Quote of the Day – CSM Candidate Red Flag Issue

I don’t care if CCP sells bullets that do a little more damage frankly.

-Matterall, CSM14 interview with Jin’taan (at ~17:40)

The CSM14 elections kick off on Monday, so the time for candidate research is coming to an end.  You’ll soon be able to to cast your vote… at least if you are part of the minority of players that bother.

Elections start on Monday

Of note, Jin’taan did a series of interviews with some of the candidates.  He served on the previous three CSMs and used his insight there to ask some pointed questions of the people he interviewed, keeping to the same questions for each interview and not releasing any of the interviews until he was done.  This added an element of surprise and some discomfort to those being interviewed and give some unfiltered insight into the candidates themselves.  We got to see past the bland electioneering statements and get into the candidates.

Overall, Jin’taan interviewed just six candidates that he found interesting.  They were:

I like the format and I wish Jin’taan had been able to interview more candidates, however we get what we get.

Each of the candidates stumbled now and again but mostly adapt to the situation in which they found themselves… except for Matterall.

Matterall seemed to push back on the questions.  That is okay, I suppose.  However, some of the questions from Jin’taan started with straight up statements that CSM members would be asked for direct feedback or to bring up specific issues and Matterall, unlike every other interviewee, didn’t want to go there.  (He didn’t even want to endorse any other candidate in the final question.  Mike Azariah, for example, took that moment to endorse Matterall, but Matterall had no kind words for anybody else.)

In the end I came away with the impression that what Matterall doesn’t want to be on the CSM, that what he really wants is to consult with CCP on marketing and avoid in-game issues altogether except in the most general, high level sense.

And I guess that is a platform of sorts, even if he seems to be stating up front he won’t be doing the job that will be expected of him.

But then there was the monetization question.  All of the candidates interviewed by Jin’taan went pretty quickly against CCP selling any sort of pay to win.  That seemed like the obvious response, as a couple even said.  As has been pointed out many times, any scent of pay to win in a PvP game can bring ruin to a game.  Games that have run with that at times, such as World of Tanks and their gold ammo, have found themselves better off discarding that sort of thing.

Well, all of the candidates except Matterall.

Matterall, as the quote at the top of this post indicates, was quite indifferent to the idea of pay to win.  I will expand his quote just to put in more context: [stumbles and things like “uh” not transcribed]

I know that monetization is a big deal to people. It’s not a big deal to me. If the game can make money by selling objects like Fortnite can and make however much gazillions of dollars they are making, I am all for it. I don’t see any problem with it. I think what they [CCP] have done generally in the past has been good, as far as a guideline, but this is not something I am passionate about. I don’t care if CCP sells bullets that do a little more damage frankly. I don’t see that as completely destabilizing the game. Because the game is not all about PvP. The game is about other things too.

He goes on to speak about things he would like to see… more books and such, and says he has every copy of EON Magazine… then starts to sound somewhat dismissive of cosmetic offerings.  I came away feeling like he didn’t care for ship SKINs or clothing items.

This segment of the interview had me muttering aloud as I listened to it because there was so much wrong there.

First, I dislike the comparison to Fortnite.  That seemed to be a lazy grab at the most popular title out there that is a genre apart from EVE Online.  But more so, if that is your example, a PvP game that sells only cosmetic gear, it seems like a very strange jump to go from that to selling gold ammo.  If you think that is what Fortnite does, go educate yourself.  And that comparison gets even weirder when he sounds so uninterested in cosmetic options.

Second, one of Matterall’s repeated campaign slogans is that he listens to everyone.  That seems to be something of an idle boast if he can blithely state that gold ammo isn’t a big deal.  Or maybe he does listen, but just doesn’t care.  Either way, if this is a hot button issue to you (it is to me, if only for the survival of the overall game) then Matterall would clearly not be representing you on the CSM.

Third, another of his campaign statements is about the unity of the game (you can find this over on his CSM Wire page for CSM 14), that he doesn’t like to break things up into null sec, high sec, faction warfare, and whatever.  As he writes, “those distinctions don’t make sense to me.”  But here we have him chopping off part of the game, PvP, which I would argue makes up a critical core of the game… you don’t have an industry game or a mining game or a hauling game unless people are buying replacement ships and modules due to losses… in a way that seems diametrically opposed to his stated position.  If you want to take a holistic view you cannot then set aside major parts of the game.

Fourth, his attraction to literature as a monetization option seems misplaced.  Not that I do not share his interest.  I have many back issues of EON Magazine and most of the books and what not.  The thing is, these are not, nor ever have been, a money making ventures for the game.  Things like that, and the EVE Online Store (about which I have written), are marketing.   They don’t make money, they promote the game.  Rare is the gaming company that turns a profit, or breaks even, on that sort of thing, and I feel like somebody who wants to go engage CCP about their marketing efforts ought to know that.

Finally, I think that Matterall, who has been playing since 2008 and who has done a couple of presentations at EVE Vegas about the game’s history, ought to be aware of what happened the last time CCP brought up the idea of gold ammo and cash shop ships.  While the event is erroneously called “Monoclegate” because the press likes a snappy term (with “gate” appended) for a headline, the backlash against CCP with the Incarna release was driven in large part by the leak of the Greed is Good internal publication that seemed to chart out a plan to monetize all the things, selling special ship and ammo and implants and whatever in the cash shop.

That did not turn out well for CCP and to be indifferent to that is a serious disqualifying factor to my mind.

Gold ammo – Artist concept

So there we go.  I’ve spent time talking with Matterall at EVE Vegas and we get along.  I don’t particularly want to bash him.  I was even inclined to slip him onto my ballot… not in first position, as he was asking, but somewhere… however now I cannot bring myself to put him on the list.  This interview changed my mind.  It was almost 30 minutes of empty rhetoric and high concept where the one concrete issue that came up he said it didn’t interest him.  That was only a couple minutes out of the interview, but it was the only part where the rubber met the road really, the only part where we had a glimpse of him being handed an actual topic of substance, and he didn’t have the moxie to go there because he didn’t really care.

Matterall, if you really do listen to everybody, listen to this:  I think you went far astray on this one.  You differentiated yourself, but not in a good way.

I hope, if you do managed to get elected after this faux pas, you are willing to do the job you’ve asked for and not just the bit you say that interests you.  My cynicism regarding CCP and its use of the CSM, reinforced by the recent Jester post-NDA AMA, leads me to believe that somebody trying to blaze their own path is likely doomed, if not to failure, then at least to irrelevance.

This naturally leads to something of a larger question about what qualifies somebody to be on the CSM?  Is having strong but more general opinions about internet spaceships, or the marketing thereof, enough?  Should being able to discuss and evaluate the often intricate mechanics of the game in a detailed and authoritative way the sole requirement?  Jin’taan and Jester both strongly imply that is really what CCP wants and, that if you fail at that, if you cannot engage at that level, you may as well stay home.  CCP has proven in the past that they control the discourse, that if they don’t want to listen that no member has any real agency within the confines of the CSM unless CCP grants it to them.  The only time that the CSM has successfully defied that was during the Incarna and Greed is Good imbroglio.

So do you vote for somebody you know will play by CCP’s rules and take the wins they can get, or do vote for somebody attempting to bring their own view of the role of the CSM and accept that it may well be a wasted vote?

Addendum: I was just early, Jin’taan has more interviews and two more just appeared.

On the monetization question, Olmeca Gold follows the safe line, being against in game items, as well as being worried about the skill points that CCP has been giving away.

Juris Doctor took the question and essentially argued in favor of what CCP already has (PLEX and skill injectors), which I guess is a position.  When pressed with a follow up to get him to actually answer the question, he went down a theoretical path about being able to buy alternate star gate routes in New Eden (Amarr to Jita or Dodixie to Pure Blind were given as examples) which sounds like a something ripe for exploitation, such that doubt CCP would ever embrace it.  So I’m not hot on Juris Doctor being on the CSM either. but at least he didn’t wave off gold ammo as something that didn’t matter.

10 thoughts on “Quote of the Day – CSM Candidate Red Flag Issue

  1. SynCaine

    How can someone play EVE since 2008 and not understand that everything in EVE revolves around PvP. That alone should be an auto-dismissal, let alone the insanity he said about gold ammo.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mailvaltar

    It’s often been said that candidates belonging to a large alliance or coalition are practically guaranteed to win a seat. PanFam coalition’s numbers surely qualify, if only due to Horde.

    Yet if word about this interview spreads, which it most definitely will, I highly doubt many folks will feel comfortable giving him their votes, even if leadership encourages us to do so. Hasn’t happened as of yet though, maybe there’s a reason for that.

    Like

  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Mailvaltar – Well, there are bloc candidates and then there are candidates that happen to be in null sec blocs. I don’t know, but I suspect that Matterall will be the latter, that if he appears on the PanFam ballot that he will be way down the list, and anybody below 3rd position is unlikely to get in from that ballot alone.

    Matterall has his own constituency in the Talking in Stations viewership, so if he does get in it will be based on that. We shall see.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dirk MacGirk (@dirkmacgirk)

    Let me begin by saying that I’m not Matterall’s Paul Manafort or his Kellyann, but I’d just say Matterall isn’t supportive of gold ammo, but sometimes conversations have to take place without a simple purity test of the idea. This isn’t 2011 anymore and EVE Online and the industry has changed quite a bit since that time. There has to be a better argument than “gold ammo bad” or CCP may very well just bypass bad arguments rather than engage in conversation.

    Matterall undoubtedly had a weak showing in his interview. I’m friends with the guy, and even I face palmed a bit, mainly because some of his answers left me confused based on the many other conversations we’ve had previously. Some people are just not great at interviews. That being said, if the monetization aspects of his comments are truly disturbing to anyone, I encourage them to also cast an eye towards any CSM incumbent who was on the council when skill injectors were introduced. Because you really have to ask yourself where they were as a bulwark not merely in comments at the time, but in the period since.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Dirk – You are absolutely correct, it isn’t 2011. Back in 2011 there were not a bunch of politicians trying to make political capital out of things like loot boxes and pay to win. I would argue that today is an even worse environment to think that gold ammo is a good idea than 2011. You have all the same player trust issues AND you have the real world political element.

    But that is just an evasion. That is all beside the point. The problem isn’t that Matterall took a strong stand in favor of gold ammo or whatever. It is that he didn’t care. His whole interview seemed to be a fight against doing anything we expect out of CSM members. His campaign statements are all about a high level, holistic view of the game. But he doesn’t want to talk about PvP, he doesn’t want to work with other CSM members, he doesn’t want to get into any mechanical aspects of the game.

    He didn’t just have a weak showing in his interview. There are seven other interviews linked in this post and ALL of them are better than his. Olmeca Gold came off as a better choice and he seems to believe any undocked VNI is a bot. Juris Doctor with his bizarro world gate rental system came of as more engaged with the game. I like Matterall, but he managed to come off so badly that I wrote this post.

    As for incumbents that might have heard about skill injectors before they hit… which is another evasion, trying to throw the light off of Matterall… we have Aryth, The Judge, and Steve Ronuken, and if any of them said as part of their campaigns at the time that they were in favor of gold ammo or skill injectors, they probably would have felt the heat on that as well. Got any “I don’t care about skill injectors” quotes for me?

    Like

  6. Dirk MacGirk (@dirkmacgirk)

    I’m not trying to throw the light off Matterall. It’s his campaign and the words he chose were his. I found a number of faults in the interview and relayed them to him as well. Hell, I’ve joked about it with him publicly. You can use stronger language to describe how bad you thought it was, as is your prerogative.

    As for what the CSM at the time or since have expressed publicly about skill injectors, that has nothing to do with Matterall’s comments. It wasn’t intended to distract or evade from the issues you have with his interview and thus it could have been left out. It was just something I got to thinking about today given the gold ammo topic (here and elsewhere).

    Like

  7. Mailvaltar

    @ Dirk – It’s true, some people are indeed bad at (live) interviews. I know I am, maybe he is too. I have to admit that I hadn’t considered that possibility.

    If that’s indeed the case though he probably should know better than to run for CSM. I mean, if you have trouble talking straight and getting your point across when under pressure, what chance do you have to actually achieve something?

    Like

  8. Pingback: CSM 14 Candidate Cheat Sheet – A Bad Show (For Bad People)

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