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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Thursday, December 13, 2012

You are the navigator

Just a quickie.

Suppose you were driving from Los Angeles to New York.  You know the overall goal: get to New York.  You'd probably lay out a day-by-day plan on how to get there.  But the plan would change from time to time based on road conditions, construction, toll roads you discovered, and rush hour conditions in some of the cities you passed through.  But you'd lay down a general idea of the roads and interstates that you'd want to use.  Each day would have a day's plan and you might even enlist a navigator to help you with the GPS or the maps and figure out how that day's driving worked within the overall plan.

Suppose you were developing a video game like EVE Online.

We know in general who's driving the overall "vision" of the game.  That's CCP t0rfifrans.  His eye seems to be fixed about four or five years down the road.  But he's not a nuts-and-bolts guy, he's the creative director.  We know who's in the driver's seat.  That's CCP Ripley.  Her eye is focused four or five months down the road.  From everything I'm hearing, she's an excellent manager and ideal for helping a team meet a schedule set by someone else.  But I also understand that she's not into the game as such either.

But who has their eye fixed in between?  Who's making the decisions about what's going to be in the spring expansion, and what's going to be in the winter expansion?  We know we're going to New York: that's t0rfi's job.  We know about today's drive: that's Ripley's job.  But who's keeping it in context?  Who's making changes to the plan based on development realities or changing market conditions?  In short, who's navigating?

I don't think it's CCP Unifex any more.  This was his job.  But I get the impression his promotion means he's more focused about how DUST and EVE interact, not the exact direction EVE is going.  I don't think it's CCP Soundwave.  I think he's a big part of advising whomever is making the decisions.  But this year, he's been all but exclusively focused on the Unified Inventory and database topics.  I don't think it's CCP Greyscale.  He's gone from "I'd like to remove all jump bridges from null" in late 2010 to writing sweeping changes to null on a white-board in 2011 to "I'd like to remove all divisions from your Orca corporate hangar" in late 2012.

I don't have an answer to this question.  Sometimes I don't have answers to the questions that I ask.  But it sure would be interesting to know this particular answer!  Does anyone know?

How can the CSM influence CCP's decision-makers if it's not clear who the decision-makers are?  If decisions are being made by committee (as seems most likely), who's running the committee?

EDIT (13/Dec/2012): An anonymous commenter below assures me this role is being filled by Unifex.  I've asked for a citation.  This article assures me that this role is being filled by Soundwave, who is described as EVE's Lead Game Designer.

28 comments:

  1. Hopefully the CSM can answer a lot of these questions after the summit. From the recent summit pictures posted on Twitter it looks like CCP Unifex is a lot more involved than I previously thought.

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    1. This is absolutely correct. We'll be *able* to answer those questions after the summit (I could actually answer them already, but *NDA* for the immediate future) but I asked Jon today to come out publicly and get some clear messaging on exactly what's going on inside CCP right now. Stay tuned, a bit of patience and I imagine you all will know as well soon enough. My urgency with Jon on the messaging comes from the fact that I personally am encouraged (admittedly because my expectations were low going into the summit) and think you all will be too.

      o7

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  2. An excellent question. If you could headhunt firstly from CCP, then the rest of the gaming industry, who would you hire to navigate in the manner described? Is it something the CSM should have more input in?


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    1. Frankly its something they've already gotten a fistful of input on whether they wanted it or not. :) So yeah, I certainly believe its our business to speak up.

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  3. It's a shame that your post is made redundant by your incorrect assumption about Unifex and Ripley.

    t0rfi is the vision guy. Unifex is in charge. Ripley is the delivery person. Soundwave is the designer.

    Unifex is not a Dust guy at all. At all. He is a spaceships guy. Dust is someone else's job. Ripley takes what's on the slate for a release as set by Unifex and facilitates its delivery. Unifex calls the shots.

    They changed job title of Senior Producer to Exec Producer because Eve is big enough to mean an Exec Producer job title is required. It was a modernisation of the role after Nathan left.

    Just wanted to clear that up. With all due respect, the confusion is yours, not theirs.

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    1. Please tell me that Unifex can veto t0rfi's visions if necessary.

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    2. If you are referring to Incarna, keep in mind that vision != execution != pricing strategy.

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    3. Hi... And where did Nathan go?

      He was annoying but I kinda liked that guy

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    4. This comment has some truth in it but it's outweighed by the idiocy in the rest of it.

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  4. Does it really matter? None of the people mentioned actually plays the game regularly anymore (if ever).

    Note: I don't consider the once per year CCP fleet excursion as playing the game. They go out, get popped, and that's about it.

    And, I'd put real money on the bet that none of them have even been in a mining ship, run a level 1 mission, traded an item on market, manufactured a module, run a single courier contract, or started up a corp in the past 5 years.

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    1. Considering at least two of those individuals have been at CCP for *less* than 5 years and were active players prior to that, that's not a very safe bet.

      Based on conversations that I had with them at fanfest, I also have it on good authority that at least one of them has remained active (at least, as far as limited time allows) since.

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    2. They hired Raivi, Verone and Michael Bolton III over the last couple of months.

      Also there are at least a couple other former major alliance executors within the ranks if you know where to look :D

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    3. Michael BoltonIII, at least, didn't actually play the game for at least a year prior to joining CCP. Ask anyone in TEST.

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    4. @Azual - name them, and prove that they:

      (a) have been in a mining ship;
      (b) have run a level 1 mission;
      (c) traded an item on market;
      (d) manufactured a module;
      (e) run a single courier contract; or
      (f) started up a corp

      within the past five (5) years, and you'll win the bet.

      Note that I didn't say anything about living in null, being a Goon, PVPing as part of a blob fleet, or being a corporate spy.

      The activities I mentioned are specifically all non-PVP related and I claim that no one at CCP currently has much - if any - hands-on, in-game experience with these activities.

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  5. *shrug* You asked if anyone knew the answer to your question. Well, Unifex is your navigator. He is the man. I don't know what else to tell you.

    Love the blog! Never stop posting.

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    1. You can tell me your source. ;-)

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    2. *shrug* You asked if anyone knew the answer to your question. Well, Michigan J. Frog is your navigator. He is the man. I don't know what else to tell you.

      Love the blog! Never stop posting.

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  6. I don't know that is much surprise that Soundwave is the lead visionary of the game. Given he ran the spy division of goons (watch the Fanfest You Tube video), and goons pride themselves on wrecking games, it is no shock that he has manipulated his way into that position, or that people that share the same view of the future of the game as him have moved him into that position.

    I am betting that high sec will be unrecognizable in two more iterations. By next winter release 2013, high sec industry capabilities will be a shell of what they are today, and the current nerf to mission income will seem like a slight dip to what is coming.

    Of course, when the game goes the way the zealots want, contrary to what these guys believe, the sub rate will plummet, and Soundwave and the rest of his cadre, we can only hope, will be looking for some other job. When (not if, but when) Soundwave and the other null sec zealots get their way, Star Citizen will indeed be VERY popular in the short term, no matter how good or bad the game is.

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  7. You know the difference between a 'Lead Game Designer' and an 'Exec Producer', right?

    Let's say Soundwave wants to fix POS's and as the Lead Designer he has a ~plan~ to do it. But he can't start that plan until Unifex signs off on it. Unifex prioritised Bounties and Crimewatch over POS's, Unifex parked WiS, Unifex's first call when he took over Eve Online was to give Soundwave the greenlight for the little things project that was the focus of Crucible, and then the continued iterations of Inferno.

    Unifex will make the call on what gets the focus after Retribution, Soundwave will then lead the specific gameplay designs within that remit and Ripley will facilitate its delivery.

    By now asserting in your edit that you feel Soundwave must be in charge because his job title has the word 'Lead' in it makes me think you are just trolling at this point :)

    Jon is running a good team that care about spaceships and Eve Online. Mynxee can feel reassured that our game is in safe hands now, more so than during her time on CSM :)

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    1. I want to believe what you write. So either type your name instead of being anonymous or tell me your source. It's not that hard of a request.

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    2. You are wrong. Revealing a name can be a hard choice, burdened with consequences.

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    3. But, what about those of us who want EVE to be more than just a PVP spaceship game? EVE is touted as a sci-fi MMO, which includes a lot more than fighting in spaceships.

      And, even the spaceship game isn't all there. It needs to be more than just an "orbit, press F1" and "target primary, press F1" spreadsheet game, designed for players who don't have the reflexes for true FPS PVP combat. The ship movement controls are just pathetic.

      Want to know the real reason why there are so few new players lining up to play? Because the game is being designed for old farts, by old farts.

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  8. Your comment "If decisions are being made by committee (as seems most likely), who's running the committee?" reminds me of an old adage that says "A camel is a horse designed by a committee." I certainly hope that is not the case with Eve's future.

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  9. Protip: If you want to be taken seriously, don't post anonymously.

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    1. Hogwash.

      I always post Anonymous and yet Jester has actually used two of my comments as COTW's in this past year.

      BTW - thanks, Jester!

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  10. Suddenly I remembered what this post reminded me of.

    "Now," he said, "you do rule the Universe, do you?"

    "How can I tell?" said the man.

    Zarniwoop ticked off a note on the paper.

    "How long have you been doing this?"

    "Ah," said the man, "this is a question about the past is it?"

    Zarniwoop looked at him in puzzlement. This wasn't exactly what he had been expecting.

    "Yes," he said.

    "How can I tell," said the man, "that the past isn't a fiction designed to account for the discrepancy between my immediate physical sensations and my state of mind?"

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