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You set your smoking dropship down in the cover of a grassy hillock and follow the charging marines already running for cover. Plasma mortars scream down around you, taking out the idiots stupid enough to run into the open.
To the left — an entrance to a gorge that should be safe. What remains of your squad follows as you make your way through the narrow canyon, dodging snipers and returning fire. Your squad jogs through the steady-flowing brook and jumps from rock to rock.
Emerging from the canyon unscathed, you look around you. A short distance away is your objective, with barely any defenses surrounding it.
Just then, somebody playing Eve Online decides the game is lost and drops a nuke. Next time you play that map, there'll be a big hole in the middle of it, vegetation will be dead, and the water will have receded.
Eve has been the origin of some of the weirdest gaming headlines of the last six years. It's a game so trusting of its players that the banks are run by real people. Real bankers embezzle fake money that took real time to earn. Real people start fake wars. CCP's staff only step in to police terms-of-service violations.
But while it's interesting to hear about, it's not exactly a fun minute-to-minute game.
Now, realizing that shooting dudes in the face is fun, CCP Asia are hard at work on a dude-shooting game for the Xbox 360 and PS3. It's exactly the sort of entrance people like me, who enjoy rich sci-fi universes and shooting dudes in the face, have been looking forward to.
In it, you'll be a mercenary, fighting battles for Eve Online players. But it's not clear how Dust will actually play. CCP say they “make worlds, not computer games”; they were also complacent in their Edge (209 and online) preview, suggesting a good shooter was easy to design because Bungie, DICE, Infinity Ward, etc. have already shown how to do it.
It's impossible to tell if shooting dudes in the face will be fun in Dust. And it needs to be. This isn't Mass Effect — it's a multiplayer shooter. If CCP's priorities are really as they seem, then their exciting ideas will be wasted.
This was an entry for Bitmob's 2010 Anticipated Games call-out.