Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New CSM Blog

It seems some people have linked to this blog in error. While I used this website for my previous CSM campaigns, I have retired this blog, and will be making all future posts for my CSM 4 campaigns(and anything subsequent to that) at my new blog. Please update your bookmarks.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thank you all

Well, the results are in, and I didn't win a seat on the third Council of Stellar Management. That said, I'd like to thank everyone who voted for me and who helped me out, and I'd like to congratulate the nine winners on their success. I wish them all the best of luck.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Update: Polls are now closed

There's not much time left to vote - polls close at the next downtime. If you haven't voted yet, please do so now. I'd prefer you vote for me, of course, but the process matters too - figure out who will represent you best, and vote for them with all your accounts. I don't want to see voter turnout keep slipping, for fear of CCP writing the CSM off as a failed experiment. Please, vote.

Edit: Seems I was in error about when the polls closed - they actually closed at midnight game time, and thus voting is now over. Thanks to everyone who participated, and I'm looking forward to seeing the results.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Assembly Hall post

I've been getting especially annoyed at POS mechanics lately, so I posted a thread with a proposal to clean them up a little. Nothing revolutionary, but I think it'd help a lot. Check it out, and if you could give it a thumbs-up that'd be appreciated too.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New speech

Atraxerxes, of the Fly Reckless podcast, asked CSM candidates for speeches, and I figured that I should probably post mine for people who don't listen to his podcast. It's nothing special, but anyone interested can get it off Eve Files here. Hope you enjoy it.

Here's the text:

Hi, I'm Herschel Yamamoto, and I'm running for a seat on the next Council of Stellar Management. My platform is built on three main areas.

Firstly, the user interface is weak, and desperately needs many specific fixes, as well as the more general solution of allowing player mods to allow everyone to play the game with the interface that they like best.

Secondly, the CSM doesn't do a good enough job communicating with players, and I'll work to improve communication as well as streamlining our treatment of smaller issues.

Third, while I have positions on many fields of gameplay, but the two I'm focusing on are making lowsec more valuable and adding more charisma skills, to increase the utility of these underused parts of the game.

I am an experienced candidate, having been a dedicated CSM-watcher since the body was founded, as well as having experience on many similar bodies in real life. I am dedicated to working for you, the player, and will represent you faithfully throughout the term. I have the support of many past CSM members, as well as many other players form a wide variety of professions, and I'd like your support as well. If you'd like to know more, just visit my site at

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Voting is open!

CSM 3 voting is officially open. The voting page is here and you can vote for me here. You have until the 26th to vote.

Even if you don't choose to vote for me, please make up your mind about who you feel can represent you best and vote for them. The CSM is a genuinely useful body(if you don't believe me, look at that shiny new skill queue they got us, after years of every other attempt failing), and the more players participate, the stronger our ability to bring your issues forward to CCP. Please make sure that your voice is heard.

Monday, May 4, 2009

CSM Candidates At A Glance

(Click for full version)

Due to an idea posted by Small Chimp, I've decided to try to make it possible for voters to get a read on all CSM candidates at a glance, without having to sort through 40 campaign pages. It should be pointed out that a lot of the candidates gave much longer answers than what I have written above for the first two questions. I've run all abbreviations by them, but not everyone has responded. Any faults in summarization are my own.

The full version of the questions asked are:

What is the single biggest issue you will attempt to work on if elected to the CSM?

What is your single biggest activity as an Eve player?

Rate your knowledge of the following aspects of the game on a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is high:
- 0.0 Warfare
- Piracy
- PvE
- Industry

Rate your general happiness with the following aspects of the game on a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is high:
- Supercapital ships
- Sovereignty mechanics
- Low security space
- Local chat channel
- Minerals and T1 items in NPC loot
- Players being allowed to join NPC corps at will
- The user interface

Additional candidates will be filled in as I get answers back from them.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

CSM #3 Campaign Overview

This is an overview of my platform as a candidate for the third Council of Stellar Management. For more information on any of the points below, just click the links.

Why I'm Running

Policy: User Interface
- I will work for the implementation of a modifiable user interface, to allow each player to play the game in the most comfortable and efficient fashion for them. This will be carefully monitored to ensure that macroing is not made easier by this change.
- I will work for the implementation of improvements to existing areas of Eve's user interface, especially the poorly-implemented areas like EveMail, the In-Game Browser, and the official forums.

Policy: CSM Internal
- I will ensure better communication between the CSM and the player base, both by creating more accessible reference materials for players to see what the CSM is doing, and by streamlining the Assembly Hall process to allow the CSM to see what players want more effectively.
- I will look into the possibility of moving the CSM debates to a publicly-viewable forum, to allow better debate among CSM members and to allow players to better see what their representatives are doing and why.
- I will attempt to create a streamlined process for small issues that don't require much debate, so that they can be considered more easily and not ignored.
- If I am elected as CSM Chair, I will resign the Chair and allow a vote of the CSM members on who ought to be our Chair.

Policy: Gameplay
I have opinions and policies about many areas of gameplay, but the below are some highlights.
- I will look into ways to make lowsec more habitable by players. This will include both an increase in lowsec profitability, through mechanisms such as new ores(Thread) and better exploration sites, and the ability to gain "lowsec sovereignty" to allow players to defend their space without losing as much security standing. (Thread)
- I will work to add new epic arcs to the game which will allow players to recover low faction standings with a significant time investment. (Thread)
- I will look into new skills which can reasonably be added to underused skill trees, such as Corporation Management and Trade, with a special emphasis on the addition of Charisma-using skills.
- For all other proposals, I will work to improve the game as a whole, rather than one favoured part of it, I will ensure that proposals I make are well-considered and reasonable, and I will consult with players on proposed changes.

About Me

CSM #3: Why I'm Running

On November 14th, 2007, I was logged in to change skills and update my research lines, when a corpmate mentioned a new dev blog about something called the "Council of Stellar Management". I had no idea what he was talking about, so I went onto the website and looked up the dev blog. Inside, I found a 20 page chunk of political philosophy shoehorned into the mold of a computer game. In it also lay the soul of Eve.

I do not believe that CCP set out to make a game when they designed Eve, and I do not believe that they think in terms of making a game today. Of course, they do so superficially, but at its heart, CCP has built a world for us to play in, rather than merely a game for us to play with. Market share, player enjoyment, and all the rest matter, but they're secondary to building a world that feels real and that makes sense as a world. Concessions to gameplay exist - infinite supplies of enemies, respawning asteroids in belts 50 km wide, and so on - but they always feel like it's a guilty failure of vision, not like it's a gleeful attempt to fit within the mold laid down by others.

So it was here. CCP did not talk about player input into the game as a feature, they talked about it as a natural right of individuals living in a civilization. Their goal was to create a "deliberative democracy" to allow the will of the people to express itself to the government. Of course, it contained the usual CCP excesses - a grand document they spent huge amounts of time on with promises they still haven't delivered on a year later, Wikipedia footnotes, and half-completed proofreading - but in this case it truly is the thought that counts.

The thought, in this case, was the thought that makes democracy a functional system of government in worlds both real and virtual. Individuals tend to be intelligent and thoughtful, often making better decisions in large groups than even the best individual can, and they tend to work for their own good and the good of those around them. The CSM is an attempt to harness the power of democracy to improve Eve, and as such it is one of the more ambitious experiments CCP has ever attempted, but given the experimentally observed effects of democracy in the real world, it also has the potential to be one of their greatest successes.

It is our responsibility as players to ensure that this potential is not squandered because of us. Not merely because some would consider it a moral obligation, but because we will be the ones who benefit from a game that harnesses the power of democracy to better itself. If we care about the future of the game, we ought to get involved in shaping that future as best we can. We should become informed, we should be active in the political life of our society, and we should try to use our powers of reason, persuasion, and voting to attempt to enact the changes we see as being the most beneficial. We should stand up for what we believe in because we believe in it.

This is what I have attempted to do as a member of the Eve universe ever since the Council of Stellar Management became a reality last April. I gathered information, read the platform of every candidate who had one, and cast my vote for the candidate who I believed had the best vision to take the game forward. I have been involved in the CSM's processes from the beginning, being probably the most active player in the CSM-specific forums, and having done what I can at every point to aid the CSM's internal processes, participating in everything from the keeping list of topics raised updated to creating archive threads for past CSM information to participating in virtually every discussion of how the CSM can improve its ways of doing business.

The only way I have not participated thus far is by holding a seat on the Council in my own right, and now is the time to change that. I have a strong agenda for the future that I genuinely believe will make the game a better one for everybody, and I believe that my vision is shared by enough other players that I can make a real difference in Eve going forward. As such, I am asking for your support to be a member of the next Council of Stellar Management.

My slogan is a simple one - "Experience. Dedication. Clarity." - but it encapsulates the core of my campaign and my beliefs. I have more experience with the CSM than most other candidates in this race, having been as involved as a non-member can be since day one, and having a significant amount of experience with similar bodies in the real world. I am fiercely dedicated to fulfilling my responsibilities to others, and I will never shirk them or abandon them because it's too hard or too boring. And I believe strongly in a series of measures designed to improve clarity in the CSM (rules of order and improved resources for players to understand what we are doing) and in Eve (a wide array of improvements to the user interface and to documentation of how the game works). My beliefs are more complex than that, as any person's are, but that is the core of why I am running and what I will do if the players entrust me with a seat on the Council.

I do not run because I think I can bend the game to my will, or because I think I will be able to dictate terms to CCP. The CSM is an advisory body, not a legislature, and it must act as one. There are things that cannot be done due to limited resources, things that will not be done due to the developers having responsibilities to CCP shareholders that take precedence over their responsibilities to Eve players, and things that will be done very differently than we propose because of the rounds of testing that ideas must go through before they are made into final changes to the game.

However, we as players have one great advantage offsetting the limitations I just described, and that is that CCP genuinely does care. They may do boneheaded things from time to time - the fact that Eve was not intended as a game shows up in negative ways as well as positive - and I will attack them when that happens. But at the end of the day, CCP loves this game as much as any player, because it is both their passion and their child. They want to see what is best for Eve, and they have entrusted us as players with a major role in that process. It is our responsibility to ensure that we work with the developers, that we advise them to the best of our collective ability, and that we do what is best for Eve. And with your help, that is precisely what I intend to spend the next six months doing.

Thank you.

CSM #3 Policy: User Interface

I will begin by giving credit where credit is due - CCP has been consistently improving the user interface for years. Changes ranging from contracts to the Align To button to the drone changes that have been happening for years now to dozens of others have made the user's experience better and made the game consistently more playable. CCP has been implementing these constantly over the last several expansions, and they have genuinely helped.

However, as much as the game has been changing for the better, it hasn't been changing nearly fast enough. Game reviewer Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw said it best:
The interface could only be less intuitive if your monitor was at the bottom of a well...I was going to say in jest that Eve feels like a game that doesn't seem to want to be played at all, but on reflection I think I might be onto something.
And, whether you trust his reviews or not, his response fits well with what I've heard from many other people I've tried to bring into the game. I have yet to come across anyone who wasn't an Eve veteran who thought the UI was anything better than marginally usable, and after two years I still only find it adequate.

CCP may have a team of UI programmers, but there are limits on what three or four people can do for a game as sprawling as Eve with as bad of a UI as it has, especially given that this isn't changes to an alpha test version but instead to a long-deployed game. They need to come up with improvements, and they need to work within a pile of code that they can't just rip up and change, and they have to do this without annoying any significant number of people. It's not surprising that they're moving slowly, but it is immensely frustrating.

This is not a phrase I will utter very often, but this is a field where Eve could stand to learn quite a lot from World of Warcraft. I have never played WoW myself, but I know a lot of people who do, and all of them rave about the utility of user-created user interface modifications. You want to move buttons around, you can download a quick little file that will do so, and all of a sudden the UI is exactly the way you want it, without the developers ever having to lift a finger. As with most other forms of distributed problem-solving, it works incredibly well.

Players with programming skill go into the UI, fix whatever problem annoys them, and then post the patch on a central website for others to use. You need one person to make a change and the whole community benefits from it. Of course, Eve does not have the same size of player base as WoW, but a quarter of a million people will contain one who gets annoyed by just about any problem you care to name - as evidenced by all the game utility sites that exist today - and then the devs can gain freedom of movement, since any bad change can be reverted by the players, and the players get to play with exactly the UI they want.

Of course, there are concerns with this process, but they are concerns that other games have dealt with successfully. The game cannot be so moddable that people can use game tools to build macros to play the game for them. Some interactions are too powerful and will need to be removed. The devs will have to keep on top of what is available and what is being used to ensure that the tools that they provide are not being used for undesirable purposes. However, I believe this to be an important change, perhaps even the single most useful change that could be made to the game right now. As such, I will work to establish a modifiable user interface for Eve, and I will treat this as the single most important goal of my term of office.

However, even if my goal of a user-moddable UI is implemented tomorrow, the game still needs to cater to new players, and as such the default user interface will still need work. There have been several players who have created lists of UI problems for the developers to fix, most notably Xaen with his thread Xaen's List of UI Improvements, now approaching three years old. I encourage attempts to create a systematic process for collating and advancing complaints about the UI, and I will seek to involve the CSM in this process in future. The proposal to have a streamlined process for minor issues(see the CSM Internal post below) should help immensely with this, but I will also encourage players to submit larger proposals of this type as well, such as the badly needed overhaul of the Science and Industry interface.

I know that the user interface is not as impressive an issue to deal with as changes to capital warfare or as likely to make headlines. It is, however, just as important to the long-term health of the game and to the good tempers of those playing it. While it will not be the only focus of my term of office, I think this is an area that has not been addressed adequately to date, and it is one where there is still a lot of real progress that needs to be made.

CSM #3 Policy: CSM Internal

I have been watching the CSM very carefully over the past 12 months, and have seen many of the issues that have affected how the two Councils have done their job. While much has been done to make the Council function more effectively over the last year, there are still many changes which can and should be made to improve its ability to represent players in an effective and efficient manner. There are three issues in particular which I will make it a priority to improve upon if elected to CSM #3.

Firstly, communication between the CSM and the players needs work. It is difficult for a player looking casually to find meeting minutes, resources on what the Council is and how best to work with it, what items are on the agenda for the next meeting, and other important information. As such, I would like to see the CSM post some resource threads for stickying, both in the Assembly Hall and Jita Park, giving players quick access to the minutes of past meetings and other important information, as well as telling them how to properly submit their ideas.

Secondly, I believe that the chat format is not the best way to have CSM meetings, and a forum system should be seriously considered. It gives CSM members more time and space for debates without being limited by forcing real-time communications on a world-spanning group - much as we all appreciate Omber Zombie's willingness to stay up until 5 AM to hold meetings, it's not something that should be necessary. It also allows arguments to be laid out more clearly and with more time for consideration of points in debate than is possible in a real-time format. Of course, meetings with CCP will have to be held in real time, and it may not be technically possible to establish the right sort of forum for this, but I believe that it offers enough advantages to be worth looking into.

Thirdly, the CSM has always gotten a large number of small issues that, while not important in the same way that changes to sovereignty or mineral sources are important, are still worthy of mention to CCP. I believe that a streamlined process for minor issues should be created, so that issues which are minor and will not require much debate can be passed quickly, instead of requiring them to catch a CSM member's eye, go through a debate at the CSM meeting, and have a full discussion at a meeting with CCP. Ideally, an issue on the Assembly Hall would just be marked with [Minor], CSM members would vote in the thread itself, and all such issues that pass will be passed along to CCP, without significant discussion, at every meeting.

Finally, I believe that the position of Chair of the CSM should be selected from among the members by a vote, instead of by the players. It is fundamentally an administrative position, not a leadership position, and as such it should be decided based on who will be the best administrator, not on who will be the best CSM member. I will seek to change this rule going forward. Also, if I am elected Chair, I will step down at the first meeting and allow a vote of the CSM membership on who will run our group.