Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cooking tips during recess.

No headache-inducing wall of text for you today, due to my being busy cooking and doing non-spacenerd stuff. Instead, I'm going to do what it is I do here when I'm not busy killing bazillions of electrons with design games: I'm going to pretend I can read CCP's hivemind, and mock their assumed dorkiness based solely on my more or less well-informed assumptions.

Here goes:

Most of the ideas suggested here in the daily downtime filler  (and then some) have been looked into by the current crop of devs@CCP at one point or another, and in many cases, the consensus seems to be "Cool, but impossible".
Translated, that usually means they have no clue how some of the old code works, and they believe it would blow up in their face in spectacular and interesting ways, were they to poke its black magic with their trembling fingers.

Going back to its inception, EVE is over 10 years old now, and at its core rots a collection of haphazard hacks that CCP used to think they could/would fix later.
From the perspective of the people burdened with maintaining and improving them, most huge, old codebases are largely made of black boxes, and as far as EVE is concerned, it is a fact many of the original coders have left the building, leaving behind an undocumented and ancient beast in Tranquility.

Now it's Windows 98: you patch, you add services around the bank of the code swamp, but you don't want to risk yourself anywhere near the deep end.
…I've had this discussion with some of EVE devs in the past, who usually agreed it'd make more sense altogether to start working on EVE 2.0 with a separate team, to reproduce the gameplay of the original while it is still live, but on a codebase that actually works and scales up.

With EVE euro server more than paying for itself and the China franchise turning out what amounts to money for (almost) nothing, you'd think it should be possible to do just that: keep a live team on EVE 1.0, seed a new team to actually design shit ahead of time (for a change), in view of EVE 2.0 but with EVE-as-we-know-it in mind, and then start coding anew, retrofitting what can be into live-EVE as you progress, to meet and fill the semester expansion deadlines.

Why is that not happening ? 

Inertia is a powerful thing, and maintaining compatibility with an old codebase is a good way to ensure people will keep coding as usual and not move on to the new methods as long as they can help it. Unless you split your teams entirely to allow the new breed to breathe their own brand of oxygen, this stuff is happening later than Soon™.

Entirely insulating development teams is a suicidal HR and productivity move, however: who in their right mind would be driven to give their best to old-EVE, knowing a 2.0 is in preproduction and their own project is therefore sitting on the death row ?

Count'em… nobody, except those rare grognards willing to take one for the company (who would be better used on the new-and-better EVE team), and the terrible losers who can't find the testicular fortitude to send out their resumes and find a gig where what they do matters (and those, you can feel sorry to have on the payroll to begin with).

You'd be left trying to motivate a flock of people, most of them in the lower 5% percentile of talent in house and/or already looking for a way out, and the usual BS about 'we're la creme de la creme of awesome hardcore MMO nerds' won't cut it anymore at this point. Prepare to raise pay across the board, or hemorrhage staff and customers very soon (no ™ here).

In short, starting a new and sexier project, staffed with the best talent you can muster would amount to shooting your cash-cow in the gut a few times with a 12-gauge gun, on the off-chance the 2.0 version will be worth the extra years and millions of dollars in development.
Ergo: not happening.

Thus, EVE will carry on, it will keep getting milked for cash as long as the tremors of elderly dementia remain manageable, and hopefully (for CCP) they'll have another successful game or two  ready to take over by the time the once gold-spewing tits go up…

On a separate note, a Pot-au-Feu can benefit from a cup of fresh pineapple juice added after the first grease-skimming. It's a nice cheerful dish, well-suited for the cold season we're entering.

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