Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Elephant in the Conference Room



By now, many of you have tore your way through the recently released summit minutes. Others are taking their time. In either case, the questions are pouring in. And feedback. The full range of emotions from the community that comes with every major CSM information release. There is cheering. There are tears. There is hope. There is pontification. There is analyzation. There is circlejerking. There is hair pulling. All that good stuff.


Many of you have also noticed the absence of something from these minutes, compared to past releases. Details. About future plans. About really, really, really, important stuff that needs to go into those future plans. Stuff like 0.0, mining, industry, and corp management. Stuff like the elephant that never signed an NDA but managed to sneak his way into just about every single meeting at the summit. (He wore a giant blingy monogrammed necklace containing three letters – P.O.S.)

What happened to Modular POSes? What is coming this summer for those of us out in 0.0? What about Industry? But CCP, you PROMISED! All of this and more will be pouring out of the community in the days ahead, just as the CSM warned CCP that you would at our recent summit.  And these questions should be raised.

The issue here, as is often the case, one of messaging and expectation management. Speaking of which – lets rip the bandaid off right now. Are we going to see Modular POSes in summer? I sincerely doubt it. Are we going to see a complete 0.0 sovereignty overhaul on par with the recent Faction Warfare updates? I sincerely doubt it. The truth of the matter is, CCP has developed a new rubric for building expansions, similar to the design strategy we proposed in our talks with CCP Ripley, which will govern each expansion effort starting this summer and leading into the next decade’s worth of work on EVE Online. If we want to see modular POSes, or 0.0 improvements, these will have to be built into the new theme system just like any other feature. CCP is not refusing to work on these features, only warning the CSM and the player base that no one particular feature will have an entire expansion dedicated to it. So no, this summer will not be the summer of modular POSes. It will not be the summer of 0.0. It may be the summer of the beginning of both, however, depending on how well elements of both can be integrated into this new design strategy.

Take a look at Crimewatch - it took CCP the entirety of Inferno just to gut the code driving Crimewatch, let alone produce surface level features.  Frankly, there is a ton of work that can be done on POS code and the POS interface, even before we begin exploring a modular structure for their physical form.  There are a hundred "little things" that could be layered into an expansion to vastly improve POS life without even getting to the building-block aspect, and that can be addressed through code replacement in anticipation of a modular switchover.  The time for this process to start is now, not later, as CCP has fully admitted that this is a colossal undertaking.  The same all certainly applies to 0.0 as well.  We may not see modular POS's in summer, but we can certainly see the genesis of such.

That is the objective of the CSM in the coming months, an objective that will hopefully be supported by you, the players. Now’s the time to stand up and make some noise. Not the rage-filled, monument shooting type of noise (there is zero indication this is necessary), but a strong clear signal about the type of features you want to see is exactly what CCP not only needs to see, its what they’ve asked for. So don’t disappoint, folks! Two step is already well ahead of this of course, as the resident point man on all things POS-related within the current CSM, and he’s not only blogged about this issue but started what will no doubt turn into an extremely active thread in the days to come.

That’s not to say there haven’t been communication mistakes already. We can go back as far as FanFest, where CCP Soundwave infamously mentioned that 2013 would finally be the year CCP resurrects the dead horse and gets down to working on modular POSes. In the game of telephone that all players play whenever CCP makes an announcement, this quickly transformed into “But you PROMISED!” regardless of a tacit commitment on the part of CCP’s upper management. This is most certainly what CCP Greyscale was reacting to in the 0.0 section of the summit minutes, and what CCP Unifex is referring to when he discusses CCP’s business obligations.

Regardless of the players tendency to morph “this is what we’d like to do” or “This is what we’re planning right now” into “We promise to deliver this feature in this timeframe” and however much it may frustrate CCP’s upper management, this is no excuse for ignoring the fact that features like POS’s and 0.0 are simply extremely high up on player wish lists, and shouldn’t be easily discarded or skipped over simply because they are daunting and won’t fit into a single release. POS’s in particular come up year after year, and much like Charlie Brown running up to kick Lucy’s football, CCP has a tendency to pull out at the last second, no matter how many times we come back and attempt to connect once again.   



This is exactly why CSM7 has made a point all year of emphasizing the need to follow through with POS work in 2013. If we have anything to say about this, it’ll be the last time Charlie has to run up to kick the ball.  In our opinion, POS’s, along with 0.0 and Mining/Industry issues, form the three prongs that have the most to offer to the players in terms of both new features and much needed fixes. POS’s compliment industry, of course, and they also can play heavily into 0.0 gameplay and can solve many of the economic issues plaguing nullsec. Read Weaselior’s excellent article from TheMittani.com if you want a sense of where I’m going with this. “Destroying the Shipyards” would be an excellent theme to tackle.  POSes are not a veteran-only feature, regardless of how CCP may see them.  Kelduum Revaan has spoken often to CCP about how common it is for new players to ask "How do I get my own starbase?" and than are crushed when they find out what is entailed.  

Lastly, I wanted to give everyone a quick rundown of where the CSM sits with these talks with CCP. As of yesterday, the release day of the Winter Summit Minutes, the CSM has received a set of presentations from each of the development teams in the form of a video recording. The details of these presentations will remain under NDA until further notice, but it was an opportunity for every team to pitch both feature sets and themes to CCP Seagull and the CSM, to kickstart the internal discussion. We are reviewing these presentations with a fine-tooth comb, evaluating the merits of each feature and theme, and comparing it to the feedback we’re receiving from each of you regarding what you’d like to see in summer of 2013.

CCP is making good on their commitment to involve the CSM in these high-level, pre-planning discussions, and this means that your input is in a better place than ever to make a difference. Stop by the POS thread. Speak out about the need to improve 0.0. Speak out about the need for more tools for the enablers that construct all the cool toys we’ve been blowing up in 2012’s PvP-oriented expansions. It is by no means too late to make a difference, and to influence CCP, and as I said before, they asked for it. I’ve been warning everyone our busiest months are still ahead, and now you all can see why. So no moping, no raging, no hair-pulling, let’s put our noses to the grindstone and work together as a community to get what we need addressed in the coming year. We’ve finally arrived at that place every past CSM has longed to be, and that the players have longer for us to be – perched in the right place, at the right time, to help steer the course of an expansion effort in a direct, tangible way. Let’s make the most of it.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you.

    What do you think about a thread specifically about desingning a theme for the next (or next two) expansions that could include POS, industry and the like. A community brainstorming to aid the CSM in pitching/subtly influencing this design phase?

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  2. They already have a theme. They use to talk about "Homesteading"...

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  3. I think there have been enough holding hands and singing around the bonfire. CCP just need to start fixing POS's ASAP.

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  4. This seems to be less about about POS improvements than it does flogging the 'Farms and Fields' direction on behalf of the CSM's nullsec caucus.

    Weaselior's "Destroying the Shipyards" article talks pretty on 'Farms and Fields', but its central argument for the desired changes is fundamentally flawed. I've pointed this out in the 'Farms and Fields: Misdirection' (http://fiddlersedge.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-farms-and-fields-misdirection.html).

    Improving 0.0 industry (the reason POS changes are being so aggressively pushed by the CSM) is certainly worth talking about. However, speaking based on experience, the primary problem with industry in nullsec is mismanagement, not game mechanics.

    The so-called 'Tritanuim Problem is case in point. The is no Tritanium problem in nullsec. There's plenty of tritanium bearing ores in nullsec. Nullsec doesn't need super-ores, it needs 0.0 miners who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do an honest days work like miners elsewhere in New Eden. See 'Farms and Fields: A Question of Labor' at http://fiddlersedge.blogspot.com/2012/12/farms-and-fields-question-of-labor.html for the deep dive.

    Nullsec is what its owners make of it. Nullsec management hasn't made a serious effort at optimizing their space for industry with the tools at hand. I see no reason to reward their lack of initiative with new special advantages. Nullsec has plenty of advantages as it is.

    But then, some folk can't be happy unless they're holding *all* the toys.

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    1. The central argument you've made to attempt to demonstrate that Weaselior's central argument is fundamentally flawed, is itself fundamentally flawed. let me extend the argument by playing out both sides to demonstrate--

      Their point is such: Currently, it's more efficient to do industry in highsec. It should be more efficient to do industry in nullsec, at least for those that already reside in nullsec.

      Your response: Actually, you could do industry in nullsec, it would just be less efficient to do so.

      Their response: Uh, yeah, that's exactly what we just said, we think that should be changed, we think we should have better industry in nullsec since it's supposedly the 'best' space out there.

      Your response: ..... oh, right, you did say that.

      "Nullsec management hasn't made a serious effort at optimizing their space for industry with the tools at hand. I see no reason to reward their lack of initiative with new special advantages. Nullsec has plenty of advantages as it is. "

      They have indeed optimized their space for industry. This optimization took the form of extending their space to highsec,and doing their industry in highsec. Namecalling such as 'lack of initiative', when applied to the largest and most successful nullsec blocs in the game, is both illogical rhetoric, and a waste of time. You are calling for them to play suboptimally and do more industry in a wasteful fashion in nullsec, and only then would you be willing to entertain the notion of rewarding them with improvements to industry in nullsec...you're certainly free to hold that opinion, but I don't think we'll see CCP say anything so disrespectful.

      "But then, some folk can't be happy unless they're holding *all* the toys. "

      This is a fairly accurate summation. They're not shy about it, either--so pretending to be shocked by it moots you nothing. They're openly and loudly asking for one dollar nickels, writing 3 long posts building up to that accusation is a waste of 3 long posts.

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    ReplyDelete