Ok fair warning here, this post contains a lot of numbers and statistics. You know what they say about statistics right? This is all purely my own opinion (as always), and despite having numbers nothing in this post is concrete, just opinion. So with that out of the way, let’s go.
One of the most surprisingly interesting lectures at Fanfest was the “Retribution Roundup”. As a member of a (very small) SCRUM team, and having done extensive training in SCRUM with Microsoft, I found CCP a very interesting case study of SCRUM and its application within business. But that’s not what this is about. No today I want to try to dissect and extrapolate some of the numbers we got told during this presentation and apply them to another source of opinion.
Why? Retribution is a very important expansion, because it is, in CCP’s opinion (and in terms of numbers), the most successful expansion for eve yet. This means that in the near future, CCP are going to be working to replicate and refine the recipe which produced Retribution, to replicate its success in future expansion planning. Thus by looking at what made up Retribution, we can see what broad categories we might find in future expansions (and this does match with odyssey).
We know from the Roundup slides that retribution contained ~1500 Story points (~1700 minus ~ 200 which never made it to release). We also know how many story points each of the major parts of the expansion took:
- Combat overlay 95 points
- New ships 118 points
- Bounty hunting (main feature) 134 points
- Ship Balancing 154 points
- Crime watch system 264 points
Which adds up 765 SP leaving 725 for all the other features (labelled as 6. in the rest of this post). Now SP doesn’t equate directly to the size or value of the product, but instead to the amount of effort put into it. If we categories the sections we come out with the following:
- ~6% of effort will go into UI improvements
- ~8% of effort will go into New Ships
- ~9% of effort will go into revamping old professions (or main features)
- ~18% of effort will go into revamping old code
- ~10% of effort will go into ship rebalancing
- ~49% of effort will go into all other minor features
But that’s just effort, and only shows what CCP could be working on (effort), and not what we will see as players (value). It’s also true that CCP might be measuring the recipe using perceived value rather than the effort it took.
So let’s extract that for a second, using the CSM 7 development strategy as a basis for valuation. In this report the CSM defined features as a balance of Shiny vs. Iteration (new vs. repair). So let’s define the retribution features the same (again this is my opinion) using the same numbers/order as I did in my first list:
- 80% Iterative 20% Shine
- 100% Shine
- 80% Iterative 20% Shine
- 100% Iterative
- 100% Iterative
- 58% Iterative 42% Shine
This gives the whole release a balance of 70% Iterative and 30% Shine. This figure can be used to compare the CSM’s advice to CCP’s current “recipe”. This requires further extrapolation, taking CSM7’s definition of players (and their wants in terms of a Shine to Iteration ratio as defined in the document:
- Potentials — people who have never or only briefly subscribed. (90% Shiny, 10% Iteration)
- Newbies — players with less than a year in the game. (70% Shiny, 30% Iteration)
- Veterans — players with more than a year in the game. (10% Shiny, 90% Iteration)
- Bittervets — unsubscribed veterans. (50% Shiny, 50% Iteration)
Just using this would assume that CSM7 believed there are equal numbers of each type of players, which obviously there are not. So instead, to get an idea of the ratio which CSM7 believes the player base consists of (or at least how much we should pander to each), we can look at the next section of the document. In this CSM7 define 5 pillars of an expansion, which are tailored to each placate at least two of the previously defined categories of players.
So here is what we do: take each player group and their ratio of Shiny to Iteration, times their ratio by the number of times they are a benefactor of a pillar. Next add all of these ratios together and bring them back down to a % ratio. I won’t say that this is CSM7’s recommendation of what an expansion should contain (that would be putting words in their mouths), but I will say this is what I perceive as CSM7’s recommendation:
58% Iteration to 42% Shiny, a pretty even balance leaning slightly towards the veteran player (just like the CSM’s past and present :P). Interestingly CCP in Retribution has leaned even further towards the veteran player with the Retribution ratio of 70% Iteration and 30% Shiny.
So how does this match up to Odyssey then? Well I went through the bullet points listed on the Odyssey home page and gave them the same treatment, I came up the expansion ratio of 37% Iteration to 63% Shiny (which explains why Odyssey doesn’t blow my socks off). Quite a difference, and leaning this time towards the Newer and Potential players. How about if we consider the balance over the full year (i.e. the 12 month cycle the CSM referred too, albeit expecting more linking the two expansions together)… ok, quick time out here. I am doing all these sums in excel as I write this. I have not doctored these numbers, nor did I ever expect to get this result. I write this on the second to final edit run, and I am somewhat stunned:
If you take the last 12 months’ worth of expansions (Retribution & Odyssey), and look at my opinion of features released Shininess vs. Iteration using the methods described above you get: 58% Iteration to 42% Shiny… Exactly what I read the CSM’s recommended release balance to be.
Is it fair to consider the expansions together? Has CCP mixed up the recipe? Are they doing one expansion for vets and one for newbies? Am I talking out of my arse? Was CCP still trying to make it up to the Veteran players in Retribution for Incarna? Should we expect more New/Potential Player Expansions? All this and more, left for your too decided.
What do you think?
Fly like Disraeli,