Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lottery #4 - Paladin

I'm running the fourth in a series of lotteries to give away Marauders, and this time it's a Paladin I'm trying to get rid of. It's fitted and rigged, and there's also a pile of secondary prizes - six free tickets for my next lottery, and an Apocalypse if you buy your tickets my January 7th. Tickets are 20 million isk each. For full details, see the forum thread, but here's a quick rundown.

The winner will be chosen by the Lotto 6/49 draw for Wednesday, January 14th. The bonus ball number wins the Paladin, the regular numbers each win a free ticket. The bonus ball number of the January 7th draw wins the Apocalypse. As well, to assure you that the lottery is legitimate, the Paladin is being held by Chribba, as verified on the forum thread.

Paladin fit:
High: 4x Mega Pulse Laser II, 2x Salvager I, Small Tractor Beam I
Mid: 4x Cap Recharger II, 1x Stasis Webifier II
Low: 2x Large Armor Repairer II, 2x Armor EM Hardener II, 2x Armor Explosive Hardener II, 2x Armor Kinetic Hardener II, 2x Armor Thermic Hardener II, Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II, 2x Heat Sink II
Rig: 2x Capacitor Control Circuit I
Drone: 5x Hobgoblin II, 5x Hammerhead II

This includes fittings for both the 2-LAR fit(with one heat sink) and the 1-LAR fit(with a web and two heat sinks). Both run their tank forever with good skills.

There's some more legalese on the forums, but that's the important stuff. To buy tickets, just send 20 million per ticket to Herschel Yamamoto, and let me know what numbers you'd like.

Good luck!

Non-CSM stuff

It feels wasteful to just let this blog die, so I'm going to use it to host a lot of my other activities. If I run for the next CSM I'll use it for that again, but for now this is just my Eve website, not a CSM campaign page.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Now that the polls are closed, I'd like to sincerely thank everyone who voted for me. It's been a fun campaign, and I'm looking forward to the release of results on Monday.

Friday, November 7, 2008

How to contact me

Given that voting is now open and players are now looking at this site in large numbers, it seems time to give you information on how to contact me. I have an open door policy, and I welcome comments, questions, and discussion from all players. The easiest ways are to comment right here on this blog, on my campaign thread, or send me an EveMail. I check all three at least daily, and more often if I can. I sit in the chat channel "CSM Public Chat" whenever I'm online, along with 1-10 other candidates(depending on day and time). You can email me at odssstudents1@yahoo.com.

If you want to talk to me by voice I'm also able to use Eve Voice, Teamspeak, Ventrilo, or Skype, though I don't sit online in any of them because my computer is online 24/7 while I am not. But if you want to have a voice chat with me, just let me know and I'll set it up.

Voting is open!

Voting is now open for the second CSM. Of course, I hope you'll vote for me, but be sure to go out, get educated on the candidates, and vote for somebody. Democracy matters, and it can't hurt our standing with CCP to have a larger proportion of the Eve community involved in the CSM.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


There's a public debate being held today for CSM candidates. It's on Eve Radio from 18:00 to 21:00 today. I don't know what time slot I'll have, unfortunately, but I'll post it here once I do.

Edit: I'll be on at 19:00, along with LaVista Vista and Sophie Daigneau.

Friday, October 24, 2008

CCP Zulupark Answers Everything

CCP gets a lot of criticism for how they choose to communicate with the players, and some of it is deserved. But sometimes they do it very right, and this weekend is one of those times - CCP Zulupark created an open thread that's open until midnight Sunday, and has committed to answering everything asked by anybody. I put in a good batch of questions myself, which he has kindly answered(scroll up a bit for the answer to the first question). A few answers he deferred on, which means I'll have to wait for Xhagen, Dr.EyjoG, Wrangler, Hammer, and with my luck probably half the rest of CCP, but that's fine.

Thanks to Zulupark for volunteering to stand in front of an avalanche, and to CCP for making this happen. This is exactly the sort of developer-player interaction everybody can support.

Edit: One other note. If the RMT question seems out of line with what you'd expect me to say, it's mostly because I've never actually heard a CCP explanation for this discrepancy. I'm pretty sure I know why they hold this position, but I want to hear it from the horse's mouth(as it were).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's official!

Got an email from CCP today. My application has been formally accepted, so I will be on the ballot for the election.

See you all November 7-21!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen...

It is my pleasure today to formally announce my candidacy for a position on the Council of Stellar Management. I have a strong and ambitious platform for the future, available below and mirrored at my campaign thread. It is in five parts:
My Vision
Policy – CSM Internal
Policy – User Interface
Policy – Gameplay
About Me

While I have sought to explain my thoughts on a wide array of topics, and to explain my reasons for holding the positions that I do, I understand that many voters are less willing to read 5000 words of my campaign platform than I am to write it. As such, if you wish to skip directly to my specific promises, simply look for the sentences that are bolded and underlined in the Policy sections.

My Vision

On November 14th of last year, 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 this 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 attempted to participate thus far is by being a candidate standing for election, 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, it is time for me to take that final leap and stand for election as a Councilor.

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 - 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.

Policy - CSM Internal

The first CSM has been a success in many ways, but it has also been plagued with a large number of problems with how things are done, and if I am elected I will make a priority of identifying and fixing as many of these problems as possible. Here are the primary issues with the CSM's internal mechanics that I see at present.

One of the saddest things about watching how the previous CSM has done business over the last four months has been seeing how badly the Council itself was run. There have been long, protracted fights over the nature of the Chairman's powers, whether or not members have the right to abstain from a vote, and several other similar minor procedural matters of no importance to anybody.

The reason for this is simple - the last Council never specified rules of order of any sort, and as such any time a debate over how to conduct business came up, they had no way to decide except internal wrangling. The results of this are as obvious as they are inevitable - gridlock on procedural matters, with the only way to break it being to shout the loudest. This was bad for one term of office, but it would be worse if it were to continue for a second.

As such, I pledge to bring up a vote to establish rules of order for future use at the first meeting of the new CSM. My preference is for Robert's Rules of Order, since they are both widely used and freely available, and I have a great deal of past experience with them, but I will accept any rules that the rest of the Council feels comfortable with so long as they are comprehensive and usable.

Almost as fundamental as rules of order is the issue of how meetings are conducted. At present, the requirement to make meetings happen in a chat channel is causing an immense amount of scheduling problems, and that is with the CSM being made up of seven Europeans and two Americans, with a total time zone spread of only seven hours. The difficulties Omber Zombie has had making meetings are unfortunate, but he was only an alternate this time - how ugly would scheduling be if he, or another person in Australia or east Asia, were a full member whose schedule had to be accommodated? This is a game played worldwide, and the problem of scheduling meetings is not a trivial one under those circumstances.

Between this and the issues of meetings getting longer and members having to leave midway through them, a new process for conducting CSM meeting should be looked into. Specifically, I will look into the possibility of moving CSM votes away from chat channels and towards a forum-based system. These forums will be publicly accessible, although the actual voting threads will be limited to CSM members and alternates, to allow for uninterrupted debate to take place. I am aware that the current structure of the official Eve forums cannot accommodate this at present, unfortunately, and thus one of two alternative methods for doing this will have to be looked at. My understanding is that CCP is working on the long-overdue overhaul to the forums, and if this is the case then I would like to work with CCP to ensure that the new forum software has the ability to do what we would like it to for this purpose. Failing that, however, the option of using off-site forums for this task will be implemented.

Another point of contention in the past has been the method of selecting the Chair. The rules specify that the person receiving the most votes in the election is Chair, but the election measures who would make the best representative, not who would make the best person to run meetings. As such, I will encourage whoever finishes first in the election to step aside as Chair as soon as possible, and hold a vote inside the CSM on who will be the new Chair. If I am elected Chair, I will resign immediately following the vote on rules of order and hold an election to fill the role.

It should be easier in future for players unfamiliar with the CSM and its processes to get at what they want to know, without having to sort through the chaos of the forums. As such, I will work to establish new threads of reference materials for stickying on the Assembly Hall and Jita Park Speakers Corner. I have already made one thread in this vein - an archive of past CSM submissions - and I will work with the rest of the CSM to figure out what a handful of other useful threads would be for reference, to allow players to quickly find what they want to know without flooding the boards with stickies of dubious utility. My inclinations are to a thread on JPSC linking meeting agendas, a thread on JPSC linking the items approved for submission in the next submission to CCP, and a thread on AH linking all topics to be discussed at the upcoming meeting, as well as the one I have already posted. This is subject to discussions with the rest of the CSM and CCP's approval, however.

There have been problems over the past term with issues being raised multiple times after they were rejected the first time. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it is important to ensure that it is not used to flood meetings with proposals the Council will not pass merely because one member feels strongly about it. As such, I will propose a rule that no topic may be brought back to the Council after being rejected unless it is raised by a member who voted against it previously. If no new member is supporting it then it cannot pass, and as such the Council should not waste its time with it.

Finally, it should be ensured that players have access to all the discussions of the CSM, and that they are all easy to find. This should ultimately be done by CCP on the official site, but it hasn't been thus far, and I will work to find the problem that has stopped the chatlogs and minutes from being posted on the official site and fix it.

The role of providing resources to players can also be fulfilled by third-party means, and this was well done for the first month by Serenity Steele with his www.eve-csm.com site, but that site's abandonment has left the CSM with no third-party site to host meeting minutes on, leaving us with the stopgap measure of Jade Constantine using his corporate forums as a de facto CSM site. While this is certainly better than nothing, and his willingness to do this is appreciated, it is not how things should be operating, and it should be fixed as soon as possible. I will ensure that an effective, stable third-party site for the CSM exists for player reference.

I believe that with the above changes, the CSM will function much more effectively, and spend less time fighting over procedure and more time representing the players to CCP, which is the function that this body ultimately exists for.

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. And apparently more is coming in the Midas expansion, with a lot of changes to science and industry.

However, as much as the game has been changing for the better, it hasn't been changing nearly fast enough. Internet 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 faced. 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 over two years old, and a consortium of Russian players who recently came up with a similar list. 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. Prior to every submission to CCP, I will create an open thread for desired UI changes. Those changes that the Council decides will likely be beneficial will be advanced to CCP.

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.

Policy - Gameplay

When it comes to fundamental gameplay, Eve is an excellent game, and as far as I'm concerned it's easily the best MMO on the market today. However, as with all things human, it is still imperfect, and I see a few things about it that could be improved upon.

The first category of flaw is aspects of the game that ought to be well-used, but due to failures of implementation are not. The two most obvious of these are low security(0.1-0.4) space and the Charisma attribute.

Lowsec suffers from being at exactly the wrong place on the risk/reward curve. It is about as risky as 0.0, but with none of the profitability. As such, its primary uses are for people with specialized desires, such as factional warfare or small-scale piracy. There is nothing wrong with those uses, but they're not enough. A wide variety of things must be done to make lowsec more profitable on the whole, and if elected, I will propose a wide variety of ways of making lowsec more profitable including, but not limited to, more lowsec agents, better lowsec ores, better lowsec complexes, and boosts to level 5 missions.

The other problem lowsec suffers from is that the security mechanism is an impediment to people attempting to take and hold space, since any group that shoots intruders will rapidly see their sec status decay too far to enter highsec. In order to rectify this, I will look into a mechanism that allows for a corporation controlling a lowsec system to defend their system without security loss. This would use a control system similar in philosophy to sovereignty in 0.0 and system control in factional warfare, though different in specifics. I believe that this would encourage players to colonize lowsec, by removing one of the major penalties from it, as well as providing a transition to the ultimate endgame of player-controlled 0.0 space.

It is a maxim in roleplaying that charisma is the dump stat. If you want to play an effective, powerful character you should do as much as you can to avoid charisma, and instead put those attributes into things that help you more, which every other attribute generally does. Unfortunately, Eve falls into this trap just as badly as D&D ever did. I play an Achura character, not because I think that the backstory is cool or the faces look good, but because everyone around me when I started told me I'd have to be insane to play anything else. And they were right. That's great for me, but it's bad for the game.

The problem is that there simply aren't many charisma-using skills in the game. A trader can very naturally max charisma when he creates his character, and it will serve him very well until he has about 5 million SP, at which point he is out of things to train with charisma and those points drag him down for the rest of the game. This is bait-and-switch gameplay at its worst, and it needs to be rectified. As such, I will look for new Charisma-using skills to add to the game, and will propose new ones whenever possible.

I have some proposals for particular Charisma skills which could be added, such as POS gunnery damage skills, CEO skills affecting wardecs(have more, make them cheaper, etc.), skills that would increase your choice in which mission to take, and many others, but I will refrain from making definite proposals until a great deal of brainstorming and consultation has been done to ensure that the skills proposed are right for the game and that we're not missing any good paths for expansion.

As well, there are a few other issues of this sort that the past CSM has already dealt with, most notably improvements to the bounty hunter system. While these issues are probably settled as far as the CSM is concerned, I will ensure that these issues are dealt with properly if the previous submissions come across some unforeseen roadblock. We do not want the first Council's good work going to waste.

The second category of flaw is simple balance issues. As with any other game this complex, there's a lot of these. People have complained about everything from the Nighthawk to the Naglfar, from citadel torpedoes to defender missiles. Most of these concerns are valid and are worthy of attention. However, they are not the CSM's primary role. CCP has better data on ship usage and effectiveness than any player, and they are on the lookout for balance issues. As such, while I have no objection to bringing forward the players' opinions on balance issues, I consider most of them to be of secondary importance to more fundamental changes to the structure of the game. CCP wants the CSM to be more about vision than trivia, and I agree with them. As such, I will attempt to focus on far-reaching solutions to balance issues, such as my thread proposing a revamp of defender missiles, rather than simple "Add 37 CPU to it" fixes that CCP can come up with themselves. The goal for the CSM is to bring forward new ideas for how to balance ships properly, not just to fiddle with numbers.

The third category of gameplay issue that the CSM can address is the creation of new content, or large amendments to old content, and this is the one where we as a group can probably do the most for the game. Issues like balancing of Doomsday Devices, revamping of sovereignty, allowing alliances into Factional Warfare, fundamentally changing the nature of how rats drop loot, revamping the production cycle to include components, and dozens of others in this vein have been the primary job of the CSM for the first term of office, and this will not change in future. There are far too many of these issues for me to express an opinion on each of them here, but if you want to know about any of them, just ask me. However, I will outline my approach to these issues generally.

Firstly, my primary goal is to do what is best for the game as a whole. I'm not running to benefit one group at the expense of others, and even if I was, CCP wouldn't implement any such proposals. There are always winners and losers in a change, but I will do my best to ensure that every change I propose would create more winners.

Secondly, I will ensure that every proposal I make is careful and well-considered. I like to muse about many things on the forums, but when it comes time to do this as a responsibility and not a hobby, I will take it seriously and ensure that my advice to CCP is as good as I can make it. CCP operates under limits on time, money, programmers, public relations and player sentiment, and they are hemmed in by the consequences of their past actions. If the CSM does not respect these limitations and seek to work within them ourselves, we might as well be talking to a wall, because our suggestions will be useless to CCP. I will attempt to make proposals that respect the real limitations on CCP, and that work within those limitations to make a better game for everybody.

And thirdly, I will consult with players on proposed changes. I read a large swath of the forums, and I like to think that I generally know what's going on with the game, but I don't know Doomsdays as well as a Titan pilot, and I don't know manufacturing as well as a long-time T2 builder. If I'm proposing major changes to the way that these people play the game, I intend to talk with them first. That includes any other CSM reps with special knowledge of one aspect of the game, and it includes players at large. I will maintain an open-door policy when communicating with you, the player, and will take into consideration what the players tell me on issues. Nobody gets a veto, but if you have something to say I'll listen.

There is also one other way for the CSM to aid CCP on gameplay issues, aside from direct recommendation of issues. Currently, the Assembly Hall is the only way to conduct a fair poll of players with easy to interpret results, as evidenced by the pair of poll threads on the nano nerf. While such threads are not appropriate for all issues, and can choke out new ideas on the forum if too many are created, they are a valuable method of finding out the opinion of the players on especially contentious issues. Therefore, I will create poll threads from time to time to determine the opinion of the players on especially controversial topics.

About Me

My name is Alex Sloat, and I am a 22 year old living in Brantford, Ontario, Canada who recently graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Economics. I am currently working as an office clerk for the local electrical company. I have been heavily involved with political bodies of many sorts, both partisan and not, since I was 16, and have a great deal of experience with positions on elected bodies.

In Eve, I play as Herschel Yamamoto, an Achura pilot specializing in Gallentean combat ships, and I've been playing for just under two years. I engage in a wide variety of activities - I regularly do missions, I harvest datacores, I am in the process of setting up a cruiser BPC store, I run a lottery, and I engage in PvP both as a mercenary and a pirate, as well as some other activities from time to time. I have at some point done virtually every activity outside of 0.0, and even then I try to learn as much about how things work there as I can so that I can comment on it intelligently.

Since the CSM was announced, I have taken a strong interest in the body, and have been active in its processes. I've read all the meeting minutes, had conversations with many of the members, provided a great deal of support work to the current Council - most notably, keeping the list of topics in the Assembly Hall up to date for Serenity for two months, before it became obvious that Serenity was not paying attention anymore - and have been probably the most active and dedicated person around the CSM who was not a member or alternate.

Both in real life and in game, I am an active participant in what is going on in the world, and I have no objection to working hard in order to make sure that I don't let those around me down or shirk my responsibilities.