Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Game Design is Hard

I posed a question to the #tweetfleet (the EVE twitter community) yesterday, about cloaking devices:
Hey #tweetfleet what's wrong with cloaking devices using some sort of fuel? #EveOnline
I was curious how people would respond to a feature change that would significantly alter a security blanket in EVE, and overall, the responses were what I expected. @bel_amar provided a perfect response for this discussion:
Because most complaints about cloaking is really about AFK cloaking. And the real issue with AFK cloaking is suddenly hotdrop
And that's about all I have to say about cloaking devices and fuel. I'm not for or against it as a feature. My question was more about how hard it is to gather feedback about a game feature (or change).

Game design is hard.
CCP relearns this every time they add or change a feature or function in EVE. CCP has some very talented folks on their payroll, but (like the rest of us) they are only human, and make mistakes. The advantage they have (as developers first and players second) is that they aren't trying to design or modify a feature to their benefit. They (hopefully) are making changes to improve the game as a whole. The problem they face is that for any single feature or function in EVE, there are hundreds (or thousands) of people who use it and rely on it, one way or another, and people detest change. Realizing that any change they make will piss someone off, CCP does what any smart developer does, they filter out (or ignore) most comments or discussion once a feature is in development. This is (usually) a good plan, to keep them focused and on target. However, when a feature actually makes it to Sisi, CCP needs to take the earplugs back out.

On any given day, there are 30-40 thousand people logged into Tranquility, and maybe 200 on Singularity. That's a very small group. Those people study the impacts of changes long before they make it to Tranquility, and are in a position to take advantage of any new features. They are also in a position to discover glaring exploits long before they go live. CCP needs to find a way to channel the knowledge of these players, a way to utilize them to minimize the glaring errors that should never see Traquility.

Things like the Technetium bottleneck, Faction War LP manipulation, Planetary Interaction exploits, could all have been avoided if CCP was listening to the players on Sisi, and took into account the fact that a player on Sisi is more invested in EVE and might even know more about a feature than the developers. Let's face it - there are some very smart people playing this game, and some of those smart people are smarter than the people writing the code (side note - I am not one of them). If CCP were to channel the experience and knowledge of the players on Sisi, it might make a better game for all of us.

Back to the question in the beginning. Of the 17 individual replies, one of them addressed the question. There was a good smattering of why AFK cloaking isn't a problem, but no direct response to the question (the one that addressed the problem mentioned that it had been discussed and would be hard to do). I'd be surprised if responses in the official EVE forums were any different. The signal to noise ratio (16:1) suggests that any general discussion with the community at large about a feature will produce very little quality information. By reducing the pool of responses (focusing on Sisi players), one might hope to reduce the noise level, and increase the signal response, to a useful level.

No comments:

Post a Comment