Monday, April 7, 2014

CSM9 Platform: The (Broken) Eve FW/Dust Connection

I had an interesting day today. It might have been especially interesting for those people tuned into DJ Wiggles' The GRN Show today, because they got to hear me rage at DNSBlack for a couple of minutes. I have no problem with the guy on any level really, it's just that when someone suggests to me that finding fights in Eve (especially Factional Warfare) should be more challenging, I'm liable to lose my shit in a fit of rage that would make Shadoo proud.

Well, DNSBlack sort of said this, but in his defense
I think he was thinking of farming, not fighting.
What sparked this though? A little used mechanic in Factional Warfare connecting Dust 514 and Eve; the Orbital Bombardment. This mechanic was actually revamped some time ago, yet when I talk with most people involved in FW about it, the most common response I get is "What's that?" or "How can I get in on it?" The answer, unfortunately, is complicated.

During one of the more recent patches, CCP changed the way orbitals work in FW in a few ways.

The Changes

First, they added an LP reward to encourage Eve pilots to want to provide them. This LP scales with warzone control, and comes out to 6000 LP per volley fired from space at tier 2. A volley can be fired once per 3 minutes, and the average Dust battle lasts anywhere from 12 to 15 minutes.

Second, CCP made the conditions that dictate whether an OB can be called down based on what's happening in Space, not on the ground. If one faction holds the Satellite in orbit for a 3 minute timer, the squad leaders of the faction that holds the satellite then have the ability to call for a strike. It is then up to the pilot in space to fire.

Third, CCP added kill reports for Dust troops and vehicles destroyed from orbit. While the isk destroyed is usually laughable, most killboards count dust kills as kills, so it can fluff numbers a bit.

Lastly, CCP made it so that if someone is in proximity of the district beacon, it will show up loud and proud on overviews anywhere in system (providing the appropriate box is checked in your overview settings) so that anyone passing through will know that someone is sitting there waiting to get ganked.

The Challenges

These changes were all well and good, however CCP left out one itty bitty important piece to this whole thing... a reliable way for Eve and dust players to communicate a need for each others services! As an Eve player, there is no easy way for me to actually find where these Dust battles are happening. For Dust players, there is no easy way to find pilots in Eve willing to race around lowsec to provide air support.

A simple tool showing FW players upcoming and in progress dust battles would have been sublime. Instead, several dozen clumsily put together in-game chat channels have cropped up with a handful each of Dust and Eve players in them who were able to find their way in. Given the turn over in dust players, often a channel that was busy a month ago is now dead as many of the Dust players in that channel likely no longer play the game. While I applaud players for attempting to work around a shitty implementation by CCP, I am appalled that CCP's devs in this case were either unable or unwilling to provide the players of both games a reliable way to find and help one another.

This issue is further compounded by a rather shitty implementation of voice comms. Most Dust FW players use squad comms for their voice chatting needs. Eve players can not be a part of a Dust squad, and therefore cannot join their squad chat with Eve voice. Eve players can join DISTRICT chat for a battle in progress, but only as long as they are in orbit and connected through the Dust satellite. Most Dust players in my experience, while showing in district chat, are not connected to it audibly, and therefore can't hear or speak with a supporting pilot in orbit.

The only real work around for this issue I've found has been to have a completely separate channel populated by fleet support and ground troops and have everyone connected to it through Eve Voice. In the world of FW, and it's accessibility, this can prove to be a supreme pain in the ass to coordinate, even with a smaller group.

The Solutions

The solutions to these 2 very major issues facing the dust/Eve connection in FW are as simple as the problems.

Proof that CCP's Marketing Dept. probably
doesn't actually play Eve.
First, Eve and Dust players need better tools to communicate with each other. A hybrid CCP sub forum linked on both Eve-O forums and Dust forums, where players from both games can post and communicate with each other would lend itself more to CCP's "One Universe / One War" marketing slogan. I've talked with several FW corps who would love to be able to find like minded souls on the Dust side to work with, but only those who also have Dust accounts are able to communicate with Dust players on official CCP forums.

Next, allowing Eve pilots to join Dust squads as designated air support would go some way towards tightening the voice comms gap. Many Eve players seem allergic to Eve Voice, but this may be one way of showing people that it doesn't completely deserve the bad rap it's been given since it's early days. It also happens to be the most reliable link between Eve and Dust players comms wise at the moment.

Lastly, we need tools to be able to find one another. On the Eve side, this could be as simple as adding a tab in the FW interface to display in-progress and upcoming Dust battles in a player's chosen war zone. For the Dust side, having a queue that Eve pilots can join to show willingness to provide Orbital Support for Dust players to ping, and invite to squad.

Unfortunately, as DJ Wiggles said on the GRN show today, these changes are unlikely to happen unless CCP sees a clear benefit. If the present piss poor implementation of this feature is an indicator of how much stock CCP is putting in the Eve/Dust connection, I weep for it's future. Perhaps with a good shove from both the CSM and the CPM (which I hear is fighting their own uphill battle against CCP at present) some progress at a more meaningful connection can be made.

At least I picked up a solid endorsement from the ER In-Game channel after my ranting:
I'd vote for Bacon. I've heard him rage, so if anyone can get CCP off their asses it's him - River Tamn, Eve Radio Listener
In my own defense, it's not so much rage as a passion to make Eve a better game.


  1. An issue for Eve/Dust groups that we have no way around is the need to be enlisted Eve side but not Dust side. Corps within the same alliance and even groups within the same corp may fight for different factions be it for LP store gear or even just RP reasons. Would love to have the beacons unlocked as far as faction if your own mercs are fighting on the ground.

  2. The number one problem since Dust hooked up to FW has been that FW groups have treated Dust players with scorn. When Southern Legion started talking around to Minmatar groups they'd barely even respond to us. I'm sorry that guaranteed AUTZ FW boosts isn't enough for your Elitism. It wasn't until Rise of Legion picked us up that anyone EvE side paid any attention at all. I was sad when they decided to leave FW for Null as they were great guys to hang with.

    But we have PC now, so you all miss out, we don't need you. FW is just a farm for us.

    1. Before the more recent changes there was almost no incentive at all for eve pilots to provide orbital support unless it directly involved taking a specific system, and that's probably why you got the responses you did. With 0 reward, there wasn't a point in providing support for battles taking place in meaningless systems, which is the majority of FW space. Why risk a ship and pod for no gain when you could risk ship and pod while making money or getting kills?

      Since the change added incentives for pilots to take the risks involved in supporting ground fights, more people are interested, but sadly most of the population still remains ignorant of the benefits of having a dust division. The lack of tools to communicate these needs between the games doesn't help this either.

    2. Their not ignorent you mongolid, BUST is utter garbage, The community at large wants CCP to focus on its flagship game, not a badly designed clone of HALO. It's only a matter of time before Sony tells CCP that they need to pull Dust off PsN due to being too shity of a game.

  3. TLDR, Dust is dead, CCP is a joke for keeping this turd alive. "5 to 10 year plan"? Yea the market will be waiting for you to get your shit together.

  4. ...but you caught ripard teg speaking you are unelectable.


    Keep it up FB

  5. If the Dust Mercs got translated to the battle system and showed up in local, I would undock a dessie in Nenn right away.

    If the warzone showed active FW system battles with a Dust icon/symbol in the FW UI, I would actively assist too. Something cool to do. In my opinion, both could be pretty easy.