Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Achievement Unlocked: Elder Scrolls Online - Morrowind

Spring is usually the time I lessen my activity in EVE Online. Covering the Council of Stellar Management elections and maintaining CSM Wire does that. But for the first time in over 9 years of playing EVE, I've taken an extended break from the game. Usually Fanfest reenergizes me every April, but this year CCP decided to cancel the Icelandic event in favor of one in Toronto in June. So while I still look into EVE's black market and update CSM Wire and follow the election plus all the other news, I haven't undocked in a couple of months.

Instead, I've played Elder Scrolls Online. On Sunday I managed to complete the main story of the Morrowind expansion. I also collected all the skyshards in the zone. Not only did I collect the skyshards, but I completed all delves (single-player dungeons) and the two public dungeons (rated for 4 players) as well. There are still some notable sites to visit, and I still need to run the Halls of Fabrication at least once, but effectively, I consider the expansion finished.

I've done enough in Morrowind, I think
I have a couple things to note about my experience running through the expansion. First, I really enjoyed the quest stories. The zone story about helping the god Vivec regain his power was enjoyable. I also liked the story of two slaves, Sun-in-Shadows and Eoki. One decides she wants to move up the power structure in House Telvanni, the people who owned the pair. The other just wants to leave and start a new life. I need to do some research to see if different decisions would affect the outcome, but I don't see how my character would have chosen differently.

A rival god helping Vivec
Second, I know that voice acting is expensive, but I really appreciate all the voice acting in Morrowind. Sometimes I'm in a hurry and just skip through quest text, but I appreciate how the scenes play out and needing to watch the interaction between the NPCs and listen to the dialog in important parts that don't display text. Yes, it is commonly done in other places like the group dungeons, but I still get a kick out of the experience.

Third, I noticed I was running around with a lot of under level 30 characters. My level 50 healing templar with 333 veteran points wasn't able to solo the Nchuleftingth public dungeon, but I was able to duo most of the content teaming up with a level 19 character (who I think was a warden). The fact that a much lower level character has that type of performance I think says a lot of positive things about Elder Scrolls Online.

I just noticed, I let my food run out
In general achievements, I managed to reach level 50 in enchanting, leaving only jewelry crafting as the only crafting profession I am not at max level at. I'm currently at level 28 and the completionist in me wants to unlock the Master Crafter achievement and buy the banner proclaiming myself a master crafter. I also spent 107,000 gold to buy the Witchmother's Potent Brew recipe. Although I understand a better food exists, most posts seem to feel that Witchmother's Potent Brew gives the best bang for the buck. And now I can make the stuff myself. That combined with a three stat food I can make that I use for open world leveling means I'm self-sustaining as long as I keep doing the crafting writs.

Reaching max level in enchanting

Early access for the Elsweyr expansion on PC began yesterday, with a new intro screen asking players if they wanted to buy the expansion. I plan to play the expansions in chronological order, which means the next one I play is Summerset. But I won't blaze through the next ESO expansions because EVE Online's Invasion expansion launches next Tuesday. I need to start flying around New Eden again. But if Summerset and Elsweyr are the same quality as Morrowind, I'll definitely play through them.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Analyzing The CSM 13 Election Round By Round

As someone who has analyzed the single transferable voting (STV) system used in EVE Online's elections to determine the members of the Council of Stellar Management since its institution in 2013, the discussion of the complicated voting system is sometimes exasperating. Last year, I wrote a post with an example of how the STV works. In an effort to decrease my readership, this year, I'll go one step further. I'll give an analysis of last year's election which resulted in the election of the "GSM", so nicknamed for the prevalence of members of The Imperium on the council.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Rental Alliances In EVE Online: A Unique Solution To An RMT Problem

Last week's publication of the "Pie Chart of Shame" publicized something I thought was common knowledge: botting and illicit real money trading (RMT) operations love rental alliances. For a nominal fee, the botter/ISK seller gets access to systems in null security space in which to rat or mine. According to the price list for the 4500 character rental alliance Rate My Ticks, prices to rent a system range from 1 billion ISK/month to 11.5 billion ISK/month. In return, players who own the space promise not to shoot the bots farming the space to stock EVE's secondary (aka black) markets. If the owner of the space is powerful enough, not only do the botters gain protection from the system's owners, but protection from neutrals and enemies as well. Such protection is not limited to local defense forces. The botters also gain access to intelligence networks which the botters can incorporate into their botting software. Well, depending on the sophistication of the software used, at any rate.

For the serious RMT operation, null sec offers two major advantages over operating bots in high sec. The first is profit. Even systems null sec players consider garbage produce more wealth than bottable content in high sec. The second advantage is a lower probability to players reporting the bots to CCP. In high sec, especially around the main trade hubs, the likelihood of reports goes up due to the higher levels of traffic found in Empire space. In contrast, rental alliances in null sec are often found in remote systems not normally visited. Higher profits combined with lower probabilities of facing the banhammer are a powerful combination.

Back when I first started researching the negative effects of real money trading on MMORPGs, one of the issues identified was the monopolization of content. Professionals would want to maximize profits and so would compete with players for the most lucrative spots. But even amateurs using bots could deny resources to those playing the game as intended. For example, when I started playing EVE in 2009, I continuously hear how bots stripped the belts around Jita clean of ore. Not only did that deprive players from the US time zone content in that area, but helped depress the value of minerals to the point ship insurance served as the effective floor on mineral prices. Little did I know at the time that gun mining in the Drone Lands contributed heavily to the situation.

Rental alliances, in effect, are a very kludgy, emergent solution to the monopolization of resources problem. Yes, RMT operations, including botting, still cause issues with the economy. But the problem is moved out of the way of most players. If the bots are not showing up in the faces of players, then players don't complain as much. Out of sight, out of mind.

Of course, kludges eventually cause long-term problems. To use an EVE example, think about the POS code. Some poor programming practices resulted in the necessity of creating the Upwell structure system in order to tear the POS code completely out of the game. The effort has taken years and probably cost millions of dollars, euros, or pounds.

I'm not sure exactly what kicked off the move by CCP to publicly crack down on botting and RMT operations in rental alliances. I know that CCP Peligro for years has noted the prevalence of cheaters hiding in rental alliances, violating the EULA. But as I've watched the black market price of ISK rise nearly 20% over the past two months, even in the face of the declining real-world price of ISK purchased through CCP & The Forge, I've just silently smiled, waiting to see the sustainability of the latest effort.

Friday, May 10, 2019

CCP's War On Bots: Name And Shame

On Tuesday, CCP Peligro hit social media and tweeted about the latest bot bans. The unusual part? The naming and shaming of alliances. Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere is the rental alliance for Goonswarm Federation and Fraternity. Treasury I believe is the rental alliance of Fraternity.. With a combined membership of 2024 as of 9 May, CCP Peligro banned approximately 30% of both organizations. A pretty big hit.

Elo Knight, the well-known mercenary fleet commander who moved his corporation into Fraternity., asked CCP Peligro to extend the naming and shaming. The reply probably surprised everyone.

Team Security has pointed out for years that rental alliances are home to large amounts of botters. At Fanfest 2015, the security team pointed out the fact, but didn't name and shame.

From Team Security presentation at Fanfest 2015
At the time, the big 4 rental alliances were Shadow of xXDEATHxx, Northern Associates., Brothers of Tangra, and Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere. I don't have any inside knowledge about the chart (because I didn't ask), but I've always believed the three alliances who were home to 63% off all banned accounts during that 10 month period were Shadow of xXDEATHxx, Northern Associates., and Brothers of Tangra.

While I want to wait for the 2019 list to come out, the all-time list provided by CCP Peligro produced two names of interest because the alliances are so new. The first, Fraternity. Treasury, is listed as having 5% of the bans of the top 25 alliances home to the worst offenders in EVE history. [COINS] only sprung into existence on 11 November 2017. The second, Pan-Intergalatic Business Community, was formed a little over a year ago on 16 April 2018. The currently 6450 member alliance came in tied for 11th place with 3%.

I think we are witnessing a resurgence of aggressiveness from CCP in regards to anti-bot and anti-RMT operations. From 2010 to 2015, CCP always gave a security presentation. That was reduced to a roundtable in 2016 and nothing since. In addition to the increased number of security dev blogs this year, CCP Peligro is a bit more active on social media as well.

I would be remiss if I didn't add in a bit more analysis. CCP Peligro becoming more vocal comes at an interesting time. I am currently working on a story about CCP's "Top-down, bottom-up" approach to the War on Illicit RMT.

Hazard Discount - The money saved by buying on the black market vs from CCP

The top-down pressure of the price of PLEX is definitely impacting the price of black market ISK. From July 2015 to April 2019, the average USD price of 1 billion ISK sold has dropped 51%. During the same period of time, the price sold on the multi-game gold selling site Player Auctions has dropped 50.5%. Just from market pressure alone, profits for ISK sellers are probably down 50%.

But with decreased prices, the professional ISK sellers become more sensitive to the bottom-up pressure of bans. Bans usually result not only in reduced supply, but lost assets as well. With the hazard discount current at the $4/billion mark, ISK sellers really don't have that much room to increase prices to try to make up for losses incurred from bans. The fact that CCP is making noise about ramping up the pressure on botters could lead to some interesting developments on the black market.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Achievement Unlocked: Elder Scrolls Online Base Game

Over the weekend, I think I reached the point where I believe I can claim I have completed the basic, no DLC/expansion version of Elder Scrolls Online. I finished up the last of the faction storylines, the one for the Ebonheart Pact, to finish up the Caldwell's Gold quest. Combine that with finishing up the Mage Guild's quest line over the weekend, and I think I've completed the major story arcs of the base game. In addition, I think I hit the level cap back when ESO first launched. As of last night, I had 303 veterans points. I believe that after the conversion of veteran levels to veteran points, the highest effective level was 160 points, which is the maximum item level.

So what next? I've dabbled in the Clockwork City DLC pack and wasn't impressed. So for me, on to Morrowind! I can divide the MMORPGs I've played into 3 categories. The first is EVE Online, which doesn't have a built-in end point. The second consists of World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. I reached the level cap in all three games but didn't have any desire to complete expansions. Well, that's not exactly true for GW2 and SW:TOR. I bought the expansions, started playing, and then asked myself, "Why am I doing this to myself?" The third category up until now consists of Everquest 2. In EQ2, I went ahead and completed all the expansions up through The Shadow Odyssey, which at the time was the current expansion. When I finally left EQ2, I was max level (80) with max alternate achievement points and a character at maximum level in all crafting skills.

Currently, I am at level 47 in enchanting and level 24 in jewelcrafting. All other crafting professions are currently at the level cap of 50. I also might want to go a step beyond EQ2 and run all the dungeons on normal mode. The last time I checked, I had run 16 unique dungeons. I'm not sure about going for the veteran points cap of 810. That seems a long ways away, even with 3 expansions to play through.

I do plan on changing my ESO Plus subscription plan from 3-month to 1-month, though. I'm not really sure how much the expansions will engage me. Is ESO more like GW2 and SW:TOR, or will I find the expansions as enjoyable as EQ2's? Also, I hear the call of space again. I understand the Gallente need some help in empire space. Oh, and that running a Tristan through rental space in null is probably a good idea. But I'll at least stay active in ESO, and least for the next month or so.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Council Of Stellar Management Elections Coming June 10-17

With The Briscident behind them, the Council of Stellar Management now moves on to the next event on the calendar: elections. In a dev blog yesterday, CCP Dopamine announce the election schedule and how to apply to run. Here is the basic timeline.

  • April 30 - May 12: Candidacy application period
  • May 13-17: Processing applications
  • May 25: Approved candidates announced at EVE Down Under
  • May 25 - June 7: Official campaign period.
  • June 10-17: Voting occurs
  • June 22: Winners announced at EVE North
The requirements basically have not changed from last year. The only difference is a statement specifying that all personal data will be handled in accordance with European data protection and processing laws:

Important disclaimer from CCP: We will be strict about incorrectly filed or incomplete submissions and reject applications that don’t meet our standards. The rules are very clear, but if you are unsure about anything regarding the process, we are happy to answer any questions. However, once the submission is sent there is no turning back, so it is imperative to get it right. 

To be eligible for the CSM, applicants must meet the following requirements:
  • Your account must be older than 60 days at the time candidacy applications close.
  • Characters on both Alpha and Omega accounts are eligible to run. 
  • You must have a history of honoring the EULA and the Terms of Service. We will screen every applicant thoroughly and EULA/TOS violations on your record can result in a rejected application.
  • Your account must have updated and correct information at the time of your application. This includes; your real life name, correct date of birth and the same email you use to submit your application. To view and edit this information go to the account management website.
  • Candidates must have reached 18 years of age. If the legal adult age in your home country (the age at which you have the legal capacity to enter into a contract) is higher than 18, that number applies instead.
  • As an applicant, you must consent to provide your personal details to CCP, including your real name and a copy of your passport. CCP needs to affirm your real life identity for NDA contract purposes and the ability to travel to summits in Iceland is a key function of the CSM. 
  • If you do not currently have a valid passport, we will accept a picture/scan of a valid and approved passport application accompanied with a picture of your driver‘s license.
  • You must consent to sharing your country of origin with the EVE Community and having it displayed on the EVE Online website. You will not be required to share any other personal information with the EVE community.
  • If you are running as an "alt" and you control a character that has a reputation in the EVE universe, CCP may require you to run under that identity at its full discretion.
As I've done for every election starting with CSM 10, I will provide candidate information on my CSM Wire Google site. I've upgraded the site and CSM Wire should show up better in mobile devices now. I might even get fancy and get a domain. Probably not, but the current URL annoys me enough. The site is still under construction, but I'll keep a list of candidates up to date. As of an hour before I posted this, we had 17 announced candidates.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Is The May Expansion Moving To June?

Back in February, I tried to predict the timing of the next expansion for EVE Online based on the studio's Agile development cycle. A funny thing happened on the way my predicted date of 28 May 2019. CCP switched from a five to four week release cycle and I didn't notice. Meaning, just based on the normal production schedule, a May expansion should come out on 7 May, three weeks earlier than predicted.

A release date of next Tuesday would really have made next week exciting. Ka-bam, EVE Russia on Saturday! Ka-pow, the 16th anniversary celebration of EVE's launch on Monday! And then, for the grand finale, expansion launches on Tuesday! Woo hoo! Only one problem with that scheduled dream week. I haven't heard any hype about a May expansion recently, and the Updates website doesn't show information about a May release, much less an expansion.

No updates for May on the Updates page as of 1200 29 April 2019
I have to admit, I'm not terribly heartbroken about the prospect of no expansion on 7 May. The next scheduled release after that is 4 June, or one week after my predicted date. When CCP started rolling out their plans, I thought they were ambitious, so the crew in Iceland taking an extra week on the content is a good move in my eyes. Also I like the new public relations path this opens up for CCP.

First, CCP announces the name of the new expansion Saturday in St. Petersburg, Russia. Given the history of the Russians in EVE Online, a very nice move if the scenario plays out like I envision. Combined with the 16th anniversary of the game on the following Monday, releasing the name of the expansion at EVE Russia might ensure wider press coverage. Next, CCP takes the opportunity to spotlight and publicize the finalized version of the expansion at EVE Down Under in Sydney from 23-26 May. A lot of players probably have not kept up with the news throughout the months so a summary of the contents of an expansion would create a buzz. Did I mention Streamfleet is broadcasting all the events on the World Invasion tour? So players will have the ability to watch the news for themselves, either live or later via VOD or YouTube.

If the expansion really does come out on 4 June, the new content would come out on the 6th anniversary of the Odyssey expansion. While not one of my favorite expansions, I imagine the coincidence (if that's what it is) could play as a look back at the journey the game has taken in it's second decade of existence. I can see two tie-ins between the upcoming expansion and Odyssey.

Just looking back at the trailer for Odyssey, we see the story of capsuleers searching down the unknown. With the latest expansion, we'll get to see the latest in what the explorers have found in Abyssal space. Or maybe we'll see what's found us. I've added the video from November's Onslaught expansion below to show what is currently in the game.

The other running theme is structures. The Odyssey expansion was the last major revamp of the old POS system before CCP decided to rip out the old code and institute a new, modern system. First announced in the spring of 2015, the last of the old POS code may finally hit the recycle bin with the expansion. If so, I hope CCP films a Viking burial ceremony for the long-standing code.

Personally, I hope the expansion doesn't launch until late May or early June. Perhaps I am engaging in wishful thinking, but I really like the idea of expansions for MMORPGs launched in June. Giving the developers an extra month to work on the content (or 1 week longer than my original estimate) is just icing on the cake.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Briscident: Exoneration

"Neither Brisc Rubal nor the other players implicated in this incident breached CCP’s confidentiality, the terms of the Non-Disclosure Agreement, or used privileged information to obtain an in-game advantage."
Earlier today, CCP released a dev blog totally exonerating CSM member Brisc Rubal and two alliance mates, Pandoralica and Dark Shines. I personally am glad to know that Brisc did not abuse the trust given to him with his election to the CSM. Let me record the contents of the announcement below, just in case something happens to the dev blog:
Dear Citizens of New Eden,

Following on from our statement on April 17, we have completed our review of the Brisc Rubal investigation and determined that our initial findings were incorrect. Neither Brisc Rubal nor the other players implicated in this incident breached CCP’s confidentiality, the terms of the Non-Disclosure Agreement, or used privileged information to obtain an in-game advantage.

We made a mistake here and we offer our formal apologies. First, to Brisc Rubal and the two other players involved, both for making the allegations and for the disturbance and stress caused by the way in which we handled this situation. Second, for not collaborating with due care with the members of CSM 13, who have acted responsibly throughout. Lastly, we owe our sincere apology to the EVE community for this error. We take full responsibility for any confusion and mistrust caused by our initial assessment of the situation.

After reviewing our assessment of the information on which these allegations were based and having spoken repeatedly with everyone involved, it’s now clear that our initial actions were based on unsubstantiated assumptions. While we were motivated by a desire to protect the working relationship between the CSM and the EVE Development Team with all due speed, had we taken the time to review the information with greater scrutiny, this incident could have been resolved without the disruption that has since occurred.

We aim to make it up to all concerned. Right now, we are in the process of restoring access to the EVE Online accounts of all three affected players, returning any confiscated assets and providing rectification as appropriate. We will work to set this right and will be making changes to our procedures and policies to ensure this kind of situation does not reoccur.

Thank you for your understanding.
Honestly, I figured if Brisc had committed a breach of the NDA he signed, the breach was totally accidental. I was also a little irritated to discover CCP had not adequately investigated the matter before taking punitive steps against the INIT 3. I thought that the procedures included a reference to Internal Affairs to double-check on all charges. I guess not, which is strange since CSM members are supposed to receive the same type of attention CCP employees receive. At least, that's what I've gathered over my years covering the player-elected group.

In the wake of the decision, Brisc decided to resign from the CSM. I collected a few statements he issued today on Twitter.

For those wondering, Open Comms is on the Imperium News Network Twitch channel at 9pm Eastern, 6pm Pacific Friday, or 0100 EVE time on Saturday. I'm sure Dreydan will have an appropriate opening for the show.

In closing, I do have a few other questions I'd love to know the answers to, but I know I'll never find out. Which, is appropriate. We've seen enough information flying around, and much of it was wrong. We don't need any more.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

ESO Needs A Research Queue

Having played EVE Online for nearly a decade, I appreciate some of the simple things. One of the greatest innovations CCP made to the game was the skill queue. When the game launched in 2003, characters could only train one skill at a time. No queuing another skill to start immediately upon completion of the learning of the first skill. This led to trying to time the end of a skill's training time during a player's normal play time or setting an alarm clock to wake up in the middle of the night to start the next skill. Yes, every skill point mattered, even in 2003.

By the time I started playing in 2009, the mechanics had changed a little. CCP had instituted a 24 hour skill queue, meaning that as long as a character had less than 24 hours of skills training, additional skills could be added. No more waking up in the middle of the night to maintain an EVE account.

If not for changes to jump drive ranges and the introduction of jump fatigue, the Phoebe release in November 2014 would have gone down in EVE histaory as the introduction of the 50-skill queue. Gone were the days of players needing to check their skill queues every day (or every week). I personally made a skill queue 2 1/2 years long. Of course, once Alpha clones were introduced, the 50-skill queue was reserved for Omega accounts while Alphas received the old 24-hour skill queue.

Elder Scrolls Online has its own version of time-based skill training in the crafting system. In the base game, some of the best gear was crafted, like the Kagrenac's Hope armor set I'm working on now. Each piece of crafted gear has an innate ability, or trait, that a player can add to the piece during the crafting process. In order to create the crafted set gear, a player needs to know how to create gear with a certain number of traits. The Kagrenac's Hope gear requires the knowledge of 8 traits for each piece of gear, while the Torug's Pact set (which I use for my weapons) only requires the knowledge of 3 traits.

To learn a trait, the player has to do two things. First, obtain a piece of gear with the desired trait. Second, go to a crafting station and research the trait. The researching process destroys the item (so don't research an item you wish to use) and then requires a wait. How long a wait? Much like EVE, the training time depends on how many traits the character already knows how to craft into a weapon.

For the first 3 traits, the base training time in days scales exponentially using the following formula...
2 n-2

... where n is the number of traits already known on the piece of gear. So the first trait takes .25 days, or 6 hours to train, while the 9th trait takes 64 days to train.

Zenimax did provide a few ways to reduce the time. Each crafting profession has a passive skill line that not only allows the researching of multiple items, but shortens the research time as well. The final level of the skill prevents research times from exceeding 30 days, which is a welcome skill when researching the 9th and final trait on gear.

Now, in true free-to-play fashion, Elder Scrolls Online provides plenty of ways to speed up the research times using real life currency. The first involves the ESO Plus optional subscription. In addition to all the other perks, having an ESO Plus subscription speeds up research times by 10%.
The next items are research scrolls. Zenimax gives out scrolls with the daily rewards to get people hooked. I hear that the Master Writ merchants sell 1 day scrolls also. But the other way to get the scrolls, and the really powerful scrolls, is to visit the cash shop. In the cash shop, a player can purchase scrolls that will reduce the training time by 7 or 15 days for all items being researched in a single profession. The 15 day scrolls cost 5000 crowns, or 50 more than a player gets for a three-month ESO Plus subscription. Yes, in addition to the 10% reduction of researching time, ESO Plus members also get crowns to purchase time reductions. Did I mention the ESO Plus subscription is worth getting?

For those wishing to purchase more, the 5500 crown package costs $39.99 when not on sale. For EVE players, that equates to an exchange rate of 5 crowns for 1 PLEX. So, for example, if a dedicated crafter wanted to train a 9th trait on all clothing items when Summerset came out, it would have cost 40,000 crowns for the instant research scrolls. In real life cash, that comes out to $294.92 (7 5,500 crown packs and 1 1,500 crown pack). Assuming, of course, the player had maxed out the passive skills on the character performing the research.

Finally, I get to the inspiration for this post. Elder Scrolls Online really needs a research queue so I can put in all my research. As I often do, I type these posts on the train, and I really just want to log in and start researching the next item. Instead, I have to wait until I get home and waste 6 hours of potential research time. I'm not so far gone that I'd stay home from work just to set my research queue, although I could if I really want to.

I realize that, like with training my mount, logging in to maintain my crafting research queues is a way to keep me engaged with the game. But maybe Zenimax could add a queue to the cash shop? I'd probably buy that.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Briscident: CCP Reopens The Investigation



- Update to announcement that Brisc Rubal was removed from CSM, posted 17 April 2019
On 9 April, Brisc Rubal was removed from the Council of Stellar Management for a breach of the CSM non-disclosure agreement. CCP announced that Brisc revealed confidential information to a strategic-level fleet commander in The Initiative., with the information later falling into the hands of a second strategic-level fleet commander who then profited from the information. From the description provided in the original dev blog, Brisc said something to someone, who then said something to someone else, who then used the information to play the market.

I think those familiar with the situation figured that Brisc probably asked a knowledgeable person in his alliance about some aspect of the game and thought he had done it in a clever enough way to avoid disclosing what CCP's upcoming plans were. The other individuals involved, being clever people themselves, figured out that Brisc was asking about something CCP planned to do in the near-term future and one of them acted upon the information. Nothing malicious, but a bad event all the same.

I was prepared to accept that CCP had done their due diligence, performed a proper investigation, and Brisc just was too clever by half and got burned. Then CCP released the following statement, which I will provide below in full:
"Last week, on April 8 2019, we announced the permanent banning of Brisc Rubal and their ejection from the Council of Stellar Management. We also issued one-year bans to two other players involved in this incident and confiscated their associated in-game assets and ISK.

"Following this statement, we have held further discussions with the affected parties. We have also been conducting an internal review to substantiate the evidence available to us and evaluate our handling of the situation. We intend to share a full follow-up statement next week.

"Transparency, fairness and trust is of utmost importance to us, which is why we’re issuing this brief update while also taking the time to ensure that we conduct a thorough investigation. We understand that there are many questions lingering over the incident, and we want to assure you that we take this matter very seriously. Both the sanctity of the CSM and the relationship we have with our players is of paramount importance to CCP.

"As should be expected, we will issue a full and frank apology for any mistakes for which we are responsible, as well as provide appropriate reparations to those affected by any erroneous actions we’ve taken." (emphasis mine)
I learned a lot of technical language when I served in the Army appropriate to describe what I read in the latest dev blog, but I'll try to keep this to a level a layman can understand. If CCP is going to level charges of real-world misconduct, I would hope they would have conducted an adequate investigation before taking the actions they did. According to the statement, CCP failed to do so.

If I had to guess, the source of the allegations probably led CCP to not look into the situation as closely as they should. Here are the quotes that lead me to believe this is the case.
"To be fully transparent, this misconduct was brought to us by the CSM themselves as an immediate threat to the integrity of the CSM as an institution."
"We would like to take the opportunity to thank CSM 13 for their transparency and their respect for the council as an institution, which was demonstrated by their coming together to condemn this kind of behavior and report it to CCP."
Of course, the involvement of other members of the CSM potentially opens up another can of worms. What if someone decided to weaponize CCP in order to settle some grudges or gain an in-game advantage by taking out important members of The Initiative.'s command team? Yesterday's news opens up that possibility. One that I hope is shut down fairly quickly.

Now, I do need to take note of the people asserting that Pearl Abyss needs to step in and clean up the mess. I think CCP's parent company is a little busy trying to figure out exactly what went wrong with its ban wave that apparently caught up hundreds of innocent players. The situation with cheating in Black Desert Online's Shadow Arena battle royale mode was so bad that Pearl Abyss ended up removing the feature from the game. Remember when Hilmar and CCP's communications team stated one of the reasons Pearl Abyss purchased CCP was the Icelandic studio's experience? We've recently seen Pearl Abyss needs it.

We get another dose of CSM investigative news next week. Hopefully, the next dev blog on the matter is the last. Up until this month, CSM had done nothing to embarrass itself. No matter the outcome of this latest kerfluffle, CSM 13 received a stain that will remain with it forever more.