General ImpressionsThis summit went really, really well. We talked about a lot of stuff, and both CCP and the CSM were well prepared. Every summit session was worthwhile and productive, which is not always the case. My main wish for the next summit would be to have more time. We didn't get enough time to talk about many things, including DUST, ship balance, UI improvements and more. For the first time I know of, CCP actually had people that wanted to have summit sessions with us that didn't get them due to lack of time.
The other thing that worked really well was the recording and participation from some of the bottom 7 CSM members. As you may remember, CCP reduced the number of CSM members who go to these summits from 9 to 7, but we had a couple of the folks not in Iceland able to connect using Microsoft's Lync. This is some seriously cool software and hardware from Microsoft that has a series of cameras that track who is speaking and focus in on that person. I wanted to give a special shout out to Alekseyev Karrde, who attended *all* the summit sessions from the Seattle area, even though they ran from 2 AM til 11 AM. I think Alek was a half hour late for like 1 session, but he was there and on the ball. For most of the time, the folks not in Iceland were just listening in, but for the Wardec session Alek was allowed to webcam in, and went all boss mode and zipped through all our questions and concerns. Hans was going to do the same for the Faction Warfare session, but had some technical issues and had to just type his questions into a chat window. For both of those sessions, both of the above CSMs also prepared a multipage document laying out their questions and concerns, which let us be really focused with CCP.
Another couple of differences from CCP this time as well were that Jon Lander (CCP Unifex) was present for just about all the sessions. This was super critical, because he is the man responsible for CCP's plans and direction for EVE. For most of the sessions he was just listening, but that means he heard where we think the major problem areas are. The other really welcome change is that CCP didn't come to us with a ton of powerpoint slides with talking points on them. The few slides we saw (I would guess at maybe 30 total for 3 days) were full of important graphs, numbers or UI mockups. In the past, much time was wasted by CCP walking us through huge slide decks, and it was great to not suffer through that... :)
Most of the CSM got in on Tuesday morning. 5 of us were on flights that landed pretty early, and all shared a van ride to the hotel. After a short nap, most of us were motivated by hunger and went off in search of food/caffeine. We set up out many iPads in a cafe, and a waitress tried to gank Elise Randolph by spilling Seleene's drink on him (though mostly on herself). This caused the first CSM drama of the week, see this locked thread. After that, we went back to the hotel and managed to use up the rest of their monthly bandwidth cap (seriously, they ran out, and had to call their ISP and order more). Since we couldn't post on the forums, we went out in search of food and alcohol, since we wanted to feel our very best for the next day. Our plans to drink all night were foiled by the Icelandic bars closing at 1 AM (when it was still perfectly light out), so we got some rest.
Firstly, Trebor posted a great summary for this (and all other days) on the forums here. Go read it, because I will be mostly touching on my personal opinions and not sticking to the facts like he did.
CSM Intro/White paper
The first part of this session was the standard stuff, mostly for our two new CSMs (Kelduum and Greene Lee). Everyone else had been to at least one summit, so after the all-important choosing of the chairs (for some reason, we always seem to sit in the same chairs every day), we got started on what changes we would like to see to the CSM white paper. The white paper is the "constitution" of the CSM, and the CSM has evolved a lot in the past few years and the white paper hasn't always caught up. There are a couple basically meaningless roles (both of the vice positions have no real duties) and there are still a lot of issues people have with the voting process. While we didn't solve any of those, we did make a good start on what discussion needs to happen in the future. This discussion will of course involve the community, as it certainly isn't right for just the CSM to decide on the rules for the CSM process.
What is a Stakeholder
The next session was by far the most important session I have been involved in as a CSM. At the end of CSM 4, the CSM was told that they were going to be elevated to "Stakeholder" status within CCP. Ever since then, it has never been clear to the CSM or to CCP what exactly that should mean. I'm going to have to wait for the minutes to get into details, but I can say that we spent a really good hour or so talking about how the CSM can and should be involved more in CCP's formal processes. I really do think this could turn out to be a really important point in the evolution of the CSM, and I am really optimistic about how we can be an even more positive influence on the direction of EVE in the future.
Winter 2012 / EVE Future
I am obviously going to be very light on details here, but in this session and in many other sessions, there was an amazing change from CCP. In the past, they haven't really had a plan past the next expansion, but it was really, really good to hear them talk confidently and knowledgeably about what they will be doing 6, 12 and even possibly 18 months in advance. Having that sort of plan lets them much better allocate their resources and makes sure that large features get time built into the schedule for iteration and refinement. This is another huge change at CCP, and is a really good sign, in my opinion.
The State of Incarna
Another one that will have to wait for the minutes, but it is really good to hear CCP talking about finding compelling, fun gameplay for Incarna before they start investing a lot of time and resources into it.
A really good session with CCP Goliath about what players do and don't like about CCP-run live events. In general, the feedback I have been hearing from the playerbase is that they want more live events more often, and I communicated that during the session.
Several past CSM members have spoken many times about how important the post-summit discussions are, and they are absolutely correct. Spending time after the sessions with CCP folks does a bunch of important things. Firstly, it lets CCP and the CSM spitball and brainstorm the craziest of crazy ideas without someone being worried the players will riot. Secondly, it lets CCP folks get to know the CSM as people, which makes it so much easier for one of them to poke us on Skype and get our feedback. A big part of the CSM is convincing CCP that they should talk to us, and having shared sometimes embarrassing drunken stories helps with that (I'm not going to name names, but there were some totally hilarious iPhone camera pics that were passed around the whole summit). Thirdly, it lets us get to know some of the devs we don't get to talk to during the summit. If we buy them enough drinks, we can often trick them into joining the skype channel.
Day 2Go read Trebor's day 2 summary first.
Mining and IndustryI (and many other people) think that this is an area that has been long neglected by CCP. It is really good to hear that they will hopefully be fixing that in the future, and the stuff we saw from CCP (it was mostly CCP Arrow, not CCP Greyscale as Trebor posted) was really cool stuff. Anyone who has done any sort of industry in EVE knows that the UI is terrible, and CCP agrees. We saw some really great UI mockups here, and heard some really fantastic ideas for how to make building stuff a lot more about figuring out the what/where/when and a lot less about the "How?".
New Player Owned StationsI already posted my thoughts on this before the summit. It was great to hear some real, concrete plans for CCP getting started on this stuff. They got a lot of great feedback at Fan Fest, and I think they have a really good handle on exactly what people want and expect. I'm going to wait for the minutes to say much more about this though.
DUST 514 and EVEThis session was really constrained by time. We were joined by CCP Jian calling in from Shanghai, and got a really good outline of CCP's plans for how and when DUST and EVE will interact. There are still a lot of details to be ironed out, and this is a discussion that I am sure will continue for a while. I'm not sure how much of this session will end up being NDA'd, so I can't really get into details. I can say that several of the CSM (everyone who owns a PS3, someone please send a PS3 to Elise Randolph) are in the DUST beta (including me), but I can't even say more about that because of the DUST NDA...
EVE UIWe started off this session much like we started off just about all the sessions, by reminding CCP that the new Inventory has some issues. My personal view is that with all the fixes CCP has now made, I am actually fairly happy with the new inventory myself, and given a little more time I think I will maybe even like it. We pointed out some further improvements that the players have been requesting. The one really good thing that has come out of this mess is that CCP is doing a fantastic job on the communication front. Unlike what they did with the Incarna mess last year, they are talking to the players a lot, they are fixing the issues and they are telling you exactly what and when they are doing things. I think if you look at CCP Soundwave's last few blogs, they are night and day compared to the blogs that went out during Incarna's rollout.
We also spent a lot of time talking about other UI improvements that CCP is mocking up. These were all fantastic, and I think they will be well received by just about everyone.