Sunday, 3 February 2013

The DUST-Eve economy

Back when Planetary Interaction was introduced to Eve it was billed as an aspect of DUST, an industrial resource for Eve players control of which would be decided by DUST players.

CCP Omen stated:
A lot of work lies ahead in guiding Planetary Interaction towards our ultimate design goal through staged releases and connecting it to CCP's upcoming game, DUST 514. As you may or may not have heard, Planetary Interaction will constitute the main intersection of these two games, something we refer to as the "DUST 514 link," bridging them into one even-more-massive EVE universe.

It's now 2013 and, frankly, that intersection seems a very long way away.

DUST514 has its own development logic and to get the game ready for the very polished shooter market the team has focused very much on DUST as a pvp game and very little on DUST as an offshoot of Eve's economy.

Planetary Interaction has bloomed in Eve since CCP Omen's statement and is now a far more integral part of the economy than I supect the developers anticipated back in 2010. Bluntly if everyone in Eve who has a PI setup sees it invaded and interdicted by console gamers there'll be riots at Jita again.

So while I still expect to see this one day it won't happen any time soon. Not this year, possibly not even next year.

So far the interaction between the two games is minor and strategic. Faction Warfare zone control can be mildly helped by what's happening on the ground or hindered by it. This feature isn't really pushed very hard in DUST so most players simply won't be aware it's an option unless chased down by Eve Faction Warfare organisers (enablers is the new buzzword I believe). A good account of this happening is given here but this is currently exceptional. Most FW progression happens without anyone bothering about what DUST players are doing. Also it doesn't help you win, it just reduces the grind. If one side brings 30 Battlecruisers and the other side brings 20, the blob will win, all DUST players can do is drag out the process.

In addition to that strategic benefit Eve players can also blow up ground forces in DUST by aiding an orbital bombardment but that's currently just a gimmick. It takes a lot of arranging and will rarely matter much to the fight. Unaided orbital strikes seem to kill everyone anyway so getting someone to fly 30 jumps just to kill them a bit harder is a waste of effort.

Back to the economy: the first thing that needs to happen is alignment of the currencies. In DUST I have 4 million isk which is enough for many many armour restocks. Powerful gear like tanks cost 200k - 1m.

In Eve a million isk won't buy you a bottle of fizzy drink.

So at first there will be an exchange rate between the Eve isk and the DUST isk so Eve billionaires like me don't dominate by throwing tank armies at every match. Developers have stated the ultimate goal is to bring the currencies into synch.

Also AUR (aurum), Eve's secondary currency, is out of synch. 2500 Eve AUR costs £12.99. 40000 DUST AUR costs £14.99. So these either need to never be tradeable or there also needs to be an EVE Aur: DUST Aur exchange rate.

There's an additional problem with bringing AUR into synch. AUR is the cash shop currency and is heavily used in DUST. Skill gain boosts and "gold" weapons are very popular items. Now in Eve AUR is much less used and they've given Eve players a lot as Christmas presents etc. My Eve accounts all have some AUR on, between 9500 and 2000. Even at the rather harsh exchange rate we have now that's a lot of stuff Eve players can buy in DUST. There are also AUR tokens so enterprising Eve players will be able to change isk to AUR and vice versa. In other words someone space rich could be able to get DUST cash shop items using Eve money.

Now I'll turn to the problems with production of ground force equipment. The most elegant design might be for these items to be manufactured in Eve using planetary goods. That would give us a cycle:

PLANET GOO (Eve PI managers) --------->
ARMS and ARMOUR (Eve manufacturers)---------->
MARKET (Eve and DUST traders and speculators)------->
DUST battles (Arms and armour gets destroyed, Planets get defended or conquered) --------->
PLANET GOO (farmed by the planet's new owner)

That's the elegant way to do it, the DUST players protect and assist the people who arm them in a mutually beneficial arrangement. You could have weapons made of asteroid ore but that wouldn't bring the game communities together.

Getting there (if that's the goal) is going to be hard. DUST currently has a fixed price market for goods. Bringing in the Eve players could see a price hike that makes it hard for DUST players, especially late adopters to buy gear effectively meaning that they would need to spend AUR for blueprints (or simply stop playing once they've run out of money). There are crappy free suits you can use but then you really are cannon fodder, even more so once the DUST population ages a bit and the new guys are up against maxxed out opponents. There really needs to be the equivalent of Eve's rifter heros - low skill new players who can be extremely useful in a fight between the big boys and there's simply no role for rubbish players. Worse, as DUST battles are decided on kills that "blueberry" (as they call new people in DUST) who has got 0 kills and 10 deaths is costing the veterans victory and money. We'll probably see players starting to get hostile towards the new and under-powered because of this design.

What's more you can get militia blueprints that allow you to make infinite low quality items forever. They cost AUR but many of us have these and can run off free suits for ourselves whenever we want to save up cash. While these are only a little better than the free starter suits it does undermine the player-run economy aspect.

As for Eve the planets are in something of a mess with regard to the invading DUST hordes. There are four types of space: high sec, low sec, null sec and wormhole space. Wormholes are supposed to be obscure and hard to find so it's a bit unimmersive if hordes of soldiers suddenly land on a planet in one. Null sec is controlled space guarded at choke points by player gate camps so it seems a bit unfair if DUST mercs can magically teleport 20 jumps past the frontier to the rich carebear zones. Low sec seems a natural place for someone turning up and kicking in your shit but it's not ideal to go further down the path of low sec being harsher than null sec. High sec is supposed to be safe space - so are the farms on high sec planets going to be immune? CCP could make them vulnerable to war decs but that doesn't make sense because one high sec planet might be farmed from people from dozens of different corps - who would get the planet if one of those corps were war decced and defeated?

In addition significant disruption of planetary commodities would cause chaos in the Eve economy, especially for POS owners. And guess what's happening over the next two years? - a POS revamp. I'm half hoping that null sec planets will all burn and I'll be able to smuggle out Coolant from my wormhole and sell it at exorbitant rates.

If there's one thing about Eve that's always true - it pays to be adaptable and I'm sure the integration of Eve's economy with DUST514's will see a lot of re-positioning among us traders.

1 comment:

  1. Read this a few days ago but wasn't able to comment at the time. I don't know all the answers, but I did like your idea or it could be refined. The idea that capsuleers could maybe make the gear and planetary vehicle's for Dust players with ISK/Planet Resources could be interesting to even out the economy. Dusties get their gear or be supplied with them or subsidized with their new shiny gear (Most of it) made by capsuleers. But i guess that would cut CCP out of making $$ selling the Dusties their gear for profit.

    But capsuleers get an armed fighting force to defend their assets on the ground. Items get injected into the DUST economy to wage the Wars over Planets for Sov while slowly leading to some kind of equalization of both economy with one side supplying the other but the other side affecting the outcome as well. At least that's how I thought of it.

    It would have seemed better to me if right from the get go that Planetary Interaction and Moon Mining resources be all tied to Dust. That would of really tied both EVE and DUST together at the stake and made the need for resources both worth fighting for in a huge way.