Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Life on the Test Server

Over the past few weeks, this blog has been innundated with rapid fire updates on all things Burners.  I tried my best to keep a live feed rolling of things I was seeing on SISI as the new content was revealed and tested.

But I have a confession to make ... in general I'm not much of a test server kind of guy.  New content only gets added so often; I'd rather experience it on the live server, and savor it, and make it last.

One thing that helped kill my WoW experience was all the datamining that goes on.  New content is sliced and diced, deconstructed, debated ad nauseam.  By the time the content goes live, it's "old news" and the data miners are on to the next.

The term "spoilers" is overused, but it applies here, and is still a somewhat inadequate descriptor.  New content to me is like an expensive steak dinner - I want to sit down in my fancy duds, order a glass of wine, get an appetizer, and take the time to make a memorable experience of it all.  The entire process of consumption is part of the enjoyment.  The temptation is to snort down the new content like it's a trip through the Hardee's drive through for a greasy burger and overcooked fries.

And then there's the really annoying habit of devs to change stuff as soon as you get it figured out.  Test servers are a volatile place; while you're trying to get a sense of how to tackle the new bad guys, the bad guys are also learning how to tackle you.  That means a lot of starting over from scratch, resets, wipes, and the need to question every result (good or bad) with the question "okay, what just happened, and was X the same as yesterday?"

And for those two reasons, I generally don't beta test games that I'm actively playing.

In the case of the BC burner content, I felt a sense of responsibility to get in and understand the new challenges so that I can help all y'all complete the missions.  I also felt like I could help CCP flesh out the content and maybe therefore get better content down the road.  I don't fancy myself an expert, but I do feel like one of the champions of CCP investment in the lvl4 system - I'd whined and ranted about this stuff for awhile, the least I could do was show up and test it.

So, I did the testing on my own terms, threw away a lot of badly fit hulls, and something surprising happened - I had a good time.

The sense of duty became a sense of fun.  How unexpected.

Tweaking fits real time (for free) while sitting in a station is far better than using Pyfa.  Jumping into the pocket to test the results real time instead of theorycrafting was pretty powerful.  I tried ships I'd never flown, and fits I'd only read about, and came away (I think) smarter about EVE and mid-sized ships. And the quick turnaround from the first appearance on SISI to Mosaic launch meant that I'm not tired of the new content before it goes live.

Anyway, I doubt I'll become a permanent resident of SISI, but it's been fun to visit there the past few weeks.  Now it's time to make some isk.


  1. The tendency to, as you say, "slice and dice, deconstruct," is one of the thing that irritates me about test servers. I get that they have their place, yes. But the ability to, (frankly) be able to see into the future version of the game is something I don't like.

    At this very point in time, CCP is trying to create a vast epic ( in the traditional sense of the term). It will re-define the history of EvE, and the future of it, too. This is, in a very real sense, the culmination of EvE's lore, which has been building up over 10-11 years.

    And it is not discovered, not foretold, not even experienced. It is predicted. It is presented. It is prophesied. For a period of time, before the patch. You could see these revelations on Reddit.

    It's hard to tell a good story. It is impossible to tell one when the ending is revealed before the development has even begun. Data mining, in a sense, is killing CCP's lore department. There's no value to telling the story, when you can't do anything without it being spotted. There's no dramatic tension. Why should CCP even build up lore as a selling point, which they have already done, if the Lore is examined and discarded as soon as the value is discovered on the test server.

    I've long tried to think of a way where both areas can succeed, but it seems impossible. People searching for in-game advantages are content to spoil 'meta' enjoyment. It seems to me that the only way for CCP's story to succeed, is to simply not test it. Introduce it on patch day, don't even think of releasing it before. Every minute the story is exposed, the less of a story, and the less emergent it becomes.

    Rob K.

  2. CCP Seagull in the keynote mentioned the quicker release cycle, and how they do not need to wait for the end of the cycle to change things.... and that they may not tell us in advance.

    A little mystery can go a long way.... Wait and see. Wait and see... :)

  3. Bah, optimism, the curse of the deluded :P.

    A little mystery would be nice, because right now, we have none!

    And yeah, maybe they will start sneaking things in. They just haven't so far. Besides, is sneakiness really in CCP's vocabulary?

    Rob K.

    1. I've been playing for close to 7 years, and frankly, I'm not sure optimism is still even in the dictionary :) And believe you me, I've ranted more than once about needing mystery in game.That said, the noises coming from CCP give me at least some hope.

      As a for instance, the drifters. They had the highest kill ratio for a short while. 62 to 0 or something like that. Did CCP mention anything about their superweapon prior to release or was it even on SISI (idk)?

      Lastly, the commercial considerations. You can't go and drop a wholesale change, such as that to sov, without some prior warning and a consultation period. Or rather, you could, but at a risk of pissing of a large proportion of your customers. After the summer of rage and incarna and the associated job losses, CCP will still be a little cautious I have no doubt.

      Where they have the ability to make meaningful changes at low risk is likely to be at the lore end and opposed to the mechanical.

      FYI - I don't use SISI. Just deal with the changes as they roll out.

  4. Rob has a good point about the Lore. Has been a pet peeve of mine in other games, and to some extent with EVE with datamined lore secrets leaking out. I was careful on SISI to not go looking into too many dark corners for things that may be happening with Drifters or other story elements.

    As I rambled about, i was initially torn between the desire to experience things "as intended" on live and to participate the development process and make things better. Obviously, I chose to participate as a tester, and I don't regret that.

    I did, however, question how much posting I was doing here, and how many spoilers I was putting on the front page. I'm a fairly low-traffic site in the grand scheme, and I weighed the pros and cons of posting SISI status vs. keeping things quiet. In the end, I decided that publicizing (some might say hyping) the burner content was for the better good. I want people to participate in Burners, I want people to be excited about new burners, and I know that there is significant negative energy already established that this new content must fight through. I hoped that by continuing to post that maybe more people would participate once the content was live. (Again, I'm a small traffic blogger and I'm not deluded into thinking that any measurable difference is due to anything I might or might not post... but it's the principle of the thing).

    Each person must draw the line where they see fit. I think, in hindsight, that when the next burner content comes to SISI, I will hide things behind the "read more" click-through and let those that want to be surprised to be surprised. And personally, I'm not going to go looking for hints at what's happened in Jove space.


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