As with my Retribution preview, I will be doing a post-release review of Retribution over the course of the next couple of weeks. I ended my preview with a section that would have been “The Ugly“, which I wrote in the style of an open letter, questioning what I still consider some poor choices in release. It has generated more than double the hits of The Good and The Bad combined, was the only post with Iceland hits on posting day, and was also the least complex of the three, so I’ll address its outcomes first. Two weeks post-release, it is time to set my statements in their proper long-term context, since CCP has responded (directly or indirectly).
Sometimes, my fellow players, we don’t seem to know how good we have it. We have a developer base here who, in the persons of some particularly fantastic dev folks are willing to reach out directly and talk with you via various channels – I will highlight two in this article – CCP Fozzie and CCP Manifest. This is unheard of in any other game community I have witnessed in nearly 30 years of play. Sure, there are people like CCP Greyscale or CCP Masterplan that we might wish spoke up more to quell the fires aimed (sometimes justifiably) at them, but in any other game, you wouldn’t even know their monikers, much less be able to throw barbs at them. You would just be bitching about “CCP” rather than “Greyscale”.
Most of us are people who, while we joke about it, at some level believe that internet spaceships are in fact serious business. They are something we care about because we are invested in the game. Many of us play daily. And so we care. So does much of your CSM, and the vast majority of the CCP devs.
In my view, the measure of a company is how it deals with problems. So with this first post-Retribution post, I want to highlight how CCP did in “dealing with a problem”. Back in the Summer of Rage around Incarna, CCP was a master of silence and non-answers, and reaped the rewards of that approach. Thankfully, they learned their lessons well.
CCP’s response to several items I noted in Retribution started with the little things.
- Corp Outrage: Armor reps on carriers “stealth nerfed” – turned out this was due to misinformation that led CCP Fozzie to implement a change that was incorrect. Response: CCP Fozzie took responsibility in public (forum posters went from pitchforks to hugs almost instantly). In less than a day, patched.
- Experienced Bug: POCOs could not be filled to their capacity. Response: In less than a day, CCP Manifest replied via Twitter and it was patched.
- Experienced Bug: Anything you launched to a POCO would disappear upon arrival. A session change could clear it, but in wormholes session changes are rare. Response: In less than a day, CCP Manifest replied via Twitter and it was patched.
- Experienced Bug: Upon a wormhole or gate jump, your pod would not be cloaked, but would recloak only as you started movement. Response: In less than a day, CCP Manifest replied via Twitter and it was patched.
- Reported Bug: Since Retribution launched, when you store a ship in an SMA, it pops an error message about ship ownership and, hilariously, makes the explosion sound. You can hear your buddies swapping ships and making explosion sounds across the POS. It has no impact on gameplay, but is definitely not right. I reported this bug. Response: In less than a day, an email with admission that this was a new discovery for CCP and they would put it in queue for correction.
That, my fellow players, is a company taking responsibility for what it has done. Yes, I do worry about what it says about quality assurance, since the items above are simple, common actions that should have been tested prior to release. But bugs happen, and I commend CCP for swift and decisive action on all of them.
So players – this holiday season, whatever holiday you may celebrate, give thanks that you have a positive, dedicated CCP dev staff. Good luck finding this level of direct dev service anywhere else.
The State of Non-Persistent Safety and T3 Eject
“But Rhavas,” I hear you say, “You haven’t even mentioned the stuff you were bitching about yourself two weeks ago.” You’re right. On to the meat of it.
Safety: My biggest complaint was the lack of a persistent safety setting. I did – and still do – believe that it was irresponsible and a poor release decision to put it out without the persistent state. I challenged CCP to deliver a fix on or before January 1, or if not by then, then by a specific delivery date they were willing to put in writing. This is because if you have a big problem that the development team thinks is just a little problem, it is quite easy to put it on the “we’ll get to it someday” list and have that day never come. CCP Fozzie, who had nothing to do with this decision as far as I can tell, was the only one at CCP with cojones enough to respond to me – either on the forums or on Twitter. His main beef was that I had selected a specific date (personally I find that dates motivate and cause discussion). Today, he clarified his point of view:
OK, so I think that’s half bluster, covering for co-workers he was defending and a strong reaction to being pushed on a hard date commitment, but frankly – I’ll take it. 10 days later we have a fix on the test server for the worst piece of Retribution code. I call that a bravo response, especially this close to the holidays. I also thank Hans Jagerblitzen for his public championing of this cause – in fact he was the only one to make a public stand on CSM or CCP – in perhaps a more publicly diplomatic manner than I did (maybe in private he was more blunt). Response: Responded in less than a day, fix posted on dev server in under two weeks. UPDATE 12/19/12: This got pushed to Tranquility today, before Christmas! IMHO this is the best possible Xmas gift from CCP.
T3 Eject: But of course thanks to Poetic Stanziel, the piece of my original letter that got the most attention was the response to T3 eject. I still think eject-locking T3s was a bad, and overkill, method of dealing with the Orca-swap issue. An overreach at solving one problem that caused another (for the record, I don’t care about the SP loss (I’ve never lost a T3), I care about the loss of choice and elimination of stealable ships). But unlike persistent safety, which should be (and in fact appears to have been) a relatively easy fix, I would not be at all surprised to learn that separating T3s from everything else is a nightmarish code rat’s nest. Therefore all I asked for in my original letter was a response. This too came from CCP Fozzie (there’s a reason I agreed with Poetic on his Dev of the Year nom). I’ll simply rebuild the convo here, since it speaks for itself.
First, on the subject of the storyline problems with a lack of T3 eject. Please note the different dates in the tweets – one is the original discussion (thanks to Freebooted for riding to my aid) and second the most recent check-in.
Response: Response received in less than a day. Fozzie still owes an answer on this specific element, but if the next time I ask he tells me that the Live Events team has a plan and will release it through either a news post or an event, I will count myself pleased indeed. UPDATE 1/2/13: The explanation was published today. I give CCP points for creative stretching, even though I think the “real” IC capsuleer community would blow up Yulai again for CONCORD’s overreach in downloading firmware to “their” pod. 🙂
Finally, here is Fozzie’s summary of the two parts of my request for a response, and constitute in my mind the core, distinct answer to my request:
From my point of view, I consider the matter answered. Fozzie and I will agree to disagree on his choice of solution here, but I have nothing but respect for the grace, poise, and flat-out responsibility he has shown over the last two weeks.
Hilmar & Soundwave, if Fozzie is what your new employee recruiting plan looks like, your company is in good hands.
Here’s wishing you a nice Christmas bonus, Fozzie.
I hope all you controversy-hound readers will come back for my thoughts on the actual Retribution content in the next post (the positive stuff is worth reading too (I’m looking at you here, Iceland)!). Meanwhile, smile and send a thanks to your favorite dev or CSM member.