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Statement from CPM0 - "State of affairs : Communication & Trust"

Author
Seituoda Taskforce Command
Caldari State
#1 Posted: 2013.08.11 22:34  |  Edited by: CCP Logibro
The first Council of Planetary Management would like to take a moment to acknowledge the reality that most in the community are already painfully aware of – that now, more than ever, we stand at another turning point for Dust 514. With the release of 1.3 having just landed and the finishing touches being put on 1.4, everyone anxiously awaits evidence that either the game will start rising to the potential we've seen all along, or continue to struggle with some of the same issues that have frustrated many of us since early beta.

1.4 is the first "normal" monthly release since CCP restructured their development process following Uprising's troubled launch. This restructuring also comes in the wake of their acknowledgement that Dust is in a very unhealthy state and needs serious work in order to get back on track. No one can say that CCP hasn't realized that they need to step up their game in order for Dust 514 to stay competitive in today's market. Since Uprising, CCP has been making obvious changes in the right direction, and they've done a pretty fair job so far at revamping their internal goals in order to tackle the most pressing problems with the time they have available. That said, the fact remains that they're using both time and money to resolve avoidable issues that crept up over the past year, and have led to the current unhealthy state of core gameplay elements.

However, the most dangerous problems have not been fully recognized nor appreciated, despite constant calls for improvement from the community for almost two years. A lack of trust between the developers and the community continues to stand between Dust 514 and its full potential. A lack of communication also persists, and has at least been briefly acknowledged as 'something to improve on' multiple times by everyone we've approached in management. Sadly though, these acknowledgements come with only with the faintest hint of understanding pertaining to the severity of these problems.

The trust issue is not primarily reflected in communication frequency, although the two are directly related. Too many times across IRC, dev blogs, and forum posts, we've heard designers cite their own preferences when describing their work instead of acknowledging what they've been hearing from the community. And without enough trust that early player input is an essential part of examining a designed element for potential problems, CCP potentially risks that they'll have to revisit a system again later. We've often seen them ask for feedback much too late in the process, after a design is finished, and well past the time when a community-spotted problem could potentially be addressed and resolved before becoming an issue on the live servers.

This cycle of releasing content, receiving negative feedback, and revising in subsequent patches is both inefficient and carries a heavy cost in community goodwill. At the same time, we don't expect CCP's designers to adopt a "Customer is alway right" mindset either. The proper proverb to apply here should really be "Two heads are better than one". Instead, the failure to seek community input early in the process becomes harmful, making a vice out of a virtue. There have been cases when CCP requests that players trust their changes will be positive and not over-react prematurely.... the history of Dust has shown that requests for such trust are misplaced and undeserved in the eyes of the community, and it is too unhealthy to allow it to continue any longer.

The lack of structured communication, on the other hand, is an even easier issue to resolve....and yet we continue to receive strange and aggressive resistance to it despite many examples of success elsewhere within the company. When pressed for the reason we don't see consistent communication from the design teams throughout the development process, we hear responses along the lines that they are simply "too busy", or we're asked in return if we'd prefer to have fewer improvements to the game, accompanied by greater amounts of explanation. But we all know this is a false choice that we should never have to make, as greater amounts of communication can only lead to an improved product in the end.


The peer review process is a crucial stage of design of any kind. Without seeking input from others in the design field AND the end user, no product will ever be as good as it could be. The solution here is simple – the public (or at the very least; The CPM) needs to be considered a peer, for the purposes of design review. We're not asking for designers to write extra material and take extra time, we're asking them to share the same proposals they have to pitch to their team internally, and asking for our input as well. This isn't a request for additional labor, it is a request for transparency.

While the resistance here may be that community discussion "slows the process down", it's a simple fact that any communication upfront necessary to bring a feature to a healthy place will displace many times its own weight down the road should a design need to be fixed because of a preventable problem. Efficiency demands that community engagement shouldn't seen as taking a designer away from his daily duties, but as an essential part of them. Small amounts of time spent communicating with the community each day can save CCP weeks, possibly months worth of work down the line.
Seituoda Taskforce Command
Caldari State
#2 Posted: 2013.08.11 22:34  |  Edited by: Nova Knife
No one can deny that CCP is repeating work on game systems they've previously designed, released, and found problems with – problems that in most cases were quickly identified and repeatedly brought up by the community throughout the beta period. There's also no denying that the need to rework any part of a product usually means that time and manpower was wasted initially. We're now seeing CCP fix many of these gameplay issues, but if they do not fix the core community engagement problems that allowed those issues to take root in the first place, we'll find ourselves back in the same unhealthy place time and time again.

This isn't to say there aren't a few shining examples of teams working to improve this situation. A few have stepped forward and taken full advantage of the feedback process, and have shown marked improvements in their area of the game. As a result, they become instantly beloved by the community. A few have worked with the CPM and taken feedback from our meetings to heart, coming back to us with massively improved results. However, we simply cannot afford to leave this up to individual efforts. Communication needs to be both standardized and endorsed by management as a "standard operating practice", and applied consistently across the entire development structure..

A proper, standardized communication platform should consist of the following minimum critical elements: Patch notes no later than a week in advance of a release, dev blogs for the major feature changes that require the most explanation, and stickied forum posts with follow-up participation from devs for upcoming feature changes that have yet to reach code freeze. The first two elements of this communication platform have begun to fall in place, but the third is sorely lacking, and it continues to create an unnecessary backlog for designers and unnecessary toxicity for the community teams to manage. Players consistently find stickied forum posts insulting if they're posted up after the time has passed when anything can be changed before a release, as if their opinions are being asked for only as a token gesture.

Balancing passes deserve special consideration here, because we've consistently heard that balance work is not tied to a code freeze, theoretically being something they could iterate much more rapidly on than other systems. Unfortunately, we've also seen resistance to using this powerful tool. Either way, there is enormous potential here being squandered. If CCP can indeed make more subtle balance adjustments on a week-to-week basis, until they hit a "sweet spot", then this should be done.

If for whatever reason this isn't viable (and they choose instead to include all balance work in a monthly 1.X release) than the same standard should be applied for other feature changes – proposed balancing work (including all affected stats) need to be posted and discussed prior to code freeze. This is the communication standard that CCP has set for itself elsewhere in the company, and the standard that the community expects out of Shanghai as well, especially where balance is concerned. CCP can draw upon their own experience with Eve Online to examine the incredible progress that can be achieved with proper communication and community involvement when making balance adjustments.

In the end, we're all in this together. CCP has at its disposal hundreds, if not thousands of players who are able, willing, and ready to do whatever it takes to help improve Dust 514, asking no more from CCP than a chance to participate. The deep levels of interaction between player and developer have been one of the keys to the success of Eve Online that has earned CCP the devout following they have gathered over the past decade. This success is something CCP needs strive to emulate with Dust 514 to foster that same strong relationship with their customers, encouraging them to keep playing and spending money for years to come.

In the meantime, there is no sense in sugarcoating either the fact that the community's patience is at an end, and the attitude problems that have created the current situation remain unchanged. We request, again, that someone in management step up and take public responsibility for ensuring consistent communication moving forward – for the health of the game, and the health of the community. Swift action is necessary in order to successfully convince the community that their participation is still necessary and relevant to Dust 514's future.

At the time of this writing, a very loose commitment has been given to better involve the CPM more closely in planning stages, but we want to impress upon CCP the severity of the larger communication problems and trust issues at hand. Without substance or detail, a simple pledge to communicate more often is frankly not good enough to dissipate our fears and concerns. As a council, we cannot afford to sit idle without hearing concrete plans to for improvement. We are told that there are meetings in the works to form such plans,and we look forward to hearing from CCP regarding this and working with them to create a solid foundation moving forward.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

The members of the Council of Planetary Management


Edit : An update following this post
L.O.T.I.S.
D.E.F.I.A.N.C.E
#3 Posted: 2013.08.11 22:46
+1 nice to see such a statement from the CPM.

Lv 4 forum warrior

Bringer of Bacon

Knight of AMV's

NECROM0NGERS
Caps and Mercs
#4 Posted: 2013.08.11 22:57
+1 was here from beta also I really want the dream of CCP to be brought to life and these ideas will help

JOIN NECROM0NGERS TODAY

need 10 mil SP and a mic

Molon Labe.
General Tso's Alliance
#5 Posted: 2013.08.11 22:57  |  Edited by: Casius Hakoke
Well put. Everything that most of us feel and think put into your post. +2
Escrow Removal and Acquisition
Dirt Nap Squad.
#6 Posted: 2013.08.11 22:59
This is a joint statement from the entire CPM.

Owner of Spero Escrow Services

Follow @KainSpero for Dust and CPM news

Hell's Gate Inc
League of Infamy
#7 Posted: 2013.08.11 22:59
Transparency is all we want. +1
NECROM0NGERS
Caps and Mercs
#8 Posted: 2013.08.11 23:03
Kain Spero wrote:
This is a joint statement from the entire CPM.


all of u post so I give u guys likes then lol +1 for u

JOIN NECROM0NGERS TODAY

need 10 mil SP and a mic

Osmon Surveillance
Caldari State
#9 Posted: 2013.08.11 23:09
Well fanbois look that is the state of the game, no denying it ccp is killing the game with lack of communication, basically not respecting cpm's requests to make the game better.

Shambles and it takes this statement to get ccp on the ball, pathetic ccp pathetic.
Imperfects
Negative-Feedback
#10 Posted: 2013.08.11 23:16
The tale of the CPM in song.

It's a nice hail marry to get the community (that's left) to say "yes, this is everything we asked for all along of CCP" but CCP has to want to change or it doesn't matter. You can pressure but you cannot force. I anticipate some token gestures and then back to status quo. Prove me wrong CCP I guess, it's your only chance to recover IMO.
Crux Special Tasks Group
Gallente Federation
#11 Posted: 2013.08.11 23:17
All my likes.

Never forget

More tiericide, less tieriphiles.

Ordus Trismegistus
#12 Posted: 2013.08.11 23:19
Nova Knife wrote:


In the end, we're all in this together. CCP has at its disposal hundreds, if not thousands of players who are able, willing, and ready to do whatever it takes to help improve Dust 514, asking no more from CCP than a chance to participate. The deep levels of interaction between player and developer have been one of the keys to the success of Eve Online that has earned CCP the devout following they have gathered over the past decade. This success is something CCP needs strive to emulate with Dust 514 to foster that same strong relationship with their customers, encouraging them to keep playing and spending money for years to come.


+1 to all but especially this.

CCP: many here want you to rock with Dust and are willing to help in any way we can. You have some pretty loyal fans.... don't take them for granted. Treat us as team-mates whenever feasible. Communication doesn't need to be a big drawn up affair, and I get Dev's have better things to do than scan the forums all day but sometimes 15 minutes online in a feedback post is all it takes if it is done consistently day after day.

(and who doesn't browse the 'net at work anyway)

Double posting like a Kaiser.

Ancient Exiles.
Dirt Nap Squad.
#13 Posted: 2013.08.11 23:24
Noc Tempre wrote:
The tale of the CPM in song.

It's a nice hail marry to get the community (that's left) to say "yes, this is everything we asked for all along of CCP" but CCP has to want to change or it doesn't matter. You can pressure but you cannot force. I anticipate some token gestures and then back to status quo. Prove me wrong CCP I guess, it's your only chance to recover IMO.


4 months isnt enough time to fix this. Time to get Destiny on Preorder...

Bittervet Proficiency V

thanks logibro!

Ancient Exiles.
Dirt Nap Squad.
#14 Posted: 2013.08.11 23:27
Nova Knife wrote:
The lack of structured communication, on the other hand, is an even easier issue to resolve....and yet we continue to receive strange and aggressive resistance to it despite many examples of success elsewhere within the company. When pressed for the reason we don't see consistent communication from the design teams throughout the development process, we hear responses along the lines that they are simply "too busy", or we're asked in return if we'd prefer to have fewer improvements to the game, accompanied by greater amounts of explanation. But we all know this is a false choice that we should never have to make, as greater amounts of communication can only lead to an improved product in the end.


This is what irritates me most. In rebuttal: "How much time have you spent rebuilding and redesigning because you did not seek input in the first place or ignored input given?"
#15 Posted: 2013.08.11 23:44
The fact that new bugs get introduced with subsequent builds, and persistent bugs remain is down right bizarre. But I can see the redesigning of code to replace game systems being a culprit in that. All the same, it is extremely hard for me to believe any real playtesting gets done. Some bugs are immediately apparent. Others only take a few games to catch on to. These aren't minor bugs either. Given the amount of time between patches, how can some of these not be priority number 1 to fix before release?

for example-

minor bug: The team chat tab does not populate. A player has to select a different tab, say a corp channel, and then return to the team tab and wait anywhere form 10-15 seconds for it to populate. This was introduced in 1.2. It is immediately apparent from playing the first match.

so it begs the Q... why is this bug afflicting us?

major bug: A player switching their weapon will sometimes end up with both their light weapon and sidearm weapon superimposed on each other. A player can not use either weapon when this occurs, and it is graphically speaking, fubar. This bug, also, was introduced with 1.2 This bug can be experienced within playing a couple matches and switching their weapon in combat.


And that is a couple of examples in a long list. I heard CPM plays on closed servers with CCP? If this is true, is this where you play test future builds? If so, or not- There needs to be a lot more focus on quality assurance work with their software builds. New bugs shouldn't be introduced every build. Especially not major immediately apparent bugs. And incredulously, old bugs shouldn't persist!

TL;DR- The devs need to get serious about bug hunting during their play testing of builds. There appears to be little to no QA done on their software.



Sanmatar Kelkoons
Minmatar Republic
#16 Posted: 2013.08.11 23:49
+1
CPM your doing just what we want. You're our voice
Circle of Huskarl
Minmatar Republic
#17 Posted: 2013.08.11 23:53
i wish i was a wordsmith

and yes, fewer, but better changes please
Seituoda Taskforce Command
Caldari State
#18 Posted: 2013.08.12 00:04  |  Edited by: Nova Knife
mollerz wrote:


And that is a couple of examples in a long list. I heard CPM plays on closed servers with CCP? If this is true, is this where you play test future builds?


Oh man, you have no idea how much we wish this were true.

The mere existence of a test server would almost certainly have prevented so, so many issues.

Edit: Expanding on that - All of our 'foreknowledge' of upcoming builds comes from idle chat on skype or rough outlines of patchnotes, and the semi-regular meeting we have for them to say "So, these are the highlights of our plan for 1.X, questions?"

It's very rare for us to actually 'see' firsthand any of these changes. The only time this has been the case is when we got to see Uprising a little early at Fanfest (But then, so did everyone else who went to Fanfest.) We get some screenshots here and there for art stuff, but nothing nearly concrete enough or nearly as helpful as a test server would be. (There are /tons/ of roadblocks into getting a test server set up, and it's been a really tough sell trying to convince CCP of the merits of such a server, especially since we want such a server to be -public-)
NECROM0NGERS
Caps and Mercs
#19 Posted: 2013.08.12 00:20
We need The Mittani!

Omni-Soldier

Few are my equal in one of these specialties, and there are none who can compare in all of them.

Escrow Removal and Acquisition
Dirt Nap Squad.
#20 Posted: 2013.08.12 00:33
I always assumed that 95% of CCP Shanghai did not speak english.

Language Barrier

The Pathway to Hell, is paved with good intentions

Total Molden Heath Domination Imminent: 97.51% Complete

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