A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to participate in Alekseyev Karrde's Declarations of War podcast and have a debate about CSM issues, between myself on one side and he and Hans Jagerblitzen on the other. I've said before that I'm not much of a podcast follower... with everything else I do, I often don't have a lot of time to listen to podcasts too. But I haven't been invited to be on a podcast since my CSM6 run and Heaven knows I was interested in this topic, so I agreed.
The invitation followed a string of previous posts about CSM7 where I'd been critical of their collective opinion of tech, super-caps, and their communications strategies. So I sat down and wrote down some notes about stuff I wanted to talk about, and topics that I figured would come up. When you're me, this is the sort of thing you do. ;-) I outline most of my blog posts before I write them and I felt like this should be no different. Here are the notes I went to the recording session with:
- Why isn't the CSM using more communications opportunities to talk to players?
- Why isn't the CSM being more publicly communicative in general? (CSM blogs, posting on Jita Park, interviews)
- Why does the CSM not announce town halls farther in advance? 4 days isn't enough
- Why isn't the next town hall (which should be in 3-5 weeks) being announced NOW?
- Why was "kicking the can down the road" not OK for Titans, but perfectly OK for tech?
- Change the make-up of nanotransistors or fullerides to not require platinum technite any more
- Alchemy just takes tech back one year, to the days before OTEC was price-fixing
- Doesn't solve the base problems at all
In a game that needs more conflict drivers, describing alchemy as a "nerf" for tech is rather ridiculous. It's worse than a nerf: it's the equivalent of a NASCAR yellow flag, making tech moons not really worth fighting for. In the meantime, everyone keeps driving but nobody passes. The incredible bank of these things just keeps going to the same dudes.
- CSM6's concerns about super-caps were just dropped
- Does this CSM really think "the genie is out of the bottle" and there's nothing to be done?
- Did Elise and Seleene really argue at the town hall that super-caps should be BUFFED?
- Perception is that people don't buy super-caps because they can't be used
- Instead of the real reason, they're too freakin' expensive for most players
- One Internet hiccup or computer freeze, and you're potentially out $1000 U.S.
- Also doesn't address the concern that supers now operate in enormous packs
- What happened to making super-carriers "super-carriers" instead of being good at everything?
- Players have too much ISK because the richest players on the CSM think the players have too much ISK
- There's such a thing as going TOO FAR over to CCP's side on this one
- The CSM should be doing a better job of holding CCP accountable, and tracking past action items
- How does the CSM feel about devs going directly to players and skipping the CSM?
- What does CSM7 see as their accomplishments to date?
I arrived on Skype at the proper time. Aleks greeted me and immediately asked if I minded if Seleene joined the discussion. "I'll understand if you say that's too many of us," he told me, "and we can have him on next time insteaad but he really wanted to talk to you." I laughed and said as a member of Rote Kapelle, I'm used to being blobbed. ;-)
The results can be found as the latest Declarations of War entry.
I was available for about two hours total, then had to leave to go to a fleet that I definitely was not going to miss. As a result, I had to leave rather abruptly, which I felt bad about. Still, it was a quite good discussion, I thought. Short version of a long pod-cast: we spent virtually the entire time on the first topic, CSM Communications, we unfortunately didn't discuss super-caps or player income at all, and only had about five minutes for tech. So my notes turned out to be wildly optimistic.
And as a result, the discussion is really basically a debate between three policy wonks about what we feel CSM communications policy should be. If you're into that, go listen. ;-)
In the process of the discussion, I made lots of concrete suggestions about things I feel like the CSM could be doing to communicate to more players more publicly, among them:
- If a CSM member has a blog, they should write at least one post a month saying what they're up to on the CSM. "Here are the things I did this month."
- Write a weekly "This week in the CSM" post on Jita Park with shorter notes about what the CSM did the previous week, blog posts, pod-cast appearances, links to significant forum posts, and the like.
- Create a place to find upcoming podcast or other appearances, upcoming activities, the next town hall, et cetera.
- Get back into the business of updating their entry on the EVE Online official wiki frequently with an activities page. Here's CSM6's.
- Share conversations that they're having with individual players more publicly. In other words, if Hans has a good discussion with three players about FW changes, he should ask permission to write about that conversation -- even briefly -- on his blog.
- Contact whole corps or alliances, ask to join their Teamspeak at some scheduled time, and chat with them about their concerns.
- Solicit interviews with gaming websites or an actual column on a gaming website similar to what former CSM members Mittens has at Ten Ton Hammer, White Tree has at mmorpg.com, and non-CSM member Nyphur has at Massively.
- I also shared examples of how The Mittani had used the "bully pulpit" of his CSM Chairmanship to nudge CCP in a direction he wanted them to go.
For their part, Aleks, Hans, and Seleene said that I have the ability to spin CSM activities positively or negatively and indicated they felt that I was going negative too often. They also said that if I'm going to complain about what CSM is or is not doing, I should at least ask them about it first. Hans did a particularly good job of it, so much so that when he was done I joked (Saving Private Ryan style), "Aleks, Seleene, this is how you bitch." And I have to admit that they had a point, and said so. As a group, I've probably been harder on CSM7 than they deserve.
Anyway, if you're interested, the whole conversation is out there. After a short introduction (I talk about how I got started playing EVE and how I got started blogging), the meat starts at about the 10 minute mark and goes through about an hour and sixteen minutes. As I said, then there's a short discussion about tech but unfortunately there really wasn't enough time to do the topic any sort of justice. I probably shouldn't have started the conversation at all, since I had to get to that fleet. ;-)
I want to write one other post about this, kind of putting this discussion I had with these CSM members in the larger context. I was particularly intrigued by what the three CSM7 members see as their goal and (they hope) eventual primary accomplishment as a group. But this post is already too long.
Thanks to Aleks for the invite to the podcast and thanks to he, Hans, and Seleene for arguing with me. I do like a good argument. ;-)