Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thoughts on Dust 514

Ok, so I was pretty hyped when I first read about Dust 514. Then I started reading a couple blogs and my opinion started to change. So let us get straight into it.

Firstly, I do not believe that it is a very wise move to integrate the two games by making one dependent on the other. It took years to build up the current Eve infrastructure to what it is today. A striving and very active community. Now to bring in a brand new game that has not been publicly tested and to have only speculative numbers I believe is too much to risk. I believe that a slow integration of the system by which the current Eve plays a more dominant role over Dust 514 would be a more sound solution. To have the two systems coexist from the word go, one being the original Eve an infrastructure built upon many years and the other a brand new game that we are not even sure will catch on. It is like saying that Mao's Great Leap Forward was a success!

Therefore, here is how I think the shiznit should go down. May I advise that the article is slightly long, as I have added a story. I believe that the story is important to getting the feel for the system that I will be explaining and how it fits into the Eve universe, but if you do not wish to read it then please feel free to skip to the non-fiction part of the article.


The explosion was a spectacular blue. So large was the after shock Isaac could feel the vibrations right down to his very core. Admiral Isaac that is. Recently promoted Isaac's first mission was to take some backwater planet for the corporation, Inchen IV. 'Admiral Isaac. All planetary defense systems are now down. Should we proceed?' asked his second in command calmly. Isaac like his crew, they were all hand selected by Isaac himself. Each member was particularly calm and attended to their duties without question. Isaac enjoyed discipline obedience, especially during times of war. It is what made the difference between life and death. 'Signal the fleet to proceed as planned. The Trojan Horse will lead. Signal to all planetary assault ships to begin deployment of ground troops. I believe we have space superiority gentlemen'.
The second in command, Lieutenant-Commander Newton gave a nod and an aye-aye captain. The Admiral stood watching from the bridge as his fleet began its second phase of maneuvers. Battleships, Battle Cruisers and their Frigate escorts began patrolling the space surrounding the planet. The newly developed Planetary Assault Ships began their descent on the planet. Before long hundreds upon hundreds of drop, ships began plummeting towards the planet's surface to deliver their cargo. Hundreds of thousands of fresh new meat just out of training which would soon be entering into the meat grinder. Admiral Isaac had seen plenty of planetary assaults before but never had he personally been in command of one. The Admiral turned from the scene erupting in front of him and turned to his command table. 'Lieutenant-Commander, bring up a SITREP of Taratan.' The once empty command table flashed into life as the holographic projector created the ground map of the city of Taratan. On it, the Admiral could see the drop ships landing and troops pouring out of them. And so begins the day's bloody business.

Ground Zero

The Harrier drop ship exploded into the planet's atmosphere. At that, very instant the sky was lit up with explosions from the enemy anti air rounds being fire up at the invasion force from below. Hundreds of Harrier class drop ships descended towards the planet's surface. An explosion went off nearby and shook the drop ship violently. Inside the troop compartment, private Noel was saying his battle prays.
A raw recruit straight out of training like the majority of the other soldiers onboard the drop ship. Another explosion went off nearby, Noel could not see what was happening outside but he knew it was close, as the vibrations had shaken him to the core. Another trooper sitting next to Noel emptied his lunch onto the floor. Across from Noel sat his unit's sergeant, sergeant Jacobs. Jacobs unlike most of the other troopers in the compartment was a seasoned soldier seeing more than his fair share over the course of his service to the corporation.
The compartment was dark and hot. The troop compartment was a simple construct. Box shaped with seats lining the two of the sides opposite from each other with two more rows of seats lined back to back running down the middle. In one corner there lay a glowing dial. The numbers on it were declining, rapidly. Noel saw those numbers as a countdown towards his impending doom. Noel looked over at the sergeant. Jacobs could see that Noel was afraid and gave him a grin to reassure him. 'Sixty seconds!' a voice shouted through the main compartment speakers. The intensity inside the compartment rose. Troopers started to mutter more loudly their prays to their gods. The private sitting next to Noel threw up what ever was left of his lunch onto the floor. The smell of sweat, throw up and fear was thick in the air. 'Thirty seconds!' shouted the pilot's voice through the compartment's speakers.
The troopers inside the compartment started preparing their weapons. The distinct snap of weapons as they were locked and loaded was heard through out the compartment.
All of the men and women in the compartment, like Noel had been conscripted into the corporation's armed forces. Being from a planet, which belonged to the corporation, Noel and many others like him, had no choice. Many would probably never see their home planet again. The conscript's life was not an easy one.
The dial's numbers were declining fast, and nearing zero quickly. A huge roar shook the whole drop ship as the thrusters exploded into action. Noel could feel his seat pushing up against him as the drop ship's descent slowed. Seconds later the drop ship made contact with the ground violently. Moments later the compartment doors opened up into ramps just as the seat fasteners unlocked themselves. 'Contact! Move! Move! Move!' shouted Jacobs. Bullets began littering the interior of the compartment. Some of the troopers died in their seats before even getting up. Noel made a rush for the compartment's exit. The private that had been sitting next to Noel was in front of him. Seconds later a round hit him square in the head and the private fell where he stood. Noel pushed pass the dead trooper and continued for the exit. As he approached, more bullets rushed past him. Noel quickly rushed the ramp and onto solid ground.
Sky scrappers, large towering factories and apartment blocks that could fit thousands blotted the landscape. The enemy had dug in deep and set up fortifications and were laying down heavy fire on the landing zone.
Just as Noel exited the drop ship and ran a few meters an explosion erupted that took him clean off his feet. The drop ship he was in moments ago had been ripped apart by a shell. The sergeant ran up behind Noel and lifted him up by his harness before running for the nearest cover. A few more troopers from Noel's unit ran up to their position. Bullets were landing everywhere ricocheting off the ground. Rounds were ripping into the cover, which Noel and his unit was hiding behind. 'Ok guys listen up!' shouted the sergeant over the intensity of the battle ensuing. More drop ships exploded near by as artillery rounds ripped into them. The sergeant withdrew a holo map. A press of a button and a three dimensional map of the local area sprang to life. 'From what I can tell and from Intel provided we have anti air turrets here, here and here.' Pointed the sergeant to the different locations signified by red turret markers. 'Now they are doing heavy damage to our boys coming and knocking out a lot of the drop ships in the sky. Our first objective is the secure the landing site and to do that we are going to need to take out those gun turrets. Noel, Rakish and Jones you three are with me, we will make a move on gun turret one. Thompson, you take Pierre, Rodney and Francis to try to knock out turret two. We'll converge here to take out the final turret.' The sergeant pointed to the meeting point on the map, which he marked with an X. 'Let's move on and get the job done boys!' The troopers scrambled and began dashing towards their objectives. Noel burst up. Seconds later, he fell to the ground, dead. Like many others before him, Noel had become another number among the countless other millions that lost their lives every day.

The next course of action.

'Admiral Isaac, we have secured the landing zone in Taratan. We have additional troops being deployed on the ground now.' The admiral gave the officer an acknowledgement. The admiral could see from his command table the battle that was playing out below. Behind him on a small screen hundreds of names scrolled by, next to each name was the distinct 'KIA'. The taking of Inchen IV was well under way by now. Months of planning and preparation was now playing out on the battlefields of Inchen IV. Taratan was the most significant of all as it was the planet's capital city and it possessed the largest cloning facility on the planet, which would be significant to seizing the planet. Deployment of additional troops other than already with the fleet would take too long and so the trooper cloning facilities were the number one priority. That is if the enemy did not blow them up before the corporation's forces reached them.
Though it had only been an hour into the battle for Inchen IV, casualties on both sides was mounting fast. Admiral Isaac had hoped that they would be able to capture Taratan within the first few days of the invasion, but the defenders have proven tougher to budge than had been anticipated. Admiral Isaac scanned the battlefield. He could see that the enemy had created choke points that were holding up his entire invasion force on Taratan. 'Admiral Isaac, ground troops are reporting heavy losses at the trooper cloning facilities. The enemy there is dug in tight. We have deployed several armored on the ground but they are being taken out easily in the narrow streets. What should be our next course of action sir?' The admiral was silent, in deep thought trying to calculate a plan.
An officer ran up to the command table and saluted the admiral hurriedly. 'Admiral Isaac, we have a Dust ship in orbit above the planet as requested sir! It is directly above Taratan at the moment.' The admiral looked up from the command table. 'Very good. Put in a contract of one hundred million ISK immediately. We need that trooper cloning facility taken immediately and in tack!' The officer saluted and hurried back to his station. 'Let's hope these Dust boys can get the job done.' The admiral muttered to himself.

Ok so now we have the basic story line let us get into the game mechanics.

1.0 Eve > Dust

Ok, the biggest part of this idea is realizing that Eve is more significant than Dust. Keeping in mind what I mentioned before about Eve's infrastructure and how it has taken many years to build up, Dust could not simply wander in and become a main player. Instead, planetary sieges should be largely engaged by your common Eve pilot. Therefore, we must then begin by giving the Eve pilot his pawns.

1.1 The Company

A new type of ammo should become available known as a company. There will be three types of companies, armor, mobile-infantry and infantry. Companies can be trained up from stations or from planets that have been seized by a player and their corporation. The ability and skill of a company will depend largely on the companies' training, equipment and recruitment style. Each of these areas can be worked on and improved by the corporation. For instance, better training techniques can be researched and better equipment can be provided. Of course, costs will rise with improvements. Recruitment style will also be significant in the company's morale and such. For example, if a company is conscripted, morale will be low as the men and women of the company have been forced against their will to fight where as a company which is a volunteer company would have higher morale as they are willing to fight.

1.2 Transport and Deployment

Of course, now we have the question of what can we do with a company? Simple, they are the resources that you throw at a planet to siege it. Now we have new problems that arise. Firstly, transport. A new type of ship must exist, such as a Planetary Assault Ship. These ships will be responsible for the transportation of companies and deployment of the companies. The PASs will also need to carry supplies such as rations, fuel, equipment and ammunition to support the companies it is carrying. Logistics will become extremely important as it would in any war in maintaining a siege of a planet. Supplies can run out and therefore supply lines will need to be established to keep the armies fueled. Planetary siege is no simple task.

1.3 Ground Combat

Next, we come to ground combat. Now in a planetary siege one would expect hundreds of thousands of troops engaging in battle. This is of course correct. Ground combat in this system will not be like an RTS, but will be based on the abilities of the units that have been deployed. Similar to Hearts of Iron by which you did not control the battles personally but you control the politics, troop movements from point A to point B and the logistics, which I believe as an Eve player, would be a lot more exciting that head banging on the ground and slogging it as a lowly trooper commander.

2.0 Enter the Dust

Ok now I come to the most important part. The Dust trooper. I personally believe Dust troopers should not be the backbone of an assault force, nor play a role so significant as to alter and be considered equals among the current Eve. Instead, Dust troopers should be seen as the Spartans of the Halo universe. Every Dust trooper of course will be player controlled. I see Dust troopers as complimenting an assault. They will be Mercenaries for hire by large corporations. Contracts can be placed for Dust troopers to help change the tide of battle. They won't be able to take on a whole army, but they could play a significant part in capturing key locations or destroying key structures.

2.1 Dog Tags

Here is how I see Dust troopers operating. Each Dust trooper will carry with him a device known as a 'Dog Tag'. Dog tags are devices, which recognize when a Dust trooper falls in combat and alerts the cloning vats on a Dust ship, which I will explain later to clone that fallen trooper. Now people may be asking but what about the problems with being cloned with out a pod? Now I fit this in with the fiction. Dust troopers before entering combat create a memory copy of the moment before they deploy. So after being briefed on the mission and everything. That way upon death, all the Dog Tags have to do is report the death of the Dust trooper and they will be cloned with the memory they possessed right before death. Therefore, the only information they are missing is what happened on the ground. Of course, facilities will be available on the ground or key points in which a new memory can be recorded. Now the next question is then why don't all the other regular troopers have this device? The reason being that in a universe so large with so many humans to go around, it is cheaper to train up a grunt than it is to clone them and provide each one with a Dog Tag. Then why the Dust Troopers? They possess the skill and training which corporations have invested time and money on so that they may be used as weapons to help change the tide of battle. Dog Tags also play other important roles such as keeping track of a Dust trooper's stats etc etc.

2.2 Dust Ships and Deployment

Dust ships will become an important element to a Dust trooper's life. These ships will contain cloning vats that can clone the Dust Troops. Dust troops can easily be transported across the galaxy to where they need to be via jump clones. So this is how I see it working. When a player logs in they will be brought to a lobby. For players who are freelancers, so not in a corporation they will be able to scroll through contracts, which have been placed by corporations. Once they accept a contract, they can hop into a cloning bay and jump clone to the Dust ship, which is deployed wherever their contract is. Once at the location all that the Dust trooper needs to do is, get deployed. Deployment will be in the style of drop pods, rather than a whole ship. Dust ships will also be significant, as they will act as the respawn point for down Dust troops who need to be recloned and redeployed.

2.3 Dust Corporations

Corporations will be significant to the game play of the Dust trooper. Corporations will be broken down into three types of corporations. The first is the freelance corporation. Each faction will have a freelance corporation that all new Dust Troops will be automatically assigned. In a freelance corporation Dust troops will be able to accept any contract they'd like which are placed by factions and other corporations. Freelancers can also form temporary Units with other freelancers for jobs that require more than one Dust. The next level corporation is a Faction corporation. Faction corporations will be the armed forces of a Planet. Once a Dust trooper joins a faction, they will become engrossed in the Eve storyline and fight for their faction. Depending on which race they joined a freelance Dust will only be able to join the faction that their race is a part of. The third type of corporation is a player run corporation. These corporations will be like mercenary companies. The benefit of a player corporation is that they will be able to deploy better Dust ships than the standard faction will and freelance Dust ships. More clone Vats could be added and better deployment methods. On top of this player, corporations could also expand their arsenal by having armor and a larger range of weapons available to their Dust troops. Dust Corporations will also be able to organize into larger and more organized units and get more difficult tasks done.

2.4 Contracts

Contracts will be important to a Dust's life, as they will provide the income of a Dust. Contracts will be binding and controlled by concord and a breach of the contract will void it. For example if a Dust trooper has taken up a contract to fight for one side but begins shooting that side's soldiers the contract will become void, and the Dust will be removed from the battlefield via termination from the Dog Tag. Of course, there is also the question of Dust Corporations fighting for both sides. I say why not. An arms dealer does not take sides. I believe this should apply for Mercenary corporations.

2.5 Notes

A final note is that, though Dust might seem unfair because in the end the corporation with the more cash will attract better contracts. But I have provided a few arguments to this. Firstly, contracts will run out. Limits can also be set on how many contracts a corporation can make out for Dust troops. Furthermore, war is not a friendly thing. If one wishes to play with the big boys then one should come prepared with a lot of guns, cash and supplies.

In addition, who else are Dust troopers fighting other than themselves? Well remember the companies I discussed earlier? Those will be AI on the ground for the Dust troops. I believe it is important to use AI to help fill up the battlefields to help give the impression of war on an epic scale. I do not think Dust will be able to rely solely on players alone to fill up the battlefields or create the atmosphere of all out war.

End Note

Well these are my ideas so far. I'm writing this at 2am so please excuse any mistakes. In addition, I am not saying this is the way it should be done, but it is an idea, which I hope many of you could expand on, and CCP would take some of the points and ideas that I have mentioned into consideration. Of course, I could be completely wrong and CCP have come up with a great system, which would be terrific! I will be adding to this post and I hope others will also construct on these ideas. Though they may not be used at all I believe it is important and just fun to see and read the ideas that many of you I'm sure have come up with.

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