Thursday, 10 January 2013

Dust514 begins...

I admit, one of the coolest and most innovative things to happen in computer gaming - ever - has grabbed very little of my attention. Tonight, as I write this, it is when the Dust514 open beta is hooked in to EVE Online's server.

It will of course fuck everything up and cause a 2 month cascade of bugs and bullshit and patches galore and get in the way of my pew pew. This is, of course, to be expected.

It is a wild idea - fusing one of the world's greatest MMO's, in the midst of a stellar resurgence after a few years of limping zombie-mode from Incarna to Incursion to Inflation, to an as-yet unlaunched console FPS. It is daring, breathtaking, and awesome.

One of the things FPSs lack, to me, is a purpose for doing what you do, aside from the basic mechanistic purpose of playing a game. I mean, people do Sudoku and play Chess, in order to play a game. People play Counterstrike or Dragon Age to play a game. But can you feel part of a greater, bigger, ongoing struggle in part of a vast, complicated, mature and forever expanding online game? No. Metal Gear can't do it. Black Ops can't do it. Halo can't do it.

No console game, in Multiplayer mode, is anything except matchplay, even if you have buddies and clans or guilds. It is basically World of Tanks on a PS3 or XBox Live. Sign on, sign up, shoot, die, repeat ad infinitum.

Regardless of graphics or weaponry or game balance or theme or behaviour or physics engine, Dust514 will bring the console gamer into a universe where the Gods rain fire down from above, if you call. And the Gods will pay you, often extravagantly and handsomely, for doing things related to often amazingly tawdry real-life shit. Like, someone will see a dude doing PI and will hire you to blow up his shit because the guy is a bag of half-sucked dicks.

You will, as a console gamer, get the ability to participate in factional warfare in EVE - initially at least - and become an increasingly important part of it and a vital tool for the war effort. You can feel part of a great machine, or part of an established EVE Corporation (Sudden Buggery already has members in the Dust514 beta), you will be on their comms, in many cases EVE players anyway, or their spouses who don't want to play "spreadsheets in space". You will see real progress with your character, and see it means something in EVE and Dust. Compare this to the current FPS games, and you'll hook in a whole bunch of console gamers who don't want to get into MMO's, or can't play more than a few hours.

The Dust514 guys will begin to bog down the warzone for the capsuleers, which will change the tactics of FW sov capture, defence, griefing, guerilla warfare, you name it. This will be an interesting thing as it develops over the next couple of weeks - I certainly, as I said, have not devoted much thought to this. I don't think I am alone. But now, I have to put a bit of brain-time to it, see what we can do to roflstomp the Amarr, how to defend our shit. Work out how the Sudden Buggery ethos can translate to Dust514 and go about building up a meta-corporation of BLOPs professionals.

Bring on the great experiment!

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