Blog Banter 38: Dogma
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 have to admit that I didn’t fully understand what this BB Topic was asking. My best guess is “are CCP taking for granted the ingenuity of its player base to cover for in game foibles and a lack of CCP directed content? If they are, is there an actual problem with that?”
Before Incarna I would have said yes. Since the Incarna debacle however I don’t think CCP takes anything about its players for granted.
For the last 12 months almost all of CCP’s focus within EVE has been on rehashing old content, usually working (with varying degrees of success) to address some of the more problematic areas or to enhance what is already there. They are also listening to their players (sometimes too much), and I see more reactive changes in attempt to placate people than I’ve previously been used to in the game.
The consequence of this type of focus however has been a lack of new features or content.
Instead of just assuming the players will make up for this, they have specifically worked on areas to drive player conflict and so content – with the War Declaration and Faction Warfare changes for a start.
Part of the reason I wasn’t sure I got this topic right was the number of other posts which seemed to focus on issues within the game which hadn’t been addressed. Many could certainly negatively impact on the new player experience. To my mind this is less about taking players for granted, and more a natural response to familiarisation.
I am reminded of what happens when you change jobs. At the beginning you tend to notice processes and procedures that could be improved. You refrain from regaling your new colleagues with these pearls of wisdom until you become more accustomed with the environment. A month or two later you catch yourself thinking that you never got around to telling anyone about those ideas – but by then you can’t remember what they were. You are now familiar with the environment, accept or understand the quirks and nuances, and are productive within it.
That doesn’t excuse leaving these things unaddressed, but to my mind explains why it might be the case.
So overall my answer is a somewhat emphatic (and boring) no, CCP are not just sitting on their laurels and coasting on the resourcefulness of their players. They seem to be really working on polishing the game. I don’t however have a view on the final impact of this on the sandpit. It might be better, worse, or just different.