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DUST 514 Interview: Changing Console Shooters Forever

James Gallagher's Avatar + Posted by James Gallagher on Oct 10, 2011 // Blog Manager, SCEE

We haven’t heard a great deal about DUST 514 since it was shown at E3 2011, other than that it’s a first-person shooter connected to the vast sci-fi universe of PC MMO EVE Online, and that it’s coming exclusively to PlayStation 3. When developers CCP made the trip from Iceland to London to outline their vision for this new addition to their immensely popular EVE universe, I came out of the meeting amazed at the scale of the project. Suffice to say, DUST 514 is not just another shooter.

After the meeting, I interrogated Brandon Laurino, Executive Producer at CCP, to find out exactly why PlayStation 3 owners should be getting excited.

PS.Blog: With EVE Online, CCP already has a huge, engaged community. Why are you now trying to break into the console FPS market?

Brandon: EVE Online is an incredibly deep MMO and, for better or worse, that comes with a typical perception that it is complicated. The common joke is that you have to overcome a ‘learning cliff’ to get involved. Part of the thinking behind DUST 514 is to address those preconceptions; we accept that there is a barrier to entry with something as deep as EVE Online and we wanted to make it more accessible, providing another portal and dimension into the EVE universe. What’s more accessible to a gamer in this day and age than a shooter?

Why did you specifically choose PlayStation as your partner in making that happen?

Brandon: Obviously, we were attracted to the power and the feature set of PlayStation 3, but it really came down to Sony’s willingness to work with us in bringing an MMO to the platform. There have been attempts to bring MMO games to consoles in the past but we believe we’re now in a position to do it properly, using existing features on PS3 and the PlayStation Network, and collaboratively developing new features to support our vision.

Can you elaborate on your vision for a ‘proper’ MMO?

Brandon: We’re breaking so much ground with DUST 514: we’re not only building a full console MMO; we’re building one that feeds into another MMO on a completely different platform [PC]. We’re breaking more ground by bringing the microtransaction business model to a console shooter for the first time. All of this was inconceivable not too long ago, and it’s the partnership between CCP and Sony that’s finally making it happen.

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Talking about the connectivity between DUST 514 and EVE Online, is this something that’s going to most benefit EVE players or is there equal benefit to those players first experiencing the universe through DUST 514?

Brandon: It runs both ways – you can be sure that we’re very conscious of that in our design, we run through all the different use cases constantly to ensure its well rounded. EVE Online players can continue playing just the way they are and new players can jump into DUST 514 and get a traditional shooter experience, if that’s what they like. There are aspects that are consistent between the two platforms, such as in-game currency, and there are ways that EVE Online players can impact events in DUST 514 and vice versa, all without harming the overall ecosystem.

Because we have this living universe we call EVE – a single shard server, where all EVE Online players and all DUST 514 players are literally in the same universe, not a bunch of split instances, with a huge variety of dynamics and interdependencies within the ecosystem of the sandbox we’ve created – people playing DUST 514 and people playing EVE Online are essentially providing user generated content for each other, just by their sheer presence and their actions in the game world. To give an example, for a player fighting on a planet surfaces in DUST 514, the actions of the EVE Online players can trigger epic moments and provide support that is completely user-driven. Similarly, a DUST 514 player could trigger an event from the ground and do something spectacular in EVE Online. This emergent behaviour and gameplay is only possible with our level of connectivity. These are the broad strokes, the gameplay and interactions run a lot deeper than that.

In that case, what’s to stop an EVE Online veteran blowing my corporation out of space?

Brandon: We have some rules of engagement that ensure nothing drastic happens without some kind of fair warning and time to prepare, this is basically carried over and expanded upon from large scale player-driven warfare in EVE Online, where sometimes users are coordinating battles involving tens of thousands of players at once. Additionally, there are things that you can earn or build, independently in DUST 514 and / or EVE Online, or collaboratively between the two, that will mitigate those scenarios.

Putting the philosophy to one side for a moment, what is DUST 514 going to be like to play when you’re on the ground, in battle?

Brandon: Essentially it’s a vehicular combat game on an extremely large scale, and then when you move into installations and outposts, it’s more infantry based. We’re using Unreal Engine 3 and we’ve incorporated a Mega Terrain engine into it that lets us create huge levels with varied terrain, with a vast array of vehicles ranging from buggies to tanks to aircraft. Typically, you would use vehicles to traverse the landscape and engage in closer combat when you deploy into outposts, but there is a huge amount of tactical freedom, way outside of those broad examples.

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There’s some familiarity for players of shooters in that we have general classes or playstyles that we’ve worked out, such as light infantry and heavy weapons, but we’re hesitant to label them that way because we have something called the Fitting system – something that has been entirely ported over from EVE Online – where you can attach all manner of weapons and equipment to your character and your vehicles. It’s better to think of it like the character systems found in the deepest role-playing games; you can have the broad classes that are familiar to shooter fans, but there is massive freedom to expand on or go totally outside of them.

What’s the plan for expanding content in DUST 514?

Brandon: Right off the bat, we have literally thousands of in-game items built into the system; likewise, in terms of scale, you’re looking at a conflict taking place across thousands of planets, so we’re not just talking a dozen maps – we’re talking an entire universe of planets and areas of engagement within them. That’s the difference in scale we’re looking at here, and taking our experience with EVE Online and also, some inspiration found in the best microtransaction based MMOs, social and mobile games, and we’ve set up our workflow so that we can iterate and add new content very quickly. In terms of scale, depth and volume of content, DUST 514 will easily be the biggest multiplayer FPS on the market – also by virtue of being an MMOFPS, not just an FPS.

Talk us though how your beta is going to work.

Brandon: Just as we have done with EVE Online, we’re going to be telling a story with each of the events that happen in our game. To give a bit of context, in EVE Online you play as the pilot of a spaceship – a capsuleer – and in DUST 514 you play as a mercenary on the ground. It’s going to be a bit weird if, all of a sudden, we release the DUST 514 beta and all these mercenaries suddenly show up in the EVE universe, so the setting is that the first small group of players that get access to the Private Trials will be the first trial of this new mercenary technology in the context of EVE Online. Just as you’re helping to test the game in the real world, in the EVE world you’re taking part in war games organised to test this new mercenary technology.

With our Private Trials – we’re not calling it a Beta, but Private Trials in both the real world and the EVE fiction – we’re not taking the usual “on / off” method of rolling out a build and then taking it back and tweaking it, then rolling it out again; when we roll out with those first few users we are introducing mercenary technology to EVE, our “game as a service begins”, and the story will continue from there as that technology develops, further empowering the DUST 514 mercenaries from test subjects in war games to ultimately allowing them to take hold of their own future. It’s what we call a thematic rollout.

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There will be people out there who will look at DUST 514 and assume it’s an EVE Online spin-off. How would you counter that?

Brandon: We’re not thinking of it in that way at all, I suppose is the easiest way to respond to that. The EVE universe is comprised of three experiences: one is the classic EVE Online play, “flying in space” or what we call FIS; there’s WIS or “walking in stations”, where you can now get out of your ship and explore the interiors of space stations; and the final piece is DUST 514 and we’ve nicknamed that SIF, or “shooting in face”. None of those three are spin-offs, they’re experiences of equal value that can be played independently or fully connected. If you’re connected then you’re going to get the rich emergent gameplay that runs through all three.

We have so much to talk about, much of which is new territory for me. Is there anything we haven’t mentioned that you really want to get across to our PlayStation.Blog readers?

Brandon: I hope it comes through that what we’re developing is a truly new experience on PS3 – on consoles in general. It is the deepest shooter with the richest universe ever conceived and, on top of that, by bringing to market an MMO with microtransactions, we could be changing the face of console gaming forever. This is groundbreaking stuff, but user choice is at the core – it’s playing the game however you want to play it. If you want a quick experience, you have it; if you’re looking for something deeper, it’s there. If you want to pay a very small amount of money to play, you can; if you want to be heavily invested, you can do that too. We’re providing a more extensive array of options than has ever been seen in a console game.

//Add Your Own

129 Comments   34 Replies

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+ t36066 on October 10th, 2011 at 8:13 am said:

Another classic. ;)


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+ Zezzler on October 10th, 2011 at 8:14 am said:

I`d love to hear about all the ways that this will work with Vita and the connectivity between PS3/Vita. I`m excited for this release! It sounds so incredibly new and interesting.


3

+ M-Easy on October 10th, 2011 at 8:23 am said:

Color me intrigued.


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    + James Egan on October 11th, 2011 at 5:14 am said:

    Glad to hear that. You might want to hit DUST514.com for more info as well.


4

+ michaelochs on October 10th, 2011 at 8:28 am said:

FREAKING AMAZING first we got uncharted then we got resistance then we got MAG!!!!! now we got DUST514 PLAYSTATION really loves us i love you too playstation i knew i made the right move buying a ps3 instead of that stupid xbox sony forever!!!!!


5

+ michaelochs on October 10th, 2011 at 8:30 am said:

but finally we got more news on dust514 i was beginning to think sony forgot about it its good they didn’t cause this looks amazing thankyou sony.


6

+ zaca21 on October 10th, 2011 at 8:31 am said:

I cant wait for this game it is gona be awsome


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+ FORMIK on October 10th, 2011 at 8:32 am said:

I’d like to hear more about the use of the Move. That’s just icing on the cake, so long as it’s done well.


8

+ zaca21 on October 10th, 2011 at 8:36 am said:

Yes and what about the Playstation Vita


9

+ solo013 on October 10th, 2011 at 8:39 am said:

Looks and sounds awesome, but I’m not one to pay a subscription for a MMO.


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    + James Egan on October 11th, 2011 at 5:16 am said:

    DUST 514 isn’t a subscription title. Brandon mentioned this near the end of his interview, but DUST will have virtual goods sales instead of a monthly subscription fee.


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+ Zup3rZon3x on October 10th, 2011 at 8:43 am said:

Really hoping that this game works the way it is supposed to work at launch, the whole concept behind it is interesting.


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+ GEEWUN-96 on October 10th, 2011 at 8:44 am said:

I’m interested, but wasn’t this announced to have the Ps Vita involved as well?


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    + James Egan on October 11th, 2011 at 5:13 am said:

    Yes, but it’s still too soon for us to make any revelations about DUST and PS Vita.


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+ Parhibition on October 10th, 2011 at 8:47 am said:

Don’t suppose we could get even a ballpark release date?

@9 I’m pretty sure they said in another article that once you buy the game there aren’t any monthly fees, and you just pay for what you want in microtransactions.


13

+ Butters360 on October 10th, 2011 at 8:49 am said:

Looks amazing. I like the Private Trials approach.


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    + James Egan on October 11th, 2011 at 5:20 am said:

    The thematic rollout is a pretty interesting way of doing this. I believe this interview is one of the earliest mentions of our approach.


14

+ zzamaro on October 10th, 2011 at 8:56 am said:

Looks Halo on steroids to me :)


15

+ SD_SARG3 on October 10th, 2011 at 9:01 am said:

I hope the beta ends up on PS+, or I get accepted into the private trials because this looks like the part of EVE that I want to be in!


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+ RE_Player on October 10th, 2011 at 9:07 am said:

Due to PSN’s willingness to be an open platform, cross platform play between PC with Valve titles or something like this, unique and interesting games can come only come to Playstation. Looking forward to trying it out as I’ve been a fan of EVE from afar.


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+ Cross-Legacy on October 10th, 2011 at 9:33 am said:

I feel ashamed, this game looks cool and so does EVE,but damn when I tried to play EVE first thing came to my mind was an extremely complicated version of homeworld.


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+ MadMeat001 on October 10th, 2011 at 9:34 am said:

This microtransaction thing is better not feature the PAY 2 WIN formula


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+ remanutd5 on October 10th, 2011 at 9:41 am said:

all games should have a upload to youtube feature , hope vita games support youtube


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+ REGIS_MARK_V on October 10th, 2011 at 9:42 am said:

CCP I love you! You guys are doing something incredible makes me wanna cry I’ve been waiting for something like this for years.


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    + James Egan on October 11th, 2011 at 5:49 am said:

    The REGIS! Glad to have your support. :)


21

+ wowowowo1 on October 10th, 2011 at 9:43 am said:

wow this looks good !
but it kinda looks like crysis 2?


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+ DrPhiill on October 10th, 2011 at 9:52 am said:

Cant wait for this one, the idea of linking these two games together is just brilliant! will be fun to see how it turns out to be when it comes out! Thumbs up for ps3 bringing the gamers more love then anywhere else!


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+ Etero_Narciss on October 10th, 2011 at 9:55 am said:

At last! Though it doesn’t say much that we don’t already know, it’s good to see how they plan to handle the beta,


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+ YungShep on October 10th, 2011 at 10:10 am said:

STOKED


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+ tazmania91 on October 10th, 2011 at 10:14 am said:

Pretty impressed by this game ! It’s really a promissing game !


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+ station3fever on October 10th, 2011 at 10:16 am said:

James, is it possible to buy 2 or 3 “gunnlogi per $1,400.000″ and put them on standby or do you just buy 1 and do repairs on it? can i buy an army of these bad boys :)
while i’m at it, i might as well get a few (cestus per $120,000.000)
the video looks wicked cool.


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+ PremiumPencil on October 10th, 2011 at 10:25 am said:

Sweet can’t wait!!! never got to play this game


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+ Midgetguy on October 10th, 2011 at 10:31 am said:

I wasn’t very excited about this at all when I saw it at E3… but after this interview… I’m intrigued!

While it still looks like, and sounds like, it will play like a mediocre shooter… I’m going to keep an eye out on this one! I’m all for supporting people who do new things, and this is nothing short of evolutionary for the console MMO genre.

I’m just hoping it’s got a unique style… I don’t want it to feel like anything else I’ve played.


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    + James Egan on October 11th, 2011 at 5:51 am said:

    I play a lot of games… perhaps too many. (Is that possible?) DUST is really something different.


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+ AzureSkieth on October 10th, 2011 at 10:44 am said:

@9 Its a free-to-play shooter. No subscription. All you pay is a small “entrance fee” (I prefer just thinking of it as buying a copy) and you don’t have to pay again unless you want to purchase something. Its not a pay-to-play game.


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+ devilmosh on October 10th, 2011 at 10:46 am said:

Sounds frickin’ fantastic!


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+ etur0 on October 10th, 2011 at 10:56 am said:

will your eve account be connected to your dust 514 account like you can use the money from both accounts


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    + James Egan on October 11th, 2011 at 5:56 am said:

    They’re separate. Your EVE account will only have EVE (capsuleer) characters, while DUST accounts are for mercs. If you’re someone who plays both EVE and DUST, you can have characters from both in the same corporation. In terms of the connections between the games, there will be connections along the lines of what you mention – EVE corps/alliances will be able to fund DUST corps (or, in some cases, the DUST mercs could actually be a ground-based division of a given EVE Online corporation).


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+ Kedaro on October 10th, 2011 at 11:01 am said:

OMFG SO EPIC!


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+ JohnnySasaki on October 10th, 2011 at 11:01 am said:

As a PlanetSide fan, what can I expect Dust 514 to have in common with it? Are they similar at all?


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+ MafiaBrett on October 10th, 2011 at 11:04 am said:

Oh!! I have 2 questions that I would love to hear if possible.

When you go out, and im guessing everything is like a economy in this game. For example to have a airship or tank to support us in battle either I or my team (those in DUST or Eve Online) have to buy it right? So if it gets damaged in that battle.. its gone forever right? I hope so. Because this forces players to be tactical so if they lose that ship.. there out a couple thousand to million in-game currency.

Another is, are you putting limits on the stuff we can have active in a battle at one time? For example just imagine if everyone did nothing but buy a ton of vehicle + strikes.. sure its probably wasting money but theres no doubt going to be those kind of players.


35

+ carlos-david1234 on October 10th, 2011 at 11:12 am said:

halo in ps3 this what it looks like. hope its better than that


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+ guitarded77 on October 10th, 2011 at 11:18 am said:

WILL THERE BE A MONTHLY FEE? Or will it be a one time purchase… that will be the deciding factor for me.


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+ REGIS_MARK_V on October 10th, 2011 at 11:22 am said:

There is no monthly charge they will have micro transactions


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+ Fated_Soul on October 10th, 2011 at 11:32 am said:

I hope they make this move compatible. It would be a big oversight to leave that feature out. A game like this needs all of the bells and whistles.


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    + James Egan on October 11th, 2011 at 5:58 am said:

    We are looking at Move, yes.


39

+ Ethereal on October 10th, 2011 at 11:40 am said:

Very excited for this. It will be interesting indeed. If I know CCP, we got something special on the way for us PlayStation fans.


40

+ GRIM__REAFER on October 10th, 2011 at 11:52 am said:

I’m looking forward to this game. Looking forward to a beta. Looking forward to getting into the beta.


41

+ Heisem on October 10th, 2011 at 11:57 am said:

it looks ok


42

+ GAME-HERO on October 10th, 2011 at 12:02 pm said:

Hopefully, this is not another one of those that start out as a PS exclusive and then end up going multi-plat…(fingers crossed)


43

+ Destiny89 on October 10th, 2011 at 12:08 pm said:

Interested i am


44

+ Dead_Corps on October 10th, 2011 at 12:12 pm said:

think about it

UnReal Engine3 in 3D I wonder?

Being that CCP has their own super server (unlike Zippers’ MAG Sony driven dedicated server) this game should run decent.

Just a one time purchase from the PS store less than a new game from what I’ve seen.

CCP is hoping that you will buy exclusive items with cash but they do have a in game money system set up.
Off hand I don’t remember what these 2 cash/point systems are called.

Just wondering what the grouping system will be like?
How many players can be on a battlefield and what’s the frame rate going to be like when they are all bunched together?


45

+ LilWayneSuckz on October 10th, 2011 at 12:27 pm said:

I like the idea of connectivity between PC and PS3 players so I will buy


46

+ Exypher on October 10th, 2011 at 12:32 pm said:

Hopefully this stays exclusive to PS3. I’d hate to have to see this one suffer in terms of quality just for the sake of a multiplatform plan. This looks amazing.


47

+ Cyb3rfr34k-iso on October 10th, 2011 at 12:34 pm said:

graphix remind me of Mass Effect 2 on the PS3!


48

+ SEAL_TEAM_7p on October 10th, 2011 at 12:35 pm said:

I want It now! If you need a hand testing out the mercenary tech, well I’m game.


49

+ FR0STYdaD0P3MANN on October 10th, 2011 at 12:43 pm said:

looks good but i pass on paying a subscription on a MMO… not to mention this looks like alot of other games that are out…


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    + James Egan on October 11th, 2011 at 6:00 am said:

    DUST 514 is not a subscription title.


50

+ ICU-KILLA on October 10th, 2011 at 12:44 pm said:

I love the way it makes my hair on my back stand up.i hope the move interrogation is like KZ3 that will be awesome!


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