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...

Monday, May 12, 2014

The second six months

Well, CSM9 is now fully in the driver's seat! Several of their members are now blogging weekly; you'll find their blogs on the bottom right under Infrequent but Important, except for Sugar Kyle, whose output rates a slot under Must Read Blogs. The CSM8/CSM9 Transition channel is more and more quiet every day, and the five transition members are in place to help new CSM9 members through any questions. So I now conclude my thoughts on CSM8.

Back in November, I did a CSM8 post called "The first six months" in which I gave my overall high-level impressions of the job up to that point. For the most part, looking back on that post, I believe everything said in it still applies to the full CSM term. So I'm mostly going to keep this fairly short and try not to repeat myself. Everything I said in the first post applies to this one. Still, it seems fitting to wrap up with some "last six months" and some full-year thoughts.

The good

Overall, I continue to believe that we had the strongest CSM to date in terms of the number of active members, and the breadth of experience of those members. I myself would give at least 12 CSM8 members passing grades or better in all areas. Most of the people I was particularly happy working with are now on CSM9, so there's no need for me to repeat their strengths that I mentioned when I endorsed them for that job. ;-)

In particular, I believe we had the best record of any CSM in terms of player communication. Even when things were going badly, we were keeping the players informed of everything we were doing and everything we were allowed to say about what CCP was doing. The six town halls we had during our term met all of my expectations. Four CSM members were blogging or pod-casting during our term, a record that I believe CSM9 will break. But for now, it stands as a record amount of "off-grid" communications for any past CSM.

CSM8 member participation and activity around the two Summits was simply outstanding! For many sessions, 13 out of 14 CSM members were present and all were active and participating. We were (according to Trebor Daehdoow, in a position to know) involved with and communicating with more CCP feature teams and support teams than any past CSM. At the CSM Panel at Fanfest, I made the point that while CSM8 was "Stakeholder v2" (after the difficulties that CCP had with implementing the process for CSM7), CSM8 is also "Partnership v1". I fully believe that CSM9 can and should expand the stakeholder relationship to a lot more teams than we were fully able to.

The large majority of EVE devs were incredibly kind, gracious, and enthusiastic about our participation. They were great hosts in Iceland and great fun to chat with on Skype. I enjoyed all four of my trips to Iceland immensely!

More than that, the majority of EVE devs were also incredibly receptive and open to our input, willing to discuss changes to their babies, or take time to explain what they were doing and why. In many ways, the Summits were the least productive time we spent with the devs since the mentality at these sessions was often that of presenter-audience. In fact, I can only remember four or five Summit sessions that were geared 100% around a team or a dev briefly bringing us something and then just asking for our input on it. Meanwhile, Skype and the private forums were often much more productive for two-way communications.

I myself am glad I ran and glad I served. I learned an incredible amount about how EVE Online is developed and about the game itself. At a couple of points, we were involved in or exposed to game design incredibly early in the process... far earlier than I was expecting or anticipating! That was really heady stuff!

The neutral

Nearly every CCP employee is incredibly passionate about their game. It's quite easy to forget that as a CSM member and a player. But it's true nonetheless: they're every bit as passionate about the game as we are and have opinions just as strong as we do about it. Where those opinions conflict is where a lot of interesting conversations happen...

The not so good

Expectations only ramped up, and ramped up, and ramped up! At one point, one senior dev only half-joked that CCP was trying to find out how much work they could get us to do for free. I am increasingly of the opinion that the days of three- and four-term CSM members are over. To do this job properly and be properly proactive, plus maintain an outside life, hobbies, and oh yeah, be able to play EVE from time to time should burn out anyone taking the responsibilities seriously after two terms. I'll be really curious most particularly to see if Ali Aras and mynnna run for CSM10...

Related to the above, it was impossible to keep up with everything. CCP Fozzie in particular is a machine (and this is me saying it!)... the dude is up early in the morning Iceland time and is still up late into the night. And as far as I can tell, he spends all that time thinking about or working on EVE. ;-) Many other devs were also quite active and between Skype, the private forums, the public forums, the blogs, the pod-casts, EVE mails, e-mails, and everything else, there was no way anyone could keep up with it all. Each CSM member just had to pick a few things to focus on and hang on as best they could.

A few EVE devs are EVE players... intensified. And I think that's all I'll say about that.

CCP politics is tough -- maybe impossible! -- for an outsider to figure out. Very early in our term, CSM8 developed a... yep, you guessed it... a spreadsheet to keep track of names, job titles, teams, roles, and notes. And then we spent all year trying to keep it updated as all five of those things seemed to be in constant flux for every dev. It was sometimes hard to tell who was in charge of what or how interconnected features would interconnect. That just added to the issues above.

And I think that's all I have to say. Thank you again to everyone who voted for me! I greatly enjoyed my time on CSM8 and I wish the very best of luck to CSM9!


  1. Given any thought to running again in the future, once your batteries are recharged?

    1. It's not outside the realm of possibility.

  2. My big concern with the new CSM is that nobody would step up to replace Jester's role since he didn't run for reelection. The importance of Jester's CSM8 coverage on his blog cannot be understated. That's the biggest reason I had Sugar Kyle so high on my ballot. She's not only an other wise highly qualified candidate, but she's the only one running with blog habits that could replace Jester's work.

    1. I actually voted for Xander for this reason; His constant communication with CSM8 members looking for information gave me the impression that he'll have a lot to say in regards to the work done during CSM9. For example:

      "WHERE ARE THE MINUTES" -- Xander Phoena

    2. I guess I need to start following Crossing Zebras

    3. mynnna also appears to be starting up a weekly post. You can find him at The Third End under Infrequent But Important.

    4. Mynnna is worse at writing than he is at lying and that is saying quite a bit.

  3. Regardless of what people say about your term, you set a pretty high standard when it comes to communicating with the players. Your weekly blogs and the frequent town hall meetings were a cut above previous years when the entire CSM would just disappear for months on end. On that basis alone I think you (singular Jester and plural all of CSM8) did a fine job and thank you for the work you put in. Even if I didn't agree with each and every position you took on some things.

    I look forward to the resumption of your regularly scheduled coverage of the latest CCP facepalm moments as they happen. But I suspect they won't be as impassioned or cynical as (some were) in the past :)

  4. If CSM8 was so good in communicating, how come that CSM9 election had terrible player participation? It seems, the players disagree about your awesomeness.

    1. CSM9 election had terrible player participation = player think CSM8 were terrible

      Non Sequitur of the year goes to Gevlon Goblin!

    2. People don't vote when in their opinion, things are running fine and there is no threat to change that. In this case, while you might argue that having extra Goons on CSM will ruin EVE, that's a big stretch. Meanwhile, people who bothered to vote returned the incumbents because things are running fine. But lots of people did not vote, figuring that the incumbents would return and it would be fine.

    3. You're an idiot.

  5. This is a better place to review and discuss the CSM9 election. https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=343187&p=19
    CCP Leeloo has made a good comment about the problems, and asked for ideas there.

    1. The EVE-O forums can be restrictive at times. There are a few topics best discussed there. This is not one of them. Avoid the official forums whenever you can. Your brain will thank you later.

    2. The EVE-O forums are a pathetic mess. The Goons engage in non-stop trolling, to mask any serious discussion of the issues, and the forum moderators always look the other way.

      This isn't a case of the Goons being a**hats, but, rather, a very well-executed metagame strategy to control the forum discussions.

      And, it only works because CCP is stupid enough to fall for it.

    3. Some of what you guys say is true, but, the devs are much more likely to read your ideas there, than on other sites. By not speaking up, you surrender the argument (whatever it is) to those who do.


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  7. You know Jester, you actually put out some good informative blog posts - then for some reason you bring out posts which do seem to have far too much ego inflation.

    reading the first few paragraphs of this it would seem you have elevated yourself into some kind of 'leader of the CSM' cum 'unofficial member of CCP' position where your opinion of the CSM is of your personal minions.

    Just stop. Keep on with the informative stuff but please, please stop looking like such a self important dick while you are doing it.


    1. Interestingly enough, this will be the last CSM8 post for some reason, so I guess you don't have to worry.

      And the first three paragraphs were about CSM8 as a whole, not about me (plus some advice for CSM9 here and there).

    2. Well, you guys did a hell of a job on industry, that is for sure. I'm wondering what the fuck you were doing over there besides staring out the window and eating pork rinds. Probably just nodding your head in agreement to every dumb idea the devs put in front of you:

      CCP Dogdick: "I thought Incarna was bad but you'll never believe what they said they liked!!"

      I cancelled a few accounts because of this patch but I am keeping two of them open, I want to be here on the dock to tie off the shitliner when it comes steaming into port to deliver this load of steaming dung.

    3. @Anon357

      I'm grateful for third party EVE sites, because you just can't read these same kinds of thoughtful, intelligent insights from posters on the official forums.

  8. "In particular, I believe we had the best record of any CSM in terms of player communication."

    You also presided over the highest annual drop in players subs in the history of the game, and paved the way for even higher unsub rates this summer. Congratulations!

    1. "...paved the way for even higher unsub rates this summer."

      Yep, I think this is now guaranteed.

      CCP may have decided to push back the industry changes to Crius, in order to try to stem the growing unsub tide, but Greyscale, as usual, isn't hearing what those industry players are saying and is pushing ahead with his plan, unchanged.

      In his most recent posts on the forums, he completely ignores the major fubars in the industry changes and is focused entirely on the minutae. We've all seen this behavior in the past from Greyscale and no vet player has any reason to expect anything more from him.

      As a result, most of the players in the high-sec industrial corps with whom I trade in the game, are still planning to let their subs run out this summer.

      Unfortunate. I think we could be easily seeing a double-digit percentage drop over the summer, as those industry-based subs expire.

    2. Once they see the subs and players *actually* drop off a cliff as many doom-sayers suggest, they will have the feedback they need to make changes. The more sudden the drop-off, the better the correlation / causation can be pointed at the industry changes.

      The about-face after the Summer of Rage over Incarna, proved that CCP "listens to player feedback." Until that time, the doom-saying sounds to me like the same talk and wine that pours out every time they make significant changes to How Things Work.

    3. Unfortunately, the "Summer of Rage" is not an apt comparison.

      The "Summer of Rage" was a bunch of players, mostly PVPers, who threatened to unsub in the forums over a weekend, but never actually did unsub.

      In this case, there is no "rage" and no mass threats to unsub , except for the very small number you'll see in the forums and blogs. The majority of the industry players, particular those who are also casual players, will quietly let their subs go as the game time runs out and move on to other games. It has already started. It won't be an obvious drop-off cliff, but a steady decline over the next 3-6 months or so, depending on when those accounts run out.

      And, even more unfortunately, these players probably won't come back just because CCP decides later to do an about-face, once the drop in subs really becomes obvious & critical. Unlike for an resubbed PVP player, the amount of time required for an industry player to build back what he/she had setup previously will take months, if not years - most of them will not feel it is worth that new effort.

      As the old saying goes, CCP would only be "closing the barn door after the horse has bolted."

    4. "I think we could be easily seeing a double-digit percentage drop over the summer"
      As much as I would like to see reaction as obvious as possible, I don't think that there are enough purely industrial accounts in highsec for anything even close to 30k unsubs. Now factor in people who don't think that change is that bad, alts created by 0.0 players and any other possible sources of retention or expansion.

      Sad thing is that this shit sandwich has a good chance to cause only a small drop in number of subscriptions and next to no drop in PCU.

    5. Well, what bothers me is that everyone seems to agree that subs are going to drop; I haven't seen anyone, incl. CCP or the CSM (past and present), suggest that subs are actually going to increase after these changes go out this summer.

      The only argument really seems to be about "how much of a drop".

      So, I now wonder, how much of a drop can CCP absorb, without being forced to resort to another round of layoffs?

      I also now wonder if CCP Dolan and CCP Bro were actually laid off, because of the reputed drop in subs since last year or the anticipated drop this summer - part of a quiet cost cutting measure?


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