Biomassed: Who are you? Who do you play DUST 514 with, and what style of play do you enjoy?
Arkena Wyrnspire: I’m Arkena Wyrnspire, closed beta veteran and prolific forum warrior.
I play DUST with a lot of different people. For the past year or so I’ve been running with Fatal Absolution as my corp, but I hardly just play with them. As a founder and administrator of the Lucent Echelon channel, a major Gallente faction warfare co-ordination channel, I’ve spent a lot of time running with faction warfare groups. I’ve also always been a big fan of small social groups in pub matches and I have a tendency to run with randoms a fair bit.
‘Style of play’, singular, is a bit specific. One of DUST’s greatest strengths is its variety in equipment. There are many, many different combinations of weapons and suits that can work with a great number of different playstyles. I’ve played a lot of these – across my alts, I own fourteen dropsuits and every weapon at proto – and I’ve never really decided “Yes, okay, I like this role and I’m going to play this exclusively”. It doesn’t really happen in DUST – there’s a great deal to choose from and I rarely find myself in the same suit for several matches in a row.
As a generalisation, though, I tend to prefer the speedier classes. Sentinels are the dropsuit type I use the least.
Biomassed: Tell us a bit about the “real you”. Who is the man (or woman) behind the merc?
Arkena Wyrnspire: IRL, I’m a British student of computer science. I’ve been a long time gamer (since I was seven and acquired a copy of Age of Empires). Away from gaming, computers, forums, and maths, I’m a cadet reservist going through officer training. I’m a heavy reader, particularly interested in fantasy and (naturally) science fiction.
Biomassed: Why did you decide to run for the CPM this year?
Arkena Wyrnspire: Firstly, I see the CPM as an opportunity to make a difference to the game that I love and spend so much of my time on. I already spend a truly immense amount of time on the forums (literally thousands of hours) trying to make the game better, and I’ve been doing this for years. I want to help improve the game more effectively, pouring that effort into a more effective way of improving the game.
Secondly, spending so much of my time in social mediums for DUST, I see a lot of things slip through the net, so to speak, and not really get seen by devs. Sometimes that’s a bug report or little problem like a commando not having the PG/CPU it was meant to have, sometimes it’s a good analysis of something. I don’t want these things to just disappear and be missed, I want to ensure they get seen by people who can solve the problem.
Finally, I believe I can genuinely contribute effectively, to the point where it is worth putting myself forward as a CPM candidate.
Biomassed: What are the strengths you think you can bring to the CPM? What is your biggest weakness you’ll need to contend with?
Arkena Wyrnspire: Perhaps the strength that will occur to many of the people on the forums is communication.
The CPM is a player representative group. While naturally the NDA restricts CPM members from directly relaying what CCP say, I believe that a great deal can be done – for example, previously summaries have been released of weekly meetings between CCP and the CPM, but these stopped being released after a very short period. Whether this is from laziness or something else, I can’t be sure, but communication is absolutely vital for what is a representative group for the players and these really should have been maintained.
The other strength I would suggest I have is logic and a deep understanding of the game born out of being a long time player (three years, now) and frequent analysis. I believe I’m someone with an analytical mind. Evidence of this can be seen consistently throughout my public DUST history. I’m not going to just link a handful of threads that I posted in campaign season for attention seeking and political purposes, but instead I’ll show you a handful of many threads demonstrating what I have done over the years to help improve the game:
The armour campaigns from antiquity, successfully raising it up to a viable alternative to shields.
A note here – this was from 2013. The pendulum has very much swung the other way, to a point where shields need some love. Let’s not start throwing things because I’m advocating buffing armour right now (I’m not).
A FacWar campaign that met with quick success, meeting with an immediate response from the dev responsible for FacWar at the time, CCP SoxFour. At the time FacWar was functionally identical to pubs and more difficult to queue for. Shortly afterwards we received the great FacWar revamp of 1.7.
An analysis of the 1.8 dev blogs and predictions of problems with some parts of the 1.8 update. Most of these were later hotfixed by Rattati.
Part of a crusade of mine – dull matches due to risk aversion/low rewards are absolutely something to be avoided. The number of matches that quickly deteriorate into instant redlines is far too high. Even should players be consistently unable to turn the tide of the match, they should at least be incentivised to and rewarded for trying.
A stickied guide I wrote to help new players get to grips with DUST.
Biomassed: What do you feel is the role of the CPM?
Arkena Wyrnspire: I’m going to go ahead and point out (before some tinfoil hatters invade and claim that the CPM have SUPREME POWER) that the CPM is an advisory body and has no power to compel CCP to do anything.
If someone is running on a platform of ‘If you elect me I will add X to the game’ I am certain that they have no idea what it entails.
From my understanding, it entails advising CCP on player views and suggesting what player reactions to certain changes would be. It’s a group of trusted players who CCP can talk to about potentially incendiary topics without fear of a public backlash and to get reasonable feedback on ideas. It does not involve demanding that a certain feature should be added to the game, controlling the development process, or buffing/nerfing things that CPM members like/dislike.
They don’t strictly have power over things – but their opinion is likely to hold significant weight when advising CCP on certain changes. They’re the players CCP go to in order to talk about changes before taking them to the wider community for discussion.
Biomassed: How do you feel about the previous CPM? What was done well, and what could have been done better?
Arkena Wyrnspire: As with any group of people, it’s a mixed bag – ranging from people who I believe were good CPM members such as Cross Atu to a disgrace who ended up removed.
As a whole, I would say that communication improved between CPM0 and CPM1. I imagine this was in no small part due to having an active dev genuinely willing to engage the community, but I have seen significantly more activity from the active CPM1 members. Barring Judge, I’ve seen a fair bit of activity from all the other CPM1 members and I don’t feel that it was an invisible body.
That said, I will also say that communication could have been done a lot better. I mentioned public releases of summaries of weekly meetings earlier – as a bare minimum, I feel that those should have been kept up regularly.
Recently some people have been asking what the CPM is and what it’s good for. In my opinion, that’s an unacceptable state of affairs – players should absolutely know what is going on with a player-elected representative group unless it’s NDA.
Biomassed: What are your thoughts on communication between the players and CCP? The CPM and CCP? The CPM and the players?
Arkena Wyrnspire: As I’ve been harping on about throughout this, it has come a long way but it stands to be greatly improved.
Between the players and CCP:
The forums are a mixed bag, really. I think there’s some frustration amongst players genuinely trying to contribute that they’re not being heard. They may well be, but little things like a tag saying ‘Read by a dev’ would be nice little touches that would reassure players that their thread has been noticed.
I’d like to ensure that if a player wants to be heard, they can be. Perhaps one of the best ways of doing this is using the CPM as a bridge – ensuring CPM members are easily reachable with player concerns so they can directly speak with CCP about them. To some extent, this already happens – I’ve pinged CPM members already and had them carry messages. But this could go further, and I intend to see it go further if I can.
Between CPM and CCP – honestly, this is quite difficult to say. Much of this communication is NDA. As I know they have regular meetings I would assume it’s of reasonable quality, but unfortunately I don’t know and as someone who has not been on the CPM, I can’t give a firsthand account of the quality of this.
Between the CPM and the players:
I want this to expand. There absolutely should be regular updates within reason – if CPM members can share non-NDA material about what’s going on, I really do think that they should.
Biomassed: Where do you hope to see the game by the end of your term?
Arkena Wyrnspire: On another platform.
The PS3’s life is ending. Time marches on, and the PS3’s days are very much numbered. There isn’t any future for DUST on the PS3 and it needs to move to another platform such as the PS4 or PC to continue to exist.
In terms of where the game ought to be as a game rather than what platform it should be on, lag is a real problem that I dearly want to see addressed.
Match flow is something that I also feel could be improved – additional incentives for actively pushing on objectives, greater ISK payouts for people actively participating in matches, that kind of thing. Regrettably, many matches in DUST tend to stagnate, sometimes from one team getting a stranglehold on the objective(s) and the other team giving up. I’d like to see a system where players are rewarded for attempting to turn the match around.
Biomassed: If DUST is able to be ported to another platform, which platform would you prefer, and why?
Arkena Wyrnspire: My personal preference is for PS4. I wouldn’t mind PC, exactly, but I suspect a large portion of the community would prefer to move to PS4 and one of the most important things to me is continuity from the PS3 to the ported platform – both in terms of individual earnings such as SP and in terms of the community as a whole. DUST has started out as a console game. I feel it’d be hugely awkward to move to PC and ignoring both the community roots and the actual feel of the game – there is a significant difference in handling between a PS3 controller and the PC.
Biomassed: How can players reach out to you if they have further questions for you?
Arkena Wyrnspire: Plenty of ways.
The most obvious one to a number of people, I’m sure, is the forums. I read the forums daily, reading every thread posted in GD/F&I, and I frequently check the other sections. I also have a bot to check for my name – anything posted on the forums for me will come to my attention.
In-game mail is a surefire way of getting my attention as well.
I can also be found on Skype. My name on Skype is just ‘Arkena Wyrnspire’ (login name ‘arkenai’). Feel free to send me a contact request – just specify that it’s about DUST and I’ll have you added within a day. My response time on Skype is usually quite rapid, and I’d say that’s the best way of getting in contact with me.
I have Twitter as well, @ArkenaWyrnspire. It’s not my most frequent medium, but I do check it.
Finally, I have a dedicated DUST Facebook account under ‘Arkena Wyrnspire’.