Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Consequences Will Never Be The Same

Looks like I done goofed a lot harder than I thought and CCP have deemed that I will not be allowed to run for CSM6 or any future CSM councils for that matter after all. I must say I'm pretty disappointed (but not overly surprised) considering :18 months: of being told otherwise.

After having consulted with our legal counsel and key stakeholders in the CSM project I’m sorry to inform you that we will not be able to accept your candidacy application. This decision will also go for any future applications to the CSM that you might send in.
We wish you the best in your future endeavors and we thank you for your past enthusiasm about the CSM. We hope that our decision will not dull that enthusiasm.

Now, I'm sure many of you will agree with this decision. I did a terribly silly thing which potentially put the whole CSM process at risk. Saying that, I was told that I would be allowed to run again in the future and I never led anyone to believe that my intention would be anything other than this. CCP even allowed words to that effect to pass muster in the Devblog about the incident now known as 'Larkonisgate'

Moderately butthurt about it all but I'm not intending to ragequit over it (much to the irritation of some).

I'll finish up some of the campaign material I've been working on and get it poasted, hopefully someone can make use of it and hopefully I'll get to work on restarting the Making Low Sec Matter initiative this weekend. I may even continue 'blogging' after that if you're unlucky.

Monday, 14 February 2011

CCP Or: How I stopped worrying and learned to love the :metric:

My tease on Friday night was actually the product of a slightly heated conversation on metrics and the like. I wasn't actually planning on writing anything but I've mulled over it slightly today.

"The data does not seem to support that polished quality sells better than new features."

CCP Oveur 2010

"Popular opinion supports that polished quality doesn't need to sell better simply because it encourages existing customers to remain engaged for longer."

Larkonis Trassler 2011

The word metrics has been thrown around a great deal with reference to CCP over the past few months. Simply put, whether rightly or wrongly, some people are implying that CCP are relying more and more on relatively poorly sourced and hazily interpreted data to make their business decisions. That's CCP's prerogative really. CCP is, after all, a business and if they want to head in a direction that they think will provide them with more profits then they'd be a fool not to take it. However, right now I believe that they're travelling in the wrong direction following a half finished map.

An anecdote, if you'll allow me. During the CSM 3 summit we had a meeting with the GM department. Not just one or two but all the lead GMs and then some, headed up by GM Grimmi and CCP Arkanon (head of IA). Now, the GMs do great work. I don't think there's many people who'd have the patience to put up with doing the job they do. But there were problems and there are still problems with regard to policies and game knowledge or communication skills among some GMs (this occurred once when I received a petition response from a GM who's first language was obviously not English, it was eventually solved but was no doubt as frustrating for him as it was for me). There were lots of nice blue graphs, the one that showed a 79% satisfaction rating with concluded petitions really piqued our interest. The GMs seemed quite chuffed at this. We weren't. We had a hard time convincing them of our opinion that their 'metric' was skewed. The vast majority of satisfactory outcomes will have come from easy to fix issues like billing and whatnot. Again there was no way for CCP to measure this. If you're anything like me, by the time you've bounced your petition around you just rage close it and don't rate the thing (not to mention I wasn't aware of the damn feature until maybe 3 months prior to the summit). Now, this is something players have themselves to blame for partially but if GMs had spent more time communicating and interacting with the players they could have gained more accurate metrics (regular devblogs on how the GM department works and how to file and rate a petition) and also prevented a lot of resentment (clear policies on things like reimbursement and the like, they are there but they're hard to find). At the time however if they'd looked at the forums (and I realise they are sometimes ruled by a very vocal minority) they would have realised the volume of dissatisfaction that the players were displaying despite their :metrics:.

Metrics are only one piece of the puzzle. Time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted. In my experience it's far better to get 'eyes on' a problem and analyse it up close with your own eyes and ears than by viewing data presented on a spreadsheet. As a soldier I wouldn't be comfortable planning an attack on a position with an incomplete map copied from a hazy airfot, if I could I'd try and have a look at it myself. As an engineer if I'm given a problem to solve I'll get a look at the equipment and talk to the operators, not thrash out a solution based on reports and drawings alone. Likewise the problems that CCP face shouldn't be dealt with relying on second hand data interpreted by people with no connection to the issue (I'm looking at you PI). It might require a bit more of a time investment and maybe a bit more risk from the people on the coal face, they may risk having a few naughty words uttered in their direction or may even let slip the wrong thing in a discussion, but you'll end up with a much better end result. The CSM was supposed to bridge this gap, and to an extent it has, they've managed to start the ball rolling, there are more Dev blogs, more forum poasts and we even had a live event last night. Let's see a bit more. I recall Torfi being interviewed for Eve TV and saying he occassionally cruised round watching people in local. Don't just watch for God's sake man! Get amongst it, get some real opinions from real people on real problems.

Horizontal expansion at work: The future of Eve. This is no good at all.

Building on core design and iteration. See how much better this is?

Oveur's quote came to light during the first CSM 5 summit during the infamous :18 Months: debacle. We'd heard similar things during the CSM 3 summit, Quantum Rise was held up as example of an expansion that was full of fixes, clearing a lot of the 'technical debt' but slim on features and it was regarded as being not very successful at all in terms of boosting subscriber numbers (I'd argue that this poor uptake was probably partly due to the nano nerf and missile changes, but then, I really loved my nanos). I'd like to have seen the metrics on the post expansion droop in subscriptions that inevitably occurs once the hype has died down and the bitter vets realise that nothing has really changed. How long can you keep expanding outwards, continually adding new features and ignoring the core of the game? By concentrating on returning to 'old' content and building upon it you may forgo the initial surge of new subs and resubs that you get when a new feature is released (this is disputable though, it may draw back players who felt upset about the lack of content in that area), but how many of those really stick? Fixes and iteration of features are an incredible aid to player retention FACT. I don't have any metrics to back this up unfortunately, because, well, CCP don't have or don't release them, I do have access to a great many almost delirously happy forum posts, blogs and opinions passed by word of mouth about how such and such an upcoming fix will make their lives so much better. Even smaller fixes which don't include any content of note are enormously well recieved (as seen with Team BFF's efforts with Incursion 1.2, I do hope they are allowed to continue what they're doing). But, I fear these are like plugging individual holes on a colander. How much 'old' content and how many incomplete features have been ignored time and time again come patch or expansion day? Incarna and Dust are, unfortunately, a rapidly approaching reality. Once they're done, if it's not too late by then, it will be time to slam the anchors on and begin to shore up the base and weld that colander into a shiny pot.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

A Murder Of Crows

Last night I FC'd an SHC 'Ganknight'. Now, normally the first rule of ganknight is that you... actually that's not a rule, I'm just trying to make shit pop culture reference. Essentially it's a themed roam organised by the Scrapheap Challenge community where pilots of all races, corps and creeds come together and run an NPSI (Not Purple Shoot It) roam, usually into deepest nullsec.

We invariably die in a fire.

The theme for GN 25.25 was Crows. Lots and lots of Crows. Now, the Crow has a special place in my heart, it's pretty much the ship I learned to PVP in and I even made a terrible PVP video back in the day.

So we formed up in Bosena ready for a 21:30 start off. Gang format was going to be Long Range Crows>>>Tackle Inties>>>Dictors (With a Skirmish Loki for beautiful bonus').

After spending ten minutes or so shaking the gang out we set off and made it a few jumps before we spied a Hurricane on our out gate. Being in paper thin ships and this still being Lowsec I gave the order to hold. One brave Crow decided to agro the Cane anyway. He was rapidly delaminated by the gate guns.

Man Down

At this point the Hurricane seemed to be overcome with some temporary palsey and decided to agro on of us. He was taken out in short order.

From there we hit 7Q-8Z2, a 0.0 entry system into GW. Scouts had some guys tackled in bubbles on the gate so we piled in and gave them a bloody nose . Big shout out to Rampant Basttard who died hero tackling a Drake while swarmed with Warrior IIs.

We pushed onward, getting a few ganks along the way and coming across two drakes battling one another in EOA-ZC. There was some confusion when mid warp I asked for the scouts to call a primary for us to shoot on landing.
'Primary is Primary in the Drake'
'Yeah mate I know but there's two Drakes, which one do we primary?'
'The drake, primary!'
'No, the pilot is called Primary.'
'Oh, right, primary when you land is Primary'

I must say calling yourself something like that is a real dick move and contributed to my ulcer no end.

From there we headed to UBX-CC, ganking somewhat along the way. In UBX we found some Violent Entity guys sitting outside of a jumpbridge POS. We smashed a couple of dudes on the outside of the shield before the rest popped back in. By maintaining high speed and transversal we were able to avoid the damage of the POS guns, right up until my arc took me into the path of two guns and I exploded. Fortunately Cyber Ten heroically gave me his Malediction so I could continue to lead the fight. Using immense metagaming abilities we accessed open source documents and gained entry to the POS forcefield and attempted to bump some guys out. Fortunately many of them came out of their own accord and were slaughtered piecemeal.

We took a break in FDZ4-A and just after we started moving out the Violent Entity posse were spotted again behind us. They somehow thought that smartbombing battleships would work well against long range inties. Unfortunately several of our number didn't quite get the concept and died. However, we won the ISK war.

After that we headed to BWF-ZZ and over the course of around three quarters of an hour mauled Brick Squad forces on the Oijanen gate. After trying desperately to hit us with smartbombing BS (special mention goes to Lady Spank for trying to blind a Maelstrom pilot by exploding right in front of him), high tracking battle cruisers and, bizzarly, solo stealth bombers they finally formed up around twenty or so dudes in a battle ball of fast tracking vessels being tracking linked and repped by scimitars. Despite almost killing a Tempest before reps managed to stabilise on him I called a regroup and we got out. Though Brick Squad had been a worth opponent I decided not to give them any free kills. I called for a retreat and we headed off... Our enemy broken, defeated.

Good Fight Brick Squad.

At this point we called it a night. We'd been on the go for almost four hours and out of our initial 70 vessels I reckon we'd lost 30 over the course of the night, either through dying or not having the stamina to keep up with this epic roam.

Thanks to all who attended, was the most fun I've had playing Eve for a while.

Special shout outs go to:

Pandora SC for being a good booster (despite being INIT)
My scouts: ROXGhengis, Lyyraia, Jalif, Cyber Ten, Don Pellegrino, Rampant Basttard and a few others I'm sure.
Sofail Roseburn
High Sierra

Meanwhile... In Iceland

I don't know if someone has added something to the water supply in the Puzzle Palace but something pretty incredible just happened. Tonight Eve Uni ran a class with live input from some CCP QA guys on bughunting.

The talk was quite interesting, lots of details on the QA and Bughunting process with plenty of questions answered and input given. Even for someone who's reported his fair share of bugs it was very interesting to listen to and may even have given the BH team a chance to do a bit of recruiting on the sly.

The content of the talk might not have been riveting to most people but it's pretty exciting to see (well, hear) CCP staff interact with players in such a way outside of Fanfest. Sure, we've had 'Live' Devblogs in the past but they've been pretty well regulated and run by people closer to the top. In the wake of T20 CCP staff became much more insular and while in the short term following that debacle it may have been a good idea to allow people to 'cool off' they've left it far to long to show their face again. It seems that they are relearning that communication and interaction with the players that isn't a pre approved and internally vetted answer on the forums from behind a faceless avatar is a good thing and not something to be scared of.

I spoke briefly about it with Dierdra Vaal, current CSM member and owner of possibly the shiniest head I've ever seen. Apparantly this sort of thing has been tried in the past but been swatted by CCP down due to concerns about showing favouritism to certain player corps. That's quite well founded but out of all the player corporations and alliances out there Eve Uni is probably as impartial as you can get, they opened up their voice comms and the event was publicised it well. Eve Uni is, as near as you can get, a perfect host and forum for these sort of events. I'd also raise the point that maybe CCP hasn't wanted to engage in discussions like this for fear of someone putting a foot wrong and saying something daft or the whole event not resulting in a particularly desirable outcome. That's a reasonable attitude to have but it's a risk that CCP are going to have to start running if they want to engage more with the players. I'd say the negative connotations of locking themselves away FAR outweigh those that might manifest themselves from getting back out there and engaging with players 'face to face'.

Hopefully this is the start of something new and we'll see more events like this in the future.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

:Metrics: Coming soon to a blog near you

A discussion on metrics and why relying on them is bad, especially for Eve and it's future...

Thursday, 10 February 2011


So, my CSM ap went in the other night. Maximum limit was two hundred words, not a lot to work with but this is what I spat out:

Communication, communication, communication.
Iteration, iteration, iteration.
An end to The Bot.
Rejuvenation of the small gang and lowsec experience.

These are the cornerstones of my campaign. I have played Eve for five and a half years and I believe these are the most pressing concerns of the Eve player of today.

Communication with the players has always been one of CCP's weak points. The CSM has helped build bridges. Let's make them even stronger.

The release of Incarna is a given but once it's out there and done and dusted it's time to really spruce up some old features that were given the once over and have sat ignored since then. Sovereignty, POSes and Outposts, Science and Industry and COSMOS among others all need a look in.

The insidious bot must be destroyed, from the RMTer to the casual. It won't be, and it can't be, quick and simple but it is something which must be done for the good of the players and the economy.

Lowsec needs a rework from the ground up, from mining to marauding with an emphasis on carrot rather than stick. Let's incentivise PVPers to do more with less, not more with EVEN MORE.