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 kept 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

Industry Discussion on CSM Discord

The Spring CSM Summit is approaching, and I want to be able to discuss the manufacturing side of industry in a knowledgeable way.

While I do a fair amount of structure, standup modules, capital modules, and T2 ship construction, there is far more to know about industry in EVE.

If you are an EVE industrialist, I would love your input on the topic.

Consider joining the CSM Discord and join the #industry channel.

Thanks!

CSM Update – Week 33

CSM Meeting – February 7th, 2020

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

Coordination around the Spring CSM Summit

Extended discussion around the EVE ecosystem and ways to change player behavior

Dunk’s Corner

I’m not going to go on an extended rant.

I disagree on CCP’s approach to address changes in mining at a fundamental level.

The “all stick, no carrot” approach is not going to resonate well with players, nor is it going to achieve the desired results.

I’m sure there will be a contingent of “Yay! mining nerfs will save EVE!”, similar to the “Blackout is fixing EVE” crowd from the summer.

Blackout didn’t turn out as planned, and my feeling is that these mining changes won’t turnout as desired either.

Hopefully, I’m wrong.

CSM Update – Week 32

CSM Meeting – January 31st, 2020

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

Brief discussion around skillpoints and player concerns

Extended discussion of on-going DDOS attacks and mitigation efforts

Brief discussion of game system performance concerns 

Discussion of concerns over violations of ToS rules by players
    
Initial planning for CSM 15 elections
        
Coordination around the Spring CSM Summit

Dunk’s Corner

I’ve stared at this page a few times trying to decide what to write. Nothing simple or interesting comes to mind. Sorry, I know you all were waiting for my amazing wisdom to drop on the interwebs, but this time you are going to be disappointed.

Real Life is consuming a lot of my brain cycles (in a good way). That leaves my free time in EVE to be more focused on the calm & relaxing aspects I enjoy like industry spreadsheets and fueling structures. And killing structures of the bad guys. 🙂

The ongoing DDOS attacks are problematic for just about everyone. Can’t really say much about what is exactly going on, but I can say that CCP fully understands how significantly this negatively impacts the players and are doing as much as they can to resolve it.

Over the last few weeks there’s been some apparent CSM drama has created a lot of speculation about what’s going on. Maintaining confidentiality, I can say this.

Each member of the CSM is truly working to make EVE a better game and is passionate about doing so. Our methods vary widely, and we don’t always agree on the methods and messages of other CSM members, but we all are focused on helping push CCP to improve the game.

The upcoming CSM summit is in less than a month and hopefully the minutes will be released soon after and provide some clarity on what’s being discussed and worked on.

My bee colonies are looking forward to Spring.

CSM Update – Halfway

CSM Meeting – January 24th, 2020

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

Coordination around the Spring CSM Summit.
– Travel Planning
– CCP wants to hear more from the CSM and requested to think about potential topics for presentations

Brief review of current game issues

CSM Meeting – January 10th, 2020

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

Brief coordination around the Spring CSM Summit.

Brief discussion of game system performance questions. 

Extended discussion about possible changes to the economy and specific types of PvP combat.

Dunk’s Corner
We are basically halfway through CSM 14 at this point.

So far, the word to describe the first half is ‘tumultuous’.

The CSM and I have tried to bring a small amount of order to the chaos underway when we started this term.

Seems like we have some positive momentum and the community growing again.

As a CSM member, one privileged is having more knowledge about CCP’s direction than EVE players & pundits do.

Personally, I try to listen to as many points of view as I can on shows, podcasts, articles, forums, and Reddit.

My only comment is that sometimes I hear concerns about ‘the meta’ and how things are ‘broken’.

Valid concerns, but I think people should remember that CCP is going for a much more regular cycle of releases, both big and small, during the year. There are many, many more releases to go this year and CCP is focused on trying to adapt more quickly to imbalance.

That’s no guarantee, but it should be kept in mind that CCP has stated repeatedly that they want surprises and they want to keep the meta shifting. You may not like surprises, but that’s not going to stop CCP.

Lastly, EVE Fanfest is coming up and and it’s a wonderful event to attend. If you have the means, I strongly suggest you try and come. Meeting people in real life is fantastic, even for you introverts, and opens up many doors in game that you never knew existed.

Due to the lack of shareable information, here is a picture of the ever patient CCP Dopamine listening to the CSM when he should really be out having a Friday night cocktail.

CSM Update – Week 24

CSM Meeting – November 29th, 2019

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

The group discussed the announcement of the HyperNet Relay and the release of the CSM Summit minutes.

Brief discussion of future CSM meetings and the Spring CSM Summit.

Introductions and discussion around some of the changes to how the Development teams function at CCP.

Detailed talk on the design timeline of a specific item.

General chat about upcoming system tests and what information the tests are planning to surface.  

The CSM brought up a few issues to discuss in more detail with the appropriate teams.

Dunk’s Corner

The news of Hypernet Relay is now public and being discussed. EVE players should know what I, as a CSM think about the feature in detail and with clarity.  Some will not agree with my viewpoint, but it’s expected that I present it plainly.

I am in favor of the Hypernet raffle and think many players will enjoy it.
While I do have a few concerns, I agree with the overall plan and support the implementation. 

Somer Blink, IWantISK, and other raffle sites were hugely popular with players until they were shut down. I think HyperNet Relay will be popular with players as well.

First, let’s discuss legality. I’m not a lawyer with specialization in national gambling laws and video gaming policies. in short, I’m just not going to get into discussion and arguments about this aspect. While there are many that think they can google their way into a law degree, I don’t share that opinion.

In thinking considering a new feature, I look at it in terms of ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ 

On the Pro side, I like the idea of high value items getting back into circulation, the opportunity to make some ISK, the fun of raffles. and CCP making some more revenue. 

On the Con side, there are risks with children and people with addiction problems getting sucked into spending ISK and money that they shouldn’t.  

From what I read, there seems to be a basic divide between those that are generally against gambling at an ethical level and those that are fine with it. A lot of the dispute seems to arise from this. I’m not going to bridge that gap. People on the internets do not often change their mind by reading an essay.

Personally, I think the downsides can be managed and this will turn into a popular feature that is well regarded, much as abyssal mutaplasmids did.  I think CCP has given this a lot of thought and is prepared to manage the situation if problems arise.

Obviously, some will not agree, but EVE players deserve to know my position on the topic.  

Snooters stands watch to make sure no neuts enter our home system

CSM Update – Week 20

CSM Meeting – November 7th, 2019

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

The group reviewed the community’s reaction and sentiments to the various presentations at EVE Vegas.

There was discussion of some Security related issues.

Plans for the ‘Winter’ CSM Summit were locked in. (seems like it’s always winter though in Iceland…)

Brief discussion of player activity and economic trends post-Blackout.

Progress on several features in development was reviewed.

Dunk’s Corner

EVE Vegas revealed many of the plans and discussions that the CSM was a party to previously, being made public.

As several CSM members had publicly said they were ‘cautiously optimistic’, I hope you can see why. A quick response team with 2 weeks sprints is ambitious, but a good plan to enable CCP to react to game needs in a more timely manner while longer term efforts aren’t derailed.

Clearly there remain significant concerns in the community about several major topics.

Hunting – Many ‘hunter’ playstyle people were very frustrated with the end of Blackout and weren’t happy with the overall gist of announcements at Vegas. This is understandable. For many, Blackout was invigorating, and it’s loss just as demotivating. I’m hopeful that CCP will continue to try to serve up good things for the hunters without overall negative effects. While I am personally cranky over moving Ansiblexes, I hope that it serves up the fights that people are looking for regularly.

Umbrellas – The prevalence of supercapital umbrellas remains a significant issue of discussion within the playerbase. There is no clear player consensus as to what should be done, nor does there appear to be a change on horizon that radically changes this meta level strategy. The issue remains a topic of discussion between CCP, the CSM, and the wider playerbase. This is a tough one to solve in a way that won’t lead to Blackout style disinterest in logging in. I believe that change is possible, but expect to be more a series of smaller changes rather than singular dramatic change. But who knows, there could be more chaos in store…

Big Vision – The drumbeat for a roadmap remains strong with many players. CCP presented a middle ground of a series of quadrants with themes that get’s rolled out over time. We will all see how it goes. Long term roadmaps have been an issue as the game and priorities change rapidly and that makes sticking to long term roadmaps difficult.

T2 Salvage Drones – There is widespread dismay that these still do not exist yet. Extraordinary measures may need to be taken to get attention on this critical issue.

I’m probably not covering your specific concern here, so feel free to contact me directly if you want, my contact info is here.

Snooters dressed up and ready for the weekend.

CSM 14 – Week 16

CSM Meeting – October 11th, 2019

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

There was a long discussion about the forward looking plans for the game and how those ideas should be presented.

The rest of the meeting was focused mainly on the planning for EVE Vegas and some details around it.

Also, secret stuff was discussed.

Dunk’s Corner

Not a lot to really dive into here since my last post. You can stop reading now if you want.

I do think it’s worthwhile to point out that players should let their voices be heard when they feel strongly about a topic. Additionally, players should speak when they feel that a topic is being overblown.

The CSM and CCP is listening and lurking, trying to get a variety of viewpoints. From the EVE Forums to blogs to Reddit to podcast to streaming shows, the opinions and ideas of players are critical to helping build a better plan for the future.

You always won’t get a response, but know that people are reading and hearing what you think.

Feel free to contact me directly if you want, my contact info is here, to the right.

Snooters waits for EVE Vegas to begin

CSM 14 – Week 15

CSM Meeting – October 4th

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

The meeting covered some high level topics, like long term vision and improvements to the development process.   Not much more can be mentioned due to confidentially, but hopefully these topics can be explored more publicly by CCP.

There was discussion of the upcoming EVE meet-ups, mostly concerning EVE Vegas.

The CSM followed up on the status of a few announced changes to understand timing of the development and deployment.

Dunk’s Corner

Since the CSM Summit Minutes have been released, there has been a tremendous amount of discussion in the community about it.  I’ve tried to respond where I can.  Here are some of the common points/questions that I’ve seen and my responses in a single space.

Q: What do you think about the future of EVE Online after leaving the Summit?

A:  I am cautiously optimistic.  As I have said before several places, CCP has a lot of great ideas and good people that can put those ideas into action.  The question is on prioritization and execution.  CCP has some tough decisions to make (like every company does) on how to best use their resources.  The future will rest on how CCP makes these choices and what they give focus to develop properly.

Q: No, seriously Dunk, do they fucking get it?

A: Yes, they fucking get it. CCP clearly sees the wide array of issues facing the game. In the formal meeting room and outside of it, there was lots of honest, straight talk about the challenges facing the game. They get it. The real issue is deciding how to best allocate people’s time and energy to work on solving problems and introducing new things.

Q: I didn’t read much about [insert concern here] in the Minutes. Why didn’t you talk about [insert concern here]?

A: Going into the summit, there were two huge issues to address on the plate, more significant than others. Those two issues were new player retention and the effects of Chaos Era (blackout) on player activity.  These were the two topics that needed the most discussion and focus. Unfortunately, many other important topics did not get much time they need to plan significant changes.

Yes, the CSM knows that there are big concerns all over EVE, from faction warfare to small gang PvP to low sec in general to structure spam to [insert your primary concern], but the truth is we cannot go deep on all of these subjects when CCP’s focus in elsewhere.

Lastly, the Summit Minutes are a rough approximation of what was discussed.  They are not detailed transcripts, are heavily redacted, and don’t cover any of the side conversations that occur during the week. Many ideas and concerns were discussed that are not represented in the minutes. I am hopeful you see some results for those unreported conversations in the future.

Q: Seems like the CSM is only representing Null Sec concerns in the topics discussed.  Why aren’t you representing all players?

A: Right now, CCP’s focus in the Chaos Era is shaking things up, specifically with Null Sec, so it is the focus of a lot of the discussion.  The CSM is adamant that player activity and engagement is a key issue across the board, in every area of space.  This point was reinforced repeatedly n the CSM’s ask for a clearer vision for the game that all players can hang their hopes on for the future.

At one point, the CSM is asked if their are personally in favor of removing Asset Safety and several CSM raise their hands in the affirmative. When asked if it is in the best interests of the game overall, no CSM raise their hand.  This is just one example of putting the wider game ahead of personal or ‘null sec’ interests.

I’m not going to be able to convince some that I and others on the CSM aren’t working on some personal agenda to benefit our groups specifically, but it is the truth.

That said, I am openly advocating for T2 Salvage drones and a new role for the Primae. If you disagree with those priority issues, you are simply wrong. 🙂

Q: Why didn’t the CSM demand/force/make CCP fix things immediately?

A:  The relationship doesn’t work that way.  The CSM is there to provide player input into the design process.  The best way to do that is in a healthy, respectful relationship, not in an antagonistic way.  The CSM can’t make CCP do anything.

CCP is the CEO & FC of the Summit Fleet.  CSM are like the scouts and recons helping them find a good path. 

The CSM has a lot of passion for the game, but realizes that if that passion is channeled in a negative way, it can have a detrimental effect on the game. 

Q: But the data, statistics, and graphs clearly show that…

A:  “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.” ― Mark Twain

The truth is that the data released, like the MER, are helpful to get some understanding of what’s going on in EVE, but they do not paint the entire picture.  People tend to interpret data to fit their existing bias, so care must be taken that to keep that in perspective.

As an example, there were several that put forth the idea that player activity losses during Blackout were mainly from botter accounts and that actual players leaving was compensated for by other players returning to the game.  Others argued that player losses were mainly due to people leaving the game completely.  To determine this from the data as a fact, is nearly impossible. 

There were many factors at play during Blackout: login events, WoW Classic release, in-game wars, summer for the Northern Hemisphere, etc., all affect the numbers.  Which numbers to look at?  Daily Account activity versus Monthly Account activity versus in-game player counts versus PvP losses versus PvE metrics all are involved and it’s not possible for the players at home to draw hard conclusions from them.  There are some basic trends that can be shown, but even those require a lot of interpretation. 

Good game design cannot solely rely on statistics. They can be one of several guides, but they cannot be the sole driving factor.

Q: The CSM is a waste and should be abolished! They don’t get anything done and don’t represent me!

A: You are welcome to this point of view, but the CSM has value and is interest in your point of view to convey it to CCP. My contact info is on this page. Feel free to reach out with your comments or concerns. I can’t promise that I will agree with you or that CCP will change anything, but I will listen with an open mind.

I’m available on Discord, via email, and in game to chat. Or see me in person at EVE Vegas!

Instead of my dog, here are my bees.

CSM Summit – September 2019

The CSM Summit was last week.  Many people would like to know what was said, but unfortunately, I really can’t get into the details.  This will be painfully vague and will likely result in salty Reddit comments.

If you are looking for a detailed description of exactly what was discussed, stop reading now.  Hopefully, after the minutes are released, I can go into more detail and specifics.

Instead, I’m going to describe what actually happens at the CSM Summit, since there appears to be a lot of misconception about this.

The CSM Summit is a 4 day long business meeting between CCP and a small group of their customer stakeholders.  It is not a detailed game design meeting.

Over the week, there are 30+ individual sessions with a wide variety of teams from CCP

Basically, there are 3 types of sessions:

What happened or is happening in EVE? – data, metrics, and analysis of various aspects of the game

What is planned to happen in EVE? – new game design, artwork, events, and other items in the development pipeline

What is the strategy going forward? – high level discussion of goals, options for improvement, and long term direction

Like any business there is a separation of responsibility between the different CCP teams and often in a session you’ll hear “our team doesn’t handle that, you’ll have to talk to team X about that…”   As an example, the Art team might show some neat graphics of a new in-game item, but will have no clue as the functional details of the item. 

What is NOT at the CSM Summit?  – the CSM presenting game designs, fists pounding on the table, detailed discussions of that special one thing you care about and posted about on /r/eve.

Many players think that the CSM shows up in Reykjavik with a printout of a big proposal that was posted to the forums or Reddit and makes CCP read it.  That simply doesn’t happen.  There are no manifestos pinned to the front door of CCP. 

What else happens at the Summit?  – another significant thing is the social interaction between the CSM and CCP. 

This is the first time that the CSM gets together in person in a room together. It’s easy to judge someone over the interwebs, but much more complex when you meet them in person.  Some feelings about people are confirmed and others are reversed.  Importantly, this is where a higher degree of trust and understanding begins to form on a team.  Even if a team doesn’t agree on everything, personal trust and understanding is critical to a team’s ability to perform.  This may sound like management woo-woo hand waving to some, but it’s a key thing that makes or breaks teams.

Out of sessions, the CSM is interacting with CCP staff, eating together, chatting about non-EVE stuff, and often going out for drinks late into the evening. Again, this is crucial to building the rapport and trust that is needed for the two groups to chat honestly with each other. Not only do EVE ideas get discussed in these moments, but the groundwork needed for further discussion is established in these moments. 

The summit starts with a bit of awkwardness and suspicion and ends with hugs and handshakes all around.  This can lead to a much better working relationship for the rest of the year.

Hopefully the actual CSM minutes will be made public soon and then discussed openly, until then, my comments will be necessarily vague.   But I will make these broad statements:

Yes, CCP is looking deeply at the data and metrics of everything that is going on in EVE.  There is a huge six-screen dashboard display on the wall on the way to canteen showing critical KPIs all the time.  The issue is interpreting the data into actionable analysis.  How do you define if a customer is “high sec” or “null sec”?  By logged time? Where the most characters are? What the characters do? Earning ISK? Undocking? Gate jumps?  No easy answers on how to interpret data with confirmation bias.

Yes, CCP has put thought into what they are doing.  That said, it is not “throwing random shit at the wall”, nor is it 4D chess with CCP “metagaming” the community.  It’s in the middle, with lots of variation.  Most of what I read in player posts or on streams/podcasts is wildly offbase as to what is actually happening.  People like to tinfoil rationales to support their ideas by either framing CCP as blind fools or crafty geniuses.  The truth is they are neither.  They are hard working people trying to make a complex game fun and profitable, which is no easy task 16 years after launch.

No, the CSM can’t make the CCP do anything. CCP runs the game as they see fit and uses the CSM to bounce ideas off of and better understand exactly what the players are doing in the game. The CSM doesn’t make them fix faction warfare or remove warp core stabilizers or nerf [insert your choice here]. 

Dunk’s Corner

So what do I think will happen? In short, it’s complicated.  CCP is facing some tough challenges.

While they are working hard to find ways to retain new players, they are also trying to find ways to excite veteran players in a world of many free to play options, WoW Classic, and near endless list of other things to drag customers away. 

Further, CCP is working on improving their internal processes and shedding technical debt, neither of which is easily seen or appreciated by players.  There’s a huge amount going on here that is only lightly described to the public. 

CCP has the people and skills to innovate and make amazing things, but the question is on their focus.

Is it going to happen?  I can’t really say. Both because of confidentially, but because there are so many variables in play, it’s impossible to predict.

What’s happening in the game now, is similar to what’s described in The Three-Body Problem.  When the Trisolarians are faced with a Chaotic Era, the dry out and go dormant.  Currently the Null Sec groups are turtling up to see how the Chaos Era goes. 

tl:dr
The truth is that players need a reason to log in. A goal of some sort that gives them a reason to get in and do things. The recent changes have not been motivating for many. Discussions of “faucets” and other abstract rationales are not good ways to give people hope for the future. IMHO, until some strong motivators appear, we are going to continue to see people disengage from the game.

Maybe this write-up helps clear things up on expectations for the CSM Summit, but feel free to yell at me anyways for not explaining exactly why [insert your pet peeve] isn’t fixed yet.