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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Crystal ball time

And the EVE-O forums take off in an unusual amount of nerd-rage. CCP just announced the next fanfest. Looks like there may not be a 2010 fanfest but the 2011 fanfest is going to be in March. Admittedly this will come as a possible shock to some people. Not to mention the possible PR implications of not having a full blown fanfest in 2010.

The above announcement definitely has the tea leaf readers going into overdrive. Mind you I can see how CCP is between a rock and a hard place on this one. Lets look at what CCP wants to do:

- Put out DUST 514 (for consoles initially)
- Connect up DUST 514 to EVE in a meaningful way
- Put some more new things in EVE (formations, T3 frigates, T3 modules)
- Finally get Incarna out the door so people will stop bitching about it's absence.
- Continue development on on some WOD property (still nothing "official" on this one but perusing the CCP Job pages one can do a little reading between the lines and figure out at some point there will be an announcement).

Add to this the gleamings of the previous fanfest presentations and one can see that CCP has a lot on their plate. You also have the situation that they are transitioning from a single title development house to a multi-title development house, they are also still in the throws of dealing with the constant company growth over the last few years.

I think their vision outstripped their ability to schedule everything and they are now in the mode where they need to deal mountain they want to deliver. This also impacts their ability to actively fix the issues that are irritants to their players. This is because they suddenly realize just how much they've put on their plate, and if they want to deliver a decent product they need to throw developers at said new stuff. Which lowers the pool of developers available for existing issues.

Throw into this mix the fact that everyone and his/her 90 year old grandmother knows that Tyrannis is a "put some support structure in place so that we can hang DUST 514 onto it", and the PR side of CCP has it's work cut out for it. Don't get me wrong, I can very much see this expansion being one of the bigger industrial expansions of EVE. It's ability to put more of the market action under player control is something I can only be for, not against (the indy side feels a bit neglected at time thanks to the louder PvP guys). It does remain that the average EVE player may get the impression that this particular expansion is a "placeholder" expansion. Which leaves them looking for other nice little goodies they feel should be there to placate them for the rest of the expansion being "aimed at DUST". Not to mention the higher ups tendency to want to keep things close to their vests until much closer to delivering so the KNOW they will be delivering.

Slight side track: CCP, Even with agile development, where there is no guarantee that you'll get exactly what you're planning (see the whole mothership/supercarrier issue), letting the players know the general priority plan would make things a little smoother. Updating the "in development/future development" page would be a nice thing too. It should be updated after every major announcement and it would be nice if it got updated when related items suddenly have dev blogs...

So with all of that, what do I think of the announcement. I think it will hurt a little that there is no fanfest in 2010 (at least that's what it's looking like). I don't particularly mind that Tyrannis will be laying the foundation for the DUST Tie-in. It has to happen and they are giving us control of the NPC goods markets. Can't complain there. Not knowing the general plan for DUST and Incarna yet just leads to Internet driven FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt), which IS hurting things a bit. The timing of the next fanfest is, I think, telling, since we'll have Tyrannis, then the un-named (yet) winter expansion, followed by the fanfest and the 2011 summer expansion. Somewhere in all of this they also have to get DUST out there.

One big un-answered question is whether the rolling out of DUST will correspond to one of the "twice a year" expansions or one of the "smaller patches". I think it will depend on how much foundation they are able to lay down in Tyrannis. We'll see.

What I think we'll see:
May 18, 2010: Tyrannis (the DUST foundation expansion with EVE Gate).
Winter 2010: T3 frigates and modules and formations and other stuff that is more EVE centric.
Summer 2011: Incarna OR DUST
Winter 2011: DUST OR Incarna

What I'm assuming is that the expansion around the time of the DUST release will simply contain a lot of DUST related changes to EVE. We'll probably have to wait until 2012 before any concrete news on any WOD stuff. I'm also assuming it'll take at least until the 2nd product is out for CCP to solidify it's internal structure to handle things efficiently.

9 comments:

Toldain said...

I'm all of 6 months old in Eve.

Just what do you mean by "the whole mothership/supercarrier issue"?

Inquiring (3 million year old) minds want to know.

Bryan Ward said...

This is one big reason why I largely ignore the forums. Too much FUD! Awesome post though and by reading it I can continue to ignore the forums. Works well.

The whole mothership/supercarrier thing is just another big change that CCP promised us that didn't actually happen. They do that. It is kind of annoying.

Letrange said...

@Brian it did happen at the end, it just took Dominion 1.1 or something to filter in.

Cozmik R5 said...

For you blobfest fans out there, fleet fights should be fixed sometime in 2031. Should.

OkamiKurai said...

This goes back to your post "The annoying half-finish".

I had forgotten to figure in some of the issues you just mentioned on top of what was discussed in half-finish.

WAAAAAAY too much on their plate for right now....and that is the only real thing that has me nervous.

Because even if Dust, Incarna, hell even Tyrannis go fairly smoothly, not having the personnel to adequately deal with old, (let alone new issues and increased growth) issues will guarantee a slow demise.

I have faith, but it is easy to see how things can go potentially bad real quick.

Letrange said...

Oh I'm not too worried about the "fate" of EVE. "EVE is dieing" is an ongoing joke. It's still got stuff and principles that no other game out there has even attempted. It'll be fine. It'll just take longer to improve than we'd like is all.

OkamiKurai said...

For the most part, I agree with you. And like I said, I have faith that this whole thing will at most take longer than I would like to be worked out.

But then I realize I forgot to figure in a law that a guy Murphy came up with. And that I am a pessimist trying to be a realist.

Mandrill said...

Here's my prediction for the timeline you propose:

May 2010: Tyrannis
Winter 2010: Minimal expansion which fixes more behind the scenes and doesn't add that many new shineys to the game, possible demise of 'Dominion Lag'
March 2011: Fanfest. Firm dates announced for Incarna and Dust Releases.
Spring 2011: Expansion rolling out new character creator for Incarna, no other Incarna features implemented.
Summer 2011: Dust released and minimal integration with TQ implemented. Testing the waters as it were.
Winter 2011: Madness? This is INCAARNAAA!

there you have it, my 2c.

Hagu said...

My guess is currently much closer to the "Summer 2011: Dust released and minimal integration with TQ implemented." Although I am sure the accounts would prefer Christmas Selling Season 2010.

My interpretation of what I have heard/read is that, while there are big future opportunities, there will be little integration happening initially. Mostly because that is a *much* easier product to create without having dependencies and interrelations with an old of codebase as EVE. Perhaps starting to see significant integration a couple of EVE releases after DUST ships? I think most of the forum posters are quite unrealistic about CCP wanting the significant extra risk of having non-trivial integration in the first release of DUST.