Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tomfoolery, Election Fraud and the CSM

There's a new groundswell in the EVE social media community lately, and I've touched on it a couple of times myself. Mostly it's about dissatisfaction with the CSM, and a comment Hilmar made in an interview that can be construed as his own frustration with the CSM.

And the general discussion is missing the forest for the trees.

The concept that seems to have favor (at the moment) is to have, essentially, districts. That's great, I'm glad that people are thinking about increasing participation (I've been a foolish voter for several years now). But the idea of district representation in EVE is inherently broken.

You can't elect someone in EVE to the CSM just to represent wormholes. Because for all you know, that person is going to get sick of living in a wormhole a month later, and go run incursions for less stressful ISK.

You can't elect someone in EVE to the CSM just to represent Faction War. Because the CEO for that person's corp could have plans on moving from Faction War to Nullsec Sovereignty that the CSM rep would know nothing about.

Basically, you can't create districts because one of the simplest things to do in EVE is to change the direction of your game.

White Tree was a member of TEST when elected. Now (if I remember correctly) he's in a wormhole corp. He's not in TEST anymore. So all those TESTies who elected him no longer have their "TEST" representative. This real-world example shows why the idea of representative division is a failure before it begins.

Each player (not character) who runs for CSM runs on a platform, like any politician, claiming to support (or oppose) particular issues. If you look back at the CSM platforms, each member of the CSM had their own platform and presented that to the community at large.
I'll have grounds
More relative than this—the play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.
Fun Hamlet quotes notwithstanding, the platform is what you vote for or against in a CSM election. Because that is the best estimate you can get on what a person will or won't support or oppose. And the simple math of 1 account = 1 vote means that if the candidate you support can get enough votes, they will get a seat on the CSM.

In addition, the CSM has changed a lot over the few years it's run. The terms are longer, and this group can run again (I believe they have recently removed term limits for the CSM). This allows for two things: continuity and complacency. If I were to humbly suggest anything to Hilmar for changing the CSM, I would do the following:
1. Stagger the terms, much like US Senators, so there is partial, regular turnover.
2. Limit the re-election to 2 consecutive terms.
3. Have the chairman selected by the CSM, from the CSM every election cycle.

Stagger the terms
This one seems the easiest. Make the term 18 months, with an election every six months. That's a lot of politicking, but 1/3 of the CSM would turn over every six months, leaving 2/3 to provide consistency. Of course, the problem here is the non-stop campaigning cycle that would barrage the EVE players. A second option would be two year terms, with half the council replaced every year. But can you really count on someone to be active and excited about EVE for two years straight with the pressure of the CSM?

Term Limits
A no brainer (sorry Trebor) but there should be term limits. Two consecutive terms, then you have to take at least one year off before running again. Gets the politicians back in the game as normal people for at least a little while.

Internally Selected Chair
This would be a requirement based on the staggered terms presented above. The chair would have a 1 year (or 6 month) term as chair. This should be merely a parliamentary position, and the "face" of the CSM for group issues presented to players or CCP. The CCP representative would have a vote on this as well in the event of a tie.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Fine Art of Not Making ISK (How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the HiSec Missionrunner)

Today in Twitter I was affronted by a post by @EVE_Rhavas. I'm easily affronted, but moving beyond that, here's the post:
@redrickstar Fantastic post. I strongly support a "senate" approach. +1 follower. Cc @HilmarVeigar #nerfnullsec #eveonline #tweetfleet
Now to be fair, I have no idea what Rhavas was supporting. Because all I saw was #nerfnullsec. My reply:
@EVE_Rhavas @redrickstar @HilmarVeigar in case you hadn't noticed, nullsec has been nerfed about 10 ways to Sunday. #nerfhisec
For those of you just joining this game, welcome. EVE Online is a harsh mistress, moreso than the Moon of Heinlein's imagining. The follow-up discussion (if one can have a discussion in 140 characters or less) was even more entertaining, from @redrickstar:
@swearte @EVE_Rhavas @HilmarVeigar Crying about your milk being spilled and your answer is to piss in everyone else's is a poor solution
Now I get it. I won't even go find a blog, or an original link, and even if there were an original idea with merit, it doesn't matter. Because @redrickstar is angry about Goonswarm. Maybe he's an ice miner, who likes to sit and watch torrented films while multiboxing a fleet of dangerous Mackinaws. Maybe he's an unlucky Gallente Cap pilot (like me) who can't undock the big girl because the fuel cost is too high. Maybe he's running a Gallente POS farm reacting Technetium, and he's not swimming in ISK anymore. It doesn't really matter, because whatever he's doing in EVE, he's angry.

The basic argument I'm finding from the cesspool we know and love called the EVE Online official forums, is that Mittani should not be encouraging Goonswarm to do dastardly things, and he should not participate himself in these alliance activities, because he is the chairman of the CSM. Of course it doesn't help when he posts things like this in his twitter stream:
Ssh. The Tornado is for ~fleet warfare~. Pay no attention to the hisec ganking possibilities! #tweetfleet
Of course, the problem isn't The Mittani. Or Goonswarm. Or their current game, Gallente Ice Interdiction. The problem is that too many people in EVE are risk averse and feel entitled.

People are angry, yes angry about the Goonswarm Ice Interdiction. After all, you can't mine Gallente ice and make mindless isk right now, and the price of oxygen isotopes makes that so tempting that even the wisest of carebears is probably considering the risk to reward ratio. But the simple thing is, EVE is a sandbox game, and in the nullsec section of the sandbox, CCP has a lot of work to do. Looking at the hints, allegations, and things said about the winter expansion (and beyond), CCP realizes that. But in the meantime, one of the largest groups of players in the game are bored. And bored players will do crazy things. Last time, shortly after the fall of BOB, Karttoon led them on a rampage against hisec towers. It's a lot harder to make that fun, but Goonswarm made it memorable, and (hopefully) had fun in doing so - even if most of that fun was bad forum posting.

I made a comment in the EVE forums that perhaps what people should be doing since they can't mine ice, is anything else. EVE has so many avenues of experience, you don't have to simply mine or PvP. You can cut your hands off at your wrists doing missions. You can have some enjoyment doing Incursions. You can explore, and do it in LoSec where space is really a no-mans land. You could, oh, I don't know, learn to lose ships and not care.

What Mittani is doing (and by extension Goonswarm) is playing EVE. There is a vocal minority who believes that his version of EVE is wrong, and he shouldn't play it, because he's on the CSM. Others claim he should resign from the CSM, because his playstyle doesn't match their own. EVE is a game. A very involved, very time consuming, sometimes very frustrating, game. It has many facets, and one of the most important is that CCP does not interfere with the sandbox. We all share one universe, one game world, and if you don't like the way someone is playing in one section of the world, move.

Pack up your Orcas full of barges, and move to a different space. Or don't. But don't complain about someone playing the game. Find a way to enjoy the game on your own terms. Because the rage you spew, in the forums on Twitter, on your blogs, feeds their enjoyment of the game they are playing.

Now about the title of this blog. Nullsec is broken in many ways, and that's changing soon, from the looks of it. In the meantime, people who like to play this game against other players are finding other avenues to do so, and when the only way they can afford ships is the intermittent Incursion fleet or the mindless Level 4 mission, I'm not at all surprised that the unwashed masses of Goonswarm (and their finely manicured leadership) are turning against those players who think HiSec is risk-free riches. It's quite possible that even fixing Nullsec won't change this, because a side effect of the Gallente Interdiction is that every Nyx and Technetium-chewing tower costs a lot more to use right now. Which actually makes the game fun for more than just the Goons.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back to Nullsec...

Switched Corps.

New corp almost dissolved within a week of joining to merge with another corp in a nullsec alliance. Then the alliance took our small crew in as-is.

Now we are Unforgiven. And I've got 30-some-odd jumps from the losec system most of my ships are in to the losec staging system for the alliance. And then it's another teen/tween jumps to the corp HQ - only thing that would make it easier? Jump Drive Calibration V (40 days) and a non-Gallente carrier. Funny thing is, I have a Nidhoggur but I only have Minmatar Battleship III. And who flies the Minmatar caps anyway?

Guess I'll find my way to Stain somehow. Never managed to get negative sec status either. Maybe I'll suicide some hisec fools on the way back to nullsec.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In difficult times, come difficult decisions

Today the hammer fell, on CCP Atlanta. In a public relations notice, CCP announced the layoff of 20% of their workforce - mostly in Atlanta (but some in Reykjavik). Atlanta was home to White Wolf, the property behind the now "back-burner" project World of Darkness, Content folks for DUST 514, and most of the Community Management team. With no official list released (which would be bizarre anyway), speculation abounds for who was released and who is staying. Before I go on, I must wish the best to everyone who lost their jobs today, and hope that they are quick to find new work. Even though I am thinking most of those I know, all of you are in my wishes for a quick rebound.

I have met a handful of people from CCP Atlanta, including Mike Reed, CCP Cupcake (Stacy), and CCP Big Dumb Object. I have interacted with the CM team for years as a player and sometime forum poster, and as a member of the #tweetfleet. I only know of three specific layoffs, in what must number close to 100 - Zymurgist, Fallout and Hammer - some of the most vocal of the CM team. What worries me most is whether the CM team (mostly based in Atlanta) was completely disbanded as part of this restructuring of CCP.

I've been in small and large businesses through a couple economic bubbles. In the dot-bomb at the end of the 90s, I had to be on the management side and was one of the last men standing in a company that didn't survive the downturn. So I know how hard it is to let good people go. With the challenges they set for themselves, and then the difficulties in meeting them alongside the drop in subscriptions, CCP was looking at the short end of the balance sheet, and had to make changes. I can only say this - 20% of CCP had better include a lot of Incarna and WoD folks, because it did include the employees of CCP who made the most effort to keep us, the vocal and annoying players of EVE, talking, and participating.

A smart business, intent on communicating with their customers, probably shouldn't lay off their entire Customer Management team. But it appears that may be what happened with CCP today. Businesses intent on surviving the tough times need to keep a finger on the pulse of their customers - but CCP decided that finger should be lopped off, perhaps to spite the hand that feeds it. I can only hope that the executive team, who actually made the poor decisions that led to this day, realize that those positions had greater merit for goodwill and community support (and helping convince fools like me to resubscribe rather than lapse) - and the positions - if not the people - had better be filled as part of the restructuring.

CCP needs goodwill from the vocal community, as does any company in today's overly social world. CCP Fallout and CCP Zymurgist were a big part of that goodwill to the few hundred in the tweetfleet, and to many who read the forums. They will be missed personally. But the company needs those roles filled with communicative, involved and excited employees.

EVE isn't a game you easily unplug from. EVE isn't a fly by night I'll try it and move on game. If you get involved, you get involved deeply. And having a quality Community Management team helps temper the speculation and frustration of those players who are involved beyond logging into a virtual world. CCP - you do what you must. But I hope you realize that you must have a Community team that actively participates.

Rumor has it that the CSM will become more involved in CM - I only have one problem with this. I love the CSM as an idea, and I think they do good things - but they aren't the right voice of community interaction. The Mittani, as the chair (and leader of Goonswarm), is very capable, but he doesn't display the soft skills needed for a good community relations employee. The CSM are very good at grating bluntness - a great skill, but not for community relations. Nothing personal guys, I like most of you from what I've read, seen, and heard. But you aren't touchy-feely – and that's what the community team needs to be. CCP - I hope you have quality people lined up to replace those we have come to call friends. Because it's hard to make new friends in EVE that you can trust...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wayback Machine: 02 September 2009 (First Flight)

This is the fourth in my series of "wayback" posts - posts recovered from archives of previous iterations of my blog. My first trip into nullsec...

So I was greeted at login last night with "check your EVEMail - we have a wardec coming."

Ok. Might as well learn it all, right? So we will be at war, publicly, by the time I write this. After discussion with my CEO and combat trainers, I decided it was time to take the plunge and find my way to our 0.0 home. Ironically, it is deemed safer there than in my normal HiSec mission location, now that we are at war, and our Empire base of operations will likely be difficult to get in and out of during the war. So I filled up one last GSC of supplies, dropped it in the transit hangar, and set my autopilot for my new home. I was also going to be learning my new ship, Pyrios, a Helios-class exploration and scout vessel. Pryios is fit for exploration (probe launcher, analyzer, codebreaker) and a covops cloak generator. After a series of HiSec jumps, I entered the losec zone approaching 0.0. Lots of red in system everywhere - but the covops cloak meant I was invisible beyond my id broadcast in local.

As I approached the last losec jump before the 0.0 road, I realized I had made one big mistake - I hadn't contacted Concord to relocate my medical clone to the new home in 0.0. If I made a mistake, or just had bad luck, I was going to find myself 15 systems back in HiSec in the middle of a war, and the only ship at my current medical facility is a Velator. Quickly conferring with corpmates, I turned around and flew back a couple of systems to a station with medical facilities, and requested a clone move to my new home. I'd still have to check in and move the clone once more, to a medical facility, to ensure I can keep up to date, but at least if I sucked vacuum on this flight I'd end up at my destination.

The first system into 0.0 had my hands a little shaky, especially as there was a red in system - in a Buzzard. My combat trainer piped in over voice comms -
"Pick a planet, or moon, and warp to 100. Make sure to keep your cloak on!"

I was nervous, after all, it was my first time in 0.0, and this guy was in a ship designed to hunt and kill me. Fortuantely my nerves held long enough to get to a planet, and start moving off at a random angle, all while cloaked. I watched as a second red appeared in local - and just as suddenly the first one warped in behind me at the planet, a mere 16km off my stern. I watched as he sat, then warped towards the outbound gate, then disappeared off local.

"Initial red and neut are both out of system, newer red in system. Should I continue on?"

"Negative - sit tight for at least 5 minutes, they may be setting up a bubble on the other side of the gate to catch you. Wait them out."

So I sat, for a few minutes, fiddling with my overview settings, talking about 0.0 travel tactics, safes and bookmarks. Finally, it's just me and one red in system. I warp to 100km off the gate, and there's no-one there. Look directly behind me, warp to a belt, turn around and warp 0 to the gate and jump through. There's no-one in system, no bubble, nothing. I'm all alone. This situation (couple of reds or neuts in system), random bubble on a gate repeated itself all through Cloud Ring and Syndicate, on my 24-jump trip through 0.0 to my new home. I set up intermediate warp locations (not good enough for safes, but good enough to make safes off of) through most of those systems, finally docked up in my new 0.0 home. Settled my clone into a Medical facility so I could maintain my knowledge, checked out what ships I already had in system, and warped to our POS before logging off, cloaked, in my new 0.0 home. All in all an uneventful trip to 0.0, but exciting enough for me that some of my fur fell out on the way...