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DUST 514 exclusive interview - Creative Director talks about the evolution of PlayStation's flagship F2P shooter

on 10 October 2013

With a huge update for DUST 514 launching this week and a brand new Executive Producer at the helm, CCP Games’ free-to-play PlayStation exclusive shooter continues to evolve.

PSU met up with Creative Director Atli Mar to discuss the current roadmap, update 1.5 and the future for PlayStation’s most ambitious shooter.

PSU: We were at EVE Fanfest this year and saw a hefty roadmap laid out in the ‘Advancing the Core’ presentation and the various DUST 514 and CCP Presents keynotes. When Uprising launched to a mixed reception, some drastic changes were made. The plan of releasing 3-4 updates a year turned into the deployment of rapid-fire monthly updates which seem to focus on core gameplay. How much of that roadmap (and its near/mid/distant future time frames) has changed?
Atli: We are still committed to realizing the full vision of DUST 514 and some of the features that the community has been vocal about getting sooner rather than later, such as player trading, more resources between EVE and DUST and an improved Planetary Conquest system and game modes, are all on their way. The fact is though, the core game needs to be improved and doing that takes a lot of effort. It is definitely helping a lot being able to respond to community feedback as fast as we are, with the monthly release cadence and all that, but we have more work to do until the core game is proper.

PSU: The first few updates were released in a time of change as CCP assumingly made drastic changes to the way it works on content via the monthly updates. In an interview at Fanfest, executive producer Brandon Laurino told us that the velocity in which the team could create content was growing exponentially. Did shifting to the monthly approach slow this down at all?
Atli: Not at all. The new Research SI, Craters Terrain, and upcoming Production SI and a brand new terrain, along with a massive across the board shader and texture improvement the artists have made are all good examples of this increased velocity.

PSU: How are you personally finding the monthly approach? What are the advantages and disadvantages from a development point of view?
Atli: There aren’t many downsides in my personal opinion. It’s of course been a bit bumpy, as the launch of 1.4 made very clear, but that is not a bad thing as long as we learn something from it. We have learned a lot in the last few months after we switched to the monthly release cadence. We’ve had to harden our processes, quality assurance, and overall pipelines into Sony’s QA system. This is a fantastic thing for the game and the team.

PSU: Are the rapid-fire updates here to stay or do you intend to shift back to the 3-4 updates a year model later on?
Atli: The monthly updates will be with us for the foreseeable future, but we have already retasked a couple of teams onto the next expansion. We are hoping to be able to reveal more details on what they are working on at EVE Vegas, later in October.

PSU: One of the key features of the 1.5 update is the objective based tutorial system that aims to help new gamers learn the ropes. Aside from this new objective based tutorial, what else do you think is required to make the game more approachable to newcomers?
Atli: The squad finder is a big one. It’s so much simpler to group up with likeminded individuals to shoot other likeminded individuals in the face. This is a feature not only for the more initiated but for newcomers as well. We are very excited to see the reception to it.

Continued overleaf...