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.


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


  1. I find the demand 'for transparency' to be a little out of place in relation to the CSM. Especially once people start comparing the CSM to real world politics. In the real world transparency is a relevant demand because it allows the general public and the media to keep and eye on elected decision makers, the people wielding the power.
    And that's where the comparison breaks, the CSM are not decision makers, nor do they wield power. As best to stick to real world analogy of politics they're lobbyists, they have the ear of people who wield power, but wield none of their own beyond the power of persuasion.

    But we have this weird situation in which the CSM consists almost exclusively of people who campaigned and got elected on certain agendas -turning them into lobbyists even more- with a mandate from their voters to progress said agendas by whispering into developer and designer ears. But the CSM's original intention was to make sure CCP didn't abuse it's developer power to 'cheat' in the game world.

    In the real world of democratic politics nobody would ever try to combine the functions of watchdog and lobbyist since the two are naturally add odds with each other.

  2. "Transparency" for a Lobby Group... oooh wow.

    The CSM is a lobby group. Plain and simple. They hold no power, make no decisions and are not ever realistically 'stake holders' in the process, in any process, inside CCP. They, at best and most, might possibly sway the opinions of some CCP employees about various subjects from a detail of one specific mechanic to potentially the direction a feature might be developed in.

    My real issue w/ Transparency is I feel this push is based on some allegations etc that came to light recently that just possibly some members of the CSM and even of CCP did not get along as well as the silence about potential conflict or disagreements led many to assume.

    I have never assumed all of the CSM and CCP people got along like BFFs... all day everyday... as a matter of fact I assume there were many disagreements and in some cases out right dislike between some members in the CSM and inside CCP and between the CSM and CCP devs...

    People are people... you can't put three people in a room and expect perfect accord and harmony, much less a diverse group of 14 volunteer gamers sitting at a table with a variety of different groups of game development employees...

    I no more need or want to know the details of their discussions w/ CCP than I do their cat fights and backstabbing, either volunteer or corporate.
    I listen to the pod casts, read the blogs and forums and make my decision... then I cast my vote and hope they mean what they say.

    I look to the Minutes and CSM and Dev blogs and posts and hope they keep their word. If I wanted to know the nitty gritty minute to minute details... I'd run for a seat.

  3. I am thinking of the Recipe for Disaster. Well, when lead time was given to the release of Encounter Surveillance System and POS Siphon; the null-sec lobby went into overdrive, so both of these things were strangled in the cradle.

    So the prime thing which supposedly stood out was the whole "ambush" of the jump fatigue release. Here I would assume that CCP did not want a repeat of interference in the direct required by the game. There are possibly other items which remain under NDA whereby the CSM has reacted unfavourably to proposals.

    Now fast forward to the candidates list. Four from CFC and another four from PL, throw in Hero and other miscellaneous; and suddenly it is not looking like there is a lot of room left at the table for candidates outside of Null or a bloc. (for bonus points I should have formatted this like a cookbook).

    The one thing which has been hinted is that this year will be the null-focus. I am going to predict it will not be the directions set forth by the "Null Deal". (someone sure does like 1930s 1940s history). So what happens when another "ambush" gets sprung? Oh Recipe may require tinfoil.

  4. The problem with transparency is that if the CSM is too open then developers will stop wanting to talk to them. A lot of ideas start off a bit half-baked or need to be presented in a certain way and the community is exceptionally volatile. There's a few teflon-coated CCP staff who seem very happy for people to know what they do (eg Fozzie and Rise) but most developers aren't going to want their ideas thrown to the wolves while still in embryonic state.

    If some draconian way were found to impose transparency directly onto CCP staff we'd likely see them become a lot less willing to pipe up with risky game-changing ideas. There's a lot of behavioural psychology around the importance of feeling safe to workplace creativity.