CCP explains Dust 514 updating, Sony certification and not disturbing Eve

The perils of sharing one giant server.

PS3 shooter MMO Dust 514 has unprecedented freedom on PSN to be updated by developer CCP. This is crucial for an MMO.

But, Eurogamer learned today at E3, some Dust 514 updates will still have to go through Sony certification. So, how exactly will CCP go about updating Dust 514?

"Sony are being incredibly helpful. They're really bending over backwards to help us. They really recognise the uniqueness of this opportunity," began Eve Online senior producer Jon Lander, talking to Eurogamer today.

"There are many different ways we can go about [updating Dust 514]. We can change the data in the database on the fly, so we can actually create new items just by logging, 'OK, we need 24 new assault rifles by [X] with these price points, with these abilities and with these stats.' We can just do that because we built the ability for that data to change on the fly.

"We can also change the back-end server because that lives within CCP. It's the Eve back-end, we have to have control over it, because we need to change it for Eve, we'll need to change it for Dust. So we can change those things.

"We've actually built a lot of technology over the last 18 months to enable us to have this layer between Dust and the server," he added, "so we can change the server without affecting the client. We've still got to be very careful.

"But if we want to do major client updates to the PS3, then we go through Sony's usual submission process. But we do have ways of just being able to change other parts of the infrastructure as we need to."

Morgan Godat, vice president of art at CCP, and "mister Dust", explained further about what constitutes a major Dust 514 client update - the type that will need to go through Sony certification.

"Any major content update to the game would be a big - it would have a name," he said. "We'll start naming the expansions or whatever you want to call them as they go. I'm not sure if it's actually going to be called an expansion yet, or if it's a content update, but like John said, we have a couple of different ways of updating the game and changing it without the player doing anything, just from a database - they won't even see it.

"They'll start the game as regular and maybe there'll be new guns on the market with new colours applied to them. Big content patches are actually something that we're trying to break down into small packages, so that with a few smaller updates we might be able to go back and change old content and change level layouts and add new models to the game."

Dust 514 and nine-year-old space MMO Eve Online will share the same giant server, Tranquility. This is one of Dust 514's big boasting points. But could their connection be a double-edged sword - could Sony certification complicate Eve Online's patching and update process?

"Not for an Eve update," stressed Lander. "We can actually change the back-end server."

The plan is to launch Dust 514 this year, CCP told us, but the trigger won't be pulled until the team is confident the game is ready. Or so we're told. The game's currently in closed beta, and public will be invited in for the first time later this month, on 29th June.

Dust 514 will be free to download from PSN and be free to play. CCP will make money through micro-transactions.

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