DUST 514: Eve Culture Shock and Grief University

It has been three days since spies from Grief University set the DUST community on fire with their sabotage of a DUST Uni Planetary Conquest match. They boldly proclaimed their actions on the DUST forums, triggering a lively response from players that ranged from praise to recommendations to commit suicide. They followed up with another attack on R.I.f.t. later that evening, prompting the victims to create their own thread of discussion with the title "[HUMBLED] Infiltrated by spies in PC". More threads popped up, speculating as to the identity of Grief University's members and complaining that corporations could no longer accept new members without care or regard to their backgrounds. But what's most startling is a newly-made and now-locked thread entitled "Calling for the Removal of Jenza Aranda and Iron Wolf Saber from CPM0".


For those of us not in the know, DUST 514 is (or will be) heavily linked to the EVE Online universe. DUST mercenaries fight on EVE planets in low and high security systems for employers such as the Serpentis Corporation, Caldari State, or Ishukone. Corporations exist in both games, and while wallets are currently separate, player presences span both games.

EVE is the MMO that comes closest to actually living up to the "you can do anything" claim that companies toss around from time to time. You can attempt to peacefully mine or run missions against NPC pirates, manufacture components at a starbase you own, or explore space anomalies. All these are rather peaceful professions and somewhat similar to other MMO offerings. What makes EVE unique is the number and types of PvP actions you can partake in: piracy, fleet battles, harassment, extortion, scamming, spying, sabotage, embezzlement, and awoxing.

Awoxing is the act of using a spy character to cause overt harm or damage to a corporation. In EVE, this usually means sneaking a character into a corporation and blowing up, tackling, or harassing blues. In more extreme cases, an awoxer might warp an entire fleet directly into the waiting arms of the victims' enemy. Chain smokers live by awoxing; they sneak into high sec miner corporations that want nothing to do with PvP and promptly destroy their expensive ships, harvesting ISK and tears along the way.

It's this kind of metagaming that FPS games lack. When someone sneaks into a clan and spies or wreaks havoc, they tend to be promptly booted, shamed, called all sorts of names, and potentially disqualified from whatever event they were involved in. Basically, it's a big no-no. In EVE, you get the opposite reaction. It's a fact of life and tends to provide capsuleers with entertainment. Whatever the carebears in space might claim, such behavior is not only expected, it's sanctioned by CCP.


DUST spent months of open beta with no viable metagame. Awoxing was technically possible, but with such an immature metagame it wasn't worthwhile. There were no star systems to lose, planets to burn, or players to scorn. The most advanced "awoxing" incidents were the efforts of Immobile Infantry and the like, discovering the inconsistent Grenade Gank and running over friendlies with jeeps. An orbital bombardment glitch was the closest thing there was to an exciting development in the game.

As a result, FPS players had time to become familiar with the meat grinder that DUST was. Everything was familiar to them. The game takes place on a map. Your tools are your guns and your equipment. Victory is claimed by killing others and taking capture points. If you didn't win, you hopped back into queue to try again. No persistence. No trickery. Just your "mad skills" and SP.

Meanwhile, EVE players sat and waited. They knew what to expect of New Eden. DUST just needed something like Planetary Conquest to facilitate the kind of brutal meta-gameplay they breathe. They speculated and, based on what they knew about Uprising, came up with plans to initiate the naive players that thought all battles would take place on the ground. A few days ago, they finally struck.

As a member of Goonfeet, I am legitimately bad at EVE and DUST 514 alike. I spend my nights lamenting the removal of team-killing. I hope for its return and the addition of "emergent" gameplay. If you need me EVE-side, look for Katrin Ardell.