Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sticks and Shenanigans (Blog Banter #28)

In recent months, the relationship between CCP and its customers has been the subject of some controversy. The player-elected Council of Stellar Management has played a key role in these events, but not for the first time they are finding CCP difficult to deal with. What effect will CCP’s recent strategies have on the future of EVE Online and its player-base? What part can and should the CSM play in shaping that future? How best can EVE Online’s continued health and growth be assured?

This set of questions set forth by the new overlord of the blog banter comes at a fortuitous time. I was actually going to write a piece about this as my next post. As you notice, I did not post anything last week, as I was hoping the minutes regarding CSM’s emergency meeting would have been released by now. Sadly, this is not the case and we seem to have inadvertently been reset on course for the very disaster we narrowly avoided a few months ago.

First some background, for those of you living in a WH for so long you don’t get out into K-Space much. As most of you know by now or have heard, CCP hasn’t been the best when coming through with communication to the players. And by communication I mean actual meaningful conversation. The kind of conversation your girlfriend wants to have with you before you blow her off to play EVE. In fact, CCP even pledged to do better in this regard.

However, someone at CCP forgot to toss that skill in the Que. We haven’t been getting any communication from CCP, more like communiqués that tell us what they think they want us to hear. And worse, our only link with CCP, the CSM, has gone deceptively silent.

Well, until now.

Internet Spaceshipssss r srs bisnss

If there is a war brewing, the head CSM honcho named after a kitten fired the first salvo. Disgusted by CCP’s stall tactics, Mittens fired off a State of the Goon address that was more or less terrible and/or unimportant until you got to the last section. In that section he talks about CCP’s log in metrics, so helpfully provided by Jester from Jester’s Trek. He also seems to be upset with the disposition of the minutes. You know, those CSM minutes from that emergency meeting? The one where even after the “meeting” was over we had to wait like a week to get the “what’s happening” dual blog version? The one where we got to stare at a video of Mittens and Arnar in a preverbal circle-jerk? Yeah. Those minutes.

By the way, what happened to those minutes? We got the minutes from the first meeting, and suffice to say it wasn’t all coolness like sharks-with-frickin-laser-beams-attached-to-their-heads. No, wormhole dwellers were in for a rude surprise when we delved into those minutes. So by all accounts, THESE minutes should be chock full of interesting stuff.

But alas, we have no minutes. Trebor helpfully explains the process and what’s taking so long in his blog but I have to ask, wtf?

No seriously dude, wtf? The minutes were written and given to CCP. They were then looked at, edited, and given back to the CSM. According to the CSM, the minutes they got back where virtually nothing like the minutes they sent, and they come off sounding like neutered puppies. Thus the cycle of edits and other shenanigans begins.

But my wtf moment is right at the beginning. Why are you sending the minutes to CCP in the first place? I’m confused. Is it for NDA purposes? Well fine, but CCP as long as CSM doesn’t violate NDA then you don’t get to play NYT editor on a crack binge. No NDA violations? No problem, send it out. However CCP seems to be getting confused on the difference between NDA violations and using the CSM as their own political PR mouthpiece.

Thus where my confusion begins. CCP has no right to do any such thing at all. To draw a parallel, it’s like the Auto-Workers Union representatives having a meeting with GM. When they get done, they have to publish meeting minutes to their members but instead of just publishing them, they send them to GM to “make sure they’re okay”. If that sounds stupid to you, it’s because it is.

Mittens ran on a platform of the current CSM (at the time CSM 5) is dumb and OMG they’re gonna nerf null-sec. Between the fear and the arrogance, he managed the top chair in the current CSM 6. Mittens stated there wasn’t going to be any of the silly shenanigans that according to him was a hallmark of CSM 5. Shenanigans like the now famous CSM 5 “open letter”, something he very specifically called them out on.

So what does he do? Why publish his very own version of an “open letter”. Good job. They’ll never see that one coming.

What happened to the stick? Mittens said himself he’s going to make CSM more carrot and stick when dealing with CCP. Well? Where’s the stick? They aren’t doing what you want with the carrot, so it’s time to employ the stick right? What, you’re going to warn CCP that you’re going to hit them? I think that kinda defeats the purpose, dontchathink? Don’t tell me you don’t know what to do. Or perhaps you’ve realized you don’t have any power at all. You have no leverage, thus, no way out of this ridiculous line in the sand you’ve drawn. You’re as outgunned as the Claytons walking to the lot behind the O.K. Corral.

Or what? What is the “or what”? You’ll start another riot in Jita? Kill another account? If history has taught us anything, it’s that CCP doesn’t give two shits or a fuck about what we want or do. Oh sure, someone from PR got a hold of someone who actually makes decisions there at CCP and said “hey you can’t actually say that….” This brought us the emergency meeting we still don’t have minutes for. But did it solve anything? So far the answer is no. We got some cryptic, communiqué type blogs that really didn’t do/mean/say anything. And we still don’t know if the FIS team is dead or moved to developing some other stupid game.

It didn’t used to be like this. CCP actually cared, once, a long time ago. This was back before I even played, back when EVE was the only horse in their stable. CCP cared for it, nurtured it, taught it to run and be free. Now its hit that stage that it needs a bit more care. Stuff isn’t working as well as it used to, and she’s getting run down. And instead of looking after its needs, CCP has neglected it to the back stable, while it finishes working on the new and better horses.

And that’s fine. It’s actually the natural progression of things. But what CCP is doing wrong is they are trying to keep running that horse without caring for it at all. EVE is CCP’s cash cow. They need it to continue to run so they keep the income flowing, income that is being diverted to fund not just one new game, but two. And they have belatedly realized they have bitten off more then they can chew. Those two money pits are sucking in more dollars and resources to meet deadlines then they initially had planned. And worse, their cash cow that is paying for it is suffering because of it.

EVE is flying in space. The avatar technology is cute and all, but generally worthless. The captain’s quarters, while pretty, does little to streamline the game’s glaring UI faults and player interaction. This walking-in-stations dream they have will do all the same things. Look pretty, but in general be worthless.

Can I walk over to the guy who just blew up my ship and punch him in the testicles? No? Why not, he’s right there. If I can’t do that then I don’t care, and neither does anyone else who actually plays this game for what this game is about. Flying. In. Spaceships.

When is the last time we actually got any content in the game that has to do with the actual flying in spaceships? Incursions? Fun but I can tell they are beginning to lose their luster. PI? Boring, and broken depending on who you talk to. Wormholes? Yeah, that was like what a couple of years ago? Since that was their last (and best) expansion to actually do something with flying in space all we got was PI and an invasion?

EVE’s health and growth is entirely dependant on CCP. After all, it’s their game. They have all the cards, they hold all the keys, and they make the rules. And it is the corporation of CCP misunderstanding their own product that is going to destroy the very thing that put them on the map.

CCP needs a wake-up call. I thought Summer of Rage 2: The Sequel was enough to do it. Apparently I was wrong. CCP is still just a big dumb corporation who bit off more then they can chew and are hastily rushing about trying to meet deadlines. This means that something’s gotta give, and unfortunately for us that means EVE isn’t getting anything but World of Darkness Beta testing. To them they are killing two birds with one design stone. They seem content in being able to present this shit and say “Look what we gave you!” and even they seem to have forgotten what their very own game is about.

...and when his HEAD comes into view, HIT IT WITH THE STICK!!!!

So it’s up to the CSM. Don’t warn them about the stick, fucking hit them with it. It’s far more effective. But what leverage do you have? More then they think.

Start by leaking the minutes.

Yep. Leak ‘em. Because if history over the last few months has taught us anything, it’s that CCP does eventually respond to leaks. You could of course be dooming the CSM to be banished/disbanded but let’s face facts. That doom has been hanging over your head since the CSM’s inception, and right now you’re playing with house money. They called you. Fucking nut up, stare them in the eye and call them back. CCP in general has investors and others who they will risk losing if they can’t be seen to handle their upkeep problems on their own game. They have more riding on this pot then you do.

Or you know, do nothing. If Jester’s curve is telling of anything, in the near future it’s not like anyone will be left to care.


  1. \o/
    It's as if CCP is playing stupid. After the whole revolt and all the subscriptions that were canceled CCP STILL tried to play the whole thing down and in doing so belittled it's playerbase.
    If this is how it's going to be with CCP acting the fool I'm finally, albeit grudgingly, beginning to rethink the enormous time investment I have in this game.

  2. One massive issue I've got with your post, that does sort of defeat major portions of the 'minutes bit'.

    "Mittens ran on a platform of CSM5 is dumb ... Between the fear and the arrogance, he managed the top chair in the current CSM 6. Mittens stated there wasn’t going to be any of the silly shenanigans that according to him was a hallmark of CSM 5. Shenanigans like the now famous CSM 5 “open letter”, something he very specifically called them out on."

    One of the other shenanigans this CSM got away from, that CSM5 paid extra special attention to? Writing the minutes. CSM6 had CCP write the minutes. Oops. There are no CSM-writen minutes to leak, sadly.

    The CSM could leak the initial CCP written version of the minutes. As I understand it they were happy with the language in that... but they're going for more of a "CCP Dev's are our bros!" tact, and don't want to upset any of their buddies in the lower echeloens at CCP.

    No clue how well the current media offensive is actually working for them in the upper ranks.

  3. @ddenton That's partially true, but the original minutes that CPP transcribed were edited by the CSM members for their own "voice" if you will. And if they were happy with that then fine. That's what they have.

    I agree that CSM 6 should really consider fucking writing their own minutes (after all, it's the secretaries job) but that cannot be helped now.

    Who transcribed the initial minutes doesn't really matter in the long run, however. It still doesn't excuse CCP for re-writing the entire minutes and handing it back to CSM. Thus why I say to leak the original document, the one the CSM wanted to publish the first time.

  4. @Shadai IIRC Myxnee mentioned recently how important the minutes were to CSM5. I'm fairly certain that was part of their 'terrorist' tactics with CCP. But CSM6 never really seemed to give a damn about transparency. It's not like they have 'meetings' with their always on Skype shenanigans.

    No clue why the current CSM isn't going the 'threatening to release the minutes 'route, they obviously believe it won't work. I won't armchair quarterback the decision. They likely have a better insider angle on the results on CSM5's tactic.

    I don't understand the half-assed silly media blitz angle though. mitten's 'leaked' (big air quotes there) CEO Update: Nuclear Winter was NOT really a solid piece for media consumption.

    A true media blitz would be highly dangerous to CCP and should get them to engage much faster than any Jita rioting.