Monday, February 15, 2016

Building Roadmaps

Has been awhile.  No good reasons, no excuses.  I just felt like I didn't have much to write.

Sugar posed an interesting question, and instead of cluttering up her comments feed with a few paragraphs of stream-of-consciousness, I'll type here.  Because I can.

First, let's put the question into context.  Sugar is asking about Roadmaps.

We think we might know what that means, but ... do we really?  In response to her post I'm seeing well intentioned folks respond "I want feature X fixed."    That's great, but ... roadmap?  Not really.  That's a feature fix, a singular patchnote.

So back up -- Simply put - a roadmap is a plan.  In order to have a plan you need a goal (a destination).  The roadmap is the master plan of how to get from where we are to where we want to be, top to bottom, the whole game.

But first we need a destination, and we have to have some agreement that we aren't already there.

Agreeing on where we are NOW and where we SHOULD BE is no small task.  But if we could do it, then the gap between those two is the ground needing covered.  And then we can build the plan to get there.

Agreeing on the plan/route to get there is no small task (sensing a trend yet?) but if we could do that, then we have the tasks (or features) we need to implement to get to our destination.

Those tasks, written out and time phased is the Roadmap.

I'll beat this horse some more, but to summarize:
1. Grand Unified Vision (GUV) - Ideal Future State.
2. Assess current position.
3a. Determine Task/Feature List.
3b. Determine time phasing.
4. Generate Roadmap.
5. Execute Roadmap.
6. Review and include stray projects into GUV, then go back to step 1 and iterate.

I sometimes think that CCP thinks that the roadmap itself is the goal, the product, the destination.  As in, "see, Feature X is cool, will fix all our woes. Here's a shiny web page, we are doing stuff, trust us and send us more money."

At Vegas during the PVE panel, I raised my hand and asked for the PVE stuff to be added to the roadmap, or developed into its own roadmap.   Granted, I didn't ask the question very well, and those in the room looked at me like I had 3 heads.

What I was really trying to get to - but didn't articulate very well - was "How does PVE fit into everything else that CCP is doing?"  

Is there a coherent answer to that?  I can't really tell.  Or pick a topic - ingame store, PLEX prices, new player experience, mining, ingame social structures (corps/alliances), ship balance, Thera, POS, storyline, Capship rebalancing, small Fleet pvp, Faction Warefare, Planetary Interaction, Offgrid Link Removal, Citadels.  How does /any/ of this fit into the GUV?

So let's go back to step 1.  Grand Unified Vision.  Does EVE have one?  I'm not sure.  Has it ever had one?  I'm even less sure.  There are a lot of un-unified tasks being accomplished, and some sweeping changes being debated, but where is it all really going?  And how will we know when we get there?

EVE is so big that we think that we have to break the game up into these topics so that the context is comprehensible.  And as a communication strategy, that's maybe true.  But somewhere behind it all needs to be the GUV acting as the engine to move everything forward.  Somebody somewhere has to have a master plan.

Convince me that you have a master plan, and then we can debate roadmaps. :)

What's Playing:  Tool, Aenima, Stinkfist

4 comments:

  1. Abavus,

    I find your comment/elaboration both spot on and very likely impossible at the same time. If Eve had a Grand Unified Vision when it first started out, it certainly lost track of that vision for a good while and has only begun to find its way back to one in the last few years. Given such history, I’m not certain everything can be stuffed back into a GUV box. That said, an attempt at the task would still prove illuminatingly useful.

    I’ll also point out that simple CCP employee turnover makes honing to a consistent GUV problematic. New people all too often want to do new things. In the time I’ve been around (since 2009), I’ve seen far too many extreme gyrations in what I take to be CCP’s vision for Eve for my comfort. Accordingly, I’ve one small piece of advice for CCP. Keep Seagull. Hang on to her like grim death itself. For God’s sake (as well as mine), don’t let her go.

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    Replies
    1. You're certainly correct. A Comprehensive GUV would be nigh impossible to retroactively generate at this point. And of course different regimes are going to want to put their fingerprints on the game and not just execute the plan left on their desk by their predecessors.

      I guess my complaint is that in tired of seeing the same kind of segmented (specific system) dialog every keynote and every dev blog. Let's talk about the whole game.

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  2. Great post. Lets see. CCP had on their roadmap WiS (dead), DUST (dead), new forms of incursions (dead?), Legion (dead? alive?), mobile apps (John Lander, dead), Valkyrie (too early to tell), WoD (sparkly vampires, dead (yes, pun here)), heavy-duty microtransactions (monocles, backfired), player-built gates (alive, according to Gorski leaks), stations (alive, very much so)

    Bottom line, if the roadmap goals are _within_ EVE, they are generally accomplished and - if I may be biased - very well done. EVE itself is a much better place now than it ever was. Goals that reach _beyond_ EVE generally fail. The problem with that is that CCP must have another leg to stand on or as a company they are too exposed.

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    Replies
    1. Agree. On many levels EVE is in its most playable state. Ever. I'd like to think that it could only benefit from an all inclusive 5 year plan, even if that plan were updated annually.

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