Showing posts with label CSM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CSM. Show all posts

Friday, 27 January 2017

Schrödinger's CSM

Got that? Great. So now it is empirically obvious that the Council of Stellar Management (CSM), which by the way is neither a council, stellar nor manages anything, is the retirement home for the Eve undead aka bittervets, delusional opportunists and endgamers. Why? OK

Obviously, if Schrödinger was still alive you could imagine him playing Eve. I mean the mentality that considers putting a cat in a steel box (non consensually I might add) with poison, a hammer, a radioactive source and a Geiger counter tells you there is something of New Eden about the man. 

As if this cruelty wasn't enough his "thought" experiment went on. When the radioactive source emits whatever it emits (cats don't care about such things I would imagine) the Geiger counter dutifully picks this up and informs the hammer to smash the poison container, which in turn releases the poison that kills the poor moggy. Artistic but perhaps a tad over engineered.

The point being radioactive decay is random so there is no way of knowing when the cute kitten will meet its grisly end. The cat's existential state is unknown until you open the box and are greeted by the smell. The cat can be thought of as both alive and dead at the same time until it is observed. The act of observing the cat changes its state.

Which brings me to the CSM. What observations can we make. Well none obviously because of the Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) they all loyally sign. The NDA is the steel box in CCP's faux democracy thought experiment. Sure, they will tell you that lots of useful things were discussed and concerns raised. But when you ask for real information about important stuff (i.e. not yet another tedious rebalance)  then the fountain of knowledge dries up with the NDA being the cited cause. So no means of observation and the CSM have a valid reason for not being accountable to their voters. Ergo, an undead zombie cat of an organisation

Now there are good reasons why CCP won't tell us stuff. They don't need a CSM to not tell us stuff though. They are quite capable of doing that themselves. That hardly adds value. And actually we don't need the CSM to not tell us stuff either. A point the player base collectively told them last year:

That's right. Only 22345 accounts (less people because of multiple accounts) voted for people to not tell us stuff last year. With the CSM summit coming up it looks like taking it to the next level and will not be telling us LIVE!

Of course, the CSM would say from within their steel box that I am missing the point and they are doing an excellent job helping CCP get things right. But CCP haven't been getting things right. Player activity went off a cliff with the Citadels Expansion (but no changes since so zero impact CSM). Pay to Win Omega, while implemented well, is looking like a dead cat bounce (mixing metaphors I know):

The initial honeymoon in attracting FTP new players is over and those figures are heading south too:

If this is excellent work, I would hate to see bad work. CCP have played the only card they had in their back pocket (FTP) at the expense of broader game development. It hasn't gone terribly but it hasn't worked. Maybe I am wrong (but I can't open to box to know) but something smells not excellent.

Of course, some of the CSM do occasionally reach out for information. They are not bad people. But they are not professionals either and it can go badly wrong when it isn't conducted well as this poor guy found out. CCP should be doing this assuming they are actually interested in this sort of feedback.

Fundamentally, the CSM was only good for the entertainment value it provided with all the backbiting and other tomfoolery.This year it hasn't even provided that and has become about as fun as paying inflated brokers fees. There is no justifiable reason for the CSM to exist now. There is no function that it does that couldn't be done by other established and likely more effective means. The CSM might not be dead but it is not alive either. Don't vote for it. It is time for both CCP and us the players to grow up and stop pissing around with pretend politics if we really want Eve to survive

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

An Anarcho Syndicalist in #tweetfleet

So it has been an interesting couple of days . For those of you afflicted by my tweets in #tweetfleet you can now relax as normal service is now resumed. However the whole story behind what motivated me to do that, and the things I learnt from doing might be interesting to some of you. It certainly surprised me.

I'll try and get the motivation for doing this out the way quite quickly because that is straight forward. I have come to loathe the CSM and haven't been shy about saying it. It should be torched for the reasons I laid out in Crossing Zebras back in January. It is only my opinion and I hadn't told people to vote or not vote or indeed shove a list of endorsements down anyone's throat for them to blindly follow. If turkeys want to vote for Christmas that is entirely their choice and one I respect. I'll just enjoy the "I told you so" meal later was my thinking. However it didn't work out that way.

Of all the Eve fora, Twitter is probably the most light hearted as well as being informative. It is the one I engage in most. When the CSM election started, there was naturally a lot of noise and even some excitement about it. But the tone quickly changed to one of calling people dumb and negative for not voting. Even CCP got in on the act. To be fair, much of it was tongue in cheek but the case for not voting is genuine and most people won't vote. Calling the majority of the playerbase dumb, is well just dumb. It was a voice that needed to be heard and I arrogantly decided to try and convey it.

Many will know I am an ingame carebear. Some might know I role play a closet anarcho-syndicalist . I won't bore you with why but if  someone accuses me of being pro or anti some group or other they are rather missing the point. I am anti ALL groups. Happy to work with people but never to work for people. While we are both refuseniks in our own way, when someone compares me with Gevlon, as has happened on a couple of times, we really are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Anyway, I mention this because this became the basis behind my anti CSM tweetrage. For those that missed them I give you a selection below:

You get the picture. Not exactly Marx's dialectic but he didn't have to contend with a limit of 142 characters. What then happened was interesting. What started as a grumpy guy sperging turned into more of a social observation. Most people ignored me initially for it was the utterings of a madman and hoping I would go away eventually. I expected this and I also expected to lose followers. But the opposite happened and I gained some. Nothing spectacular but more people were switched on than were switched off.

As I ploughed on people started to challenge me both seriously and in fun.  But they were almost entirely from a very select group - CSM candidates and non aligned ones at that. Now they obviously have a vested interest. They are struggling to pick up scraps of non block votes. But the only counter argument they could put of any merit was that a non vote was vote for the blocks. But STV guarantees the Imperium and PL are going to get seats regardless so point is moot. But interestingly it was a popular view yet no one is campaigning in the manner I briefly did to appeal to the anti block vote. In fact most of the candidates seem to be talking to each other in the #CSM slack channel rather than campaigning to the electorate. I am really not sure where this complacency comes from. At no point did anyone defend the CSM as an institution or address the contrived points I was making. So most people just don't care (and will likely not vote) or they agree (and will likely not vote). No one is selling the CSM.

Step in CCP...
Hmm.. so why didn't they do that this year? CCP Guard comes to the rescue!

Not an overwhelming response and unfortunately it turns out people are more interested in a pencils and pens than the CSM!

Then things really got weird... or should it be desperate?

So much for putting the case for the CSM as an institution then. There was nothing for it then but to do CCP's and the CSM candidates job for them. I went for the jugular.
You will notice that CCP Fozzie deleted the message I retweeted. That particular tweet had been an extremely provocative message that directly undermined the role, work and purpose of the current CSM. The CSM complained bitterly about it yet it remained. Up until yesterday that is, when my stupid little campaign allowed him the opportunity him to reflect and delete it to replace it with this:
At little victory and my work is now done. The CSM has hope if attitudes change. But the onus is on you candidates. If I can achieve something - (a little something but something the CSM never achieved) with just 4 days ranting why can't you? Stop talking to each other get out the and make a fuss. Fight for your game and win the respect of your peers.

Finally, a shoutout to Nosy Gamer who was almost the only person to tackle me full on and do it with humour. Vive La Revolution!

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Does one swallow make a summer?

It's like waiting for a London bus. You wait ages for CCP to provide some basic life signs in their relationship with the CSM and then suddenly they spew a plethora of blogs, tweets and minutes at you. 

The summit has been declared a productive success. As the various CSM members - well those that bothered to attend, descended down the aircraft steps, clutching drafts of the minutes, peace in our time between the CSM and CCP was declared. Neville Chamberlain will be so proud of them.

To be fair, it is good that the summit did take place, even if it was in a reduced form. It is also good that CCP Seagull finally put words of support behind it. Something she hasn't felt disposed to do since before Eve Vegas. But does it actually mean anything? This time last year CCP Seagull and the CSM9 were saying the same sage things.  The CSM is really really useful and if we can only just sort out its purpose and tweak the communication issues it will all be fine.

It wasn't. The first 6 weeks of CSMX were serenaded with the sound of silence because setting up CSM/CCP comms channel were not given priority.  There then followed a couple of months where some work seemed to happen - I did participate in the Wormhole/structures chats for example, and there was a summit. After that there was the capital ships leak at which point CSMX was effectively shut down by the Devs. Now we are told it is all ok now so we might get a few more weeks work out of CMSX. But that is it. Out of a 12 month term we got maybe 4-5 months representation. The rest was filled with finger pointing, backbiting and sulking.

CSM XI won't be fine either. Someone will leak. Some devs will take their ball home to circumvent it and drama will ensue. We still be no wiser about what the CSM is for. Actually, no it be will worse than that. Eve Updates doesn't tell us any more than we knew 9 months ago. Citadels in spring and then nothing. So even if the CSM became a world leading institution there is no way to know who is the most appropriate CSM candidates would be. Low Sec, Industrialist, more Null Sec? Who knows.

So no, good as the summit might have been we only have words and very tired words at that.  I am not going to vote for it and I no have metrics to gauge which candidates I should endorse or deserve to be fed into this futile exercise.  

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

No Meta in this Madness

Timing is, as the cliché goes, everything. If you are going to release targeted and potentially juicy private conversations, make sure it happens at the point of maximum embarrassment to the victim. And thus we have a new CSM leak occurring during the CSM Summit in Iceland. Well played! 

Or is it? Timing is everything. The leak was timed to occur after the first day of the summit. The first day of the summit covered Capitals. So a wild deduction here. Someone thought lets find out about the capital changes first before we throw in the hand grenade. An indication of the leaker(s) self interest perhaps? Perhaps not. Either way, there is no denying the leak is salacious stuff, but the manner of its exposure has more in common with a fellow student telling tales to teacher rather than any high thinking trade-craft.

Then we have the scale of the leak. It wasn't just one. It was a waterfall to the point of overkill. Whoever was doing it doesn't have high expertise in the dark art of character assassination. That doesn't mean it won't be effective. The person involved has questions to answer. But the ham fisted shrapnel blast of pastebin detritus also gives the person grounds for sympathy. Not only is the leaker(s) attempting to hang the person but they want to draw and quarter them as well. It comes across as a vendetta which may perhaps cloud the purpose of the leak. Fundamentally, this is an act of spite, not a high thinking tactical play. A lot of good intel was burnt necessarily. 

And that takes us to the content itself. It wouldn't be the hardest thing to deduce most of the parties involved in the leaked comms. With a bit of effort you can probably figure out the source (not necessarily the same person(s) as the leaker(s)). In order to get at one person, the culprits have introduced is a lot a messy collateral damage that will probably be counter productive in the end. This is amateur stuff and some bridges have been unnecessarily burnt.

Quite how the CSM summit or the CSM itself goes forward from this is anyone's guess. Awkward. Ultimately, however CCP choose to deal with it, it will be a far more intelligent approach than simply behaving like sulking and spiteful juvenile students. Besides, if my experience at school taught me anything, beyond pyrrhic victories, the teachers could always out meta the delinquent students in the end.

Declaration of interest

  1. As an occasional writer on Crossing Zebras, I work with the particular CSM member involved. However,
  2. It is no secret I am no supporter of the CSM institution. Yes, there are good people who work on the CSM. However, this event underlines precisely why the circus should be closed down.

Monday, 1 February 2016

CCP Stopping the Press... sort of.

Billy Brag - a British singer/songwriter, used to have an interesting approach to writing a love song. He would try avoid using the word "love" as he thought it was a lazy way to describe something that as we all know is profoundly complex and dammed confusing. Were this made compulsory I can think of a whole raft of terrible songs that would simply disappear in a puff of logic. Sadly this will never happen. I say this to help illustrate a problem. How to write about the CSM without mentioning the actual word. I am struggling but I am open to suggestions. But here I am with another clickbaity post on the topic and I can't just help but feel a little cheap and dirty. This isn't another grr CSM article. Been there, done that,  read my Crossing Zebras piece. I shall take some solace in that.

However the latest catastrophising around the CSM does raise some interesting questions. For those that don't know - and that will be most people I guess, CCP changed the eligibility conditions for CSM candidates. Now CCP are perfectly entitled to do that. The CSM is their creation, they pay for it and they claim it has a purpose that is 'useful', even though they have not spoken to it for 6 months. Maybe they can write it off against tax.(I know, I should just let it go). ANYWAY, the most contentious change is that owners and paid employees of gaming media sites are now barred from being on the CSM. Originally is appeared to be more wider in that even a sad little blogger like me who earns nothing (I don't monetize) would be regarded as an existential threat to CCP's business, but it has been refined in that this now impacts only sites that cover other games. So as long as I don't do a paid review of Tetris I am safe. Assuming of course I was barking enough to actually want to be on the CSM and deluded enough to think that someone would actually vote for me.

You can see the sense in the new rule. If you are paid to work under an Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) for a gaming site as well being a CSM under a different NDA for CCP and the site boss demands you provide some inside knowledge to justify your wage then what are you going to do? Feed the kids or enjoy a nice trip to Iceland? There is obviously a conflict of interest and hungry kids make a lot of noise.

So on that level, it is not an entirely unreasonable rule change but of course that is not quite the whole story. The process as to how the rule change came to be is not at all transparent. The White paper that contains the change was originally presented to the CSM to assure. However the version they saw did not contain the change. It was added later. Quite who decided to add it and why they chose to do it deliberately without consultation. My speculation is that it originated from somewhere other than the CCP Leeloo or CCP Falcon. If it did come from one of them then it would have needed sign off from someone higher up in CCP. Either way someone decided to intercede at a late stage with wording that was so initially ambiguous that it would have excluded most of the space famous applying for the CSM. The later refinement that resulted from the outcry may have helped clarify the intention in part but it also then highlighted those to be excluded. Which in effect turned out to be one person - Sion because he receives money from TMC according to The Mittani in tweetfleet slack. It could also have effected Chance Ravinne and Uaxdeath if they were still standing.

Not unsurprisingly, because of the way it has turned out and the way it was executed, The Imperium feel they are being (or are at least portraying they are being) victimised for a variety of reasons. Even if it is not true, the shambles leading to this point makes it a plausible spin opportunity. In their position I would likely do the same. Their actual response we will leave to the drama department and will probably be forgotten in 6 weeks or so. Quite where the refreshed kickstarter appeal sits in this now is hard to see. To me this crystallises the point that is being overlooked. Why should gaming media sites not be represented at the CSM table? Yes the NDA obviously, but put that to one side for a minute. Why wouldn't CCP want feedback from gaming media sites? TMC, when all is said an done, provides a lot of Eve coverage. Others could do more if incentivised to do so. If CCP wants to promote Esports as a new growth area as it has said it does, then it is going to need them and the coverage they bring. So while there is degree of sense in the new rule (if not in its clumsy implementation) for the CSM, there is a legitimate need for a forum where gaming media and CCP can engage. It would also bring some legitimacy back to the CSM as being solely a player council. Although it might just be easier to get rid of the CSM altogether. But then I've said that already (sorry).

Monday, 21 December 2015

The Year of Taking it Seriously

This is probably my last substantial post for this year. It gets stupid busy at Kong Towers over the festive period and I will be going on vacation straight after. So I will wish you all a pre-emptive "Happy New Year". May you reach your goals, or at least have fun trying to attain them.

I suppose that makes this an appropriate time to reflect on the year. If there was a way of generically characterising this year, it would be the year I took Eve  a little more seriously. While I still play on the margins of the game, I have made the effort to get involved in it and understand it a bit more. Before, I did a little bit of trading because that was the only thing I had success at. This year I took a stab at exploration. I learnt to fly Astero's, Interceptors, Covops, Orca and now the Stratios. This along with the cloaky Prowlers and Tengus mean there aren't many places if any in New Eden where I can't travel with a reasonable expectation of success. This is a pretty liberating feeling in itself.

I also learnt that I am not suited to being in a Corp. This despite joining the nicest Corp in Eve - Signal Cartel. The hierarchical design of Corps/Alliances in Eve just doesn't work for me. I prefer to collaborate rather than be led. Fortunately, the Eve community (yes, I can confirm there is one) is broader than the game and it has been an unexpected pleasure to get to know so many people this year and this has filled the void that is in the game. I wonder just how many people play Eve without ever communicating with anyone. That was essentially me before this year.

Of course it wouldn't be Eve if there weren't any frustrations. Eve has been going through a big transition and we have not reached the end yet. Often there have been proposed changes that have would have had a pretty horrendous impact on what I was seeking to do. Some of these have been subsequently reversed or at least put on hold. But it is clear that making long term plans is a bad idea right now so I am going with short term objectives instead and I have put my more hair brained schemes on ice until we see how citadels play out. I also stopped dual training once the future ability to pay for SP was announced. While I intensely loath the idea and I am completely unpersuaded by the reasoning behind this change, I would be mad not to take advantage of it if that possibility exists.

Looking forward, CCP have still not given us any real insight into what is happening in Q2 next year. So either nothing is happening and a lot of developers are twiddling their thumbs or something big is coming along. Something they don't want to share with the CSM it seems and you do have to wonder what future that institution has next year. I wrote about that some time ago and current events only reinforce my view on that. 

What will CCP be doing next year? It is not unreasonable to suspect their focus will be Valkyrie, but I expect they will be looking to capitalise on the publicity and attempt to attract more players to Eve. It is (almost) baseless speculation on my part but I would expect Eve will be moving to the Free to Play Model. Those with subscriptions would become the Pay to Advance/Pay to Win whales. CCP clearly has to do something to extend the playerbase and free to play is a proven model. The PVE events and SP changes seem to hint at that this could be the direction of travel. They are certainly not inconsistent if CCP chooses this path . The marginalisation of the CSM by some members of CCP, seemingly with senior support (they haven't spoken up in support of the CSM's role since before Eve Vegas ad they are the one's paying the bills) would seem a tactical choice to manage the introduction of something potentially controversial change. The perceived lack of trust is a convenient back story. Just to be clear, this is certainly fanciful thinking on my part but the Q2 silence is beguiling.

Anyway, I have had a great time this year and looking forward to what next year brings be it good or bad. Have a good holiday folks and if I don't get the chance to write again, I will see you in the New Year.  Fly Safe o7

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Do you get the CSM you deserve?

The idea that people get the representatives they deserve is not a new one. But do we really deserve the Council of Stellar Management (CSM)?

The Principle

Better cover some basics first. Just what is the CSM? Don't be ashamed if you don't know. Many players don't so you will be in good company. Let us start with how the CSM formally describes itself.

"The Council of Stellar Management (CSM) is a player-elected council who represent the views of the members of the EVE Online community to CCP. To quote part of the CSM white paper summary:
The purpose of the CSM is to represent society interests to CCP. This requires active engagement with the player community to master EVE issue awareness, understanding, and evaluation in the context of the greatest good for the greater player base."

This is all marvellous and worthy. The white paper (PDF) is fascinating and really worth the read. It is also flawed. It skips past refuseniks like myself who find the idea of joining the grand civilisation it speaks of as a constraint on our independence or just simply irrelevant. I don't know the size of the constituency my playstyle inhabits but my guess is it is not insignificant. 

The other obvious thing is it is written in English. 25% of the people who view his blog do not come from an English speaking country. Maybe it is my bad maths but I would guess the proportion of people who play Eve where English is not their mother tongue or even understood would likely be much higher. So the original premise behind the CSM is innovative because it acknowledges the benefit of player representation, but then it excludes a proportion of the player base from the outset. But at this point you might conclude it is better than nothing.

The Institution 

Now let's look at the CSM itself. The institution is funded entirely by CCP and they also provide support and infrastructure. There is no independent bureaucracy - the CSM forums are moderated by CCP for example. So without CCP financial input, the CSM would not be viable. Candidates are elected through the STV system. The candidates are not entirely unreasonably vetted by CCP before they can stand but it means they have the ultimate veto over  players voting choices. 

A successfully elected representative will be obliged to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA). The primary purpose is to allow CCP to share sensitive information with the elected representatives for their opinions. Information that they cannot then share with the players who elected them. So at this point the mandate the representative was elected on becomes secondary to the CCP narrative. If your policy is "Fix Warddecs!" and CCP say it is covered by the NDA because "reasons", then you are effectively silenced. The CSM is for all intents and purposes a CCP controlled institution following the CCP agenda. This is not to say CCP are evil. They want to make a great game that we enjoy and the CSM can and does provide feed back in the manner I posted about earlier.

To recap where we are. The CSM isn't designed to represent parts of the player base and it culturally excludes others. If you get past those hurdles you may still never hear the outcome of your representation because you representative may be shackled by CCP's NDA. But still maybe better than nothing because at least someone is looking at what CCP is up to in theory. Let us think about how it works in practice.

The CSM In Practice 

At this point we are thinking about human level.  Some organisations are stronger than the sum of their parts. Others are only as strong as their weakest link. This year's CSM has had some hard working and diligent people on the council. But it hasn't taken much for it to be sabotaged by weak individuals (or at least the perception of sabotage through an NDA breach). This is not a unique event. The temptation to use NDA information for personal or group advantage is overwhelming for some. In consequence, the working relationship with CCP is in tatters to the extent that they didn't even get a mention in the Eve Vegas keynote speech. A point that was made by the some CSM members at the roundtable.

CCP's use of the CSM is consequently limited to only where trusted relationships can be forged between individual CSM members and individual Devs. In fact they don't need to use the auspices of the CSM to even do that. I don't think it is a coincidence that CCP has set up subject matter focus groups independently of the CSM. It wouldn't be unreasonable to conclude they were set up precisely because of the problems they have with the CSM. Even if that is not the case, the focus groups' existence undermines the role of the CSM regardless.

Are CCP right to turn their back on the CSM? It is actually hard to judge. CSM members have no accountability and there is no notion of collective responsibility beyond abiding by the NDA once elected. They do not have to participate nor report back to the players who elected them. They are not even bound to tell the truth. They can choose to hide behind NDA as even when it is not appropriate. A CSM member may say one thing in public, and then something completely different to CCP. We can't know. Without accountability there is no basis for trusting your representative to do the job you elected them to do.

Lets recap again if you are still following. The CSM is not representative and it is not bound to represent those who elect it. It isn't trusted by CCP who are circumventing it by selecting their hand picked friends to "represent the views of the members of the EVE Online community to CCP"  The institution is not fit for purpose.

What to do

The sad thing is the CSM is in principle a great idea. To say goodbye to it is to cull something that made Eve and CCP unique. Can we avoid that? What lets the concept down is the CSM is CCP driven rather than Player driven. If it is to continue there needs to be clear blue water between CCP and the CSM that isn't muddied by NDA restrictions that inevitably cause all the dramas. The CSM needs to represent the diversity of New Eden as well as the power and egos. It needs to be accountable, responsible, professional and credible if CCP and the players are to engage with it. It is a big ask. If you read Reddit then maybe you think it is fantasy. But if we truly believe Eve is the amazing community we say it is then it must possible you would think. 

As for the CSMXI campaign, I will follow it with interest if only for the drama but as things stand I will not be voting this time. This is not because there won't be some good candidates. There probably will be some excellent ones. Take a look and see for yourself.  No, I won't vote because I genuinely have no idea of what I would be voting for.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The CSM Member: The Canary in the Coalmine?

It has started depressingly early his year. Potential CSMXI candidates have started putting their hats into the ring for your delectation and delight. Baring their soul and a shopping list of changes for us to judge and pass sentence on. They must be mad. If you consider CSMX are barely halfway through their current tenure it is also premature. What they are pitching now could be completely irrelevant come April.

Whatever your opinion, you cannot deny CCP have delivered a lot of game defining changes already this year. There is more to come that we know about - structures for example, and more that we don't - capital roles for example. I wouldn't be surprised if here is even more completely off the radar. This is not trivial stuff and it is what the next CSM is going to have to work with, refine and build on.

It seems to be the habit of the Everati to come up with a preferred list of candidates. I might do that but not some time and besides, who cares what I think. But it worth exploring what the CSM role actually is compared to what candidates and the voting appear to think it is. So lets start with CCP.

CCP does care about the CSM. It devotes time and resources to it. A business does burn money on something like that if there is no value proposition. They will continue to support it so long as the benefits outweigh the costs. The main benefit is a straightforward one. The job of a CSM member is to be the canary in the coal mine. To constructively identify flaws and suggest improvements to future features and changes CCP plan to introduce. It is user assurance. Assurance done by users chosen by the users so it should be good right? Well maybe.

The thing is we are talking about humans here. CCP, like all the organisations I have encountered of a similar size will be dysfunctional. It is just the nature of the beast. Crossed lines of communication, conflicting roles, responsibilities and priorities, etc will all conspire to confuse the poor CSM member. Getting things done will always seem harder than they ought to. Some CCP teams will use the CSM, while others might not even be aware of its purpose and usefulness. Assuming CCP do make use of the CSM's talents - and they do, then the member is going to be bombarded daily with several hours of work. CSM is a job. Even more so with the current release cadence.

An CSM's relationship with both CCP and other CSM members will determine the extent to which you get listened to. Crying or sulking on social media every time they want something or undermining other CSM members they don't like will just result in them being frozen out of the debate because they offer CCP or indeed their voters no value. Constructive, productive and preferably evidence based discussion is what a developer usually wants to hear.

That in essence is the CSM job. If a prospective candidate feels they can just turn up and 'fix' EVE with a shopping list of demands they are going to be very disappointed. That is NOT the job. CCP have a plan. A plan they outlined in April and CCP Seagull reaffirmed on the o7 Show a few weeks ago. If the candidate's ideas coincide with CCP's plan for 2016-2017 then their voice might get heard. If it is an easy fix then it might get scheduled. Otherwise they won't get any priority or will be dismissed out of hand.

So while I don't want to dampen the enthusiasm, I will be cautious of any candidate promising to drive changes. Sure they will be part of the change process, and that can be rewarding and interesting in itself. But they won't be driving it. That is down to CCP as it should be. It is their jobs on the line after all.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Looking Back and Moving Forward: Seagull Expands

Yesterday was a big news day for Eve. In fact it has been a big news week when you add in the CSMX Summit and other earlier announcements. There is a lot to take in. I recommend you read the Dev Blogs, especially CCP_Seagull's entry. I can't do them full justice here so I will cherry pick those that closely impact my game-play.

So let's start at the top with CCP_Seagull. The headline news for me was expansions are back, but in a hybrid form. So we will still have the monthly updates for things like quality of life, rebalances, and developing lore changes. But big changes in mechanics and new features will released together as a coherent whole rather than piecemeal. Essentially to avoid repeating the current scenario where capital's are struggling for a role because the full Sov changes have not been rolled out yet for example. The expansions will be rolled out when everything is ready rather than regular intervals of say 6 months thus avoiding the Incarna scenario. 

This change feels right on so many levels and I imagine he marketers in CCP are happier because the have a tangible event they can push to the outside world. An opportunity that was lacking in the current cadence. On a personal level it addresses a problem I had raised on here and with a CSM before. Current skill training times force you to take a long term view (especially with my low level SP). That's fine but it is less fine when your objective you have been aiming at for 2 or three months can be compromised with only a couple of weeks notice. The only realistic response was to train for less ambitious short term objectives. In my case that meant I stopped dual training and held off starting an addition account. Disheartening for me and a financial impact for CCP. So the changes allow me to seriously re think that decision. A final point before moving on, it was good to see CCP_Seagull restating the vision. She had been a bit under the radar lately. I appreciate she wants to make teams like Team 5-0 be more autonomous. That is a good thing. But the context to why the teams are doing what they are doing can get lost when things get fraught and that is where the upper echelons need to step in - if only to deflect the heat.

Next on the list are the structure changes from CCP Nullabor's devblog . The thinking up to now has been draft and this is just the latest iteration. I was concerned by the previous iteration. Overall, it smelt like a global fix to a null problem so imposed null game-play on wormholes for example. Not now. More than that it has disposed of the Entosis wanding. You have to shoot them and they will shoot back. So capitals and dreads in particular will have at least that role. Frankly I am astonished. CCP have clearly listened and more importantly understood the feedback from all areas of space and appreciate he distinctions. So I am very impressed and not a little relieved about the direction non sov structures are taking. Of all my concerns only one now remains. Currently, structures will not auto defend. Given everything else they will be capable of this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Sure, thoughtful attackers will be able counter it easily but it would limit opportunistic trolling (in the way they have had to do in Null) and as a solo casual player I would not be able to man the defence in all likelihood.

Moving on to the o7 show, CSMX member Sion proposed the formation of 'focus groups'. Essentially groups of specialist matter experts that they can refer to in the wa that Sugar Kyle and Corbexx have worked with wormhole groups. So in principle this is absolutely fine but I do wonder who would represent the likes of me. I can't be a bad thing to get more focussed feedback that doesn't involve the phrase "FozzieSov in cancer!"

To wrap up, there was a little noticed quality of life test on SISI for the scanning map was announced. The new beta map was very disappointing from a scanning point of view of the point of being almost unusable. In fact, I still use the old one. The announced  changes look spot on so hopefully it will be implemented soon.

Beyond this, there is a whole lot more that I haven't looked into - multi-buying for example. All in all a very impressive few days. CCP have clearly been listening and the CMX have been communicating. Looking forward t seeing more of CCP Seagull too.     

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

A Slight Pause

Time has been precious recently. The usual conspiracy of real life responsibilities have stolen the free time I have. So my Eve life has been not much more than updating orders. I did have a couple of pompous opinion posts lined up around negativity and the economics of Eve. However these were torn up after a some other commentators made some rather excellent contributions elsewhere. The one on Eve and the demise of the Ottoman Empire is still alive but barely.

As I write, the CSMX is being held in Iceland. If last year provides insight, then many future changes to Eve are held back until after the event. Despite this, that hasn't stop some things being announced. The trollceptor looks as if it is being consigned to history. Fortunately, Interceptors will remain the same other than being unable to mount an Entosis module. So my Exploroceptor is safe and the almost audible intake of breath whenever I enter a nullsec system might become a thing of the past.

The noteworthy change from my perspective is the proposed fleet warp changes are being paused. Now I never understood the reason for this change in the first place. It seemed to be more based on dogma rather than hard fact. For example, I often commute to work on a train. Yes it is dull but a least I don't have to worry about driving the train. Whether I drive or not, it doesn't make me any more or less engaged in my work once I arrive at my workplace. By making the journey I have already committed myself to doing some work. If the powers that be decided I had to take a more proactive role in driving the train I would stop using the train altogether and just use my car instead. Alternatively, I would insist the train driver should take on the additional responsibilities themselves if they wanted me to catch their train. At which point the driver abandons the train and goes on indefinite strike. Probably a poor analogy.

So in a corp setting, it just meant more work for the FC if they wanted participation and control. For a solo player it meant an additional scouting alt. Neither option could be regarded as engaging. Anyway, the decision is on hold so at least CCP are reflecting on it. If we can move away from the players must be engaged at all stages ideology it will be helpful. By either creating or joining a fleet, the player has already indicated they want to undock and are therefore already engaged. Getting them to undock in the first place would be a better area to concentrate on. Something I am planing to do once I can get this week done with.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Jump Change Town Hall Meeting - Morning after the Night Before

I listened to about an hour of the Jump Fatigue Town hall meeting last night just out of idle curiosity. For those that don't know, Jump Fatigue used to allow a fleet to travel to pretty much any point on the map. It was an awful mechanic. A small fight in Lowsec would suddenly be welped with huge capital fleet from the far side of Nullsec for example. Distance and location was a marginal factor in bringing arms to a fight. It became the goto tactic. Small groups didn't stand a chance of establishing themselves because local spats with their neighbours would be bounced by the big blocks looking for random content.  It had to change and CCP duly heavily compromised Jump Fatigue in the Phoebe release. Originally, the whole extent of the nerf was to apply to jump freighters too as CCP latched onto the idea of localism. But the people and infrastructure to support a local economy didn't exist. Nobody wants your hard earned ratting loot in nullsec. They do however want it in Hisec. To accommodate this uncomfortable truth, the restrictions were relaxed for Jump Freighters (at least for now) and the ISK continued to flow.

Beyond that, the jump changes themselves highlighted the obvious. Null is empty.  To find a fight your capitals now have to travel a long way via risky gates or have your future mobility crippled as a penalty for jumping. The reward for this endeavour is to capture a bit of space. The distance is now hard to sustain and the space itself doesn't bring much additional value. The loser just moves on to another bit of empty space that is a suitable distance from the aggressor so unlikely to put up a massive defence in any case. So it is a pyrrhic victory. Now when you layer on the later Aegis changes, the old battalion of capitals don't have much reason to be deployed (if only for POS grinding). So I get that there are some people that are annoyed that they can no longer play with their boats. I would be if I had devoted that much time to own and fly one.

That said, ultimately the Jump Changes were put in for a good reason and the benefits are real elsewhere in Eve. So that reason won't go away. But there is scope to amend the changes. That at least seemed to be the premise behind the Jump Changes Town hall meeting. It was well attended by CCP and CSM reps. It could have been good. Now I have called out both CSM and CCP in the past. This time it was the players that fell short. They had an opportunity and they blew it. In general terms, (there were exceptions), the players came across as confrontational with a suffocating sense of self entitlement. All the reasons why null is empty (and thereby makes Jump Changes such a issue) were put on display by the sub optimal behaviour. Unsurprisingly, CCP had to take a very defensive position with this onslaught and so the opportunity was missed. One of the few things I could glean amongst the passive aggressive false dichotomies the devs were having to bat away were that CCP are seriously thinking about how to make Null more meaningful. If people had picked up on that rather than emoting gratuitous clichés then Null would certainly be heading to a better place. Way to go.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Hacking and Archaeology Skills

CSM member, Chance Ravinne kicked off a thread on the Eve Online Forum and on Reddit. The basic premise is that Data and Relic sites are pretty much identical as an activity. The location and minigame is much the same. But you need different equipment and skills - Archaeology and Hacking to do the sites.

In so much that there is any variation, Relic sites tend to be more valuable, and Data sites appear (to me at least) slightly harder to hack. So many people prioritise Relic sites and therefore Relic Skills and shipfits. I have level 5 in both Hacking and Archaeology. Depending on where I am exploring, I use either and Astero equipped with both analysers or an Ares with a mobile depot to swap the analysers around. But it has taken a long time to reach this point and learning essentially the same skill twice hasn't had a reciprocal improvement to my enjoyment of the game. The is no real sense of achievement.

So should the skills be merged? Well if everything else is to remain the same then I think the answer should be yes. But it would also make sense to merge the equipment and the sites. This would be a pity. What really needs to happen is there should be a greater differentiation between the site content. Different minigames, a greater alignment in terms of reward, and a different purpose for the loot. How many encryption skillbooks does the game need? Certainly I would like to see both site seeding lore related elements that may or may not be useful in the future or could be brought together to create or learn about some hidden facet of the game.

Anyway the debate is open so don't be a victim and participate.

Friday, 10 July 2015

CCP, CSMX and Foot Marksmanship

So consider this statement from CCP Fozzie on is Dev Blog:

"One final set of changes that we are implementing in Aegis is a set of tweaks to Nullsec wormhole spawning and Quantum Flux Generator upgrades. Some members of the CSM (I’ll let them identify themselves if they wish) approached us in recent weeks with balance concerns about wormhole travel for Nullsec entities. We took a look at their concerns and decided to make some tweaks to help ease them."

Now try and read behind the lines. My interpretation is this: The change was proposed by the CSMX. It was not a unanimous decision but it was a majority decision. CCP are not wildly enthusiastic about the change. It is not a big deal to make the change and they will collude with it on the basis that the fingers of blame don't point at them.

Now I might be wrong but how do you explain such a week and unprofessional endorsement of what is obviously a controversial change by CCP? What is clear is CCP has little respect for CSMX otherwise why would you deliberately undermine them in this way?

The fallout amongst the CSM on Reddit and Twitter has been spectacular as the blame game has kicked off. This was probably inevitable given CCP's provocative statement. The only interesting thing to come out from what has been an infantile exchange is that not one CSMX member has put their hand up said they proposed the change, although plenty have grudgingly provided rather suboptimal reasons to justify why they supported the change. That doesn't bode well for the rest of the CSMX term or the Summer of Sov. Trust will be an issue between the CSM and CCP now and you have to wonder how coherent CSMX can now be collectively. So excellent foot marksmanship all round.

And let us not ignore the change itself. Again, this is another nullsec protectionst measure and as such will only harm the people it was meant to help. Nullsec will continue down the road of atrophy. Limiting access to it will just make it even more of an empty sideshow with Citadels. But so long as the cronyism within the CSM continues, CCP will always have a plausible get out clause. Fortunately for the rest of us there are plenty of  things to do in Eve. Did you read that interesting post on Reddit (it happens sometimes!) on Planetary Bombardment?

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Waiting Game

It's been a few days since I last wrote. I have barely logged on in Eve. This is more down to adjusting back to normality after the vacation than anything else. Work and other RL pressures taking priority in the main. Consequently, I have let the dual training lapse so only my main is playing Skills Queue Online. I am a bit reluctant to resume as I am suffering a minor crisis in confidence in what I was aiming to achieve. 

It was the "o7" show's announcement on fleet warp that finally made me doubt the wisdom of continuing. If I have understood it correctly, Essentially the fleet composition can only warp to a point that can be mutually seen be that another ship in the fleet or a celestial. For a single player this is problematic. While I was thinking of using two accounts to move my assets about for example, it now looks like I would need three to include a scout (that could easily be burned) to achieve the same thing. The details have not been finalised but it is clear the agenda behind this is coming from the Null Sec CSM's so I am not hopeful that it will be resolved in a way that is useful to me. The noises coming from some of them suggest they want to go further. 

So when other announcements are taken into consideration, the general mood music is that there will be more game wide changes which will likely be disruptive to the things I want to achieve. Untested and dubious assumptions are never a great basis for a plan and I know what I am not going to do is to sub or grind three accounts. Life is too short and time is precious. It therefore follows with the uncertainty around the changes, I am not going to open a second account for the moment. At least until there is some stability and I can be confident that whatever I chose t do won't be nerfed. In the same way the dual training has also fallen by the wayside for now. 

While it is a bit disappointing, it was probably inevitable. The changes to null are big and clearly haven't been impacted on the rest of the game enough. Strangely, as an outside observer with no skin in the game, some of the changes seem obviously detrimental to null and none of them seem to improve its playability. Perhaps that is a topic for another day. Time will tell. In the meantime, it is a waiting game for me and I will spend the money and time saved on something else. CCP's loss is my gain,  but I will continue the exploration and ISK accumulation activities. There are plenty of other ways to have fun in Eve with just one account.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Update: New Structures and Wormholes Sounding Board

A quick update to the last post. The recording of the sounding board held by corbexx, CCP and a cosmopolitan bunch of wormholers can be played below:

It is long and a host of subjects were comprehensively covered. From what I heard there were not too many answers but there were plenty of clarifications. It was a very mature dialogue which is refreshing. If you want insight into what wormholers get up to and why wormholes are not like null this isn't a bad place to start.  I certainly learned a lot. Well done to those who got this organised and took part. Hopefully CCP are in a better position to reflect on some of the concerns raised.

Monday, 25 May 2015

New Structures and Wormholes Sounding Board

Just a quick heads up. For those of you who are in small gangs or are solo players and inhabit Wormholes you might want to pay attention to the Dev Blog by CCP Ytterbium. This is a big change and the impact on small groups in Wormhole space is not trivial. 

A key point to note (if I have understood this correctly) is that structures will have no longer have auto defenses. You have to man/woman the guns. Now you won't have to do this 24/7 but you will have to set a window - presumably in your prime time - when this activity should be done. In effect you will have to leave one person behind every day to do the job or be undefended.

Anyway, don't take it from me. Read the blog and form your own opinion. The reason I mention this is CSM X rep Corbexx is running a Sounding Board  at 18:00 Eve Time on Wednesday the 27th of May. CCP Nullarbor will be participating too.

So if you do have any concerns and you want them heard, contact Corbexx on the Eve Forum here to get the registration details.