Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Just because.

…it's worth remembering: a community manager should not be just a mouthpiece.
Some actually have a clue about 'non relevant stuff', like business, sensible balancing, and how they tie.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Veni, vedi…

Vici ?

So went the CSM to the land of melting glaciers and anti-airliners volcanoes, had a sit-down with :teamawesome:, smoked the peace calumet, and returned happy enough to tell their people the sky is not falling, after all.

"How do I tell Hilmar he looks like a fool in this costume ?"

Although CCP has both clarified and mollified their position relative to for-pay content, it's all very contrived and timid — we're a far cry from the kind of heart-to-heart rendezvous with the community that would have been required to turn the situation around.

I can't say for sure what the CSM agenda was, going in, but if they got what they hoped for, they missed the mark by a mile and a hair, imo.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Escape from the black hole

In recent entries I covered how CCP had little choice but to try and restore customer trust pronto, before the monetization failure cascade they've thrown themselves into proves terminal.

We have to assume a week's worth of clue-by-four bashing by the community and media, then a bit of quiet time with the CSM drove that point home, or the whole discussion is moot, and it's time for a postmortem.

Obviously, neither the CSM nor anybody (but possibly their major shareholders and creditors) can force CCP to do what is suggested below, and :teamawesome:'s reluctance to admit to any mistake or fault is  the stuff of legends.

Thus, the only question now is whether CCP prefers to die in a freakish gasoline accident, or surrender to reason, and live to fight another day.

"If there is anything that this horrible tragedy can teach us, it's that a male model's life is a precious, precious commodity. Just because we have chiseled abs and stunning features, it doesn't mean that we too can't not die in a freak gasoline fight accident. "

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Biting your hand.

Working assumption: CCP needs more than they currently get from EVE to keep the freight load of WoD and Dust development rolling, and reckon just overheating a tad the old locomotive boiler won't do it.
In short, they need to borrow money, and they're fine with selling their coal-car to buy a new suit and enough bubbly, leather seats and drapes to impress the bankers — hoping EVE will be nice enough to keep running on its momentum and look the part until moar funds are secured.

The sad thing is they probably are going to drive their entire train off the rails and into the ground before even they run out of coal, when they could still save the entire operation by showing the least bit of common sense — although I'm not entirely sure to which extent it's still up to them by now.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A quick reminder.

We're shooting pixels at pixels. 
At face value this is an activity devoid of both purpose and meaning.
The one reason it matters to us is because we agree to believe others care for the same thing(s) we do.
In that sense we're sharing some essential values, and thusly create worth out of nothing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Perpetuum temptation

Time and time over I've had to justify to others (and occasionally to myself) my lasting involvement with EVE online, considering how frequently it may seem I scorn EVE, its parent company CCP and even the EVE player community, parts or whole. 

I could write walls of text about the many things that make it all interesting to me (and I have the walls of text to prove it), but it can be boiled down to a simple choice of nothing vs something, however unsatisfying:
CCP may be a greedy, unfriendly, obnoxious shopkeeper with a bad temper and a family of inbreds for staff, and sure, they tend to drop cigar ash and the occasional gravel-for-capers on the pizza, and sure, you have to suffer redneck patrons chanting klu-klox anthems and puking in the dining dining room during happy hour, but New Eden's the only pizza place in this sad town, where you can't import a wood oven for under 60 million bucks.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Food, not filler.

In case you feel like reading more about CCP's suicide attempt (still bleeding as we speak), here's a pretty decent write up of the situation with some nice background from Brendan Brain, over at Massively.com.

Don't be put off by the doomsayer title, because: 1) the content is better than the cover in this case, and 2) it could actually be spot on.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Biting the hand.


EVE is not a global brand, it's a niche game that gets a lot of media attention, as a result of which its parent company is suffering from delusions of grandeur.
More accurately, EVE is a cult, meaning it matters quite a lot to a very small subset of the general population, everyone involved tends to suffers from chronic cognitive bias and the occasional hallucinatory excursion, and sane people either laugh at you, avoid you, or both — but you make great gossip material.

Words of wisdom for CCP: it's freakishly hard to transition from a barn-sized cult to a mainstream church: secret societies typically don't survive an open-door policy.
My suggestion: keep EVE players happy as pigs in the mud, EVE is the PR machine that will give to any 'mainstream' spinoff you churn that edgy shine kids love so much.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

My name is Hilmar,

…and I have no clue why people pay for EVE online.

I postponed my followup post about 'how to do virtual sales right' (in the context of EVE online) because the proverbial feces scattered through the revolving contraption in the meantime, specifically as this went public.

Long story short, we're led to believe an internal email from CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson to "ccp global list" (which we have to assume is the general mailing list read by many to most employees — at least on the EVE front) has been leaked to EVEnews24.

There's no bulletproof certainty about the source, and EVEnews24 editor's confidence is not entirely reassuring considering their track record, but it looks solid enough for the community to have gone up in arms over it. [Update: it has been confirmed since to really be Hilmar's.]

I'm going to play along and comment the thing under the assumption it's the real deal, because while I'm not entirely sure the community outrage is as well-placed as it should, there is cause for concern, here.

Slight bump.

Some stuff happened around the issue raised yesterday, and forced me to reconsider today's post.
Meanwhile, some people are getting a bit hissy about the whole mess.

Livecam from Jita protest (people took to shoot the Jita Memorial en masse as a way of shouting their discontent).

Friday, June 24, 2011

Greed is good, needy is bad.

Hello all (three of you),

it's been a while, but this week's lineup of EVE things gone wrong is just too massive to let pass without comment.

First, there was the release of Incarna 1.0, soon followed by patches 1, 2 and 3 in as many days.
This went about as smoothly as any major patch does: extended-extended downtimes, black screens and melted graphic cards — business as usual, by CCP standards.

Things got a bit worse when people figured the conversion rates on vanity items in the new 'Noble' shop expected them to burn more cash on their avatars wardrobe than the average EVE player spends to cover his XXL meatspace self.
The most forgiving souls will want to believe somebody @CCP fubared a decimal separator… alas.

1 AUR = half a U$D cent, do the math.

My first response was to point'n'laugh, but for some reason, there was much outrage about that.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New tires.

Went faster than I expected, and nothing blew in my face.
Feel free to trash the new look in comments and let me know if you find broken stuff I may have missed.

Side note: I couldn't figure how to make the new, blogger-provided template scale gracefully in width (ie use % instead of pixel width for the main gadget), please let me know if you have a tip for that.

Changing tires.

Redoing the layout/template to take advantage of a few new features of blogger/blogspot. 
Expect the site to be a tad messy for the next couple hours.
No apologies, it should be for the better, eventually.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lucky me…

…I'm sitting poolside, next to the sea, enjoying a good coffee on the terrace.
Oh, and also: I barely ever use EVE-O boards, thanks to the goodness that is eve-search.

That doesn't make what happened with the new forum any less wrong, mind you — so much so that the words are failing me, but not this guy, so go there for a very good expose on the very bad things that CCP did to itself and its community, this time around.

Here's CCP early public response, which is not bad, considering. Timely, yet dev blog only: apparently not news headlines worthy.

Then the news iteration, downplaying that trainwreck as a standard issue:

"We're experiencing technical difficulties, please hold."

And take two of the same, this time reluctantly acknowledging the elephant-sized cat out of the bag…

Then the inevitable very sad dev blog, dripping of the knee-jerk induced cold sweats we've come to expect from CCP in such situations, mixing signals, downplaying the actual threat, excusing massive failure under the "that's a good lesson for the future, I'm sure" umbrella, and attempting to both cajole and threaten the user base into sitting tight and holding hands while shit rains across their collective face.

To be fair, I'm not unsympathetic to CCP's situation, here: industrial accidents happens anywhere.
Still, this one this one is especially egregious and embarrassing, reeks of olympic levels in carelessness and incompetence, and shines a very gloomy light on the apparent change of course from Committing to Excellence (by standards you plebeians can't relate to) and toward Committing to Deliver (regardless of condition).

If it wasn't for the half-assed attempt at blame-the-victim tactics, believe it or not, I'd actually been cool with their handling of the crisis — although obviously not with the meat of the issue: shipping without fixing critical faults that had been reported during testing.

In other news, Incursion 1.4.2 just in, and so is the "Hey, it's we, the CSM6" introductory letter — I'll get back to this last bit, it sounds like fun.


Update: Kudos to CCP Sreegs for his awesome* tenacity in the dev blog comments threadnaught.
[*No sarcasm, for once.]

Friday, March 11, 2011

What's in a ballot ?

The booths are open, and as usual, half the debate surrounding the election process is about the very purpose and usefulness of the CSM, and mainly the following two questions:

  • What can a CSM delegate (or the CSM as a whole) hope to achieve, really ?
  • What (if anything) will CCP listen to ?

Friday, February 11, 2011

CSM, the out of pod experience.

As mentioned yesterday, I don't like much that the CSM members have to divulge their meatspace ID to the whole intarwebs, starting with the rabid EVE fanbase.

My argument is simple, CSM is not a job, you get in the seat on a part-time, extracurricular basis, and on the merits of your in-game persona (in the loosest meaning of in-game, including OOC/meta stuff, obviously).
Furthermore, nobody expects you to shed your in-game affiliations for the duration of your CSM mandate (contrary to what CCP employees are supposed to do).
In short, you're elected as a player and mainly for who you are in (and around) the game.

Thus, I don't see any benefits for the community or for the election process in divulging the CSM candidates/members out of game ID to the general public, and since the potential for trouble is obvious, it is a no-brainer that it should be up to the individual CSM delegates to decide whether they feel comfortable getting out of the closet in that way.

Some may object that the CSM role is a public one, and it is likely that any CSM delegate's face (and other body parts) could end up plastered across the intarwebs as a result of partaking in meetings, fanfest events and other photo shoots or alcohol-fueled embarrassing tapes.
Maybe so, but then again, if all there is to tie to these images is a spacenerd nickname, and one is not a public figure in his/her non-EVE activities, the odds are pretty good some separation can be maintained (if one chooses to).

CCP will still know who CSM delegates are, on account of their filling the plane and hotel tickets reservations, and they can therefore ensure nobody is entering under three different nicknames into the election.

As far as I can tell, the current rule only prevents people who are mildly wary of being stalked and harassed by mouthbreathers over in-game grudges from running for CSM, with no discernable upside for CCP, the CSM delegates or the community at large.

Am I missing something obvious ?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

CSM 6 race: ze application period, it is now !

It's that time of the year.

In the previous elections, I've more or less vocally endorsed a shortlist of candidates, among those who seemed to me like they both had a decent shot at getting elected, and at making a positive contribution, were they to be, but this year I've also toyed with the idea of running for a CSM seat myself, after a friend suggested I put my posterior where my mouth is, instead of the usual converse.

Some of the CSM application rules are giving me pause, however:

Monday, January 31, 2011

EVE Online: What are your reasons?

I received a bunch of these recently, shortly after I celebrated the recent release of Incursion by letting another couple accounts lapse:

Dear Anonymous Coward,
We've noticed your account has not been active lately. If you stopped playing, we would like to learn what were your reasons for leaving. Please take this survey to help us to improve our service. It will take approximately 5 minutes to complete.
Your participation in this survey is completely voluntary, however, we'd be grateful if you could give us your feedback.
Your survey responses will remain confidential and data from this research will be reported only in the aggregate. If you have questions at any time about the survey, you may contact the research team at the email address survey@eveonline.com.
Thank you very much for your time and support. And you are always welcome back.
Please Start the survey now.
CCP Research Team

Because I'm a peach, I took the survey, if only to copy-paste here what I wrote over there.

New expansion: Granularity !

Good news, for a change, API keys overhaul.
This has been a long pet peeve of mine, and I wrote a bunch of stuff in the past, mostly on other venues, and never got around to populate the stub for it on this blog, dating back to Oct '08, because there was so much to rant about at the time I lost track of this particular item.

Anyhow, the changes look good and, together with the other recent reworks, clearly show that CCP finally gets how much players care about better usability and user control over information services in and around EVE.

A summary of promising (some of it already delivering somewhat) stuff:

  • EVEgate is looking good.
    • (much, much) better evemail that is actually useful.
    • Next logical step would be imap, which I don't see happening, unfortunately, but expect some community made API gadget to fill the gap soon enough, to enable at least evemail => realmail forwarding.
  • Calendar is promising, too, and I can see how over time (once the contracts system is properly redone), it could eventually enable player-created missions. As for mail, one can only hope to see the thing tied through API gadgets with more popular third-party calendars, such as Google/iCal/yfoc.
  • EVE Voice in EVEgate: Woot woot !
    • This is a big one, obviously.
      Ever since EVE voice got added to the game (back in 2006), its adoption by the players has been hindered by a fatal flaw in its implementation: it's integrated into the EVE client.
      • Integrated voice/fleet management is sweet, and comes with lots of side benefits, but none of it is worth the price of losing your voice comms at the worst possible time (ie: during a client lockup/crash/disco), so anyone using voice comms anything mission critical in the srs bzns of interweb spaceships is sticking to TS or Ventrilo or iChat conference call… anything but EVE voice.
    • Now, if Vivox is running in your browser, and you still get the benefits of seamless user/channel management in-game (via the fleet interface)…

Generally speaking, the last crop of tools is already a tremendous improvement, especially for small corps/alliances that don't have their own IT department to manage private forum/TS/calendar, etc.

This was a warm and fuzzy-feeling only post, so I'll wrap this one up, and return to the normal rant program in our next installment: EVE Online: What are your reasons?