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BB38 – Vanilla Custard and the Triple Chocolate Gateau of Doom…!

August 2, 2012

“In his recent “That’s just the way it is” post on Jester’s Trek, blogger Ripard Teg posits that the established EVE player-base has come to accept many of EVE’s design idiosyncrasies, rarely questioning their purpose or benefit. Conversely, he also suggests that new players might not be so forgiving of these “quirks”. In an interview with Gamasutra, Senior Producer CCP Unifex describes EVE Online’s developers as “relatively hands-off janitors of the virtual world”, underlining that he has only four content developers but “a lot” of programmers and engineers.

Has a culture developed where CCP has started to take player effort for granted – expecting the “social engine” to fulfil tasks that might otherwise be CCP’s responsibility? Or should this culture be embraced as part of “emergent gameplay” with these quirks accepted as the catalyst for interaction?”

I’m going to rebut Jester’s argument based on this one fact. EvE is complicated. Actually, it’s complexity built on more complicated stuff built on yet even more arcane stuff I suspect that even the EvE programming boffins only understand half of.

It hasn’t been designed that way, it’s grown that way. From very humble beginnings, it’s gone quantum, most likely in ways it’s originators never have thought of. There are real world parallels to this. I used to work for a large company (thousands of employees) that implemented it’s own billing system tailored to it’s needs getting on towards 20 years ago.

That system is still there, at the heart of it all, chugging away in it’s own peculiar manner. It does what it does very well as I understand it. The user interface still sucks big time even today. And it is not flexible at all. They’ve had to bolt on module after module and interface after interface just to keep it going and to keep up with change.

No one dares turn it off, because there is nothing that can take it’s place. Change is slow (at best), training courses for people to use it take weeks (6 these days iirc), and people adapt to it, not the other way round.

Does any of that sound familiar? Yep. It’s the Triple Chocolate Gateau of Doom. Tasty. And complicated as all hell.

Now on the other hand if EvE was the plain old vanilla custard game, newly built and without the quirks, it wouldn’t be half the game we have today imho. We would not be playing it, or at least would not be continuing to play it.

Have a look at subscriber numbers for SWTOR. The Nosy Gamer has a very good post on whats happening with it currently… but if a company like Bioware can’t get a hugely strong intellectual property like Star Wars to work as expected, then by comparison CCP has done wonders.

But the acid test is likely this: Dust 514.

CCP has that chance to build the game from the ground up. We will be able to see a game that has the complexity without the drag of an antiquated legacy system impacting all facets from game play to patches and releases.

We should also be able to view how CCP does with player feedback and implementing change as a result of it.

EvE may never quite have that luxury, but at least Dust players may be able to have their cake (and the custard for that matter) and eat it too.

I’m going to wait and watch. Fingers crossed. Go the Vikings!



From → Eve Online

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