CSM9 Update: Week Sixteen

So, Somer got taken out back and shot. Anything else need to be said? I don’t think so. Not publicly, anyway – the summit is just over three weeks out now, and I look forward to talking a bit more about it with CCP if the opportunity arises. Or if it doesn’t, for that matter. Of course, something something volcano…

Hyperion lands tomorrow with a fairly muted feature set, on account primarily of plenty of devs taking their Summer vacations after Crius. We get (among other things) some minor ship balancing work (if you can call the Ishtar changes that), Incursion adjustments, some wormhole tweaks that look minor to me but are apparently apocalyptic and so consequently have swarms wormhole pilots (the most hardcore & adaptable people in the game, to hear them tell it) fleeing their space like rats. There are also “Burner” missions (details here if you’re not familiar). Some clever hacks have endowed them with player-like abilities including the ability to use and be affected by Warp Scramblers. They’re still using existing NPC mechanics and so will undoubtedly be mastered in short order, but nevertheless demonstrate that we won’t necessarily be waiting for the new content tools to finish before actually getting new content. For my part, I want to see these extended upwards to higher ship classes, and also expanded out to pit you against small groups of foes working in concert. Imagine, for example, facing down two of the Daredevil NPCs at once, or a mission aimed at battleships that pits you against a half dozen cruiser NPCs.

We’re also due for a Town Hall sometime in the next month. I believe we’ve got the date finalized, but Mangala has taken point on organizing it, so I’ll merely tease and leave the actual announcement to him.

And that’s all for this brief week. I think there are just a few devs left on vacation and they’ll be returning shortly, so we’ll be back in full swing as we move towards the Summit and beyond that, Oceanus at the end of September.

CSM9 Week “What Week Is It Again?” Update

Events alluded to in my last post are only part of the reason for my silence here. We’re in the midst of the usual doldrums as various CCP developers take their summer vacations. Most notable is the absence of CCPs Rise, Greyscale and Ytterbium, who account for the majority of the design team. All left us things to look at before departing, but in their absence things have been quiet. Mostly. A topic and solution in our regular sprint review with Team Five-O pressed my rant button, but once I calmed down a bit and started discussing, I think I made my point well and hopefully we’ll see some small but nice changes effected for it. And, we’ve had similarly spirited discussions from time to time on Topics of Future Interest.

Hyperion will be dropping this coming Tuesday, though, and the developers currently on vacation should be coming back before long, so I expect things to pick back up as everyone settles in fresh from vacation to work on the upcoming winter releases in earnest. Sugar Kyle recapped the features of Hyperion nicely over on her blog, so I won’t repeat that, but there is one thing to touch on – the small adjustment to Planetary Interaction. As originally designed, only a member of the sovereignty holding alliance could drop a command center in sovereign nullsec, rendering half of the tax based controls that govern effective usage in every other area of space largely pointless. In Hyperion that’s going away, so they’ll work just like anywhere else – usable by anyone, if you’re willing to pay the tax rates. The exclusivity was probably meant as a minor bonus for sov null, but the reality is it just meant we have less control over our POCOs than other areas of space. Restrictions are fine, but this is a sandbox, so let us decide how to apply them, right?

The change to this feature highlights one of the truths of the CSM. It’s far from being the arbitrarily powerful group all too many credit it as being, capable of dictating anything to CCP at any time and having it happen. (As an aside, how anyone can actually look at what gets changed when and still believe that is a mystery I will never solve.) The truth is that the majority of the CSM’s work involves feedback and adjustments and so forth to whatever CCP is working on next in the plan.

I have to imagine that some of the dramatic misconceptions of CSM influence come from the Incarna fiasco, where (if you listen to most people’s version of history) most people seem to believe that the CSM and Mittani in particular bludgeoned CCP into changing course. There’s certainly some truth to it, but a gargantuan dose of public outrage combined with media scrutiny and criticism surely provided the extra “oomph” to make it happen. It was likely a once in a lifetime event, and such dramatic shifts are unlikely to ever happen again. Smaller ones can occur, though, but it can be a crapshoot. Sometimes an impassioned effort can get something to happen quickly. Other times a suggestion or idea will fall on deaf ears entirely. And other times, as with this PI change, it will go untouched for weeks or months, until being seized upon again at just the right time. That’s what happened in this case, with corebloodbrothers actually being the one to bring it up – perhaps unsurprisingly, since the restriction is a massive headache for the game’s only major NRDS entity that he represents. I pitched in my support, and this time, CCP picked it up. The few other PI related enhancements I’ve advocated for for awhile, though, not so much. Perhaps another day.

I probably sound like I’m being a downer on the CSM and what it can accomplish, and that’s not intentional. As I said, the bulk of our work does involve working on what CCP is working on, giving early and ongoing feedback and suggesting changes and refinements. In that regard, we’re plenty influential – there were countless times on CSM8 and have been just as many on CSM9 so far where the suggestion of just one member, well argued (and often hewing to Greyscale’s suggestions for effective feedback, incidentally) effects significant change on a planned feature. I like to think my public post on freighter lowslots was influential in redirecting that change, for example, and both Steve Ronuken and I provided CCP Greyscale with extensive feedback publicly and privately as he worked to adjust numbers on invention, copying and so forth. Those are just a few that are public enough that I’m okay sharing, so I’ll have to simply say “trust me that there’s more” for now.

One last note before signing off. Yes, Somer Blink appears to be up to it’s PLEX incentives again. And no, I’m not going to comment on it any further just yet. It’s a Sunday, it’s late in Iceland, and I’d rather talk to CCP about it first.

Until next week!

CSM9 Update Week 10

Another week passes! The summer summit attendees have been announced, or rather we’ve been told we can talk about it. It’ll be the 17th through the 19th of September, with Sion, Ali, myself, Sugar Kyle, Mike Azariah, Corbexx and Steve Ronuken going. “Summer” is a bit misnamed at this point given the actual timing, but over the years they’ve drifted a bit… though as Sugar pointed out, the last day of Summer is the 21st so it’s still technically true.

One other note in this otherwise short (blah blah Crius soon, the usual excuses…) update is the concept of “Little Things” as Sugar Kyle touched on in her post. One “Heretic Caldari” had taken exception to the naming, seeing it as asking players to self-censor and possibly losing out on things, because we of course do not know what is or is not “little” from CCP’s perspective. But that actually deviates rather significantly from the way I (and I think CCP as well) think of them. The idea of “little things” is not “things that take minimal developer effort”, but rather things that are little to the players. If they take minimal developer time that’s certainly going to make it more likely to be implemented, but you absolutely shouldn’t be thinking about it when making you’re suggestions. What you want to think about are minor gripes and annoyances and quality of life flaws, things that don’t necessarily break gameplay in a huge way but just annoy you a little when you’re trying to do something.

Examples? Well how about the little things in Crius? Among others…

  • Separating corp & personally insured ships.
  • A default “No Label” label for contacts, and a label on the online/offline indicator for your contacts.
  • No skills required to fit a ship.

And from Kronos?

  • Reloading indicators
  • Highlighting in Assets
  • Cleaner info windows.

And so on and so forth. The Rubicon 1.1 devblog actually has all the “little things” devblogs since CCP Karkur’s first one back in early 2012, and the trend is repeated throughout: Little things are little to you.

Borrowing an example from Sugar Kyle’s PvE little things, “The entire mission system is boring and awful” isn’t little. There’s nothing little about it, you’re talking about an entire gameplay system there. Something along the lines of “an overlay that shows me where I have to go and a summary of my objectives without having to open my journal and check each mission individually” though, that’s little (and it already exists to boot.) Or, with my own little anomaly oriented project, “Anomalies are awful and bad, replace them with a dynamic PvE system with high-functioning player-like AI that spawns and reacts based on the number of players present and what they’re flying” isn’t little. But, “Hidden Rally Points are supposedly the lowest difficulty type of Rally Point, but widely separated spawns slow down completion time considerably and an incredible number of elite cruisers per wave makes them a lot harder than you’d expect; grouping the spawn points into a couple of clusters and replacing some of the cruisers with battlecruisers or battleships would help balance the site” would be.

And one last non-PvE example, one of my own favorite pet peeves, “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to create multiple stacks of a given size at once?”


As of now, one week to Crius! Once it launches we’ll get more activity, likely a good split between tweaks and adjustments to Crius and short & long term future work.

This is late because I was going to combo-post about the NPE, but welp, post still isn’t done…

CSM9 Update: Week 9

At least I think it’s week nine, but I may have lost track seeing as I opted out last week…


Short one this week too, though, even if I’m writing it in the first place. A handful of devs are on vacation and I expect others to follow in the coming weeks, especially after Crius launches – expect whatever comes after immediately after Crius to be one of the small releases. On the CSM front, Xander Phoena and Sugar Kyle have both documented various going-ons, so I don’t really feel the need to repeat most of them. One minor quibble with something Sugar said, though.

The CSM is still an oversight committee still but that has expanded over the years. The incorrect term ‘junior game designer’ is often used. Focus and Feedback would be a bit better.

Don’t agree with this actually, not entirely. Yes, the CSM is here to give feedback. Part of that, from my perspective, is sometimes going not just “Well I don’t like X” but “I don’t like X, because Y, and here’s Z which I think is a better implementation.” And that Z – that’s something designed. Might be based on something else, but nevertheless. Or sometimes instead, it’ll be an unprompted suggestion of W.

WXYZ. Half a dozen or so other people are giggling right now, those around them have no idea why, and everyone else doesn’t know there’s a reason why they would be.

Anyway, just a personal philosophical point.

It seems fully half the CSM right now has their own little ‘little thing’ project going on and while I’ve not posted it (at least not on the EVE forums) I do have one of my own. I’ve been taking in information about anomalies in nullsec – in short, what’s good, what’s bad, and why, because their general design is frankly pretty messed up these days. I’ve gotten quite a bit of information about Guristas space, with special note to one intrepid pilot who went and found one of every single anomaly out there to catalog why they suck, or don’t, in high and very useful detail. Seriously, it’s great – looks like this.

Unfortunately not every rat in EVE is created equal and while one race’s anomaly is very similar to the analogous version of another race (everyone’s got the same set of anomalies after all, except for Drones) damage types, weapon types, and electronic warfare can drive things to be very different. So now I’m looking for info from other parts of EVE. What I’m after is the following:

  • Anomaly Type & Race
  • Ship used and skill level (Ship & DPS related skills only, I don’t really care so much about tank skills so long as you can tank it)
  • Approximate time of completion and value of the site
  • Where the initial spawn is relative to the warpin, and where respawns appear (relative to warp-in, last spawn, or both). A screenshot of each spawn would be perfect.
  • Makeup of each spawn, in gross terms (this many cruisers, this many battlecruisers, etc) as well as if & how many ‘elite’ rats there were. The elites are “Dire Guristas” or “Elder” or “Dark” Corpii, etc.
  • Which spawns contain tacklers or other electronic warfare and what type.
  • What rat is the ‘trigger’ in each spawn.

I’d also like to know which anomalies can escalate, what they can escalate to and (most importantly, since honestly those two things I can easily look up) what kind of loot comes from the escalations. Or to put it another way, are they worthwhile? And hell, so long as we’re on that track, let’s just round it out with regular exploration, the DED complexes.

If you want to pitch in, you can send the info to me by evemail (don’t forget the third N) or use my feedback form.

CSM9 Update: Week Seven, Town Hall Edition

Quiet week. Not much going on, still. Sprint review with 5-0. Not too much else going on.

Let’s talk about the Town Hall instead. I jotted down most of the questions, and even though I wound up talking more than I expected to and so answered quite a few of them, I’ll repost answers here. Some of the questions are paraphrased, some aren’t, some are just links when they’re long. All these answers are my own, even in cases where the question asks what “the view of the CSM” is or some such.

1. A lengthy question concerning the story of EVE, who owns them, how they could change, and where Live Events come in.

Anything can be tweaked and adjusted by anyone telling it, whether that’s CCP or the players. Obviously some of those are tweaked for the sake of explaining things (alts as in the True Stories comics), others to better present (or gloss over?) the mechanics. There’s no real rigid rule as to when and how something should be tweaked, and there shouldn’t be. All of this applies to Live Events as well. The stories that come from those may be more guided, but the ones that are interesting to tell (such as the “slaughter of the lambs” story) are ultimately so because of player actions.

2. What is your stance on force projection. Do you guys think it needs any change?

I think considering it in isolation is somewhat foolhardy. “Force projection” isn’t an issue in its own right, the problem is how it interacts with the rest of the mechanics. So, while it almost certainly needs change and that change is just as certain to be tuning it back, “how much” is a harder question to answer.

3. Why don’t we have top hats in the NEXT store?

Good question. Largest travesty of our time, honestly.

4. How about making Blockade Runners immune to customs officers scanning for drugs?

How about not? Instead, let’s just throw out the contraband mechanic as it currently exists. Customs officers will scan you, but if they detect contraband, will merely flag you suspect and perhaps announce it on the grid or in the system. It’d be up to players to decide if they wanted to do anything at that point. Blockade Runners then have their natural advantage here in that they cloak and move fast.

As an addendum, eliminate the restrictions on contracting contraband, and drugs in particular. Huge barrier to their trade. A warning notification that a contract contains contraband should be sufficient.

5. What personal initiatives are various CSM members undertaking that you can talk about?

A few of us are gathering information on our various preferred areas to give to the PvE team to have a look at; Mike Azariah is doing Incursions, Corbexx is doing wormholes (naturally!), I’m gathering info on anomalies in nullsec, and Sugar Kyle is gathering general “PvE little things”. Steve is spearheading new gathering tools for “Little Things”. Mangala is talking with various social groups and corps in anticipation of future corp and alliance revamps, and Ali Aras has been doing work on new player learnability for the new industry system.

6. A question on disagreements between CSM members and how that affects the feedback we give to CCP.

The players we represent will disagree, why shouldn’t we? Suppressing disagreements in the name of unity or something along those lines would be doing CCP a developmental disservice and quite possibly suppressing issues they need to be considering about a feature before shipping it off to the players. We talk amongst ourselves and if there are multiple views, typically one person from each camp will say “These members feel this way”, so as to summarize the various viewpoints without spamming CCP. It’s the diversity that’s useful, not necessarily going “Yeah agreed, +1”

Pragmatically speaking, most of us are too bullheaded and egotistical to let our opinions go unheard even if they’re not the majority anyway. If we weren’t, we probably wouldn’t have run in the first place.

7. What is the CSM’s stance on interceptors that can be in warp before they can possibly be locked?

I’m okay with the very quick align time; we are not entitled to catch absolutely everything at a gate. The problem with the Malediction and Crow is the fast align, with the bubble immunity, combined with ability to apply their damage at speed and range. That third factor means they’re able to engage their targets with basically just as much impunity as they move around, and that’s the problem. I’ve posted one solution in the past (shuffle the Crow and Malediction into Combat interceptors and take the bubble immunity bonus away from that class in exchange for another bonus), Namamai has a simpler approach – simply force or at least encourage those two ships to use Rockets instead. That’d encourage them to make themselves vulnerable if they actually want to kill their targets.

8. Does the latest reorganization at CCP help or hinder CREST and third party development? And what about EVE-Gate as an out of game command center, especially for corp & alliance management?

One note on the first part of the question – HR matters at CCP are not one of the things that the CSM is generally privy to nor one that we give input on. That said, with the exception of CCP Xhagen (who was an associate producer) none of those let go were developers, as far as I’m aware, and so CREST and third party development should at least not be hindered.

As for EVE Gate, I’d love it if it were more powerful; I personally use it extensively to run the CFC renter alliances. .In general I’d say the development resources are probably better spent elsewhere though, but that does depend on who’s purview that kind of work would fall under. Whenever CCP gets around to the corp & alliances revamp that’s on the roadmap, though, it’d be a good time for another look.

9. A question about turning off the new tooltips.

Every time there’s a new feature, people want to be able to turn it off, to stay with the old stuff. And, no. That’d mean effectively maintaining two code bases, including legacy code CCP very much wants to be getting rid of. You’ll be better served explaining what the problem is with a feature and how it could be improved so that it can be fixed than you will be demanding the ability to turn it off.

10. When will the industry minutes for CSM8 be released?

Ask Ali Aras. She’s poked CCP Leeloo to get them released, so my hope is it’s soon!

11. What role is CSM9 taking with respect to integration of EVE Valkyrie and Legion?

When & if either of those games reach the point where CCP is working on integration I’d expect the CSM will work with both CCP and the CSM on that, but our primary involvement would be on the EVE side of things. For example, CCP could ask “what services would you like to be able to pay mercenaries to do” or “what kind of interaction with X game system would be interesting from the EVE side”. I wouldn’t expect to be working with CCP nearly as closely as we do on EVE things, however.

12. CCP says the goal is for everything in the game to be destructible. Does that include Jita 4-4? Wouldn’t that make the game unplayable for newbies and a lot of other people besides?

I’m pretty sure “everything should be destructible” should really read “everything that players build should be destructible.”

13. I travel for work and play alongside members of the military. With such military issues, would the CSM look at out of game queue management?

I’d have generally been all for this before today, but Steve Ronuken made the very good point that out of game queue management, especially if exposed to third party developers, essentially means no more queue. Whether “no more queue” as a concept is actually a good or bad thing is up for its own separate discussion, but if the conclusion is “yes, nuke it” I’d rather it be done in an overt way than a third party back door of sorts.

14. Lowsec used to suck. Now it doesn’t. But what about NPC nullsec?

So, I’d turn around and pose the question back to the person who asked: If NPC nullsec starts to get a lot of its own perks and advantages, what’s the point of lowsec then? Or depending on the type and magnitude of buffs, what’s the point of sovereign nullsec then? NPC null ought to have its own character and flavor, but I’m admittedly not quite sure what that is.

15. What about Syndicate LP store items? They’re kinda bad.

A problem universal to basically all LP stores is that they have their factional items, most of which are crap. So, you’re stuck with what few items are worth using, and then the stuff globally available, usually implants. If all your faction-specific items are crap, you’re kinda stuck, because the values on the global stuff is also crap. End of the day, it’s something best addressed as part of “metacide” – comprehensive module rebalancing – as CCP talked about at Fanfest.

16. What is the priority list for roadmap over the next year? Not looking for anything NDA here, just a general list of things that are going to be worked on.

Uh yeah, you actually are asking for anything NDA there. Sorry.

17. Lengthy question/rant about the ingame browser.

Be nice if it was better & more secure, more likely response (according to Steve Ronuken) is that it’ll be removed, eventually.

18. Has EVE Voice been abandoned? Improvements there would be nice.

Per Mangala, he’s spoken with the company that actually develops the back-end for EVE Voice and provided them with an extensive list of ways it could be improved for EVE’s purposes.

19. If Kronos has been released with the industry stuff, what would be in Crius?

Fixes, tweaks, minor features that hadn’t quite made the cut in time for Kronos, but with the teams responsible for industry then moving on to do invention (as is planned for post-Crius) it’d be a small patch. Something to keep in mind about the six week release tempo is that it doesn’t mean we get an expansion level release every six weeks, it just means that there is an opportunity for things to be released every six weeks. Smaller stuff – think of the typical contents of 1.x releases – can go out much more quickly, larger stuff can span several releases and push when ready.

20. Will we ever get walking in stations?

Yeah, probably not.

21. With outpost upgrades now being so much more valuable to have, are there any plans to rebalance their costs?

It sure would be nice! Personally, I’d settle for players being able to build them ourselves, with bonus points for the fillings they require either being built in or changed to something more compact. There’s effectively zero interesting gameplay surrounding the procurement, building, and upgrading of an outpost. Once the materials are in place, it’s a mad scramble for one lone pilot at an awful time (just before downtime) that consists of several freighter trips. Letting players build them just makes sense, making them just a bit easier to deploy relieves the bullshit now and paves the way for any gameplay surrounding their deployment when and if that’s ever revamped to be about putting up and defending it, not making a bunch of freighter trips.

22. What about ways for a small, organized group to disrupt a larger one in nullsec?

This is at least one element of what the “farms & fields” concept is about – I can improve my space and build ways to leverage more profit out of it, you can come along and destroy or steal it. There are other directions I’d like to see it go in the future as well. The key, though, is that they ought to require active input from the raider to carry out the disruption, and active play from the defender to eliminate the threat.

23. Should there be a minimum standard for politeness from the CSM?

If you want to be polite and reasonable in dealing with me, I’m happy to be polite and reasonable back. On the other hand, if you’re going to be a moron, I’m probably going to tell you you’re being a moron. And going a step further, if you want to be a troll, or just a general dick, then fuck you, you’ll deserve any abuse I heap back on you. And, while I’m sure this wasn’t the intent of the person asking the question, if you want to be a troll or just a general dick and be able to hide behind some mandatory “minimum standard for politeness”, then fuck you twice, you’ll deserve it even more.

In other words, no, not really. If you think a CSM is misbehaving on the forums, report their post and ISD will deal with it just like any other player. If you think we’re being bad outside CCP’s purview, then basically, tough.

24. If CCP suggests replacing null local with a hackable system deployable, where would the CSM stand on it?

I personally would listen to the suggestion and then tell them to go back to the drawing board, because if they’re taking the time to revamp intel gathering, they really ought to do it right, and “a hackable system deployable” (singular) sounds awfully shallow and boring.

25. Something about the CSM representing the whole playerbase.

So, the CSM collectively, as an organization, represents the entire playerbase, and given the mix of people we’ve got this year, it does a pretty good job. But the council is made up of individual members. Those CSM members do not and probably should not “represent the whole playerbase”. You, the individual, want an expert representing your interests, and none of us are experts in everything. Beyond that, occasionally the needs or desires of one part of the playerbase will conflict with or directly oppose those of another. And frankly, not all of the playerbase indicated interest in having me represent them, so I don’t feel especially inclined to do so.

26. Are more ship skins coming?

More ship skins were announced at Fanfest; the battleship skins were added in Kronos, and more will be coming over time. So, “yes”.

27. Does the CSM have plans to talk to CCP about integrating CSM voting into the client?

I think we’re all a bit concerned about the turnout and it’s something we certainly plan to engage CCP with in general. Implementing voting ingame might be one approach, though personally I think we’d get a better payoff elsewhere.

CSM9 Update: (Late) Week Six

Quick one this week, and late, too. I debated writing this one at all, as for the most part Sugar Kyle and Xander Phoena have said pretty much everything I want to say and the temptation to say “just check them out” is rather extreme. But Sugar sort of shamed me into at least putting something on paper this morning, so here we are.

Incidentally, Sugar Kyle and Xander Phoena have said pretty much everything I want to say, so just check them out. Special attention to the notes about the first CSM9 Town Hall (June 22nd at 1900), the fact that we’re planning to do another “Little Things” campaign sometime Soon™ so visit the thread and post your little things! If you’ve never seen or done this, be sure to check out CCP Karkur’s post about proper formatting first. Xander also catalogued the multitude of appearances this week; Sugar Kyle’s open Q&A on Eve Uni Mumble, Xander’s own appearance there later in the week, Ali Aras’ weekly space hangouts (which I made it onto this without crashing this time, hooray!), and Corbexx and Major JSilva along with CCP Leeloo and Falcon for an interview on Capstable, which is very much worth the listen. Or so I’m told, as I’ve only just once again been reminded that I need to throw it on my phone so I can listen.

For this week’s “what’s the CSM think about X?” I’m going to point at this post, allowing mining and reacting in 0.4. Overall reactions are pretty evenly split between “Oh god, moongoo prices will crash and our alliance income with it”, “Oh god, moongoo prices and thus Tech II prices and thus Tech II margins will crash”, and “Mwahaha, now I get to have cheap Tech II AND gloat over those evil moon owners losing isk.” There’s also a little bit of nonsensical conspiracy nonsense coming from the usual parties alleging that Goons dropped towers on those moons ahead of time. Could the accusing parties get in touch and let me know where, exactly? I don’t see any Goonwaffe towers on 0.4 moons, which makes it an altcorp, and that makes it someone who owes taxes!

Anyway, I’ll leave you to figure out who’s dumb enough to believe it (spoilers, I’m sure he’s “just trolling”) and answer the question. What do I think?

I’m fine with it.

“But mynnna, your coalition’s income hinges on moons and any new ones is a threat to that! Aren’t you supposed to be more selfish than that?”


Obviously I’m concerned about protecting moongoo prices – crashing moongoo prices means crashing Tech II prices, which runs the risk of lowering the raw isk to be made from building it, which would be… bad. Fortunately for reality, there are something like 170,000 currently mineable moons. There are about 11,000 moons that will become potentially mineable in Crius, which is an additional 6.5%. That’s not an additional 6.5% R64 moons, though – Lowsec regions realistically have about a third as many R64s as Nullsec regions, so it’s reasonable to figure more like two percent. Hard to get concerned over that number considering that it’s probably smaller than the demand increase that we’ll see from people trying out invention after the changes. Or to twist the knife, smaller than the increase in material requirements that Tech II blueprint owners are going to be seeing…

A few months ago I wrote a post rather crassly mocking all the “sky is falling” types predicting the demise of highsec industry by pointing out just how many job-hours goes into industry in the game. At the time I made an estimate for Tech II module production, but used ships only for my estimate, as I had numbers to back them up. The combined number, though, was something like 45,000 production-days per day, or about 3450 years of production every 28 day period. As it turns out, I was wrong about that – I was low, by almost 40%. Funny how being wrong can make you more right, isn’t it?

Anyway. Two more “just today” things. First, I made an unprompted, industry related suggestion that I hope gets picked up for Crius. I’d share, and since I suggested it, I’m pretty sure I’d be allowed to… but I’d rather it be a surprise. If they pick it up and use it, I’ll say then. And second, if you want to use a POS in highsec after the changes but are concerned about defending it, think about supporting this post.

Until next week~

CSM9: Week Five

Another short one this week. First thing – the elephant in the room, so to speak. Nothing I can say is going to change anything about events of this week. I don’t have anything to gain by taking CCP to task, either, and in fact believe I’ve more to gain (especially when criticism is required) by engaging CCP privately and professionally – not publicly. You’re welcome to disagree, but if you’re hoping to see such criticisms, you will nevertheless have to go elsewhere.

Kronos dropped on Tuesday, which means it’s been a relatively quiet week on the development front. Our meetings have been far more interesting. Early in the week we met with CCP Seagull about the development process of EVE. I can’t say a whole lot about it, as is often the (frustrating, yes) case, but we’re collectively pretty excited.

One of the other meetings I can talk a little bit more about. It was with Team Space Glitter. They’ve been quite frank at fanfest & other venues that the tools available are… lacking… and one of their primary mandates is fixing that. No one expects it to be an easy task, but it is one very worth doing. In the meantime, though, they’re looking to echo the work of CCP Karkur and her endless and laudable annihilation of “little things”. While I think a more formal manner of gathering these is something necessary for the future, we’re all going about it our own ways for now. I have a general feedback form on my blog here, which I invite you to use. “Little things”, in context, would be something like “This 3/10 complex has a MWD restriction” or “This mission doesn’t drop the loot it’s supposed to. For my own part, I’d be particularly interested in hearing about ratting anomalies. If one type of anomaly or another in your part of space seems considerably more difficult, time consuming, or less valuable than what should be another anomaly, let me know why.

Moving forward, Kronos is launched, and while some of the teams will undoubtedly be working out any kinks or bugs, the rest are forging onward to the release of Crius, just over five weeks away. The content of the patch is pretty much locked at this point (no, angry PL posters of that thread, you’ll have to wait a couple months for the complete invention overhaul and yes, it WILL happen) but plenty of testing remains. Crius will be deployed to SiSi on June 10th, so I strongly encourage anyone interested (newly or otherwise) in industry to get on and try everything out.

On that same note (speaking of “angry PL posters of that thread”) – what Crius is is an overhaul of the research and industry system that is primarily focused on Tech I production. What Crius is not and at this point, cannot be (see aforementioned “locked” post) is an Invention overhaul. Invention is getting some attention, yes, but it’s primarily by-products of attention at the Tech I level:

  • Tech I copy times were reduced below Tech I build times across the board to give Tech I producers additional ways to optimize their cashflow, but it allows Invention to be made less “clicky” by increasing build and especially invention times without affecting overall throughput.
  • Furthering the above, Invention will only consume a single run of a BPC now, rather than max runs, which further reduces its reliance on copying.
  • Extra materials have been eliminated, because they’re not affected by Material research, which makes them confusing. The nature of negative levels of Material Efficiency means Invention would be hit especially hard, thus Invention is being rebased to produce BPCs with positive ME.

But to reiterate: that’s not everything planned for invention, and the teams working on Industry now move to Invention next. Feel free to be as cynical as you want. That Guardian article, as florid as its storytelling may have been, does demonstrate why there’s reasonable historical reason to feel that way. On the other hand, working with CCP over this past year has left me with little reason to doubt the claim “the invention overhaul is coming next.”

See you on sisi!

CSM9: Week Four

I need to take better notes.

This’ll be a short one, partly because of the above, partly because it’s been what we’ll keep simple and label a busy week outside EVE (no doubt my seventeen readers noticed the drop in output!), and partly because the weeks before patch releases are always relatively quiet on the CSM front.

I guess we’ll see if that last one changes a bit as CCP gets more accustomed to the new release cycle.

Anyway! The key word there was relatively quiet. In this context, I mean no new feature posts, no significant discussion of upcoming changes, that kind of stuff. However, the introductory meetings march onward, with no less than five this past week. The last of them, with Team Superfriends, quickly moved on past introductions and got into their plans after Crius and beyond. Our enthusiasm led the discussion astray more than a few times, so hopefully they didn’t find that too overbearing!

One thing I am going to reiterate is that I’ve got a feedback page now. It’s titled topic submission, but really, use it for any sort of feedback.

On the feedback side of things, we’re certainly still actively engaged with the ongoing industry refinement work, but even when it’s real-time chat on Skype (Greyscale, Steve Ronuken & myself have amassed probably several hours of such chat over the course of this week!) it’s almost entirely prompted by public posts such as this thread rather than new things being run past us before pushing to the public. Barring some curveball that’s a trend I expect will continue past Kronos until a good ways towards Crius, at least so far as Superfriends and Game of Drones are concerned – and why not? The overall scope of the industry changes as well as the details are public already, leaving very little reason not to do the refinement work in the open, with open feedback as much as possible. But at some point the designers on those teams will shift attention to beyond Crius… and there’s always Team Five-0, whose post-Kronos work I’m very excited about.

I was going to wrap this up by piggybacking on Sugar Kyle‘s opening topic, a simple question posed to her: “What is the CSM like?” I’m also an ‘infovore’ as she put it (and easily distracted), which means I at least read if not participate in virtually every discussion, in ever channel, as much as work and real life allows. Rather than rehash her response, I’m going to just say go read it… because her explanation is great and I’m not sure what else I’d add.

One last thing I do want to reiterate is that I have a feedback section, and while it’s titled “topic submission”, go ahead and drop whatever in there. In fact, by the time you read this, I’ll probably have changed the title anyway!

CSM9: Week Three

One minor site related thing before diving into the update – I’ve got a submission page for topic requests. Nothing more to say about that, really.

So what’s new this week? Meetings. More meetings. Oh god, the meetings!

Actually, no, it’s a great thing, the meetings have been productive. As an added bonus we’ve figured out how to overcome one shortcoming of the meeting platform, allowing more of us to attend live on a regular basis. That includes myself – the vagaries of scheduling meetings involving people across five or six timezones and two continents means the “optimal” time falls in my commute hour or in the first hour of work. Fortunately, the efforts of CCP Leeloo (who we’ve decided must be a Genie) mean that recordings of the meetings are posted for any of us who missed them within a couple hours.

In the “newly posted features” department, Sugar Kyle and Xander Phoena have both done a good job covering that. I hate feeling like I’m just rehashing what they write, so I’m not going to belabor the point too much. Instead, I’ve got a few bits of my own to add to a couple things,

MMJD are removed from ABCs… for now. They are not ruled out for the future. Personally, I hope they come back for that application, although the slow fall from favor of the class in many of its old applications has its roots in things that go well beyond what just MMJDs would solve.

The Mordus NPCs currently on the Test Server are actually found in anomalies, not belts as was originally stated. That it explains why I had no success finding them the other day. Edit: No it doesn’t, the sites are the source of BPCs for the new modules and the like, belt rats remain source for the ships themselves. I just misattributed my bad luck.

And then Freighters. Last week it was rig slots, and after public feedback and plenty of internal debate, they now have low slots instead. Overall I’m a fan of the outcome here. The upsides are a little larger, though the downsides are as well, a fact that there’s no getting around; “freighters as they are with modules on top” was something that was never on the table to begin with. The ability to refit on the fly to suit the next hauling job does a lot to offset that, though, while the permanence of rigs only exacerbated the downsides.

The question I’m sure some people are asking, then, is why didn’t the CSM fight this before it was posted? The answer there, simply, is good ideas don’t always happen all at once. Just like anyone else, we see something, we look it over, we think about it. Reservations may manifest themselves immediately, as they did in this case. I was concerned about rig permanence eroding the supposed new flexibility, and the steep downsides to go one way or another was something everyone was concerned about.

Most of the time, though, “we’re concerned about this” isn’t enough. When I was growing up, one piece of advice I heard from my dad over and over was “When you have a boss, don’t just bring him a problem. That just makes you a problem. Instead, bring a problem and a solution, or better yet two or three.” In this case, we had the problem (our concerns), and even had a solution (“why not slots instead”) but part of a solution is being able to defend the solution. The solution had problems of its own as well – low slot modules are far more powerful than rigs, and so difficult to balance, as Sugar Kyle noted last week. And thus, Fozzie marched onward and took the changes public… as he well should have! More on that a bit later.

Internally, discussion continued. Low slots for freighters looked like a fun little design exercise, so I generated some numbers. Scroll down through that post and look at the base EHP numbers and EHP numbers for various fits, and you can see why Damage Controls were left out of the final design – while they’re arguably balanced, the swinginess and tradeoffs involved are ultimately far too large. Nevertheless, it demonstrated it was possible, and so we submitted the design, our strengthened verbal arguments, and (quite possibly most importantly) the support low slots had received in the feedback thread both before and after my post.

And so here we are.

I mentioned a bit earlier that Fozzie was absolutely right to press on and take the changes public. Why? If the CSM has reservations, no doubt the players will as well, and so why not wait and address them? A large part of that I already explained, the lack of a good argument defending concerns. Another major factor, though, is that the very reason things are released far in advance of a patch (sidenote: balancing existing ships is generally not very demanding on developer resources, so two and a half weeks before patch is pretty far in advance) is to give time for feedback from everyone. That does include us – we’re not banned from giving feedback once a feature is posted in F&ID, after all. And besides, often as not in such situations, our continued feedback will draw inspiration from yours.

Just to close this post off, what exactly qualifies as a strong argument, and why isn’t we’re concerned enough? CCP Greyscale had an unbelievably good post on the topic of giving feedback a couple weeks ago that delves into that. I’ll quote the bullet points and briefly explain them each in (mostly) my own words here, but go read the whole post too.
Be calm and reasonable. Rageposting (which needs no explanation), outlandish and/or hyperbolic claims (“this will absolutely kill X and everyone will quit”) and childish labels (“coward module” comes to mind, courtesy of the MMJD thread) are not convincing and generally will not get you anywhere but ignored.
Show your work. This is the why; your opinion is not enough, as a thread will often have multiple conflicting opinions. A side that can support its opinion is far more likely to be successful.
Be Specific. Numbers are fantastic. Demonstrating why something is too big or too small is much better than just stating that it is. To grab the easiest kind of example, you might feel a post-balance ship doesn’t have the CPU to fit a reasonable fit for a certain task. Your argument will be strengthened by saying “This is the fit I want to use, these are the compromises I have to make (meta modules, different tank choices, etc) to make it work, and these are fits similar ships in similar roles can use that don’t have to do that, for that reason this ship should have at least 30 more CPU.” Actual example, not saying who, what or when.
Consider the whole picture. Much as you might like to think so, you are not the only player in this game. The developers are going to consider all angles on feedback as it is. Demonstrate you’ve done so as well and you raise the odds of your suggestion being taken into consideration.
Start your post well. A clear, concise summary – an abstract, if you prefer – will grab attention. This is especially true when your feedback is, by virtue of topic, a wall of text.
Speaking of a wall of text (to take the bullet points out of order) make sure it’s readable. Break up your paragraphs, punctuate correctly, and perhaps include some wit.
Finally, be novel. This isn’t to say that the tenth or twentieth or hundredth “I agree with this idea” post isn’t useful, as it indicates that one idea or another is something players can get behind. But there’s nothing to +1 without succinct yet comprehensive posts laying out why something is a good or bad idea and how to fix it.

While he was speaking for himself, I virtually guarantee you that this goes for literally any developer in the company… and speaking for myself, a lot of it goes for me as well. I’m here, among other things, as a conduit for feedback from players back to the developers. Coming to me and saying “this is bad, fix it” isn’t very useful on its own; even if I already think its bad myself, your reasoning and explanation could well be the new insight needed to convince CCP.

Just a little bit of food for thought next time you’re writing a feedback post.

CSM9: Week Two

And onward we march. CSM8’s term is officially over; that council has been dissolved permanently, their last remnants swept away forever. CSM9 have tags and forum access, granting direct controls over their territories. How and if they keep their local constituents in line, however, is up to them.


Anyway, that second “thing” from last week’s post is this week’s first thing – the announcement that the CCP will be taking advantage of their new expansion model (sidenote: If you’re not familiar with that new model, read that post) to allow them to delay the industry changes and push them back to the following release, July 22nd. Plenty of good feedback during and immediately after Fanfest prompted the decision; they want to ensure the revamp is as perfect as they can get it, and only having to delay six weeks instead of six months allows them to do that. Obviously everyone hopes CCP doesn’t make a habit of it, but having the option for a small delay when necessary to ensure a patch comes off the best way possible is a big, big deal.

The industry features were the largest part of Kronos and their delay certainly guts out the largest set of features for the patch. I’m still not entirely sure that there’s a comprehensive list of what was delayed, but in a nutshell, it’s everything from the series of six industry devblogs. Still, CCP has pivoted, and the theme of Kronos will be more pirate & lowsec oriented now, with a full feature list here. Well, mostly full. There may be still a few surprises in store ;)

Time from an interlude from patch discussion. CCP Dolan‘s departure is public knowledge if not official these days. When CSM8 was told he was leaving, to be replaced by CCP Leeloo, the news was met with a bit of trepidation. While many in the community are not fans of Dolan, to the CSM he was a known quantity who had (on the whole) done a pretty decent job. As a reuslt, it makes me extremely happy to say that CCP Leeloo has been proving herself right out of the gate. CSM9 has meetings scheduled with what I’m reasonably certain is every single development team in CCP over the next week and a half or so, a mini-summit of “get to know you’s”. That ought to save us a bit of time at the Summits, as first order of business with every new team has always been “who are you, what do you do.” So, kudos to CCP Leeloo. I think I speak for all five incumbents when I say you’ve erased any uncertainty we might have had.

To echo, just a touch, something Sugar Kyle talked about over in her blog, there have definitely been some heated arguments over new features. That shouldn’t really be any surprise, and hell, it’s actually a good thing. Going against a common opinion, I’ve argued more than a few times lately that any given CSM member isn’t there to represent the game as a whole. How can they? No one knows everything. We all work from our respective experiences with our preferred playstyle or styles, and do our best to convince everyone else our viewpoint is correct. Sometimes that’s not necessary because we actually agree despite diverging experiences, sometimes it’s not necessary because even though we don’t agree, it doesn’t actually matter because the change has little to no actual impact. But sometimes it does matter, and that’s where you want someone who can present their arguments well. And at this point I think I’ll cut this line of reasoning short before it turns into a post about what to look for in a CSM candidate. Back to this week!

The Mordu’s Legion faction ships everyone already knows about from Fanfest, of course, but CCP Rise posted their stats on Monday. I already wrote about those, so I won’t belabor them too much other than to point out that they’re one of many Lowsec focused elements for Kronos. The main source of supply (hopefully!) will be belt rats found in Lowsec belts. More people in lowsec hunting valuables and getting in fights? One can only hope. Not much argument internally about these – we’re all as excited to get our hands on them as most everyone else is.
Continuing attention to lowsec, we’ve got more K-K wormholes. Low to highsec movement isn’t changed here, but low to null is increased a lot and low to low, a hell of a lot. Again, no arguments amongst ourselves here, and by this point I’m considering putting one of my spare PvP pilots out in lowsec just to take part in all the new action!Tooltips! Okay, general player reaction doesn’t actually warrant the “!” just yet, I think. There’s been a lot of backlash over them, and some of it is even warranted. CCP is working on it. I’m pretty positive on them overall, though, so if you’ve got suggestions to tweak and adjust them I’m all ears; if you want the CSM to push for their removal, look elsewhere.

Blockade Runners got their revamp posted, along with Deep Space Transports. Not a whole lot of argument over the former – they got exactly what they needed, with the nice bonus of a fat boost to warp speed on top. DSTs on the other hand, well… I’m less than impressed by them. I think their escape mechanics are a bit of a trap, which makes their tanking abilities overrated. Most of the rest of the CSM disagrees, though. I had a lively debate about their merits with Sugar Kyle, but at the end of the day this is one of those areas mentioned earlier where disagreeing doesn’t really matter. On the other hand, their weapon slots might make them fun to use as Q-Ships.

In conjunction with Deep Space Transports are Medium Micro Jump Drives, which have a lot of PvPers throwing a fit. You know what? Suck it up and adapt. Might help your case to stop being so hyperbolic in feedback, and trashing on the devs responsible isn’t really going to convince them either.

Last up is Freighters and Jump Freighters. CCP Fozzie nerfed several stats as well as introducing rigs, and so the net effect is that pilots can choose to do better than current in one area, at the cost of others. As most people no doubt expected to be able to buff all of their stats a little bit or one stat a lot with rigs, this is quite a surprise and most people aren’t happy. For my part, I like there being elements of choice involved in using the freighter, which in turn means that I like the fact that it’s not “okay your freighters are as-is except with rigs.” Where’s the choice there?

What I’m a great deal less certain about, having thought about it, is just how absolute it is. You can’t unfit rigs, so if you want to suit your ship to your task, you eat the cost of destroying them or maintain extra ships. While any other ship has that problem as well, any other ship also has fitting slots and so most of the time can perform with most of their efficiency, even with the wrong rigs. My other concern, which I’m less sure of is how all or nothing the corresponding nerfs make it. You can get to about 105% in one aspect and suffer greatly in all others, or mix and match and just kind of suck at everything due to the nerfs. At least, I think so – I desperately need to sit down and crunch out the numbers, but I do have an idea rolling around based on this concept. We’ll see where it goes.

That just about wraps it up for this week. Kronos is on SiSi and slated to launch June 3rd, so we’re getting close. That doesn’t mean, however, that all the changes are out – CCP still has a few things in store. Stay tuned!