CPM Candidate Interview: Pokey Dravon

Biomassed: Who are you? Who do you play DUST 514 with, and what style of play do you enjoy?

Pokey Dravon: I like to say I’m a jack of all trades, but in reality I can’t really decide on what my preferred playstyle really is. I’ll switch in and out of various play styles to fit the situation, or sometimes just to try something different. I tend to be involved in a lot of discussions on design and I hate voicing an opinion about anything until I’ve actually tried it myself. This is largely why I don’t weigh in on dropships or sniping, as those are two things I really don’t ever play as. That being said I try to at least have a moderate level of firsthand experience in as many topics as possible.

If I had to pick the things I prefer the most, I would have to say Commandos and HAVs. I love the flexibility of Commandos and their ability to fulfil several purposes at once (go figure). I also enjoy that they make for excellent anti-vehicle platforms, because making things blow up is fun. Similarly, I love HAVs because I like fighting other HAVs. I originally got into vehicles because I wanted to explore logistics vehicles (which sadly no longer exist) but soon learned the thrill and exhilaration of a HAV vs HAV battle.
So what is my preferred playstyle? Explosions!

Biomassed: Tell us a bit about the “real you”. Who is the man (or woman) behind the merc?

Pokey Dravon: I’m 27 years old and currently live in Arizona. I have a Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering and currently work as a designer at a local solar energy company. In general my educational and professional career is more based in analytics and mathematics, but that’s not to say I’m entirely left-brained. In my free time I also do side work as a graphic designer and play my violin.

Overall I can’t really decide if I’m more left-brained or right-brained but I think that’s what draws me to complicated games like DUST. In many ways DUST stimulates both sides of the brain for me which is why I find it so engaging and addictive. It is an experience that is pretty rare for me so I’m glad to be able indulge in things like that.

Biomassed: Why did you decide to run for the CPM this year?

Pokey Dravon: My reasons to run have not really change since I ran for CPM1 last year. I have always seen DUST as a game full of potential. In my many years of playing and interacting with the community, I have seen many great minds within the community. The potential for growth in this game is directly tied to the talent and insight of the players, and I feel that my experience and understanding of the game and community will be useful in making sure the ideas and feedback of the community are put to good use. In the end my prime concern is to make sure that the full potential of DUST is realized.

Biomassed: What are the strengths you think you can bring to the CPM? What is your biggest weakness you’ll need to contend with?

Pokey Dravon: In engineering, not only do you need to have a good eye for detail, but you also need to have an understanding of the big picture and how all of those details are going to interact. My work experiences are surprisingly similar to the process of design we see in video games. That being said, I have a pretty well developed ability to understand large systems and how changes will affect the rest of that system.

As for my biggest weakness, I often refer to myself as a Meta-Bittervet, or someone who is bitter about players being Bittervets. Typically I’m a pretty level-headed guy, but I do become very frustrated with players who would rather just complain or lose control of their emotions, than work together for an actual solution to a problem.

Biomassed: What do you feel is the role of the CPM?

Pokey Dravon: The CPM serves as both a funnel and a filter. Development teams are always significantly smaller than the player base of the game they’re developing, especially in the case of DUST. The CPM is primarily tasked with directly interacting with players in order to collect their feedback and condense it into a format is that is more easily digested by the development team. Members of the CPM must have a strong ability to handle a lot of information and understand what it ultimately means in order to provide proper feedback to the developers.

Additionally, feedback is often riddled with various anomalies such as exaggeration and misinformation. While members of the CPM do not need to be an expert in any given topic, they need to know enough about the topic in order to determine what feedback is accurate and what is not. This is particularly important such that the information given to the developers is as accurate as possible.

That being said, it is important to note that it is perfectly fine for a member of the CPM to have an opinion on particular topic. The important part is that they treat that opinion as a single player, and not let it influence the kind of feedback they deliver to the developer. A good CPM needs to be able to be objective and deliver only the facts, even if they personally disagree with the majority of the community on an issue.

Biomassed: How do you feel about the previous CPM? What was done well, and what could have been done better?

Pokey Dravon: This is a difficult question. In a broad sense the CPM did pretty well. The game has drastically improved in a typically-positive manner and it has undoubtedly been because of a combined effort and collaboration between the developers and CPM1. Communication between the CPM and the players has been pretty good for the most part, and from what I can tell most of the CPM have been giving CCP Rattati sound advice on various issues.

The biggest issue with CPM1 was a lack of consistency in the quality of members. It has been about as polar as you can get, with a member being such an utter failure that they were booted from the CPM, all the way up to what I feel is the ideal CPM member, with the others somewhere in between.

In the end this all averaged out to “CPM1 did a pretty good job”. However, while I would love to see the return of a few of the members on the upper end of the scale, I feel that those near the bottom need to be replaced so that CPM2 can do an even better job than CPM1 was capable of.

Biomassed: What are your thoughts on communication between the players and CCP? The CPM and CCP? The CPM and the players?

Pokey Dravon: It’s obvious that CCP’s communication with the players has dramatically improved since CCP Rattati took over the DUST project. Even if it started off simple with feedback threads, it has since evolved into other facets such as Trello or the PC Crowdsourcing program. These are all excellent examples of what CCP should be doing to further communication with players. However I also feel that we need to continue improving the levels of communication further with new programs such as ISD Focus Groups.

As for communication between the CPM and CCP… obviously I’m not on CPM1 so I can only speak from what I’ve heard from members of CPM (which is often largely shrouded in NDA). From what I’ve seen, the CPM1 seems to be fairly in the loop when it comes to the ongoings within CCP…at the very least within the confines of the DUST project. There are, however, some odd times where CPM1 doesn’t seem to be told certain details about a release which end up being fairly controversial. While these discrepancies are not overly critical, it doesn’t particularly look good on CCP’s part either.

Finally, in terms of CPM and player communication, my answer is largely similar to the previous question. Some members of the CPM performed very well by leading massive discussions on the forums and in game to collect player feedback. On the other hand some members basically did nothing at all. So on average the communication was OK, but that’s mostly because the sub-par members of the CPM pulled down the average.

Biomassed: Where do you hope to see the game by the end of your term?

Pokey Dravon: Alive and growing. DUST needs to reach a point where the quality of gameplay and accessibility are the a point where it can be debuted on a new platform. The PS3 is dying and the move to a new platform is, without question, a necessity if the game is to last much longer. The game needs some new blood in order to reinvigorate the community, and a move to a new platform would provide that.

However, while much of the core gameplay is pretty solid, there are aspects to balance, user experience, and overall gameplay that need further work in order to deliver a product that could stand toe-to-toe with other games on the new platform. So while I want to see DUST on a new platform before the end of CPM2, I also want to see it be in a state such that it will actually draw in more players on the new platform so DUST can grow more successful.

Biomassed: If DUST is able to be ported to another platform, which platform would you prefer, and why?

Pokey Dravon: This is a difficult question to answer since there are several options available and each has its mix of positives and negatives. For example, a PS4 port would likely have the best chance of retaining the largest portion of the existing playerbase, which I feel is important. On the other hand a port to PC would allow for more flexibility and likely a faster and more efficient development cycle, especially on a platform CCP is more familiar with.

I think what’s important to note here is that the ‘correct’ answer is ‘Whatever platform will give the best benefit for the resources allowed.’ My first and foremost concern is the survival of the game and seeing it flourish, wherever it ends up. So while my personal feelings are that I would love to see it on both platforms to maximize exposure, I also understand that things are not always that simple.

That being said, it’s important to realize that CPM really has zero authority in such a high-level decision so the personal feelings of the candidates/members are largely irrelevant. What is relevant is that CCP is going to make the call that is most beneficial to the franchise because they want it to succeed and remain profitable. So while I do sincerely hope that porting to both platforms makes the most business sense, I also understand that CCP is going to port to whatever makes the most sense, and not just cater to my personal wishes on the matter.

Biomassed: How can players reach out to you if they have further questions for you?

Pokey Dravon: Email or PSN message is the fastest, as I can check those anywhere from my phone. You can also hit me up on Twitter or send a message in-game.

Gmail: [email protected]
PSN: movefasterpokey
Twitter: @PokeyDravon
In-Game: Pokey Dravon

About Soraya Xel 244 Articles
Soraya Xel is a founding co-host of the Biomassed podcast and an editor on the blog. Served for a year on CPM1. Twitter: @ocdtrekkie