Recognition and Responsibility

I've made fun of the "EVE famous" in this blog before, but now I find myself starting to slide into the fringes of that group, which is unsettling. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but suddenly I feel mildly popular, at least in the EVE universe, which is a new experience for me.

First, the readership of this modest blog has increased steadily since I started it seven months ago, though I'm sure my page view counts are just a small fraction of what TheMittani.com or Jester's Trek sees every day. Still, it's nice to see the graph curve up and to the right every month. My sincerest thanks to all who helped push that line in a healthy direction.

That trend must have been good enough for CCP Games, because they recently added me to their official list of EVE Online fansites - which means I get a free subscription. Yay! My charming bride will be delighted, since she pays the bills and always grumbles about payments for "that game."

Ripard Teg also added me to his "Infrequent but Important" blogroll list, which I find very flattering. I have a lot of respect for his prolific robo-blogging talents, so being included in his list is humbling. His definition of "infrequent" is anything longer than once per day, I think - I'll never match that pace, but I'm very pleased to be considered important enough to warrant a link.  Thanks, Ripard!

With Great Recognition, Comes Great Responsibility

I was conducting a "Gallente Ships 101" class recently, and I was shocked to see over 120 people listening intently to my lecture on our public Mumble server. Since EVE University opened virtually all classes to all EVE Online players, attendance in our classes and lectures has been on the rise. If you've not checked out the E-UNI calendar of classes yet, please do, and feel free to join us - all are welcome!

A typical turnout for one of Nev's classes... at least in his own mind. :-)

A typical turnout for one of Nev's classes... at least in his own mind. :-)

"Wow, there sure are a lot of people interested in Gallente ships," I said to my large class. One of the attendees replied, "No, Nev, there are a lot of people interested in what YOU have to say about them." That definitely gave me pause - I know I'm a decent instructor, and I love doing lectures on EVE Online, but I never thought I'd ever have anything like "fans." That was perhaps one of the most flattering compliments I've ever received, in EVE or in Real Life.

I never started playing EVE Online with the intent of cultivating in-game fame. There are those who do, and they do it very well indeed. Like any social group, the EVE Online community has its share of celebrities, and we all love talking about them. I don't pretend to think that I belong in that classification, nor am I sure I want to be. Regardless, I do seem to be picking up a certain amount of recognition in EVE circles, and I find it gives me a sense of growing responsibility that I had not anticipated.

The Urge to Give Back

I love playing this game. It's my primary hobby. It seems the more I put into it, the more EVE Online fascinates me.

I remember when I put together a plan to construct my own POS. Three months later, I had one, operating smoothly in empire space, cranking out blueprint copies and inventing Tech II BPCs. That sense of accomplishment was very satisfying.

I remember so many UNI fleets, especially the carrier-killing "dragonslayer" operations, with great fondness. Being part of a group united in a common cause, even if it's just wreaking havoc together in a virtual universe, is always fun.

I remember discovering that the thing I liked most about EVE Online wasn't anything related to any in-game feature, but rather, from the satisfaction I received by teaching classes for EVE University. That's when I finally understood what the game was really all about - the community, and how to be a contributing part of it. At least, that's how it feels to me.

And so, I now find myself wondering if there are other ways I can give something back to the game and the community that I have found so enjoyable. And more than a few people have suggested: "Nev, why don't you run for the CSM?"

To CSM, or Not to CSM, that is the Question

As an elected player group, who are stakeholders in CCP Games' plans for game direction and development, the Council of Stellar Management is unique in online gaming communities. I don't know of any other MMO game that has anything like it. They provide reactions to CCP Games' plans for features for EVE Online, and represent the interests of the EVE Online community. They get some unique glimpses into the future direction of the game, and can help shape and influence the evolution of it.

CSM_LOGO.png

I admit that I would love to be part of that. And I think I have enough experience in the game to understand and appreciate the implications of new capabilities under consideration. More importantly, I would bring a certain point of view, as someone who is passionate about new player interests, and as someone who plays primarily in high-sec space - two groups that I think are under-represented on the current CSM, but are vitally important constituencies to the future success of EVE Online.

So, I must confess that I have seriously considered running for the CSM. But then I sobered up.

One thing that I admire about the members of CSM8 is that they, as a group, have been very dedicated to keeping the EVE Online community informed about what they are doing. We've never seen a CSM this open about sharing what's going on in their dealings with CCP. Thanks to the CSM8 website, Ripard Teg's weekly updates, Ali Aras' online "space hangouts", the regular Town Hall open meetings and Q&A sessions, the forum postings, the blog updates - all from multiple representatives of the CSM - no one can say that they don't know what CSM8 has been doing. It's the most visible and transparent CSM group ever, by far.

And that openness has revealed some important things about the CSM:

  • Most of the CSM representatives, with only a couple of exceptions, work hard and put a lot of time and effort into chats and meetings and forum exchanges with CCP Games. For many of them, it's literally a second job.
  • They do make a difference, but sometimes they have to wrestle CCP Games to the ground to get the player perspective across. And sometimes, it ain't easy.
  • CCP increasingly depends on the CSM to be available and provide rapid feedback to ideas, as they engage in fast agile development cycles.

In summary: being on the CSM is hard work, and requires a lot of time.

I have developed a lot of respect for CSM8. I think they represent the EVE player base well, and they have influenced the direction of the game positively. I'll be very interested to see what they can achieve with the planned summer expansion. If Rubicon is any indication, it should be a good one, thanks in no small part to CSM8's input and guidance.

But I also realize that to do it well, one must make a real commitment to being on the CSM. It should not be approached lightly.

And I honestly do not think I am willing to make that kind of commitment. At least, not yet. I won't be on the CSM9 primary ballot.

Maybe I'll be ready by the time the CSM10 elections roll around. We shall see.

Besides, I suspect that new player interests will be well represented on CSM9. But more on that in a future post. ;-)

So, I will give back to the EVE Online community as I have been doing - by blogging here, conducting classes and lectures, and doing what I can to help EVE University. And that will have to be enough - for now.

Fly safe! o7

Flirting with the EVE Famous

paparazzi600x399.jpg

In every culture, there exist people who are either known or unknown. Most of us prefer to live in relative anonymity, but every social group needs a few who stand out. We celebrate them, in fact, because celebrities do something more important than just demonstrate aspects of leadership in various fields of human endeavor - they give the masses some interesting things to talk about. The famous entertain us.

In New Eden, most capsuleers prefer to remain in the shadows. Standing out can lead to all sorts of unpleasant side effects: wardecs, ganks, bounties and ravenous blobs of ships looking for a tasty pod snack. In namelessness, there is a degree of security in EVE Online. 

But there are some who have cast off their dark cloaks of blandness, and who have stepped forward out of the shadows to declare boldly, "I am here, New Eden - hear me and see me!" And there are a few who, through their own actions, have been thrust into the spotlight, despite their reluctance to draw attention to themselves.

These are the "EVE famous" people.

There are various types of EVE fame. To become "EVE famous", you need to:

  • Do something noteworthy in EVE Online - good or bad. An example of this is Chribba, who I talked about in my last post, and who is known as the prototype example of EVE virtue. Another example is DBRB (dabigredboat), whose fame exploded simply because he clicked "jump" instead of "bridge", and thus kicked off one of the biggest EVE battles of all time
  • Lead a big EVE group - visibly. The archetype for this class of EVE fame is, of course, The Mittani, otherwise known as "The King of Space", and the celebrated leader of the Goons. He is the embodiment of the old adage: any publicity is good publicity. He even runs his own (rather excellent) EVE news site: TheMittani.com. In contrast, Azmodeus Valar, the CEO of EVE University, leads one of the largest groups in EVE, but most have never heard that name. Az prefers to just manage quietly in the background, and will probably never become "EVE famous". Az's predecessor, Kelduum Revaan, was far more visible, but he's since faded into the background after turning the reins of the UNI over to Az.
  • Get elected to the CSM. Usually linked to the previous point, getting elected to the Council of Stellar Management guarantees some degree of EVE fame. I didn't really know who Trebor Daehdoow was until I read the CSM summit meeting notes last year, and now he's the well-known Chairman of CSM8. I used to think that just running for CSM helped, too - but that isn't true. Does anyone really remember Travis Musgrat? 
  • Write an EVE-related blog - very well or very controversially.  Ripard Teg's blog, Jester's Trek, is one of my favorites - it's consistently engaging and useful. He's built a substantial audience with his insightful (and prolific) prose. So much, in fact, that it helped him win a seat and Vice-Chairmanship on the CSM. On the far end of the controversial scale is James315, whose blog is virtually guaranteed to provoke an emotional response in anyone who reads it.
  • Become a consistently good EVE podcaster. Xander Phoena's EVE fame has been rising rapidly, due to the excellent job he does on the Crossing Zebras podcast, with his sidekick, Jeg. Xander isn't afraid to ask difficult questions - just listen to his interview with CSM8 candidate, Fon Revedhort. Alekseyev Karrde's Declarations of War podcast just celebrated its 50th episode. He was also a very active member of CSM7.
  • Be consistently good at one EVE thing. Shadoo, a leader of Pandemic Legion, is known - for good reason - as the quintessential fleet commander. He's also eager to share his experience with new pilots, and often is a guest FC for UNI fleets. Azual Skoll is the master of all things PvP - his blog, The Altruist, is an excellent guide to success in combat, and he shares his experience in private lessons, too.
  • Exhibit creativity in EVE-related things. Roc Weiler and Sindel Pellion are not only well-regarded EVE players, but also talented authors of EVE-related music, too. Check out their tunes here and here.
The Universe of EVE Players

The Universe of EVE Players

I have met, conversed, and interacted both in game and out of game with some EVE famous people. This alone makes me semi-famous, of course, which is worth practically nothing, except it allows me to say offhandedly, "Oh, I know some people...", in UNI Mumble conversations whenever I want to impress someone. (This never works, by the way, but it doesn't stop me from trying.)

The thing about EVE fame is that if you try to pursue it purposefully, it will either elude you completely or end badly. I'm certain that Chribba didn't get up one morning and say to himself, "I'm going to become EVE famous today." He just did good stuff in and for EVE, and then EVE fame came to him.

Some might say that Mittani actively cultivated his EVE fame - I would say instead that he put himself in a position to cultivate it, by doing noteworthy EVE-related things: building the Goon membership, developing the Goon culture, running and winning CSM posts, starting a news site, etc.

Is there value in being EVE famous? Not really, other than the rush that comes from being recognized - I can understand how addicting it could become. I had a minor brush with EVE fame at Fanfest last year, and I'll never forget it. I was at dinner with some other UNIs, and someone came up to our table and asked me, "You're Neville Smit, aren't you?"

"Uh, yeah," I stammered, rather ungraciously, my mouth full of pasta. "Do I know you?" 

"No," said the inquirer, now all smiles. "But I recognized your voice. I've listened to all of your classes on the EVE University recorded library. They're great. I just wanted to say thanks."

We shook hands, and he went away happy. I remember thinking, "Wow, that was weird." But also feeling really, really pleased with myself.

I doubt that I'd ever become "super-EVE-famous" like the Mittani, nor do I think I'd want to. But it is nice to be appreciated. Perhaps a drop of minor fame from time to time wouldn't be so bad. Just as long as it doesn't swell my already overcharged ego out of all proportion.

Now, where's my entourage?

Fly safe! o7