CSM7 Candidates: Categorically Speaking
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 February 2012, 7:04 pm
If anyone is still reading this blog, allow me to point you to CSM7 candidate Trebor Daehdoow's Independent Voter's Guide to the CSM7 Elections, freshly-minted in the Jita Park forum. In it, he offers advice to non-bloc players who may be trying to figure out how best to spend their CSM vote(s).

In his guide, Trebor categorizes candidates as Bloc Candidates, Proven Performers, Serious Contenders, Special Cases, Newbies, and Comic Relief and provides insights about each category and some of the individual candidates. Although I might have categorized a few candidates differently (for example, I'd have listed Alekseyev Karrde as a Proven Performer due to his CSM4 experience), I believe Trebor's guide provides a useful way to cut to the chase. Like anything else, ymmv. But the fact is, anything that helps cut through the haze and bullshit rolling in from a 40-candidate roster is a good thing.

Give Trebor's guide a read--and don't forget to vote when the polls open (March 7-21, 2012).

FWIW--CSM7 Shout-Outs
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 February 2012, 6:58 pm
I've only been peripherally paying attention to EVE and CSM stuff...reading and commenting on the occasional blog or skimming the forums. I can't say I care much about either one these days for various reasons. Still, some of the people connections remain. Three of the people who have stayed in touch with me since my exodus from EVE are CSM7 candidates Trebor Daehdoow, Seleene, and Alekseyev Karrde. On the chance that a former CSM Chair's opinion of these candidates might be of some use, I'm gonna go ahead and give them brief shout-outs here.

Trebor and I worked very closely in CSM5, so I can attest to his work ethic and ability to apply logic and common sense to clarify confusing issues and address difficult questions, especially when emotions run high. *cough* More importantly, Trebor keeps the wider community's desires in his crosshairs when he is responding to issues that come to the CSM's attention. He is a solid candidate who will work hard for the good of all play styles. I could give him some shit about needing to blog more frequently or adding links to minutes for the three CSM6 summits on the CSM6 Activities page that he put together, but I won't. :P Check out his campaign thread to learn more about his accomplishments and goals for CSM7.

I got to know Seleene when he was contemplating a CSM6 run and we have kept in touch throughout his CSM6 tenure. He brings a unique perspective to the CSM due to the combination of being a long-term player with wide experience in the game, a former CCP dev, and now a seasoned CSM member. He's not shy about calling bullshit on anyone and doesn't sugar coat it when he does. Besides that, no one can write a more impassioned, convincing, and humorous wall of text about CSM issues than he can (see his blog if you don't believe me). I could give him some shit about being a little bit invisible to the community at times but I won't because he has taken the initiative to address that over the course of his term when poked about it. At the end of the day, a vote for Seleene will be a vote for a broad-based perspective and passion for the game. Learn more about Seleene's CSM7 aspirations here.

Aleks and I became friends when I took a break from low sec piracy and spent some time in Noir. prior to and during my CSM5 term. His CSM4 tenure, small gang PvP knowledge, and thorough understanding of the game will make him a valuable CSM7 member. Plus he possesses a certain tenacity (I was going to say "pit bull-like charm") and ability to express himself with clarity ("Guys! WHAT. THE. FUCK IS THIS BULLSHIT?!"). :P Just teasin', Aleks. I would give him some shit about it being his turn to pay for dinner but I'll cut him some slack until he acquires that corner office and the salary to go along with it. Take a look at his campaign thread to find out what he can bring to CSM7.

It's worth noting that during CSM6's term, I've had a few conversations with people who don't see any value or purpose in the CSM, who like to compare one term against another as if they were football teams vying to out-do each other, and who have strong dislikes for certain CSM6 members. Those opinions may be valid and may even be informed by sources I don't have access to. I don't know. And honestly don't care. From my distanced viewpoint, the rational way to look at the CSM is as a continuum of effort to help ensure that CCP stays out of LaLa Land. Agendas, styles and approaches of various terms may differ. Individual CSM members might come across as self-serving assholes, annoying pricks, AFK jerks, or the best thing since sliced bread. So be it. In the long run, what matters is that EVE continues to improve in a variety of ways that make it a deeper, richer, better game over time (Rome wasn't built in a day). If the CSM contributes to that term after term, it has value and will continue to have value.

But here's the rub. To have the best chance of doing that requires (imho) a diverse council that can bring a lot of different viewpoints and game experience to the table. The three candidates above contribute perfectly to that kind of diversity. I hope you will read their campaign messages and give them serious consideration when it comes time to cast your votes.

Now...back to my comfy AFK-ness...

The Last Loose End
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 3 November 2011, 10:39 pm
Recently I realized that any desire to return to EVE or remain engaged in its peripheral community venues (like Twitter, Skype, or FHC) has been inexorably trumped by the things in real life that now occupy my attention.

Who knew when I undocked that first time nearly five years ago that such an immersive, unpredictable, expansive, and even humbling experience was in store! Looking back, I recall so many hilarious adventures, fascinating people, cherished memories, and of course the inevitable assholes. So it is not without some sadness and sense of loss that I walk away from EVE for good. But it is time.

At the same time, it seems wasteful to put a 50M+ SP, PvP-focused character into cold storage forever. So, Mynxee will soon be under new management (hopefully the transfer can take place next week). She is going to long-time friend with whom I played EVE for years. I have no doubt Mynx will be in good hands and continue a life of piracy and space shenanigans. Knowing that she will increase a friend's enjoyment of the game makes me happy. So FYI...if you see Mynx undocked, it's someone else calling the shots, not me. And that someone is not to be trifled with ;).

And thus I say au revoir, New Eden. Thanks for all the fish.

(original) Mynxee

WTF Factor Still Rules at CCP
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 October 2011, 6:07 pm
Today, CCP announced a layoff that will affect 20% of its workforce. I doubt anyone who reads this blog hasn't already heard this. I'm drinking wine right now, not unusual for me, but perhaps in a bit more quantity than usual because it takes just that much to properly toast those who have been let go--at least, the ones that I knew a little and believe deserved to keep their jobs.

I offer my condolences to everyone who lost their job today. Some of these people are friends of mine. I am very sad and worried about them in this enconomy. It is not an easy time for this to happen. I hope you all find new opportunities with little or no hardship to you or your families. I'm amazed at the outpouring of love and support from the community. Personally, I can't offer much in the way of tangible help, but I do have 30 years' experience in project management, some hiring responsibility, and technical writing. If you think those skills might help you buff your resumes and cover letters, give me a shout at carole.pivarnik@gmail.com. I'd be happy to do what I can.

Meanwhile, I'm left wondering WTF motivated CCP's choices. Seems like a bunch of people who were let go did their jobs well and with enthusiasm. Seems like the few who made the really shitty decisions along the way will weather the storm and come out none the worse for wear. A lot of potential scenarios for why this happens--beyond the usual corporate bullshit--come to mind, but I guess all we can do is wait for the next bomb (if there is one) to drop and see if the answers lie there.

Right now, I'm in a pretty "Fuck you, CCP" mood.

One Good Turn Deserves Another
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 October 2011, 2:31 pm
After the recent publication of the pair of groundbreaking devblogs from CCP Hellmar (CCP's CEO) and CCP Zulu, I decided to resub for 90 days as a show of faith. My decision is provisional and intended to be symbolic. If CCP delivers on their words over the next few release cycles, then I might as well be training skills in preparation for the availability of potentially better connection options that may be on the horizon (as of now, nothing's changed and still can't effectively PvP). If CCP doesn't deliver, I'll just be quietly gone for good from all EVE-related venues.

Given CCP's history, I have no confidence about which way things will go. But one good turn deserves another, so to speak. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt this one last time. Meanwhile, it's nice to sorta be back. Even if I can't really play, I can at least forum whore now if I want to!

Also, a big thanks to CSM6 for continuing the fight for Flying In Space resources. I know from brief conversations and their communications with the community that the council members have been beating the FiS War Drum long and loud in their channels with CCP.

Still Unplugged, But...
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 31 August 2011, 8:32 pm
...although I'm still not and won't be playing EVE for the foreseeable future, I am kinda lurking on the periphery. CSM stuff is mainly what interests me, so that means staying somewhat tuned in on Failheap-Challenge (FHC), kinda-sorta watching EVE-O, every once in awhile looking at the Twitter feed for Mynxee, and occasionally looking at feeds for EVE blogs. I did start posting again on Twitter as Mynxee after a two-month hiatus. Thanks for the warm reception to those who responded.

The main discussion I've been following on FHC is the one asking where the minutes are from the emergency summit on micro transactions that occurred two months ago. Apparently, there is disagreement among the CSM and CCP about the content of the drafted minutes so they are in a revision loop or stalemate, it's hard to tell which. Need I observe that this is indeed very familiar territory? ;) But seriously, two months to publish Minutes from an EMERGENCY summit? That is retarded no matter what IQ chart you're using.

The CSM6 Chair, The Mittani, said in the linked FHC discussion that carrot time was over and stick time was imminent as regards getting some forward motion on this matter. Good! I'm curious how he intends to wield the stick, but regardless, more power to him for that sentiment and it's about time. Seleene has also posted some thoughts about the situation. Might just be wishful thinking on my part, but he seems to have lost his patience with playing nice. Also, CSM6 candidate Ripard Teg (aka Jester and one of my favorite EVE bloggers) chimes in about the matter on his blog. But Aypse on FHC said something that really resonated with me and hopefully with CSM6 delegates:

"CSM needs to remember that it's your mandate to relate accurate information to the players and the only obligation to CCP is to not violate the NDA. You have no obligation to phrase the tone of your message according to what they prefer but you do have an obligation to represent information as accurately as possible. Stay strong and remember that letting them spin your message to the players is is exactly the opposite of what you were elected to do."

Been there, done that and this ^^. More than anything.

Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 31 March 2011, 9:10 pm
My last CSM activity is the CSM5/CSM6 crossover meeting tentatively scheduled for this weekend. This meeting is a formality, since CSM6 took its seats on 6 April and are busily engaged in planning all kinds of activities with the full energy I recall oh so well from the early days of CSM5's term. Let's hope they can keep it up and do good things, eh?

In the interest of continuity, I wrote a CSM5 Term Retrospective to serve as a reference for future councils as they forge their own approach, decisions and processes. The triad of that retrospective, the Activities Summary on the wiki, and the information in Teadaze's database provides a fairly comprehensive picture of what CSM5 accomplished, the challenges we faced, and how we chose to meet those challenges. These documents are linked at the top of the sidebar if you wish to explore them.

Whether any of that information proves useful to future councils--or whether they choose to document their work in the same manner--remains to be seen. CCP does not impose any requirements for that kind of thing. Such decisions are left up to individual councils so its down to different strokes for different folks.

At this point, I am essentially unplugged from EVE and the EVE community for the foreseeable future. Having been so involved in the CSM, I may casually follow CSM6's activities and the #tweetfleet and #csm6 lists for awhile until I cba to bother anymore. Quite frankly, my interest is almost nonexistent. I'm glad to be moving on and have no regrets at this point.

Thanks for everything--it was quite a ride while it lasted and many of you made it pretty damn memorable in a lot of places along the way. Dare to be bold, pilot...in both game and life.

FanFest 2011 -- Being Sensible Sucks
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 March 2011, 9:12 pm
About now, I'm kicking myself in the ass for declining the free trip to FanFest that CCP generously gives to all CSM delegates. All the practical real-life reasons for not going seem so stupid as I sit here watching the updates on Twitter, Facebook, and in my inbox. It's quite clear all the fun I'm missing. Oh, sure, in a month when FanFest 2011 is just a memory and I'm unemployed (well, self-employed but it will amount to the same thing in the start-up phase), I'll be glad I made the fiscally sound choice to work this week instead of giving up that paycheck to party in Iceland. Right now, though, being sensible SUCKS.

Yeah, I'd like some cheese to go with that whine!

Anyway, I look forward to the streaming video tomorrow and more updates from the folks who are partying at the top of the world. Who knows...maybe next year, if my interest in EVE has rekindled sufficiently and I can afford it...I might find my way to Iceland for FanFest 2012. But that's a long way down a path that is as yet very unclear. So...we'll see.

Meanwhile, I must live vicariously through all my friends who ARE in Iceland. Virt, Lacrimae, Mandrill, CrazyKinux, Trebor, Seleene, and others...thanks for all the updates and keep them coming!

CSM6: VOTE! Polls Close 22 March!
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 March 2011, 5:41 pm
Over 40,000 votes have been cast in the CSM6 elections. Polls close in a couple of days--March 22 at 23:59 UTC, to be exact. If you haven't voted yet in the CSM6 elections, I hope you will do so.

Not sure who to vote for? There are many ways to learn more about the candidates, among the best are:
You'll have to make your own mind up, if you haven't already. Or you could...you know...take my word for it and just vote for one of those good candidates listed in the sidebar over there to the right. ;) Or...you COULD print out these CSM6 finger puppets (compliments of Virtuozzo's twisted sense of humor) and conduct some battles to see who emerges the victor to earn your vote!

Wondering why you should bother voting for CSM? CSM5 wrote a blog about why we think voting matters!

Wonder if CCP gives CSM any credence? Well, they wrote a blog about it. Sounds all "happy shiny people" but personal experience as a member of the CSM suggests that it paints a picture of rainbows and unicorns that isn't exactly all that. Still, I must give major props to CCP Zulu and CCP Fallout for their excellent proactive communications and engagement.

Anyway, gonna be interesting to see how CSM6 plays out and to see how they tackle the challenge that is CCP.

A Call to Arms
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 March 2011, 7:04 pm
A month on since my last post, CSM6 campaigns have gathered a full head of steam and voting has just begun. The polls opened a couple of days ago, and already, over 21,000 votes have been cast. This is a smidgen over half of the total votes cast for CSM5 altogether. With that much early action, all kinds of speculation is going on.

Did The Mittani really herd that many bees to the polls in less than 48 hours? Did other null sec power blocs march their comrades to the ballot box en masse? Or has the community begun to rally around the "little guys" in a massive show of grass roots solidarity? Or some combination of all three? Guess we'll find out after FanFest when results are due to be announced (on 30 March according to the schedule).

I'm pleased to see the turnout, but I'm not dancing in the streets just yet. The null sec power blocs could easily be responsible for the vast majority of those votes. I would not favor a CSM that was dominated by a null sec perspective and tunnel vision.

If you, like me, favor a diverse CSM with broad perspective, then I urge you to put your shoulder in the harness for just a minute and help make that happen! How? Easy!
  1. Vote on every account you have for candidates who are community-minded; have demonstrated an interest and ability to communicate with all players, not just their insular groups; have broad perspectives on the game; and care about the game more than their own interests in the game. There are quite a few candidates who exemplify these qualities. To name a few: Trebor Daehdoow, Seleene, Ripard Teg, Meissa Anunthiel, and Roc Wieler. I can vouch for all of these people personally due to either having worked with them or known them for a long time. They each have different strengths, but all of them are dedicated to representing players
  2. Talk to your friends, encourage them to vote the same way, identify one or two specific candidates and even give them the link to the candidates' voting page. Encourage your friends to get the word out, as well.
  3. Engage with your favorite candidates in their campaign threads to keep those threads bumped.
  4. Blog, tweet, and post about your preferred candidates, why you think they are worthy of a vote, what good qualities they exemplify, how you think they will benefit CSM6, etc.
  5. Update your in-game bio with candidate information and state why you endorse the candidates you voted for or would like to see elected. Link directly to their vote page.
Make no mistake, THIS IS WAR--for the CSM and for the future of EVE. The Vote is the first great battle. Do not slack, do not retreat, do not assume. Inform yourself and act now. If you don't, you could be stuck with a CSM full of Goons and other null sec special interest groups who don't give one shit about anything but their own agendas--regardless of what they say otherwise in their campaign propaganda. As we all know, politics is politics. The mudslinging, the bullshit...it's all part of the game. What really matters is what happens after the votes get counted and the bodies are cleared from the field. To win that battle requires thinking voters who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, for what is good and right for EVE.

My front-runner choices to fight the good fight in CSM6 are Trebor Daehdoow, Seleene, and Ripard Teg. I explain why here.

If you care about the CSM, if you want to see the progress that CSM5 made built upon by rational people with rational agendas, do your part: Vote for a Diverse CSM6!

CSM6: Three Front Runners
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 February 2011, 10:17 pm
CSM6 applications are now being accepted; already, some interesting prospective candidates have declared their intentions to run. I'm happy to declare my support early for three prospects who I am sure will be on the official candidates list when it is published March 2. You'll see more here about each of these candidates as election activities proceed, but for now I'll just identify them, say a few words about why I support them, and provide links to their blogs and Twitter pages. They are all excellent candidates, so I hope you will give them serious consideration and trust them with your vote(s) when the polls open on March 9, 2011.

Trebor Daehdoow. I can say without reservation that Trebor has been one of the hardest-working delegates on CSM5 and (except for his incessant complaining about the airplane seats on the flights to Iceland, LOL!) a pleasure to work with. He developed the concept of doing CSM backlog prioritization by crowdsourcing, and he has been a key (often lead) player in drafting, negotiating revisions for, and finalizing CSM communications for public consumption. He is able to engage in productive dialog on matters of concern for a variety of play styles. In addition, his personal game development and business experience give him keen insights into bigger picture issues that the CSM must often consider and address in communications with CCP and the community. Finally, he has remained well engaged with the community on EVE-O and other forums, maintaining an active presence in numerous threads throughout our term. For all these reasons, I would like to see Trebor win a seat in CSM6 (and with any luck, the position of Chair, which I feel he deserves and would excel in). I have one account and one vote; that vote will go to Trebor. Check out Trebor's election page to see a more complete summary of his CSM5 accomplishments, his goals for CSM6, and the details about his very creative Billions for Ballots program.

Trebor's Blog
Trebor's Election Page

Seleene. Another standout choice for CSM6 is Seleene. As most people know, Seleene is famous as the leader of the fabled Mercenary Coalition and is also the former CCP Abathur. At CCP, he worked as a game designer for three years and was a key player in the design of both Dominion and Apocrypha. He is passionate about the game and has a broad perspective on it. We've been talking about EVE, mercenary life, and various play styles since before I was elected to CSM5. With his dual perspective as both a player and a former CCP dev, I feel strongly that Seleene would if elected bring invaluable insight and informed guidance to CSM6. One of the statements in his campaign message really resonated with me: "My main priority will be the iteration and balancing of current features. I want to see new content as well, but iteration of current game play would virtually guarantee new content as part of the process." Besides which, he said he'd wear a cape to the Summits and table surf! This I must see. Check out Seleene's blog and follow him on Twitter to learn more.

Seleene's Blog
Seleene on Twitter

Ripard Teg. Who? you ask. Don't discount the value of those with no "e-fame" too quickly! Remember, Trebor was a relative nobody prior to CSM5 campaigning, and look at the excellent contributions he's made to CSM5. I believe Ripard will be that same kind of delegate. I became familiar with Ripard on the Scrapheap Challenge forums where he posts under the name of Jester. His posts appealed to me because he obviously has a passion for the game, doesn't mind sharing and defending his opinions, is able to discourse intelligently, and is willing to revise his opinion when that makes sense. Ripard approached me with many questions about the CSM. We have had several long discussions about delegate conduct, professional approach, ability to collaborate, the "many hands make work light" approach to getting group CSM work done, and the importance of being able to communicate effectively. Needless to say, we are on the same page about these things or you wouldn't see his name in my short list of endorsed candidates. To learn more about Ripard's specific campaign messages, visit his blog and follow him on Twitter.

Ripard Teg's Blog
Ripard Teg on Twitter

Stay tuned, because I am organizing a focus group with these three candidates and will announce the details here once they are nailed down. Plus I will be blogging and tweeting about activities related to their campaigns through the entire election cycle.

Other Candidate Mentions

While Trebor, Seleene, and Ripard are my front runner choices for CSM6, there are two others I'd like to give an honorable mention to:
  • Larkonis Trassler has submitted his candidate application. Like me, he has an interest in seeing Low Sec get a makeover. I have handed over the Making Low Sec Matter project to him at his request and hope that he accomplish his goal of getting a Low Sec proposal posted in Assembly Hall for CSM6 to consider. Yeah, he's the same guy who got kicked off CSM3 for being a dumbass (go look it up--or ask him directly--if you don't remember why). Long story short, we've had a lot of conversations about it over the last year and a half. As a result, I believe Lark sincerely regrets what he did, has paid his imposed penance, and would more than make up for his transgressions through the value he can bring to CSM6 as an intelligent, knowledgeable, long-term player.
  • Meissa Anunthiel is a veteran CSM delegate, having served on several councils. We have enjoyed many debates about CSM issues, and while we have very different approaches and don't always see eye to eye on things, I must give credit where it is due and where I think it benefits the CSM. Meissa is extremely analytical, well-versed in game mechanics and cause-and-effect of those mechanics, and able to express himself and his ideas very well. More importantly, he is well engaged with players from many play styles and has a broad perspective on what they want. I think he will continue to make valuable contributions to CSM6 as he has for past CSMs.
Possibly more on these guys as the election period proceeds.

CSM6 Elections Page on Facebook

Meanwhile, if you want to keep up with all the candidates, please visit the new CSM6 Elections page on Facebook. Everyone is invited to engage candidates there, express opinions, start discussions, and generally talk up these elections. Be sure to Like the page and help get the vote out, folks! If you are a CSM6 candidate and want your blog added to the automatic wall updates, contact me or another page admin to request that.

Important CSM6 Dates

For ease of referenced, I've copied the CSM6 important dates here as posted in a dev blog:

February 9th to 23rd – Candidacy application period opens
March 2nd – Publication of the list of approved candidates
March 9th – Voting opens
March 23rd – Voting closes
March 30th – Results announced
April 6th – CSM 6 takes office

For all you bloggers, podcasters, and reporters out there who plan to talk with candidates, note that there are only three weeks between the announcement of official candidates and when voting ends. You may want to start lining up your interviews as soon as possible because the window for getting that information out to the community in a timely fashion is very narrow.

Four Years
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 February 2011, 11:02 am
Today marks the fourth anniversary of my adventures in New Eden.

What a ride. My time in Hellcats and CSM5 probably represent the highlights. Getting to know so many fascinating, talented, funny, bizarre people from around the world is the most awesome aspect of the game, though. Thanks so much to everyone who has been a friend and/or supporter of my events, activities, and initiatives over these years. My association with EVE has been a memorable, interesting, and mainly enjoyable experience.

So, what next? Well, after my CSM5 term is done around the beginning of April, I am going to focus on some real life objectives to the exclusion of almost everything else. That means EVE will become very much a back-burner activity for me (although I am working with a few CSM6 prospects and will likely continue to do so if they get elected). I'll keep my sole account PLEXed through the end of the year, but logins will be infrequent. If I find time to actually play (assuming my connection cooperates with that), I will spend that time pirating it up in Low Sec with my VETO family. As the natural fallout from this diminished activity, I will be doing a lot less blogging, tweeting, forum whoring, etc. But I'll be around, and those who know me, know how to reach me. I'll keep in touch, just perhaps not quite as frequently.

On a side note, for some reason I find it amusing that my first character, which I recently sold, is now a member of Goonswarm.

New Me, Newer Me
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 January 2011, 7:37 pm
I know many are raving that the new Character Creator is the best thing since sliced bread. But...while it is nice to customize a new face for Mynxee that is closer to how I visualize her, the new Character Creator ain't all that. For one thing, it crashes EVE to desktop at seemingly random places in the process which is a bit frustrating since progress is not saved. I have a number of usability gripes with it (e.g., the "live" avatar is annoying when you're trying to grab the molding handles and accurately mold the face), but the two main ones were addressed in the recent patch. The misleading "Save" label was changed to "Finalize" on the button that submits the selected snapshot of your avatar for use in-game. And even better, a dialog now pops up asking for confirmation of your snapshot choice and to actually proceed with finalization. These are excellent fixes that will probably cut down considerably on the number of users who mistakenly submit the wrong snapshot and subsequently file a petition.

I will neither rave nor rant about it, don't care all that much at this point honestly. But on a personal "enjoyment" scale of 1-5 (5 being best) based on its current state (and not what CCP promises it might someday be, since such promises to "iterate" have too often proven unreliable), here's how I rate it:

Garment options: 2 (Lack of style variation, garment type, colors)
Accessory options: 1 (Only sunglasses? How about some jewelry or hair adornments?)
Racial identity/differentiation options: 0 (No tattoos; so many Brutors look the same)
Usability: 3 (No interim save, can't freeze the model, random crashes, fiddly interface)
Quality of final render: 4 (Got glitches in some dread strands related to head rotation)

The garment options are disappointingly limited, with just a handful of items which are essentially the same basic garment with a color difference or mild style difference. I know, I know..."more to come in the future." We'll see. I didn't mess much with the body modeling options because at this point, I couldn't be bothered. But I did mess with the facial modeling because there is a certain smirk I was trying to achieve for Mynxee much like the one in her original portrait. I swear that smirk looked more pronounced and the eyes were staring more directly at me in the character creator than they appear in the final render, but it's good enough for now. I do like to compare old Mynxee with new Mynxee. But...it just isn't Mynxee without the tatts, sooo....

...Photoshop to the rescue! I quickly copied the tatts from old Mynxee and edited them onto new Mynxee. Not the worlds best job, but better than nothing. I may take the time to do a much better editing job at some point since the Live Dev Blog today suggested that CCP could make no promises about when we'll be able to put tatts on our avatars' faces. At least CCP Flying Scotsman acknowledged the importance of them and how much players (especially for our Minmatar characters) want them. But meanwhile, although the in-game avatar is naked without her tatts, at least I can use this image on forums and stuff to better represent Mynxee and her Brutor heritage.

So yeah, I like Mynxee's new look, including the fact that she is far less Caucasian looking than before and that the freckling, scarring and aging options let her look like someone who's seen some stress and hard times in her life. Those are particularly cool. But otherwise to me the new Character Creator is not really all that was hoped for given the hype. It still has a long way yet to go before it earns 5's from me for all those rating categories.

Post-Summit/Minutes CSM Update
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 January 2011, 5:11 pm
The Minutes from the December CSM Summit are in the final stages of editing. It's taking slightly longer than expected, due to holiday delays. But also, it involves a huge amount of work to put the Minutes together, just by virtue of the sheer volume of information and to make sure the content accurately represents the views of the CSM.

This time around, CSM and CCP agreed to split up the work, with each group accepting responsibility for writing up different sessions. Trebor Daehdoow has done the heavy lifting for the CSM, drafting most of the sessions assigned to us. I supported that effort by drafting the Core session write-up (by referring to recordings provided to me with CCP's blessing). Mazzilliu drafted the writeup of the Security session. Once the rough draft was put together, everyone reviewed it to offer feedback and comments, with Trebor revising as necessary. Now we are having a bit of a back-and-forth with CCP about some of the sections they drafted but I expect that will be resolved reasonably soon and publication will commence.

*headpats* for Treb. Awesome work, man. Much appreciated.

While you're waiting for the Minutes, there is a pretty lively discussion worth looking at in the Scrapheap Challenge forums about what happened at the Summit and which...in typical SHC fashion...rambles in all sorts of interesting analytical and speculative directions.

CSM6 Elections on the Horizon...

Also, with just 90 days or so left in CSM5's term, it won't be too terribly long before the call for CSM6 candidates goes out. I will not be running again. My life is at an interesting crossroads right now and I aim to take advantage of that to transition from tech work to self-employed creative work. That will require my full focus if I am to succeed. I simply will have neither the time nor the interest to devote to another term on the CSM even if I were to get elected again.

However, I truly hope that candidates come forth who are "for the community" (not just their special interest voting blocks), and who have the determination and business/communications skills to continue the good work that CSM5 has accomplished in establishing the CSM as a valuable stakeholder for EVE. If any of you with such qualifications are thinking about running for CSM and want to learn more about what the job is really like or would like campaign advice, don't hesitate to email me at mynxee@eve-mail.net with your questions and concerns. There is a group of CSM5 delegates and supporters who would be happy to serve as a consultancy resource for such prospective candidates...and possibly even assist in campaign efforts.

A Lot of Little Things
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 December 2010, 5:53 pm
More than a month since my last post here. Ooops. I have simply not been able to summon interest or energy to write about EVE or CSM topics. For one thing, there are much more compelling personal things going on that require attention. Besides that, I've not been doing anything in game worth writing about. Thanks to my satellite connection being ever more laggy as a result of being on the busiest beam in the U.S., it's become almost impossible to play and actually have fun. Session changes after gate jumps often literally take a minute...try keeping up with a roaming fleet or getting in on a kill one system over crippled by that. The connection latency makes PvP situations really dicey as it impossible to maintain accurate situational awareness, activate modules instantly in response to a situation, or GTFO when things go bad. All very frustrating.

And then within the last couple of weeks--to add insult to injury--my ability to connect to any Ventrilo server has become extremely tenuous, failing 9 out of 10 times. TeamSpeak works fine but since my corpmates use VETO's Ventrilo server I'm screwed for voice comms. Troubleshooting with both Ventrilo support and my ISP provided no insights. I'm pretty sure it is connection related, because at some random times I am able to connect to either my own server or VETO's. But...if anyone has suggestions on a possible other cause, I'm all ears. So...until and unless that problem is resolved, I expect to spend most of my in-game time playing Eve Online Hold'em rather than undocking. Oh well...at least if I'm careful and a little lucky, I have a good chance of accumulating a large pile of ISK doing something I really enjoy. You could almost call it PvP of a sort: Poker PvP. By the time we ever get REAL internet in these rural hills where I live, I should be able to fund my pirate lifestyle quite nicely and probably my account subscription as well. It sucks, though, because I really enjoy flying with my VETO family and I miss not being able to join them when a fleet is heading out for some piratey good times. *pout*

Speaking of accounts, I'm consolidating to one account in the near future. I've had two accounts for almost four years but what's the point if I can't properly use them? So, after I distribute her refunded Learning skill points and see what makes most sense to finish up in the time remaining on her account, Seyveaux Cheval will get tucked into a slot on Mynxee's account and her training will stop. No biggie, because I've been thinking of selling her anyway...but she IS my first character and I'm rather attached, so haven't quite settled on that decision yet. Besides, she does have some useful utility skills like flying jump freighters and carriers, nearly perfect probing, and other stuff that comes in handy from time to time. But if there was a sufficiently interesting offer made, I might be convinced to post her in the Character Bazaar.

CSM December Summit (15-17 December)

I wish that I could attend the Summit next week but other obligations that I've known about since late October are preventing that. I hope to Skype into a couple of the sessions that particularly interest me. Unfortunately the Incarna Game Play session is scheduled at a time that translates to 5:30 a.m. for me. Since communicating via Skype requires a "real" connection (not this shit one I am stuck with), I have to drive into town to get access via my iPhone's 3G connection (that's right, no cell phone reception in these godforsaken hills either). I'm not doing that at 5 in the morning, no thanks. And yeah, yeah, I know...enough whining about my connection already.

It does look like I'll be able to sit in on the QA at CCP double session (very, VERY interested in that one as I've had a couple of very insightful conversations with QA staff about how complex their responsibilities are; I think players will be surprised to learn just how complex); CSM Processes, Tools, and Evolution; Game Design Talk to the CSM, and maybe the Assembly Idea (CSM Tools). I had requested that the latter session be scheduled ahead of the CSM Processes, Tools, and Evolution since it would permit the CSM to learn what if any tools CCP had in the works to support CSM but that apparently wasn't possible. We have no real idea what the Assembly Idea (CSM Tools) session will cover. No one from CCP has been in touch with the CSM to ask any needs analysis questions related to desired functionality for tools to address the shortcomings in Assembly Hall. So either nothing is yet done or else something has been started that we've not been consulted about. I guess we'll find out next week. I'm going to be rather annoyed if it turns out to be the latter.

Anyway, Trebor has posted the Summit agenda and asked for questions you'd like to see asked. There's still time to post yours; I'm sure he'll be monitoring that thread while in Iceland. I have a feeling that player concerns about RMT and botting in EVE are going to be brought up by the CSM in several of the applicable sessions.

On the Horizon

Looking ahead to the remainder of this term, which essentially runs through end of March or thereabouts, I have a couple of goals:
  • Ensure that the Minutes from the upcoming Summit are accurate and complete, as well as published in a timely fashion...probably in conjunction with another CSM blog.

  • Get the Making Low Sec Matter proposal finished and posted in Assembly Hall, then rally support for it and raise it for a vote at a CSM working meeting in February and submit it to CCP. I've really dropped the ball on this project, but at this point all I can say is I aim to get this done before the end of my term; citing excuses or reasons why I haven't gotten it done yet won't make any difference. That said, one big demotivator is my lack of confidence that CCP will do anything about Low Sec that reflects a cohesive vision; instead, I suspect they'll just keep tacking on unrelated/nonintegrated bits and pieces over time in hopes that "awesome" will magically happen eventually or at least to shut the Low Sec whiners up from time to time. But...we'll see.

  • Work on documenting CSM5 processes (such as how we did crowdsourcing, for example) to aid CSM6 when it transitions in. Whether or not they choose to use any of the same processes as CSM5 is up to them, but for the sake of continuity it is something that in my view should be done by each council as a professional courtesy to the next.
An aside: I strongly believe (and have advocated to CCP Xhagen) that if CCP wants to leverage its investment in the CSM and minimize wheel-spinning as each new council finds its feet, there should be some performance requirements imposed that directly support continuity.

One example would be to require the use of the CSM internal forums for discussions. I requested that CSM5 do this (instead of communicating via cumbersome email chains) right from the start of our term. It has worked out well. This approach permits easier access to the discussion in its entirety--both for participants at the time and for those who may refer to it in the future for research purposes, to inform related discussions, or to factor in decision-making.

An interesting statistic: CSM5 has created +/- 150 of the estimated 235 threads in our internal forums, which means we are responsible for 63% of the discussions there--many of which run to several pages, and only the barest handful of which are trivial banter unrelated to CSM work. CSM1-4 were responsible collectively for the other 37% of the threads. In reviewing those threads, I presume previous councils were using alternate means to conduct discussions since there are so few posts that can be attributed to each previous term. Assuming discussions took place elsewhere, those communications appear to be lost forever and thus can provide no background perspective nor be used in tracking various trends in topics, etc. Overcoming that potential loss of valuable information and insight by requiring that the CSM internal forums be the primary tool for archiving discussions is in my view a critical necessity.

Another interesting fact: CCP devs (with the exception of our advocates and even they had almost no presence) did not begin posting in the CSM internal forums until after the shitstorm elicited by the June Summit meeting minutes. That means that no other council has had the valuable ongoing interactions that CSM5 has enjoyed with CCP staff. Unfortunately, lately they've gone back to being very quiet. That is too bad since we've had some rather lively and productive discussions with quite a few of them on a variety of topics.
  • Finish updating the CSM2 and CSM5 issues pages in EVElopedia. This has been on my to-do list for awhile, but keeps falling off the radar.

  • Keep the recently created CSM5 Activities Summary page on the EVElopedia updated.
Stuff I Overlooked

And finally, I've been remiss in mentioning a couple of things:
  • Lost In Eve podcast, which has for several episodes offered a CSM segment including interviews with myself and other CSM members as well as CCP Xhagen. Plus all the other good stuff they normally offer. Give Lost In Eve a listen; you won't be disappointed...and kudos to Jade and Jayne for producing such a great show.

  • The Ships of EVE (now owned by Selene D'Celeste of EVE Online Hold'Em fame) Intermission contest, which features a lottery, Rifter coloring contest, and hat contest. Entries must be submitted by December 18th at 20:00 EVE Time so get on over there and check it out. I, along with Chribba, Akita T, Grendell, and a "Super Sekrit" person, will be judging entries and voting on winners.
So...I think that makes up for a month of no posts. See you in space...errr, I mean, at the EOH poker tables.

Scheduled: CSM Public Round Table
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 November 2010, 6:34 am
Sorry I haven't been posting more...just :lifeoverwhelming:.

But...CSM has scheduled a Public Round Table, organized by Dierdra Vaal. Here are the details from the post about it on the EVE O forums:

The Council of Stellar Management presents a public roundtable

Date: November 21st, 19:00 to 21:00 Eve time
Location: ingame chat channels 'CSM_roundtable_answers' and 'CSM_roundtable_questions'

The Council of Stellar Management is organising a public roundtable where you, the players, can ask us difficult questions about what we've been doing and how we've been doing it. CCP will be represented by CCP Xhagen, the CSM project manager, to field any questions you may have about the relationship between CCP and the CSM.

As the roundtable takes place aproximately three weeks before our December Summit with CCP, this will also help us determine if there are issues we need to discuss with CCP that have escaped our radar and provide some measure of how effective we've been in representing the playerbase.

We have requested the following topics for the summit agenda. This means for each topic we've requested one hour (or more) of in-depth discussion with the relevant developers.
  • Post Dominion 0.0
  • User Interface
  • CSM Processes, Tools, and Evolution
  • Economics/EVE Economy (double session?)
  • Incarna Game Play
  • Game Balance Requested by Players
  • CSM Activities at FanFest 2011
  • Microtransactions
  • Quality Assurance at CCP
Note that this event is not intended to pitch your own CSM proposals or ask us "why the nighthawk doesn't get a bit more powergrid".

I plan to attend and chair the event with help from Dierdra, who has a lot of experience conducting similar events for EVE Uni. Hope to see you there!

Iceland in October--Finally, the Report
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 October 2010, 8:57 pm
If you frequent Scrapheap Challenge forums, you've probably seen my summaries of the October meetings with CCP and CSM in Iceland. In case you don't go there, I'm publishing them here as well. Sorry so late with this--things in RL have been a bit mental. The summaries below are more or less the same as I posted on SHC, with some minor editing for brevity.

With any luck, the Minutes from that meeting will be out the end of this week; they provide more detail and perspectives from others.


Session 1: Hilmar
(Arnar + Eyjo also in attendance)

Presentation of CCP's 2010 Kickoff presentation; it contained some humor, some key metrics, a segment on CARBON (CCP's development framework that will be common to all its products), status update on titles in development, identification of key challenges and goals for 2010. Dierdra Vaal's "Excellence" proposal that formed the basis of our Excellence session at the June Summit was featured, and the CSM's impact on CCP's priorities and approach to communication was acknowledged more than once.

After the presentation, the CSM asked questions about various points in the presentation and ended the session with a frank discussion with Hilmar about the issue of PLEX for remap and microtransactions. (This topic, by the way, pervaded our conversations with everyone today.) CSM identified potential issues and suggested less concerning alternatives regarding PLEX for remap.

Our concerns and even criticisms were treated respectfully and given due consideration; both sides expressed their reasoning and position on the issue of MT in a professional manner. The CSM requested that Hilmar remain engaged with us at some level in an ongoing fashion. Being able to continue with the good dialog started today would be a key outcome from this session if it materializes. The glimpse we got of CCP's overall intent for its family of products was useful. We encouraged Hilmar to share this kind of information more regularly to players, both to generate interest and excitement for CCP's projects in the community, help players understand what priorities are driving resource allocation in any given development cycle, and aid players in seeing how CCP envisions product interactions and relationships in both the near and long term.

Session 2: Presentation on AGILE at CCP

We were shown the presentation given at GD this year by CCP's Adalsteinn Ottarsson on how AGILE is done at CCP. It provided an overview of the process as implemented by CCP, touched on the impact of process change and growing pains on results, acknowledged the lessons learned that inspired refinements, and mentioned benefits from accruing experience and team synergies (such as shorter development times in some areas and more accurate work estimates, for example). Follow-on discussion with Dr. Eyjo and CCP Xhagen (our Viking champion in CCP) addressed some questions. One--about whether the bugs that developers spend 20% of their time on were ones emerging from their sprint tasks or were ones from the "backlog" of bugs--was not answered clearly and we will follow up tomorrow morning on that one in the day's first session

Session 3: Marketing Activities

This session focused on a blend of marketing and advertising activities related to the EVE IP. Rick Reynolds, CCP's marketing guy, shared information about the marketing focus for EVE over the next 6-8 months, acknowledged the value of CSM's input, talked about efforts to raise awareness about CSM's influence on various development activities, and discussed the challenges of retail marketing for an MMO like EVE. Incarna was a hot topic, with some key questions asked about gameplay we can expect in that expansion. No real answers there, even in response to my direct question "Will there be gameplay?" but to be fair, such questions are more suitable for Torfi and Noah, and we'll be hitting them up on that issue tomorrow.

As usual, the CSM offered insights and ideas--in this session, these were mainly aimed at helping ensure more accurate marketing messages. We also made some suggestions about communications from marketing that might interest players. I asked if marketing had been surprised at any of the responses to the surveys conducted recently in conjunction with the EVE Online newsletter publication. Was a bit surprised to hear that marketing does not see those results (although they may for questions they specifically submit for use in the surveys). Just out of curiosity, I wonder what's being done with survey responses. It would be interesting to see the results published somewhere but I suppose that would be considered proprietary.

Anyway was overall very good first day. What's difficult to convey is how much focus and attention is required the entire time. By the end of the day, brain is tired! But I'm very proud of the CSM--every member contributed useful questions and insights to the various discussions today.

One thing is clear: the CSM is finally achieving visibility in CCP and seems to be having an impact.


The schedule today was a bit less packed than yesterday...a bit of a welcome relief although I do sometimes wish that we worked 12 hour days (not that I actually have the bandwidth for that) when here to maximize the opportunities to communicate in the few days we are are typically here. However, that would go over like the proverbial lead balloon with my fellow CSM members, I'm sure Wink

So...first session today was with the Lag Team. My five favorite words to describe this group: passionate, proactive, prepared, professional, and empowered. Seriously, this group showed up in force, presented a series of slides summarizing process and progress, during which many issues were discussed with the CSM and many questions answered about how problems were identified and fixes implemented. Trebor has written more about it in his blog.

Following that, we had a session with Noah and Torfi. Discussion bounced back and forth between Incarna and Incursion, back to Incarna, and our recurring theme of microtransactions. As promised, we inquired about the gameplay planned for Incarna but were told that there isn't any yet. We asked about what was being considered and tossed some ideas around, but this is a topic we'll follow up again on at the December Summit. We are supposed to be shown some Incarna stuff tomorrow.

The third session of the day was with Dr. Eyjo on the matter of of PLEX for neural remap and -- you guessed it -- microtransactions. There was discussion about the various currencies in EVE and whether they are equivalent. While it is accepted that Dust and even WoD may be perfect venues for MT and no one would complain if they were implemented from the start there, EVE's culture and long term status as a premium subscription game are just two factors that we believe make MT a potentially bad fit. As one alternative, we suggested that third party apps like the sadly defunct Capsuleer could provide a world of much-wanted services to EVE players, licensing fees or royalties to CCP for little to no effort--at prices that players would willingly pay--all with no risk of negative game impact whatsoever.

Then we got onto my favorite bandwagon: communication. CSM made the point that if you want to introduce something controversial, the right way to do it is to do due diligence first (real research, relevant numbers). Then if results suggest it's a good idea to proceed, shape a proper message for your community, deliver that message, and conduct a pilot test. Standard business approach to any potentially risky venture, really...I'm not sure why in the current environment of dissatisfaction and only marginally healed trust, CCP seems to want to just wing it in wrt microtransactions. In any event, it seemed as if Dr. Eyjo heard our concerns loud and clear and we now wait to see if those concerns will have any bearing on decisions.

Finally, we had a brief meeting with our moderator from the June Summit to talk about planning for the December Summit and briefly discuss whether we felt progress was being made. Of course the answer is a resounding "Yes!", but as it will forever be CSM's role to call bullshit when we see it and push for results, progress will continue to be a moving target.

Day 3

First session in the morning was with Nathan (CCP Oveur) who spoke with us via telecon from Shanghai. He asked for and we provided a high level summary of how the meetings had gone the two previous days. We mentioned (again) that the community would appreciate more detailed information from CCP about the vision and relationship between product families.

He didn't have further questions for us, so he invited ours. MT time! CSM raised the same concerns and offered the same suggestions as in previous sessions. Nathan's responses were similar to other sessions, with a fair bit of back and forth dialog.

Vuk asked if bad PR was really necessary to spur CCP to act on, for example, lag after events following the June Summit. Nathan suggested it not be thought of as bad PR but instead a useful and productive wake-up call. CSM made the case that involving us sooner rather than later for feedback on decisions that will affect the game will give us an opportunity to point out potential pitfalls in a more timely fashion. Ideas for how that might be done were batted around.

Vuk asked what happened with Tyrannis 1.1...Nathan is still waiting for a post-mortem. Teadaze brought up Multiplicity, its obscurity, and its potential use for getting patches tested by players prior to release.

I asked about the increasing challenges of managing a growing family of products; Nathan acknowledged that it was indeed a challenge and mentioned some strategies for dealing with it. Personally, I'd have liked more discussion on bigger picture stuff related to the EVE IP, but we only had an hour with Nathan and that flew by.

All things considered, I'd say it was a good session...just seemed a bit lightweight due to the limited time he was available to us. I wonder, should we demand we be allowed to tie him to a chair for half a day at the December Summit? Twisted Evil

Following that, we got to watch some of the sprint demos for an hour or so. This is where the various scrum teams show their work, explain what they've accomplished in the most recent sprint (CCP has 3-week sprints), and invite questions from the other teams. What was demoed ranged from backend dev tools to stuff that is destined for the game itself. I enjoyed observing this part of the Agile process we hear so much about from CCP. There wasn't a lot of team interaction in the short time I was present...mainly clarification questions. It would be really fascinating to observe release planning meetings where a great deal of collaborative interaction and negotiating between teams takes place.

Then we were called back to the meeting room for a brief planning session for the December Summit, which included about a half dozen action items for the CSM related to getting issues prioritized and ready for CCP consideration, identifying session topics to request, and so forth. After that, we spent some time with Dr. Eyjo discussing opinions about the meeting, next steps and general stuff related to the CSM.

Then it was 2 p.m. and myself, Trebor, and Teadaze had to leave to catch our planes home.

Iceland: Bonus Round
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 October 2010, 9:17 pm
The CSM will travel to Iceland next week for a bonus meeting, as was mentioned in the recent CSM blog. This meeting apparently got added at the request of CCP Games CEO Hilmar Pétursson. The stated objective of the meeting is to demonstrate CCP's commitment to CSM-as-stakeholder and to share with us the same information that other stakeholders get.

The agenda we were given suggests that the intent is mainly to push information to the CSM, a mix of business and product perspectives. Like any proper stakeholder, the CSM needs to have both perspectives to communicate with and manage expectations of players, as well as have more productive and informed discussions on various topics with CCP. The product perspective has been much improved since the June Summit due to increased communications with devs and other product "owners" inside CCP. However, the business perspective has been essentially a black hole. I'm hopeful that next week will be the start of a change in that.

Some of the topics we're particularly interested in understanding more from CCP's perspective are the development roadmap for the EVE IP, microtransactions, and reasons behind the "WTF!" situation with the Tyrannis 1.1 patch bugs and its subsequent optional patches. Microtransactions are a particularly hot topic right now within the CSM and community venues. This relates to comments made by Torfi (EVE's Creative Director) in a recent Eurogamer interview (06 October 2010):

"Yeah, we are looking at introducing virtual goods within the game, but we feel those things should be vanity items rather than those that give you a clear benefit over other players in-game.

That said, we are introducing a feature this expansion [Incursion], that does allow you to re-map your attributes using Pilot Licence Extensions, which are bought both in-game and on our website. PLEX represents 30-days subscription within the game."

A lot of us are wondering at the apparent disconnect in that statement. Why does CCP say in one breath that it feels only vanity items should be sold on a micropayment basis, but in the next it says that the ability to use PLEX (which have a direct real money connection) to pay for extra neural remaps is coming in Incursion? Granted there is some debate in the community about whether one of those things is not like the other. However, it can be argued that training various categories of skills faster due to pay-per-remap attribute optimizations is a bit more than a vanity. It is a clear advantage (however slight) when one player can buy PLEX for real cash to get an advantage NOW over others who either can't afford to do that and must grind for ISK to accomplish the same thing. Many also point out that microtransactions are already in EVE--you pay for character portrait swaps and character transfers (although the latter is technically an out-of-game service, although it results in a potential impact in-game). Characters can be purchased for ISK obtained through purchase of GTCs or PLEX. Even so...the level of concern about just how microtransactions will be implemented, for what purpose, and how they will evolve is quite high.

Aside from the potential impact of microtransactions in EVE, CCP's communication with the CSM and the community about this controversial topic has been nonexistent. Two or three weeks ago--in response to the PLEX for remap feature showing up on SiSi--the CSM expressed many concerns about it both on our internal forums and the public EVE-O forums as well as elsewhere. Our CCP advocate told us that our concerns and questions were being conveyed to the higher-ups. However, we have as yet received no answers nor any feedback regarding either our or the community's concerns. We have therefore requested time during next week's meeting to address the issue and have been preparing a list of questions.

If you have questions about microtransactions that you'd like to me to consider asking, please add them as comments below. I urge you to stay focused on the business angle, however. CCP is a business, microtransactions--love them or hate them--have their place in the gaming industry, and what we really want to know is did CCP do their due diligence in this matter, can some version of microtransactions fit viably within EVE itself, how will microtransactions affect players and EVE's culture, and will CCP give their word that a hard line will be drawn at vanity items only?

I will provide a summary here, but the CSM will also produce a report for the community sometime shortly after next week's meetings conclude.

How To Get CSM Updates
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 October 2010, 4:25 pm
Want to keep up with the CSM happenings? Join the CSM-NEWS in-game mailing list.

CSM-NEWS is a low-volume, announce-only mailing list. You should expect to receive only a few postings per month.

Typical CSM-NEWS postings include:

* SISI Mass-test notifications.
* Announcement of new features on SISI.
* CSM announcements.

The latest announcement that went out to the mailing list was also posted at fellow CSM Trebor Daehdoow's blog Confessions of a Noob Starship Politician. This announcement talked about some nifty menu reorganizations that are the result of hard work by CCP, including working with the CSM to get feedback about option categories and placement. These changes are currently being tested on SiSi. CCP wants your opinions to help refine them even further, so if you have a chance, check them out on SiSi and let them know what you think (see Trebor's blog for links and more details).

Also don't forget to join us in the CSM Public in-game channel. Many current and former CSM members hang out there and will be happy to chat with you.

IC: Vanished
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 September 2010, 12:19 pm
I sat in my quarters staring off into the middle distance, focused on nothing. The view of the station undock outside the small window went unnoticed. The dark interior of the room, unnoticed. The small ginger cat asleep in my lap, unnoticed. I felt disconnected from the here and now. A sense of foreboding and anxiety overrode my ability to think clearly. Not a good state of mind for undocking. I had the presence of mind to realize that, at least.

My thoughts kept returning to the dreams of Kea which had haunted me for the last week. Unsettling dreams of fear, loss, and sorrow. Old anxieties about her unexplained disappearance and memories of inconsolable grief resurfaced. But these were just dreams and memories from a long-ago childhood. Why had they returned in such stark detail now? Why did these feelings of loss and dejection linger so long?

A muffled chime from my datapad sounded from somewhere in the cushions of the overstuffed chair. It must have slipped from my hand unnoticed. "House screen, low voice," I said, not wanting to disturb Lucy by fishing for it. Her small warm presence was too welcome a comfort to risk losing to indignation from being rudely jostled.

The wall screen came on, displaying a list of checked items and other text. The computerized voice intoned, "Monitor programs report no recent activity of any kind in any region for the specified pilot."

Unbidden, a vision of my last encounter with Kea sprang to mind with such clarity it felt like I had stepped instantly back in time. I held her handsome mottled head in my hands and kissed her wet black nose. "You are a slaver hound," I scolded. "You are supposed to be FIERCE!" Her stubby tail thumped the ground as those serious brown eyes regarded me. Then she licked my grimy face and leaped to her feet as if to say "Let's GO!" I giggled, gathering the foraged eggs and berries at my feet. She dashed down the overgrown trail toward camp, her dappled pelt melting from sight in the deep twilight shadows. I followed, but never caught up. And no one ever saw another sign of her again. She simply vanished without a trace.

"Do you wish to continue monitoring?" the computer inquired, shaking me from my reverie.

I considered all the reasons why a capsuleer might vanish into thin air. They all boiled down to choice or circumstance, leaving no logical reason for continuing. After a long pause, I said sadly, "No. Stop all monitors; encrypt and archive the file."

"Completed," said the impassive voice.

Lucy sat up and stretched. I gathered her up and pressed my face against her warm purring body. "I miss them both so much," I whispered forlornly and began to cry.

Making Low Sec Matter—Project Kick-Off
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 September 2010, 7:04 pm
Today is the “official” kick-off date for the Making Low Sec Matter project mentioned in my previous blog post. This project has the objective of producing a big-picture “Foundation Story” proposal for improving Low Sec. The MLSM committee roster has been selected and consists of people from a variety of play styles, a former CCP dev, and a former CSM member in addition to myself.

The project effort is divided into five dependent tasks, to be completed one per week during the five-week schedule:

Week 1: Complete Preparatory Activities
Week 2: Draft a “Foundation Story” Based on Your Vision for Low Sec
Week 3: Review Foundation Stories and Supporting Examples
Week 4: Prepare MLSM Proposal Draft Components
Week 5: Revise & Finalize MLSM Proposal

Each task has deliverables associated with it, due on Mondays at 18:00 EVE time. Every committee member is expected to complete each task and contribute their version of its deliverable. Those deliverables (consisting mainly of assimilating information, writing, and participation in collaborative discussion) will inform the group’s efforts to produce the subsequent task’s deliverable, until finally we reach the goal post with a Low Sec proposal ready for posting in Assembly Hall.

More about the MLSM project’s background, objective, tasks, process, and committee members can be found in this post at the Making Low Sec Matter forums. Please register there to join us in discussion about this project. You can also find us in the in-game channel MLSM Public and on IRC (ColdFront) in the channel #MLSM.

I am quite interested to see how this project rolls out in practice. I have known some of the committee members for a long time in-game; others are just met. Our enthusiasm, diverse experience, and expertise gives me every confidence that we'll be able to work together effectively to achieve the project objective.

Some have commented that my approach is overkill just to produce a proposal for Assembly Hall. I disagree. The Low Sec question is complex; the ideas numerous and disparate. Keeping everyone in step while marching toward a clear objective will be a challenge. If a little process, a little structure can help the project succeed, it would be foolish not to give ourselves every advantage by employing them. As in real life, so in game life. Only for a lot less money. ;) Besides, its kind of fun as a social experiment to see how it all works out and who will rise to the occasion. Sorta like a mini-version of the CSM, to be honest.

Anyway...it begins. Watch for brief updates here as things progress.

Priority: Low Sec
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 September 2010, 10:32 am
It has only been 14 weeks since CSM5 took office? Yup, guess so. The handover meeting from CSM4 to CSM5 happened on June 5, 2010. That seems like only yesterday yet paradoxically a million years ago. The first CSM5 Blog The CSM Blogs - Past, Present and Future was published on Friday by CCP. In it, we discuss the evolution of the CSM, the list of items from the CSM backlog that are candidates for dev love and potential inclusion in the Winter Expansion, mass testing activities that CSM has supported, and the way forward from here.

Player reactions to the CSM Blog are pretty much as I expected--mainly supportive, a few negative, some questions about "the list", and observations about process and progress. I would like to see more players respond but since there's little to no drama generated by that blog, I suppose it's too much to wish for. Maybe next time we should publish something truly controversial and outlandish to stir things up, eh? *grins*

Time for Action on Low Sec

The CSM Blog mentions are some of the activities that the CSM is engaged in. To reiterate, there is the usual proposal-related stuff; ongoing discussions with CCP on various topics (e.g., UI improvements, mass testing); internal discussions about process and communications; CSM projects such as updating the CSM wiki pages or writing CSM blogs; and individual interaction with players to address concerns, discuss ideas, or work on community projects.

Just stop for a minute and think about how much time each of those things might consume on a daily basis. I've struggled with balance regarding CSM stuff because it is very easy to get pulled in too many directions at once. Not to mention, I feel a serious obligation to do everything I can to help this CSM succeed. But the demands have resulted in certain things which are important to me personally--namely a Low Sec makeover--falling through the cracks over the last 14 weeks. Having joined VETO and moved back to Low Sec, that has been on my mind a lot. I finally decided today to shit or get off the pot. Yeah, sure, the core CSM work still needs to be done--no argument there. It will get done. But I want to take that Low Sec ball and run with it as a personal priority.

So...to that end I'm putting together a Making Low Sec Matter committee with knowledgeable individuals who are willing to put in the time and effort to collaboratively produce a Low Sec proposal that builds on the "criminal Low Sec" presentation that CSM gave at the June Summit. The challenge will be to create something that conforms with guidelines CCP Greyscale suggested. In a nutshell, he said "Tell a compelling story about how Low Sec should be, give some ideas to show how it might be implemented, and stick with the bigger picture instead of mechanics minutiae."

I want to stress that this is a personal initiative, not a CSM one. I will chair the committee, schedule and lead regular meetings (which might use Vent, MSN, or in-game channel), oversee task assignments, work on tasks myself, blog about progress, track status of deliverables, and assess ongoing level of participation by members (slackers will get the merciless boot). In other words, I will manage this like any other project that comes with an expectation of performance and adherence to business best practices. If all goes according to plan, we'll work hard for 6-8 weeks and end up with a great Low Sec proposal drafted and ready for posting in Assembly Hall. With any luck, it will get excellent support and form the basis for another Low Sec presentation and discussion at the December Summit (assuming CSM passes the proposal when I raise it prior to that).

As for the MLSM committee, my goal is for it to consist of 6-10 players plus however many CSM members who want to participate--providing that they all have expertise and experience with Low Sec, whether from a pirate, PvP, industrial, or trade perspective. Everyone will be expected to pull their weight. Many hands make work light, right? I already have a few folks interested and a couple of them have signed up. If you want to participate and are committed to putting in the necessary effort, please comment here or get in touch with me via evemail or at mynxee@eve-mail.net.

Let's get the Low Sec ball rolling. It's time to walk the walk that goes with talking the talk.

IC: Stranger
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 August 2010, 11:16 pm
Note to my readers: My in-character posts are not typically the most popular posts on this blog but I enjoy writing them nonetheless. Expect more of them mixed in among the CSM updates, occasional combat reports, and other stuff. Today's story was written with a wink and a nod to honor an in-game friend. Enjoy!

I walked through the station in Vitrauze, comforted by the familiar surroundings and the simple fact of being back in my old Low Sec home. As usual, the promenade was uncrowded. However, the small pub where my associate Sey was waiting for me was packed. Fortunately Sey had had the sense to get there early and grab a table.

“Glad you got my message…how's life in VETO?” she asked as I seated myself. “I ordered wine.”

“Thanks, it's great--still getting acclimatized to the corp change and being back in Low Sec, though” I remarked, having a look at the electronic menu in the table’s surface. "Funny how I used to fantasize about joining VETO when I first started pirating--and now here it is a reality.”

“Speaking of fantasies, helloooooo,” she purred suddenly in a low voice that caused me to glance at her. Following her gaze, I saw the handsome Gallente man who had caught her attention. He was making his way toward us carrying a bottle of wine and two glasses. “Seems they’ve upgraded the service staff here,” she murmured appreciatively.

I laughed. He WAS striking--blond, keen blue eyes, an air of confident authority, and dressed in black, admirably form-fitting clothing. Very striking indeed. We watched him approach curiously. Surely this was no waiter. Once at the table, he smiled at me and said something in a pretty language I didn’t understand. It gave me pause, though, because there was something disturbingly familiar about the voice. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what exactly. As I worked to mentally connect the dots, the man set down the bottle and glasses, winked at me, and gracefully melted into the crowd.

“What the hell,” I said, finding my voice again.

“You know that guy?” Sey asked, with one eyebrow raised in curiosity.

“I think I know that voice,” I said. “But not from recent memory and I…I can’t quite…put it together.” I shrugged.

“Who cares? He’s apparently rich,” Sey observed, tapping the label on the wine bottle with one perfectly manicured fingernail. “This is a very expensive vintage—I didn’t even know you could this stuff like this around here.”

“Why us?” I mused, distracted. There were plenty of other attractive women in the pub.

“Has a thing for redheads, maybe? We are cute, you know--the cynicism doesn't show that much on the outside.” She grinned at our inside joke then continued, “He said he was…” she mimicked the accent … “‘just passing through, little miss, thought you might enjoy this nice wine with your dinner’ as far as I could translate. Intriguing,” she commented, pouring the wine into the two glasses.

Instantly the memory clicked into place. A poignant sense of having glimpsed something thought gone forever washed over me. “Fuck me, that can’t be him.” I muttered.

“Who? What have you gotten yourself into now, Mynx?” she asked, offering both an appraising look and a very full wine glass.

“I have no fucking idea,” I answered, clinking my glass lightly to hers in a silent toast to friendship. I sighed. “It doesn’t matter anyway--it's...nothing. Never was, really. Standard operating procedure?”

“Why not?” she agreed. “Expensive wine always tastes like shit anyway.”

We raised our glasses and chugged the contents.

“Okay, I was wrong. That is very nice,” Sey refilled our glasses and quipped, “Got any more mystery men around here to buy our dinner, then, little miss?”, sarcastically emphasizing the endearment.

“Smart ass,” I laughed. “Dinner’s on me since you said you’re going to spend all your hard-earned ISK on a Sin.”

“Mmmmmm, Sin…Kell and I did go look at one today. Pretty sexy but really--too expensive, i think. You're still buying dinner, though!” she declared, sipping her wine and making choices on the table menu.

Meanwhile, questions about the Gallente stranger crowded my mind. If he was who I suspected he was, why was he in Vitrauze of all places? Where had he been after disappearing so abruptly following months of regular contact? What was his agenda? Why did he look so different from his registered portrait? Could he actually bribe officials to maintain a forged image in the public record? Wouldn't surprise me--if it was indeed him. But then...what if it wasn’t him? Things got even weirder. My head spun with questions for which there were no good answers. By the time our food arrived, I resolved to drop them and simply live with the mystery. It was easier that way.

I tipped the last of the wine into my glass. With the timing of a well-delivered punch line, a waiter appeared bearing another ridiculously expensive bottle. Sey gave me a look and shook her head, bemused. “Hilarious,” she said.

“Yeah,” I replied but it felt like the joke was on me, in some way I couldn’t quite fathom.

CCP's Challenge: Let's Break Jita Tonight!
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 August 2010, 12:56 pm
CCP Yokai contacted CSM today with a challenge: Let's Break Jita Tonight!

As most everyone knows, Jita consistently places a heavy load on servers. Because of that, CCP began testing recent lag-related improvements to hardware and software in Jita. Test results indicate that Jita capacity has increased at least 25% compared to a month ago! The big question is: "Where's the tipping point now?"

To find out, the gods of our virtual world have requested your help in "breaking Jita". If you are able, please send as many characters as possible to Jita today from 19:00 to 22:00 to engage in routine chatting, buying, selling, checking the market, undocking, docking, and hanging out. CCP Yokai and team will be running tests during that time to determine how many players engaged in routine (not fleet fight) activities it will take to push Jita to the breaking point. I believe the hope is to exceed 1600 players in Jita by as wide a margin as possible during the testing period, so the more the merrier!

♥ to CCP for reaching out to the community through the CSM. I encourage all my readers and the wider EVE community to support CCP's ongoing fight against lag and efforts to make the game better for everyone!

Big Scary Bad Guys
Posted by Life in Low Sec [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 August 2010, 7:31 am
In light of recent events, the following bit of history may amuse you.

A long time ago, when I was right out of the academy and employed by my now-business-associate Sey, I happened to visit Goinard to sell some Overseers' Personal Effects that we had accrued. Low Sec still made me nervous (Sey had lost a Thorax to pirates not long before this) but it so happened that the best prices could be gotten in a particular station in Goinard. After much deliberation, I jumped into the system with 11M ISK worth of cargo (a fortune to me in those days) and was immensely relieved to find the gate clear even though there were about 10 others in Local. I docked up and sold my goods. Then...I checked info on others in the station. Everyone of them was a member of the notorious pirate corporation VETO, every one of them -10, and every one of them surely JUST WAITING TO KILL ME when I undocked.

Goddammit. Now what?! Noob that I was, these guys scared the living shit out of me. They seemed so frightening, so badass, so unabashedly prone to violence...and also so cool, if I admit the truth to myself. But...I was terrified of them. (This cracks me up, looking back with the perspective I have now!) So, I speculated about my chances of surviving the undock in Local. I even got a reply, something along the lines of "I'm sure you'll be just fine." Uh huh. Right. I sat there for awhile, just KNOWING it was a trap--especially now that I'd drawn attention to myself. But...well...couldn't stay there forever, could I? Besides, the money in my wallet was safe even if I lost my frigate (yes, in those days a frigate seemed too valuable to risk needlessly). So I threw caution to the wind and undocked. It was all clear, much to my relief. I got the hell out of there.

Soon after, the lure of piracy grew too strong to resist and we all pretty much know what happened since I stepped out on that particular path. Along the way, I got to know a lot of my fellow pirates--including folks from VETO. And then I got to be friends with Verone after an article I had published in E-ON magazine mentioned how much his corp policies and leadership style had influenced how I ran Hellcats. And then Shae Tiann joined VETO.

Somehow...there seems to have been a VETO thread woven into my New Eden experience almost from the beginning. And now...in an amusing and perhaps (given that bit of history I shared) ironic twist of fate, I myself am one of the "big scary bad guys".

This, I confess, makes me giggle with glee. And thus begins an interesting new chapter (and quite possibly the rest of the book) in my career as a pirate. I feel so much at home already. There are rich layers of history to be explored, many stories to discover, and surely many adventures (and misadventures) to be shared. Yarr, baby!

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