Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa

2021-11-15

Header Art by Major Sniper

I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word and deed

We all make mistakes; no one is perfect.  Has not everyone reading this article not admitted to someone else “I fucked up. I’m going to try and do better; please forgive me?”  It’s a natural thing to do, as humans, to recognize our failures and to try and do better.  It’s natural to apologize to those we’ve hurt, to keep our relationships strong. We also crave absolution and forgiveness, to know that it’s going to be okay, that our mistake hasn’t caused irreparable harm.  Why then can CCP not manage to do any of these?

Exsurge Domini

Now, stay with me, I’ll get us there, but first we need to go back to October 31st, 1517.  Martin Luther, rather upset with certain practices of the Roman Catholic Church, specifically indulgences, decided to—unbeknownst to him—kick off the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther also, unwittingly, provided a convenient excuse to a multitude of nobles and monarchs who were chafing under the power of the Catholic Church.  Additionally, these nobles and monarchs realized if they could kick out the church, they could take the church’s stuff.  The lure of power and wealth together was just too good to pass up. Some of them might have even believed in the reformation

So, in Denmark, King Christian III took over the religion of the country from the Holy See.  More importantly, King Christian III was also the ruler of Iceland, a territory of Denmark.  And King Christian III kicked the Catholics out of Iceland, including executing the bishop and his two sons. (Rome was a long way away from Reykjavik.)

Examination of Conscience

There are very few groups that do guilt like Catholics.  The basic premise of the religion is that God became man and then died painfully to give the forgiveness of sins.  I have never, ever been to a mass where this issue wasn’t highlighted multiple times. Yes, I am a Roman Catholic. I mentioned to my priest during my first Lent after conversion that “no one really does guilt like Catholics.” He was almost in tears when he replied, “That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

The order of mass, the sacrament of reconciliation (confession), the rosary, and other things all serve to remind a Catholic that ‘you are a sinner, don’t forget it.  Be better.’

Funny story: I grew up protestant. Protestant guilt isn’t a thing.

Since King Christian purged Iceland of the Catholics in 1550, Iceland has enjoyed several centuries of guilt free living.  Not only that, but Iceland, being such an isolated rock in the North Atlantic, has developed its own, very distinct culture.  The Mittani even alluded to this on the Meta Show’s Winter of Discontent: Iceland is very non-confrontational.  They are not only non-confrontational to each other, they are non confrontational to themselves.

Bless Me Father For I Have Sinned

In the late 2000s in America, the famous pizza company Dominos launched a new advertising campaign: We’re Sorry for Sucking.  It was true; Dominos pizza sucked. The CEO of the company featured in video ads where he admitted that the customers were right.  Their crust tasted like cardboard; their sauce was blander than ketchup; their cheese was one step above imitation cheese.

They admitted their faults, but more importantly, they corrected their course.  Dominos introduced a new recipe for their crust, better quality of toppings, and a bolder, more flavorful sauce.  Let me repeat that; it’s important.  Dominos admitted they sucked, and then made pizza that didn’t suck. If someone had invested 1 million USD in Dominos right before their sorry campaign, that investment would have been worth 47 million USD a decade later.

That’s It?

It can be hard to admit one’s fault and ask for forgiveness.  After not going to confession for well over a year due to covid, and being willing to cop to pretty much every sin except murder, I was very hesitant to go.  So, when I, after confessing to everything short of murder, recieved only three Hail Marys as penance, I actually asked the priest, “That’s it?”

CCP hasn’t apologized since Hilmar had the fiction team write something after the Summer of Rage.  Their modus operandi has been to double down, never admit fault, and attack their critics.  In a way it reminds me of another notable figure, though the name escapes me right now.

Blackout, Chaos Era, everything ex-CCP Greyscale did, Incarna, Valkyrie, Dust 514, World of Darkness; the list of CCP’s mistakes is long.  The number of times ex-CCP Falcon attacked and insulted players on reddit for daring to criticize CCP, is greater still.  CCP Rattati apparently went to the same school of public relations that Falcon did.  

We can, and do rightly blame CCP for their failings, but let’s also remember to blame Martin Luther. CCP needs to get some of that guilt Iceland purged hundreds of years ago.  The first step to self improvement is humility.

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Comments

  • Rammel Kas

    I think the symbolism of the rite somewhat overshadows the idea that your contrition is meant to start the process of rebuilding whatever harm your action or inaction may have caused in the people who have contact with you. So the limited act of saying a couple prayers is more so meant to make you think.

    This wider touch is a thing that is very subtle, but you can find it’s absence startling. I think there’s more to your line of questioning.

    November 15, 2021 at 9:10 AM
  • Michael Porter

    Great Article

    November 15, 2021 at 10:56 AM
    • Winston Archer Michael Porter

      Actually I think this article has a huge hole in it – for what does CCP actually need to apologize for? Sometimes I think players think a little more of themselves than they ought.

      November 15, 2021 at 6:14 PM
      • Garreth Vlox Winston Archer

        Shitting up the game with bad updates, based on bad assumptions about their own game that they don’t play enough to properly understand.

        November 15, 2021 at 7:36 PM
      • Why does any company say “We messed up/misread the situation”?

        November 15, 2021 at 11:27 PM
  • Guilford Australis

    Two thoughts:

    (1). On the religion metaphors, I appreciate the reference to Protestant lords in the HRE seizing lands owned by the Vatican. I’m not sure too many people are even aware of that. I wrote my Master’s thesis on the Edict of Restitution and its effects on the Thirty Years War.

    (2). I’m not sure CCP’s lack of apology and amends is a matter of guilt or religious history. Modern society, particularly in politics, has established that there is no benefit to admitting guilt. If you apologize publicly for wrongdoing, no one will accept it, and you’ll probably lose your job and become a social outcast anyway. If you just press on and refuse to acknowledge it, denying you’ve done anything wrong, there will be literally no penalty and you’ll probably be fine.

    November 15, 2021 at 1:23 PM
  • Canti Ludan

    To Quote the song Psalm 69 by Ministry, “The way to succeed and the way to suck eggs”

    November 15, 2021 at 3:08 PM
  • Gray Doc

    A very interesting article, thought-provoking in many ways.

    Martin Luther kicked off even more than you gave him credit for. Once it was established that an “authority” figure wasn’t always “authoritative,” and that people could think for themselves, you got revolutions in politics, in the family, and in economic practices. Would we have had Marx or Rousseau or Voltaire or Lenin if not for Martin Luther?

    Your Dominos example was spot on and should be a lesson to other companies and to individuals. People actually LIKE the opportunity to forgive others. It makes them feel benevolent. So, when someone like Aaron Rogers finally admits some fault in deceiving the American football loving public, people are pretty quick (too quick?) to forgive him.

    It’s the narcissist that cannot admit failure and places all blame on others. Can companies become narcissistic? Or political movements?

    Guilt and religion. Sure. But believe me, protestants can be loaded with guilt.

    November 15, 2021 at 5:28 PM
    • “Martin Luther kicked off even more than you gave him credit for. Once it was established that an “authority” figure wasn’t always “authoritative,” and that people could think for themselves, you got revolutions in politics, in the family, and in economic practices. Would we have had Marx or Rousseau or Voltaire or Lenin if not for Martin Luther?”

      Oh, I am well aware. Though, a lot of that was outside the scope of the article. Arrendis has heard my rants about how the protestant reformation led to the “Evangelicals” in America, who ruin everything they touch.

      I’m about one papal bull short of going full Torquemada.

      November 16, 2021 at 12:27 AM
  • Winston Archer

    Why do you feel as though CCP needs to ask for forgiveness? They’re a private company trying to make a game profitable. After all, if it isn’t profitable, then there isn’t any game. Calm down and go back to church and talk to your priest – as for me, I think CCP is doing a fine job.

    November 15, 2021 at 6:12 PM
    • Guilford Australis Winston Archer

      Check out this link to player login data since 2003 and then tell me with a straight face you think CCP is doing a fine job.

      At the time of this comment, there are 26k users logged in. Circa 2012, that would have been 50k on a *bad* day. The record of roughly 65k was in 2013. The high water mark of EVE was eight years ago, and logins have gone straight in the crapper very swiftly since the brief spike in 2016 from the Ascension release (Alphas).

      This ship is sinking. It is sinking very rapidly at this point. Players are trying to bail out the water, but CCP is down in the bilge with sledgehammers bashing big, splintery holes in the hull to make it sink even faster.

      November 15, 2021 at 7:30 PM
      • The question is, why does the parent company not see this and put different people in charge to protect their investment?

        November 16, 2021 at 5:58 PM
        • Garreth Vlox Lrrp

          Because there hasn’t been enough of a financial backlash yet. Big daddy owner isn’t going to step in until CCP fucks up badly enough that their profits nosedive. It’s time to pull another incarna folks, a mass unsubbing is pretty much the only thing that CCP listens too anymore, it worked with incarna, it worked with blackout and it seems it’s time for round 3.

          November 17, 2021 at 12:50 AM
    • Garreth Vlox Winston Archer

      “After all, if it isn’t profitable, then there isn’t any game”

      A couple more fun nerfing patches and there won’t be a population left to be profitable.

      November 15, 2021 at 7:35 PM
    • I listed some of the reasons in the article, but really, the declining player count speaks for itself.
      I am more interested in knowing if you believe that a private company never has need to apologize?

      November 15, 2021 at 7:52 PM
      • chthulan Alizabeth

        Fuck I hate this situation.

        Eve is the game I’ve played longest, ever, by a wide margin, longer than 10 years now. It is exactly what I want from a complex game of Internet spaceships.

        Except the game is going away from me. I’m becoming less and less enthusiastic about logging in as CCP seems care less and less about making players – customers, if you will – happy.

        What is wrong with them?

        November 16, 2021 at 9:02 PM
        • Garreth Vlox chthulan

          Same thing that’s been wrong since Incarna, company leadership has it’s head up it’s ass and middle management and the dev teams are following that example.

          November 17, 2021 at 12:51 AM
    • Arrendis Winston Archer

      Here’s an example:

      CCP went out and announced a bunch of changes to Rorquals. Nullsec miners across the game basically told them ‘this change is bad. If you make this change, it will be horribly abused and will lead to capital proliferation the likes of which God Himself has never seen.’ CCP responded with ‘lol, no, it’ll be fine. By the way, we’re also introducing SKILL INJECTORs, in case you all feel like you want to go out and inject all your alts into Rorquals’ and then gave us a big wink.

      Then they went out and, in a move even individual devs will admit (in person, where there’s no record of it) that it was a naked cash-grab. The company itself, though? Nothing.

      All that, by the way? That’d be right about the time you were starting the game. So it’s not really surprising that it’s not a part of your awareness. But it’s definitely a thing those of us with longer memories have held onto.

      Two years later, CCP suddenly decided ‘OMG, there are too many capitals and supercapitals! People have too much wealth stockpiled in Ore, Moon Goo, and other assets! You players have totally screwed up our game! We have to DO something about this!’

      Did they, at any point, admit fault? Did they acknowledge that players can only play the game that they, the developers, have given us? Did they even make the tiniest gesture to say ‘you know what, you guys were right, that change to Rorqs was bad. Oops’?

      No. No, they did not. We’ve had 2 years of scarcity and seen overly-complicated industry changes again and again now—changes which do not make the game more interesting for industrialists, or introduce more rewarding gameplay, as CCP claimed they would do, only more complexity and tedium—because they didn’t listen to us then.

      We’ve told them when each of these changes were announced that these changes would not solve the problem. We’ve told them exactly what impact the changes would have… and then the changes had those impacts: Capital ship production ground to a complete halt. Capital sales have ground down as well, because the demand just isn’t there at the build cost the new system has created. They haven’t listened to that, either.

      We’ve progressively gotten more and more annoyed about these changes, and the fact that even as the exact same people are proven right time and again, and the exact same people are proven wrong, time and again, CCP insists the always-wrong guys will get it right this time, and completely fails to even acknowledge that they ever got anything wrong.

      Instead, they’ve maintained that it’s the players who’ve messed things up by using the tools they gave us in the ways that they designed those tools to work.

      And you don’t think that merits an apology, or the very least, a simple acknowledgment of error?

      November 15, 2021 at 9:04 PM
      • Lrrp Arrendis

        This all seems terribly like the catholic church and it’s pedophile culture. The hierarchy of both organizations refuse to see they have a problem. If you can’t see you have a problem you’ll never solve it. And so Eve’s problems won’t be fixed. I’m wondering if we shouldn’t be, as a group, be looking for another game we can migrate to an. Quite frankly I’ve played this game since 2005, nothing has changed much.

        What I have seen is the enormous ineptness of CCP as have most of you. I guess when a company owners get paid 450 million and then tolld to keep operational control, they have no reason to care what we think

        November 16, 2021 at 4:24 PM
        • Arrendis Lrrp

          200. They didn’t get the performance-based bonus.

          November 22, 2021 at 4:02 PM
    • It is fine that you think CCP are doing a fine job. I am sure some people also thought Dominos pizza was fine

      November 15, 2021 at 11:28 PM
  • Voynich

    Beautiful article. I enjoyed reading it. Ironically my childhood friend runs Domino’s Iceland group. I would visit him in Denmark on his trips to Iceland when we were both there. I am forwarding him your article. He will have no idea what CCP or EvE is. But he will understand its business state.

    November 15, 2021 at 11:59 PM
  • Elithiel en Gravonere

    The Protestant reformation was indeed a simple power grab. I think it was only the Anabaptists that actually followed through all the way with an actual reformation (the radical reformation). It so reminds me of CCP and the power grab they’ve been going for. They’re determined to put the players in their place like the good little German Peasants they are and tax them to high heaven. Then they wonder why they end up with the Peasants revolution on their hands and the Siege of Jita being the equivalent of the Siege of Munster (look it up).

    Will they sacrifice their bottom line on the Altar of Pride or will they, learn some humility and turn the other cheek I wonder? If we are to ever have the abundance and wealth of Switzerland again as players, will we need to rebel against Zwingli? Does CCP think they’re impenetrable like Calvin with his ideas on Eternal Security and Predestination? I guess we shall see in the coming days…

    November 16, 2021 at 3:00 AM
    • This comment makes me incredibly happy. The intersection between history, religion, and internet spaceship nerdism is a fun place to be.

      November 16, 2021 at 3:42 AM
  • William Doe

    Path of Exile went through a very similar thing less 4 months ago when they released patch 3.15.

    It was bad and there was so many nerfs many people uninstalled the game, playercount dropped no less than 30% on average. Head of the Studio and lead dev in Chris Wilson of Grinding Gear Games (makers of PoE) basically went on a publicity tour on several PoE podcasts fielding questions from streamers/content creators who gathered up questions from the community as to the rationale for all the absurd nerfs. Fast forward to 3.16 launch, the game recovered a decent chunk of players who quit or uninstalled (including myself) since a good number of the nerfs were undone, or buffs elsewhere were implemented, or a few new QoL changes were added.

    While the fallout of the 3.15 patch wasn’t completely undone, it did force GGG to reconsider being so heavyhanded with all their nerfs and realized it affects the bottomline when it leads a considerable vocal chunk of the playerbase to stop playing and stop buying MTX. I don’t exactly recall if Chris (as the public face of both GGG and PoE itself) ever really made a full apology, but the efforts to undo the damage was at least recognized.

    November 16, 2021 at 12:05 PM
    • Guilford Australis William Doe

      Interesting case study. CCP does something similar, just generally without rolling back nerfs. Instead of simply taking something that was mega-nerfed and making it the way it was back when players actually enjoyed it, CCP develops a bunch of semi-related new features no one wanted to confuse players about whether the problem has been fixed or they’re just getting screwed even more (“obfusticating the meta”, as you put it).

      November 16, 2021 at 5:33 PM
      • William Doe Guilford Australis

        What’s terrifying about PoE is the amount of mechanics that have been added on since the start and inception of the game. It was originally just a 2D isometric ARPG taking inspiration from Diablo 2 of all things. Then it evolved to the monstrosity that it is today. It’s terrifying due to the devs add a new mechanic whether new skills, something to extend the gameplay loop/tedium, and so on. And it’s like clockwork too, one thing you can’t fault GGG is that they bust their ass in regards to strict adherence to schedule as they release major patches basically every 13-14 weeks (just shy of 4 months). The game gets more and more complicated.

        When 3.16 came out, the page with the patch notes was expected to be massively long. It was long even without the spoilers enabled to show more intricate details, but with it it’s pretty goddamn long.
        Over 190,000 characters, 31,000+ words, 1900+ lines.
        https://www.pathofexile.com/forum/view-thread/3186390

        I had a friend who played it and enjoyed it and got decently far around 4 years ago, but he never really came back since at this point the game feels different with all the new mechanics in the game since then since it overwhelmed him despite the core gameplay loop wasn’t changed all that much. It’s one of those games where you’re going to have to spend many hours reading the wiki, using third party tools and such just to figure out how to play optimally, even worse as a new player.

        November 16, 2021 at 6:43 PM