Retribution Preview: An Open Letter to CCP

If you haven’t already, check out my thoughts on The Good and The Bad of the upcoming Retribution release. I’m still stewing on “The Ugly” – the draft of which is quite ugly. A flat-out tirade, in fact.

I work in the technology business, and am a RL technology director in a Fortune 100 company. This means that I understand corporate politics, release planning and the software development lifecycle. I also understand that honey catches more flies than vinegar in the corporate world.

So I am going to try a nice version first, and hope that CCP will respond positively. It will also tell you what the rant in draft is about. After all, I am at heart an EVE supporter, and want it to succeed. Therefore, I hope they will consider this as some advice on how to ensure that Retribution is successful once patched.


An Open Letter to CCP

Dear CCP Games:

I have been a paying customer for most of the last three years. I spent most of the first year in high security space, more than a year in low security space, and have lived in a wormhole for the last four months. I am, for the most part, excited about the feature and change list for Retribution. There are two issues that give me deep concerns, despite seeming trivial on the surface.

I was disappointed to learn that you had made a management decision to release Safety to production in an incomplete state. To make matters worse, it removes existing, heavily used capability (persistent weapons free without warnings). Because of this change, and the playstyle I have, along with the limited time and lack of second accounts means that I will literally need to un-set the safety once per hour in an average play session due to character-switching on a single account. I consider this unacceptable, and believe you should too. At the least, I would hope that you could release it with the default to Yellow, allowing players to shoot at ships in lowsec by default. As a customer and a software development Director myself, this gives me a poor impression of your quality and release standards, and because of that I have deeper concerns about the quality I should expect across the product as a whole.

Second, as someone who spent his early career in high security space, I can understand your desire to remove the ability for players to “Orca swap”. As you of course are aware, this involves a string of advanced and obscure mechanics that would baffle the new player and potentially lead to a reduction in long-term players as well as a costly glut of support requests. However, I fear your team has thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. As someone strongly involved in the storyline of your product, especially in the area of the Apocrypha storyline – wormholes, Seyllin and Vitrauze – I was long impressed by how CCP intertwined the story mechanic of the Sleepers with the game mechanic of skillpoint loss – but gave the player the choice to lose the ship (via abandonment) or the skillpoints (by exploding) via ejecting or staying in-ship. In your understandable zeal to fix a highsec problem, you have detracted from play in other areas of the game.

Here is what I am requesting – that two small changes be committed to and implemented as soon as possible to restore my faith – and that of many others affected – in your release and quality planning.

  1. Enable persistent Safety settings in a point patch release no later than January 1, 2013. If you are unable to meet this date, please commit in public to a specific delivery date (or no-later-than date) at the CSM Summit in December 2013. I will commit to filing a bug report within a week of release to ensure there is a proper record of the current problem with details and suggested methodology from my experience with the feature post-release.
  2. Please also reconsider your decision to enforce non-ejection on Tech 3 ships – I think we can all agree that player choice makes for a better sandbox. Please review the addendum below for detail on why I believe that this is not only the original intent, but also the right thing to do. Please commit to a response on this issue no later than the CSM Summit.

I believe that these are reasonable requests, and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Rhavas

UPDATE: I have gotten a response from CCP on these items. Please check out the update post.


Addendum: T3 Skillpoint Loss and Ejection Mechanic

CCP Masterplan stated the following on the forums when questioned about the T3 ejection mechanic question:

Masterplan on T3 Podlock

As a close follower of the wormhole story and the background and implementation of the Apocrypha expansion, I believe the above characterization is misleading.

“Penalizing T3 death” for its own sake as a mechanic is not, in fact, what drove this feature in Apocrypha, and the ejection mechanic has been part of the initial intent since before it was released.

In fact, the reasoning was to back the story – namely that use of Sleeper technology deeply intertwined the mind of the capsuleer in the ship. However, the ejection mechanic added great new gameplay – a capsuleer could choose to abandon the ship, knowing someone else would likely steal an expensive investment, or could eat the skillpoint loss and deny the ship to someone else. An excellent duality of choices – better gameplay – better sandbox.

CCP Nozh clearly states as much in the Apocrypha T3 Announcement Devblog:

T3 Skill Justification Original

“Due to the sudden rift in the symbiotic relationship that exists between a pilot and a Tech 3 ship, losing a Tech 3 ship will result in a random skillpoint loss … ejecting or self-destructing does prevent the penalty, giving players an incentive to abandon ship…”.

Reason: Unique story attributes of T3 ships.

Alternative to consequence: Tactical ejection.

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21 Responses to Retribution Preview: An Open Letter to CCP

  1. CCP. Never keeping their stories straight.

  2. Serpentine Logic says:

    Objective: close unwanted loophole.
    Status: successful.

    • If you’re talking StratCruiser skillpoint loss … how can it be a loophole, when a dev, at the time, specifically stated it was a tactical option? Sounds like not so much a loophole as a conscious design decision.

      • Serpentine Logic says:

        I’m fairly certain CCP can change its mind about the relative importance of design decisions it made three years ago vs the exigencies of more recent issues.

      • @Serpentine Sure. They’re allowed. But don’t fucking lie about it. Don’t tell people it was never intentional, when in fact it was. That just creates an untrusting relationship between company and customer. Just tell the damned truth “We changed our minds.”

      • Rhavas says:

        @Serpentine Sure they can. Doesn’t make it any less of a detractor from gameplay value, though. My point is not that they can’t change their mind, but that they are throwing the baby (T3 gameplay) out with the bathwater (Orca swapping). Why not just fix the problem in a targeted way rather than smashing flies with cannonballs?

  3. Anonymous says:

    T3 are just too good. For me it is just fine to loose sp if u lose a T3. At least some drawback for T3 is needed.

    • Rhavas says:

      Given the several nerfs for T3 CCP has already announced I don’t think that will be true much longer. I suspect Tengu orders are already way down – I know the nanoribbons to make them are.

      But again, this isn’t about the ship power. It’s about gameplay choices. If they want to nerf the ship, nerf the ship. Fozzie has been remarkably good at this, focusing on ships where they need it but modules or weapons where they are the actual root cause. Scalpels, not chainsaws.

  4. Ambivalence is one of the defining characteristics of CCP. 🙂 They’re of two minds about so many issues, many of them fundamental, well, why not this one too?

  5. Raziel Walker says:

    If they remove the option to eject from a tech3 ship they should remove the SP loss. The SP loss was avoidable in the past and the player had a choice. Now it is a mandatory loss.

  6. Tom Hafeford says:

    You still have a choice.. turn off all offensive modules for 1 minute then eject.. The same argument applies to docking at a station in a 2 bil pod.. you still have to wait the minute before you can dock. Why aren’t you bitching about that too?

    • Rhavas says:

      Have you ever been in PVP? When was the last time you had a full minute? And again, not about the ship or SP loss (in fact I want more abandoned ship theft opportunities), it’s about gameplay choices.

  7. pjharvey says:

    I won’t lie, I don’t like this change. But I would accept it if stated as a design aim. What I really don’t like is the underhanded way in which the change has been introduced.

    The change was introduced as part of Crimewatch 2, and I note in a comment to my own post on the subject that there is no mention in the devblog about skill point loss. It is only in the forum thread, which you link to above, where it is stated as an intentional effect to force SP loss on T3 pilots. This is not the way a design change should be delivered to players.

    I can understand what they are doing. Maybe the devs intend that aggressing in a T3 and losing the fight shouldn’t be subject to evading the associated SP loss, in much the same way that you can’t evade Concord for performing an illegal act. Crimewatch 2 solves this, with the aggression flag. But if this is the case, explain it that way! Springing it on T3 pilots as a surprise is bound to have negative and angry reactions.

    • Rhavas says:

      Thanks for your reply PJ, it helped me to think about why I was so aggravated by both of these changes. The thing they had in common is precisely what you said – that with all the fanfare and detail and CSM oversight of everything else, these two items were both effectively slid under the table, not announced. They had to be ferreted out of forum posts.

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