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...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hey kids, what time is it?

Clear Skies 3 is finally out!

If you haven't already, go download yourself a copy.  The movie, like its two predecessors, is a triumph of CGI film-making.  The developers have out-done themselves in virtually every respect.  The great thing about this one is that it intentionally broadens the audience.  Once the back-story was explained, even someone who doesn't play EVE would have a pretty easy time following the plot.  Spoilers follow, and you should not read the rest of this blog post until you've watched the movie.

Seen it?  OK.

The movie isn't without its flaws, of course.  The Half Life-based characters are showing their age, and the limited number of facial models means there's quite a lot of repetition of those faces from previous movies in new roles.  And the developers clearly all but gave up on in-game footage, instead relying on CCP's internal tools to generate much of the space action, and make that action much more exciting and dynamic than actual EVE combat.  Story-wise, there are several sequences that are either too drawn-out or entirely unnecessary, notably just about everything to do with the Jovians.

However, all of these are nits.  As I said, the movie is a triumph.  It sets the bar for any future EVE movies almost ludicrously high.  ;-)  It also features a brilliant pair of memes that are sure to permanently enter the EVE lexicon.  One of the two is the answer to the the question posed by this post title.

Still, the funny thing about CS3 is that it also unintentionally reflects a lot of EVE's current problems in microcosm.  The first Clear Skies was book-ended by a pair of fights between single battleships taking several minutes each.  CS2 ended with a large fight between fleets, again taking several minutes.  In that one, a super-capital ship -- a Titan -- was the cause of all the movie's problems.

In CS3, though, a Titan and an associated super-capital and capital fleet are the solution to all problems, and the sub-caps -- even including Clear Skies herself -- are relegated to secondary roles, where they aren't entirely disposable or even irrelevant.  Many ships, up to and including a battleship and a carrier are shown being one-shotted.  Later, Clear Skies is shown running through the enemy fleet at high speed... right past a Minmatar webbing cruiser.  Is the cruiser told to tackle the annoying battleship?  No.  Instead, the real danger to Clear Skies are carrier fighters.  Later still, an ancillary character reports "two more ships" have been destroyed, when many more ships than that have been shown exploding.  The character of course means that two more capital ships have been destroyed... the only ones that matter.

And of course, the deus ex machina super-capital and capital fleet that solves all the movie's problems is brought in with a cyno lit by a single stealth bomber.

When a character from CS2 (then in a Rokh) is shown in CS3 commanding a Wyvern, I had to laugh a little bit.  "Congratulations," I literally said to the screen.  "Passed 60 million skill points, have you?"

Even in Clear Skies, EVE has become "Super-caps Online"...  ;-)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cleared for departure

I'm still logging into EVE occasionally, by the way.  That has to do with the mechanics of unsubscribing.

With a lot of subscription services, when you cancel your subscription (something I did in EVE almost two weeks ago), you can request a pro-rated refund of the remaining dollar value of your subscription.  Not so in EVE, where unsubscribing simply prevents CCP from taking any more money from you.  Your account goes into a "canceled" status, but continues to be active in all other respects until the final date of your subscription arrives.

I have four EVE accounts, three that were on subscriptions paid for by credit card.  The last was created back in late October with the "Power of Two" promotion, which is a one-time $50 fee for six months of play time on an additional account, with no subscription required.  I bought that last account with an eight-month toon training plan in mind, so I purchased two PLEXes for that account.  As a result, it will currently unsub in late June.  The subscriptions for Ripard and another of my mains run out in late August and late July, respectively.  As for my last main, in a moment of patriotic EVE fervor, I set my subscription length to that account to one year in March 2011, which means that it will be an active account until March 2012.

Since I have to keep Ripard's training plan going until late August, I'm going to buy one PLEX for the other main account and keep that training plan going as well.  Because of the vagaries of what I'm trying to get done, and the various distribution of my toons across my four accounts, I might even end up buying one or two more PLEXes for my Power of Two account as well.  To pay for the PLEXes, I'm keeping my manufacturing and trading chain going for another month or so.  This also gives me time to finish blueprint research runs I have going on a couple of high-sec POSs and to shut down and un-anchor those POSes when that's done.

As a result, I'm still logging in every day or two to update prices, skill training, PI, and research jobs.  I'm even undocking every couple of days to move materials around, but only in cloaky haulers.  But I haven't undocked in a combat ship since moving my last stuff out of 0.0 a couple of weeks ago, and I haven't fired a gun in anger in almost a month.  So, I wouldn't say I'm still playing EVE, but I'm still logging in occasionally.  ;-)

As a result of that, I'm still keeping track of EVE developments, and will probably even still have a couple of things to say about them...

The Quiet Men

I haven't seen any of the EVE blogs I follow mention this, so I will: with remarkably little fanfare, CSM6 are in the midst of their first trip to Iceland.

A month ago, I was predicting that this Summit would be characterized by fireworks.  After seeing Mittens's apologias toward CCP on the various forums, I withdraw that prediction.  Playing nice with CCP is a really good move, and is likely to help with CSM's access to key CCP personnel, and heal some of the damage from CSM5's Open Letter.  Still, it's surprising to me how little publicity or build-up around this there's been.  CCP hasn't said a word, and Mittens hasn't said a word.  In fact, only one CSM member is blogging or posting about it at all: Trebor.

He's made three blog posts so far:
Day 0: Quest for bacon
Day 1: Let them eat cake
Day 2: Dreaming about quality assurance

EDIT (21/May/2011): And here's Day 3: Girls play EVE

Enjoy.  One thing to watch for: will there be a dedicated Incarna session?

Incidentally, I posted in several places -- here, FHC, the EVE-O forums -- that I suspected that thanks to their frequent discussions on Skype, this CSM would have almost no formal meetings, and the minutes for the meetings they did have would make for less-than-compelling reading.  With that in mind, I present to you the minutes of the first (and only, so far) CSM6 formal meeting.  ;-)

They didn't even formally vote on their officer selections, as far as I can tell, the one and only thing that was actually required to get done in this meeting.

Friday, May 13, 2011

This is a "tweak"?

OK, I can't resist.  I'm going to weigh in on the jump bridge nerf.

First thing: long-term, and combined with a lot of other changes to jump logistics, I think this is a positive change.  I should: back in February, I proposed something very similar to this change as part of a larger package of jump logistics changes.  It's #5 in the list of "Week 2" changes.  So, long term?  Very positive.  But in the short term, this single change alone, done in a vacuum, is going to have a lot of negative impacts.

I'm going to write this post assuming you don't know how jump bridges work or are used.  So, I beg the forgiveness of those of you that do understand how they work.  ;-)  I'm also going to address these changes strictly from the standpoint of the NC, the group of alliances most affected by this change, since they have the most extensive JB network.

Say that you're a member of Mostly Harmless alliance.  One of your home systems is P-2TTL in Pure Blind.  You own a cloaky hauler, and you'd like to bring a couple of thousand cubic meters of assorted loot from P-2 to high-sec to sell it.  You have two choices: either ride the JB chain, or take 10 jumps through 0.0 from P-2 to Torrinos, the high-sec entrance for Pure Blind.  Those ten jumps take you through X-7OMU, where pretty much everyone who wants to kill PB residents lives, so you might not want to do that.  ;-)  Instead, you can take the JB chain.  How this works is, instead of flying from gate to gate, you fly from JB to JB.  In P-2, you fly to the JB that will take you directly to MT9Q-S.  Once you're in that system, you warp to a second JB that will take you directly to EC-P8R.  Once in EC, you fly to the Torrinos gate and jump through.  That's three jumps instead of ten to get to high-sec.

The nerf is going to remove the ability for there to be two JBs in MT9Q-S.  How MH will almost certainly deal with this will be to put a second JB in a neighboring system.  Mostly Harmless will need sovereignty in this second intermediate system to install the second JB, and it will almost certainly go in KDV-DE.  So instead of "Torr-EC-MT9-P2", their chain will go "Torr-EC-MT9-KDV-P2"... exactly one more jump than what they have today.  KDV is currently held by Spacemonkey's Alliance.  Look for SMA to lose sov in KDV to MH.  And this will happen soon, because it will take three weeks of MH sovereignty before the new Jump Bridge can be installed there.

Goons have a similar issue: their route to Deklein goes Torr-EC to the next-door system, EWOK-K.  Then you ride a JB in EWOK to 4-ABS8, then JB to YA0-XJ.  Four jumps from Torr to YA0 instead of 16 jumps using the gates.  They'll need an additional intermediate system, too.  Look for them to take over sov in R-LW2I, currently held by Controlled Chaos.

So that's the first impact: smaller alliances like Spacemonkey's and Controlled Chaos are going to lose intermediate systems to bigger alliances that will be using them to reestablish their jump bridge changes after this nerf.  In the north, the NC currently has very strict ratting/plexing guidelines for "owned" systems.  These guidelines will likely have to be changed or loosened.  That will make the jobs of the NC diplos harder.

Keep in mind: this is a big way JBs get used.  It has much less to do with trying to avoid risk, and much more with trying to avoid boredom.  Other than two or three busy systems, those 16 jumps from EC to YA0 are through empty systems.

However, once these systems change hands, the second impact is that anyone who wants to try to kill Mostly Harmless logistics will only have to camp one gate: the one between MT9Q-S and KDV-DE.  Cloaky Sabres parked on either side of that gate will make MH's logistics into P-2 more difficult.  The Sabres and the Recons/bombers with them can pick and choose who they want to kill coming through that gate.  Currently, those wishing to screw with alliance logistics camp Jump Bridge POSs with bombers, which is riskier and involves smaller ships and less DPS.  This JB nerf will allow cloakies to camp logistics chains with heavier ships that will be able to kill the logistics faster.  So that's the second impact: this nerf to JBs is a massive buff to cloaky gate-camps, and a corresponding nerf to an individual pilot's ability to do things on their own.

Some people like to call this sort of thing "PvP", but it's not.  It's just ganking ships that can't defend themselves.

As a direct corollary to the second impact, expect jump freighter sales to go through the roof as people just say "screw this" and use JFs to move even small, routine stuff to 0.0 that they're currently moving with cloaky haulers.  That's the third impact.

Fourth impact: those very same JFs are going to have a harder time getting around and supplying 0.0 markets.  P-2 and C4C-Z4, both MH home systems, currently have cyno jammers installed.  This is done to prevent super-carrier fleets from just jumping directly into the system, wreaking a lot of havoc, and then jumping out again before a response fleet can be rallied.  Currently, a MH jump freighter en route to P-2 from Jita can jump directly from the Jita undock to the Aunenen system, then from there to MT9.  Then the JF rides the JB in MT9 into P-2, avoiding the jammer.  Similarly, a JF wanting to go to to C4C-Z4 can currently jump from Torrinos to P-33KR, then ride the JB there to C4C.

Either the JB chains will have to be further tweaked to create "entry systems" one jump away from the station systems (7X-VKB and GME-PQ can serve this function for P-2 and C4C, respectively), or the cyno jammers will have to be "cycled" frequently at scheduled times to let those JFs in.  Don't count on this latter option happening too often, though.  NC alliances are far too riddled with spies for most alliance leaders to allow this.  Again, this is a nerf to the individual pilot's ability to do for themselves in 0.0.  Once this nerf is in place, even routine logistics will have to be done in groups to avoid ganking.

As a result, fifth impact: those with the ability to bring in multiple jump freighters full of ships, ammo, and mods (old money players, in other words) will see their profits increase as their 0.0 market orders sell faster.  Newer individual players without jump freighters will further enrich older players with jump freighters, whereas today they can avoid these massive mark-ups by going to high-sec themselves.  Once the nerf is in place, they'll either have to accept the mark-up, or travel to high-sec with a combat group to avoid cloaky gankers.

Sixth impact: super-carriers attacking NC positions are going to have a very good summer.  The only counter to a raiding super-carrier fleet are fast-response hictors and dictors.  Reducing the number of JBs per system effectively means that hictor/dictor groups looking to catch those raiding fleets have to take twice as many jumps to reach their target systems, and makes it very easy for scout sub-cap fleets working with the super-caps to catch those groups on the gates of the intermediate systems.  Pandemic Legion, in particular, excels at this.  Look for lots of super-carrier-caused carnage over the summer, linked to even more carnage against sub-cap fleets attempting to respond to those super-carriers.  This will only double for those alliances that foolishly try cycling their cyno jammers.

Of course, all of these example impacts to Mostly Harmless pilots assume that the NC will survive the summer.  It's possible that if the DRF really pushes (and continues to have access to PL subcap fleets), that the NC could fall.  Morale in the north is very weak at the moment, and this change will not help.

So, the major losers here are:
  • NC logistics pilots that have to set up the new JB chains;
  • smaller alliances that will lose systems to those expanded chains;
  • individual pilots wishing to handle their own light logistics; and,
  • sub-cap fleets looking to catch raiding super-carriers.
Winners are:
  • super-carrier pilots;
  • cloaky gate-camp pilots;
  • spies;
  • jump freighter manufacturers; and,
  • old-money industrialist/trade pilots that are already stocking 0.0 markets or handling 0.0 logistics.
What remains to be seen is how this change will affect NC PvP fleet organization.  These days, to gather an NC fleet, pilots are expected to individually form up in two to three staging systems convenient to the battle front.  Once formed, these smaller fleets are then gathered into the larger fleet like a snowball rolling downhill, before the combined fleet pushes to the objective systems.  With the increase in cloaky gate-camps that will be one of the inevitable impacts of this change, such individual pre-staging of ships will be more rare.

There are two possible impacts.  Either this change will increase NC fleet participation (since larger groups will have to move out to those staging systems together), or it will stifle NC fleet participation entirely (since individual pilots will no longer feel comfortable moving in ones and twos to the staging systems at times convenient to them).

Once an NC fleet is assembled, this change will have a seventh impact.  As I've mentioned before, a PvP fleet will abide no more than 15-20 jumps before you'd better get them some PvP.  That was the bulk of what the extensive NC JB networks were being used for: shortening the number of jumps between home and PvP for NC pilots.  Make those trips longer, and people will stop showing up for those PvP fleets.

In short, this "minor tweak" is nothing of the sort.  It's going to have major impacts, particularly on the current war between the NC and the DRF.  And that impact will be felt most by the individual pilots and the smallest NC alliances that have already borne the brunt of the war.  If the DRF chooses to capitalize on the inevitable chaos of the rebuilding of the NC JB network, this "minor tweak" might be a major contributing factor to the fall of the NC.  Whether the DRF is going to push their advantage in the war to that extent also remains to be seen.

So, long term?  It's a good, relatively minor change and hopefully, part of a much larger package of 0.0 revisions.  But in the short term, this one change done in a vacuum is going to be huge.

Whew!  Long post, but I hadn't seen the EVE blogs I follow really explore this topic properly yet.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

-1 Jester

I'll make this quick, and I will be including as little drama as I possibly can.

I've decided to unsubscribe my four EVE Online accounts.  Over the next few months, I'll be wrapping up training plans and letting each account lapse.  Since I'm sure you'd rather get your EVE commentary from someone who's actually playing EVE, that means that I'll also be letting this blog lapse.

You might ask why, and it's a fair question.  My reasons apply to me, and I don't intend that they reflect on anyone else.  If you're having fun in EVE, that's great and more power to you.  But the short answer is that I'm not having fun any more.  Most of the things that I enjoyed about the game are dead or dying, and are being replaced by things that I'm not all that interested in.  I'm also suffering under a bit of a handicap that's unique to my situation.  I've been struggling with it and trying to ignore it for more than a year now, but it's time to face it.  More specifically, four factors are coming together, all at the same time.  One or two would be manageable, but all four happening at the same time have drained my enthusiasm for the game and would require more work to solve than seems reasonable or fun.

First, since it affects everything else I'm going to mention, the handicap: I live in California.  EVE is simply unfriendly to those that live in California.  My prime play time starts at 0200 at the earliest, and often, it's more like 0330.  Most ops are wrapping up or are long over by this time.  Frequently, there are fewer than 18000 people logged into the game when I play, the vast majority in Empire.  As a result, I've spent a ton of time playing EVE solo.  Problem is (as I'll mention), a lot of solo pursuits are gone from the game.

The four factors:
1) Without getting into specifics, both my corp and my alliance are going through a rough patch.  A lot of the people that were active in my time zone have either left the corp or are not active in EVE for personal reasons.  LAWN is one of the top 50 alliances in terms of size in the game, with almost 850 toons... but it's common for there to only be four or five people on Teamspeak by the time I get on-line.

2) With the sanctum/haven nerf, there's a lot less ISK moving around the EVE economy.  This affects me indirectly because my main income stream for more than a year has been production of T1 and T2 mods, rigs, bubbles, and the like.  And right now, it looks like my income from this source is going to be cut in half due to the much-reduced amount of ISK that's chasing the increasing number of products on the market.

3) Small gang PvP -- which was my first love in EVE -- appears to be all but dead in 0.0 space.  Small pick-up roaming gangs that you could log into EVE and X up for with 20 minutes notice have been strangled by blob warfare, weeks-long deployments behind enemy lines (and the planning and logistics that go with that), and super-organized fleet doctrines where not only is your role and ship chosen for you, so is your fitting.

4) Virtually every solo pursuit in EVE -- which I'm driven to due to the late US TZ -- has been systematically nerfed and replaced with pursuits that require larger groups.  L4 missions and sanctums/havens are two examples, replaced by WH ops and Incursions, respectively.  The less said about the state of solo PvP in EVE, the better.  Needing a larger group would be fine... if I could put together a larger group.

As I said, any one of these four factors, I could compensate for alone.  I could find new income streams to compensate for #2, for instance.  It would be a lot of work over several months to do it, but I could do it.  But all four hitting at once?

There are also two additional external factors that are draining off the enthusiasm I once had for EVE:
1) Sov warfare is simply not as fun as I thought it would be.  I knew tower and structure ops were going to be a part of it.  But increasingly, if you don't have a cap or super-cap, the tower op fleets don't want you, or at best relegate you to boring support roles.  CCP's increasing cluelessness about their own game in this aspect is really starting to wear me down.  If they don't like blobs, why do they keep implementing changes to the game that encourage blobs of larger and larger size?  I must be the only person that's ambivalent about time dilation, because all I can see happening as a result of it are 2500-person blobs instead of 1500-person ones.

2) The ratio of veterans to newbies in EVE continues to rise thanks to EVE's inability to attract new players.  We've seen this in both the stagnant subscription numbers and the average number of SP EVE toons have, which is rising rapidly.  But the vets are doing a great job themselves in driving off the newbies.  The level of nastiness in EVE is rising at an astonishing rate.  Granted, EVE is a dark, cold, unforgiving universe, blah-blah-blah.  Fine.  But people are taking it to extremes that are troubling... even dangerous.  It takes no time at all for a calm forum or Twitter conversation to turn ugly... often disgustingly so.  DDOS attacks on enemy Teamspeak servers or enemy supercap pilots are now commonplace.  And now a DDOS attack has been launched on EVE News 24 that's kept it all but inaccessible for weeks.  This.  Is.  Wrong.  And I'm honestly no longer interested in being part of it.

So, I'm out.

A few questions that I'm sure will come up:
1) Can you haz my stuff?  No.  I'm going to leave the accounts idle for a couple of years and see how I feel then.  I'm still very interested to see what comes out of Incarna, so I will probably revisit after it's fully in place.  I will probably also revisit if my living arrangement changes.  EVE was a lot more fun when I lived in Connecticut a few years ago.  But in a year or two, if I find that I'm still disinterested, then I'll find some few-months-old toons struggling to do L3 missions in their Drakes and I will give them my stuff.

2) Aren't you worried about falling behind in SP if you do come back?  No.  Ripard has 50M SP.  My other three mains have 40M each.  I'll be continuing their skill trains until their respective subscriptions run out, buying a few PLEXes to synchronize those dates (which looks like it'll be early August or so).  If I do decide to come back, it will be because there are enough new EVE players that 40-50M SP are still worthwhile.

3) What happens to the blog?  I won't be updating it any further with EVE info, but I'll leave it up because I know there are a number of posts on it that are pointed to in various forums.  And once I move to a new MMO, I might very well start blogging about that.  Jester's Trek may continue somewhere other than New Eden, after all.  ;-)  There are several MMOs coming in both the short and long term that I'm interested in.

4) What are you going to play now?  I'm going to start with World of Tanks and Global Agenda, I think.  I have friends playing both.  And both have the instant-on, small-gang PvP thing going for them that drew me to EVE in the first place.  There are also a couple of MMOs coming in 2012 that I'm very interested in, notably Kingdoms of Amalur.

Comments on the blog are still active, but I've switched them to moderated.  If you've read this far and you are inclined to reply with some variant of "cry more, noob", don't bother.  I will delete your comment without reading it or posting it.  However, if you have thoughtful comments that you want to put out there, go for it.

Fly safe, capsuleers.  o7

EDIT (19/Sep/2011): There's an update to this post.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Assistant to the Quote of the Week

Helicity Boson, no slouch at EVE blogging himself, sums up my recent feelings about CCP in four sentences:
I think, at the core, it's not so much that they screw up and fail. It's just that they fail badly and don't learn anything good while doing it.

There is nothing wrong with failing, or even failing a lot, as long as you learn useful things from it. That is quite evidently not going so well in the case of [CCP].
Indeed.  I think I've mentioned a few times that I'm a big believer in learning from your mistakes.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Quote of the Week: Invested players

The Quote of the Week this time references EVE but didn't come from EVE directly:
An invested player expects the game to have fair outcomes more than fair actions. They feel that they had to put a lot of work, time and money into the game, and so should everybody else. Invested players get angry if they feel that all of their hard work is for nothing. They hate the sense that other players are cheating, or that a game is cheating on their behalf, because the game and its world means something to the invested player. They don't want that meaning to feel futile.
It's from a terrific post from the What Games Are blog posted on Twitter by @CrazyKinux last week.  Go out and read the whole piece.  It's definitely worth your time.  In particular, the discussion of fair actions versus fair outcomes is going to be critical in EVE over the next eighteen months or so.  I've touched on it in a couple of posts regarding EVE's learning cliff vis-à-vis the new PvEer or PvPer, but this issue is even broader than that.

Invested players are not only the core of EVE Online subscribers, they are also one of the chief causes of unsubs.  I'd be willing to bet, for instance, that the number of EVE ragequits due to someone who has tens of millions of SP exploiting the inexperience of someone who doesn't exceeds the current size of the EVE subscriber base.  Probably by a factor of three or four.

Even more than that, though: in my experience, the more invested an EVE player is, the more he or she wants the game to remain a niche product outside of the mainstream MMO market.  "I'm right because I've been playing EVE since beta, and you haven't" is usually the message here, often with the corollary that anyone who doesn't meet that criteria is somehow less worthy.  As the quote above says, they take a stubborn pride in having defeated the learning cliff, and expect everyone else to be forced to endure and defeat it, too.

But if Incarna does succeed to or beyond the expectations of CCP... if it really does start to change the paradigm from "Internet spaceships"... if it does start battering down the learning cliff... there will be tens or hundreds of thousands of new EVE players.  And those new EVE players will likely want fair actions, not fair outcomes.

Except that's not what EVE is about... not what it's ever been about.

It will be interesting to see how that conflict is resolved.

Postscript: Literally 45 seconds after I hit "Publish Post" on this entry, I went over to FHC to read the latest reactions there to today's forum devblog and encountered this post:
Corporate CCP would be steadily moving EVE away from the cruel, uncaring universe paradigm in order to promote it to a wider audience. Paying to opt out of a war, the removal of suicide ganking, a boost to high-sec and low-sec insurance payouts would be in the next expansion.

White-out paper

It's rather amazing the amount of nothing that CCP can put into 26 paragraphs sometimes.

On Friday, April 8, the EVE forum debacle occurred.  Late on April 11, CCP Sreegs wrote an 11-paragraph devblog on the subject.  That devblog included two paragraphs about what the forum exploit could be used to do, plus two paragraphs about what it couldn't be used to do.  It then contained several paragraphs about how "cool dudes" would report vulnerabilities that they discovered in CCP code.  It contained zero paragraphs describing how such an embarrassing mistake could be made in the first place.  It also contained zero paragraphs about the testing methodology that was used that could miss such a simple exploit.

This morning, CCP Rhayger of the web team wrote a 15-paragraph devblog on this same subject.  It spends ten of those 15 paragraphs detailing some of the back-story, including why and how YAF was chosen to be the foundation for the new forums.  One of the amusing memes on the subject of the new forums was the claim that 30 man-years of development time had been spent "re-skinning YAF".  Rhayger tries to dispel this belief, saying "there was an awful lot more work necessary" and spending one of his ten paragraphs listing some of the tasks that were done.  The phrase "lot of" is used four times in this one paragraph to describe the amount of work involved.  ;-)

However, the new devblog contains zero paragraphs describing how such an embarrassing mistake could be made in the first place.  It also contains zero paragraphs about the testing methodology that was used that could miss such a simple exploit.  The new devblog didn't even address the very real question EVE players had about why CCP claimed to have built the new forums from scratch when this wasn't the case.  It does say this:
I didn't address the significant flaws that made it into release and how that came to be, that will be for another dev blog to detail. We are doing a post mortem right now and doing some serious soul searching. We don't like making mistakes, let alone obvious ones we should have caught at various stages but much more importantly we do not want to repeat mistakes or gloss over flaws in process or skillsets that caused it.
Given that the new forums have been down for nearly a month now, and we still haven't been told how these "obvious mistakes" happened, it's fairly easy to argue that "glossing over flaws" is exactly what's happening.

So instead of talking about what isn't in this new devblog, let's talk about what is.

Let's start with feedback.  The new devblog uses this word six times.  Of the 26 paragraphs in these two devblogs, 11 have to do with giving feedback to CCP.  There's only one minor problem here: ignoring player feedback is practically a component part of CCP's DNA.  The "CCP commit to excellence" thread in the Assembly Hall, which was the first call from players for CCP to iterate and improve on existing EVE Online features after their release, has been read 100,000 times since its posting last May.  It has 2372 "supports"(1) and 2862 replies.  None of them are from CCP employees.

During the testing of the new forums, the number of people who said CCP was ignoring player feedback about problems with the new forums was legion, and went all the way up to Estel Arador, a reasonably famous EVE player.  CCP didn't respond in that thread, either, except to move it from "EVE General Discussion", where it would be seen, to (I still do not get this) "Out of Pod Experience", where it would not.  Not only were these concerns ignored, but CCP Sreegs went on a number of EVE forum threads and claimed that such feedback had never been received.  Estel has quit EVE over the experience.

The other problem with this new devblog that really, really bugs me is this:
Now some have worried that by choosing an Open Source solution we have to reveal the source code thus making your accounts and activities in EVE Gate vulnerable. This is not the case here as we have purchased a commercial license to YAF so we can properly protect our efforts. That said, we are big fans of Open Source initiatives and if we note issues in YAF that we come up with improvements for we will communicate that back to their project team to benefit the YAF community.
I'm not even a software developer, and I can tell you this is a ridiculous reversal of the tenets of Open Source development.  Releasing your source code does not make your code less secure.  It makes it more secure.  I'll grant you this is counter-intuitive, but it is true nonetheless.  In any case, EVE players and non-players alike are going to find holes in CCP's code whether the source code is released or not.  And bragging that they will share "issues in YAF that we come up with" with the community is rather hysterical in context.

Keith Neilson aka Mandrill, another well-known EVE player, wrote a rather long post to the EVE forums, Failheap, and evereport.com on this issue called "Loss of Faith".  The post is (sorry, dude, but it is) extremely melodramatic and wildly unrealistic.  The full piece is probably not worth your time.  I debated whether I should link it at all.  But it does call CCP out in one key area: leadership.  There's a serious break-down in leadership at CCP that is becoming increasingly obvious.  Information from the line programmers does not get through middle management to upper management.  Information from upper management -- including stuff directly from Hilmar -- does not get through middle management to the line developers.

James Harrison wrote an excellent piece examining some of the underpinnings of CCP's hiring practices that points to some reasons why.  Lack of leadership is practically being built into CCP's DNA, too.  That piece is worth your time.

Without strong leadership and good internal communication, it's not at all surprising that CCP customer feedback is being ignored, and CCP external communication -- while frequent lately -- is empty.

(1) By the way, this is -- far and away -- the highest number of "supports" ever garnered for an Assembly Hall proposal.  And it still is not enough to require this issue to be brought before the CSM according to the official CSM White Paper.  This is one of the many amusing holes in the CSM White Paper.  It was brought to the CSM (because the proposal was written by a CSM member), but it wasn't required to be.