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DUST 514: CCP responds well to community

on 11 May 2013

On May 6, CCP unleashed the latest build for DUST 514, Uprising, on the masses--to mixed reception. The game has had a whole host of incredible upgrades in preparation for the official launch on May 14, 2013. The graphics look amazing, the UI is slick, voice chat has been completely opened up and skill progression is more intuitive. However, there were other changes made that didn't go down so well. One of those changes was a drastic reduction in weapon range due to the removal of a skill called Sharpshooter, which was present in the previous build, Chromosome.

The reason for the removal of Sharpshooter was to accommodate differing range profiles among weapon's racial variants. In Chromosome it extended the effective range of many weapons to well beyond their intended range (up to 40% depending on how far you trained the skill). In a reply to a thread in the official forums, Senior Game Designer Gavin Frankle elaborated further on the changes made to the Heavy class, whose heavy machine gun had seen a substantial nerf to damage and range: "The Sentinel was designed primarily as a point defense role. His speed and slow turn rate make him unsuitable for frontline combat. His presence should make anyone think twice before approaching a position. I'm not sure but it seems to me that a lot of the complaints about the ineffectiveness of the HMG stem from the fact that people want to use it to lead the charge into enemy territory. The HMG is not well suited for use in open areas but it comes into its own when used in outposts where targets are confined to narrow spaces. And at close range, the HMG is still very effective, I believe."

Many of the Heavies in the community were extremely unhappy with the nerf as it left them vulnerable to weapons with greater range and accuracy. Frankle continued to explain what is going to be done about the range issue: "The HMG's optimal range is up to 30m and max. Effective range caps out at 50m. (This is currently a hard cap - all weapons stop doing any damage beyond their max range - but we're going to be fixing this soon. Like soon soon, not SOON(tm).) What it needs is not a damage buff (it kills just fine) but a gentler damage falloff curve so that it can be used as an effective suppression weapon in the 50-70m range. As an attacker, right now it's too easy to shrug off the hits and close the gap between yourself and the person wielding the HMG so that's something I'd like to address as soon as possible."

Nerfs to weapon range weren't the only problem encountered by gamers; a few days after Uprising deployed with a full skill point refund, gamers were already asking for yet another respec on the launch day next week. Many players, myself included, also noticed a regression in the feel of the aiming mechanics. These issues were tackled by CCP and the Council of Planetary Management--a team of DUST 514 players who liase with the devs regarding community concerns and problems.

Yesterday, CCP Eterne made another announcement post which shows how effective the dialog loop between the game creators and the game players is. It covers a lot of the issues fans have been having and promises ongoing hotfixes to iron out the issues as we head into launch and beyond.

"Dear players,

As you are all aware – deployment of the Uprising build is upon us as of May 6th, and part of the reason we staged the deployment to be on May 6th with removal of the Beta designation on May 14th is that with the multitude of updates and changes that came with Uprising we wanted to give our players time to experience the new build and give us feedback.

We also appreciate that many of you desire communication from us that is even more transparent and timely when it comes to upcoming changes. In this regard, we are taking steps to make communications with you better. Chief among them is working with the CPM (Council of Planetary Management, the player council involved with DUST 514 development and the voice of you, the users), and generally increasing both the quantity and quality of communication. We are working hard to achieve this while continuing to keep things moving along in the development trenches. It can be tough at times, because we want to spend more time with you, learning from you, while working hard to bring you more of what you want in-game as quick as we can – please know, even if we go silent for a little bit, we are listening, but, that said, we are going to work extra hard to jump in and talk with you no matter what.

After observing your feedback and with the consultation from CPM we are ready to discuss various topics that you’ve brought up in various forum threads and our plans for addressing this stuff immediately and ongoing. Many of these issues will be addressed via hotfixes before the 14th, and throughout the month of May. Please actively participate in the continued Beta testing as we introduce changes and fixes up to the 14th. We really appreciate your feedback and role in the ongoing development of DUST 514, both during the Beta and beyond. We will endeavor to make public as many details on changes taking place in Uprising in advance of / as soon as they become available (whipping the hamsters can only get so far and our hamsters are busily making fixes!)."

Check out CCP's message to the community here as it outlines the upcoming fixes to the issues raised by the gamers.

Alex Locher is PSU's resident DUST 514 guru and CEO of the site's corporation. Follow him on Twitter or say hello in the corps in-game chat channel 'PSU.com'