Sunday, April 22, 2012

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Even he, to whom most things that most people would think were pretty smart were pretty dumb, thought it was pretty smart.
--Douglas Adams

This weekend saw an increase in activity on the DUST 514 Beta front that got me thinking.  Now, I realize everyone reading this might not be all that interested in DUST, but I am.  To those of you who aren't, I would encourage you to start a blog of your very own where you have complete editorial control over the content.  Like I do here.

Just so we're all on the same page, it would appear that last week Sony sent out Beta keys to 5,000 Playstation Plus subscribers that allowed them to access the servers over the weekend.  I know this because a number of those people hadn't trained Reading Comprehension V as they proceeded to break the Non-Disclosure Agreement and post video of their gameplay online.  CCP then responded by admonishing Capsuleers on the EVE forums.  That's not what I'm here to talk about though, as I'm far more interested in the gameplay content of the videos than the drama surrounding its release.

As I watched the videos I couldn't help but think, "These people are terrible.  I can't wait to get in there and obliterate these guys."  This thought was mostly the result of the players having no concept of fittings or skills and simply running around in nothing but Militia gear (DUST's equivalent to EVE's Civilian modules).  Oh sure, sometimes they'd stumble blindly through the market buying equipment (Often gear that they clearly, to me anyway, didn't have the skills to use as denoted by the familiar red X next to the skill icon) and then attempting to fit them to their character, wondering why it wasn't working when their new fitting was over on CPU or PG.  As I finished watching them I was filled with all kinds of smug over the huge advantage I would be bringing with me to the game when I finally got to play.  However, as the weekend went on, that feeling of smug slowly began to turn to one of doubt.

In my spare moments, when my mind would wander, I thought back to those DUST fitting screens.  They look very familiar, and yet, very foreign to me.  As far as EVE is concerned, my mind is a veritable lexicon of fittings and tactics.  Off the top of my head I can recall PvP fittings for any ship I can fly, and many that I've never flown, but it was not always this way.  It has taken me countless hours of analyzing the fittings of others and of theorizing on my own in the EVE Fitting Tool while simultaneously mapping my skill progression through EVEMon to ensure the shortest possible route to these fits for my characters.  This is when it hit me; I have no idea what a good DUST fitting even looks like.

While it's certainly possible that the players I was watching weren't the brightest, after all they seemed to be having trouble recalling what NDA stood for, but it's also possible that coming up with these fittings isn't going to be a simple matter.  Not only will I not have any of the "standard fits" that I first started with in EVE, but I won't have the same tools to build them myself that I have now.  After all, there is no DFT or DUSTMon, not yet anyway.  Here is where the doubt sets in as I begin to wonder, "How smart am I really?"  Without these programs to guide me, without the advice of those that had come before me on what fittings work and what don't, how far would I have really come in EVE?  I've written many guides on this very site, some of them certainly breaking new ground, but how much of that has relied on the work of others to at least get me started?

I, for one, am both excited and terrified by this aspect of DUST.  On the one hand, it offers the potential to go back in time, to an era in New Eden when fittings were not as standardized as they are today.  When playing smart could give you a serious advantage of others with poor fits.  To pioneer tactics of PvP and to potentially use those tactics for fun and profit.  On the other hand, without the tools I have today to guide me, I could find myself generating those same comedy killmails that I'd rather be collecting.  Or, at the very least, I may soon find myself locked in a dark room for hours on end trying to build those same tools from scratch in a spreadsheet.  If nothing else, this little dwarf may soon find himself climbing down and finding just how far he can see on his own.



1 comment:

  1. And of course a different _player_ skillset enters the picture as well.

    Put us in a game of Wing Commander (ANY of them), and I'd probably blast your ass to the stone age, no matter what combo of ships we were flying. I were a shit-hot space pilot, at least in the WC universe.

    Now in EVE, well, being a hotshot joystick jock in a Rapier/Hellcat V/Vampire doesn't mean shit when it's all [hella zoomed-out] 3rd person, mouse clicks, and module activations...

    Likewise, Garmon and the rest of the "l337 EVE PvP" crowd that tries DUST out may find that despite "better fits", the twitch thumbstick & d-pad reflexes of the Console Kiddies means "DUST is HARD", for them. ;-)