Out the door before dawn, back at the hotel long after sunset! The Winter Summit promises to be even more of an endurance trial than the Summer Summit was, with longer days and somewhat more esoteric topics. While the first day of Summer was a kind of relaxing build-up to the meat of the Summit on day two, this time we jumped right in with very little preamble. Further, the discussions tended to be less specifically focused on summer and more general and philosophical. That was partially the CSM's own fault for reasons which I'll get into for the specific sessions today.
Virtually all of the CSM met for breakfast early and spent some time chatting about our strategy and our thinking for the coming day. This turned out to be a good move because it kept us a lot more focused once the sessions started. There's a good bit of overlap between some of the things we're covering. So staying focused was important and I think we did a good job. CCP Dolan again did an excellent job of keeping everyone focused and on schedule as well. This summit's schedule also included breaks throughout the day which also helped.
I'll have more to say about the "transcription" process once I see more of the output but it seems to be going well! For each session, there's someone knowledgeable about EVE taking notes about everything that's said. This should really speed up production of the Minutes.
We again had technical problems today, right during the two most critical sessions of the day. The joke going around is that the CSM curses the Trinity conference room whenever we arrive. Unlike last time though, the issue this time was a relatively simple fix and only delayed things by about 15 minutes or so. 12 out of 14 CSM members were involved all day, four out of five remote CSM members through video conferencing, the last through audio only conferencing. I'm gonna go ahead and name and shame those who weren't: Kesper North and Korvin.
To briefly cover the eight sessions today...
Session One: Tournaments. This was primarily CCP Bro talking about his plans for more and more varied styles of EVE tournaments and further pushing toward "EVE as e-Sport." He and I have had lots of conversations on this topic at Fanfest, EVE Vegas, and elsewhere, and I've covered my opinions of this topic on the blog several times. In particular, I expressed my worry about the widening experienced tournament "player gap" and the widening "money gap" that is separating EVE into top tier teams and "teams that get their butts kicked by top tier teams." The rest of the session was spent looking at various ways CCP could build more enthusiasm for this topic and how much dev time would be consumed by the various options.
Session Two: Localization. This was primarily a follow-up to the Summer Summit session on the same topic. The team is most interested in how to get more CSM activity on the localization front to which most of the CSM responded: "Get more players that use localized clients involved in the election process!" The bulk of the meeting was then spent on various strategies to do that.
Sessions Three/Four: "Feature Plans Alpha and Bravo". I can't say very much about this pair of sessions, but it was definitely the cornerstone of the day, with specific prototypes, specific plans, and a lot of really good progress for summer! I will say that this is the same feature that I had hoped was going to be in a Rubicon point release so it was great to see that it hadn't been forgotten. My personal suspicion is that half of this feature is going to make some players angry (and they'll be wrong to be so) and the other half will make lots of players really happy. And they'll be right! But I'll encourage them to push for this feature to continue iterating to its logical conclusion. What we saw of this feature was definitely iteration one (and to their credit, the devs involved said that themselves). So this one will mostly be about CSMs 9 and 10 pushing to make sure this one is iterated on.
Session Five: Team Superfriends. The first of two more generalized sessions, this one was more focused on siphons, the ESS, and the philosophy of game-play disruption. Discussion was... ummm... "spirited." Someone commented on my blog a couple of weeks back that if the CSM had "let" the ESS through as it was, we should all be fired. While I generally agree with the concern this player had about the feature, sometimes working with CCP isn't that simple. That said, I'm not an expert in this team's work so I mostly kept my mouth shut during this one.
Session Six: Team Game of Drones. The second of two generalized sessions and do I wish I could say more about this one! I'm actually pretty excited about what this team has on tap for summer. I'm even more excited about how they're going about developing it so that's the part I'll talk about. For this feature, this team cam eo the CSM with a "homework assignment" ealier in the year on what problems this team is trying to solve. They then did a great job of canvassing other experts in the player base on this same topic. We got to see directly both how CSM influence and player influence are driving this particular feature's development. Anyone who says we as the CSM or the player base don't have any influence on CCP is dead wrong.
Session Seven: Null-sec. This was the first of two sessions requested by the CSM today. Specifically, we wanted to hear what CCP's plans are for developing sov warfare. The session was long, every key player I could think of was involved, and a lot of ideas were tossed back and forth. And that's really all I can say about this one. The specific details of this session are liable to be under heavy NDA.
Session Eight: EVE Features Update. This one the second of two sessions requested by the CSM and was a clever way of saying "What about that X you promised us? How is development on that going?" Cast your mind back and I have no doubt that you'll quickly think of several values of "X" and that's what was discussed. ;-) There's another session for this topic tomorrow I believe and we won't have any trouble filling it. In the final two minutes, I got to very casually drop in a "Hey guys, what about X?" of my own and everyone involved looked at everyone else and seemed to agree that the feature I brought up has a good chance of gracing your screens come summer! Obviously, I can't say what it is, but a specific subset of you out there will be very very happy if it goes through. Again, with the influence!
Finally, not really attached to any specific session, I paid off my "technical debt" today by presenting CCP Masterplan with a bottle of Cardenal Mendoza brandy as thanks for the best change to small gang PvP in EVE in years, the warp acceleration changes! But I also wanted to provide more lasting thank yous to both he and CCP Fozzie, who has been an absolute hero both in dealing with me (hee!) and in assisting the Syndicate Competitive League. So my wife and I worked together with one of her associates to make both of them hooded sweatshirts.(1) On the back left of both, an embroidered Rifter about 10cm square at about kidney level with the EVE Online logo prominent. On the front of Fozzie's a T2 gold triangle with the text "CCP Fozzie, T2 EVE Dev" across the chest. On the front of Masterplan's, "Everything is working as intended. --CCP Masterplan."
A couple of other devs let me know how jealous they were. ;-) I forgot to bring the pictures of the sweatshirts with me to Iceland so I'll post them when I get home. I let Masterplan know that he could (and should) share the brandy with anyone who helped him with the warp speed changes. He had some volunteers!
By the end of the first day, I was a bit more tired than I expected to be and there was no planned dinner so I skipped the evening at Nora's and got some extra sleep. Feeling 100% now... on to day two!
(1) The original plan was for my wife and I to do all the work in-house with me doing the graphics conversions and she doing the embroidery. But I found out she has the wrong kind of embroidery sewing machine for this kind of work. She was quick to point out she could be more helpful with a new one. I joked to the devs "My association with you people is likely to cost me several thousand dollars in the near future..."