Wednesday in Iceland dawned the most pleasant so far, with the sun trying now and again to peek through the clouds and the temperature getting up to 54F/11C. Much of CSM8 met in the basement of the hotel for a quite good breakfast provided by our hotel. There was some amusement from "the old guys" (Trebor Daehdoow, Mike Azariah, myself) that we were up and ready to go before the younger members of CSM8 present (everyone else). Matter of fact, with a few exceptions here and there, CSM8 declared their readiness to undock in reverse order of age... if you're curious about who is really committed to this summit thing. I kid, I kid. ;-)
The walk to CCP HQ was quick and pleasant and we claimed our spaces around the table of the Trinity conference room. Conference rooms at CCP are named after EVE expansions, complete with the date of release etched into the glass wall to one side of the door. Trinity comes equipped with a really impressive video conference suite that both provides a panorama view of the proceedings -- other CSM members will no doubt post the picture and if they don't, I will tomorrow -- as well as a focused view of whomever is talking. The latter happens through some magic of the camera focusing on whomever is talking the loudest for a consistent period of time. This gave a few members of CSM8 and some members of the CPM attending remotely a pretty good view of the proceedings when combined with screen-sharing.
To briefly cover the seven sessions that happened on day one...
Session One: Basic Introductions and Design Theory. This session mostly focused on CCP's internal "org chart" as well as an overview of how the game is developed. This is something that I went into CSM8 stating that I was going to take seriously -- CSM9 is going to have a lot to thank us for on this front -- and I was really satisfied with what I saw and heard. In particular, there was a long discussion of how CCP can be more transparent about sharing information with players and who really makes the operational decisions about game development that affect players (and therefore, how the CSM and players can influence those decisions).
Session Two: Stakeholder review. Probably the quietest session of the day, we looked at the past and present of the CSM stakeholder process. Trebor was the expert here for obvious reasons and made a good case for the fact that the process is working better than ever. Most of the discussion was about internal matters relating to CCP-CSM communications, with the CSM making a case for the various ways we can help CCP if more teams engage with us.
Session Three: Security. One of my favorite sessions of the day. The new head security guy, CCP Stillman, showed us a really deep presentation on various aspects of MMO security that he's planning to present at an upcoming security conference. It really dug into the meat of the challenges this team faces. I think everyone on CSM8 came away confident that this important aspect of the game is in very good hands. In particular, Noizy Gamer will be pleased to know that virtually all of his list was covered.
Session Four: EVE Economy. This session was widely regarded by CSM8 as one of the best of the day, with CCP DrEyjoG and his assistant CCP Recurve sharing with us a lot of hard data on the EVE economy including Gross User Product, PLEX prices, and deep economic indicators. Several CSM members including myself made strong cases for the return of either the QEN or some other insight for EVE players into how the economy is going and I think we made a really strong case for which there was (somewhat grudging) agreement from the CCP side. This session also featured our first "in-class homework assignment" of the summit.
Session Five: Art. This was one of the most fun sessions of the day, with the art team wowing us with a lot of pretty pictures of what they have planned for winter. In a few cases -- to my amusement -- they got the job of spoiling some minor aspects of session seven when they showed us art for features that we hadn't yet been told were coming. I got to beg (successfully, I think) for an art feature that many players asked me for. The session was dominated by a review of some mock-ups of how EVE players interact with their game. This is sure to be followed up in the UI session on Friday. The CSM did have one miss here which we're going to rectify today (more about that tomorrow).
Session Six: State of Balance. This was a lively, informal session with all three members of the ship balance team (CCP Ytterbium, CCP Rise, CCP Fozzie) chatting with us about their future plans for ship balance and asked for our feedback about what order things should be done in and some particular ideas they have on this front. A lot of the time was spent chatting about the next couple of ship classes that are going to be rebalanced as well as the fact that future ship balancing is going to be much more challenging than what has been done up to this point.
Session Seven: The future. This is going to be a heavily NDA'ed session, but was another of my favorites of the day. The great news here is that there is a specific, coherent road map for the next three years that hangs together logically and should provide a lot of really great stuff for players over the next few years. It actually made me kind of envious of CSMs 9 and 10... It launched from CCP Seagull's two presentations at Fanfest and she presented most of this session as well.
Things kept moving well throughout the day. CCP Dolan is to be commended for keeping the sessions on track and on schedule. I can tell you from experience that this is a lot harder than it looks. Lunch was a Mexican buffet provided for all of CCP in the employee cafeteria -- I was stunned to see fresh cilantro so far from California! Dinner was pizza delivered to the same place. At both points, CSM members had the opportunity to introduce themselves to and chat with any CCP dev who seemed inclined, and most of us wore CSM-logoed shirts brought from the U.S. by Trebor to help identify us.
After hours for day one was a bit more subdued, mostly because there was a scheduled marketing department dinner last night. That meant there weren't that many CCP'ers available. Those that were met us at Nora's for a couple of hours where the chatter was once again mostly very relaxed and casual. The main gathering broke up a little after 11pm.
All in all, day one was fun, productive, interesting, and -- I think, anyway -- provided a lot of value for both CCP and the CSM. I'm really pleased that CSM8 is showing value for the dollars that CCP has invested in our "free trip to Iceland". On to day two!