CSM 14 Update – Week 49

As always, there’s not any specific information to share due to the confidentiality of the discussions.

May 29th, 2020

Extremely detailed discussion of upcoming new design

(that’s astoundingly vague, but it’s all I can really say)

Dunk’s Corner

Today is the start of voting for CSM 15.  Many groups have recommended ballot slates, but I encourage you to make your own decisions.  The CSM is there to represent YOUR views, which may differ from your group.

Here are my suggestions on what you should look for in a CSM representative.

Ability to listen – A CSM member needs the ability to listen carefully to both CCP and players.  CCP has a plan and roadmap.  A CSM member needs to be able to listen to the plan and take the time to understand WHY it is seen as important by CCP.  Rather than defaulting to an immediate reaction, a CSM member needs to gather the information first, consider it, and then give feedback.

Similarly for players, a CSM member must be open to listening to players who have wildly different agendas and different perspectives.  Ideally, the CSM member can present the concerns to CCP in a constructive way that ensures CCP is hearing a wide range of feedback.

Ability to compromise – A CSM member needs to be able to work well with the rest of the CSM and CCP in a positive way.  This often requires compromise and ‘politics’.  A CSM member that creates acrimony or cannot adapt to the concerns other CSM or direction of CCP, will find themselves unable to get much done.

Finding creative and workable solutions that navigate between the various points of view is no simple task, but progress is often stopped until consensus can be reached. 

Understanding of complex dynamics – EVE Online is a complex game with complex issues.  There are no simple fixes.  Most changes can have impact outside of the target problem and a CSM member needs to be able to understand the complex dynamics of the game.

Specific expertise can be important, but if a tight focus on one area of gameplay is the only lens a CSM member looks through, they will often miss the effects of a proposed change in an unexpected area.  Being able to understand how others play the game and being able to think from an ‘opposing’ point of view is valuable in reaching good decisions.

Lastly – The person has the commitment to do the job – The CSM election can be seen as a popularity contest and in many ways is.  Being a good member of the CSM requires a lot of time, focus, think skin, and persistence.  History has shown multiple players being elected and then basically going AFK from their role as CSM when faced with the workload.  If a candidate is running because they think it will be ‘fun’, they probably won’t be a good CSM member.

Snooters, chillaxing in her sov space, sniffing for intel on neutrals…

CSM 14 Update – Week 48

As always, there’s not any specific information to share due to the confidentiality of the discussions.

May 22nd, 2020

New in-game efforts for players

Revisited various balance & gameplay topics to check status

Discussed imminent Second Quadrant releases

Discussed longer term Third Quadrant plan

Dunk’s Corner

Last week I posted a short note on CSM voting dynamics.  This sparked a little discussion and some people asked what could be done to change voting to create a wider diversity of CSM members.

Here’s a review of some of the options that have been discussed. 

ALL OF THESE OPTIONS CAN AND WOULD BE GAMED, just some less than others.

Limiting ‘block’ candidates to one per group – The idea would be to disallow block candidates, typically at the coalition level, from putting multiple candidates on the CSM.  Or even disallow multiple candidates at the alliance level.

This idea is trivially easy to get around. With coalitions undefined in-game and alt alliances trivial to create, this is a non-starter.  Some may call for CCP to decide who is and isn’t in a ‘block’ but this would open a can of worms where CCP is asked make subjective decisions about out of client player affiliation.

Creating spots for specific playstyles – This idea would create slots for specific playstyles such as high sec, low sec, small gang PvP, industry, wormholes, etc. and ask players to campaign for these slots.

The issue here is how do you define if a player is qualified for a slot or not?  As an example, I am a director a large null sec alliance, executor of a high sec alliance, and top 1% industrialist.  Can I run for any of those slots? Most large groups could field candidates that qualify for any spot imaginable.

There is thought of limiting voting on slots to characters that partake in the playstyle. Again, this becomes untenable scale.  Again, as an example, on one account I have my null sec PvP main and a high sec hauling and market alt.  Which slot does this account qualify for in terms of voting for “playstyles”?

We have seen that CCP’s tools are not perfect when attempting to determine a player’s playstyle from data and metrics alone at the character and account levels.

Hybrid CSM – This idea is to have part of the CSM filled by open voting and part of the CSM reserved for “playstyle” candidates in slots created by CCP. 

This option has the same issues as the wider “playstyle” slots idea, it’s too difficult to prevent gaming the system and making characters designed to be eligible for “playstyle” slots and receive block voting help.

Voting based on players not accounts – This idea would have voting based on players not accounts. Each player would have a ballot as opposed to each account having a ballot.

This would reduce the influence of players with multiple accounts (widely seen in null sec groups), skill farmers, and other serious multi-boxers.  Also, this idea would attempt to move to a voting system that cannot be ‘bought’ as we have seen in previous elections.

CCP’s ability to determine actual humans owning multiple accounts is fairly good.  However this too, could be gamed, but only with significant effort that doesn’t scale.

However, this doesn’t guarantee any prevention of multiple CSM members from a single group or ensure any single playstyle is represented more strongly than before.

I would prefer this idea, as it solves some problems, but it doesn’t address everything.

Unfortunately, these is no simple way to lessen the influence of powerful social groups on the CSM election. It’s true that political parties make a difference in real life and New Eden.

Snooters enjoying Spring weather

CSM 15 Voting – A few thoughts

The CSM 15 election campaign is underway.  There are 40 people vying for the 10 slots.

Here’s a realistic look at the possible outcome.  I’m making some assumptions here about block voting, but knowing a lot of null coalition leaders and my CSM experience, I think it’s a reasonable take on the situation.

A key thing to remember is that getting #1 pick votes is crucial to being elected. They keep you in the running during the elimination rounds. In CSM 14, eight candidates had more than a 1,000 #1 votes and all but one were elected. Sort Dragon lost by 11 votes due Steve Rounken being supported on a wider number of slates than Sort did, who had more limited external support.

Unless you are part of a strong voting block and high on their ballot, having less than a thousand #1 votes means you probably won’t make it.  If you can’t count on having at least 500 #1 votes it’s almost impossible to get elected, unless you are the number choice on a big block voting slates.

The Sure Things – these slots are basically guaranteed based on previous voting dynamics.

Gobbins & second Panfam candidate – The PanFam block is strong and easily put two people on the CSM last year.

Merkelchan & Innominate – With Imperium level coordination, these CSM veterans are locks to return for CSM 15.

Vily – As a Legacy Coalition #1 pick, Vily will easily return.

Brisc Rubal – Supported by The Initiative + his constant campaigning, it’s hard to see Brisc not making a return now that he is tanned and rested.

That’s six of the ten slots that are basically locked in. Only 4 slots open to other candidates. I have very high confidence that those six slots will

The Get Out The Vote Candidates – these people having the needed number of people in their playgroup to win, but the question is, will they vote?

Maria Taylor – The Fraternity candidate.  If Fraternity members vote and there is real support on the wider PanFam ballot, this should be an easy seat.

Ikarus Cesaile – The Silent Company. Silent Company is huge with well over 10,000 characters.  If they can be motivated to vote, high sec will have a representative. However, it’s unlikely that Ikarus gets a lot of support outside of Silent Company, being new to the EVE politics and community scene.

Second Legacy Candidate – If the Legacy Coalition can coalesce on a second pick after Vily for the ballot, a second Legacy CSM member is a lock. 

Wormhole Candidate – The votes are there from the wormhole community. ExookiZ showed that on CSM 14.  However this year, Loroseco Kross of Hard Knocks is also running.  With ExookiZ currently out a wormhole and associated with Initiative and Hard Knocks relationship with the rest of the wormhole community listed as “It’s Complicated”, it remains to be seen if the wormholers can concentrate their votes to get candidate over the line.  The votes are there, but it’s unknown if they will be split or not.

If these candidates can “get out the vote”, they can likely get themselves on CSM 15.  That would be the 10 slots all filled.

There are many good candidates out there, several with good non-block support behind them.  Can any of them become an election surprise like Olmeca Gold on CSM 14?  Stitch Kaneland got 937 votes and made it to the top 13 before being eliminated. This could be his year if he gets a little wider support.

It’s really impossible to say.   Ballot slots 3, 4, and 5 start to matter when you get to the last slots and those aren’t usually known until the last minute before voting.

Larger groups and running statistical scenarios based on previous voting numbers and trying to game the negotiation of voting slate slots to ensure outcomes. 

Needless to say, if you aren’t one of the top six slots I mention and you aren’t extremely well known in New Eden, getting onto CSM 15 is an extremely difficult task.

CSM 14 Update – Week 47

As always, there’s not any specific information to share due to the confidentiality of the discussions.

May 15th, 2020

Discussed ideas for new player retention & new player issues

Extended discussion of new concepts with Ecosystem Team

Dunk’s Corner

A bit of a lull in news before two big things kick off.

With the abandoned structure state coming into the game with the next patch, I think we are on track to see some glorious explosions and interesting loot reports. While it’s not a perfect solution to citadel spam, it’s a good start in the direction of making citadels less disposable and making assets more at risk.

As someone who does alliance logistics, the last few weeks have been busy with discussions about what’s worth fueling and preparing for the change. A bit of a headache for those in the game that do this kind of thing, but in the long run it should lead to more fun and a general house cleaning of New Eden that is long overdue.

There will likely be some sad stories of players returning after extended break to find their assets gone in some locations. Active players will have plenty of warning about what’s happening, but those that are truly AFK or haven’t logged into their spy alts, may sing sad songs in the future.

Also imminent is the next phase of the Triglavian invasion. I think people will be surprised about exactly what CCP has up their sleeve. I will be exceedingly vague about this, but I do hope that the developers have not underestimated the energy that players can muster to create chaos & havoc.

I think it will be good fun and hopefully I can get my space work done soon so I can participate more fully in the next phase of the Triglavian saga.

Overall, there’s lots to do in EVE right now. We are seeing fights all over space, people yeeting in and out of regions, and continued new PVE experiences. Doesn’t feel stagnant to me.

Snooters stands guard over her Empire of Dirt

CSM 14 Update – Week 46

As always, there’s not any specific information to share due to the confidentiality of the discussions.

May 8th, 2020

Discussed development cadence

Reviewed the DDOS attacks

Reviewed CSM elections and prep for CSM 15

Discussed the on-going login & celebration campaigns

Dunk’s Corner

The Plex Market on the EVE Portal app is now public and available.

Due to the CSM meetings, I’ve known about this for some time. But in that time, I’ve never been able to figure out who exactly is going to use this feature. 

For those that don’t know, the Plex Market on the app allows trade on the Jita 4-4 market only.  You cannot choose another location for the trading.

In buying & selling Plex there are few major use cases:

Plex traders – People who buy & sell Plex as a commodity, profiting by the arbitrage in buy & sell order and price trends.

People converting Plex to ISK – People who spend real life currency on Plex via the New Eden store and then sell it to get ISK in game

People “Plexing” an account – People who convert ISK to Plex to allow them selves to subscribe to EVE with Plex instead of real world currency.

There are a few other cases, like players buying Plex to pay for SKINs from the New Eden Store, but their are fairly minor in comparison to the other use cases.

In recent years, much of trade in Plex moved to player owned structures with lower tax bases. At the scale of value in Plex trading, even a single percentage of lower taxes has significant benefit. 

With all Plex Market trade occurring in the Jita 4-4 market, a player is looking at being at a serious financial disadvantage by trading on a comparatively high tax market in Jita 4-4 as opposed to a player structure market.

So the question is, “Who will use the Plex Market on the Portal app?

There is no way serious Plex Traders will use it.  Every fraction of a percentage point matters, and they will always choose the most economically profitable method, which remains in-client at player markets.

The person selling Plex to get ISK is going to want to maximize their return, which means using a market with lower taxes, which isn’t Jita.  Maybe they are in some sort of rush to get the ISK for some immediate need?

The Plexing an account person might try it, with the use case of not having a market character in Jita.  Seems like an edge case, but who knows. Maybe you realize while sitting on the toilet that your account is about to go alpha and you want to keep it Omega, but are stranded because you are out of toilet paper?

CCP obviously put a lot of effort into this feature, but I’m just not clear on who is going to use it and if it will affect the Plex market in any measurable way. If you have some thoughts, I’d love to hear.

Snooters thinks the type is kinda small in the app

CSM 14 Update – Week 43 & 44

As always, there’s not any specific information to share due to the confidentiality of the discussions.

Here are the two most recent CSM Meetings:

April 17th, 2020
Review of upcoming CSM election plan
Extended discussion of the EVE ecosystem

April 24th, 2020
Continued discussion of the EVE ecosystem

Dunk’s Corner

One of the least helpful CSM updates, but know that a lot is being discussed about how ISK moves in and out of the game.

The changes to structures have been announced with the Forsaken Fortress update.

It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a good compromise in terms of reducing structure spam, managing development time, and creating reward for destruction. Solutions like this take a while to craft and refine, but I’m hopefully this a good step forward for structures in space.

Yes, there are some issues, like a few people losing things while they are long term AFK from the game. These are compromises needed to try to keep moving forward. Rather than being paralyzed by trying to solve for every possible situation, the changes are a good step forward that will give players new things to do.

Players are good at looking for the holes in new changes, and they are going to find some. In a game as complex as EVE Online, it’s impossible to make perfect solutions. Going forward, there will be more changes that are compromises between the “perfect solution” and doing nothing. Prepare yourself.

Back to abandoned structures, logistics folk in New Eden are probably doing a lot of planning about what to scoop, fuel, or simply ignore.

Personally, I’ve got some fueling to do, but look forward to some interesting explosions and scams…

Snooters says: “Maintain your chill”

Lychton Kondur

Lychton Kondur was a force of nature.

Sometimes a powerful wind to push you out of the doldrums forward. Sometimes a hurricane that smashed your ships to bits against the rocks.  Always a constant force that brought some well needed chaos to New Eden.

Lychton was an Army Ranger, serving combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, who always led the way.

Helping to found Brave Newbies, literally on the first day of it’s existence, he helped set the tone for not just Brave, but for an entire generation of EVE players, who stopped worrying so much about killboards and started to focus more on having fun.

A tumultuous tenure as CEO saw amazing twists and turns, from the creation of an entirely new coalition to an infamous coup. Life with Lychton was never dull.  He brought a joie de vivre to the game that is hard to describe.  An infectious enthusiasm for simply going out and doing things, foolhardy or not.

He relentlessly worked to make life in New Eden better for the newer players.  During the coup, when people in Brave were picking sides, he messaged me “We need to hold it together for the newbies.  They don’t have anywhere else to go.” 

When a bit of stability was needed more than chaos, he handed off Brave to Nancy Crow to lead.  But those that flew with him, will never forget his laugh and readiness for adventure.

For those that never had the pleasure of knowing Lychton, here he is, speaking at Fanfest.

May his lust for life live on among all of use who knew him and were influenced by his work.

7o

Regarding CSM 15

tl;dr – I’m not running for CSM 15

The last year has been an honor as a CSM member, but I will not be running for election in CSM 15.

Life has gotten steadily busier at my work, with 40+ people added to my staff and having to lead our technical response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am stretched thin these days.

Also, I am concerned to not become cynical about CCP and EVE Online.  Once you see how the sausage is made, it is easy to lose confidence in the developers.  That’s not to critique CCP, it’s just the reality that the way things get done in any business is messy and you’ll hear a lot of things that make your eyes go wide.  It’s a normal reaction to anyone that’s ever been ‘brought behind the curtain’.  It’s better to step away without becoming pessimistic.  

More importantly, I don’t want to get cynical about the players, the very people I was elected to represent.  EVE players can be harsh and it’s normal to feel antipathy toward someone that attacks you. I don’t want those personal attacks to guide my CSM efforts with my feedback to CCP.  Nor do I want to see player’s reasonable complaints as “the same old thing” and ignore them.

I have tried to listen to anyone that contacted me and present their concerns to CCP, even if it wasn’t something I agreed with, and will continue to do so until the end of my term.

Hopefully my regular communication about the CSM has been helpful in some understanding of what the CSM is doing and how it operates.

It has been an honor to represent the players and discuss the issues with a wide array of people from all over the world with many different playstyles.  Thank you for your time and input!

Special thanks to CCP for their support and patience with my ideas and comments.  The trust,  faith,  and spending you put into the CSM is appreciated and a huge sign of your commitment to the players and their concerns.

Regarding the next CSM election, I differ from some of my fellow CSM, and believe that new CSM members can help invigorate the process and do not require years of being on the CSM to be useful.  A certain amount of cynicism builds up over the years and is counterproductive.

I recommend choosing representatives that understand the being on the CSM is basically about being in many business meetings, being able to present feedback in a detailed and non-threatening way, and to respond to the wider player community directly.

See you on grid. 7o

P.S. CCPlz T2 Salvage Drones

Snooters says:
Have Fun. Stay Classy. Be Brave.

CSM 14 Update – Week 40 & 41

Real life has been busy, so I missed a meeting report, so the last two meetings are combined.

As always, there’s not any specific information to share due to the confidentiality of the discussions.

CSM Meeting – March 27th, 2020

Discussion of 2nd Quarter Announcement

Discussion with Ecosystem Team Brief review of the recent MER

Ship Balance discussion

April 3rd, 2020

Review of Development Team plans

Discussion on CSM Summit Minutes

Review of CSM Election plans

Discussion of future CSM Summit plans

A uncomfortable amount of anime talk

Dunk’s Corner

There’s a lot going on these days with the new quadrant plan ramping up.

The ship re-balance was released today with is a good step to help increase the chances that no one moonwalks out of a fight without a bloody nose. The changes aren’t perfect and don’t touch a lot of areas, but I do think they push toward having more destruction in fights. We will see if the changes to sub-capitals have any change on the dominate meta. I would like to have a bigger shakeup, but this is a good start.

The changes to moon ore extraction and reprocessing have gone into the game and a lot more information has been released from the Ecosystem team. Hopefully people have a better idea of what the path looks like.

I do have concerns that I have bought up with the Ecosystem team. There’s a bit of disconnect of messaging that is going to players. As an example, there are changes promoting the use of battleships that literally encourage their explosion at the same time as the ‘starvation’ mining mechanics go deeper into play.

I haven’t done the math myself, but as I understand it, mining an entire Colossal Anomaly doesn’t provide enough ore to build a single battleship. As an industrialist, I see the base minerals/ore going up in price and making myself and other industrialists make choices where to use them best.

It’s not a matter of choosing whether to build a supercapital or multiple battleships. It whether to choose to focus on ships that don’t rely as heavily on base minerals overall. Building Tech 2 and Tech 3 ships, especially cruiser size and below is far more efficient in terms of usage of minerals.

I expect fleet doctrines to begin shifting to take this kind of thinking into account, which means a move away from larger battleship usage, an idea that CCP is actively trying to promote. This seems to counterintuitive.

With the grids of New Eden already full of HACs and Kikimoras, it’s hard to see this behavior not reinforced. Why bring ships that are difficult to replace when you can bring ones that are as effective and don’t have their building supplies in “starvation”.

Add in the new changes to capitals & supercapitals, it’s my concern the groups will be more conservative in their use of larger ships, contrary to the goal of more ship explosions. Rather than leading to more war and destruction, my worry is that it will lead to groups conserving their resources and “turtle-ing up”, only sending out lower cost roaming fleets.

The cost of war is high and almost never a smart economic move. I want more war in EVE and remain concerned that it’s much easier to haul in materials from Jita than to have a war with your neighbor and THEN have to mine the conquered space. That’s what the spreadsheets say, at least…

I hope you are all doing well in the quarantimes. Call your loved ones, they want to hear from you.

Snooters watching over her empire of dirt

CSM Summit – March 2020

The CSM Summit occurred several weeks ago, but due to getting thrown into the deep end of planning part of my company’s work from home effort, I haven’t had the time or energy to get this written up. A few of the other CSM members have been on shows/podcasts or posted a few comments. Here’s my take on things.

First, much of what I wrote about what does and doesn’t happen at the Summit still holds. 

No, we didn’t get into your very specific and nuanced concern about that thing you do/hate/like.  The CSM Summit is a much higher level discussion for the most part.

Hopefully the meeting minutes will be released soon and you can read at your leisure what we discussed over 4 days of meetings and nightly mixology lessons.

Here are the big takeaways:

CCP learned a lot from the Summer of Chaos and has made several major changes

There has been a significant reorganization of how CCP does game design and how teams work together.   Without going into the confidential zone, CCP took a hard look at how they were making EVE and made a lot of changes to refocus their energies to find a better balance of improving gameplay, making money, and continuing to recruit new players.

These changes are tough on any organization.  CCP bit the bullet and reoriented their processes in a way that allows for better communication with the players while remaining flexible in the actual deployment of features. It’s a fine line they are hoping to walk. 

We are seeing more regular deployment of new features and better discussion of the future than we have in a few years. 

The focus on new player engagement is working

CCP is seeing strong, measurable progress in acquiring and maintaining new players to EVE.  Many older players look at the subtle changes and scoff at them as useless, when they are creating new cohorts of players that look to become the core players of the future.

The phase that Hilmar used the most during the summit, “survivor bias”, is most apt here. All of you reading this are survivors of a much more arduous path into New Eden, and it’s hard for you to see the roadblocks that many others ran into and simply quit the game.  You are the people that walked over the roadblocks and barely noticed them.

There are a lot of new things and changes coming

After seeing the roadmap of the year, it’s going to be interesting to watch player’s reactions as the news drops when plans are announced. There were several “OMG, that’s freaking cool” moments.

There are things coming that some players will love.  There are things coming that some players will hate. My advice is to keep doing what you like to do and don’t get stressed about the other changes around you.

The changes are all over them map from cool events to interesting new ‘things’ to changes to basic mechanisms in the game.  I’m being vague here, as I can’t really give any detail.

CCP is listening

Overall, the mood of the meetings was open and positive. Very little acrimony.

The CSM members got to present several sessions to the Dev Team to give them insight into how the players play the game and how the players think.  CCP has data, but data alone is not enough.  Understanding the factors that create the data is essential to making a good analysis.

The tone of discussion was much more interactive and convivial that the Summer Summit, which was adversarial at times.

Dunk’s Corner

So what do I think will happen?

The biggest topic on the plate and part of almost every session was the ecosystem work.  The Ecosystem Team has been publicly announced and they have made few rounds of the show & podcast circuit to get their ideas out there.

What they are trying to do is ambitious. Mind bogglingly ambitious when you start to dive into the details and fractal effects of tugging on one part of New Eden’s ecosystem.

Not to overstate the plan, but it is a fundamental rework of how ISK and material enters the economy and how time and effort is valued in the game. 

I stressed how the Dev Team was up against thousands of the most hardened min/maxxers in video gaming and that it only took one of them to find a tiny loophole or trick and within 24 hours thousands would be flying freighters through it. 

It will take a long time to execute what is planned and players need to be prepared for a long ride. 

There aren’t always going to be good answers. There are going to be angry threadnaughts.  There are going to be optimistic white knights with overenthusiastic imagination about what is happening behind the scenes.  There are going to be players whose ‘playstyle’ disappears or is fundamentally changed and quit. Some groups will shatter from the changes while other appear and grow to fill the cracks left by the earthquakes of change.

I have no idea how it’s going to end up, but I’ll be along for the ups and downs of this rollercoaster year.

Snooters in non-Icelandic weather