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, May 27, 2012

CSM 7 Pre-Summit Update

First off, apologies for the long interval between updates. For the past few years May has been one of those months that RL keeps me extremely AFK and this past month was no exception. I've made several false starts on blogs recently only to go off the rails as some other issue popped up. This didn't stop me from being active in day to day CSM business, but I just had no real time to collate things into ~words~. There was also some EVE-related issues that popped up and I'll cover those in this blog. Overall, things are settling back down now and I'll be working to get out CSM-related information as it becomes relevant or possible. A lot has happened in the past few weeks so I will try to hit the highlights.

Town Hall log in Banner
The original plan to hold the Town Hall on EVE Voice went bust just a few days prior to the actual event. Due to some technical issues, CCP was not able to guarantee how EVE Voice would stand up to to the potential of 1000+ people being on at once. We had explored the idea of setting up a dedicated TS3 or Mumble server but historically there are always people that cannot get a third party client to work for whatever reason. The best solution would be if people were able to click a single link and then be listening to the meeting; enter EVE Radio.

EVE Radio has shown during the past couple of CSM election cycles that they are capable of handling large volumes of traffic and speakers. It seemed only natural to ask if they would be willing to assist and they stepped up to the plate big time.  They set up an entirely separate live stream for the event and made it possible for anyone that wanted to listen in to do so with nothing more than a single web browser click.

DIRECT LINK to download the Town Hall meeting.

The format we used for this first meeting was asking people to evemail questions to either Hans or Two Step, who would then read them on air and the CSM would then answer them. We also took questions from the forum threads about the meeting and off of Twitter as well. The meeting lasted right at two hours and we had a listener peak of 1,175.

Overall, there was a good mix of questions asked and a few, "WTF?" that we went with as well as we could. We didn't cherry pick what we answered nor did we preview the questions beforehand. It was very much a live event, which we decided would be more appreciated than more scripted replies. On the other end, this was our first attempt at this and we learned a lot in terms of how we plan to structure future town halls.

This first town hall was a very generalized affair; I expect future ones will have more of an overall 'theme' (post CSM summit, etc...) to help listeners and ourselves focus better.

Based on feedback, reception to this first meeting was decidedly mixed. We've had just as many people thank us for doing it and saying they enjoyed it as folks that seemed to think we blew it. Obviously it is impossible to please everyone but for a first effort and based upon the general / scattered nature of the questions asked I feel we managed, at the very least, to not dodge or fall on our faces about the questions asked.  With one notable exception...

The Unified Inventory
This came up in the Town Hall, which was held last Saturday right before Inferno went live. We were asked our opinion on it and, even realizing the rage storm waiting to happen, failed to properly articulate our thoughts or frustration about what was about to hit Tranquility. This does not mean we've been silent to CCP about this mess but we we are not raging in public because it doesn't really help. Those days are past now because CCP isn't dropping the ball on things the day after they put them in the game.

I can only really explain my own feelings on this which is that because we're talking to CCP pretty much every day, we see that they aren't ignoring what's going on. The people directly responsible for this mess should have paid more attention to the SiSi feedback before release but, at this point, they can't wave a magic wand and change things no matter how ~easy~ some self-appointed expert thinks it is.

As for the calls to 'revert' back to the old system, that's not going to happen. It can only evolve forward from here. If you think that the changes to the inventory system involve a "couple of lines in the client" then you have no idea of the complete and utter mess that is the 10 year old server code implemented by dozens of previous employees, many of whom no longer work at CCP.

Speaking for myself, I'm not disagreeing with anyone that the Unified Inventory feature was released far too early and needs to work better. This feature has removed a boatload of previous inventory functionality and replaced it with a laggy click fest which is downright painful to use. I almost stabbed my monitor a few times this week trying to find a couple mods to re-fit a ship before a fight.

CCP has not been blind to either the CSM's bitching about this or the community's anger about the feature. The day after Inferno went live, CCP Soundwave released a dev blog showing that they were aware of the discontent and intended to keep working on it. The comments thread rapidly exploded to 60 pages which served to reinforce just how bad this situation was.

One important distinction I want to make about this is that the Unified Inventory feature is not the work of everyone at CCP; it's a small team that is carrying the ball / taking the blame on this. A lot of the rage on this is being directed at people that have nothing whatsoever to do with the feature. That being said, there are many examples of how this all went so terribly wrong. I found this pre-Inferno release post from CCP Arrow, one of the devs working on the Unified Inventory: LINKAGE

Money line:
"In the future, when we go through the feedback and create User Testing plans, we will make sure we reply to all the different discussion threads on the forums where we read the feedback, so that you all know that the feedback has been read, noted and addressed."
In hindsight, this post is just a bit awkward. :)

One thing I know is that CCP's management is not taking this lightly at all. On Friday night I spoke with CCP Unifex (Jon Lander), EVE's Senior Producer about this issue specifically. While I cannot detail the whole conversation, I can say that this is something which is getting a lot of attention internally at CCP and will be front and center in our discussions at the Summit this week.

So today, on an Icelandic holiday Sunday no less, CCP Soundwave has released another dev blog:

The money lines of this blog are:
"As a remedy, we’re going to try and provide you with weekly changes to it, until we get it into a state where you’re happy with it."
"Again, you guys have my deepest apologies for this situation. We’ll do whatever we can to rectify it.  We're going to continue to take your valuable feedback and add it to the list of changes we want to make."
I don't think I've ever read anything by CCP where they publicly commit to weekly changes on a feature. If this proves to be the case, I see it as a validation of everyone that has put time into trying to constructively engage CCP on this issue.

All of this just serves to prove the difference between the CCP of today compared to this time last year - CCP is not just dropping a broken feature on us and walking away; they ARE going to fix this and (hopefully) the finished, final product will be something we all might come to appreciate. The onus is on CCP to now act on how the CSM and the community has reacted to their decisions and the new dev blog is a step forward.

I still love them. :)
CSM Summer Summit

I will be getting on a plane tomorrow for the trip to Iceland. The meetings kick off on Wednesday morning and I have posted the official schedule for the summit sessions here:

Please use the links in that post to comment on some of the topics if you wish. I suspect that one or more of us will also update those same posts with what info we can as the sessions progress.

While I am in Iceland I will be sending out a lot of updates from my twitter account, as will the other CSM members as well. Everything will be going out under #csmsummit on Twitter.

As usual, I will do a post-summit blog wrap-up of all the non-NDA information as soon as I can. You can expect another CSM Town Hall meeting approximately two weeks after the Summit ends. We will agree on and publish the dates for that no later than next weekend.

Thanks for reading and keep in touch. o7