Posts Tagged ‘dust 514’

Measuring Logistics

What a month this month has been. In my last update, I explained how I had been told to step up or step off, and that I was pulling out all the stops to try and do the former rather than the latter. As I stated last month the first step in my plan was coming to an agreement with my eve widow to be an “on call hero” for the month. The second part of the plan, which I decided after writing, was to actually get into some damage ships (shocking I know).

Its not for Logi’s

When it comes to participation reviews, Logi pilots are at a major disadvantage. Sure, ever alliance/corp/fleet respects the Logi pilots, and you generally get a lot of respect for dedicating to it. But at the end of the day a Logi pilots reputation is hitched to visibility and politics. The issue is that there are no metrics associated to how much, or how good or how worthy you are as a Logi Bro. Let’s use the example of two logistics pilots. Pilot1 is always on the ball, always ready to save peoples ships. He Can’t get on every opp, but when he does, he tries to make a difference. Pilot2 is shit (and based on somone I met in fleet a few weeks back). He only flies Logi because it saves him from purges, and ensures he gets SRP for lost ships. While on fleets he changes his fittings to include target painters, just to ensure he gets on kills. Which incidentally is a far higher priority than saving ships. Now let’s say the purge time comes around (or the reward time if you’re a glass half full kind of guy). How do I as CEO of numbers-corp pick which logi pilots or kick(or reward)? I unless someone has happened to notice that Pilot2 had a TP fitted on a logi, I have no way of telling who has contributed, and who has not.

This leads into the second issue of getting noticed by being a logi: There is no guarantee that you will be observed being the Logi Bro or not. I can do everything I can to save ships and do well, but if I am not on the right fleets, with the right people to notice me doing my thing there are issues. When it comes to purge time, a corp might run the stats gather and come to look at my kill count… 5. Hmm seems a bit low, anyone seen him on fleets? “nope”. Ok purge….

Logi Pilots rely on the right people seeing you doing the right things and telling it to the right people. Damage pilots can use stats as evidence. Logi pilots have to do one of two things: A. go out of the way to ensure the right people spot you. Or B. Find a balance between logistics and damage ships, which ensure you can survive and pruning. This is what I have been trying to do this month.

It has however brought forwards the fact that I have been playing logistics far too much recently. Back in Imperial Legion, our dirties group was pretty much the core of the Logistics Pilots. Every fleet, every roam every engagement, again and again: we were in the logi ships, it’s part of the reason I moved on. Don’t get me wrong, I have always enjoyed the logistics role and I still intend to fly it whenever its needed, but it’s time to get back to grass roots and enjoy killings things. That is after all what eve is all about.

So far I have been enjoying the killing immensely, flying some of the interesting ships brought to the fore by  the rebalancing changes; Caracal, Talwar and Loki. It’s been a fantastic time and I can’t wait to try out some of the even newer doctrines, although that may make my carrier a little tighter to pack.

Anyway let’s talk about the results of this change in balance. Last report I gave a breakdown of my playtime to show how I was slacking on the eve front. This month I will do the same to show the improvement. My total playtime this month was ~ 120 hours, over 50% of which has been spend in eve. These numbers don’t include my time in Dust or I think my time spend testing exploration on the Test server. My estimation is that I have spent 15 hours on DUST this month (some of which overlaps with the already recorded time as I often play Don’t Starve while waiting for FW matches to start).

I also managed to scoop ~300 kills this month which means I have average 5 kills per min spent in eve.

Unfortunately there is a bit of fallout because of this, very little work has been done on this site. Sorry, but eve and real life takes precedence. I still want to do some updates, and fixes for the site, but damn it If eve isn’t just too much fun. I will get it done, just no promises as to when. Ok?

As I mentioned before I have spent a good amount of time looking at exploration on the test server in advance of the group venturing out to test it. We took this experimentation forwards an are enjoying ourselves exploring; you can expect more posts on that very soon.

Fly with Guns,

Hark

Dust, no? yes? Dust?

So I’ve been playing Dust for a month now, and after my first impressions I thought it might be good to see how I felt after the honeymoon period was over. So here we are one month on, and still playing (and for the most part enjoying) Dust.

 

This is a real SP Cap

This is likely to run into a list of things I have found that I dislike, so I think it’s important that I emphasise that I am still enjoying the game. Very much. I believe I have managed to reach the Active SP cap on two out of the four  weeks I have been playing, and I don’t see that letting up very soon. If only my Raptr would track my playtime so I could actually tell you how much I have played. Anyway:

First issue which has become apparent is that I have noticed is a lack of close fought matches. It seems to be about a 50:50 chance of either giving a complete rotfl-stomp or taking it. I have had a few matches where the tides of war have waned back and forth between the two sides, with heated fights deciding the winner at the last second. But that’s pretty rare. Most of the time its 4/5 points caped for one team while the other gets camped at the spawn. I suspect that this is due to the bumrush attitude of Pub matches, but seeing as DUST outside of PC are all pub matches, that kinda sucks. The only other answer I can find as too why is that the random team picker maybe ends up picking one team with far better gear than the other, certainly when losing I seem to see far more Duvole TAC rifles (but then I spend more time looking at kill cards during those matches). Whatever the reason, it’s really sucks. A good battle is one that’s fought hard for, and one which you feel you contributed towards.

Fancy a match in the Pub?

Fancy a match in the Pub?

I’m gona take a second to go back to the whole “Tiered investment” thing here. I know I harped on about it in my first post, but honestly it’s still a big issue with the game for me. I just feel like I either have to sit in the kiddie pool of Pub matches (and FW is still just another Pub match), or throw my lot in with a PC match corp, for which I really don’t have the time. I was lucky enough to take part in a CCP dev conversation on IRC in which FoxFour was discussing the topic. He hinted that FW was about to get a lot harder (and with more rewards to compensate). I don’t know what the plans are but they can’t come soon enough. Ideally we need something where a corp (or individual) can take risks in order to earn money, this is after all what the eve universe is all about.

I am enjoying the blend of earning both Passive and Active SP. It means that when I look at a suit, I can think, well using passive SP that’s going to take 5 days. But I can reduce that down to 3ish If I can gain a load of Active SP. My only worry is that the Active SP cap can kind of curb your enthusiasm. The one week were I hit the limit early, I stopped playing till the next Wednesday came around. Admittedly it was only two days later, and that was a busy week, so perhaps that was just coincidence.

That Segway’s nicely into the progressing in general, which is awesome. I love the feeling of unlocking a new suit and playing with what it can do. However I do wish that they had better visual differences between them. I’m not asking for completely unique models for every suit, but moving from a basic to a proto should give you some extra doodads or glowing bits on your suit. I am also a little bit worried that there is now no reason whatsoever to use the level 5 basic medium suits. If you have level 3 in the basic racial frame you can immediately start training the racial specialist frame, which not only has bonuses, but is also cheaper than the basics. You’d be silly to train level 5 Basic mediums suits rather than going directly for the level 3 proto specialist suit. (unless I missed something).

Clown Car

The new faction LAV

Currently there are only two things which cause me and distress when I die. The first is the “Death Taxi” or “Clown Car” mechanics, which means that I am constantly getting run over. Its fucking ridiculous to be honest. I am fed up of being either run over, or having to jog to the nearest cover to avoid some giggling idiot player padding his stats by running people over. Perhaps that’s unfair though, because running people over, while frustrating , is a fuck tonne (metric or imperial?) easier that using it as it was intended.  I’ll admit that I rage inside every time this gets me (if you couldn’t have guessed).

The second thing is something which most team based FPS’s have an issue with too at least some extent, but which I feel Dust has dealt with rather badly: snipers. Nobody likes being sniped. Unlike most CQB combat, there is a lack of feeling that you had a fighting chance, or of being able to fight back. In most games its acceptably dealt with, through a plethora of methods: BF3 for example requires headshots for instant kills and scopes giving the snipers position away. Dust however has none of these, and most of the time the first that goes through your head when you know there is a sniper around, is his bullet. Worst of all, because when you die the HUD is instantly faded, greyed out and put at a funny angle, the damage direction indicator, more often than not, doesn’t tell you jack, meaning you have literally no idea in which direction to exact your revenge. This means that the feeling of inability to fight back is extended even further than normal, resulting in frustration.

Last but not least, are a couple of minor things which could be tweaked to polish the game that little bit more. Specifically the horrid radial menu and squad command system. As a squad leader, I want to be able to quickly and easily give commands to my squad, so that they can work and move together as a team. Instead I have to hold one button, press another, throw the mouse around the desk until it remembers what a Diagonal is, then snipe the objective I want to place the order on. Oh and even if I manage all of that, I will generally find that I can’t even give the order, because it seems to require directly line of site to the objective (which will be hidden until your onto of it anyway). I’m sorry, but that’s crap. On the subject of poor controls; why can’t I say I want an orbital strike here *points*, rather than opening up a menu which takes 20 seconds to load and manipulating it to tell the game where 20 foot in front of me is? And why pray tell does the score sheet take about 30 seconds to load and unload? Like I said, all minor niggles.

Is that a new heavy suit?

Is that a new heavy suit?

Ok so that last bit was a little bit of a rant for minor things… But the problem is that it’s hard not to get passionate about this game. As an extension of the eve universe its already very deep and interesting, but even forgetting the link to eve, it has an awful lot of potential to be a truly ground breaking game, which refreshes a genre. It just needs some more polish before we get there. I think I am starting to view Dust as a Juganaught, this thing as a lot of potential to be an amazing game, and if you look past the niggles and issues above, it is already quite good. But its going to take a long time for it to get up to its full speed. Once it does though, it’s going to be unstoppable.

 

Walk safe,

 

Hark

Dusting off the TV

As I mentioned in my last monthly update, Dust has landed and I figure it would be remiss of me if I didn’t talk about it at least a little. I started playing the day before the Uprising patch, and to be honest I was an entirely different game to what it is now, and as such I am ignoring my experiences prior to the patch. This means I have only got a single week of play under my belt, making this very much a first impressions post.:I haven’t played everything (who has) and I don’t know intricate details. But I do know how I feel after a week of play, so this is it.

In the interests of full disclosure I will state that I am playing purely with the Keyboard and Mouse, and on a 1080p TV using a HDMI cable. I am also using a PS3 Super Slim (I think) 12Gb.
Where to start with Dust? Gosh. Well. Let’s go with sandwich format shall we? Something good, something bad. So, niggle One:
You have to get very lucky to fight in FW battles at the moment (I gather thats a bug which will be fixed), and when you do, it’s really not much different from a Pub match. That sucks really. I had assumed that Dust would have 4 levels of seriousness in terms of investment & Risk/Reward:
  • Public matches
  • Faction war
  • Low Sec Corporation Wars
  • Null Sec Corporation Wars
At the moment, public matches are about all you can do, unless you have fast hands, and find a FW match, even then there is just no real feeling for actually participating in Faction Warfare, it just feels like another Pub match. There are two things needed to fix this. Firstly FW should be something you have to make a Risk/Reward choice for: Let my Corp take a 1 month FW contract out which bans us from all other matches: crank up the number of FW matchs (and add an auto join FW match button), then pay us a bonus by how much we help out side at the end of the month. Anything to differentiate FW from the same of Pub matches. I expect this is in the pipe for future updates, but for me the Pub matches just seem to make things a big boring.
First Great thing: The game is pretty solid right now, and feels like a glorious cross between Eve online and Battlefield 2142 (which are the game’s I have spent the most hours playing). I really enjoy the eve online complexity to the system, and battlefield style tactical play. The game makes me grin, and I have enjoyed pretty much every match (bar a few). CCP was aiming for a AAA shooter release, and to be honest I think there not far off the mark. I don’t think dust will be considered AAA on its release date, simply because it would require the game to be released with at least a full spread of weapons and vehicles for each race, as well as perfect balance and more maps. But it is clear to see that its burning for that triple A mark fast, and I expect it to achieve that base level (and keep on going) by the end of this year. In the end it’s a wonderful concept executed well.
Second Niggle; progression. FPS’s need to give a good sense of progression to the players, to keep them interested; and in that area, upgrades to suits and vehicles are great. However very quickly the gaps between these upgrades starts to grow. I’m 1 week in now and already the waits between upgrades are starting to get longer. And worse the progression tree for suits/gear is not clearly marked out. As an eve player, I’m ok with that, but I can see the average console kids getting pissed off and dropping the game the first time they realise their next reward is a month away. My  belief is that Dust requires some inconsequential rewards to keep us going in-between big progressions. A good example of this would be the Battlefield Medal/Ribbon/Pin system. It’s great to see how you are doing in a match and in your career by more than just a KD ratio and a WP total, and small rewards will go a long way to sustain the players interest between upgrades.
Next Pro: the devs. This one is whats knocked me for six the most. On a whim I decided to join the IRC channel linked in the Dust forums. First shocker was the Dust devs in the channel, it’s always nice to see the devs chatting with the players, especially on an “unofficial” media. But what really amazed me was just how they were communicating. Every so often all of a sudden a CCP dev will pipe up in channel and mention what their working on. For example in the first day of joining I witnessed a CCP dev chatting about vehicles, and soliciting requests and issues from the people in the channel. I doubt any other game has this level of Dev-Player relationship, and CCP should be very proud of it. This bodes very well for the games future.

Niggle 3: actually I am fresh out of niggles now, and it’s all just good stuff from here on outwards. I really enjoy playing Dust, and I get the feeling of a juggernaut starting its slow climb to an unstoppable kinetic force. I gambled on Dust hoping to find that it was an FPS I could get behind, and one which would keep developing and evolving for a very long time (say 10 years +). I think I found that, and I hope that over time my investment will pay off. My only worry is that I am a freak of nature, and one of the few people who wants spreadsheets inserted into an FPS game. For the first time in a long while, I find myself hoping that I am normal. Small chance of that really. I expect to write some more as the game and my experience of it develops further.
Walk happy,
Hark

Odyssey Live Stream 1: Dust to Eve link

wasn’t able to watch this stream directly, as CCP has a habit of scheduling things while I am travelling home from work. As such this is my write up of the notes and impressions Lore got from the stream:

Current CCP has no solid plan on how DUST will interact with Nullsec, but they feel that it is very likely Nullsec will be very different due to the lack of NPC ownership. This seems to indicate to me that the link is a long way off, and very unlikely to the in Odyssey.
We will be helping Dust players move from planet to planet, logistics (as in moving clones) for battles will be a factor for the linkage.
Currently 1 isk in eve doesn’t equal 1 isk in Dusk. Stabilizing this is going to be an issue as Isk is easier to accumulate in Eve than in Dust, currently they believe they might use Tax to try and even this out. Buying a Mars Bar in Dust will cost the same in effort as Buying  a Mars bar in Eve . Again this is a long way off and has no solid plans.
CCP has considered using Dust players to capture last space objects including outposts, POS’s and Titans, but this in the distant future. For now Dust players will only be able to capture land structures which need to built in a controlled district: these will give Alliance level bonuses such as POS fuel reductions, build time reductions and PI upgrades.
Missiles might come to Orbital Bombardment,although CCP have the issue of current flight times meaning that a missile might land after the Dust battle was over. Ideas such as MWD missiles for Dust bombardment have been floated but nothing solid yet. We might also get other options, including larger ship and weapon types.
Ships will never crash between games, but Dust players can see who is in space above them during fights (it was unclear if they would just see bombardment ships or every ship).
Day and Night Cycles along with weather will come to Dust in the future, and every map should be at least slightly different in turns of structure . Furthermore the items which Alliances build 
Further to these points about the Dust link, Lore commented the following on the Stream itself:
The person asking the questions was clear, when he talked into the microphone. Unfortunately what ever microphone he had was not placed were we could hear him while he was talking to the panel and so couldn’t be heard very well whenever he was facing them. There were also a lot of technical issues with the stream.
My thanks to lore for making notes on this one for me, even if he did miss the last few minutes. 

The Dog with two tails

Hilmar Tweeted the trailer made from the battle for Caldari Prime. I do believe that this is the very first joint trailer. Awesome stuff, let hope our universe remains a double tailed dog, rather than a dog that wags a tail or a tail that wags the dog:

Expanding the IP

DUST 514 is going to hit the market (well the F2P market) very soon, and CCP is likely hoping its success could spell the end of its reputation as a one trick pony. With Dust now almost in the bag (at least in terms of release, success is never guaranteed) and World of Darkness deep into development (?); CCP should be looking at further ways to expand its IP and game portfolio.

I believe that with two very different markets covered CCP should be looking to reinforce their current holdings by brining in further games which strengthen their position in the market, while providing potential additional income streams. In layman’s terms: Create some easy to play games which hit the biggest potential markets, and encourage people to try out their core holdings.

IP expansion objectives (in rough order):

  1. Publicise existing products to the biggest market
  2. Encourage new players to try existing games
  3. Create new profit streams for CCP
Now for the purpose of this blog I am going to ignore Dust 514, for the simple fact that I really don’t know enough about it to make observations on game play expansions (or relocation) to other platforms. But for eve I have some thoughts:
Case 1: Browser Games
In this example lets look at a VERY wide market area CCP could expand into; the Browser game market. Other AAA titles such as Age of Empires and Command & Conquer have successfully explored this market and CCP has what I think is a great basis to create a Browser game on. Most browser games are based around construction, as the “build times” allow for a slower pace of game play bringing players back at regular intervals to refresh their build queues and units. Lets look at my idea of an eve IP browser game.
Players log in to create and manage a planetary extraction and production chain. Players are given an initial planet at random on which a command centre in placed. With this they can begin extracting materials from the planet. To begin with players are limited to extracting raw materials and placing them on a market (available to eve players & other PI players). However once the begin earning money, they can spend ISK on upgrading the science and capacity of their planet. This leads to further extraction plants and processing facilities being added to the planet over time. At the top level players will have manufacturing plants on several planets (advanced players may even have holdings in different regions, which require them to use eve courrier contracts to move goods around) and buy and sell goods on a regional sale to and from eve players.
Objective 1 is met: browser games can be played by anyone with a PC
Objective 2 is met: the browser game would introduce players who enjoy management games and industry to eve, and encourage them to jump into the deeper world of eve for further fun. We could get a whole new generation of industrialists
Objective 3 is met: Browser games can, and are monetised. Cash for extra build slots, is a normal occurrence.  CCP would need to ensure that P2W features don’t affect the eve markets but monetisation is a definite possibility.
Case 2: Mobile Gaming
The mobile gaming market is a very popular place at the moment. Lots of big game manufacturers are getting involved in “App” versions/spinoffs of their AAA titles, and the market is massive. This would most likely be the hardest type of game to tie into the eve universe as a direct affecter, as popular mobile games tend to follow the formula of easy access, simple games (not exactly what CCP is known for), but we could see games such as “Danny Dare the Planetary Archaeologist” a simple pause-able exploration game (procedural generated dungeons) where completing a level gives items which can be sold to eve/dust players for isk, which can then be spent on upgrading Dannys exploration suit.
Objective 1 met: Mobile games have a massive market
Objective 2 met(ish): causal mobile players are most likely not exactly grade 1 eve online players or even great dust bunnies. but if CCP could develop a popular high profile game it could bring in a few new players.
Objective 3 met: mobile games can be popular, assuming CCP can make it using very little resources and garner at least some popularity with mobile gamers. again microtransactions are very much the norm in mobile gaming.
Case 3: Browser game or Standalone
This one is really open to any platform as its pretty simple. We have all seen the NPC industrialist caravans leaving and entering stations. Why not turn these into a strategy trading game on another platform? I’d like to think that 90% of players find moving their things around the galaxy is one of the most boring activities in the game. So why not take the boring game play out of eve, and place it in a new context where people can enjoy the process. The game could work by allowing players to transport goods as a freelance logistics expert (or part of a logistics company). Players would start with a single automated hauler, and slowly upgrade their fleet and ships/ships AI to more efficient and faster models. The main aim of the game would be to complete eve player contracts for goods movements. But some money could also be made from transporting goods from region to region buying low and selling high.
Objective 1 met: A good platform would have a large market
Objective 2 met: Players who are interested in logistics and trade might be interested in exploring the wider game
Objective 3 met: Game purchases and or microtransactions are the norm in both these markets.
Final thoughts
I find the idea of eve expanding to further platforms, partly because it would give us eve players other ways to interact with the game outside of the Home PC environment, but also because it would help CCP develop itself as a major producer, and out of niche market they are currently in. Further more every new player in eve, is someone else to blow up.
Fly faster for just $5 extra!
Hark¬