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.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hot for Teacher

Taken in a real EVE Uni classroom!
I've had dealings with EVE University dating back to 2005. I've shot them, recruited from them, given guest lectures to the 'students' there and generally consider the Uni to be one of the most awesome things in EVE. Last year I started a thread on the Uni forums during my campaign for CSM 6 and I've done the same this year.  The goal isn't so much to troll for votes but to give newer players an opportunity to ask questions about, "WTF is this CSM stuff?"  As I said in my intro there:
"What is most worrisome about this next election are the number of 'bloc' candidates attempting to run without answering so much as a single question. They are simply relying on what they believe to be their 'bloc' to boosh them into a CSM seat. The fact is that if enough people vote, and if those people vote with their heads and not just because someone told them to push a button, then the election results could turn out far differently than many would expect. EVE Uni and it's alumni represent a group of players that can be a part of that.
I want everyone that votes to make it an informed decision. Question everyone, ascertain their motivations and help eliminate the joke / troll candidates. Ask me what you wish of my own campaign and the other candidates or simply where you might find out more information about what past CSM's have done and what the future might hold."
Another reason is that I find it much easier to write up my thoughts in response to questions and, over the years, Uni members have continually come up with things that get my brain working and allow me to express thoughts I might not have found words for otherwise. Hopefully things will keep going and I'll have more to post later.  For now, here are a few of the stand out questions and my answers to them so far:

Do you(as well as other current CSMs) and the CCP Liaisons to the CSM still have a good working relationship after the Incarna issues?
It's improved greatly since last year. This is due to a number of things, not the least of which is a complete change of the guard in terms of who is in charge. They aren't doing this anymore: :ccp:

A year ago, CCP was a completely different company with a completely fragmented mindset. People worked on what they had to or what they were told to. Their messaging and PR were colossal failures. Since then they have a new lead designer, a new senior producer, a new focus (not space dolls) and a completely different way of talking to the player base. I will not say that this is all due to CSM 6, but I will certainly say that we played a part in working with CCP to help the sinking ship stay afloat.

The current CSM has a very good relationship with those CCPers we interact with most often. Some of it is due to 'going through the fire' of the last year together, some just due to a lot of hard work and long conversations to find common ground. You have to understand that a lot of the past problems existed because the people we were interacting with were literally 'under orders' to try and sell us something we didn't want to buy. This hamstrung large parts of CSM 5's entire term and made CSM 6's early efforts all the more frustrating. It took the near implosion of the company at the middle and upper management levels for people to be allowed to work on things they wanted to work on.

You can see the results of all this in every dev blog and video blog that's been released since Hilmar's Apology letter. CCP is a much more relaxed and open company because the people involved are doing things they want to do. That makes them happy and easier to communicate with.
I understand that Dust is a new project and CCP will most likely keep things close to the vest. Is there a mechanism in place for the CSMs to be notified by CCP on anything that may alter game mechanics/economy significantly via Dust implementation?  If a mechanism is not in place for disseminating this info to the CSM would you push for it?
There is no current mechanism in place regarding DUST and EVE. At the first summit in May, we had a session on DUST which was a complete embarrassment for the lack of information given and the preparation made. We had a session scheduled for the December summit but it was called off due to CCP wanting to make sure they didn't brief us with the wrong information. As of right now, CSM 6 has yet to see even so much as a screenshot in any of the summits that we've attended. We've seen no demos of the game nor do we have any clue at all as to how DUST 514 will link into EVE.

Will we push for it? We've never stopped. It's something I've personally wanted to know since I first heard of DUST when I was working at CCP. You can bet your ass I am going to be all over this.
Do you feel that the so-called "new player experience" needs revamping/improvement? If so, what are your ideas regarding the issue?
In general, I've long been in favor of a massively re-designed New Player Experience (NPE) that put players through a proper 'Academy'-like atmosphere, which ends with them being introduced to their first podding. While it may not be ideal of everyone, my personal preference would be something along the lines of what happens in Dragon Age Origins, where you run through a specific set of events tailored to your racial choices / specializations and when done with that, you move forward into the larger sandbox. Of course, it should be optional but with proper incentives it would be worth doing for anyone not already familiar with the game. At this point, enhanced tools used to locate a suitable corp / alliance would be essential to helping the new player keep going.

As a side note, to me, this was one of the great tragedies of Incarna; especially after having played through several classes in SWTOR, just imagine what EVE would be like if your introduction to EVE was done with proper NPC avatars guiding you, explaining the history of the universe, your race or that Kestrel you just bought. CCP spent five-plus years working on that stuff and.... okay, gonna stop now before I super rage. The point is, if done right, it could lend quite a lot to the NPE.

In general, I prefer for EVE to keep it's dangerous edge. Bear in mind that I started playing the game 2 weeks after it went live in 2003 (it took that long for the Army PX in Germany to get a box copy after the Beta). A lot of things were horribly unbalanced, CCP was a barely 30 man company and we were all guinea pigs of a sort. I'm tainted by what I experienced as a 'new player' and, even though it was nightmarish at times, I enjoyed the challenge of it all. A big part of what is missing from EVE these days IMO is the sense of discovery and mystery for new players and I constantly push for and support anything that lends to that.
My impression is that the Jita riots and the large number of un-subscriptions, during the summer, were the real driving force behind CCP's change in direction and the resultant, highly successful, Crucible expansion. Don't you think it is rather silly for anyone on CSM6 to lay claim to being the "savior of Eve" or to point the finger of blame (for Incarna) at CSM5?
I won't claim that it was ALL the CSM that helped turn things around, but I will say that without the CSM there really is no telling what path toward righting the boat CCP would have taken. I've blogged and posted extensively on the effect the CSM has had on CCP, both as a Dev and as a player and I'm not the only (former) Dev that has acknowledged this. I think the two are intertwined - Without CSM 6 our protests would not have been properly heard / acknowledged. Without our protests, CSM6 would not have been listened to. Make sense?

On CSM 5 - I consider Mynxee, the CSM 5 chair, to be one of my closest online friends. Carole is awesome and we've kept in close contact over the past couple years. I fully supported CSM 5's Open Letter about Incarna's problems, along with many of their frustrations along the way. IMO, CSM 5 laid the ground work for CSM 6 being able to walk in and say, "Okay, enough of this crap, we're going to try this another way."

As for blaming anyone, the only finger I've ever pointed is at CCP's formerly inept middle-managements horrible PR skills and at Hilmar directly for having tunnel vision and being blind as to what was going on. If you read the December summit minutes, in the section of our meeting with Hilmar, a big chunk of the grilling done was by me. I wasn't just asking questions about the last year, I wanted to know why this path of ignoring player desires started all the way back before Tyrannis. To his credit, Hilmar didn't try to shift any of the blame and I'm much more confident now of EVE's future direction with the installation of Jon Lander (CCP Unifex) as Senior Producer.

1 comment:

  1. You spelled "Winmatar" wrong :P

    Thank you for taking the time to commit these words to publication!