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How do you describe Dust 514 to a potential new player? Usually I try to play to the game’s strengths, and so start rattling off features that differentiate it from other FPS games on the market. Problematically a lot of those count themselves part of the Soon(tm) crowd. One that doesn’t, though, one that jumps out as an aspect that should really make Dust 514 stand out from the crowd is ISK. What other FPS game employs a system where every time you die you have to pay for the cost of the equipment you used?

It’s a pity, then, that the way ISK fits into the current design of Dust 514 it only has mostly negative effects on the gameplay experience as opposed to positive ones. At its core, this situation arises from two factors:

– Items don’t cost enough relative to rewards or alternatively rewards are too high compared to gear costs
– There aren’t enough things to do with ISK

These aren’t perfect explanations, and they’re perhaps more applicable while talking about dropsuits rather than vehicles. They do, however, provide a basis for a bit of discussion. Admittedly the whole wall-o’-text to follow is based more on the macro scale than the micro, make of that what you will. Inevitably I use “prototype gear” or “proto” throughout as the quintessential example of ISK expenditure since it’s the ceiling of what anybody can spend.

To rehash what point #1 means up there, it means that ISK usually isn’t the limiting factor in any decisions that involve gear. Examples:

– Do I pull out proto in this pub match?
– Do I attack this district?
– Do I get my team to pull out proto in this PC match?

When these types of questions arise, the answer: “No, it takes too much ISK,” is far from anyone’s minds. It leads to problems. A lot of the “pub stomping” that happens these days goes on because players can honestly afford to run proto at a loss for a very long time with little to no repercussions. This problem also makes trying to boost Planetary Conquest’s popularity with higher ISK gains basically useless. Since ISK wasn’t holding back players from getting into PC in the first place, why would giving out more ISK allow more players to step into the ring? The ISK isn’t what’s getting them down, it’s the personnel, coordination, and other aspects of PC mechanics.

There was a point in time where proto gear cost enough to make ISK a factor in Dust 514, but CCP wasn’t able to hold out against a sea of complaints. After running an event that doubled ISK gains (this one’s from memory since I couldn’t find the link) from public matches, CCP decided to raise reward levels up about that much because “players liked it”.

Really the first point is less important and hugely exacerbated by the second. The list of things you can do with ISK that involve in-game mechanics is so short they can be listed succinctly. So let’s do that:

– Buy gear
– Buy clone packs for Planetary Conquest
– Pay clone transportation fees for Planetary Conquest
– Make backroom deals in Planetary Conquest, including buying districts, hiring mercenaries, etc.

Yup, there are only four things*. And three of them are only concerned with Planetary Conquest, a mode of gameplay which is entirely inaccessible for most of Dust’s player base because of its rule set. As mentioned before, ISK is not a limiting factor in PC by any stretch of the imagination. Veteran personnel (high SP), organization, experience, and other factors besides are much more pressing concerns than ISK. That leaves backroom deals to worry over, but the secret behind buying and selling districts is that the entire endeavor is useless unless you could have taken and defended the districts you’re buying anyways. If you could have taken and defended the districts you bought anyways, you wouldn’t need to buy the districts. That’s pretty much why the mercenary occupation in PC is completely dead.

* Skill books are a thing, but they’re not worth discussion since they don’t recur as a cost.

Taken together it’s possible to combine these two observations and conclude: “Sure, ISK doesn’t do much for the game, but it doesn’t hurt.” But there’s this nagging problem that, while ISK doesn’t have the scope to greatly affect veteran players, it really curbs the fun for new players. That’s mostly because veteran players have nothing better to do (limited options by the second factor) with their ISK than to buy proto gear (affordable by the first factor). This doesn’t help the game experience at all- it just encourages people to quit playing Dust.

It’s completely fair to say that if you can’t make enough to play with proto in pub matches and you can’t make enough ISK in pub matches to run proto to break into PC then proto is useless. That’s a problem with the amount of content in Dust 514, though, and that poor horse has been beaten so much that it hasn’t any bones left.

Leither Yiltron

Leither Yiltron is a ground commander, planetary conquest coordinator, and a 2 year veteran of the Dust metagame. Check out his blog at his High Scores and Chess blog

18 Comments

  1. really??

    what the fuck is DUST?

    really?

    August 21, 2013 at 5:41 pm Reply
  2. DubbaYooArr

    DUST was and is such a waste of CCP resources

    August 21, 2013 at 5:42 pm Reply
    1. TiredOfAllTheStupid

      They could have finished the ship rebalancing with those resources and moved onto sov by now…

      August 21, 2013 at 7:26 pm Reply
    2. Polished Turd

      Agreed. WTF is this shit CCP! Bust514 is a TERRIBLE game. Quit while you can. Polishing a turd still leaves you with a turd. Thanks for wasting your time and ours, arrogant fuckers!

      August 21, 2013 at 7:33 pm Reply
  3. Billbo

    I have more enjoyment playing Chiverly than this turd of a game. Also PS4 is being released on 11/29 Dust has about 60 days of life left in it. Before half the playerbase trades in their PS3s for store credit towards a purchase of a PS4.

    August 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm Reply
    1. riverini

      November 15th, so its less time…

      August 21, 2013 at 5:54 pm Reply
    2. Ashesofempires

      Dust should work on PS4, or at least that’s what CCP has stated.

      August 22, 2013 at 2:21 am Reply
  4. NicenJehr

    CCP has been spending their time improving the core game, including their unique situation of running two games in the same universe. They will add more stuff to DUST when they are satisfied the core is solid. As an EVE player I am used to seeing incremental change like this but PS3 gamers generally aren’t. So if I can fault CCP for anything, it’s not being obvious enough about their patch/update strategy. PSN users and the splash screen should make it clear that the game currently is a fairly simple MMOFPS but will eventually evolve to include PVE content and presumably other things to do with your hard earned ISK.

    August 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm Reply
    1. fpsking

      Dust failed – I played FPS on a competitive level in Europe and I played Dust for 12 hrs non stop – I was disappointed and can tell you that CCP are wasting money throwing it at Dust – its a failure – I could have told them that if they had paid me and if they pay me more than my current job I would have designed one – sorry CCP you have flushed your iskies down the drain

      August 22, 2013 at 1:27 pm Reply
      1. Jay Jackson

        Of course you would have, how silly of them.

        Surely you can submit a resume.

        August 26, 2013 at 6:54 pm Reply
  5. JKnows

    Leither needs a class in game play efficiency and the math would tell him he just wasted his time promoting this lame dog.

    August 21, 2013 at 6:44 pm Reply
  6. Devore

    What’s proto?

    August 21, 2013 at 8:17 pm Reply
    1. Ashesofempires

      Prototype. In a world without t2 or officer proto gear is the absolute best available equipment for a dust bunny to play with.

      August 22, 2013 at 2:19 am Reply
    2. Luwc

      potato . a delicious fruit

      August 22, 2013 at 10:16 am Reply
  7. Dust player

    Proto shouldn’t be affordable in pub matches, unless you plan to burn through your nest-egg. Proto suits should cost 5x-10x what they do now. That would greatly improve things. People can still pub-stomp if they want (it is New-Eden after all) but it’s not an activity that’s financially viable for very long. Just like suicide ganking noobs with T3 cruisers wouldn’t be sustainable for very long in EVE.

    August 21, 2013 at 8:20 pm Reply
  8. Ashesofempires

    Perhaps for those of us who aren’t playing Dust, you could provide some numbers, such as the price of a full Prototype loadout, average number of deaths for a pub match, and the payout of both a win and a loss in a pub match. Without these important numbers, it’s basically hand waving.

    From my understanding, Proto kits in dust are the equivalent of bringing a faction kit ship along on a T1-fit cruiser roam in terms of performance, while only spending as much as a T2 fit would cost. ISK vs Risk just isn’t in line yet, and that’s unfortunate.

    August 22, 2013 at 6:08 am Reply
  9. Really

    I am walking in stations

    August 22, 2013 at 1:41 pm Reply
  10. Missino

    I would just like to point out to everyone in the comment section that CCP owes you nothing and bitching about them making a game you don’t like is just making you guys look like entitled pricks.

    August 26, 2013 at 2:41 am Reply

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