Thursday, July 14, 2011

Drunk Blogging The May CSM Summit Minutes, Part I

The minutes for the CSM Summit held in Iceland in May are finally out.  I guess I should be fair and point out that the minutes were released withing two months of the end of the summit, but I can't help but wonder if the events surrounding Monoclegate would have changed if the minutes had been released before Incarna's launch.

As usual, I'm having a hard time finding time for my Eve Online activities, so I am going to drunk blog the CSM minutes as I read them.  Drunk blogging is a time-honored tradition among political bloggers when covering live events they might find distasteful.  While the minutes are weeks old, I have the feeling I might find things I don't like, so the principle is the same.  So armed with a glass of rakia, I'm going to go where no sober blogger should go.

The start isn't very promising.  Honestly, I decided to do the drunken blogging thing before reading this.

"The CSM wanted it noted that the meeting, being the first meeting of the summit and conducted at 9am, was not off to a late start because of late arriving CSM members. It is however recognized that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and thus this tiny, rocky start, was forgiven." (p. 1)
Team BFF & the Little Things.  Everyone loved CCP Soundwave until the Fearless newsletter was leaked, and his role in leading Team BFF was one of the reasons why.  The May Summit revealed that Team BFF's list of things to do has dropped from over 300 items to around 180.  One thing I learned is that there is a null sec revamp planned for this winter and all of the null sec items on Team BFF's list have been moved to a special list for being worked on.  CCP Soundwave would like CSM to give him a top 10 list of issues to work on and the CSM would like to make that top 10 list an on-going institution.

Did I mention that while rakia is supposedly odorless, the fumes alone will get you tipsy?  Back to reading the blog.

Oh, and we learn that anything in Eve can be explained by Jovians or nanobots.

Eve Flying in Space.  Okay, here's something for all you hard core null sec types.
"The presentation began with Team BFF representatives Soundwave and Greyscale introducing the plan for the execution of the Winter expansion. The plan involved releasing not just one large expansion on Christmas, but instead several moderately-sized expansions leading up to the main Winter expansion. The main theme of this Winter expansion, at least with regards to FiS, would be iterations on 0.0 space. Specifically: null-sec sovereignty related features, supercap proliferation and the rule of super-capitals, and various other 'Team BFF' tweaks." (p. 4)
I was more interested in the stuff associated with Walking in Stations than with Flying in Space, so this is for me.
"Soundwave then spoke briefly about the non-FiS aspects of the Winter expansion and how they would relate to walking in stations. Establishments, the progression of Captains Quarters introduced with Incarna 1.0, would also deal with smuggling contraband and boosters.

"Soundwave and Greyscale reviewed the current game mechanic wherein NPC customs officers are responsible for confiscating contraband. The change that they envision would see this enforcement fall into the laps of players. A vague mechanic was discussed with the CSM about how the players would scan and enforce “the law”. The CSM response was positive, emphasizing that corruption and bribery amongst player-enforcers should be a viable mechanic. CCP agreed." (p. 4)
Oh, and for those who were worried that a CSM dominated by the big null sec alliances would focus on null sec issues at the expense of other areas of the game, you don't have to worry anymore.  It's true.
"CCP then brought up Supercaps, and the CSM were basically on the same page. Supercarrier changes were discussed, with everyone agreeing that a fighter- or bomber-only drone bay would be a welcomed change. The CSM agreed that Titans in their current state are fairly balanced, and that the focus should be placed on the Supercarrier. Soundwave and Greyscale noted that the coding involved in such a change would represent a large portion of resources that could otherwise be used for several smaller changes. Given the importance of SCs, the CSM suggested that it was well worth the resources to focus on this one thing and it seemed as though CCP agreed." (p. 5) [emphasis mine]
Of course, I don't know what the changes that won't be made are, but as long as the smuggling works right, I really won't care.

Eve Future.
  This started sleepy.  Yada yada yada, ENGINE TRAILS!  Yada, yada, yada CHANGES TO LOCAL!  What?!  Pay attention to this part.
"Conversation then took a bit of a tangent, and Arnar mentioned that local as we know it is going to change in a Winter expansion. The CSM was taken aback by this and let fly a torrent of questions about this new “no local”. Local, as it was explained, had to change because of changes to EVE’s infrastructure needed for future Incarna development. However, it would be replaced by a new, yet-to-be-designed intelligence gathering tool. Local would not simply just “turn off” and turn into delayed mode, such as in wormhole space. It is worth a repeat – local will NOT be simply turned off and/or turned into delayed mode. Arnar and Torfi both emphasized the importance of not feeling alone in space; they reasoned that the game has fifty thousand players and that it shouldn’t feel as though you’re alone. The CSM will be kept in the loop regarding this design when more is known." (p. 7)
Local is changing because of Incarna/Walking in Stations.  People are going to flip over that!  And with that news I need a refill.

The Eve/DUST Link.  The big thing for me is that DUST players will not be destroying my planetary interaction installations.
"The linkage between EVE and DUST could end up being stronger than most people anticipate; DUST players will be members of EVE corporations, and there will be new planetary surface command centers (distinct from PI) that players can build and destroy. These installations will produce some as-yet-undetermined materials that will feed into the EVE economy.

"DUST will have multiple game-modes, so that DUST players do not have to depend on EVE players in order to fight, gather resources, build their weapons, etc."  (p. 9)
Eve Marketing.  Now for something to explain why The Mittani sounded smart during the press conferences following the emergency CSM Summit.
"CCP is introducing Aurum and vanity virtual goods to reduce EVE's reliance on the subscription business model. The intent is to expand the business model, not replace subscription income with virtual goods income; the objective is primarily risk mitigation as opposed to increasing income.

"The games industry is currently moving heavily towards microtransaction models, and the risk that the subscription model that EVE depends on will become obsolete is of great concern. Thus, having experience with microtransactions and having the infrastructure in place to move to them should that become necessary is important. That said, CCP does not have any immediate plans to move away from subscriptions as their primary source of income." (p. 10)
Okay everyone, as much as I've been amazed reading the minutes up til now, here is a shock.
"Regarding the power of virtual goods, CCP Zinfandel revealed that he not only plays World of Warcraft (shock!) but that he paid a substantial amount of money on eBay for a Spectral Tiger mount (horror!). He was immediately mocked by the entire CSM." (p. 10)
As well he should!  I really need to go back to Darrin Love's (late of Shut Up, We're Talking and Common Sense Gamer, currently of Catholic Gamer) position on the $10 dollar mount.  Hmmm ... my glass is empty and I'm out of rakia.  Time to switch to Jack & Coke.  I do need to go into work in the morning.

"However, Zinfandel made the point that some people treat MMO's like a videogame, and some people treat them like a hobby. Hobbyists both desire and look for ways to invest in their hobby, and virtual goods are a way to satisfy this desire.

"'I get a great deal of pleasure every time I pull it out,' said Zinfandel about his large sparkling pussycat. He pointed out that buying it increased his identification with the game." (p. 10)
So if Zinfandel understands the whole buying things increases indentification with the game, why couldn't CCP provide clothes in the NeX that were priced decently?  But I'm not bitter.  Really.

Here is an interesting tidbit.
"The first ship-related virtual good will be the Ishukone Watch Scorpion. As with other virtual goods, this will be a unique item; the cost will be some amount of Aurum plus a regular Scorpion. However, this will not be available in the immediate future." (p. 11)
I don't remember if the CSM summit occurred before or after CCP was going to sell the Ishukone Watch Scorpion without paying a Scorpion to get.  I think it was after.  Thankfully, this item was pulled before Incarna launched.

Quality Assurance.  CCP has started outsourcing some of its QA functions.  I'm in a business where some QA functions are outsourced to a third party.  In my experience, when the shift occurs, things slip through the cracks and quality suffers. These are called growing pains. The third party does get better over time.  Having good management is key to making the switch as painless and seamless as possible.  When done correctly, the effect is just like expanding staff internally by hiring new employees.  In other words, quality doesn't drop very much and the drop in quality doesn't last very long.  I just hope that CCP is doing this move right.

In an unrelated note, I'm finding that Jack Daniels is no longer my favorite adult beverage.  Now I need to find a source for rakia.  On the plus side, the Chicago area has the largest Bulgarian community in the United States, so I should be able to find more rakia.

Game Mastering – Policies, Petitions and Large Fleet Lag.
  Since I never go to null sec and participate in the large fleet fights, this didn't interest me, even fortified as I am.  For those interested, the discussion occurs on pages 15-16.

EVE Security Task Force.  As anyone who has followed The Nosy Gamer over the last few months knows, I'm really interested in this topic.  And I wasn't disappointed.  This is confirmation of some of the things speculated about on the botting forums.
"Detection methodologies include (but are not limited to): behavioral (looking for activity over time that a human simply cannot perform), signatures (patterns of activity associated with particular bots) and technical detection in the client." [emphasis mine] (p. 17)
The minutes suggest this, but the "operation targeting a particular bot and the website that supported it achieved significant results" was RoidRipper.  Because of the success against RoidRipper, more resources will be allocated to do repeat this success.  And here is something that botters will REALLY hate.
"In addition, more resources will be devoted to protecting the client. As part of this, ESTF is considering disallowing the use of virtual machines with the EVE client as metrics indicate there are very few players using virtual machines for legitimate purposes." (p. 17)
Read it and weep botters!  But wait, that's not all.
"Another new program will encourage players to report botting programs, RMT, and exploits. The current name for this program is "PLEX for Snitches", and it has been running informally for a while; there are plans to make it formal. The goal of this program is to encourage responsible reporting of security issues." (p. 18)
Forget the satifaction of getting a kill mail.  Now you get money.  Report 4 botters and you could get a monocle!

Just from reading this part of the minutes, I need to write a separate blog entry just about this section on the War on Bots™.  But after reading 19 pages of the minutes, I really need to do my planetary interaction work and then get some sleep.  I will continue this tomorrow Monday with some more alcohol fueled analysis.  Because quite frankly, I don't think I would have gotten this far without it.

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