Well, CSM9 is now fully in the driver's seat! Several of their members are now blogging weekly; you'll find their blogs on the bottom right under Infrequent but Important, except for Sugar Kyle, whose output rates a slot under Must Read Blogs. The CSM8/CSM9 Transition channel is more and more quiet every day, and the five transition members are in place to help new CSM9 members through any questions. So I now conclude my thoughts on CSM8.
Back in November, I did a CSM8 post called "The first six months" in which I gave my overall high-level impressions of the job up to that point. For the most part, looking back on that post, I believe everything said in it still applies to the full CSM term. So I'm mostly going to keep this fairly short and try not to repeat myself. Everything I said in the first post applies to this one. Still, it seems fitting to wrap up with some "last six months" and some full-year thoughts.
Overall, I continue to believe that we had the strongest CSM to date in terms of the number of active members, and the breadth of experience of those members. I myself would give at least 12 CSM8 members passing grades or better in all areas. Most of the people I was particularly happy working with are now on CSM9, so there's no need for me to repeat their strengths that I mentioned when I endorsed them for that job. ;-)
In particular, I believe we had the best record of any CSM in terms of player communication. Even when things were going badly, we were keeping the players informed of everything we were doing and everything we were allowed to say about what CCP was doing. The six town halls we had during our term met all of my expectations. Four CSM members were blogging or pod-casting during our term, a record that I believe CSM9 will break. But for now, it stands as a record amount of "off-grid" communications for any past CSM.
CSM8 member participation and activity around the two Summits was simply outstanding! For many sessions, 13 out of 14 CSM members were present and all were active and participating. We were (according to Trebor Daehdoow, in a position to know) involved with and communicating with more CCP feature teams and support teams than any past CSM. At the CSM Panel at Fanfest, I made the point that while CSM8 was "Stakeholder v2" (after the difficulties that CCP had with implementing the process for CSM7), CSM8 is also "Partnership v1". I fully believe that CSM9 can and should expand the stakeholder relationship to a lot more teams than we were fully able to.
The large majority of EVE devs were incredibly kind, gracious, and enthusiastic about our participation. They were great hosts in Iceland and great fun to chat with on Skype. I enjoyed all four of my trips to Iceland immensely!
More than that, the majority of EVE devs were also incredibly receptive and open to our input, willing to discuss changes to their babies, or take time to explain what they were doing and why. In many ways, the Summits were the least productive time we spent with the devs since the mentality at these sessions was often that of presenter-audience. In fact, I can only remember four or five Summit sessions that were geared 100% around a team or a dev briefly bringing us something and then just asking for our input on it. Meanwhile, Skype and the private forums were often much more productive for two-way communications.
I myself am glad I ran and glad I served. I learned an incredible amount about how EVE Online is developed and about the game itself. At a couple of points, we were involved in or exposed to game design incredibly early in the process... far earlier than I was expecting or anticipating! That was really heady stuff!
Nearly every CCP employee is incredibly passionate about their game. It's quite easy to forget that as a CSM member and a player. But it's true nonetheless: they're every bit as passionate about the game as we are and have opinions just as strong as we do about it. Where those opinions conflict is where a lot of interesting conversations happen...
The not so good
Expectations only ramped up, and ramped up, and ramped up! At one point, one senior dev only half-joked that CCP was trying to find out how much work they could get us to do for free. I am increasingly of the opinion that the days of three- and four-term CSM members are over. To do this job properly and be properly proactive, plus maintain an outside life, hobbies, and oh yeah, be able to play EVE from time to time should burn out anyone taking the responsibilities seriously after two terms. I'll be really curious most particularly to see if Ali Aras and mynnna run for CSM10...
Related to the above, it was impossible to keep up with everything. CCP Fozzie in particular is a machine (and this is me saying it!)... the dude is up early in the morning Iceland time and is still up late into the night. And as far as I can tell, he spends all that time thinking about or working on EVE. ;-) Many other devs were also quite active and between Skype, the private forums, the public forums, the blogs, the pod-casts, EVE mails, e-mails, and everything else, there was no way anyone could keep up with it all. Each CSM member just had to pick a few things to focus on and hang on as best they could.
A few EVE devs are EVE players... intensified. And I think that's all I'll say about that.
CCP politics is tough -- maybe impossible! -- for an outsider to figure out. Very early in our term, CSM8 developed a... yep, you guessed it... a spreadsheet to keep track of names, job titles, teams, roles, and notes. And then we spent all year trying to keep it updated as all five of those things seemed to be in constant flux for every dev. It was sometimes hard to tell who was in charge of what or how interconnected features would interconnect. That just added to the issues above.
And I think that's all I have to say. Thank you again to everyone who voted for me! I greatly enjoyed my time on CSM8 and I wish the very best of luck to CSM9!