If I can say one thing about CSM 9, the differences with CSM 8 are pretty big as CCP Leeloo works to clean up the mess CCP Dolan left before he left to work for Riot. Not only was CSM 9 involved in PR situations like the final SOMERblink scandal, but we didn't have to wait months for the summer summit minutes. And CCP Leeloo has shown she wants to publicize the CSM X election as well.
Yesterday, CCP Leeloo published a dev blog mostly written by seven members of CSM 9. Finally, before the election season starts, CCP publicizes what the CSM does, from the players own words. Something in writing so that players who don't follow the CSM can see that the player body is not just a toothless PR tool. Well, Sion Kumitomo decided to dump a steaming pile of cow dung on the effort with his contribution. Here is the first few paragraphs:
"This review comes at an interesting point in the term. By this time, particularly given that I’m running again, I should have a string of accomplishments that I could hang my name off of, but I don’t. I should have the dedicated enthusiasm required to stay active for the entire term, but I don’t. I should have platitudes to offer and abounding praises. I certainly don’t have those. Instead, I find that I’m deeply frustrated and increasingly having to defend an institution in which I struggle to believe.
"There will no doubt be council members who sing CCP’s praise and proclaim the efficacy of the CSM. Broadly speaking, I don’t know how any of them could get to that conclusion via any evidenced based rationale. The new release pace frequently means that the CSM is cut out of the development feedback process, sometimes nearly entirely. There’s a growing list of items, some major, that we saw at the same time the rest of the player base did.
"When the CSM attempted to get looped into the new development model better, we sometimes started seeing items one day, perhaps two, before they were released. Even something as major as the 0.0 revamp has been a dead topic since the last summit. This is all the more frustrating because after the scuffle erupted from the CSM's name being used to promote changes we didn't endorse, we had a meeting where we were assured that we would be kept in the loop.
"Actions speak louder than words. The shared Skype channel is frequently home to all manner of defensive, passive aggressive, or antagonistic exchanges.
"All of this makes it very difficult to work as the institution should. Some EVE pundits will say that the CSM is a toothless institution that CCP uses when convenient or as a marketing tool, and nothing more. There's some truth to that. The CSM was designed around a titled system with a Chair and two releases per year. The institution hasn't adapted, and its relevance, such as it was, has suffered because of it."Sion's section is the main part of the story. Forget what the rest of the CSM members stated, especially corbexx, who seems to have done yeoman work representing wormholes and providing CCP with valuable data on POS use and PvE content. When someone establishes a Skype channel that connects CCP devs with wormhole leaders and diplomats to make sure wormhole concerns are at least heard, something positive is happening.
Now, corbexx didn't say no problems exist with the CSM/CCP relationship. He concluded with the following:
"Some CCP teams/groups make great use of the CSM, but I feel some groups don’t, be it they don’t think we would be interested, They maybe don’t see how we could of helped. I’m not suggesting we can help in every team/department, but if we don’t know about stuff we sure as hell can’t help."Sugar Kyle also gave some thoughts on interacting with CCP:
"When it comes to interacting with CCP a lot of time is spent advocating player concerns and worries. Even if it does not want to be heard or it is an old topic it comes back up. There is not always resolution. Not all of these make it into a large review. Some are not yet finalized and some are more quiet events. Yet advocating does simple things like create more clarity to players who do not understand what things like SSO are. It will, hopefully, do other things such as a better way to search through channels so that players with unsupported languages can more easily find each other. It is not easy and it is not always successful, but the effort is made."Mike Azariah, who was first elected in CSM 8, had these comments:
"As a group the CSM has spent a lot of time adapting to the new faster (MUCH faster) pace of the release schedule. Things change so quickly that some does not get seen by us much sooner than it is is seen on the test server. Other broader strokes we try to get input as early as is possible. Do we know everything and see everything? No, and I am not sure that that is even possible. A summit often covers projects coming up but then that project is done and two more run before another summit happens. This goes back to CSM 8's attempt to build more bridges to other teams and get more lines of communication open to the devs.
"Progress and change have been made. The decision to eliminate officers showed that we could function without them. Personal projects and one on one contact with devs started to replace the idea that we need to talk to entire teams taking them all away from the job at hand. Helping bridge the gap between players and the dev teams have lead to a more open and direct exchange of ideas with CSM acting as enablers, not the conduit itself. Hell, if we do this well enough we might manage to organize ourselves right out of a job. Or, better yet, change the job as this one will be done and we can take on a different aspect."I think what we are seeing with the CSM is an institution in transition, partly due to CSM 8's decision to make CSM 9 operate without officers for the first half of the term. CSM 9 then decided that if no officers is good for half a term, then why does the body need officers at all? After all, on paper, the officers had absolutely no power. What were they good for?
I also think that corbexx judged the matter correctly. CCP is not some faceless monolith. Some people love the CSM (think CCP Fozzie) while others think of them as an inconvenience. I always thought CCP Greyscale fell into the latter camp, but that is just from looking at the situation from the outside. Then again, who wants a bunch of players telling you that you're wrong? I can see that perhaps on something as large as the null sec revamp that you want everything as solid as possible before presenting the plans to the CSM. The plan is going to have holes anyway; why not try to keep the period spent patching the holes as short as possible?
Regardless, CCP Leeloo has now done as much to promote the upcoming CSM election as CCP Dolan did for the CSM 9 election. I do think, though, with Sion's commentary (which she allowed to remain), that the dev blog didn't go entirely as planned.
CORRECTION: I was contacted by Ripard Teg about the decision not to have officers for the beginning of CSM 9's term. Apparently, the suggestion to do so was made to the members of CSM 8 running for re-election by CCP Leeloo as a result of Kesper North's election to an officer position and then going AFK most of the term. She thought that having a couple of months to evaluate who was really participating before voting on the positions. So the decision was not made by the entirety of the CSM.
UPDATE: Apparently my correction was unclear. Ripard Teg was not trying to take credit for CSM 9 deciding not to have officers. He wanted to clarify that CSM 8 as a body did not decide that CSM 9 should not have officers at the beginning of the term, just those running for re-election. As Ripard did not run for re-election, he and the others who chose not to stand for re-election had no voice in the decision.
I apologize for any misunderstandings.