Friday, December 14, 2012
Battle Recorder vs. Jessica
A popular argument from the playerbase, in favour of the battle recorder, is that video makers will be able to make better videos. With a functional program that can read battle recorded information, video makers will be able to focus on specific ships, pan about using an independent camera, etc.
Granted, a tool like that would certainly make for better videos of actual EVE battles, but would it make for a more exciting video? In some cases, sure, in most cases, probably not. Large EVE battles mostly look like bugs whizzing around a zapper. You have ships orbiting anchor ships, ships orbiting targets. EVE battles do not resemble Star Trek, Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica space fights. EVE battles look like flies buzzing about a corpse. With a battle recorder, video artists simply have the option of recording the pseudo-chaos from different angles, but it's still pseudo-chaos they're recording. They'll have no real options to massage the data. The battle recorder isn't going to make sense of a large scale fight, it's not going to bring order to the chaos. The skilled filmmaker can bring some sense of coherency to an EVE battle, but only to a point. EVE battles as we've all experienced them are not space dogfights.
There's also the time commitment that would be needed to create a fully-functioning battle recording system. For the number of people that are going to use it, is it worth CCP's time and effort? Not at all. There are better things CCP could do with their time. And what are player expectations of a battle recorder? I imagine that most proponents of the battle recorder are of the mind that trailer-quality battle videos will be the result. I beg to differ on that front. The battle recorder simply records orbiting mayhem. The video artist will still have to resort to staged battles to get their specific shots and action. It will be just as time consuming for video artists to construct trailer-quality battles with a battle recorder as it is for them to do so now.
We already have video artists creating great videos out of actual battles. A battle recording isn't going to make their videos leaps and bounds better. Only marginally so. About all a battle recorder is going to do is to save them time. I'm not sure throwing a bunch of resources at a battle recorder project, simply to save filmmakers a bit of time, is time well-spent for CCP.
What video artists really need is the Jessica engine.
Jessica is CCP's in-house tool for creating game trailers. Ian Chisholm was graciously allowed the use of Jessica when he created Clear Skies 3. Jessica allows the video artist/filmmaker to set-up and film the exact shots they require using all of the EVE Online assets available (ships, weapons, missiles, drones, etc.)
If video artists want to create the sorts of engaging stories they've been aching to tell, then the Jessica engine gives them the freedom to do just that. Now they can stage entire battles more easily, without the headache of trial and error and repetition galore within the game itself.
As it stands, if the goal is to just maintain records of battles, they can already be FRAPSed. That's the simplest form of battle recording. It exists. And is widely used.
If the goal is to give video artists better tools, then Jessica would be the far more engaging and useful option for those people. Far more malleable than a battle recorder. A battle recorder is a rock. You can view that rock from any angle, but there's little you can do to change the rock. Jessica is clay. The lump of clay can view from any angle, but it can also be shaped and formed into something more appealing to a filmmaker and an audience.
If CCP wants to give their players tools to create really engaging and exciting content, then it would be in their interests to polish Jessica for external use and then release it to the playerbase.
Player-created content. Hours of it per month. Created at no cost to CCP. An amazing level of marketing potential sits there, underutilized, in CCP headquarters. If they could get Jessica out into the wild, they'd see huge benefits from it. People love creating. Give them tools to create.