With that in mind, I would like to disclose some of my more controversial opinions about EVE, the CSM, and CCP--ones that I have not spoken of very much up to this point. I know "real talk" isn't in the title of this post, but you'll permit me, won't you? The picture of my face should serve as ample warning of the realness ahead.
1. I'm not interested in maximizing the number of EVE subscribers.
It has become fashionable of late to justify changes to EVE based not on whether they would make the game more enjoyable or interesting to play, but rather, whether the changes would increase or decrease the total number of EVE players. In following the CSM campaign, if you have dipped your toes outside of MinerBumping, it's likely that you have heard CSM candidates fretting over how to get more people playing EVE, and how to prevent new players from quitting. The answer always seems to be to make highsec safer and more lucrative.
I find the concern over increasing the number of EVE players to be extraordinary. I can see why the bean counters at CCP care, but why would the players care? When was the last time you played another video game where the players gave much thought (or any) to the total number of players? Maybe if a game was dying, and there was a risk of not being able to fill a server, or something. By contrast, EVE's subscription levels have been rising.
Some people act as though they think increasing the number of players, even at the cost of compromising the core of the game, would improve the experience of playing the game. Having spent some time in highsec, I can tell you that this is absolutely not the case. There are a lot of highly-populated systems in highsec. There are many players in those systems, but that in and of itself doesn't add anything to the experience. Adding 20% more silent, AFK players to a system doesn't make a difference. Boosting EVE's subscription numbers by adding more risk-averse theme parkers would, likewise, make no positive difference to any of us. Why sacrifice anything about EVE for the sake of attracting them?
Imagine you live in a town with a bunch of greasy burger joints and one good Italian restaurant. Assuming you enjoy Italian food, would it make any sense for you to encourage the restaurant to change its menu in favor of serving hamburgers, for the sake of driving more traffic into the restaurant? Unless the restaurant were going out of business, it would probably never even occur to you, as a customer, to give thought to how the restaurant should attract more customers. You might say "why not serve both burgers and Italian food?" But remember, you can't cater to both the risk-free theme park crowd and the non-consensual PvP crowd at the same time.
The bottom line is, whether you log on to EVE at the same time as 50,000 other players or 60,000, you won't notice any difference. You will notice a difference if game mechanics or features are changed in a negative or positive way.
2. I'm not interested in maximizing CCP's revenue.
In the same vein, it's extraordinary to me that so many CSM candidates care so deeply about maximizing CCP's revenue. Not just making sure that CCP stays in business, mind you, but maximizing the money they make. It's astonishing to see EVE players go into cost-benefit analysis mode about whether fixing risk/reward will cost CCP money, or whether non-consensual wardecs drive away more subscriptions than they bring in.
Again, I can understand the accountants at CCP stressing over this stuff, but the players? To borrow the restaurant metaphor again, when was the last time you ordered something from a restaurant's menu based on whether it was the most profitable item for the restaurant? Probably never. Yet EVE players are suddenly very concerned about how non-consensual PvP--which has been in the game for a decade--will affect CCP's financials, at the very moment subscriptions are at an all-time high. Something very peculiar is happening, no?
"But James 315," you say, "Don't you know CCP is a business? The CSM needs to convince CCP that their desired game changes will benefit the company, as well as the players. They're just speaking in a language CCP will understand."
I don't buy it. CCP is a company, but it's a company that makes computer games. There should be at least one person on staff whose "language" consists of "this will make a better game" rather than "this will make you money". Besides, where's the precedent for this? Did people say "Nerfing missiles will boost subscriptions" or did they say "Drakes and Tengus are overpowered"? Where are the people telling CCP "if you fix the sovereignty system, you'll make a lot of money"? I've said it before, and here I go again: When was the last time you played a game where the players advocated a fix--or advocated the continuation of a broken mechanic--based on whether it would make the company money, as opposed to making a better game?
To illustrate my point further, I'd like to take a quote from Trebor Daehdoow's interview with Crossing Zebras. I often pick on Trebor, partly because he's the only CSM representative who's declared for reelection, partly because he wants to be the CSM Chairman (and might get the job), and partly because he's the most open about his bad ideas. Here's a quote from that interview, where Trebor explains the cost-benefit approach:
Trebor: "...If non-consensual wardecs are costing CCP a lot of subscriptions, then that's resources that could be used to hire more devs, to fix other areas of the game."This is an interesting argument: Give up war, and CCP will have extra money to improve something more important. Of course, there's no guarantee that CCP would use that extra money to fix your favorite part of EVE, or even to spend it on the development of EVE at all. What happens once you start taking CCP down that road of carebearization for profit? You don't need to marathon a bunch of The Twilight Zone episodes to predict the ironic plot-twist at the end of the story. Here's a quote from the December CSM Minutes:
UAxDEATH disagreed and brought up an example of priorities like POSes, "you promised us those things". [CCP] Greyscale replied that coming into meetings with the mindset of CCP promising a certain feature is a fallacious, and flat-out wrong, mindset. With conversation now completely deteriorating, [CCP] Unifex took control of the conversation and spoke about POSes. Unifex stated that what CCP did was spend effort and prototype what would make a good POS system. It would, however, only affect the group of people who manage POSes. Focusing that amount of time and effort on some small singular aspect of the game and delivering only that "is what will kill the business".Is it possible that instead of hiring more devs to fix other areas of EVE, CCP might be inclined to put extra resources into the further carebearization of EVE (since you've conceded that theme parking boosts revenue), or to spend it on Dust or World of Darkness, or some other profitable enterprise? That might be something worth considering before you make the Faustian bargain of trading a little theme parkification for an extra feature somewhere else.
I said this was going to be real, so let's be real. Do I care about CCP's subscription numbers and revenue? Of course I don't. As long as EVE is a game worth playing, I would prefer that CCP stay in business. Apart from that, it makes no difference to me how much money they're making. It doesn't necessarily follow that EVE will be a better game if CCP is fat and happy. (In fact, most artists and creative people don't do their best work under such conditions.) Don't get me wrong, I'm sure CCP's employees are nice people. I'm equally sure that the employees of CCP's competitors are nice people, too. If and when I am elected to the CSM, I will represent EVE's players, not its owners. What matters is that EVE is a good game, and that's my only agenda.
3. For CSM candidates, being right (or wrong) on the issues trumps everything else.
The good, decent people of the EVE community may be horrified by Trebor's desire to wipe out non-consensual wardecs in favor of making CCP some extra cash. On that basis, you might think it would be a bad idea to have Trebor on the CSM, right? Not so, according to these people: In Trebor's reelection thread in Jita Park, he quotes many members of CSM7 and even a few of his rivals for CSM8, who each endorse him or encourage others to vote for him. It's interesting to note the content of these endorsements. His supporters repeatedly cite his knowledge, experience, and hard-workingness. Not a single one of them cites Trebor's policy positions as a reason to vote for him.
It's difficult to argue against knowledge, experience, and hard work. But isn't it also kind of important to know toward what purpose all of that knowledge, experience, and hard work is going? Let's suppose, hypothetically, that I'm against making highsec into a risk-free theme park so CCP can maximize its profits. Wouldn't it be better, from my perspective, for someone like Trebor not to work hard? If I want to keep wardecs in the game, wouldn't it be better for me if Trebor had less experience and knowledge? Fellow CSM representative Hans Jagerblitzen says Trebor "is respected by CCP and his advice is listened to." That's great, if and only if Trebor gives good advice. It's bad news if Trebor gives CCP bad advice.
I'm not sure where people with the opposite view are coming from--do they want to have "gudfites" on the CSM with a skilled opponent? Do they want CSM to be a reflection of the views of the entire community, on the assumption that CCP will somehow magically agree with the right ones? Personally, I feel that if a CSM representative is in favor of disastrously bad ideas, it's better that he be incompetent and show up late to meetings (if at all), and to do as little work as possible. In the same way, it would be better to have a row of empty chairs at the CSM meetings than to have a bunch of polite, diligent people hard at work trying to convince CCP that they'll make more money with a theme park.