Sunday, July 15, 2012

Radio Silence

This is the time of the year I know many of you are anxious to hear more from the CSM, and for good reason.  It's been many weeks since the May summit, and with CCP mid-way through their summer vacation, there is much to talk about in preparation for the developers beginning to work on the next release cycle.  The great news is that the May summit notes are now complete, they merely need a final proofreading (which is a group process since all of us want to have our pass and the more sets of eyes spotting factual errors the better), as well as a final approval from each of the participating devs.   

I'm a bit empty on words at the moment, its been quite the ordeal, but I wanted to share a couple answers I've given elsewhere to some recent questions about the CSM's work.  Now that we're done with the minutes the next step is to get back to communicating at regular intervals between now and the next summit, and I appreciate everyone's patients while we've been so invested in this project. 

In response to an anonymous comment on the blog Jester's Trek:  

"SOV, moon goo, FW, seems like there's plenty of things for them to talk about. The imminent devision of FW into tier 5 control spheres that never interact - that's the sort of thing the CSM should be engaging heavily, and showing some progress on, right?"

It most certainly is. The challenge is finding that balance between working, and taking time away from doing your work to prove that you're doing your work by talking to the community about what you're talking about with the community. (If that sentence sounded redundant, than you understand my point) The first will always take priority over the second for me personally, as I'm not near as preoccupied with public opinion or re-election as I am actually making the most of this opportunity. While CCP is currently on their summer break, my work instead lies with the community itself - making sure I know exactly what to fight for when the discussion resumes with CCP regarding the next content release. When I'm not working on the minutes I'm still forum posting with CCP, forum posting with players, skyping with CCP, fielding email correspondence, and most time-consuming of all: actually talking with players about what's going on in the warzone, not to mention playing the game to see for myself)

For a CSM representative like myself with a major feature on the operating table, this time of the year is even more demanding, given the sense of urgency it is critical that I know exactly what the players want, which takes time to sort out. Forum posts, email responses, impromptu in-game conversations, radio appearances and podcasts, all eat up time that I'm also expected to be making progress on the minutes. Seeing as how good portions of what we do we can't talk about in detail yet (such as anything covered by the minutes and the work-in-progress threads on the internal CSM/CCP forums) its even more challenging to keep up with everyone's insatiable thirst for the latest news.

I am certainly one of the CSM members that hasn't blogged in a bit, but its for the simple reason that I can't in good conscience sit around and chit chat in a neutered fashion when there is still work to be done on the minutes themselves, which are almost complete. We're actually further along than Jester assumes, since the completed sessions are already sailing through the CSM approval progress, many have been signed off by all the CCP participants so there shouldn't be any super-long delay once the final sessions are wrapped up.

I'll blog very soon - both about the work we've been up to on the minutes as well as about Faction Warfare in particular, though anyone following my posts in the dev-sponsored pair of threads related to Faction Warfare in Features and Ideas already knows what I've been talking to CCP about and where the conversation is going.

I know its frustrating, and I appreciate everyone's patience, but I just have a tough time sitting down to write neutered material when I could be delivering what you guys all really want to read instead. We're really aiming for the most comprehensive coverage of the CSM summit to date, and there's no quick way to write three times as much material as typical CSM minutes, as well as deliver them in the same timeframe. Once we're completed, you can all decide whether it was worth the delay, and if you'd rather have less information in the future, you'll certainly find little resistance from the CSM members.

In response to a comment from Cearain on the EVE Online forums:

"All this extra work due to a super secret nda is pretty crazy.

If ccp just did away with the nda they could just record the sessions release it on mp3 and be done with it. Actually I think they still could just delete the parts they feel are too secret for the players, and be done with it."

The extra work really has nothing to do with the NDA. The NDA has this mystique about it - many players thinks that we wave it like a red cape to deflect charging bulls, others think its what CCP uses it to protect its super secret skunkworks plans about the next button to add to the UI that players would rage if they knew existed - but really its much simpler. The NDA covers the stuff that would damage the company - stuff like release dates or pricing that they wouldn't want competitors to hear. I've seen how the sessions have gone through the review process, and the NDA has been used primarily to delete several words here and there, or a sentence at the most. It's not once been used to black out an entire conversation, or to censor a particular topic. If it was discussed at all during the summit, it was recorded.

The reason the minutes are longer, is because of the transparency the players are asking for. You wanted to know who said what about a particular topic, and breaking down conversations in this manner, even to get the main ideas across in each dialogue, takes a lot more words. We avoid the minutia of people talking about the schedule for the rest of the day, or what's for lunch, or who they're waiting on to come back from a bathroom break. So no blah blah.

But you are going to hear some detailed conversations about how exactly to adjust a particular feature, and who wanted to see it done this way or that way. That's what we heard everyone wanted to hear, for accountability's sake as well as to sharply focus player feedback onto the specific direction CCP wants to go with a feature.

I personally think this is a huge step in the right direction, we'll see how this works out for the community. There's nothing to say we can't further iterate on the minutes process for the winter summit. I'm sure there will be no shortage of suggestions on how to make them even better, you'll just have to read them first and see what you think.


  1. Hi Hans, when reading your blog in google reader the text is white -- and so is the Google Reader background. Other white-on-black blogs don't have this issue, can you try and fix this?

    Thanks for starting to post again.

  2. Hans, to address this google reader issue, use the CSS file to colour the text you want it here, and then the feed will have uncoloured text for people's readers.

    Good work BTW on the CSM. Don't let the impatient nellies get you down.