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...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Two pair looking for a full house

Stop the presses.

CCP has released not one but two major devblogs this morning.

The first is a heartfelt letter from Hilmar Pétursson, CCP's CEO.  It represents nothing short of the CEO of a company falling on his sword.

The second is much shorter, but is basically a love-letter from CCP Zulu to EVE's long-time players, telling them they're going to get nearly everything they want.

I want to take some time to read and reread these pieces before I try to produce intelligent commentary on them, but here are my immediate first impressions:
  • The CEO letter is beautifully written.  I don't think I've ever read anything more beautifully written come out of CCP.  Either CCP has hired a professional speech-writer, or some other communications professional has made him- or herself known inside CCP.  More importantly, Hilmar actually sat that person down and listened to what he or she had to say.
  • The word "establishment" appears only once between the two devblogs, only in Hilmar's letter, and is not capitalized when it does.
  • Therefore, my prediction from yesterday appears to be true from start to finish.  Go me.
  • CCP is not giving up its dream of a "total sci-fi simulator", nor its dream of a order of magnitude increase in its player-base.  It's just putting off both dreams for a while.
  • Hilmar quote: "Let me be blunt: Unless the MMO business changes radically, our virtual goods strategy for EVE Online will remain limited in scope and focus on vanity items..."  Emphasis mine.  More small print appears.
  • Second Hilmar quote: "We would have been much better off positioning Incarna as an optional technology preview that interested players could have experienced and helped us to refine."  TeaDaze will be pleased to hear that, as this was something he screamed repeatedly and loudly last year.
  • Third Hilmar quote: "We’ve been trying to expand the EVE universe in several directions at once..."  I've got a blog entry referencing B5 coming, and this quote made me think of a Londo Mollari quote: "Only an idiot fights a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."
  • The wish-list in Zulu's blog is amazing.  It's too amazing.  It's only 11 weeks or so to Christmas.  CCP needs to scale down its ambitions a bit.
  • In particular, "Factional warfare" just needs to be removed from that list.  Changes to FW are something that's going to require a lot of study and consideration.  It can't be rushed out.

That's all for now.  I'll have more to say later in the week.

26 comments:

  1. I honestly think that making Factional Warfare great isn't something that necessarily takes a lot of developer resources, it just takes a lot of brains. I think that be leveraging much of the work and brainstorming that went into making Incursions as successful as they are can be utilized to do something similar with Factional Warfare. Not a ton of underlying technical changes but SMART technical changes. I'm hopeful.

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  2. I've worked in the game industry for around 8 years now.. and seeing a CEO say something like this is a rare thing indeed. Gives me alot of hope for the future of eve.

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  3. Regarding the small print in Hilmar's MT-related quote, I can't blame him for that: the monthly subscription model has come under strong pressure. I rather have him being pragmatic and keep his options open, than promise something which is not fully under CCPs control.

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  4. Faction Warfare is something that should remain on the list, just because it could be so much more than anything that EvE has going on right now. Combining its background in EvE conflicts with better risk/rewards mechanic could give PvE players a better reason to PvP and vice versa. It can also be something that large nullsec alliances should not be able to control just because of their numbers and ISK resources. Damn, fixing it could also fix lowsec as well by default.

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  5. Don't misunderstand me. FW definitely, DEFINITELY needs to be iterated on. But over a time period that is longer than 11 weeks. It deserves a whole team dedicated to it for a decent period of time.

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  6. That doesn't preclude having a first improvement to FW in the upcoming expansion. The player base will have to continue to stay on CCP's case, to make sure good initatives aren't abandoned, and I don't think that that will ever change.

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  7. Has it occured that some of this stuff has probably be part/mostly completed and has been languishing on shelves because of management apathy (hybrid balancing and possibly FW)

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  8. I agree with Tarminic, FW doesn't need a whole lot of new features per se, just new, well thought out mechanics.

    The only way you'll keep organized groups out is if you reward players rather poorly for participation, something that runs counterintuitive to risk vs reward but something I believe is necessary to keep it accessible. You'll still get large groups there for the gudfights, but not on a scale that would break it.

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  9. hoping the list of improvements to be made does not turn out to be an epic cock-tease

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  10. I'm a gallente carebear. As much as I want to see my hybrids rebalanced I think sov warefare is more important.

    Not that those two items have the same dev effort, but I'd swap them anyway, even if it means we don't see either ready by winter.

    Fleet battles is one of the major features of the game and sov is directly related to it, thus cannot be overlooked.

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  11. The changes needed in Factional Warfare are small and well known: Change the plex spawning times to be random and not all just after downtime and change FW sov/occupancy to mean something. FW sov should mean a boost in LP or roving gangs of sov aligned NPCs attacking enemies, but not Incursion style hp/damage changes as that would possibly kill FW.

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  12. Adding something as possibly game changing like Hybrids/ECM Drones/T2 Mods should definately be on Test first and actually tested for 30 days and then feedback reviewed, then re-tested, if they want to do it right. That pushes it right to xmas just for those 3 and we already have TiDI to review on live first so it does sound overambitious.

    Sure they want to have make-up sex with us now and we want to Grudge Fuck CCP and get it out of our systems but while we as the playerbase don't want to get burned (again) let's also give them some room to breathe and provide them the feedback and communication they are asking for.

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  13. I think your 11 weeks feature is off. With something like FW they will have no doubt got many plans and alternatives knocking around the office already. They've been refining it for years.

    A lot of the work on these refinements has already been done, I'm sure.

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  14. Autonomous MonsterOctober 5, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    That "Kingdom of Idiots" line is one of my favourite B5 quotes; that and Londo's "What I want" speech. Peter Jurasik's delivery is perfect in both.

    Looking at Zulu's wishlist almost reminds me of my first expansion, back in, oh, the arse-end of 2004? Shiva, I think it was. They introduced... destroyers? Maybe? Battlecruisers? Possibly interceptors, but I don't think so. I definitely remember a time when 'ceptors where the only T2 ships around.

    Anyway: just for a moment, I felt like everything was new and fresh again, like in the days when CCP fashioned entire new categories of ships from whole cloth.

    Then I remembered the past year, and now I can't stop sneering. ;_;

    "But I don't want to go among bitter vets," Alice remarked.

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  15. I too was impressed with the quality of word-smithing in Hilmar's letter. It was beautiful.

    With regards to that list of features for the next release: the whole list falls into the category of, "we can do *something* in the short term that won't totally break the game." That is to say, it's bread & circuses material.

    FW: there's the obvious low hanging fruit of preventing cloaked ships from counting towards capture of objectives. One little change that should be technically feasible in 11 weeks. How much of a difference will that make to the FW scene? Just the fact that FW is getting any attention at all will speak volumes, even if the immediate impact is relatively small.

    Hybrid weapons: a couple of simple tweaks to damage, cycle time, magazine size, optimal & falloff can go some way to adjusting hybrids, even if a later rebalancing is required to consider blaster ships and weapons as a whole, rather than simply tweaking the weapons.

    Assault ships: a simple 2%/level level or 15% role bonus to e.g.: afterburner speed will be *something*, which can be rebalanced at a later stage. Invest in AS now before they become FOTQ ;)

    Starbase logistics: the idea of "fuel pellets" has been out there for a long time. I would be surprised if someone hasn't been tinkering with it while the art department was busy with clothes and vampire suits.

    Captains Quarters, supercapital rebalancing, ship spinning, time dilation are already "in the bag" and might need a little more polish before being released with CCP's usual attention to detail.

    IMHO Ripard's prediction about "establishments won't be here until late next year" is close, but I have my money on establishments coming out first half 2012, however limited they may be. For example, the CQ door might not open if there are too many people in station, character models might be far lower quality, or station environments might work along the lines of Global Agenda "domes". CCP needs this technology sorted out for WoD, they have (literally?) bet the bank on it, so they will get it out as soon as possible, in whatever broken form it is, in order to get EVE players who choose to do so, to beta test the technology. They know we'll test it for them if they ask us nicely, and it's optional.

    In the immediate future, I'm certain that CCP has only announced the feature pack for the next release because they're confident that these features are almost ready for release as they are.

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  16. LOL@ everyone jumping on Hilmar's nuts after a letter he should have written nearly 4 months ago.

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  17. I like Theodor's idea of LP bonus for sov occupancy.
    The people in the Militia that won the most system should get an isk/LP increase. That would motivate people in participating in the whole Faction warfare stuff.

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  18. I think the apology sets a bad precedent, I can tell from some of the reactions to it that too many in the "protestant" EVE populace will only continue to gripe loudly about every thing that CCP does.... which in turn makes it just as hard for newer players to enjoy the game as having them unsub does.

    Excited about the teaser blog for the winter expansion... it sounds like they have too many things on the list to get done by then- but then again they were also working on some things during the summer while the blogs fell silent.

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  19. @Anonymous1541 - in the course of human endeavour, it is traditional that when people do something right, you praise them publicly. It is also traditional that when people make mistakes, you try to chastise them privately.

    You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. The purpose of praising in public is to stroke egos, and trigger the subject's reward centre (the part of the brain that goes, "hey, I achieved something"). This conditions the subject to continue to perform the type of behaviour that earns your praise.

    The EVE populace has this arse-about, and then gets confused when they get the bum steer from CCP. You are a prime example of this idiocy. Morale will not improve while the beatings continue.

    This letter is basically CCP asking forgiveness. If you want the game to improve, it would be a good idea to forgive CCP publicly. Go back and read that thread about the relationship seminar: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=123160

    Hopefully you can learn something. If not, I weep for the future of humanity.

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  20. Well done Jester. Another intuitive call on your part. Your comments and thoughts keep me reading, and drilling back through your old posts.

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  21. I like the pun in your title.
    Gunther Krupp

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  22. Im going be an ass here and project I standpoint I dont nessesary feel as strongly about as may come across...

    "I think the apology sets a bad precedent, I can tell from some of the reactions to it that too many in the "protestant" EVE populace will only continue to gripe loudly about every thing that CCP does.... which in turn makes it just as hard for newer players to enjoy the game as having them unsub does."

    The protesters, the bittervets are the ones that promoted EvE, who wrote stories of epic battles, of betrayal and of wonder.

    What you see now through "I was there" is CCP trying to push the bloggers to write possitive blogs. It should be volentary and freely made not pushed like some soap competition.

    You see movie instructed cut scenes. What the old timers made with real content and in-game footage. The wonder is right there ! No need to direct them. Do a youtube search for Tortuga Lacrimosa. I was there. The instructed cut scenes and fake american and russian acccents are a lie and belittle what creative people used to make for real in-game.

    The oldtimers, protesters and bittervets promoted EvE and are the reason for their friends and followers subscribing. They feel for this game and will alway be extremely vocal and abusive to an extent. I love them for it.

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  23. I was really impressed by the fact that Hilmar (CCP) went public in a devblog and advertised it on the login screens of eve, so that even new players were being confronted with the situation - something, CCP always tried frantically to avoid. For me, this is the greatest sign they could put up to show: "We will change our information policy."

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  24. So it looks like EVE is "coming out of reinforced" -- glad I came back at the right time to see it.

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  25. Surprised more people are not talking about the new T2 Mod and new EWAR drone teases in the second blog- I know that the list has lots of things players have been asking to get fixed for a long time, but people have all but over looked those.(Myself, I'm excited...depending on what they come out with, the "meta" for ship fittings could shift quite a bit, fun stuff)

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  26. @Gunther: thanks. :-) Was curious if anyone would catch that.

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