Here we are into the third full week of Blaugust and another topic of the week.
I have tried to keep up and do something on the right theme each week, though I failed a bit last week. I mean, you got to know me some, but maybe that wasn’t what you were looking for. And I felt, looking at the calendar, that this week was going to be another punt.
Developer appreciation things never quite resonate with me for a variety of reasons I’ve been over in the past. I neither revere nor dismiss game devs or their work, or so I tell myself.
So I was going to give this week’s topic a miss… and then INN posted an article with the title, Why EVE or CCP Games Needs to Fail and I felt maybe I had an angle.
The basic premise is that CCP has done so many things wrong with EVE Online, made so many errors in the face of players telling them what would happen, been so tone deaf in their relations with customers, that the whole thing, game, studio, and all, should be burned down and scattered to the winds.
I have run across this attitude many times, the idea that things are so bad that we need to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. Only then can we get something good.
I think there is a class somewhere that instructs young developers, when faced with taking over somebody’s code, to say that it would be easier just to re-write it all from scratch. (Oh cute little dev, if we trusted you to do that we wouldn’t have handed you that code to maintain.) But even old salts fall into that trap, the idea that it would be easier to go back to a blank sheet rather than start with code not their own.
Starting from scratch is a hazardous path, one that I’ve been down before. It can even kill whole companies. Microsoft gets the attention for the fall of the Netscape Navigator web browser, but if Netscape hadn’t decided to rewrite everything from scratch… in Java… it might have remained viable, or at least capable of keeping up with the features of Internet Explorer.
I’ve watched devs get their wish to start from scratch only to have to spend their time on a long voyage of discovery as they have to relearn all the wisdom that went in to forming that mess of code they are trying to replace. Instead of spending time adding to the product that dev is stuck redoing something we already had.
Which isn’t to say there is a lack of code that deserves a fiery death. There was a fax form editor I had to work with about 20 years back that was so problematic that it might actually have been better to restart from scratch. But you never know until you’re waist deep in things and begin to regret your decision.
Anyway, my point here is that EVE Online or CCP failing would not automatically result in something better coming along. If anything, the opposite is likely true. Who wants to create a harsh, dystopian internet spaceship sandbox game if the premier example of the niche has failed?
And what other options would former New Eden residents have? Star Citizen is not ready for prime time, Elite: Dangerous requires docking skills I’m too old to want to work on, Prosperous Universe is all the bad UI and spreadsheets of New Eden without any of the pretty pictures, and the handful of spaceship MMO startups are so far from being anything close to the scale of EVE Online that we would all be clamoring for an EVE Online emulator five minutes after the game went down.
Appreciate what you have got.
That doesn’t mean you have to be satisfied with everything. One of the more dynamic aspects of EVE Online is the discussion of what it is, what is wrong, and what it could be. And it can be tough when “chaos” is the new flavor of the month. But EVE Online with chaos is still better than no EVE Online at all. Space is still pretty, the scale is still epic, fights still happen, and chaos cannot go on forever. Maybe Hilmar will read Ringworld Engineers and become obsesses with stability.
Leave the wishes for financial failure, closure, and all that to the people who find the game’s mere existence to be an affront. There is enough hate out there already.