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, April 14, 2014

Darkness

Just a quickie, but bad news.

This morning, CCP announced they are halting development of the World of Darkness MMO. This follows the announcement at the beginning of the year that 15 people from that staff had lost their jobs and CCP was "reevaluating" the project and deciding what to do with it. It looks like they've decided.

The net result of this is that 56 more CCP employees have now lost their jobs. CCP itself will be 100% focused on EVE Online, DUST 514, and Valkryie development, or as the press release puts it, this "will mark the first time since 2006 that the entirety of CCP will be working on a single universe." My sympathies go out to those CCP employees and their families affected by this unfortunate situation and I hope that you find employment elsewhere very soon.

The press release states that the realities of the WoD MMO "were falling regretfully short" of their aspirations. That aspiration list was becoming long, interesting, and challenging. In particular, the devs were hoping to combine the strength of an EVE-style sandbox to an ever-growing theme park of developed content, something that no game has managed to successfully combine yet.

In the meantime, some of the WoD developers "have been offered roles on other projects inside the company." We'll have to see what this means in the coming days. We'll also have to see what the future has in store for CCP's Atlanta office; a few of the company's management team have been based there...

43 comments:

  1. I wonder if some of the WoD team might move to EVE. Would this not simply add resources to the pool to make WiS back into a thing without taking away from EVE development?

    Thoughts? I hate to see that people got fired, of course, but this does change a few things.

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    1. I certainly hope they will do that. But I am not holding my breath.

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    2. Look at EVE-Offline and see what Tranquility's PCU is doing.

      Or just take my word: it's roughly 1,500 players below 2013 levels and on its way to below 2010 levels for the pre-summer lows. With the summer expansion being traditionally a weak one, I wonder what will happen to the summer peak.

      CCP just cancelled what little hopes they had to get rid of their dependence of EVE's IP. And that doesn't looks like a thriving IP.

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    3. tbh the 2011 Summer of Rage numbers were below the 2010 pre-summer lows. That was cause for panic in Rek so this summer's numbers will be interesting. CCP needs growth. They planned to grow with a new sub game, WoD, which is now off the table. They planned to grow with a million DUST players spending $1 a week each on microtrasactions. That's pretty clearly not going to happen. They planned to grow with $1000 clothing items in EVE's cash shop. That didn't work out too well either.

      So what's left? EVE's wheels have been spinning in the dust (no pun intended) for a couple of years now. Any projections they have internally for subscriber growth must be very sobering. It's a good thing Iceland has some pretty harsh capital controls in place at the moment, because otherwise any sane investor would have taken their investment ball and gone home in search of better opportunities. My Magic 8-Ball says CCP's future is getting cloudy. Expect more sunshine to be blown up the players' asses at FanFarce next month.

      @Jester: is this the big announcement the CSM knew about and couldn't comment on until now?

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    4. Some of the Atlanta staff will be absorbed into avatar stuff needed for the Aurum store, but WiS is on hold indefinitely. Most of the WiS development was merged with the WoD development, and went dead with the first WoD layoff.

      And, CCP is unlikely to invest major effort/resources to restart WiS development, given the less-than-stellar response from the EVE players after the Incarna expansion.

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    5. That's kind of what you get for letting rabid ignorance control your focus, I guess. Less attention should be paid to those that don't want EVE to truly expand, because I think we all see where that is going.

      So much for new content killing the game, the player base is doing JUST fine with that.

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    6. @Anon 3:39
      I've said if afore and I'll say it over and over again... There was no basic issue with the concept of WiS... The less than stellar response was due to CCP not having any CONTENT for us to walk around in.

      I swear now and forever, if CCP had simply had the damn door open... if they had places for us to GO, things for us to DO... WiS would have been seen as one of CCPs greatest Jesus Features on par with the introduction of Anoikis, wormhole space.

      A properly done, content full WiS feature could, nay WOULD open a whole brand new playerbase for EVE Online... CCP is foolish to think that FiS is the be all and end all of this great, immersive game... it would add a whole new dimension of real immersion for a whole new type of player.

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    7. TurAmarth. nobody buys your idealistic crap. CCP wasn't led into a trap by WiS/Incana like you imply with your "if only" spiel; CCP as a predictable entity got greedy with microtransactions and WiS/Incarna got led into that trap so much so that you didn't get an open door because of that greed aspect.

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    8. @ Anon 1:42 & 3:34:

      I concur with you in how WoD was CCP's plans for the future. It had to be the game that pulled the weight once EVE's knee bowed down (or while EVE 2 was being developed). Seeing that door close means that CCP very literally has no plans beyond EVE. Now, EVE isn't growing younger, DUST is not making enough money and Valkyrie is a wild guess at best as it depends completely on a 3rd party. Should something bad happen to the Rift, Valkyrie would be dead before completion.

      I've seen some people quite content to see how CCP is cornered into fixing a single product. They think that now their pending woes and grievances will get extra dev muscle and wil be fixed once and forever, but the fact is that no amount of fixes and tweaks will draw in new blood to EVE, and games that don't grow don't last.

      Further, the only thing we know on EVE's future plans, is to add new alliance level content. That is not going to draw in new blood nor retain anyone who is not a part of an alliance. I can't make myself into thinking that CCP may have chosen to ignore that, so I somehow hope that Fanfest will spread some good news for everyone in the Stargates to Unknown concept.... maybe a "backdoor" concept, maybe even "empire" unknown space (think of how northern America was colonized versus how southern America was colonized).

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    9. Anon1534: I'm gonna claim :nda: for two more weeks.

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    10. Prove to me that games that don't grow don't last. That seems to be the point you're hanging your entire statement off of. It's a stupid sentiment. It's always been a stupid sentiment.

      Normally whenever someone trots the moronic idea out there is a nice thought experiment of a plant dropping a fruit once it reaches full growth, and from that point on the fruit's dead or dying. It's pretty, it's poetic, and wrong wrong wrong. Anyone who's taken a basic science class knows it's wrong, they just get caught up in the symbology. In reality, the seeds in the dropped fruit can go dormant for days, weeks, months, years, decades, even centuries in extreme cases, all waiting for conditions to be right to start growing again. It didn't die when it stopped growing, it just sat there waiting.

      So Eve doesn't NEED to grow to continue on. It just has to stabilize to a churn rate of new players coming in, and old players going out. Does CCP necessarly want this? probably no. But they don't NEED to show year over year player count growth.

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    11. @TurAmarth - developing game content for WiS takes a LOT of time, money and resources. Essentially, it is the same work required to launch an entirely new MMO from scratch -> hundreds of millions of USD/EUR, 3-5 years, hundreds of artists & developers - all dedicated to working on ONLY that product.

      CCP, unwisely, was splitting its dev resources across too many concurrent major efforts: expansions for the spaceship game in EVE, WiS, DUST, WoD, etc. They thought they could phase in the WiS features slowly, over the span of several years - starting with CQ and NeX - and that the player base would be patient for the rest. Turns out they were wrong - they built up expectations too high. They also failed to do proper market research before launching NeX - the "monocle" disaster certainly did not help things.

      Unfortunately, too, CCP hasn't seemed to have learned the lesson from past mistakes and continues to diffuse its resources. Valkyrie is proof of this, as well as some other yet-unannouced projects.

      On the positive side, however, DUST will probably be shutdown soon, as CCP's contractual obligations to Sony are fulfilled. Along with the demise of WoD, this will remove another unprofitable bleed on CCP resources.

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    12. Do you work for CCP, maybe? As you're proving yourself wrong in the effort to prove that I am not right.

      "It just has to stabilize to a churn rate of new players coming in...,"

      So the game just needs to keep growing fast enough to keep the balance between players coming in and going out... according to your own words. No matter how you define "growth", you need new people playing the game. Preferably enough to outpace the ones quitting. Yet I doubt that EVE is actually growing.

      That's what CCP claims, but then, why there isn't more people online?

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    13. @Angry Onions
      "Should something bad happen to the Rift,"

      DId you not see the FB announcement? Whether it's good or bad from a funding perspective, it already seems to have alienated a lot of potential cusotmers who were previously very invested in the project. I definitely wouldn't considert that a good place to get started with a new and unproven product.

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    14. It could be worst, Oculus Rift by FB still is lie 10x cooler than Google Glass...

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  2. Is this related in any way to this devaluated code from the financial report?

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    1. I too was wondering this... While it seems obvious that it is, if it isn't you may not be able to speak freely about it, so to some , not saying is almost as if saying no...

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    2. Unlikely, the "de-recognized" mentioned specifically Eve and Dust.

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    3. Of course it is.

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    4. *shakes 8 ball* signs point to "all signs point to yes"

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    5. Honestly I don't know if we're done yet.

      I can't see why you would devalue the code, report it, THEN fire your staff.

      That just seems cruel and unusual and counter-productive.

      Wouldn't you keep it limping along, report a half-decent position, THEN sack your staff hoping to give yourself a near full year to recover?

      Maybe there is some accounting treatment that makes it beneficial, but I don't think CCP is that flush with funds to be looking for those kinds of plays.

      Anyway, Jester has indicated above that there is more to come.

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  3. This is really a shame. Out of Eve, Dust514, Valkryie, and WOD if CCP only wanted to focus on three, I think they dropped the wrong one (and it's not EVE or Valkryie either)

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  4. Sad, but I can't say I'm surprised. Eight years of work followed by the question, "wait, where are we going?" is not a good sign.

    They have their hands full anyway, between modernizing EVE and getting DUST into fighting trim. Once those are stable and earning money, maybe they can look at WoD again.

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    1. Not to bash on anyone caught in the middle of these events, but I just want to point out that CCP always, always display some serious problems with delivery:
      - bringing Eve to beta was grueling.
      - after five years in development and a helpful hand from Sony, Dust was far more broken in beta than it had any reason to be.
      - eight years in development, and yet WoD had some many open high level issues, with hardly anything concrete to show for.
      - As much as it pains me, Valkryie is giving all the impressions to be going the very same route. You can't just keep saying for years over how great the game could be if you implement it one way, or perhaps another way, or perhaps even a third one. At some point you must commit to one of them and go for it.

      CCP is bad, bad, bad at making these decisions and the result is that the teams of yet-to-be-delivered games waste way too much effort implementing stuff just to have all the code thrown away.

      Compare WoD to Pillars of Eternity, just to name an example that is on top of my mind. Development team of comparable size, budget of comparable size, scope comparable to Baldur's Gate, and yet they intend to deliver the game between two and three years total.

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    2. That has the ring of truth to it. CCP make no secret of the fact that they're incredibly ambitious, and they have to learn the Steve Jobs maxim that "great artists ship."

      Apparently the PVP gameplay was very good, not that we'll ever know...

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    3. @anon 1:01, CCP and EVE are a one-trick pony, period.

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  5. So is this definitively the entire reason for the financial write off CCP recently made, or are there more shoes yet to drop?

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    1. The NDA is NDA'ed until CCP announces it, so maybe the NDA will be non-NDA once some NDA is officially announced before or a during FF.

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  6. Well thats a mistake. Dump something that might be profitable instead of admiring dust is a failure typical ccp. Its a good thing they make the only good sandbox mmo out there or they might be in trouble

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    1. You don't know that they had anything that might be profitable.

      We're all sad about this now because we're imaging a great functioning game without having to have solved any of the design problems. WoD was almost certainly an ugly, buggy mess with no cohesive design and fundamental flaws in the way the game played. And that's why they dropped it.

      If it had been even DUST good I'm certain they'd be releasing it right now instead of writing it off. This is the game that, after 8 years, the people who released DUST still decided they couldn't let the public see it and nor could they fix it to the point where the public could see it

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  7. Well, now they can put those Atlanta guys to work on EVE's side of the Carbon code and deliver WiS...

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    1. To what end? Burning out more peoples' graphics cards? There's a minimum-level graphics subsystem required to render multiple independently-controlled full-body avatars at once in real time. The niche of players willing to shell out $500 for a graphics card to handle that load is probably very small.

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    2. I wouldn't want them to continue too much of the failed WoD work to apply to EvE, but if some of it could be adapted to fit into the EvE universe to expand the options of our avatars in station they'd at least potentially get some return on the failed investment for "only" the cost of the conversion. ("Only" being of course a relative term.)

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  8. Only a whisper left of Atlanta my friends

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  9. The may be a completely ignorant perspective, but why not try and retain this through social funding like Kickstarter and really see what the true interest is in this type of MMO. Worst case is that it was a huge waste of time with money lost and good people out of work. Best case is that it could get a new breath of life for the employees and their families to try and make this work. If CCP retained a partial stake maybe it could move forward.

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    1. WoD is too expensive - they could never generate enough funding via Kickstarter et al. The social funding mechanism works ok for the start-up, prototype, or proof-of-concept phase, but you still need to get real funding to make it a product.

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  10. "We'll also have to see what the future has in store for CCP's Atlanta office"

    The Atlanta office will be shuttered and the staff remaining with CCP will be relocated to Iceland.

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  11. Another TLDR post from Jester.

    Yawn.

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    1. If you can't bother to read four short paragraphs, perhaps blogs are not for you...

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    2. You're so cool, dude.

      I hope that when I grow up, I can also be a dismissive chimp that struggles with reading a few paragraphs. Then I too can be an internet cool kid.

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  12. I'm really not sure how to feel about this news. On the one hand, I was really looking forward to WoD since it was first announced, having been a big fan of "Bloodlines" and hoping for something of similar quality and depth on an MMO scale. However, this project has been dragged on for so long that maybe it's finally time to put it to rest and let the undead sleep. It might be too much to hope that this means more resources (or at least, less drain) for improving EVE, but if that turns out to be the case, then at least it's not a total loss.

    I guess we can just chalk this up to one more victim of the CCP mantra: overpromise and underdeliver. CCP never fails to disappoint, so why do we keep giving them our money?

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    1. WoD was like CCP's Bonus Room.

      They thought it was a good idea to start with, tossed a ton of money into it. At some point years ago they probably realized along the way that they weren't going to get their money back from it, but kept getting more invested in the idea that somehow if they just keep carrying on with it, they'd win.

      Its a shame too, I'm a huge fan of the fan modded/fixed version of Bloodlines as well. I also hope that someone else gets their hands on the IP, by license or sale of it, that can do some great single player RPGs with it. CCP basically killed White Wolf when they bought it, so hopefully Onyx gets the rights to the IP, as they're the ones actually producing the only new WoD material out there.

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