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, September 21, 2012

Declarations of war

Two quick CSM7 posts, of which this is one.

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:
Town halls/communications
  • 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?

Player income
  • 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.
I tried to present each of these as examples of things and repeatedly stated "I don't care which ones you use, just pick a few of them and run with them."  All three CSM members present were uncomfortable with that last suggestion, but they acknowledged that CSM7 can improve in this regard overall.  So that was a nice net positive.

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.  ;-)


  1. I see this podcast as fairly representative of the current CSM.

    If the CSM spends most of its time arguing with players - which I see as a major failure of communication, in of itself - and defending themselves against negative public opinion, then what time does it allot for actually dealing with the actual game issues?

    Not much, I'd guess.

    And, isn't this sort of self-defeating? The less time you spend on the real issues, the more time you'll end up spending arguing and defending yourself against even more negative criticism.

    1. This comment is spot on.

      Three things i'm gonna say:

      1. I'm glad i didn't vote for Alek.
      2. I'm sort of dissapointed about my Two Step vote.
      3. Hans may get my two votes on the next CSM elections, that is, if i vote at all.

      I feel like CSM7's only true acomplishment is 165 pages of overrated and inconclusive hype.

    2. You're absolutely right, spending time defending attacks about how nothing is going on IS distracting from working on real issues. What very few people have mentioned in all of this is the timeline of a CSM's term - the life cycle, so to speak. You enter office, have a month before the first expansion's release, than you go to a summit, take some time to write the minutes, than CCP shuts down for almost two months, than they pop back into the office and the next 6 months are where 90% of the work during a term gets done. Inferno was in large part due to the work CSM6 put in, just as winter and spring expansions will be the result of the work CSM7 puts in the next 6 months.

      But before we've even seen the results of this, players are quick to rush in and declare us a lame duck. Its frustrating, and waste of time to constantly be dealing with complaints instead of players like Ripard Teg actually coming and talking to us about the issues that will affect the next two expansion (Thankfully, he promised to do so in the future instead of just using his blog to vent).

      But we can either try to explain all this to the public and risk being called defensive, or we just let people spew about our lack of worth and discourage even more players from getting involved with CSM activities and helping to improve the situation.

      Have we been verbally defensive recently? Absolutely! But this is because its frustrating that players want to ignore the timeline events and do the easy thing which is to complain about the CSM. If you want to see how we respond to criticism - look at what we DO not what we say. I've already done exactly what many players have suggested recently - stepped up the blogging, and reporting of events in detail. Seleene has a regularly-attended to Q&A on the forums and has been extremely accessible to the players in Jita Park. This is a trend that will continue now that we're in the most productive phase of our term. I appreciate those players that HAVE been respectful of this timeline and used their time to come give us constructive suggestions instead of just hand-wringing and finger pointing in public.

    3. @Hans - unless you consider yourselves to actually *be* politicians, then you don't *deal* with complaints about your performance, or lack thereof. It is useless and unproductive to spend your time in office, campaigning for and worrying about getting elected to another term of office. (And, yes, this is a criticism of RL politicians, as well.)

      Let people spew - they'll do it anyways. Ignore it and just *do* the damn job. If you are focused and constructively productive on the issues of concern to players, you'll encourage players to participate, gain the respect of your critics, *and* you'll get re-elected. No doubt about it.

      Also, stop defending the CSM as a whole. You aren't a political party or a government.

      The fact is that only a few of you - incl. Seleene and yourself - have been somewhat productive. Aleks, on the other hand, has been almost entirely counter-productive from the start - his insulting attitude towards players, in forums and blogs, has undone any attempts to garner goodwill/support for the current CSM. As for the rest of the CSM members, summed as a group, they contribute less info/feedback than many players do on the forums - and usually only respond when specifically targeted for criticism.

      As for the timeline excuse, utterly lame. Don't ever use it again. You are not CCP employees and you don't work based on CCP's release schedule. Players want CSM members to be pro-active, not just reactive. If you feel that you can't be fully productive, during the entire term, then step down and let someone else take a shot at doing the job.

    4. There are people who don't really know how to handle the situation Hans. Some of the CSMers are quick to get into arguments about seemingly pointless and quickly dismissable issues with already established personalities, Fortunes! save random comments, constituents, trolls and the like. Worse comes to worse, they end up over-dimensioning the topic.

      IMHO, you are handling well, and your reply here proves that. Might be some bias in this last statement though ;-)

  2. On thing ... anyone writing about eve might be intimidated by the fact that frequently Jester's Trek shows up as the 4 newest posts for the Eve Blog Pack. I honestly look at the top 5 newest at least once a day and I have never seen you not on it.

    1. heh. i'm not intimidated. once in a while i'll go on a mad blogging spree and then go fallow for months. Besides, all my friends know i'm wrong more often than i'm right...i think that's something that 'intimidates' me from blogging my opinion on matters as much as Jester.

      besides, i'm a horrible EFT warrior. Oh and i LOVE mining. i'm sure that's enough to send bittervets screaming from my blog. lol

  3. "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."

    Or if they communicated what was going on, both issues would be resolved. >.>

  4. I listened to the podcast and I thought some progress had been made considering how... adversarial the conversation was getting. Though I have to say it's pretty poor class to talk behind a guest's back after they leave on a public podcast even if said guest is critical of their work.

  5. Eve players voracious desire for intel will never be satisfied by any CSM.
    The rock and hard place graphic still holds true; with a law binding NDA being a very hard place for the rock of player opinion to be repeatedly applied against, often with unstoppable force - to mash metaphors.

    Jester asks the questions we want answers to, that’s why his blog is popular. but the CSM has to respond to negative press in the same way that is in a governing body’s best interests to respond to a dispirited market bullied by negative reporting.
    Bottom line is JT is influential and needed to be addressed. Sounds to me that they’re all good sports playing the game well.

  6. It's a shame that Seleene doesn't put the same amount of effort into trying to actually enlighten and inform the electorate of what CSM 7 is doing that he does into trying to prove to you that he's doing just as good a job (if not better) than Mittens. And if he's not, let's throw people under the bus!

    Actually, could apply to any of the three on that podcast (not so much Hans, but then again he's plucky so I could be biased)and indeed to the whole CSM.

    If I wasn't already completely disheartened with CSM 7, I would be now. I'm looking forward to next election season.

  7. Wow, what a group of whining CSM members. I couldn't believe how sniping and adversarial they were being. They should be ashamed of how they conducted themselves on this podcast. Though they are 3 of the best members of the current CSM and in the past I've had high respect for them, I lost a bit of respect for each of them today.

    1. If the CSM members spent as much time working on the problems in game as they did trying to cover their collective behinds in this podcast, they might actually accomplish something.

      Talk about spaceship politicians! They are here...

  8. I think they missed the point on why we're so upset with them on communication. They mentioned all these ways they are putting information out there, and I guess that's wonderful. But if I can't find it it's useless.

    There answer seemed to be, "Jester, buddy, you can ask us what we are doing and then blog about it.". Which is nice and everything if you actually do it. But if you don't, I have the exact same problem, no easy to find reference of all the stuff they are doing. Ultimately it is their responsibility to tell the playerbase what they are doing. And like it or not, if they are going to use a wide range of media outlets they need to keep a central repository somewhere of links to all those places.

    Because I only have so many hours in a week to devote to reading news on Eve, and I'm not going to do Google searches every day for each possible permutation of where the CSM could be doling out info today.

    1. exactly. there's a very good reason i avoid forums. On Jester's blog there's a real risk a troll is going to be completely trounced by players who actually play the game, and play it well, not just drag people down to their level and beat them with experience.

      The whole "well, we talk to people in game, post to CSM forum, hold this and that conference yadda yadda and if you want to find us it's there not a stuffy ivory tower blog" spiel is tired and overplayed.

      Consistent blogging, even once a week (is that so hard?) paints a very strong picture. I know exactly where Jester stands regarding issues (and what issues he ignores)

      Sadly, I doubt our community of players will mature enough...there's just too much emphasis by CCP on kicking sand in pixelated faces and nerfing the flavour of the month 'exploit' "feature" (unintended easter egg)

      Intelligent players of mmogs realize these yahoos spend more time sticking fingers in dykes than obeying the 'seven Ps' (proper planning and preparation prevents piss poor performance)

    2. Go ahead and throw my blog into your Google reader or other form of syndication. As I indicated in the podcast, I'll be happily providing this centralized communication (there is already a summary of all events since the summit) and you can expect to see similar posts rolling out in the coming weeks as our work with CCP continues to accelerate now that we're in the busiest season of our term.

    3. Would you trust an official CSM info channel? I'd be more leery of that than I am of boxing mitt's site.
      The searches are vital to sift the scuttlebutt from profit unless you are content to be told what to think.

  9. CSM if you happen to read this comment please take note.

    It isn't the public's job to ASK certain CSM members what is going on. It falls under YOUR belt's to inform the people who voted for you.

    I read jester's blog everyday. I don't agree with everything Ripard says. I do however feel very discouraged with the lack of a CENTRAL source of communication dialog.

    Just my two cents.

  10. Kinda disgraced by the way Aleks acted. He was abrasive, argumentative and just wanted a fight. Once the "shoutouts" were done, they went on the attack with Aleks leading the charge.

    Hans I was impressed with, he was pleading for engagement from the player side and committed to being available. Seleene was... well. Seleene. But Aleks - my god.

    Nothing you presented was unreasonable Jester. A level head in a shitstorm of ego and chest beating. You hung around in that interview longer than I would have :)

  11. The failure in communication lies in the reach if thier efforts, rather than the effort itself. So it is a failure of communication strategy rather than one of effort.

    1. Considering that their primary job is communications between the players and CCP, then a failure of communication strategy *is* also a failure of effort.

  12. Wow, I am really disappointed with them. Basically your critism sums up to "inform the community at large better of what is going on". And their answer is, "if you (or any individual) want to talk with us, we are here". Even Hans' cristism of you missed the issue that way. They do not really expect thousands of players to individually polling them regaluarly in order to keep up with what the CSM is doing?

    It sounds that their frustation about your blog prevents them from really listening to your constructive critism. I hope they are going to listen to the cast afterwards again, when they are less agitated and are more open to what you said.

  13. Or - as a coworker of me once said - in a two-way communication everyone as a responsibility to do both: pull and push (more or less of each depending on circumstances). They do some pushing, but to the critism that they do not enough pushing, they answer you can do more pulling. That completely misses the point.

  14. Well played Jester! Thought you handled it with real class back there...

  15. "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."

    This must be a joke.

  16. I'd like to see CCP change the CSM mechanics, so that non-productive and abusive members can be voted off the CSM -> a vote of no confidence.

    Ofc, such a thing could be abused, if not strictly moderated, but, like the forums, CCP does have the ability to ensure that abuses don't take place, even to the extent of invalidating the no-confidence vote entirely, if necessary.

    But, the possibility of a no-confidence vote, even if never invoked, might encourage better performance from certain useless CSM members.

  17. You are a blogger, Jester, not a news site. I don't see why you should ping the CSM for results before you are commenting their public(sic!) performance.

  18. I think this CSM should focus more on "standardizing" the CSM communication forms, and formats since it is peace time, and no firefighting is required at the moment. Besides their other duties ofc.

    We have arrived at a point where the CSM is becoming a powerful entity, finally has some real power to affect CCP development, and at the same time players are eager to hear from them too. The CSM must take advantage of this focal point in time where they can be the true body of player voice. I bet balancing the 2 things is very hard since being a CSM member is demanding, and not their primary task in their life.

    If the current CSM can make a foundation system for the next CSMs on communication standards (like a centralized place for that week or month's CSM related posts, blogs, podcasts, etc., and can make regular "fireside chats" of sorts with a long before known timetable, and a timeline of their term's supposed activites, but not just externally but also an internal sort of codex), that would alleviate most of the blame they gathered during the silent summer of their term's first half.
    Maybe there should be a CSM page or a separate podcast for the CSM, where well known and respected bloggers can ask questions and the CSM members are answering. This can have the benefit of fewer people to moderate, less stress on the CSM, better questions, etc.

    Hans you are doing a great job btw! Just be careful not to burn out this term. Many would vote on you next term too.


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