Monday, 4 June 2012

DUST 514™ E3 2012 Trailer

I'm not part of the DUST514 public beta, so I am free to comment without repercussions.

CCP released another trailer for DUST514 today. This trailer shows that the concept of the game has some issues.

Situation Report

First, let's narrate what's happening in that video:

00:15 Opening scene: caldari mobile command centre is being shot by something on the surface (missile installation, probably).

00:22 Cut to: squad of vehicles approaching a facility. The facility has five towers in the foreground with a surface-to-space cannon of some sort in the middle distance, and what looks like the surface end of a beanstalk in the far distance.

00:24 Cut to: A drop ship gunner is seen shooting at ground targets.

00:26 Cut to: Tank shooting another tank at point blank range

00:28 Cut to: Dropship being blown out of the sky

00:33 Cut to: Surface to space cannon firing

00:36 Cut to: Turrets being deployed from space

00:46 Cut to: Tanks advancing on facility

00:50 Notification "Large Missile Installation Destruction +100"

00:52 Cut to: Troops advancing with dropship taking off

00:55 Cut to: Tank destroying another tank, Notification "Madrugar destruction +100"

01:00 Cut to: infantry placing charge on tank

01:03 Tank destroyed by one charge placed by infantry, Notification "Madrugar destruction +100"

01:04 Infantry shoots another infantry in the head

01:05 Battle scene with burning tank debris, tanks shooting each other

01:07 Cut to: infantry firing at flying drop ship

01:09 Cut to: 3rd person view of tanks shooting at each other

01:12 Cut to: Infantry shooting another infantry, Notification "Enemy has captured objective B", with structure in foreground labelled as [B], which also shows up in radar/minimap top left of screen

01:13 Notification "We are hacking objective B"

01:15 Cut to: Infantry shooting something over or through a tank, drop ship is departing screen left. Objective A and C labels off to right of screen, infantry presses data pad for some reason.

01:21 Orbital strike blows up tanks, flying drop ship, infantry running towards the camera

01:29 Camera flies up into the sky, panning down to view the rapidly receding battlefield then planet

01:31 Scene is resolved: we are in space, looking at an iHUB with two Rokhs providing orbital bombardment, 4 Ferox or Nighthawks flying alongside

01:34 Cut to animation zooming out to galactic map with multiple videos implying that this type of action is happening all over the EVE universe. Camera starts zooming back in to …

01:47 Same site as at the beginning, but we are now looking at an advancing column of vehicles on the other side of the site. They are moving towards the surface-to-space weapon which fires as …

01:55 The DUST logo forms out of shattered glass.

02:00 Notifications on DUST logo screen about "Free to Play", "Register now for the Beta".

What Does It Mean?

First, let me state that the interaction of the infantry and space fleets seems well in place for this video. Surface can shoot space, space can shoot surface.

There are limits on the ground forces though: I think it's 24 a side at this point (there was talk at FanFest 2012 about potentially raising the limits). There are no limits on space side. There are two factors that this will impact in the DUST side of things: logistics and firepower.

Logistics Issues

Go back and look at that supply of deployable turrets. They appear on the surface as if by magic. What are they deployed by? If it's something in space, you can expect that there will be a ship up there deploying them: perhaps a war barge. Perhaps that ship will be able to provide “reinforcements” in the form of more clones for the MCC to reclone those soldiers into. But if that something is in space, it's going to be a target. What will it attract? Well, unless you have cyno jammers in place, anything in space is going to attract a 1000-strong capital fleet to wipe that thing out of existence and blast the surface of the planet into molten glass. If you do have cyno jammers in place, you're going to attract 2000 battleships which will wipe that thing out of existence and blast the surface of the planet into molten glass.

Unless there are some artificial limits put in place, that supply of deployable turrets is going to be limitless: not just in game design terms but in real terms of how many will be supplied to the corporation attempting to overrun or overtake the facilities on the planet. The only limits the players will impose will be the economics of it: if each “phase-synched Railgun” deployable turret costs 1M ISK, someone's going to want to be paid 1M ISK to deploy that turret. I know some people who will blow a billion ISK on those turrets just so they can fill the battlefield with deployable turrets to the point that no one's walking on the surface of a planet anymore, but as a general rule people are going to be looking for more than 1M ISK return on investment for plonking a 1M ISK disposable turret on the ground, so I guess there is some form of “soft limiting” that will take place.

No doubt there will be a technical or “hard” limit on the number of turrets that can be active on the battlefield at any time (e.g.: a MCC can only control a certain number of things, Homeworld Cataclysm style). What will happen in any action involving a large alliance is that the maximum number of turrets on the field will be met early, and it will be sustained. Those turrets might be relocated or abandoned if possible, otherwise you'll end up with a group shooting its own turrets in order to allow a new turret to be placed at a more sensible location.

So you have something dropping turrets if it hasn't been blown out of the sky by the blobs of bored capital pilots that roam null sec and low sec looking for something to do.

Firepower Issues

Then there's the orbital bombardment. Those two Rokhs are flown by very foolish pilots. Two battleships and a bunch of battlecruisers, sitting in space by themselves for long enough to get a lock on a target on a planet? They're going to be toasted by a roaming squad of stealth bombers, or the aforementioned bored capital blob.

I'm wondering what mechanisms will be in place to allow orbital bombardment to happen, other than supporting 24 units on the ground with 2400 ships in space. How disciplined will orbital bombardment be? Will there be a limit to the number of pilots that can fire upon a particular target?

The trailer is nice in theory, but due to being so very light on the space-side of things, we cannot tell how successful the EVE/DUST interaction will be. Two Rokhs with minimal support: that's not orbital bombardment, that's bait!

If the only way to keep your ground troops safe is to have the bigger blob in space, how many people will use ground troops? If Bunnies need contracts from Eggers, how many Bunny corps will be sustainable in this universe with the number of Eggers who have need for Bunnies?

And finally, all the orbital bombardment done to date has involved turret weapons. No drones, no missiles. That makes me sad.


  1. As a beta tester, I'll try to be minimal, and as helpful as I can.

    As for limitations on bombardments, it was mentioned at Fanfest by one of the devs, (while he was calling his second one in) that they would have limits set on how many/ often you could call in in a game. Bombardments can only be commissioned from the mercs, and presumably by only the commander, (speculation there). The commander gives a target and is given a code. The pilot in EVE then selects the target given to him and enters the code relayed to him through whatever channels available to actually begin the strike. This prevents just any old EVE pilot coming up and just shooting the crap outta everyone.

    As for calling in installations, sorry, but mum's the word on that.

    And as for EVE side of calling in bombardments and their safety, hopefully there will be so many battles going on at the same time over such a wide span, that it will be difficult to overwhelm everyone. Of course it will still happen to a degree, but it will all come down to how successful Dust is.

    There are close to 100,000,000 PSN ID's, and only around a half a million EVE accounts. If even only 1 out of every 50 users actually gets into DUST, you'll still have 4 times the playerbase at 2 million players, (that's roughly only %16 of how many players got MW3). Say only 1/10 are on at any given time, you still have 200,000 players. Say they are all in maxed out 48 player matches, You still have 4,165 matches going on. Weather you will have to keep track of bombardments happening on 1000 planets, 100 planets, or just 10, we have to wait and see until release.

  2. I overheard at fanfest that glassing (a district of) a planet will supposedly render it useless ( probably for a given time, but still ) for either side. Now remember that planets are supposed to be a valuable asset in either FW (for low-sec) and null sov-warfare (but mercs will be coming to null only a year or two later). In either region of space, glassing the planet will probably not be economically or politically wise for the opponents. You don't burn Jita for the fun of it.