Dust 514, the free PS3 online shooter, will share the same universe (server cluster) as spaceship MMO Eve Online. And the two games will interact. That's been the big selling point of Dust 514 since it was announced.
But we've never really been told specifics by developer CCP. We've never been told how the two games will specifically interact when Dust launches, and how that will evolve - according to a schedule - post-launch.
So we asked.
To begin with, the Dust 514 and Eve Online connection will be an extension of the recent Inferno expansion for Eve Online. This overhauled factional warfare allowed Eve players to embark on faction-given missions take territory within solar systems, upgrade it and earn benefits.
"That's the foundation for the first part of the gameplay interaction with Dust," Eve Online senior producer Jon Lander told Eurogamer. "When Dust goes live on Tranquility, the main live server for Eve, as well as Eve spaceship missions spawning whenever you want to take one of the missions, it will also create mercenary contracts on the temperate planets within those solar systems.
"As Dust mercenaries join your faction, as they win battles, they will contribute to taking over the control of the solar system. And they'll be able to partake in the benefits you get as you develop those systems and keep them and defend them from the enemy.
"That's the very first, almost light touch that we're doing from a gameplay perspective."
It sounds like that will include the much talked about orbital bombardments, too - Eve players firing down to the surface of a planet. As Lander put it: "Air support for Dust mercenaries and factions on the ground."
And the planets will be able to shoot back. "We're going to put it so that if you take control of certain installations on planets, they can fire back up, so you start getting this joint, real-time gameplay between the two," he said.
"To be honest, we've got about a four-and-a-half-year roadmap right now for things we want to do in Eve and Dust as we go down the line."Jon Lander, senior producer, Eve Online
Eve and Dust players will share chat channels, the global market and the map/universe. Lander also mentioned being "all in the same boat" in Corporations - Eve Online's guilds.
"We're going to start on that, and it's deliberately fairly light touch," he said. "And what we do then is, we can have a look at - we have a lot of dials we can tweak to balance it, because no one's done this before, we don't know how it will exactly turn out.
"Then what we're doing is we're building out through our roadmap through the end of this year into the next, and our intention is then that we broaden that out so that Dust has a bigger role in 0.0 [nulsec] warfare - the real Wild West where the laws don't apply.
"We'll broaden that out and make the interaction much greater. We'll look at how do you share resources between the games, how do you actually build things like space elevators, how do you build infrastructures?"
A what - a space elevator?
In Eve Online, Lander explained, you can have colonies on planets that farm resources and fire them up to a customs office on an Orbital Control Centre via a rocket and launch pad. Obviously.
"In Dust," Lander went on, "you'll be able to create an SCC - a Surface Control Centre. And there'll be one of those per planet. If you take all the districts in death matches, you take over control of the planet and get the SCC.
"If you and somebody in Eve are allied - so, in Eve you've got control of the Orbital Control Centre - then you get a space elevator, which makes the transport of goods and services that much easier and cheaper."
When that kind of interaction is possible, Lander hopes competing Eve Online corporations will begin hiring Dust mercenaries to shake things up.
Lander's "not sure exactly" when space elevators will arrive. "But certainly we're [Dust 514 is] going to be going live on Tranquility as we go through the second-half of the year," he said. "And then we've got a number of - to be honest, we've got about a four-and-a-half-year roadmap right now for things we want to do in Eve and Dust as we go down the line."
Before Dust 514 effectively goes live by joining Eve Online's Tranquility server, it needs to first move from the Dust 514 production server - where it's been running a closed beta since December - across to the Eve Online public test server.
The Dust 514 open beta, which starts 29th June, will begin on this production server.
"We've got a number of releases as we go through the summer, which actually move us across our servers," Lander detailed. "Right now, Dust is working on its own production server. As we go through the summer, we're going to move that on to Eve public test server, so that will be when two games first sort of link up."
But it won't be "real". That's what happens when Dust 514 transfers to the Eve Online Tranquillity server. "It's at that point that everything's real, everything's persistent. No wipes," said Lander.
"Dust is joining a nine-year-old game. And it's not just a nine-year-old game, it's a nine-year-old world, where there's a lot of stories, a lot of effort, a lot of time that's going into it from the players. And we haven't wiped the servers, we haven't done a reset, so Dust will start contributing its own stories into that world."
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