Thank you very much everyone for placing me on CSM 6 and now on CSM 7 where I am currently serving as the Chairman! If you would like to contact me directly, do not hesitate to just send me an eve mail in game. Keep your eyes here and watch for new posts.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CSM Emergency Summit - The Aftermath

Dramatization - CSM 6 has no girls. Well, maybe White Tree.
As I mentioned previously, while I was unable to physically attend the emergency summit, I was on Skype for most of the sessions (got up at 4am one morning, ugh) and then watched the video recordings of the whole affair once they were available.  First, let me start with the 'joint statement' that was released:

First off, I just want to say that the amount of back and forth in crafting these statements was pretty intense but they were published very quickly. It's a stark contrast to the two months (and counting) that has passed trying to get the official minutes of the summit published. I'll touch on that later. Right now I want to point out that, at least in terms of the CSM statement, it wasn't something that all of us agreed 100% on.  I'm going to touch on a few points in the CSM part of the joint statement so that there's no confusion about my stance on these issues.

Fuck this. Where is the pirate eye patch?!
The Noble Exchange Rollout Debacle - This continues to amaze me, in that it's still an absolute joke. The initial rollout of very few items combined with the ludicrous pricing killed any interest or enthusiasm I might have had for this feature. I've said it many times - I was prepared to spend years and lots of $$$$ dressing up my space dolls because I'd assumed there would be some sense behind the pricing of the items. There still is not.

While I do not know exactly what CCP is making in terms of money off all this, I still believe that they would be raking in the cash right now if they would literally slash the current prices in half because several times more people would be buying stuff for multiple characters. For example, if the NeX had goggles or a silk scarf something priced at 300-500 AUR, every cyno alt in EVE would be wearing them. I'd call the high prices of NeX items "greedy" except that I honestly believe this pricing strategy is actually losing CCP money! That's not greed, it's just terrible marketing. To this day I have not purchased a single item from the NeX store.

Game-affecting Virtual Goods - While we don't see eye to eye on everything, this post by Vile Rat where he voices his discontent on this issue is something that I thoroughly agree with. While some may consider Vile to be just another Goon mouthpiece, he's very much his own man and I'm going to re-print his words here and give them my strongest support:
"The lack of a clear concise statement declaring that they will never go in this direction is alarming, let me explain why.

Right now there is a roll out of cosmetic microtransactions which by and large the CSM, myself included, had no real issues with. I personally had no issues with it because there was an understanding that this was the far extent of what would be done. Nowhere in these statements is a determination to never cross this line into pay for non cosmetic, just an immediate desire to not pursue this goal. I can not support any MT scheme that would pave the way for even the possibility of going beyond this. I would have been satisfied if they said "we will never do this", you will notice that this statement did not occur.

I respect the fact that CCP has no plans to go beyond cosmetic and I truly feel this sentiment is sincere, but without committing to it my confidence in the future of this MT scheme is in doubt and as such I cannot support it."
The Fearless "Greed is Good?" Leak - Wow, the spin on this was pretty incredible, almost to the point where I think many of the newer CCP'ers believe it.  This is what the CSM part of the statement said:
We accept CCP's position that Fearless is a deliberately controversial internal publication and does not represent the policy of CCP Management or of CCP Zulu, the Senior Producer of EVE Online, nor the direction of game design.
Guess what? I don't accept that at all, at least not completely.  Zulu is his own man and I'd never believe anything about him unless it quoted him directly or he authored it himself.  Insofar as the rest, as I said on EVE Radio, Fearless is supposed to be there to help employees digest what's going on in the company and the company mindset. It is not just an opinion piece and I never took it as such when I worked there. I always saw it's primarily purpose to be getting people to have their noses pointed in the same direction so that by the time a feature is going live there has been internal messaging that says what is coming is going to be awesome, so be ready for the awesome. Here are some cool pics too, ta da!

Just because some of the CCP folks that the CSM spoke with said they never read it / don't pay attention to it / think it's pointless does not change what it has been used for in the past.  While I do accept that the most inflammatory bits (with Soundwave sounding pro MT) were 'staged', it does not make the content any less true and I think CCP's efforts to downplay it just prove the point that it's not to be dismissed out of hand.

I'd be really curious to know if Fearless has been fearlessly cancelled for fear that another one would be fearlessly leaked.

CSM 6 uses this stamp a lot lately...
Status of the Minutes

A lot of folks have been asking lately, "Where are the official minutes for the Special Super Duper Emergency Summit?"  Well, here's some info for you all to chew on while we wait.

The first official review of the minutes from CCP's side landed in my inbox on the 25th of July.  The CSM as a whole did not like what we saw as the minutes had been edited "mostly in regards to tone".  In our opinion, it was a bit more than that.  Lots of emails went back and forth comparing & proposing changes.

The next pass kicked off on the 2nd of August. Once again, the CSM didn't like what we saw and the discussion intensified into a full fledged debate as to what the purpose of the minutes actually was and who 'owned' them. This went on through email and Skype until the 9th of August when communications fell off a cliff due to multiple key folks on CSM and at CCP being on vacation / travelling / having babies, etc...

The 23rd of August saw round three kick off and the cycle seems to be repeating itself once again. Today is the 31st of August and, at this moment, I could not honestly tell you when the minutes will be released or what final form they will take. That's not drama, it's just where the situation is at the moment.

So, what is the problem? It all seems to be about CCP wanting to represent 'factually' what happened versus the CSM wanting to do the same while still holding CCP to account for what caused the summit to take place to begin with. My feelings on it all are disappointing to say the least. If not for the haggling over 'tone' the minutes would have been out over a month ago.

While I know all of this is being done with the best intentions, this seeming debate about what the CSM can or cannot say or how we say it is getting old. What annoys me the most is that Mittens did the little video with Zulu and, aside from that and the 'official joint statement', there has been nothing else come of all this in two months. This continual editing back and forth and the adjustments for 'tone' just screams spin spin spin to anyone with even a passing interest in the process.

As I noted earlier, some of us are still very much at odds with several aspects of what took place and the longer this "review" goes on the less faith I have that the CSM is what Hilmar likes to say we are (a bullshit detector).  Between summer and trying to be patient I, and others, have held our tongue in the hope that the marketing speak would tone down. That rope is almost played out because I feel like we're being strung along indefinitely until CCP hopes we submit to whatever they want the minutes to say out of sheer resignation.  That is not going to happen.

It’s understandable that CCP is concerned about how the summit is factually represented to the public, but the CSM was elected by EVE players to represent EVE players and speak back to them as their elected peers. Non EVE players and the media didn’t elect us and don’t really concern us.  We’re looking to address the concerns of our constituents and show that we share their frustrations while at the same time working to resolve the same.

As someone said on the forums about this yesterday, "In 24 hours it will be September."  True enough.  I'll keep everyone updated as best I can as to where this situation is as it progresses.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'm Back

Blaaaraaagh n' stuff.
It's been a while since my last blog update so, before I launch into a new series of blogs covering the events of the past couple months, I thought I would take a moment to say hello again and explain my recent absence from the EVE scene.

My last blog was written at the very height of the crisis caused by CCP's actions concerning Incarna and the leaks of the 'Fearless' newsletter.  Later that Friday night I was on EVE Radio with Brendan from Massively, former CSM Chair Mynxee and current CSM Chair Mittani when the other infamous leak of Hilmar's CEO letter to the company came to light. It had been my full intention to keep up the pace of blogging / forum posting / tweeting and keep the information flowing but 'real life' reared up and smacked me from several directions that weekend.

I will not be going into any great detail about these events other than to say that it involved a family medical issue and required my full attention.  For several years now, my business and financial interests already had me splitting my time between Europe and the United States so I found myself juggling more issues than usual recently. Things are on the down slope to being good now though and I can turn my eye back toward imaginary spaceship land once again.

It is worth noting that these past seven weeks (feels like much longer) mark the first time in eight years of playing EVE that I've actually stepped back completely.  By that I mean I actually let four of my accounts lapse, I didn't even log in to change skills and I didn't participate in the day to day happenings of my corp or alliance. It felt... weird. I've been on summer breaks before from EVE but this was completely different and, I admit, a tad dangerous in terms of realizing just why so many people find it hard to return after an extended absence.

Inevitably, I started to feel the pull again and am getting back into things. While I wasn't actually in game, I did make it a point to keep up with forums, emails, etc... While the aforementioned issues prevented me from attending the CSM Emergency Summit, I was able to Skype into several of the meetings and have my say / listen in.  Additionally, all of the meetings were video recorded and I took the time to watch every session. My next blog is going to cover my thoughts on the Emergency Summit and what has and has not happened in the nearly two months since.

For now though, I just want everyone to know that I am back and will be making it a point to blog regularly and keep the information flowing as best I can.  I know that a lot of people voted for me to be on the CSM because they knew I would speak plainly about my experiences as their representative. In many ways, this little break has lent me a new perspective on certain issues and, in the coming months, I plan to use the time leading up to the December Summit as effectively as possible.  Stay tuned.