Monday, March 25, 2013

So long, and thanks for all the whale.

I am not candidate for the next CSM.

This decision is not one taken lightly, but has matured over time and has been reinforced with my CSM experience this year. There's a few things it's not based on: It's not that I don't think I could get reelected; It's not been a bad year, Au contraire, it's been an excellent year for the CSM, and that is why I'm taking my leave.

When I first decided to run for CSM 2 and got elected, in 2008 (god, time has passed), it had been a frustrating time, 0.0 had been neglected for too long, CCP was pushing expansion after expansion filled with half-finished new content and precious little in the way of fixes and additions to things everyone was using on a daily basis; The UI, well, let's just say it was underwhelming; CCP was nowhere to be found on the forums, the GM department appeared a distant, mean and arbitrary beast; and CSM 1 spent what seemed to me a lot of time bickering about pesky details of minute bug fixes and not working on the big picture. So I ran...

The one constant point on my agenda, year after year, CSM after CSM, has been that there was a need for more iteration and less shiny. I'm not opposed to new things, it just requires a careful balance. One that was not tilted towards "new" at 110%... That need for what is now fashionably called "iteration" has been loudly embraced by other CSM members as well. Not that it was a magically brand new original idea in the first place... But this was my major point.

Over time, we managed to get CCP to listen to us, partially through our successes in providing valuable feedback and partially, unfortunately, through CCP's dismal failures when they ignored us. InCarna was such example, and while "I told you so" may sound like something satisfying to say in theory, in practice it always has been a bitter thing to go back to CCP with.

Either way, fast forward 7 CSMs and 5 years. CCP is present on the forums, they listen to players (CSM and non-CSM alike), their expansion plans are a lot more in tune with our wishes. The implementation details and specific choices sometimes leave to be desired, but that's the nature of the process. GMs have made efforts to communicate and refine some of their policies, and when in doubt CCP does check for input. This one step alone, this change of attitude is what I'm proud to have helped accomplish, for in that change of mindset is the hope for the continued success of the game.

This last CSM is one I'd consider "uneventful". Not in the meaning that nothing happened: lots of work was done, lots of questions asked by CCP, lots of feedback provided; but it's been one where we haven't had to riot, shake our fists, grimace in disgust or be intensely frustrated. The opposite of the old curse "may you live in interesting times".

One of my fellow CSM members had asked me a few years ago, and another one last year: "I don't know how you do it year after year". Well, I did it because it was needed! I don't possess enough hubris to believe myself to be the one and only person capable of producing change, but I've had lots of success over the years expressing my thoughts in a way CCP could resonate with and I didn't think anyone could do my specific part of the whole as well as I could, so I did the work and stayed the course. It's easy to keep focused and alert when things suck, we're riled up, there's lots of "juice" in anger and frustration. This year however, things were fine, I could still produce valuable input, but not significantly different than the others combined, and it looks like things are going to keep that way. The CSM has matured in a more diverse bunch than 0.0 alliance leaders.

I'm expecting CCP to have learned their lesson, and it looks like they did (though only the FSM knows, with CCP), so it seems like the right time to stop my involvement with the CSM, and get back to enjoying the fine gaming experience CCP gives us in Eve.

I have a few (a number?) of parting thoughts to share with CCP, the CSM, and players alike... (and I'll probably post a few more of them as time goes).

I wish the "free trip to Iceland" crowd would just shut up some day... Being on the CSM takes a lot of work and time, we have to leave our lives aside regularly, keep constantly interacting with other members, with all of you, with CCP, read the forums, read the CSM forums, have skype conferences, etc. When in Iceland, 3 days of meetings is gruesome work. Sure we spend the evenings having a few drinks and a meal with CCP. Guess what we talk about? Eve. We don't simply recount our fun game experiences, we also try to make the very same points we are trying to make during the meetings to the friendly people kind enough to accompany us.

If any one CSM member ever takes credit for an addition, bugfix, feature, modification, or whatever, call bullshit on them. No one person has in my memory been responsible for the inclusion of something in Eve, not even me. It has never been a case where one of us wrote down a stone tablet, laid it down at CCP's feet while being jealously watched by the other CSM member, their eyes filed with silent hatred at not being able to say "I did this!" should CCP pick it up. We theorycraft, we mention problems, possible solutions, relative priorities, explore alternatives, we go back and forth between ourselves, with different people at CCP. If an idea has traction, it gets worked on, elaborated, refined by all, and sometimes it gets implemented, sometimes after a couple of years, sometimes fairly directly. A side note to this is that the first half of the stuff CCP produces during a term is after the output of the previous CSM, not the current. Be very wary of people taking credit with "I did this"...

CCP is not a single entity, there's people in there. These people are hard working, dedicated and passionate for the most part. They err, they sometimes have poor judgment, they sometimes don't have as thorough a knowledge of the game as we do, but they're good people who genuinely want to do good. When shit hits the fan, they get bashed to oblivion, regardless of whether they have anything to do with the problem at all. It is probably a bit naive of me to expect a measure of restraint, but it's something I wish we all could keep in the back of our minds.

I would like to thank, first and foremost, the thousands of players who have voted for me over the years. I know I haven't been one of the most prominent members of the community, or one of the most talkative, but your trust and votes have helped me help CCP make a better game. So, my thanks to you.

My thanks also to my fellow CSM members. No matter the various backgrounds they came from, the in-game enmities, the personal grudges, there has always been a significant climate of "work needs to be done, let's do it" in the CSM. We all have different approaches in dealing with problems, we all have different levels of communication with the players, but we all worked as a team over time, and that was great. In particular my thanks to: Dierdra Vaal, Vuk Lau, Mynxee, Trebor Daehdoow, The Mittani, Seleene, Larkonis Trassler, Darius Johnson, Omber Zombie, John Zastrow. With different personalities and attitudes, they all made my experience in the CSM a wonderful one.

Then there is obviously Rooks and Kings, my alliance, for their unwavering support, for being a wonderful community and a great group of people to call one's own. There is a lot of pride in being able to say "I am a member of Rooks and Kings" in addition to being able to share companionship with people who happen to be members of that alliance.

Last but not least, thanks to CCP for giving me the great opportunity to help make Eve a better game. I could list individual devs, but the list would be too long and I'd be forgetting people. So, global thanks.

As far as what I am going to do now... Well, I'll ease back into being another wheel in the great machinery of my alliance and be able to breathe a bit and just play the game I've spent close to half a decade helping improve :p

So, so long, and thanks for everything. I'll just rest on my laurels now :p