Dust 514 is CCP’s latest addition to the EVE universe. It is a first person, team based shooter for the PlayStation 3 that is set in the same universe as Eve Online. But it’s not just a game using the same setting; the game itself will be directly tied in real time to Eve Online. As players and corporations in EVE fight for control of planets and resources they will need the help of mercenaries to fight the ground battles for them. This is where the Dust 514 players come in.
Players in Dust will be working for the players in Eve Online. But it’s more than just being hired to fight for distant, uninvolved clients. The EVE players will still be able to assist in the battle in real time. If a player in Dust spots a critical enemy target they can call for an orbital bombardment. This is actually delivered by the players who are online at the same time in EVE. The same goes with military assets like tanks, which the EVE players can deliver to their troops fighting on the ground.
This level of direct relation has never been done before. It’s a grand project and one that many players, both Eve Online and console shooter fans, are looking forward to. I recently had the chance to talk about Dust 514 and its connectivity to Eve Online from Brandon Laurino, Executive Producer on the Dust 514 project.
AT: How will the connectivity with Eve Online work? What sort of problems have you had to overcome dealing with lag and access issues?
BL: DUST 514 players on PS3 are logged into the same server as Eve Online players on PC. Everything from the moment you log on, to the economy and market, to mail and chat, corporations (EVE’s version of guilds), items, and the actual persistent territory you are fighting over is all connected together. In-game free earned currency, known as ISK, flows freely between both games, so victories in DUST 514 – be it establishing or grabbing territory, pushing other factions off of a planet, etc – buying and trading items between DUST 514 and Eve Online – will completely live in the same economic ecosystem. There’s real time game play interaction, like Orbital Strikes from space down to the planet surface in coordinated attacks between DUST 514 players on PS3 and Eve Online players on PC, and vice versa, there’s Orbital Artillery that can be built on the planet surface and fired up at ships in space in a similar way.
AT: How quickly can a player in EVE respond to the demands of Dust?
BL: Instantly. DUST 514 is completely tied into Eve Online, and DUST 514 and Eve Online share one persistent universe on a single shard server (not a bunch of different server shards like other MMO’s), so there will be cross-game chat and communication. Players will be able to communicate quickly and easily with one another across both games.
AT: CCP has recently implemented some new security and anti-cheat methods in Eve Online. How will that reflect in Dust? How would EVE cheating affect Dust players?
BL: We do not want to go into details on our anti-cheating tech, the more details we put out there, the more ammo we arm cheaters with. Suffice to say, it is in line with industry best practices and we have our own proprietary tech for this as well.
AT: So far the info we’ve been given has stated that Dust will have 24 player maps. With games like MAG hitting the 132-player mark, has that been something to consider? Will Dust attempt to hit such numbers? Or will it be more focused on small skirmishes?
BL: First off, its 48 players, not 24. We’re big gamers and shooter fans, so we take inspiration from a number of shooters, including MAG. Across the DUST 514 and Eve Online universe, a major war could involve thousands of players at once. We have 24v24 matches in a single battle in a single district on a planet in DUST 514 right now, and, again, there can be multiple battles on a planet happening at once, impacting each other in real time. Then, fights in space around said planet in Eve Online, impacting all those battles, with strikes from space down to the planet surface and vice versa, on top of other game play options available. This can involve thousands of players at once in a battle and more so in a persistent theater of war. We also intend to increase the number of players in the single battles in a single district over time, from the current 48, as appropriate. Right now, for those single battle areas in a single location on a planet – a single “map”, if you will – 48 is a game play sweet spot for a whole host of reasons, not just technical, but how battles are crafted and play out enjoyably in a shooter.
The game play experience will range from quick, say, 5 minute intense death match battles, we call it Ambush game mode – just jump in and kill stuff – to massive, say, hour or multi hour campaigns with a huge strategic element.
AT: How much crossover is expected from Eve Online players? Do you feel that many will play both games? Or is Dust being more focused for console players as an introduction to the EVE universe?
BL: We wanted to provide a way to get involved in the EVE Universe that broadened the accessibility and reach of the franchise as far and wide as possible – thus, an MMOFPS on console, a free to play AAA shooter on PS3. DUST 514 is designed to expand the Eve Online universe to new players who may have been curious about EVE, but feel more comfortable exploring that experience via a shooter as opposed to the MMORPG on PC. We expect many players will be content to jump into DUST and just have fun with the shooter elements, mastering that game. But we’re also providing an experience that can be incredibly deep and complex, and players can choose to go as far down that rabbit hole as they like. Ultimately, we do think that we’ll have new gamers checking out Eve Online as well, even multi-boxing the two games simultaneously, but our goal is to introduce them to a universe they may never have jumped into otherwise.