I have to admit I was a little hesitant about how much CCP would have to talk about the PC-side of EVE Online at my E3 appointment. Their big news at the show is the launch of their big PS3-exclusive shooter, which ties into the EVE Online universe, Dust 514.
So when I sat down with a group of devs from CCP, including Senior Technical Director Torfi Frans Olafsson, Producer Thomas Farrer, and CTO Halldor Fannar, I didn't expect a lot of convincing answers - but what I found was a pack of contemplative, exciting developers dedicated to the classic EVE Online PC experience.
Dust isn't just a console game, it's changing how EVE Online players will interact with each other in the universe in a major way. Dust players will share the same chat channels, will be able to join the same corporations and be involved in the same rivalry and backstabbing shenigans that grabs gaming headline news every month or so. The update will obvisouly change how soverignty works over planets and over systems. Dust players will be able to duke it out on the ground to help corporations resolve their rivalries over owning a specific planet. PC players won't be micromanaging their console shooter counterparts, but they will be able to buy mercenaries at top dollar, or train their own ground troops within their corporation to control their planets on the ground.
Farrer told me that while playing EVE Online on the server where DUST was being tested, he saw some activity on a planet as he was flying by it in space. He got close to the planet and looked close, and he see combat raging below, and got a sudden message in his chat box: "Hello!" It was the Dust player on the surface of the planet who had seen his ship above him in the sky and sent a message of greeting. Let me state that in simple terms: a PC EVE Online player flying a space ship could see and communicate with a PS3 player shooting on the ground of the planet.
But PC players won't be sitting idly by as the grunts on the ground duke it out for control. Spaceships will be able to bombard the battlefield from orbit, but they'll have to duke it out with the other ships that will be looking to bombard from orbit as well. But the ground grunts don't have to take it lying down. They'll be able to fire back at orbitting ships with massive anti-ship turrets on the battlefield. EVE players already have some amazingly epic-sized space battles (in the past, they broke the servers when they had over 15,000 player-controlled ships in one sector fighting)--I can only imagine how much more exciting and massive they'll be when they're happening in tandem with a ground assault on multiple planets' surfaces in the region.
It'll be tempting for EVE players to feel like they've been cheated out of an expansion because of Dust's PS3-exclusivity (at least for now), but they shouldn't. There's a whole lot to look forward to as an EVE Online player, with expanding corporations, increasingly complex economic and military battlefields evolving for you to duke it out over supremacy. Plus, if all else fails, you can just try a classic EVE move: bribe the enemy's ground mercenaries into throwing their match in your favor!
UPDATE: Farrer contacted us Friday morning to clarify his story a bit. Here is how he described it, "When in orbit around a planet, ships in EVE can see conflict zones represented on the surface, and access information about the individual battle. Requests and communication between the two games is possible, and orbital strike requests from DUST players on the surface do indeed pop up and EVE players can happily deliver death from above! So there is a very direct live connection between the PC and the PS3, but at this point you can't literally 'see' the battles and their components taking place from the PC." This is a bit less exciting technology-wise than how we heard it described on the show floor, but still very cool!