Two Steps forward: An Awkward POSition…

I’ve been waiting a while before commenting on the current POS storm caused by the CSM minutes (mixed with Two Steps Stirring) simply because I wanted to see how CCP responded to the oncoming Threadnaught. And I think I have been right to do so, as I still remain fairly unsure about the implications and intent of the original statements made by CCP, and indeed what the origin of this whole debacle was.
Certainly, if read in a particular light the original quotes in Two Steps blog seems to indicate that the POS system is just too large to do right now, and as such they will be completely ignored until CCP can tackle them in a meaningful way. This appears to be how Two Step is publicly interpreting it, given his rally to the community for reinforcement. 
With this in mind I scanned through the whole of the CSM notes, looking for more references to POSs as a main subject line, and I found surprisingly few:
Page 12: Hans states CCP need to ask questions about Why we need modular POS’s
Page 14: Unifex clarifies about themes and the new expansion plans. He acknowledges POS’s need work and uses them as an example of how needed work can be done over several expansions being worked into the themes.
Page 21: Unifex responds to Two Step asking why POSs aren’t in the next expansion for sure. Unifex responds “We can’t do everything in our long-term plan in the next 6 months”
Page 99: Hans questions the Art team about their work on the new POS’s in reference to the blocker between art and design resources.
Very little supports that modular POSs are being dropped altogether, indeed my interpretation is that they very much are coming, just in a slow and staggered release, only the last comment (excluding the POS gate  quotes) on page 99 shows any CSM exacerbation on the issue, where Hans is lamenting the chicken and egg scenario CCP has with scheduling.  
So why is it that in just this one meeting, suddenly the CSM have their hackles up about the lack of POSs? Even within just that one meeting the context, and indeed the phrasing, just doesn’t sit right with me; let me bring some of the surrounding discussion into the light here: At this point in the summit the CMS is attending the first of two Null Sec meetings in which CCP Greyscale has attempted to get “a collective priority” from the CSM for the future of Null Sec. He states that they want to do with Null what they did with FW; tackle the issues to bring it towards a better version. All good so far right?
However seemingly for no reason UAxDeath suddenly pipes up telling Soundwave that CCP has promised the players POS’s, which they no longer intend to deliver. Blam, kinda out of the blue right? Don’t get me wrong, I suspect that UAxDeath had a very sound reason for bringing it up (as I will explain later) but here is the crux of the issue, the response:
Greyscale gives a pretty harsh kneejerk generalisation:
“Greyscale replied that coming into meetings with the mind-set of CCP promising a certain feature 
is a fallacious, and flat-out wrong, mind-set.”
Unifex, fires of a concise salvo stating CCP’s position:
“Unifex stated that what CCP did was spend effort and prototype what would make a good POS system. It 
would, however, only affect the group of people who manage POSes. Focusing that amount of time and 
effort on some small singular aspect of the game and delivering only that ‘is what will kill the business’ “
Note that Unifex, did NOT finish this statement with “So we aren’t going to touch them for now” or, “So were not doing it”. People are taking the inference that Greyscale made about promises, mixing this with Unifex’s comment about POSs being hard to do and reading that there are no plans to progress POSs.;Adding two and two together and getting six.
However there is clearly more at work here, we are defiantly missing something in the noise. I suspect that we are seeing the result of processes started outside of the official meetings, finally exploding into the light. Note that the issue seems to be been settled as its not brought up in later sessions, except by a slightly world weary Hans lamenting business processes. Two Step doesn’t stand on the table in the meeting and demand CCP start the POS making machine; nor does the topic ever come up again during the Null Sec sessions. Indeed the paper doesn’t even note he said anything during this exchange. So whats going on? Well I believe the following has happened:
1. A comment was made to the CSM off the record about POS’s not being in the next expansion. I suspect it was probably an off the cuff comment, maybe on Skype, maybe when they were picked up from the airport, something along the lines of:

CSM: Were looking forwards to seeing the modular POS progress

CCP: Don’t get too exited, there not in the next expansion!

2. The CSM let this little gem brew between each other exacerbating the issue and working themselves up.

3. During the early meetings it seems clear that the POS’s will get tackled, but only in a long term plan (page 14/15).
4. The CSM seem happy with this, but Two Step (at least) is worried about just how long this plan is.
5. During the Null sec debate xDeath takes the opportunity of Greyscale asking for Null Sec visions, to explicitly talk about POS’s hoping to bring out an official statement (which doesn’t work).
6. xDeath takes the next vague opportunity to outright oust the issue.
7. After a short thrashing leading to a stalemate the issue is dropped and the discussion moves on. CCP is happy they have explained that POS’s are a long term goal, and will be slowly addressed over the next few expansions.
Two Step, (at the very least) is not completely happy with this result. He still holds the worries from point 4 and wants to be sure that CCP get started on the POS problem asap because it is an important point for the community. I’m not sure why he (or indeed any) or the CSM didn’t directly say in any of the meetings “But you are going to do something for them in the next patch right?”. Perhaps they want more than just a verbal assurance, perhaps they don’t think it wouldn’t do any good?  Maybe its just a fear CCP will simply say “No”. But Two Step (I believe) wants to be sure CCP gets a move on with this and sees the urgency so he writes a blog post and starts the thread, and shows CCP just how important the issue is to us.
So here we are a Threadnaught later. Seagull has posted on the thread stating that the “small part of the community” statement by Unifex was in reference to their prototypes test catchment. In my opinion though this is either a manipulation of the truth, or the original statement was very poorly phrased  (especially from a man who usually considers his words very carefully), but that is besides the point.
So where do we go from here? Two Step has raised a point CCP thought they had covered, and suddenly the comunity is up in arms. Its pretty clear what is now laid out by Two Step and the forums:
  • It is acceptable for CCP to attack POS’s over the next few expansions
  • It is acceptable for CCP to bring in a short term fix to the current POS system, we are unable to see the first implementation of modular POSs in the next expansions.
  • It is unacceptable for zero progress to be made on the current POS system between now and the Summer release
  • CCP must communicate clearly what the intend to do with POSs

I would suggest that CCP who are likely still pre-planning the Summer expansion theme and content should hurry up at least the section regarding POSs. Because they need to release a clear plan for the replacement of the current system. I would advise that this should be heavily weighted with caveats so it doesn’t fly away in the minds of optimistic players:  
Here is our plan, here are the steps we expect in it. We don’t know when each step will be taken or even if we might have to change the plan (don’t worry we will let you know if we do!), but we are aware of this problem and we are taking steps to tackle it. Look we can even confirm step 1 will be completed in the summer expansion.
People are upset about modular POSs because we are worried this will be another ambulation*. The community knows that some things take time, but open honest communications could easily waylay fears and speculation. Lets face it with some of CCPs history, they cant really blame the community for being pessimistic about things.
It all seems like a bit of a storm in a teacup to me. Reading the notes, I am confident that CCP is already committed to delivering something for POSs in the Summer expansion. But I believe that Two Steps goal in this was to ensure CCP was aware that the players expect progress and soon. That’s a worthy goal, because the POS issue does need to be tackled, so with that in mind I would say to Two Step: Mission Accomplished. You saw an issue you knew was going to cause disappointment with your electorate. You attempted to raise the issue with CCP (maybe this should have been done a little more thoroughly) and when this failed you took the issue to the people and asked them to make their voices heard. That is the job of the CSM. 
Keep Clam and Carry on Posting,
*I am referring to the 5 or so years spent waiting for it to come, not the Incarna debacle once it was

2 thoughts on “Two Steps forward: An Awkward POSition…

  1. Tom says:

    Excellent post, I think this is very likely to be as close to the reality of the situation as anything else. However, I am still going to unsub if nothing happens in May.

    Also I certainly don’t think the threadonaught hurts in terms of giving CCP a gentle reminder that the player base would like to see something happen with POS.

    • Rob Wiebkin says:

      Thanks for the comment.

      I’m not so sure its worth unsubbing over, unless of course managing POS’s is killing your game. But the point maybe moot as I would be VERY surprised if we don’t see at least something in the Summer

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