For those of you living under an asteroid and don’t know what the CSM is, it’s the gaming equivalent of a high school student council where the democratically-elected members are told that they have direct insight into the inner workings of CCP and assist in shaping the game for the future. For this, they get to fly to Iceland once or twice where they sit in a room with important faces and suggest features. Then CCP says “no” to everything and they all go out to eat a rotten shark and for the next 6 weeks they document their lack of progress in soul-destroying detail. This is followed by months of bashing, personal insults and general asshattery on various forums.
This is, of course my negative view of the CSM based on viewing their (lack of) actions since TheMittani left last year. I do believe though that the CSM has a place and that the place is not to help CCP how to balance frigates.
No, CSM needs to help CCP to step beyond the spreadsheets and connect the company with what the players (as proxy for the “the market”) really want. So, who would be good in that role?
For most CSM candidates, a seat in Iceland is just an extension of the meta game, it is hoped that the elected representative will make “their” game better. This automatically typecasts the candidates into play styles and (for example) sets nullsec versus high-sec industry versus wormhole candidates. While this is natural, EVE’s complexity means that each specialized candidate can only run on a very specialized platform. A WH candidate who spends his career in a C6 fortress has absolutely no clue how a C2 operates. And since EVE is so big and complex, getting a specific candidate for each segment is not feasible – it would take dozens, each thinking that his play style alone is the correct one. Sure James_315 would make a great spectacle answering every question with “high sec must burn”, then going into a fanatic sermon that ends with him convulsing on the floor with foam on his mouth but is that really what we need to make EVE a better game?
So, while the motivation for players to run for CSM is to improve their game, this approach will leave it to CCP to develop the big picture. And, frankly, that’s where I have a real problem with. CCP is actually quite good on the technical side, balancing ships and weapons and so on. It is a company of geeks with excellent technical skills. But they can’t see the big picture if it hit them in the face.
The problem with creative geeks is that they equate “vision” with “dreams”. For example, during last year’s fanfest, I watched a CCP employee dream about POS design. It was awesome. And nothing happened. TwoStep pushed and pushed but he could only press the point that CCP knows already “POS are broken”. The discussion lacked the vision what POS could really be, how they could attract new players, change Sov fights, re-vamp nullsec industry and so on. Sure, all of these ideas were spewed onto the forums but they never made it clearly into the vision of how New Eden could look like in 10 years. TwoStep didn’t get it, neither did CCP.
Vision is a little bit more than dreaming about spaceships, it takes the needs of the customers (present and future) into context of where the market and the competition are moving. For example, why is setting the planet’s PI something I need to do while logged into the game? This should be a meta game on a mobile app. But for that, we need vision – not dreams – and CCP is lousy at this.
Developing this vision takes a different customer representative. It takes someone who has spent a long time in EVE and is versed in many other games. This allows him to integrate across the industry what CCP needs to do in order to get to the next level. It takes someone who knows his limitations and admits them rather than papering them over with soundbites. It takes someone with excellent communication skills, honed in the art of talking to geeks and effectively translating bigger concepts to them. It may not be the most polarizing player to excel in this role but someone who can walk the middle ground and negotiate, integrate and compromise in order to get the job done.
As of today, I can only see one candidate that fills this ticket and that is Ripard Teg. His dedication to the game is beyond question. His ability to effectively and consistently form and defend opinions are legendary. His vision for New Eden is underpinned by both deep knowledge of this game as well as other games on the market.
So with this, I endorse Ripard Teg for CSM8 – God Speed, Jester.
Edit [April 3 2013]: The upcoming “Odyssey” patch indeed addresses some of the nagging issues in POS life. Mynnna writes about it, so does Ripard. This is a good start and I thank especially TwoStep for his persistence in hammering the message to CCP that POS life is painful beyond endurance for many corps.
CCP addressed the forum whining in typical geek style – throw a programmer at it for a few days, re-purpose existing code (scanning, POCO) and patch the thing together with duct tape. Fine, its an engineering solution, I am not complaining. But this is not what the CSM is supposed to do – CCP should see this on their own. CSM needs to reach beyond this and explain to CCP the myriad of uses and expansions that could come out of personal space stations, from individual pup-tent and sleeper stations that can be taken over by force to to massive cities in space where the large ships are built and regional power is projected. Since all of these ideas are on the forums and blogs and I presume that someone at CCP occasionally reads them, they know about it. Ripard and the rest of the CSM need to effectively translate not what EVE is but where it could be. This patch further shows that CCP doesn’t understand it. Go to Iceland, Ripard and tell ’em.