DUST Hotfix Creates SP Gold Rush

One of the first issues to be addressed directly from player responses in the DUST open beta was the issue of daily skill caps. Although CCP acknowledged that the daily skill point (SP) cap was not optimal and was too punishing on players that couldn’t commit to playing daily, they had difficulty coming up with a satisfactory solution. In the end, in a move unusual for CCP, they put it up to a player vote. The final decision was to implement a weekly skill cap of 190,400 SPs per week before boosts (with 1 SP per war point (WP) up to 1000 per match after cap). The skill cap's weekly reset occurs on the Wednesday morning downtime.

Then, on Tuesday morning, a hotfix was applied during an extended downtime. This hotfix fixed an issue where players had not received Skinweave heavy dropsuits and exile assault rifles after transferring to Tranquility. These were special items only given during specific days of the closed beta. The other thing this hotfix did was implement the new weekly SP cap. Savvy players immediately noted that this was done on Tuesday and that the SP cap reset was reported to occur on Wednesday. From that, they correctly assumed that they had one day to collect upwards of 200,000 boosted SPs, and any SPs not earned Tuesday would potentially be lost forever.

Thus began the Gold Rush of 2013. Only those who noticed the situation attempted to capitalize on it (or the occasional lucky overachiever trying to get their weekly cap done in one day). More organized DUST corps mobilized to maximize their SP gain during the day. Unsurprisingly, many had the drive to maximize their gains, but they did not have the 10+ hours of continuous game time required to devote to the effort. Several players started AFKing in matches in order to attempt to reap the SPs without the work. One prominent member of the DUST community, Kain Spero from Imperfects, was accused of SP leaching by AFKing in the MCC.

While the accusation can neither be confirmed nor denied, it does raise the question of the validity of such tactics. Coming from an EVE-like perspective and a competitive gamer's perspective, I can see the need to utilize every advantage to gain an edge. While some people may frown on such practices, given the situation, their team may frown on them for not doing every legal tactic to improve their character. CCP has a long history of having mechanics that players can find holes in and work around. In only one case in recent history has CCP actually undone the damage (the Goons making trillions off of a Faction Warfare exploit last summer). CCP games have always rewarded those who have a sharp eye, and a sharper understanding of the mechanics, and I will bet this will be no different. However, if AFK farming becomes more of an issue, it will probably be addressed. In my experience, it hasn’t had a significant impact on the game yet.

While this could be considered a minor misstep by CCP, it is also unfair to attack those who attempted to capitalize on the situation by any means necessary. CCP made a situation where players could do a week's worth of work in one day, and further proved that if you give players the ability to advance, regardless of the effort required, many will see that effort as mandatory. The biggest thing to keep in mind is the long-term irrelevance of this: While 200,000 SPs may seem like a lot now, by the time the game is released, it will be a drop in the bucket. EVE is a 10-year-old game, and many players would see 200,000 SPs as a rounding error (actually, it has been before). Best of luck out there and enjoy the new SP cap system!

I have been playing the game *terribly* for right around two years. After a brief time in null, and longer stay in high, I have now entered into Gallente Faction Warfare and somehow landed a job as director of Aideron Robotics. I am still terrible.