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].
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.
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.
CSM Meeting – August 9th
As always, there’s not any specific information to share due to the confidentiality of the discussions.
Much of the meeting was focused on coordinating sessions for the upcoming summit in Reyljavik.
There was discussion of upcoming player meetups and CSM opinions surveyed.
A very significant topic was raised at the end of the meeting that engendered passionate discussion. Further detailed chat on the topic continues with the Dev Team online and will be a key topic at the CSM Summit.
This update is painfully vague, but due to the details of what was brought up, there’s not a lot more to publicly report.
With nothing specifically CSMy to talk about, I’ll just amplify my thoughts from a recent tweet I made.
A cool thing about being on the CSM is hearing from a wide variety of players that I don’t normally bump into. It has been eye opening to get small glimpse of what the CCP Dev Team faces on a daily basis.
I enjoy these interactions and try to respond to everyone that contacts me. I don’t want it to stop, but I have learned a few things.
What I have learned is that most players look at EVE with a narrow view, focused on what they like to do, which is commonly known as a ‘playstyle . And there is nothing wrong with that. Each of us gets that sweet drip of dopamine in the brain from something different.
I have heard an enormous variety of concerns over the nerfs to various playstyles. Examples such as:
- The Contracts ESI feed has killed the ability to scoop up underpriced deals.
- High sec mining is too safe and ganking is too hard.
- High sec mining is too risky and ganking is too easy.
- The mythical small gang PvP fights have been nerfed.
- Reissue of SKINs nerfed the retired SKIN market.
- High Value ‘whaling’ is too hard.
- High Value ‘whaling’ is too easy.
- VNI ratting has been nerfed.
- Moon Mining POS removal nerfed PvP funding.
- Citadels nerfed station games.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Some of you are going to want to argue about those examples, but that’s not the point here.
Basically, there is no good way to base the game design on which “they nerfed my playstyle” group yells the loudest. Brigading, echo chambers, and other techniques are use to amplify minority voices to appear to be majority voices.
So that leaves me with a choice to make. How do I decide on what ideas and changes to support with the infinitesimal influence I have?
If I just supported the things that helped my personal playstyle, well you’d obviously see Tech 2 Salvage Drones, bug fixes to the Industry window, ACLs for intra-character hangar use, and easier structure fueling.
But I’m not on the CSM to address my playstyle. I’m on the CSM to help the game continue to grow and thrive, even if there are negative impacts to my personal wants or the needs of my specific group.
For small issues and tweaks, I want to listen, learn, and advocate change where I can. But with significant and major issues, I need a clear metric to help focus my thoughts.
For now, my metrics on major issues will be these:
– Will this change get more people to login and spend time in EVE?
– Will this change lead people to stop logging in and quit EVE?
– Will this change lead to more new players starting in EVE and staying for the long term?
This may not be what you want to hear. You may want to hear, I dunno, that the Bhaalgorn needs more SKINs or a new low sec gate to a null region is needed.
But with upcoming major changes in the Chaos Era, you all deserve to know how I will be focusing my energy and how I will decide what I should support.
As always, I’m interested in hearing your opinions.
CSM Meeting – July 26th
As always, there’s not any specific information to share due to the confidentiality of the discussions.
The push on the New Player Experience and player retention was the first thing to be brought up and CCP’s focus on this work.
The group discussed specifics about the now announced changes to market taxes.
Several specific changes in a variety of areas were brought up. These are still confidential, but do address some commonly heard concerns.
There was some open and frank discussion of what was presented in the “Blackout” podcast between the CSM and CCP.
The September Summit is approaching, and it is the optimal time to hear what players want so the CSM can prepare for the meetings. The summit meeting will have the most CSM impact with CCP on the next 6 months of the game.
If there is a topic you would like the CSM or myself to bring up with CCP, please feel free to contact me. In most cases, we cannot provide any followup other than saying we did convey the information. All members of the CSM have been doing this kind of work and there have been specific instances where the idea or issue from a single player is getting attention from the Design & Development teams.
Here’s where I’ll update with my personal views on recent changes and what I hear being discussed in the community. This reflects only my views and not the other CSM members.
The “Blackout” Podcast
Direct interaction with CCP and Hilmar is always a good thing. EVE is a community driven game, and directly tapping into the community is powerful way to make sure players know that the company is paying attention to the game and it’s direction.
My main takeaway from the podcast was that CCP wants to accelerate change and infuse the playerbase with a sense of “chaos” and “the unknown”. I am for chaos and in my campaign mentioned chaos being a good way to stir up the game and break up some of the patterns that have locked in some way.
However, without some sort of end goal or target, chaos in and of itself can be off-putting to a lot of players. Players want to understand the “rules of the game” and be able to plan and work within them. They don’t call it spreadsheets in space for nothing. Finding the balance to keep players that desire structure and catering to anarchists is a fine line to walk. New Eden is made up of all quadrants of the Bartle Types, not solely ‘killers’ and this needs to be considered.
A specific mention on this topic. I’m not opposed to changes to Asset Safety. It’s a powerful tool that can be used to avoid confrontation and even abused to move industrial assets around. That said, I don’t believe is would be a useful conflict lever. It’s simply too easy for groups to evac assets, as we saw in the Glassing of Tribute. An entire coalition was able to pick up everything and move it to entirely new region without serious incident.
Secondarily, there are many reasons people take a break from the game. Work, military deployment, illness, vacation, children, accidents, etc. I personally broke both my arms & back in bicycle crash and would have probably quit EVE entirely if I came back to find all my stuff destroyed, simply because I was AFK. Just this week, a Brave member finally got out of hospital where he had been since a terrible car accident. People are out of the game for long periods and do come back. IMHO, people won’t come back if they are starting at zero due to events that happened when they weren’t even playing.
There is likely a good middle ground between the wormhole style loot pinata and the current asset safety system. I hope we find it.
Lastly, I write these posts to keep players informed as to what is happening with the CSM and to be as transparent as I can with the wider playerbase on my views and what I advocate to CCP. You deserve to know my thoughts, even if we disagree on issues and solutions.
The second formal CSM meeting happened last week. As always, there’s not any specific information to share due to the confidentiality of the discussions.
The new CSM members are still getting to know who’s who at CCP and this was more introductions and high level chat. While I had known some of the basics previously, it was good to put faces to the names.
Obviously, there was discussion about Blackout/Local Chat. Without getting into any details, be assured that multiple playstyle viewpoints were brought up to CCP.
This wasn’t a long meeting with only a few more topics briefly discussed.
The fall CSM summit is planned for early September and will be when the most detailed discussions will occur.
Here’s where I’ll update with my personal views on recent changes and what I hear being discussed in the community. This reflects only my views and not the other CSM members
Blackout & Perfect Intel – “Begin with the end in mind”
There is quite a split in player viewpoints on the effect of Blackout. Anecdotally, we are seeing both more PvP pilots undocking and more PvE pilots not logging in.
If you think fun PvP is five assault frigates killing a ratting Vexor Navy Issue, well, you’re in heaven, but that’s not what many EVE players enjoy.
If you think quietly mining your moon is enjoyable, you are probably not having fun.
What I have heard is proponents of the Blackout are looking for:
Making null sec less safe
Breaking up the industrial strength mining & ratting in null
Getting rid of ‘perfect intel’
Additionally, there is new discussion of delaying or getting rid of killmails in the hope that this will also lead to the above goals. Elaborate discussions around this elimination of ‘perfect intel to create a ‘fog of war’ and make EVE riskier.
I’m sure this doesn’t cover everything, but it’s majority of what I’ve heard discussed in Discords, podcasts, and chats. Despite the uptick in interesting killmails, I don’t think the Blackout will lead to these outcomes.
I’m not against change, but I believe in making change that leads to the outcomes that are desired.
Already, the larger groups are developing methods and tools to replace the old local chat based systems. Zkill going black for the initial weekend is simply encouraging the large groups to return to running their own killmail tracking systems and discuss opportunities to share data between the larger groups.
Without going deep into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I’ll simply say that people will work together to protect themselves and move into situations where they can be protected from undesirable situations. It’s human nature.
In EVE, the Blackout leads to more clustering and grouping, not less, for security and strength. The strong get stronger and the weak get weaker.
The idea of that EVE will return to an era where the ‘fog of war’ is the general case is naive. It’s not a realistic outcome. Large groups will develop their own methods, and again, have an advantage over smaller groups.
Large groups all have Polaris-like coordination systems and these would all be adapted to take in new input sources to empower fleet commanders and leadership. Again, the strong get stronger and the weak get weaker.
Blackout is not stopping Rorqual mining, it is not stopping capital responses to cynos, it is not stopping FCs from knowing what fleet comps they are facing, it is not leading to the elusive good fight. It is not having the desired outcomes.
The proposed idea of getting rid of Asset Safety is getting discussed as well. Similarly, that change would simply help the strongest groups, those being able to defend and evacuate if necessary, while hurting unsubbed and IRL AFK players only. Yet again, smaller groups without jump freighter logistics and large capital fleets would be the ones getting hammered, with stuff getting blown up, never the big coalitions. The strong get stronger and the weak get weaker.
To create more chaos in EVE, there either needs to be a change in either giving people something to fight over or changing the terrain to allow different metas to playout.
Right now, most large groups have little reason to attack other large groups other than lulz and bragging rights. I’m no game designer, but having something something else to fight over might stir things up.
As far as “change the terrain”, imagine regions where cynos don’t work or supercapitals aren’t allowed. Or regional rotation of incursion-like effects that hit entire regions, encouraging new metagame options.
Players are right to want something to change in EVE, but I just don’t think Blackout is going to give them what they want in the end.
OK, you can yell at me now. 🙂
It’s been a little over 2 weeks since the CSM Election results were announced and I wanted to give a short update.
CSM 14 is still going through the start-up period of gaining access to CCP information, basic briefing, and initial discussions of CSM members. With 5 new people in the mix, it takes a bit for the team to begin working together. I’ve been busy in game fighting, arming structures, and building stuff.
As expected, most of what I and the CSM do/say/hear with CCP will be confidential and can’t be shared publicly.
So far, there has been one formal meeting with CCP that was really a simple meet & greet for the new members and a brief discussion of current issues. The meeting went smoothly, and I’m hopeful we can keep them productive.
Without much CSM news, I can discuss a couple of the two biggest topics:
Invasion – The Drifter attacks created a significant amount of anger and schadenfreude in the EVE community. I can understand both sides, but have my own opinions. While I welcome now content and new challenges, the Drifter attacks seem poorly communicated and the execution left much to be desired. Risk vs. Reward is a key element of EVE and I felt that there was very little reward for very high risk. I’m in favor of similar events, but they should be challenging and enjoyable, not frustrating.
Overall, the arc of Invasion is interesting, with Sansha into the mix, it looks like a year full of surprises and changes. The new ship and industry opportunity, lore deepening, and rewarding PVE content seems to please a lot of players.
Local Blackout – Again, a polarizing topic. I see people unsubscribing and resubbing. A rough count of comments in the community show people are roughly split. “wormhole local” for null sec has been discussed before many times, and now we are going to see it. In the past, this topic has regularly been tied to cloaky campers, but this change does not address that gameplay.
Personally, the change seems one-sided in the favor of the hunters. Null sec has cynos and the related escalations that wormholes do not, so I think drawing a direct equivalency is not realistic. Considering Recon Ships in the mix, hunters will have the ability to travel, gather intel, and execute basically undetected with no reasonable counterplay until after an attack has commenced. I’m sure that there are many that will disagree with me. 🙂
Hopefully, this change will help reduce the amount of botting that occurs, but I have no doubt that the bot software developers are already at work on a “no local” version. That said, any work in this direction is welcome.
We will see how it goes and be assured that CCP will be closely watching what players actually do, not what players say they do on forums, Discords, and Reddit. The game data will speak for itself.
Communication – Lastly, my role is to serve the entire EVE Community, not just the people I play with or the playstyles I enjoy. If you want to let me know your thoughts or what you want to hear, please do. I can be reached in game, via Discord, and via email. Thanks!
Discord: Dunk Dinkle#1095