It was my intent to come back to the topic at mid-week, but two things interfered. First, the more I think about the topic, the more I want to focus on the key questions raised by Hilmar's answer before talking about how -- if at all -- the CSM voting mechanic should change. And that plan was interrupted by all the new information coming out of CCP about the winter expansion. My desire to blog a bit more frequently doesn't extend quite that far. I was busy enough as it was. ;-)
Things have quieted down now, so I'd like to get back to this topic. "I'm starting to get feedback from players that they worry the CSM is too pre-occupied by a certain playstyle," Hilmar said in the interview. I think that's the key quote (it was very nearly my QOTW for last week).
There are four key questions at play here:
- Are the members of the CSM too focused on a particular way of playing EVE?
- If so, is this play-style having too great an influence on their actions as the CSM?
- If so, has there been a significant player back-lash over it?
- And finally, if so, should something be done about it?
The members of CSM6 might argue the point (Mittens has even tried), but the answer to the first question is clearly "yes". The members of the CSM are too focused on a particular way of playing EVE. Arguments to the contrary, not a single one of them is a dedicated high-sec player. Only one alternative delegate is a dedicated wormhole resident. At best, only one CSM member is a dedicated low-sec pirate, miner, or industrialist. None are primarily PvE-focused, and few are small-gang PvP focused. Of the CSM members who live in null, the bulk of them are in large, sov-holding, large-fleet PvP alliances.
And all of that was by design. I stated all the way back in April that Mittens got almost the exact composition of the CSM that he wanted. He wasn't attempting to put together a CSM of diverse voices. He wanted a united CSM with a unified voice. His strategy, as a side effect, would result in a CSM all of whom played the game in essentially the same way, and that's what he got.
But that hasn't -- in and of itself -- been a bad thing! As Mittens himself says repeatedly, the problems with EVE were so self-evident going into 2011 that any CSM member from any background would have agreed on those issues. Any CSM member from any background would have also seen the need to explain those issues to CCP. And any CSM member that tried to stray from these big issues would have seen soon enough that they were concerned with petty stuff when there were much bigger fish to fry. So, the answer to question two, "is the CSM's play style having too great an influence on their actions as the CSM?" is clearly "no". No, it isn't. The CSM has been focused on the big problems to the exclusion of EVE's smaller issues, and those big problems have been the same for everyone, in my opinion. The particular background in EVE of individual CSM members has not been relevant.
And the net result of a unified CSM -- this year of all years -- has clearly been positive for EVE players.
Which brings us to question three, "has there been a significant player back-lash over the CSM's influence?" Hilmar implies that he thinks the answer is "yes".
If so, Hilmar -- for reasons of his own -- is over-reacting. The answer, very simply, is "no".
There has been a small back-lash, certainly, but it is an insignificant one. Sure, there has been a thread or two on the EVE-O forums started up by players who are disgruntled about the actions of Goons generally or Mittens specifically. But the number of people involved is a fraction of a fraction: that part of the player base that both even knows about the CSM and is vocal in their disapproval of some members. Hell, the size of the thread agitating for CCP to resume full development on Incarna is almost bigger.
The CSM this year hasn't been perfect, by any means. They are probably the least communicative CSM in the history of the organization. Their formal communication to the players has been one meeting, two fireside chats, and a single EVE Wiki page. Their informal communication has been limited to infrequent blog posts, forum posts, and Tweets, plus the occasional podcast or other interview. A unified communications strategy this is not. Mittens has sent more messages under the banner of his role as leader of GSF then he has under the banner of the Chair of the CSM. This lack of external communication is made all the more ironic given the extremely high level of internal communication this CSM enjoys.
But that also is not in and of itself a reason to condemn CSM6.
So that's two "no"s and a "yes". By a majority vote, this would mean that any issue with the composition of the CSM is currently over-blown and there's no particular need to change the mechanic for now the CSM is selected... except for two things.
First, using the current mechanic, we've now seen that the large null-sec alliances are going to have no particular problems retaining control of the CSM for as long as they care to do so. Mittens has joked a time or two that he would prefer that the "EVE player on the street" remains convinced of the CSM's powerlessness so that the large null alliances can retain control of it, and the influence that this gives them. As things stand, null alliances are going to be the only bodies of EVE players that will be able to put together the organization needed to put together a coherent bloc of votes. This will leave few or no full seats available to other EVE players.
Second, Hilmar indicates that this sort of CSM is less valuable to him than one that includes more diverse types of players. The veteran EVE players that make up null-sec blocs are an important part of EVE's player base, without a doubt. But there are other parts that are just as important, and the Goons have taken to destroying and griefing those parts to unprecedented levels.
And besides, CEOs have a tendency to get what they want. ;-)
So, despite the 2-1 "vote" against, it seems extremely likely that the mechanic for selecting the CSM is going to change in some significant way for 2012, making the answer to the fourth question "yes". How might it change?
That will be the topic of my next post on this subject.