Saturday, August 17, 2013

CPM Activity Report #6 - August 16, 2013

As many of you have noticed, earlier this week the CPM published a letter titled "State of Affairs: Communication & Trust" in our Council's Chamber on the Dust514 forums. If you haven't taken a moment to read through, I highly recommend you pause and do so, as it is the focus on this latest Activity Report.

Those of you that have been actively playing Dust 514 since the beta period or following its development closely won't find most of the content in our public statement to be particularly new or surprising. Many of you are familiar with the ups and downs the game has gone through from build to build, as well as the scattershot communication methods CCP has employed in an attempt to engage the public. The reason for a "State of Affairs" at this point in time is simple – The CPM was originally founded with a specific mission in mind, and the public deserves a reporting on how that mission is proceeding.

Of course, when CCP Dolan first announced the formation of the CPM in his dev blog, none of us on the council had any idea the challenges that we would be faced with when Uprising 1.0 launched on 5/14, bringing the game out of beta and into the media spotlight. For CCP, the subsequent restructuring of the development teams that focused their resources back on to polishing core game play took its toll as well. Understandably, priority was given over the more seemingly-mundane chores of establishing the CPM with a charter, a term limit, a voting procedure, and most importantly – a structured and mutually beneficial relationship with the development teams.

Without further rehashing Monday's CPM statement too much, the reality here is that over several months now we have drifted away from our primary mission. That is, the formation of a structured, efficient working relationship with the dev teams, and the charter that will guide future elected CPM members as they assist CCP in rolling out new fixes and features they can be confident the community will love. While CCP's current hyper-focus on core game play is crucial – the lack of attention given to the creation of such internal structure has allowed many ongoing communication issues to persist, resulting in much of the very same player frustration we've seen since the beginning of the beta period.

Before publishing our "State of Affairs", we had repeatedly raised these communication issues internally, asked for any good news we could share about solutions being put in place, and repeatedly come up empty handed. This ultimately defined the tone and content of our public statement – at the end of the day no news is still news.

Since the posting on Monday, two significant developments have taken place that are worth noting. The first is that CCP Commander Wang quickly and generously reached out to the CPM with a host of badly-needed information about CCP Shanghai's internal design process, which if nothing else will assist in our ongoing pursuit of a structured, efficient means of contributing regularly. The second is that we finally managed to secure our first meeting to be held this coming Monday with the management committee which will be solely focused on discussing the going communication issues as well as the status of the CPM as an institution.

What is becoming clear in the meantime is that there are enough dissimilarities between the Dust 514 release schedule and that of EVE Online that some improvisation on our part will be needed in order to arrive at a process that the Shanghai studio finds useful and is willing to commit to. And no matter that both studios carry the CCP logo and the same commitment to "practice transparency" (one of the company's four core values, believe it or not) – it is also becoming increasingly clear that many individuals in Shanghai are completely unfamiliar with working with a group like the CSM/CPM.

The detectable levels of apprehension about allowing a player group inside the development process pose a considerable challenge especially for myself in particular. Over the last year I've grown accustomed to working with designers, producers, and executives who have welcomed CSM feedback not only about the features in the pipeline, but also the larger road map for EVE Online, including the actual development process itself. The CSM as an institution has survived innumerable struggles and conflicts with CCP during many ugly periods during its evolution, finally arriving in a place with few boundaries and few limitations on what it can observe, comment on, and accomplish. CSM7 was the first CSM to function as an actual stakeholder inside the company, participating not only in the regular sprint review meetings, but also the release planning for the Odyssey expansion. In other words, after years of hard work, the CSM is no longer simply being told what is coming in an expansion and given room to comment, they now have the opportunity to influence what will be created for an expansion. The results of this fearlessness speak for themselves.

Our meeting Monday will begin to reveal whether CCP Shanghai will learn from the CSM success story and pursue the tremendous value that transparency with the CPM will bring – or whether they will stubbornly prefer to start from scratch and go through all of the growing pains the CSM fought through year after year to get to the level of productivity and efficiency they demonstrate today. There is a lot of work to be done to polish Dust 514 and little time left before the community's razor-thin attention span is strained by enormous competition from other games this holiday season. Every incentive exists for CCP to quickly open up to the CPM about what they're planning, what they're working on, and to listen to feedback that can prevent a lot of community dissatisfaction with the dev's hard work this second time around.

While I will certainly continue to keep you all posted as to our progress this coming week – my sincerest hope is that the next time you hear news it will be from someone helping to manage the CCP Shanghai studio that values our contribution, and is willing to publicly commit to swiftly putting some of these good practices in place. CPM self-reporting only goes so far – and you, the paying customer, have every right to ask those in charge what kind of a voice you'll have in Dust 514's future moving forward.

2 comments:

  1. I am hoping CCP Shaghai indeed does not reinvent the wheel, watching the smooth operations of CSM8 after the work of previous CSMs I would rather they opened the doors for your input without the drama of mistrust and stonewalling.
    Temba Ronin

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  2. "There is a lot of work to be done to polish Dust 514 and little time left before the community's razor-thin attention span is strained by enormous competition from other games this holiday season." CCP needs to put that quote up on every wall in the Shanghai studio. I have been here since the mordin trials, but my patience finally ran out a month and a half ago. I still want dust to succeed, but sometimes it feels like CCP doesn't even understand how much goodwill they squandered on this game. If it wasn't for your insightful blog I would have been out for good this past July. Basically....what I am trying to say is..... never stop posting on here. lol Or at least let someone at CCP know people like me are sticking around because of people like you. Your currently the only source of real info coming out of the studio. The least they can do is give you whatever info you and the rest of the cpm needs.

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