Wednesday, August 25, 2010

RPS: CCP And The Wrath Of The Playerbase

Over at Rock Paper Shotgun (RPS) there is a great article CCP And The Wrath Of The Playerbase. RPS interviews CCP Zulu, the Senior Producer for EVE Online. It is a fascinating read. It clearly indicates that CCP Zulu is one of those clever marketing types with a silver tongue. I particularly like the following exchange...

RPS: Why can’t you commit any resources to the “core issues” raised for eighteen months?

Gylfason: This misunderstanding of 18 months comes up a lot and I’d like to correct it. We have for the past few years been very focused on adding new features to EVE Online. We added Factional Warfare, Wormhole exploration, Loyalty Points stores, Planetary Interaction and tech 3 ships to name a few. During this era of expanding the gameplay we shifted our focus somewhat away from iterating and refactoring on older game systems and features. What we’ve been doing for the past few months is move that focus back. Over the next months we will be increasing our focus on iteration up to the point where, 18 months or so from now, we are only doing work on existing gameplay.–both in terms of polish and general refactoring for scalability purposes. The EVE Development team counts around 140 people (closer to 200 when you count in developers contributing to deliver Incarna and our core technology group) now and the choice between iteration and new feature development isn’t a binary one, it’s more of a gradient scale and we’ve already started moving the needle on that towards iteration.

In other words this misunderstanding about 18 months is silly, blah blah new features blah blah farmville in space blah blah, and in 18 to 36 months we will be working on the core issues.

Great, I feel better already. :)

Now if you actually want to feel better go and read the exceptional devblog fixing lag: module lag - why not all bugfixes are a good idea. I will summarize it for you. The CSM described what has happening while under lag conditions. The developers managed to reproduce it. The developers quantified that it was a big issue. The developers identified the lines of code that were the problem. Although the bug is hard to solve the developers are working like mad to fix it, and not just give it a patch, but fixing the underlying cause of the bug.

There, now I do feel much better now.

Note to CCP: we are not idiots, don't give us marketingspeak from those MBA type ... give us details from the geek programmers instead.


  1. No, reread what he said. He's saying that, in 18 months, they will focus *exclusively* on existing gameplay. That does not mean they don't even look at it for 18 months, but that during this time they balance between the two.

    Now, I would like to understand how they'll strike that balance, and make sure it's reasonable rather than something extreme like "5% of our resources go toward iterating on existing stuff!", but what he's saying is that they'll do BOTH for the next year and a half.

  2. Casiella... you may learn to better read marketing-speak for tech companies. Right now they are dedicated to new features. They are changing their 'focus' so that in 18 months or so (emphasize on the or so) they will be doing work on existing gameplay (read existing as what exists once they add new features not necessarily what exists now). I know that the way he says it implies that really really soon they are going to start but what he actually uses phrases like 'focus' and 'up to the point' and 'or so'.

    'Up to the point' means <= 100% which includes 1%.

    '18 months Or so' means sometime >= 18 months which includes 10000 years.

    'Focus' means talk about it but not necessarily do it yet.

    For example when Oracle bought Java they were going to focus on improving the Java technology in an open way .... which means they went and sued Google when Google tried to extend the Java technology.

  3. I've been working in tech for decades (currently managing enterprise-wide incident response / forensics for a large financial services firm) and I'm quite familiar with reading marketspeak. :) And I've been around long enough to remember when Sun (as in Microsystems) was a three-letter acronym (SUN) and when the Internet meant ARCHIE and Gopher.

    We absolutely should critically examine what they say, and we should hold their feet to the fire when they do and say dumb things. That doesn't mean, though, that we should interpret everything CCP ever puts out there in the most negative light possible. And when you look at what he says in total (including the comments about a "gradient scale"), you'll see the point I'm making re: the 18 months.