Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Is CCP Rowing in the Same Direction

"You know, Gina, Apple is like a ship, that ship is loaded with treasure, but there's a hole in the ship. And my job is to get everyone to row in the same direction."
-Gil Amelio (CEO of Apple 1996-1997)

Last June, as Incarna hit Hilmar game a presentation at the Game Horizon conference. I suggest all of you interested in what is going on watch this video:

Hilmar Veigar Petursson - CCP Games from Codeworks Ltd on Vimeo.

For those who don't have the 60 minutes to watch it Hilmar gives a great history of EVE Online and where it is going. A lot of it focuses on thier 'Carbon' engine and using it in EVE and World of Darkness. There is a mention that some things don't make sense in EVE but are implemented since they can be capitalized across the portfolio of games (i.e. World of Darkness). It is a very optimistic view of CCP where EVE is but one of three AAA products of CCP. CCP is a brand, it is an experience, it is the difference between getting coffee from McDonalds, and getting coffee from Starbucks. You come for the spaceships, you stay for the Monocles!

Compare this to the most recent interview with Hilmar in Eurogamer:http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-10-21-eurogamer-interviews-ccps-hilmar-petursson-interview

Probably the most important part is the end...
Hilmar Pétursson: We are back in the spaceship business.

As a player who pays real $$ for my subscription I feel that each month I am investing in EVE. Nearly three years of $15 per months x two accounts is quite an investment. After Incarna I felt like I was holding 2002 Nortel stock. After this past week I feel that I may be holding 1997 Apple stock.

Question remains however, is CCP all rowing in the same direction? When Jobs came back to Apple in 1997 the first thing he did was kill off dozens, hundreds of faltering products. To be an Apple developer at Steve Jobs' first developer conference was a painful event. But by cutting the crap and focusing on delivering what it's customers wanted Apple turned around and is now the most valuable company in the world. Not everything is perfect. DUST 514 should be on the PC, not the console. However that is more due to contractual obligations I suspect then anything else. Otherwise, based upon the recent devblogs, it seems that CCP is finally heading in the right direction.

I suspect based upon the massively article things are pretty chaotic at ccp. Insiders report that "All prior release planning is basically in the trash," and "also realise that people have heard too much bullshit". Development seems to be focused on easy wins for FIS that will make players happy. About time!

Not surprisingly there is a lot of resistance from management at CCP. Attitudes like "and say we have just hit a bump because some bad players refuse to see the awesomeness of our vision. We're told that it is not our fault." are toxic and completely contrary to the attitude needed for CCP to return. It seems that the CEO is on message however. With luck the rest of management will either come onside, or be replaced. Vikings were great rowers... they rowed across the Atlantic to settle in Labrador. I am sure they will come around.

Now back to shooting stuff...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Okay... I am Excited About the New Ship Class

Battlecruiser Definition
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Battlecruisers (also rendered as battle cruiser in some sources) were large capital ships built in the first half of the 20th century. They were developed in the first decade of the century as the successor to the armoured cruiser, but their evolution was more closely linked to that of the dreadnought battleship. They were similar in size and cost to a battleship, but while they typically used the same large-calibre main armament as a battleship, battlecruisers sacrificed armour protection in exchange for speed.
I have always disliked the naming of the battlecruiser class in EVE. A battlecruiser traditionally differs from a cruiser, not in the number of guns, but rather in their calibre. Basically a battleship with less armour and more speed. The most famous Battlecruiser being the HMS Hood that was destroyed spectacularly by the Bismark. In EVE battlecruisers are more like heavy cruisers. Less maneuverable but sporting more guns and heavier armour.

At present the closest thing we have to a real battle-cruiser is a nano+shield fit Minmattar BS like a nano-phoon or a nano-tempest. Great ships to fly but not really able to deliver on their promise. Fortunately CCP has remedied this with a new tier-3 battlecruiser designed not to fit medium guns, but rather large ones. Stats aren't in yet but these ships should have EHP significantly less than a normal BS, be faster, and deliver similar damage. Should be awesome. :)

The only problem I see with this is that I feel that large guns are a bit underpowered. With only about 30% more dps per gun then a medium gun, they will be hard pressed to make this new BC tier out damage the tier-2 BCs. Which, considering that they will have significant penalties in tracking relative to the medium gun equiped ships, they will have to do. Would it be game breaking to also give large guns a 20% DPS boost while doing this?

Between this and the other announcements CCP really seems to be back in to the game of EVE.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Incarna (Walking in Stations) is Officially Dead + Life Stages of a Tech Company

Okay, not officially, but now that CCP has all but abandoned World of Darkness, the main motivation for developing the NEX store, the graphics engine behind Incarna, and the jobs of 20% of the CCP workforce (about 100 people) is gone. What the player base wanted the player base got. Incarna is dead. Make no mistake, we will not see establishments nor any other walking in stations beyond the 3 additional captains quarters for the foreseeable future.

If you have been involved in IT as long as I have (pre dot-com boom to present) none of this is surprising. There is a very common life-span for most tech companies.

1. Founding - An innovative idea leads to the development of an innovative product.
2. Exponential Growth - As the product becomes popular growth and revenue doubles yearly or better
3. Executives Take Credit - The founder and other execs take credit for their awesome achievement ignoring that it was purely dumb luck and some timing that separates them from failed competition
4. Over-expansion - Knowing that they are fundamentally better then other companies the exponentially grow their workforce.
5. Disappointing Revenue - Ultimately revenue stops growing exponentially, while the workforce continues to grow at a ever increasing rate.
6. Arrogance - The executives, not understanding what has changed to stop exponential growth, continue to promise more and more while the company delivers less and less. Hope springs eternal at this point.
7. Failure - Company looses money, executives laid off with small golden parachute, workers screwed.
8. Dissolution or Continue as smaller company - says it all.

All tech companies seem to follow this. Some very large ones (I.B.M., Microsoft) sort of hit a a steady state that is still large for phase 8. Some even go through the cycle multiple times (Apple - currently starting phase 5 having gone from phase 8 to phase 2 around 1997). CCP seems to have finally hit phase 7.

All that is left is to ponder, will CCP be gone in a year? or will they continue to operate as a smaller entity? There is an outside chance of starting over at phase 2 once everything has crashed.

What would be ideal, is not a rebirth of CCP, but rather for them to understand that they need to operate as a smaller company, live within their means... and try and achieve excellence in the one thing that they have going for them.... EVE Online. The very worst thing that could possible happen is for Dust 514 to be a overnight hit moving CCP back to phase 2, generate $50 million in revenue overshadowing EVE Online only to collapse a year later leaving a broken company.

On a side note I will say to any of my readers who are laid off by CCP, life goes on. Don't take being laid-off as a personal failure, rather just consider it an opportunity for a new beginning. I myself have been laid-off several times. Once two weeks before my first child was born. As difficult as it was each time I have always found a better job in the end. May you all find happiness in your future endeavors.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Three Great Blogs + an Honourable Mention

One thing about blogging about EVE is that I spend a lot of time reading other EVE blogs looking for new ideas. A good blog not only entertains, but provides thoughtful insight into some aspect of the game. Some blogs are more of a public diary, and I am okay with that, I just prefer blogs that have useful information in them. Sometimes I personally have succeeded in writing good stuff, other times I fall back down into either the public diary model, or worse, political junkie model.

Soon after I started blogging three new blogs cropped up that I feel are the best of the best. Not only do they provide excellent information, but they are well written and interesting to read. I highly recommend these to anyone who is following scram web.

1. The Altruist: As expected a blog from the headmaster of Agony's PVP University, contains valuable and accurate information for readers. The 'Know Your Enemy' series in particular is very well researched and is the best guide to PvP ships in existence. Any PvPer is well advised to give these articles a detailed read.

2. The FNG: This blog covers the EVE experience for a new player very well. The author started blogging soon after his character was created and set on a path of learning PvP and becoming a pirate. Concentrating primarily on the Punisher frigate at first, he shares his experience heading down this path. Oh, and his posts quote from Douglas Adams which is pure win.

3. Flight Of Dragons: How many times are new players told to just buy 20 T1 frigates and loose them to learn the ropes of PvP. Until now I am not sure anyone ever actually took this advice literally. Taurean Eltanin did and blogged about it. He provides a detailed AAR of each fight with those 20 frigates, and ships afterwords. At first he is clearly a noob. But after a few fights his technique improves and by the end of it he is an accomplished pirate with the Tuskers. After the 20 Punishers he goes on to more powerful ships, continuing to do an excellent AAR for each fight evaluating himself. A great inspiration, and a great resource for any capsuleer.

Honourable Mention
I thought I would add one more blog that is only on it's second post but shows promise. The Intercepted is another blog from an new-to-Agony member. His article on being an FC was great and shows real promise for the future. I hope he keeps it up.

Anyways, thanks to the above bloggers for the great reads. I hope you all continue your efforts. With each new blog post the EVE community becomes stronger and stronger. It is the strength of the community that makes an MMO, and the EVE community is probably the strongest of them all. (So strong that CCP's CEO is humbled by it)


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Death of Steve Jobs

It is with great sadness that I learn that Steve Jobs has passed. If you don't think that this is important just imagine the state of the computer industry if he never was....

Years later for a personal computer
Years later for a GUI
Lousy portable music players
Lousy smart phone interfaces
General lack of design philosophy in computers