Although it's not recent news, the third term of the Council of Stellar Management, or CSM, is now well under way. The Council CSM is a group of EVE Online players that are elected, by the players, to talk directly with CCP and discuss any issues they have with the game, as well as having input on possible solutions.
Formed as part of the response to the T20 incident (where a CCP staff member was found to be providing items and other help to one of the big alliances) in an effort to create a greater degree of transparency between CCP and the players, as well as providing another, more direct, channel of communication (as opposed to the sea of wailing and gnashing of teeth that is the official forums).
There was always going to be problems; the CSM delegates have had differing opinions on how to deal with certain parts of the game, as well as clashes of personality, and these have frequently spilled out onto the forums. Some would also say that it's just a glorified PR stunt, and they wouldn't be entirely wrong. The players of an MMORPG electing a body that gets to discuss issues with the developers face to face is yet another unique facet of EVE that CCP can wave in the faces of other games; one that got a fair amount of press, including an article in The New York Times.
All of the arguments and drama aside, we have seen some significant improvements to EVE based on their input. They've highlighted a fair number of issues, from Black Ops battleships to 0.0 space, but the one that clearly stands out is the skill queue. The glorious, glorious skill queue. Now, we all know that it would have happened eventually. A skill queue is something that players have been begging for even before I started playing EVE, and it wouldn't surprise me if they were even petitioning for it back in the beta stages. CCP, however, have always leaned against AFK gaming in EVE, so it's not surprising that giving players the ability to change skills without having to log in wasn't their top priority, and it's thanks to the CSM that not only do we have the skill queue, but that we got it as soon as we did.
The CSM is a good thing for EVE; it's a spotlight; a way of getting CCP to consider new ideas or revisit current features, ships, modules, etc, through face to face discussion. Hopefully the latest batch of CSM delegates can bring us something as wonderful as the skill queue, but with their first official meeting with CCP not scheduled until late August, we'll have to wait and see.
Moving swiftly on, I'd like to talk about tech three cruisers. I mean, I really, really, want to talk about tech three cruisers, but I can't. Why? I'm a poor capsuleer and the damn things are still ridiculously expensive; chances are you're in the same boat as me, and have yet to even see one on Tranquility, let alone fly one. Even without fittings you are still looking at anywhere from two to four billion isk if you want one off the market. It's been three months seen since they were released, with the Apocrypha expansion, and to say that they are still uncommon is an understatement. Luckily, it looks like the price may be dropping in the near future.
The heart of the problem isn't the lack of raw materials, but the data cores, and the blueprints they produce, that are used to reverse engineer them into T3 components. There's been a flood of sleeper salvage coming out of the wormholes, but the scarcity of these key items is creating a bottleneck that makes the production of the T3 ship parts more difficult and is responsible for the insane prices lasting for as long as they have.
Anyway, the solution laid out in a recent dev blog is that, amongst other things, data cores are going to drop more often, and survive the journey out of the wormhole so the industrialists can do sexy things with them, sleeper salvage, and some fullerites. Speaking of fullerites, the volume of fullerite gas is also being decreased, so ships can carry bigger quantities, hooray. I'm not even going to pretend that I know anything about the industrial side of EVE, or the process of reverse engineering, but it basically means that T3 ship components are, hopefully, going to become easier to manufacture, more of the fancy "strategic" cruisers will make it onto the market, and prices will drop, in theory.
The other good news is that these changes should have already gone live by the time you are reading this, or, I suspect, will do before the end of June. I'd like to think that this is the beginning of the end of mad prices for T3 ships, but, and I seem to be thinking this a lot about EVE at the moment, we'll have to wait and see.