This week, I feel like CSM8 officially "took office" even though not all of us have signed our NDAs yet.(1) We seem to have our "CSM" flags on the EVE Online forums, and more importantly, this week we received access to the private area of the EVE Online forums that's reserved for CSM NDA conversations.
And that was a lot of reading and a fair bit of writing, I'm not gonna lie. I'm still not even close to done with all of it. I'm not a big forum guy on my best day, and the EVE Online forums aren't my favorite way of reading forums. This is mostly because the EVE-O forums method of showing "new posts" is really unintuitive which makes keeping up with threads kind of a chore. Perhaps there is some easier way of managing it? I really must speak with Malcanis about this. The guy is really a wizard at keeping up with EVE-O forum threads.
CSM8 is also now fully integrated into four major Skype channels:
- one for CSM8 members only;
- one a transition channel between CSMs 7 and 8;
- one for discussions between CSM8 and any CCP dev that wants to join; and,
- a "business only" channel for Team Five-Oh, which is the team we'll be acting as a stake-holder for the work of.
But I'm pleased and interested to report that from time to time, a CCP dev comes in and is serious about soliciting CSM feedback about topics. The tricky part about writing about this is knowing where the line on the NDA is. So for now, I'll just say that if you're watching the various public developer threads on the EVE-O forums for CSM tags, you can probably get a pretty good idea of what we're commenting on in the Skype channel.
The fourth channel is for official business only. The informal chit-chat goes into the third channel. As a result, the fourth channel is both more serious and much more focused. It's pretty common to get 500-600 lines per day in the third channel. There's another 500-600 per day in the second channel which is also very active (more on that in a second). The fourth channel only springs to the forefront if something is actually going on.
I write all of this to make it clear how really inconsequential D3's leak really was. He leaked the least interesting bits of the least interesting Skype channel. It still has some NDA stuff in it and you're going to find me treading cautiously about it when I write about it, but in terms of actual CSM business, it's pretty small beer by comparison. Whatever makes him happy, I guess.
Anyway, keeping up with these four Skype channels is a lot of work, and a lot of what's written in there points back to feedback threads either on the main EVE-O forums or on the private CSM EVE-O forums. Several CSM8 members have been really fantastic about staying up to date with the forums and providing good feedback, notably Malcanis, Ali Aras, Korvin, Sort Dragon, and mynnna. As far as the Skype channels, I'd say off-hand right now that ten out of fourteen CSM8 members are fully engaged with the Skype convos. So we're a really really active bunch when compared to past CSMs!
The next major activity for CSM8 this week was our very first stake-holder meeting with Team Five-Oh. Unfortunately for me, this was scheduled for Friday morning at 4am my time... not exactly ideal. ;-) But I committed myself to being there and it was a really interesting process! Happily, I can share a good bit of this because how the stake-holder process works generally and how CCP's development process works specifically was also covered at a Fanfest session.
CCP works in two week "sprints". Each team and team member commits to performing specific tasks laid out for them by management based on stake-holder input (of which the CSM is one such) during each sprint. Devs generally only commit to completing tasks within a single sprint. Anything forward of that is subject to change at the stake-holder meetings which happen every two weeks between sprints. There's a normal sprint review that happens on Wednesday and the work done to that point is reviewed and "course-corrected" with the internal stake-holders. Normally for Team Five-Oh, the CSM stake-holder review is Thursday but this week it was pushed back to Friday morning due to a holiday of some sort in Iceland.
For our first stake-holder meeting, the CSM8 members that attended (of which I was one, obviously) were back-stopped by a pair of CSM7 members acting as transition members, Hans Jagerblitzen and Two step. But once the NDA stuff started rolling, they left the meeting and it was just CSM8 members participating. Now at this point, obviously, we're pretty late in the development cycle in the run-up to Odyssey so the changes that CSM8 can affect even within a stake-holder meeting are pretty small. "Feature creep" is something I'm really familiar with in my real-life job and it's a big concern at this point in the development cycle. So the NDA'ed portion of the meeting mostly involved the devs showing us the final tweaks going into features for Odyssey and getting our feedback on those tweaks. This is handled through video conferencing with the devs involved, and screen sharing as they show us what they're working on. Interesting stuff, but not particularly top secret yet. Pretty much everything we saw is now on Singularity.
When we get into stake-holder meetings that start the development cycle for the winter expansion, we can have more of an impact, I suspect. And even this late in the process, we were able to give some good feedback about a couple of Odyssey's features. Those that can't attend the stake-holder meeting itself then get the opportunity to participate in the forum threads related to it.
And finally, CSM8 has successfully voted on our officers with the first vote. You'll be hearing the results of that on Monday. I suspect some of you may be surprised how that went. ;-)
I haven't yet heard back from CCP Dolan about the NDA. I need to start pestering CSM8 about scheduling our first town hall, and about the first "Features and Ideas" meeting. And we're getting really good input from some members of CSM7 about the "transition document" that I really want. A lot of this is happening in the Skype "transition channel." In particular, Alekseyev Karrde sent us a whole heap of stuff this week, Trebor Daehdoow is getting us access to CSM7's notepads (which is another big piece of reading I have to do this week), and Hans Jagerblitzen has been sharing his notes with us.
Finally, no word yet on when our first summit will be but as soon as I know, I'll publish that here.
So, all in all, a lot of plates spinning this week! Here's another new CSM member, Ali Aras, who also blogged about her impressions of week one. Go give it a read! The CSM thing is definitely going to cut into my EVE play time, no question about it...
(1) Fair warning to the people involved: public naming and shaming if this isn't done by next week. :P