Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Life Is Hard, Get Used To It

Life's a bitch.
Probably the most important thing a teacher ever told me while I was at school and something I've only come to realize the weight of recently. This cliché applies to almost anything, but in this case, I'll apply it to Dust 514 in particular. There's a few points I'll go into.

First of all, Dust will evolve over time in the same way that most multiplayer games that involve strategy at some level do. If you move into the most powerful playstyle there is in a game, the meta will shift one way or another. If something is too dominant and the game has active developer support, it will get patched to allow for competing strategies. It's almost a bad idea to invest so heavily into something too dominant because in all likelihood it will get nerfed before you can reap the rewards from the time invested into it.

To use a Dust example, the Caldari Logistics suit was straight up better at being an Assault suit that the Caldari Assault suit. Large amounts of people went straight into it with no real intention of playing a "logi" role. Considering that part of the fitting system in Dust is to allow this style of gameplay to a degree, that in itself isn't the issue. The fact that Logistics suit outperforms a dropsuit at it's named role is an issue however.

So they're nerfing the logistics suits and people are crying "woe is me". To be honest, I haven't played around much with Caldari suits beyond my recruiter militia assault, so all I can do is make a loose prediction. The new Caldari logi looks like it will do fine in a hybrid support/combat role. It will still have a large amount of high slots and the new bonuses still allow for an improved tanking capability, but it will be weaker than an assault counterpart for actual combat.

People are suggesting that we should start seeing respecs until CCP finishes balancing the game. But this won't work out in the long term and balance changes will almost always exist. That's not to say that having some form of respec system that allows players to make tweeks to their skills would be bad though. Merely that offering constant respecs until the game is "balanced" or "complete" makes the consequence of choosing your skills meaningless.

With that in mind, I'd like to go into my second point: what does Dust 514 teach it's players? Back in 2006, I read this article about what World of Warcraft was teaching it's players through it's game design. It could be said that Dust shares some of the flaws that article points out, but for now I'll look at some good things Dust teaches it's players.

The skill system teaches the importance of forward thinking. If you do some brief research before investing heavily into something, you are rewarded for doing so. It also teaches the consequences of making choices. If you choose to specialize heavily into something and that becomes weaker through some means, you have to deal with being weak until you . Someone who is more general with their skill tree has to face being weaker against a specialized player.

It isn't just the skill tree either. The social aspect of this game has a similar vibe. Do well in a public match? Maybe someone will want to invite you to their corp. Leave a corporation under poor circumstances? Get blacklisted by their alliance. Send someone an angry mail after a match?

Get put on some guy's blog!

I'd agree with CCP lessening this to a degree though (it is a game). EVE has the ability to remap your learning capabilities, so Dust players getting the ability to refund a skill every x months would help prevent people getting completely screwed. So long as choices continue to matter, then I'm fine with what CCP decide to do.

Last of all, don't throw money at a company based on what they say they "could do" unless you're willing to live with not getting any return on that investment. If Kickstarter has shown us anything over the past year, it's that companies will talk big, with few actually delivering on their set goals.

Money should be used to purchase goods and services, not hopes. People who spent money on Dust to "support CCP" and were then angry with what they got out of it are simply self entitled. You were given tangible benefits from you purchases. If they don't meet with your expectations, then you should simply not purchase said benefits again and move on with your life one way or another. If you can get a refund, then all the power to you.

You can sit around complaining and feeling sorry for yourself about this all you want, but you're only going to make yourself miserable and piss off those around you. If you want to do this, you're free to. Just don't expect people to think highly of you in return however. I'd advise that you instead take what you've learned from this experience and use it to your advantage in the future.

CCP aren't innocent in all this and have made numerous mistakes along the way. Incorrect skill descriptions, obvious balance issues, poorly handling the game's release (merc packs), a lack of communication with the playerbase (exceptions include True Grit) and a rushed feel to features.

But they've been slowly moving in the right direction more recently however. Only time will tell how this turns out, so I guess you could go outside and enjoy the sun in the meantime. There isn't much point doing something if it's just making you miserable, because life's a bitch and you should really just make the most of it.

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