Thursday, September 20, 2012

Call me maybe

I was reading through the comments tonight on Ripard Teg's latest reflection on the upcoming ship balancing, and came across a great question from one of his readers.  I wanted to take the time to respond publicly here so others have a chance to gain some insight on the nature of the CSM's involvement in the balancing process.

You know it's interesting how everyone in eve is seemingly hanging off Fozzie's every word right now and yet there was practically no discussion of frigate/cruiser re-balancing at the CSM summit. Are CSM's priorities right?


Thanks, Chequers.  We've actually been in constant contact with CCP Fozzie throughout the balancing process, we talk daily on Skype as we also work together on the Faction Warfare changes.  There simply wasn't much to say at the summit because CCP hadn't shown us their plans for these ships at that time.  Every single one of the dev blogs or F&I posts that have come out since than we've had a chance to see first and give some preliminary input. 

Ripard raises some important issues about bending EVE's PvP in a "twitchy" direction.  I certainly don't disagree that this risk exists (I know this first-hand as I'm unfortunately called primary quite often these days), but we should also take a moment to put things into context.  Keep in mind that we're also receiving brand new options for mitigating some of this "DPS creep" through low-skilled, low cost logistics platforms at both the frigate and cruiser level.

That being said, one of the positive aspects of CCP Fozzie's balancing process (regardless of whether you love or hate the changes) is that he's posting these up on the public forums with plenty of time before they even  hit a test server.  So while the CSM gets a sneak peak and a chance to give our personal input, they've gone extremely quick (a week on average) from the internal post to the public post. 

While we haven't had much work to do in ferrying information because Fozzie has reached straight to the player base directly, we still have the ability to influence the outcome to a degree (changing bombardment frigates to support frigates was one of our recent initiatives.) Don't hesitate to get in contact with us if there's a matter you're especially concerned with or if you have some ideas to share.  This especially applies to the ships whose balancing changes haven't yet been proposed.

And remember - these ideas on the forums are just that.  Tentative plans pending player feedback and testing.  I know from working with Fozzie and fellow designer CCP Ytterbium that both are quite reasonable and open to constructive criticism.  Both understand PvP at each of the various scales intimately and are passionate about making ALL of the ships useful.  They promised the players that if the test server demonstrates something as horribly broken, they'll take the time to make necessary adjustments before they hit Tranquiilty.  I encourage players to get out and participate in these testing events and to play around with the new ships!


While we're still talking about future spaceship goodness, I might as well share these with you for those that haven't had a chance to see them already.  Server sleuth Sarmatiko has dug up some data off the test server and put together a video preview of the new ship models coming in Winter expansion.  Rendered versions of both the submarine-like Caldari missile destroyer, and its bizarre-looking Minmatar missile counterpart.  Out tribal technicians continue to find architectural uses for solar panels that are simultaneously innovative and baffling.  This clip also includes an unskinned prototype model of the brand new Gallente destroyer, a dedicated drone platform.  Last but not least, a special treat for Minmatar fans - an unskinned model of the soon-to-be-revamped Tempest hull.

Fear not, industrialists! You deserve some eye candy too. Luckily Sarmatiko also managed to dig up a rendering of the  new ORE mining frigate.  This ship just makes me want to hang out with Rogue Drones in a dangerous attempt to recreate the iconic scene from Aliens where Ripley battles the  hive queen....

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Parting words...

I never had the honor of being able to call him a close friend, nor the privilege of serving alongside him on the Council of Stellar Management, but Sean Smith - known to most of you as "Vile Rat" - still managed to touch my life in a meaningful way and left me with a priceless gift.  I feel compelled to take a moment to share some of the advice he gave me during one of our last conversations before his tragic death yesterday during the attack in Benghazi.  

Sean was a man that was passionate about EVE Online, but even more passionate about its player community, and it was this commitment to each of you that made him expect the very best from council representatives like myself.   There is no way to sugar-coat the truth, Sean was disappointed with CSM7, frustrated that he didn't see a powerful entity waging war on behalf of the players he loved.  This is understandable, as our term in office has not yet been marked by any of the intense trials or tribulations that previous CSM's were forged through.

"Using the CSM to take care of the players when injustice happens, makes me elated."

It is trivial at this point to speculate on whether Sean would have felt the same way had he sat with us this year, had he seen the fruits of the labor he poured out last year.  I know he would have appreciated the fact that CCP is genuinely trying to do a better job of keeping the players informed about what they are working on, and a better job of listening to our advice.  There is not a single doubt in my mind that the reason that each of us on the sitting council have enjoyed a relatively drama-free term is because of the painstaking effort that CSM6 put into fighting for our community last year.

"You are elected to do big things.  It takes real work and a lot of out of game coordination."

Unlike a lot of EVE players who find themselves bored or frustrated with the sitting council, Sean refused to jump on a public bandwagon, and refused to throw stones.  Sure, he could have politicized the situation and done an excellent job of dicing us to ribbons and set himself up well for the next election.  He chose instead to reach out to me personally, privately, and gave me the gift of encouragement where others have simply dished out callous scorn.

One of the things I deeply admire about Sean Smith was his skill in diplomacy - in a game world steeped in never-ending war, Sean was a man who knew how to build relationships as well as destroy them.   Knowing which path to take was a critical part of his success as a leader and representative.

"We absolutely didn't make everything a battle.  You have to pick your fights"

The only way I know how to give back to Sean what he gave to the community is to challenge the rest of the my fellow representatives to honor his death by reaching for the same level of excellence that Sean provided.  Whether we are in the midst of a crisis or navigating peaceful productivity, there is always more work to be done for the players we were elected to defend.  

I won't ever have a chance to speak with Sean again, but I will never forget his warmth, his wisdom, and above all - his courage.

CSM7 Autumn Progress Report

Hello again, pod people!

I'll make the introduction short - this is a no-nonsense archive post, with the intent of summarizing and centralizing all of the recent activities of your CSM7 representatives.  Links to outside resources will be provided where possible, though some of this content takes place on internal CSM / CCP forums and Skype channels and cannot be directly referenced.  

This is by no means the sum total of everything the CSM has been up to, merely the items not covered by NDA that individual CSM reps have self-reported.  Some features for Winter Expansion have yet to be announced and so work on them has not been included at this time.  If I missed a key conversation, posting, or media appearance, I'll update this reference as needed.  

Add this blog to your follow list if you haven't already, this is only the first of a series of updates I will provide as we continue towards Winter Expansion.  Thanks again for your patience with us during the slow summer, we're excited to be back in the busy season again!

Public appearances

CSM May Summit Minutes

TEN EVEning News Special: CSM Discusses their Minutes!   Part 1  Part 2

VandV Podcast: Special Edition: Spring Summit Wrap Up featuring Seleene

CSM7 2nd Town Hall on EVE Radio

Wormholes Town Hall, hosted by Two Step

TEN EVEning News Roundtable #1: Faction Warfare, featuring Hans Jagerblitzen

Hans Jagerblitzen Interview Pt. I - Factional Warfare Segments

Declarations of War Episode 33 - The Ripard Teg / CSM Edition

Ongoing Forum Conversations

Electoral Reform Redux, (many thanks to CCP Xhagen for helping to get the conversation back on track)

Stakeholder pilot project

Previous CSM's have been called "Stakeholders" nominally, but in practice they have had little of the privilege or access of actual CCP corporate stakeholders.  At the May summit, CSM7 demanded that CCP start living up to its commitment to the CSM as an entity and finally grant it the relationship with the development process that players have expected for years but never received.  Senior Producer CCP Unifex agreed and promised us an integrated role for the entirety of a development cycle, assigning us to single team to undergo a pilot program.

The pilot program is focusing on two objectives - to demonstrate the need for CSM feedback at the earliest stages of the development process, and troubleshooting the communication protocols in order to build a methodology that can be used to utilize the CSM as a stakeholder on a greater number of teams.

The pending success of the pilot program should greatly expand CSM7's ability to directly assist with the shape and direction of the POS revamp, ring mining, and other major features for 2013. 

CSM7 is now receiving updates for its assigned team, participating in charter meetings and release planning through access to the recordings and a 48-hour window of opportunity for response with feedback so the team can continue moving at the pace of its sprint cycle.  The exact feature we are working on is still currently under NDA, but needless to say we're already learning a lot about what works and doesn't work about this new process.

Internal work with CCP

-Ongoing focus on ship balancing, including forum feedback covering each set of overhauled ships prior to public release

-Official protest of the changes to the Vagabond, and a call for CCP to "Bring back the Frills!"

-Special emphasis on revisiting Black Ops if resources allow during Winter Expansion, as recent balancing has focused exclusively on Tech 1 smaller ships and CSM believes veterans deserve attention as well.

- Dovinian posted a call for CCP to revisit the issue of "Mineral Compression", as this is one of the major underlying contributors to supercapital proliferation.  Kelduum has been doing detailed research into the specific items that can be manufactured for lower volume than their mineral equivalents, to assist in reaching a faster solution.  CSM is unanimously in support of addressing this long-overdue problem.

- Elise Randolph posted a call for changing oversized prop mods, suggesting CCP look into penalties for their use to offset the incredible power these fittings provide

- Elise Randolph posted a call to revisit booster mechanics and the smuggling process, suggesting ways to facilitate transport throughout the game

- Continued heavy work on Faction Warfare mechanics, led by Hans Jagerblitzen

- Continued collective feedback on the war declaration system and "mercenary marketplace", led by Alekseyev Karrde and Kelduum Revaan

- Kelduum has been discussing in detail corporate management UI and issues regarding the recruitment interface

- Collective feedback about the EVE-Dust 514 link

- Collective feedback about the Unified Inventory and persisting issues that need resolution

- Hans Jagerblitzen has been regularly playtesting and providing feedback regarding the Dust 514 beta, you can add him as a contact (under the name "Heinrich Jagerblitzen") if you are also in the beta and would like to invite him to your squad!

Notable Blog Posts

Response-to-response-on-pos-redesign, by Two Step

Notable Public Forum Activity

- Self-destruct timer changes

- Iterations to ship fitting including ammo and rigs

- Just about everything surrounding the Faction Warfare updates

- Re-nameable POS structures

- Logistics frigates in Winter expansion (we begged CCP not to bother with "sniper-frigates")

- Technetium regulation through new Alchemy reactions

- Release of many remaining NEX store clothing items at greatly reduced pricing

- Rollback of Incursion changes in order to improve Vanguard sites

- Removal of outdated Ethnic Relations skill, replacement with Diplomatic Relations

.....and many more to come!