Blaugust and Burning Things Down

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.

Blaugust 2019 Schedule

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.

9 thoughts on “Blaugust and Burning Things Down

  1. inactiveseller

    “Elite: Dangerous requires docking skills I’m too old to want to work on, ”

    I have problems with the UNDOCKING ! and have the Xbox And PC Version. If they create a module or way to automate, i seriously give them ore of my time


  2. Bhagpuss

    I’m reading an old Larry Niven at the moment. The Convergesnt Series short story collection. I’ve read it before but so far not one story has rung even teh faintest of bells. I re-read the whole Ringworld series a few years ago. It’s very good. I might read it again.

    And I’d love to play an MMORPG set in Larry Niven’s Known Space.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @inactiveseller – My argument for auto-docking/undocking is what station owner would let people crash about their station like I do, blaring alarms after an an arbitrary time limit, which only makes things worse? If Ford has tech that can auto-parallel park an F-150 downtown, auto-docking ought to be a viable tech in the distant space faring future! Hah!

    @Bhagpuss – I definitely have a soft spot for Known Space. I read the novels and antholgies when they first were published. I read the reworked and expanded re-issues. I read the spin-offs, including the many volumes of the Man-Kzin Wars. And I have listened to more than a few again in audio book form.

    I’m just not sure what sort of game I would want out of Known Space. I played for a bit on a Known Space MUD that somebody was working on during the early/mid 90s. But there were a lot of such projects going on then. I remember a Deep Space Nine MUD as well, and a few others.

    Basically, I want something, I just don’t know what.


  4. Jacob

    When to rewrite code from scratch is such an interesting subject. I find that typically once a project/codebase has gone a certain distance beyond whatever architecture was supporting it, it usually begins to topple and needs pretty significant rework. But how far exactly…. that is the tough question!


  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Jacob – And it is made all the worse by environmental changes that hit any software project that lasts for more than a year or two. How much spaghetti code is because some new vulnerability is spotted and a security update needs to go in place tomorrow, but it breaks your product, so you need to fix that tonight?

    I’ve heard the question many times about why software is so unreliable, and every time it comes up I point out how everything we work on is in a constant state of change. Hardware, compilers, interfaces, operating systems, and the network environment are in a constant state of flux. Nothing sits still. And don’t get me started on end user machines. For reliability there has to be stability, and we don’t have that.


  6. Telwyn

    “Elite: Dangerous requires docking skills I’m too old to want to work on, ”
    Oh this hits a sore spot. I’d love to get into that game but it is so finicky to play, not only is docking a nightmarish task of perfect reactions and positioning BUT you get penalised if you take to long about it. For whatever reason this post makes me think about the oft encountered ‘quest for the perfect MMO’, one that is surely doomed to fail. If only MMO players were more willing to just play what’s available (and there are so many games now), rather than sit in chat idling while they moan about everything that isn’t quite how they want it…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Archey

    Just as an FYI to the several people that have mentioned it, E:D now features an advanced docking computer that automates both the docking and undocking process. It was part of an update a month or so ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Archey

    It’s actually equipped by default on small ships, according to a wiki which I’ve used before and is usually accurate. I haven’t personally played with it but I keep up on ED news with the hope that one day I have some time to get back to it…


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