Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Player democracy

In case you are wondering why I never have any happy EVE stories over here, it is because I get these stories from other blogs and gaming press, and curiously there never ARE happy stories about that game. It is always about scams, treachery, and betrayal.

The latest case is interesting because it concerns the unique way CCP interacts with their players. They allow the players an elected representative who negotiates player issues with the developers. Sounds nice? Well, as Stabs reports, the Goons (a group of players dedicated to making the game worse for everybody else) have subverted the election process, got one of their own elected as player representative with the help of a Goon player who was employee of CCP, and then pushed through changes to the game directly helping their alliance against other players.

At this point player representation and democracy can be said to have pretty much failed. Or as Stabs say, it is only about metagaming now. Any other company thinking about player representatives will see this, and decide that the effort isn't worth the bother. Anybody elected will only ever represent the most powerful alliance of players, never the silent majority. And if anything, companies have learned by now that they need to listen *less* to their most hardcore players, not more, to be successful and drive revenue.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. First is was Band of Brothers and T20, now it's Goonwaffe and Sreegs. If Sreegs does step out of his official role like T20 did, there will be an another backlash and the same will repeat with an another set of names.
Reading the linked article, it seems that the only concrete thing it has is that the Goons have (apparently successfully) campaigned to get Super Capital ships nerfed. From what (little) I know about Eve, having a handful of players in Super Capital ships being able to stomp all over masses of players in smaller ships seems like a bad things as it discourages newer players. Aside from "the Goons did it, therefore it must be bad" what is wrong with nerfing Super Capitals? Maybe I'm missing something, I've never played Eve, just read a lot of articles about it since Even antics tend to be entertaining.
Isn't the point of Eve that it is more a player created experience than an experience crafted by CCP? Sandbox vs Theatre. eg. they provide the platform, and the players provide the "game". In Eve's case the game is a brutal, personal, and subversive as the players allow it to be.
To play you accept those terms, and with some hard boundaries - they players craft or destroy all they wish.
@David: from my very cursory reading of Eve events: since obtaining high-end ships is a lot of effort, devs are reluctant to nerf them to avoid an outcry from the players who spent time and resources to obtain them.
Talk about misunderstanding the situation completely.
Lets get a couple things straightened out:
- Goons did not use CCP staff help to win the election. They simply had a lot of votes
- While it may be true that Goons would gain an advantage from a supercapital nerf, this does not change the fact that it is needed
Using any means possible to get elected... Pushing their own agenda once in office...
That sound a lot like real world politics to me.

I think this is more an inherent problem with 'voting' than anything specific to EVE.
"....and decide that the effort isn't worth the bother"

I don't understand this logic. just because CCP made one (lousy) attempt and failed at this, mostly due to their flawed election process, means adapting a similar way of integrating player feedback is futile?
I haven't played the game for a while but this whole story sets off my bullshit meter. A player alliance claims to have meta gamed to the level of industrial infiltration and all they manage to achieve is get a rule change which the majority of players agree is a good thing.

The more I read about the Goons the more I think that they are not half as evil or half as scary as some Goons would like people to think they are. They are every bit as disorganised and conflicted as any other loose alliance of random people playing a video game.
Small correction: I don't think and didn't say that CCP Soundwave had anything to do with the Goons getting elected to the CSM. It's the collusion afterwards, as described by The Mittani, that's unprofessional.

The Goons did marshal votes for their candidates in a very organised way. They held an internal election to decide who their CSM candidates would be then told all Goons to vote for those guys (not other members of Goonfleet who were standing). And as described in my article they are believed to have used a smear campaign against other CSM members including CSM Trebor.
This actually seems substantially LESS corrupt than real world politics.

In the real world, the Goons would have wound up with huge subsidies, tax breaks, dubious government contracts, deregulation, or some other direct financial benefit.
I'm in CONDI (ie Goonswarm Federation) and there's virtually nothing in your post that is accurate. You're being trolled.

All of nulsec came together to vote heavily in the last CSM election, not just goons, because the previous CSM was dominated by lowsec and highsec bloggers with little or no knowledge of nulsec. They agreed, almost with glee, to changes to nulsec that added tedium and irritation did little else. If non-raiders in WoW took over a similar spot and rubberstamped adding 2 hours of trash mobs to every raid zone, would the WoW raiding community come together to vote in a bloc to get representation?

Yes, one of the biggest things that needed to be done was to nerf supercapitals. CCP said that even during the previous CSM. I don't think there's anyone who doesn't welcome this change. Supercaps require years of gametime to train for and were effectively invulnerable to subcap fleets. This brings the nulsec game back into balance with places for newer players and ships other than titans and supercarriers.
When I played EVE the CSM was not really treated that seriously since to most players it was really just a publicity stunt for CCP. Few people seemed to think that the player representatives would actually have any power and CCP would simply continue to do what it wants to do with the game.

Whatever the nerf was it seems that there was already strong support for it so it was probably coming down the pipe no matter what happened.

It feels to me like the Goons are just trolling and taking credit for something that they really did not do.
Still more interesting than 99% of MMO stories, and now 100% accurate to actual politics.
Tobold, fwiw, try not to get too discouraged about eve from reading these stories. For the most part, none of this nonsense at all affects the average player. It's like when you hear about a hardcore wow raiding guild exploiting a boss or something.

It's quite possible to simply ignore all the pvp nonsense, like I do. Living in high security space in eve is pretty much like rolling on a pve server in WoW. You can dismiss all the null sec stuff as easily as you can dismiss the hardcore arena crowd.

I'm an absolute carebear, benevolent towards all, and I greatly enjoy eve. Don't let the stories keep you from enjoying all the fun aspects of the game. The scanning system and wormholes do more to create the thrill of exploration than I've ever felt in any other mmo. The crafting system is very complex and fun. I've never seen anything like planetary interaction in any other mmo, and that's a shame. And of course you have your standing (reputation) grinds, your incursions (hardcore pve raids), the whole gearing up and skilling up, to keep you busy. All in a sandbox where you can create your own goals.

The only thing you can't do in empire space is moon mining and pvp. That's part of why the pvp in eve is so hardcore, I'd say. The only people who go out into nullsec are those who _intend_ to be assholes, so it creates a really terrible atmosphere out there. :o
My alliance that I've been in for the past year and a half is a Goon pet. I've flown several operations with the Goons and they were very knowledgeable and helpful to me as a noob in nullsec space.

As far as I can tell, they really just play the game. I don't know where this idea that they exist only to make the game bad for everyone else comes from. Sure, the leaders talk a lot of shit, but I think that's just your typical trash talk. "Hey! I'm gonna kick your ass all over this floor! You can't get past me!" -- If you said that in a basketball game no one would think anything of it, but if you say it in an MMO it means you're out to make the game into a bad experience for everyone?

I don't get it.
There was no demonstrated subversion of the election process, unless you consider people telling you how to vote to be subversion. Every political party, political action group, and most newspapers seem to get away with that without being accused of subversion.

And there is no democracy. The CSM is an advisory council. CCP is free to disregard anything they request. That the Goons had a plan to break up the current stagnation in 0.0, something CCP was no doubt aware of (both the plan and the situation), does not mean that it is automatically a bad plan or going to lead to a Goon empire in 0.0.

Unless, of course, you think that CCP is run by simpletons who believe whatever the Goons tell them.
I've said it before and I'll say it gain, the Eve community sucks, plain and simple.

End inflamatory transmission....
You may now return to griefing, or hoping you don't get griefed as is your play preference.
@Magson the oft used quote from Goonswarm is "we don't want to ruin the game just your game." and SomethingAwful participation in other MMOs I think are some of the reasons that "dedicated to making the game worse for everybody else" is a fair characterization.

The GF leader who is head of the CSM has many quotes like this "The CSM is a dirty election. It’s a third world election. Anything that’s allowed under the EULA in Eve is allowed in the election. You can buy votes, dead people can resubscribe and vote, you can scam people for votes, so it’s hardly an iconic democracy."

@mbp due to CCP development cycles and election cycles, the winter release will be the one they have the effect on and it has already been designated "the 0.0 release." You may read the "ABC ore in WH" or "T2 manufacturing in hisec" contretemps to see some reaction to this besides the SC nerf.


I submit that player representation has failed is too harsh. Player Representation is just a intense version of the forums - a way to see what the most motivated players think. It is a valuable information source but very, very misleading as your primary information source.


Alas, I see no evidence that companies have learned that lesson. E.g., I am not quite sure Blizzard has internalized the Cata subscriber reasons the same way I do. a/k/a correctly :-) It is not that there is always metagaming; it's just that the most motivated players want to work for the company. And employees who spend 40+ (what I have heard of game companies it can be closer to 80 than 40) hours/week on a game think everyone is as invested as they and the forum warriors are. And talking to player councils just reaffirms all of that.
I am very glad EVE Online exists.

I've tried to get into at multiple points in its timeline, and it really just isn't for me. And it's not the game... It's the people.

EVE has truly earned its nickname: Spreadsheets Online: Sociopaths in Space.

The fact that it exists means that it is tying up the time and attention of people I absolutely do not want in my other MMOs. To me, it serves much the same function as prison.
The Goons enjoy trolling. When I've met them in game they didn't seem any smarter or more talented or more evil than anyone else. They just like publicity stunts.
Anything that can, will be exploited by gamers. Maybe not all, but enough to break most systems.
Tobold, if you wanted to combine all the hot buttons into a single topic, you could point out that these player councils work much worse in flat rate subscription models.

I.e., the 80/20 rule (for "most" businesses, the top 20% of customers generate 80% of profits) can't be true if the 70 hours/week addict and the 3 hour/week casual generate the same revenue and the former has higher costs.

I can understand why game companies would want to understand why all the "whales" spent $500 in a f2p game and how to get more to do that. In spite of the PR, if 88% of the EVE pilots are in hi-sec, asking the most committed 12% how they can run off some of the 88%, who pay the same $15/mo does not seem profitable.

CCP management may not be very competent, but as David said, they are entertaining.
Remember that Democracy is usually there not to be THE best system, but a bad system, just without extremes.

I'd rather have a benign dictatorship (from the dev team) than a player democracy anytime of the day :)

That said, a true Athenian type democracy in a game would be...interesting to see.
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