Monday, December 3, 2012
"It Was Never Intended"
It's become the go to easy explanation for any change, especially on mechanics that have existed in game for years and years.
I'm not against CCP making changes to the game. Changes happen. Changes are required. But be honest about the changes with the players. Give the complete and full reasons for the changes. Don't couch them in simplicity. The playerbase isn't stupid. Once you start avoiding real answers in favour of the simple answer, you start to lose your playerbase, their trust in you, their respect of you.
It's certainly the case that some changes are made due to the fact that some unintended consequences have evolved around certain mechanics. But if CCP keeps using "it was never intended" as an excuse for every change, then it becomes awfully hollow, and eventually has little meaning, even in instances where it is likely true.
Take T3 ejection. As has been pointed out by Rhavas and Tiger Ears, ejecting to avoid skill point loss was an intended design decision. It was stated as an outright tactic in a 2009 devblog. In a devblog, which means before the feature was actually introduced into the game, not after the fact (which is usually when players discover unintended "emergent" mechanics.) CCP knew from the get-go that skill point loss could be avoided via ejection, and they were fine with that, and told players about it immediately.
So, then to have CCP pretend that ejection to avoid skill point loss was never intended functionality. Well, that's just downright ignorance. CCP may have forgotten about the devblog in question, but if a player could dig it up, CCP could have as well. (And the excuse that CCP was not good at documenting back in 2009. I'm not sure why I care about CCP's poor business practices three years ago. Don't stack one excuse on top of another.)
The real reason for this change to strategic cruiser functionality -- not being able to eject while aggressing -- is entirely due to changes to quell Orca/Carrier scooping. That's fine. But CCP needed to state that outright, be forthright about it. Not try to decouple T3 ejection from the Orca/Carrier mechanic change.
We've seen the "it was never intended" excuse trotted out through most changes to crime and aggression mechanics. Can flipping? Never intended. Third-party repping? Never intended. Boomeranging from CONCORD? Never intended. Killing miners with single Catalysts? Never intended.
Sure, some of these things may have not been intended, when first released. But they certainly became accepted practices, since CCP never deemed them worthy enough to fix, and to let them exist in game for years.
So, rather than go to the "it was never intended" well over and over again, why not just give the the more complete truth? A full, well-reasoned explanation, always the best policy, moreso than simply trying to pull the wool over our eyes. With respect to the T3 ejection change: "The recent changes to ejection mechanics will hopefully put a stop to Orca/Carrier scooping. These ejection mechanic changes will also have the effect of not allowing you to eject from T3 cruisers to avoid skillpoint loss. We realize that this will be unpopular, but for the time being, this is how it will have to be. It's too time-consuming to decouple T3 ejection from every other type of ejection. That said, we're not unhappy with the notion of forcing skillpoint loss on T3 pilots who are destroyed in battle." And to calm anger, the following could be added as well: "As always, we welcome ideas and suggestions on how to stop Orca/Carrier scooping, while keeping T3 ejection intact. We can't guarantee that we'll ever revert back to the old mechanic, but if a viable suggestion is offered, who knows."
Anyhow. I'm fine with changes happening. Just not cool with the easy excuse being trotted out to explain away every change.