Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How To Vote

Now that the polls are open, here is a guide to voting easily and efficiently. Thanks to some hard work by CCP Dolan and the CCP Web Team, voting is much easier this year. Rumors that bribes of expensive alcohol were offered to them in return for this are, of course, completely and utterly true.

In previous posts, I've explained why voting is important, how the voting system works, and which candidates I think should be on your ballot. You may also want to visit the campaign section of the EVE Online Forums and see what the candidates have to say for themselves, or use Vote Match to find candidates whose opinions are closest to yours.

If you want to follow my advice, or use it as a starting point, all you have to do is click on one of the voting links listed below, which will take you to the eveonline.com voting page. At this point, one of two things will happen.
  • If you are already logged into eveonline.com, then the Candidate Search box will be filled in with a list of candidates -- and this year it has been improved; you can enter multiple candidate names, separated by commas, and they will get highlighted, moved to the top of the candidate list, and sorted!
  • If you are not logged in, you'll need to click the orange Log in button and log into your main account. When you do, you'll be returned to the voting page. Unfortunately, the list of candidates will not be preserved; to fix that, come back here and either click the voting link again, or cut-and-paste the list of candidates you'll find below each link into the Search box.
Update: there is currently a bug that will erroneously fill in slots in your ballot if you voted last year; if this happens, just drag the candidates out of your ballot before performing the next step!

Then all you have to do is double-click on each of the hilighted candidates in order to move them into your ballot. Just put your mouse pointer on top of the first (top-left) candidate and double-click once of each candidate; each time you double-click, a candidate will move into the ballot. If you make a mistake, you can drag candidates back out of the ballot, or drag them around the ballot to reorder them.

You can just fill in the ballot with my recommendations, or make whatever changes you think best.

Once your ballot is the way you want it, click the big yellow Submit Vote button. If you have more than one account, click the Log out link at the top of the page, then click the Log in button and log in to your next account. Then go back to the voting page and you should find that your ballot has been filled in for you; if you want to vote the same ballot again, just click Submit Vote!

If for some reason the ballot links given below don't fill in the Candidate Search box (some browsers can be a bit cranky), you can simply cut and paste your preferred list of candidates into it.

Happy voting! And tell your friends to vote as well!

My Recommended Ballot Voting Link selects:

DNSBLACK,Ali Aras,Mike Azariah,Xander Phoena,James Arget,Steve Ronuken,Sugar Kyle,Major JSilva,DJ FunkyBacon,Jayne Fillon,corbexx,Proclus Diadochu,Asayanami Dei,Psychotic Monk

My High-Sec Voting Link selects:

Mike Azariah,Steve Ronuken,Xander Phoena,Sugar Kyle,DNSBLACK,Ali Aras,James Arget,DJ FunkyBacon,Jayne Fillon,Major JSilva,corbexx,Proclus Diadochu,Asayanami Dei,Psychotic Monk

My Low-Sec / Factional Warfare Voting Link selects:

DJ FunkyBacon,Jayne Fillon,DNSBLACK,Sugar Kyle,Steve Ronuken,Ali Aras,Mike Azariah,Xander Phoena,James Arget,corbexx,Proclus Diadochu,Asayanami Dei,Major JSilva,Psychotic Monk

My Null-Sec Voting Link selects:

DNSBLACK,Ali Aras,Xander Phoena,Major JSilva,Mike Azariah,James Arget,Steve Ronuken,Sugar Kyle,DJ FunkyBacon,Jayne Fillon,corbexx,Proclus Diadochu,Asayanami Dei,Psychotic Monk

My Wormholes Voting Link selects:

James Arget,corbexx,Proclus Diadochu,Asayanami Dei,DNSBLACK,Ali Aras,Mike Azariah,Xander Phoena,Major JSilva,Steve Ronuken,Sugar Kyle,DJ FunkyBacon,Jayne Fillon,Psychotic Monk

My Industry Voting Link selects:

Steve Ronuken,Xander Phoena,Sugar Kyle,DNSBLACK,Ali Aras,Mike Azariah,James Arget,DJ FunkyBacon,Jayne Fillon,Major JSilva,corbexx,Proclus Diadochu,Asayanami Dei,Psychotic Monk

Remember, these ballots are just my recommendations -- you should add or remove candidates and/or change the order based on your own preferences. Just make sure to vote a full ballot of 14 candidates, as this will maximize your voting power. For more background on the candidates and why I recommend them, check out my "Who I Like" post.

PS: If you'd like to construct your own voting link to send to your friends, simply enter a comma separated list of candidates into the Search box on the voting page; as you do, the url will update. You can then copy this link and forward it. I recommend adding a comma at the end of the list of candidates you enter into the search box, just in case parameters get added to the URL (EVE Gate does this) that might result in the ballot url failing to hilight the final candidate on your list.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Who I Like

There are many great candidates for CSM 9, and with 14 possible slots on your ballot, there's a lot to think about.

What I look for in a CSM candidate is knowledge about the game, a passion for its future, and perhaps most important, the stamina needed to endure the grind -- because being on CSM is an exhausting experience.

What follows are my recommendations about the candidates that are not clear "locks" for election because they are the official candidate of a large in-game group. This list is intended to help unaffiliated voters fill out their ballots, and perhaps persuade "bloc" voters to make some modifications to the ballot they've been asked to vote.

The Fantastic Four

Four years on the CSM have shown me what it takes to do the job right. These are the candidates that, from long personal interaction and observation, I know have the “right stuff.” They will make excellent CSM members, I endorse them without reservation, and they should be high up on everyone's ballot.

If you have supported me in past elections, please do me the favor of supporting them in this one. Getting all four of them elected would be the best thank-you you could ever give me.


Brad King is one of my favorite people -- not just in-game but in real-life as well. I first ran into him because of an interview he did on the Lost in EVE podcast, and soon found a home in the corporation he leads, the infamous Dirt Nap Squad. Famous for losing more Arazu's than any other pilot in EVE history, Brad is dedicated to making sure everyone in DNS has the most fun possible, and his passion for the EVE community is obvious and undeniable. Out-of-game, he serves as a coach and a union representative, which gives him a skillset that will come in very handy on CSM. Over the years he's built up a lot of personal relationships with CCP staff, which will mean he will hit the ground running.


Ellen McManis was one of the big -- and welcome -- surprises of CSM 8. A relatively young podpilot, she impressed everyone on CSM with her knowledge, dedication and boundless energy, and zealously represented the interests of both new players and the NRDS community. Bluntly, she worked her ass off (for example, she took the lead in producing the Winter Summit Minutes), and fully deserves a second term.


Michael Dawe was always a bridesmaid, never a bride when it came to CSM -- until the change in election systems that debuted in CSM8. He then demonstrated that the voters had made the right choice by being a steadfast advocate for the High-Sec community, making sure that CCP took better note of their concerns. If you live in High-Sec, you want Mike back on the CSM.


David Whitelaw showed me he had the stamina to be a good CSM when he interviewed just about every CSM8 candidate on his Crossing Zebras podcast. I've been grilled by him more than a few times, and he has impressed me with his knowledge of the game, no-bullshit attitude, and great communication skills.

The Legion of Superior Candidates

No matter what area of the game you like the best, there are good candidates that feel the same way. Make sure the appropriate ones are on your ballot in addition to the Fantastic Four.

James Arget is a CSM incumbent representing wormhole space. He's worked hard on CSM8 and quietly gone about doing what needs to be done. Wormhole residents should send him back for another term.

Steve Ronuken is a level-headed industrialists, and he has also done a lot of work developing 3rd-party applications. CREST development is an increasingly frequent topic of discussion between CSM and CCP, and he'll be invaluable for that.

I like the way Sugar Kyle presents herself (in particular, her concern for new players), and I get the same vibe from her than I did from Ali Aras in last year's election.

Major JSilva is the main Pandemic Legion candidate, but the reason I'm including him is that he has his head screwed on correctly on the big meta-topics of Force Projection, Sov and TiDi. Helping CCP find a good solution to these issues is the biggest challenge CSM9 will face.

DJ FunkyBacon is a well-known and respected host on EVE Radio, so he'll be great at communications. But he will also be a badly-needed voice for Low Sec and Factional Warfare.

Jayne Fillon is a passionate PVP advocate who will do well helping CCP with their ongoing ship balancing efforts.

corbexxProclus Diadochu and Asayanami Dei are the other three wormhole candidates. Wormhole space probably has enough votes to elect two candidates this year; they are on my ballot to help ensure that this happens.

And finally, in the wild-card slot, there is Psychotic Monk. I'm not a huge fan of ganking and scamming, but they are a community that should occasionally get a voice on the CSM.

Recommended Ballots

Now that I've listed the 14 candidates I think should be on your ballot, there is the matter of the order in which they appear. In STV, you want to place your favorite candidates first, so the order will vary depending on your in-game interests.

Here are my recommended orderings:

General Ballot

DNSBLACK,Ali Aras,Mike Azariah,Xander Phoena,James Arget,Steve Rokunen,Sugar Kyle,Major JSilva,DJ FunkyBacon,Jayne Fillon,corbexx,Proclus Diadochu,Asayanami Dei,Psychotic Monk


Mike Azariah,Steve Rokunen,Xander Phoena,Sugar Kyle,DNSBLACK,Ali Aras,James Arget,DJ FunkyBacon,Jayne Fillon,Major JSilva,corbexx,Proclus Diadochu,Asayanami Dei,Psychotic Monk

Low-Sec / Factional Warfare

DJ FunkyBacon,Jayne Fillon,DNSBLACK,Sugar Kyle,Steve Rokunen,Ali Aras,Mike Azariah,Xander Phoena,James Arget,corbexx, Proclus Diadochu,Asayanami Dei,Major JSilva,Psychotic Monk


DNSBLACK,Ali Aras,Xander Phoena,Major JSilva,Mike Azariah,James Arget,Steve Rokunen,Sugar Kyle,DJ FunkyBacon,Jayne Fillon,corbexx, Proclus Diadochu,Asayanami Dei,Psychotic Monk


James Arget,corbexx, Proclus Diadochu,Asayanami Dei,DNSBLACK,Ali Aras,Mike Azariah,Xander Phoena,Major JSilva,Steve Rokunen,Sugar Kyle,DJ FunkyBacon,Jayne Fillon,Psychotic Monk


Steve Rokunen,Xander Phoena,Sugar Kyle,DNSBLACK,Ali Aras,Mike Azariah,James Arget,DJ FunkyBacon,Jayne Fillon,Major JSilva,corbexx, Proclus Diadochu,Asayanami Dei,Psychotic Monk

Small Gang/Solo PVP

Jayne Fillon,DNSBLACK,Ali Aras,Xander Phoena,James Arget,DJ FunkyBacon,Sugar Kyle,corbexx, Proclus Diadochu,Asayanami Dei,Mike Azariah,Steve Rokunen,Major JSilva,Psychotic Monk

Use these ballots as a starting point; if you have a favorite candidate who is not on my list, by all means add them to the ballot, and if you think my ordering is wrong, change it!

Other posts in this series: Why We VoteHow We Vote and How To Vote (has voting instructions and links).

Saturday, April 5, 2014

How We Vote

One of the interesting things about the CSM election is the use of the Single Transferrable Vote system, which was introduced in the previous election cycle. As some of you may live in areas of the world where it isn't commonly used, here is a quick primer.

In STV, instead of voting for a single candidate, you vote for all the candidates you like -- and rank them in your order of preference. The STV voting algorithm (specifically, the Wright STV variant) then attempts to make the best use of your vote to elect your preferred candidates in your order of preference.

STV thus largely avoids the problem of tactical voting. If you can only vote for a single candidate, then you run the risk that your candidate will not get elected -- in which case, your vote is effectively wasted. Let's say you really like Alice, but you think she's unlikely to get elected, and you sort of like Bob, and think he has a better chance. You might decide "If I vote for Alice, the vote will be wasted -- it won't elect her, and it could have been used to elect Bob, so he might not get elected either. So I have to vote for Bob, even though I like Alice a lot more. Sucks to be you, Alice!"

Under STV, on the other hand, your ballot would list Alice as your first choice, and Bob as your second (and as many other candidates as you like as well). When the votes are counted, if Alice doesn't have enough support to get elected, your vote will help Bob get elected. Even better, if Alice does get elected, your vote will be split, and whatever part of it isn't needed to elect Alice will help elect Bob.

This allocation and splitting process continues until there are no candidates left to help, which is why it's a good idea to list all the candidates you like on your ballot. It take a little longer than voting for a single person, but it maximizes your influence.

In the final days before the election, both the candidates and the pundits will be publishing their recommended ballots -- and I will be no exception (though as a pundit this year!). While the candidates obviously want to get elected, they also want to mutually support other candidates they like.

So if you really like a particular candidate, strongly consider using their recommended ballot -- but as a starting point. Feel free to modify it as you see fit.

But what ever you do, Vote Early and Often -- after all, each of your paying accounts gets a vote!

Other posts in this series: Why We VoteWho I Like and How To Vote (has voting instructions and links).

Friday, April 4, 2014

Why We Vote

Now that the final list of candidates for the CSM9 elections has been posted, I thought I would take a moment to explain why it is important that everyone vote in the CSM elections.

As a veteran of 4 years on the Council, I have had a unique perspective on the evolution of what is, in many ways, the most exclusive in-game profession in all of computer gaming -- after all, it's a part of EVE that only about 70 people have had the opportunity to play.

In my time on the CSM, it has evolved from being an exercise in frustration to an engaging and useful tool for improving the game. In CSM5, apart from the summit meetings, we only had forum communications with the developers, and they were sporadic. CSM8, on the other hand, communicates with CCP devs on a daily basis via multiple Skype chat channels, the forums, and roughly one teleconference a week.

CSM now provides advice on just about every aspect of the game. It's rare that a game-design devblog or ship-balancing post hasn't been reviewed by us before being released to the public.

The people who get elected to CSM9 will have a real opportunity to influence the future direction of the game, both in the short-term and for years to come. That's why it's so important to elect hard-working representatives who deeply understand the areas of the game that matter to you.

No matter what part of the game you love, make sure there's someone on CSM who loves it just as much as you -- and will work to make it better.

Four years ago, I was frustrated with EVE and ready to quit, but I decided to run for CSM as a platform to express my concerns, without any expectation of getting elected. Then that infamous #^&#*& butterfly flapped its wings, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Each ballot you cast is like the flap of a butterfly's wings. You can send someone else on the same incredible journey I got to take.

This year's candidates are the most qualified in CSM history, and they deserve your support. When the polls open, take a few minutes and vote in the CSM elections.

I'll have more to say about the elections and the candidates over the next few days -- stay tuned!

Other posts in this series: How We VoteWho I Like and How To Vote (has voting instructions and links).

Monday, March 3, 2014


Thank You to everyone who has entrusted me with their votes over the years, and given me the opportunity to experience the most exclusive in-game profession in all of computer gaming.

Thank You to my colleagues on the past four CSMs, who have given me the opportunity to be part of the evolution of a unique and effective organization.

Thank You to CCP, for having the courage to try the CSM experiment and give it the time it needed to properly develop.

Thank You, one and all.

But now, it is time for me to step down. I will not be running for re-election to CSM9.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to run again. Being on CSM is a wonderful (albeit exhausting) experience, and I'm going to miss it terribly. But one of my main long-term goals on CSM was to help restructure it so that it could be a more effective voice for the community, and that job is largely completed. My particular (and perhaps, peculiar) skills are less necessary -- so it's time for me to return to being a private capsuleer.

You can depend on me to work hard for the rest of the current term, and to be very vocal about who deserves your vote in the upcoming elections. And I look forward to seeing you all at Fanfest!

But after that? Well, just call me Citizen Trebor.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Only you can prevent Hamster Fires

In my previous post, I took a stab at explaining the mathematics of lag. Subsequently, I was goaded pestered challenged encouraged by CSM Vice-Chair Ripard Teg to explain in more detail how the problem of lag might be addressed. As he put it, it "might require you doing more than one post in a month, but it'd be worth it."

In my post, I pointed out that (a) faster computers aren't going to help, and (b) more efficient code is helpful, but not helpful enough. The fundamental problem is that because it's never a bad idea to bring more people to a fight, "fleets expand to fit the lag available."

Fixing that is a hugely difficult problem that will touch many areas of the game. But perhaps there are some significantly simpler game design changes that can, if not solve the problem, at least buy us more time in which to deal with it. This is what I'd like to address in this post.

As with the previous post, all the examples given below are very simplified for purposes of explanation. And I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not involved in Sov-warfare, so I am sure that there will be many flaws in the example I give below. This is just an exercise in identifying the problems that need to be solved.

At the most basic level, what causes lag is that everybody has to fight in the same place at the same time. Since every object on a grid can potentially interact with every other object on the same grid, the amount of computation needed to process a fight increases non-linearly -- doubling the number of objects more than doubles the horsepower you need.

The key thing to keep in mind is that the important variable is "number of objects that can interact". For purposes of illustration, let's say that the computation load increases as the square of the number of objects; twice as many objects means four times as much computation.

As is well known, one of CCP's secret weapons is that their servers are powered not by common everyday electricity, but by genetically-engineered hamsters. Let's say that with the hamsters running flat-out in 10% TiDi, CCP's best server can handle 2000 players fighting it out on the same grid. 2000-squared is 4,000,000, so the server can be rated at 4 million hamsterpower.

If you draw a graph with # of players along the horizontal axis, and # of hamsters required along the vertical, you get something that looks like this:

The technical term for this situation is "Hamster Abuse."

Alas, when the line hits the top of the graph, we run out of hamsters  even worse, all the hamsters are working so hard that they catch on fire. As the aroma of roasted rodent chokes CCP's server complex,  two things happen: soul-crushing lag descends upon New Eden, and tomorrow's lunch menu at CCP gets an additional "meat dish".

But all is not lost; if we could split the fights up into 1000 player battles in the same system, then each battle only requires 1000-squared, or 1 million hamsterpower. Running flat out, the faithful hamsters can handle 4 of these battles simultaneously on a single server.

And even better, if we could spread out the fights to different systems, then each could potentially run on its own server, with its own set of hamsters.

So this is the first thing we need: Sov-warfare should take place on a constellation-wide basis, and require multiple simultaneous fights in multiple systems. And to discourage people from just jumping and bridging around to create local concentrations of force, Force projection by cyno must be cleverly nerfed.

Another thing to consider is that at present, battles are focused not only in space but also in time, thanks to the timer system. This is one consequence of the fact that Sov is a binary state; you either have it, or you don't. So timers have to go, and that means that Sovereignty must become a continuum.

Finally, Shooting structures is boring, so let's get rid of it.

I spent a few hours and came up with a humble suggestion that tries to incorporate all of these concepts:

Sovereignty is determined on a constellation-wide basis. In each system in the constellation, there is a Sovereignty Control Monitor (SCM).

The SCMs give out Political Points (PP) for ratting, mining, and just plain being in space, but they also give points for any kills that took place in the system. These points are given to the player who struck the final blow, and the amount depends on the value of the kill. SCMs that are giving out more than the constellation's average amount of PP reduce their awards, to encourage multiple fights. Obviously, this has to be structured so that sitting in a big blob in one or a few systems while your opponent hangs around in all the other ones is a losing strategy. I'll be the first to admit that figuring out a PP-awarding system that is resistant to abuse is a challenging problem, but I don't think it is an unsolvable one.

During peacetime, and periods when one side has timezone dominance, people can do stuff and get some points, but the real payoff happens when you fight and win multiple fights.

And yes, a super-rich alliance could descend upon a constellation and AWOX themselves to generate PP.  Good for them, they are demonstrating their awesome economic might in a massive space Potlach!

Each ship has a PP accumulator. The accumulator records how much PP the ship has, and what constellations they are valid in. Every day at downtime, 25% of your PP drains away, so it's use it or lose it. You can transfer your PP to another ship if you do not have an aggression timer, and you can also siphon PP off a wreck by salvaging it. If you have PP that is valid in a particular constellation, you can go to any SCM in the constellation and deposit them to either increase or degrade Sov, which is now a continuum -- let's say from 0 to 10. If your deposit is the one that drives Sov to 0, then Sov resets to 1 and the entire constellation belongs to your alliance.

Depositing PP takes a little time, and everyone in the system will know you are doing it. Stealing an idea from the ESS, the SCMs have bubbles around them.

When Sov is low, it takes more PP to degrade it than it does to improve it; when Sov is high, it takes more PP to improve it than to degrade it (and a certain amount just to maintain it). The closer you are to either 0 or 10, the harder it should be to push it there. Sov battles become a tug of war, with the emphasis on war.

Finally, we need to nerf force projection. We want to make both caps and subcaps useful and important ships in combat with distinct roles, and in particular, we don't want cynos and bridging to be used to leap around the constellation playing whackamole, because that stresses out the hamsters. So how about this? Ships get a new aggression counter; if they cyno or bridge within an hour of committing an aggressive act, they trigger a cooldown that does not let them cyno or bridge again for an hour or two.

So you can cyno and bridge across the galaxy, and you can cyno and bridge into a combat, and you can cyno and bridge out of that combat, but then things get a little interesting.

As I said before, I am sure there are many awful problems with the above, but perhaps it will inspire someone to come up with something that will work.

The hamsters will thank you!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Cold Equations of Soul-Crushing Lag

Yesterday, there was a bit of a commotion in HED-GP. Thousands of pilots attempted to engage in the largest battle in EVE history, and despite the best efforts of CCP, they were devoured by the monster that is Soul-Crushing Lag.

The dreaded Lag Monster has returned to New Eden more and more often in recent months, and it will continue to do so with increased frequency in the months and years to come. This post is my attempt to explain why I believe that even heroic technical achievements like Time Dilation will only put Lag into remission; to cure it requires some fundamental changes to the core game design of EVE.

As befits players of a game that has been described as Spreadsheets in Space, let us begin with some mathematics, to explain why lag can't be conquered by technical means. For most of you, especially those who are computer programmers, this will be basic stuff but bear with me. All the numbers given below were chosen simply to illustrate the problem.

The basic problem is this: "doubling the number of people in a fight more than doubles the amount of work the server needs to do."

To give a horribly simplified example (forgive me, anyone who's taken a 200 level CS course), consider a fight with 100 people; for each person in the fight, the server needs to update their position, execute their commands, and so on. That part of the computational load is roughly linear, so adding another 100 ships would roughly double the amount of work. But then the server has to tell everyone how the universe has changed, and everyone can potentially have a different view of the universe (consider: cloaked vs. uncloaked; information about the ships you have locked; watchlists; etc). So now instead of 100 ships each getting info about 100 ships, you have 200 ships each getting info about 200 ships; that's 4 times as much information. If you have 500 ships, that's 25 times as much; 1600 ships requires 256 times as much. All that data has to be organized and sent to the clients. Things get very bad, very fast; then they get even worse, even faster.

Now in the real world of extremely clever programmers, of which CCP has more than their fair share, there are a lot of things you can do to make things (to use the technical term) "less horrible". But what you can't do is get linear scaling; doubling the number of people in a fight will always more than double the amount of work the server needs to do.

So what can be done to address this problem? Well, there are several basic approaches, and CCP can use any or all of them; they are not either-or choices:
  • Use faster computers (aka "If brute force isn't working, you aren't using enough"). Unfortunately, because of design decisions made back in the early days of EVE development (decisions that I think were made for very good reasons, btw), computers are not getting faster in a way that benefits EVE as much as everyone would like. Time Dilation is actually an example of this approach -- when TiDi hits 10%, the server has 10 times as much time to process each tick of the game clock, so it's like it's running 10 times faster.
  • Make the code more efficient, so that it scales better. In our simple example above, 2x the number of ships meant 4x the work; if that gets reduced to 3x the work, then handling 1600 ships is only 81 times more difficult instead of 256 times as hard, and that turns out to roughly double the number of people that the server can handle before the lag monster appears. A lot of work -- extremely difficult work -- is being done in this area, and IMHO CCP needs to put even more resources into it (and not just because of lag, either).
  • Change the game so that fight sizes are naturally limited to sizes the servers can handle. By "naturally limited" I mean make changes such that effective fleet commanders will have sound tactical and strategic reasons to limit their fleet sizes and/or divide into sub-fleets with different objectives.
Let's examine these possibilities in more detail.

Time Dilation was introduced about 3 years ago, and has been in-game for just over 2 years. As explained above, it basically speeds up a server by a factor of 10. Yet in only 2 years, lag is back. Why? Well, to quote that original devblog, "Here's how I envision this working for a large engagement (say, 1600 or so)". Yesterday, there were over 3400 ships in HED-GP. Even worse, the meta has changed and the type of ships being used likely made the load even worse.

TiDi sped things up by 10x, and EVE players chewed through that in 2 years. While I expect that making the code more efficient will reap great benefits, particularly in chopping the peaks off lag spikes that occur when very "expensive" events occur (such as bridging), I don't think it's going to bring a further 10x improvement. If Team Gridlock proves me wrong, then I will be very impressed and will nominate them for the Galactic Institute's Prize for Extreme Cleverness, but even so, that's just another 2 years or so before EVE players start whining about lag again.

Four years ago, when I first ran for CSM, one of the planks of my manifesto concerned Lag. Here is what I wrote at the time:
While there are clearly many cute hacks that can (and will) reduce lag, the blunt fact of the matter is that such fixes are at best temporary fixes, because as soon as you defeat the lag-monster for N-player battles, the current design of the game encourages bringing extra people to the fight -- which means you have N+500-player battles, and lag returns. In other words, "Fleets expand to fill the lag available". As the EVE population grows, the problem will only get worse.
And it's even worse than what I said back then, because since the introduction of TiDi, the size of "large engagements" has increased much faster than the number of EVE subscribers.

Anyway, the tl/dr is that technical fixes, while wonderful and needed, just address the symptoms; they don't tackle the disease. The disease itself is simple: in EVE, like Soviet Russia, quantity has a quality all its own.

So what game design changes could be made to address this? Figuring that out is why CCP devs get paid the big bucks. But until they do, lag will never go away.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Gods Smile Upon the CSM

As I stepped out of the Nora Bar with CCP Dolan, having just said my farewells to my fellow CSMs and various CCP devs, we were treated to a spectacular display of the Northern Lights above Reykjavik. The word quickly spread and the bar emptied.

Truly a fitting end for the most satisfying CSM summit of my career -- and it explained the problems we were having with the teleconferencing equipment all during the summit, which was clicking like a geiger counter. Clearly someone at CCP had modified it to be a coronal mass ejection detector.

I won't spend a lot of time recapping summit sessions -- for that, Ripard Teg's series of blog posts. This is just a quick summary before I head off to the airport.

This summit was the smoothest one ever. The hard work of previous CSMs has resulted in a smooth working relationship between CSM and CCP, and CSM8 is reaping the rewards of that foundational work.

We got completely briefed on the plans for Winter and how they tie into the long-term vision for the game CCP Seagull presented at FanFest. We had productive meetings with all the feature teams working on the next expansion, and look forward to providing them with more feedback in the coming months.We also had a ton of meetings with teams working on projects like language support that were very interesting.

As soon as we get back to the US, we'll start work on the minutes. The plan this time is to stream them out in small chunks as individual sessions are completed, and I personally hope you'll see the first set of them in about 2 weeks.

I'll close this short note with some thank-yous:

  • To my fellow CSMs, both those in Iceland and those who Lync'd in (we usually had 10 CSMs in  the meetings). You done good.
  • To the CPM, several of whom joined us for most sessions as observers, and provided us with a lot of support and insight behind the scenes.
  • To CCP Dolan, who clearly did a ton of work preparing for the summit.
  • And to CCP, for being gracious and attentive hosts.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

CSM Update

I confess to being a bit remiss in writing this update, but in addition to being quite busy on CSM business, I spent two weeks after FanFest fighting a nasty case of the Viking Death Flu, followed by a secondary infection and a less-than-pleasant reaction to the antibiotics intended to treat that.

I had a wonderful time at FanFest, despite having to manfully endure numerous devs coming up to me and making cryptic comments intended to mislead me about the election results. I would like to particularly commend CCP Explorer for his highly refined sadism.

Regarding the elections, as you know I have long championed election reform, and I could not be more pleased with the results. The change to STV and the modification to the method of choosing Summit delegates had exactly the effect I was hoping for -- it attracted a bunch of well-qualified candidates, and elected a diverse and (so far) hard-working set of delegates. The uneven distribution of the workload in previous CSMs (with 5-7 people doing most of the work) has been a pet-peeve of mine, but I expect that the CSM8 crew will be able to contribute at least 50% more man-hours than CSM7.

I greatly enjoyed the politics of the election this year, and the change to STV meant that I could devote more of my electoral resources to helping other good candidates. My "Evil CSM Cabal of Evil" group had 11 candidates in it, of which 8 were elected -- more than I expected.

Getting elected Chairman was the icing on the cake. It is a great honor to be entrusted with the position by my colleagues, and I will do my best to be their "fleet booster" during the CSM8 term, using what I've learned over the past 3 CSMs to help them be more effective.

As to what CSM is up to right now, we're focusing on helping CCP process all the Odyssey feedback, handling the CSM7/CSM8 transition, and starting our planning for the first summit (expect some public threads about that as soon as we have a date). We're also continuing our biweekly Skype conferences as a team Stakeholder.

PS: To those who so vocally opposed my candidacy for CSM8, allow me to express my undying gratitude. I couldn't have done it without you!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Every Vote is sacred, Every Vote is Great...

There are Traders in the world, there are Miners.
There are Carebears and Pirates and then,
There are those that follow The Mittani, BUT
I've never been one of them.

Every Vote is Sacred,
Every Vote is Great!
If a Vote gets Wasted,
Seagull gets quite Irate!

Every Vote is Sacred,
Every Vote is Great!
If a Vote gets Wasted,
Soundwave gets quite Irate!

Let the bittervets waste theirs
By staying unsubscribed.
Fozzie will buff a ship for
Each Vote that's well applied!

Every Vote is Wanted,
Every Vote is Good,
Every Vote is Needed,
karkur says vote you should.

Scammers, Gankers, Botters,
Cast theirs just anywhere.
But Punkturis loves those who treat their
Ballots with more care.

Every Vote is Sacred,
Every Vote is Great!
If a Vote gets Wasted,
Masterplan gets quite Irate!

Every Vote is Wanted,
Every Vote is Good,
Every Vote is Needed,
Dolan says vote you should.

Every Vote is Useful!
Every Vote is Fine!
Veritas counts everybody's...
Mine... and mine... and mine!

Let the Spam Alts spill theirs,
O'er Jita, Curse, and Domain,
Stillman shall strike them down for
Each Vote that's cast in vain.

Every Vote is Wanted,
Every Vote is Good,
Every Vote is Needed,
Explorer says vote you should.

Every Vote is Sacred,
Every Vote is Great!
If a Vote gets Wasted,
Unifex gets quite Irate!

Remember folks, No Votes Nerf Boats... so vote in the CSM elections!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Voting is a Drag(fest), man...

The polls are open in New Eden, and I hope you'll click this link and vote for me!

When you do, you'll see something a bit unexpected -- a little voting assistant script I have written. It helps address a big problem with the ballot.

It's a drag.

Or more precisely, it's up to 14 drags. In order to vote a complete 14-candidate ballot (which you should be doing), you have to locate each candidate from a list of 30-odd, and then drag them into your ballot.

This is made worse by the fact that it's hard to find your candidates in the list; I have problems finding my own name! At least I don't have 10 accounts...

Update 2: CCP has added the ability to double-click candidates instead of dragging them, and if you have multiple accounts, after you've voted once your ballot will be stored in a cookie. However, the Bookmarklet trick no longer works, so parts of this post are no longer relevant and have been crossed out.

Some months back, I got interested in the physical process of casting ballots, and did some human-factors experiments, even going so far as to create a ballot UI mockup to test various options. I became convinced that a quick ballot entry system was absolutely essential, even something as simple as a text field you could use to enter a candidate list.

Unfortunately, it appears that CCP doesn't agree. While I can understand that they may not want people to blindly vote slates, I had no doubt that there are some experienced web-programmers out there who will have no problems putting together something that will add this functionality. And guess what...

I have checked with CCP Dolan and for now, using a Javascript Bookmarklet to fill in your ballot is allowed. They may however do something to stop it working in the future.

Which brings us back to my voting link. What I've done is whack together a simple script that makes it easier for you to vote:

If you're just voting one account, it may be simpler to enter your ballot by hand. In this case, the script displays the CCP voting page in a frame, with a checklist of candidates to vote for, and a resizable thumbnail image that shows what the ballot will look like when it is completely filled out.

But it also has a link to a page that will automatically create a Javascript Bookmarklet, and has instructions on how to use it. I would like to publicly thank those great benefactors of New Eden, the Goons, and in particular the estimable Jumanji (who should drink for free at FanFest), for their kind permission to use their code as a template.

This script can be used by anyone who wants to distribute a recommended ballot list or create a Bookmarklet. All you have to do is generate a URL in the following format:

http:///www.animeigo.com/CSM/ballot.php?c={list of candidates, separated by commas}&u={optional url of your completed ballot image, without the http:// part}

If you just want to create a Bookmarklet, you can access that part of the tool via this URL:

http:///www.animeigo.com/CSM/ballot-auto.php?c={list of candidates, separated by commas}

These URLs are very long, of course, so I suggest using a service like bit.ly to whack them down to size.

Update: I tweaked the tool so you can also just paste your picks into a text field and generate the bookmarklet a framed ballot assistant page. Just load the ballot tool page without a list, as follows:


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Politics of POSsibility

Many pixels have died in vain in recent weeks as various pundits have pronounced with great positivity that CSM7 was pathetically pointless.

But now that CCP Fozzie's devblog about the Improvements to POSes in Odyssey has been released, I'm able to provide a little insight on how it came about, and how CSM was able to work on the community's behalf.

Our tale begins well before the Winter Summit. CSM definitely had POSes on our agenda for what would become the Odyssey expansion, but we weren't overly optimistic. CSM was supposed to be a stakeholder on one of the development teams in the fall, but due to some misunderstandings at CCP, this experiment was not a success. We were seriously considering "going to the matresses" and expressing our concerns publicly, but after much debate, we decided to hold off and see what CCP had to say at the summit.

As it happened, the summit was a great success, and CCP made some unprecedented promises about CSM input in the planning of future expansions, starting with the next one in early January.

Fast forward a few weeks until the start of the planning process, which I've described in a previous post. In their possible features presentation, one of the teams stated that they wanted to work on improvements to the current POS system.

Our initial feedback to CCP was an executive summary rating that various feature ideas, which I've talked about in a recent post. POSes were one of the 4 "big" items we gave a perfect 10.0 score to (3 of the 4 are in Odyssey). We also created a "POS Wish List" report as a guide to what features would be well received by the community; this ended up being used as one of the starting points for the design.

Next, in mid-January, the Winter Summit minutes were released, and lots of people were concerned because there wasn't substantial discussion about POSes. This presented us with a dilemma. Hopefully CCP would be delivering on POSes in Odyssey, but what if things messed up again? We knew that if we started a POS discussion thread on the forums it would get a lot of attention, and while it would be useful to be able to point to as evidence that POSes were deserving of high priority, it might also get out of hand and backfire.

This was a particular concern because during this time, most of us were putting together our own themed expansion packages, just as the CCP teams were doing (you will not be surprised to learn that POSes were key elements in our themes...). So lighting a fire in the forums at exactly the time when CCP might already be doing exactly what we wanted them to be doing could be counterproductive.

This question was the only one in our entire term that CSM7 could not reach consensus about. Finally, Two step broke the deadlock by posting the POS thread on his own initiative, an act that upset several of his colleagues, notably Seleene.

When we learned what was in the final package, we were very happy that POS fixes were a major component. And to add icing to the cake, CSM was assigned to act as a Stakeholder for the team doing the work, so we'll continue to monitor the situation and do our best to help make sure that as much of the plan gets done as POSsible.

So to the Nattering Nabobs of Negativity, I say, Nuts!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fourteen in a Bed

In compiling these recommendations, I am not giving any weight to how the candidates play EVE, how much they agree or disagree with me, and whether or not they are also supporting me. My major criteria is "do I think this person will do a good job if they are elected?" I expect that all of these candidates will be hard-working team players who will strongly but fairly advocate for the entire community.

None of my recommendations are bloc candidates. This is not because there aren't excellent bloc candidates this year, it's simply that their blocs will ensure they get elected, and supporting them isn't tactically wise under STV. I want a diverse CSM that represents all areas of the game.

My recommended ballot for CSM8 (Version 1.0)

1. Trebor Daehdoow. My polling indicates that 35% of my voters are voting for me because I'm experienced, 31% because I work hard and get results, 18% because they are old and/or bald like me, and 16% because they want to annoy Poetic Stanziel.

2. Tie: Ripard Teg is knowledgeable, hard-working, and a great writer, while Malcanis is probably the all-time champion goodposter on EVE-O -- he's been around forever and nobody has a bad word to say about him.

4. corebloodbrothers impressed me when he ran for the first time last year, but the voting system conspired against him. With any luck, the change to STV will mean the second time will be the charm.

5. Tie: Nathan Jameson and James Arget would be great voices for Wormhole residents. If the stars align, both of them will be.

7. I have served on CSM with both the major Russian candidates, and I like both of them personally, which makes choosing between them painful. However, I think Korvin is the better choice given the challenges and opportunities that CSM 8 will face.

8. Ali Aras is a rare bird, the experienced newbie. I want CCP to put more resources into making EVE more newbie-friendly, and her voice will help convince them to do that.

9. Mangala Solaris brings yet another important perspective to the table, and is well-respected in his community.

10. Given how much crap I've taken from his supporters, you may be surprised to learn that Psychotic Monk is going to be on my ballot. I disagree with some of his positions, but he argues them fairly -- and anything we do agree on is likely to be correct. I am hoping he will be CSM 8's Alekseyev Karrde.

11. Unforgiven Storm is a good industrialist candidate who has the bad luck to be a Goon who is running as an independent. That means he probably won't get much love from bloc voters, and a lot of other people won't vote for him because he's a Goon. If he doesn't make it, I hope he does well enough to try again next year. If so, he could be the corebloodbrothers of CSM 9.

12. Roc Wieler will either be a decent CSM, or he'll be able to role-play a decent CSM. Either works for me.

13. Mike Azariah wants to represent the casual player, and has shown he can work hard on community-related projects.

14. To Be Determined. I am really undecided about who to put in my final slot, and I want to sleep on it. Think you know who it should be? If so, post in my EVE-O thread and tell me why. Or perhaps another candidate will make me an offer I can't refuse.

After all, as we all know, politics makes strange bedfellows.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lack of Quantity has a Quality all its own

Oh frabjous day, Mittens has launched another salvo in his attempt to depress non-bloc turnout in the CSM election (aka the "War Against Turnout").

This time he's taking the fact that there are only 35 candidates and trying to spin it into an alleged crisis of confidence in the community. Go read it and play "count the logical fallacy".

The most important one is, of course: Quantity does not imply Quality. A much more reasonable explanation for the reduced number of candidates is simply this: CSM7 and CCP have made it abundantly clear that CSM is :srsbsns: that requires a significant time investment, and the rules of the CSM and the election system were updated to encourage serious candidates to run.

If you look at the 35 candidates running for CSM this year, there are significantly more high-quality candidates than in any previous CSM election. Ask yourself, why did guys like Malcanis and Ripard Teg run this year and not last year?

Better yet, go ask them in their campaign threads. Then pop by my thread and give me a bump, and check out the threads of other serious first-time candidates like Nathan Jameson, James Arget, Mangala Solaris, Psychotic Monk, and corebloodbrothers, just to name a few non-bloc guys who are likely to get  on my recommended ballot (more on that soon).

PS: I confidently predict that every serious CSM candidate will pass the threshold within the first couple of days.