EVE Online's new senior producer CCP Zulu (formerly CCP Zulupark) elaborated on the issue yesterday with a full devblog on CCP's current allocation of developer time. In the devblog, Zulu provides a complete breakdown of CCP's current development teams, what projects each developer is assigned to, and what we can expect to come over the next year and a half. The devblog confirms grim fate of issues raised by the CSM, with no teams assigned to cover player-raised game defects. Perhaps the most surprising thing to come out of the devblog, however, was that only 54 members of CCP's "200-person development team" are working on anything that directly affects the current EVE populace. Of those, only 22 are working on features for the next expansion.
Skip past the cut to find out why there are only 22 developers working on features and what the reactions of the EVE player-base have been since the announcement.
Only 54 developers working on EVE?
Those looking forward to Incarna will be pleased to know that a whopping nine teams, with a total of around 70 developers, have been assigned to it. Perhaps the most shocking part of the devblog, however, was the revelation of just how few developers are left to work on EVE Online. Of the 124 developers accounted for in the list, only 22 are assigned to work on new EVE features for upcoming expansions. These 22 developers are split into three teams, aimed at creating new missions, making new features and producing new in-game graphical effects. Their goal is to expand on EVE's PvE gameplay for the next expansion, an idea welcomed by players and CSM members alike.
Ten developers are working on EVE Gate and seven are assigned the task of linking the upcoming MMOFPS Dust 514 with EVE. With a further 15 developers aiming to tackle fleet lag, automated fleet testing and exploits, the total number of developers working on anything EVE-related comes to 54. During the development of Apocrypha, CCP had over 300 employees working on EVE alone. As a result, Apocrypha became EVE's biggest and most-loved expansion to date. It stood out as an example of the excellence and quality of work that CCP could produce using agile development methodologies. Since then, we've had the Dominion expansion with its revamp of EVE's aging sovereignty mechanics, and Tyrannis with its planetary interaction feature. Neither has been met with the same player enthusiasm as Apocrypha, which brought us wormholes and tech 3 strategic cruisers.
Despite the transparency CCP is showing by laying out its development plans, most player responses so far have been less than supportive. While the eventual release of Incarna is likely to be an incredibly transformative experience for EVE, many current players are seeing the heavy focus on its development as almost abandonment of their favourite game. In the devblog's comment thread, it also became known that the team working on integrating Dust 514 with EVE is the same team assigned to continue development on the Tyrannis expansion's planetary interaction feature.
The CSM was originally promised that a dedicated team would work on planetary interaction for at least the next two expansions. When asked about where this team falls in the list, CCP Explorer confirmed only that "the 'Dust 514/EVE link' team is working on PI for this cycle." Whether the team's efforts to integrate Dust with EVE will detract from the delivery of planetary interaction features for EVE is unknown. Neither has it been confirmed that the team will be working on planetary interaction for the promised two expansions or if this cycle is the only iteration planetary interaction will get.
With all the information presented on CCP's plans for the year ahead, it seems this devblog has raised more questions than it answers. Players continue to debate CCP's development plan on the forum and more information is sure to be forthcoming.