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Community Spotlight: DUST Fitting Tool

Reported by CCP Eterne | Comments

There are times when you get a great idea for a fitting, but simply don't have the ability or time to get into game. Or maybe you want to try out a bunch of different fitting variations and quickly compare them to see how they stack up, stats-wise. Or you just want to theorycraft some fits without logging in. That's where the DUST 514 Fitting Tool comes from. Created by hydraSlav, it is a straightforward and powerful tool that lets you optimize your merc to be the perfect killing (or remote repairing) machine.

 

Get Fit

Having played EVE Online since 2005, hydraSlav always took for granted the existence of numerous tools, such as the wildly popular EVE Fitting Tool (EFT). When he started playing DUST 514, he found himself being slaughtered by mercs with better gear. In an effort to improve his chances, he decided to optimize his skill point allocation. Would training Fitting Optimization one more level actually give enough bonus to fit a better weapon?

So he sat down at his desk and searched for a fitting tool. Though at first he simply thought his Google-fu was getting weak, he was instead shocked to discover such a tool did not exist! Determined not to let that stop his journey to DUST domination, he threw together some formulas into a spreadsheet... Then more formulas, then some more.

Originally, it was just that; a bunch of unorganized formulas for personal use. However, hydraSlav eventually got into forum arguments about compounding of multiple bonuses and stacking penalties. He realizes a lot of casual players simply didn't expect or weren't aware of EVE-like complexities in DUST's skill and bonus system and he thought it would be great if he could actually show people how it is calculated instead of arguing about it. The rest is history (documented through change notes in the spreadsheet).

The community reacted very positively to the new tool. Within two days, the first theorycrafting thread using DFT results was posted. The community has also been very helpful in getting officer/rare item stats and finding bugs, which hydraSlav works to squash quickly.

 


A look at the tool

 

Technical

The DUST Fitting Tool is created using a Google documents spreadsheet. The original goal of hydraSlav was to clearly show how base values changed after skills, modules, and rounding. This progression is still showed on the “Advanced” sheet currently, though the original version had only that. Using a spreadsheet allowed for quick prototyping and easy verification of all intermediate calculations, while placing it on Google docs allowed hydraSlav to work on it from anywhere with nothing more than a browser.

He had never created a spreadsheet of this complexity before, and in the process of adding more and more complex features it became a personal challenge to see if he could implement each new idea in a spreadsheet. These ranged from simple formulas, such as the online version check, to hundreds of lines of Google Script code for features such as importing character data.

Of course, there were times he would swear up and down he would never touch another spreadsheet again, but those have been overshadowed by the benefits of spreadsheets: the ability for anyone to modify them. Community members have modified their copies to include proposed stats for upcoming releases, others have used it to hypothesize what the balance would be like with fictitious dropsuits and stats. When Rynx Sinfar posted the first plugin for the tool, hydraSlav was amazed, and he hopes the community will come up with many more.

 

Challenges

Putting together such a useful and popular tool is no easy task! hydraSlav has encountered several hurdles in creating DFT, but has overcome them all.

At one point, the spreadsheet reached “size and complexity limits” and he had to rewrite a huge chunk of it. The biggest challenge is updating the tool with new features. He has to work on a separate copy to avoid breaking the live version and then manually recreate all the changes. Typically the update process can take up to 2 hours because of quirks with Google Spreadsheets.

Without a static data dump at the time, it was exhausting to collect all stats. Even though he had a good understanding of the skills system, he still had to verify it all worked correctly in game. This meant spending a lot of SP on skills he never used. It was further exacerbated by the game only showing accurate stats when the dropsuits are owned, while some stats are not shown at all.

Finally, there exists a round-half-down method that Google Spreadsheets does not natively support.

 

Future

While hydraSlav knows an EFT-like Windows program would be appealing to a lot of people, he believes an app for mobile devices would be a better companion piece for those sitting on their couch in front of the PS3. He has plans to develop this, but no real time-frame. He's also eagerly awaiting the release of CREST in order to synchronize with CCP's data for players' skills, fittings, and hopefully more.

He also wants to add vehicle support, but since he doesn't use them, figuring out their mechanics will take some time. He also has no stats for them. He would welcome someone writing a plugin, but if not he says the functionality will be added “Soon”.

 

Last Words

When hydraSlav is not placing remote explosives around objectives or sneaking behind enemies lines to drop Uplinks, he can be found going down the slides on the playground with his 1.5 year old daughter. He wants to thank everyone in the community who helped improve the tool, as well as Kreayshawn Coruscanti, Mictlantecuhlti and dadrobit who helped him beta test the tool. He'd like to give a shoutout to Driftward and Chankk Saotome for keeping the Rookie Training Grounds populated with other great tools.

Finally, he'd like to give a huge thank you to his wife for bearing with him and her patience and understanding, without which the DUST Fitting Tool would never be.