Thursday, February 17, 2011

CCP's New Release Paradigm

Incursion 1.2 dropped this week with some more improvements to the game. Like other players, I've been watching the new release strategy of Incursion. I even speculated during Lost in Conversation on my thoughts that CCP would be moving more toward these types of releases in the future. It turns out I was right.

CCP Zulu released a dev blog this week that gave some insight on CCP's new release paradigm. CCP is going to move toward releasing "more, smaller, more evenly-distributed deployments" in the future. This is great news for all players of EVE. EVE as a game is ever-changing. Many of the changes lie within the hands of the players, not CCP. In addition to all the usual development issues of designing an expansion for an MMO, it's got to be even harder for CCP to predict the future when they're not as in control of the trajectory of the game as a lot of MMO developers are.

CCP Zulu says we can look forward to three more Incursion releases, with the possibility of additional material released in between. One of the new features we can look forward to is the relocation of the official forums to EVE Gate along with some new functionality. As a forum junkie, I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

Now that Incursion is out (at least the early stages of it), Team BFF, who were originally working on Incursion features, will now be turning their attention to small fixes that need to be made in the game. They've got a whole list of items to tweak, a list that has been compiled from CSM suggestions and player suggestions on the forums. This is great news as well, as there are plenty of "little things" that could be fixed. Now if only they'll switch the stupid cosmic signature map icons back....

With this transition to a new release paradigm, CCP is taking another step from the MMO paradigm of old toward the newly-evolving modern paradigm. The days of yearly (or even bi-annual) patches/expansions is going the way of the dodo. More and more we're realizing the original dream of the MMO--an immersive world that is constantly evolving and changing, a world where the choices you make today will shape the world tomorrow. Of the games I've played, EVE comes the closest to realizing this ideal. With this new release strategy, it'll get even closer.

Now the devs can give us features and fixes as they finish them. No more sitting on material waiting for that release date. Not only does this mean we'll be getting new content, features, and fixes more quickly, but it also means we won't have huge expansions filled with bugs. Smaller, more isolated, changes to the game are much easier to troubleshoot than big chunky expansions filled with changes. I think we will see EVE become more stable, less buggy. Although in the long run, the game will change even more, and even more quickly, those changes will be more constant and gradual. Like any living thing, EVE will be constantly growing and evolving.

The future looks bright, and space is still cold.

Fly smart.