CCP Guard: Moving On and Looking Back

Dirk Stetille 2019-04-08

Header Art by Major Sniper

CCP Guard, a man who has been with CCP from the very beginning of EVE Online as a live game, a man who was a pillar of our community, left CCP Games on March 29, 2019. INN was lucky enough to have a chance to interview CCP Guard at Evesterdam in late March 2019, and there will be excerpts from that session scattered throughout this piece.

Leaving Announcement

On March 4, 2019, CCP Guard posted to the official EVE Online Forums, saying “Thank You for Everything” to the EVE Community. This extensive look at Guard’s life at CCP Games is surprisingly emotional, and covers his early career as a Game Master for CCP, before moving across into CCP Marketing and the Community Team.

As with everything Guard has given to the community, his affection and connection with EVE and the players that bring life to New Eden comes through every paragraph of his statement. No matter if he was working on issues that cut right to the heart of the player experience or ‘simply’ organising events like Fanfest and EVE Vegas, Guard put in his all so that we could enjoy ourselves as much as possible.

When asked about how leaving CCP feels, (or felt, I suppose I should say), Guard seemed a little circumspect about the whole thing. Guard told us that “it’s strange, definitely strange. I’m still waiting for it to sink in fully, it feels like I’m still here having fun, meeting everybody, so many cool people that came out. So I’m still not fully there, but I’m sure it’s gonna feel strange when it hits.”

Who is CCP Guard?

Sveinn ‘CCP Guard’ Kjarval is (or was) officially a “Senior Community Development Lead” for EVE Online, based in their Reykjavik offices. One of the longest-serving members of CCP Games, he first joined the company in late 2002, working there in one role or another until late March 2019, totalling more than sixteen years of continuous service at CCP working on EVE Online.

Starting out as a Game Master for CCP, Guard spent nine years working up the ranks and dealing with the petitions of upset or disgruntled players. As Guard said in his goodbye forum post – “I got good at talking to customers. I specialized in dealing with complex cases, bad losses, big disappointments, hard disputes. I enjoyed finding a way to help people or failing that, try to reach mutual understanding. I also got involved in investigating exploits, chasing bots and other forms of space policing (woop woop).”

The Community Team, and the Face of Space

Throughout his time as a GM, Guard focused on improving the experience of the players he had the opportunity to interact with. This was noticed by CCP, with Guard then joining the Community Team in 2011, right around the Summer of Rage. To give a quick overview for anyone who doesn’t have the faintest idea what the Summer of Rage was; this was a player revolt against the “Incarna” EVE expansion, which introduced Walking in Stations, the introduction of Aurum as part of the New Eden Exchange Store (NEX), and the “MonocleGate” NEX debacle. The expansion caused significant conflict between CCP and the playerbase, with the Peak Concurrent User count dropping by more than 20% during this period.

We asked CCP Guard about the Summer of Rage, and he had this to say:

INN: You came into CCP as a developer rather than a GM in 2011, and obviously that was just around the time of the “Summer of Rage”. How did that feel, how did you deal with the community basically yelling at you?

Guard: It was a really eye-opening period for us, cause we had some hiccups back in the day, like the T20 incident, we had dealt with player outrage at scale before, but this one felt at that point it felt like the whole community was in unison, just not happy and we were just figuring out how to deal with that. So there was no way fix that without making some real compromises and changes, owning up to the things that weren’t working, and we did that.

Guard: I think at some points we managed to calm people down a little, open up some conversations, but in the end what mattered was when we did the Crucible expansion. We took a laundry list of things that people wanted, made an expansion for the core EVE experience, and that was really what turned things around for the most part. Doing, rather than just saying.

Throughout community support and outrage, though, CCP Guard has been one of the most public figures at CCP Games for more than half a decade, demonstrating how people should be excited about EVE Online. With every event he has attended, he managed to excite or engage with players despite the issues they took umbrage with. Guard has a gift for bringing people together, and I have never spoken to a player with an objection to CCP Guard.

The o7 Show

The o7 Show is something that newer players may not be familiar with, interestingly. There hasn’t been an o7 Show broadcast in nearly two years – the last show went live on May 30, 2017, but for those who are unaware, it was a project spearheaded and produced by CCP Guard. The o7 Show was primarily a twitch broadcast, designed to highlight player gatherings, inform players about organised gatherings, and cover any other interesting aspects of the New Eden Universe.

Interestingly, the sword that is evident on the o7 Show set is actually CCP Guard’s personal ten-year tenure sword. When asked about whether he could retain his personal sword as he leaves CCP, Guard told us that he has “special permission from the Icelandic State Police to store the sword safely. It’s a written agreement.” CCP Fozzie elaborated a little on this, stating that CCP actually had to register as an Icelandic weapons club before the company could provide staff members with a ten-year sword, and that the company has a general agreement with the state police to be able to provide company members with the traditional rewards.

The Council of Stellar Management

The CSM is a curious beast, intended to provide a conduit for player feedback to CCP, and to be a group of specialists who can provide early information to the developers about upcoming feature releases. They also help CCP understand what the community priorities are, and what might be the most valuable use of developer time and effort, helping to find the right ratio of game balance, new features, and reworking of old features, such as Player-Owned Starbases or war declarations, both of which have been hot topics over the years.

Guard took on responsibility for the Council of Stellar Management in 2016, and ran CSMs Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen with support from other CCP devs. He will be replaced by CCP Dopamine for CSM Fourteen, and Guard had this to say about his successor, as well as his recent focus when dealing with the CSM.

INN: Reaching out to the community is quite a significant thing for CCP, that not many other developers do. You’ve got a really great team, and now with the “new guy” CCP Dopamine coming in to take over the CSM management, how are your plans for the future playing into what you do now?

Guard: He’s been working alongside us for a few months, since the start of the year, and he’s impressed me a lot. He’s just a powerhouse, a hard worker, super responsible, really communicates well with people – he’s very good, he’s very very good. He’s even taken some of the projects that I’ve left, he did some things for the CSM summit and I was hands-off, he took care of the minutes and I was just looking over his shoulder and just helping out. He took care of all the work, and even did it a little better than I did the last time, so I’m happy to see that.

Guard: It’s really important to me that things continue well, so it’s great to have good people to leave my projects with, knowing that the projects are in good hands and that things are going to be looked after. I don’t think I would have even made the decision if I weren’t  able to leave things in good hands.

CCP Guard also indulged us with a question about the CSM itself, and the various challenges such a representative body surely presents, being outside of the company’s direct influence.

INN: We mentioned the CSM a little bit in there. How has it been managing the CSM for however many years? There have been some scandals (Mittens with the Wizard Hat, No Sions), but how has that been for you? The CSM is a really interesting thing and we think it’s in a good place?

Guard: It is in a good place. I took it over after CSM 10, I ran 11, 12 and 13, and that’s one of the projects I’ve really enjoyed the most. It’s not an easy project to run, there’s a lot of needs you have to meet and a lot of people you have to communicate with. I have to be in very frequent communication with different dev teams to get information for the CSM, or to get them talking about something – introducing people, making sure conversations are ongoing and all that. I’ve got to talk with the CSM, then I have to talk with the players to see how they perceive what the CSM are doing, to make sure there are no misunderstandings.

Guard: That’s always my main thing, making sure that if people are unhappy about something it’s not because of a misunderstanding, and at least they have the information. If people are going to be unhappy about something, I want them to be unhappy because they know what they’re talking about. It’s a really cool project to run, I think we have it in a nice place, and I try to minimise any drama. I try to get people talking and working constructively, and I think it’s worked out for the most part.

PermaBand

PermaBand, CCP’s in-house musical ensemble, was another thing Guard had a significant hand in creating and promoting. PermaBand was initially formed in 2009, and was comprised of CCPs Guard, ArnarV, Nova, and Arkanon. Guard, who was training to be a classical singer before he joined CCP, is generally considered to be the band’s frontman, though various CCP members have appeared in videos and contributed to lyrical audio over the years.

PermaBand have put out a total of six singles in their ten-year career, even outsourcing some video and audio for PermaBand’s 2017 single “Come Fly With Us” to players. In chronological order, the singles are “Harden The Fuck Up (HTFU)”, “Keep Clickin”, “Killing Is Just A Means”, “Wrecking Machine”, “Warp to the Dance Floor”, and “Come Fly With Us”.

When we asked CCP Guard about PermaBand and the potential for a comeback, he had this to say…

INN: How does it feel to leave PermaBand, or indeed, are you leaving PermaBand at all?

Guard: I think PermaBand has shown that PermaBand can’t be stopped, PermaBand finds a way. We’ll figure out something for PermaBand, it’s an entity that survives everything, it seems, so there’s going to be something there. I was talking to some  people about this yesterday at the bar – when you leave a normal job, it’s all or nothing, that’s it, but for this I feel like I can still have some touching points, I can still interact with the game and the community, go to the events, so maybe PermaBand will drop by at some of those.

INN: But no new music…?

Guard: Who knows, who knows. Nothing I can say right now, but nothing would surprise me either.

Thank You, and Fly Safe

At his last official player-meet, Guard was presented with a number of gifts and messages from the community. First up was a video message organised by the incredible StreamFleet team. This video debuted at the Closing Ceremony of Evesterdam 2019, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to state that the video touched every single person who saw it live, both at the event and on stream. If nothing else, the video exemplified everything Guard has been to the community of EVE Online, and how he has supported everyone as much as possible. The end of this video was greeted with a standing ovation by the Evesterdam attendees, which shows as much as any other action just how much Guard was and continues to be appreciated by our community.

At Evesterdam, Guard also received a number of parting gifts specifically from the players. Rixx Javix created a print specifically for Guard, which was signed on the reverse by all of CCP Guard’s event colleagues. FeiryRed, the Space Pope’s right hand, gifted Guard some hand-made “extra spicy” chili sauce, warning him not to rub his eyes when using it. There was also a comprehensive photo album of Guard’s greatest escapades, and a gift of some specialty Belgian beer to take home.

CCP’s gifts to CCP Guard were as extensive, if less discussed. At Evesterdam, Guard received the first of five pressed vinyl copies of the PermaBand EP, “Standing Guard”, all copies of which belong to and are exclusive to Guard, and contain all six singles the band has released. He also discovered that a planet would be named after him in the April 9 EVE patch, where the ice planet Yulai IX will be named “Kjarval”, demonstrating the impact CCP Guard has had on our galaxy as the Commander-In-Chief of the Space Police. This planet will be the only planet in New Eden to be named after an individual, showing precisely how CCP Guard has affected the universe that we all inhabit.

Beyond the public rewards, though, the CCP art team provided Guard with a print of a Caldari Industrial with the PermaBand logo emblazoned across it, and a saluting statuette of his player-model, to be treasured forever. Lastly, CCP Guard was given the tools to alter the EVE codebase for the first time, supervised by CCP Karkur, on his very last day at CCP. According to CCP Fozzie, it was “an honour” to witness, and we hope Guard enjoyed it.

An Organisation’s Gratitude

At INN, we want to take this final opportunity to thank CCP Guard for everything he has done for EVE Online. It’s impossible, even in an article like this, to list everything that Guard created and improved for the residents of New Eden, and those of us here at INN have the utmost respect and admiration for his dedication to the cause. CCP Guard has been an incredible representative and member of our community throughout his long years of service, and he will absolutely be missed.

Guard, we wish you all the best in your future endeavours. Thank you, and see you in space.

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Comments

  • Bakuhz

    nice piece it was a good read

    April 8, 2019 at 10:36 am
  • Lrrp

    So is the guy taking over Guards position someone who worked his way up through the Eve ranks or is he a plant from the company that now controls Eve?

    April 8, 2019 at 11:20 am
    • Rammel Kas Lrrp

      Nope, he was recruited from a different publisher.

      April 8, 2019 at 11:24 am
  • porky75

    in an interview I recently heard on a podcast with the CEO (Hillmar), he conformed that there are about 40 planets in Eve named after individuals. He said these were all the original developers back in the beginning.

    April 10, 2019 at 3:46 pm
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    April 12, 2019 at 2:44 pm