Forward by Sion Kumitomo:
Since I'm not a blogger, and I never will be, Sugar Kyle has graciously offered to let me post some of my musings here.
Before it recedes too far into the past, I had a couple of notes from the summit that I wanted to get down. Particularly, sessions. Though all of the summit sessions were engaging and interesting in their own way, there were a couple standout sessions that surprised me.What is this that I am letting Sion's word enter my blog? I'm sure someone is horrified. Welp it went like this...
About halfway through the Winter Summit Sion, Corbexx, and I were sitting around a table and Sion lamented the fact that he did not have a personal platform to write his thoughts down at. He could open up a blog but he didn't have that many things that he wouldn't write on TMC. But, TMC is not for everything that he wrote and feeling warm and full of good soup I told him, "I'll host it for you."
It wasn't just the soup talking. Sion and I have an odd relationship. We argue a lot. We disagree on things that we agree with. We'll never agree on much about Eve except that we both are pretty passionate about the game. This is one of those times when the CSM me and the personal me have to sit down with each other, hide the multi-personality disorder side of things, and decide how to use my blog for the greater good. I also have a no trolling policy. I'm not interested in politics and drama. I am not here for that. But I am here to make the CSM as transparent as I can as an individual.
There has been a lot of discussion about how do you tell who is doing what with the CSM. Not everyone is a blogger, a journalist, or a media personality. There are forums but chasing down forum stuff is hard. While I may snap the proverbial communication whip at Steve and Corbexx I only do so because they have blogs. Sion was in a weird position where he had normal things that he wanted to say and no place to put them. While he is more often a troll then I might like and a sensational personality he is also a member of the CSM. I believe people should see what he has to say. This is where my, "If it needs to be done step up and do it," life rule comes into play.
Plus, I need to do a walk through of the winter minutes for myself. It was easy enough to piggy back his thoughts. These are some light thoughts and points about the sessions. If you want in depth stuff, go and read them.
Roadmap - This set the stage for the day. We had a lot of serious discussion about communication, confluence, and the way that CCP had started to work. We discussed what felt like a communication lapse with the CSM and CCP. We discussed Eve's future and that things are still moving forward as well as what CCP Seagull is now doing.
New Player Experience - What should Eve be to a new player. This is such an ambiguous session but I think its going well. It will be a whole new approach to things but one that can be expanded upon better than traditional tutorials.
Web Team - They've been making strides and what I like is that they are keeping in touch with us about what they are doing and how they want to do it. Instead of just making a EveOnline.Com website that looks good to a design or marketing function they are also incorporating what the players need. A small point is that they have added in more obvious download Eve Online links. Before, when I needed to re-install the client the easiest way to find the client was to go to google. Now its on the front page. In this session we still are discussing Eve Gate and the Evelopedia. The website needs to be a bigger, better resource. I also want bigger images for ships and modules. If you follow twitter CCP Avalon is quite active there and you will see the changes and tweaks happening as they go through things.
Team Size Matters - These guys are the monetization team. They also had the dude who keeps watch over PLEX. I had some discussions with Dirk MacGirk the day before via twitter about PLEX questions and asked them as I could. I don't follow the PLEX market. I don't use it and I don't trade in it. These guys are also part of our assault on clothing since they are the ones that will be selling it. If you are interested in Eve's monetization future, PLEX's future, ship skins and such spend some time with this session.
Corporations and Alliances - This is moving along nicely. We're focused now on fine details. Divisions, access, communication, socialize tools and access, Granularity is a favored buzz word. How the interface will look and should look. Usability. We've had discussions in Skype and there was much hand waving and bitching about the current system. You'll see that several members of CSM9 are on the social club bandwagon, myself included. We started this push last year and it is bearing fruit. The idea is to give people a broader social network to fall back on and to make it easier for people to find and play the game with each other.
Team Homegrown - This is a new team! Hi! This is the first time we've met. They are working on retention which separates and focuses on it. We discussed a lot of conceptual aspects of Eve. What catches people, what does not. I had stories from newbies that I have kept and newbies that I have lost. We discussed ways to make it easier for people to connect with those they brought into the game. They showed us charts and graphs and we agreed and disagreed and shared how we view Eve. This view is not a heavily PR/Advertisement focus but instead a solid effort to understand what is sticky in Eve and how to make that better. For anyone wondering if CCP is taking retention seriously the answer is yes.
Team Security - These guys are fascinating. They are super punctual and they ooze efficiency. They also brought us candy and then proceeded to show us that they had listened to everything we went over in the Summer and how they handled it. It is frustrating that so much of the session was NDA but they want to do their own release at Fanfest. I could only assure people that they are meticulous and detailed. They do not take what they do casually or in a flippant way.
Sion on Team Security - The first was the Team Security session. As, last time, they showed up for their session to the minute. And they brought us chocolate, which unless you're an unwashed heathen like Corbexx, is about the most amazing thing. Not that bringing the CSM things is common, it isn't. Team Security was the only team to do so. In addition to that, they showed us reams of data and actively sought our input on a variety of issues. They are quickly becoming one of my favorite teams to work with, and not just because of the chocolate either. Efficient, no-nonsense, and clearly good at what they do.
Wormholes - This was Corbexx's time to shine. He and I sat down the week before and created an outline of questions with sub-questions. A lot of what he needed mirrored what I needed. Statistics. How was wormhole space doing? We have complaints but we cannot address them one way or another without numbers.
Team Space Glitter - I'm shocked CCP Affinity doesn't run away from me these days. I was thrilled when they were able to tell us that they had gotten their AI work together and improved tools for making NPCs. This is what we have been waiting to develop. Now the push is to get content in and what happens to old content. Flipping Eve all at once to a new type of PvE would rock the game and not in a good way. Also, redoing all of the missions will be a huge task. Instead, CCP will use this going forward and slowly phase through the older content as they decide how they want to upgrade it. I suggested things like environmental NPCs and just more world actions. I also got into a discussion about the Sisters of Eve Epic Arc and how our current mission system doesn't reward the player for grouping up. That is a topic that goes into Team BananaStands work from the summer summit. But in general this is good news!
UI Modernization Project - I had such a list for them and found myself leaning forward ready to pounce on poor CCP Arrow. I started with colors and buttons and sizes and the need for more customization. This is an area that we disagree with CCP some because they seek to keep Eve looking like Eve no matter where you see it. We want to customize our experience and if that means magenta orange pineapple grapefruit color then that is what we want. We expanded into things like a potential HUD redo and in general making things more visually obvious and flexible to handle the sheer number of windows that we need to function to gather the basic information to be successful in the environment that is Eve. I also had a keyboard shortcut question that I picked up recently. I'm not overly happy with the answer that I got. The idea is to have a different button to turn something off. So F1 to shoot F2 to turn off if that is what you want. I think its simple but valuable flexibility and its on my list of things to write in confluence about.
Team Pirate Unicorns - Just in case you don't think enough is being done about new player retention. This is the third meeting with a heavy focus on new player retention. This team handles the NPE stuff as well as other things like tooltips. That gave me the chance to point out missing tooltips and things like having tooltips tell how much things repair and rep and stuff. I also started crosslinking ideas such as informational value to new players for buying stuff like PLEX so they don't go and RMT from habit. But we also discussed the map and Eve voice and notifications because they are doing that stuff too. In my opinion Eve needs a functional map in game. There is no reason that a game going to its twelfth year does not have a decent map. Places like dotlan will always have fine detail. CCP is not going to list the contents of moons and all those fine details dotlan has. But it is not stupid for a game to have a map in the actual game.
Cinematic Team - We got to find out how they work, how long things take, and brainstorm for potential new ideas. This is a small team of guys and they make all of the trailers. We discussed the ones we liked such as Butterfly Effect and Origins and the ones that made you roll your eyes like the Retribution one. They come up with the whole story and flow. We discussed lore and story trailers vs real game trailers. They both have value but some speak to some groups more than others. I think its important that we don't ruin peoples expectations before we even get them in the game with unrealistic trailers.
Sion on the Cinematic Team - I've always been a fan of EVE's trailers, so it was great to finally meet the team behind it all. They're great guys, and they put in an insane amount of work into what they do. It was interesting to see the various substantial challenges they face, how they deal with them, and the process of bringing something like This Is EVE to life. They had a lot of really neat backstory about what they do, and were sincerely engaged with our feedback on it all.
Fanfest - This was a pretty cool session. They are moving things around and working at having more access to developers and the community team. We learned a lot about how Fanfest works and how CCP will move forward with it. A lot of this was about making Fanfest better for people coming to Iceland. If you have not been to Fanfest please understand that the entire city pretty much turns out to invite the flood of Eve players. It is a very cool thing so we discussed information things to help people like me, who may be alone and shy, get around and still enjoy themselves.
Customer Support - I believe the customer support people need to write regular dev blogs. They are such an unknown value yet so many players interact with them. I've been pushing for them to share some of their structure and organizations so that players can stop guessing about how things are done. I also had a long talk with them about suicide assistance for players. People don't know to write a petition for this. I very much want a clear policy page for changes and decisions that have come down as well as major key words such as 'suicide' that will direct people to a page that says to file a ticket with what info you have and they will handle it and that they do handle it. There is a lot of hidden information here and I understand that since it is the GM process but some of it can come to light in a way that will be healthier for the game.
Low Sec - This was my jam. I asked for it and I got it. So, I opened the meeting told them why I was there and what I wanted and just burned through my list of questions. Funky and Gorski had a few things as well and Steve also helped me out. I got a lot of good stats. Low sec is doing well. There are some areas that can use more attention and I have to write a formal request for some detailed stats about industry in low sec. In general a lot of my energy went into pushing for work on Faction Warfare. I was also a nervous wreck. I do not want low sec to become a place of thousand man alliances. Just gonna toss that out there. No.
Ship and Module Balance - Let there be war between us and CCP :P. Really this session, just read it. I didn't talk a ton. I had my points and questions, made them, and then we got into all of the big topics of rebalancing stuff and nerfing things and skynet and ishtar and.. and ... and... I think this session needs to be two hours long next time.
Localization - I speak one language and I do that poorly. I am always fascinated by people who speak multiple ones. We learned a lot and I just asked a bunch of questions about how things work and what they can do and are doing. It was a very informative session and left me feeling quite limited with my singular language. An impressive group of ladies who are hip deep with their language communities.
Sion on Localization - Localization was a session that I didn't expect to get much out of personally. I was entirely wrong about that, and it ended up being one of the most interesting sessions of the summit. The challenges they face and the issues they have to deal with aren’t things I'd ever given much thought to at all, and I'm guessing that most of the player base hasn't either. I'm sort of hoping that they'll release some of the stories they told us and make it more clear to players what all goes into localization via devblogs, presentations, or an AMA style thread.
Structures - Session is NDA. I am feeling happy with where they are going with how structures are. There are details to hash out.
Sovereignty and Null Sec - NDA. I'm still working through all this.
Eve Merchandise - More stuff. More. More. More. I want mugs. T-shirts that don't cost 80 bucks. Hoodies. Hair bands. Pens. Spaceships!
Jessica Overview - This was a last minute thing but super productive for two reasons. For one it let us see Jessica so that we could explain to people that its not a plug and play hand me out type of program. Two, it seems to have opened a fantastic floodgate that is now the new abilities with Eve Probe. That's another post to write about but more better prettier Eve video making abilities!
Art and Graphics - This is always a pretty session. I asked about asymmetrical things. They just feel the older designs are to crazy and illogical. Now we have subtle asymmetrical things. Sigh. We fought about clothing and color. I asked some questions about avatar desires I've been asked to bring up. From shoes, to shoe-less, to posing, and picture taking and keeping. I hear a lot of eye rolling about it every time it comes up but people get passionate and engaged about their avatars. We are asking for hats and colors and the head of the team seems to take it in stride now. The new lighting stuff will be super cool as well. I also asked about things like the black vindicator and how the nightmare lost its oil sheen. We want that stuff back.
Sion on Art and Graphics - Then there was Tri Lambda, the art team. Tri Lambda usually rolls deep for sessions, and it was the case this summit as well. They brought their whole crew, and they showed us a bunch of as usual stunning work. Sugar again brought up hats, and I think she's wearing them down on it. She's definitely a staunch ally of milliners everywhere. It's always interesting to see the clash between what players ask for and the technical hurdles involved, to say nothing of matters of art direction in general. No doubt people will get to see more of Tri Lambda's fine work at Fanfest too.
Wrap Up - Back to all of the bosses. One of the little things that happened this time was that we had one of the producer types (I'm bad at official labels) in every meeting. CCP Seagull was in, CCP Explorer was often in, and so were the other guys. They listened and took notes and helped us figure out what teams might need a question.
Elections, Summits, Communication - Election age decreases. No more names to the public. We nixed fanfest to get more CSM members to each summit in the future. Removing officers permanently from the white paper. And the fact that the CSM needs to be more visible and that the members need to be clearly accountable to their voters. We also discussed removing people and permanent seats. We went way over time on this and are still working on some of it.
Community Team - These guys love Eve. They liaison the CSM, the ISD, and a lot of Eve's face. Tournaments and player meets and things like logos. Yes we discussed logos. We all want logos back in the game. Now. One part is about solved but there are still hurdles. They've taken over the mystery code.
Next year, if I get on, I think I'm going to push for the CSMX.org site (should we hopefully have one and I'm on CSMX) to mirror our blog posts and to become a spot where candidates who don't normally blog can write a blog. That way someone can just go to that one site and read all of the CSM blogs. Hell, I'll copy and paste them all in myself. It's something to think about and hosting Sion's words shows yet another truely glaring need in the CSM communication front and well that would be my job to fix. So, let me get to it.