Declining Council

Kael Decadence 2017-02-05

The Race is on

As the candidacy period opens up for players to “officially” cast in their ticket to run, the number of individuals who have already unofficially made announcements on the forums, blogs, or podcasts is drastically lower than what might be considered normal. There are less than two dozen candidates who have submitted their candidacy for running on the Council of Stellar Management’s twelfth iteration, as of the writing of this article. This bodes well for those candidates—as there will only be 10 total selected (a change from last year’s session)—giving these hopefuls a good chance at earning a spot on the CSM. What concerns me, however, is that poor turnout alone. Many of those wishing to run for the CSM in the past placed bids on the EVE Online forums as early as July the year prior. In stark contrast to that, most candidates this election cycle did not place a forum post with their intent to run until December 2016.

This to me screams of concern, but for the life of me, I can’t pinpoint why or how. It could be a matter of it being too early and I could very well be running around the universe yelling that the sky is falling. It is interesting though that in a time where EVE Online should be seeing the greatest resurgence of veteran players and waves of new Alpha Clones after the Inception release, New Eden doesn’t really seem to be that active for the CSM or in general.

Here and Now

Earlier this week CCP went live with CSM XI members on Twitch for their pre-summit meeting, with several on the council making a suggestion that voting takes place within the confines of the game. I suggested this same thing on the latest episode of The Mind Clash Podcast. Just like it did when suggested at the pre-summit, the overall reception wasn’t well received in regards to that concept. As most meta-level players know, the vast majority of the player base has little knowledge about the CSM and the out of game experiences that we do. The loudest argument against putting voting into the game is that those players who know little to nothing of the meta would now have a voice in a portion of the game that they know nothing about, essentially skewing the results for something that might not even matter to them.

There can be a lot to agree or disagree with for either side of that coin, but the fact still remains that from the outside it almost seems as though the legitimacy of the council is waning. Much drama was encountered in CSM X, and this year players have voiced their concerns that they feel the CSM isn’t very active. As feature rich and exciting as this past year has been for the world of EVE Online, one might not know it based on the current level of enthusiasm and participation. Thinking about that further, and with the overall sense from the council that players who know nothing of the CSM or “their version” of the game, it might be a little too bold to say that the opinion of the average player isn’t critical. What good, then, is a council that isn’t 100% representative of the majority of a body of players?

Some critics have suggested that multiple focus groups might be a better alternative to a council of few. The question to that suggestion, however, might be “who picks that focus group?” and we are back to square one regarding a player selected group(s) vs. group(s) chosen by the developers.

Social Stratification

Regarding how the current CSM feels about making the voting process and awareness of the council more visible, we are still talking about a small group of specialized meta players that are voted in by another small group of meta players. The process, as it has been, still discounts and does not involve the majority of the people who actually make up the player base. This concept hearkens back to times when social media and the freedoms we take for granted today didn’t exist, and where the mass majority had no knowledge and especially no input on their own lives. To say that 10 or 14 individuals chosen from an elite group of citizens is a true representation of the people is absolutely ludicrous.  At a point in the game where the developers are attempting to elicit new blood via the free to play option, it only seems reasonable that the door between classes be open within the game so that ALL players are involved in the community, not just the chosen few or those that feel that their play style is the one true way.

At some point in the history of New Eden, we were all new players and knew nothing of much of the inner workings and politics behind the scenes, and the only way we found out was likely through curiosity. Something that always comes up in discussions of helping new players is the idea that if they want help, they have to ask. To which my counter is always: how do you know what questions to ask if there is nothing indicating a need to ask? Especially in a game as complex as EVE Online where there isn’t an actual, included instruction manual. How then can you navigate a game that doesn’t have a map (yes I know there is a map), or ask for directions when no destination is presented at the start of your journey?

To wrap up this rambling, I only ask that those readings this stop and give some reflection on this topic. If you have thoughts on how the players and the developers can include all of the citizens of this universe we share, please engage in discussions with those that will listen. Expressing your concerns to CCP and the CSM are helpful, but the most important thing that someone can do to raise awareness and visibility is to seek out your fellow capsuleer and shout from the mountain tops that there is more to this game than what is behind the singular existence that they have been living in. Get out there, get involved, and make this game greater by sharing your passion with those that have not been allowed to share in all the mysteries of this game.

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  • Andrew Sturgis

    I wish CSM XII well. The concept behind the CSM is awesome. I can’t help but compare voting in politics to the CSM: those that care enough to vote will have their voice heard. Those that choose not to exercise their privilege lose out. Requiring voting out-of-game doesn’t seem like an undue burden.

    February 5, 2017 at 7:05 am
    • Kael Decadence Andrew Sturgis

      When I was telling one of my IRL buddies about this article while I was working on it, he said to me “What is the CSM?” This guy has played the game as long, maybe even longer than I have, and he didn’t know what it was???? I think if we want it more visible and have more of our players involved, it has to be brought in game. Has to.

      February 6, 2017 at 3:16 am
      • Andrew Sturgis Kael Decadence

        There are already ads when you log in. People discuss it on the forums, on news websites, Reddit, and in chats like Discord. If you aren’t involved or observant enough to see any of these, should you really vote? Aside from making it a prompt when you log in, how do you propose making the CSM more visible in game?

        February 6, 2017 at 3:17 pm
        • Kael Decadence Andrew Sturgis

          I actually heard a really good idea from the boys at Declarations of War podcast and that was to have it in a mission or story arc. I’m gonna be honest with you, there is a lot of things that are on the launcher that even I don’t pay attention to. First thing I do when I open the launcher is x all the notifications and start playing. I’m sure most players do the same.

          But if it was part of the NPE….. that would help.

          February 7, 2017 at 7:07 am
  • Bill Bones

    In one hand, the CSM doens’t matters much. It never did, but now it matters even less since CCP is locked into a development plan that’s taking forever to complete, and which is emptying the cluster. Nothing the CSM or players can do will change CCP’s direction unless CCP seriously rethinks what’s been going on since they started implementing the 2013 vision of space colonization and PCU started decaying.

    On the other hand, assuming that CCP was open to change their mind about developing EVE as a out-of-highsec PvP-centric game, they would need to gather the opinion of the playerbase -not just the ones who speak and/or organize, but the opinion of everyone who pays and plays, also the ones who never say a word until they leave as silently as they lived.

    CCP would need to poll the players as governments poll the citizens: by determining relevant demographics from server behavior logs and then performing personal interviews based on questions relevant to the decission making.

    The CSM was born as a emergency fix to a break of trust and has outlived its usability by long. As the author says, a bunch of elite players can’t represent the palyerbase, but CCP has been selling that bulshit for 11 years against the overwhelming truth that most players never bother with the CSM and that’s detrimental to the CSM and CCP, not to those players.

    February 5, 2017 at 10:45 am
    • Kael Decadence Bill Bones

      Absolutely Bill. I agree with you all around here. Yes the CSM has become pretty much a useless component of players, but I think the IDEA behind it is still relevant and important, but CCP is the one who needs to take it more seriously.

      There is a big part of the player base who is still not represented and the game won’t evolve in a way that supports new players, meaning it will eventually die. Changes need to be made and I hope that this members of this next CSM can help show CCP that these changes NEED to happen sooner rather than later.

      February 6, 2017 at 3:11 am
      • Bill Bones Kael Decadence

        The idea is important, but the reason why the CSM is unique to EVE Online it’s because this is not how things are done. A company needs customer feedback, but you don’t gather it by electing power-customers to fly them across the ocean for NDA’ed meetings with employees who are busy earning a living.

        I don’t mean that a CSM is of no use, as a game as complex as EVE certainly could use a panel of experts to cast light on matters which may be obscure even to CCP, but those people would be advisers, not representatives of players.

        EVE is not a democracy, it’s a commercial product and private property doesn’t operates as democracy (or if it does so, it’s for a brief time before being crushed by the competition).

        The CSM was born in very special circunstances, and CCP should not have put itself into those circumstances to begin with. CCP no longer is a small company with no way to gather customer feedback but earn the trust of customers in a “us vs the world” mindset. First because the world doesn’t gives a f*** of EVE Online, and second because as I said, EVE is a commercial product. It must earn money from CUSTOMERS, not “our best friends and buddies the players, let’s all sing HTFU”.

        Since 2013, CCP apparently lost the interest of some people giving them money until that point. And even as CCP is succesfully developing the game in a specific direction, that direction is killing the population.

        Neither customers nor companies should expect that customers will organize and voice their opinion in order to have a viable product. This is not how things are done in business.

        February 6, 2017 at 7:49 am
        • Kael Decadence Bill Bones

          Yeah, I’m actually for the idea of a think tank or special interests groups. Collective groups of experts in certain fields who are recognized by the developers and players to help with the feedback

          February 6, 2017 at 12:50 pm
  • luobote kong

    Actually a good CSM article. The death of the white paper formalised what we already knew. The CSM is a narrow pseudo technocratic entity. That might matter for CCP’s internal governance (I doubt it) but without accountability (because NDA) there is no justifiable reason (other than role playing elections) for a player to be invested in the process. It doesn’t represent the broad base of players and playstyles and is even less likely to do so with the reduction of CSM members. A reduction that means there is precious little point in standing unless unless you have a significant block sponsoring you. An outcome that CCP must have endorsed. And that tells you who they really want to listen to and why PCU continues its southern journey.

    February 5, 2017 at 12:30 pm
    • Kael Decadence luobote kong

      Absolutely. Going down to only 10 members who are probably all going to be big block FC’s and the such, is NOT going to do anything to help the game grow and thrive. It just gives big alliances a notch on their belt and does nothing to help new players. Period.

      February 6, 2017 at 3:13 am
  • Gla Frite

    Having spent quite some time exposing the wrongs of most past or present CSM members in my native language, I really hope nobody consider a CSM position as honorable.

    Should the CSM defend its utility with facts instead of wishful thinking and spindoctoring, things might change.

    February 5, 2017 at 7:29 pm
    • Kael Decadence Gla Frite

      Well I just put in a bid to run this year, so I hope that I can prove you wrong.

      February 6, 2017 at 3:14 am
      • Gla Frite Kael Decadence

        As long as you have no past as either a lobbyist, a cheater, a gold seller or a spindoctor, why not ? I would just not even be surprised to see you bought by some side or another just as soon as elected.

        I’ll just not give any money to CCP as long as the CSM exists and will help as many players as I can to do the same . CCP makes the rules, we adapt.

        February 6, 2017 at 3:45 am
        • Kael Decadence Gla Frite

          Well nobody is buying me out. I’m no lobbyist. I want to see this game survive for another 15 + years.

          February 6, 2017 at 9:49 pm
  • Sidrat Flush

    Including all of the player base can only be done with their own inclusion of the game outside of the client. This could be via the test server, the forums, twitter even Reddit.

    It’s not really an attainable goal to get people who only want to log in so they can mine in high sec for a few hours a night after a busy day to relax, bringing to them “Space Politics” is a definite way to turn them off the game that they are barely experience but are still happy with.

    The CSM does a lot of work behind the scenes and while many may feel that feedback often falls on deaf ears, it is at least available to CCP who can chose to use it or not as they see fit.

    It would be nice if CCP and the CSM could collaborate and produce an end of year document detailing all the previously NDA’d content that the CSM was given and what the outcomes where. That would tell the player base truly how valuable an asset the CSM is in the eyes of CCP.

    February 5, 2017 at 9:48 pm
    • Kael Decadence Sidrat Flush

      Gotta disagree. Wouldn’t we live in a better society if everyone in it actually knew what the heck was going on? Thats IRL and in game. If 80% of the U.S. population didn’t even know that there was an election, or that there was a body of representatives comprised of an elite few, would that be a good way to live? Maybe for that other 20% who knew about it.

      You can’t believe that leaving the rest of the players in the dark about the game THEY play is the right answer. Its not about “oh if they don’t know, its their problem”. Its about “they don’t know because we don’t tell them”. This is not just a fault of the player base in the meta, but CCP. They hide all the podcasts, blogs, news sites, from the average player.That 80% have no idea that we exists or are talking about them right now, and thats freaking sad. Just sad.

      February 6, 2017 at 3:20 am
      • Bill Bones Kael Decadence

        Players should not need to get involved in order to get a good game. Because they will not do it, yet they will take their money away (*are* taking their money away) if the game doesn’t meets their expectations.

        When 80% of the players don’t care about the CSM, CCP must learn of what those 80% want and like without a CSM. Which is what every other company does. “Please get involved in telling us how to get your money” is not the right attitude…

        February 6, 2017 at 7:56 am
        • Kael Decadence Bill Bones

          But there is something that CCP isn’t getting still. I honestly think they aren’t in touch with the majority of people who throw money at them, and they need to open their ears and eyes before it’s too late.

          February 6, 2017 at 12:53 pm
          • Bill Bones Kael Decadence

            I think that CCP made a strategic mistake in 2013, based on insufficent information. They decided to push a PvP-centric development plan witohut knowing to what extend PvE was filling the ranks.

            PvE players are a quiet bunch, they play alone (so they don’t organize) and their content barely evolves -heh- (thus they aren’t inclined to talk about it). And yet, they used to be, but maybe no longer, the largest single majority in the game.

            And whereas CCP has added lots of new opportunites for players out of high sec and who don’t mind to PvP to defend their stuff, the majority of “carebears” has got little reasons to stay subscribed, compared to the wealth of reources spent on PvP.

            And the only way to know was to look for that people and ask them… something which CCP wasn’t doing in 2013, and likely they don’t do it now neither.

            It goes beyond the CSM, it is deeply rooted in how does CCP perceive the game and the players. The cool guys go to Fanfest, vote the CSM and make headlines with massive battles. But the ones paying the bills aren’t neither glamurous nor involved nor vocal.

            And. They. Are. Quitting. EVE.

            February 6, 2017 at 1:31 pm
          • Kael Decadence Bill Bones

            Absolutely. I think you hit the nail on the head. I’ve heard that there have been emails gone out from CCP with questionnaires asking for feed back, but I’ve never seen them. The high sec pve player is the majority stakeholder, but as you said, all of the marketing and development is for null sec pvp. It makes no sense.

            February 6, 2017 at 9:48 pm
  • Quartexian

    I don’t hear any dissension from the CSM about the direction the game is going.So they must be happy with the balance of activity and reward.

    Player numbers suggest that they are not in tune with eve players new and old. That is not their fault. Their passion for the game is unquestioned but it’s their game they have a passion for.

    CCP should message people in game randomly and ask them questions about what they used to do, what they do now and what they would like to do. This will uncover different views than those espoused by the enthusiasts who can’t keep this game going on their own.

    For example –

    I remember ratting in Syndicate back in 2005 and a CCP developer messaged me and 2 corpies to say they’d like to spawn some battleships and see if we could handle them. The Dev was testing if they were OP. Suddenly this feels like a bitter vet moment, which is why I tend to stay quiet but somehow CCP needs to capture more views and showing up in local/private messages to chat with players about the game, is an opportunity that most business leaders would kill for!!!

    Leave the mechanics to the developers; it is what they are paid for. Use the media outlets as a source of information, same with Reddit but understand that not everyone uses Reddit like the enthusiasts. Listen to a broader selection of Eve online customers, or accept that the game is increasingly focused on a smaller group of enthusiasts and build a game that can be sustained by this group.

    February 6, 2017 at 9:51 pm
    • Kael Decadence Quartexian

      One thing you have to remember about the CSM members though is that they are that top tier 1 percent group of the game. They LOVE their version of the game. But what about the majority of players who literally only do pve or other aspects of the game. When was the last REAL look at pvery? When has incursions had an overhaul?

      Of course the null sec pvp SOV warfare guys who make up the entirety of the Council aren’t complaining. I’m sure all wall Street millionaire aren’t complaining about minimum wage at McDonalds.

      February 8, 2017 at 9:54 am