Today, Dust 514 makes its transition from closed beta to open beta. But what does that really mean? We spoke to CCP executive producer Brandon Laurino about the EVE Online shooter, and their plans for the future--near and far.
"For us, it really is a true open beta," Laurino told us. "It's not just a term for some indefinite period where we make excuses for why this or that isn't working," when we asked if this beta would be akin to Gmail.
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Dust 514 has been in closed beta for well over a year now, which has given CCP time to come to terms with the PS3. According to Laurino, "literally every aspect of the game, from the balance to the actual feel and tuning of the weapons, the look, the graphics" has changed. When grilled about what the single biggest change to the game would be, Laurino told us that it has to be the graphics--an area CCP is continuing to focus. "With the next release, we've got another whole major upgrade, introducing vegetation into the landscape. It's going to look like a whole new game again."
Communicating Dust's continuing evolution has been a challenge for CCP, given console gamers are unused to a game that changes over time--especially a free-to-play title. To this day, Laurino says gamers are asking about "when are there going to be DLC packs?"--a concept that doesn't apply to the microtransaction-driven model of Dust.
The plan right now is to transition into a fully-released product by the summer. CCP is aiming to "turning on the fire hose" in time for EVE's ten year anniversary. Provided the integration between the two games goes as seamlessly as expected, the two games should be fully merged by the company's next fan fest.
While Dust's final push away from open beta will be a momentous occasion for the team, it's hard not to question if this release will happen much too late in the PS3 life cycle. Already, we're hearing murmurs about the next PlayStation, which is rumored to launch later this year. However, Laurino seems unfazed. Dust will continue to get support on the PS3. "We're really pushing the PS3, but we haven't pushed it as far as it can go. Believe it or not, the Cell processor does have a lot of room to grow with it," he told us.
But he also told us that "we've got a 10-year roadmap for Dust... In 10 years, we're providing a game as a service, and we want it to be as accessible to as many people as possible. And we're going to do that." If that meant moving to another platform, whether Orbis or PC, Laurino was mum. However, he noted: "I'm not just talking crazy when I say there's a 10-year roadmap. There's a plan behind that."