Monthly Archives: March 2017

Voting for CSM 12 Opens Today

The day is here, the annual stuffing of the ballot box has begun, the CSM elections are live.  They run from today, March 6, through until March 27, with the results to be announced at Fanfest on April 6.

Look at that CONCORD police Captain trying to suppress the vote!

Look at that CONCORD police Captain trying to suppress the vote!

CCP has even created a video where CCP Logibro spends almost five minutes telling you about the election and how to use the voting interface.

As for who to vote for, you have an array of 64 candidates to choose from.  How to pick… well, that is up to you.   The Nosy Gamer has put together a page that brings together campaign statements and interviews from the candidates.  It is a good place to start if you are just trying to figure out for whom to vote.

Of course, if you’re just starting to figure that out now, you’re part of the reason why I think electing a player advisory council is silly, as I noted in last week’s blog banter post.  In a game where one segment of the population needs to be highly organized in order to survive, guess who is best at getting their people to vote?  The null sec blocs get out the vote while the rest of the game mostly doesn’t even bother to open up a ballot.  And so CSM 11 was 13 null sec players and Steve Ronuken.

With CSM 12 being reduced from 14 members to 10, all of whom will be flown to Iceland for summits, past results indicate that null sec will likely end up with 8 or 9 of those.  I think Neville Smit’s idea for a high sec coalition is coming a bit late, but we shall see.  With only 10 seats, every vote counts even more so as there is much less room for trickle down.

Anyway, the null sec blocs no doubt all have their voting lists published already.  The Imperium had theirs up early yesterday and have a “get out the vote” campaign in motion.

For those interested, this is the Imperium slate:

  1. Aryth – GSF
  2. Innominate – GSF
  3. Sullen Decimus – Bastion
  4. Jin’taan – Provibloc
  5. The Judge – CO2
  6. Suitonia – GSF

[INN has the Provi Bloc and CO2/TEST ballots here]

For those who haven’t watched the video or read up on the process, the ordering dictates the priority list for your votes.  If Aryth has enough votes, surplus votes will then fall to Innominate.  When he has sufficient votes, any extras will go to Sullen Decimus.  And so it goes down the list.

If you are paying close attention, there are likely three items of interest with this list.

First, there are only six candidates listed, when there could have been ten.  Last year the list was a full 14 long and included outsiders such as Commander Aze and Tora Bushido to round it out.  This year the list is truncated and includes only core null candidates.  I gather that this is to emphasize the key candidates so they don’t get lost or shuffled as people go to their ballot.  We are left to add four more candidates if we wish, though it seems unlikely that many votes will transfer down that far.

Second, The Judge is on our list.  Yes, he is down in fifth place, but after the great (and in the end futile) betrayal by CO2 and M-OEE8 last year, his alliance remains our space foes.  But the smooth operation of the CSM appears to transcend the in-game situation.  He did a good job last time around so made our list.  He likely won’t get many trickle down votes from us, but he has TEST/CO2 voters behind him to make up the difference.

And third, Xenuria is not on our ballot.  He is running, he is in GSF, he is on CSM 11, and by all accounts he did a good job, but he isn’t one of our picks.

Last year picking Xenuria to be on the ballot was a controversial choice.  He got the third spot on the Imperium ballot for the CSM11 election.  As an example of Goons not marching in lock step or doing whatever Mittens tells them, this was a good example.  There was an outcry about choosing him and declarations from many in the thread that they would never vote for him.

Still, Xenuria had enough people vote the ballot, plus the support he had garnered through past runs for the CSM, to get himself elected.  This year though, he is on his own.  Fortunately, for him, he has been ahead of the game and has been out campaigning, including having a station billboard ad for a while now.

A vote for Xenuria is a vote for Xenuria

A vote for Xenuria is a vote for Xenuria

If Xenuria’s focus, which includes focus on cosmetic in-game items, is something you want represented on the CSM, you’re going to have to vote for him yourself, as the Imperium isn’t going to get him elected.

So that is it, the election is off and running.  We will know the results in a month.

Switch Day Arrives!

Today is the day the Nintendo Switch is finally available!

Nintendo Switch, for your TV and elsewhere

Nintendo Switch, for your TV and elsewhere

I am generally not much of a console gaming person.  Our Wii, heavily played for a stretch, now gathers dust, while our PlayStation 3 is pretty much exclusively used to stream/play video.

I am not even a big Nintendo fan.  I already had a personal computer long before the NES of such nostalgia was available in the US.  And while I have a 3DS XL, it should have “For Pokemon Use Only” stenciled on the side.  I bought Mario Kart for it at one point, but only played it a couple of times.

I am still interested in the Switch.  It doesn’t quite have the lure that the Wii did a decade back when the combo of a new user interaction paradigm and a low price relative to its competitors made it extremely attractive.  This time around you can find XBox One and PlayStation 4 packages priced below the Switch base price of $299.

But Nintendo has gone in a different direction from the Xbox and PlayStation Bobbsey twins.  I am not sure it is the “New Era in Console Gaming” that Nintedo is claiming, but it is a divergence.  There is no hard drive, the unit having returned to the use of cartridges to distribute games. (Which may leave an unpleasant taste in the mouths of some.)  Nintendo has also fiddle with the controller idea again with a new gimmick.  And then there is the portability aspect of the unit.  As somebody in a single television household, not requiring the TV to play games is actually a pretty big bonus.

All of that is interesting, and the price isn’t a huge barrier to entry.  It is the games that will make the decision for me.  I haven’t played the Zelda series, so a new entry there doesn’t help much, nor will the inevitable Mario titles.  A REAL Pokemon title might lure me, or a Pokemon title that integrates with the 3DS like the Wii and the DS connected.  So I am just keeping and eye on the whole thing.

How about you?  Is the Switch on your list?  What is the big selling point?

There is a poll embedded above this line of text which may get snipped out by add block.

The Alola Pokemon Binge Continues

Enough about EVE Online this week, time for important topics, like Pokemon.

I have carried on in Pokemon Sun. with my pursuit of the Alola Pokedex largely because I have managed to make fairly steady progress towards finishing it off.  Since I last checked in on this, I have gone from the 57% marker to 83% of the way complete.

Once again, screen shots take of the 3DS with my iPhone

Once again, screen shots take of the 3DS with my iPhone

In actual numbers of Pokemon I went from 173 caught at that last post to 250 caught as of last night, and increase of 77 Pokemon over a 10 day period.  So I caught about 8 new Pokemon a day.  That is the sort of progress that keeps you hooked, keeps you going, keeps you opening up the 3DS every night for an hour or two.

Current Pokedex details

Current Pokedex details

As part of that, I managed to finish up the Melemele island Pokedex, having caught all 120 Pokemon that appear on that island, including the ones that don’t actually appear on that island or that only appear on the island in Pokemon Moon.

I “saw” all the Pokemon for the island first and was curious to see if that was enough to get credit.  In past versions of the game, the regional Pokedex could be considered complete if you simply encountered all the Pokemon on the list.  That doesn’t cut it for Pokemon Sun & Moon.  You get a little silver crown when you have encountered them all, but you only get the gold crown and the official stamp when you have caught them all.

My stamp for Melemele... be nice if it was dated

My stamp for Melemele… be nice if it was dated

That is one island Pokedex down and three to go.

All the Melemele Pokemon

All the Melemele Pokemon

And the other islands are pretty far along.  How I have been making that sort of progress has two branches.

First, I still had a pile of Pokemon that just needed to be leveled up or traded while holding a specific item.  Leveling up is fairly easy and I can do that while watching TV and not lose track of any dialog.  There are plenty of Pokemon that fall into that category.

The trading while holding an item required me to get my daughter to cooperate, which wasn’t easy.  Eventually, after days of “I don’t want to do it right now” and “I don’t know where it is, I’ll look for it later” I had to make her find her 3DS and hand it over so I could do the trades myself.  That was something of a bonanza day.  I took that oppotunity to pass Solgaleo and Lunala, the legendaries from Sun & Moon, back and forth between our games so we each have both covered.

I still have a number of Pokemon where I haven’t obtained the item yet, so couldn’t to the trade.  More work to do on that front, but that generally just involves some patience and a tolerance for a lot of wild Pokemon encounters.

But there are always some Pokemon that are difficult to obtain or where how to obtain them is not clear. (The Alola Pokedex site I have been using has been wrong, or at least at odds with the official guide, on some Pokemon such as Tirtouga.)  For those I have been relying on the Global Trade Station.

The GTS continues to be very good to me, and players in Japan especially so.  I would not be nearly as far along as I am had I not had access to it.  However, one of the long standing features of the GTS, something from the Pokemon Diamond & Pearl era, is that you cannot ask to trade for a Pokemon that you have not seen yet.  If you haven’t seen it, you don’t know about it, you can’t ask for it.  If it is just a generic blue Pokeball icon on your island Pokedex or question marks on the main list, you have to find a way to see it.

That icon, I don't know about THAT Pokemon

That icon, I don’t know about THAT Pokemon

Now, to be fair, the game is very good about showing you lots of Pokemon, generally via battles with all the trainers you pass by during your travels.  This is why it is important to not skip fights.  I got lazy for a bit and bypassed a couple of optional areas during the main story line, something I am paying for now.  It wouldn’t be hard to go back and do those fights now… my main party is all up past level 70 at this point, with my Snorlax at 80… it is more a matter of figuring out what I skipped.  There are even a few Pokemon that NPCs should have given me along the way that I somehow missed.  Sloppy.

However, Nintendo has something of a back door for dealing with Pokemon you haven’t seen yet.  If you have a friend that has seen the Pokemon in question, they can display a QR code on their screen, which you can use the camera on your 3DS to capture.  That gives you credit and you can now trade for that Pokemon.

Of course, if you are like me and have no real life friends playing Pokemon (or a child that won’t do that grunt work for you), the internet will provide.  Over on Reddit there is a post about QR codes for Pokemon.  This links out to several galleries on Imgur.com that have the QR codes.  So when I really wanted to setup a trade for a Pokemon, I went and used that.  See, you don’t need friends when you have the internet!

Of course, even with all of that you need to have something to trade.  I started out breeding Dratinis, the first evolution that leads to the ever popular Dragonite Pokemon.

Dratini to Dragonair to Dragonite

Dratini to Dragonair to Dragonite

That seemed to be a popular enough Pokemon to get me trades.  The evolution process just requires leveling it up and Dragonite is a strong Pokemon.  However, you can simply catch Dratinis in the game, so I wasn’t sure this was my strongest play.  But I used one to get my hands on a Sliggoo, the middle evolution of three that is more difficult to obtain.

The Sliggoo progression

The Sliggoo progression

Then I started breeding that, which is the only way to get its first evolution, Goomy, and then started trading those.  They seemed to be a hit and I seemed to be able to get any trade I asked for… though I am always conservative on that front… in no time at all.  Plus the Sliggoo was friendly with my breeing Ditto, and that relationship dictates how fast eggs are produced, so I was trading away.

Some trades

Some trades

That Gabite was a big trade for me, as it is another annoying one to get in the game.  Having a bit of backstock on Goomy, I switch the Gabite in to breed… also friendly with my Ditto… and started getting eggs for that.

Now the Isle Avue, the hot springs island in the Poke Pelago where you can leave eggs to hatch rather than dragging them around in your party for 5K to 20K steps, is filling up with eggs.

Eggs waiting to hatch... hope they don't hard boil...

Eggs waiting to hatch… hope they don’t hard boil…

Once those start hatching I am looking at a weekend of trading to further my cause.  So long as I keep making progress, I should be able to keep focused.

Of course, eventually I will get to the last hairy few, the difficult ones.  Back when I did the then 485 strong National Pokedex in Pokemon SoulSilver I spent quite a bit of time getting those last few, with the last one requiring an item to be held to evolve.  And then I went the full completionist and got the last two for the full 493 achievement which required me to play Pokemon Ranger: Guardian Signs to acquire a Manaphy to transfer over to SoulSilver so I could breed it to get a Phione.

I am not sure I have that much fortitude anymore.  I should be able to hang tough through the Alola Pokedex.  I haven’t given up yet.  The full National Pokedex though, which stands at 802 Pokemon as of now, that might be too much to ask.

BB80 – Oh That Crazy CSM Thing!

This is where most people would list their myriad reasons they are running for CSM. Maybe they would write out long platform statements with some overarching narrative. Their dreams of how to make EVE great again.

I am not going to do any of those things because I don’t need your votes you terrible pubbies.

-Aryth for CSM 12 campaign forum post

You weren’t going to vote for Aryth anyway, were you?

Here we are at the latest Blog Banter, number 80 in the series, and this time around the topic is the CSM.  Specifically:

CCP Seagull ecourages you to get involved in CSM12 and put your name forward to be a Space-Politician. On his blog Neville Smit noted that CSM11 had done a good job with minimum of drama. However he said he’d not be covering CSM12 like he has in previous years as he sees no point. The power-blocs will vote on who they want and unless Steve Ronuken manages to get on CSM12 it is almost certainly going to have every seat taken by the big null-sec blocs.

Is Neville right? Is the CSM moving more and more into just a voice for 0.0? Is this a bad thing? Are the hi-sec, low-sec and WH players going to lose out badly or is it really not an issue as its the same game? Could a totally null-sec dominated CSM 12 give a balanced voice for everyone?

I get to quote Aryth, pick on Neville Smit, and complain about the CSM?  Trifecta!

Anyway, in my usual style, I am going to spew forth a bunch of text and I hope, somewhere at the far side, to reach a conclusion.  I think I know what it will be, but won’t be sure until I get there!  The CSM 12 election is coming soon, so lets ramble.

Look at that CONCORD police Captain trying to suppress the vote!

Look at that CONCORD police Captain trying to suppress the vote!

I will start with the fact that I think electing what is essentially a focus group by having the player base vote is pretty silly.  You want to select by competence and core knowledge, not popularity for this sort of position.

Of course, it wasn’t always this way.  If you go look at the CCP historical timeline (preserved here) you will see this tidbit for 2003.

The historical record of sorts

The historical record of sorts from 2003

Yes, players were chosen by CCP.  That is the way things are generally done in the MMO domain when you want a focus group or player advisory board. (SOE, Blizz, and Turbine all did it that way.)  But five years into the game and one T20 scandal later, CCP decided that elections would… I don’t know really.  Transparency?  Here is what they said:

During their six-month term, delegates to the council will deliberate on issues of importance to the EVE community and work with representatives of CCP on the future evolution of EVE Online.

Oh yeah, and the terms were for six months back then… more elections… and there were nine members of the council and five alternates.

Anyway, an election gets popular people and not necessarily competent people on the CSM.

That, of course, leads us to who is really popular in New Eden.  There are a few people in the EVE Online population that have achieved space fame and who could thus get elected on their own.  To get there you usually have to take things out of game by starting a blog, running a news site, being particularly notable on Reddit, or by creating some sort of additional functionality for the game.  And that is no guarantee you will get the votes.  Riverini took a couple of shots, but his EN24 fame wasn’t enough.

For the most part though elections go to large, organized groups, and there are no larger nor more organized groups than the null sec blocs.  The nature of the game is that to survive and thrive and hold space in null sec you have to be organized.

I spent five years bopping around in high sec and was never in a corp that had more than a dozen people and probably didn’t know what an alliance really was.  That didn’t harm my play style at all.  In the back woods of Amarr space, far from Jita, life was peaceful.  The one and only time I was suicide ganked involved traveling from Jita to our little pocket in Amarr space via Niarja, which is the gank pipe.  I interacted with more EVE bloggers on their blogs out of game than I did with players in the game.

And then I moved to null sec and am currently in one of the small alliances in our coalition, having only ~1,600 members, while the senior partner is Goonswarm Federation with 24K members.  Yes, the member count is probably between half and two-thirds alts, but every paying account gets a vote.  So when an official ballot is put out for the coalition… which we mostly vote for, though Goon uniformity is largely a myth and candidates like Xenuria have been controversial on the official ballot… that provides a pretty strong base of votes.  The question is never about whether somebody from the ballot will get on the CSM but rather how many on the list will make it.

So if you’re not in null sec, how do you break into what is now the top 10 of votes?

It isn’t easy.  There have been various attempts to get a wider group or play style to back a candidate from, say, wormhole space or faction warfare.  That has worked a few times, but often there isn’t a clear choice as multiple candidates vie for the same demographic.

And if identify with a nebulous group like high sec, and your space blog is only getting 30 page views a day on average, and you are in competition with a ludicrous number of opponents (64 total candidates this year) for those coveted ten seats,  you don’t have many options.

You try to get on everybody’s review list or podcast and you promise to do things in the classic quid pro quo of politics.  You promise to represent this community or that community or several communities or all communities.  You promise to champion certain features or resist others.  If you’re really crazy, you promise to get CCP to do something.  You have to stand out, and just saying your knowledgeable isn’t enough.

I quoted Aryth at the top for a reason.  He doesn’t have to promise anything.  If you’re not in a null sec bloc, you’re running against somebody who doesn’t really need a campaign to win.  And he’ll get on the next CSM because he’ll be the top slot on the Imperium ballot and there is nothing you can post on Reddit to stop that.

Unfortunately, promises are a show of weakness, a sign of desperation to stand out.  When I first mentioned the elected CSM on this blog, back in April of 2008, I called it the Galactic Student Council.  Just like the student council back in high school, candidates can promise all sorts of thing, but in the end the school administration controls the situation and can ignore or veto the student council at will.  Likewise, the CSM serves at the pleasure of CCP and, as we have seen in the past, can be ignored with impunity.

To have any power on its own, the CSM has to bypass CCP and cause players to follow them rather than the company.  That has happened exactly once, after the Incarna expansion, and was an extraordinary set of circumstances the root causes of which people disagree with to this day. (But it wasn’t about the price of monocles, I guarantee you that.)

Sion Kumitomo tried to do this again, tried to take his issues out of school, during CSM 10.  However, he faced two problems.  Well, three problems.  The first was being in GSF, which sets some people against him automatically, but that was really the least of his problems and could have been overcome with the right issue.

The second problem was his communication style, which is long and ponderous, and I write this with a straight face as I pass the 1,200 word mark on this post without reaching my point.  I am good at burying the lede, and often do it deliberately just to see who is paying attention.  But when Sion writes, he doesn’t just bury the lede, he kills it, buries it in an unmarked grave deep in the forest, evades the detection of the authorities, and only gives up the location 40 years later on his death bed.  But that really wasn’t his biggest problem either.

No, his biggest problem was that he was attempting champion an issue about which almost nobody gave a shit about, the CSM.  The dirty not-really-a-secret of the CSM is that, judging by voter turn out, most people simply don’t know or don’t care about it.  I mean, if go back and read my Galactic Student Council post from 2008, you can see that I had missed a lot of what was going on, and I cared enough to write a blog post about it.

And CCP can talk about the election all it wants, encourage people to get involved, put info up on the launcher, post on Twitter and Facebook, and it isn’t going to change much.  Even the highest voted turnout ever for the CSM was still a depressingly small slice of the New Eden population.  Part of that people will mind their own business because they just want to log in after work and manage their PI or run a mission or see what their corp mates are up to, while the CSM is this thing that we only hear about when things go wrong.

And even if they do decide to vote, they haven’t been listening to the podcasts or reading candidate summaries or review… the alleged “EVE Media” and those who pay attention are a tiny part of the game… you load up that voting screen and see that grid array of 64 candidates, none of whom you have likely heard of (unless you saw the Xenuria ad running in stations, then you might remember him… he does have a memorable avatar) and what do you do?  How do you pick one candidate, much less ten, out of a list of random strangers whose avatars (aside from Xenuria’s) mostly blur together in a mass of plainness?

So barriers to an informed electorate are huge and the benefits are nebulous at best.  And after the train wreck that was CSM 10, I was predicting that the institution of the elected CSM might become more of a liability than CCP was willing to put up with.  The end seemed nigh.

And then CSM 11 happened.  CCP Guard and CCP Logibro took over the CCP side of the relationship with the group and met with the mostly null sec members of the newly elected CSM and got to work.  Everything was mostly quiet, there were no controversies, the meeting minutes seemed to indicate that people mostly got along and that it wasn’t a null sec plot to turn the whole game into their favored play style.  As noted way up at the top, even Neville Smit, who was out agitating for the alleged 85% with his Occupy New Eden plan seemed pleased enough to simply vote for any CSM 11 incumbent that ran again.

So what happened?

I think CCP finally “got” what the CSM ought to be and how to handle it.  They listened, they didn’t take every piece of advice offered, sometimes to their regret, but no members of CSM 11 are out there raging about how CCP dropped the ball by ignoring the CSM or how CCP claimed CSM approval around things that the CSM never really endorsed.  CCP didn’t screw up.

Meanwhile, the null sec blocs seemed to have burned through most of their prima donna candidates who just wanted to be on the CSM for a forum badge, an ego boost, and a free trip to Iceland and elected a group that seems to care about the overall health of the game.  Somebody like Aryth understands the essential symbiotic relationship that exists between null sec and high sec and knows he has to protect both for either to thrive.  And somebody like Xenuria is there to get you new shoes. (He needs to work on hats though.)

So even the skeptic in me, who has long derided the CSM, has to admit that things are pretty good with the institution right now, in part because CCP decided that the relationship was important, and in part because CCP still goes outside the CSM to get opinions.

Of course, it could all go to hell with CSM 12, but we’ll see.  Right now the CSM is about the best we can hope for given the various issues and limitations I have rambled about above, even if it clearly isn’t covering all voices.  But you’ve seen that “things to do in New Eden” chart.  How could you get all of that covered, even in broad strokes, on a panel with only 10 seats?

So I suppose we should enjoy this happy period while it lasts.

Anyway, there are others who have picked up the topic as well who probably have more cogent points to make.  Find some of them here: