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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Monday, October 8, 2012

Quote of the Week: No going back

This week's QOTW is one of those lines that may be interesting only to me.  Hell, I'd be interested to see if anyone else even caught it.  But it got my attention and gave me something to think about over the weekend:
This is regrettable, but we're absolutely not going back down the rabbit hole and re-complicating the new system to solve comparatively minor imbalances, because the overall cost is just not worth it.
The quote is CCP Masterplan, from the recent dev-blog regarding the new Crimewatch system.  The context of the quote are the downsides of working on an entirely new CW system as opposed to rebuilding or redesigning the old one.  What's "regrettable" in this context is the fact that CCP devs had to break the old system to install the new one... but now that the new one's in place, there will be no going back.

This caught my attention because it's the third time this sentiment has come up from CCP devs this year, using almost identical language each time: this, the AI upgrade I wrote about last month, and the unified inventory system from earlier this year.  In all three cases, we've been told "the old system is broken and there's no sense crying for it because it isn't coming back."  The message is so consistently worded and delivered each time that I have hard time believing it isn't in CCP Unifex's or CCP Soundwave's play-book somewhere.

In an amusing way, it's sort of a preemptive shot across the bow to anyone thinking about starting another summer of rage.  ;-)

But is this a new sentiment in CCP's way of working?  That'd be a no.  Remember when the old fitting window was tossed in favor of the new circular one?  Here's what the old one looked like, in case you've forgotten or have never seen it:


Yeah, it's hideous.  For some of you, maybe that's the first time you've seen that interface, but that's how we fit ships in EVE for a lot of years.  But the player rage when CCP threatened to take away that interface in favor of the current one was terrible to behold.  Ditto of course, when the transition from the old portraits to the new portraits happened.  Lots of players simply refused to create new characters using the tools until they were absolutely forced to and there are still a goodly number of "grey heads" in the database if you know where to look.  CCP pushed that change through over player objections, too.

Matter of fact, the one and only time I can remember CCP backing down once they made a decision to go forward with something was... you guessed it... the summer of rage last year and the micro-transaction plans that caused it.  Even then, CCP was very much pushing a "This is how things are going to go, this is the way forward and there's no going back." position.  Only that time, there was.  And for about a year after that, a little more humility was a way of life in Reyk.

That year seems to be over now.  Will history eventually repeat itself?  I don't think so, but it sure was interesting to see that quote!  Anyway, like I said, this may be an item that's of interest only to me.

28 comments:

  1. The interesting thing to note about the examples you mentioned is that, despite the rage at the time, they were almost definitely good things looking retrospectively. The old fitting window is, as you said, horrible in comparison to what we have now. The old character models too look incredibly dated, and the new ones give you far more flexibility to create something unique. I feel a similar way about things like the Nano Nerf - incredible rage from a lot of people at the time, but in retrospect it did great things for PVP. The idea that once upon a time you simply couldn't fly a frigate inside 10km of another ship just seems bizarre today.

    The point I'm getting at is that our gut instinct to most change is to fight it. Sometimes we're right to do so (microtransactions, $99, etc) but many of the changes we get angry about will actually turn out to be good things when we look back at them.

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    1. Another example was the font change. It was met with a lot of resistance from the player-base and the message from the devs were similar, "we are not going to maintain both the old and the new version". In the end we got used to it and it did solve some issues the old one had.

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    2. This is the first time I as a relative 6 month noob have seen the old fittings. They seem enormously more intuitive than the current ones which until I went to third party tools I had a heluva time figuring out what did what why where.

      I also like the old avatars, the new ones are insanely boring in comparison. Ever want to enter into avatar hell -- try creating a female amarr character that is interesting in the slightest with the new models. The first time I saw the old avatars I felt like wow now those those had some fab character to them.

      Summer of rage though some things I disagree with and some I agree with - I don't care if they want to do microtransactions for monocles, I really don't care, in fact if it helps the devs make money all the better, it's not pay to win and devs need to eat too. The only valid point was that they stopped working on eve to do it and and characters walking around in a spacestation.

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    3. I would only disagree about the new character generator. The old portraits had much more variation in sytles, if not individualness. I'd trade a fan-collarred Intaki broad over the executive secretary look any day. Or the bubble-head Amarr style for the current Amarr male facial choices.

      The new character generator does wonderful things. While you're in the character generator! Step outside into your CQ and you look like shit. Everyone does. Now imagine a room full of 20 or 30 people all looking like shit together, and voila, you've got Walking In Stations! No thanks.

      The new character generator was the biggest waste of developer resources since Microsoft's Clippy. They should seriously release it as a standalone product that allows exporting of characters into other popular 3D programs.

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  2. Change is always going to produce rage, because primitive minds irrationally reject *any* change. RL history is replete with examples, from horseless carriages and electricity to computers and mobile phones. Nuclear power will eventually replace fossil fuels, and someday everyone will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about (yes, children, nuclear power is safe - the US Navy has been using it without mishap for over 50 years).

    Eventually, we'll see human avatars and microtransactions in Eve, as well. And, we'll all look back at the Summer of Rage, and say, "WTF was the big deal, anyways?"

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    1. *Tinfoil hat on* In retrospective, I kind of believe that Summer of rage was an orchestrated perfect storm, from the PR point of view. This is a bit hair-pulled but bear with me. Dissent that spawns from change without concert between the affected parties can quickly vanish into ether, but that same dissent can be a potent ingredient in the many recipes for disaster if they are properly channeled and lead by a well put agenda. Particularly one coming from a very small group with enough media exposure and the help of about 10058 guys, all of this designed to bring preminence to a group of important internet politicians and/or a man that didn't previously have much. *tinfoil hat off*

      Think about it for a bit, if you will, or call me nuts, i'm okay with that. I keep trying to deny myself to give more thought to the issue, but I just can't. Hope this vent helps me put the issue to rest in my mind.

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    2. Is your real name Glen Beck?

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  3. Eventually, we'll see human avatars and microtransactions in Eve, as well. And, we'll all look back at the Summer of Rage, and say, "WTF was the big deal, anyways?"

    The big deal wasn't the avatars; it was the lack of work on the game that everyone is actually playing.

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    1. What game are you playing?

      If you are thinking that EVE Online is supposed to be a "3D real-time combat space massively multiplayer online game", then you are confused and were actually playing Black Prophecy.

      According to CCP, EVE Online is a "massive multiplayer online roleplaying space game". Not spaceships only. Not PVP combat only.

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    2. Yeah its amazing how often people forget what the summer of rage was really about.

      It wasnt about microtransactions, it was about pay to win microtransactions.
      It wasnt about walking in stations, it was about WiS turning out to be an utter failure due to most of the devs being pulled off Eve to work on other things.

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    3. I agree the space barbie attitude thattheWOD DEVs tried to inspire in EVE got them well deserved pinkslips unfortunely

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    4. I don't think it was even that so much, as the fact that Incarna was a botched launch, released to soon before the technology was really ready.

      If Incarna had been a full walking in stations interacting with other players striking deals in bars as promised etc, the way it was meant to be, sure there would have been some annoyance at the lack of space ship content, but it would of added something worth while to the game, and players would have been more accepting.

      Ultimately the player base was enraged because what was promised, wasn't what was delivered.

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  4. All of the players whining over these changes takes me back to when my first kid threw a tantrum because he wanted to keep using diapers rather than learn how to use the toilet.

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    1. and your shit still smells only half as bad as CCP's

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  5. the summer of rage was focused on a really idiotic 'marketing' decision.
    The crimewatch revision certainly isn't a marketing decision. period.

    I get the impression devs decide their game changing ideas from drinking games, based on observing the antics of CCP masterplan and Fozzie. Do these people even realize what a bunch of fools they appear to be, or am i wrong and they're just the brave viking types to throw themselves on grenades?

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  6. Since the summer of rage there is almost no change that isn't commented by someone in style like "This is so terrible and if you do that I (and those hundreds of thousands I represent) will quit immediately" ...
    It's getting boring and nothing ever happens. If there are quiting 10 people cause of that change it won't be recognized in the default fluctuation.

    It would be so great if those people would start to argue reasonable instead of throwing empty words.

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  7. The new UI still sucks shit no matter how much I have been forced to get used to it.
    The chat channels not minimalizing to the bottom of thescreen sucks even more shit.
    These stops backwards in the interface I am scared will not be addressed due to CCP DEV's hubris
    -Darth Nefarius

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  8. The summer of rage also got ship spinning back. CCP said and implemented Captain's Quarters as a 'no going back' plan. Now they have even added a spin counter for us. We can change bad things, and that is why I have more respect for the playerbase and CCP, despite the choas both brought to Eve.

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  9. When you see it from CCPs point of view though it makes sense.

    CW1 probably hasn't changed much since the game first started back in 2003 - since then it's probably been hacked to deal with new things that come up and features that have been added to the game. Hence you get to the current situation, which is the CW1 rules are whatever the code does - the code isn't properly documented so expressing the rules in terms the players can understand is hard. Add to that, that any time somebody works on that code new bugs/exploits are introduced due to interactions of the combinations of things the code works on...

    From a software engineering point of view this is a mess, which is why - when given the opportunity - you're going to throw it all away and end up with something more coherent. You can't run two versions of crimewatch side-by-side so it's pretty much an all-or-nothing switch, and obviously having cleaned up one mess, you don't want to start by making CW2 back into CW1.

    It's the same with the Unified Inventory - although the visible change was a new user-interface - reading between the lines, there was some substantial re-engineering taking place to make handling of inventory more efficient and less bug-prone. CCP doesn't want to have to spend time maintaining/developing two sets of code, and realistically it doesn't work in the long term (eg when the code was added to allow you to fit subsystems to a T3 in a station, nobody bothered adding the code that allowed you do it at POS.)

    Now theoretically in cases like that, you could phase in new systems gradually, but assuming that you're going to turn off the old system sooner rather than later it can make more sense to make a hard cut-off at release time rather than dragging out a long process, and still having to force people to switch at cut-off.

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  10. I think that the 'no going back' messaging is CCP trying to fight inertia and stasis. The summer of rage derailed ccp's hope of taking eve into a new age and the risk is that the players themselves kill all attempts to move the game forward rather than just iterate it to death. Hilmar warned of that in the CSM6 winter minutes, right at the end.

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  11. I don't think it's a sentiment they adopt out of some sort of chip-on-the-shoulder attitude. I think it's a realistic way of portraying a totally new subsystem of code within the game's programming structure. Python is object-oriented. Unfortunately, not all designs are so purely OO that pieces can be dropped in and swapped 1-for-1 so easily. In that case, going back to a prior implementation of something would be simple. Even's Python code over the years probably resembles nothing as much as spaghetti.

    If they replace a large part of the game with something else that's better documented for the future (if nothing else), then I say good for them. The price to pay for "not going back" is a small one if it makes the game more robust and maintainable.

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  12. I remember being worried after reading this sentence on the devblog, I'm not anymore after reading your blog ; this change is good, it will need a bit more work, but it's on the good direction.

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  13. Eh if you ask me the new inventory still is trash for corporate hangers and I'm not impressed at all about the POSs.

    The issue with the mentality you quoted is CCP doesn't get it right before release. They don't take feedback seriously from the testing players. I believe they walked this back some on incursions also? I don't follow that area enough to know for sure.

    But maybe I'm just bitter.

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  14. Another case of CCP adamantly stating "not ever going back" was their response to that horrible UI change for cargoholds, etc.

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  15. For those QQing about the UI -- BIIIIIG changes are in the pipe for spring/summer '13. A LOT more shit is gonna be player-customizable, the "inventory" will be much moar better, station services will look better, and you'll be able to expand, filter, and organize the agents and guests as tabs.
    Also ... assuming you have the hulls and shit to fit according to one of your stored personal or corp fittings.... you can assemble, fit, load, and undock with TWO CLICKS.

    Shoulda come to Vegas Jester, it definitely reinvigorated my hopes for EVE. :-D

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    1. QQer about the UI here. For me it's the straw that broke the camels back. 24 hours until my last account expires. And I'm the last one of my corp to leave Eve. It's been almost 5 months since they released that particular abomination and waiting until summer '13 to get a working client is a bit too much to ask.

      The thing that really gets me is that obviously no one within CCP asked themselves "are all inventories equal?", just as no one asked "what is the gameplay?" during the Incarna development. It would seem that "oooooh shiny" is enough for both developers and players.

      Fuck that. No going back indeed.

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    2. They should get the Unified Inventory right first, then onto other strange UI abominations...

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    3. Just for the record, when I said "QQer about the UI here." I did in fact mean Unified Inventory. Trust CCP to pick a project name with a useless acronym.

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