I received some flattering feedback about my recent post, "EVE Online's Biggest Challenge", from a couple of readers, who asked me, "Nev, why don't you run for the CSM?"
It's nice to know that there are people who would vote for you in an election, no matter what elected body that may be. And I would be less than honest if I denied that I have not fantasized about pursuing a post on the tenth Council of Stellar Management. I think it would be a lot of fun, hobnobbing with space-famous people, chatting with and influencing devs on new features, and being an honored representative of the community that I value and enjoy.
But, OMG, what a lot of work being a CSM member now requires. It has become a very serious commitment of time and effort. Listening to the very helpful CSM X interviews being conducted by the CapStable podcast crew, I hear the incumbent candidates reporting that they have to spend about 30-40 hours a week in various forums, Skype chats, and now the Confluence wiki used by the CCP Games developer team. With the increase in frequency of new releases, from two a year to ten, the expected level of contribution from each CSM member has risen even further. It's no surprise that some of the previously most engaged CSM delegates, such as Ali Aras and mynnna, decided not to run for re-election on CSM X - they must be exhausted. How some highly visible CSM representatives, like Sugar Kyle and Mike Azariah, are able to remain as involved in the day-to-day discussions as they are, as well as write blogs and hot-drop into publicly visible podcasts and forum threads with such frequency, in addition to attending to their Real Life obligations, is a wonder to me. I marvel at the ease with which they are able to accomplish so many tasks, while maintaining a modicum of sanity.
And so, I am quite content to let the burden of CSM representation fall to others - at least until my well-considered plan of winning the lottery and becoming instantly wealthy, allowing me to play EVE Online as a full-time vocation, comes to fruition. Meanwhile, I'm happy to speculate periodically on the goings-on of the CSM from afar, and sit in unfair judgement of their actions and outcomes. Admittedly, this is a much easier and far less time-consuming job.
My Perspective of CSM9
Last year, I published my recommended votes for CSM9, based on the criteria that I thought were most important to me, as a mostly high-sec based, industry-oriented player:
- Improving the new player experience
- Supporting the high sec play style
- Enhancing industry
- Improving PvE content
CSM9 definitely addressed the enhancement of industry, and very well, too. The Crius and subsequent releases brought dramatic improvements to the industry mechanics, and made them more accessible, and more fun, for more players. In my opinion, CSM9's contribution to these changes was its biggest and best accomplishment.
With CSM9's input, CCP Games introduced some significant changes to support the play of high-sec based characters like me: improvements in the resiliency of some mining ships, re-balancing hauling ships of all types and sizes, and less tolerance for extremely uncivil behaviors of some players, while not reducing high-sec to a completely safe, carebear playground. There should always be some danger everywhere in New Eden, even in high-sec space, and the ever-present threat of ganking has been rightfully preserved. Presently, I think the balance of comparatively low risk to equivalent level reward is about right in high-sec space.
There were some improvements in player-versus-environment (PvE) content over the last year, again with input from CSM9, such as ghost sites, burner missions, and sleeper caches. More variety of PvE provides more opportunities for content creation in the game, which is good for every kind of player. CCP Games now has a dedicated team working on improved, dynamic PvE content creation tools, and I hope we will see the fruits of their labors in game over the next year.
Of my four principal voting criteria, the new player experience made the least tangible progress, but not because of any lack of effort on the part of CSM9 or CCP Games. A team is now working to revise and improve this critical aspect of EVE Online, and I think it will be one of CSM X's areas of focus, if not the most strategically important. Related to this, CCP's introduction of optionally preventing intra-corporation attacks in high-sec is a good idea, as it will help to protect new players better - this is a step in what I hope will be a persistent developmental direction over CSM X's term.
So, I'm pretty happy with what I saw CSM9 accomplish, all things considered. From my perspective, I'd give them an "A-" - not quite perfect, but pretty darned good.
My Make-Believe Platform
Now, let's pretend that I was running for CSM this year, just for fun. What would my platform consist of?
Admittedly, this will be the Year of the Great Null-sec Fix, as CCP Games have already stated that they are focusing on sovereignty mechanics and building on the jump range changes they've already introduced. Even though I play mostly in high-sec, I'm keenly interested in these changes, as all types of space in EVE Online are highly interdependent - and I think that connection between different regions of space is an aspect of the game that should be preserved.
Therefore, from my point of view as a mostly high-sec based, industrial player, I think the priorities of CSM X should be, in roughly descending order of importance:
- Support the continued execution of CCP Seagull's long-term vision towards more player control of game systems, and eventual introduction and colonization of new space.
- Complete the re-engineering of the new player experience, to greatly increase retention of novices.
- Introduce more dynamic null-sec sovereignty mechanics, to encourage active ownership and engagement in 0.0 systems, promote competition for those systems, and allow for support of a variety of different sizes of null-sec based groups.
- Simplify management of corporations and alliances - and introduce in-game support for less formal social groups, like the NPSI community.
- Enhance structures and simplify their management, especially player-owned starbases - this means reworking the nightmare of defined roles as they currently exist.
- Continue to introduce more variety in PvE, by introducing dynamically generated content to make missions and other types of in-game NPC engagement less predictable.
- Re-engineer the war declaration system, to make wardecs more outcome-driven and meaningful in all types of space, with significant risk vs. reward for both instigators and receivers, other than just higher fees to CONCORD.
- Preserve the balance of the high-sec playstyle, by maintaining the threat of ganking while defending the present general level of risk-to-reward.
- Re-balance super-capitals and titans, by introducing some means for countering them other than with more supers and titans.
That's my list of priorities for enhancing EVE Online, with an emphasis from the perspective of high-sec based players like me. It's not meant to apply equally to everyone, nor would I expect every element to be of interest to all types of players in different kinds of space. I doubt I'd win many votes from CODE. or Marmite Collective with these priorities, for example. And I've little to say about wormholes or low-sec, I confess. But while I respect their various perspectives, these groups are not my main constituency, and I wouldn't pretend to be able to represent all of their interests.
This is just what I'd like to see happen over the next year, generally. It's a pretty ambitious list, I admit, but it's what I will be using to evaluate who is on my ballot when I cast my vote for CSM X.
I'll publish a list of recommended candidates later, after I've had some time to evaluate the nearly 50 players who have nominated themselves. If you agree with most of my list of priorities, I hope you'll find my suggestions useful.
Until then - fly safe! o7