Last year, CCP Games released DUST 514, a free-to-play MMOFPS, on PlayStation 3. Earlier this week, I interviewed both the executive producer and senior director of the game, known respectively by the community as CCP Rouge and CCP Rattati, just after the release of Update 1.9.
We discussed many topics, from the development of the game to the meaning of “514”.
Ahmad Hussain: DUST 514 got a fairly large update in Update 1.9 after months of hotfixes. Is there going to be a 1.10 or even 2.0?
CCP Rattati: Currently we are focused on the aftermath of 1.9 and an eventual Hotfix Echo. We will need to iterate on 1.9 balance, add more content in the form of re-introducing Vehicles and Vehicle Gear, and flesh out and rebalance the Loyalty Store Content.
CCP Rouge: As Rattati pointed out we still have a lot of work with hotfixes and such. That’s a philosophy we intend to apply to keep improving the experience before adding more. We may have found our groove between hotfixes and content updates but that’s too early to say.
Ahmad Hussain: Before Update 1.9, CCP told us we wouldn’t be getting major updates again. Why the sudden change, and can we expect more to come?
CCP Rouge: We certainly set ourselves up for that possibility but couldn’t count on it. We needed to reorganize the team and set-up the right processes to be able to have a meaningful impact on the live game. For 1.9, the stars finally aligned and we had an opportunity to do a solid content update…
CCP Rattati: The Hotfixes have been a success with a lot of positivity in the community and momentum building. We decided to test the waters with a small patch to mainly get the sprint bug. Then we said “We can probably ship this Highlands map and maybe increase the framerate enough to get the Caldari Production Facility out. Then all of a sudden, we were talking about a meaningful patch and the ball started rolling. We then collected a few features from the Community like “Sell to Vendor,” consulted the Council of Planetary Management (CPM), and here we are.
Ahmad Hussain: In the movie John Wick a scene shows someone playing EVE: Legion. If it’s not a game yet then why is it featured in this film?
CCP Rouge: One of the people involved in the film is Icelandic and friends with a bunch of the people at CCP in Reykjavik. They contacted us to see if we wanted to give them some footage of an action game and we obliged with some Project Legion footage. It’s mainly DUST’s DNA coming out in this short clip of course. I wouldn’t read too much into it though.
Ahmad Hussain: What is the main focus of the developers still working on DUST right now: to keep polishing the core or to add new content?
CCP Rattati: With 1.9 it was certainly a bit of both. I am an advocate of adding no new “features” into what we refer to as the “3d world”– the battles themselves. That gameplay is very competitive with other FPS’s on the PS3 and we can do so much more with further iterations and balancing. The necessary hookups for new functions such as the cloaked scan radius needed to be done, and certainly bug fixes–mainly the sprint bug. With Factional Warfare and Planetary Conquest we have so much to offer, so exposing these features better to the players should be a priority.
Ahmad Hussain: What’s your favourite DUST fitting?
CCP Rouge: A nice fluffy all proto dual-tanking Amarr assault with assault scrambler and scrambler pistol…
CCP Rattati: This is my lolfit: Gal Quafe, Burst Assault, Ion pistol, dmg mod, 2 reactives, 1 rep, Flux, drop uplink.
Ahmad Hussain: Is it time now to finally tell us what DUST 514 means?
CCP Rattati: I am not even sure I know, I heard a theory once that I liked and also believe there are some hints in the EVE: Templar One novel
CCP Rouge: Sorry can you repeat the question?
Ahmad Hussain: At Fanfest 2013, we were told about the idea of racial parity. It’s now November 2014 and we have all the Rifles and sidearms variants for each race. Will we see Amarr and Minmatar vehicle hulls, Minmatar, Caldari, Gallente knifes and Gallente and Amarr heavy weapons in DUST?
CCP Rattati: We certainly understand why everyone wants racial parity for vehicles and gear and we would love to add more when the opportunity arises. Right now, however, our focus is on polishing, iterating and improving on existing features as much as possible.
Ahmad Hussain: In past updates, certain vehicles and vehicle modules were added and then removed due to balancing issues, for example, the Logi Varient of the LAV and dropship, Black Ops HAVs and remote repair modules. Are there still plans on their reintroduction?
CCP Rattati: Yes, most certainly. Players who have been involved in the hotfix dialogue will be very aware of the spirited and often heated Anti-Vehicle vs Vehicle and Vehicle vs Vehicle debates. We are closer to balancing these primary roles than we have ever been. When we are relatively happy with that balance and data is showing that they all have a relevant role in the battlegrounds, we are more than willing to add more. Adding more into an imbalance is not an option.
Ahmad Hussain: The Shield Generator teased by CCP Wolfman way back in a blog post and the mysterious piece of equipment that starts with "s" (I’m going to link to that specific blog here). Will we still get to see that?
CCP Rattati: It’s not currently in our near- nor medium-term plans.
Ahmad Hussain: Is it still possible for DUST 514 to get Amarr and Minmatar buildings? In the 1.9 devblog actually there’s a very Amarr looking structure. What’s that about?
CCP Rattati: We would rate that way lower priority than Faction parity of vehicles and gear.
Ahmad Hussain: How big of a factor does lore play in the development of content for the games?
CCP Rattati: We are always mindful of the lore, and design often starts with “What kind of gear would a Gallente use in this situation?” or “What is that thing called in EVE? We should try do to that.” We have been discussing more and more thematic tie-ins with Factions and Thematic fitting. Sometimes utility wins.
Ahmad Hussain: In 1.9 an NPC trader is given to us to sell unwanted gear to them for a fraction of the price. This is only a step away from selling the gear itself to an actual player. Is a player market still on the table?
CCP Rouge: Player trading is always on our mind as a key feature as it deepens the emotional bond to New Eden and enhances all player interactions and game features.
Ahmad Hussain: Is it likely we’ll see new game modes in DUST? Capture The Flag and deathmatch were mentioned during FanFest 2013. Also in the Project Legion gameplay video from this Fanfest it shows a variant of domination where the objective location changes every 5 minutes. Could these come to DUST?
CCP Rattati: Theoretically, yes. However, there is still much to be done within the existing feature set and there lies our focus. Just yesterday, we started a Feedback and Discussion thread on “shaking up the meta.”
Ahmad Hussain: We’ve recently seen the release of the fabulous Quafe BPO. Should we expect more cool looking BPOs?
CCP Rattati: Absolutely, re-introducing BPOs as visual customization options and allowing players to express their individuality is a direction we are eager to pursue.
Ahmad Hussain: What’s your favourite part about working on DUST?
CCP Rattati: Improving my favorite game, how is that not a dream job? Also, working with non-financial data, modelling, and analyzing. I am going back to my engineering roots and I love it.
CCP Rouge: A really passionate community and lately, instituting a feedback loop process to get player opinions at the heart of our dev decisions that’s absolutely awesome. We need to do more of that…
Ahmad Hussain: What’s the hardest part of working on DUST?
CCP Rattati: Not being able to fix and improve everything in the patch of patches, the patch of kings. That is the nature of games-as-a-service, DUST 514 is ever changing.
CCP Rouge: Well said Rattatouille!
Ahmad Hussain: How does the nerf/buff process work? How do you gather the information required and use it to balance the item?
CCP Rattati: Where there is smoke, there usually is fire. We have battleserver logs that track all player actions in-game and Hadoop crunches those logs into a usable format. We have been using this data to support decision making but also identify statistical outliers and trends that indicate imbalance. In almost all cases, the community has identified these outliers beforehand, and pointed them out loudly and vociferously, which is good. We have just begun publishing a new series of threads in our Feedback and Discussion forums under the category [Data Insights], further detailing the how’s and the why’s. Go and check it out for yourselves.
Ahmad Hussain: Will we ever see new modules?
CCP Rattati: Yes, we have for example discussed adding armor resistance modules for quite some time now.
Ahmad Hussain: Will we get new dropsuit roles?
CCP Rattati: We will evaluate our possibilities after successfully re-introducing and balancing vehicle variants.
Ahmad Hussain: Will we get a team deploy?
CCP Rattati: It’s difficult to say, we still have the issue of queuing 16 player FW teams (aptly named Patrols by a player named Sgt. Kirk). For balance reasons, they would only fight other Patrols so matchmaking would be problematic. Especially if we then also have 15, 14 and 13 player Patrols, each unable to fight one another. Until then, Planetary Conquest offers 16 v 16 team matches.
Ahmad Hussain: How often do you read the forums and check social media to get feedback from the community?
CCP Rattati: Every waking hour. It’s an unhealthy obsession shared by many of my fellow devs.
CCP Rouge: That’s a tricky one for me because most engaged players know by now that I’m very quiet… I check the forums pretty much every day but I don’t post. Same goes for social media. Community managers pull their hair out with me.
Ahmad Hussain: If DUST still has a decent lifetime left is it possible for it to come to PS4?
CCP Rouge: Porting a game as complex as DUST to PS4 is a huge undertaking and is currently not on our roadmap.
Ahmad Hussain: Any final words you want to give the information starved DUST merc?
CCP Rattati: Thanks for your loyalty to DUST 514, and remember to keep giving us feedback. The data will flow!
CCP Rouge: Thanks everyone for the passion and loyalty indeed! We hope you enjoy 1.9!
Are you happy with these answers? Are there any more questions you want answered? Let us know down below!
My in-game name is Draxus Prime if you ever want to squad up with me.