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Why do NQ keep trying to perform heart surgery with a hammer?


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I've been thinking about this a lot, after rage-quitting over Demeter. How did DU end up so far removed from what was described on Kickstarter - what we thought we were getting, or what we had in alpha and early beta?

 

It occurred to me there is an observable pattern in NQ's dev decisions:

 

Problem #1: Fresh after launch. Players are setting up advanced factories too quickly. 

 

Instead of leaving basic manufacturing alone, or just auto-installing the new schematics for all players for the first couple of tiers, or coming up with more elegant solutions that extend end-game content without messing up existing player effort, like adding costlier tiers with higher specs, or any other solution that let players keep the factories we had built, nope. NQ bricked everyone's work completely. All the time invested in setting up our factories, layouts, linkages, was wiped. Unsurprisingly, a tonne of players leave.

 

Some of us stayed, not realising the culture at NQ had now been set for the next big challenge...

 

Example #2: Underground tunnels are causing performance issues.

 

The problem with mining wasn't that it was boring. That was a bad excuse. Players had already proposed the solution in the old voting system - a gem mechanic. If it's so boring, which is it still used on asteroids? Underground mining was about system O/H. It could easily have co-existed with surface mining. But instead of, say, writing a crawler routine that decays old tunnels when there's no player in proximity - which totally makes sense, and adds more interesting gameplay (i.e.: get buried alive if you AFK underground, caves collapsing...) - or wipe-on-claim, or just randomly propagating new dirt, or cellular automata, or new ore, or a bunch of other ideas, NQ reached for the hammer again and wiped all terrain, wiped all scans, wiped all underground mining, took away all our work finding ore deposits, buried our bases, and offered a tokenistic excavation request system that was slow, simplistic, under-resourced, and didn't consider 'add earth'. There were a dozen other ways to solve the problem, without creating new problems, and without losing so many players.

 

Next comes Panacea...

 

Example #3: The game engine still can't handle rendering too many constructs at once.

 

Here's where we are now. Instead of waiting for the upcoming salvage mechanic to wash out, or taxing constructs, or height limits, or larger static core sizes and better alignment between cores (this would enable better LOD since players wouldn't need multiple L statics janked together to build a base), or otherwise improving the actual engine, it feels like NQ are reaching for the hammer again, and not the scalpel. The Panacea announcement (here: https://www.dualuniverse.game/news/panacea-update-added-to-roadmap) brings the following change:

 

"Organization construct ownership (construct slots): a new way of assigning available construct limits to organizations."

 

It took ~2 mths to max out construct management talents to get enough cores to build a large base. That meant surviving without training any other talents, which meant sacrificing in-game money (refining skills) and time (like ship and movements speed). It was a full month just waiting for the final level of the advanced specialisation. Now, it sounds like NQ are going to nerf those skills, reduce the number of constructs available, while also potentially forcing many players to demolish parts of their bases to get under a new cap. There are going to be a lot of pissed off people. Again. 

 

At the heart of all of these problems is a single truth: a prevailing attitude at NQ that the player's effort, creativity and ingenuity is disposable. 'Kicking down the sand castle is good, because it forces them to rebuild it.' This attitude is implied by the oft-repeated analogy that DU is a bunch of toys in a sandbox. The toys/sandbox metaphor is not only directionless - not a great dev strategy - it is also condescending. It trivialises the elegance and art of what players do in DU. DU is sculpture, coding, architecture and engineering. And it is this artfulness that attracted players early on. It drove the economy - creating demand for manufacturers and miners, in turn promoting space traffic. But best of all it attracted more people - the no.1 dependency of the whole ecosystem. The more our creativity is enabled - not by capping our number of cores, but by finding ways to give us MORE cores - the more free advertising the game generates for itself on video, streaming and social media sites.

 

Until NQ begin cherishing the time spent by players, all our creations, as much as we each cherish them ourselves, they will continue to impose collateral damage with every release. The very worst part of this pattern isn't even the dwindling number of committed players - which is bad. The worst part is, the original vision of enabling unbounded creativity was good, if only it hadn't been speared 5 minutes after launch. DU could have been bigger than 'Second Life.' (For those who never played Second Life, at it's peak it had 1 million active players and turned over $130m a year after inflation - with zero PvP.) Instead, the "player generated content" part of DU is incrementally nerfed, and DU is turning into nothing more than a shelter for EVE refugees.

 

There are many who may still return to DU if NQ start showing some care and respect for the players' time, creativity, and ingenuity. But that means not taking a hammer to everything, every time the devs face a challenge.

 

Use a scalpel to make changes - and preserve what players have built.

 

[EDIT: I’ve excluded a 4th example of hammer vs scalpel, being the screen tech API. For now the HTML/SVG nerf appears to be on hold. In this case, again, due to issues with the rendering of HTML/SVGs NQ was preparing to take the hammer to all the work done by players on screens, and many common LUA scripts, rather than surgically parsing problem tags. Like core caps, this is still TBA.]

Edited by Megabosslord
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To be fair the planet reset in Demeter was largely because of the new hexoctree data structure, used to more efficiently render voxel planets.

 

But beside that, I think your points are spot on. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater is a phrase that keeps coming up when discussing NQ actions.

 

And this is made even worse, since players have to watch NQ make large sweeping changes that overall worsen the game play, while actual features that would improve game loops and enjoyment get no love what so ever. And it feels like NQ has gone into some type of maintenance mode that you would normally only see on older well established, and feature complete games.

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Most of what is mentioned here has no relevance to performance at all. It is about cutting cost, removing what they can to reduce the AWS bill. If it was a performance related concern then, the freed up resources should have been re-used to improve it which has not happned, in fact I distincly hav ethe impression overall performance has gond down since demeter as I believe NQ has removed server capacity which is (now) no lionger needed, again wi the objective to save cost.

 

Draw distance for other constructs is worse, notably around busy markets but in general too. Pre Demeter I saw the neighbours towers when I logged in, now they are not seen unless I fly right up to them, as soon as I have covered about half of the 3 or so KM. Doors, forcefiels, landing geear and animatd elements in general do not spawn in unless you are within 30 meters, leeaving floating constructs all over the place, yet mining units are seen rotating from hundreds of meters. Why is that? NQ is not saying when asked..

 

How is NQ ever going to be able to implement things like TW on planets and even CvC, let alone AvA with this server limitations? What will happen if and when NQ gets to a release of some form and they will see the hopefully tens of thousands of new players they will need to stay alive? They have litterlly cut of their arms and legs to stay alive and these do not just insta grow back when they need to get up and start running.

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Completely agree with most of what you say but you lost me right at the end there when you started talking about Second Life and EVE.  Both of those games are old, established and still running and you can go and play them if you want.  The whole selling point of DU was supposed to be bringing together elements from these (and other) games into one game.  And it was always meant to be a game.  True that second life has no PvP (although I'm sure I remember reading about flying penis attacks?) but the makers also claim it isn't a game.  And IRL corporations invested real money in it too.  I don't think it's sensible to make DU a 'game' without challenge, and in a game with no developer-generated content you will always need to have player conflict, i.e. PvP, in order to make it an actual game and not just a theme park generator.

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2 hours ago, Zeddrick said:

Completely agree with most of what you say but you lost me right at the end there when you started talking about Second Life and EVE.  Both of those games are old, established and still running and you can go and play them if you want.  The whole selling point of DU was supposed to be bringing together elements from these (and other) games into one game.  And it was always meant to be a game.  True that second life has no PvP (although I'm sure I remember reading about flying penis attacks?) but the makers also claim it isn't a game.  And IRL corporations invested real money in it too.  I don't think it's sensible to make DU a 'game' without challenge, and in a game with no developer-generated content you will always need to have player conflict, i.e. PvP, in order to make it an actual game and not just a theme park generator.

We’re in agreement. A hybrid of the two was a good idea. But dropping the ball on one just leaves you with a bad copy of something else. But if you had to choose, a Second Life reboot is a better opportunity than an Eve reboot given the current state of the market, the age/condition of those franchises, and the standout feature of DU (the voxel engine.)  

Edited by Megabosslord
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14 hours ago, CptLoRes said:

To be fair the planet reset in Demeter was largely because of the new hexoctree data structure, used to more efficiently render voxel planets.

 

But beside that, I think your points are spot on. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater is a phrase that keeps coming up when discussing NQ actions.

 

And this is made even worse, since players have to watch NQ make large sweeping changes that overall worsen the game play, while actual features that would improve game loops and enjoyment get no love what so ever. In it feels like NQ has gone into some type of maintenance mode that you would normally only see on older well established, and feature complete games.

Underground mining could have stayed in hexotree. My main gripe with the terrain wipe (separate to the loss of underground mining, scans and owned nodes, which was a separate issue) was the way the wipe was handled. I had 2 slow, failed excavation requests, and a base left floating so high in the air I can’t get to it, no easy fix for ‘add earth’, and no certainty now it won’t happen again if I rebuilt the hard way. 

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13 hours ago, blazemonger said:

Draw distance for other constructs is worse, notably around busy markets but in general too. Pre Demeter I saw the neighbours towers when I logged in, now they are not seen unless I fly right up to them, as soon as I have covered about half of the 3 or so KM. Doors, forcefiels, landing geear and animatd elements in general do not spawn in unless you are within 30 meters, leeaving floating constructs all over the place, yet mining units are seen rotating from hundreds of meters. Why is that? NQ is not saying when asked..

NQ recently introduced a "Max displayed constructs" option under the graphics settings, and it has a very low default setting set at 70 constructs.

I bumped mine up to 500 which lets you generally see constructs much farther away depending on the congestion, and seem to work fine for my system except for DS6 where you get bad performance regardless.

 

But I think it is interesting to see that NQ set the default value to 70 in that option, which in most cases will result in a draw distance that is less then what was normal before. And it says a lot about how much/little confidence NQ has when it comes to client performance.

 

They have also been experimenting with how they render planet changes. And I now notice that they only display the original unmodified planet landscape at distance, and the terraformed version will suddenly pop up once you get relatively close. Which can be both jarring and problematic in many ways.

 

My guess is that this is yet another cost saving measure where they have the unmodified planets stored locally on the clients to save on server-client transmission cost. And they in true NQ fashion probably never got around to implement a feature that would update the local version with new data.

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I played around with the max displayed constructs and bumped it fairly high but not that hight.. It's really counter intitive to go to 10 times the default setting and NQ really should explain this better. But I'll crank it up and see wat happeens..

 

I did notice also quite a few instancees where textures do not render and you see weird yellow linees, for instances on moons .. this happens frequently as well I totally expect NQ not just removed functionality and features from the game, they effectively shrunk their server footprint to save cost too..

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8 hours ago, Megabosslord said:

We’re in agreement. A hybrid of the two was a good idea. But dropping the ball on one just leaves you with a bad copy of something else. But if you had to choose, a Second Life reboot is a better opportunity than an Eve reboot given the current state of the market, the age/condition of those franchises, and the standout feature of DU (the voxel engine.)  

It does sometimes feel a bit like I imagine Second lLife would be with no player hitpoints/fall damage/etc, no way to lose a ship, etc.  But that's really because, as you say, they only really got the 'Second Life - like' parts of the game really right.  I guess I'm a bit biased because I came for the original vision and have an EvE background so I probably would never have come to a game which was pitched as Second Life in space.  I'm not even sure it would be as big as you say it would -- sci-fi themed things are always going to be a bit niche and wasn't the whole point of SL to be something which could appeal to everyone?

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I’m not looking forward to the org construct slot changes. Common sense does slap you in the face that it will be a huge nerf to solo and small orgs to bring balance to the gap of available personal core slots in comparison to personal org cores. 
 

If I got told to do this and was harsh without thinking about backlash, I would remember that org construct slots start with 0.
 

From there I would take a piece out of the residency idea I’ve been asking for and instead of just having the legate issue the constructs through talents I would give every character 1 available org construct slots they can choose to issue to an org of their choice. Every character would be able to boost their construct slot donation to 25 through talents tho. 
 

But let’s see what NQ does.. returns to sharpening pitchfork on grinding stone. 

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1 hour ago, Physics said:

I’m not looking forward to the org construct slot changes. Common sense does slap you in the face that it will be a huge nerf to solo and small orgs to bring balance to the gap of available personal core slots in comparison to personal org cores. 

Yes, I think everyone is expecting this to be a huge nerf to the solo orgs we all made to get around the too-small core limits disguised as a feature.  I have over 50 constructs deployed and could see that doubling over time and making me undeploy a bunch of them to get under a limit might be the last straw for me.

 

I get the desire to keep the server costs down but at some point you have to ask 'If this many cores is all a sub buys is this game even viable at all?'.  A huge part of the game was meant to be players creating content for each other and that is already being nerfed hard by the deletion of unsubbed constructs.  If active players have to delete stuff too then where will all the interesting places to visit come from?  NQ certainly aren't creating any ...

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On 1/24/2022 at 1:03 AM, Megabosslord said:

The Panacea announcement (here: https://www.dualuniverse.game/news/panacea-update-added-to-roadmap) brings the following change:

 

"Organization construct ownership (construct slots): a new way of assigning available construct limits to organizations."

 

... Now, it sounds like NQ are going to nerf those skills, reduce the number of constructs available, while also potentially forcing many players to demolish parts of their bases to get under a new cap.

 

Not to say the many mining rigs deployed by those whose gameplay choice is to supply the raw materials all those things creators make and PvPers blow up are made from.

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Not to mention you now need lots of cores just for MU's, so limiting solo player core counts will hurt even more than before Demeter.

And the result is a game that is looking more and more like it was designed to fail, which is actually kinda impressive in it's own way.

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1 hour ago, Zeddrick said:

I get the desire to keep the server costs down but at some point you have to ask 'If this many cores is all a sub buys is this game even viable at all?'.  A huge part of the game was meant to be players creating content for each other and that is already being nerfed hard by the deletion of unsubbed constructs.

 

NQ 2018: "single shard is fantastic! Everyone will be able to see your work and build without limits!"

NQ 2022: "single shard is expensive...everyone must pay taxes and stay under new core and complexity limits!"

 

People wondered how this game would remain affordable as it scaled back in 2016...back then it was easier to dismiss any questions because DU would implement "cutting edge" technology that somehow made these issues go away.

 

Well...now we know that NQ doesn't have cutting-edge tech in their back pocket -- that they never figured out how this game would scale, either. Not even in the most basic ways. Demeter made that abundantly clear. 

 

They need this beast to scale because they need to start marketing it. They know most people won't be retained for more than 1 month of sub, so it's very important that they can monetize that 1 month...hence why we're stuck in cost-cutting mode. 

 

So yeah, I expect harsher core limits and complexity limits. I expect other cost-cutting changes, too. 

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  1. NQ did not understand dynamic world generation, solar systems, dynamic resource generation, planet cores/makeup, or what players can and will do if you give them the opportunity to do so at every turn when you create generic systems for off loopholes, exploits, and no thought to the systems they built as much as just trying to float content out there since they were behind the 8 ball constantly due to time constraints and limited budget and a half functional game when it was created.
  2. NQ never did their homework about shallow horizontal progression games work or the pitfalls of voxel based games in general on how to take out as many voxels/elements coming into the game as need to go out of the game or to properly sink things to maintain what is in game as DU would have been better off being a survival space PvP game than a pure builder with optional PvP in it.
  3. They wanted a single shard and dedicared the full game to a solar system rather than a universe since the single shard they built and lack of checks and balances or systems to slow down people with the most simplest of mechanics led to them being unable to do more than a solar system.
  4. With escalating costs, dwindling player base paying subs that wasnt playing for free, and JC running the game into the ground leading to cost cutting measures and removal of content rather than doing what needed to be done which was sinks, destructive elements, wear and tear, mining costing nitron, world healing, environmental considtions, or needing tobreathe air under water and only available on certain planets they can only remove content at this point and are forced to dedicate a good portion of their budget to cutting costs at this point rather than tempting players to fight each other to remove it or taking a break it you bought it approach to take elements out of the game.
  5. Punishing players and imposing limits since they did not set a standard or expectations other than spoon feeding their backers with systems like territory scanning with no limit on ships leading to people scanning 27 tiles at once (max range) and then strip mining mega nodes and juice tiles around the clock, building giant industries, and compounding the prolem and economic problems in a finite resource pool at the time without imposing limits or sinking the systems properly.
  6. And most of all the lack of understanding of PvP which is the anser to all the problems and since they dont understand the concept of civilizations, laws, industry loops, economies, and the psycology of gamers as much as pulling in landmark refugees and catering to non PvP players constantly without offering a PvP and PvE servers with different rulesets people dont like PvP, can avoid it like the plague, and will not participate large scale due tot he nature of the game taking days to weeks or a month to produce the parts, build a ship, and throw it away since the total cost is always on the backs of the playerbase rather than on a collective faction or the mission system in general that should be building faction fleet ships you can throw away hundreds of millions or billions a night and not think twice about since the faction takes the losses not the players.

 

 

There are many other problems but those are the biggest of them that has made DU this bad and needing to downsize their budget and as a result their playerbase.

 

 

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2 hours ago, blundertwink said:

NQ 2018: "single shard is fantastic! Everyone will be able to see your work and build without limits!"

NQ 2022: "single shard is expensive...everyone must pay taxes and stay under new core and complexity limits!"

It feels like DU turned into some kind of art performance: "The Deconstruction of a Game"

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9 minutes ago, Maxim Kammerer said:

It feels like DU turned into some kind of art performance: "The Deconstruction of a Game"

 

You could honestly write an entire textbook about game design and development using DU as an example of what to avoid. 

 

I think the most important points would be: 

 

1. If this is your first ever game (as it was for JC/NQ), make something simple. Many (if not most) novices overreach with their first project and either fail or don't finish as a result. Likely the most common mistake in game dev, overall...have some humility, learn from your first projects. 

 

2. Design before you build. You need a very good, very detailed plan before you start throwing down code, especially for a big project. JC didn't do that, he made a prototype and started to build the game around that. Again, a very common mistake for novices to make...and a critical mistake that quickly snowballs

 

3. Common sense: good designs are simple to learn but difficult to master. DU has a number of odd design choices that are complex to learn but don't have any real depth or mastery...complexity for the sake of complexity is objectively bad. Game design is even more important for a project than tech, so do it right and respect it as a discipline. 


4. Build foundations carefully: build your core to be robust, scalable, performant, and maintainable. DU has struggled with its core for the last 8 years -- the foundations aren't solid, so the rest of the game isn't solid, and coding anything takes an eternity. You can't do this without #2 -- there's no way short of genius or random luck to design a really solid technical core without a really solid design plan...we know that DU hasn't had a real plan because after 7-8 years there's still no precise details about how PvP in this game will work...hah! 

 

TLDR: DU started as basically JC's hobby, not a professional studio with the experience required to ship something at this level of scale and ambition. Even with the changes in leadership, the mistakes made early on as a direct result of inexperience are not simple to fix...and might not be fixable. 

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2 hours ago, Warlander said:
  1. with systems like territory scanning with no limit on ships leading to people scanning 27 tiles at once (max range) and then strip mining mega nodes and juice tiles around the clock

 

Actually, can do more than 27- past 30 and it feels like you're wasting time/resources to pickup and deploy them. A tomahawk with 33 scanners is a hefty ship haha. I still recall having 120+ scanners active on lacobus doing a scan op with friends, good times....

I miss the scanner gameplay. I feel it's dead now, except for a few that like to scan/sell tiles. Was actually stoked NQ deleted all my scans, gave me a reason to scan again! though once I found all the ore I wanted; ran out of a reason to keep scanning... so now I alone own 2 scan ships with 50+ scanners, and the org has 2 with 50+ laying around just collecting dust. I stare at them every once in a while to remember the good times.

with Demeter giving us "salvaging" and "unlimited ore" they also largely removed emergent gameplay of

  • Removal/Nerf of hauling packages for other people with VR Mission Nerf(still a thing, but waaaaay less so) 
  • Removal of In Ground Mining - Replaced with taxes & required mini games, somehow worse than manually mining....
  • Removal/Nerf of scanning gameplay - Once you have your field/s... no reason keep scanning?
  • Removal/Nerf of vanity projects. I saw several artwork/installations go unclaimed due to taxes.

 

I love DU- though I'm even finding myself taking a step back from it a bit lately. I wait to see how they implement the vertex editor for voxels, and how they handle the next update in general. Haven't wanted to work on a new ship with so many changes looming (weird stacked element issues, airbrake changes confirmed yet? Voxel complexity may nerf/break ships?!?, no vertex tool yet) Those are huge unknowns, and due to that- haven't wanted to invest in creating content for the game when it'll most likely need to be reworked due to this update coming- and because NQ doesn't communicate their intentions more clearly, makes it very hard to maneuver around.

What do you do when you have a factory that makes everything, enough resources to do anything, and a game world that leaves nothing to be desired?

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On 1/24/2022 at 10:19 PM, Zeddrick said:

It does sometimes feel a bit like I imagine Second lLife would be with no player hitpoints/fall damage/etc, no way to lose a ship, etc.  But that's really because, as you say, they only really got the 'Second Life - like' parts of the game really right.  I guess I'm a bit biased because I came for the original vision and have an EvE background so I probably would never have come to a game which was pitched as Second Life in space.  I'm not even sure it would be as big as you say it would -- sci-fi themed things are always going to be a bit niche and wasn't the whole point of SL to be something which could appeal to everyone?

I played EVE too. Got bored. (TBH also lost a lot of money to pirates on a risky haul and didn't have the motivation to rebuild.) The sci-fi game market is huge right now - partly due to the whole space travel zeitgeist. The PC gaming market is also twice as big as it was during Second Life's heyday. There's also a massive demographic wave of players coming who grew out of Minecraft, took their billion dollar spend into Roblox, and will next come looking for something pitched more at adults - but still in the building/coding genre, and ideally also tapping into the space trend. I reckon if NQ got this right, they could easily exceed Second Life.

Edited by Megabosslord
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18 hours ago, blundertwink said:

 

You could honestly write an entire textbook about game design and development using DU as an example of what to avoid. 

 

I think the most important points would be: 

 

1. If this is your first ever game (as it was for JC/NQ), make something simple. Many (if not most) novices overreach with their first project and either fail or don't finish as a result. Likely the most common mistake in game dev, overall...have some humility, learn from your first projects. 

 

2. Design before you build. You need a very good, very detailed plan before you start throwing down code, especially for a big project. JC didn't do that, he made a prototype and started to build the game around that. Again, a very common mistake for novices to make...and a critical mistake that quickly snowballs

 

3. Common sense: good designs are simple to learn but difficult to master. DU has a number of odd design choices that are complex to learn but don't have any real depth or mastery...complexity for the sake of complexity is objectively bad. Game design is even more important for a project than tech, so do it right and respect it as a discipline. 


4. Build foundations carefully: build your core to be robust, scalable, performant, and maintainable. DU has struggled with its core for the last 8 years -- the foundations aren't solid, so the rest of the game isn't solid, and coding anything takes an eternity. You can't do this without #2 -- there's no way short of genius or random luck to design a really solid technical core without a really solid design plan...we know that DU hasn't had a real plan because after 7-8 years there's still no precise details about how PvP in this game will work...hah! 

 

TLDR: DU started as basically JC's hobby, not a professional studio with the experience required to ship something at this level of scale and ambition. Even with the changes in leadership, the mistakes made early on as a direct result of inexperience are not simple to fix...and might not be fixable. 

I would also add valuing your players time and input, and making sure you have relevant talent in your design and dev team, i.e.: DU's core functionality around building and scripting in LUA hasn't been materially improved since alpha - and still has some issues that were raised by players back in the original alpha Trello like static BP alignment. It feels like there's no one inside NQ really driving improvements there.

Edited by Megabosslord
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