Monday, November 5, 2012

Any idea = awesome idea

     In over 3 decades with the military, I ran into a lot of people that held firmly to that notion.  Stapling your ego too close to the idea generator's exit tends to wipe too much ego off on it, and an idea isn't just an idea any more, it's something alive, some kind of progeny, and it tends to become personal.  Critcise the idea, and the owner gets pissed.  Of late, too many super-friends' teams at CCP seem to have this mentality.

     My whole life has been spent fixing things, designing things, tweaking things, building things.  I wish it weren't so (just for functionality and time sakes) but I have had plenty of "brilliant" ideas, that were completely fucking broken.  As a result of my failures, I have learned to take intellectual punches, to the head, in stride.  I can only be inside my own head, and as much as I might try to think laterally and get behind the eyes, or inside the ideas/head of another, it will still be biased to some extent by me, being me.  For a long while now, when I have an idea, I go through a process where I examine the 5 "W's" (who, what, where , when and why) and then make sure I ask all the relevant people involved, as many questions as I can  possibly think of.  For any particular idea of mine to survive, I know, and accept that I might/definitely need to consult and accept the input of other people.  I also know that there are also times when regardless of my best intentions, my idea is fucked from the word go, and no amount of life support will make it fly.  For anyone truly interested in trying to fix or create or enhance something, the "idea" is the means to those ends, not the point of the exercise.

     Too many times lately, it seems CCP has lost track of the forest for the trees.  They get fixated on an idea, and don't think about or see the big picture.  They say they do, and they'll post like they do, but when they push their idea to Tranquility, even though the players said "don't", they obviously didn't see the forest.  They are the game developers after all, and we are "just" players.

     One major FUBAR example, is that fucked up integrated abortion of an inventory.  It fixed absolutely nothing that they claimed it was supposed to, wastes more screen space than the oirginal and it also injected a shitload of bugs, a number of which still exist.  CCP didn't listen.  They knew what they were doing.  They had a "vision" that the players lacked and the old inventory is never coming back.

     Another example is the nerf nuke on incursions.  All that had to be done, all that was called to be done by the players, was to make players shoot ALL the rats.  Had CCP actually bothered to TRY highsec incursions themselves, they would have seen that the "easy" money was drawing more and more players, which also was limiting individual payouts.  Forget about the fact that it took more than 3 or 4 months of dedicated training plus more than a billion isk to fit a shiney ship to maximise incursion performance.  CCP knew better though, their idea killed incursions.  Then, they dialed everything back to where it could have been with a MODERATE and intelligent tweak, but the damage was done.  I have(had) dozens of players on my incursion contact/notification list.  Now, at most, I see maybe 25% of them online any more.  The rest might just be playing alts, but seemingly, they quit.  CCP knew what they were doing though.  They had a plan.

     Factional warfare?  Wow.  It was completely weak sauce before their "fix", and then afterwards, a handful of "just players" managed to totally rape the game for trillions of isk.  Obviously, the myopic devs at CCP were completely unable to see a couple trees past the one their face was pressed against.  Maybe their economist is a relative of Hilmar's and that's how he got the job.  Maybe Hilmar owes him money and the job is a means of postponing the repayment.  Or maybe, Hilamr needs to fire that idiot and put a few of the Goons on retainer every time one of his geniuses gets a bug up their ass to play with the economy.  Maybe.

     Then, still on FW, while they fucked incursions that took many months worth of training and a billion+ isk, they had the "foresight" to taker a brand new player, in a newby frigate, with NO GUNS, and orbit a button in space, shoot ZERO rats, and rake in multiple times the isk that even the most optimistic and lucky high sec incursion-bear could EVER hope to earn.  Then, they left that cook for a while.  Between the massive trillion isk exploit hole, and the trillions of isk and gear pumped into certain parts of the market, it'll be more than a year before the market stabilizes again.  BUT, CCP had a plan.  An idea.  They had a vision, a bigger picture as the developer, than "just" a player has, or could have.

     Don't get me wrong.  Some parts of CCP DO, seemingly, actually listen to layer ideas.  Some parts, absolutely do not, and will not.  Lots of players calmly point out that "we (the players) are not software developers.  Apparently, these people assume that anyone who can or does code, is somehow automatically awesome, or even competent at it.  They also seem to assume that just because someone is hired into a position, that they can do the job well.  In many areas of the real world, people used to be promoted to the limit of their competence, and then that's where they stopped.  That's no longer the case, and I believe that is the problem with a goodly number of CCP's "ideas".  As the game grows, matures and evolves, why would it not be possible that the game is larger than the ability of people at CCP to handle it or add to it intelligently?  Time and again, you read of businesses or organizations that grow past the ability of the original people to manage it, and so they get help or step aside entirely.  With the listed failings, I think the coders at CCP aren't skilled enough to look at the big picture and see what their changes are going to do any more.  Eve is too big in scope for them to understand what their "fixes" will break.  CCP lacks the vision, and I think, that they don't even HAVE a real, all encompassing vision, or certainly not one that they can execute.  A couple big reasons for that, thinks I.

     First, I think that DUST is just another version of the captains' quarters.  DUST, Sony, console players.  That's a big fucking deal.  A big CCP deal.  If you sit back and think about all the things that need to be interleaved between DUST and Eve, I think that there is a shitload of effort going into THAT task, and all short term, and only cursory, distracted shit that goes towards Eve.  Half-assed and distracted efforts, will produce half-assed updates with badly broken mechanics and coding.  We've had lots of that lately.  Like anything in life, you pay a lot of attention to one thing, and other things are going to hit the floor.  Spinning plates.  It's like someone at CCP is looking over the "action room" and people are furiously coding the Eve-DUST marriage while in the background, like a bunch of angry, tired, hungry kids, the Eve players are saying  "HEY!  Where's some content?!  Tweaks and number changes are fine, but where are the FIXES you've promised for years?!?"  So Hilamr says, "Hey, you with the head!  Write something and give it to those whiners before they realize that we're working NOT on Eve, again, and the shit hits the fan like last summer, again!"  So, we get shit updates, poorly thought changes and no movement on long standing bugs, and especially no movement on long standing issues, like, oh, fucked POS operation and technetium.  Tossing the barking dogs some scraps, does not a meal make.

     Secondly, even though CCP has always claimed the opposite, I doubt many at CCP actually play Eve.  Sure, they might be writing code for it on a daily basis (to varying degrees of competency) but that isn't playing Eve.  There are far more players then there are staff at CCP (at least I am assuming that is so ;)).  For any little gaggle of super-friends at CCP that specialize in CODING (not necessarily PLAYING) any particular area of Eve, there are hopefully/presumably thousands of players that do NOTHING BUT play that particular area.  While coding a part of the game space might give a person a unique insight into the game operation, I highly doubt the coder will know how to PLAY WITH and DEAL WITH the game operation the same way a dedicated player will.  How many examples of players managing to do things in-game that CCP never intended or thought they could/would do, can we think of?  Dozens?  Hundreds?  I don't doubt in the least, that there are thousands of players that are far more expert in the game play of Eve than any CCP employee EVER will be.  Only a complete moron, or an arrogant moron, would disregard the input of people that have valid and valuable input.  While there will always be the players that whine about anything and ask for the impossible, just like in my areas of expertise, it's very easy to spot the people with comments that are intended to help and improve.  If CCP, or people that work there, are too fucking stupid to be able to differentiate the two, well, that's another prime reason why they should be at the Reykjavik airport stabbing garbage in the ditches instead of writing code for Eve.

     Comments from ex-CCP employees, are also an interesting addition to this topic because of the attitude of some of the CCP staff.  Some of the coders don't like it when players suggest or tell them how to do their jobs.  If they're doing a shitty job though, creating problems when their "work" is pushed to the players, then that's the coder's fault.  If they were doing a good job, they wouldn't need to be told HOW to do their job.  That's an ego problem.  Another aspect of that, is even if it's a good idea, some devs would never implement it because it makes them look incompetent.  "If YOUR job is to develope and code, why didn't YOU think of that idea instead of a player who's job it is to drive truck or work a cash register??"  Any dev who thinks like that is obviously too immature for his/her own good, and apparently has enough of an ego to decide a dented ego is not worth the trade for a better product.  Another skin bag for the trash detail, perhaps to learn some verisimilitude.  The devs, and sometimes their CSM puppets like to talk about how complicated and intensive the developmental process is for an idea to progress through the various departments and out to the players.  Well, regardless of what development process they're using, ANYTHING can be stopped.  If the devs don't WANT to stop it, then they're morons.  If they don't want to stop it because of the time and money wasted, too bad.  The fix for that is LISTEN TO THE PLAYERS, and DON'T DEVELOPE BAD FUCKING IDEAS!  If a bunch of CUSTOMERS give detailed and intelligent explanations for why they think something is fucked, only a moron, or a narcissist would ignore that.  We've seen that lots of times though, right?  Like the next clueless idea to take simple, obvious and clear target indicators and change them BACK to round ones.  Round ones that USED to be in the game, but were REPLACED with the current square ones!  I wonder how many idiots on THAT super-friends team were also involved in things like the incursion nerf and the unified fucking inventory?

     CCP could expand the Eve sandbox.  They could make it big enough to include space for their headquarters in one corner.  They could work WITH the players to add improvements and features to the game instead of marching to the beat of their own drum, which might not be up to the task any more.  They could LISTEN to the CUSTOMERS and if they involved them even HALF as much as a game like Minecraft, they'd have a lot more enthusiastic players, more NEW players and fewer bitter players.  First though, they would need to do something very important.  They would need to accept that some of their ideas are really fucking stupid.

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