HVAC RepairmanShareTweetIn my column last week, I mentioned that one of keynotes I’d be paying close attention to was Dust 514 and the possible new direction the game might take under the new leadership. The concept of a first-person shooter MMO combined with sandbox elements which is directly connected to the EVE universe is interesting and definitely something that should be produced. Unfortunately a series of catastrophically bad decisions, both in design and execution, lead them to release a product that greatly fell short of expectations. During the Dust keynote at Fanfest 2014, CCP Rouge announced what many had hoped for years: that a PC client was actively being developed.
That announcement wasn’t without controversy, however. The existing Dust community took it hard, particularly those who flew out to Fanfest who were sitting in the audience and had to listen live that the game they’ve supported for several years is taking a backseat. My original article was just going to focus on the Project Legion announcement, however the anger being expressed by the Dust community certainly warrants discussion this week.
I’ve decided to split those into two different sections to allow easier navigation if you only want to read about Legion itself.
For a while, one of the running gags going around was that CCP was going to spit “PC” into the mic, drop it, and moonwalk out of the Dust keynote to thunderous applause. As it turns out, that’s essentially what happened. CCP Rouge’s announcement that CCP had failed to realize their vision for Dust certainly wasn’t news to us that have been involved with the game since the beta. The shock was that CCP was finally willing to publicly admit that their execution for Dust was a cataclysmic failure.
CCP’s blunt honesty was completely unexpected, and obviously didn’t resonate well with the Dust fans in attendance. While I don’t necessarily agree with the over-the-top narrative he presents, Ripard Teg wrote an interesting blog post that followed-up the keynote and summed up the dissent expressed by Dust players pretty well. The anger largely seems to be fueled by three issues: the news that the Dust PS3 client is currently being de-emphasized to focus on a spiritual successor for the PC, how the delivered the above message was delivered, and finally the lack of information made available immediately following the announcement.
Just to get it out of the way, I feel that the Dust community has every right to be angry about the delivery of the big announcement. However, I don’t believe under any circumstance that CCP had any sinister intentions with the reveal of Project Legion. Regardless, that news should have been broken weeks before Fanfest with the actual keynote delivering more news and the reveal of the technical demo. If the news had broken in a much more controlled manner, much of this anger from the Dust community probably wouldn’t have occurred.
As much as they want to not admit it, CCP did throw the existing Dust community under the bus. Players have spent a large amount of time and money investing themselves in a product under a false promise that CCP was committed to making the PS3 client a thriving title. The news that CCP was moving that vision to a new title on the PC platform was never going to be taken well by the console players. Despite warnings by the Council of Planetary Management, CCP went ahead with the announcement in the worst way possible and the rest is history.
Now with all that being said, my experiences interacting with the Dust community had always left me frustrated. During my time as CEO of a corp of one of the largest Dust entities, I’d constantly network with other major groups. With the exception of small number of players, they all nearly had one flaw in common; they all had unrealistic expectations of what the Dust product would be capable of. It was quite clear to most rational people that Dust was never going to be the game that CCP’s vision had intended it to be. The steadfast denial that Dust could be anything but a major success was a common thought shared by many of Dust’s more influential players.
The news of Project Legion shouldn’t have been as big a surprise as many in the Dust community took it, though. The game was never going to be the vision that CCP had originally been sold us years ago. The overly complex nature of the game combined with the lack of information available in the client created a cocktail of disaster. The game never had a chance to be the revolutionary force everyone wanted it to be. So while every Dust player has a legitimate reason to be mad at how the news of Project Legion was delivered, it was absolutely the right move to make.
The announcement of Project Legion is something a lot of us in the EVE community had been hoping would happen for a while. The desire for a PC client is something a lot of people wanted, and when the news broke several years ago that Dust would be a Playstation 3 exclusive turned a lot of potential players off. A lot of the concerns raised by the community at the PS3 exclusivity announcement ended up being true. The aging PS3 hardware, dealing with Sony to deliver updates to the product, etc. were all things brought up and ended up being true. The announcement that CCP would essentially start Dust again from scratch, this time with a clear vision is something that I welcome with open arms.
I’ve no made no secrets in the past with my displeasure with Dust. Over the past year I’ve released a few articles detailing exactly what’s wrong with the game and what needs to change for it to even have a chance to be successful. If you have the time, you should certainly take a look at the following pieces:
If I was frustrated with the communities initial refusal to acknowledge the bad state Dust was in, my frustrations with CCP not acknowledging the poor state of the game were equally maddening. During his keynote address at Fanfest 2013, the Chief Marketing Officer for CCP repeatedly said things that any sane person who played Dust knew was complete bullshit. Things like “rescuing Call of Duty players from a jail they don’t even know they’re in” and talking about things like television commercials showed just how disconnected certain people were with the quality of Dust. So for CCP to finally publicly come out this year and admit the massive mistakes they made with Dust was something refreshing. The first step to fixing a problem is admitting that there is one.
CCP definitely needed new eyes on Dust’s development, and a pair of hirings from outside the company was definitely something needed. Typically when you hire executives from outside a company, you’re looking for new eyes on a project, to see and do things your predecessor either didn’t see or failed to do. Outside hires also aren’t tied to mistakes they had nothing to do with, so they’ll often be more willing to make more radical changes. Radical changes are the one thing Dust needed, so I was very happy to see everything we knew about Dust basically thrown out and restarted from the ground up.
A technical demo of Project Legion immediately followed the big announcement from CCP Rouge. It’s hard to dissect a lot of information from what amounts to a simple trailer, but what we gathered from it seemed interesting. First, the main screen looks amazing and looks a lot better than the standard mercenary quarters and much closer to the ship spinning main screen that EVE players love. From there we see there appears to be a missions interface, whether or not that’s indicative of missions as we know from EVE or some sort of achievement system remains to be seen.
Second, the UI seems much closer to that of EVE. Though it was minimized, we can see that the chat system appears to be largely the same, with tabs for local, corp, and squads available. The chat system in Dust is a nightmare to navigate and use as a console player, so naturally a gradual shift to PC will make that aspect much better.
From there CCP Rouge mentioned in a new looting system, in which he described the line between friend and foe would become blurred. Reading between the lines it seems like they’re looking at getting rid of the traditional Team A versus Team B structure. If that’s indeed the case, that’s another great feature and one change that would bring it closer to a true sandbox style game. The chance to betray each other was one of the things explicitly mentioned, and is very much the New Eden way.
The next thing shown was a beautiful starmap, which showed you which system you are in as well as all the other systems in the New Eden Universe. It looks very pretty, and it’s one of the things I hope eventually gets put into the EVE client itself. From there it began scanning the universe for active battlefields, and then we witnessed an absolutely beautiful cinematic jump clone screen that needs to be in EVE as soon as possible. If you loved the new jump animation they added last year in Odyssey, you’ll absolutely love the jump clone animation they showed off in Project Legion.
Next we saw a new map, which appeared to be some sort of lava/volcano/mountain area unlike anything we ever saw in Dust. Dust saw some minor improvements in 2013 with some basic vegetation and weather changes, but Project Legion takes it further. From there we got dropped into the battlefield, where you see an immediate graphical upgrade from where it was in Dust. The first thing you notice is somewhat new UI, which appears to make it look like you’re seeing information in a Head-Up Display in your helmet.
It’s quite clear that a lot of the normal assets used in Dust will also be used in Project Legion. The graphics in Dust had to be set to the lowest render possible in order to make the game playable of the hardware of PS3. Project Legion obviously won’t have the same limitations, allowing the same graphics to be used at higher rendering and not requiring new assets to be created to replace them. Assets you recognize from Dust look much better in the Project Legion demo.
While never explicitly stated and just vaguely hinted at, it sounds like development of Dust 514 is going to wind down with development of Legion becoming the main focus. It’s too early to tell how development will go and if the game will ever be released, but I’m excited they were willing to make the radical choice to have a chance to finally release the game CCP promised they’d make back in 2009. Whether that game ever gets released we won’t know for now, but at least it has a chance now. Bravo to CCP Rouge and everyone else who had the balls to make that decision.
Tags: dust, dust 514, hvac, legion