Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jesus is dead

Of all the things said at last weeks CSM summit in Iceland, perhaps the most striking was a comment, offered almost offhand, by Hilmar in the final session:

"The era of the Jesus feature is over"

A Jesus feature, it emerged, is something that turns "4 loaves of bread into 50,000 new subscribers". It's the home run, the called shot into deep left field, the awesome idea that will solve all of CCP's problems, carved in a stone tablet made of virgin Eyjafjallajökull lava and delivered from on high down to the adoring fish-factory devs.

Supertitans! Tech-IV! Jovians! Jovians in Tech-IV Supertitans! And they're naked, and want your precious NEX store clothes and monocles!

You get the idea.

Instead, forced by circumstance to play small ball ("The whale shit has hit the propeller, and we have no time to make a grand plan"), CCP spent the fall hitting a bunch of singles.

The result was Crucible, and it was good. Because Crucible delivered what most of the players have been wanting for years -- improvement to the current game.

Going to Iceland, a big concern the CSM had was whether CCP was going to double-down and deliver a Crucible II, or whether the table in the Trinity conference room would be groaning under the weight of a new stone tablet. After all, the forces of Awesome had had several months to think about what comes next.

And lo, in the conference room there was a stone tablet, made not of heavy stone but of the most delicate foamed Icelandic lava, floating in an opened barrel of Christmas Beer. And engraved upon its surface, in EVE's new font, were the words:

"Thou shalt fix more stuff."

And as we quaffed our (slightly gritty) Christmas Beer, unto the CSM came a Senior Producer and his Wise Men, explaining how CCP was reorganizing so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Thence came a parade of devs, bearing gifts of even more game fixes.

And it was pretty damn good, as you will see when the Minutes come out.

Yes, Jesus is dead. But on the third day, he rose again. Will Awesome rise again, on the third expansion?

We'll know in :18months:

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I was chatting with an in-game buddy the other day, and asked him what he thought of the new Crucible expansion.

He replied: "It's like great ex-sex. It makes you feel good, but one good night doesn't mean you're going to get back together. But a few more like it might change your mind."

And in his own (admittedly somewhat perverted) way, I think he encapsulated what a lot of long-time players are thinking.

Crucible was great ex-sex. It reminded us of what the relationship between CCP and the players used to be, and what it could be again. But, having been burned, before the bittervets are going to open their vulnerable hearts and once again declare undying love for CCP, they're going to want more like it.

When CCP decided in late August to scrap their planning for the winter expansion and refocus on EVE, they didn't have time to come up with something "big". So they concentrated on lots of little things, fixing old stuff, and making small improvements here and there. Because each individual item was small, they were able to implement a lot of them -- that's why the Crucible patch notes were the longest in recent memory.

But now CCP is starting to plan for the first half of 2012, and with a longer planning horizon, the "old" CCP would be tempted to do something more ambitious for the June expansion.

I strongly believe this would be a serious mistake. It would be a signal that CCP is not serious about their change in direction, that Crucible was just a bump in the road.

Rather, what I (and others on the CSM) will continue to recommend at the Summit next week is that CCP should continue doing what they started with Crucible; continue revising and improving older features of the game. However, given that they now have a longer planning horizon, they should consider going after a mix of both "little things" and bigger targets.

Some examples of bigger targets might be a package of little tweaks aimed at revitalizing factional warfare, and a similar package aimed at addressing some of the current issues with nullsec sov warfare.

On a bigger scale, there is the much-beloved Dead Horse POS proposal -- and improvements to Industry that would be associated with that. Whether something of this scale is possible for the next expansion will become more clear in the coming weeks. I'd love to see it, but to be honest, if I had to choose between that and lots of little things, I'd have to go for the little things every time.

Bottom line: if CCP wants to get back together with their ex-players, they need to deliver more great ex-sex.