EVE Online recently announced that the Council of Stellar Management (CSM) Program was moving along nicely, and while at GDC last month, I had the chance to sit down with Pétur Óskarsson from CCP Games and talk a bit about the player council.
Council of Stellar Management
Answers by Pétur Óskarsson (Developer, CCP Games)
Questions by JR "Razor" Sutich
WarCry: Tell me about the CSM, where did the idea come from?
Pétur Óskarsson: In the beginning, we had the CSM and back in 2003 we advertised for volunteers. We then hand-picked the volunteers based on our criteria, things like size of corporation, play style, time in the game. That kind of fell off in 2004, and we are reviving it with the improvement that players are going to elect the candidates to the Council. Once a member is elected they will be flown once per term to Iceland, and the terms will be six months. We hope that they serve as a conduit from the players to us. They will not have any official power, meaning they cannot veto designs or changes to the game but they will have a voice and be able to state their opinions and give input.
Everyone can run, we in no way want to limit the participation. Well, maybe limit it for the players that have threatened to kill us (laughs). Everyone can vote however and it will be one vote for each account. Players will run under their real names and be tied to their in game persona so others can relate to you better. Right now we have plans for nine positions to make up the CSM.
We wanted to open it up to let the players elect them because if we were to just select candidates, we would effectively be selecting what we wanted them to say. By having the players select them, we are opening up a can of worms but nonetheless we are not controlling the input, they can bring up anything they want to. It will be very difficult for the first year but we see it as good for EVE in the long term and we hope to get the best results.
WarCry: Now some of this is the result of the desire for more transparency on behalf of the players in regards to the incidents of developer indiscretions in the past. I see this as a step in the right direction. How soon until we see the first nominations start?
Pétur Óskarsson: We are aiming for sometime in the Summer, definitely before the end of the year.
WarCry: When you say one vote per account, which could result in one person having more than one vote.
Pétur Óskarsson: We are fully aware of that and there isn't any practical way to limit that to one vote per person.
WarCry: How do you see the CSM Program affecting the political climate of the game? Each large alliance will want to get as many representatives as possible voted in.
Pétur Óskarsson: I've been thinking about it quite a bit and what really matters is that any change proposed will affect all of EVE and I feel that no one alliance will benefit more than another as a whole.
WarCry: Are there any limits to how many times a player can be on the Council?
Pétur Óskarsson: Yes, everyone is limited to two terms of six months each. This can be concurrent terms or two terms in total over their lifetime. We want to keep the program a bit more inline with most Democratic states.
As I said before, the first year is going to be hard but we still believe it's worth the effort and worth the time. We really want EVE to become better and hopefully this council will become an essential part of EVE in the future. We're really kind of flying blind here and don't really know what to expect but no guts, no glory.
WarCry: I probably won't run.
Pétur Óskarsson: No? Why not?
WarCry: That's a good question. Who is interviewing whom now?
Pétur Óskarsson: Even though you don't want to run, you can still vote and we want to make that clear. Out of our over 250,000 players only nine will get elected, but EVE is still a society unto itself and you can still make your difference without running.
Thank you to CCP Games and Pétur Óskarsson for the chance to talk about the Council of Stellar Management (CSM) Program. I look forward to seeing how the elections go, and I still have no intention of running for a position. Then again, a trip to Iceland is always welcome.
Vote Razor '08.