Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jesus is dead

Of all the things said at last weeks CSM summit in Iceland, perhaps the most striking was a comment, offered almost offhand, by Hilmar in the final session:

"The era of the Jesus feature is over"

A Jesus feature, it emerged, is something that turns "4 loaves of bread into 50,000 new subscribers". It's the home run, the called shot into deep left field, the awesome idea that will solve all of CCP's problems, carved in a stone tablet made of virgin Eyjafjallajökull lava and delivered from on high down to the adoring fish-factory devs.

Supertitans! Tech-IV! Jovians! Jovians in Tech-IV Supertitans! And they're naked, and want your precious NEX store clothes and monocles!

You get the idea.

Instead, forced by circumstance to play small ball ("The whale shit has hit the propeller, and we have no time to make a grand plan"), CCP spent the fall hitting a bunch of singles.

The result was Crucible, and it was good. Because Crucible delivered what most of the players have been wanting for years -- improvement to the current game.

Going to Iceland, a big concern the CSM had was whether CCP was going to double-down and deliver a Crucible II, or whether the table in the Trinity conference room would be groaning under the weight of a new stone tablet. After all, the forces of Awesome had had several months to think about what comes next.

And lo, in the conference room there was a stone tablet, made not of heavy stone but of the most delicate foamed Icelandic lava, floating in an opened barrel of Christmas Beer. And engraved upon its surface, in EVE's new font, were the words:

"Thou shalt fix more stuff."

And as we quaffed our (slightly gritty) Christmas Beer, unto the CSM came a Senior Producer and his Wise Men, explaining how CCP was reorganizing so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Thence came a parade of devs, bearing gifts of even more game fixes.

And it was pretty damn good, as you will see when the Minutes come out.

Yes, Jesus is dead. But on the third day, he rose again. Will Awesome rise again, on the third expansion?

We'll know in :18months:

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I was chatting with an in-game buddy the other day, and asked him what he thought of the new Crucible expansion.

He replied: "It's like great ex-sex. It makes you feel good, but one good night doesn't mean you're going to get back together. But a few more like it might change your mind."

And in his own (admittedly somewhat perverted) way, I think he encapsulated what a lot of long-time players are thinking.

Crucible was great ex-sex. It reminded us of what the relationship between CCP and the players used to be, and what it could be again. But, having been burned, before the bittervets are going to open their vulnerable hearts and once again declare undying love for CCP, they're going to want more like it.

When CCP decided in late August to scrap their planning for the winter expansion and refocus on EVE, they didn't have time to come up with something "big". So they concentrated on lots of little things, fixing old stuff, and making small improvements here and there. Because each individual item was small, they were able to implement a lot of them -- that's why the Crucible patch notes were the longest in recent memory.

But now CCP is starting to plan for the first half of 2012, and with a longer planning horizon, the "old" CCP would be tempted to do something more ambitious for the June expansion.

I strongly believe this would be a serious mistake. It would be a signal that CCP is not serious about their change in direction, that Crucible was just a bump in the road.

Rather, what I (and others on the CSM) will continue to recommend at the Summit next week is that CCP should continue doing what they started with Crucible; continue revising and improving older features of the game. However, given that they now have a longer planning horizon, they should consider going after a mix of both "little things" and bigger targets.

Some examples of bigger targets might be a package of little tweaks aimed at revitalizing factional warfare, and a similar package aimed at addressing some of the current issues with nullsec sov warfare.

On a bigger scale, there is the much-beloved Dead Horse POS proposal -- and improvements to Industry that would be associated with that. Whether something of this scale is possible for the next expansion will become more clear in the coming weeks. I'd love to see it, but to be honest, if I had to choose between that and lots of little things, I'd have to go for the little things every time.

Bottom line: if CCP wants to get back together with their ex-players, they need to deliver more great ex-sex.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The 20%, the 79%, and the 1%

By now everyone will have heard the news that CCP is slashing their staff by about 20%.

First of all, I want to express my condolences to the 20%, many of whom are going through the roughest time in their professional careers. Some of them I knew personally, and they will be missed.

Second, I want to express my sympathies towards the 79%, the remaining staff who, in the coming months, either implicitly or explicitly, are going to be pressured to work longer and harder to help CCP recover from the consequences of disastrous strategic decisions that they had little or no voice in.

And finally, I have a few questions for the 1%, the top staff at CCP who made those decisions.

* Have you really accepted that this is your fault, or do you still cling to the illusion that this is the fault of "pesky" players who just don't understand your awesome vision, and who should feel honored to be permitted to pay you to implement it?

* Are you really sincere about this change of direction by CCP, or do you consider the refocusing on EVE just a temporary bump in the road?

* Have any of you accepted responsibility, either by resigning, accepting demotion, or taking a pay cut?

I wonder what the chances are that any of the above questions can be answered by a "yes"?

20%...? 79%...? or 1%...?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I know, I know, but I can only do it once

The twin devblogs released by CCP Hellmar and CCP Zulu mark the start of what I hope will be a very welcome and overdue change in direction for CCP. From my vantage point as a CSM, I am cautiously optimistic, though there are many battles yet to be fought.

But a word of caution that I hope will not be drowned out by the chorus of attaboys and +1's from the EVE community...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Begun, the Feature War Has

CCP's announcement that EVE development will be refocused, is, of course, reason for celebration.

But don't get cocky, bittervet. This is not victory, it's just the opening shot in the war -- the Feature War.

The real battle in the Feature War will be fought over how the ammo -- the newly available development resources made available by this "refocusing" -- will be used.

Right now in a sinister conference room, arguments are being made that it should be spent on :awesome: flashiness and exploding planets.

Meanwhile, a plucky band of rebel developers champions a radical proposition -- that development should be refocused on fixing existing problems in the game. Stuff like POS's, the user interface, mining and manufacturing, Sov, and a host of other annoyances that plague the current community.

The Feature War is raging now... the decisions will be made soon... and your voice in this thread provides ammo to one side or the other.

Make your voice heard. This threadnaught can be the ultimate power in the EVE universe. I suggest you use it.

Victory? Victory you say? Master Bittervet, not victory. The shroud of the :awesome: side has fallen. Begun the Feature War has.

PS to Zulu: This is not the blog we're looking for.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Behind the Power Curve and into the Coffin Corner

In aviation, being behind the power curve or in the coffin corner are bad things. When you're behind the power curve, even applying full power won't make the airplane gain altitude, and when you're in the coffin corner, even a tiny course correction can send the plane into a catastrophic spin.

The current CSM -- as well as the previous CSM, which I also served on, and many engaged players in the community --  have become increasingly concerned about the future of Flying-in-Space component of EVE. As CCP continues to devote lots of time and effort to their new projects -- World of Darkness, DUST, and Incarna (aka "Walking in Stations") -- the core game, the game that their players signed up to play, and their only real source of income, has been increasingly neglected and starved for development resources.

Getting CCP to put more resources into FiS has been a core issue for CSM for a long time, but it seemed like an impossible task. CCP upper management appeared to be focused on an agressive expansion strategy, leveraging their experience with EVE to help develop their new games. Indeed, a lot of the development effort on EVE outside of the visible FiS work has been devoted to projects that help them with their other games.

For example, World of Darkness is an avatar game, and Incarna is avatars in EVE. So a lot of the work done on Incarna is synergistic with World of Darkness. Similarly, the "Carbon" platform development work CCP has spent a lot of time on makes it easier to share code between the various games.

Up to a point, this is (from a long-term perspective) a good thing. The problem is that if you push this too hard, and put too much of your resources into it, you risk starving the cash cow. And, of course, there's the risk that unforeseen problems will conspire against you.

This may well be what has happened. If Jester's infamous PCU chart is a good proxy for EVE subscription trends, then Incarna is probably failing to meet expectations, and that is very worrying.

As I see it, CCP is at a crossroads. They can either double-down on their current strategy, put all their resources into their new projects, accept the huge risk that EVE subscription numbers will stall and plummet to the ground, and hope they can get their new games on the market quickly enough to keep the company flying.

Or they can refocus their available resources back on EVE FiS -- light the afterburners, if you will -- revitalize their cash cow (accepting that this will delay World of Darkness), and then use that as a basis for expansion. Obviously, this is the choice EVE players would prefer.

CCP is not yet behind the power curve, and they're not yet in the coffin corner. They can still make a big course correction.

Let's hope the Pilot-in-Command is Fearless.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Minutes of the Scandal of the Minutes

Over the past month or so, players have been asking -- more and more pointedly -- what's going on with the minutes of the Emergency summit.

Here's the story so far -- the minutes of the minutes, if you will.

After the Emergency summit concluded, a CCP staff member made a summary transcription based on recordings of the session. CSM quickly took these and did a basic editing pass, making sure they had all the important facts right and that CSM opinions -- and the manner in which they were expressed -- were properly recorded.

Based on prior experience, I did not expect any significant problems with the minutes; at most, a few minor things might get NDA'd or made less specific.

However, after a considerable delay, what we got back from CCP was quite disturbing. The minutes had been significantly rewritten by a senior CCP employee (who will remain nameless because we are not sure if this was done on this person's own initiative or on orders from higher-up. It was not, I am happy to say, either of the CSM's advocates inside CCP, Xhagen and Diagoras, who were on vacation at the time). What has been euphemistically referred to in public as issues of "tone" was in fact a major rewrite which grossly softened the severity of CSM's concerns and criticism of CCP.

Furthermore, we were told that CCP's position was that the minutes were a "joint report", as opposed to what minutes have traditionally been -- a report by the CSM to the community about the meeting.

The CSM was unanimously outraged. CCP was attempting to put their words in our mouths; in effect, turning us into unpaid spokesclones for the CCP PR and Marketing departments.

We informed CCP that this was totally unacceptable, and that if they had problems with our draft, they should specify them individually and we would attempt to address them. We were quite happy to make sure that their concerns, opinions and explanations were properly represented, just as we have always done in previous minutes.

This request was repeatedly ignored; instead, CCP kept offering minor revisions of their draft that did nothing to address our concerns.

When he returned from vacation, CCP Xhagen attempted to break the impasse with another draft that addressed some CSM concerns. I carefully compared it with our original draft, made the needed changes to ensure that the CSM's voice was unadulterated, left CCP's replies untouched (after all, I would not want to be accused of putting words in their mouths!) and submitted it to both CCP and CSM for comment.

It has been over a week, and we haven't gotten an answer yet as to what issues, if any, CCP has with our draft.

The bottom line for me is that in order for CSM to be effective (and useful to CCP!), it must be an independent voice that can express player concerns and communicate CCP's responses back to the community. How ironic that, after seeing just how well that can work back in June, some people in CCP want to muzzle the CSM.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Potter Stuart and the Purchase of Insurance

The Joint Statement from the Peace Talks is out, and now it is up to each of you to judge whether it satisfies you or not, and whether any of the participants are worthy of praise or blame.

Before I go any further, I want to state, up front, that based on many hours of face-to-face discussions with Arnar (CCP Zulu), Stoffer (CCP Soundwave), other CCP employees, and a final meeting with CCP CEO Hilmar, it is my belief that:

* CCP has kept to the understanding hammered out during CSM5, that virtual goods would be limited to vanity items.

* CCP has no plans (and never has) to implement Pay-2-Win (P2W) microtransactions, be it "gold ammo" or anything similar.

* Arnar, as Senior Producer of EVE, is on record as saying he opposes the introduction of game-breaking stuff like P2W into EVE.

So, given that, why can't CCP just say NEVER when it comes to P2W? My impression is that there are two reasons:

1) The Problem of Demarcation

What exactly is P2W? It turns out to be a much harder than it appears at first glance. CSM had an extensive discussion of this with CCP, both in summit meetings and informally. Nobody could come up with a definition that covered all the possible cases and that would not allow P2W to sneak in the back door.

As US Supreme Court Justice Potte Stewart famously observed about pornography, he couldn't define it, but "I know it when I see it."

The truth is, we already have P2W in EVE. It's called PLEX. Right now, if you have enough money, you can buy PLEX, convert to ISK, and buy yourself as many supercaps as you want, and the pilots toons to fly them.

So the solution isn't as simple as saying "No P2W". It's the much more complicated problem of drawing boundaries on a map where reasonable people can disagree on the nature of the terrain at any given point.

Here's an example: currently, players are given one free neural remap every year, which lets them adjust their character statistics.

Imagine for a moment that instead of making this a free remap, CCP had decided that it should have a cost. Consider the following three options:

A) You can remap once per year at a cost of 400 million ISK.

B) You can remap once per year at a cost of a PLEX.

C) You can remap once per year at a cost of 3500 AURUM.

If you surveyed groups of players about the acceptability of these options (set aside the inevitable bitching that "it should be free" for a moment), I believe that A would be acceptable to the most players, and C to the fewest, and the difference in acceptability would be significant.

Why? Because ISK represents player effort, while AURUM is tainted by its association with monocles.

Yet in reality, all these options are roughly equivalent. If you have 400 million ISK, you can buy a PLEX. If you have a PLEX, you can convert it to 3500 AURUM. And if you have 3500 AURUM, you can buy some clothes and sell them in the market for ISK.

So, even if CCP said "We will NEVER introduce P2W", it is entirely likely that they might propose something that they think is not P2W, but a large portion of the community thinks is P2W. And in those grey areas, future shitstorms lurk.

2) The Problem of Flexibility

Nobody knows what the future of the MMO industry will be. Even the smartest people at CCP admit that they cannot see more than :18months: into the future. So if CCP says "NEVER", they may be faced with a situation a couple of years down the road where they believe they are forced by changes in the market environment to introduce something that many players consider P2W, resulting in accusations of a betrayal of trust.

I pointed out to both Arnar and Hilmar that retaining this future flexibility comes at the cost of not satisfying some of the present community; some players may not return unless they hear NEVER, and the protests may get worse.

Thus, saying "NEVER" is like buying insurance against a business risk, with the premium paid in the future in terms of lost flexibility. The closer you get to "NEVER", the better the insurance, but the greater the cost.

How much insurance CCP was willing to buy was, of course, up to them.

Going Forward

One thing that has become very obvious is that to avoid future shitstorms, CCP is going to have to consult the CSM both more often, and at an earlier stage, in particular when it comes to anything that has even a whiff of being P2W. I can tell you that this was already starting to happen before the current crisis, so despite the communications failures that made things worse (in particular, the Noble Exchange rollout fiasco), I am guardedly optimistic.

As for me, I'm still refining my own definition of porno... er, P2W. Perhaps you can help me with that. But that's a task for tomorrow, right now I need to catch up on about a week's lost sleep.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray to Scotty my ship to keep.
And if I die before I wake,
No, my stuff you cannot take.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Peace Talks - Day One

The first day of the great Incarna Peace Talks is over. I will not attempt to go into incredibly great detail in this posting; I just want to give a broad overview and offer some impressions. To be honest, I'm exhausted and only have a few minutes before dinner.

I want to start by saying that everyone at CCP, and in particular CCP Zulu, was very open and frank about their opinions, and provided any information CSM requested. This was very useful.

In the morning, we discussed issues regarding the rollout of Incarna and the Captain's Quarters. Just about everything people have been bitching about and then some was discussed in detail -- melting video cards, multiboxing, lighting, the death of ship spinning, just to name a few.

CCP started this meeting by saying something incredibly smart. It gave me hope that the entire summit would be a success, but you will have to wait to find out what it was. Suffer, bitches.

Then, after lunch, we spent over 3 hours discussing the Noble Exchange rollout and virtual goods pricing. This was a very passionate session, to say the least.

CSM got a complete rundown on the overall CCP vanity goods strategy, and it became obvious how a series of mistakes and communications breakdowns -- both internal at CCP, to CSM, and in their messaging to you (and lack thereof) -- resulted in the NEX rollout debacle.

There should be a devblog coming out in the very near future that explains CCP's strategy, puts things into context, and hopefully starts healing this self-inflicted wound. Anyone can shoot themselves in the foot, or the ass, but in this case CCP managed to do both with one shot, which takes real skill.

The day ended with some work-in-progress demos of the other CQs and an establishment. Some nice work, and the Gallente CQ is the best CQ IMHO.

Tomorrow, we will tackle the big question: Does CCP have plans to release game-affecting virtual goods (aka "gold ammo")?

Suggestion of the day: adding a "Just Say NO to Virtual Goods" t-shirt to the Noble Exchange, priced higher than a monocle. Is CCP fearless enough to do it?

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Six Stages of CSMing

Given the drama of recent days, and the work yet to be done in the days to follow, it is not surprising that many players have asked me what it's like to be on CSM.

To help explain this, I have created a CSM logo...

This illustrates six of the emotions you will experience if you get elected to the CSM.

Now this is all in good fun, of course, but there is a serious point that I'd like to make. A lot of us get really upset when we see CCP do something that seems really, really dumb. But as a CSM, you get to meet and interact with CCP people on an extended basis, and none of them are stupid. So why do smart people seem to do dumb things?

To answer this, I turn to the great philosopher Donald Rumsfeld, who famously said:

"There are known-knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known-unknowns;
that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown-unknowns,
the ones we don't know we don't know."

Smart people are very good at handling known-knowns and known-unknowns, but they have significant problems with unknown-unknowns. They are very good at convincing themselves that there are no unknown unknowns -- after all, they're smart, so if there were any, they'd have figured them out.

When CCP is dealing with a problem that only concerns known-knowns, they do a pretty good job. And more and more frequently, when they know there are known-unknowns, they ask for CSM input, because the fact that we have a different perspective from them (and thus might know a known-unknown) is a known-known.

But when they run into an unknown-unknown, that's when it all goes to hell. Because in that case, why bother asking for an outside opinion?

If there is one lesson I hope CCP learns from recent events, it is this:

"You are in the greatest danger of making a mistake when you are absolutely sure you are correct. Doubt and uncertainty are your friends."

For in EVE, there are always unknown-unknowns. It's by design...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

CCP's Defining Question

The defining question that is behind the riots that are going on both on the forums and in the game is a simple one:

"Will CCP introduce game-affecting virtual goods, aka Gold Ammo"?

We thought we knew the answer to this question, based on CSM's meetings with CCP in October and December, and CCP Zulu's November devblog:

"The scope will be (and there‘s no design has been done around this, we‘re just talking strategy now) that anything that doesn‘t affect gameplay directly can be, potentially, sold for PLEX or other means."

And yet now, we are barraged with evidence that this is no longer the case: the Ishukone Scorpion trial balloon, the leaks of CCP's internal magazine, "Fearless", and Hilmar's Global Email, and perhaps most damningly, the fact that CCP Zulu's most recent devblog totally avoided this key issue, despite feedback from the CSM that it had to be addressed. This last devblog was particularly worrying to me, because it didn't "sound" like Zulu at all, it sounded like someone was holding a gun to his head and making him recite a message.

All of this points to the fact that golden ammo is no longer off-limits, and EVE players are rightfully concerned. For gold ammo, while appropriate for a casual game with a pump-and-dump subscriber strategy, strikes at the core of the deep social cohesion that makes EVE so special -- we don't play EVE because of its game mechanics and UI, we play EVE despite these things. We play EVE because it's the only game out there that fosters such deep, long-term social connections, and we play for years, not months.

This is EVE's secret sauce, and the players are up in arms because CCP appears to be not only pissing in it, but pointlessly pissing in it.

So forget about the botched NEX store pricing -- that can be fixed.

And forget about eventually being forced to keep the Captain's Quarters -- that's a long-term issue that can be addressed.

The defining question that CCP must ask itself is a simple one: "Are you willing to bet your company on gold ammo?"

And whatever the answer is, they need to communicate it to us quickly, unambiguously, and dramatically.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Black Friday

I woke up this morning to find the forums even more afire with rage about Incarna, the "Fearless" newsletter, and the Virtual Goods store. I could tell in a few minutes that I wasn't going to get anything else done today.

"I can't work today, dear," I told my wife, "EVE is on fire."

"Piss on EVE, then", she replied.

"I would, if I thought it would help."

So, I've spent most of the last 12 hours answering player questions, trying to give CCP good feedback on the issues, trying to get them to see how bad things have gotten. My fellow CSMs were doing the same.

Late in the day, we were presented with a draft devblog, and asked to comment on it. With the exception of the removal of a rather unfortunate analogy, that draft was essentially identical to what was just published.

None of CSM's concerns -- the ones the players were asking about -- were addressed; in particular:

* Will non-vanity virtual goods be introduced?

* Will CCP change their virtual goods pricing strategy?

* Will the CQ remain optional, or will it eventually be forced on the players?

To say that CSM is disappointed by the contents of this devblog would be an understatement. Incredulous is more like it.

Based on the devblog, and my impressions from the conversations I have had in recent days, it is my opinion that CCP has decided upon a strategy with respect to virtual goods and Incarna, and that they are going to fearlessly implement it regardless of feedback from CSM or the players.

Our words, and yours, appear worthless. Only our actions may have weight.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Incarna - Show Me The Metrics!

Well, Incarna has arrived, and all is not well in New Eden. Apart from the usual patch issues, some of them infuriating (my current favorite: the preferences folder location on the Mac was changed without notice and hard-coded, so running multiple clients is messed up -- and this was not fixed despite being reported weeks ago!), we have all the :rage: about Incarna and the new Noble Exchange.

While I believe that in the long run, Incarna will be a positive addition to EVE, it's gotten off to a very rocky start. The Captain's Quarters are a resource hog, the character quality doesn't even come close to what you see in the character portraits, and it doesn't add any gameplay. The net result is that a lot of people have been turning it off -- in particular, people running multiple clients (which I would be doing if it wasn't for the fact that I use the Mac client!). And note: the ability to disable the CQ is temporary -- as soon as performance is deemed adequate, it is likely that usage will be enforced.

One positive change that hasn't been getting a lot of attention: the NPE is significantly improved. I'm pleased about this since the CSM (and me in particular) have been pointing out that improving noob retention is a huge win. CSM got a big report on these improvements at the summit, and this will be detailed in the upcoming minutes (current status: 3rd draft, probably out by end of month).

The other big controversy is :monocle-gate: -- the insanely high prices for the few items introduced in the new Noble Exchange MT store. While I'm pleased that CCP has made clothing being worn indestructible (I argued at the summit that this would increase uptake, since it's a pain to constantly have to take off your monocle when undocking, lest you be podded and lose it), CCP seems to think that this makes these items more valuable than their real-life counterparts. Umm, no. I certainly think you can charge more for an indestructible vanity item than for one that can be blown up, but $70 for a monocle?

Needless to say, CSM was not consulted on the issue of monocle pricing.

Looking at the business consequences of Incarna, it will be interesting to see if CCP is fearless enough to go looking at metrics that might disconfirm their impression that Incarna is as wonderful as two blondes on a waterbed (I do not want to even speculate on the Aurum price of such a micro-transaction).

Two that I think will be very interesting are:

* What percentage of people who have logged in and experienced the CQ have turned it off?

* Has the introduction of the Noble Exchange increased sales of Game Time Cards, both on an overall basis, and in terms of GTCs bought per active character? Because if it hasn't, then it doesn't matter how many monocles you're selling, it's just moving the money from one pocket to another.

CSM has asked CCP to gather these metrics and tell us what they are. Whether or not they do so is, of course, a very compelling metric in its own right.

Friday, May 20, 2011

CSM Summit - Day 3 : "Girls play EVE?"

Nullsec Industrialization & Risk/Reward by Security Status

This became a combined session that started with a brainstorming session, then evolved into a broad discussion of many nullsec related issues.

Newbie Retention / NPE

CSM was briefed by CCP Flying Scotsman the performance of the old NPE and the steps they are taking to make the new Incarna NPE a better creator of hopelessly addicted degenerate EVE players. NPE improvement will be an ongoing process, and CCP has some interesting plans for future improvement.

Aesthetics / Ship Art

CSM was briefed on the way the art department works, and gained a greater appreciation of the amount of effort needed to create new art or revise old art (such as ship models, which are being upgraded to a new system that is much more flexible than the one used on most current ships). We got feedback on the time and effort needed to implement some improvements that many players of EVE would like to see, which will help us prioritize our requests.

EVE Economics

Dr. Eyjólfur provided the CSM with some XXX NDA economic graph porn, including information about the effects of a recent and somewhat controversial change to the game, details on PLEX usage, insight into subscriber trends, and the number of people who play EVE and claim to be women in real life.

Chat with Hilmar

Chats with Hilmar are always interesting; he gave us his perspective on the CSM and how he would like it to evolve, and CSM reported on the results of the summit so far, emphasized the importance of recent CCP initiatives like Team Gridlock, and made some suggestions for the future.

Ship Balance Iteration

CCP wants to allocate resources to continuous ship balancing. Much of this session revolved around discussions of the best ways to manage this process and prioritizing the ships in the most need of love (or hate, as the case may be). As to who the lucky winners and unlucky victims are, you will have to wait for the minutes.

Quote of the Day: "EVE is like Golf" -- Hilmar.

CSM Summit - Day 2 : "Dreaming about Quality Assurance"


The UI team discussed both the performance and capability improvements of Carbon UI -- coming soon to a server near you™. We also had an extensive discussion of a particular UI feature and how it could be improved both in terms of player utility and reduced server load.

Customer Support

We had an extensive discussion on reimbursement policies, and also tools that would help make reimbursement decisions easier to make.

The War on Bots

CCP Sreegs and his band of merry men have been quite busy making life hell for botters. His presentation included copious amounts of chart porn, which hopefully will appear in a devblog in the near future.

The War on Lag

Team Gridlock presented their latest results, and demoed a new tool that is making it easier for them to identify optimization opportunities. We also discussed Time Dilation in some detail. Expect a devblog on this as well.


QA gave an overview of the QA processes to get the new members of the CSM up to speed. Also discussed: ways to improve participation in mass tests and make bug reporting less painful.

POS Misery

We had a broad discussion not only of possible near-term "papercuts" tweaks to reduce the pain of POS's, but also CCP's longer term plans. Deceased Equines, and whether they should be beaten, were discussed.

Feature Abandonment

A broad discussion of the resource contention issues that relate to this vexing issue -- and what CSM can do -- segued into discussions of wormhole space, Incarna, POS's, ship balancing, and several other items. At the end of this session, CCP Zinfandel popped in to show the CSM some of the upcoming Incarna vanity clothing items, which looked really, really sweet.

Quote of the Day: "There are very few people who dream of a career in QA" -- CCP Heimdall

Thursday, May 19, 2011

CSM Summit - Day 1: "Let them eat Cake"

This will be a very high-level summary of the day's meetings; the meat will come in both the minutes and devblogs.

CSM: Introduction

After the ritual deflowering of the CSM noobs, this session was devoted to discussion of CSM's relationship with CCP, and possible improvements in CSM processes.

BFF: Thousand Little Things

This meeting started off with a discussion of CCP development processes, then moved on to ways CSM can help with prioritization of the papercuts themselves.

EVE: Flying in Space & EVE: Future

Much of what was discussed here was NDA, but ranged over a broad number of topics. There will be much more in the minutes once we work out what things CCP is comfortable talking about. However, the tone was quite positive and the meetings were productive.


This session will almost certainly be 100% NDA.

EVE Marketing

CCP Zinfandel, reacting to the positive reaction to providing the CSM with free drinks the night before, upped the ante by providing us with cake. The discussions involved marketing approaches for summer 2011, some interesting new proposals, and some details on the implementation of vanity microtransactions.

Quote of the Day: "I get satisfaction every time I pull it out" -- CCP Zinfandel, discussing a very personal microtransaction.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CSM Summit - Day 0: "Quest for Bacon"

After arriving at Keflavik after 5 hours of sleepless agony in a thrice-damned IcelandAir Slab-o-Lava seat, we cab into RVK. We are deposited at the Hotel Fron, which has good rooms and wifi, but a limited free breakfast.

This becomes a serious problem when CSM Chairman Mittens arrives on the scene, declaring himself possessed of a hunger that only copious amounts of bacon can assuage.

Unfortunately, there is no bacon to be had. Mittens growls at the waiter that "I find your lack of bacon... disturbing", then swears he will wreak vengeance upon CCP for having the temerity to lodge him in a bacon-challenged hotel. We agree to nap until lunchtime, then reconvene.

After your humble correspondent deals with a minor logistical matter -- he forgot to pack his jacket, a significant problem in Iceland, which is currently quite bright but a wee bit nippy -- the CSM ventures out in a quest for both bacon and free wifi, ending up at Cafe Paris. Enough bacon is procured to deal with Mittens' immediate cured-ham needs, but it is clear that only having a bacon sub at Nonni's will prevent carnage the next day.

After more discussion of CSM strategy, we repair back to the hotel for a pre-dinner nap, then head out to Nonni's where Mittens, desperate to inhale bacon, grabs the wrong sub. His screams of anguish echo down the street.

We then repair to a cosy bar, where CCP Zinfandel buys multiple rounds of drinks for the CSM. By midnight, we have all agreed to support the implementation of microtransactions for just about everything in the game, including PLEX for docking, PLEX for jumping, and PLEX for PLEX.

The CSM summit has begun.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Democracy is Futile!

A few posts back, I mentioned that CCP had asked the CSM for election banner ideas. Well, here's another one of mine that they decided to run with...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Those horrible rumors about Seleene and Trebor are absolutely false...

Despite what you might think when you see this poster,
we're not an old married couple.

We're just good friends. Honest!

That said, Seleene, put some damn clothes on!
After all, "it's very cold in space..."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Surfing the Sea of The Mittani's Mud

Over the past few days, I've been the target of a big smear campaign by The Mittani and his goons.

It's the usual bullshit. Quote mining out of context, character assassination, ad hominem attacks, the big lie -- all the classic techniques. They even started a campaign to have my wikipedia page deleted (currently failing horribly) and twice vandalized the page.

The Mittani is running on a platform that only he and his friends can make the CSM effective, so it's vitally important to discredit anyone who can put the lie to his fundamental argument. The truth is that CSM 5 has been extraordinarily effective, and I was one of the biggest reasons why.

CSM Chair Mynxee says my performance "should serve as the Gold Standard for CSM delegate performance." Even Vuk Lau, whom I had numerous disagreements with on CSM 5, agrees that I was "[the] most dedicated delegate of CSM 5 and CSM 6 will be blessed with him on board." And so do a great many players, judging from their supportive mails, PM's and forum posts.

And that is exactly why The Mittani and his buddies are running for CSM. He's realized that it is actually very, very effective at influencing CCP, and he wants to try to use it as a vehicle to advance his own petty in-game interests, at the expense of the vast majority of the players of EVE.

You would think that nobody would trust the word of EVE's most famous spymaster and disinformation artist, but as any student of history will tell you, if you repeat a lie often enough, people will start to believe it. And The Mittani has lots of weak-minded parrots at his beck and call.

But you can put a stop to this. You can teach The Mittani a lesson in civility.

I've spent 2-3 hours a day working to build the CSM over the last 10 months. Now I'm asking you to spend a few minutes of your time to make sure all that work doesn't go to waste.

Please send the following evemail to all your corpies, alliance mates, and friends. Spread the word! Blog, Post, Tweet and Facebook. Go Viral!

The choice you make right now, at this very moment, could decide whether CSM 6 continues to build on the hard work of CSM 5, or becomes the forum for The Mittani's attempt to twist EVE to his own advantage.

If you make the right decision, then this YouTube clip should give you an idea of what you'll do to The Mittani's plans.

My most appreciative thanks, in advance,


PS: If you want to drop everything and vote for me right now, just click here.


I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know about something really disturbing that's going on in the CSM elections.

The Mittani is so scared that Trebor Daehdoow is going to get re-elected that he's unleashed a massive troll and smear campaign against him. It's classic goon bullshit.


But as Trebor points out in "Trebor's Complete Guide to Mud", he is not the real target of this campaign. The real victims are a bunch of good candidates who deserve to be on the CSM - guys like Seleene, Ripard Teg, Meissa Anunthiel, Jonathon Silence, and Roc Weiler.


Please do me the favor of checking out the threads, and consider voting for Trebor Daehdoow, or one of the guys listed above. And pass this message on to your friends.

The Mittani claims that he, and only he, can make the CSM effective. But the truth is, the CSM is very effective, and that's the reason The Mittani is running. Don't buy the lie!

Thanks a lot!

You can vote for Trebor by clicking this link:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Polls are Open! Vote Early, and Often!

The polls are open in the CSM election, so please take the time to vote. While obviously I'd like you to vote for me, the most important thing is that you express your opinion. Remember, if you don't vote, don't bitch. Here's a nice easy-to-click voting button you can use:

(note: you may be asked to log in when you get to;
after that you'll go to my voting page)

On a side note, the CSM is not all hard work. CCP Diagoras foolishly asked the CSM to come up with slogans for CSM-related election banners. Here is one of mine that just started running.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The HOPE poster, it is not...

Several people who apparently think I should be re-elected have been exercising their rights to free speech in poster form.  Enjoy!  Perhaps I should offer a prize for the best poster?

This is from famous shadowy Secret Master of EVE, Virtuozzo, a man renowned for never using one word where five will do just fine. The reference to "Team Awesome" is perhaps a bit rude, Virt...

Don's contribution will perhaps appeal to the more algorithmically-inclined voter...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Billions in Bribes for Ballots

One of the cute things I decided to do with my CSM6 campaign is get a little viral mojo going with a lottery. The top prize is 6B ISK, but there are two twists: first, the actual top prize depends on how many votes I get (1M ISK per vote), and second, you can win sub-prizes by being the player that recruits the actual winner -- multiple levels deep.

Obviously, my evil plan is to get people to fly all over the game promoting my candidacy in local, pestering their corpies to vote for me, sticking links in their forum signatures, mention it in blog posts, and so on.

Will it work? That's up to you -- you can find details on the Billions for Ballots Lottery here. Attempts to "honestly" cheat to gain a better chance of winning the lottery are encouraged (this is EVE, after all!)

My thanks to Mynxee for donating 4B ISK to the prize fund. The endorsement she gave me was great, but money speaks louder than words!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let the trolling begin!

Since several other significant candidates have kicked off their re-election campaigns in Jita Park Speaker's Corner, I've joined in by creating my official re-election thread there. I look forward to a robust discussion of the issues that affect the lives of all citizens of New Eden, so don't be afraid to ask hard questions.

And don't forget to visit my official manifesto page and sign up for the free lottery!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Glutton for Punishment

Having apparently not yet plumbed the depths of my own masochism, I find myself unable to resist the compulsion to run for re-election to the CSM. You can find complete details on my campaign platform on my official campaign page.

I won't spoil all of the goodies in this post, but my diabolical re-election strategy involves both massive bribery and bunny-slippers.  To find out more, you'll have to click the link.

I hope you will all honor me with your votes, and permit me to continue serving the EVE community as a CSM delegate.