjoyment of doing so is more than enough recompense for that kind of expenditure.

No, Ive asked myself that question because after two years of performing my self imposed role as an instructor for the game, my personal sense of fulfilment in the helping of others understand the game remains as strong now as it has ever been, perhaps even more so.

Yesterdays batch of new players joining DUST University wasn't noticeably different from the thousands of others that I've processed. They were still the usual mix of brand new Merc's with no employment history, freshly created that same day, returning players having had a break from the game and wanting to brush up on their skills or find out about new features that have arrived since they left.

There are even many vets of the game just wishing to pop in for a few weeks or days wanting to set up a few squads and help out for a while.

But while going through the applicants, sorting them out alphabetically and sending them the 40 emails I send to all new members detailing the game I had an epiphany. I must've send by now close to 300,000 emails to players over the past two years. It's a process that is now muscle memory, practised to level of precision that only that particular quirk of human physiology can provide. And yet my personal sense of satisfaction in helping these people through the simple action of imparting knowledge, remains as strong now as it has ever been.

And there perhaps is the key to my still loving this game. It is the human connection that those that play it share both in the game directly and in the community that has sprung up around it. It's a connection to the game that no amount of marketing budget can provide and no amount of quirky bugs within it can diminish.

It's a connection that other games attempt to claim they have with their player base but these are simply fans of a product in comparison to the bond shared by those playing Dust 514, a bond unique in the tidal mass of FPS games out there.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Been a while...

Hello to one and all,

Sorry for the very long gap since my last blog. I'm not the most disciplined person when it comes to writing and I've been very busy since then with a combo of real life, CPM duties and prepping for Fanfest.

But being this busy has been very rewarding, especially with the CPM part of it. In the last six months we've seen further hot fixes all the way to Echo now, Dust's latest expansion, Warlords, has been released, not to full universal acclaim I grant you but certainly a surprise to many of the bunnies still playing the game and a low key but rewarding Fanfest has taken place. I even won Day Two of the cosplay competition with my Dust Uniform while there.
Over my left shoulder, fellow CPM SirManBoy and Cross

Low key is certainly the way to describe Dust 514's presence at this years Fanfest but that was entirely the right call to make after last years unpleasantness at Harpa's main stage.

With only one Dust roundtable this year CCP Rattati, Dust's Senior Producer, made the most of it, inviting the community to further help him and his team by continuing all the feedback given to him and his team. If you've not already seen the roundtable CPM1 Member Soraya Xel recorded it and can be viewed here.

At Fanfest the star of the show was undoubtably Eve: Valkyrie, CCP's Dogfight sim and almost certainly a killer app for the fledging VR gaming scene. But the strangest thing was happening at this years little shindig in Reykjavik. Eve players were curious once again about Dust 514.

While my dressing up as a Dust Merc over the three days certainly gave me a higher profile than my fellow CPM who were also there, Xel, SMB and Cross, all four of us were answering a lot of questions about the game from Eve players. Other than the most popular question which was 'Dust is still going?', the question most asked was if it was coming to PC or PS4? For that we we're unable to give an answer but for myself personally I have to say I'm still very hopeful for that happy ending.

My reasoning for that was one of the stories that came out from Fanfest, the now public knowledge that Dust is now making a profit, confirmed in an interview to by CCP CEP Hilmar Petursson, Dust is now a revenue stream for CCP so it makes sense to ensure that such a stream continues.

It was surprising actually how many Eve players at Fanfest, usually the hardest of the hardcore capsuleers, freely admitted to us CPM and the Dust team that they played Dust 514. Admittedly, they confided this information to us in such as way as to not be heard by other Eve players but still, it was encouraging at least.

Yours truely playing Project Nemesis
Most of the senior members of CCP Shanghai had come over with CCP Rattati, including Rouge, Wolfman, Frame and Z, mainly to help with the demonstration of Project Nemesis, a mobile based game for the Samsung Note series of phones and using the new Gear VR hardware, a collaboration between themselves and Oculus. 

Being and important partner working with CCP, Oculus provided them with a Gear VR to see what they can could do with it. Quite a lot as it happens. Project Nemesis is stunning achievement considering that its powered by a mobile phone and uses the latest version of UE4. A simplistic game but enjoyable nevertheless, Nemesis places you in control of a turret on a larger ship where you must defend it against waves of incoming ships, all from the world of New Eden. 

It all the more remarkable when you consider that its been created by just three of Shanghai's team in their spare time.

Because of there being only one Dust 514 roundtable during Fanfest, the CPM members in Reykjavik got to spend a lot of time with the Shanghai team so it became a mini summit. Obviously all of it is NDA but we got an awful lot of work done while there and Rattati and the team have enough ideas for Warlords 1.2 and further beyond even.

On the third day of Fanfest, thanks to my charm, wit and basic refusal to have no said to us, CCP Frame arranged for us an interview on the EVE TV live stream for Fanfest which can be found here at the 2:58:10 mark.

The reason was to get a bit more out there about Dust 514 to the New Eden Community at large but it also gave us the opportunity to give CCP Rattati and the team a little token of thanks from the community for all the hard work they've done in the last year.

Dust 514 Warbarges make it Reykjavik. Rattati's is the Quafe version.
Based on the original concept art shown to the CPM prior to the release of Warlords in February I'd worked on a 3D model of the ship and decided to get a couple printed in time for Fanfest. For anyone wanting the file so you can print your own, should you be lucky enough to have your own 3D printer it can be found here.

So beyond Fanfest..

In less than a week Warlords 1.1 will be here bringing with it a lot of user experience upgrades, Skins for suits and Player Trading finally comes to Dust 514. Some of this was discussed at Fanfest and Rattati had plans to do more but for now, the patch notes for 1.1 can be found in this Dev Blog.

I'll try not to leave it so long next time. Till then, happy hunting.