Unless you’ve been living under an asteroid, you’ve probably heard that Planetary Conquest (PC) is starting to heat up again in Dust 514. It all started when Subdreddit director and HAV specialist NINJAPIRATEROBOTZOMBIE called together all the other alliances and corporations throughout Molden Heath to form a coalition and cease-fire agreement and focus their efforts on a war against EoN Alliance—the group of highly-skilled allied corporations that has slowly been taking over Molden Heath, to the point where it has become frustrating to the majority of the Dust community.
Just like in Eve Online, it’s up to the players to create content, and hence, making the game fun and engaging; that is exactly what NPRZ has done. With help, of other parties, of course. He simply lit the spark (and continues to fan the flames).
In order to get a better understanding of what’s going on in Molden Heath right now, I decided to interview NPRZ as well as EoN Alliance mastermind and CEO, Mavado V Noriega, aka NuMbz. I interviewed both separately.
What state was Molden Heath in before the war began?
NINJAPIRATEROBOTZOMBIE: Before the war, EoN held about 160 of the 245 districts. Additionally, they managed 20 districts on Planet Fight Club. PC at this point had nearly no participation from other corporations, most finding it hard to even muster up enough troops to form a squad. We also saw non-EoN corps sporting their best militia and BPO fits to save money due to not having any income from lack of ISK-generating districts.
EoN’s arguably the most influential player in Dust 514 right now. How do you see EoN’s role in the game?
Mavado V Noriega: This pretty much sums us up:
We don’t necessarily look into it too much. We lived long enough to go from heroes to villains. In the community’s eyes, that’s to be expected—whoever the community sees at the top will always be painted the new “villain”. We just play the game to have fun. Nothing overly serious, to be honest.
What are your main reasons for calling this coalition together?
NPRZ: It’s all about getting the community together to play Dust 514. It’s not about getting ISK or districts for Subdreddit or any other corporations. Many of us complain and QQ in the forums about PC, but we all share part of the blame. The second corporations started losing districts or matches in PC, they began bailing out, allowing EoN to continue their pursuit.
We know EoN’s the big player here. But what makes it so satiable for them to be attacked by so many corps at once?
NPRZ: They are the leaders and rulers of Molden Heath until someone can change it. Many don’t agree with EoN rules—some feel as though they were backstabbed by them at one point or another. Others just want to get involved and support the underdogs.
MVN: Well going back to my first answer, it’s content really. Most people don’t “hate” us. We just hold the most land, and we know people will attack us because of that, and that’s what we want. It’s good for the game in the short run.
So how is the war going?
NPRZ: So far, EoN has managed to win most fights and defend their districts. The coalition’s corporations are seeing the number of online players double and triple, however. Many are getting valued experience playing at a level higher than they are used to by joining in on these PC fights. Lots of friendships are being made between players and corporations that would otherwise not have been possible. Eve-side support has also been present throughout the war—the war is keeping the two communities connected. There have been a lot of positive gains for both the coalition, and the Dust 514 community as a whole.
MVN: Fun. Targets were going away, so we kept poking and finally people are coming at us instead of QQing. We don’t expect to hold a lot of land—the more land we lose, the more targets open back up for us to shoot at again. It’s win-win for everyone.
What outcome do you expect from the war?
NPRZ: It depends on a lot of different factors. The leaders of the coalition will meet again soon to discuss this. I expect that we will see the player counts continue to increase and more corporations will be willing to stay engaged in PC. I would also like to see some of the EoN Alliance corporations join other alliances and integrate their experience to keep things fun and competitive throughout the community.
MVN: The outcome really doesn’t matter. Obviously, I’d want to win, but the fights are what’s most important. Also, one key thing people may be overlooking is that some of these corporations are getting into PC for the first time and are gaining valuable experience, which in my opinion is more important than a simple win today, because it helps build their corporations up (those that don’t break, at least), to start getting out of the pub mentality and start getting into a more organized teamplay environment. The way I see it, these corps are going to be holding it down come holidays when older vet corps take a break from Dust or move on to other games, so it’s important that these indie/newer corporations gain the experience needed to play in an organized fashion and learn what Dust war is about.
Dust 514 has never had PC tested at this capacity. What aspects of it are working and helping draw in new players?
NRPZ: Servers seem to be working under the large demands, with minimal lag reports from players. It seems that the thought of war and purpose has drawn many out of retirement and back into action.
MVN: I think it’s the “coalition/alliance” part that is what’s working. Most of the corporations in this war used to be independent, but you really can’t stay indie and expect to do much in PC. Some of these guys are seeing how being part of an alliance, however loose it may be, can help. A lot of these teams also get discouraged after a series of losses, and some don’t have the training. This is where a proper faction warfare environment can help get corporations to gradually go from pub matches, to faction warfare, and ultimately to planetary conquest.
What aspects of PC aren’t working and make the game seem “broken”?
NPRZ: The biggest thing is that current PC mechanics make it so hard to fight if you don’t already own districts. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that EoN owns most of the region. I don’t see this game lasting long if CCP doesn’t open more regions to Dust 514 soon. They also need to implement some new mechanics to make PC more desirable for not just the Dust merc, but for Eve pilots as well.
MVN: FOTM (fit or flavor of the month) shit as usual. Dust encourages FOTM and spam tactics—less about actual team strategy and more about who can use the most gimmicks to win. It’s been like that for months now, and as someone who has done a lot of clan battles in other games, from a balance perspective, Dust is one of the worst for competitive gaming. Weapons, maps and bugs all need to be sorted out if CCP really wants Dust 514 to be an eSport game in the future.
Looking at what you intended from this war and coalition, do you think is has been successful thus far?
NPRZ: Absolutely. As far as Subdreddit is concerned, we have gone from having maybe 10 players online during prime time, to having 30 or more. It’s so nice to see old faces return, and just in time for the new patch update that will allow us to take full advantage of the new implementations.
If CCP could grant you one wish, what would it be?
NPRZ: Fix PC and open new regions, or expand the current region once new mechanics are implemented to prevent one group from being able to control everything.
MVN: A better game? haha! Seriously though, more delivery on what was promised. The concept of Dust 514 is excellent, but execution has been poor. It’s funny how the ’09 videos on the old engine seem to have more content gameplay-wise than what we currently have now. It had huge maps and fighters already working in that version. Aiming and stuff was stiff, but the potential of the ’09 build seemed a lot higher than what we have now.
Extra thanks to Mavado and Ninja for answering these questions. Interesting times are ahead. Hope to see you all in Planetary Conquest! -V.Heathen