Today, I get an alert for an article over on incgamers.com where the producer of Dust 514, Brandon Laurino aka CCP Jian, announced that the first integration of Dust 514 with Eve Online will happen on the Singularity Test Server (SiSi) on August 21st - less than two weeks away! That certainly clarifies the previous night's announcement about opening Dust 514 to all Eve Players.
The statement by CCP Jian gives details that I have personally been waiting to come from Iceland. I find it curious that they are, instead, coming by way of Shanghai. I'd love to point at this as the first indication of the tail wagging the dog but that conclusion is only tenuously supported by this update and certainly premature. But here you have it, some juicy tidbits of info about things coming to Eve Online via the Dust 514 producer.
The first of these juicy tidbits I want to cover is Orbital Strike. To me this is the most fascinating aspect of the Eve/Dust interaction. In the article, CCP Jian states,
"letting squad leaders call in Orbital Strikes from the War Barge flying overhead when their squad achieves certain conditions in battle.
This is just the first level of Orbital Strike capability."This is the first I've actually heard of them having their own barges, but I don't actually go out of my way to learn such things. It makes me wonder though, can I shoot those barges down? It only seems fair considering what CCP Jian then says about what Dust Mercenaries can do against the eventual capsuleer delivered Orbital Strike.
"But Mercs on the ground won’t be helpless. We’ll soon add the Orbital Artillery outpost on the ground they can use to attack EVE Online ships in space."Say what! Harrumph! Well, I suppose that's only fair. Just make sure we can kill those orbital barges too would you CCP Jian?
It seems that certain turret types and certainly pilot skill levels will affect the effectiveness of the Orbital Strike. However, the mercenary's skill level on the ground will also be a factor. That's an interesting twist. I am sure a mercenary's skills will have a direct correlation on their cost. That means a small corporation like mine probably couldn't afford really good mercenary's. An alliance like Goonswarm could. That system certainly has the potential of being another war-dec cost fiasco. On the surface of it, it certainly isn't doing the little guys any favors.
The second most exciting thing I got from this update was actually a technical one. They are providing the ability to use a keyboard and mouse with the Playstation console. That's an interesting thing to take an entire paragraph to discuss. It got me wondering what the motivation could be for mentioning it so prominently. First I wondered if this meant it would be easier to port the Dust client to the PC and MAC once CCP's exclusive agreement with Sony is over. But I don't know if there will ever be an expiration of that agreement. I hope so, it's probably the only way I'd ever try Dust. I've nothing against Playstation, it's just not the console I have. I know I am not the only one in this predicament.
Then another possible reason for this announcement hit me. You really can't play Eve Online without a keyboard and mouse. What if this is being done so they can port the Eve client to the Playstation instead? Now that's effing interesting. With the universal acceptance of 1080p as the T.V. standard for the foreseeable future, this would open up Eve Online to a completely new type of capsuleer. I can't even begin to guess how this would affect New Eden... Okay, of course I can guess.
Initially I see Dust mercenaries, who really only want to shoot people in the face, thinking they could get a leg up on those other people by controlling their own Orbital Strike. To do that they'd have to be a capsuleer. So we'd get a class of capsuleer who would only be interested in flying the Orbital Strike version of a dreadnaught. They'd be a Dust alt. However, they could (and I think probably would) eventually branch out as they overcame the learning cliff. That would bring fresh blood and a different perspective on what Eve should be like. What type of perspective? Well, I am fairly certain it would be the PvP oriented perspective. Perhaps CCP has already realized this and that explains Crucible, Inferno and everything else that's all war, all the time.
The third thing in the update I'd like to point out is the Instant Battle Matchmaking system. I am extremely envious of this system from just this one short paragraph. Why? Here's why.
"In addition, the matchmaking system has been implemented to intelligently place solo players and squads into matches based on skill, creating a more inviting shooter experience, especially for new players." (emphasis mine)I want this for Eve Online dammit! This just might be the earth mover that can reduce the learning cliff to a small hill. Can you imagine an Eve Online tutorial arena where noobs are matched by skill points and ship types to practice PvP without getting squashed by some jerk with 75 million skill points? Would that not be a "a more inviting shooter experience, especially for new players?" In my last post, I pondered whether the sink or swim nature of Eve contributed to the large number of capsuleer drownings - know as unsubscribing in the real world. The sandbox is ruled by beach bullies and the 90 pound weaklings aren't going to waste their time and money on it. No one likes to eat sand. Okay, I've taken that metaphor way too far but that doesn't change the reality that Eve Online needs a way around this problem: a way that doesn't detract from the nature of Eve Online as a harsh and unforgiving mistress. Why can't we have instant PvP tutorials for those that just want to practice on an even playing field? If CCP is wise enough to build this into Dust, then why haven't they seen this could be of great benefit to Eve Online? I wish I knew.
The other thing in this that makes me think we're getting the short end of the stick from CCP is this.
"In addition, we’re launching a free companion app on the Vita, DUST 514: Neocom, to augment your gameplay experience and let you customize your fittings, train skills, use the market, browse the starmap, and much more, on the go anytime and anywhere." (emphasis mine)WTF CCP, throw some old dogs a few gnawed bones. If you aren't planning on bringing something like this to Eve Online, you'll find the Jita Riots were a walk in the park on a sunny day in comparison to the anger you'll feel if you don't. Eve players have asked for this for as long as I can remember. If you give it to Dust players and leave us out... well, you'll only have yourselves to blame. I think our position on this as players has been quite known for some time. We deserve it. We've been here all along. The fickle console players you hope to milk for mega amounts of cash will be here tomorrow and gone just as quickly. Treat us right and your loyal, dedicated and totally addicted Eve players will be here forever.
And the last thing I'll leave you all with is this simple question. Now do you understand why our Christmas update seems to be so light on content? I am certain working out the bugs on SiSi caused by the integration of Dust 514's Precursor will keep everyone in CCP, on both sides of the world, more occupied than they'll ever admit.