All roads lead to Yulai

As FanFest 2011 creeps over the horizon to bathe the faithful in rays of awesomeness the CSM has launched a pre emptive volley at CCP with respect to Incarna.  The cynical may suggest that the is the CSM acting out of self interest, perhaps hoping to garner a few more votes to secure subsequent terms, or to avoid the flak if Incarna proves to be a bitter disappointment to the players.  What is clear is that the CSM have some not inconsiderable concerns…

” Our first and most crucial concern is that there is little evidence so far of a roadmap for this feature. We are extremely concerned that development of Incarna, the most significant addition to EVE since Beta, is being done in an ad-hoc, on-the-fly manner.

Second, we wish to re-iterate our unanimous objection to the forced integration of Incarna into the general Eve experience, and that we strongly urge CCP to ensure that any new systems will not adversely affect the performance of the EVE client.

Third, regarding metrics, we feel that forced integration will not provide a true picture of the usefulness of the features, while at the same time, these metrics will be used to justify Incarna. As in any area of business, using flawed metrics to justify resource allocations can only lead to poor decisions.

Fourth, while we agree that CCP’s decision to stage the release of Incarna in small chunks is a wise one, we feel that it is very important for CCP to expand their messaging and provide a clear and detailed vision of the future iteration and potential of Incarna, so that players who are highly invested in the current core gameplay of EVE will be able to better judge the value they will be receiving for the large amount of time and effort being invested in Incarna by CCP.” CSM open letter to CCP 7 Mar 2011.

I’ve witnessed a selection of FanFests since 2006.  At first they filled me with excitement regarding forth coming features.  I would trawl through every comment, watch every video, for the smallest snippets of what would come to pass.  Over time the cynic has taken over and I have become accustomed to those promises of ‘amazing awesome soon(tm)!’ features being either rather lack lustre or completely non existent.  In my naivety I believed the hype.

Incarna is a classic case in point.  We have seen images, even video, of glorious avatars striding through opulent stations, glimpses of player owned bars, promises of corporate offices, retail shop fronts and more.  All of it of course being ‘awesome’.  Years have passed.  Finally we are told the initial release will be our “Captains Quaters”.

One room. No poker matches. No dens of scum and villainy. No battle maps of the universe.  No one else.

It’s hard not to feel a little cheated. We’ve been spun a line by those clever marketing guys who are chuckling away knowing that they’re about to pull the self same stunts and dangling the carrot of hope and ‘soon(tm)’ before our eyes.  It’s a sad thing to say but the CSMs call for a road map, a plan, is a fruitless one.  CCP have never had a plan per se – instead they ride the wave of popular culture.  Farmville is popular? Planetary Interaction. Group content increasing sales? Incursions. Facebook driving the industry? Eve Gate.

That’s not to say these things are bad, or even unwanted – but they’re not planned.

The big question that hangs over Incarna is to what degree it should interface with and be integrated with today’s EVE.  Leave it as an optional extra and, if it is not well received, then it will be forgotten. A wasted effort piled onto the various other features like Factional Warfare that CCP will promise to return to, but in fact won’t bother.  Integrate it fully – almost enforce its use when players dock and CCP runs the risk of alienating a good proportion of its player base that simply don’t want to touch it.

So what should CCP do? Force players to automatically decant from their capsules into the eye candy of a captain’s quarters? Or leave them the choice to sit and spin their ships in station?  And once decanted what can a player do? Access the market? Should players be able to access ‘Incarna’ game play features from space? What are the Incarna game play features?

CCP remains silent, content it seems to allow the resulting vacuum to be filled by speculation and rumour.  Fuel to the furnace of the hype machine such speculation powers the marketing of EVE, tempting in those who fall under its spell.



4 Responses to “All roads lead to Yulai”

  1. As I noted on my blog – there had better be one heckuva reveal at Fanfest, with, as you note, real details and a solid plan. I hate to say it, but there are frankly better games coming out soon to take players’ money.

  2. Was wondering if you had a chance to listen to the latest live dev blog? There was a fair amount about the big picture of Incarna. Still no details, but it was interesting nonetheless. One thing that seemed to be emphasised was how Captains Quarters would be the new starting point for the new player experience. This seems to hint at a plan imo. Suffice to say that this won’t have much impact on the existing players, this time around.

    • I did listen to the live dev blog and agreed it does seem that Incarna is being driven towards the new player as opposed to the ‘vet’ – which is understandable. Lets see what FF11 brings…

  3. AGREE 10000%

    This is precisely the idea I ahve yet to be able to put into words, constant promises little delivery.

    I am hopeful that the info I gain at FF2011 will allow me to remain interested in EVE. We shall see what they say/do/talk about.

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