While the CPM has had some good meetings with the new Executive Producer, we are still awaiting a statement from CCP and I am withholding comment about the recent internal proceedings until we see that statement delivered.
In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to share some of what's been on my mind recently regarding the game itself. I initially posted a brief version of the following to CCP on Skype along with the full-length description on our internal forums. However, the concept is important enough
to me that I wanted to share it with all of you as well. Especially for those of you that play Dust514, its important for you to know what kinds of ideas your representatives are championing.
[Note that this is not specific feedback for the current rebalance slated for Uprising 1.7, but rather the next few steps
needed to blow the vehicle combat in Dust 514 wide open and into some really
compelling design space.]
Without further ado:
I believe what's ultimately missing in Dust514 is a true MMO-style combat system.
Dust has enormous potential as an "MMOFPS" not just in the way it ties
with EVE, but all the way down to the core combat. When you think about
it, most of the tools are in place for a "sandbox" combat system with
lots of room for creativity by allowing players to combine elements of the
traditional MMO "holy trinity" - Tanking/DPS/Healing.*
There are three fundamental changes in particular that I see necessary to facilitate/activate such a system:
1.) Move vehicle repair modules to a turret. Moving them isn't really needed, existing modules could be maintained and a turret repair simply added.
2.) Allow vehicle tanking modules to be operated by a passenger.
This could be as simple as an option to assign on-board module control
to a passenger of choice, so solo drivers could retain full control of
their ability to mitigate damage
3.) Remove fixed turret slots, and use a larger pool of high/low slots along with a hardpoint system
to keep players from mounting multiple large weapons on an HAV, or
large weapons on a dropship. Hardpoints would be a simple number of
allowed small or large turrets per vehicle - but the important part here
is allowing players to forgo a turret in favor of additional tank or
The third fix alone addresses another major issue with
vehicles as they stand today - the lack of strong roles. Instead of
trying to nail down the ideal role for every vehicle, why not give them
to players as canvasses to be painted on? There
needs to be a damn good reason for this much customization (it comes at the cost of the learning curve, after all), and so the design team misses a huge opportunity here if they don't allow players themselves to
define how they want to use the vehicles (or even dropsuits) given to
The end goal should really be a near-infinite amount of combinations of
repair/support/tanking/DPS gameplay...across both infantry AND
vehicles. Want a super-tough HAV that doesn't dish out damage at all,
but is a tough turtle that crawls along and keeps a few squad members
alive using small repair turrets? Easy.
Want a fast dropship with no
tank but more small turrets for your crazy suicidal squadmates to man
and rain fire? Done. Want to create a new meta around mutliple 3-man
teams of spider-linked HAV's (one driver/DPS, one tanker, one healer on
the small turret)? You can even create the "Holy Trinity" in a single vehicle. Or, alternative, fit one for solo work and do it all yourself. No one is ever forced to play any particular way, and creativity and teamwork become the ticket to greatness.
I know this probably sounds
scary and overwhelming to Dust's design team - but I really think its important to consider
the instant depth this game would gain when WE come up with the
innovative tactics that we can't right now with vehicles drifting further in the direction of being merely "dropsuits with wheels". In my opinion, Dust 514 should derive its challenge from innovating ways to counter opposing player creativity - and not just devolve into another wall of twitch skill overcome through endless practice.
This, to me, is what I really hope CCP Rouge considers as he moves this project forward. MMO depth can be added in many more ways beyond simply expanding the EVE-link!
It can be achieved moment-to-moment in combat by giving players tools to create
new tactics with. By now everyone mostly has an optimal way to use
each item, suit, or vehicle - and this reality should really be seen as a design
flaw to improve upon if the goal is to bring the full power of
EVE's customization into the FPS world.
The sooner the developers reach towards the
"sandbox" in day-to-day game play - the more rapidly we players end up
providing each other with more "content". Other shooters on the market wouldn't be able to touch this level of flexibility - in most contemporary games players are stuck
waiting for a new map, item, or feature to provide them with a brand new experience when
they log in. If CCP makes Dust514 a true sandbox shooter - it takes
pressure off their own content creators because we will end up making the game
constantly fresh for ourselves. This design ethos has worked really well in
EVE Online, and it only requires periodic skilled rebalance effort to continually rekindle the
Rebalancing is much, much cheaper than producing entirely new
toys - and by moving to this system the developers would gain a huge
multiplier on the impact of their time spent tweaking gear performance. Enabling this level of combat depth should actually make
for less work for the Shanghai studio in the long run, not more. That's
not at all to say there won't be a need for new items and vehicles - only that
there is tremendous value in creating game objects that can be played
with like wooden blocks, rather than a puzzle with a single solution.
*And yes, I'm quite aware that most of the time "Holy Trinity" is used as a perjorative and a design rut that many MMO's are trying to migrate away from, but I use it here only to highlight three distinct jobs that players can provide each other if given the proper tools - and the value that they would bring to an FPS game. This extends to other roles such as crowd control as well - Dust514 has a huge place for electronic warfare in its future if given the opportunity.