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The Firing Line: On Star Citizen, DUST 514, and DayZ

Jef Reahard

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Welcome back to The Firing Line, folks. While I don't have any nifty sequel announcements or contentious community issues for you this week, I do have some interesting tidbits on three upcoming shooters that you might have missed.

Join me after the cut for a chat about Star Citizen's hardcore aspirations, DUST 514's PC potential, and DayZ's upcoming standalone client.

Star Citizen - enemy ship
Star Citizen
Chris Roberts updated his Star Citizen website with an interesting FAQ this week. Well, technically it's a draft FAQ, and portions of it will no doubt change or expand as the newly announced space combat sim gets rolling.

Chief among the juicy morsels was a brief description of the modding philosophy (basically anything goes on private servers) as well as an inkling of the title's business model. It's fair to describe it as a Guild Wars-style buy-to-play model since it features an upfront box/digital download cost but nothing further beyond cosmetic and presumably convenience items.

The kicker here is that the FAQ unequivocally states that Star Citizen's cash shop won't subject users to the double-dipping annoyances found in most freemium MMOs. There will be no "cash shop exclusives," as any and everything that can be purchased can also be earned in the game. This sounds like a small thing, and maybe it is, but it's a long-standing pet peeve of mine, and I'm ecstatic to see this paired with a game that I'm already prepared to love.

Also of note is Roberts' reiteration of the fact that Star Citizen is expressly designed for old-school gamers. Though this may change in the months leading up to the title's release, as it stands right now the game is a throwback to an era when immersion and bleeding-edge graphics weren't four-letter words.

The FAQ couches the hardcore pandering in the context of a publisher-free development environment, but there can be no mistaking Roberts and company's disdain for disposable gaming. "The game will cost less, be more creatively pure, and most importantly, be built for the real core audience -- not some corporate suit worried about including all the casual gamers," it reads.

This is on top of Roberts' own statements regarding his preferences for deep, involving gameplay during Star Citizen's introductory video spiel. And the only thing I can really add to that is a hearty "take my money."

DUST 514 - landing craft
DUST 514
CCP made news with its DUST 514 five-year plan this week. If I wanted to be mean, I could point out that the PlayStation 3 exclusive already looks five years behind comparable PC titles, but I won't. The PS3 vs. PC smackdown is far from over when it comes to DUST, anyway, because implied in CCP's statement was the fact that the game will outlive the PS3 hardware itself, which then makes us wonder what's going to happen to platform exclusivity at that point.

It's probably safe to assume that the Xbox 360 will remain out of the picture, as CCP has said before that it approached Microsoft with DUST only to be put off by red tape and more hoops than it cared to jump through. That leaves the PC. I guess technically it leaves the WiiU also, but can you actually imagine CCP doing anything with Nintendo that doesn't involve noogies, wedgies, and fits of drunken laughter?

Given how secretive CCP is (see its successful downplaying of long-time EVE dev Nathan Richardsson defecting to Trion earlier this year), I wouldn't be surprised if the firm already has a working PC version of DUST squirreled away just waiting for the proper time.

DayZ - interiors
DayZ guru Dean Hall recently revealed to VG24/7 that the mod's stand-alone alpha client may be available as early as next month. "I think the most important thing is we deal with hacking, bugs, duping, new content, tidy up some of the features and expand them a bit. I think if we can get that base –- by the end of November or December –- then that means January and February will be really happy, fun times," he said.

Hall also said that the development crunch time was proceeding slower than he'd like, and while the release date won't be affected, content ambitions will be. "I never really thought we'd get things like construction into the standalone at launch. I'd prefer things to go faster, but that's just game development," he explained.

Finally, Hall and company released some new screenshots from the standalone this week, and while interior environments may have elicited some yawns from zombie-loving sandbox fans, a closer look reveals how Hall's team is going through the painstaking process of building a complete world.

"Our artists have been very busy, methodically going through all buildings in Chernarus and adding interiors," Hall said. "The task can be pretty difficult, as when the buildings were made, interiors were not considered, so it can be a challenge for the artists to make the interiors both look correct and work properly."

The Firing Line's Jef Reahard has a twitchy trigger finger, a love of online shooters, and an uncanny resemblance to Malcolm Reynolds. OK, maybe not, but at least if he ever kills you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing him, and you'll be armed.

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