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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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Deliberately, purposefully

It's got to be just a little bit annoying to be a certain Goon on the CSM right now.

Everything is going so well, after all.  The players spent all year collectively screaming at CCP and that screaming finally made itself heard.  CSM6 was asked to come to an emergency summit in Iceland to start to deal with player discontent.  Mittens went on what was essentially a crusade against Incarna, making it clear that the players didn't want it and CCP wasn't seeing any business benefit from it anyway, so it should just be dumped.  And between that crusade, the player support for it by turning off the CQ en masse, and the technical challenges of actually delivering Incarna, CCP folded its hand.  The bad news of the lay-off aside, every other piece of news coming out of Reyk has been incredibly good news for Mittens.

"Trebor's updated the list of reasons why you should get out your kneepads," Mittens wrote on Failheap, and yes, he meant that in exactly the crude way it sounds.  ;-)  He then added that he'd have to "unironically stump for Trebor" come the CSM7 election season.

With CCP turned definitively back toward spaceships, Mittens apparently decided that he was really being too responsible and mature(1) and turned his attention back to doing Goony sorts of things.  The response has been electric, and has given Mittens even more reasons to smile.  Those that aren't freaking out about getting blown up are freaking out because the Chairman of the CSM -- the Chairman -- is the one blowing people up!  And encouraging others to do the same!  In my EVE!  Can you imagine?

Needless to say, Mittens was delighted at the response.  The :smug: has been strong, but he's also cheerfully made inside jokes about it ranging across the geek reference spectrum from 1984 to Arthur C. Clarke's 2010.

The very same Trebor even decided to try to make a little bit of political hay over the issue.  If tears could be sold for money, Mittens could retire for a second time.  And if all of that wasn't enough good news for Mittens, his new least favorite person on the CSM, Darius III, also managed to completely marginalize himself.

The CSM December Summit is rapidly approaching, and there was every indication that it was going to essentially be a victory lap.  The CSM could graciously acknowledge that CCP was taking player concerns about spaceships seriously.  Once that was done, the entire summit could then be turned toward what to do with all those newly freed-up developers and the total lack of concrete plans for 2012.  Life was looking very, very good.

Until the whiners got themselves an unexpected ally.

[sweeps plate of cookies off table]
Agent Smith: Maybe you knew I was going to do that, maybe you didn't. If you did, that means you baked those cookies and set that plate right there deliberately, purposefully. Which means you're sitting there also deliberately, purposefully.

During the interview Hilmar Pétursson gave Eurogamer last week, the following question came up:
Eurogamer: The Council of Stellar Management [CSM] has been increasingly vocal and rebellious in recent months. What's your relationship with them like at the moment - your personal feelings and those of the company as a whole?
Now let's be clear.  This was one of the last questions in the interview, and other than the leading wording, it was meant to be a softball.  That's how you close out interviews like this, with a few easy, low-impact questions to relax the interviewee.  It would have been the easiest thing in the world for Hilmar to reply with platitudes.  Something like this was probably what the interviewer expected:
Hilmar Pétursson: The CSM has been and continues to be a valuable aspect of how we receive player feedback.  If they've been more vocal than normal this year, that's just a reflection of our players, who have also been quite vocal about how we can become a better company.  We appreciate their continued support as we look for ways to make EVE a better game, and their input will be one of many important factors as we get focused on our plans for next year.
It would have been the easiest thing to say in the world.  But Hilmar didn't say that... did he?

No, here's Hilmar's actual response:
Hilmar Pétursson: The CSM has been under constant evolution based on what's going on in the current environment, what's going on with CCP and Eve, who's on the Council and all that. The CSM has helped greatly through the years in getting feedback for aspects of the game.

But some of my concerns right now relate to whether the CSM is maybe focused on a particular aspect of the game and I'm starting to get feedback from players that they worry the CSM is too pre-occupied by a certain playstyle. That might mean we may need to change the structure, but definitely the CSM has worked as a feedback tool greatly throughout the years. We will have them over at the end of the year, after everything that's gone on, and we will have a chance to talk about that. We'll just see where we are and take it from there.
Baaaaahahahahahaha.  Man oh man.  I would have loved to have seen the interviewer's face when he was gifted with this particular pillar of flame in response to a softball question.  Even the one sentence that sounds conciiliatory about how the "CSM has helped greatly" is tagged with the qualifier "through the years."  That qualifier is so important to him that Hilmar uses it twice.  The message is pretty clear: yeah, the CSM has been helpful... but maybe not so much this CSM, who are "pre-occupied by a certain playstyle."  Therefore, CCP "may need to change the structure" of the CSM. 

Hilmar had to know the softball way that question was intended, and while he didn't go full Viking in his response, the response he did go with makes it clear that this is the second CSM in a row that's annoyed him late in their term.   ;-)  And he did it knowing that the interview was going to go public only a month or so before the December summit.

It was done deliberately... purposefully.

Mittens's good mood has been a bit more... subdued lately.  The discussion about CSM7 on Twitter and various fora has now turned from whether a good portion of CSM6 will be reelected in toto over to how the election mechanic itself should be changed to ensure that doesn't happen.  Mittens has even been spotted arguing that CSM members who live in null-sec full-time don't really count if they live in null-sec full-time somewhere other than "the DCF".  ;-)  While he's gotten support from a few unexpected quarters, it's clear that the tenor of the December summit will be a little less victory lap than he was probably hoping for.

How should the election mechanic be changed?  Well, there's one idea that appeals to me, but let's talk about that in a day or two.

POSTSCRIPT EDIT (27/Oct/2011): Two sources for that Mittens reference (note that it is not a quote): here and here.  Trebor is in Dirt Nap Squad (and was previously in Initiative Mercenaries).  Meissa is in Rooks and Kings.  All three are alliances that operate in null.  Two Step lives in a WH, which is considered by players living in high-sec to be effectively null space, not high-sec space.

POSTSCRIPT TO THE POSTSCRIPT: Rooks and Kings operates freely in null, low-sec, and WH space, but apparently actually lives in low-sec, something I didn't know.  I apologize for the error.

(1) I kid, I kid.  ;-)


  1. Oh if only he'd bitten his tongue or truly seen the error of his ways it could have been so good. But no, he kinda ruined the good mood of getting back into FiS with that interview.

    The very body Hilmar was instrumental in setting up and wanted feedback from, he now wants to muzzle. *sigh*

    Is there no-one left at CCP who can do interviews and not bitch about players / CSM?

  2. I don't think it was a coincidence that Screegs got fired in the purge.

  3. Would we be remiss to say that suddenly CCP is looking to have "different playstyles" represented equally in the CSM? It would certainly seem true that those that live in null-sec make the news more often than those who participate in bear-like activities. Thusly you have higher-profile people in certain playstyles that can drive conversations based on their public exposure.

    How do you do mitigate that other than to have candidates who claim to represent a certain playstyle? Off the top of my head:

    Faction Warfare
    Industry (Mining, Invention, Manufacturing)

    Just to name a few. If you had CSM members that were more representative (do any of the CSM participate in FW?) of all of EVE (as they're kinda supposed to be) would CCP be getting better feedback? What about roleplayers?

    Once you start having this conversation you stand to bring out a part of the playerbase that is often insulted and marginalized. This might be a good thing, but it might also make it far more noisy in the CSM and cloud a lot of good feedback.

  4. Just proving the point that Hilmar was lying when he said that he loves it when players call Bullshit on them.

  5. If the carebears want more representation on the CSM then they are going to have to actually start voting. Less then 15% of the eve population voted for CSM6. You only need to scrape together 2,000 votes to get on the CSM. If they can't organize that, then why do they deserve to have a voice in the first place?

  6. Yep, each seat in CSM should represent a particular aspect of EvE community/playstyle, so if Goons want to have majority they better get elected in each category,and they should not be able to vote more than once per account. Imagine headaches in organizing this kind of coup. It must happen, because even though Eve was burning this year, it was not because of CSM Goons initiative, it was because of Incarna. Mittens was just able to capitalize on it.

  7. Personally I think you are reading too much into Hilmar's response. To me it seems more like a statement someone makes that has learned not to overly commit to a line in the sand and then regret it later. Nothing he said there is remotely negative unless you are looking for it to be so. It isn't quantifiable, it is purely subjective. It is, in other terms, a political answer. Which is, in my humble opinion, the only option left to him right now given the changing environment, the lay-offs and the general mood of the subscriber base.

  8. Hilmar might want to remember that getting want you want isn't always the best thing. Mittens's has only been effective as CSM chair (and the CSM generally) because he combined his influence outside the CSM with his official channels within the CSM. CSM 5 had the same official channels but aside from highlighting the same issues failed to get changes because as individuals they were respected but not terribly influential (or feared as it were) on the scale Mittens has proven to be. His articles on TTH and leadership of the Goons has provided him with the ability to raise the stakes on CCP management throughout the year.

    His willingness to actually go on record defending INCARNA before it's release shows that he has the personal savvy to understand the politics beyond just ranting full speed ahead as many internet "politicians" are wont to do. If I was an oracle I'd say he put that article out there "deliberately", "purposefully".

    Mittens influence doesn't go away if CCP management makes a heavy handed effort to get rid of him --- it only reinforces the strength he has outside of the official channels at this point. He doesn't need Hilmar's blessing. Remember, in bringing him out and putting him front and center on video with the lead developer CCP legitimized his criticisms and suggestions.

    Regardless of whether he is liked or not Mittens has established himself in a position of influence beyond anything that CCP thought they would get when they formed the CSM. It's a clever meta-game --- if CCP management had learned it they might not be losing their space.

  9. Even if you accept that the format / voting system needs tweaking to better represent all the play styles then you're still left with his "across the years" comment.

    At the very best its a snub with no thanks for CSM6 who pointed out (again and again) the error of CCP's ways? Poor. Very poor.

    I admit it's only a small thing this whole slander / poor comment thing but on top of recent events it just re-opens the wound just as it was healing.

  10. @Mike: Are you sure?


    His EVE Online website profile is now blank, which matches the profiles of the other 20%.

  11. we should also remember that alot of hisec carebears are often newer players who don't know what the CSM is or even that they have input on it...most definately there should be heavy hisec rep on the CSM...after all my understanding is that most EVE players call hisec home

  12. The problem with the other playstyles is the nature of the playstyles themselves. Null-sec alliances have thousands of ears that get Evemails, check forums, and participate in the broader conversation.

    Most bears are NOT as well organized. They largely stick to themselves and participate in a way that they enjoy. This doesn't involve being organized to large voting blocks. Nevertheless, I think I would welcome a change to the voting style that has a certain "slot". You can run for the "Industry" CSM slot or the "Null-Sec" slot and be representative of that playstyle. This would still maintain the element of being elected with the "popular vote". Each CSM could develop some serious "tribal knowledge" (heh, heh) that would help the CSM as a whole.

  13. According to this link he was not fired, it was always blank.


  14. Don't forget the challenge on Nitrogen Isotopes: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=194277#post194277

  15. Sreegs is sadly on the CSM skype, and has not been fired. He is a lazy bum, which is why he hasn't bothered to fill out his profile thing

  16. I agree with the statement that CSM was positive for Eve over the years (and I'm not excluding the last term here).

    I can't see how discussing possible changes on the CSM format could be anything other than a waste of time.

    No matter how you change the elections, it will be prone for metagaming, and metagamed it will.

    On the other hand, if you decide to make bigger changes that somehow prevent influential people to find a place there, you may end up having those people boicoting the system.

    On a tangent subject, there is another, rather small, question on that interview that got me quite interested:
    "Eurogamer: Did you ever identify the people who were leaking?
    Hilmar Pétursson: That's a very complicated question to answer because there are a lot of legal matters involved - so I would choose not to comment on that."

    I think Hilmar would only answer that if there is a legal aspect of it that CCP would just rather avoid, so I'm betting on two possibilities:
    - CCP decided not look for the culprit(s), for various reasons.
    - CCP did find the person, but decided not to use all legal actions they could, suing the person for instance.

  17. This piece sounds a lot like wishful thinking.

  18. @Annon1234
    "On the other hand, if you decide to make bigger changes that somehow prevent influential people to find a place there, you may end up having those people boicoting the system."

    Good, usually those who seek the position have their own agenda anyway. The best person for a job is usually someone who is impartial to it and not prone to the power/publicity abuse. Screw all that political crap, power to the players.

  19. I don't know where you get your tinfoil, from, Jester. Sometimes you have a useful blog about subscriber curves, sometimes you put 1200mms on a Tornado.

    "Mittens has even been spotted arguing that CSM members who live in null-sec full-time don't really count if they live in null-sec full-time somewhere other than "the DCF". ;-)"

    What? Where?

    By the time the end of the CSM6 term rolls around I will have already accomplished my agenda. Hell, 80% of my agenda already /is/ accomplished, and the term is only half over.

    I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel throwing out my crazy, shoot-for-the-moon ideas like destructible outposts, things in the category of "I bet I'd never get this in, but fuck it, why not."

    Anyway, while I do love an article all about me, next time you might want to actually talk to me about it first so you don't look like an idiot.

  20. Further comments, since you fucked this one up:

    DSJ's comment was savvy.

    Sreegs wasn't fired.

    There's no way to change the CSM in a way which would minimize my influence (save banning me outright) because my influence comes through charisma and the ability to persuade people to my point of view, rather than stacking votes.

    The CSM doesn't work based on formalized voting.

    A lot of whines about ~evil goon influence~ are either from aspies who don't understand how human interaction works, or amount go 'nerf attractive, charismatic people with a modicum of social graces'.

    In CSM7 Goonswarm will only be running one candidate; Vile Rat is going to step down after one term. We don't /need/ to stack the CSM to ensure our voice is heard; we need a few rounds of Kaldi at Islenskibarrin with some chill devs, and perhaps to dance on tables at Barbra. That's how politics works.

  21. @Mittens: I was thinking of this:
    : And, the truth is, most of the 'null' CSM folks that feed your conspiracy theories are relatively inactive. Trebor, Two Step and Meissa are incredibly active in CSM6, and they hail from no alliance - Wormholes, Hiseccers and Lowsec. And working with them, the active null reps have gotten a lot done.

    and this:
    : I don't really care, because the 'null sec slant' is, in practice, a chimera. Some of the most active people in CSM6 aren't necessarily from nullsec- Trebor, Meissa, and Two Step - and I work with them very closely on a daily basis.

    Though you've said much the same thing in other places as well.

  22. @Mittens: And this isn't about Goons, specifically, I don't think (though that's a nice excuse for some people to think so). It's more about null and the null-sec "playstyle", as Hilmar puts it.

  23. Christ, Jester. Your LAWN is showing.

    DNS isn't a 'large nullsec alliance', they're a tiny gimmick group that drops stealth bombers on things. That's all they do.

    Rooks and Kings is a lowsec/wormhole alliance.

    I just don't even know.


  24. Now who's misquoting? Where did I say "large"?

    Now who's misrepresenting? I haven't been in LAWN for months. Even if I was, the last time I checked, LAWN were your allies.

  25. "Two Step lives in a WH, which is considered by players living in high-sec to be effectively null space"

    what is this i don't even

    wormhole space is considered wormhole space

    hisec is hisec

    low is low

    nullsec is nullsec

    i give up. trebor began the term as a hisec rep, then he wandered into w-space and now is dropping on random crap in stealth bombers with DNS (a useful example of the foolishness of 'silo the csm' arguments).

    two-step lives in a wormhole.

    R&K is a hybrid lowsec alliance basing out of aridia that derps around in wormholes a lot, and frequently clashes with AHARM, Two Step's people. this is also why their killboard shows kills from all over null, because they pop out of wspace, roam around, and hop back in.


  26. umad bro?

    (I've always wanted to do that. :-D )

    One more time, 'cause you're not getting it: none of the places you mention -- FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF SOMEONE LIVING IN HIGH-SEC -- is considered high-sec EVE play.

    No matter how much you try to distance Two Step, Meissa, and Trebor from the rest of the CSM in this regard, the fact is that with very minor exceptions, all 14 CSM members who play EVE play it much the same way.

    Look at it from a purely high-sec player's perspective for a second. That's why I qualified my statement with "which is considered by players living in high-sec."

  27. Jester, if you were still in highsec I'd almost have thought you were purposefully, deliberately pitching yourself against mittens to garner the anti-goon, anti-null, highsec carebear vote.

  28. What this is, is a combination of Hilmar and what few genuinely engaged non-null players there are noticing (or believing) that this year the CSM demonstrated it can wield influence rather than just make a great promotional tool and community salve. Hilmar doesn't like it, and those players not onboard don't like that they're missing out. Someone else has already pointed out that the nature of a vote is, if a candidate is to win, they need votes, and if carebears or anyone else can not mobilise those votes while someone else can, that is their failure not the systems. No matter how you cut it, whoever earns the votes wins the vote.

    It is very true that this CSM is null oriented. Because null voted it in, because null players are the ones who give a shit, contrasted with perpetual mission runners with channel windows minimised and others generally disconnected with EVE despite playing it. Are you going to implement a weighted system so that a carebear candidate's votes are worth ten of a null residents, or so there are roles in the CSM the candidates for which must be from a given area of play that we are all forced to vote in? Where would that persons mandate be, who do they represent, where is the general support for their platform? It renders the whole idea of the CSM pointless, not only would it represent no-one but it would become a talking shop where nobody can agree on anything mostly because nobody would have a clue what the others were talking about.

  29. @Mike: Nah, Trebor's going after that voting bloc (such as it is) quite effectively.

  30. Darius III spends time in highsec as well (scanning ships for his suicide gank squad)... :)

    I also would point out that I have a couple of alts that build stuff in Highsec, plus Meissa spends a lot of time building stuff in Highsec as well.

  31. I think the machine is currently working as intended... Null sec concerns have been foremost with the recent CSM not just because of who runs it, but because from all the things I have heard, null sec really needs it.

    As far as the CCP comment made about other people's voices and play styles, it's important to realize that the decisions made by the CSM and CCP can't always be tilted toward the null sec side of the game or the game will cease to be accessible to newer or casual players.(but it's also important to realize that newer and casual players don't vote or don't vote accurately)

  32. @Mittani: to hisec dwellers, wormhole space is considered "null sec without the arseholes". The arseholes of course being the big alliance types who aren't interested in making new friends (or only make new friends in order to lure folks into null for the purpose of mugging them to pad out their kill-board efficiency stats), the bored super cap pilots who drop super carriers and titans on low sec BS-gang POS bashes, and constantly whining that null sec can't be "self contained" while simultaneously ragging on anyone who engages in non-PvP activities in null sec (and insisting that people listing products on null sec markets keep within a percentage of Jita prices — WTF?).

    From the point of view of people living in hisec or low sec, w-space is null sec: the system security is zero. It's different to connected null sec in k-space because you won't get hot dropped by capital blobs when knocking down someone's POS with a fleet of battleships. It's different to k-space null sec because you don't have local to tell you that there's an AFK cloaked in system. But it's still 0.0 space, which from the perspective of high and low sec dwellers means there are different rules that apply (bubbles, for example).

    So Jester is right, as Obi-Wan Kenobi said, "from a certain point of view". Your agreeing or disagreeing with that point of view is irrelevant.

    Why don't you be constructive and write up your own perspective on Hilmar's comments?

  33. Gotta disagree with um...one of the Anonymous commenters. Adding a play-style (that hyphen is for you Jester) seat in the CSM doesn't make the CSM pointless but creates a CSM that can at least on its face be concerned with all areas of the game equally. More importantly, when considering large-scale changes, it enables the CSM to have people who should be experts in the butterfly effect of their ideas in other parts of the game.

    High-sec residents pay their subscriptions too. And to marginalize them because they have their channel windows closed is pretty closed-minded.

    Mittens very rightly pointed out that getting elected to the CSM has more to do with an ability to communicate, persuade, and bring a list of ideas to bear. Now the bears want to be sure that they can bring their list to, uh, bear. They've seen it work for the null residents and now are looking for their share of the power pie.

  34. Mandating seats based on "play-style" is completely irrelevant to the larger discussion and issues. If you mandate someone from High-security, or WH, or anywhere else you are certain to get a diversity of opinions --- opinions that in the long run are meaningless. Meaningless not because the play-styles don't matter but meaningless in that CCP would only be soliciting the opinions for the purpose of providing them with a cover for decisions they want to make --- which is exactly what CSM's 1-4 were. CSM 5 began to change the dynamic and those elected to it moved in the direction of true representatives rather than just political cover for CCP ... that is actually a dangerous thing for any company. I would argue that CSM 6 saved CCP's collective asses here. The INCARNA / NEX issue was going to blow up. When push came to shove they had people on the CSM that both were willing to talk people down off the ledge (albeit at a price in setting priorities) and also had the credibility to so.

    The root cause of these issues is not a too powerful CSM or a lack of diversity in opinion --- it's the consistent failure by CCP to listen to the best of what CSM's past had to say. Every single issue that has lost CCP subscriptions was discussed 6-9-12 months prior to the fiasco. If CCP doesn't like a straight up democracy of the players voting for CSM delegates then wait until the next time when they are left entirely to the democracy of the free market.

  35. @dsj
    You sound like Mitten's mouthpiece, my friend. Or at least one of the Goons,because your low view about high sec dwellers is obvious. Just remember there are more people there than in null and no amount of ganking is going change that.

  36. If high-sec players want high-sec representatives, they can VOTE FOR THEM.

    Why this is hard to understand? We've got democracy in action - those who care, vote. Don't fuck that up.

  37. I think the major problem with expecting hisec to 'band together' and vote like null is the fact that null was banded BEFORE elections. Goonfleet existed, had lines of command and communications in place.

    A disorderly mob is no more an army than a heap of building materials is a house - Socrates.

    Hisec is the bricks of a force to be reckoned with but they are not assembled.

    I have yet to see any proposal to allocate responsibilities within the CSM to represent all aspects of play that could not be gamed or politicked into submission.

    The one thing you did miss, Jester, is that the CSM has that lovely list of 'reasons to go down on our knees' but no proof. No minutes, no record, just them taking a bow as CCP rolls out the buffet. From the outside it is the equivalent of them taking credit for sunsets and the tide receeding. "We planned that and fought for it . . . trust us"


  38. Mandating 'play style' districts is pointless in a game that exemplifies (and glorifies) strategic deception.

  39. "Oh no," say the hisec bears, "it's not fair! Nullsec players(read: mittens' private army) are already organized and already have lines of communication and coordination and pay attention to chat channels. We want that too, but we don't want to have to go through the effort of doing it ourselves. So let's penalize the people who are!"

  40. I agree with the commenters stating that pigeonholing the CSM won't dissolve The Mittani's influence he has built using in-game and the out-of-game channels. I believe it is CCP's own marketing department who needs to counter that if the company deems it necessary. Besides, other media channels exist and are being influenced besides the Spy Master column.

    If I was able to snatch a seat on the CSM and even get some RP and "bear" themed issues discussed on the summits, then every seasoned player can. Just as high-sec has a play-style different than other areas of space, the c a m p a i g n i n g is different; it's the Obama way versus Grand Old Party.

    Also, high-sec is not as homogenous in itself as the presumably shared opposition of its inhabitants to alliance meta-gaming may suggest. War deccing, "consensual PvP", PvE, ganking, (RP), (FW) -- the individual stance on such issues allows for a lot of different candidate profiles.

  41. Jester, let's be honest for a moment :P

    Mittens, nor anyone with a preset unilateral focus that is on the CSM has any reason for any concerns whatsoever.

    A few simple reasons.

    1. CCP is rooted in style over substance, particularly in matters EVE where substance evolved to come from players rather than the company (and rightly so, considering the emergant dynamic).

    2. CCP is rooted in a very slow evolution regardless of topic or focus.

    3. CCP is rooted in a very personally determined evolution regardless of topic or focus.

    4. CCP has a direct interest in evolving concepts like CSM towards a combined exposure / advocacy focus, as opposed to the established devolution from stakeholder to feedback group which still gave a tremendous amount of headaches (justified, but remember the mindset of a fair few at CCP in regards to players).

    I can go on, but there's a few simple things. I'm not even mentioning Hilmar's own statements of "the power of CSM is what it chooses to be".

    The only cause for lobby concerns would be structural changes. Welcome to CCP, I should say at this point, not gonna happen. Symptomatic, symbolic, superficial, style, sure. Structural, lol no.


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