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...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

CSM8 status: Week one

Turns out this CSM thing really is a lot of work.  ;-)

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:
  1. one for CSM8 members only;
  2. one a transition channel between CSMs 7 and 8;
  3. one for discussions between CSM8 and any CCP dev that wants to join; and,
  4. a "business only" channel for Team Five-Oh, which is the team we'll be acting as a stake-holder for the work of.
If you've read the (in)famous Darius III leak, then you're pretty familiar with the third one.  It's an informal channel that mixes non-business chit-chat, formal requests for information from CCP or CSM8, informal requests for such information, and the very occasional official business notification of some sort.  Most of the time, it's pretty low-key (today, for instance, much of it centered on the SCL with occasional discussion of this or that faction battleship or battle cruiser).

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

42 comments:

  1. Nice article! Keep them coming.

    Cheers,
    MC
    PS: Are you guys in CSM paid for what are you doing? Sounds a lot of work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Other than the trips to Iceland, there's no pay involved. I heard that CSM members used to get one free EVE account for one year, but that hasn't come up that I've seen.

      Delete
    2. The problem with mixing pay incentives with politics is corruption can and will grow - so even if I support the CSM, I hope benefits for being a CSM member is marginal at best.

      Delete
  2. i think that kind of csm blog was missing the last years. with more of this people maybe get more interessted and that will maybe raise the number of people voting.

    if you can keep this kind of blogs running i set you on the top position for csm 9. (had trebor this year).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly this! I just hope that NDA or over work won't kill your will for writing this stuff Rippard.

      Cheers,
      MC

      Delete
  3. I really feel you're getting way too hooked up on the NDA. Frankly I don't care what it says, what you think about it or how it's affecting your ability to comment.

    Please just report on what you can, when you can. You're trusted to carry out your perceived duties so please get on with them and stop going on about, worrying about and commenting on a document none of us have or will see.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, the NDA isn't too bothersome so far but I do have to be pretty cautious about it because if I step over the line and CCP doesn't like what I'm doing, that's the end of CSM commentary... ;-)

      Delete
    2. Actually its end of all EVE commentary: an NDA breach/accusation == total account banning ala Darius III

      Delete
  4. Best way to keep track of a threads development is to never leave. It's easiest if you are the only one posting or only having a number of conversations in parallel.

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  5. For officer posts - including hints and nudges - I'll be placing a few bets on Ali Aras, Malcanis and Mynna. They might have forced you or Trebor too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You where wrong on that bet Riptard & Trebor are Vice & chairman... let me be the 1st to CONGRATZ you for Vice chair Riptard in your blog :D

      Delete
  6. Sorry for the rather unrelated comment but,

    "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."

    I can't agree more on this part. It would be much better if it had a typical "Jump to first unread" button but instead it has a "Go to last post" button which is rather useless especially when the thread is growing really fast. I'm not sure how the "New / No new post" icon on the left is supposed to be useful either.

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  7. Dinsdale PirannhaMay 13, 2013 at 7:12 AM

    So how does CCP enforce the NDA?

    How does CCP stop people who have a track record of deceit and using any bit of information possible for economic gain? It seems incredibly easy, and totally untraceable for someone who would be part of "the game's smartest economic cabal" to simply leak specifics of the changes coming down the pipe to other members of that cabal, and then those non-CSM members would get in or out of markets before the changes go public, making incredible amounts of cash . How would anyone ever know that it was through inside information, rather than "smart investing", that these people made trillions.

    Given how much of this happens in the real world (which kind of has much more stiffer penalties), how much the culture of deceit and meta-gaming is embraced inside the Eve community, and basic human nature, it must be clear that part of the reason that certain people want to be on the CSM is for economic gain, as well as the reason of course to destroy high sec.

    How does CCP handle this, or do they simply turn a blind eye to it?

    But what am I saying? Every member of the CSM is a paragon of virtue and honesty. (expect for Darius, he was the ONLY aberration). This tinfoil view of mine is ridiculous of course. It is just as ridiculous as thinking that any dev plucked from the null sec cartels to work for CCP would continue to help their ex-ingame friends. It is clear they immediately sever all relationships with their friends, and never let their years of playing in the null sec cartels influence their views on the game, and assume a totally neutral stance. I am sure that the T2 BPO incident was the ONLY time a dev helped his null sec mates, and this recent claim of fleet comps being passed to HBC is completely spurious.

    Yes, after mulling it over, I must believe that every person who gets onto the CSM immediately purges any in-game or out-of-game character flaws they might have, and would never act on the greatest wealth-generation opportunity presented to them, within the structure of Eve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ::shrugs:: You have to have a certain amount of trust. And CCP DOES keep a close eye on CSM members. Larkonis Trassler got himself booted from a prior CSM for not toeing the line.

      Delete
    2. What was the official reason for AHK's boot specifically in breaking the NDA or was it ever mentioned & just called an unspecified NDA breah?

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    3. Looking at the EULA breaking hack/reverse engineering of the DEV chaos server Mynna had direct knowledge of it very early on. I seem to recall Darius III claimed his knowledge of the DEV being fired was player provided too before the skype leak.
      The thin Red Line maintained by IA I thinks is very blurry

      Delete
    4. CSM members are subject to Internal Affairs like regular CCP employees. Violation of NDA via disclosure or "insider trading" will get you kicked off the CSM and/or banned.

      Delete
  8. Still no response from Dolan on my petition either. Please name names. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Would you please be so kind and let the devs now that there are color-blind people in the community and that the should keep that in mind and avoid color-coding?
    E.g. the probing system and the safety system are done this way. While I might notice a change in color when switching between full and partial safety, I'm not able to say which of those two is on just by looking at the color. (No safety works, but that's just for my kind of colorblindness)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trust me, this has come up several times.

      Delete
    2. This one is simple to fix.

      First, ensure that the UI developers are informed that they always need to use symbol shapes, as well as colors, to differentiate settings.

      Second, ensure that the QA department is aware that they need to be checking for these issues. The two easiest ways are (1) via third-party tools to tweak the display colors to simulate color-blindness, and (2) using special glasses, which have filters, to simulate color-blindness.

      Delete
    3. Ahh like triangle==red circle==green & square==yello intead of all being circle buttons right now?

      Delete
  10. ;-) see my vote have not being wasted!

    Great start and good luck

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  11. Interesting that PL is getting credited with these circular cap chain tanks for tournament play. I haven't been following the tourney meta since ATX, so I may be speaking without the full story here. But Agony Unleashed premiered an early version of this concept in AT8, and fielded the modern version, complete with ASBs and Gilas, in ATX. You even mentioned it on this very blog :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PL took the Agony idea and really ran with it with a lot of weird-ass comps. The Agony one was positively normal by comparison.

      Also, wrong post. ;-)

      Delete
    2. Welp, looks like I replied to the wrong post. My comment above was meant for here:
      http://jestertrek.blogspot.com/2013/05/scl-tinker-tanks.html
      But someone else noticed the same thing and posted in that thread anyway :)

      Delete
  12. CCP sounds like they embrace the textbook "agile" development approach; it seems so much livelier than the "waterfall" process we use for our customers' systems. We spend so much time on plans, processes, and contracts (government customer) that I feel crippled when we get thrown a curve ball (often the dreaded "requirements creep") and have to respond within the boundaries imposed on the development process. Just... /sigh...

    (Looking at testing position in a scrum development environment for a change of pace - wish me luck...)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CCP has indeed embraced agile development, for several years now. If you go back through CCP's YouTube videos, you should be able to find various interviews, where they freely discussed how they were changing their development environment at that time. It was very informative.

      Delete
  13. Think you might be missing the point of Darius' leak, aka developer intervention.

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    Replies
    1. More like Darius being an attention whore

      Delete
    2. The "point" of Darius' leak was pure maliciousness.

      And, needless to say, he proved himself untrustworthy outside, as well as inside, of the game, since this involved a RL NDA. Pretty stupid of him, actually - this sort of thing can follow him around, to adversely affect his RL employment and other activities, esp. since many players do know his RL identity.

      My employers, for example, would never hire someone who is known to have violated an NDA, particularly over something as trivial as this issue. You just can't trust anyone like this to have access to any confidential material.

      Delete
  14. "least interesting bits of the least interesting Skype channel."

    If vampire fleets, ring mining, a new mining system and a battle recorder are the least interesting things then we are in for some good times.

    (Yes, I know the vampire fleets are a different game. Yes, I know you probably can't comment about any of them.)

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  15. Jester, don't get all tied up in knots over the NDA. It isn't meant to be a straitjacket or a gag order. It is merely intended to enforce the importance of using *some* discretion when discussing certain issues with the general player base (which tends to jump on every little unintentional word and spin all sorts of silly tinhattery).

    You are expected to continue to communicate as much as possible with the players - after all, you are a representative of the players, not of CCP.

    But, if you have any serious qualms about discussing this matter, or that matter, on your blog, simply query one of the producers *before* and get his/her A-OK thumbs-up. It won't take long until you know what you should and should not openly discuss, and it will reassure CCP that your discretion can be relied upon (unlike D3).

    Also, note that signing an NDA does not provide CCP with any guarantee that you know when to keep your mouth shut and when to talk freely. They will be learning more about you in the upcoming months, to determine what issues with which you can indeed be trusted. Not all CSM members are treated equally (nor should expected to be, per D3), with respect to confidentiality.

    Blog on, buddy!

    ReplyDelete
  16. If you haven't figured it out yet, you and the other CSM members are not going to be able to read, and respond to, each and every post, on every thread, in the forums. You'll drive yourselves nuts even attempting to do so, and you'll burn out quickly.

    One of the reasons for having a large CSM is so that you guys can split the workload sufficiently that no one is overloaded or burns out. Make sure you do so - earlier rather than later. (BTW - assigning the secretary role to only one person is a really, really bad idea - split it up).

    Group the forum threads by topic, match the threads to each CSM member's interest, and then assign 2-3 members to read/respond on each thread. They can summarize the thread's discussion and share the summary with the rest of the CSM.

    Threads which happen to be of no particular interest to any CSM member still need to be read, ofc, so distribute those unpopular threads fairly among yourselves.

    This will help ensure that no single thread is receives too much of the CSM's attention, and that other important threads are not left completely ignored.

    You can do something similar with the Skype channels, as well, which should also help mitigate the timezone issues. Just because you can't always be on the channel at a certain time is no reason why you should not receive a summary of the issues discussed, from the CSM members who were online.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I'm not necessarily trying to. Trying to stick to topics that I have some knowledge on and some things to say.

      Even with just that, keeping up with the forums is a lot of work.

      Delete
  17. "(...) holiday of some sort in Iceland."

    Ascension day:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_the_Ascension

    We in the nordics like off-days more than work-days, especially in the spring ;o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting, thanks! From this you will gather that I'm not Catholic. ;-)

      Delete
    2. Well, the nordic contries are mainly Lutheran and uphold this event even though it is in essence Catholic.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutheranism

      Delete
    3. Oh, and the coming monday (May 19th) will be With Monday
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whit_Monday

      so don't expect many CCP devs in their offices then either ;-)
      (they will, like me, be hung over !)

      Delete
  18. Thanks for these updates. I hope you keep up with them. :D

    As an aside, as a little things idea when you talk to a UI person, how about letting us pick and choose what stats show up on the target list and when I mouse over an object in space.

    Currently mousing over a ship bracket in space shows me the Name-Ticker-ShipType-range. Why not let me choose for it to show velocity for example, or transversal, ect. No new info per say, just selected stuff that is already available on the overview. Just let me see it for the targets I am most interested in while looking in space, rather than on the spreadsheet portion of the UI.

    Seems to me it should be easy to do, its already showing overview style text, this would just let it show more if I choose to. As an option, allow the text shown to mirror what fields you have up for the overview settings currently.

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  19. First of I'd like to thank you for writing this it's a great insight into the CSM. I'm glad I put you as one of the higher choices on my ballots.

    Secondly you will often hear in the eve community that the CSM is just a token institution that provides litle real value to the playerbase. I strongly disagree with that stance and am of the opinion that the eve CSM is one of the more unique things in the game development world. I cannot think of another game publisher that engages with the playerbase so far as CCP is prepared to do.
    What are your early impressions as a newly elected member?

    ReplyDelete

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