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, September 19, 2012

Council of Slayer Management: Stakeholding and More

She's a stake holder, just like us.

Meetings & Access

It's time again to take a few moments and let you all know what we've been up to here on the CSM. First of all, if you missed it, we published a larger report back on September 11th:

There are links and references to a lot of goings-on for the past few weeks.

Many of you have asked for more information about the CSM Stakeholder pilot program; what it is exactly, what we are doing as part of it and what it means for EVE's future. Stakeholder may seem like a 'mythical' word, and others are treating it as some sort of MacGuffin that the CSM keeps throwing out there but it is probably the biggest change in how the CSM operates and is viewed by CCP since it was created back in 2007. As a whole, we have been limited in what we could say about it due to the specific feature we are working on falling under the NDA. I fully realize it may not sound that exciting to many players (where are all the explosions??) but it is important to share as much with you as we can at this point in time.  Once the feature is announced, I will be more candid about our involvement in the decision-making process.

In terms of what else is taking place right now, over the past four weeks we have had multiple meetings with all levels of CCP management.  While most of these meetings tend to be focused on our Stakeholder role, our most recent one was an hour long chat on Monday with Senior Producer CCP Unifex where we got to do a bit of generalized Q&A.  Of the several issues that were mentioned, there was one I'd promised to address specifically that hasn't seen an update in a while: Avatars / Incarna.

Yes, I know, it's not spaceships and WTF are we bothering about it for? Well, let me reiterate that this was basically a couple emails two weeks ago and then about 10 minutes of discussion over voice so there's no need to worry that we are wasting too much time on Space Dolls.  The fact is this issue is important to many players and I felt it was appropriate to remind CCP  that they haven't said much of anything about it in months, with the exception of them releasing a few clothing items around the Inferno patch.  Regardless of how much or how little CCP is working on our Avatars, the players deserve to know where this is all headed and not be left in the dark.  In the end, I got the answers I was looking for and am continuing to push CCP to open up about where this part of the game stands ASAP.

Getting the Message Out

The value of 'messaging' in general is what I've reiterated the most during these executive meetings, specifically asking CCP not only to share more more information earlier about the Winter release, but also making sure we start now on the planning for the work to be done beyond the next expansion. There are quite a few things the CSM has seen or is about to be a part of that we can't talk about openly yet, but there is no reason we can't keep the conversation going with the players in the mean time.  CCP has committed to dedicating time and resources on revamping POS's, but POS's are not the only important issue facing EVE right now which is why we are helping CCP develop a sense of purpose with regard to the Spring / Summer expansion in advance, and not simply leave things up to chance.   

Many of you come to the CSM with concerns ranging from industrial iterations, to the future of low sec, to the long-overdue "Farms and Fields" initiative that has seemingly vanished into the ether.  Even without more information from CCP about what they are thinking beyond Winter, its important to continue refining our own message about what we would like to see end up on TQ. Don't hesitate to contact a CSM member and let us know what's on your mind so we can keep passing those expectations on to CCP.

A word about Sean Smith / Vile Rat

It goes without saying that the most urgent matter this last week has been taking the time to remember Vile Rat, both in-game and out-of game. If any of you are still looking for ways to help, a donation drive for his family has been set up here and it's been amazing to watch the numbers go up in the past couple days.

On a related note, many in the community have mentioned their desire for some sort of 'memorial' with regard to Sean and other EVE players as well. This is an issue CCP is well aware of and has spoken with the CSM about. While no decisions have been made yet, it is not an issue CCP intends to rush nor delay unduly. They simply want to do the right thing and find the right way to do it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Goodbye, Friend

RIP Sean
By now, most of you will have heard that Sean Smith was killed last night in a senseless assault on a consulate in Benghazi, Libya. He was known in game as Vile Rat.

Vile Rat was a friend of mine, not as close as I would have liked but someone I am proud to have been given the opportunity to know better than others. This will also be one of the last times I refer to him by his EVE name. Like so many others whose paths I've crossed in EVE over the past nine and a half years, especially once you meet them in person, he will always be just 'Sean' to me. As many others are doing, I feel compelled to spend a few minutes reflecting on just how this man's life affected my own and how I knew him over the past several years.

My first contact with Sean in game was in late 2007. As was mentioned here in a moving article by The Mittani, Sean was one of the many factors that led to my old alliance, Mercenary Coalition, making the fateful decision to turn on Band of Brothers. He did not offer any deals, threaten or present some grand scheme. While the anti-BoB train was already in motion within MC, like any good diplomat, Sean did a fine job of making it clear that the people he represented were not necessarily the 'bad guys'.

My communications with Sean would continue on and off for the next few years, both in game as 'Seleene' and then later on as CCP Abathur. What I liked about Sean was that he was a fellow government employee and I enjoyed talking to him about his own 'adventures' in the world. I recall our talks evolving from him having a shitty connection he could barely play EVE on in Iraq to something finally resembling normal.

Others have made mention of how sometimes Sean would up and vanish due to incoming fire where he was stationed. This was very much true and my first thought upon seeing the report from Jabber last night:
(2:40:22 PM) vile_rat: FUCK
(2:40:24 PM) vile_rat: gunfire
was, "Oh, hell, he's in another one of those places." and that I'd soon get word back that he was okay and we were all stupid for worrying. What worried me though was that Alex (The Mittani) was worried, and the more I started F5'ing different news feeds the less certain I was that I'd get to speak to him again. It is even more ironic due to the fact that I had been talking about Sean not even a few hours earlier to another EVE player about my thoughts on the future:

Mark / Seleene 9/11/12 1:55 PM
by the time CSM 8 takes office, Chairman Vile Rat will be happy to keep the tradition going
Bagehi 9/11/12 1:55 PM
Mark / Seleene 9/11/12 1:55 PM
it WILL happen. I'd bet money on it and he'll be a good one too
Bagehi 9/11/12 1:56 PM
Yeah.  You are probably right

Real Life

I finally got to meet Sean in person when he was elected to the 6th Council of Stellar Management and we all travelled to our first Summit in Iceland. He was a genuinely warm and funny guy. In CSM meetings or discussions Sean was passionate about his positions and, even if you disagreed with him, articulate enough to present his arguments in a way that invited further discussion. I got to enjoy spending several quiet moments with him talking about non-EVE stuff and getting to know him better. It's times like that which I preach about to many who have never been to an EVE player meet or FanFest - once you meet the man or woman behind the pixels, you will never be able to think of them in the same way again. The experience is almost always a positive one.

Sean's CSM duties also carried him to EVE Fanfest this year. His State Department job had finally taken him to a more relaxed posting in The Hague as well. As fate would have it, I was flying to Iceland from Germany and ran into him and his wife in Copenhagen before the connecting flight we were both on took off. His wife was travelling with him. She was a very cheerful and funny woman and, much as all 'EVE wives' with e-famous husbands, seemed both proud and bemused by her spouse's ~stature~ in the community.

The last time I saw Sean was in the Plaza hotel in the morning after the last night of Fanfest. He and his wife had come out of the elevator to check out and I was talking to a large group of EVE players in the lobby. He had chosen not to run for CSM 7 and I knew it would be a while before I saw him again so I broke away from the crowd to shake his hand one last time. I told him I would miss his daily presence in Skype not only talking to the devs but just in general. I told him that I appreciated the work he'd done on the CSM and was glad that this little spaceship democracy experiment had allowed us to hang out and get to know each other.

Sean made the game we all play greater while trying to make the world we live in safer. I'm already shuddering to think about the real world ramifications that may come as a result of Sean's death.

People that play EVE all too often confuse the actions and even ~personalities~ of the characters played with their real life counterparts. On the other hand, if this senseless tragedy accomplishes anything in the tiny corner of the world that is the EVE community, I hope it helps people remember that even the most Vile Rat is, in reality, a warm and funny guy with a family and friends that care about him.

I will miss you, Sean. Goodbye, friend.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

CSM 7 Fall Progress Report

Doesn't Hans look pretty??
NOTE - This is a direct copy from Han's Blog (with permission) and it is the first in a series of more regular updates as we get closer to the winter expansion.

Hello again, pod people!

I'll make the introduction short - this is a no-nonsense archive post, with the intent of summarizing and centralizing all of the recent activities of your CSM7 representatives.  Links to outside resources will be provided where possible, though some of this content takes place on internal CSM / CCP forums and Skype channels and cannot be directly referenced.  

This is by no means the sum total of everything the CSM has been up to, merely the items not covered by NDA that individual CSM reps have self-reported.  Some features for Winter Expansion have yet to be announced and so work on them has not been included at this time.  If I missed a key conversation, posting, or media appearance, I'll update this reference as needed.  

Add this blog to your follow list if you haven't already, this is only the first of a series of updates I will provide as we continue towards Winter Expansion.  Thanks again for your patience with us during the slow summer, we're excited to be back in the busy season again!

Public appearances

CSM May Summit Minutes

TEN EVEning News Special: CSM Discusses their Minutes!   Part 1  Part 2

VandV Podcast: Special Edition: Spring Summit Wrap Up featuring Seleene

CSM7 2nd Town Hall on EVE Radio

Wormholes Town Hall, hosted by Two Step

TEN EVEning News Roundtable #1: Faction Warfare, featuring Hans Jagerblitzen

Hans Jagerblitzen Interview Pt. I - Factional Warfare Segments

Ongoing Forum Conversations

Electoral Reform Redux, (many thanks to CCP Xhagen for helping to get the conversation back on track)

Stakeholder pilot project

Previous CSM's have been called "Stakeholders" nominally, but in practice they have had little of the privilege or access of actual CCP corporate stakeholders.  At the May summit, CSM7 demanded that CCP start living up to its commitment to the CSM as an entity and finally grant it the relationship with the development process that players have expected for years but never received.  Senior Producer CCP Unifex agreed and promised us an integrated role for the entirety of a development cycle, assigning us to single team to undergo a pilot program.

The pilot program is focusing on two objectives - to demonstrate the need for CSM feedback at the earliest stages of the development process, and troubleshooting the communication protocols in order to build a methodology that can be used to utilize the CSM as a stakeholder on a greater number of teams.

The pending success of the pilot program should greatly expand CSM7's ability to directly assist with the shape and direction of the POS revamp, ring mining, and other major features for 2013. 

CSM7 is now receiving updates for its assigned team, participating in charter meetings and release planning through access to the recordings and a 48-hour window of opportunity for response with feedback so the team can continue moving at the pace of its sprint cycle.  The exact feature we are working on is still currently under NDA, but needless to say we're already learning a lot about what works and doesn't work about this new process.

Internal work with CCP

-Ongoing focus on ship balancing, including forum feedback covering each set of overhauled ships prior to public release

-Official protest of the changes to the Vagabond, and a call for CCP to "Bring back the Frills!"

-Special emphasis on revisiting Black Ops if resources allow during Winter Expansion, as recent balancing has focused exclusively on Tech 1 smaller ships and CSM believes veterans deserve attention as well.

- Dovinian posted a call for CCP to revisit the issue of "Mineral Compression", as this is one of the major underlying contributors to supercapital proliferation.  Kelduum has been doing detailed research into the specific items that can be manufactured for lower volume than their mineral equivalents, to assist in reaching a faster solution.  CSM is unanimously in support of addressing this long-overdue problem.

- Elise Randolph posted a call for changing oversized prop mods, suggesting CCP look into penalties for their use to offset the incredible power these fittings provide

- Elise Randolph posted a call to revisit booster mechanics and the smuggling process, suggesting ways to facilitate transport throughout the game

- Continued heavy work on Faction Warfare mechanics, led by Hans Jagerblitzen

- Continued collective feedback on the war declaration system and "mercenary marketplace", led by Alekseyev Karrde and Kelduum Revaan

- Kelduum has been discussing in detail corporate management UI and issues regarding the recruitment interface

- Collective feedback about the EVE-Dust 514 link

- Collective feedback about the Unified Inventory and persisting issues that need resolution

- Hans Jagerblitzen has been regularly playtesting and providing feedback regarding the Dust 514 beta, you can add him as a contact (under the name "Heinrich Jagerblitzen") if you are also in the beta and would like to invite him to your squad!

Notable Blog Posts

Response-to-response-on-pos-redesign, by Two Step

Notable Public Forum Activity

- Self-destruct timer changes

- Iterations to ship fitting including ammo and rigs

- Just about everything surrounding the Faction Warfare updates

- Re-nameable POS structures

- Logistics frigates in Winter expansion (we begged CCP not to bother with "sniper-frigates")

- Technetium regulation through new Alchemy reactions

- Release of many remaining NEX store clothing items at greatly reduced pricing

- Rollback of Incursion changes in order to improve Vanguard sites

- Removal of outdated Ethnic Relations skill, replacement with Diplomatic Relations

.....and many more to come!