|So very true. Trebor has a flair for this sort of thing...|
This blog is the second part to the one I published last week and picks up where it left off. Just a reminder that these blogs are not intended as 'official' minutes; they are my thoughts and recollections. The official Summit minutes are in the process of being produced now and should be out in the next few weeks. In the meantime, some information is better than none so read on!
|Yeah, this stuff is a problem.|
With regard to how DUST 514 will interact with null-sec, CCP made the point that it needs to not break anything, be meaningful and have a simple rule set. My understanding is that when DUST goes live it will have a minimal impact on null sec, if any, initially and will be slowly and carefully integrated in stages as time goes on. This is good and a smart way to do it.
Destructible / wreckable outposts came up AGAIN. Blow them up, have the ability to plant more than one outpost in a system, etc... In terms of 'game design', CCP seemed confident that figuring out the mechanics of this wouldn't be too big a problem; it is just a matter of making the decision to do it. If this happens it would require a lot of art resources which are likely going to be very tied up in making a lot of new POS modules along with other projects already in progress. One point that I raised was that outposts are the only thing 'player-built' in EVE that cannot be destroyed and that's not very sandbox-y. CCP agreed that this would be very cool to do and will probably happen as part of a proper null sec themed expansion.
|RL price = approx $1700 per ounce|
"The balance of elements needs to be re-established."
Whether through alchemy or a re-shuffling of how T2 production takes place (like what happened with Tech) every member of the CSM and CCP agree that this needs to get fixed ASAP and it needs to be done regardless of any possible changes to sov mechanics.
Null sec NPC stations and their role in wars were discussed but I'm not really sure if anything was 'decided' on these. That probably means nothing will change anytime soon. v0v
Overall, this session is probably the one I was most dissapointed with in terms of the answers we got. While there seems to be a lot of things on the table that will affect null sec and we did discuss things like 'farms and fields' and objectives for smaller entities, there will most likely be no changes to the actual sovereignty capture mechanics until next year. This is primarily due to CCP wanting to 'do it right' which I completely agree with, I was just hoping for a bit more progress.
|A wish of CEO's everywhere...|
Being able to kick members from corp / member management was a big topic and several situations were discussed. CCP agreed that CEOs should be able to have CEO-like power and some tweaks needed to be made.
A major point for me was wanting the ability to do most of this 'administrative' stuff without actually having to log into a full fledged EVE client. While CCP agrees that some work could and should be done in cleaning up the in game UI, there is a push to open up the ability for players to do this through 3rd party developers using the new CREST system to develop out of game applications to do so. For more info on CREST start here.
This meeting was essentially a long list of user cases and grievances aimed at making the lives of people in EVE in positions of authority a lot easier. It seems like a lot of these issues may be resolved over the course of the year as part of CCP's continuing 'little things' initiative.
Oh, btw, it looks like the Ethnic Relations skill will get nuked soon because it's dumb.
Wardecs / Crimewatch
|Her reply - "...the fuck?"|
CCP Greyscale ran the first part of this session which focused primarily on Crimewatch.
The first (of many) subjects brought up was how broken remote reping is. Greyscale walked through several examples of how CCP is planning to fix this and make it "less dumb". This was accomplished by showing us several flowcharts demonstrating various types of combat situations, Greyscale waving his arms around a lot and somehow me ending up being his logistics buddy. The usual stuff about criminal countdown and gate gun behavior was touched on and Greyscale presented a few interesting ideas for these as well.
Everyone seemed pretty happy with the way this part of things was going and it looks like CCP has a firm grasp on what they are going to do. "Good, ship it!"
|Alekseyev Karrde using technology!|
One big topic was the new 'ally' system that was introduced for wars in Inferno. TLDR - it's pretty broken and doesn't pass the common sense test in practice on many levels. Top three things - putting a cap on the number of 'ally' slots, an upper limit cap on war dec costs and establishing a firm expectation on what 'mercenaries' in empire are capable of so that the "mercenary marketplace" can flourish. Changes on this are inbound on all of this and will be tweaked until both sides are happy.
There were a ton of specific things brought up over the course of the last thirty minutes of the meeting that CCP reinforced their commitment to trying to iterate on so that they can walk away from all of this feeling good at the end of the year. One specific thing were changes and improvements to the U.I. for mercenary contracts and war decs which were covered more in depth in the 'Treaties' session on day three.
Also, did you guys know that you can drag kill reports into chat windows and show them off? It's a little thing that a lot of people don't know about but totally should. :)
On a final note, Alek did a great job of going Boss Mode and keeping the meeting on point and making the most of his time 'on camera'. It was probably helped by the Lync camera speaker which was really LOUD and hard to ignore.
The New Launcher
CCP Alice and other members of her team led this session which was essentially focused on the future of logging into EVE and how to make things less painful.
The biggest change coming here is moving the log-on mechanic into the launcher itself and out of the traditional 'splash screen'. This is being done primarily because CCP is moving toward a 'single sign on' strategy. This means several things, not the least of which is that those of us that got that little key fob thing back at FanFest 2011 might be able to finally use it. More importantly thought, CCP is looking at ways of eventually allowing people to use existing security credentials like Facebook to create a new EVE account.
One request the CSM made was that if we are going to see this launcher all the time now, could there please be a button that would auto-magically set up / launch the latest SiSi (test server) client. A lot more people would be more inclined to hop on the test server if it didn't require jumping through proverbial hoops to set it up.
A major point of emphasis the CSM brought up was that regardless of what changes are made that players should still be able to 'multi-box' their client (not have to create a new install for every account). Our main points of feedback were:
Make it easy to log in.
Make it easy to see patch notes.
Make it easy to get onto SiSi.
Please don't add steps when I log in.
|Green Lee is very proud of his Russian heritage.|
After dinner / refueling, most of us walked up to our hotel to drop off some stuff. On the way to the bar we passed by a a restaurant that had one of the best signs I have ever seen:
|No ambiguity here!!|
|A good book.|
Despite many similar conversations that covered many real world topics, some of us did manage to do some talking about EVE and it was encouraging to hear some of the devs telling their old bittervet / bitterdev stories. Kelduum did an after the fact translation and it sounded something like this:
FOURTH BITTERDEV: I was happier then and I had nothin'. We used to live in this tiny old outpost with great big bubbles outside the undock.
SECOND BITTERDEV: Outpost! You were lucky to live in an Outpost! We used to live in one POS, all twenty-six of us, no CHA, half the roles was missing, and we were all huddled together at the tower for fear of being bumped out.
THIRD BITTERDEV: Eh, you were lucky to have a POS! We used to have to live in a GSC!
FIRST BITTERDEV: Oh, we used to dream of livin' in a GSC! Would have been a palace to us. We used to live in an old jet can in Ammamake. We got woke up every morning by having a load of veldspar dumped all over us! POS? Ha!
The above may or may not be developed into a live play to be performed at next year's FanFest.
Once again, while funny, this is the kind of thing that people who have never been to a FanFest or other meet up with the devs don't really understand - these guys and girls actually do share the same passion and frustrations about EVE as the rest of us.
|Elise Randolph and UAxDeath after drinking a 'Hand Grenade'|
Day Three (Friday)
Friday was a bit of a mess in terms of scheduling because we had to ninja in a session and re-organize the order of others. It was probably the most busy of the three summit days due to how tightly packed the sessions were and trying to cover as much ground as possible.
|UAxDeath, Unifex and Soundwave giggling like girls.|
Due to some technical issues (on his end), Han Jagerblitzen was not able to live talk / video into the session like Alek had done the day before. However he was able to participate in real time through the Lync software and Skype so it wasn't too big of a problem. Hans had also prepared an extensive document in TitanPad for this session that we were able to use as a guideline on specific points and saved us a lot of time. The devs were able to follow the document and ask pointed questions where needed. This meeting was one of the best examples of how CCP has changed since last year in how they were eager to get detailed feedback on a major feature.
Just as a sample of some of the major issues covered (not a complete list):
- Faction Warfare Dungeon classifications
- LP payout proximity in complexes
- Hierarchy of Rewards
- Improved System Upgrades
- U.I. iterations
Cyno Jammers came up again with the clarification that if this feature ever made it into an aspect of FW that it would need to be well thought out and controlled. An example would be that cyno jamming wouldn't be a permanent thing but more like something that could be turned on for a limited amount of time to 'umbrella' a fight from hot drops. It's still all talk right now, but it did open eyes to ways 'older' mechanics might be applicable in other areas.
The last one about the UI was particularly interesting. CCP Arrow walked us through several mock-ups that looked promising and much more 'sci-fi'. Basically, if you like how certain third party kill boards can filter and represent different areas of information as graphs, you'll love this stuff.
Hans made one point during the session that I think summed up a lot of people's misconceptions about FW which was, "We're not incursions, we're a PVP venue."
|This Bellicose looks pretty bad...|
This session was led by Benjamin Bohn, EVE's Art Manager. Also present were Asgeir Jon Asgeirsson, the Art Director (also known as the Godfather of EVE Art) and Sveinbjorn Magnusson, the Art Producer. As always, these guys came prepared with slides and other goodies, happy to show off their latest efforts.
The Art team continues to do some dazzling work on visual effects. This includes not just work on the visuals themselves but also the tech behind it to ensure all of the new, fancy stuff doesn't affect client performance too badly. Anyone that has been in a large (over 200-300 people) lately with all graphics turned on should be able to tell you they have largely succeeded in this goal. While it will still be some time before the more amazing parts of what we saw end up on Tranquility, if they can pull off what they are aiming for EVE is going to look even more amazing.
As a side note, part of these discussions really bring home just how ~super serious~ the Art team takes how EVE looks. The amount of thought these guys put into ship design, from where logos are placed to how the hull material will reflect ambient light from a nebula is incredible. This is why you'll likely never see PINK again on a ship in EVE, even when you're able to paint / customize your ship color schemes. (Yes, this is something everyone wants, but still nothing firm on when it will finally happen.)
|Continuing to evolve and 'modernize' ships is a priority.|
There were also some brand new ships (yes, NEW ships wheeeee!) and structures that we saw art for that incorporate all of these thought processes into their design from start to finish. One more thing that the Art guys like and want to do more of is 'things that move' on ships. Little touches like radar dishes up to full fledged 'transformers' like the Rorqual were discussed as well.
Work continues at a slow burn on Incarna costumes as well, with modifications on a lot of assets that have yet to be released but may see the light of day in the near future.
After the main presentation, the last half hour of the meeting turned into a massive Q&A session involving exactly how soon some of this stuff will see the light of day and what level of interaction / customization players might expect. I'll let the specifics of all this be explained in the official minutes once CCP determines how much of that information is still ~NDA~ for now.
Bonus Info - At the end of the session, the question of a 'battle recorder' came up that would allow players to more easily make movies / tell stories of their amazing EVE exploits. The example I used was the method used by the Homeworld series of games which basically recorded the raw data of a battle and allowed you to review it from the perspective of any ship present. While we may never see anything with that level of functionality, the case for improved camera tools was made and acknowledged.
Ship Balance & Iteration
|The Icelandic Coast Guard ship 'Thor'|
There is not much I can really say about this session other than it was just a major 'balance' talk and Ytterbium took about four or five pages of notes as we walked through the ship classes. He had a very good sense of humor about how neglected some ships are and how certain game mechanics are the issue as well. Money quote for things like that:
"Maybe dampening was nerfed too hard."
There was also discussion about improving mechanics for things that should be common sense like if you are in a mining ship and have an ore bay, your mined ore... goes directly to your ore bay. Stuff like that.
Treaties / Contracts
|Best Friends Forever|
Okay, so, like... a while back I used to work for CCP and one of the last features I worked on before I left was this little iteration thing for the Dominion sov system called Treaties. The name is a bit of a misnomer because it seems to imply just political agreements, only it was a bit more than that. While initially conceived as a way to formalize things like renter contracts among null sec entities or recognizing coalitions of alliances, a key part of this feature that appeals to everyday EVE players would be the ability to set up a binding agreement for services; this would apply to things like mercenary contracts (kill XX battleships in XX corp and get XX) and industrial jobs (I need XX built for me and am willing to pay XX). If done correctly, the possibilities are wide open and would provide a massive amount of new game play elements for players to take advantage of.
This was one of the added / ninja sessions and pretty much every member of Team Super Friends was present so the room was packed. Since this is a feature that's been 'around' for a while in terms of game design and the backlog, what's needed at this point is defining the scope of the feature upon initial release and what might be iterated in later. With that in mind, CCP Tallest kicked off the session with a simple question to the CSM:
"What sort of things would you like to make contracts and treaties about with other players?"
Boom, and we were off!
This was a very fast thirty minute session that had everyone understanding the potential for the feature and being very excited about it. While integrating this into the 'Mercenary Marketplace', industrial contract applications and defining political arrangements dominated the short time we had, CCP fully intends to keep soliciting feedback from the CSM and the community at large in the near future. This is going to be great stuff.
This session was split into a couple parts. The first part was about the short term work that CCP Affinity's Content team was doing fixing the tutorial to help out the NPE team. Currently the tutorial for EVE takes about two hours to run from beginning to end. We saw some metrics that showed exactly how many 'steps' are in the tutorial, what they are and what step new accounts get to before they stop using the tutorial or log off. After discussing some of the factors surrounding this we moved on to more 'Content-y' stuff.
So, apparently there were some changes to Incursions recently (hurr). Hans has been working with Affinity leading up to the summit in helping to isolate issues with Incursions, aside from the obvious nerfing of certain sites. CCP admitted that there needs to be a bit of a back-step on the nerf along with a way of balancing Incursions better overall. We also discussed the learning curve of Incursions and how to better scale them. Overall the consensus was that this feature has sat for too long like "weeds in a garden" and is going to see some changes in the near future.
Random blah blah:
- The Sansha Supercarrier is horribly bad and needs a boost.
- The Incursion story line - will this ever end? There's no real sense of danger. Shit needs to get real.
- "NPC" space doesn't feel very alive. There are no convoys anymore, etc... Why don't the NPCs react to all of this bad stuff going on in their space?
- If the Sansha are invading, wouldn't CONCORD be busy dealing with that and not capsuleers? (totally legit question)
We also brought up the question of 0.0 'true sec' and the changes that have been made all over. Yet another thing added to the backlog for proper investigation.
The last part of the session was a discussion about how CCP is looking at possibly overhauling missions so that they make more sense within the lore of EVE and have more of a hook for newer players.
|Facts that you cannot live without!|
While it was acknowledged that stopping people from completely automating a process is impossible, the goals have always been to change behavior and decrease the profitability of botting. Based on the numbers the CSM saw and the methods described to us, I feel comfortable in saying this has definitively been achieved. Detecting the bots didn't change anything; making it more painful to get caught (with changes in policy) is what changed things.
"Bots" include everything - NPCing, market bots, couriers, etc... The detection systems CCP has put into place are pretty damn comprehensive. These same systems allow the Security team to focus on other bad guys like RMTers.
We got an overview of stats on how hard RMTers have been hit and it was good. Hell, some of it was actually funny. I'm sure that Screegs will explain this stuff very soon in a dev blog.
Fun fact - CCP Sreegs sat down once in 50 minutes. The man is really enthusiastic about his job (and apparently drinks a lot of coffee).
New(?) Player Experience
|The Minmatar version of the tutorial should be just like this.|
UAxDeath was unusually animated in this session, along with Kelduum, as we discussed EVE's fabled learning cliff and what problems EVE players, old and new, encounter day to day. Sisyphus walked us through several different phases of an EVE player's life cycle and summarized the main goals of the player experience as a need to improve on specific systems that affect players of all ages:
- Better feedback
- Better presentation
- Better U.I.
- Better easing into existing features
- Less information overload
There was a lot of discussion about how to leverage noob-friendly corporations like EVE Uni, Agony and Red vs. Blue into this process and how to get other organizations involved in player retention. There was a lot of debate as to how soon to try to 'push' players into EVE's social net. At one point, Trebor made an awesome statement - "Choosing a corp is like getting married; you wanna date a little bit first."
Moving onward from 'newbies', we talked about ways to make existing players happy and less prone to fits of rage. There should be more ways to cut down on looking for info that should already be available at a glance. A couple of examples are letting people know when to improve whatever is holding them back (in / out of game skill planner) or the guns on my HUD should have an 'Optimal / Falloff' range mouse over text (tool tips). This stuff covered most of the last half hour of the session.
Podding and clones are potentially baffling and very critical to explain to new players. For as long as there is a tutorial, everyone seemed to agree that you need to get podded near the end of it so you understand it's not something to be afraid of.
CCP Sisyphus came to the meeting with arguably the most broad mandate of any of the teams we talked to and did an excellent job defining and detailing what kind of feedback was needed.
|This is a graph about Space Bucks.|
Dev Blog LINKAGE
It is kind of funny because, in reviewing my notes on this meeting, that blog really does cover just about everything I could have said. Oh well!
One thing I will say though is that this was a very scary / cool session in terms of seeing just how much specific information is available to CCP through their new internal tracking system, EVE Metrics. The logs, quite literally, show everything.
|This sign is the best sign.|
There were 20+ people in attendance and the table was split pretty much in half with CCP Greyscale and CCP Soundwave at one end holding court about everything from ship balancing to, "When I started playing, I had to scrape the kernite out from under my fingernails because we didn't have mining lasers!" In between courses and eating there was something of a two hour history course going on with Elise, UAxDeath and Green Lee talking about how the roles of certain large ship classes have changed over the years and how large scale conflicts could be improved overall. Everyone (Devs as well) wants to see some real evolution for game play aimed at veteran players but, at the same time, doesn't want it to be rushed.
The other end of the table seemed to be more focused on money and making the game look pretty, which made sense as the devs at that end consisted of people like CCP EyjoG, CCP Explorer and CCP Karkur. Trebor, Kelduum and Two Step anchored the CSM side of these talks which were largely about expanding on things we'd discussed in the official sessions.
As for myself, I was sat firmly in between both groups and trying my best to keep track of each side as best I could while also explaining to CCP Arrow the concept of how he could make the community love him by working certain hero-level features into the U.I., especially for Industry stuff. And the overview. And the HUD. And chat windows. And corp management stuff. And the POS interface. And, oh yeah, the inventory stuff needs some work too. :)
After dinner we headed back to the Grumpy Gorilla bar because:
- There were actual sports on the TVs that night (which no one watched but it was less distracting than normal stuff).
- Islenski Barinn was overflowing with drunks.
- Islenski Barinn was like... 150 meters further down the road.
- Urilla Gorillan had an upstairs area with a separate bar that we could basically take over as our own.
Before we moved upstairs, several of us cornered CCP Greyscale to make sure he heard some of our amazingly simple to implement ideas. We were then subsequently cornered by CCP Sisyphus asking for more of the same. I'm fairly certain that, among the CSM, myself and Kelduum were the only people capable of complete sentences for a majority of the night.
As the night wore on, several of us were having an in-depth spaceship discussion at a standing table (well, as much as could be expected by this point of the evening) when we saw a still pretty sober CCP Soundwave casually walk into the women's bathroom. Granted, it was right next to the men's bathroom but the nice pink lettering above the door was pretty visible. We waited for him to realize his mistake but it never happened, even as three more girls walked in after him.
|"Mistakes were made..."|
I lasted until around 0300 before I headed back to the hotel as Trebor and I had to catch a taxi to the airport in three hours. By the time I left the bar, Soundwave had apparently left / been half carried out of the place by his girlfriend and Sreegs was attempting to lead a sing-a-long karaoke of several people in a language that could be vaguely identified as English.
There's simply no way to recall everything that happened or was discussed but it is worth making a few comments on all of this; yes, it's a lot of fun, but it's also part of the greater whole. The fact that the evenings do not end with the last official summit session or a formal 'dinner' and continue on with people from every department of CCP showing up to mingle and have ~real talk~ shows just how far the relationship between the CSM and CCP has evolved.
Senior Producer Jon Lander is one of the keys to all of this. As anyone that has met him can tell you, he can effortlessly blend in with a gaggle of EVE geeks to a point where it's easy to forget he's the man essentially making the decisions about where the game goes next.
Several of the CCP devs, too many to list, went out of their way to catch up with us after hours and follow up on issues that we ran short of time on during the official sessions. Thank you to those guys and girls as well.
The sessions themselves were a bit different due to seven CSM reps compared to nine at the table. One of the things I'm supposed to do as Chairman is help direct the flow of conversation and make sure everyone that wants to say something gets a chance to do so. This seemed to go pretty well and, thanks to the new communication setup, we had a very diverse group of voices and opinions available.
To elaborate on that a bit further, Alekseyev Karrde was present for every single session remotely. Hans Jagerblitzen managed to remote-in to over 80% of the meetings. These guys took full advantage of the Lync software and should be recognized for their efforts, both leading up to and during the summit. Oh seven, guys.
CSM 7 is now currently hard at work on the official minutes which should render the meetings I've walked through in much more detail. I'm hopeful that we will have those done and ready for release by the end of the month. Once we have a firm release date in sight, I will announce a date for our second 'Town Hall' meeting so the community can ask us a bit more about the summit and whatever else is on your minds.
Time to close this thing out. If you've made it this far through both blogs, congrats. I don't blog as often as I'd like but when I do I try to make it worth your time. Hopefully I've been able to open a door into the mystery that these Summits have seemed to be for some people. Thanks for reading.