Tag Archives: Incarna

Captain’s Quarters Soon to be Gone

First off we have Incarna, an amazing technological and artistic achievement. A vision from years ago realized to a point that no one could have imaged but a few months ago. It rolls out without a hitch, is in some cases faster than what we had before, this is the pinnacle of professional achievement. For all the noise in the channel we should all stand proud, years from now this is what people will remember.

CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson on the launch of Incara

CCP has announced that the Captain’s Quarters will be removed from EVE Online with the August release. (Also, we’ll be getting an August release this year.)  The Captain’s Quarters underwhelmed when launched with the Incarna expansion (my tour from back then) and has remained stagnant since then.

Captain’s Quarters

The letdown of the Captain’s Quarters was greatly aggravated by removal of the hangar view that was long the staple of being in a station.  Instead, if you didn’t want the resource hogging new quarters you got a static door.

The Immobile Hanger Door

Then Hilmar’s derisive comment about “ship spinning” poured gasoline on that fire.  Spinning had nothing to do with it, being able to see your active ship was the point.

CCP eventually relented and put the hangar view back with the Cruicible expansion, an update that saw the company begin to focus on long neglected features already in the game.  A lot of features in the game have improved greatly since then… though CCP still seems lost when it comes to creating a useful in-game map.

Usage of this minimalist pseudo-housing, the one place in the game where you could walk around with your avatar, was never huge once the hangar view returned.  And with the advent of citadels, which do not have that as an option (and docking in a citadel changes your default view to hangar), usage plummeted even further.  CCP even has a chart.

Game time spent in Captain’s Quarters

So the Captain’s Quarters has lingered for six years, the “amazing technology” stopped in time. (Well, we got “themed” quarters, but that was about it.)

However, the code is in the game and needs to be maintained and updated as things change.  Furthermore, the middleware developed to be used with that code is out of date and is standing in the way of getting a real 64-bit game client.  Per CCP:

One of the first things that we want to investigate is to release a 64-bit EVE client to better utilize your available system memory when playing. Compiling a 64-bit client has been held back by the outdated middleware that was needed by captain’s quarters.

And so it goes.

I won’t be sorry to see the departure of the Captain’s Quarters come August.  I have long maintained that avatar play and the idea of “walking in stations” was a distraction from the core of EVE Online.  With limited resources, if a feature doesn’t somehow involve spaceships, it should be avoided.

Of course, as I have also noted on past occasions, any given feature in an MMO, no matter how bad, awkward, or simply useless, is somebody’s absolute favorite aspect of the game.  The fans of the Captain’s Quarters will no doubt stand up to be counted.  But they will be hard pressed to argue that this lingering feature is more important than a 64-bit client.

In a reality where CCP is spending more time and effort on their VR projects, leaving fewer resources to work on EVE, simplifying by removing the superfluous makes sense.

Along with the Captain’s Quarters the integrated Twitch option is also slated to be removed come August due to low utilization.  There are other options for using Twitch with the game, and it seems like streamers are already using them.

Addendum: Reddit seems to be mostly on board with this change.

Others on the topic:

 

Like Walking in L.A.

I don’t know could’ve been a lame jogger maybe
Or someone just about to do the freeway strangler baby
Shopping cart pusher or maybe someone groovie
One thing’s for sure, he isn’t starring in the movies.
‘Cause he’s walkin’ in L.A.
Walkin’ in L.A., nobody walks in L.A.
Walkin’ in L.A.
Walkin’ in L.A., only a nobody walks in L.A.

Walking in L.A., Missing Persons (1983)

The Blog Banter question of the month is about walking in stations and what the future of this feature should be in EVE Online.

This, of course, requires us to step into the Wayback Machine and visit EVE Online of about four years ago, back in June 2011, when we knew Star Wars Galaxies was going away, Star Wars the Old Republic was coming,  SOE’s Station Access was finally coming down in price, Team Fortress 2 was going free to play, LEGO Universe was doomed, and Richard Garriott was a still just a nut interested in making games on Facebook.

And into that, CCP launched the Incarna expansion in New Eden.

The Incarna expansion is probably the most controversial expansion ever to grace the game.

(I wish Sugar Kyle’s history of EVE Online expansions had an entry on Incarna, but it is only up to Dominion at this point.  Waiting for that one.)

It wasn’t ALL bad.  We got a decent agent finder out of it.  But overall, the expansion was not well received.

You can tell when outsiders, people who did not play EVE Online, talk about the Incarna expansion, because they jump straight to “monoclegate” and babble on about costly items in the cash shop as though that were the sole problem.

Monocles, as I have said before, were barely an issue and people who bring that up are only exposing their ignorance of the situation.  Yes, there was a sudden, and loud, backlash against the pricing.  But the fact that monocles are still in the cash shop and still cost as much as they did back then, yet nobody complains, pretty much takes the air out of that idea.

Yes, it did not help that CCP kept talking about monocles long after everybody else moved on.  CCP showed itself to be remarkably out of touch with its players during Incarna, blathering on about knowing what people want in the cash shop while failing to hear the swelling complaints about the REAL issue with the expansion.

The problem was the Captain’s Quarters.

Your new home

Your new home

For years, the fact that you could never get out of your pod and see your actual character was talked about as an issue in EVE Online.  This made the game different than World of Warcraft or EverQuest or other popular MMOs.  It is easier to be social if you can see a human avatar, or so the argument went.  People would regularly ask if we would ever be allowed to get out of our ships.

So when CCP started talking about “walking in stations,” there was some clearly some excitement.

Unfortunately, in keeping things close to their vest, CCP did not do a lot to manage expectations.  People projected prodigious visions of what “walking in stations” would mean in New Eden.  There was talk of role playing events and setting up casinos or stores and being able to see your ship from the outside.  But the biggest theme seemed to be the ability to just interact with other people as avatars rather than ships.  They even gave us a shiny new character creation tool a few months early.  This was going to be great.

And then Incarna hit and everybody’s projected vision of the future quickly vanished.  Rather than an open station environment or any of the backdrops people seemed to dream about, we got the Captain’s Quarters, a small, 3D environment that you alone could occupy.  No social interaction was possible with your new 3D avatar.

All you could do is move awkwardly about your “one size fits all” quarters or sit on your couch and watch some game information scroll past.

What is on Space TV today?

What is on Space TV today?

Okay, you could walk out and look at your active ship as well.

Behold the mighty Sushi Boat!

Behold the mighty Sushi Boat!

But the functionality was pretty minimal, the benefits were tiny, and the whole thing was a resource hog.  Many people, myself included, turned the Captain’s Quaters off very quickly, only to find that the old hangar view, where you could see which ship was active, had been replaced by the now infamous door.

The Immobile Hanger Door

The Immobile Hanger Door

This lead to another “CCP being tone deaf” moment as they mocked the idea of “ship spinning” as being an important feature.  People were angry.  Complaints about these new features began to pile up.   There were problems… serious problems… with the game.  There were features that had been implemented and left to stew for years without revision.   Yet CCP chose to invest their time in this “do nothing” feature?

Then there was a leak of an internal CCP newsletter with its “Greed is Good” theme that explored the idea of selling “gold spaceships” that would be better than player produced items and the lid just came off and the so-called “summer of rage” began.  CCP went on the defensive while in New Eden people protested by flying around the monument in Jita, shooting at it and demanding CCP listen.  The CSM, as impotent within the rules back then as they are now, took their message out of school and The Mittani became a very vocal champion for change.

CCP went from a “we know best” dismissive stance to trying to figure out how they could get a very vocal segment of their player base to calm down.  A special CSM summit was held, with a few members being flown out.  It was an adversarial event and while there was a resolution, the two sides could not agree on wording for a summary statement, so issued two different versions, with attempts to save face apparent on the CCP side of things.

This was a turning point for CCP.  The next expansion was Crucible, and it started what became a longer term focus on fixing and improving the features of the game.  This was a good thing, or such is my view of the world.

Which brings us back to the question of what CCP should do about walking in stations and the Captain’s Quarters.

The answer is “nothing.”

I honestly do not think CCP could generate sufficient interest in the player base to focus on such a feature without getting people riled up.  I would be interested to see some stats on Captain’s Quarters usage, but unless it is hugely popular, I think CCP walking away from the feature was the right decision, nor do I think they should try to return to it.  Doubly so since World of Darkness is out of the picture, so they can no longer piggy back development on that project.

A problem with MMOs, and especially subscription MMOs, is there is a strong desire to be all things to all people, because every player is potentially more money in the bank every month.  So you get games like EverQuest II, which has a perfectly good PvE environment, spinning its wheels for almost a decade at this point trying to introduce some sort of viable, popular PvP aspect to the game.  SOE has copied just about every idea out there, but it has never amounted to much because PvP is simply not a core feature that most EQII players want.

Likewise, people getting out of space and out of their ships and walking around in an avatar rich environment in a station can never be a core feature of EVE Online.  It would always be a side item, a distraction, a place where people would go to escape the core of the game rather than join in with it.  And with a company CCP’s size, to go after walking in stations would require them to stop working on core aspects of the game.

Fortunately, the team at CCP seems completely focused not just on the core aspects of the game, but in transforming them into something greater than they are now.  And until that journey is done, I think we are safe from talk about walking in stations.

EVE Online is already the most social MMO I have played.  All that angst way back when about never being able to get out of your ship seems, in retrospect, to be worrying about something that wasn’t a really problem at all.

Nobody walks in L.A., or in New Eden.

Of course, I am sure somebody will disagree.  Those participating in Blog Banter #62 “ReIncarnated” are listed below:

 

Will Crucible Remove That Incarna Stink from EVE Online?

It was an ugly Summer for CCP after the Incarna expansion for EVE Online went live.  There was a lot of anger, conspiracy theories, inaccurate shorthand phrases, “leaked” “secrets,” oblivious corporate responses, and just damned lies about sentry drones.  I will certainly have fodder for my “one year ago” summaries next year!

The whole Incarna debacle is kind of summed up for me in this picture.

The Immobile Hanger Door

That is the hanger door view that you got when you turned off the useless, resource hogging captain’s quarters that was the crown jewel of Incarna.

Gone was the view of my currently equipped ship, a helpful visual indicator when you have more than a dozen different vessels that  you use for various tasks regularly, along with all the functionality that went with it… like being able to right click and open the cargo or drone bays.  Ship spinning, one of the shorthand phrases that people grabbed on to, never had anything to do with it.  It was the loss of functionality that had been there for years that was the pisser.

Anyway, that hanger door never had a chance to hit me on the ass I was out of the game so fast.

And I was far from alone.

But months have now gone by.  The tumult at CCP has subsided.  They have paid a price in people and projects and have promised to get back to the core elements of the game that people have been paying to play for the last 8+ years; flying in space, fighting in space.  That is what people DO in EVE Online, right Hilmar?

And the first big milestone is today’s expansion, the 15th formal expansion for EVE Online, Crucible.

Crucible

It is intended to be EVE Reforged.

The patch notes for Crucible are long and filled to the brim with very tangible changes and updates to the core game.  There seems to be something in there for just about everybody, from null sec warriors to empire care bears to those of us who just think space is pretty.  Even trails are making a comeback  along with a graphic update for my old warhorse, the Caldari Raven.

Crucible Raven – Pre-Release, with trails

CCP seems to be focused again on what matters to the players.

But will all of that remove the stink of Incarna.  Players have long memories and there were a lot of bitter words spoken.

What do you think?

[Poll mysteriously disappeared… no idea why]

And will CCP still be around next year even if they are back on track?

Seventy Million Skill Points and Out

I came back to EVE Online for Incarna, to see if there would be anything new that would bring me back into the game.  And, in my usual method, I picked the three month subscription.  The would have given me plenty of time to explore the Incarna expansion, had it held anything for me.

Instead, it held mostly disappointment.  And drama.  That took a while to work through.

Which meant that my subscription time has been spent doing what a lot of EVE subscriptions do, training skills.  There was enough time for me to hit another skill point milestone.  So, as I did at the 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 million skill point mark, here is where I stand at 70 million skill points.

Spaceship Command: 18,084,237*
 Gunnery:           8,358,825*
 Science:           6,808,636*
 Missiles:          6,620,426*
 Engineering:       6,583,849
 Drones:            6,455,156*
 Industry:          3,539,500*
 Electronics:       3,117,673*
 Trade:             3,271,765
 Leadership:        2,332,334*
 Navigation:        1,777,805
 Mechanic:          1,426,568
 Corp Management:   1,108,784
 Social:            1,015,932
 Subsystems:          151,765
 Total:           ~70,000,000

Asterisks indicate areas that changed since the last post.

Spaceship Command, always at the top of the skill point chart, surged forward and nearly double due to my skilling up to fly ships from other factions… mostly so I could take screen shots of them for EVE Online Pictures.

The increases in the skills listed above actually add up to more than 10 million skill points.  Spaceship Command alone went up nearly 9 million.

Since my last milestone at 60 million, the learning skills got pulled from the game, which freed up 4.8 million skill points for me to reallocate back in December 2010.

That change is also why my total known skills went from 209 to 197.

Skill level distribution now looks like this:

 Level 1:  1 skill
 Level 2: 30 skills
 Level 3: 28 skills
 Level 4: 52 skills
 Level 5: 86 skills

And, that one key measurement, how many days of training would it take me to fly a Caldari Titan, went UP this time around, by a little over a day.  I am now over 69 days away from the basic flying skill, almost all of which would be tied up in learning Capital Ships I through V.  I am not sure why the timeline went up since I last checked. It probably relates to how I set my attributes after the removal of learning skills.

But now my subscription is coming to its end.  In a little over a week, my account will lapse.

I have explored most of what I wanted to in EVE.  Potshot and I never did get that space station built in wormhole space, w-space being pretty well camped these days, and I never once poked my nose into a 0.0 system, but such is life.  By the time I was done in empire space, I did not want the commitment that 0.0 requires.

And I suppose this casts the future of EVE Online Pictures into doubt.  I have enough screen shots to get through the rest of the year at the current rate of two pictures posted a week, but after that I might have to put that site on hiatus.

The Incarna Summit Results

Due to all the incredible mis-cues by CCP surrounding the launch of the Incarna Expansion, especially around the opening of the Nobel Exchange in-game store, CCP took the extraordinary step of flying the Counsil of Stellar Management out to Iceland for a special summit to hash out the community problems with Incarna.

The joint statements from CCP and the Council have finally been released and are available online.

Key items I pulled from the statement.

Nobel Exchange

CCP:

It is CCP‘s plan that the Noble Exchange (NeX store) will be used for the sale of vanity items only. There are no plans, and have been no plans, as per previous communication and CSM meetings, to introduce the sale of game breaking items or enhancements in the NeX store.

The investment of money in EVE should not give you an unfair advantage over the investment of time. The CSM, under NDA, has been presented with CCP‘s plans for continued evolution of the business model and agrees that nothing they saw breaks this principle. CCP has committed to sharing their plans with the CSM on this front on an ongoing basis.

CSM:

Game-affecting Virtual Goods: We are convinced that CCP has no plans to introduce any game-affecting virtual goods, only pure vanity items such as clothing and ship skins. We have been repeatedly assured that there are no plans for ‘gold ammo’, ships which have different statistics from existing common hulls, or any other feared ‘game destroying’ virtual goods or services. We have expressed our deep concern about potential grey areas that the introduction of virtual goods permits, and CCP has made a commitment to discuss any proposals that might fall into these grey areas in detail with CSM at the earliest possible stage.

Captains Quarters

CCP:

The CSM helped CCP understand the emotional connection players had with “ship spinning.” They vehemently demanded the return of the feature, which  CCP committed to introduce in some form at a future date. Until that functionality is added back in, the option to load station environments will remain in the Settings menu.

CSM:

Captain’s Quarters: We discussed the hardware and lighting issues within the CQ and we were satisfied that they were being addressed. We were pleased when Torfi announced that the current “Disabled Incarna Door” will be replaced with an environment that will provide similar functionality and performance to the pre-Incarna Hangar, and this environment will be available until Incarna performance is similar to pre-Incarna performance. While the final details and timelines have not been worked out, ships will once again spin all over New Eden.

Sentry Drone Firing Animations

CCP:

“…”

CSM

“…”

Ah well, I guess that was only important to me.

The CCP and the CSM also produced a joint video, nearly 11 minutes in length, featuring Aarnar Gylfasonand The Mittani discussing what went on during the summit.

The summit itself has been covered by a couple of sources in the CSM including a blog post by MadOverlord (and a follow up here) and a series of posts on Twitter by The Mittani, the long time chief of intelligence and current leader of  The Goons.  I am sure much more will follow.  The Mittani wrapped up his view with:

Now will people believe the results of the summit, accept them as good, and go back to playing EVE Online and not screaming about CCP?  That has yet to be seen.

Does this affair prove the usefulness of the CSM?

And To Cap It Off, My Sentry Drones Barely Go *PEW* *PEW* At All

To quote Wizardling, quoting EVE Radio, Incarna has something for everyone to get mad about.

Seriously, I am dismayed about Incarna.

First, the great big advance, full size avatars given a space of their own in which to play, turns out to be a few steps below Barbie’s Dream Quarters and suitable only for showing off crap from the much maligned Noble Store… and only to yourself, because nobody else can see your $68 monocle or $25 high heeled boots.

And you cannot go back to the old station view… it is gone for good.  So you are left staring at a generic station door graphic.  Only when you’re used to having a great big 3D rendered visual cue as to what ship you are currently jacked into, this seems a thin substitute.

No Jim Morrison, this door

Sure, the new agent finder is good.  But they went and simplified the agent classifications.  So, on the last day of Incursions I was parked in the center of a cluster of level IV agents who mostly gave me combat assignments, but would sometimes hand out a delivery mission.  Then Incarna came along and I find myself in the midst of a pack of level IV distribution agents who appear to give nothing but delivery missions.

Local Losers

Not cool guys.  Not cool at all.

And all my stuff is in the middle of this cluster and moving all of it to some place else will be a pain.

Fine… but at least I had the security blanket of sentry drones blazing away to cling to.  CCP said as much in the Incarna 1.0 patch notes.

Sentry drones such as Garde, Curator and Warden were missing their firing animations. Thanks to the new turret system we can now witness their destructive power.

Witness their destructive power!  Now that was something I wanted!

I did not even have the Sentry Drone skill on my main character.  I had trained that up with my alt.  So I bought the skill, trained it up, flew half a dozen jumps to get a mission from a level IV security agent, and then  flew off to see my sentry drones shine.

Only shine turned out to be operative word.  Destructive power my ass.

PEW... or spew?

If you look at the picture above you will see a green glow in the middle of the drone.  That is the firing animation.  All of it.  That is all the destructive power there was to witness.  Not a big change from a non-firing drone, really.

Stock sentry drone picture

Really CCP?  Was that worth the effort?  My wife has a solar powered butterfly light in the back yard which glows more fiercely  than that.  Other drones are probably laughing at these guys even now.  They were better off with no animation.  They could at least pretend they were just chillin’ in the back of the class.  But now… now they have to explain that no, they did not just ooze glowing green slime all over themselves, thank you very much.

Oh the shame of it all!  It was better to be boring!

Ah well.  I guess the beam weapons were fun to watch.  We still have that.

Kitchen sink inbound!

I have it all going on in the shot above.  Inbound beams.  Outbound shots.  A tractor beam.  A salvager beam.  There is even a missile headed in on the my Domi.

But I have yet to see anything that looked as cool or as detailed as the turret animations shown on the Incarna client launch screens.

Bait, meet switch.  Switch, this is bait.

Oh CCP, look at what you have wrought!

CCP – If The Players Won’t Create Drama, The Company Is Happy To Step In…

CCP stands for “Crowd Control Productions,” and never was a company more aptly named these days.

There have been more snippets from the EVE Online maelstrom about… I’m not even sure what it is really about.

Incarna being crap, cash shops, over-priced monocles, bad faith, broken promises, and divergence from the spirit of what makes EVE Online the game it is… these ideas and more have all been thrown around in various posts that are… well… everywhere now.

New item of the day for me is this message from CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, which I snipped from Winterblink’s post on the subject. (And which has two previous messages from CCP, if you want some back story or quotes for truth.)

We live in interesting times; in fact CCP is the kind of company that if things get repetitive we instinctively crank it up a notch. That, we certainly have done this week. First off we have Incarna, an amazing technological and artistic achievement. A vision from years ago realized to a point that no one could have imaged but a few months ago. It rolls out without a hitch, is in some cases faster than what we had before, this is the pinnacle of professional achievement. For all the noise in the channel we should all stand proud, years from now this is what people will remember.

But we have done more, not only have we redefined the production quality one can apply to virtual worlds with the beautiful Incarna but we have also defined what it really means to make virtual reality more meaningful than real life when it comes to launching our new virtual goods currency, Aurum.

Naturally, we have caught the attention of the world. Only a few weeks ago we revealed more information about DUST 514 and now we have done it again by committing to our core purpose as a company by redefining assumptions. After 40 hours we have already sold 52 monocles, generating more revenue than any of the other items in the store.

This we have done after months of research by a group of highly competent professionals, soliciting input and perspective from thought leaders and experts in and around our industry. We have communicated our intention here internally in very wide circles through the Virtual Economy Summit presentation at the GSM, our Fearless newsletter, sprint reviews, email lists and multiple other channels. This should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Currently we are seeing _very predictable feedback_ on what we are doing. Having the perspective of having done this for a decade, I can tell you that this is one of the moments where we look at what our players do and less of what they say. Innovation takes time to set in and the predictable reaction is always to resist change.

We went out with a decisive strategy on pricing and we will stay the course and not flip flop around or knee jerk react to the predictable. That is not saying nothing will change, on the contrary, in fact we know that success in this space is through learning and adapting to _what is actually happening_ and new knowledge gained in addition to what we knew before and expected.

All that said, I couldn’t be prouder of what we have accomplished as a company, changing the world is hard and we are doing it as so many times before! Stay the course, we have done this many times before.

The train of progress is coming, get on, get out of the way, or get run over.  I guess that is the message here.

Twitter, which has been alive with comments on the subject for days now had three choice responses that I’d like to share.

Who is amoral, who gets destroyed, and who is a sucker… well, I suppose we shall see what comes to pass.

But 52 monocles sold already?  This surprises even my jaded outlook.