This is a collection of short in-character fiction pieces about Awakened Industries, a group of capsuleers and their crews living in the enigmatic and dangerous regions of Wormhole Space in EVE Online. None of the protagonists are actual characters or corporations in-game. All similarities with persons fictional or real are possibly coincidental and only sometimes intentional. - Emergent Patroller

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: The stories on this blog contain mature themes involving sexuality and violence and are not suitable for minors or sensitive people.

14 Mar 2012

Blog Banter 34 - A CSM for all parties

This time the Blog Banter subject comes from CCP Xhagen. His question is:

"How would you like to see the CSM grow, both in terms of player interaction and CCP interaction?"

Some time ago, I had a short exchange about what the CSM is. But the question now is, what we players think the CSM should be.

In my view there are two functions that the CSM can ideally fulfill which would help both them as an institution of EVE and CCP as a company. One is focused on interaction with CCP, the other is focused on interaction with players. Both would contribute to the communication and mutual understanding among all parties.

The reality check sounding board

I have the utmost respect for a management that can build up, sustain and grow a niche game throughout the largest financial crisis Iceland has faced recently, and I acknowledge that the EVE developers want to do their best for the game and are certainly in it with heart and soul.

However, we have seen that CCP management is capable of making choices that hardly anybody but they themselves really want. We have also seen that developers can come up with 'great ideas' that leave players wondering whether they even play the game. That is a natural consequence of their job, which does not necessarily include playing the game on a regular basis and knowing every little daily grievance of someone who does.

Here the CSM can be a very valuable asset for CCP when used correctly. Have one of those great visions for EVE? Came up with a new feature? Check with the CSM what their take on it is, you might be surprised.
For this to work well, the CSM needs to be comprised of people from all playstyles and regions. CSM6 - while very effective - was not a group reflecting that properly. Neither was CSM5. Other people in this round of Blog Banter have already suggested equal representation either by playstyle or by region. I would suggest a mixture of both. The position of the CSM chair could then be scrapped completely. It would also make it easier for many players if they don't have to read through the pitches of every candidate but only those who run for their playstyle (Nullsec Sov Holding Alliances, Wormhole Settlers, Faction Warfare, Pirates, Mission Runners etc.)

The Unfortunate side-effect may be, that generalists don't get a seat, but it is a sacrifice I would be willing to make when in exchange I could be sure that there is guaranteed representation of all player base issues. That would make an effective reality check sounding board.

The peergroup messenger

EVE players are a paranoid lot who are prone to overreactions and conspiracy theories. CCP employees are sometimes not very good in communicating well what they are up to. The combination can be disastrous as we have all seen in 2011.

If the CSM sit together with CCP staff and get a good picture about what is going on, and then tell it to the playerbase they represent, a lot of those problems can be avoided. Devblogs could become shared reports, underwritten by a developer and a CSM member in mutual agreement. It would make a major difference and possibly save the devs a lot of questions and comments. Much of that would more likely go to the CSM member who gave a second opinion on it. In addition, people just trust others more if they have the impression that they share interests with them. Therefore it is likely that the responses would be less extreme.

Does that make things more tedious and complicated? Maybe, but it will also make them more transparent and prevent a lot of nerdrage that is based on misconceptions, miscommunication or distrust.

Of course, that would require socially savvy and active CSM members, but when combined with the system of equal representation suggested above, it would enable CSM members to focus on their peer group rather than having to act as go-between for all of the playerbase (or deny that they do, like the Mittani).

Ideally, CCP would offer the CSM a centralized platform to do their communication job: A site connected to the main EVE page where players can directly interact with the representatives, where the CSM members themselves can maintain blogs about their activities, where all the minutes can be found, and where CCP devs can post their reports together with CSM comments.

In summary

I very much am on-board with the system of equal representation of playstyles. How exactly that should be organised, I'd leave for a more specialized discussion about that. In general, the CSM should not become larger than it is to save money and effort in coordination.

I am also very much for a CSM that actively communicates with the playerbase regularly, with CCP facilitating. Also, CCP should involve the CSM as much as possible in the planning and production phases of new features, fixes and changes. In the former to get player feedback, in the latter to inform the players about what is coming up.

I have the feeling that this way, the unique experiment that CCP started by creating the CSM, would reach it's full potential. EVE is the most community driven game on the market, therefore it would only make sense to develop a good method for interacting with that community.

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