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.
You can follow along, if you want...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The first six months

With half of CSM8's term over, I'd like to take a few minutes and give my general impressions of this little social experiment that I've signed up for.  Certainly, I've been providing weekly updates as well as other blog posts along the way -- you can read all of them by reading the posts I've tagged "CSM8" -- but I haven't spent a lot of time looking at the bigger picture on a week by week basis.  The half-way point of the term feels like a good time to do that.

Let's start with the good...
Overall, I continue to be really pleased with CSM8 as a group, and with most of the individuals in it.  We've got a pretty active bunch!  Even with a couple of them having RL issues that have prevented them from participating, it's quite common to get eight or nine or ten active CSM members participating in any given activity.  And even better, we've got a nice separation of duties going right now where individual CSM members clearly have expertise in different areas.  We're focusing on different things both internally and externally and that I think makes us a more effective group.

But at the same time, we're all pretty quick to come together on most issues that require a unified response.  I can only think of one issue -- the SOMERblink iScorps -- where the CSM didn't immediately want to pull together as a group to provide CCP a consensus response.  But even when we agree, and of course when we disagree, we occasionally produce both majority and minority opinions on a given issue and I think we've been a valuable resource in that regard.  When the Summer Summit minutes are released, you're going to see a good bit of this going on.  A CCP dev will ask us some contentious question and some CSM members will present one set of options, another group of CSM members another.  Every time this happened, you could see that CCP found this kind of back-and-forth discourse really valuable.

Another nice thing about this group's separation of duties is we're kind of instinctively focusing on different levels within the company.  Trebor Daehdoow uses his long relationships with a lot of the longer-career devs to advantage, I tend to focus on the management-level personnel, mynnna and Ali Aras and Mike Azariah get into the weeds with individual devs on the feature teams, and so on with each member of CSM8 having particular people that they're really good at working with.

The players that voted for us have been really helpful and supportive too!  We were really overwhelmed with the response to our first Crowdsourcing initiative and that's something we definitely intend to repeat.  Attendance and participation at the town halls has been both active and really gratifying.  When we've asked the players for their reactions for things or have flat-out campaigned to make some noise about a particular issue (industrials come to mind as one of my own examples), the players have come through for us.  That's really helpful!  I don't feel like any particular players or player groups have been unfairly attacking us, which is nice.

Virtually everyone in CCP we've worked with from senior management on down always wants to hear our opinions and I've never gotten the impression that they're tuning us out.  They'll always at least give what we say a hearing.  Everyone involved is really friendly, professional, accommodating, and forgiving of our occasional foibles.  Things sometimes get heated but nobody ever takes the disagreements we have personally.  And there are people at CCP -- a good number of them! -- that I've come to really really like!

And the not so good...
I expected CSM activities to be a lot of work... and I underestimated!  A few months back, I joked that one could literally spend every waking moment involved in CSM-related activities if one chose to.  Between private forums, public forums, EVE mail, Twitter, Skype, in-game conversations, pod-casts, blogs, news sites, e-mail, and player gatherings, the info dump to CSM members simply does not ever stop and can quickly become overwhelming.  As a CSM member, you pretty quickly have to pick and choose where you're going to put your focus and hope that the rest of the team can pick up some of the others.

If you decide to run for CSM9, just be warned: it's a huge time sink and the only way to do this job right is to be involved in it.

The most frustrating words a CSM member will hear during a term from players are "Make CCP..."  I don't think it matters how often a CSM member says it, but I'll say it again: we can't make CCP do anything.  We have exactly as much influence as players give us.  Again and again, I've found myself saying "From what I'm hearing from the players, I think they're going to think [X]" or "If you do that, I think the player reaction is going to be [Y]."  It's a frustrating part of the job but there are definitely times when a dev gets an idea into his or her head and while they will listen to alternative proposals they will not be swayed by them.  And when players come to me and say "can't you CSM people make CCP see this is a bad idea?!", all I can say is "If you help us by posting that you think it's a bad idea on the forums, maybe we can."

And there have been times when after repeated attempts by multiple CSM members to sway a dev and after multiple pointers to large numbers of forum threads, all we can do is step back and say "CCP Coyote, we think those rocket skates are a terrible idea, but if you insist on riding them... good luck and we'll see you on the other side."  And only after the consequences of the rocket skates occur can we try again and perhaps make some headway.  ;-)

So yeah, from time to time it's a really frustrating job.  And to be perfectly fair, sometimes the dev in question knows exactly what he or she is doing from long experience with the players or the game mechanics.  Sometimes, everything comes out OK in the end despite the CSM standing by and tut tutting at what we think will be a less than stellar success.  In short, sometimes the rocket skates work great despite our misgivings.

While players and player groups haven't attacked the CSM, that doesn't mean the job doesn't require a pretty thick skin.  Individual players here and there have had no problems with attacking individual CSM members or all of us as a group.  We try to take it with a sense of humor.  We did after all sign up to be public personalities and community leaders.  But sometimes it would be nice to remind these people that we're volunteers, not paid CCP employees.

It would be fantastic to be working with a larger group of CCP employees.  At the end of the day, the number of devs that we're working with on a daily or weekly basis is actually fairly small.  We're making slow but steady headway on this one, particularly by attempting to expand the stake-holder relationships to additional feature teams.  But I feel like we're mostly laying the groundwork for future CSMs on this point.

Finally, there are some things that despite us being under NDA, CCP simply won't share with us.  Obviously, I can't talk about specific -- or even general -- examples.  When it happens, we usually understand it... but it's frustrating.

Overall, I'm glad I decided to run, and I'm happy to be doing this job.  It's tough, and frustrating, and takes a lot of time and effort.  But it's also rewarding and interesting and I feel like we're making a valuable contribution to the game.  I'm glad the CSM exists and that I've had the opportunity to be a part of it.  EVE Online would be a poorer game without it.

On to the second half of the term!


  1. Well, how can I put this...? Oh wait, I know...


    I generally think the CSM is as useless as tits on a bull (by design), but I think you all have been doing a pretty good job. Less politicking and agenda-pushing this term, at least it looks that way from my POV. I won't ask you the million dollar question, though. I'm sure you'll let us all know in due course :) Thank you to CSM8 for being more concerned about the game and the players than your own egos and spaceship e-fame. On that score I was never worried about Ripard (or even Garth), but wasn't too sure about some of the others. Good job all.

  2. 8 to 10 active CSM. Does that mean 4 of them are less involved as the others or does activity rotate based on interests or RL issues?

  3. I honestly don't know how you find the time or energy to do what you do for the Eve community. I'm older than you (53) and I teach technology courses in San Diego. When I'm done at the end of the day it's all I can do just to get in my car and drive home:-) I really do appreciate you (and all of the CSM) for taking the time to keep us informed. And if you do decide to run for CSM9, you and most of the current CSM will have my votes. Thanks!!

  4. Why do you constantly portray ALL CSM members as volunteers, doing yeoman work on the CSM, for the betterment of the game on the whole, when it is clear that some, specifically mynnna, are there to get CCP to alter the game for goon's sole benefit, be it in-game or for real life benefit?

    Secondly, I would suggest that Mike Azariah has done a terrible job as the high sec rep supposedly defending the interests of the casual player, as we see yet another piece of high sec income in POCO's fall to the cartels, and the idiotic introduction of the Marauder changes. At the very least, he should be screaming loud and long on all public forums about how awful these changes are, and how he did his best to fight against them. But no, not a peep. And yes, I have posted on his blog how bad he has been at his job.

    1. Oh no!!! Dimsdale is unhappy!! and posted it on a blog!!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!! and GOONS are pulling it down! Gods save us, everyone...

    2. It's already been said, but you are welcome to improve on the process by putting your name into the hat for CSM9. I will actually wish you well if you run.

      Ah yes the Marauder changes; since you have zero experience with MJD and seem unable to adapt - how have you survived in this game for this long?

      You asked for the ability to test, and even received support from the CSM to conduct this in SISI. (including tongue in cheek from mynnna). Have you published anything surrounding this or you too unable to provide detail owing to Secret Squirrel NDA. So what, Marauders should be kept as a almost exclusive incursion use ship? Why's that?!

      Of course mynnna is there for the benefit of goons - the frustrating step back by CCP over the syphons is a ready gauge to power wielded by goons in influencing the game's direction. The issue behind this not spoken of; is that goons use external software for monitoring moon goo production. It prevents graft by the pos managers (just like feudal millers in their farms and fields mantra) and allows for precise logistics management. Their alarm at the deception level to API had bees buzzing the forums. And its so ironic that James315, an alt to a very senior goon has to prop up his late stage BVS by accusing players at the bottom industry of being bot aspirants. Yet goons have long since mastered botting at the top of industry. Did someone ask for proof? CCP can confirm this by number of API requests for owners of POS with moon mining arrays. plus just synced this requests occur. It will be higher than just about any other activity, and have the same time stamp. Its what happens when a program makes the request. There, you finally have your evidence, Dinsdale.

    3. What cartels Dinsdale? I'm making it my lifes mission to hold you to account and force you to actually provide real solid evidence that your tin foil hattery is actually going on. Otherwise it is just bullshit.

      on conquerable highsec POCOs..this is a good thing for highsec and highsec industry you twat. Do you honestly think the "cartels" which don't exist are going to expend effort taking every POCO everywhere and then defend those POCOs? Of course not. Logistically it is just not viable.

      As for Mike Azariah, ever thought he doesn't agree with your point? or that other players don't agree with you and are giving him positive feedback?

      So, where is your proof that mynnna is doing this to benefit goons and only goons, and that he is somehow doing this for real life benefit? evidence now. Actual evidence. Or will you continue to cast aspersions on players without a shred of evidence to support your position?

    4. Why do you object to the POCO changes?

      And how do the Marauder changes help nullsec?

  5. I have always wondered one thing about the relationship between the CSM and CCP. I really hope you could spread some light on this.

    We all know sometimes CCP or at least one person within CCP will decide they no best and either ignore advice from the CSM or don't ask at all. CCP/the dev then launches whatever it was they were working on. Community goes nuts. CSM/CCP/Dev gets a huge amount of blow back.

    Do you find after that sort of thing, the person/people responsible tend to seek out CSM advice more in the future? What I am really asking is are the teams/individuals learning from all these massive blow outs we seem to have at least 1 to 2 times a year?

  6. I am glad I voted for you with all my accounts. You have given a vaulable insight if nothing else into what the CSM does, how it can influence CCP despite the fact that you cannot force CCP to do anything, and being what I consider generally a voice of reason outlining your views even if it unpopular for you to do so and in favour of things proper eve players don't touch with a bargepole e.g. NPE, problems affording your first few ships and skill books.

    Hope you run next year, I appreciate the effort you put in and for sticking up for the silent group of players who just want to play a decent space MMO, with the scary penalties to make it worth playing. A bit like corpse runs to the bottom of solusek's eye when you were level 30.


  7. "CCP Coyote"... I laughed, thank you. Hope this one term sticks around enough (if it hasn't already) to be a powerful tool for persuasion.

    Also, do I perceive a significant chance that you won't be around CSM 9.? No need to answer to this question if you don't want to.

  8. Any chance you could hint to ccp that some players would like the plex for graphics cards thing back?

    I still disagree with you about the somer thing. It is probably time for me to let that go though.

  9. First, I wanted to say that I'm glad I voted for you. It was a good choice. And I want to thank CSM 8 for their very hard work. I've been well satisfied with your collective efforts in making the game better and being a bridge of communication between the players and the developers even if it's only as a focusing lens to get them to see where the problems actually are.

    Moving on from that, I'm wondering if CCP is understanding that Rubicon, as an expansion, is coming off as kind of lackluster and unfocused compared to Odyssey. I noticed that outside of Ghost Sites -- which I may never end up seeing -- there is nothing new or completely revised for me, as a player, to play with. What I do post-Rubicon will pretty much be what I did pre-Rubicon. Now, Rubicon represents new toys to play with while doing those activities and I'm appreciative of that. They've solved the multi-loot issue in a very Eve way. I guess what I'm saying is, can you use your focusing lens capabilities to shine a light on those player's comments that reflect this.

    That said, the ship browser and the new certificate system are amazing and as a professional UI designer and usability engineer seeing those kinds of improvements just makes me smile. And, frankly, as a player they do the same.

    So, again, thank you for your service. I, for one, have felt well served by it. Keep doing what you're doing.

  10. Your last two sentences, I've fixed them for you:
    "EVE Online would be a poorer game without Ripard Teg.
    On to the second term!"

    Thanks for all the hard work. Your ability to see the forest for the trees is an uncommon skill and it helps make you an excellent blogger and CSM. For many people like me, you help me appreciate EVE at a deeper level.

  11. There was a blogger in our game community that every once in a while would tout about how work done by any group of people should be measured by results, not effort spent. I wonder what would that blogger say about some of the failings that happened by CSM8, because these seem lacking on your post (ok, to be fair, not just on the failings).

    1. I'm expressing my disappointment both with myself and the rest of CSM8 and with CCP almost every week about the delay in the minutes. Not sure what else I can do about it. If you want to give CSM8 a failing grade for that reason alone, I can't very well stop you: vote in other people who can do it better.

    2. Fair enough, Jester, I won't hold this against you any longer if you are willing to go an extra mile on this one. As I understand, CSM's work on these minutes now resolve to making friendly reminders to CCP.

      So, please use the time to come up with a way to make this kind of delay less likely to happen. You have been on both sides of this by now, can you put that experience earned into good use? The sequence of steps required to manufacture the minutes seem to be fairly well know by now, but my impressions is that a proper schedule is simply non-existent. Some of the sessions took months to be written.

      And, yes, I understand this is voluntary work, but since no one person in the CSM can dictate how much resources are available to complete this task, you will have to compromise in either time, scope or a mix of the two. Would it help if you guys define a guideline? I mean, we have seen the problem. Is there really nothing that can be done to mitigate the risks/difficulties?

      Apparently, everyone is given a lot of freedom in how they make the transcriptions, but it seems that freedom results in lack of control over the schedule. So I kind of wonder if it's not appropriate to compile a lessons-learned and give less freedom moving forward. I mean, you did six sessions now, Trebor probably did quite a lot in the latest three minutes. Between the two of you, you probably have a decent idea of estimated effort required and some best practices.

      So, this whole "make more accurate minutes based on recordings" is becoming less of a new thing; at some point it will be worth putting this in more rigid rails, with less room for experimentation.

      If you are the kind of guy that can take a series of disparate tasks and turn that into a standard process, then do a favour to future CSM's and think of a way to make the most effective use of the time invested on this. Are we good?

    3. Or better yet, don't vote at all. Maybe if the percentage gets low enough...

    4. So wait - Ripard, your ONLY disappointment in CSM8 is the delay in the minutes? Seriously? CSM8 is perfect otherwise? Come on, we elected you because we wanted transparency and honesty, instead you're giving us the same positive fluff that every CSM says about itself.....don't be "that guy" Ripard.

  12. I would really like to hear Garth's opinion about the CSM activities. ;-)

  13. As one of CSM8s largest (if not the largest) fan of EVE Tournaments, I seem to miss you mentioning anything on the New Eden Open 2013. If there are to be such a tounament before the end of the year, the announcement should be about now. Yes, I can see that CCP is very busy getting Rubicon out the door, but I can't see that beeing much of a believable reason for why nothing seems to be on the horizon.
    Now, one could see a tiny little issue with sponsorship. Is that what is causing what seems to be full stop for this years event?
    (I'm assuming full stop since there has been no anouncement)

  14. And, you guys still have done *nothing* to fix T1 module manufacturing... sigh.

    At the very least, ask CCP to reduce the NPC drop rate on all meta modules by 90% or so. That will help to reduce supply of cheap metas and create demand for T1 again. They can always tweak the drop rate back up, if meta supply drops to zero.

    1. lol... does anyone actually *use* T1 modules?

      I don't think I've ever seen Jester do a Fit of the Week with T1 modules.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.