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.
You can follow along, if you want...

Friday, September 23, 2011

The alarmist's view

If we pull way back on this phrase from the most recent CCP devblog...
CCP has been doing extensive and intense introspection and revitalization. The result of this is a refocusing and reprioritization on a scale unheard of within our company.
then there are two ways to look at that statement: from the point of view of the optimist, or the point of view of the alarmist. This is the alarmist's view.

The alarmist view states that now that CCP is free of the shackles of Incarna, they are going to immediately throw themselves into some new version of :awesome:, learn nothing from their history, and repeat the same mistakes they made with Incarna, only this time with an overly-ambitious flying in space feature.

Let's start with the most obvious point first. On this very blog, a couple of weeks back, I said:
CCP seems to think that the issues that caused the Jita riots, un-subscriptions, and threadnaughts have been addressed.
and then I followed it up by saying that the pain and the fear caused by the Jita riots weekend seemed to have been forgotten in Reykjavik. Mittens will tell us that the typical Icelander is insular, with a high opinion of himself. CCP has never taken criticism well; their tendency when a policy is under attack is to double down on that policy, not review the policy. Anyone who's been playing EVE for any length of time can see that.

Seriously, if you have any doubt about this, I recommend recalling the CCP response to the Open Letter to CCP from CSM5 About Incarna.

So that alone is a reason to be worried. What if CCP looks at the corner they've been forced into, becomes sulky, and effectively says, "fine, you want spaceships? We'll give you spaceships, you terrorists!" It's not the most positive viewpoint to come at future development of EVE Online from. ;-)

Even worse, it's entirely possible that this whole Incarna mess might have started a flying-in-space brain-storming session in Reykjavik. Anyone who's met a software developer will tell you this: software developer want to work on cool stuff... where "cool stuff" is usually defined as "stuff that looks good on a resume". This does not necessarily translate to good software, and it certainly doesn't translate to good game-play. Wanting to work on cool stuff is what brought us the overly-ambitious plans for Incarna in the first place. The last thing we need is CCP going nuts to start on overly-ambitious flying-in-space features.

But this view may very well carry a lot of weight. After all, EVE's PCU numbers have been stagnant for a long time. Team :Awesome: will argue that EVE the game itself is stale and dated, and CCP's own research will back this up. Lots and lots of people right up to Trebor have bemoaned EVE's dated UI and lack of player-friendly expansion features. They'll argue that thousands of people have tried EVE and didn't like it, so only a major top-down shake-up of the underlying game-play mechanics will do.

"This is no time for half-measures!" they'll cry.

And marketing, having no use at all for trying to sell "blaster damage has been increased by 8%" to the larger gaming audience, will back this view up 100%. "If you only do iteration, what are we supposed to sell?" they'll ask. They'll point, with some justification, to the fact that the single most-successful recent expansion to EVE Online was Apocyrpha. Apocrypha included a massive new feature-set. It was overly-ambitious, but it was successfully overly-ambitious, they'll argue. Mittens himself stumbled into advocating this view when he also listed Apocrypha as EVE's most successful recent expansion, so it's entirely possible that marketing will be able to rope some of the CSM into this view.

Hell, it's arguable that the no-content devblog was only thrown out there to give Team :Awesome: more time to solidify their own position within the company without having to worry about community feedback.

But most worrisome of all, Seleene and others have confirmed that CCP has cut CSM6 "out of the loop." They're not sharing the contents of any of the recent devblogs and even more important, CCP hasn't approached the CSM for advice or counsel about the decisions being made. There's another meeting with CCP Zulu happening today, apparently -- perhaps even as I type this. But who knows what -- if anything -- CCP Zulu will be willing or able to tell the CSM. The fact that the CSM isn't being pulled directly into the brain-storming session to share the view of the players is the most worrisome aspect of this whole mess. Has CCP learned nothing?

So, to summarize, there's every reason to think that the fox has been put in charge of the hen-house. Freed from the shackles of Incarna and driven by stagnant PCU numbers, EVE's developers are going to push a "swing for the fences" view that only an awesome new expansion can solve EVE's problems. Overall, the alarmist has good reason to be worried.

The optimists's view is up there somewhere. ::points up::

1 comment:

  1. What really worries me is that they might actually think that they learned something while in fact they only got half of the lesson (or maybe even got it completelly wrong).
    "They don't want new shinies. They want the broken parts fixed." they say (and thats not really the point here).
    "We'll do better than that (cos we can, cos we're uber), we will do both at the same time. We will give them .... (tadahh) an :awesome: completelly redesigned, 2015 like, new user interface"
    But an :awesome: completelly redesigned, 2015 like, new user interface takes time to make. Even them recognize this. So they come, again, with a multiple-release approach (as if you could make the baby in parts cos you can't wait the 9 months).
    And at some they get to "hmmm, redoing the overview will take too many sprints. Let's take it out. They always complain about Spreadsheets Online anyways, and in the end the new UI will be so :awesome: they wont even notice it's not there anymore"
    What happens afterward is exactly what we have already seen (not the full lesson was learned, remember?):
    -they put an initial version on the test server
    -we take a look
    -we recognize the potential
    -we may give some warnings about performance issues
    -we raise issues about functionality that absolutely needs to be there before it goes live
    -our feedback goes straight to the trash can
    -and it is finallly released, since mantaining some timelines is way more important than all those details
    And there you have it, sir. With just one go ALL FiS that still works become broken.
    Granted, the above may be a bit overkill, but something on that line is not entirelly impossible.

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