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.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lack of Communication

Tony Montana is disappoint.

It's obvious to anyone that's been paying attention that 'something is up'. It should be obvious due to the fact that the CSM has slowed down our rhetoric a bit after a couple Skype meetings with CCP Zulu, EVE Online's Senior Producer, and the fires burning in the player base didn't turn into full fledged forest fires. For anyone wondering why players are on the edge of walking away from EVE or the reasons for their frustration, go read my Reality Check blog that I published a couple weeks ago.

Back?  Okay.

In a nutshell, I can sum a lot this up by pasting a comment from one of my corp members last week.  This is a guy that's been playing EVE for about four years that's decided to leave the game and here is why:
"You get to a point where you wonder if you're going to see anything new in the game you've played for so long. I don't think that I am, which is why my last paid subscription runs out 12 October. When I say I want something to do, I mean I want something else to do. Going on ops and doing the same thing I've done countless times before isn't the be all end all for me. EVE used to evolve along with its players and that's just not happening anymore."
If you play EVE, how many times have you read something like this over the past year or longer? It's something I see happen constantly, especially with people that have been playing at CEO / Alliance leader levels for years.

Many players have hung on just to see if anything will change and if EVE will ever return to pushing the envelope as the spaceship MMO that made it what it is today.  I don't think it is coincidence that CSM6 is largely made up of that demographic - long term veterans with a mind to wake CCP up and help convince them that features like Incarna may eventually (if it's ever finished) bring in new subscribers, but it's going to lose them the people that have been paying the bills for the past eight years.
This is pretty accurate tbh...

Time Machine Dev Blog

The potential rage of both the players and the CSM have simmered down a bit due to the implied promise that 'change is coming'.  The fruit of the meetings CSM6 has had with CCP Zulu and the information in them will be borne over the next few weeks.  I believe the reception to what's coming will be positive. CCP has already started to put out a series of dev blogs last week detailing a few bits and pieces of things they are finishing up at the moment but the dev blog we all seem to be waiting on hasn't materialized yet.

As the CSM understood it, the 'big reveal' was supposed to be early last week.  That got pushed back a couple times until CCP Zulu released 'The Moments that Define History' last Thursday which left pretty much everyone that read it saying, "That's it?" For our part, the CSM was unhappy to say the least. We'd been led to believe that there would be some actual meat in the blog for players to chew on over the weekend. It made no sense to whiff such an opportunity to get some good PR for a change.

Since Thursday, the CSM / CCP Skype channel has been a near constant wall of text with us voicing our frustrations at the current situation.  One of those things we've done the wake of CCP Zulu's last dev blog, is start a thread on the internal forums (the CSM / CCP ones) that we, once again, be allowed to review dev blogs with potential major impact prior to their publication. To best illustrate our intent, I'm going to publish the post I made to CCP on the internal CSM / CCP forums.

Let me preface this by adding that the actual 'Time Machine Dev Blog' was authored by former CSM Chair Mynxee and published on Failheap Challenge last week. It has been re-used with her permission.  Here is the text of my post to CCP:

For those that remember what EVE was like back in 2003, this game became great because in the early days the developers of EVE saw EVE's players as a resource to be tapped. A large part of what made EVE successful was due to the game duplicating and improving on things players were already doing without the in-game mechanics. Yet for whatever reasons, there are voices within CCP that see players as the enemy and the CSM as 'terrorists' whose input is designed to tear CCP down. I cannot fathom how anyone familiar with the political process of getting 'elected' in EVE combined with people having to take RL vacation days to come be Video Game Politicians thinks we would want anything other than for CCP to be successful. Our frustration is because we don't get how CCP continues to blow opportunities to energize the player base.

With the exception of CCP Soundwave and his team's clearly written and informative blogs (because tbh, when BFF posts, it's pretty Space Bro language), there is very little at all 'Fearless' about the complete lack of transparency about what is going on right now from the 'management' level. Technical / QA blogs are a whole other animal and don't tend to cause riots in Jita.

I'll just use CCP Zulu's last dev blog as an example since it's the most recent example of how things continue to break down.

*** Gets in a time machine and pretends we had some input on Arnar's last dev blog ***

Intrepid pilots of New Eden!

We are listening to you and we want you to know that your pleas for more attention to EVE's Flying In Space features have been heard. In recent weeks, CCP has been doing some extensive introspection about our focus and priorities in response to what you have been asking for. As a result, a decision was made to refocus and reprioritize on a scale unheard of within our company. These are indeed defining times.

Torfi’s most recent dev blog provides a small taste of what’s to come. Going forward, we intend for Flying in Space features to be primary and receive as many development resources as we can feasibly allocate to them. As discussed with the CSM, the Winter Expansion will focus on null sec changes, but there is a lot more to come. As you can imagine, such a large scale refocusing impacts a lot of people and resource dependencies. We are in the midst of working up a plan. As soon as we have it mapped out, we'll share it with you. Not the satellite view, not the microscopic view, but the big picture view with enough detail to provide a "warm fuzzy" about the immediate future of FiS features and to permit constructive feedback from the community.

You have often told us that we over-promise and under-deliver. Our tendency in that regard has bitten us in the ass many times. Not fun. So, to avoid it we're taking the time we need to produce solid, realistic draft plan for the FiS features you have said need the most love. By 'some immediate future date', we expect to share the plan with you for feedback and refinement. Meanwhile, I will post at minimum weekly briefs so you remain aware of our progress. Once we share the plan, I will keep the dialog going as the hard work of implementing that plan and tweaking it as necessary continues.

We all want EVE to be the very best game it can be, the game YOU love, the game you can't not play. Together, we can and will make it happen.

Watch this space.

Arnar Hrafn Gylfason
Senior Producer of EVE Online

See? There are even a few weasel words in there to allow for some "flexibility". But at least this kind of information would have given people something tangible to count on as well as the sense that there is a process happening that is organized and makes some sense.

I'm sure some will dismiss this as more ramblings of a former employee that has actually been playing the game for over 8 years and has some inkling of what goes on in player's heads. Yes, I'm mad, because it happened when I was at CCP and it continues to happen to the people elected by the players to liaise with CCP. I've watched this game and the company that makes it change from both sides and I don't understand why things continue as they are. It's obvious that I'm not alone in this feeling due to the number of current and former CCP employees that do speak to the CSM about how frustrated they are.

I honestly don't care about any sort of 'blanket' rule or anything that sounds like the CSM 'demanding' anything. What I am tired of seeing though, and I know that a lot of people inside CCP are tired of seeing, are the people in charge of actually talking to the player base through dev blogs continually screwing it up.

Once again, no one is asking for detailed plans or post it notes or meeting minutes from release planning. What is being asked for is a common sense approach to dealing with a very intelligent and involved player base. Part of that is using the elected representatives of that player base in a way that helps everyone feel they are getting maximum benefit from the process.
Responses to my post and those of the other CSMs have been fairly positive so far. I honestly don't think that CCP wants to continue stumbling over and over again with it's messaging but they have obviously got to change the way they are doing things.

It could happen.

Worth the effort?

The good news is that the CSM isn't alone in feeling this way. Certain folks in CCP are frustrated as well and are becoming more and more vocal about how communication with the players continues to fall short of where it could be.  So, yes, I believe it is worth the effort of the CSM to keep trying and for players to hang on just a bit longer.

Another effort the CSM has started is this thread here to make sure it is public record exactly what we unanimously support in terms of EVE Online's resource allocation:

CSM Statement regarding CCP refocusing

Have a read and please give the thread your support.  Don't 'like' it tho because Trebor is whoring up the likes and rubbing our noses in it, the bastard.

As I noted in the post I made to CCP above, some within CCP already use the CSM regularly to funnel ideas and blogs through but, so far, it's not been an issue we've pushed hard for. Considering the potential for large amounts of information starting to emerge for the 2011 Winter expansion and the course of CCP in 2012, the CSM is doing everything we can to make sure those in CCP that want to improve communication with the players have an opportunity to do so.

We have another meeting with CCP Zulu scheduled for this Wednesday (Sept 28th). Hopefully we'll see something in the next few days that shows they 'get it' and I can start blogging and talking about happy things. I'm tired of all the negative crap tbh but it's been a frustrating road to walk lately.

"Watch this space."  Heh.


  1. It’s the strangest thing, seeing CCP self-implode in the way that it has. Currently it’s the very basic things that CCP are not getting right. One has to ask why we should give CCP yet another chance I would have given up with any other company long ago.

    It was the game and the sandbox that kept me involved, but what is left of that the pirate trade was practically destroyed long ago. Once a time pre 08/09 you felt you were the one pushing the games boundaries, creating the game content even though you were a small fish in the big pond that has all gone. At some point it seems like CCP said we want our game back, and now they have it.

    Those communities are now gone whatever happens now going forward it will be a different game with a different feel. That may be a good thing if you feel you can be a part of it. The sad thing is the majority of the communities I belonged too will no longer be present and i simply don’t trust CCP enough to invest time and emotion into another one.

    I am I suspect now the quiet majority, you will find no posts from me rage quitting in fact you will find few post at all under any of my 3 accounts that I have now allowed to elapse. I do wish you well, in your endeavours to bring CCP to its senses for the new community's that will be created if they do. That said it will not be the same because the new community will now always know that what they have can be gone in the time it takes CCP to say "Podded" We were naive to have thought differently .

  2. Honestly dont get ti CCP went from devblogs ever 2 weeks with substantial content, to these little ratty crap devblogs now to just appease the forum masses... That isnt working anymore...

    They said they were going to IMPROVE communication, yet they seem to have if you can believe it or not actually gotten even worse, and gone even deeper into their cave of secrecy on whats coming/changing.

  3. I love this game for the community. The Molle's the Mittani's the Chribbas and so on. I feel myself spreading my arms wide to block people for running out the exits. Only failing as they push past me. My senses tell me that CCP has to have gotten the message that the game needs some major work. I truly believe If they get the winter expansion right It will reverse the tide. However if its bad it will set final judgment by the players in this game.

    I really hope CCP can interate on existing content and come up with new FIS content that will reinspire us the players. I don't know of anyother game out there that can entertain like Eve has. Im watching carefully @ blizzard and waiting with baited breath for more info to be released about Titan.

    Blizzard produces well engineered games and they are good about listening to players wants and needs. My fingers are crossed for a Single shard or mega shard sandbox style MMO. Just to be clear though id rather be playing a well produced Eve but my faith is nearly bankrupt in CCP.

  4. I've explored many aspects of the game, but I never fully realized how broken EVE actually is/was until I had 4 characters each with over 30 million SP. Every time I had the chance to experience a new aspect of gameplay (capital warfare, black ops warfare, sov mechanics, station construction, supercap construction, etc.), I had the opportunity to see how utterly mangled things tend to be. Each outstanding idea seemed to have an equally outstanding way in which it was crippled or broken.

    The communication issue is just the tip of the iceberg. Bittervets have been complaining for years about the state of the game, but listening to their critiques will only be the first step in actually fixing things.

    I don't think I'll be resubbing until well after the communication issue has been solved, because that's how long it's going to take to actually see if CCP will go from _listening_ to _doing_.

  5. So, Seleene.. has that conference call happened yet? And will you tell us what went down because, even by your accounting, CCP doesn't do a good job with follow-thru.

    Personally, I am rather surprised how angry and upset I am getting at CCP for doing this. Probably because this isn't the first time.

  6. Well here's to hoping that the meeting today went well. Hopefully they will be fixing all the shit that made me leave the game (breaking Gallente, stupid war mechanics, low sec fail, etc). I haven't played EvE in well over a year. Stopped by a couple weeks back to see if things have improved. Hoped to find a reason to resub. Found quite the opposite. EvE seems like an impending trainwreck and I find myself unable to look away. One can only hope that CCP really has seen the light and turned things around. Not too optimistic though.

  7. The meeting with Zulu went very well. We actually have some concrete info about the next few months which he's in the process of writing a new dev blog about right now. However, we did ask him to make sure someone else looks it over, or we can, because he really is a terrible poster. :)

  8. Seleene, no offense, because I really hope you are right.. but this is exactly what we heard (almost to the letter) last week. What assurances are there that it won't be another "endless review" situation?

  9. I have been playing from 2005 till early 2011. But I had given up on the game when CCP was into the Industrial Expansion.. I was all excited but the expansion only delivered the Orca. And the Orca was already in the game, they only had to 'activate' it! From that point on I lost interest and stopped loggin in and eventualy stopped paying..

    I feel frustrated, even now.. but EVE online does not have a forum for ex-EVE players so their voice isn't heard. Maybe the CSM could ask CCP for this.