Tag Archives: Council of Stellar Management

EVE Online CSM 12 Winners Announced

During the EVE Online keynote at Fanfest 2017 CCP Seagull announced the winners of the CSM 12 election.  As noted previously, the CSM was reduced to ten members and all members will travel to CCP for summits.

The winners were:

The 10 members of CSM 12

  • Steve Ronuken – Fuzzwork Enterprises
  • Rhiload Feron-drake – TURN LEFT
  • The Judge – Circle of Two
  • NoobMan – Hard Knocks Citizens
  • Jin’taan – Curatores Veritatis Alliance
  • Innominate – Goonswarm Federation
  • Vince Draken – Northern Coalition
  • Yukiko Kami – Brave Coalition
  • Suitonia – Goonswarm Federation
  • Aryth – Goonswarm Federation

Six of the winners were carry-overs from CSM11.

Once again, null sec candidates make up the majority of the council, though now they represent a smaller percentage now that the council is smaller and a low sec candidate, Rhiload Feron-drake, made the cut.

Voter turnout was up over last year, with 31,274 votes cast compared to only 22,345 in 2016.

Votes cast in CSM elections

While the trend was up, it was still nowhere near the peak of 59,109 votes cast for CSM 7.

There will no doubt be a dev blog to follow this up with details and the actual vote count.  Then we can figure out how close Xenuria came to re-election.

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 2y, 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.

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:

CSM 12 Application Process Opens, CSM Reduced to 10 Seats

As expected CCP opened up the application process for people wishing to run for a seat on CSM 12.  CCP Guard and CCP Logibro have put up a dev blog with details about the process of applying.

Ready for round 12!

Ready for round 12!

Along with the application process, the dev blog also covers some history of the CSM, the meeting minutes for second CSM 11 summit, and how many members have been attending the live sessions in Iceland.  For CSM 11 all members have been attending these summits at CCP headquarters in Reykjavik, Iceland.  It has been decided that this will continue with CSM 12.

To facilitate this however, the size of the CSM is being reduced from 14 to 10 members.

We shall see how this affects the single transferable vote system in place.  At a minimum, I expect we will allowed to vote for just 10 people this time around.

I expect some analysis will come out to show who would have been on past CSM groups had there only been 10 seats available. [Addendum: Oh, there it is.]

The Run for CSM 12 Begins Soon

CCP put up a dev post yesterday about the upcoming elections for the twelfth Council of Stellar Management.

Round 12 coming up!

Round 12 coming up!

Happens every year, so not exactly a surprise to people familiar with the body.

The surprising bit is that the current CSM session hasn’t been a drama shit show like the previous couple.  Nobody has been removed for breaking the NDA.  There haven’t been any long and emotional editorials or proposals about what the CSM should be doing or what its relationship with CCP ought to be that I have seen.  CCP didn’t feel the need to extend the “No Sions” rule to anybody else.  There were no boycotts.  And I haven’t heard any tales of CSM members being wrung out and soured by the whole experience.

A year ago people were wondering aloud if the CSM was headed for closure. At this same announcement in 2016 I was asking what was to be done.

Now, not so much.

The tenure of CSM11 has been fairly quiet.  I think the biggest CSM drama over the last year was Bobmon going to bat for I Want ISK, only to find out that Bobmon was a banker I Want ISK.  And since casinos were banned in the end, that bit of attempting to help his own interests didn’t add up to much.  The RMT barons got theirs, a happy ending for the game.

But other than that, and the occasional attempt to make hay over CSM meeting attendance on Reddit, the CSM hasn’t been news, headline or otherwise.

Granted, we have had other things to chew on.  There was the bitter Casino War that dominated the news for a few months.  And then there were the Citadel and Ascension expansions, the latter allowing people to participate in the game without having a subscription.  But CSM drama is like a bad smell; it becomes hard to ignore, even when other issues are occupying your mind.

So what happened?  Did we somehow just elect a perfect slate of brotherly love? (I don’t think there are any sisters on the rolls this time around, are there?)  Certainly the predicted XenuriApocalypse of footwear issues didn’t come to pass.  And I haven’t seen anything bubble up about CSM members talking out of school.

Or was it the change in management?

A year ago CCP Falcon and CCP Leeloo were running the show as the Combative/Deny Everything duo.  That might be unfair to CCP Leeloo, but certainly not to CCP Falcon who seems to revel in the tough guy, HTFU attitude of the game and who was shoveling nonsense about the CSM having some control over their status just a year back.

They were replaced before the CSM11 elections by CCP Guard, a long respected member of the CCP team, and CCP Logibro, who maintains a serious level of chill of his own accord. (Though I do wonder if there is some sort of maximum height limit for the community team at CCP as I don’t think many of them come up much past my shoulder.)

And since that change, it seems to have been smooth sailing.

I still wonder as to the efficacy of the CSM.  It still strikes me as a bit of a student council.  Its members still lack agency, and necessarily so as a customer advisory council.  And its membership still overwhelmingly reflects the groups in the game that know how to organize by necessity, which is to say the null sec alliances.  But at least it stopped being a public embarrassment to CCP.

So on we go!

The key dates for CSM 12 are:

  • February 3 – 17: Candidacy application period
  • February 17 – 28: Application processing period
  • February 28: Candidates for CSM 12 are announced
  • March 6 – 26: CSM 12 Voting period
  • April 6: CSM 12 election results are announced

The biggest change since last year is the presence of Alpha clones, the non-subscribers, who can run for a seat on the CSM, but who cannot vote.  Franchise for Omega landowners only, you peasant alpacas!

There are, of course, all sorts of details about the hurdles of applying and running for the CSM, which are covered in gritty detail over at The Nosy Gamer.  If you want to immerse yourself, I recommend going there to get your fill.

Anyway, let the election season begin.  Xenuria 2017!

Reviewing My 2016 Predictions

Roll over Beethoven, here we are again.  There is still some time left in the year, but I pretty sure we are far enough along that anything I predicted back in January will have either come to pass or just won’t happen this year.

Blog2016

Back at the start of the year I listed out sixteen predictions for 2016, the sweet sixteenth birthday of the 21st century.  And then somebody spiked the Kool-aid and the party ran out of control in a way that even a National Lampoon script writing team would deem too implausible to put to paper.

So my predictions look pretty tame compared to reality.

Anyway, here is what I predicted back then.  As usual, the questions are worth 10 points each, with partial credit available.

  • 1WoW Legion will ship on August 16th, which will give Blizzard both one of the fastest expansion release cycles in its history along with one of the longest content droughts, leaving few happy.

Pretty close on that one.  Yes, I know that is two weeks off the actual date, but given the number of people insisting June simply had to be the date, not too shabby.  And it was one of the longest content droughts, about which nobody was really happy.  I’m giving myself about half credit on that – 6 points.

  • 2WoW Legion will be heavily criticized for the small amount of content it delivers at launch.  It will turn out that Blizzard can’t figure out how to make any more content than usual, so the plan will be to dole it out in more, but smaller, chunks over the life of the expansion.

Hrmm, not so much.  I mean, you could argue that the initial four zones and the run to level 100 were pretty darn quick.  But Blizz did have a bunch of level cap content ready, has rolled out the first content update and talked about future updates.  So I think I get a nada here – 0 Points.

  • 3 – The Warcraft movie will be a modest success, though after it settles down somebody will calculate that more people have probably played World of Warcraft than saw the movie in the theater.  The movie’s impact on the game will be negligible.

I think modest success is about spot-on.  The Chinese box office wasn’t all that profitable.  If you saw the movie in the theater you probably live in China and being the best movie in a traditionally crap niche still isn’t saying much.  As for impact on the game… meh.  Did anybody subscribe because they saw that movie?  And I think I saw that players vs. viewers calculation at one point in July.  I’m giving myself full points on this one just to make you angry.  If you disagree, go watch this then channel your rage into the comments – 10 Points.

  • 4Diablo IV will be announced at BlizzCon.  Really.  This time I am serious dammit!

Blizzard, however, was not serious.  We did get an announcement about a treat, a remake of the original Diablo in the game, plus something that sounds a bit like a new expansion vehicle for the return of the Necromancer class, but that was about it – 0 Points.

  • 5 – Daybreak will get a new head honcho who will be selected from another company and will have little or no experience with the fantasy MMORPG genre that has kept the team in San Diego funded for most of its existence.  Expect this person’s past experience to be the hammer and any Daybreak problem to be a nail.  They’ll be just like that VP we once hired from Oracle, for whom every solution required a database.  So if, for example, they have a history with first person shooters on the XBox, you’ll know what to expect.

How to score this?  I wrote a whole post about this two weeks back.  Long time SOE veteran Russel Shanks stepped in back when Smed got the axe… erm, stepped down… almost a year and a half ago.  I wasn’t sure if that was an interim move back then.  That lingered until October when Shanks stepped down and Ji Ham, a Columbus Nova Prime operative was put in the top slot, no doubt to make sure the spice cash was kept flowing. And while he has no notable experience with fantasy MMORPGs, he also isn’t exactly what my prediction implied either.  Also, is seems that we was co-president or some such this whole time.  Still, I suppose that appointment does mean we’ll know what to expect.  I’m going to go with Bree’s call on the score here – 8 Points.

  • 6 – It will be more tough times and harsh realities for Daybreak.  The EverQuest/EverQuest II teams, which pull their own weight, will be safe so long as they can sell expansions, but everything else will be up for grabs.  As a result I expect two of the following to happen:
  • EverQuest Next pushed out prematurely for early access dollars.
  • EverQuest Next and Landmark merged back into a single product/project, but you have to buy it again it you bought Landmark.
  • Legends of Norrath shut down.
  • Legends of Norrath turned into a stand-alone iOS and Andoid game, where it fails and gets shut down.
  • PlanetSide 2 shut down, relaunched with a new name as a buy-to-play title for consoles only, old version not compatible with the new one.
  • DC Universe Online shut down on Windows, left running on PlayStation.
  • H1Z1 basic package launched as a buy-to-play title, but seriously gimped unless you are a Daybreak All Access subscriber or plan to spend big in the cash shop.
  • New, console-only project announced.

You know, that list isn’t nearly as divorced from reality as I thought it was eleven and a half months back.  I even got one on the nose, as Legends of Norrath went away back in August.

And I could make the case that some variation of the first two on the list came to pass as Daybreak kicked Landmark out the door into the cold marketplace for the few players that remained.

Meanwhile, bits of that H1Z1 prediction contained threads of reality, while DCUO moving to XBox seems to confirm what was said in the past about the game being popular on consoles as opposed to being a big deal in the Windows market.

In the end though, I am only going to claim one, if only to off-set those ill-gotten points from the Warcraft movie prediction – 5 Points.

  • 7 – Turbine needs a splash in 2016 with LOTRODDO rolls along as is, sharing the Dungeons & Dragons license with Neverwinter.  But the contract with Tolkien Enterprises for LOTRO wraps up in 2017.  While a renewal seems pretty likely, barring a complete disaster, it would go over much better if some additional cash were flowing in.  So, after a couple years off… and perhaps learning from the market… a big expansion will be announced that will bring us to Mordor.  Cirith Ungol or maybe just to the main gates, but the end of the journey will be in sight.  Expect a special Blessing of the Valar level boost to be bundled in with it that will get you stuck straight into the new content.  Yes, I know this isn’t in the current 2016 plan for Turbine, but this will change before the end of the year.

Poor Turbine.  I don’t think they have it in them to get an expansion out anymore.  They’ll just slowly update their way to Mordor and toss in the ring eventually – 0 Points.

  • 8 – In EVE Online, citadels will be big. (Ha ha!)  Everybody will want one, which will cause a boom in construction and a spike in mineral prices and a rise in concurrent users.  It will be the new shiny.  This will wane as the close of summer comes to an end and we all figure out the flaw in the citadel plan and the game grinds to a halt while we argue about how CCP should fix it.

Well, I was certainly right on the “everybody will want one” side of the equation, with more than 7,000 of the things having been deployed across New Eden.  We never did get to the horrible flaw in them.  Some small ones, but no game breakers.  Then again, I think that part of the prediction might simply have been premature.  Wait until they want to kill null sec stations and POSes – 4 Points.

  • 9 – CCP will either close down the CSM or change it so drastically that it is essentially a different beast.  We’ll get CSM XI, but it will carry on the now familiar tradition of institutional animosity from certain sectors within CCP, something that won’t be helped by the fact that most CSM veterans will decline to run for election, leading to a fresh CSM with Xenuria and DurrHurrDurr (or a reasonable facsimile of the latter) as the permanent Icelandic duo.  That will force CCP to act.

I am claiming a few points up front for predicting Xenuria on the CSM and the whole “veterans decline to run” thing.  As for change, the most drastic was pulling CCP Falcon and CCP Leeloo off of CSM duty, as the pair of them seemed to be a major part of the drama creation machine that had been the CSM for a while… CCP Falcon especially, as he seems to thrive on building a reputation of being combative and confrontational… and putting in the ever-chill pair of CCP Guard and CCP Logibro.  After that and the election, the CSM almost disappeared into obscurity as they simply tried to get the job done.

So not a drastic change, but CCP seems to have succeeded, for now, in turning the CSM back into an asset rather than a public relations nightmare – 7 Points.

  • 10 – The return of The Fountain War Kickstarter will succeed when it kicks off in March, being better thought out.  Drama will be way, way down compared to the initial run.

Ha ha ha ha!  Ever the optimist am I!  CCP ran away from The Fountain War book idea like a scalded cat after the disaster of the first attempt.  We shall not hear of that again – 0 Points.

  • 11 Black Desert, the new anticipated hotness, combining an Asian MMO import with the word “sandbox” yet again, is going to be a replay of ArcheAge, with a big rush, overcrowding, disappointment and recriminations, before settling down for the core audience that will remain after everybody who pinned sky high hopes on it storms off in a fit of pique.

I mean, pretty much, right?  For a bit it was all anybody could talk about, then it pretty much fell off the map when it comes to the blogs I read.  I see update posts about it over at Massively OP, and it had a server merge recently, so it seems to fit in the ArcheAge mold well enough – 10 Points.

  • 12 Project: Gorgon, after being in the shadows for so long, will have a banner year in 2016, with early access success on Steam leading to the game going live for real before the year runs out.

Not quite there yet.  The game is on its way, but everything always takes longer than you think when it comes to software – 0 Points.

  • 13 – NCsoft will announce that WildStar is closing down, it’s free to play conversion having been a brief flash in the pan.

I keep expecting this as WildStar sets new revenue lows in the NCsoft quarterly reports, yet it is still around.  Congrats to a 2016 survivor I guess – 0 Points.

  • 14 – Despite all the back and forth and talk of lawyers and lawsuits and who is going to sue who for what and where, the Derek Smart vs. Star Citizen brouhaha will fade away without a metaphorical legal punch being thrown.

Okay, maybe I was looking for a gimme trying to get to 16 predictions.  No lawsuit, no how – 10 points.

  • 15 – Somebody will buy Funcom… for cheap… to rescue a couple of their titles, but Anarchy Online won’t be on the list of the saved.  LEGO Minifigures Online is the prize there.

Meanwhile Funcom remains in trouble, still wobbling around on its own, while LEGO Minifigures Online went the way of LEGO Universe back at the end of September – 0 Points.

  • 16Crowfall, will still be in development, allowing only limited access for backers by the end of 2016.  It won’t really be a thing until 2017.

I don’t think Crowfall is even that far along now.  It certainly won’t be a thing until late 2017 at the earliest – 0 Points.

  • Special Bonus Prediction – A big Pokemon announcement to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the series on February 27, 2016.

My make up gimme prediction.  We got the Pokemon Sun & Moon announcement and the launch of Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on the 3DS Virtual Console on the anniversary.  I think the former counts – 10 Points.

  • Big 2016 Question – Will VR be interesting enough to spur people to spend money upgrading their systems in order to spend more money to buy an Occulus Rift rig?

Pretty much no.  VR is a fragmented niche market without a killer app currently.  Not a scored item, since it wasn’t a prediction but a question.

70 points out of 170 possible, including points for the extra credit question, which at about 41% would be a failing grade in any class I ever took.  But in the land of prognostication, that is a positively stellar record… or at least in the land of my own blind guesses at the future.  And so ends the year.

As for others scoring their predictions, this is what I have seen so far:

It just wasn’t the thing to do in 2016, so I expect I won’t have many on the list.

Meanwhile, I have the self-linking bonanza that is my summary of past predictions and results here at TAGN:

Now to think on what I should do for 2017.  First item on the list, get my daughter to make me another graphic.

There is no 85%

In which I had a simple point, then buried it somewhere in a wall of words.

Last week… or so… Neville Smit put up a post under the heading of Occupy New Eden wherein he made the claim that CCP was spending too much time focused on null sec.

The root of his claim is that only 15% of population of New Eden operates in null security space and that they are getting a lions share of features which are dedicated solely to their benefit. This is followed on by what feels to me like a rather spurious assessment as to what counts as a null sec feature.  Citadels are grudgingly admitted to affect more than null sec, though he attempts to shove them back in the “null only” in the same sentence along with capital ships, and industry and drilling structures.

Left off of his list is… well… everything of interest beyond null sec.  If you read his post, CCP has literally done nothing for anybody besides null sec in however long.  Yes, it would be too much to ask him to list out everything ever, but this sort of “we got nuttin'” approach is belied by the patch notes over the last year, when CCP was alleged to be focused solely on null sec.

He then goes on to conflate the CSM 11 election results with CCP neglecting the 85%, with an extra helping of “the sky is falling” because of all those null sec players on the galactic student council.  That manages, in a single blow, to sell CCP short, misinterpret the power (or lack there of) of the CSM, and misunderstand the election results.

For the first two, if you believe CCP’s course is somehow charted by the CSM, you might as well give up right now and start weaving conspiracy theories.  On the third, the election results are the ongoing reflection of who is most engaged with the game… engaged and concerned with their well being.  Null sec, as noted, just went through a whole series of changes, some of which are not universally loved by some of the residents, and some of which were not well thought through by CCP before being thrust upon us, despite the fact that the CSM and players in the forums pointed out, in advance, the very flaws that CCP had to go back and correct.  Null sec players are rightly concerned, and concern (plus organization) turns into votes.  Meanwhile, the rest of New Eden didn’t seem exactly worked up about the election.  What burning issue did the rest of New Eden have that stacked up again, “CCP has completely changed our part of the game?”

This all gets pulled together in the false dichotomy that is “I am the 85%!”

CCP can apparently only work on null sec or everything else.  They can make null sec happy, or they can make the 85% happy.  Null sec has had their turn, it is time to leave them alone for another five years and concentrate on what is important.

The whole thing has me a bit irked, an emotion that might have come through up to this point.

There is no 85%

Almost every facet of WoW is an activity that caters to a minority of the playerbase … [WoW] is not a narrow game, but rather one that can be enjoyed in numerous different ways, by people with hugely diverse playstyles … We are [listening] – just to many, many different voices. And it may be that a given change, feature, or reward is simply aimed at a different portion of the playerbase. Or we could be wrong and we haven’t realized it yet.

Ion Hazzikostas, WoW lead designer, in a Forum Post

The fallacy of the whole concept of there even being an 85% was the first thing that sprang to mind when I read Neville’s article, and I immediately put up a placeholder post with that as the title… and then let it sit for a week.

I think we might all agree that EVE Online, with its sandbox nature, is a more complex game than World of Warcraft.  Yet there is a WoW designer holding forth about how nearly every feature in Azeroth is for a minority of their player base.  So how do you think that translates into New Eden?

I could go on for ages about the various groups that make up the alleged 85% and how they can actually be divided up into their own little minorities factions.  Instead, I’ll just whip out this chart again.

What to do in EVE Online - A Chart

What to do in EVE Online – A Chart

Have you seen this chart?  I put it up as part of a post about four years ago, and the chart itself is about five years old at this point, so is probably incomplete.  And yet it conveys the complexity that is our New Eden sandbox.

Edit: There is actually a spiritual successor to that chart available if you are interested.

So go ahead and put an X through any of the boxes that are exclusively null sec features.  If you have knocked out more than five boxes on that chart I would be very much surprised.  Remember, if it is wormhole space AND 0.0, it doesn’t count.

That leaves a lot of boxes.

And you can jump straight to “Well, that’s the point, look at all those neglected features!” but you’re going to have to leave off any of those boxes that got some attention over the last year.  Did your favorite box get a new feature or two?  Does that box represent a small minority of players as well?  Because where this line of reasoning leads is down a path to exclude other small, and thus undeserving, groups.

You know who gets less regular players than null sec according to the year old chart used to prop up this argument?  Low sec.  How do you justify working on something that has less players than null?

And what about wormhole space?  That has less players than low sec!  How do you even justify working on such a small sub-section of the game?  How can you think about that when 75% of the game is in high sec?

Oh, right… Neville Smit is in Signal Cartel and lives in wormhole space.  Funny how that 3% of players got their agenda mixed in with the majority.  I’m going to guess if CCP spent many months dedicated to his part of space, which represents one fifth of the player base of null sec, we would not see a “We are the 97%” campaign spring up on his site.

EVE Online is large and complex and the various parts of the game are interconnected.  Making a demand that CCP focus on this alleged 85% is a hollow shell, because there is no such group as a single, unified entity.  CCP literally cannot focus on 85% of the player.

If we were going to go for truth in advertising on this campaign, it should simply be renamed “Screw Null Sec,” because it comes across as thinly disguised petulance about somebody else getting the attention.

There is Common Ground

There are a whole range of features that I would say crosses groups.  Particularly bothersome for me was Neville putting the new player experience on his list of demands for the 85%, as though null sec doesn’t care about new players.

And, to double down on my annoyance, CCP had just dedicated a chunk of the keynote at Fanfest to talking about how they want to improve the new player experience.  That seemed to me to be a pretty strong indicator that this is clearly marked with double underlines on the CCP development agenda.

But CCP didn’t have a solution, a new proposal, right then and there, so out come the pitchforks and demands.

We know the new player experience is bad.  CCP, which is on its fourth iteration since I showed up in New Eden, has given us depressing numbers to illustrate this.  A failure here is literally money out of their pockets and I am pretty sure if they had an answer as to HOW to introduce people to New Eden that made them stick with the game, that would have been front and center.  But they didn’t.  EVE Online is a busy yet subtle experience and they are still searching for the mix that will get the depth of the game across..

Null sec alliances are keenly aware of this.  For years Goonswarm has had their own introduction and training program to bring new players from Something Awful into the game.  I have seen day one Goons in fleets in null on many occasions.  Then along came Brave Newbies, which showed the power of harnessing new players, an idea which was stolen by the other groups.  So today somebody with no null sec experience can get into a corp like KarmaFleet and get the help they need to get going.

But that is all for naught if CCP consistently drives people away in the tutorial, or whatever passes for a tutorial these day.  This is a 100% issue, not an 85% issue.

Okay, that might have been an overly specific item.  But one of the magic things about EVE Online is its interconnectivity.  You cannot draw a circle around a group of players and say that they don’t matter to you.

Jita is probably the best example of the confluence between the various parts of New Eden.  For as long as I have been in a null sec alliance the one thing you could depend on was a jump freighter service that would deliver things to and from Jita.  We buy our stuff from the main high sec trade hub.  When we have a fleet doctrine and are losing ships, manufacturers benefit.  The economy is the web that binds us all together in New Eden, and when null sec is neglected and stagnates, it is reflected in the market, because we blow up more shit than anybody else and ships exploding drives the economy.

Maybe Null Sec IS a Bit Special

This isn’t my first time reading this sort of divisive demand on a developer in which a player claims that the devs are focusing on something that doesn’t represent the majority of their customer base.  I think I have seen that in literally every fantasy MMORPG ever that has had raiding or dedicated PvP or arena combat.

And EVE Online has all three!  Holy balls!  Incursions are raids, PvP is pretty much everywhere, and then there is the alliance cheating tournament for your arena fix.  And I haven’t even put null sec specifically in the picture yet.

These sorts of features, what I would call “aspirational content,” has been a pretty solid part of the MMORPG landscape in the 21st century, and I have long been on the other side of the fence.  No raider I.  And yet I have seen the point of having such features and have come to their defense on the very rare occasions when companies have decided to trim such features.

I think it is important that MMORPGs have options that may seem narrowly focused when viewed against the whole of the game’s population.  In the last 17 years of what I will call the “post-EverQuest age” of MMORPGs most of my time has been spent in solo or small group content, but I have generally not begrudged a disproportionate amount of resources going to such content, because it gives people something to aim for, a goal to achieve, and something special for those willing to put in the effort.

And this has especially been the case in EVE Online.  From 2006 through to the end of 2011 I spent my time in high sec pursuing various careers.  During that time titans, wormhole space, factional warfare, and Dominion sovereignty all showed up and were all hugely interesting to me despite them not really touching my play time directly.  But they were all there and made the game a more interesting and complex place.  Tales from other play styles are fun to read.

But null sec has a special place in that regard.  There have been some headline grabbing events in EVE Online that haven’t been about null sec… the great bank scam and tales of the Guiding Hand Social Club spring to mind… but for bringing attention to New Eden and driving people to try the game, nothing beats null sec alliances blowing each other up.  How many articles on gaming sites that don’t focus on just EVE Online (or even just MMOs, like Massively OP) has the game gotten this year?  And how many of those were about something other than null sec wars or a certain book written about a null sec war?

Like it or not, you have to admit that null sec grabs attention, making it a marketing engine for the game.  So to spin this whole thing on its head, the 15% is doing most of the work to get people to come try the game.  Maybe that has earned null sec a bit more developer attention.

So What?

Okay, I have probably been riding Neville a bit hard in this post.  He is a good person and an asset to the game and the community and probably doesn’t deserve as much push back as I have given.  And I get that part of his whole shtick is to get people to simply consider whether or not there is an issue here to be resolved by being provocative.  But when you go that route, you have to expect return fire in kind, as I have done above.  Consider this counter-provocation I suppose.

That said, I tend to agree with the actual list of things he has on his site.  CCP does have a large garden to tend in New Eden and barely enough resources to even keep the weeds in check.  I just don’t think we need to call for the company to ignore one part or another.

In the end, I think what primarily sticks in my craw… though I’ve been all over the map here, so I don’t blame you if you are confused at this point, because I certainly am… is this public and unnecessary divisiveness.  It is a call for the community to war with itself.

EVE Online already has a bad reputation.  Go read the comments on just about any related post over at Massively OP.  You will read about how it is a horrible game, maybe the most boring game ever, spreadsheets in space, populated by horrible people who do horrible things and you had better not bother playing because you will be scammed, ganked, and podded within five minutes of staring the practically non-existent tutorial.

We are already under siege.  And we, as a community, already fight amongst ourselves pretty viciously.  We hardly need a movement to encourage it.

So, in summary, I think we should give up the 85% idea and simply join together, link arms, and shout down anybody who suggests walking in stations as a feature, because I am not sure we can handle any more boxes on that “what to do” chart.

I look forward to your adoring agreement in the comments below.

Spaceships über alles!