Friday, March 6, 2015

CCP's War On Illicit RMT: A Delayed Increase

I finished compiling the statistics for Player Actions and the Jita PLEX market for February last night. Let's just say the results were interesting, but expected. Bear with me, because I don't have any nice graphs or bar charts. Those will come sometime in April when I write up my comparison posts between Q1 2014 and Q1 2015.

The bad news is, that the sales of ISK from sellers on Player Auctions jumped from 717 billion ISK in February 2014 to 1485 billion ISK in February 2015. I don't track PA on a continuous basis, but that's the largest amount of ISK I've tracked of the 9 full months I've tracked since the beginning of 2013. In comparison, the amount of ISK sold only increased in January year-over-year from 1130 billion ISK in 2014 to 1224 billion ISK in 2015.

So why the increase in February? Shouldn't the change in ban policy for purchasing ISK decreased ISK sales? Or did the message even get out into the community? People coming from games like WoW probably don't realize that in EVE, players get banned for 7 days for a first-time ISK purchasing offense. Maybe Rixx and Sindel should have included getting caught with botted ISK in their "Dumb Ways To Die" parody.

Now, with that much in sales, I would at least hope that the price went up during the month like I've seen previously. Didn't happen this time. The average price of 1 billion ISK sold dropped from $11.34 USD in January down to $10.80 USD in February. Evidently, supply is not an issue, although the ban policy change probably contributed to the dropping price. And if the volume of sales had remained steady, I would attribute the drop in price to CCP's revised enforcement rules.

I do have one theory as to why so much ISK has entered the secondary ISK market. However, I don't want to voice it at this time, as I need to wade through the muck of some forums to try to correlate sales spikes/price drops with events I think I remember seeing. Also, I want to see the March data. Oh, do I want to see the March data! I'll probably need to extend the monitoring into April, which is something I hadn't planned on.

Also, I want to see what comes out of the Security presentation at Fanfest. I may find out that Team Security is doing sneaky stuff and I'm wearing a tinfoil hat. I hope so. But until then, I'll have to dig into some forums and take really careful notes. Ugh!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Old Habits

I've played EVE Online for over 5 years and I still find myself playing in ways influenced by the way I played EverQuest 2.  Last night an exit popped out into Promised Land so I decided to take a quick excursion to the EVE Gate. Since I was in the area, I decided to start making bookmarks and probing down sites to make a little ISK.

One practice that I've heard many explorers perform is using a cargo scanner to determine the contents of containers and leave them if the contents are not valuable enough. That just offends the sensibilities I learned in my three years of playing EQ2 to no end. In EQ2, in the basic zones and zones from the earlier expansions, resource nodes would spawn in the same places, but the node types would change. I was taught that good players should clear cut the nodes when possible, that way gatherers would always have something worthwhile to harvest. Inconsiderate players (and bots) would cherry pick what they wanted, leaving vast fields of bushes, the least valuable resource. Then someone would have to clear cut the area and then wait for the resource nodes to respawn in order to get something good.

That's right, I'm one of those weird people who will clear all of the containers in data or relic sites so that new sites will spawn. I guess some might call that good resource management. I call it self-interest. I'm finding myself more and more staying in an areas for 2-3 days, which means I don't want a site hanging around full of worthless junk. I want a chance at something better. So, if I'm alone in the system, I'll go ahead and play the mini-game. Containers holding little to nothing of value are really easy to do anyway.

The hanging around an area for two or three days is something new for me. For years before playing EVE, first WoW and then EQ2 had conditioned me to always return to the inn or house in order to gain the rest XP bonus. The term "rest XP" is a lie, as both games actually impose a penalty to experience gain if a player plays the game too much. In EVE, with its real time based skill point gain system, I don't have to worry about that. But until recently, I always made sure I docked up before logging off.

Why do that in EVE? No good reason, especially living in low sec like I did, and still do a lot of the time. I think joining the Signal Cartel finally broke me of the habit. Our home station is in Thera and, if not camped, then probably a spy from Verge of Collapse has our bookmarks and can sit on out insta-undock points and wait for us to land on grid for them. Also, I'm finding myself a long way away from the nearest station. For instance, last night I logged off 5 jumps away from the nearest station. I don't like to think about how far away from a station I was when operating in the middle of Great Wildlands. When I went to join the war fleet, I couldn't just pop into Thera. I had to travel a long way just in order to get to a station so I could clone jump into a clean clone.

I probably won't give up the clear-cutting habit, as I still see where I can gain a benefit on an extended exploration trip to a constellation or region. But that whole logging off in a station every night? I'm giving that up. After all, creating distant safe spots in Thera is easy, and now that I'm in Signal Cartel, I'm sticking my nose into places others rarely go. Once I get into a place, I'm going to stick around awhile.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Is Combat Mining In Our Future?

I've now read CCP Fozzie's dev blog on phase 2 of the great sov revamp and I thought I'd have nothing to add to the discussion. After all, I don't play the null sec sov game and still prefer low sec when I'm not scanning down exits in Thera. But then something caught my eye: the Industrial Index.

Reading through the defensive bonuses section of the dev blog, I saw that both ratting and mining will provide bonuses that will increase the capture times for an enemy trying to seize an iHub, TCU, or station. The standing defense forces can rat in a system to raise the Military Index, but the Industrial Index is modified by the amount mined. Does this mean that mining fleets will need to accompany invasion fleets into the war zone? Depends on how CCP Fozzie's mechanics work once the details are launched. As a general overview, he presented the following:
"Just like in the current Sovereignty system, the Military Index is obtained by killing NPCs in the system and the Industrial Index is obtained by mining in the system. The Strategic Index, which is currently tied to the lifetime of the TCU structure, will be tied to the lifetime of the IHub instead.
"The bonus provided by the Military and Industrial indices are 150% stronger than those provided by equivalent levels of the Strategic Index. This is intentionally designed to provide a larger incentive for active occupancy than for simple duration of system control.
"This defensive bonus will apply to all Sovereignty structures that have a current owner and are in a star system with any indices above 0, as well as Command Nodes for those structures (no matter what system the Command Nodes are physically located).
"The basic mechanics of the Entosis Link remain the same (no benefit beyond the first module, two opposing modules pause all capture) but when anyone other than the owner of the base structure is making capture progress that progress will be slower."
Does each alliance in a system have its own system index and own defensive bonus? Or does all activity from any source contribute to an overall system index and defensive bonus. If the latter, what does that do to the defenders incentive to keep living in the system once the attacker seizes one of the three sovereignty structures. By continuing to rat and mine in the system, the task of retaking a structure from an aggressor becomes much harder, as the attacker receives the bonuses generated by the defender's activities. Should activity by the defender really benefit the attacker in a conflict?

I know that a lot of players do not want to form up for a ratting or mining fleet in order to help protect a system. Perhaps such a mechanic even makes sense in role play terms. After all, what owner of a mining barge in his right mind is going to intentionally fly into harm's way? If a battle is in progress, creating mechanics that discourages carebear activities makes sense.

Then again, if each alliance involved has its own indexes, that could open up some interesting strategic possibilities. Pilots from both sides could attempt to rat in order to not only replace their losses but help in the war effort as well. Locally mined ore could get turned into locally produced ammunition if someone sets up a POS or a station is available. Plus, as people keep telling me, more ships in space means more opportunities for conflict.

As I stated at the beginning of the post, I don't play the null sec sov game. But I'm interested in which way CCP goes in relation to system indexes and defensive bonuses. Perhaps combat mining will become a new profession in EVE.



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Suicide By Team Security

I think the end game is fast approaching for what is now clearly CCP's attempts to curtail the use and abuse of the ISBoxer advanced multiboxing software within EVE Online. Of course, close is a relative term, but I think yesterday's announcement by Blizzard of the introduction of WoW Tokens into World of Warcraft in patch 6.1.2 will give many current users of ISBoxer a destination to which they can retreat. But until that day arrives, I expect to continue to see some pretty amazing things come out of the ISBoxer community.

The latest came from a user who goes by Mog2 on the Dual-Boxing.com forums and Verisimili in EVE. He published the below video on 7 February showing what he believed was a EULA-compliant set-up.


He then posted the following:

Verisimili's Challenge
Not exactly the smartest thing in the world to do. I'm not sure, but Verisimili may have even submitted a ticket pointing to this video. At this point, Team Security has to take a look. As I suspected, Verisimili would get banned. On Friday, Verisimili posted the news.
"Well, all 20 of my accounts were banned yesterday for 'Macro Use' while I still had a ticket in about multiboxing. I have not received an email explaining the situation, just a message when I tried to log in. When I do get it, I intend on posting it for everyone's edification.
"In other news, a little birdy sent me a copy of a response they got from CCP about multiboxing. I'm presently negotiating its release to the public; in short, though, I'll say that in CCP's view, anything that you do with ISBoxer or a similar program that makes controlling multiple characters faster than alt tabbing is considered a bannable offense."
If anyone wonders if Verisimili intentionally threw himself in front of Team Security so he would receive a ban, I would say that is certainly possible.  A little later on Friday, he posted the following:
"Thanks for the support guys. I knew when I resubbed in late January that there was a 50-60% chance of getting banned; I wasn't walking into it blind. I figured if I did get banned it'd make it easier to go back to WoW, and if I didn't then I could have fun getting ships blown up "
The posts of another Dual-Boxing.com forum poster, thedevilyouknow, indicated Verisimili would receive more than just a 30-day vacation from EVE:
"To clarify, I wasnt unbanned (misuse of the word apologies) The ban ran its course, and my accounts were drained of isk (apparently isboxing is in line with the policy for botting, yay...not like i spent dozens of hours theory crafting, training and practicing)
"mosg i saw that page, my response looks identical in many areas with just a bit extra"
Perhaps at this point I should review the penalties for macro/botting in EVE. Since March 2013, CCP has maintained a two-strike policy for botting, with offenders receiving a 30-day ban for the first offense and a permanent ban for the second. Also, CCP announced in April 2012 that CCP would remove all ISK gained from botting when the ban took effect. In a separate dev blog, CCP also announced that:
"...characters who receive a warning such as this will have the characters locked to the account. This means that once you've received a warning for botting your character transfer privileges have been revoked in perpetuity. This is to prevent people trying to circumvent the rules by recycling accounts."
And as per Section 5B of the EULA, CCP reserves the right to suspend or terminate all of a player's accounts, not just ones involved in an actual breach of the EULA or Terms of Service. Actually, I think cases where CCP does not suspend or terminate all accounts is rather rare. If players are receiving notices from CCP that they are receiving bans for "macro use", then I would expect that all of the player's accounts would receive the bans and the penalties for violating the same sections of the EULA as botters.

I'm not going to feel bad for Verisimili. From reading the forum thread, he sounded like he wanted to "win" EVE, but couldn't quite force himself to unsubscribe. So, much like a man who points a gun at a group of police officers, Verisimili created a video likely to have CCP ban all of his accounts. I'm judging this a case of suicide by Team Security.

Monday, March 2, 2015

We Got Snowballs

I've often said that the risk averse run around EVE armed with guns and missiles. My current corp, Signal Cartel, embodies that sentiment with its SL2 (shoot last, shoot least) doctrine of never initiating combat and when engaged, shooting as little as possible to get away. So imagine our surprise when a high sec corporation, Hodor vs Groot Battle Rap, decided to wardec our alliance in search of good fights. Looking at our killboard, I imagine their idea of a good fight was us dying. A lot.

Well, when your corp CEO is Mynxee, things tend to run a little differently, especially given the collection of pilots she's gathered. Risk averse doesn't exactly describe a group that thinks nothing of sticking their nose EVERYWHERE.  Look at our killboard for proof. Throw in G8keeper as the alliance executor, and things can get strange in a hurry.

Now, no one is ever going to make any corp Mynxee leads dock up for something as insignificant as a wardec. So, after our alliance leadership inviting our war targets to our home station in Thera, they huddled together to craft the perfect fleet doctrine to fit with our credo. Griffins fitted with multi-spectral jammers and festival launchers.

Combat isn't just about selecting the proper color of fireworks to fire. Our leadership pre-positioned a cache of Griffins in k-space one jump from an exit, gathered us up in Thera, and headed us to the top station in Lossa. Locator agents found a war target 11 jumps away.

Johnny Splunk led this first war fleet, teaching the members along the way the hows and whys of flying in a fleet.  If you've seen those videos of the calm and patient fleet commander, that's Johnny. He got us to the system in one piece, warped us around to make safe spots, and then we concentrated on our target.

Our war target, the sybian, undocked in a Vagabond. Armor HAC?! Most of the fleet were new, but I've got pretty good skills, and with an optimal range of 42km and fall-off extending to 75km, I wasn't afraid of any Vagabond. Apparently, he was afraid of 9 Griffins (he'd already killed an Amar frigate).  Then the Hodor and Groot Battle Rap CEO sandy d logged in, and the battle was on.

They undocked in a Vagabond/Hyperion combo, playing station games. We decided the sun was shining too brightly and decided they should fight in the shade. Fireworks filled the space between us. I don't think they were expecting fireworks.

They tried everything. One of our pilots even managed to scoop up a faction drone in a rookie ship before dying a second time. Eventually though, our opponents figured out the counter to our fleet. Marauders. They undoced in a Golem and a Vargur and finally drove us off.  But not before we managed to drop an MTU named with our motto, "Can't Stop The Signal".

I think we needed to leave anyway. We were laughing too much. So we departed in good order back to our temporary base to pick up our ships. The wormhole we had exited Thera from had closed, but Helios Anduath was in Thera probing down exits and found one four jumps away. Clearly, proof that Bob approved of our actions!

I stayed up way too late and lost a ship, but I had fun. I wound up logging off in space after 2am local time. Like I said before, things tend to run differently when Mynxee's in charge. Which is one of the reasons I joined the Signal Cartel in the first place.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Back In Space

For the first time in over a week I actually logged into EVE last night. My part is finished in the whole CSM election process so I can just sit back, log in, and relax. I didn't say undock, because I'm flying around Great Wildlands and until either my cargo hold fills up or another exit to Thera pops up, I'm not going back to Empire space. I only have an estimated 35 million ISK in goods right now, but the main purpose is to bookmark the area, not just pillage everything I can get my hands on.

I should briefly mention yesterday's o7 Show. Unlike last year, we should have most, if not all, of the dev blogs that will impact Fanfest out before everyone shows up in Reykjavik. However, that will impact the CSM election. After all, what is any sane player going to do, read a 7,400 word dev blog written by CCP Fozzie or research who to vote for amongst 75 candidates? My bet is reading the words of a dev named after a muppet instead of looking into the backgrounds of a group a lot of player think of as muppets. But, that means I should have a more relaxing Fanfest.

But back to space. We are now wardecced! That's right, our exploration alliance, Eve-Scout Enclave, is defending against the awesomely named Hodor vs Groot Battle Rap corporation. I guess the 6-man high sec wardec corp wanted a tougher challege.  After all, it's not everyday someone can fight an alliance with an ISK efficiency rating as awesome as ours. For those wishing they could have an ISK efficiency rating like ours, the secret is easy. Just poke your nose everywhere.  And I do mean, as our killboard shows, everywhere.

I'd write about the truly awe-inspiring fleet doctrine our leadership came up with, but until we use it, the composition remains firmly under wraps. But I hope someone records the action, because I'll enjoy the action. Unfortunately, I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere and can't even jump to a fresh clone to take part in the conflict. But I'm confident the alliance will hit our attackers like no one's ever hit them before.

If our attackers don't surrender from sheer shock at the brilliance of our theory crafters, I'll probably report more on the war next week.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

ISBoxer, Another Ninja Edit, And A Correction

'...when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.'
- Sherlock Holmes, The Blanched Soldier

Sometimes, facts that we all think we know aren't true. For example, the input broadcasting and input multiplexing bans in EVE Online. Everyone knows that CCP began banning players for input broadcasting and input multiplexing on 1 January 2015. That means that CCP changed the rules and that input broadcasting was allowed before that, right? So then, how could CCP Falcon go on EVE Radio's GRN Show on 25 January and state that nothing in the EULA had changed?

Humor me for a moment or two and assume that CCP Falcon is absolutely correct in his statement. That means that input broadcasting has always violated the EULA. Now, I know what some people are thinking. Impossible, right? If CCP had allowed users of ISBoxer to violate the EULA, that means that CCP had given ISBoxers special treatment for a long time. Well, that special treatment, and CCP apparently trying to hide the fact that they had given ISBoxer users special treatment, has led to the mess surrounding the current enforcement of the EULA where ISBoxer is concerned.

The origins of the current situation go back to the beginning of 2013. Team Security began to ramp up its automatic detection system at the beginning of March. A few weeks earlier, on 18 February 2013, CCP performed a ninja edit on a forum post that Lavish Software used to promote its advanced multiboxing software, ISBoxer. Following a flurry of discussion in the EVE community, CCP issued a dev blog and a new addition to the EVE Online Rules of Conduct, the Third Party Policies page. In the new policies page, CCP referred to something called "the multiboxing application" in the Client Modification section of the Third Party Policies. CCP defined client modification as software that violates Sections 6A2, 6A3, and 9C of the EVE Online EULA. The actual quote at the time read:
"We do not endorse or condone the use of any third party applications or other software that modifies the client or otherwise confers an unfair benefit to players. We may, in our discretion, tolerate the use of applications or other software that simply enhance player enjoyment in a way that maintains fair gameplay. For instance, the use of programs that provide in-game overlays (Mumble, Teamspeak) and the multiboxing application is not something we plan to actively police at this time. However, if any third party application or other software is used to gain any unfair advantage, or for purposes beyond its intended use, or if the application or other software violates other parts of the EULA, we may fully enforce our rights to prohibit such use, including player bans. Please use such third party applications or other software at your own risk."
Now, was "the multiboxing application" ISBoxer? The debate at the time the Third Party Policies were created would indicate yes. But we have a more recent statement from a member of Team Security. In the Team Security presentation at the CSM 9 Summer Summit in Reykjavik, the CSM asked about ISBoxer. CCP Peligro's response indicated that, indeed, CCP considered ISBoxer client modification.
"The software is used for all kinds of nefarious things, not just multi-boxing. We’re banning RMT’s and botters because that’s more detrimental to the game world. Client Modification is another big thing, and ISBoxer in particular is a powerful framework for this purpose." (page 102)

A Recommendation from the OwnedCore forums

CCP Peligro also put a link to the Third Party Policies page into the minutes to help explain CCP's stance on ISBoxer. I think I can safely state that "the multiboxing application" referred to in the Third Party Policies was indeed ISBoxer.

So, the situation on 24 November 2014 was that CCP considered the use of ISBoxer as client modification as users could use the software to violate sections 6A2, 6A3, and 9C of the EULA. However, CCP would not actively police the use of ISBoxer, although the game company reserved the right to do so at a later date.

That later date was 25 November 2014.  As far as I can tell, CCP made a ninja edit to the Third Party Policies to remove the words "and the multiboxing application".  I can't tell for sure because I didn't notice until the following week, blogging about the change on 1 December.

The words underlined in red were removed on 25 November 2014
The change to the Third Party Policies was buried under the news of CCP Falcon's forum post defining the terms input input automation, input broadcasting, and input multiplexing. CCP Falcon's post was designed, I believe, to clarify Section 6A3 of the EULA. Instead, almost no one realized the real news is that ISBoxer users were losing their immunity from prosecution under the client modification sections of the EULA.

This is the point in the story in which I have to admit my mistakes. I was drawn in by CCP Falcon's post as well and thought that the changes only applied to Section 6A3, because that was the section that CCP Falcon directly addressed.  But after thinking about the situation, I now realize I was wrong in my assumption that ISBoxer users would only have to obey Section 6A3 and could still safely ignore Section 6A2 and Section 9C. By removing the phrase "and the multiboxing application", CCP was now stating that ISBoxer users need to follow all three sections of the EULA.

Let me make the following point very clear. CCP did not ban input broadcasting and input multiplexing on 1 January 2015.  Those practices always violated the EULA. What CCP did was, in a very sneaky fashion, remove ISBoxers' immunity from punishment for violating the EULA. CCP Falcon's post didn't announce a change in the EULA; his post attempted to clarify exactly what Section 6A3 allowed and prohibited.

CCP's effort to clarify Section 6A3 continued in December with the publication of a Team Security dev blog on 19 December. CCP Grimmi addressed many of the workarounds ISBoxer users were advocating on the EVE Online forums with the following section:
Refresher Course - Macro Use
During discussions about the input multiplexing and broadcasting issue on forums and in tickets, we have noticed a frequent misunderstanding we would like to take this opportunity to address.  Any use of macros to interact with the game world is prohibited by EULA now, and has always been. The EULA clearly stipulates:
Conduct
A. Specifically Restricted Conduct
3. You may not use your own or any third-party software, macros or other stored rapid keystrokes or other patterns of play that facilitate acquisition of items, currency, objects, character attributes, rank or status at an accelerated rate when compared with ordinary Game play. You may not rewrite or modify the user interface or otherwise manipulate data in any way to acquire items, currency, objects, character attributes or beneficial actions not actually acquired or achieved in the Game. [emphasis mine]
The part I emphasized is important, because many people believe, even after CCP Grimmi's dev post, that a macro is allowed if the macro only performs one action inside the client. That is not the case. CCP Grimmi clearly indicates that, "Any use of macros to interact with the game world is prohibited by EULA now, and has always been."  That sentence means that if the macro only has one step that interacts with the game world, then the entire macro violates the EULA.

But even following the dev blog, I still believed that Section 9C of the EULA did not apply to ISBoxer users. I still like my reasoning on why that section shouldn't apply, but I now believe I was wrong.

I don't know why CCP has not come down like a ton of bricks on those ISBoxers who continue to violate the EULA. Perhaps Team Security cannot tell who they should ban and who they should not. In my experience covering CCP's War on Bots and Illicit RMT, they have operated on the side of caution when banning players. That does not mean they have never banned the wrong people, just that they've let a lot of botters go who later bragged about the experience on various forums. But I am still seeing users of ISBoxer post videos in which they clearly violate the policy against using macros playing EVE.

Since we are in CSM election season, I have to add that I am glad that the CSM brought up the subject of ISBoxer during the summer summit. Part of the reason that CCP created the CSM was to assure the player base that CCP was not playing favorites among the players. The situation that existed before 1 January 2015 was that one class of players, the users of ISBoxer, were given preferential treatment over the rest of EVE players.  CCP stated in their policies that ISBoxers were allowed to violate sections of the EULA related to client modification that would see non-ISBoxer users receive 30-day and permanent bans for violating the same rules. If the CSM is more than a consumer focus group or player lobbyists, then the members of the CSM had to involve themselves in this situation. Overseeing developer favoritism is in the CSM's DNA.

One of the most ironic parts of the whole controversy is that CCP spelled out in the Third Party Policies the conditions that ISBoxer users could keep their special privilege.
"However, if any third party application or other software is used to gain any unfair advantage, or for purposes beyond its intended use, or if the application or other software violates other parts of the EULA, we may fully enforce our rights to prohibit such use, including player bans. Please use such third party applications or other software at your own risk."
To use technical language to summarize this section, CCP told ISBoxer users to not act like dicks. If ISBoxer users had done that, then CCP would have had an argument to present to the CSM to allow unrestricted use of ISBoxer to continue.  Instead, the arguments of the CSM members concerned about the use of ISBoxer carried more weight.

Perhaps having covered CCP's War on Bots and Illicit RMT for over three years gives me a different perspective on the situation. I'm not worried that CCP has not yet dropped the banhammer on some of the loudest proponents of using ISBoxer to violate the EULA. Not all users of ISBoxer use the software in that fashion. At this point, I'd hate to see those bad apples force CCP to ban any application using Inner Space. While the bot fighter in me would love to see that occur, I realize that using ISBoxer doesn't automatically mean that a player is violating the EULA. So I'll settle for CCP telling all the players in the sandbox they all have to follow the same rules. No more special snowflakes.

Now, I'm not happy with the way CCP used a ninja edit to change the policy. I believe that CCP should have just forthrightly stated that they were invoking their rights to revoke ISBoxer users' special exemption from having to follow certain sections of the EULA. If they had done so, perhaps this whole issue would have died down months ago. But, what's done is done. I'm interested to see how CCP will handle the mess they created by first giving a class of players special exemptions from following the EULA and then trying to sneak revoking that privilege.

But, please everyone. Stop saying that CCP just banned input broadcasting. You're diving me crazy. The practice has violated the EULA for years!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The CSM X Election Begins Today

Today is the start of the election for the 10th Council of Stellar Management.  The election will run through 10 March, with the results announced at Fanfest in March.  As part of the celebration that the CSM made it to a 10th iteration, CCP is giving away a 10-run blueprint copy for the Council Diplomatic Shuttle, a decommissioned, disarmed Pacifier-class CONCORD frigate for all paying accounts active today.  Everyone who votes will get a 10 trinkets, one for each of the CSMs containing the names of each serving member.

I have to admit, I'm really tired right now, and compared to a lot of people I hardly did any work. The page I built for the election on my Google site is complete for every candidate and I will only need to update it with the latest information.

Unless something totally wacky occurs, this is my final CSM post until the results are revealed at Fanfest.  Judging by my traffic statistics, a lot of people are rejoicing at that announcement.  But sometimes a subject is worth writing about, even if a lot of people turn away.

Let me just conclude this year's coverage with a statement from CCP Leeloo's dev blog:
So you’re asking yourself “Why should I care?”...
The CSM is a key part of the interaction between players of EVE Online and the EVE development team.
The delegates that YOU choose in this election will be attending two multiple day summits here at CCP headquarters in Reykjavík, Iceland, and will have open and direct access to the developers and work to improve and expand EVE Online throughout the year alongside the EVE Development team.
This means that your votes count and can be the deciding factor in which feature proposals, concerns, ideas and feedback items are brought to the development team for action.
Voting in the CSM elections allows you to select the candidate that best suits your playstyle and helps ensure that you get the best representation possible during communications with CCP.
Like any good political election, the candidates are varied and represent the wide spectrum of interests that EVE players have, so you should be able to find several that mirror your own EVE experiences.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Nosy Gamer Endorsements For CSM X

"Someone who knows players and can work with people without dissolving into crazy sauce is important."
Sugar Kyle, CSM 9 delegate

Finally.  After months of coverage, the election for EVE Online's 10th Council of Stellar Management begins tomorrow.  After creating a Google site that contains as much candidate information as I could muster and appearing on 7 candidate analysis shows with the Cap Stable crew, I only have one final thing to do.  That's right, give my recommendations on who to vote for.

Before I begin, I just want to state something.  First, thanks to all the candidates, especially the ones who did the Cap Stable interviews and/or filled out the Just For Crits survey/interview.  I know that in my role as a talking head I threw some grenades around, but it's easy for the talking heads to do that.  Running for office is a much harder task, and with only one voice interview taking place, the pressure was on.  Very few of the people running are professional talkers.  I know sometimes I had problems getting my sentences out.  Trying to do it under pressure?  Thanks for making the effort and getting out there in front of the voting public.

Next, my list is basically for those outside of null sec.  The null sec powers have their lists and their organization and will most likely win 6-9 seats.  My list is to help decide the remaining seats.  For example, recommending for people in Empire space or wormholes to vote for Sion Kumitomo is a waste of a vote.  As the top candidate on the Goonswarm Federation ballot, he is one of the few locks in this election.  So don't expect to see any null sec candidates on my list.  With that disclaimer out of the way, let's begin.

1.  Sugar Kyle.  Sugar Kyle tops my recommended list for the second year in a row.  I'd seen her in action at Fanfest in 2013 and knew that the devs would not intimidate her.  I also knew that she could make a calm, reasoned argument, and eventually the change she proposed made its way into the game.  Not bad for just a player attending Fanfest.

I highly recommend her for reelection, as she is acknowledged as one of, if not the, hardest workers on CSM 9.  She is also the top low sec candidate, who during her term also managed to move from a small alliance in the backwater region of Molden Heath to Snuff Box.  In addition to moving her low sec market, she became a capital manufacturer, thus expanding on her knowledge of the game.  With that type of in-game growth in addition to her heavy workload and massive binders she always seems to carry around filled with player input to give to the devs, and the constant flow of information she posts on her blog, I can feel confident that I'm voting for a candidate who will perform in CSM X.

2.  Mike Azariah.  Every time a CSM election rolls around, two things happen.  One, Mike Azariah runs.  The other?  I endorse him.  For the 6th year in a row, I am endorsing Mike for a seat on the CSM.  Despite a good performance over the past year, I questioned whether I should endorse him.  After the Trebor Daehdoow experience of having someone server four terms, do I really want someone else to serve even three?

After looking at the other candidates, I did not see anyone else running that would serve the incursion and high sec carebear communities nearly as well as Mike.  So I'm recommending that everyone vote for Mike one more time so we can enjoy another year of repeated podcast and internet radio hotdrops and forum posts as he does his patented job of community outreach, with the seemingly mandatory goodie for the incursion community.  I'm sure the techs in Iceland dread dealing with his ever present technical gremlins, though.  But this is that last time, Mike.  You hear me?  The last time!

3.  Steve Ronuken.  I normally don't like specialists on CSM.  I like people like Sugar Kyle who has a lot of experience doing many things, also she's played in low sec her entire career.  But Steve is different.  His specialty, third party development, potentially affects every player in EVE.

On a CSM that blew up near the end with complaints of communication problems between CCP and CSM, Steve did not have that issue.  Apparently, his partnership with CCP Foxfour on the development of the CREST API has really helped the third party developer community.  Combine that with his knowledge of industry and Steve was one of the most productive member of CSM 9.  With no other candidate having Steve's qualifications in both 3rd party development and industry, Steve's presence on CSM X is almost required for the continued success of the CSM experiment.

4.  Chance Ravinne.  At the beginning of the CSM election season, I determined I would put a new player in the fourth position on my endorsement list.  I know a lot of people find it hard to believe, but EVE's steep learning curve makes someone who has played for a year still a new player.  Fortunately, the choice among the new players was relatively easy.  While Suzy RC Mudstone is an attractive candidate, his position in the CFC means 1) he's a null sec player and 2) probably needs another year of seasoning in order to get the support needed to win a seat.  That leaves Suzy's running mate and torpedo deliveryman Chance Ravinne as my new player selection.

Despite the introduction, I think that Chance is actually a better candidate than Suzy.  In his interview and some of the other research I did, Chance knows his limitations and plays to his strengths.  Those strengths include a real world marketing background and perhaps more importantly, a knowledge of how YouTube content creation works.  At a time in which the CSM is providing a wider scope of advice, Chance's YouTube experience could help CCP develop a program with interacting with YouTubers.  I also think his insights as a new player could help Team Pirate Unicorns develop the new Opportunity system.  The fact that I've recently joined Mynxee's Signal Cartel that helps keep Eve-Scout up to date and operates out of Thera also helps me feel more favorably disposed toward the torpedeo deliveryman.

5.  corbexx.  How could I possibly put corbexx all the way down at number 5?  Quite frankly, because as far and away the best wormhole candidate, the wormhole community should rally around the incumbant and easily reelect him.  To any wormhole resident reading this, place corbexx number one on your list.

Basically, I don't expect corbexx to need my vote, but he's done such a good job it seems a crime to leave him off my list.  In a year in which wormholes didn't really seem headed for any major revamps not already vetted by CSM 8, corbexx put in the work to prove to CCP that income in the lower classes of wormholes (C1-C4) needed improvement.  In addition, he opened up new avenues of communications between the CSM and the wormhole community.  He even stepped outside the wormhole community in joining Sugar Kyle in her scheduled monthly talks on the Eve University Mumble server.  Oh, and along with Mike Azariah, became involved with clothing in the Nex store.  All in all, an impressive performance deserving of a second term on the CSM.

6.  Bam Stroker.  I know, I said no null sec candidates.  But having lived in low sec within jump range of Fortress Amamake for so long, I have a hard time picturing the nomads of Pandemic Legion as just a null sec alliance.  Also, the main reason for selecting Bam in the 6th slot is not for his combat experience.

Bam is probably most known for his work on EVE Down Under, the largest player-run EVE gathering now that CCP has taken over EVE Vegas.  In addition, Bam has tirelessly promoted player gatherings throughout Australia.  But what intrigued me the most in his Cap Stable interview was his concept of extending the out of game community he has worked on into the game as well.  I liked some of his ideas and think CCP might want to give some of them a try.

In addition to his broad concepts of community both within and outside the client, Bam does have the null sec experience that will come in handy when the discussions turn to null sec sovereignty revamp. Bam's breadth of knowledge gives him a clear advantage over the other highly thought of community candidate, Jayne Fillon.  After losing in the CSM 8 election, Jayne took the wrong lesson from his defeat and actually narrowed his field of interests, which was already too narrow in my view.  That decision I think will cost Jayne a seat in this election as well.

Honorable mentions - While I don't put null sec candidates on my slate of candidates, I do want to point out three additional candidates.  The first is Endie, who will most likely receive the #2 spot on the GSF ballot.  His "I don't want to sit on a rotting throne" comment will probably go down in CSM history.  The second candidate, Manfred Sideous, is probably a lock for a seat as well.  CCP has already consulted with him on the null sec changes on an informal basis.  Quite frankly, elect both Endie and Manny, make them sign the NDA, and milk them both for everything possible.  However, don't put them in front of the six candidates above.  Endie and Manny are already going to win.

The last candidate is Xander Phoena.  For everything that people have said about Xander lately, one thing that people have never said is that he doesn't keep his promises.  He vowed to communicate with players and he did.  He said he'd work to get the minutes out on time, and his 3 sessions of the summer summit written were second only to the nine output by Sugar Kyle.  And he did promise to bring the ISBoxer issue up, and the Team Security session at the summer summit seems dominated by the subject.  So if you want to throw Xander at the end of the list, I won't object.

What about the rest of the slots?  Who cares?  Voting for someone you really don't support is the true waste of a vote.



Monday, February 23, 2015

Is Transparency The New Minmatar Broom Closet?

The Cap Stable crew has just about finished their coverage of the CSM X election, and I participated in the final two analysis shows recorded last night.  As part of the preparation for the shows, I listened to the Cap Stable interview of Thoric Frosthammer.  Ugh.  Fortunately, he's an endorsed CFC candidate, so if elected he hopefully will have the good sense to follow along with Sion Kumitomo and Endie.  Even so, ugh!

While enduring the circular logic that says that Endie's vision for null sec is wrong1, Thoric was asked about the issue that has risen to the top of the election meta, transparency.  Listening to Thoric, I soon became convinced that he was just mouthing the words given to him my Sion.  He clearly didn't understand Sion's position, because during the interview he began preparing his retreat behind the NDA, and the voting hasn't even begun.

Now, I'm from Chicago, and transparency is a word that goo-goos (good government types) use.  In my experience, goo-goos are either naive or trying to hide something.  Not that I object to the naive types trying to do good, because I enjoy watching a politician taking a good perp walk as much as the next guy.  In fact, when I was in Bulgaria, I was told that's what makes America great; our crooked politicians have a good chance of winding up in prison.  And during my 50 years on this planet, 5 of the 8 elected governors of Illinois have visited the jail house.

I do have to wonder, though.  Do I really want transparency?  I'm reminded back to 2011, when a lot of EVE Online players wanted what was eventually dubbed "Walking in Stations".  CCP basically spent 18 months developing WiS gameplay while relegating the spaceship game to the sidelines.  If WiS had come out fully functional with compelling gameplay, then I believe that we'd have a much healthier EVE today.  Instead, we got a broom closet in a Minmatar station.  Even if your current location was a Gallente station.

Having gone through that experience once with EVE, do I want to see the CSM divert resources, namely the time of the unpaid volunteers who advise CCP, to activities not related to improving the internet spaceship game?  We don't even really know what transparency would look like in the CSM setting, especially with CCP, rightly in my opinion, worried about protecting proprietary business information.  Whatever transparency means, someone is going to have to work on the process of giving information to players.  I'm betting that means someone on the CSM will have to divert time away from looking at internet spaceships.

Perhaps if I believed that transparency would result in members of the CSM doing a better job I might jump on the goo-goo bandwagon.  But I don't.  Transparency is only good at election time, and if a CSM member doesn't run for re-election, then really, who cares?  For now, I think the process works fairly well in governing what, in effect, are 14 volunteer positions.  If we get 7 active members, we're doing good.  What I don't want to see, however, is the CSM getting shoved into a Minmatar broom closet.



NOTES

1.  For the record, I liked Endie's Cap Stable interview.