Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Will CSM8 Be Given Any Influence?

The CSM is generally perceived in one of two ways. Some believe the CSM is the means by which the EVE playerbase may speak to CCP and influence the direction of the game's design. Others believe the CSM is little more than a publicity tool for CCP, and that it doesn't actually have much, if any, influence on the game. Which of these views is correct?

Long story short, it's up to CCP. They decide how the CSM will be used. Over the course of the CSM's history, it has been used in both ways. During the term of CSM6, the infamous "Summer of Rage" occurred, and CCP relied on the CSM to help them reconnect with the reality of EVE. At other times, the CSM has had minimal impact, and its members complained of being sidelined.

Let's consider CSM7, which is often referred to as the "do-nothing CSM". The Mittani, who has no small amount of CSM experience of his own, recently made the following observations:
"...I can state the obvious: CSM7 has been either (charitably) a damp squib or (uncharitably) a goddamned joke - and not even a suicide joke. I'm not sure what a year of arguing with Trebor and Issler Dainze does to a man, but the short history of CSM7 seems to be summed up as 'Seleene and Trebor conspire to steal the chairmanship from Two Step in the first week of their term, succeed, and then nothing much gets done as the whole group has been poisoned with betrayal right out of the gates'."
The Mittani wasn't alone in being disappointed by CSM7; the discontent was felt across the board. On the other end of the spectrum, people like Ripard Teg, who was elected to CSM8, frequently castigated CSM7 for its failure to communicate with the EVE playerbase, suggesting that their silence left the impression that they hadn't done much.

The decision of 12 out of 14 CSM7 members not to stand for reelection, the sharp decline in the number of EVE players running for CSM, and the unexpected nosedive in the CSM8 voter turnout all contributed to the impression that the members of CSM7 were discouraged and EVE's playerbase had lost faith in the CSM.

To spin things in the other direction, supporters of the CSM and some members of CCP developed the concept of the "peacetime CSM". According to the "peacetime CSM" theory, CSM7 had little to do and players had little interest in the CSM only because CCP was doing so well. CSM6 had to deal with the Summer of Rage, so there was more interest back then. The story goes that CCP's good behavior and good decisions during the term of CSM7 meant there was no controversy and no reason to pay much attention to the CSM. Needless to say, very few people bought the "peacetime CSM" explanation.

When the meeting minutes of the CCP/CSM Winter Summit were released, a clearer picture developed. Most famously, CCP announced that the promised POS revamp--which CSM members assumed would be their signature achievement--simply wasn't going to happen. CSM member Two step made his displeasure known by starting a threadnought on the topic.

I have been critical of Two step in the past, and for good reason. Indeed, in my very first post on the CSM, I singled out Two step for his terrible opinions on wardecs. Though I am critical of people when they say and do terrible things, I also give them credit for being right when they're right. When I was interviewed by Xander Phoena and asked to give my opinion on CSM7's failures and achievements, I named Two step's threadnought as CSM7's biggest achievement. (Whether my fairmindedness is rare or common among EVE commentators, I leave for the reader to judge.)

CCP's decision to scrap the POS revamp wasn't the only explosive material in the meeting minutes. It was revealed that the CSM, rather than having influential input into game design changes, had been frozen out (pages 19-22):
Two step: "What we were told at the summit was [the feature] was going to be player-to-player [service] contracts, and the next thing we hear, without any input from us, was that it was going to be bounty hunting. Our expectation was going to be that we were going to be consulted about decisions like that -- and we didn't even know there was a decision being made."

Trebor Daehdoow: "Just like some previous CSMs, in May we said "Use us!" How much more do we have to beg?"

Seleene: "We made it very clear [at the first summit] that we needed to be involved early, before things started getting settled. When we found out the feature was being focused on Bounty Hunting, [we were very frustrated]. While the feature turned out well, there was a lot of resentment in CSM."

Alekseyev Karrde: "It was definitely disorienting. I recall feeling blindsided by the design changes, and it set the entire process off on an adversarial note which didn't need to be struck."

Seleene: "To use a biblical metaphor, we would like to be part of the group that brings the stone tablets down from the mountain, not just be the ones that read them and say "Oh, that really happened up there?""

Two step: "Part of the problem for us is that we not only don't know about the decisions until after they're made, we don't even know they are being made."
Both CCP and the CSM have a lot of incentive to "talk up" the influence and importance of the CSM. Members of the CSM, in particular, will have a natural tendency to exaggerate what the CSM did, and even to honestly believe they had more impact than was really the case. In the aftermath of the Winter Summit, the CSM didn't paint a happy picture. They expressed their frustrations and, in their most candid moments, essentially wrote off the first half of their CSM term.

But afterward, they said that things were better, that the problems between CCP and the CSM had been fixed. Some took pride in pointing to CCP's future plans, which included items that they had brought to CCP. Of course, when it comes to CSM contributions, we know that CCP's future plans are meaningless. The POS revamp debacle showed us that. The influence of a CSM can only be measured by looking at the concrete changes to EVE that were actually put into place. In judging CSM7, the question is whether their second half of their term was a "write-off" like the first half was.

Enter the Odyssey expansion.

For reasons unknown, one of the centerpieces of Odyssey will be an overhaul of the scanning mechanics. Excited yet? Neither were the people who tried out the new scanner on the test server. The feedback thread was filled with critical reviews. Then came this intensely revealing exchange:
Unforgiven Storm: "After I tested this and read this thread I only have one question in my mind: Did anyone in this team bother to talk with the CSM at all before you implement this? Two Step for sure knows and uses probes everyday and could have told you how bad this new system/changes were, even before you wasted time implementing them..."

Two step: "I'll answer that, and as you might have expected, the answer is no, CSM was not consulted about these changes. We found out in an article on themittani.com that we would be able to save probe formations. We found out at Fanfest about the probe results UI. We found out about the 7 probes/removal of DSPs from this thread."
So CSM7 was frozen out again, one last stab-in-the-back before they left office. Not only did they not have input into the changes, they didn't even find out about the changes until after CCP had decided upon them, coded them, and put them on the test server.

Now it's CSM8's turn. From what we've seen, they will face an uphill climb. CCP's decision to put CSM-related matters in the hands of CCP Dolan, a newbie with a less-than-sparkling record (recall the numerous CSM election delays, buggy voting website, "false positives" during the pre-election, broken promise on the new voter turnout efforts, "formatting issues" excuse for delay caused by hacked ballots, etc.) doesn't bode particularly well.

CSM7 may have been a bust, but that doesn't mean CCP will treat CSM8 the same way. Will things improve? Time will tell.

22 comments:

  1. The CSM's first meeting should be about planning the next player revolt. We voted in a bunch of people who do what? Not getting feedback from Two Step on probes tells me our CSM has been completely neutered.

    Really feeling pretty good about James 315 being free of the NDA now.

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  2. all we need now is a dust csm to eliminate the need for eve csm. then ccp can go play with their new toy. since the general concensus is they arent listening anyway.
    I agree with anon, James should be free to use the 1st amendment to the fullest!

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  3. http://themittani.com/features/long-shadow-look-back-csm7

    Another look into the CSM7, if you haven't read it. Not as negative though. :p

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  4. mynna and Ripard should take in day one, find out how much a waste of time it is and then spend the rest of the "summit" at the local hot-springs

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  5. Even prior to the Summer of Rage many people considered the CSM to be a complete joke. The only reason CSM6 was as successful as it was was because CCP at that time was grasping at every last bit of straw they could in an effort to quell player discontent. Thier decision to do so wasn't a bad one -- CSM6 did help usher in some changes as a result, after all -- but the motivation for truly empowering the CSM and the timing were utter shat.

    They got thier use out of the CSM that time around, but now it's back to the same old that existed prior to CSM6, and CCP is setting themselves up for another potential game design disaster by following the path they're on. I think they do not only the players a disservice but themselves as well when the shut out the CSM from thier game design decisions. It leaves the CSM members holding the bag and facing "constituents" who ask "why didn't you do your damn job?" and disenfranchises those "constituents" from the process in general.

    Could this possibly be why voter turnout has been on the decline? You betcha! The absolutely lackluster effort on CCP's part during this past election cycle does not bode well for CSM8, nor for the future of CSM in general. It was a token effort, nothing more, and seems to mirror thier interest in the CSM as a partner.

    As I was telling another pod pilot just the other day, I'd sooner entrust all my assets to a Goon "Recruitment Officer" than believe a single word uttered from the list of any pilot whose name begins with CCP.

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  6. I hope this post will make its way to TMC. More People need to read this - especially the part about the Unforgiving Storm/Two Step exchange.

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  7. As with all organizations the effectiveness is based entirely upon the ability of the people involved. The CSM can complain about CCP as much as they want but if they sit passively then they are accountable for that passivity.

    Working in any bureaucratic organization and working across multiple departments is always a pain and requires a lot of effort on the part of everyone. The CSM can't just wait for things to happen. They need to get involved... that is.. if they actually care to.

    If the CSM wants to champion a cause then it needs to start doing some moving and shaking. They need to do some basic ground game politics. That involves a lot of energy and time and isn't just showing up for skype conversations or flying out to Iceland for drinks.

    The whole CSM 7 thing sounds like sour grapes to me of a bunch of people who went in with expectations that CCP would go out of their way to involve them while they were ready and waiting.. and waiting.. and waiting... without stepping up to the plate and trying to drive whatever pet projects they have.

    If the CSM 7 found out about the scanning changes via a news website that says an awful lot about their passive nature of waiting around and not getting involved directly. How is it that a website would be able to find out information that the CSM didn't: chances are, the website "reporter" asked. The CSM guys -seem- like they sat around and waited for CCP to come up to them and ask for feedback.

    That's fine if that is what their expectation was but in an iterative and rapid development cycle system that CCP operates under that means a lot of stuff will just go right by them without them ever hearing about it because they are sitting down the road at the pub waiting for reports. Anyone who has done development work with a busy team as it goes through rapid iteration knows that devs don't like writing reports or taking a break from the creative process to talk about what they are doing.

    A lot of what CSM 7 complained about appears to come from a general passive stance. I could be wrong but that is how it appears to be based on their statements and from the minutes of the meetings.

    All of this begs for a fundamental question to be answered: What is the purpose of the CSM. The CSM itself doesn't seem to know that. That uncertainty can either provide opportunity or nothingness. It's up the CSM to step up and become active or to sit back and be passive.

    Again, it could be that they tried.. I don't know, I am not on the CSM or privy to their attempts. All I see are the minutes from the meetings and the whining after the fact about how CCP didn't approach them first. Both of which contain language indicating a passive group of people who expected CCP to go out of their way and involve them. Maybe that's what they were told originally but then it was up to them to hold CCP accountable for that interaction.

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  8. To be honest Mr. Savior, I was blindsided by such a quantity of real talk not announcing itself pre-drop with your portrait. I'm going to need some time to recover.

    -Oink

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  9. TL;DR James315 yet again talking utter crap about stuff of which he has no clue.

    It never ceases to amaze me how much shit James315 will suck from Mittani's arse. Mittani is still bitter and twisted about being kicked off the CSM, which is why he likes to propagate bullshit about them. If James had the tiniest bit of honesty and integrity, he'd use CCP as a source. So, I give you John Lander, CCPs Executive Producer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXYu5oUc0p4&feature=youtu.be&t=34m9s

    So, you can believe the recycled unsubstantiated "opinion" of James 315, or you can believe someone who was actually in the process, has full access to all information and has an opinion based on fact. If you chose the former over the latter, you might want to book yourself in for a mental health check-up.

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    Replies
    1. Why so angry? By the way, do you also think that the best source for informations about politics are politicians?

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    2. I'm not angry. I dislike people who love to spread lies and disinformation.

      The best source of information is the source, not a disgruntled opinion. Or do you disagree with that?

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    3. The only disgruntled opinion I'm hearing is yours tbqfh. TL:DR? Then gtfo of James' website you whiny little git. If you prefer propaganda to Real Talk then perhaps you should head over to EN24, the fox news of New Eden. Oh and since you brought it up: James315 > John Lander.

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    4. Why so angry?

      "James315 > John Lander"

      Oh dear. I think I now understand why you are so angry. Delusion can be a bitch.

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    5. GOD, your post full of swearing is the only one who suggests anger. If you really think that CCP is the best source for impartial opinions about CSM, you're delusional. The source of James' opinion is what the CSM says, and what happens in the game. Nothing to argue about, really.

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    6. Did the words shit and arse offend you? You are a delicate little soul... Odd how you think telling someone to Get The Fuck Out is somehow not swearing and not angry, but saying arse is. unless of course you're just attacking someone on whatever little things you can.But, as usual, you're proving that James 315 supporters ignore the evidence right in front of their faces in favour of something they can make up inside their own little minds. Just like James does!

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    7. Your reply is full of evidence, clearly...
      I wasn't offended, I'm not offended by random insulters over the internet. I just pointed out your swearing. I'm being civil, you aren't. This is how you stated your opinion:

      "TL;DR James315 yet again talking utter crap about stuff of which he has no clue.
      It never ceases to amaze me how much shit James315 will suck from Mittani's arse."

      You can't expect to be taken seriously if this is how you present yourself. This blog gives you the right to express your disagreement, and this how you use it? You're acting like a kid.

      Also, evidence. What evidence? The fact that CCP says good thing about themselves and about their creation? You ignored my point about the fact that James bases his opinion on what the CSM itself says, and on what happens in the game. If you want to discuss something, be civil and argue about the points made. Your attitude will bring you nowhere.

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  10. James 315 > GOD

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  11. Lol "arse". Europeans talk funny. ^_^

    -Oink

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    Replies
    1. "arse" is the original word for it though

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    2. An "ass" is a poor animal, not the "arse" :( . As far as I know the word "ass" was a puritan attempt to cover the offensive word "arse".

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  12. While Ripard was initially left with the -impression- that CSM7 didn't do much, the bottom line is he's been outspoken about their success at advancing stakeholdership and success at getting CCP to engage and listen to player feedback.

    "Ripard Teg: I was somehow expecting much less activity from CCP toward the CSM. It's amazing to me how many CCP devs hang out in our channel and are active in the CSM portion of the EVE-O forums. It's terrific! It's clear that CSMs 6 and 7 have been really successful on getting CCP devs to engage with the CSM"

    This blog post is some trivially debunked propaganda, anyone doing their homework can tell you pick and choosed the quotes you wanted to slam the council and stir up some controversy.

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    Replies
    1. Did you read James post? Because he talks about what CCP has done in the last year, and I would like you to point out how much of what they have been doing in the game is attributable to the CSM. This is what James is talking about in the post. Care to argue about what is being discussed? Or maybe you think that a successful CSM should all about being listened to in forums but never involved in real things like plans to add features and testing?

      Delete

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