Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Friday, September 23, 2011

Agile development

Let's just get this out of the way right now: even though I've never met him, I despise Tim Buckley in absentia.  His "comic" is one of the most unoriginal, unfunny, derivative pieces of crap out there right now.  I realize he has his fans, but I am decidedly not one of them.

OK, that's done.

That said, what Buckley did in cooperation with the developers of Heroes of Newerth should make CCP embarrassed for themselves.

For those that weren't keeping track, Buckley drew eight pieces of concept art for a new Hero for that game.  The HON developers then sponsored a vote on these eight potential new Heroes for their game, with the promise that they would work with Buckley to develop the voted-upon concept art into a full-on brand new in-game Hero that could be used and played.  Pretty cool idea, right?  Sound vaguely familiar?  We'll get to that in a second.

The concept art for the eight heroes to be voted on appeared around 5 August 2011.

The completed, voted-upon, chosen Hero, the Cthuluphant, became available in-game today.

That's a development time from concept art to finished product in about six weeks.  That's agile development.  S2Games, the developers of Heroes of Newerth, should be proud of their achievement, however the Cthuluphant is received.

You might recall that CCP also had a contest to choose a piece of fan concept art that would become part of their game, the EVE Create A Starship Contest, which opened about a year ago, 7 September 2010, and ended last October.  The winner was a beautiful Minmatar ship called the Tornado, developed by a past CSM member known as Pattern.

Yeah, that was a year ago.  And at the soonest, it'll be sometime next year before we see this beautiful ship in-game.  That's a development time from concept art to finished product in something between 18 and 24 months.

Not quite so agile.  CCP, while you're navel-gazing into your development practices looking for areas to focus on?  Yeah.  Think about this.


  1. I think it should be mentioned that the tornado is a t3 battleship... they probably plan on developing and releasing a full set of them to the game, thus they justified pushing them back as far as 2012 since they planned on working on WIS rather then FIS in the short term.

    All together its still a mark against CCP's development speed.

  2. Just like to add that Buckley's contribution was concept art (and I think ability ideas), whereas the Tornado, judging by the submitted piece, was fully modeled, skinned and rendered, ready to go.

    Almost glad I never finished my own entry, it pales in comparison to Pattern's.

    On the topic of CAD (ctrl+alt+del, not computer assisted design, both relevant to the post) to each their own. I wouldn't say it is anything special or amazing, but it does make me chuckle on occasion, and you have to admire a man who makes a living following their dream instead of working in a cubicle hating their life, no matter if you enjoy the content they produce or not.

  3. Who said the tornado was a T3 battleship? Tier 3 maybe....

  4. I do like that Cthulhuphant.

    May I ask why do you see CAD as derivative? All culture is derivative to some extent but it doesn't seem any more derivative than that. Were its ideas like Wintereenmas and so on ripped off another comic? Do you think Buckley is browsing PA, Sinfest etc for ideas when he writes new strips?

  5. I love 'Song to a siren'.

  6. @Stabs: connections to PA and to the webcomic PvP are the most obvious, but even now, I hear that CAD is doing a "Bond villain roommate" bit, a gag which RL Comics has been doing for years.

    The art style in and of itself is also derivative and unoriginal. Much of Buckley's work is copy/paste jobs simply pulled out of a library of expressions he maintains. It has about as much artistic value as the work of an 8-year-old. Less, because the 8-year-old works from their imagination. Buckley just apes stuff he thinks is cool.

  7. While i can completly agree that his works are in no way "innovative" i can't agree that his works are worthless because he reuses Expressions.

    Its not uncommon to reuse small Parts to recreate new Content faster. Its an easy way to reduce the work required for creating new Content. (Be that Comics, Electric Plants or Software)

    Sure he focuses on Stuff thats fun for him, and this Stuff might or might not be Original.
    The "value" of his comic is mostly in this silly jokes, which people either find funny or don't. So juding his work by his artistic skills is imo wrong, since thats hardly what the comic is about.

    Maybe some people are truely fans if his "style" or Story, from my perspective these things are there mostly to give context in which he then delivers his jokes.

    If someone doesn't like his jokes the whole thing must appear like a piece of crap, i give you that. But i doubt that there are many people who enjoy his comics for the Artwork.
    PS: I enjoy some of his stupid jokes, but i never saw Value in his Drawings, and

  8. Well said.
    They may be doing SCURM internally on the development of the code. But they aren't acting in an agile fashion in regard to how they release things to the players.

  9. Jester is right. Buckley has had exactly two semi-original ideas in his comic's lifetime, and I can name at least half a dozen webcomics that he hasn't quite blatently ripped off what they were doing.

    Applegeek's Eve -> CAD Zeke
    PA -> Roommates Ethan/Straight Guy
    PVP -> Adventureland Ethan

    The only things I've seen that are even semi-original and funny are the Chef bits that he does and the player1/2/3/4 bits that he does.

    That's it.

    Only recently has he even started to challenge himself in his artwork.

    Oh, also, starting his own gaming convention the year following the wildly successful PAX? Totally not a rip off. And totally not as successful. IT wouldn't surprise me if he started his own charity in the next couple of years...

  10. It is a shame that the contest winners have not made it into the game. On the other hand, keep in mind that introducing a new class of ships into the game requires CCP to create four new ship models, balance the stats of each ship within the class, and then make sure the ship class as a whole fits into the game.

    Even if there is a Tornado model that is compatible with the game engine and meets CCP's standards ready to go, CCP would still have to create three new models from scratch. It would take time to get good concept art for each of the three remaining factions, make the models, and then texture and test them. It is also quite possible that the Tornado model doesn't meet CCP's standards; since CCP is currently updating all of its ship textures to expand functionality and improve aesthetics, it would make no sense for them to introduce a new ship model that would have to be redone shortly afterwards.

    CCP has also said that they will not be introducing new ships until they are sure that those ships have a defined role in the game. For example, tier-2 battlecruisers have rendered most tier-1 battlecruisers functionally useless except in certain niche roles. Supercarriers were funtionally useless until Dominion because they had no true role. Because balancing anything in EVE properly can be quite difficult, and the impact of bad balance can have rather significant effects down the road, CCP may not want to introduce new ships until they're sure they have the balance mostly right.

    So while I agree it's a shame that we haven't seen the Tornado in-game, there are probably good reasons for why this is the case. CCP has so far done very nice work as far as art goes. That the new Dual Heavy Pulse lasers have a cool-down glow after firing _inside_ the barrels is a rather nice indication of just how much attention CCP's artists can put into a project. Even the Minmatar CQ is quite nice from an art perspective, even if I don't entirely like the rust aesthetic.

  11. Also it's worth noting that S2 are terrible at game design; the majority of their heroes and gameplay changes (from the DoTA core) have been unbalanced (OP or UP).

    Annnnd then there's the fact that S2 now make money for every new hero they release (they get to sell early access, and alt avatars) so they've got a solid financial incentive.

    CCP are bad in many ways, but at least they haven't gone F2P and are churning out ship after unbalanced ship to cash in on their game.

  12. The tornado could simply be a faction ship.
    Maybe later the model could be expanded into an actual ship line.

    I have a feeling it will come out a tournament reward...CCP can use it to draw players into the game.

  13. I may be mistaken, but the Tornado looks a aweful lot like a stock image from the original Prima EVE Online Strat Guide (yes, I still have a copy that I stole from my friend).


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