Eve Prepares For Dust Off
You know Eve Online well enough to know that it’s played on one server, right? The game may only have 400,000 subscribers, but when you consider the fact 30-50,000 people are playing there at any given time (and potentially all 400,000 of them), it challenges the perception of what the biggest MMOG currently is. But I digress…
The place where those 30-50k Eve players hang out is called Tranquillity (or New Eden, to give it its RP name) but there’s actually another server. It’s called Singularity (or ‘Sisi‘ by those that frequent it) and it is basically Eve’s public test server; where gameplay features go before being patched in to New Eden proper.
There are usually a few dozen people logged into Sisi, often located around the same system and almost all of them playing with their ship fittings and practising combat around various nav buoys. This is understandable: Given the penalties for taking wrong figurative and literal turns in Eve’s live arena, it pays to do a few laps of the practice track.
When there are big gameplay features and rebalances on the horizon, the Sisi population will increase to a good few hundred and sometimes one or two thousand. This isn’t always because players are keen to experience all the exciting things CCP have been working on, but often to find a way to exploit them before anyone else. This is also understandable: Knowledge being power and all that.
Right now there is a very very large Eve Online feature on the horizon. It’s called Dust 514 (you may have heard of it) and it is of course the Unreal-powered PS3 shooter that CCP have been working on for the last five years or so.
Dust will allow its players to fight across the planets of New Eden on foot and inside tanks and dropships, while Eve players will continue fighting out in space. The big deal is that both Eve and Dust will co-exist in the same New Eden universe at the same time, either via a desktop computer or a Sony console; purely socially in some cases as part of the same alliances, or supporting one another at other times with off-field fire and sharing the spoils of war – probably not very fairly, but that’s for the players to endlessly debate when the time comes.
While CCP have still to give out a solid release date for Dust 514, the big news is that after a couple of months of closed beta testing away from the drama of New Eden, the shooter will be plugged into Eve via Singularity next Tuesday 21st August, when capsuleer and consoleers will be able to chat and message one another in-game.
CCP are calling this first integrated test the Dust 514 “Precursor” build. Mouse and keyboard controls will be active and more maps will be playable. The marquee feature of ground-orbit strikes will be switched off initially, but it shouldn’t be too long until Dust mercenaries can knock Eve pilots out of orbit and likewise Eve players lay down a carpet of fiery vengeance across the surface of planets. When that feature is switched on we can expect the concurrent Sisi test server population to break a few records. If it were able to we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Sisi server population outnumbering Tranquillity. Indeed, if forecasts are to be believed, Eve and New Eden could soon explode in popularity without adding a single new subscriber to its ranks.