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Post-CSM Summit Press Conference Report

Michael Bitton Posted:
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If you’re also wondering whether or not there will be items on the NeX priced higher than the existing monocle, the answer is, well, yes! Zulu illustrated the possibilities by offering, “$10000 gold-colored scorpions? Who knows!” And according to Alex, the CSM isn’t concerned with this as long as it doesn’t affect competitive EVE play as there are people everywhere who will pay crazy money for status items and it ultimately helps CCP continue to develop the game.

The CSM were consulted on many of the particulars of the NeX, but not the pricing, which may leave you scratching your head as the CSM has been used to test a number of EVE Online designs and ideas in the past, but Zulu explained that while they want the CSM involved in the process to a certain extent they don’t want them to be at a point where they are “dictating business decisions” and so the CSM was not consulted on the pricing strategy for the NeX, in fact, Zulu noted  the pricing strategy was determined “outside of normal development processes.”

Alex took this opportunity to also offer his position on the topic, stating, “From the CSM statement it should be obvious the rollout of the NeX was a debacle, at least from players’ perspective. I believe firmly, and this was one of the action points that we stated, that is coming out of this summit, is that CCP should have explicitly stated their tiering strategy, and explained that in a dev blog, and showed the visual targets for the items in the Noble Exchange, and had they done this it would have been sorted out. Most of the controversy surrounding the Noble Exchange would have vanished in a puff of logic.

"What happened here, from my impression is that the people who normally speak to the CSM and we have very good communication that we’re very happy with, we were not consulted about the pricing strategy and it appears to me that the Noble Exchange was sort of rushed out the door and without a proper stocking of items and without proper communication of the strategy, and that had CCP, in hindsight, they would have probably delayed it for a couple of weeks to sort that out, but they didn’t, and here we are.

"I don’t really feel terribly upset about the screw-ups of the Noble Exchange. I am irked that we weren’t consulted about the strategy, mainly from a perspective of the lack of communication resulting in inflaming the player-base, but at a fundamental level most of the people in the CSM are not particularly concerned with the sale of vanity items. Our issue is, you know, I say this a lot, CCP could charge $20,000 in real-life money for a monocle for space Barbie and I and most of the CSM, with a couple of exceptions, but the majority of the CSM wouldn’t give a crap. We care about keeping gold out of the sandbox, as it were. So, that’s my perspective on the NeX Exchange. And why we weren’t consulted about it is just the people who normally consult with us were not involved in the choice of strategy, as it were.”

Addressing questions surrounding the identity and mindset of the leaker, Zulu wasn’t able to say much, but Alex was ready with a rather blunt assessment of the situation: “I think it’s obvious from a, I don’t work for CCP, so I can say whatever I want perspective, that the timing of the leaks was quite deliberate. I had access to a copy of Fearless about a month before it was leaked, and I said, ‘Well, this is going to explode when it gets out if there is a leak from CCP.’ But it’s actually not that big of a deal if you go through it line-by-line. What was intriguing to me was the timing of the leaks, the fact that they leaked to EVE News 24 just the day after Incarna had hit. The timing was very much, what I would call in a somewhat indelicate way, it was a rat-f**k.

"So, somebody was very much waiting, poised to leak this at the most dangerous time, in terms of the Incarna rollout. And so it seems clear to me that they do have an agenda. But that’s my side, that’s my take.”

Features such as ‘ship spinning’ were removed as a result of the launch of Incarna, mostly due to the fact that CCP Games didn’t actually realize people were serious when discussing the importance of the feature, and they’ve since realized that people are indeed emotionally connected to their ships so ‘ship spinning’ is slated to make a return sometime soon, but Zulu explains that this idea of players directly docking into their Captains Quarters (and the subsequent removal of ship spinning as a result) was not due to CCP wishing to force people to use a certain feature, but actually has to do with CCP’s philosophy of creating a seamless experience throughout the game. With that said, they’ve heard your feedback on these now-lost features (and even discussed them in detail with the CSM) and they will be looking at ways to return them to the game over the coming months.

In terms of where this latest situation ranks in EVE’s history, Zulu doesn’t appear to think too much of it, stating, “Not to be dismissive, but I think EVE has seen more defining moments than this. The first Titan lost, the first Alliance formed, the first proper, larger scale Alliance warfare, those are defining moments in EVE’s history. This is, this is a bit of noise.”

Alex seemed to concur, though he concedes that this was one of EVE’s messier controversies. It doesn’t rank as high as something as the “T20 scandal” in his eyes because nothing has really come of it, whereas the T20 scandal lead to numerous reforms that helped better the game overall. Alex describes this latest situation as basically a lot of “smoke and mirrors” created due to the leaks and its resolution was simply dependent on being “cleared away with better communication.”

Wrapping things up, Alex responded to concerns on the official EVE Online forums and elsewhere that the CSM is mainly a PR opportunity for CCP and that the latest summit hasn’t done well to convince people otherwise as some feel that “wining and dining” the CSM made them happy. It was also noted that in the past Alex had criticized the CSM itself, however, he took this opportunity to explain that his past comments regarding the CSM were due to the fact the entity was deficient in numerous ways such as not having stakeholder status at CCP, short term limits, and so on.

Alex made it clear that he feels much more positive about the potential impact of the CSM since CSM 5, where many of the issues he was critical of in the past were addressed. While Alex believes null-sec didn’t achieve proper representation in the CSM until CSM 6, the new format established with CSM 5 as well as the change in terms of who the CSM actually communicates with (previously Torfi, now Arnar aka Zulu) makes for a much stronger entity. On the communication front specifically, Alex explains that while Torfi is a great guy, he is also an “artist at a certain level, and he is a very eccentric artist type. He has his head in the clouds. Arnar is focused on getting things done.”

As for the rest of it? Well, “The Mittani” doesn’t mince words:

“On EVE-O and other forums there are a minority of people who are whiny little babies. This is politics. The CSM is a political entity; this means that after any situation you are always going to have a minority of loud people who are saying that anything EVE accomplished is bullsh*t and that it’s all just window dressing and herf-derf.

"I spend a lot of time on Failheap Challenge, which is a forum for primarily the most bitter of that long tail of bitter players. I don’t really give a sh*t what they say. In fact, if you look at any of my posts in dealing with them, I actively go out of my way to antagonize them because I’m a cruel person and I enjoy making people like that angry, and from a political perspective it’s also good to marginalize them.

"They are always going to be there. It is not relevant on any level, in any democratic process what the lunatic fringe thinks. Just look at, in America, the Tea Party, the John Birch Society, or what have you. Any of these isolated movements, on the fringes, they are very loud, but they don’t actually impact sh*t. So, that’s pretty much my view of that.”

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Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB