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.
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Friday, April 8, 2011

Changing of the guard

CSM6 is up and running!  The Mittani, in particular, has wasted no time in giving interviews: three, that I know of.  Each has a different style and a different approach to the CSM6 Chairman.  It's a really smart move, and I'm not just saying that because staying public was something that I promised to do if I were elected to the CSM myself.  ;-)

There's this interview from Lost in EVE.

The questions are good but the tone of the interview comes off as just a little bit hostile at times.  TM handles the questions, even the leading ones, very gracefully.  And the questions that aren't leading are quite good, and lead to a very interesting series of discussions!  The interview starts at about the 50 minute mark, goes for 55 minutes in length, and in my opinion is the best of the three interviews.

However, Mittens does continue to make no bones about the fact that as far as he's concerned, the CSM is going to focus on 0.0 issues.  He states flat-out that as far as he's concerned, the people that voted for him or the other large 0.0 bloc members are his constituency and the people that didn't vote for him are not.  He's openly dismissive of a number of player constituencies, including Scrapheap Challenge, many blogs and pod-casts, and his predecessors on CSM5.  All of that said, though, he makes an intriguing point that a more powerful CSM helps all players, not just the ones living in 0.0.  And he does hammer again and again on the backlog, and the fact that there are dozens and dozens of issues that cut across every area of EVE, not just 0.0.  As I said, the interview is quite long, but it's worth your time.  Go give it a listen.

On the other end of the scale, there's this one from Rock Paper Shotgun.

It doesn't quite trip over the line into "fawning", but it's a fairly close thing.  The first half of the interview goes (again!) into the history of Goonfleet and Mittens's role in it.  If you are aware of this history, you can skip past all of this.  The first relevant question in terms of Mittens's new job starts "RPS: Why did you choose to run for the Council of Stellar Management?", so you can search for that to get to the relevant stuff.  After that, the interview becomes more interesting.  He mentions in both this interview and the LiE interview that the CSM5 Open Letter regarding Incarna was a mistake (something my own readers will know I agree with).

But the most interesting part of this second interview happens when Mittens is asked about leadership, and he has this to say:
It's essentially about delegation. People will show up and be good leaders, but they'll try and do everything, then they'll burn out, disappear and their alliance dies. For example, in Goonswarm we have a team structure. I'm the autocrat, but we have a finance team, a fleet commander team, a logistics team and so on, and these teams don't have heads. These teams simply work together to solve common problems, and that removes single person dependencies which are a huge problem in alliances.
In serious fiction, this is called foreshadowing.  ;-)  Watch for this kind of leadership structure to play a big part in CSM6.

In the middle is this third interview, from EVE Report.

If you have the time to devote to only one of the three interviews, this is probably the one.  It's a good summary of Mittens's various positions and ideas brought up in the first two interviews.  He does focus, however, on how CSM6 intends to be a lot more public and in front of the players than past CSMs have been:
We're going to be introducing a series of "State of the CSM" speeches where we give a short announcement of CSM6 activities (those that we can disclose) and spotlight issues we feel the community should be appraised of; after a brief talk, there will be a lengthy Q&A period for anyone who attends to ask us questions. We hope that this will improve player engagement and increase understanding of the CSM's role and capabilities to the player base and CCP.
Again, this is something I very much approve of, and it's a great idea.

All of this said, it's interesting for me from an outsider's perspective to compare the start of CSM5 and CSM6.  There are a lot of similarities, and CSM6 is attacking their role with all of the vigor that CSM5 showed early on, and more.  Will CCP actually respond in kind?  That remains to be seen.  CSM5 brought a ton of energy to the June 2010 Summit and found themselves being ignored and redirected at every turn.  They also approached that Summit with their own agenda items, which CCP more or less overrode with the things that they wanted to talk about rather than what CSM5 wanted to talk about.

Mittens jokes that if you bang your head against a brick wall enough, you'll only get a headache.  That brick wall is still there.  We'll have to wait until May to see if CSM6's unified approach makes any difference.

Whatever happened to the most hard-working, enthusiastic members of CSM5 after they hit that brick wall a few times?  Oh, that's right.  I remember now.  :-/


  1. I hope Mittens has a large supply of aspirin put up for what is going to be a very long year for him...unless he just gives up, says fuck it and goes the :chillbrosefs: route.

    What little I've seen in the internal CSM forums (CSM5 still has access for a week or so to aid in continuity) of his replies to serious CSM business suggests he could do a very damn good job...if CCP will play ball with him and the rest of CSM6 and not just blow smoke up their collective asses.

    Even if I'm out of EVE, I guess I still have a soft spot for the community and the CSM concept.

  2. Indeed.

    I wonder how much of the point of the "State of the CSM" speeches will be to rile up the players and in that way try to put pressure on CSM? Speaking as a negotiator, I can't see that tactic working -- CCP holds far too many of the cards -- but it would be damned interesting to see CSM6 try it.

    I'd love love love to hear from some of the other CSM6 members, but other than Seleene, they're all but silent. Even Trebor has had nothing to say lately.

  3. Yup Jester, noticed that too. I've had like two extremely brief (as in, 5 sentences) conversations with Treb since CSM6 winners were announced. No idea what that's about. I wouldn't read too much into it, though. CSM6 has hit the ground running with its plans; that much is quite clear from the post content on the internal forums. I think people are just busy keeping up and getting into the groove as this term ramps up.

  4. Hmmm. Mittens talks about delegation and how he's an autocrat who has teams do the work. If he continues that he'll be fine - he'll just let the others bang their heads against the wall.

    That's a pessimistic and negative comment, but I'm becoming less and less enamored with the CSM implementation. It bothers me that good people get elected, start with a positive attitude and energy, try hard, but finish their term with sounding negative and defeated. I'm starting to wonder if the early nay-sayers were right, that the CSM is just a publicity ploy of CCP. Given that CCP seems to ignore CSM raised items and redirect the CSM to CCP's own pet subjects, that opinion may be more accurate than I'd like to believe.

    I hope Mittens realizes that CCP may not see this CSM as having as much mandate as he'd like to think. As you point out, CCP holds he cards. Also, I won't repeat all the figures, but the voter turnout was still only a fraction of eligible voters, and high sec is where the large majority of toons live, and by extension paying accounts (even taking hi sec alts of 0.0 players into consideration). So if CSM6 walks into Iceland with a heavy null sec agenda, they should be prepared to have CCP continue to redirect them to other subjects because that's where CCP thinks CSM6's contribution is most relevant to CCP's goal, selling subscriptions for profit.

  5. I haven't forgotten why the Goons came to this game, which means my trust level for Mittens is low. I'm not sure his goals are benign from the perspective of the player base or from the perspective of CCP. However, I'm not 100% sure they're not, either.

    I bring this up to preface my statement of respect, when I say that Mittens appears to be an enormously clever politician. CCP? Not so much. They hold a lot of cards, sure. But they can still be outplayed.

    My history with the CSM is recent; it seemed pointless and toothless to me until Mynxee and crew ramrodded a bit of a public revolution starting with the dreadfully revealing minutes from the CSM5 summit. Suddenly for the first time I saw the CSM as a tool that can be wielded in pursuit of player interests. A blunt and unwieldy and ultimately ill-designed tool, sure -- but it's still the best tool we've got. And I think there's a "risk" (or "hope" depending on your goals and perspectives) that Mittens will take that tool and do something unprecedented with it. Is that good or bad? Kinda depends on what he does, and in whose interest. I'm looking forward to seeing.


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