Tag Archives: Council of Stellar Management

Charming Nonsense about the CSM

There was a bit of internet space drama over the weekend.

My exposure to this was on The Meta Show where The Mittani, head of Goonswarm and a former CSM member, along with Laz and Thoric Frosthammer, head of LAWN and a current CSM member, spoke about the recent changes to the CSM whitepaper which ended up excluding anybody associated from The Mittani dot com from running for CSM, but not any other EVE related sites.  The show isn’t up on YouTube yet, but should be in the Meta Show channel at some point this week, if that is your thing.

I mentioned this whitepaper change in my Friday post, so I won’t retrace my steps too much.  The upshot was that The Mittani and Thoric had a good time spinning a conspiracy theory based on the fact that the rule changes excluded exactly one current CSM XI candidate from running, the restive Sion Kumitomo.

CSM11_logo

It is The Meta show after all, so a perfectly fine meta topic to run with.  CCP Leeloo was already on record, long before the show even started, saying that the rules were not put in place for that purpose and that if CCP wanted to exclude somebody specifically they would just do that and not bother with this sort of rule lawyering.

CCP Falcon though couldn’t leave well enough alone and felt the need to return fire as noted on a number of sites.  Here is the quote that is making the rounds:

Falcon Speaks...

Falcon Speaks…

To be fair to CCP Falcon, The Mittani had taken his conspiracy theory on the road and was trolling other venues with it, so he probably felt some retort was required.

You can spin that however you like.  On Reddit there is a lot of cheering that Mittens got smacked down, though when Gevlon isn’t fully behind some striking out at The Mittani you have to start asking questions.

For me though, that drama isn’t really the interesting bit.  Drama blows over and disappears.  No, I like this line from CCP Falcon’s comment:

…there are areas of the whitepaper that CCP have no control over, such as the rights of a CSM delegate.

What complete nonsense.  I do not believe that at all.  There is no area of the whitepaper over which CCP does not exercise complete and absolute control.  This is literally playing right into my initial analogy about the CSM from back in 2008, when I called it the Galactic Student Council.

You can tell the student council that they get to choose the theme for the homecoming dance, and that will stick right up until the moment they choose something controversial, at which point the school administration will override the decision.

Likewise, CCP can tell the CSM that they have control over some aspect of their existence, right up until the point that the CSM does something CCP doesn’t like, at which point CCP will demonstrate exactly how much control the CSM really has, which is none whatsoever.

Smacking The Mittani… whatever.  Perpetuating this sort of nonsense about the CSM having some actual independent power… that is just too much to swallow.

Anyway, this drama has pretty much ensured that Xenuria will have a top spot on The Imperium’s CSM ballot.  I think that Mittens would send them Gevlon as well if he could arrange it.  I wonder who else will be on the ballot.  There are still a few days left for candidates to register.  Of course, then we will see if CCP decides to weed any of them out.

What is to Be Done with CSM 11?

The season is upon us again, the run up to the EVE Online Council of Stellar Management elections has begun.

CSM11_logo

The schedule of events looks like this:

  • January 15, 2016 – Candidacy period opens (Hey, that’s tomorrow!)
  • February 9, 2016 – Candidacy period closes, CCP validates potential candidates
  • February 29, 2016 – Voting begins
  • March 25, 2016 – Voting ends
  • April 21, 2016 – Results to be announced at Fanfest 2016

A new slate of candidates are already warming up their pitch… a new slate because a number of the veterans are declining to return.  For me the surprise isn’t that some people won’t run again, it is that some of them have run twice already.  From the outside being on the CSM looks like a bad middle management position: Too much work, not enough credit, scant control over your what tasks you get, and little chance your feedback will be heeded, all while reporting to a group likely a few time zones away that you will never truly be a part of.

I’ve had that job in real life, where it at least paid well and I got 6 weeks of vacation.  Doing it for free on top of my day job though, that seems like a bit much to ask.

And there is the institution itself, which I have considered a questionable tool for the job since its inception.  Having a consistently disinterested player base elect a slate of representatives is no way to ensure the right people are available to advise, not to mention that it favors well organized groups (read: Null Sec) so heavily that CCP had to re-rig the voting scheme so as to at least try and make it seem like they were doing something about it.

Then taking those elected and locking them into a year of working on topics for which they may have no practical experience all at the running hot and cold pace of product development and interacting with teams that may or may not care what they have to say or even trust them with details doesn’t seem like a great way to run a railroad.

And then there is the downside of having CSM members chosen by election, which is that it occasionally gives some of them the sense that they have a real mandate to do something.  The problem is that they only have the power that CCP allows them, unless they decide to go to the player base and publicly oppose CCP.

Admittedly, that worked once, with the Incarna and “Greed is Good” debacle. (Unless, of course, you were a fan of walking in stations.  Fans of space monocles, however, were spared any harm as the monocle of ill repute, which caused outsiders to deem this all “Monocle-gate,” is still available in the New Eden Store.)

That one moment during CSM6 gave people a sense that the CSM was perhaps not just a CCP publicity stunt, that it could be a force, a voice, to help set CCP straight when they started to stray from the fundamentals of the game.

Since then, however, that sense of mandate has been more likely to lead things like this.  I’m sure somebody at CCP did a spit-take when reading that, because in the midst of a dysfunctional relationship there is little they are less likely to do that try and depend more on the CSM.

CCP clearly needs to get feedback on ideas from players.  They have admitted in the past that the wisdom of the crowd can often see flaws and exploits in their plans long before they do.  Even the forums, as unwieldy as the can be, seem to offer a better chance of providing such feedback than a small elected body.  And short term focus groups seem like a much better alternative than either.

The main complaint I have heard about focus groups is that in a mix of conflicting opinions that such a group might bring, the developers are likely to only listen to the voices that agree with their preconceptions.  Unfortunately, while that can be true, it doesn’t seem less likely to be the case with the CSM either, the only difference being that CCP is likely to simply get less opinions to weigh.  That doesn’t feel like an off-setting benefit to me.  The wisdom of the crowd fades when the crowd dwindles to a little more than a dozen people.

If you look around to other companies running MMOs, the idea of selecting groups of players to offer feedback on aspects of the game for which they are qualified is pretty common.  SOE had their guild council running off and on for years.  Blizzard grabs players now and again for feedback.  And, while I would hardly endorse Turbine as an example that other companies ought to follow on most fronts, they do have their player councils for Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online.

That doesn’t even get into the whole Kickstarter and Early Access idea that is so popular these days and how that channels feedback to companies.

So what of the CSM then?

I always think back to when the idea came into being as a response to the T20 scandal. (Long version.)  It was somehow going to provide some oversight and transparency or some such to restore player confidence in CCP.  Has it done that yet?

I suspect that it will linger on for a few more seasons, despite my prediction.  I think it is telling that the CSM White Paper was firmed up this time around when it came to replacing members of the CSM.  That aspect of the CSM certainly got some exercise during CSM X, and it makes me wonder if the path to the exit will be shorter going forward.

But I am, by my own admission, quite the cynic at times, especially when it comes to sandbox politics.  I think reading the minutes of the Academic Senate at my university put me squarely in that spot.

Others are less cynical.  Some very earnest, hard working, and well meaning people will be running for CSM 11.  I am not for a boycott of the election, since I suspect that such an act would only cause the election to further favor the organized groups that will vote a full slate.   So I will not try to dissuade you from voting for the candidate of your choice, and all the more so if you believe they can do some good.

I even put together my own platform for a CSM run as a joke, then figured I had best not post it because once you start something like that, even in jest, some people will think you’re just being coy and really want the job.  I am sure there are people out there waiting for Gevlon to run despite his statements to the contrary.

My idea was to distill down the game to its most essential element, which I considered to be explosions.  My platform was solely based on explosions.  Explosions are exciting, give a great sense of satisfaction, are pretty, generate kill mails, and stimulate the economy.  I would be in favor of any plan that would increase the number of explosions in the game over the long term and against anything that reduced explosions in the long run, and would evaluate any idea based solely on that idea.

So, for example, I would have been against the Entosis link module idea, since explosions were reduced by that in my experience, something that seemed likely before it went into the game.  I would also be against being able to build a big red button that would cause everything in the game to explode because, while explosions would go up in the short term, the long term prospect for explosions would be dim.

I would likely have been for citadels, as those seem likely to increase the net explosion count, though I might be against the extremely small vulnerability window of the medium citadels,

So if you are just dying to run for the CSM and need a platform, feel free to steal that, or some variation on it.  As far as I can tell, it is as meaningful a platform as any I have seen laid out there, at least relative to what CCP will let you do in the end.

There go a thousand or so words on a topic in which I allegedly have little interest.  I doth protest a bit much or something, I think.

Of course, this being the CSM season, others are trotting out their own news and views on the institution.  We shall see what the election brings us.

 

CSM X Winners Announced

Live from Iceland, complete with the red PowerPoint “spelling error” underlines, we have the winners of the CSM X election.  Out of 75 candidates, these are the 14 who topped the vote.

CSM X WinnersIt looks like the permanent attendees (guaranteed travel to Iceland for meetings) are Sugar Kyle and Manfred Sideous, while half of the council looks to be made up of Null Sec bloc candidates, including CFC members Sion Kumitomo, Endie, and Thoric Frosthammer.

CCP will no doubt follow up with full voting details, but for now we know the makeup of CSM X.

Congratulations to the winners!  And we’re safe from Xenuria for another year.

Choosing the Tenth Galactic Student Council

I went with the Galactic Student Council metaphor just about seven years ago when the EVE Online Council of Stellar Management ran its first election.   And here we are today with the election of the 10th council kicking off.  (The whole thing started off with six month terms, which is how we got ten in seven years.)

CSM10There are 75 candidates out there vying for 14 spots and several bloggers have attempted to cover the candidates in order to give us some insight as to who stands for what as well as broader stroke views of the election itself.  Now, as polls have opened, people are posting their endorsements.

And I am still sticking with the Galactic Student Council metaphor.

That metaphor isn’t meant to denigrate any of the effort that those elected have put in during the past or plan to put in during the future.  Those that get elected are for the most part honest, forthright, and hard working, and CCP ought to feel lucky to have them.

And it doesn’t mean that I won’t vote.  I will likely vote the straight CFC party ticket, though I’d vote for Sion and Endie regardless.  Frankly I can’t wait for Endie on the CSM.  He wields metaphor like somebody wielding… a thingy… very deftly… or something.  I envy his way with words.  And people like Sugar Kyle and Steve Ronuken are on the CFC ticket, though I might bump them up the list.   And I want competent people around so when CCP deigns to ask their advice, so they get a good response.

No, that metaphor is a poke at CCP.  The CSM is a creature of CCP’s own making.  They control it and within the bounds of its work the CSM only has exactly as much power and influence as CCP allows it.  CSM members can have real power, but that power really only exists when they take things out of school, as happened with Incarna or the bonus room, neither of which were happy, comfortable moments for CCP.  That is clearly not the CSM CCP dreams of.  And the stink coming from behind the curtains of CSM9, where CCP basically refused to deal with an elected candidate, but wouldn’t remove him or own up to the situation, just makes me roll my eyes.  If you want to pick and choose who you deal with, then don’t go through the pretense of elections.

Anyway, like a minority of EVE Online players out there, I will go cast my vote.  I will also happily collect my “so you’re still subscribed” free blueprints for a special shuttle and my “please vote, we’ll give you some goodies” collectables.  All the details are here on how and when to vote and what prizes you get.

Diplomatic Shuttle... Caroline's Star not included.

Diplomatic Shuttle… Caroline’s Star not included.

And then the election will be over, the new CSM will be announced, and the whole thing will go into the background… or even more so into the background… for most players.

I sort of pay attention to what is going on and I would find it hard to pick out the right candidates out of a list of 75… how can we be sure all these people are running for the right reasons… and as amusing as I would find it to inflict former CFC member (elapsed time as in GSF, ~8 minutes) Xenuria on CCP for a year, I do want somebody I think I can trust around when the time comes.

So if you want help figuring out who to vote for, there are plenty of suggested ballots out there, often with detailed reasons why you should select a given candidate.  Here are a few:

Anyway, go vote when you’re ready.

EVE Online – CSM9 Voting Begins

The time has come to elect a new Council of Stellar Management in EVE Online.  CCP even has a fresh new logo for ninth CSM.

CSM9_Logo_450px

Voting runs from now through April 22.

CCP has a nice page up describing the voting process and the changes from last year, along with a statement about how vitally important the CSM is to them.  And maybe it is.  But as The Mittani proved back during Incarna, and Jester demonstrated again with the whole Erotica 1 thing, the CSM and its members have real power, but only when they take things out of school and oppose CCP publicly.  Otherwise the CSM comes off to me as more of a special insiders club.  They have value I am sure, but do they represent us behind that NDA screen?  And does CCP have to listen to them?

So while CCP Dierdra Vaal has the EVE Vote Match site up to help you sort through the candidates to find out which ones publicly claim to support things with which you might agree, or at least consider important, I always look at those results and wonder, “Will this person be ready to take it out of school when the time is right?  And will they know when the time is right?”  You don’t stand in opposition for trivia, you do so for things that really matter… in our pretend internet spaceships game… or something.

Which one of these would go there?

Which one of these would go there?

I do not have any endorsements.  I am a line member in a null sec bloc and I haven’t read the post telling me who to vote for yet or picked up my talking points cheat sheet.  Theoretically I could really get behind a “Send Xenuria to Iceland” campaign just based on the apoplexy it would cause.  Those would be some CSM minutes I would enjoy reading.  And I must declare that the best candidate name on the list has to be Awoxing Pizza-Spymaster McBlushooter from Brave Newbies.  We shall see if that name can carry him through.

Anyway, voting is live.  The CSM election dev blog has a link that will send you to the ballot to cast your votes.

Jita… Burnt to the Tune of $27K

Well, the party did not last too much longer.

There was apparently some attempt at deception in declaring the Burn Jita event over before everybody went home in hopes of luring some more freighters back into the system.  But things now appear really over, with some of the key players off to Iceland and FanFest.

Mission Complete

Mission Complete

Image source: the internet… I forget where exactly.  Sorry.

The tally posted over at The Mittani shows that 142 freighters, 13 jump freighters, 10 basic industrials, and 2 Orcas were blown up in the event, along with a few choice targets of opportunity. (A best/worst kills lineup is available.)  That is a considerable increase over last year’s totals.  Jita remains the most violent system in the game this month. (It was in third place for the month of April last year with the first Burn Jita, which is where it usually sits most months.)

April Stats as of Today...

April Stats as of Today…

The victim count sums up to around 573 billion ISK destroyed, which using the current in-game valuation of PLEX (515 million ISK per) rolls out to about $27,000 worth of destruction, given the only real world to in-game currency conversion mechanism we have.  Nobody literally lost that much, but all of that ISK could have been used to buy that much in PLEX.

In all, the event felt, as was received, differently than the last time around.  The lack of fuss surrounding the pending event has been attributed to the CFC not making a big deal before hand in hopes of catching people unawares.  Not that I think that was really necessary.  Anybody who were paying attention knew it was coming.

Those who did not pay attention… well… surprise… and confusion!

On the confusion front, a newer member of our corp sent out a corp-wide email letting us all know that The Goons were going to attack Jita and that we all ought to steer clear.  I hope somebody explained to him that we were invited to the party.

The reaction from CCP was particularly muted.  Last year they were giving interviews and playing up a huge player driven event as being exactly the sort of thing they want happening in EVE Online.  They also took the time to put up a banner on the login page to warn people that the event was taking place.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

This year there was no talk and no banner.  I do not know if the whole thing was no big deal to CCP this time around, or if they were simply too busy wrapping up the CSM elections and preparing for FanFest, but things sure were quiet on that front.

On the blog front, it was pretty quiet as well.  No calls to action, either to get people out to blow things up or to defend Jita against the CFC.  There were some posts about Goon conspiracies, Goon contempt, and what happens to morons.  But it wasn’t treated as a big deal.

Over at The Mittani, the summing up post includes an interview with Warr Akini about what it took to setup the event.

I expect that anything which remains to be said will be overshadowed by Fanfest posts and announcements, which will include what we can expect from the Odyssey expansion this June and who will be sitting on CSM8.

And so we move on.  Ships blew up.  Some people are angry.  Some people are happy.

Just another day in New Eden really.

The Word I am Looking for is “Gerrymandering”

Gerrymandering may be used to achieve desired electoral results for a particular party, or may be used to help or hinder a particular demographic, such as a political, racial, linguistic, religious or class group.

-From Wikipedia

I live in California.  I know all about Gerrymandering.  We provide source material on the topic these days.

My State in Action

And apparently somebody is taking this idea from real world politics to try and “fix” the CSM election process.

Somehow I don’t think creating a convoluted election mechanism to punish players able to organize (in a game that rewards organization) is really addressing the issue when only ~15% of accounts even bother to vote for the Galactic Student Council. (~60K votes cast out of a population of ~400K accounts.)

One of my comments on the meeting minutes from the Spring summit of the CSM was that, based on their output, “the favored topic of CSM7 appears to be CSM7,” which certainly fits the student council model. (As opposed to the UN model, which would have been equally useful, but more entertaining to watch.)

My opinion on that remains unchanged.

But it does look like CCP is really the force driving this particular issue.  CCP seems to want a “better,” more broad based council and is frustrated by the fact that the groups successful in most political part of the game… null sec… are also successful in CCPs sandbox political game.  What a surprise!

That is the problem with creating democratic institutions.  It becomes hard to rig them to get the results you want without looking like you are rigging them merely to get the results you want.  But that isn’t going to stop CCP from trying I guess.

Maybe CCP should scrap the whole thing and go the SOE route.  Just create a “by invitation only” advisory group that they can whistle up and fly out at need for discussion and otherwise ignore.

What do you think?  Does the CSM have any value for the player base?

Addendum: CSM7 loses another supporter and Seleene is in there trying to quash criticism again by insisting that you can only know the real story if you talk to the CSM in person.  That worked out so well for Jester.