Boots on the Ground Episode 01

Posted: February 25, 2013 in Dust Related

Good morning, (Sub)Dredditors and (Sub)Dredditor friends!

As promised last week, Subdreddit media aficionado Starfire Revo lead the charge in producing some fan-made television for your entertainment consumption needs, with yours truly as one of the guests, along with some more Dust names that you may recognize. I was joined by Subdreddit Warlord and Fearless Leader, dent308 as well as Kane Spero, leader of The Imperfects, a highly regarded corp and current tournament champions. Fellow Subdredditor Horus Forge helped me rep the Subdreddit name, and Cerebral Wolf of Goonswarm joined with some great viewpoints on where we can expect the meta game to go. That’s enough of an intro, I think. We had a really great discussion on where we think Dust is heading, so I encourage everyone to give it a listen. Now, without further adieu, I give you…

BOOTS ON THE GROUND: S01E01

I’d actually like to take this opportunity to expand on a few ideas I threw out during the show, but if you haven’t watched it yet I’ll try and give some context. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a podcast, and as a writer I think it’s a tad easier for me to get my points across in text as opposed to an impromptu conversation.

So something that I brought up sparked a lot of conversation during the show, and I was quite surprised this was an idea that the others hadn’t been thinking of as a possibility. This is the idea of persistent battlegrounds (i.e. the districts we’ll be fighting over). I brought up the idea that mercs should be able to spawn in a district at any time, even if a battle is not going on, as long as their corp owns that district. Apparently, this was a new idea to many of my fellow guests, and I found this surprising because I always assumed Dust would have persistent maps we could run around on if we owned them.

Maybe it’s just my EVE way of thinking, but if we own a star system, we can go there at any time. More importantly, so can our enemies, if they can make it there. Dust being an MMOFPS, I just never imagined we’d be forever stuck in our quarters unless there were bads attacking our stuffs.

This is even more important for the idea of a “home-field advantage.” Our capital system of K-6 has one station in it above a barren planet. I don’t even remember what planet it is (number wise… we can’t name them in EVE). But when Dust is fully implemented and ready to go, I always imagined that the pilots would dock in the station above the planet, and our Dust bunnies would be in merc quarters stationed on the capital district of that planet. K-6 being our “capitol system,” with “K-6000 Pilots in Dreddit” being our “capitol station,” I don’t think it would be too far of a stretch for us to have a “capitol district” that would be just as familiar to Dust bunnies as Washington, DC is to USA armed service members. Heck, this would be a great way to begin the introduction of city building on planets, which I’ll get to in a moment with my PI thoughts.

Anyway, the important part of this whole thing is that any district owned by a corp that has CRUs or other clone services should allow corp members to spawn on it at any time as long as the defender limit isn’t reached. So, for the upcoming build that will allow for 24v24 matches, if nothing changes between now and the time we have districts in null (which I assume won’t be the case, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll say this is the limit), you’d be able to spawn up to 24 individual players on a given district at any time you’d like.

This would be great for squads to practice tactics together, as well as for entire corps to get a feeling for the maps that they have important resources on. This will give them that home field advantage for when other corps or alliances begin to eye their precious resources and start dropping mercs in hopes of conquering their planets.

Which brings me to my next point. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I dabble a bit in PI. PI, as it stands now, could be a way to “Seed the Universe” in an awesome, player generated way. We didn’t go into this much in the podcast, but I had a long drive to think about things after the show, and one of the things I came up with is PI system that heavily links Dust and EVE players.

Imagine this: You want to get started in the PI field, knowing that with the arrival of Dust, planetary districts have changed the mechanics a bit, and added new resources important to the production of Dust equipment. You’ve got yourself a few planetary command centers, and are scouring your local systems for a free spot (I’ll get that that in a moment). Finding a planet you’d like to set up operations on, you load up the planetary view we’re all familiar with.

Only this time, the scan option is not there. Instead, you see 17 different districts, 15 of which already have command centers on them, meaning you can’t place a command center on a district that already has one. Hey! PI suddenly got a little more competitive. Having people have to compete for a spot may even open up an incredibly deep meta game, where you support you colleagues openly, but you have your eyes set on a particularly lucrative district a friend of yours has (of course, we’d never do this to our Subdreddit bros). Your friend wonders to you openly about why he’s constantly having to deal mercs being contracted to target his system specifically. I can just imagine all the sweet sweet meta that would come from this.

Moving on.

You select one of the available districts to build on, and suddenly the planetary view zooms into the district and you are presented with an exact copy of the map that Dust bunnies would play on, if they were invading that district. No one has built anything here (obviously, that’s why you can now build here), so there are no structures, just a randomly generated terrain piece that CCP has been talking about in their whole “Seeding the Universe” idea.

However, now the scan tool is back, and instead of scanning the entire planet for resources, it scans this map and presents them in a similar fashion as when you’re scanning entire planets. All the resources a planet has should appear somewhere on the district when you go to scan for them (I suppose we could relegate specific resources across the planet as we do now, meaning some districts would have access to more resources than others… which would be even more interesting to the meta game).

Once you get an idea for where all the resources are, it’s time to start building. We’ve got command centers, resource extraction units, storage facilities, launch pads and factories already in PI. If we could get Dust models of these buildings, placing them would be just like placing them in PI now, except we’d be placing them directly on maps that Dust bunnies will be playing on. Perhaps important structures like factories become the “A, B, C” capture point objectives we see now on the maps. Not only should you be able to purchase these structures on the open market (instead of them currently just building themselves on planets), but we should also have access to CRUs, Supply Depots, turrets and other Dust structures. Mercs could spawn at either the command center, or a CRU, and you as the owner of the district could place certain restrictions on who can and can’t spawn there (your entire alliance, only those from your corp, only those you contract, etc…) You could freely place these structures anywhere you choose on the map. Here we are, having EVE players literally building the maps that Dust players will be battling over.

Honestly, this is how I always saw Dust going. It’s also how I kind of imagined CCPs vision panning out, but then I am not privy to the inner workings of CCP, so maybe they’re going in a different direction. Still, I think a system like this would not be terribly difficult to implement, given what we have now, and it could go a long way in not only giving the Dust mercs a sense of purpose, but also helping to fix null with the whole farms and fields idea.

Now, I know this is already really long, but there was one more point I wanted to touch on that got brought up during the talk show.

The War Barge.

On the show, we talked about the idea of being able to drop CRUs onto an enemy planet to allow your mercs to spawn there and make raids targeting enemy infrastructure. I also said I thought this should extend to the MCC, and the MCC should be an in game item that can be purchased and placed into a large hull (maybe a blockade runner being able to fit one), and launched onto a planet the same way you would launch a CRU, except the only limit to the clones in the MCC is how many you want to buy. This means the MCC can act as a mobile base for a full team of mercs to land on a district, then once that district is taken over, they can move the MCC to an adjacent district to continue their campaign. These battles would continue until the attacker has conquered however many districts they want, or until the defenders have successfully destroyed the MCC.

When talking about launching MCCs from space, Cerebral Wolf brought up the important point, “but that’s what the war barge is for.” To which I asked the question, “Yes, but how does the war barge interact with the EVE client?”

“That is the big question,” Cerebral agreed. Technically, the war barge is a Dust corp item. It’s the corp’s main base of operations, according to CCP, and it’s something that’s going to be flying around the systems of New Eden that will allow the Dust mercs to get from place to place.

But no one knows how it’s going to be flown. Will EVE pilots be able to interact (i.e. blow it up) with it? I don’t think you’ll find an EVE pilot who thinks we should have untargetable, unkillable, freighter sized ships zooming all over the place, so how can we handle and implement this war barge idea?

So, what I’m about to propose is probably fairly radical, and I’m eager to get some feedback from you, dear readers, on what you think about this.

Let’s scrap the war barge. We haven’t seen anything about it in months, and to be honest, with the work CCP is putting in on basic gameplay, I’m guessing there hasn’t been much developed on it. So let’s forget about a large ship in space that can be flown by Dust mercs. I think that’s just too much for us to deal with at the moment.

But let’s keep the idea of the war barge.

The idea being, “a large ship that’s constantly online and provides a mobile base from which merc corps can stage from.” Anybody else know of large ships that are constantly online (or… ok, never docked…)?

That’s right, capitals!

Let’s make capital ships the equivalent of war barges. Any capital ship will do. A corp can choose anything from a Nyx to an Avatar as their “flag ship.” The interiors, where the Dust bunnies will spend most of their time, can be different for each ship (and probably fun for the level designers to design around). Yes, this would require the Dust corp to have a capital pilot. In fact, they should probably have several, and have a rotating list of pilots so that no matter what time you’re on, there’s someone who can fly the capital to wherever you want to invade. Chances are, these “capital war barges” will spend most of their time safely inside of POS shields, but when it’s time to go to war, they’ll join the rest of the fleet in order to lead the ground invasion.

Yes, this requires more of a Dust / Eve connection. Yes, this means that if a corp wants to get a foothold in null, they’re going to need a capital. There’s the operative definition, the indefinite article *A,* capital. It’s a large investment for a Dust corp, but remember it’s only something you need if you’re playing the null game. An alliance who wants to play the null game must invest a massive amount of income on an entire capital fleet. I think it’s not too much of a stretch to require a single capital for a Dust corp to enter the null game.

Alright, I’m done. If you made it to the end of this post, many thinks for entertaining my silly ideas. It was great fun being on Boots on the Ground, and I hope to see you guys again on the show sometime soon!

Until next time,

Happy hunting, everyone!

– JRD

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Comments
  1. Kane Spero says:

    I understand where you are coming from with the War Barge, but I think that it is going to be the big thing that Dusters strive for and is going to be critical part of the Dust – Eve link. Personally I see the potential for the war barge being flown by NPCs , Dusters, or Eve pilots depending on whether we are looking at Faction Warfare (NPC Militia pilots) or Null (Eve pilots / maybe Dusters).

    I also think the War Barge could be useful to creating mechanics for establishing front lines: a War Barge in system X allows you to use MCCs to attack planets in systems X, Y, and Z. Whatever the mechanic there should never be a situation where once a contract is placed in Dust it can be interrupted in Eve. The battle should always take place unless canceled Dust-side.

    I think having the ability to explore the districts you own outside of battles would be a fantastic feature.

    • Yes!

      See, that’s the beauty of the idea. If districts are fully explorable, at all times, that means a Dust battle could never be solely interrupted by EVE. The battle would only be over until one side ran out of clones.

      This would be true even after the destruction of an MCC. At that point, a corp may say the battle is over, but the Dusters on the ground who haven’t died yet are there watching the MCC crash to the ground; their hearts sinking because they know it’s only a matter of time before their hunted down by the enemy.

      That almost sounds like a minigame in and of itself! Imagine being stranded, knowing your only way back to your home system is a bullet through the head, but determined to cause as much damage while you’re still there. Would you try and run to the next district? Maybe capture a few points, or blow up a few unguarded CRUs?

      I shudder in anticipation.

      And I think we’re actually of the same mind with the war barge, we’re just talking over semantics, I think. What if your war barge was a Revelation? It would offer all the same abilities you’re talking about, but also be able to fire those freakin’ awesome lasers, AND (more importantly), it already has a capable pilot. We know how it will fly.

      We talked about one day, in the far future Dusters being able to fly EVE ships, and EVE pilots would be able to fly down onto Dust planets. I imagine giving a Dust character a control interface to pilot the war barge (maybe a Moros?) could be the first step in that direction.

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