Monday, August 11, 2014

It's All The CSM'S Fault!

Over the last week there has been a fair bit of CSM bashing on the forums. Now, personally, I tend to avoid the forums. Too much hate, loathing, trolling, flaming and people who have far too much time on their hands. However, the few threads I did see had some comments to the effect of - "Its all the CSM's fault! They should have stopped CCP doing this!!!11!!1!".

Of course the CSM do have a lot to answer for. CCP have in the past made some mistakes which the CSM should have used their veto to block these obvious cock-ups from making it into the game.

Oh wait, the CSM do not have a veto, vote or official say in ANYTHING to do with the game!

They are a soundboard. They are an advisory body. They can be, and as I understand it, occasionally are ignored on occasions. May be "ignored" is too strong a word, better to say "CCP has gone against their advice"?

I am sure that the CSM occasionally agrees with a "bad idea". However I am also sure there are times when they will be against something and CCP will do it anyway. In fact I was told about one of these, I'll use it as an example. Now I admit I have no idea if this was true, simply what was told to me by a CSM member from the previous CSM, drunkenly at the Party On Top of the World this year. We got talking about the Red Keynote. I said I wasn't a DUST514 fan, but if I was, I'd be epically pissed at the DUST514 Keynote. The brochure said something along the lines of "Come and hear about the future of DUST514." What we got was a 20 minute re-cap of what had happened since Fanfest 2013 and then a demo of Project Legion. It ended suddenly with everyone expecting some DUST514 news but we didn't get any and everyone was looking around at each other saying "Wut? Eh? What about DUST514? What's the future for THAT?". Of course there was then some very angry players, especially those who were not Eve Online players and had flown from all around the globe just to be given a subtle hint their game was pretty much dead. Not cool.

Mr CSM agreed that it was bad and said that the CSM had been shouting for months that CCP "Had to tell the players before Fanfest". He told me that they had warned CCP what the reaction would be and that it was a "dick-move" to spring this on players at fanfest. Whilst the CSM shouted "You cannot leave this until Fanfest!" that is exactly what they did and there were many tears.

So, if CCP will go against the CSM on such a big issue, why is it so hard to believe that they'll also not take their advice with smaller things like wormhole spawning mechanics?

Its a difficult line to draw on CCP's part. Look at Star Wars: Galaxies. Now there were a lot of reasons why SW:G failscaded including the new combat experience. However I think one of the big problems was the changes to the Jedi unlock.

In SW:G any character could become a Jedi, you just had to unlock the ability. You did this by mastering two professions. The two specific professions were random and nobody knew which they were for their individual toon. If you wanted to unlock Jedi you had to go through mastering each profession and waiting until you got the right two. This led to very few Jedi toons (Really? In between a New Hope and Empire Strike Back, the time when [the] Jedi are all but extinct? Really?). There were cries that the way you unlocked the Jedi class was bad and SOE should feel bad. I mean, who doesn't want a light-sabre? Well with perma-death and instant PvP flag when ever you used a power, me! SoE relented, Jedi numbers went through the roof and people left. Apparently it was too easy to become a Jedi and there were too many of them. SoE just stood there going "But, but, but.... you wanted this!"

So, we need to remember that game developers need to be careful, giving the players everything they want can kill the game. They should listen to the players, and CCP do this better than most, but they also need to do whats best for the game overall.

I have no idea if with the wormhole mass-spawn idea if the CSM said "What a great idea!" or whether they said "This is a crock of shit!". However, either way CCP are in no way obligated to take their advice.

All the CSM can, and I am sure do on a constant basis, is to advise on CCP's plans and to give recommendations and ideas. However, when it comes to decision time, its all CCP. They are a games development company, not a democratic government. Blaming the CSM for something CCP do is like blaming the general population for something a government decided on.


  1. If CCP really feels no obligation to let the CSM veto bad ideas, perhaps we have come too far from the Summer of Rage. Your point about giving players what they want is well taken, though.

    Cue Joss Whedon's old adage: give people what they want, but not when they want it.

  2. The last time I raged was over the wardec mechanic revamp. I read, I processed, I forum raged, and contacted CSM people. When it finally came out I was completely wrong about how it would be broken. It was broken, no doubt. But it was broken in such a way that it didn't impact me, or the game, the way I thought it would.

    Everyone, and I mean everyone, was wrong about Wardec. In the aftermath you found plenty of people who "Told CCP" that it would happen. But as someone who read through forum posts on that topic for weeks because it touched a core part of my gameplay, no one was more than 50% right on the finished product's impact.

    Ever since then I've had a different perspective to game changes. I wait and see what happens. Because no one is going to call it right ahead of time.

  3. I am very glad that neither the CSM nor we players have any kind of VETO voice in the development of eve. Every time you talk to an eve player (and the CSM consists of those) about game mechanics, he has running a min-max algorithm in his head. Tell this player some ideas where a few will make live easier for him, some that just change something and one that needs adaptation from his side he will tell you that the other ideas are fine but that one is bad and you should leave it out.
    But from the game design perspective you need this “bad” feature to ensure it is not all candy and super easy to reach everything. Remember for gaming difficulty is not the problem but the reason why we play. If everything would just work out as I like, I reach my goals too fast. Further more in our nice Universe my goals may collide with yours. If all goes well for me, your goals need to fail somewhere.

    CCP does a great job in communicating their changes and talking about the pros. and cons. of a feature. It is very important that they take this feedback seriously and as far as I can tell, they do. But it also is there job to make things for us difficult. If we adapt too well they need to change something to make it harder. If something is too easy from one side and too hard from the other side they need to balance it.
    In both cases, the party with the easy stuff will say its a bad decision. But non the less, it is a needed one.