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...

Friday, January 31, 2014

Winter Summit final thoughts

For my wrap-up of the Summer Summit, I said the following...
Another aspect of the summits that's really valuable is the opportunity to build "big picture" into how we interface with CCP. On Skype and on the forums, we're often talking to between one and three devs, usually on a very specific topic -- the jump clone timer skill, say, or the marauder rebalance. The summit allows us to widen the focus from individual features to both the short- and long-term development of EVE the game. That's great for the CSM, to understand how individual features fit into the big picture, and to allow us to influence EVE development in a macro as well as a micro sense. It also allows CCP to get player perspective on the big picture, something that definitely doesn't happen in the Features and Ideas thread.
This. Only a lot more so. ;-)

If I had to sum up the Winter Summit in a single paragraph, I would say that the Summer Summit -- overall -- was more productive. That summit was a lot closer to the release of Rubicon and the CSM as a result could have a lot more specific and influential impact on specific features and ideas that were going into that expansion. Still, in terms of the seven Summit days I've spent during this term, the second day of the Winter Summit was the single most productive day I've seen as a member of the CSM. Dear Heaven, we covered a lot of ground and got a lot of work done that day! From ship balancing to the UI to discussion of EVE features promised but not yet implemented (I got that session title out from under NDA, BTW) to looking at EVE metrics to going over one of the major features of the summer expansion... whew! As I said, it was a pretty intense day.

Don't let anyone give you the impression these summit trips are a free vacation. CCP puts us to work and very reasonably expects a return on the money they spend flying us to Iceland.

But overall, the Winter Summit was a bit more abstract than the Summer Summit. Other than parts of that second day, there were fewer discussions about specifics, more discussions about "EVE development philosophy", if I can call it that. Every blogger writing about EVE these days knows that the game is at a cross-roads: we've now had several expansions in a row that have been all but "fan service": fewer big ideas, more pleasing the existing customers. It's worked: it's stopped the bleeding, and mixed in with the fan service have been a couple of really innovative ideas (the new Crimewatch system and the new scanning/site system, primarily). Bigger ideas are coming... CCP has announced they're coming... they've shared some of those ideas with the CSM.

But their last big idea was Incarna and even without being on the CSM I can see that CCP are a little cautious about over-reaching and face-planting again. They're moving cautiously, testing their footing with each step, and they're definitely not leaping without looking this time.

In my opinion, it's a risky strategy but a good one. 2013 was a year spent rebuilding and reinforcing a lot of the underlying structure that EVE rests on. There's a joke in the movie Armageddon (perhaps the finest bad movie ever made) about the Mir space station being more than ten years old at that time and most Americans not keeping cars that long. The same thing applies to EVE: what other game are you playing or software are you using that's been in continuous use for that long? I can only think of one for myself. I'm still using Paint Shop Pro 8 for most graphics editing work and Wikipedia informs me that's now ten years old.

Anyway, the devs are feeling the pressure also, so a good bit of the summit focused on various potential development directions for the game. Particularly in sessions like the null-sec, "future of big fights", EVE features update, and a couple of NDA'ed ones, there was a good bit of abstract discussion. It was almost but not quite to the level of "What should EVE feel like?" But there was also a good bit of discussion about what the best uses of dev time will be over the next year. That made the summit feel less directly productive -- a lot of the stuff we talked about may never see the light of day -- and more tiring. Answering the question "What do you want for your next car?" is a lot easier than "What kind of car do you think you'll want ten years from now and why?"

At first blush last Friday night, then, I felt like this summit was less valuable than the Summer Summit. But on a week's reflection, I realize it was just as useful... just more abstract.

OK, what else. CCP Dolan continues to run a really good summit from an organizational stand-point. The best schedules feel effortless while they're going on and that's how this felt. He also came up with the best idea to enhance summits in pretty much the entire history of the CSM. Having a stenographer record the talking points of each session at a summit has been tried before and failed because the stenographer didn't understand the subject being talked about. This time, he got an actual CCP employee with EVE experience -- CCP Logibro, mostly -- to do the recording of talking points. And despite Logibro's self-deprecating humor about "I hope I'm doing this right", his notes were absurdly good. Giant kudos to both of these men!

Here's how good Logibro's notes are and how good the notes taken by several CSM members this time were: the CSM compressed the 22 sessions that I counted down to 18 actual sessions that need to be documented and have Minutes written for them. The summit's been over a week. I consider ten of those sessions done. Ready to send back to Dolan for review. I expect the rest will be done this weekend. There's not gonna be any jokes about "Months" this time.

There were only two technical issues; one was a failed USB extension cable. That one delayed one session by about 15 minutes because the camera and microphone were plugged into it. No big deal. There was a second technical issue that on its face initially seemed major -- it prompted Dolan to write the most profane e-mail I've read in several years -- but which is turning out to be pretty minor. That one is for Dolan to talk about if he wishes to.

Iceland in winter is not nearly as scary a place as others have made it out to be, or at least it wasn't this time. Mittens wrote a thing where he came back from winter in Iceland and immediately had to lay out in the sunshine for lack of it. Trebor Daehdoow told us a story about how the members of CSM5 had to link arms to keep mazzilliu from blowing into the harbor during their Winter Summit. Yeah, we got a tiny bit of snow and a bit more rain and one day of pretty stiff wind. But winters in Connecticut and Colorado scoff at the Iceland winter.

And that, Dear Reader, is all I can think of. As with the Summer Summit, I'm glad I was able to go! I believe we provided good value to CCP for the money they invested to bring us to Iceland. I want to thank our CCP hosts who were so gracious in meeting with us, talking with us, and sharing their hopes and concerns for development of EVE Online with us. They again acted with incredible understanding as we from time to time subjected some of their ideas to... ummmmm... our interpretations. ;-)

Now I have a few more session minutes to write and/or edit...


  1. On the subject of 10 year old programs; I still use GIMP, which Wikipedia tells me is older than I am, at 18, and many people still use Windows XP, which believe is more than 10 years old. Steam, the content delivery service, is more than 10 years, which means half life 2 (which I've just started replaying) is a similar age to eve...

  2. Good writeup, Jester. Funny you should mention CT. The photos of Rek you posted the other day reminded me of a New England town with the exception that most cities and towns in Connecticut are much more bleak and dreary in winter. Nowhere near as much color.

    No more joking about "Months"? I don't expect the latest minutes to be released until sometime in April, and that's no joke (although it sounds like CCP LogiBro did yeoman's work and I sincerely hope to be wrong on this).

    The only thing that troubles me is CCP asking for input on how devs could best spend their time in the upcoming year. Isn't there some grand 5-year plan for colonization and player-built stargates in place? I thought that was Seagull's grand vision that everyone was working towards. If they don't know yet how the devs will be spending their time for the rest of the year then something is really, really wrong.

    1. Yeah, I used to live in CT which is what brought it to mind.

      And you're gonna be wrong about the minutes. So far as I'm concerned, 13-14 out of 18 sessions are done and ready to go to Dolan. Given that CCP was MUCH more involved in the writing this time, there should be many fewer delays in approvals. I'll have more to say about it soon.

    2. Yea, but Jester

      Session 1 NDA
      Session 2 NDA
      Session 3 NDA
      Session 4 NDA......

      They really don't take long to write.

  3. Jester, do you as a CSM representative know what is up with the countdown on the eve website?

    A "yes" or "no" would suffice.

    1. Yes. And it's pretty awesome.

    2. Warning: the definition of "awesome" may vary correlated to your CCP fandom. :P

    3. Eh ? What countdown. I don't see anything on the www.eveonline.com webpage . . .

    4. http://community.eveonline.com/

      Which has about 1 day left. So something is happening around 10 AM Eastern time tomorrow.

  4. "What other game are you playing or software are you using that's been in continuous use for that long?"
    I use Winamp more-or-less daily. It's nearly 17 years old. Less frequently, I use GIMP for graphics work. It's 18 years old.

  5. Good to hear the "big ideas" are coming. Far too many people I know in game have been quitting recently and some well know blogs going dark as people are getting bored.

    Eve has been going ten years because it has always been refreshed and updated with new things to do. The expansions after Incarna were sorely needed, but the last two have not really lit anyone's fires have they?

    Here's to Fanfest and some hopefully good news for the future!

  6. If the stargates to more nullsec is the next big idea, I hope that they are failing to convey that there's something in it for everyone and not just more stuff for the We-can-drop-500-supercaps-on-your-stargates CFC, as it appears so far.

    Because in case that what CCP advertises and envisions is everything there is with the idea, it's gonna be a stillborn.

  7. "But their last big idea was Incarna and even without being on the CSM I can see that CCP are a little cautious about over-reaching and face-planting again."

    Err. No. Dust with its amazing (yeah, right) same-universe link to EvE was their last big idea and also their last face plant. I guess CCP has swept that one under the rug already.

    1. Wasn't Dust started around the same sort of time Incarna was though? I class that time back when CCP decided to do Incarna, Dust, WoD as the retarded days. It was when CCP felt they were on top of the world and couldn't fail, how wrong they were.

  8. When are you guys going to get CCP to fix autopilot?

    All it does now is act as bait to get noob players killed by gankers, which ends up with noobs quitting the game in disgust. Sure, this was funny the first few times, but now, it just costs CCP new subscribers.

    AP should either WTZ or be removed from the game completely.

    1. Oh, but they just fixed aggressive drones se they no longer trigger a PvP encounter on their own, so you should ask again in two years.

    2. Even with all its drawbacks, I use AP semi-frequently with my freighter, especially when that leg of the trip is with an empty hold. Also, I know people who AP around in a shuttle or noobship to get their pod somewhere without having to bother with warping it.

      On the other hand, AP in lowsec is a bad idea, but I'm okay with that.

  9. Jester, did you change the title which is no longer NDA, or are you just going to reveal it in the summit meetings? I didn't notice anything new on Summit Day 1-4.


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