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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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Does it "concern" you, or does it "concern" you?

Time for a little detective story.  Unfinished.

Friday, CSM6 had a second meeting with Senior Producer CCP Zulu.  The contents of the meeting are under NDA, but the CSM went out of their way to put out a statement.  Here it is in full, and you can also find it on the new EVE Online forums.
The CSM met with EVE Senior Producer Zulu for a second time to discuss the current issues confronting EVE Online. We got more details of CCP's plans to address community concerns, some of which we agree with, and some of which concerns us. However, no final decisions have been made at this point.

CCP Zulu intends to publish a devblog next week to outline CCP's plans and solicit feedback from the community.
Something about this statement bugged me from the get-go.  The CSM had a meeting with CCP Zulu last week, and put out another statement saying much the same: they'd had a meeting, they were briefed on something, and then CSM6 decided to halt the media campaign that was just getting geared up before it even began.  Two step said of this on Failheap:
I find it amazing the sorts of crazy conclusions you guys are willing to jump to, but you haven't yet figured out what the obvious one is. You have been given 2 pieces of information:
1) We met with Arnar
2) We stopped our media campaign

I would have thought you guys would have figured it out by now, tbh...
Now, the "media campaign" that was gearing up was heavily based on the development time being spent on Incarna vis-à-vis the actual benefit that CCP was getting out of Incarna from actual subscriptions and players logged into the game.  And indeed, Two step also let slip that the first meeting with Arnar was specifically about "resource allocation."

Couple that with Mittens being unbelievably smug (even for him, hee) in the last week or so about wanting people to dismiss the CSM as being powerless, then saying:
Whatever. Soon the season of "suck it bitches" - where I rub what CSM6 has wrought in the faces of the doubters and paranoids of this forum - will begin. Ship session change timers, TiDi and the return of the hangar view/ship spinning (despite the 'mandatory' Incarna) is only the beginning.
That was the 15th, the day before the second meeting.  That post and Two step's post are both in a truly awful FHC thread about CSM6 activities, by the way.  I read it every day, but I'm embarrassed for a lot of people posting there.  There's some normally smart people there, and yes, there's a few intelligent posts, but mostly... not so much.  Just skim it for CSM6 member posts and you'll be happier.  Or don't.

Instead, let's go back to the CSM statement.  As I said, it bugged me right from the start.  I specifically tweeted:
Is there a reason for saying "We met with CCP people who we are elected to meet, but we can't say anything about it."? #csm6
I got a bunch of responses from Trebor and Mittens.  I'm not going to bother to repeat all of them.  But one jumped out at me, from Trebor:
@RipardTeg These kind of #csm6 meetings with Arnar are unprecedented, actually. I look forward to your analysis and predictions b4 devblog.
"The fuck?" I thought (yes, I did; Garth must have taken over my brain briefly).  "Analysis?  There's nothing to analyze.  To do analysis, you need data," I thought.  And then I said so, on Twitter.  And got this enigmatic little response, still from Trebor:
@RipardTeg You see, but you do not observe.
Then he went out of his way to make sure I understood that he'd written the statement.  That sent me over to my e-mail, to ping an old friend for some advice.  I don't know Trebor.  Never met the man.  And sometimes in communications -- a lot of times, actually -- you need to know the man to understand the message.  My friend does know Trebor, and she informs me that Trebor delights in word games, hidden messages, and references to movie and book quotes.  My friend makes it clear that she wouldn't put it past Trebor to drop a little coded message into the statement.  Great.  That sends me back to the statement.

The middle sentence jumps out at me:
We got more details of CCP's plans to address community concerns, some of which we agree with, and some of which concerns us.
And on second reading, that's unclear grammar at best, and poor grammar at worst.  The verb tense changes at least three times.  Very unlike Trebor, that.  I didn't notice it in my first read-through because the statement appeared to say nothing, so I took it for saying nothing.  Weird as it sounds, if you're going to refer to a set of "plans", you do it in the singular.  A set of plans is singular, not plural.  "We got more details of CCP's plans, some of which concern us" is the proper grammatical way of writing that sentence... except that it's not, because "got" is past tense.  "Concerns" is present tense(1), and so is "agree".

But Trebor wrote the statement.  And Trebor enjoys word games.  Let's assume he meant what he wrote.  Let's assume he knows the grammar is unclear, written that way.  That means we need to know what the definition of "concerns" is.  If the plural "concerns" is meant, then "us" has to refer to something plural: a group, say.  Deconstructing the sentence further, you'll note that it begins with the word "We".  "We" here is "the CSM" (it's their statement), and therefore so is "us".  Parse the sentence down to just those two clauses, and you get:
We got more details of CCP's plans, some of which concerns the CSM.
Which means the full sentence is actually saying:
We got more details of CCP's plans to address community concerns, some of which we agree with, and some of which concerns the CSM.
Other than the verb tense switch from past to present tense, that sentence is grammatically correct.  So, Trebor?  You wanted analysis?  Fine, there's some analysis.  It still depends on what the definition of the word "concerns" is: do the plans bother the CSM, or are the plans about the CSM?

Predictions, though?  Pah.  I'm already pretty far out on a very thin branch here.  But I will say again that Mittens has been smug even for Mittens lately.  And the CSM has dialed back their media campaign about CCP's resource allocation concerns.  And resource allocations are presumably CCP Zulu's job, as a game company Senior Producer.  Hmmm...


Very well: one small prediction.  The devblog early next week will announce that CCP is changing their resource allocation for 2012 back toward "flying in space" projects, and will ask for player base feedback on where the best places to start are.  And the CSM finally gets some public credit for getting CCP to change course.

Or, I might have just hit the brown acid again (as another member of CSM6 said of my tin-foil hat post).  ;-)  This whole blog post might be a castle built out of sticks that one Angry Bird could destroy.  You be the judge.  We'll know for sure when the devblog comes out.

Also, Trebor, you referred to CCP Zulu without his "CCP" in the first sentence after using it correctly in two other places.  But screw you: don't ask me to figure out what that means.  ;-)

(1) For those really interested in communications topics, "concerns" when used as a verb is what's called "third person singular simple present" tense.  But hardly anyone cares about the use of language these days.


  1. "You see, but you do not observe" is a famous quotation from the Sherlock Holmes story Scandal in Bohemia. However Trebor was not necessarily using it to provide a clue based on that story as the quotation is fairly widely used by English people often without awareness of the source.

    If it is just suggesting that we can draw an inference from the data available then the data available is this:
    1) CSM said they would rabble if they didn't get what they want.
    2) CSM has withdrawn its threat to rabble

    Therefore CSM has got what it wants.

    So it comes back to what have they asked for? Staff allocation and supercap nerf seem the big two.

  2. The comment above me is pretty much right on the money D3P0

  3. A set of a given party's plans is singular -- the subject being "set."
    The details of a given party's plans is plural -- the subject being "details."

    The "concerns" issue is a fascinating one, though.
    If Trebor -was- saying that some of the detailed concerned/regarded the CSM (rather than caused the CSM to experience concern), one must wonder whether those details overlap those details with which CSM agrees.

    I'll be watching to see how this all plays out.
    I like the way you think, Jester.

  4. If CCP is rearranging resource allocation towards FiS in 2012, that is perfectly in line with their planning of the past two years already. Even at Fanfest they made clear statements signalling that 2010 would be 1) the year where EVE would get a renewed strategic focus and 2) the year where CCP would pick up FiS again.

    Yeah, I know, there is a big divide between CCP's own understanding of their own statements over time and the realities that come out of their actions. But even from before Fanfest we've known that 2012 was the original timeline to "be done" with Dust 514 and have "kickstarted WoD" so that during that year they could embrace EVE on a development level again. With the caveat of having to provide gameplay for Incarna, that is.

  5. "Also, Trebor, you referred to CCP Zulu without his "CCP" in the first sentence after using it correctly in two other places. But screw you: don't ask me to figure out what that means."

    There is a very good reason for it -- it reads better that way!


    it seemed like the most appropriate thing to say

  7. con·cern/kənˈsərn/
    Verb: Relate to; be about.

    "We got more details of CCP's plans, some of which concerns the CSM."

    When I read that, I figured it was simply the case that "some portion of CCP's plans involve the CSM on the receiving end." e.g.: call off your stupid "media campaign" or we sue you (replace "sue" with "do nasty thing X" as satisfies your particular bent).

    The "I love unicorns and rainbows" side of me wants to say that it could be something good, e.g.: people keep saying that CCP sucks at messaging, so now CSM is going to be used for messaging (i.e.: the dialogue between CCP and players through CSM will be two-way), especially when it comes to Project X.

    But I speculate, and that's not what this blog entry is about.

    They met with Arnar. They called off their campaign. Because some of CCPs plans involve/relate to the CSM. CSM is keeping especially "mum" about it because they've had their wrists soundly slapped.

    And don't identify your source. Use "they" and "their". The singular in English always requires gender. Even better, structure the sentence to avoid using the third person at all. You got a message from your source. The message says …: now that you're speaking about the third person inanimate object, there's no risk of outing your source. Unless you intended to drop names, in which case apologies for trying to teach grandma to suck eggs :)

    And of course I can't help but suggest that Mittani is behaving as the consummate politician: if something goes right, claim the credit. When it goes wrong, don't comment.

  8. Despite any 'concern' the CSM might have, I think it's a safe assumption that we would all be turning the rhetoric up to 11 if our meetings with Zulu weren't on some level encouraging.

  9. I don't worry about language in detail because Stephen Fry told me not to.


  10. This CSM gets a lot of flak because Mittens is such a "colorful" personality but I have a feeling that CSM6 is going to be, by far, the most effective CSM we've ever had.

  11. Is there anything so important that we have to know now instead of tomorrow? It seems to me that Trebor is just fooling about.

  12. The long and short of it seems to work like a ransom:

    "They want x, else they would do y"
    "Y has been withdrawn, therefore they have accepted x."

    I think tea is basically saying "We've won; we can publically admit that we've won (else it would look like that the CSM had to fight to get something that seemed so obvious and would make out CCP to be the 'bad guy' that had to be 'defeated') - now we have to wait for CCP to write an offical post saying that we've won so we can sit back and be all smug"

    Either way it seems like some sort of victory; how much of a victory and how long it takes to implement will be another thing...

  13. "I read it every day, but I'm embarrassed for a lot of people posting there." I'm with you all the way here, and have been for a while.


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