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blankseplocked Some thoughts on CCP's methods and current problems
 
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Mocam
Posted - 2011.04.20 21:19:00 - [1]
 

I've read through the threads here and looked at a lot of the angry posts. A good deal of what I've seen points back to some changes that CCP has attempted over the last year that doesn't seem to be accepted well by many in the community.

A while back CCP stated that they were going to release incremental changes instead of a "bulk" expansion - so we've had nothing but a stream of "patches" and "features" that is the current release of the game.

To sum at the start:
1) Enough "bits & pieces" in a stream. Package the stuff up better and do it less frequently.
2) Communicate better. If needed, hire someone into a position to help with this but get the info presented better.

There were reasons why the old "expansion" method was used along with "patches". User acceptance issues being a major portion - "new expansion" means you EXPECT some problems but you also expect "finished work" to be patched - not WIP that doesn't seem to stop.

Continuous change is NOT good - the "always patching" is one reason why corporations don't "jump on the newest stuff!!!" - 1.0 is buggy as hell and this "new release" methodology turns EVE into a "1.0.x" feeling game. You rarely hit a "stable point" when things are continuously being changed.

Complete, stabilize and put it out - THEN patch it. Not this stream of fix & feature "additions" that keeps flowing. Leave for a week and you have a download that "fixes" -AND- "adds". Very bad form that gives a "not finished"/"not polished" feel to the game that should NOT be here after so many years.

-----------------
Communications sucks.

HOW can you "communicate well" with your community about "the state of the game" when fixes and features are being continusouly streamed like this? It's damned near impossible to "snapshot" with current "public release" methods - accounting gives a snap-shot at a time window which is EXPECTED to be "out of date" when the report lands. Products... USERS expect "up to date" information on the state of the product...

Hire someone to do "daily posts" or something... here's a little example stuff.

Just look at your "new forums" and the "testing". It was put into your "new model" of "streaming it to the community" and you didn't even talk with your testers about which/what suggestions "will be there later" and the like?!?!?

You really do tick folks off when they bring up "problems" that seem to be "ignored" then days or weeks later it's "fixed" because you knew about it but didn't tell them you were going to address it "farther up the stream".

Such things would never be issues if you used that old "finish first" method vs this streaming approach.

-----------------

Summation: The "experiment" failed.

Please stop making the game LOOK so bad due to partial effects and additions being trickle fed to the community - especially with such poor communications on how/what is going on. The composite will do little for "customer acquisition" and even less for "customer retention" -- people like getting complete/running products, not "streams of changes".

It is not seen as "freshening" the game. It's seen as sloppy and annoyingly incomplete - a perception that is growing due to this attempted approach to release.

Nice try - not good; next "new idea" please.

Gnulpie
Minmatar
Miner Tech
Posted - 2011.04.20 21:26:00 - [2]
 

Woah, that are a lot of words for just saying "I want few fat expansions instead of many small patches".

Well, that is just YOUR opinion. There are lots of other opinions, many people are happy with the new approach.


Opertone
Caldari
Deep Core Mining Inc.
Posted - 2011.04.20 21:26:00 - [3]
 

I agree.

I don't have much time to play. Every week I log on only to see another patch, hot fix or client update... downloading all that stuff before I can quick check my training queue is simply frustrating. Not to mention that some patches have long downtime and super bugs and even some stealth nerfs.

Frequent updates are cool, but they literally do nothing... Out of all incarna features, a long list of changes, only very few things that actually appeal to me. That was rocket changes and character re-customization. Everything else virtually meaningless.

Grimpak
Gallente
Midnight Elites
Echelon Rising
Posted - 2011.04.20 21:34:00 - [4]
 

splitting one big expansion into several smaller ones actually works in terms of less bugs deployed (since you can fix them between updates)


problem is, CCP's QA either has problems dealing with anything or they don't have any QA.

so if you want to blame someone, blame CCP's QA, or CCP's admin for not having a proper QA.


as far as communication goes, I have to agree with you.

Dr BattleSmith
PAX Interstellar Services
Posted - 2011.04.21 01:33:00 - [5]
 

Agile Scrum has given CCP some great advantages but it also has some massive holes.

With Scrum you have no grand plan. There is no master specification or even a final goal.

The idea is that users tell you stuff "user stories" about features, bugs, issues, enhancements.
You then prioritise these "user stories" and collect them into "sprints".

CCP has so many of these in their sprint backlog that they're responding to "user stories" months or years after they were relevant.

With no grand plan the direction is ruled by which code can be finished and included in a fully functioning iterative release.


The whole methodology seems to work very well for keeping a project moving forward without delays from new megalithic additions which have to be fully realised and tested.

This piecemeal way of approaching project management has a lot of benefits but CCP is starting to see just how out-of-step it can get.
For some time now the scrum process has been failing CCP with it instead creating a barrier between users and the company as they struggle through backlog of irrelevance towards a goal of obscurity.


Steve Thomas
Minmatar
Sebiestor Tribe
Posted - 2011.04.21 01:42:00 - [6]
 

Edited by: Steve Thomas on 21/04/2011 01:42:17
Originally by: Grimpak
splitting one big expansion into several smaller ones actually works in terms of less bugs deployed (since you can fix them between updates)


problem is, CCP's QA either has problems dealing with anything or they don't have any QA.

so if you want to blame someone, blame CCP's QA, or CCP's admin for not having a proper QA.


as far as communication goes, I have to agree with you.
QA is only as good as the documentation of features released to the QA team. And from what I have heard from the QA people at CCP the Documentation ranges from good to completly useless as anything other than toiletpaper and fireplace starters. But they do consider it an improvment over whats happend before.

Aparently it was originaly "useless as toiletpaper/fireplacestarters" to literaly non-existant.

Bhattran
Posted - 2011.04.21 02:47:00 - [7]
 

Originally by: Steve Thomas
Edited by: Steve Thomas on 21/04/2011 01:42:17
Originally by: Grimpak
splitting one big expansion into several smaller ones actually works in terms of less bugs deployed (since you can fix them between updates)


problem is, CCP's QA either has problems dealing with anything or they don't have any QA.

so if you want to blame someone, blame CCP's QA, or CCP's admin for not having a proper QA.


as far as communication goes, I have to agree with you.
QA is only as good as the documentation of features released to the QA team. And from what I have heard from the QA people at CCP the Documentation ranges from good to completly useless as anything other than toiletpaper and fireplace starters. But they do consider it an improvment over whats happend before.

Aparently it was originaly "useless as toiletpaper/fireplacestarters" to literaly non-existant.


Additionally QA is 'only as good' as they are allowed to be, if they need a month to work on something, fix it/test it but are given a week then told to work on this or that etc they've done their jobs. It isn't Q/A's fault the company doesn't value their own products or let their people work on things till they are done or it is 'right'.

MY biggest issue with CCP is not any one dev working on this or that but the people making poor judgements for CCP at the 'top'.

Jennifer Starling
Imperial Navy Forum Patrol
Posted - 2011.04.21 03:07:00 - [8]
 

Edited by: Jennifer Starling on 21/04/2011 03:20:54

1. EVE is doing well, they have a lot of subscribers payed accounts and the plex and microtransactions mechanics will get them even more money.

2. communication is a problem for every game developer around.
CCP's method:
- put stuff on test server;
- read feedback threads;
- randomly fix 10% of the issues;
- don't communicate anything;
- put it on the live server;
- act surprised if the other 90% of the issues cause discontent and/or needs hotfixes.

I've already getten used to it. It will never get better, it's "the icelandic way".

What we do at work:
a put stuff on test server;
b read feedback;
c split the issues into "wishes"/"suggestions" and "bugs";
d make list of issues with status updates that the testers/users/clients can read ("fixed", "wish denied", various phases of "working on it")
e fix issues;
f go back to step a or:
g if no more issues arise: put on live server.

Steve Thomas
Minmatar
Sebiestor Tribe
Posted - 2011.04.21 04:14:00 - [9]
 

Originally by: Jennifer Starling
Edited by: Jennifer Starling on 21/04/2011 03:20:54

2. communication is a problem for every game developer around.
CCP's method:
- put stuff on test server;
- read feedback threads;
- randomly fix 10% of the issues;
- don't communicate anything;
- put it on the live server;
- act surprised if the other 90% of the issues cause discontent and/or needs hotfixes.

I've already getten used to it. It will never get better, it's "the icelandic way".


I hate to tell you this, but what you describe seems to be the SOP for a lot of game development companies out there. and to be blunt I have run into companies with worse methodologys

SOE's method:
- put SOME items on closed off parts of the test server;
- Invite select group of players to look it over,
- read feedback sent directly to them, kick anyone out of select group that actualy dares to post real feedback on the private forum;
- randomly fix 10% of the issues, usualy the ones that somehow QA actualy managed to convince the developers wer real problems;
- Activly lie to the playerbase about whats going on;
- put it on the live server;
- have your developers openly accuse people of lying about any issues that come up, threaten to ban people from the forums and in some cases from the game itself if they keep bringing it up, report that another developer showed them in game that there was not a problemm if the and then when you finaly actualy go in the live game and verify that DAMN they were right, promptly lock the forums(forceing another developer to come back and unlock the forum) and sulk for a couple of days. then force your supervisor to apologies and finaly hire someone to actualy monitor the forums whos not a developer. Then remove the posting priveleges of the original developer when he explodes in a tempertantrum on the forum over another bug.
- hire someone who basicaly gave there guild information they found out about exploits and bugs without reporting it to the Developers so they can benifit from them
-act shocked when its exposed that said person is still activly playing with there guild and lettig them know about exploits and bugs in the gamecode, some of which he may have put in himself. . .


 

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