Greedy Goblin

Thursday, May 15, 2014

About the awesomeness of CSM8

Ripard wrote a charming post how well CSM8 did. Except CSM8 was probably the worst CSM in the last 5 years. No, it's not my opinion. It's a fact, provided by the abysmal player participation in the election that followed their term. It doesn't matter what the car company or the car magazines think about the new car. If it didn't sell, it's bad, by definition. After this election no one can say that they weren't terrible, we can only discuss how.

Were they saboteurs or thieves who just wanted to get a free overseas air tickets? No. In such cases the voters would be mad and vote the re-runners out with high participation. After Ali Aras betrayed proviblock, they turned up in never seen numbers to support a new (hopefully) loyal candidate.

CSM8 was terrible for being irrelevant. After CSM8, people did not care about CSM, they saw them as yet another pointless committee, existing only for appearances. People didn't bother for a few clicks because they didn't see that it would make any difference besides which nerd will get drunk from Viking mead.

They said awful lot of words, but they told no information. Actually I learned no new information or seen no strong statement from reading CSM-written stuff. A 5 pages long story about your Iceland trip might be cool, but not really important from the position of the job. I know, I know, NDA. But there are two fun things about NDA:
  • It bans telling us what CCP told you and the responses you gave to such stuff. Talking about issues that are openly discussed by every Tom, Dick and Harriett on the official forum isn't forbidden. For example you could open your mouth when CCP given gifts to ISK sellers. No, "we are following this issue" isn't considered talking. "It's OK, ISK sellers are great for the game" and "it's totally not OK, ban them all and kick the idiot who gave them rewards" are. When a few troll GMs or devs ruined CCP-run events irreparably, CSM didn't have a word.
  • Secondly, the new CSM started with something unspeakable: they erased the totally pointless officer positions despite the holy white paper clearly said they should exist. Old agreements can be re-negotiated, including the NDA. If all the CSM would say "this part of the NDA is pointlessly restrictive and if not removed, we all resign", it would be removed.
Finally, the circle-jerk between CSM8 members is just disgusting. CSM members aren't supposed to be buddies. They are elected by conflicting player groups. No, I'm not talking about N3 vs CFC, I mean different playstyle groups that are competing over the limited developer resources. If devs are working on rebalancing Sov mechanics, people who don't live there, get nothing. If they redo highsec missions instead, WH people would rightfully feel neglected. Also, rebalances always make one playstyle favored and another nerfed. When titans lost their AoE-doomsday, small but hardcore groups lost their ability to fight large but poor and unskilled organizations. It's not the post to discuss which side was right, but the CSM elected by the former should have done everything to prevent it.

A CSM member elected by a community other than CFC should not praise the skills of Mynnna, but do everything in his power to stop him completing his mission: diverting dev resources to nullsec and rebalances that favor large-but-casual nullsec groups. My divorce lawyer should not start his report on the trial with "the other lawyer was awesome", because it means "I lost my home because he sucked". Sure, it doesn't mean he can't have a drink with the other lawyer after work hours, but in the courtroom he should fight him! Look at the cross-vote table again! Voters outside the CFC didn't like Mynnna at all. Maybe you should represent their choice!

What the new CSM should do to make people believe that they worth voting for?
  1. Fight for your voters! When a dev opens his presentation with "our team worked on Sov mechanics balances", the highsec, lowsec and WH candidates should tell "good for them, do you have something for our people too, or that small but loud minority took all your resources"? Yes, it's probably not easy to tell into his face, but if you are an elected representative, you can't please everyone!
  2. The screeching wheel gets grease! Have a list of changes you want to discuss and don't let devs steal your attention with a shiny headset! Every time you see a dev, talk about your list to him. Maybe one will listen! If a dev calls you a "pain in the ass salesman" and his face darkens when he sees you, you are doing good job!
  3. Have an opinion about stuff! Yes, I know it's atrocious and "we worked all hard but mistakes were made" is easier. But try it!
  4. Don't derail your own message with talking about irrelevant stuff. No one cares what was your breakfast.
  5. If 92.9% of the playerbase hates you, it's not a problem. 7.1% is 1/14. They are your voters, who got you your seat. You are their warrior out there. You answer to them and no one else!
Am I too harsh? How about two more elections with similar participation trends? How about decreasing subscription numbers? You heard about games with decreasing subscription numbers, right? But if you don't, I tell you how that ended: they were closed.

There are more than hundred thousand people whose hobby is this game. There are more than a hundred who feed their families from this game. Dear CSM9, don't let them down like your predecessors did! Make sure that next election will be record-high, both because enthusiast people want you to repeat your terms and because angry ones want you out!

PS: have you heard of the latest Goon slave, now officially figureheaded by The Mittani? Let's give them a warm welcome!

PS2: Not GRR project related, but I'm still very happy to see every single defeat of evil in New Eden:


Tegiminis said...

You take an awfully zero-sum approach to EVE, when I doubt it's really like that.

Does working on highsec missions mean that wormhole missions aren't worked on? Maybe. We don't know, we don't have direct access to the logs of what developers are working on. Even if that's the case, though, improving one aspect of the game ends up improving the game for everyone.

Let's take the industry changes, for example. Do they encourage high-level industry players to drift towards null? Yeah, a little bit. But they also make high-sec industry far more accessible to the average newbie who just wants to get in, build something, and feel cool about building something.

Even if your change puts a group at an explicit disadvantage (like null being more attractive than highsec), it can result in an implicit advantage (more newbies get into industry, which means more players to interact with, which means more patented EVE "player stories").

Games, especially individual mechanics are games, are rarely zero-sum. You have to take a holistic view of design to make educated design decisions and criticisms. So claiming that the CSM should be at each other's throats is shortsighted, pig-headed nonsense. Nothing would get done, and we'd have a bunch of children arguing with each other over what scrap of rotten meat to pull from the dying carcass that is EVE Online. I'd rather have pragmatic CSMs willing to step back in the interest of making EVE a better game holistically.

Kir said...

You seem to be under the delusion that people vote FOR people. This is particularly funny in the context of the CSM, which are essentially player-selected beta-testers/focus-group.

Almost no one votes out of support for candidates in real political elections. Most voters vote out of fear of what "the other guy" will do. It's very similar in Eve.

People are not sufficiently afraid of the Goon CSM candidates to vote against them. This is partly because at the end of the day, the CSM doesn't actually have any "power". As long as there is "some" representation of non-goon interests on the CSM, those people can and will speak up and be just as useful as if they formed a majority of the CSM.

tl;dr: It's hard to get people scared of a focus-group member. And scaring people is how you raise voter participation.

Anonymous said...

This article should be required reading for every politician. Last general election in my country was just above 70% participation because a lot of people just don't care who the fuck is in charge because it doesn't make a difference for their own lifes anyway.

Von Keigai said...

CSM8 was probably the worst CSM in the last 5 years. No, it's not my opinion. It's a fact, provided by the abysmal player participation in the election that followed their term.

Don't be ridiculous. It's completely your opinion.

First off, you have no evidence that low participation in elections can be caused only by terribleness in the preceding elected-body session.

In fact I would suggest the opposite. People come out to vote when things are going badly, and they tend to vote against the current incumbents. When things are fine, voters don't bother to vote and incumbents are returned to office. Which do you think is a better model here?

Second, this was an election for advisers, not legislators. As such, any generalizations one might make about real-world elections (of legislators) are suspect. Such generalizations might or might not work for other kinds of elections.

So even if you have some proof of a tendency in real-world democratic elections that "bad" legislatures suppress turnout -- and I doubt you have any evidence of that at all -- it does not necessarily map to a jumped up focus group.

Coincidentally, just before you posted this, I posted my own analysis of the election. The reduced turnout is a good thing. By reducing the noise injected into elections by slackers and morons, reduced turnout increases the likelihood that good representatives get elected, with no downside of "no legislative mandate" because, of course, the CSM are not legislators.

Gevlon said...

But without voters, they aren't better advisors than any random guy on the forum. Why should CCP listen to them more than Joe Nobody if they represent only themselves. They need the mandate "what I say is the opinion of thousands". That was significantly hit by this election.

While you can claim it's not CSM8's fault, they were the only ones in the room where the dead guy was found, so they are the prime suspects.

Foo said...

@Tegiminis; You shoud appear zero sum; regardless of how pragmatic you are behind closed doors.

When I was more naive than I am today, I was horrified to hear a politician say it was not what they did that was important, but what they were seen to have done.

Having seen a moderately effective government that was otherwise unable to sell water to a man dying of thirst; and be horribly turfed out, I now see more wisdom in the publicly adversarial approach.

Gevlon, you asked if you were harsh? I have given you some grief before because you fight too many battles at the same time.

Not this time. I intended to write a similar piece. With yours published, I will give myself some time, then write a similar one.

Anonymous said...

@Tegiminis: Games aren't zero-sum, but company resources are. Does working on highsec missions mean that wormhole missions aren't worked on? YES.

Unknown said...

Awesome post (again).

You nailed exactly my thinking regarding who I voted for.

I read lots from the candidates (apart from the TL;DR ones - who clearly weren't going to be a good representative if I couldn't work who they were representing in the first 20 lines of their blurb) - and all wanted to know was the answer to two simple questions:
- is this person going to maintain or improve the aspects of EVE I like
- can I discount voting for this person and go to the next one because clearly they want to degrade some aspect of EVE I enjoy.

And - all the while - I had a worry that election was going to be a nice holiday and membership of a nice 'club' for the winners and the cynical would 'game' the naive through the hammer of seeking consensus - into selling out the things I care about in the game.

Your post spells this out. I know the Goon faction (who hold the biggest block now on CSM) will screw the consensus in favour of degrading carebear game play and fluffing nullsecers activities.

And the outcome will be a slow and painful drift of subscribers away. The few naughty children always ruin things for the many good ones.

Keep up the good work Gevlon

Anonymous said...

You seem to forget that ccp was also in the room where the dead guy was found.
The way ccp informend people about the election and the way the csm helped them could be bether.
Also a lot of big jesus features are all pushed back untill we got stargates wich tampers enthousiasm.

Anonymous said...

Voter turnout != bad CSM or any other elected body.

Unless the ignorance of many pilots to any ingame changes until they happen is also an indication that all changes are bad?

When did morons and slackers who do not read devblogs and forums suddenly become the heroes? It is almost like a certain "grass roots" movement in a certain country suddenly became the smart guys.

Sugar Kyle said...

There isn't a consensus play where CFC members are winning some internal vote through manipulation. We're giving feedback. We better be able to back that up as well. It means that I present something from my views and expierences. It doesn't mean I tip my head back , roar, and try to rip mynnna's throat out when he mentions null sec and how a thing works for them. Instead I present how it does or does not affec llow sec. It also doesn't mean that I shut up when I have something to say.

People got exactly the representative that they picked. And we do work together a lot. Such as skimming forms and bringing topics to each other's attention that they may want to notice. So far there is a lot of respect for various individual experience and knowledge.

You can disagree without alienating people.

Anonymous said...

This is why Representational Democracy does not work, either. The representatives will become the new royal court, and represent nothing but self interest. And self interest is best served by using the power of your position and exchange favors (current or future) with your peers.

What you do publicly is to take the median voter theorem into account and be all things to everyone. Ideology? Taking a stand? Suicide.

Anonymous said...

TL;DR of Anti-Torture Agent Teg is:

1. We're competent players

2. We actually participated \o/

3. We spoke to players

4. We spoke to devs

1&2 I would expect no less, 3&4 is rather underwhelming. But if that's all CSM does, it's probably our fault for having different expectations.

I voted for the lady above me, I would be interested, in the next months, to have her inside opinion about CSM's actual utility.

Von Keigai said...

But without voters, they aren't better advisors than any random guy on the forum.

It would be an interesting experiment to try this. However, I expect you are right. But your point here is narrower than you think. It is not that more voters is always better. More informed, responsible, serious voters are better. But the choice between fewer high-quality voters, or more voters who are uninformed, irresponsible, and/or unserious is not clear.

Why should CCP listen to them more than Joe Nobody if they represent only themselves.

That's easy: because they offer good advice. Offering advice is their only function; offering good advice is the only reason CCP is interested in them.

They need the mandate "what I say is the opinion of thousands".

And in fact they have that. But they don't need it. What they need is the 'mandate' of "I am hardworking, smart, and know the game".

What you are espousing here is the mindless worship of democratic in pure form. Look, if 1000 players say that frigate PVP is "leet" and making money station trading is "for lewzers", do you change your mind? The "opinion of thousands" is the view of morons and slackers. Surprising to hear you, of all people, touting the masses as virtuous.

Democracy is a method for finding the average opinion of a mass. It is not a method of finding wisdom. If the masses are stupid, you get an average stupidity.

Now it's true that selecting people who are hardworking, smart, and know the game is difficult. And that is especially so when those selected might get a free trip to... Iceland!, and the right to work like dogs for no pay. It is this problem that is solved by using democratic elections. But again, that democracy works here is a function of two things: (a) self-selection by candidates, and (b) the quality of the voters. If the voters are uniformly bad, you get bad results.

That was significantly hit by this election.

Oh, posh. All they need is a statistically significant sample. They can get a decent sample with a tenth as many votes.

Anonymous said...

Low voter turnout for CSM 9 is a direct result of the ineffectiveness of CSM 8, though not for a lack of effort. I honestly don't know what went wrong, or why CCP didn't listen, but the result is this absolute crap summer release and the postponement of ALL the things that really mattered.

Why does CCP have a CSM if CCP chooses not to listen. I just can't imagine that CSM 8 pushed an agenda of "Industry first, then all the important stuff over the next few years. You'll get to it eventually, that is unless something else catches your eye."

Most people feel that if CSM 8 failed to make any significant headway with CCP, then why should I think that CSM 9 or any CSM after them really matters. So, why vote?

Anonymous said...

Awesome article, as it reflects in part my own view of the utility of CSM....
I didn't vote because I couldn't care less what those candidates stand for.
So far, I didn't hear of any CSM member to declare that this or that improvement came into being because he/she put it to the dev's attention.
So, wtf do I care?

If life in hisec becomes too unbearable, I will either move to null or just quit the game whichever is more fun...

Jean-Mira said...

Gevlon, considering how people react to you in general, maybe you shouldn't give communication advice.

"If a dev calls you a "pain in the ass salesman" and his face darkens when he sees you, you are doing good job!"

Actually, I am a developer, and if I consider you a PITA, I will just ignore you. So you think that the CSM is doing their job by getting themselves ignored by the devs?

"do you [a dev team] have something for our people too, or that small but loud minority took all your resources"?

You realize those dev teams usually don't allocate resources? IIRC CCP uses Scrum, so the Product Owner decides what is worked on (of course, he may listen to the devs, but getting on the nerves of devs probably won't make them to relay your position).

"But without voters, they aren't better advisors than any random guy on the forum. Why should CCP listen to them more than Joe Nobody if they represent only themselves."

Actually they are better. By getting themselves elected, they have shown at least that they are more involved and are better communicators than the random guy. The exception proves the rule.

Dersen Lowery said...

I didn't vote for mynnna. Not because I 'hate' him or anything silly like that, but because he as a bloc behind him and I wanted my votes to go to candidates who needed them.

Since the Goons *are* going to have seats on CSM, I'm mostly just glad that they sent a couple of competent people.

Raziel Walker said...

I would argue that CSM6/7 were the most succesful.

What irks me is the risk vs reward mantra. Null should be barely more rewarding as high sec.
High > Null > Low/WH

Anonymous said...

@Sugar Kyle:

It is naive to think of null, low, and high in such distinct silos -- what happens in one affects the others. I know you want to be "the low sec representative" and only have to worry about that, but you do everyone (especially everyone outside the Goon bloc -- which exists and has agendas, even if your head is in the sand) a great disservice if you don't look at the big picture and pay attention to all the issues. You don't have to be a "carebear" or a null vet to apply your perspective and common sense to issues affecting more than just low sec space. I voted for you because I think you can be more than just a representative of low sec concerns. You may not yet appreciate the long game and subtle changes that advance certain agendas, but don't assume these do not exist. Part of why you were desirable to voters is that you are not political or compromised.

Sugar Kyle said...

Hi Anon @ 15:58!

I think we may have a bit of miscommunication. I express my opiniom every single timethat I have one. I know I am not just a representative of X sec. My background means that I'll enter into a topic from a small gang perspective. It means I'll discuss items through my market interactions. But, I won't automatically try to behead mynnna for speaking.

Respecting someone's knowledge does not mean complate deference to them. Nor does keeping a disagreement civil so that we can work with each other comfortably mean we do not disagree or have different opinions and approches.

Anonymous said...

@Sugar Kyle

Thanks for the reply.

Simply maintaining a truly independent perspective is as good as (or perhaps is equivalent to) ripping out Mynna's throat. If you do this -- which I think you will do just by being you -- I and countless other anons will continue to have high voter satisfaction and will (anonymously, of course) have your back.