Thursday, July 15, 2010

Battleflag of the Khanid Kingdom

Cool people will get the historical allusions (in-game and IRL). Otherwise, I think it speaks for itself:

Y'all can go to hell. I'm goin' to Khanid.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Well Said

This says about everything I tried and failed to say well the other day. It also says something I wish I had said, regarding CCP's apparently flawed approach to measuring success:
Players don't care that "memory usage on the server per user has decreased in the last 12 months". That is as relevant to them as "the brand of coffee in CCP Coffeemachine has been improved".
All that matters to them is the end result -- does the game play better now than it did a year ago?

From my worm's eye view of the situation, at least, the answer to this question is "no." My alliance mates and I have experienced all sorts of problems: increased session changeover times when jumping to another system, failure to dock/undock, client failure to activate/deactivate modules, items/trades that go missing, sov structure weirdness, and, of course, lag. For a while there, it was so bad that our alliance re-named our home station "Eve's Bermuda Triangle", on account of all the crap that just inexplicably vanished or otherwise didn't work right.

I understand that a certain amount of patience is in order with a game as complex as Eve Online, but these days, debilitating or extremely frustrating bugs are an almost nightly occurrence, and I find myself questioning why I log in at all if I can't have any confidence that I won't lose a HAC to belt rats because an armor repper mod refuses to online/offline inside of 20 minutes.

This is where Noob Starship Politician is spot on: CCP needs to keep track of the right metrics. Given that the devs probably don't have the time or inclination to actually play the game too intensively, or explore its ins and outs all that thoroughly, they need to listen intently to the people who are doing those things: the player base.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An Open Letter to CCP: Kick the Bucket!

When I started this blog, I never intended to do any out-of-character posts. Part of the reason for this was that the vast majority of out-of-character blogs, while they were mostly high-quality, all sounded the same to me. Another part of the reason was that the official CCP literature, including the books and the Chronicles, presented a pretty cramped, game-centric view of New Eden, which I wanted to flesh out. (I don't want to belabor this point, but the first section of an entire Chronicle consisted of a bunch of people sitting in a board room wondering, along with the readers, what the hell was going on. Note to CCP Abraxas: Having your characters exchange pleasantries does not constitute dialogue. Consult David Mamet.) The final reason I started this blog was that I was bored, and I had a lot of free time.

Obviously, I have a lot less free time these days. IRL work and family life are going well, meaning that my free time isn't. I intend to return to writing about the Applied Physics Institute eventually, but for the time being, frankly, I'm having too much fun just playing the game when I'm not enjoying life or working on other projects.

There is, however, an issue of great importance to CCP that's brought me back to the Diary to write this OOC post.

The above graph shows the subscription figures from the latest Quarterly Economic Update. Anyone notice the paradigm shift? A few months ago, you might have been able to chalk it up to other factors, but now, it seems clear that Eve has left behind an era of smooth, continuous growth and entered a more volatile period of oscillating deflation and expansion (pun intended). Figures like the above must be the "data" which CCP claimed in the minutes of the latest CSM summit as proof that quantity (i.e. new features, new releases) sells better than quality (fewer, fully-baked releases). Unfortunately, what CCP seems unaware of is that this strategy locks you into a self-inflating bubble: Subscriptions are down, you say? Then we need a new expansion! But the expansion is half-baked, so after an initial burst, subscriptions go down. Which becomes the impetus for rushing another half-baked expansion out the door. And so on and so forth until the game is so kludged with half-baked features that failure cascade is upon you.

This strategy even works, up to a point. (Part of my day job tangentially touches on the world of publishing and direct-mail marketing; in some ways, CCP's current predicament is eerily reminiscent.) We can analogize this strategy to a leaking boat. While the leak remains small, it's a simple matter for us to get the water out of the boat using a bucket. When the leak grows, however, we have to find a bigger bucket (i.e. a new expansion, with new features). But as a wise man once said, that which can't last, won't. As the size of the bucket approaches the size of the boat, our watery demise becomes inevitable. And the worst part of it is, once we've adopted the "bigger bucket" strategy, the skill-set we would normally use to make the leak smaller begins to atrophy.

I think the graph above suggests very strongly that CCP has adopted the "bucket strategy"; Dust 514/Incarna represent the newer, bigger buckets to bail out the leaking subscriber base. The longer they follow this strategy, the harder it will be for them to beat back bureaucratic inertia and return to a "fix the leaks" strategy.

I hope, for New Eden's sake, that it's not already to late for them to turn back.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This Is New Eden

A scrimmage in a Border Station
A canter down some dark defile
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail.

Congrats on the kill. Wish I'd been there.