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 24, 2013

Support the community

As I mentioned, I want to talk about EVE Vegas in the larger picture of What It All Means(tm)...

...but this is one of those speculative little posts that I write from time to time about CCP motivations.  Since being elected to the CSM, I've tried to be careful with these kinds of posts.  Of course since I'm on the CSM, I could just ask CCP's motivations about things.  But of course if anyone were to answer me, their answers would then fall under NDA and CCP would get to decide when and how those answers get communicated.  So instead from time to time it's more fun to speculate a little.

So that's all this is, OK?  It's speculation.  I'm allowed a few facts, of course.  Anything a CCP employee says in public -- at a Community presentation or round-table at EVE Vegas, for instance, or on the forums -- is fair game.  So let's start from there.

I was asked a really interesting question at EVE Vegas by a player, in essence: "Do you think EVE players shoot themselves in the foot by challenging CCP when they give things away to community organizers?"  I answered that in my experience, CCP takes player concerns seriously and in those few cases where those concerns are fueled by unjustified anger, the company tends to be very understanding and forgiving.  And when those concerns are justified, CCP has shown a history of listening.  Sometimes, getting them to listen requires fairly extraordinary efforts, but they do listen.

But let's come back to that.

It's been increasingly clear since Fanfest that CCP's Community team -- devastated by the October 2011 lay-offs, you'll remember -- has been very much revitalized.

At his Community Team presentation at EVE Vegas, CCP Guard had a little fun by showing off light-hearted pictures of members of the team, filling the screen with images two or three times over as each member's picture was overlaid on others.  Since Fanfest, we've seen the Community team do community spotlights, expand the roster of community fan-sites (and trim the inactive ones), work much more closely with player organizations and with the CSM, assist with more player-run events, and generally get much more involved with EVE players than at any time that I can remember since... since ever, really.

And now they're taking a much more direct interest in player gatherings, including making EVE Vegas tickets something that could be bought with PLEX and directly supporting the gathering with giveaways for the players that attended.  Guard also gave a long list of countries that the Community team hopes to help player gatherings thrive in.  Similar activities are happening within the DUST 514 Community team.

When you try something new and different that you haven't done before, you're of course vulnerable to making mistakes.  And now the Community Team has made what can only be regarded as a doozy of a mistake.  And here's the very same EVE player base that's benefited from their efforts jumping up and down on their backs and putting the team close to a siege mentality.

...and in the process, shutting down or delaying a lot of the plans that the Community Team had in play to help community organizations.  Guard also made it clear at the Community Team round-table that the entire team is heads down working the recent issues and will be rebuilding their plans from scratch before presenting them to the CSM and thence to the players.  In the process, I think it would be a little naive if you don't realize the plans for rewarding player organizations and gatherings will likely be scaled back.

That's where the question from the EVE player at the top of this post came from, and it was a good one.  Are EVE players shooting themselves in the collective foot?

Now do not get the impression that I'm using this line of thinking as some sort of justification for large in-game rewards for player organizations.  I've already shared my thoughts on that issue and those have not changed.  Nor does this mean I'm not taking the SOMER blink issues seriously and keeping an eye on CCP's response to it... I certainly am!  Think of this as a thought experiment.  The Community team is in a heads down reactive mode instead of a proactive mode.  They want to check their moves more before they make them.  Mostly that's a good thing and I support it.

But it also means a scaling back of the "crazy ambition" that CCP is trying to show this year in all of their endeavors.

One of the things that Guard brought up in the Community RT that I thought was very telling was that it was a conscious choice to profile Brave Newbies so early in their corp history.  "We're happy with how that turned out," Guard said a little blandly.  I should say he should be!  BNI's membership has grown by a factor of eight since they were profiled and they've become one of the largest corps in EVE Online.

When CSM8 was at the summer summit, during several of the sessions, we brain-stormed ways to get players more involved in some of the aspects of EVE's community.  How could CCP encourage players to assist with things like new player development or training, player guides or the EVEolopedia, or introducing more new players to corps that will make them long-term members of the New Eden universe?  And of course the idea of rewarding players that take these actions came up.  That falls right in the Community team's wheelhouse.

CCP wants to sponsor more player gatherings, and EVE Vegas has shown how it can be done, and done right.  CCP wants to sponsor more player tournaments and events, and Syndicate Competitive League is one model for how it can be done.  CCP wants more community fan-sites and more community spotlights, and those they've profiled have been successful.

And right now all of that is on hold, and I think that's a real shame.  Again, I'm not defending the mistakes that have been made... this is just a thought experiment, remember!  But the question remains: are EVE players shooting themselves in the foot?  I think it's worth thinking about.


  1. A better question is, "Did Mr X shoot the community team in the foot?", where Mr X is whoever is responsible for the blunder.

  2. The Eve contributors from the community will feel this back slash provided by there fellow eve players. With the community team taking cover (and in that rage driven environment I can't blame them for doing so) the support for community driven events is falling back, which hurts the organizers.

    And all this rage of the community themes to come from the old tradition of affiliate programs, with SOMER making a decent income through this link. Between all the claims of RMT or not RMT, Evil bad things, favoritism and what not, I feel a point gets missed. The point about the overall flow of money.
    We play eve, and we pay CCP for providing this service. But if markee dargon can make a very comfortable living and even share his income with affiliates, how much money gets lost on the way to CCP?

    In a time of kick starter driven developments cutting out the publisher / pre investor creating a direct link between developer and paying customer the (unproductive; don't take it personal, but we don't need that many paper pushers) middleman is cut out and more money is in the chest for development.
    Do we need a system that earns its money with reselling time to a service they don't provide but merely refer to? A system that earns enough to pay even more cadgers (no offense please, just a lack of better word)?

    I absolutely have nothing against rewards for community efforts, even for profit driven enterprises like SOMER is. If the earn some RL money to compensate their expenses thats fine. But if there are speculative numbers of $100.000 US in the air that they might make, if thats true there is going to much $$ into the hands of non main contributors (main contributor == CCP).

    1. If the deal were bad for CCP, they would stop selling GTC to Markee Dragon.

      The commission MD pays on referrals cuts their per-GTC margin, so obviously it must be the case that their sales volume is increased enough to make up for this cost. They would not persist with commissions otherwise.

      Meanwhile MD buys a greater number of GTC from CCP, without any effort on CCP's part.

  3. Color me cynical, but the ones with a larger vested interest in EVE players it's CCP. finding another game is way easier than finding another set of customers.

    Anyway, from my experience, rewarding community leaders is a tricky thing, because for each "thank you" from the rewarded people, you're gonna get n+x people disgruntled because they're not being rewarded.

    Case in point in my trade, certain wholesale suppliers reward dealers who sell above certain threshold, but the threshold is too high for 80% of the dealers, who essentially are being told to piss off because they're too small to earn a reward... yet they are 80% of the sells channel.

    Giving to the "haves" is good for them, but also is a double edged sword when you're telling 80% of your partners that they're not good enough for you and so they should rather be selling some other supplier. Which, accidentally, it's what goes on in my sector; the reward guys are like the fifth ranked and neither the first nor second ranked run any rewards scheme, rather invest heavily in taking care of the small dealers who sell 80% of their stuff (FAI, with short telephone queues at their call centers).

    Probably the Somergate has had good deal of this. It's not good enough to be SOMER, but then CCP also rewards them and does it secretly, whereas other organizations not known for grabbing player's RL money must wait or are ignored and legitimely feel disregarded... Bad. When CCP pisses of the Chribba, they've really crossed a line.

  4. I think the only reason why people are raging so much is because it wasn't made public.

    Any deals under the table are going to look bad regardless of honest intentions simply because it looks like bias from CCP and giving select players an 'unfair advantage' - even if this ship itself is fairly useless its still going to have value to a collector and so they can cash in some form from this advantage.

    I agree that CCP should encourage player organizations and if they feel that they deserve to be rewarded for that then it should be made as public as possible - mostly so that everything is as transparent as possible but also so that other player organizations can see that you'll be rewarded for your efforts and will encourage them to participate.

    With that said though I would imagine that it would be a tricky situation for CCP to be able to justify how a reward is 'earned' as if the criteria was too weak then players would complain when they didn't receive a reward when they planned a simple mining op with friends or if it was too strict people would see it as unachievable by anyone other than the 'mega corporations' at which point it would look like CCP would reward megacorps for simply being megacorps and the whole rage process starts again.

  5. While I applaud your attempt to tackle this with a bit more logic than emotion this is still a flawed post. You are, first, arguing from consequences that without this discussion CCP would have done great and wonderful things for the community so this is a bad topic. Perhaps CCP is now reconsidering it's actions, and will hopefully avoid RMT deals in the future. Perhaps this is causing them to pull-back from all these great plans that would have done wonderful things for the community. So what? That is all speculation on what the consequences of calling them out may be, and there is no factual basis to assume that the future actions would have been good or ill. If you want to say that this is causing them to consider more carefully, and act more cautiously, that is fine and supported. The rest of the discussion is pure speculation and not relevant.

    Second, you are creating a false dilemma in phrasing this as Eve players "shooting themselves in the foot" - even though you are borrowing that from another player. The basis of that assumption is binary: CCP does as the are now or they do nothing. As you address in your post, CCP is reevaluating, not halting, activities. That is good and healthy, especially given the fairly questionable initial action. Isn't it possible that this review will improve the program and prevent future, glaring, mistakes?

    Anything new is going to have problems. People have to learn new modes of interaction and they have to find new boundaries. The problem, to me, is not that they made such a ridiculous error but that they have not acknowledged that this is an error. Address the issue directly and either pull back (without penalty to people engaged in activity CCP endorsed) or adjust the ToS and EULA to sanction this activity across the board.

  6. we always shoot ourselves in the foot.......its CCP game, not ours....and yet here we are with torchs chanting "respect the sandbox", when in reality we exploit the sandbox in the worst possible ways.

    1. Absolutely true. I think the players have done far more damage to this game than any other group. Granted, CCP makes poor decisions. However, many of those poor decisions were based on feedback from the players and even more so from the CSM. It's sad, but the CSM has been used to exploit the entire game to benefit the smaller null population at the expense of the rest of the game. The CSM was a good idea, but it became a meta game exploit very quickly, allowing large alliances to tailor their immediate desires at the expense of the game. It's a huge part of why null is crap, and now the rest is too.

      If I recall the CCP survey that was done a ways back, only 17% of the player base was null sec pvpers. That's who they chose to cater to, and they exploited it to their advantage. To some that sounds cool, but it wrecks the game for everybody else and ultimately everybody who logs in. Want to know who's responsible for not being able to attain the big playerbase expansion CCP needs/wants? Players should look at themselves.

      The worst thing CCP did in all this was to not know enough about their own product to be able to tell when they were being fed a bunch of bs. Players talk about "the sandbox" but don't seem to have any idea what that means. Based on actions and not words, most treat it as "my way is the only way to use the sandbox" and thus it's no sandbox at all.

      Sandbox games need horizons to reach for. Long term goals beyond training for a module. There are no horizons in EVE.

  7. Unhinged histrionics are a long standing EVE player tradition. CCP has encouraged this sort of behavior by historically being obtuse. The precedent set by CCP would suggest that sustained bitching is also needed. Consider during the TOS discussion how important CCP considered the 'precedent' set by various community managers. The formative stages of a program like we're seeing here is the time to change it, not a year later when their answer will simply be 'well we've been doing it that way, so too bad.' However, in this current situation, considering that CCP is now responding, EVE players probably ought to relax. Overall though I think any short term delay of benefits to players caused by this tantrum is overshadowed by the need to avoid larger missteps in the future.

    A question for you Jester: Which would EVE would be more successful; one devoid community support, or one run by community managers?

  8. "Do you think EVE players shoot themselves in the foot by challenging CCP when they give things away to community organizers?"

    This isn't a good question. It's a bad question and it's usually the first one asked by someone looking to carry water that is focused on damage control.. The question itself is designed to redirect the issue away from CCP to the player. You could easily ask that of every bad move CCP has made.

    "Do you think players are shooting themselves in the foot by challenging CCP when they made WiS the focus of INCARNA?"

    Am I required to stay silent on an issue because it might cause headaches for CCP? Implicit in the attitude of the questioner you encountered is the thought that we had best just accept the status quo else CCP should choose to do something worse.

    If players are shooting themselves in the foot it's with a gun handed to them by CCP.

    1. Another blame the gun not the person advocate. Yes we're shooting ourselves in the foot. It's interesting that the majority of the incensed are individuals whose only way to claim any achievement is through forum/blog Flames and Trolls.

  9. Another part is the arbitrary nature of who gets picked for rewards, and who doesn't.

    For example, Eve University has never had a community spotlight.

    1. That's some pretty unlucky timing with this comment. Eve University community spotlight just went live 20 minutes ago :-)

    2. CCP works quick?

  10. Jester....wow...just...wow.

    I'm going to make a simple suggestion you stop writing about this topic because its becoming pretty clear which side you stand on, and its the wrong one.

    If the CCP devs and management are unable to take criticism without stopping their production on their bread-and-butter well then the problem isn't the players, its weak-sauce management with the inability to critically analyze in a business environment. And if their plans they are making ARE in fact this seriously disrupted then how much more CCP condoned RMT are we in store for? Because it sounds like alot if the entire production comes to a screeching halt for this.

    If only there was a Player Org somewhere that could have warned these guys about how doing this would be a stupid idea and cause a shitstorm that would make the playerbase pissed off...well, one can dream.

    This is piss poor management plain and simple and you sir are tossing veiled threats in their name. Shame on you Jester. Seriously...

    1. I've already made it very clear which side I stand on this issue. My position from the "SOMER of Rage" post has NOT changed.

      But even Catholic priests can and do debate the exact nature of the devil. The question raised to me at EVE Vegas remains interesting for its own sake, as does the place player gatherings like it hold in the big picture.

    2. You overlook the obvious: Even if the problem is with CCP, the question is about the fallout for the players.

      PS: And shame of you for ignoring Jester's prominently placed disclaimer.

  11. Short term pain for (hopefully) long term gain.

  12. Hi Jester,
    Long time reader of your blog and very appreciative of how well you’ve keep it going. Many thanks for several years now of fantastic posts and content as well as all of your efforts in the CSM.
    I’ve been playing EVE Online for over four years. In that time I’ve more than noticed that there always seems to be a small contingent of EVE players who will never be happy no matter what CCP does. If CCP moves right, they should have moved left. If CCP moves up that was the wrong direction for them to take and they need to be punished for it.
    "I'm insulted that CCP even had the slightest thought about moving up instead of down and I'm so pissed about it and it's not fair and lets call them names and piss on their game and rage on the forums until we run out of energy and then lets jump on anyone who even dares to think differently than we do because they have to be wrong if they don’t think like we do!!"
    These players will froth at the mouth, eyes glazed over, torches and pitchforks in hand at any imagined sleight by CCP and look out if CCP actually makes an honest mistake somewhere. It’s as if these players continually think CCP is out to get them and cheat them and take things away. Good God almighty, it baffles my brain.
    How CCP even wants to try and do cool things for the player base (like rewarding community organizers) after all this time is beyond my understanding. From what I’ve seen CCP many times puts their heart and soul into the things that they do for EVE and the players and I become actually ashamed by what some of these players say and post in response.
    In answer to your question: Yes, without a doubt, these people shoot not only themselves in the foot, but the other 90% of EVE's players also by challenging CCP when they give things away to community organizers.

  13. I appreciate a good intellectual exercise, so here is my answer to that player's question:

    I think it would be most accurate to say that it was CCP who shot themselves in the foot, and the players merely served to point out that they had been wounded.

    What I mean is this: the great damage done here was inflicted by CCP. Yes it is a shame that some plans which were potentially good for the EVE community have been put on hold, but the ultimate reason for that hold is CCP's own actions. It was CCP's poor judgement/lack of foresight which created this situation, not the players' reactions.

    To use the metaphor for further illustration, assume that you managed to literally shoot yourself in the foot, and for whatever reason (dead nerve endings?) you failed to notice that this had happened. I then came along and pointed out that you were bleeding profusely, and should probably do something about it. You don't acknowledge my initial and relatively calm response (maybe you're in shock?), so I begin shouting while jumping up and down and waving my arms. Eventually, I get your attention, and you realize what you've done. Should I then be held responsible for your developing a fear of handling firearms after this incident?

    The whole idea of the players "shoot[ing] themselves in the foot" in this case seems to me like an attempt to shift the blame for the incident away from the decision makers who are truly responsible for the current situation. It is scapegoating, and does a disservice to CCP and the players by diverting attention away from developing a true solution.

  14. "Guard also made it clear at the Community Team round-table that the entire team is heads down working the recent issues and will be rebuilding their plans from scratch before presenting them to the CSM and thence to the players."

    Whenever I see statements like this, I can't help but think that this is what CCP should have been doing from the beginning (throroughly examining the plan and then presenting it to the CSM before implementing it, not after), and that if they did so, most of their messes could have been avoided.

    Unfortunately, CCP seems to have developed a nasty habit of acting first, and only reviewing their plans later as a part of damage control. We call that "closing the barn door after the horse is out." It's disappointing to see that even after 10 years, CCP hasn't learned that much from their mistakes.

  15. Fallout for the players.... yeah, sure. Listen, if CCP is so utterly consumed by running damage control and hunkering down to weather this storm... if their Community Team is telling you "we have to concentrate on this somer stuff, so there's no time for us to do anything else and all those other things aren't getting done because of it" then someone is either massively incompetent or they are lying. In CCP's case it's a little of both, I think. They have never been really good about being candid about anything (unless it's under an NDA).

  16. A cute analogy to use I suppose would be to compare the EVE community team to the EVE dev team.

    For the longest time the devs would create these really cool expansions without really thinking far ahead. The result is a lot of legacy code issues that the devs are still struggling with today, which slows down cool new features by a very large factor.

    I think the community team has been in that crazy mode since EVE launched, doing wild and cool stuff as they thought it up, without thoroughly thinking of the consequences far into the future. Hopefully this new plan they are working on will set them on a path of a proper forward thinking strategy and avoid producing more legacy drama in the future.

  17. I think you are wrong to be sad. CCP sometimes are just plain bat shit stupid. We all know this, in face in many cases we expect it. It doesn't mean their heart is in the wrong place, it means they really need someone outside of their box to question some of the stuff they have done. You know something like the CSM.

    If this whole mess means that Guard n Co. now KNOW they aren't gods gift to community participation then they will WANT to come to the CSM for advice. If thats the case then the whole thing will be much stronger in the long term.

    CCP always have and always will do dumb shit, all we want is the CSM to filter out as much as possibe.

  18. The shooting our selves in the foot was kind of a silly remark.

    CCP blew their own foot off and now you are trying to frame the players as if we were the ones who pulled the trigger.


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