Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cross purposes

There are those of you out there that think I have, as one memorable post put it, a "horribly negative attitude." Those that feel this way should go ahead and skip this post. I'll be back later today with a Kill of the Week, some notes about Data Center missions, and a post about fitting strategies, particularly as they apply to strategic cruisers.

So, see you soon. Thanks for stopping by. Stop by later.

OK... are they gone? Good. Let's talk about CCP.

Go out -- if you dare -- and read the minutes of the CSM "Emergency Summit" that took place on the last day of June and first day of July, this year. Take a few minutes to remember the context, first:

Thousands of players were canceling their EVE accounts. Those that weren't doing that were rioting in EVE's three market hubs. Those that weren't doing that were posting -- literally! -- tens of thousands of times to the EVE-O forums in apocalyptic rage over Incarna, the NeX, the Fearless newsletter, and the leak of Hilmar's congratulatory message regarding Incarna to his troops. The EVE community turned into an almost literal towering PILLAR OF FLAME that managed to do something miraculous: cut through the CCP employee's need to spend Friday evening drinking beer in a Reyk pub somewhere. (Yes, that's when the Jita riots happened.) Before the weekend was over, the CSM was being called to Iceland the following week for the Emergency Summit, at a likely cost of tens of thousands of dollars.

Everything about this was unprecedented.

Now we have the documented results. They are 44 paragraphs in length. Before I discuss them, let's review how they came about. Trebor provides the best explanation on his blog, but I will summarize. Following the Summit, the CSM produced a set of minutes for them as they would for any other summit. Several weeks later, once CCP was done with them, a) those minutes were returned essentially rewritten, and b) the CSM was informed that they considered CSM minutes to be a "joint report" rather than a CSM-produced document. The CSM found this completely unacceptable. The CSM and CCP traded several drafts, the CSM suggesting changes to their initial draft, CCP suggesting changes to their draft. After two months of this, CCP Xhagen came up with a compromise that broke the deadlock, and now we have the minutes.

From both the tone of the minutes and implications from postings by members of the CSM, we can now infer what CCP Xhagen's compromise was:
  1. The CSM would keep the statements in their version of the minutes that began "The CSM said..."; and,
  2. CCP would keep the statements in their version of the minutes that began "CCP said..." or "CCP replied..."
As a result, what we've got is an amusingly schizophrenic he-said-she-said mess of a document combining the worst sort of BS marketing-speak (obviously written by CCP) and straight-forward critical statements (obviously written by the CSM). It's 44 paragraphs long. Let's cover the unquestionably good paragraphs.

There's one. It's paragraph 43 out of 44, on page 7:
CCP clearly stated that the investment of money in EVE should not give a player an unfair advantage over the investment of time.
That's a clear statement. It still has the small print attached (what constitutes "unfair" advantage?), but as I said when this statement first appeared in a CCP devblog, it's probably the strongest statement that the CSM could have gotten from CCP under the circumstances.

Before we talk about the rest, let's look at the numbers. From the tone of each paragraph, we can make pretty good guesses about who wrote most of them:

  Paragraphs    CCP wrote...    The CSM wrote...    Neutral  
Page 1  3210
Page 28611
Page 37232
Page 47520
Page 58521
Page 65311
Page 76231

In short, out of 44 paragraphs in these minutes, CCP seems to have written between 60% and 75% of them. This is a guess, but at the high rate of speed that most of the CSM members are publicly distancing themselves from these minutes, we can infer that it's a very good guess. ;-)

And make no mistake: the CSM are distancing themselves from these minutes.  They've made it clear that they wish they had another emergency summit to discuss the minutes from this emergency summit.

It points to a disturbing conclusion: CCP seems to think that the issues that caused the Jita riots, un-subscriptions, and threadnaughts have been addressed.  Their attempt to control the narrative on these minutes seems to highlight a hidden message: "See, EVE players?  The CSM is satisfied with what we told them!  You should be too!"  Their desire to -- and the squeamish among you will hopefully forgive me -- put their hand up the CSM's collective ass so they could work the CSM's collective mouth with their fingers like a puppet shows this pretty clearly.

In short, the pain and the fear that the EVE player base inflicted on CCP appears to have been forgotten in Reykjavik.

Now, let's look at some of the specific paragraphs.

Page 1, para 3, probably written by CCP:
The CSM expressed serious concerns about graphics cards overheating and environment loading performance (docking and loading times under Incarna), as well as some particular bugs. CCP responded that it had received reports regarding overheating and was taking active measures to follow up on those, although no concrete cases have been discovered.
To which I say: bollocks. When CCP hears "overheating", they're apparently looking for a graphics card melted into a pile of slag. Whereas when I start a single Captain's Quarters client, I get 68% GPU utilization from a Nvidia GeForce GTX 480. And I'm not running and gunning with dozens of other players causing explosions all around me. That's a single pilot in a single room, just standing there unmoving. The FPS MMOs that I play (Global Agenda, for instance) don't approach anything like this level of GPU utilization.

Page 2, para 5, almost certainly written by CCP:
CCP noted that its initial commitment to retain the same "time to action" when docking had been adhered to. CSM pointed out that "time to action" was not the same as environment loading time, especially since it was hard to tell when the UI became responsive.
There's only one time to action that matters: the amount of time it takes a pilot to dock, repair/reload/refit a ship and/or change a ship, and/or turn in a mission and request a new one, then undock again. Anyone in CCP who sees "time to action" as anything else needs to be taken out back and have the fail beaten out of him.

Page 2, part of para 9, probably written by CCP:
CCP noted that, while they understand that this is a common thing for players to do, there has not been any official multi-client support for EVE thus far...
In technical terms, this is called a "lie." CCP directly endorses multi-client use every September or October by marketing a promotion called "Power of Two". This marketing promotion strongly encourages EVE players to start an additional account for the express purpose of supporting their existing account. This promotion has been running for the past four years at least. Here is an example of the announcement of this promotion, which expressly states:
Start that alt, hauler, or support ship at a discount price!
"Hauler", of course, references a second account used to haul ore for a primary account which mines it. Graphics used for this promotion in the past have made it clear that this promotion is intended for dual-boxing (if not more). It will be very interesting to see if Power of Two returns this year, but there's no reason to expect that it won't.

Page 3, para 16, almost certainly written by CCP:
The second leg of the session involved showing the CSM how Incarna was received in terms of subscriber numbers and trends as well as informing them of other business and analytics metrics. While the initial trends gave an indication of how things will go, they don't tell the whole story. The CSM and CCP had a productive dialogue regarding these trends and how they compared to previous expansions.
Expect the topic of this paragraph to become a major focus of CSM6's push on CCP in the coming month or so. I've already made my views on it clear enough.

Page 5, para 29, probably written by the CSM:
The CSM pointed out that they could and should have been consulted for a 'sniff-test' of items -- to see how customers would react to the items being offered -- to answer questions like "what tier would you believe this fits into?"
It's remarkable to me how many times the CSM has asked this question, and how often CCP has managed not to answer it. This issue is side-stepped twice just in these minutes. It's a simple question: once decisions were made about the initial items that would appear in the NeX, why oh why weren't these items and their proposed prices shown to the CSM? CCP's unwillingness to answer this simple question is annoying in the extreme. As the CSM points out (in another para they probably wrote, number 25 at the bottom of page 4), if they had been shown a preview of the initial release of the NeX, a lot of player rage probably could have been avoided, or at least lessened.

The cynical answer to the question that is becoming increasingly hard to avoid is that CCP didn't test these prices with the CSM because "Players will always be richer than you think" and they didn't want the CSM arguing against that.

Page 6, para 36, almost certainly written by CCP:
As it does not take the future of EVE lightly, CCP stressed that has been, and will continue to be one of the company's core projects. CCP has been working on EVE for a very long time and would never, either as individuals or as a company, intentionally try to hurt EVE. Even changes to EVE that can be considered controversial are only taken after very careful consideration of the possible consequences and effects they might have on the game and its playerbase.
A big part of CSM's push over the next month is going to revolve around a non-obvious point of contention. Increasingly, when CSM6 refers to "EVE Online", they mean "space ships." Increasingly, when CCP refers to "EVE Online", they mean "full sci-fi simulator." As a result, CSM6 can accuse CCP of stopping EVE development, CCP can respond that they've been developing EVE non-stop... and they're both right... and both wrong. In communications, this is referred to as talking at cross purposes.

"We need more things to do, not more things to wear" is CSM6's latest tag line. But CCP has been known to argue that the character creator itself is something new to do in EVE, something that the CSM (and indeed, most EVE players) would reject completely. We're only a few months from the as-yet unnamed winter expansion. There are about three months until the CSM Winter Summit. By then, CCP had better have new game-play to show the CSM... even if that game-play takes place within the Establishments.  Without that, I fear for EVE's future.

Finally, let's point out what isn't in these minutes. The CSM made it clear that a big part of the first day of the Summit regarded showing them the numbers behind the wave of un-subscriptions and reviewing specific reasons people listed for unsubscribing. The minutes for this session apparently ended up on the cutting room floor.

In addition, there was another session that involved showing the CSM drafts of the upcoming additional Captain's Quarters. The minutes for this session also apparently ended up on the floor.

Makes you wonder what else might be on the floor with these notes, doesn't it?

I've specifically recommended to Trebor that CSM6 keep their version of this Summit's minutes, as well as a copy of CCP's initial response. While these can't be shared with the broader player base because they are under NDA, it should be pointed out that CSM7 will also be under NDA. As a result, these two documents should be shared with CSM7 so that they can see the progression. This will give them a better understanding of what they can look forward to for documenting minutes for future Summits.

In the meantime, hopefully CSM6 will continue to express the very real fact that the causes of the Jita riots, unsubs, and threadnaughts have not been addressed.  Not even close.


  1. CCP may not have named the Winter expansion, but regardless of the moniker they hang on it, it's going to be called "The Winter Supercapital Nerf®".

  2. That's coming in October, I thought.

  3. My personal take on the minutes:


  4. @Mord Fiddle: They named it according to an article on mmorpg.com... apparently it's Tranquility. Yes, the same as the live server's name. I don't want to think too hard on the potential confusion THAT will spawn.

  5. CCP doesn't hang dates on much of anything. So who really knows what is coming when.

    They might just call the next expansion "Couches", because we'll be getting three more of them.

  6. The "Tranquility" name is confirmed as a misunderstanding. The next expansion will not be called that.


  7. Thanks again Jester for your insightful deconstructing of all things Eve. I read the meeting minutes, the forums posts, and other blogs, but I always come back to yours as my gold standard.

    If you keep up this kind of stellar work, you just might be FORCED onto CSM7 by the players!

  8. Point of order: The first draft of the minutes were written by CCP Xhagen, the CSM edits were fairly light. It isn't quite fair to label paragraphs as "written by CSM" when we didn't write many of them.

    The other 3 CQ demo was just that, a demo. There wouldn't have been much to note about it, though I am not sure why we didn't have it in there. Basically, the other 3 CQs aren't dark closets. We said those were good.

    The details on the unsubs was cut because of NDA. That was never in a draft, and we had no expectation that it would be.

  9. Thanks, Jester, for doing all the hard work that helps me sort out my emotional reaction of sadness, disappointment, and dissatisfaction with these minutes. As I posted on FHC, "3300 words of meh." I feel like CCP is that dead horse there just isn't any point in beating anymore. It ain't never gonna wake up.

  10. Jester, call me a cynic and the fact that I don't play EVE Online anymore because I am banned, shows this. Anyway, I'm going to suspect that their isn't going to be a CSM 7, instead I think CCP might try, well the upper management might try to stuff the ballot with individuals that are very favorable to CCP policies.

    It's genuine possibility that goes into my thinking that CCP might, just might disband or get rid of someway of the CSM. Because for the moment CCP is either in a panic mode thus driving them to make a money grab or is being greedy sons of bitchs, but either way both of these scenarios can drive individuals or management to perform acts such as white collar crimes, assassinations, and so on and so forth. Reason why I mention this is simply that the CSM has been giving CCP bad press, and if CCP is really in financial death spins, they might to snuff anyone that says anything bad about them.

    But, alas, I'm am just an overly cynical and anti-CCP hater.

  11. Im still following all this on the sideline.
    Makes me so sad when I see the old names pop up who have left as I did.

    I did not post anywhere that I left adn took my accounts down and did not rage on the forums.

    I feel very much like Mynxee that it is a dead horse but Im still foloowing it all just in case.

    Also we will witness a decrease in "flame posts" as more and more no longer can post their anger on the forums as their subs run out.
    That does not mean the few left voicing their opiinion do not speak for a majority of the people who have left.

    Also I dont think the problem lie only with the discussed probelms. A major factor that killed EvE for me was the sanctums. Safe heavens that took so long to scan and find that solo roaming died for me. Along with the nano nerf you no longer see Vagas and Zealots fight it out, or the Ishtars zooming about.
    Move everyone out in the belts or/and make the sanctums show up on HUD and overview !

    Thank you for making these epic posts.

    Best regards Wotlankor


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.