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.

Friday, March 30, 2012

CSM 7 - Getting Started

I guess that it's a good thing I waited to write this seeing as how so much has happened over the past few days. I'm going to assume that everyone reading this is up to date on the happenings involving CSM 7's late Chairman and all of the drama surrounding that. I'll also assume that many of you are reading this because you're curious as to my thoughts on it all so I'm going to get that out of the way first then move on to more productive material.

The Mittens Situation

If you're still wondering what the hell I'm talking about, just go read the HATS post on Jester's blog. Jester, if you are reading this, yes, Alex read it and it had an effect. It may seem obvious by now but I think it crystallized what many people were already thinking.

So now Mittens is gone from the CSM completely. I think that if Sony / DUST were not involved and this were not all over YouTube that it's very possible not much would have happened. At the minimum, I believe that Alex's apology and not accepting the Chair position for CSM 7 would have been enough for him to maintain a seat on the CSM. Instead, CCP went all the way. I think he has a right to be upset, but not completely surprised. Mittens pretty much confirmed this in his emergency State of the Goonion two nights ago.

How do I feel about all of this? What does someone feel like when a tornado rips through their town but leaves your house untouched? I've accepted that CCP did what it had to do and I believe that the CSM will survive this and continue to evolve. All things being equal I would have preferred Alex stay a part of CSM 7 which may surprise some people but I've never made a secret of the fact that I thought he was very effective. Over the next few days we will have a clearer picture of what happens next and I'll touch on some of that as I walk through my fellow CSM 7 delegates.  There is some good news about CSM 7 and I'd like to talk about that for a bit!

CSM 7 People

I think we have a very good and varied crew on board this time and I'm going to take a moment to look at each of the council members in turn.

Two Step - Josh is a good man and I'm very happy he got the showing he did. The dude went from under a thousand votes to 4150. Where in the past the CSM 'alts' mostly sat on their hands and did nothing, Two Step said 'fuck that noise' and ended up being more involved with the CSM than many of the 'top nine' of CSM 6. He is proof that hard work can and will be rewarded by the community. I'm very happy that I'll be seeing him in Iceland at the summits.

Elise Randolph - I don't think many people expected him to do as well as he did; Elise certainly didn't! However, he had a much more organized 'get out the vote' campaign spread across three PVP alliances (PL / RDN / NCDOT) compared to previous years and it paid off big. A lot of people that don't PVP much may not see the value of Elise but the fact is that this guy plays EVE more than just about anyone else I know. He's not just an EFT Warrior but a multi-doctrine fleet commander that can and will tell you what works and does not work. Every CSM should have a guy like this on it, regardless of their alliance tag. It also helps that Pete is literally one of the most chill dudes I've ever met in EVE.

Greene Lee - Greene is a new CSM member, booshed in by the AAA / Stainwagon bloc. I can't really say I know much about him other than he didn't seem to need to campaign much and since joining the CSM Skype chat he's been pretty quiet. That aside, he seems to be a really friendly guy and has some good ideas so I'm betting he'll get a lot more chatty as he settles into the role of being a space politician.

Trebor Daehdoow - Did you know that Trebor's name is his RL name spelled backwards? That's just one of many interesting things about this guy who has now become one of the pillars of the CSM. This will be his third consecutive term and he's earned a reputation for being both a hard worker and a strong advocate for a broad range of issues and play styles. I enjoy working with him and anyone familiar with the last few CSM's will probably understand why.

Kelduum Revaan - EVE University's CEO is a bit of an enigma to me. I've not really had a chance to get to know him or what he'll be like as a CSM member. Obviously he has some serious organizational ability to do what he does in game and hopefully that will translate over. I'm looking forward to getting to know him better.

Seleene - Oh, hey, that's me! Sooooo, yeah, I dropped down a few slots. There are likely many reasons for this. Last year I was supposedly the AAA candidate, but I also pulled votes from many other areas as well. This year I had no voting bloc at all to speak of and I have no doubt that I lost votes to both Two Step and Hans Jagerblitzen. So I had to campaign pretty hard, do 'town halls' on TS servers and all that. I know I picked up a lot of new votes in the process yet many people I talked to were splitting their votes between me and Hans / Two Step / Mittens.  Far too many people just assumed I was a shoe in. I'm also pretty sure some folks looked at my alliance ticker and got shy as well once it was time to Push Buttan. The end result put me within less than 500 votes of Greene Lee out of over 59k votes cast, which I'm actually pretty happy about.

UAxDEATH - He thought he would do much worse and I was happy to see him proven wrong. Mikhal is a very straight forward guy that, while you may not see much of him in blogs or forum posts, does speak up a lot in the Skype channel and the meetings in Iceland. One of the very old school EVE players that can tell stories with the best of them, he's literally done everything you can do in EVE. He has a presence about him that is impossible to ignore, is famous for his 'moonshine' and getting EVE's Senior Producer more than a little drunk.

Hans Jagerblitzen - It was the name that caught my eye first. What kind of name is that?! Then I made the 'mistake' of reading his campaign manifesto; then I eve mailed him and got him on Skype and subsequently decided to do everything I could to get this man a CSM seat. I honestly expected his position and Kelduum's to be flipped; now I suspect his constituents will respond to the CSM 8 election in much the same way Two Step's did for this one - they will rally like mad next time. Hans is a great talker and writer and he's got a solid agenda motivating him. He's a total team player and, despite his love of the Nidhoggur, is a good man.

Meissa Anunthiel - He's been on ever CSM since CSM 2. Stephan's knowledge of how the CSM has changed over the years continues to prove valuable. He's never interested in just going with popular opinion and can be counted on to present his own opinions clearly. So many of the positives that have come out of the CSM over the past three years are due to Meissa continuing to lobby for particular issues. He's got a solid and consistent core voting constituency that continues to expand with every election (he got more votes than ever this time) so he will likely have a voice on the CSM for as long as he wants one.

Dovinian - I'm still getting to know the TEST Alliance candidate but I already like him. Dovi has a great sense of humor and has a tendency to step in and defuse spergy situations. He has also displayed an aptitude for creating propaganda art that is quite extraordinary. He would probably be in the top seven had Micheal Bolton not split the TEST vote and he's not at all bitter about this. Well, maybe a little. :)

Issler Dainze - Issler got off to a bad start by starting a thread about what happened with The Mittani that didn't go over too well with a lot of folks. After a few CSM's said some ~words~ she finally got her Skype access sorted and proceeded to interact with the rest of us.  Apparently that led to this. Cool, hopefully things will move forward as I think Issler can probably contribute a lot to the 'carebear' side of things this term.

Alekseyev Karrde - I expected Alek to do a bit better in terms of votes but I'm just glad to see he made it on. This dude is basically the best person possible to have on the CSM in terms of helping work out the war dec mechanics being discussed for Inferno and merc work in general. I don't agree with him on every issue, but I'm a bit of a NOIR fan boy due to my roots in Mercenary Coalition a long time ago. Alek continues to do something that few other people in EVE have ever even tried to do and he has my respect for that. I'm stoked that he's got a seat and from what I've seen in Skype so far he is going to be a real asset.

Darius III - He seems to love being the Devil's Advocate, even when one isn't needed. This caused a multitude of problems in CSM 6 to the point that he was more or less self-ostracized for the majority of the year. This time, there has been an early effort to try to get D3 to work WITH the rest of the CSM instead of against it. It's still early but I think a corner has been turned and hopefully he will be a chill space bro.

Closing Thoughts

CSM 7 has a lot of work to do and we've not even taken our virtual seats. All of the drama aside, if you look at the people remaining, this CSM has a very broad coverage of all areas of EVE's play style. We are already thinking ahead, getting to know each other and understanding our relative strengths and weaknesses. We've got a good crew. Despite any doomsday predictions I think we have a talented team and will make the most of a great year of opportunities ahead.

I will come back and update things again once CSM 7 has chosen a Chairmen and taken office. Hopefully that will be done in the next week or so.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Balancing Costs & Benefits

The Nerf Wheel
Nearly one hundred and twenty pages and counting of rage / discussion / trolling after two days says a lot about how ~passionate~ some folks in EVE are about their big toys. I am, of course, talking about the latest balancing pass on Titans, also known as the Supercap Blap Nerf. I'm going to break my response to all this into two parts - what I think about the 'nerf' itself and the bigger, more dangerous problem I see coming out of this whole affair.

Titans here and now

I'm going to run with three assumptions here that I think most people agree on:
  1. Supercapitals should be very powerful (hence the price tag / training commitment).
  2. Supercapitals should not be able to operate effectively solo, or in groups of only supercaps.
  3. Supercapitals have no viable, cost-effective counter other than more supercaps.
There are many times where people opined about 'broken gameplay' for years with no action being taken until a proper solution was decided. While I believe most players agree there is a problem here, the jury is still very much out in terms of exactly what the final solution is.

AT PRESENT, nearly every subcap fleet doctrine in the game right now can be countered by another subcap fleet doctrine. Even capital ships can be relatively easily countered by subcaps. Supercapitals, on the other hand, cannot. Even a relatively small group of supercapitals is a very hard nut to crack for subcaps, and in big fleet fights, the moment one side deploys supercaps en masse, the fight is effectively over unless the other side is ready to properly counter. There is no subcap ship that is designed to kill capitals. This is not consistent with real world military advances where each time something appears too powerful, a counter is eventually invented. Does CCP have any plans for this sort of thing?

As for the proposed changes, the tracking changes are about what I expected and anyone thinking this was never going to happen has been overdosing on mindflood. The number of lockable targets is arbitrary and a bit silly but hardly an issue. The scan res is pretty much the one thing everyone who is upset agrees is over the top. Aside from all the arguments about Cormack SBs, I mean, what are Raggy or Levi pilots supposed to do here? For crying out loud, a base of 5 is just nuts. Why not just halve it to a base of 20-25? When you factor in lag / TiDi, etc..., 30-40 seconds to lock anything is still a looooooooong damn time.

This path of action by CCP feels to me like a ‘race to the finish line’ for folks (both Devs and players) that just want the subject to go away. My perception is that it essentially shelves titans indefinitely in terms of iterative balancing while the design team works on things they would rather work on. Is just nerfing things really all there is left? Going for the easy win by nerfing the guns or whatever just seems a cheap way to go. What happened to using IMAGINATION to solve these kinds of problems?

The larger problem

What's ironic about this 'nerf' or whatever is that, despite cries of 'victory'', it's not what even Mittens really wanted - he got the bare minimum. The members of CSM6 ALL wanted a proper re-vamp and we now have no idea if or when that will happen. My problem with this whole thing isn't even so much about ~titans~ as it is that a thing is being dealt with by kicking the can down the road (again). We've all heard these arguments about lack of resources before and now that there are more resources, the high end stuff is being shelved in favor of using a hammer instead of a scalpel.

Many of CCP's replies on this subject reveal that much of the problem is in how "Agile" development is a big influence on why we're not getting a proper solution here. Basically what's happening here is that "Titan Balancing" has been added to the backlog list of things to do soon(tm). For the sake of argument, every item in the backlog gets two scores - an "Effort" score, which describes how hard it is to do and a "Benefit" score, which says how "good" the end product will be. The ratio of Effort / Benefit becomes the priority given to every item in the backlog. The higher the priority, the sooner it gets done.

Until somebody actually sits down and does some engineering design, allocating an "effort" score is notoriously difficult. Often it gets set far too high because nobody feels like doing that particular job (especially when it comes to THIS topic!). The result is that anything with a low ratio gets pushed to the end of the queue. If the Benefit and Effort 'scores' aren't correct, important stuff can end up so far down the queue that it NEVER gets done. How many times can you kick a can down the road? This is the situation we are looking at AGAIN.

This level of play is something that many of CCP's most loyal customers spend years working toward. Frankly, once you hit 90M skill points per toon, finding something new to train is - well there pretty much isn't. Like many older players I have multiple alts, and my total skill points from just 3 characters are over well 250M, which means that at the bare minimum I have Industry & Trade, one racial supercap and all four races subcaps covered. After nine years in the game, there's nothing new to train for and the 'end goal' for a lot of people (be it anything from a carrier to a Titan) continues to be put aside so the focus can be placed on things whose 'benefit' is certainly debatable. I'd love to see the Bellicose do something useful, but at the cost of shelving a proper re-work of one of the most visible goals / isk sinks in the game? 

For those of you that have not seen it, Shadoo posted a few ~words~ that sum up a lot of my frustration: it's not that I'm mad about this particular nerf, more in what it represents for the (non?) future of proper iteration on the class:

Shadoo 1

Shadoo 2

Wise words to be remembered as we go forward:
"Short term fixes have a nasty habit of turning into long term features, which simply serve as a time-delay for the problem at hand. And I think you will find there are too many of these things today in active use or in active build to be able to deal with this in any "quick fix" capacity without simply making the problem worse to solve in the long term."
In closing, I do not like the precedent this sets for iteration of game play that sits stagnant for years at a time. CCP needs to do more than look at simple cost / benefit and consider the larger issues from a player perspective before committing to making simple 'number tweaks' when what is needed is a proper overhaul. This is the same kind of thinking that has allowed things like Factional Warfare and Industry to linger in apathy for ~millions of years~.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

CSM 7 - The Polls are Open!


After weeks of campaigning, blogging and forum whoring it is finally time for the voting. In case you run into any problems, here are the voting rules:
  • One vote per account.
  • Your account must have been created at least 30 days prior to the time you vote (or 60 days if created via the buddy program).
  • Your account must have been active for at least 24 hours prior to voting.
So if you have an old account, you can reactivate it (say, by using a PLEX) and then vote the next day.

I obviously hope you'll vote for me, but no matter what, vote. Make your voice heard!!

If people want to hear more of what my campaign is about, please listen to this excellent Voices from the Void podcast I did this past Sunday!
Lots of ~words~ to hear!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

EVE's Industrial Revolution

What if prospecting for new, special ores was interesting?
At some point in the near future, once all of the sov mechanics and FW stuff has been given a good booosh, there is an industrial revolution coming to EVE. That statement isn't based upon any 'inside information' that I have, it's just something I firmly believe is on the horizon. There are too many people that want to see positive changes and interesting game play applied to that part of EVE and I am one of them.

On last weekend's 'Lost in EVE' debate, toward the end of the show, Two Step came out of nowhere to ask me directly what my thoughts about mining and industry are. It may have been meant and, admittedly answered with a bit of humor, but my mind shifted gears and I started to ~talk~, which can sometimes be pretty dangerous. Following up on that, on Monday I published a blog detailing some of my thoughts about this issue and making a commitment to Fight for Industry in the future of EVE. While there are a couple people running for CSM 7 that have decided to talk a little about this subject, or just focus on mining to the exclusion of all else, no one else with my varied background has stepped forward.

Combined with several forum posts on the subject, it seems the message has gotten out that I'm actually serious about following up on this and the reaction has been rabid. At first it was just a few eve mails, but it's snowballed past that now.  Over the past few days I have been invited to talk on three different Teamspeak servers to players that previously had little interest or faith in anything CSM-related at all. One of these was a Czech mining / production corp of about 80 players that had never once given a shit about the CSM and had all but given up on ever seeing anything come their way. I think I managed to change some minds about the CSM and, at the end of that particular discussion, walked away from it with about two pages of hastily scribbled notes that represent a small part of the laundry list of issues plaguing the builders of EVE.

How... exciting?
What follows is going to be a bit disjointed as it represents a lot of different ideas covering many of the problem areas in this aspect of the game.  Apologies ahead of time if it feels like I'm jumping around a bit. :)

Make Pretty!

One of the most common themes I have heard over and over is how completely lifeless industry in EVE is / feels. For example, when you are working in PI or installing a job in a factory, there's very little or no visual feedback that helps a player feel like they are actually accomplishing anything. One of the best analogies I've heard is that when you are flying your ship and shooting your guns, you have an instant sense of gratification - you can see what is happening, what your ship is doing and the results of that. What do you have with any U.I. facet of industry in EVE?  Countdown timers? A few spreadsheets? I would love to see what would happen if CCP Punkturis and her friends would be turned loose on helping create a more immersive and enjoyable experience for all aspects of industry.

Planetary Interaction is another example of a feature that obviously had much more potential but remains far behind where it should or could be. You have no way to 'pee in another player's pond' or do anything that even resembles conflict.  Don't bring up DUST 514 about this; both I myself and EVE Players I talk to think there should be some form of conflict activity (however minimal)  directly related to PI for us in EVE.

Less Button Clicking!

In terms of making things simpler for production, the less button clicking the better! I've always wanted to be able to do 'batch installs' of similar, multiple factory jobs. Like, I have seven blueprints that all need to go into ME research for ME 60... BAM!  I have 5 invention jobs that all use this decrypter and this kind of BPC... BAM!

Another big want of mine is being able to 'chain' blueprints together for more complicated manufacturing processes. The way it works now is nothing but a time vampire that requires you to log in to essentially repeat the same actions.  As an example, you want to build a Carrier - you grab the Carrier BPO and all of the requisite component BPO's, the new and improved and amazing looking factory U.I. tells you the total mineral requirements, then you 'batch' install them as a single group job.  How epic would that be??

What if you could create a 'shopping list' that took into account your BPOs and BPCs properties?  You could group together multiple blueprints, everything from frigates to capital ships and their component blueprints; the system would then analyze those blueprints and you would get a mineral requirement: "You need to go buy this."  Then, as you buy the minerals off the market, those amounts are reduced on your list.

Working Together

I've already touched on some of the things I'd like to see happen with the mining profession in my previous blog but I want to clarify one other point: at its core EVE is a social game. I understand that there are some people that just want to log into a game and play with themselves (pun intended) but I believe the game should encourage and reward more social activities. Achieving a goal with other people in EVE has always felt more rewarding than anything I've done on my own.

I strongly support the development of dynamically generated content that throws a few curve balls into established patterns of play. We're people, not robots, and as such should be required to think our way through even PVE situations from time to time. This also has the side effect of helping eliminate bots / macros, etc... which I loathe with a passion I can barely put into words.

Large Scale Cooperation

I want to see an emphasis placed upon people working together to achieve common, large scale goals. Let me step back in time a bit to frame my thoughts on this and I'll use a common 'large scale' example: building outposts.

In some respects, the financial aspects of this are something that aren't really appreciated today. When outposts were first released, 20-25 billion ISK was an IMMENSE sum of money that had to be pooled by dozens, if not hundreds of players. More importantly, in terms of actual construction, you could not load the outpost construction eggs with a freighter - you had to use a small fleet of normal Industrial haulers. From finances to the physical effort of construction, it required a level of teamwork that's been missing from EVE at all levels of play for years. Once it became essentially a 'one man job' to actually deploy and finance an entire dock-able space station, null sec outposts became as common as trees in a forest and we lost a vital part of what made null-sec feel like 'frontier space'. I believe it is possible to establish this feeling again and not just for people living in null-sec.

Work for the Unemployed

One more thing: industry contracts. I've spoken many times about the 'Treaty' system that I worked on right before I left CCP. One aspect of this was to be a new contract system which had the potential to be expanded upon to touch many areas of EVE. One thing that I was most disappointed to see not happen was the advent of possibly creating an actual 'job market' for industrialists in EVE.  It is probably easiest to explain like this:

You are a corp facility manager. You can set up 'job contracts' that need doing and they go into a queue. The prerequisites for these jobs are auto-calculated so no one without the skills to perform them can accept them. You can then set a job payment for acceptance and completion of the contract and, once completed, the finished products pop out into whatever hangar you wish.

This job contract can be set to be available at the corp, alliance or public level. Obviously the person that accepts the job cannot cancel it because it is locked.  As a factory or blueprint owner, this allows you to farm out work in a much more efficient manner and, at the public level, this system gives more possibilities for the "small guy" who doesn't run four extra accounts with production alts on each character to do major industry and make some space bucks!

Whale hunting!
I want to respond directly to a comment on my previous blog made by 'Anonymous'. This individual seems to make a lot of comments on different blogs; quite a busy person it seems! Anyway, this was the comment:
"It will be more then a year before CCP will devote an entire expansion to industrial improvements... you are not promising anything that can be accomplished in the CSM7 term."
This is where you are wrong, Anonymous. CSM 7 is going to be just as crucial to the future development of EVE as CSM 6 was. The Crucible and Inferno expansions are a direct result of quite a lot of effort put in by the past couple CSM's. Even though Inferno is not going to happen during CSM 6's term, that does not mean CSM 6 was not consulted or did not push for it.  If you want to see something happen in the development of EVE these days, you need to make sure that your CSM representatives are engaged and they understand how the processes inside CCP work to achieve results.

In order for something like this to happen, it is going to take more than just a team or two working a few sprints - it's going to require a concentrated effort of manpower and resources; IMO, a full named expansion.  That means as this year goes forward, the people in favor of seeing a proper overhaul of Industry are going to have to be as vocal and driven on this issue as possible.

There are a lot of things that CCP has on the drawing board which would help re-vitalize interest in what I believe to be one of the most neglected and unappreciated areas of the game. This is something that I've wanted to see happen for YEARS.  I grew tired a long time ago of hearing CCP talk about an 'industry expansion' and then nothing ever came of that talk. Now CCP finally has the resources to finish and expand upon the null sec and FW stuff and still tackle a full fledged make-over of industry. The potential is there, they are willing to listen and, with your help and your vote, I plan to be one of the leading voices on this.