CCP Games CEO Hilmar Pétursson delivered a keynote presentation at GDC Europe in Cologne today, and unveiled the project their Shanghai studio has worked on for the last three years: DUST 514, a console MMOFPS set in the EVE Online universe.
So then, what is DUST 514? According to the game trailer, it's "One universe, one war." While EVE Online lets players struggle against one another for dominance in space, DUST 514 will let console gamers fight for control of planets in EVE's setting of New Eden.
The company stated, "The primary gameplay of DUST 514 features brutal ground combat that takes place on the surface of planets from EVE, delivering the visceral, adrenaline-fueled experience of futuristic firefights. Developed for the current generation of consoles, DUST 514 combines equal parts battlefield reflexes and strategic planning, giving commanders and ground infantry real-time configurable weapons and modular vehicles to manage dynamic battlefield conditions." In his talk at GDC Europe today, Hilmar stated that DUST 514 will reach out to two different audiences, fans of first person shooters and MMO players, and their aim is to ultimately meld the communities of EVE Online and DUST 514. He elaborated on this and explained the various ways that the two games will tie in with one another.
DUST 514 will figure prominently into the CCP Games strategy to revamp EVE Online's system of galactic control, called sovereignty. It was originally discussed in the current issue of EON magazine that planetary control would be an aspect of changing how EVE's player alliances gain control of territory. Apparently, what players can do in DUST 514 will also play a major role in EVE moving forward. Hilmar explained more about how the terrestrial gameplay of DUST 514 will be interconnected with the ship-centric gameplay of EVE Online.
Currently, player alliance sovereignty (regional control) is tied to maintaining numerous player-owned structures across different solar systems to establish a territory as belonging to that alliance, and as shown on the game's star map. Since DUST 514 is set in the same galaxy as the core MMO, with the same planets, EVE players will have the option of contracting DUST (player) mercenaries to gain control of planets.
Hilmar said, "DUST battlefields will dictate who control specific planets inside the EVE MMO. If a player contracts a DUST mercenary team to go and conquer this district of a planet. Then ultimately he will be able to control the planet, and therefore the solar system, and therefore the constellation, and the region."
He explained more about the interplay between EVE Online and DUST 514. Hilmar said, "You will increasingly have to fight with your fleet [in EVE Online] but you will also have to contract people who play DUST, the console MMO, which then feeds into the sovereignty control system of EVE. Then EVE feeds back into that again by funding the mercenaries, giving them goals." In a nod to Starship Troopers, he said, "The fleet does the flying, the infantry does the dying."
When you bring these two communities together, that "one universe, one war" means that the EVE PC MMO and DUST 514 console MMOFPS gamers will form interconnected social structures and meld over time.
This is CCP's hope, anyway. Hilmar says he'd like to see specific DUST corporations and alliances that bridge the gap to the EVE MMO, as the ground game adds new dimensions to the space-based gameplay of EVE Online as we know it today.
Hilmar added that the backstory for the DUST infantry will tie in with an upcoming EVE Online novel, which we think will most likely be Hjalti Danielsson's The Burning Life. He did reveal that the cloning technology that imbues EVE Online's capsuleers with immortality has been adapted for broader use, and is applied to the ground-based warfare that comprises DUST 514's gameplay. Further revelations of the DUST 514 story will likely be held back until EVE Fanfest 2009.
He stressed their commitment to this new direction they're taking the EVE Online IP, and that DUST 514 isn't just a side project they're working on. Hilmar said, "We are leveraging all of CCP's international infrastructure into this project." The game has been in development for three years at the CCP Games Shanghai studio.
The new MMO announcement came as part of Hilmar's presentation "CCP: Winning the War" which was a look back at the company's history, from their early days as a small, unknown company trying to create something different to today, where they stand as a major MMO developer.