Monday, July 12, 2010

Bandwidth is a bitch

Now that the CSM summit minutes have been released, there is much to discuss. I predict an orgy of bloggery over the coming days, a vice in which I will happily indulge.

Consider the first two meetings, "CSM as Stakeholder" and "EVE Production". These illustrate the problems the CSM faces in having any real influence over CCP decisions regarding EVE.

If you look at how CCP development works, you quickly realize that it has a cognitive blind-spot. The problem is that after subtracting the resource demands for the big vision projects like DUST and Incarna, the marketing demands for big expansion features every 6 months, and the constant maintenance battle to keep the game itself running, there are few if any resources available for going back and fixing the mistakes of the past -- which is a big part of what CSM is supposed to be about.

Furthermore, in the great game of EVE Development, the noobs (that would be CSM) have an incredible disadvantage. We're not in Iceland on a day-to-day basis, and our voice is channeled through a representative.

So it's like playing EVE over a 110-baud modem via a proxy server on the Cassini space probe. We suffer from low bandwidth and huge ping-times. And you thought you have lag problems!

At present, the only way to compensate for that huge disadvantage is something that CCP is not willing to give -- dedicated developer resources for CSM. Given CSM's mission, this would be equivalent to explicitly giving renovations similar status to vision, marketing and maintenance.

Personally, however, I would suggest doing something more subtle, and with broader benefits for CCP. If I could wave my magic wand and make one change at the company, it would be this:

Implement the Google 80-20 rule.

Massive buff for dev morale - check.

Lots of resources for micro-improvements in EVE = happy players - check.

Big PR win - check.

Huge Human Resources win (eg: "Yeah, you have to move to Iceland, but on the other hand...") - check.

I wonder, does the company with the most innovative game in the history of MMOs have the vision to do this?

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