EVE Online's delegates elected to the Council of Stellar Management (CSM) have made headlines in recent weeks, both in the gaming press and mainstream news. Amidst all the media attention, EVE players have been debating to what extent the CSM will be able to work with CCP Games on changing the game to better accommodate the playstyles of the subscribers.
An article at The Escapist called 'Politics in a Vacuum' explores this interaction between the CSM and CCP Games, focusing on the Council summit in Reykjavik. CSM delegate Alison Wheeler (aka Inanna Zuni in EVE) told The Escapist: "I'm not totally sure yet how much agreement there is between CCP management and CCP development teams. They've opened this can of worms that said, 'These people get elected by other pilots and players, they have the right to say, "We want this to happen; please make it so!" Predictably, this could lead to some problems where the expectations of EVE's players, conveyed through the CSM, are unrealistic in terms of what CCP can deliver on.
Lead Designer Noah Ward (CCP Hammerhead) commented on this interaction between the CSM and the game designers, particularly on having players helping to determine the development pipeline. "Unless you actually work in game development of some other form of software development, it's a kind of a black art," he said, stressing that CCP needs to keep the CSM in-step with how their development process works.
CSM delegate Shayne Smart (aka Serenity Steele) also spoke to The Escapist about how much influence he believes the CSM could theoretically wield. "They say we're only going to be able to make recommendations, but we're talking about a game which thrives on social pressure and peer pressure," he said. Smart added, "I think we have the opportunity, if we really wanted to push an issue today, to force CCP through a social engine or through the press, through the blogs, through the game -- actually force them to do something."
The cooperation between the CSM and CCP Games has been fairly open and positive thus far, however, from what both sides have reported. "CCP's trying to say 'We're listening,' and if we're going our job and they are listening, we should tell that fairly to the community. On the other hand, if they're not listening, we bring out our Machiavellian chess," Smart said.
Have a look at The Escapist piece, which discusses the CSM meeting with CCP in Iceland, with some additional commentary from CSM delegates that didn't manage to make the rounds on gaming sites when the summit took place in June.