One of the more humorous aspects of life in the contemporary world is the mania that people have for change for the sake of change. There is a widespread belief, and it has been the case for some time, that change for the sake of change is going to be appreciated by others, when this has often been proven not to be the case. To be sure, there are some people who have a chronological bias in favor of new things, but it has frequently been my experience that a great many people (myself included) have quite the opposite bias. It is particularly amusing to see this bias take place in the world of games, a world I have a great deal of interest in even if it is not one that tends to be taken seriously as a harbinger of attitudes.
So it was that last night while I was doing work I found myself also listening to a livestream that was taking place for someone who found an interesting exploit in the latest release for Europa Universalis 4, the Leviathan DLC that had made some major changes to Southeast Asia and other peoples in order to try to make some areas of the world more playable and attractive. This person found an exploit where by starting in Samoa, and choosing to be stateless as well as having the Poynesian Kingdom form of government, he could have negative government capacity, thus creating a situation where division over zero gave him massive bonuses to other aspects of his nation. It is quite possible that this exploit will be patched–or else playing Samoa is going to be the new meta for world conquest because of the massive benefits to be gained when one has negative governing capacity, and thus paradoxically infinite governing capacity–but it is emblematic of larger issues.
Despite the new mechanics, including strong galleys and the ability to amass ridiculous amounts of development in one’s capital by virtue of new mechanics that allow one to siphon off development from one’s vassals as well as enemies in peace deals to one’s capital, thus leading to high amounts of income as a result, the new Leviathan DLC has not received high scores immediately after release online. There are definitely some bugs that have led to intense problems that some people have had playing the game. Even one of the people at Paradox responsible for developing the game is upset that so much time and support has been spent on features that gamers appear not to use, such as random map modes. It is hard to know what people want and hard to motivate them to spend money and be happy about them, even if EU4 as a game is one that has a high degree of enjoyment relative to its cost for those who like historical simulation sandbox games, and I must admit that I do.
It is very hard for people to distinguish between two types of change. On the one hand, there are undoubtedly aspects of all of our lives and all of our personalities and character that require change so that we may improve. To the extent that one has a goal of self-improvement of any kind, change is required. We may change our diet, change our habits, learn new languages, and the like. All of this is change that we may freely adopt for ourselves, recognizing that it requires effort and is unfamiliar but is worthwhile for one reason or another. Most change, though, is not of this kind. When a tech company changes the way its programs work, whether by adding features or removing them or changing the user interface, this change is not done for the sake of improvement generally, but frequently merely for the sake of novelty. And novelty is the sort of change that offers no permanent change, but merely something different than before that is no better and frequently worse for being different, worse because it is unproven and untested and has to have its bugs worked out and corrected, thus requirement more useless effort and more pointless change, often of a sort that people do not desire. How did we end up this way?