Dust 514 is a lofty goal. A merging of two extremely different game types in one universe with players interacting across their respective genres. We sat down with Dust 514 Brand Manager Ryan Geddes to talk about the link between his game and EVE Online and get some perspective on how they’ll interact with each other.
You guys have announced a ton of stuff here at Fan Fest. What do you think the key improvements are in Dust 514 Uprising?
It’s a couple big things. One, it’s the graphical improvements. It’s basically a visual overhaul for the game. People who’ve been playing all the way through the beta and helped us change and build and evolve the game over time will see a big difference after May. Its lighting, its textures its environments, its new terrain; new places to play. That’s a huge thing for us and we’re very excited about it.
The other part of the visual improvement, the sort of not sexy part, but the quality of life part, is the user interface. People who would come in and play dust for the first time after Uprising would think it looks like a very friendly easy to use console game, which is the point, and that wasn’t exactly there before. We had a very EVE-like menu system before. All the info was there before and all the complex systems were there and they all worked together, but they didn’t work quite as seamlessly as we wanted them to for a console audience.
So, it was more like you were accommodating the EVE audience more than the console FPS players?
It was more like you do what comes naturally first, and the idea was always to move towards this more console friendly UI. And it’s something we’re finally achieving and it’s very exciting to see. That’s everything from the very first moment you turn on the game. It used to take 4:30 minutes to get into the game, now It only takes 90 seconds. It’s much more of a console friendly thing. The screen where you choose your character, there’s a lot more context there. There’s an end of match screen that gives you a lot of context about what you did in the battle and what your enemies did, everything from the technut and overmap is different. I could go on and on. I think of them as quality of life things. It’s not as intimidating.
Let’s talk about the integration between Dust and EVE. It’s a lofty goal. What have been the major hurdles getting to this point?
All of them. (laughs) It’s a huge challenge, right? That’s, in a way, one of the reasons why we did it. We love that idea of doing the impossible. Connecting this massive multiplayer first person shooter on a single shard to EVE online, which no one has seen before. This is the first time we’ve seen an F2P MP FPS connected to a spaceship game. It’s a massive challenge, but we have some really smart people who are super passionate about making it work. And that’s why we’re able to achieve it.
The Planetary Conquest feature is the next big integration between EVE and Dust. We already had orbital strikes, where if you had the right skills, and knew all the right people, and had your corporation set up, you could could actually request strikes on the ground from EVE pilots. Now Planetary Conquest takes that integration really to a more meaningful place. You can actually own stuff. If you build your corporation right and you know what you’re doing, you can own a planet. You can decide what you want to put on that planet and you can either choose to defend that and keep it in your nice little corner of space or you can choose to make it a platform for aggression towards everyone in New Eden. And that’s something that you just don’t get in other games.
To me, it’s about something being at stake. It’s meaning. In a lot of FPS’ (and we love these games, we play them) it has all that “go shoot people in the face and have fun” and that feeling of being with your squad and achieving objectives. We have all that in Dust, but we also have something at stake. You built something, you’re part of something, you don’t want that to go away. And you don’t really get that in other console games.
Dust is coming out at the end of the PS3 lifecycle. Did you ever consider holding off for the PS4?
No. We were definitely 100% committed to the PS3 and it’s been great. We’re as excited to see what the PS4 is like as anyone else. But for us we’re focused on delivering a great PS3 experience.
Have you seen a lot of crossover between the EVE and Dust communities? Have people played one and then gotten into the other?
We’ve seen both and that’s a cool thing. For EVE players, especially long time players, this is sort of a disruptive thing. Your game is a spaceship game for 10 years and suddenly, “Who are these mercenaries coming in?” And the exciting thing for me is to see what the lore tie-in is there. The immortal starship pilots in EVE were a disruptive force of their own, right? These super pilots that could do things that no one else can do. They reign supreme and then, all of a sudden, somehow this immortal tech is made possible for these clone soldiers. And that’s threatening to them. It upsets the balance of power in New Eden. And you have all these mercenary techs spreading throughout the galaxy. You can see a parallel between what the EVE player and the Dust player are experiencing in this universe.
Has there been any backlash from EVE fans over the merging of the two games?
No, not at all. The EVE players have been great. One of the things that’s great about it is you can play how you want, you can do what you want, and pursue what you want to pursue. Some people reacted very strongly, some said “Meh. Let me know when this is of interest to me.” I think that’s the key thing I’ve found with EVE players, they want to know how it’s going to affect them. That’s one of the main things this Fan Fest has been for us. Making sure they understand what we’re doing with Planetary Conquest, how it ties together with what you can do with EVE, and just letting them know that we’re not interested in breaking the experience in EVE. We want to make sure the experience brings something new and interesting without crashing the economy or making it un-fun and we think we’ve found that spot where it’s just the right amount of crossover right now and that’s just going to keep going on and on into the future. We have a lot of great ideas for how the games will connect further down the line.