Dust 514: From the Ashes (or, rather, Dust)

I discovered Dust 514 a year and a month ago, back when I first came into the world of New Eden through EVE. Back then, I knew not of the complexities of Dust, and had little FPS experience at all. Back then, the matchmaker put me in battles that were almost all veterans destroying the new and bad players, and the experience was not fun. Then Fanfest 2014 rolled along, and Dust’s community was outraged by the supposed cancellation of development of Dust, and the start of Legion (Which is supposedly dead, but probably just untrademarked.)

A few months ago, though, Dust started receiving significant updates, which was a surprise, given that the Rouge Wedding (It’s what they call the fanfest 2014 announcement) had dashed almost all hopes of Dust getting better. In particular, last month’s new Matchmaking and the slightly more recent player trading (finally!) in Warlords 1.1 have brought a surprising amount of change in such a short period of time. Given Dust’s relatively tiny development team, these features and fixes brought new hope among the playerbase (barring the usual forum trolls, of course).

Perhaps the new kind of thinking in CCP lead to this. Ever since CCP Seagull took over as executive producer, the Eve universe has had great leaps and bounds, in two games and another on the horizon. Bold changes in Eve, mostly good, have correlated with great improvements in Dust. In fact, CCP has done better in the last six months, than in the two years before. Supposedly. Don’t take my word for it, I wasn’t actually here for anything earlier than Rubicon. But I digress.

One of the main limiting factors in Dust’s development currently is the old hardware that is the PS3. There is simply too little memory on that platform to add much more of anything, currently. The SKIN system in Dust could provide a solution, however. Right now, each dropsuit, tank, and other vehicle exists as a separate model, each with its own animation, model, and texture, unneccesarily using up lots of memory space. However, CCP recently implemented SKINS in both EVE and Dust, and it works in Dust by replacing only the texture on a suit, not the entire model, thus adding many paint schemes for a fraction of the system resources. This could be the way to go for saving memory in the future, by converting all of the different suits into just having a different skin, instead of a entire model, and could lead to many new possibilities of weaponry and armor in Dust.

CCP Rattati has also expressed interest in a player’s idea for a rework of how different dropsuit configurations could be handled. The idea is this: for suits to not have seperate stats and slot configurations for each dropsuit, but instead having a top-tier slot layout, with a “power core” that would balance the powergrid/CPU capacity of the suit. If this gets enough support, it would go a long way to solving another one of Dust’s major problems, Balance.

Overall, the progress in Dust 514 has been tremendous. With two of the major problems with it potentially solved, if the Dust team could improve the graphics, fix the big bugs, and continue following the original dream of One Universe, then I believe that Dust 514 will live on, until the day that the PS3 dies.

Then, as the immortal soldiers have done for three years, Dust could return in its next incarnation,  on the PC or PS4 (or both).

Edit 5/19/15 (go away Europeans, this is Freedom Notation!): CCP Rattati read this! https://twitter.com/CCP_Rattati/status/600222610253848576  My first “Serious” post, and Sempai Devs notice it! Damn, I’m good.

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