Category Archives: Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day – No Lessons Learned from New World

Listening is fun. Listening makes people happy because they know they’ve been heard. Listening works. And listening makes you successful.

-Scot Lane, New World Game Director in a guest post at Venture Beat

The title of the post from which I drew that quote is New World: What we’ve learned during our first year, and it is one of the most anodyne and self-serving posts I have ever read.

Like that post, an ad for New World

Sure, it is up on VentureBeat, which has incredibly shallow journalistic standards.  Vacuous and self-serving is practically their brand when it comes to guest posts.  But this post sets a new standard for vacuous.

This post made me mad.

Not hot headed, rage mad, but the cold, irritable sort of mad that comes when somebody thinks you must be some kind of idiot, that you’re such a mark that you’ll believe whatever they’re selling to the point that they aren’t even putting any effort into the sale, they’re so sure you’ll just buy it.

I don’t want to over-sell my anger.  I am not on a mission here or anything.  But I felt the need to note this down in order to remember it.

We can start with the quote I chose, which is the most quotable bit of text in the whole thing and really the theme of the post, how much they are listening.

And with a post focused on how well they listen, how much fun it is to listen, you might think it would be filled with example of their listening prowess… and you would be wrong.

It isn’t devoid of examples.  The post goes early on to mention how the game changed from a crafting/survival game to a full fledged MMO based on feedback.  That is actually a solid example of some sort of listening, though the post-launch experience tends to argue for the fact that the team didn’t know what they were getting into.  As I noted before launch, they went from possibly being a big-league Valheim with server rentals to pay the bills to another MMO.

They sold a lot of boxes, but I am not sure that counts as a win in the long term.

Then he quickly goes into the easy wins that were based on feedback.

Things like easier leveling, accessing inventory while running, removing orbs (keys), low-cost fast travel, increased run speed and many more have all come about based on player feedback.

I never experienced half of those during the months we played (no listening then) and the other half were being asked for in beta and took a long time to get into the game, and all of them were pretty trivial to implement.

The lesson doesn’t seem to be “we listen” but “eventually we listened when things were going badly and we needed some quick wins.”

Then there is the third example of listening, which is in the big finish section of the post under the heading Adapt and Improve where it is explained that people thought the architecture in towns was too monotonous.  This was the bit that the author said kept bothering him.  So they added some buildings that were not of the same style.

That was the closer, the point on which the whole post landed in the end; buildings were too same-y.  And that was where my anger began to seethe.

What a waste of an opportunity.  What a way to demonstrate the lack of listening.  What a whole bunch of nothing.

Now, I didn’t expect somebody from the team would come out and remind people that they went from 900K people online trying to play the game (and largely failing due to server queues) to 20K six months later, or that their attempts at fixing game and economy breaking exploits either caused more problems than they solved or rewarded the exploiters and punished the rest of the game, or that as the game population collapsed that they merged servers so quickly that returning to the game is a chore.

But I did kind of expect that a post about listening would include a bit more concrete evidence of actual listening.

Oh well, making me happy clearly wasn’t the point of the post.

No, with their new Brimstone Sands update launching today, this was a puff piece to cast the illusion that everything is (and always was) fine and dandy and problem free in New World because they did all that listening.

I am sure those that are coming back will enjoy the new architectural options.

My character is still broke, stuck behind a pile of grind, and on some server somewhere behind a long queue.  Any desire to return is overwhelmed by that and the memory of how little the company actually did listen when they were making bone headed changes to the game.

Quote of the Day – The Results of Perfectly Safe High Sec

High sec ganking has become the hot topic recently. This appears to have stemmed from a streamer declaring in a video that they were no longer going to produce EVE Online content until CCP fixes the ganking issue.

A Charon being ganked in high sec

Technically the streamer said the “griefing” and “harassment” issues needed to be fixed by CCP without ever going into any detail in the video as to what he actually meant by those terms.  But he slipped at the end and said “ganking,” and referred to a previous video of his that went on about high sec ganking, so people who know better than I have taken it as read that the streamer is primarily talking about ganking.

This led to some reaction by the people who run high sec ganking operations, with the Meta Show featuring a cast of gankers last week to talk about their side of things, as well as the usual round of “you consent to PvP when you undock” arguments.

There was nothing new to be seen there from those defending high sec ganking.

Nor was there anything new from the streamer in question who declares that this sort of thing is what is holding EVE Online back, that this is why people are leaving the game.

And I will stipulate that I agree, in a very general sense, that he is correct.  That EVE Online‘s appeal is limited by it being a PvP title seems pretty obvious.  Beyond that, however, the idea that stopping high sec ganking, which would necessarily entail making high sec perfectly safe, is a bad idea.

It was a bad enough idea to take third place in my post about the top five bad EVE Online ideas that will never die.

But proving it is a bad idea, going through the logic that would lead you to conclude that it would end poorly for the game, that has always been a problem.  People will ignore the evidence and insist that perfectly safe high sec space wouldn’t been exploited,

Until now.

Captain Benzie showed up in one of the threads spawned by this to give their perspective on safe high sec by telling us how things are going over in EVE Echoes:

Hi there, I’m a content creator for EVE Echoes, and an avid EVE Online player too.

In Echoes, Hisec is 100% safe. You can lock other players, but attempting to aggress simply gets a warning of “You cannot do that”. Folks love it in Echoes. Hisec being totally devoid of PvP gives players somewhere they can go and just endlessly grind ISK without worrying about PvP.

And you know what…?

Industry is dead due to a complete lack of destruction in the game. Our insurance replaces ships directly and creates buy orders on the market… But there is simply not enough destruction to warrant any form of ship building market. There are no meaningful ore sinks (we also have instantly respawning belts which means the influx of ores is also problematic).

Beyond this, a player in a top end PvE ship can just grind out ISK to upgrade it fully, at which point, the ISK becomes an ephemeral high score. What do you do with ISK when you have a fully kitted ship and spares in the hangar anyway?

This means market prices are based on their incomes. It also means that PLEX is based on their incomes too.

In short, 100% safe Hisec absolutely destroys a game like this. It massively reduces destruction which kills industry, and creates an endless ISK influx which causes runaway, rampant inflation.

There is a lot going on in EVE Echoes, and it isn’t exactly parallel to EVE Online, but what is happening there with the economy, that is what would happen to our own New Eden if CCP introduced complete safety in high sec space.

The thing is, you don’t even have to look at EVE Echoes to see what would happen.  You just have to look at any other title that lets you accumulate wealth without loss.  MUDflation?  Have you heard about it?

I suppose, on the bright side, CCP has at least admitted that MUDflation is an issue they need to deal with.  That their plan is to make ISK progression harder for anybody new to the game seems like it might be a bad plan for growth, but at least you get the sense that they know unhindered ISK faucets would be an issue.

Quote of the Day – This is Not Why VR has Stalled

That being said, it is worth pointing out that the world of VR currently lacks several elements of the metaverse that experts believe are key to the growth of this nascent market. For example, most VR-centric games today come without a blockchain framework; feature a poorly designed economic setup; lack tangible incentives; or have shoddy gameplay mechanics. As a result, they have small, limited user bases, a problem that has been compounded by problems of poor graphics, lack of upgradability, and low scalability.

-Adam Bem, Why the lack of metaverse integration in today’s VR ecosystem needs to be addressed

Every once in a while I think that maybe VentureBeat has decided that it doesn’t serve the best long term interests of their brand to basically run paid advertisements for Web3, blockchain, crypto, NFT scams.

Not really about Blaugust, but why not throw in a reminder about it all the same?

I mean, after their Metaverse 2 conference earlier this year, it seemed like the hosts, in summing up, ended up somewhat skeptical of the whole crypto angle while speakers like Raph Koster brought a sense of reality to a topic that tends to live somewhere between wishful thinking and full on pipe dreams.

But that is just me forgetting that VentureBeat isn’t really interested in journalism as much as cashing in on trends and making a quick buck today without a thought for tomorrow.  They have consistently and repeatedly treated all of the crypto garbage with unquestioning seriousness, never asking anybody ever a difficult question.  That isn’t any sort journalism, that is just paid advertising.

Anyway, that leads us to the quote at the top of this post, which is truly a gem.

I would certainly agree that VR has not taken off as some… like VentureBeat… thought it would more than half a decade back.  There are lots of problems, including price, expense to develop games, motion sickness, and the whole need to strap a monitor to your face that blots out the real world.

We heard just last week that Meta’s Reality Labs division, which includes Oculus and their whole metaverse plan, is losing around a billion dollars a month for the company.  It is a testament to how much Meta milks out of Facebook and Instagram targeted advertising that they can afford to lose about as much cash on Zuckerberg’s Facebook Horizon VR wet dream every month as World of Warcraft was bringing in annually during its peak.

That isn’t even enough money to get John Carmack to buy into Meta’s legless metaverse vision.

And into this mix comes Adam Bem, COO and co-founder of Victoria VR, who tells us that the reason that VR metaverse isn’t taking off is because it lacks parasitic, rent-seeking crypto integration.

Because, when you get down to it, that is the essence of blockchain and crypto.  Even if you could get past all the scams, theft, and other shady behavior, even if you could see blockchain working as intended on its best day ever, you would see its real goal is just to be a tax on digital transactions, adding no value whatsoever.

There is absolutely nothing that proponents of blockchain and crypto claim for the technology that can’t already be done better, faster, cheaper, more securely, and with less environmental destruction.  100% true.

As such, it would probably not surprise you to learn that Victoria VR, Adam Bem’s company, is putting itself forward as a developer who is going to create a blockchain, pay to earn, VR based metaverse.

You know, the thing that John Carmack is skeptical of even with a billion dollar a month burn rate.  Oh, wait, Carmack left out the blockchain!  No wonder he hasn’t succeeded!

You should take a minute to go look at the Victora VR web site, because it is the most anodyne, check all the possible boxes, no concrete details provided piece of work I have seen in a while.  The whitepaper they have available on their site is entirely about monetization, because that is the most important aspect of video game design.  Even when they superficially dip their toes into things like quests for a page and a half, it is simply about how that will introduce players to more ways to spend money.

It is monetization all the way down.

I have to imagine that this what making an MMO looks like to people who have never made an MMO.  Or a video game of any kind.  It is all generic, hand waving, high level terms and no proof that their team has the technical ability to bring anything like what they are promising into reality, virtual or otherwise.

As somebody who has followed online gaming since the 80s, and 3D virtual worlds since the late 90s… likely before Adam Bem was even born… you get a sense of who has the ability to pull something like this off and who is just blowing smoke… and Victoria VR clearly cannot pull off anything of the sort.

Quote of the Day – CCP and their Unshakable Belief in an FPS Future

CCP won’t let two failed shooters get in the way of making the perfect Eve Online FPS

Rock, Paper, Shotgun – Article Headline

I appreciate Rock, Paper, Shotgun calling out CCP’s obsession with building a first person shooter, or FPS.  They sent a correspondent to EVE Fanfest… which likely means CCP paid to fly one out and put them up… and RPS has been repaying that with a series of EVE Online related posts about things like new players, the business acumen of the games veterans, and something about the faction warfare and story arcs vision that was presented.

Project Nova no more

But this was the article that made me nod and grimace at the same time because it asks the apparently unanswerable question about CCP’s obsession with making an FPS.

I mean sure, Hilmar is in there for a quotes about this bowl being too hot and that one being too cold as they look for the right blend that will lead them to the “just right” ingredients for a shooter.

But the why, the raison d’etre of an FPS set in the EVE Online universe is never really answered.  We don’t know why they keep taking swings at that, why they have been burning money on the idea since the late naughts or whatever we call the first decade of the century.

I mean, it could be as simple as the team just likes shooters.  That would be the Blizzard answer.  They made an RTS because they liked the early RTS idea exemplified in DuneWoW was fed by a need to recreate EverQuest.  And we’re getting a Warcraft mobile game that looks like Clash Royale because they said a while back that a lot of their staff is into the mobile game thing.  They all have phones.

But I haven’t heard that about CCP, and I couldn’t begin to pick out what shooter might be the motivator, the inspiration to keep spending money on the idea.  And it isn’t even the EVE Online crew that would be working on it.  Iceland gets the leftovers from past shooters like DUST 514, while they hire fresh talent in London to make this new one.

Dusted off

And I guess there is a universe in which they might eventually turn out something good enough to survive. It could happen.  But a lot of things could happen, and there is not much to convince me of this shooter idea.

Yes, I know there are some true to the team lovers of DUST 514 out there who have a pile of reasons for why it was shut down.  But, as I have said in the past, there is no game or game feature so bad that it isn’t somebody’s favorite, and popular title will find a way.

Anyway, in a market not lacking for first person shooters, I do wonder if they will find something to differentiate it from the pack.  Simply being in the EVE Universe isn’t enough.

Quote of the Day – Why Just Play to Have Fun?

I realize that some people who “play to have fun” and who currently form the majority of players have voiced their reservations toward these new trends, and understandably so. However, I believe that there will be a certain number of people whose motivation is to “play to contribute,” by which I mean to help make the game more exciting.

-Yosuke Matsuda, President of Square Enix, 2022 New Years Letter

Welcome to the new year.  Things are already trending towards dumb.

That isn’t the usual self-indicting stupidity that I generally go for as the capstone in a quote of the day post, but that is only because Mr. Matsuda is attempting to conceal his message in a mist of gentle and encouraging words.

Square Enix

But in digesting the final few paragraphs of the Square Enix New Year’s letter, one can only end up with poop that spells out, “Fuck fun, show me the money!”

A little too much Bobby Kotick vibe in that?

And yes, Square Enix is a business and the president thereof has a fiduciary responsibility to guide the company in a way that realizes growth and profitability for the firm.  The question is really whether or not that responsibility requires him, as president, to jump on buzzwords that would upset what he admits is a majority of his players just to goose the stock price or accomplish whatever he had in mind when this was written.

I suppose if I believed in my heart of hearts that crypto, NFTs, blockchain, and pay to earn would deliver the gaming nirvana that the crypto bros would have you believe, I might let this pass.  But I have yet to see an argument in favor of introducing any of that to video games that doesn’t just amount to a crypto tax on something the companies could do on their own if it was actually a good idea.  I mean, I am pretty sure Raph Koster and Playable Worlds covers everything the crypto bros are promoting, yet have somehow managed not to bring blockchain into the picture because it adds nothing to the mix.

Seriously, does anybody think a company like Square Enix couldn’t roll up a pay to earn scheme or something that allowed users to get paid for content they generated that doesn’t require crypto connections to siphon off a piece of the profits?  Tracking something via blockchain is basically putting it on an expensive, slow database.  MySQL is free and your own server will cost less to run.

And that really gets to the heart of things.  Even if you look past the obvious scams, the overvaluation, the constant problems, and the environmental impact, the benefits beyond hype are non-existent.  Blockchain offers nothing that a dev studio couldn’t already do, nothing that hasn’t already been done, just at a greater costs with a loss of control over the product.

And the loss of control is the big hit.  How is your game going to play out if the crypto currency you use to drive it suddenly gets popular and now everything in your cash shop is too expensive for new players?  What are you going to do if the bottom falls out of the currency you went with and all of your new customers abandon ship having lost the money they threw in?  How are you going to handle scams and theft in your game if you cannot revert a transaction because the blockchain determines who owns a thing and you don’t control that?  Ask all those bored ape bros who have had their apes stolen… something that seems to occur daily… how happy they are about decentralization when it means nobody can address their problem.  What kind of customer service nightmares are you willing to endure to jump on this bandwagon?

It beggars belief that executives at legitimate companies have suddenly found themselves in a situation where they feel the need to at least pay lip service to patently bad ideas because otherwise they will look like they aren’t jumping on board the latest trend.  This is a pyramid scheme and it demands new people buy in so the people already invested can cash out and companies are at least saying they want their customers to be next in line to get swindled if it will just raise the stock price a bit.

But this one, this steps over a line that I hadn’t seen previously in that the President of Square Enix stood up and said that a majority of his customers won’t like this, but screw them, because we’ll just get better customers who will make us more money.  Does he assume that customers who show up because they are in it to get paid won’t jump ship the moment the gravy train ends?  Is he saying that they’ll stick around like the long term “play for fun” customers?  Because, in the end, these schemes always make many more losers than winners, and nobody is going to love your game if you promised them income for playing and it doesn’t appear.

Now, this New Year’s post, like so many recent pronouncements, is all just so much chin music until they actually put something into action, so there is the distinct possibility that cooler heads will prevail and won’t throw themselves into a technology mostly known for being a scam, but we shall see.  But putting current users on notice that the company might not see value in the play style of a majority of their customers seems like a bad sign all the same.

Quote of the Day – How Not to Fight Big Dev

It’s worth it to get out from under big dev

-Gigabear, Massively OP Comment

I avoided posting about the whole DreamWorld Kickstarter thing in part because I have very little interest in MMOs that show up on Kickstarter… they are not universally bad, but the wall of disappointment that has been built up around them in general should be a warning to all… and in part because the red flags on this particular project… a comically low ask, sky high setting of expectations, no industry experience, “we’ve got all the answers” attitude, and a free art assets demo reel… made me want to avoid inadvertently giving it any more attention that it might otherwise have garnered.  Massively OP and MMO Fallout gave it more attention than it deserved.

They last game you’ll ever play… because it will never ship

I can’t say if the whole thing was a scam or just hubris, but I will write a sincere post of apology if any sort of game results from the campaign. (Though I will reserve the right to compare what was promised versus what was delivered as part of that apology.  Sincerity can cut both ways.)

Anyway, another day, another round of BS on the internet.  No news there.

But I was interested in who would back such a project, and specifically who would back it at the $1,999 or more tier, which had seven parties throw in.

I can see maybe bidding at a low tier if you want to go along for the ride with some middle age prima donna developer who wants to prove that they didn’t do their best work back in the 90s.  We’ve seen our share of that in the last decade.  I didn’t chip in on Star Citizen because I believed Chris Roberts could deliver everything he promised initially… much less everything he has promised since… but to have a ticket to the ride should anything interesting come of it.

But with DreamWorld you don’t even have that draw.  So who sets fire to two grand for a bunch of nobody’s promising the sky?  I was willing to bet that at least a couple of the seven in for that much were shills, there to make it look like a success early on, but then pull out at the last minute.  But they all stayed in.  So, unless there was a “pay you back after we’re done” arrangement, they actually believed what they were told and I was interested to hear from any of them.

And then one popped up over in the Massively OP comments.  Gigabear, who is apparently a serial backer of such campaigns, dropped “$2000+” on the project.  And the summary of their reason for backing iy… and why they would back other projects even if this one fails… was the quote above.

They want to get out from under “big dev.”

What utter self-delusional bullshit.

I can totally understand not liking the big game developers such as EA, Activision, Blizzard, Ubisoft, and whoever else you care to throw into that group.  There is a lot there worthy of dislike and distrust.

But handing a couple of grand to a project like this isn’t “sticking it to the man,” it is encouraging more half assed scams.

Meanwhile there are a lot of worthwhile indie projects that are done and looking for an audience, and only a few get the attention they deserve.  For every Valheim, which for $20 touches so many MMO sweet spots, there are a bunch of titles that never get the audience that would make them even a moderate success.

There were 10,263 new titles launched on Steam in 2020.  Surely one of them must have been more deserving that DreamWorld?

And yeah, I don’t want to become… much less encourage… that guy who complains about people buying a latte at Starbucks rather than the game they worked so hard on.  But when you aren’t even going to get a pretend spaceship JPEG… much less a tall soy caramel macchiato… for your two grand, it doesn’t seem like you’ve helped the industry at all.  You’ve merely encouraged scam artists to keep on scamming.

Quote of the Day – The Passenger and the Sailor

A player-driven economy isn’t about the money. It’s about having every way to play the game serve a role in the ecosystem. It’s about all the wonderful and weird ways we choose to live and play, and how we find out that our silly hobbies are vital necessities to someone else.

Raph Koster – Player Driven Economies

Last week’s nothing ball of a vision message, which sounded like the intro to an actual presentation rather than a presentation on its own, left me wondering left me wondering if Raph had anything actually up his sleeve.  It is unlike him to be so empty of depth in a post.

But he is back, so maybe that past post was just the intro, and this time there is some actual meat to chew on. He jumps right in on his vision of an MMORPG player-driven economy.

Raph on the economy

Getting to the end of the post and that quote above brought Guy Kawasaki to mind and his book The Macintosh Way.  I still have a copy sitting on my book shelf, which I never managed to get him to sign even though he used to roll into the computer store I worked at for a while during a low spot early in my career.

The book is a tale of his time at Apple and after, and the vision of product development and marketing that came of his experiences.   When in comes to product, he was a proponent of DICE, products that are deep, indulgent, complete, and elegant.

It was an era when companies shipped complete products because they couldn’t assume you could update.  Imagine that!

But “deep” gets to what Raph is going for here, which is that a it should have appeal for a wide range of users, from the passenger to the sailor, as the metaphor in the book puts it.  And that range of users, or players, from casual to hardcore, should be able to provide something to the greater economy of the game and benefit from their contribution.

Seems solid enough and certainly evokes some of the Star Wars Galaxies player economy, which I have no doubt will rouse the keepers of that sacred flame.  That Bree, one of those keepers, used an image from SWG featuring the entertainer profession in the post about this over at MOP was no accident I am sure.

Raph loses me a bit when he writes “OK, enough lofty theory stuff. Let’s get concrete” and then presents a diagram of the macro economy he has planned, which has been obfuscated into a meaningless flow chart, then carries on as though he has delivered actual support to his assertion.

Playable Worlds and their unreadable macro economy chart

I get why he doesn’t want to show the details, but give me 30 minutes with Visio and I’ll crank out something that looks meaningful if you zoom out far enough too.  That chart is just as empty as his last post.

So it is all philosophy.  Not that philosophy is a bad thing, and Raph is very good at philosophy.  Have you read his book?  But the translation from philosophy to mechanics is another thing altogether.

And it is clear Raph, despite the earlier empty virtual world vision, is making a game.  But we knew that almost a year ago.  It will be a sandbox game, and not a “gankbox” (which, following the usage of the term, means no non-consensual PvP I guess, that being the only consistent defining metric of the term), but will have constructs in it that will give people purpose and frame the mysterious macro economy almost pictured above.

Overall, a more worthwhile read than the previous post, and you can lose quite some time diving into the linked post about trust relationships and game design, but it is all still just vision.  Vision can get people excited and keep people going, but execution is where the rubber meets the road.  And this is still the MMORPG genre, which has a history of being long on vision and short on execution.  Promises abound, delivery not so much.

Finally, in my experience over the years, any system that allows more casual play styles to thrive or be competitive or add value tend to be abused by the more hardcore end of the spectrum and end up being nerfed into oblivion.  So I remain skeptical.

Quote of the Day – Empty Vision

Yes, today’s world is a magical place. But our online alternatives have gotten kind of… mundane. Predictable. Kill some blues, collect some purples, fetch ten of whatever. They don’t have to be that way.

-Raph Koster, The Future of Online Worlds

I enjoy a good Raph Koster post.  He can bring a lot of insight into the history of online games, especially MUDs and MMORPGs.  So I was anticipating something good, something with some heft, something that would leave me thinking when I saw a new post pop up in my feed from his blog.

That turned out to just be a “go look at the thing I wrote elsewhere” post, directing people to a new item over at Playable Worlds, his current venture.  So I went and read that.

The future is somewhat vague

And it was a whole lot of nothing.

I mean sure, he invoked a some nice ideas, which I will sum up with bullet points that are the phrases he highlighted in the text:

  • We dreamt of living worlds
  • A lot of those big dreams did not come true
  • It’s time
  • yes, worlds can feel alive
  • fits into your life
  • it shouldn’t matter what device you have or how much time you have free
  • playable worlds

And in between those phrases is a lot of empty filler.

Seriously, I got to the final sentence of the whole thing…

We can dream big again, together. It’s time to turn those dreams back into playable worlds.

…and wondered where page two was.

The whole thing reads like the opening of an investor pitch or a GDC talk… throwing in the name of the company as the final words is almost too trite… that will then proceed to get into the meat of the topic.  But there is no meat.  That is all you get, a vision so nebulous that one hesitates to call it a vision.

Of course, the mere fact that he posted even that vaporous tidbit will get some people worked up.  This is Raph Koster, who has Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies on his resume, both of which stand out as special in the long line of online worlds.  Part of me gives him the benefit of the doubt just based on that.

But another part of me, the somewhat more abrasive and cynical part that has been nurtured by the industry over the last 20+ years, wants to shout out, “But what have you done for us lately?”

Because those two titles were also from a long time ago in the current technological timeline.  And, after leaving SOE in 2006, his sole public venture was MetaPlace, which had a similar open vision, and which shut down rather suddenly, taking with it any work that those who invested time with it had created.  And even that happened more than eleven years ago at this point.

It is almost a tech industry genre, the young designer with vision who has a huge impact early in their career, and then never has similar success afterwards and ends up on Fitzcarraldo-esque journey to relive and even top their youthful acclaim.  Their names alone generate interest and a following… think Richard Garriortt, Chris Roberts, Brad McQuaid, Mark Jacobs… and set expectations that their new vision, which is generally their early vision reinforced and revised upwards, will deliver.

The next time that pans out will be the first time so far as I can tell.  The jury is still out.

Of course, I might commend Raph for not going too deep or too grandiose with his vision, though it still feels too light to drum up any enthusiasm in my jaded heart.  At least he didn’t lay out a bunch of specifics that we will later hold against him when they fail to appear.  But I remain confident that we’ll find a way.


Quote of the Day – But We Did It Anyway

We definitely don’t want to sell skill points

-CCP Rattati, EVE Online Director of Product, OZ_eve interview

I don’t even have the energy to care about the actual selling of skill points now.  That ship sailed last year. I’ve accepted it as the new reality.  I just wish CCP would get their messaging in line with that reality.

On Monday CCP Rattati who, among other things, has been driving the economic starvation plan in EVE Online, did this interview on Twitch, which was then posted up on YouTube for your watching pleasure. (And now there is a transcript.)

He talks about the New Eden economy for about the first ~40 minutes, then the discussion moves to monetization.  You can find that quote at the top of the post at the 49 minute mark.

The interview happened on Monday, the video went up on YouTube on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday CCP literally started straight up selling skill points.

Personal Offer!

This is the sort of self-defeating corporate bullshit that just drives me crazy.  He is the Director of Product, did he not know that this was happening the same week he was saying that?  The usual paths are that the person is lying, stupid, or believes their audience is stupid, and I can’t really pin down which this is.

Now, you’ll want to talk about context, and you can justifiably point out that this was part of a discussion about the Expert Systems feature, the “rent a skill” plan announced last week.  As part of that he said that CCP had ruled out the idea of selling skill points to new players, preferring to rent them temporary skill increases… because new players won’t understand things like skill injectors or something.  Somehow giving them skills then taking them away will be more clear.

I remain unconvinced that this will somehow be better or make EVE Online more comprehensible to new players, but the details are still vague, so final judgement has yet to land.

But, even in that context, his statement not once but twice that they do not want to sell skill points seems pretty strong, as though it would apply outside the justification for renting skills.

He was also very firm a few minutes earlier that Pearl Abyss was in no way pushing CCP to sell skill points.  In fact, he was quite adamant that PA has taken a very hands off approach to EVE Online and that they have given no direction or advice on monetization, which seems to torpedo the idea earlier in the week that the whole Expert Systems thing was handed down by them, and based on their experience as a way to monetize the Asian market.  CCP Rattati said that this was all very much a home grown, Icelandic idea.

Then again, he also said CCP doesn’t want to sell skill points in the same week that the company did just that, so one might be tempted to point out that he has a credibility problem.

Anyway, if you want to hear how everything is totally going to plan with the economic starvation and resource redistribution plan and the rationalization of the rent a skill idea, this video will help you along.  I will say that the host does push back, gently at times, on some of the statements, so it isn’t a free run statement by the company, but CCP Rattati remained firm on his own positions.

I hope this will be my last post related to selling skill points for a while, but CCP will be CCP.


Quote of the Day – Streamers Should Pay

Streamers worried about getting their content pulled because they used music they didn’t pay for should be more worried by the fact that they’re streaming games they didn’t pay for as well. It’s all gone as soon as publishers decide to enforce it.

-Alex Hutchinson, Creative Director for something owned by Google, on Twitter

This was sort of toss out of left field I wasn’t expecting.

This all started on Wednesday when Amazon’s Twitch streaming service delete a large number of saved video stream for DCMA takedown requests without notice or an option to appeal, followed by an email about how streamers should familiarize themselves with the DCMA process… which isn’t supposed to work like that.

Twitch is Twitch

That is a whole tempest in itself, and Ars Technica has a good summary.

So a lot of streamers were pretty upset about this.  And onto the hot coals of their ire, Mr. Hutchinson decided to pour is own oil of scorn.

This was followed by two more tweets:

Streamers worried about getting their content pulled because they used music they didn’t pay for should be more worried by the fact that they’re streaming games they didn’t pay for as well. It’s all gone as soon as publishers decide to enforce it.

The real truth is the streamers should be paying the developers and publishers of the games they stream. They should be buying a license like any real business and paying for the content they use.

Leaving aside the whole “kicking people when their down” aspect of this tweet, which is loathsome in itself, I can think of no quicker way to put an end to video game streaming that trying to extract a license tax from streamers.  A few streamers make some decent money, but most make little to nothing, and any fee would just put a stop to them.

And he seems to be pretty sure that game publishers can make this happen.  I’m not sure if the EULA and or ToS of every single video game is up to the task, but it is possible I suppose.  Shut it all down.  That is what he appears to want.

Remember, this comment is in a world where some game companies give popular streamers free copies of their games to play and often promote such streams.

And that isn’t the only problem with this sentiment.  It also appears to equate video games with forms of entertainment like music or movies, things that yield the same experience if you buy it yourself or listen/watch somebody play it online.  That seems to be a stretch for me.  Watching people play video games is a very different experience in my book than actually playing a video game.

Then there is the fact that, here in 2020, that horse appears to be well and truly out of the barn and gone.  If you can’t stream it, or have the saved recordings of those streams, what does that mean for YouTube?  We’re about fifteen years down the road on game videos on that front.

However, I think the most shocking thing about these statements is that they don’t really seem to be something others in the industry have been grumbling about.  “Streamers should be paying us!” isn’t something I’ve heard, and this is an industry that boils over now and then about used game sales, Steam sales, the cut apps stores (and Steam) take on sales, the cut physical retail stores take on sales, any barrier between them and publishing, too much competition due to lack of barriers to publishing, and the fact that people won’t spend their money on crappy 99 cent games rather than their morning latte.

Oh, and piracy.  Always piracy.  Literally a “make devs angry” thing for at least forty years, and one that has seen more money thrown at it for less benefit than anything I can think of.

But Mr. Hutchinson clearly sees this as piracy, so there is no doubt that fire in his belly on the topic, having been a game developer himself in the past.  And, as was pointed out over at MMO Fallout, he has had his own issues in the past. and might even be stretching the truth in his Twitter bio.

The funniest thing about today’s streaming drama is that everyone thinks Alex Hutchinson runs Google Stadia (because his Twitter bio says “Creative Director @ Google Stadia”). He’s actually a creative director at a Montreal game studio that was purchased by Google last December

[He has since updated his profile to reflect this.]

Anyway, being a creative director of some sort at Google’s means he likely isn’t in a position to do anything about this.  It looks like just so much hot air.  And I doubt there are many studios out there keen to press this issue and make enemies of streamers.  This is akin to the Mark Twain saying about not arguing with a man who buys ink by the barrel.  The videos are already blossoming on YouTube and elsewhere about this.  It may die down soon, but the embers will remain, ready to burst into flames it stoked.

I’m also pretty sure most game studios or publishers are smart enough give this idea a wide berth.  Even EA can’t be dumb enough to get on board with this idea.  And Google has made sure to carefully distance itself from the idea.  In a statement they said:

The recent tweets by Alex Hutchinson, creative director at the Montreal Studio of Stadia Games and Entertainment, do not reflect those of Stadia, YouTube or Google.

Google is not keen to burn bridges or throw away whatever small success they have managed to eke out with Stadia.

So, in the end, one person’s noxious opinion did not represent their company or the industry and probably would have largely ignored if their profile had not represented their position as a senior exec at Stadia and not somebody in a subsidiary far from Google HQ.  The status quo was maintained.

But, as we well know, the internet is a place where bad ideas find followers easily.  This might come up again.  Some other company exec, one with actual influence this time, could grab on tot his idea and run with it.  And if they do, I’ll buy some popcorn.  The drama will be excellent.

Others on this topic: