But does he think that the CSM can really change the game for the better and fix the problems that already face the game world? "The cynic in me says 'no'. The idealist in me says 'I hope it does'," says Hardin. "Certainly, many view it as nothing more than a PR stunt. However, I think CCP may just underestimate the power embodied in a body elected democratically through a popular vote. They may end up listening, even if they never really planned to in the first place. Certainly, no other MMORPG that I know offers its players an opportunity to directly influence the game's future development."
Jade Constantine, another relatively famous name in the space-lanes, will also be standing. A vote for Jade is a vote for supporting the little guy. Constantine runs a 150-man alliance, and isn't interested in the grand 1000-man territorial alliance game: "I decided to run for CSM because I believe in EVE, I love the game, I have a strong sense of the heart and passion of the server and, having risen from obscurity to fame and glory myself, I want to ensure these same opportunities are protected and enhanced for newer players and those just starting out in EVE today.
"The CSM needs a voice for independent, non-huge-alliance players," Constantine continues. "It needs an advocate for small-unit PVP and conflict dynamism, and it deserves a candidate with the experience, maturity, good humour and enthusiasm to see this inaugural CSM session achieve its full potential for the benefit of every player." [Talk about on-message. This one will go far - Ed.]
"Dynamism" has become Constantine's buzzword, and it's a concept that CCP really should pay attention to. "The main thing is, I'd love to see the game break its addiction to POS warfare and move to a more dynamic form of sovereignty conflict and assessment that brings the focus back to players fighting players rather than players fighting structures," Constantine says. "I think we've moved far too far down the route to 'Sim City in space', and a lot of the current space-alliances have become overused to safety and security and the knowledge that their holdings are effectively invulnerable and persistent. I think we've got to return to the notion that if you put something in open space, it's open to attack, and empire builders must be able to defend their empires."
Meanwhile, Goonswarm candidate Goumindong could prove to be popular, not only because of the vast size of the Goon faction, but also thanks to his contribution to the debate about ship-speed, or "nano", in EVE Online. "It ruins the ability of non-nano ships to partake in PVP, it creates a hegemony of the old and rich, it removes otherwise viable fitting options of for all sub-battleship ship classes, and as a 'no lose' choice they encourage and promote everyone to follow the same model which is boring, stagnant, and offers no legitimate meta options except bringing more nano-ships," says Goumindong. "There needs to be both a reduction in speed and a proliferation of more counters."
He's not wrong. This is one of the most significant issues in the game today, and it's the one that I personally would like the CSM to go chasing after. A PVP game is nothing without broad balance, and EVE currently lacks precisely that. (We'll be writing a more detailed article about PVP in EVE in the coming weeks.)
In a few months' time, we'll be able to see whether CCP's project to give more power to the players will work out for the best, as the CSM is elected and then convenes in Iceland at CCP HQ. Can the players make their issues heard? Will it really change the course of development? For the moment, players seem sceptical, both of the council idea, and of the notion that players can actually influence the direction CCP will take the game.
Band Of Brothers pilot Chowdown says, "Well, I am not really a hater, but what I have seen so far, in my opinion, is a council put together that will not bring about change." Meanwhile, StateCorp pilot D'Jannek says, "I can't see the devs taking too much notice of their complaints on actual game balance issues, and I foresee it just being a popularity contest - pretty much just Goons versus various forum celebrities."
There might some truth in this, but I believe that CCP are only formalising what was already there in the symbiotic-antagonistic relationship between what the players want, or think they want, and what the developers want, or think they want. Perhaps, if that dynamic can be made explicit, and dialogue can really be integrated into the design process, EVE Online will evolve into something bigger and better than it is today.
Let's cast our votes.
EVE Player Council voting closes on 19th May. Check the MMO channel next week for an update on the results. Screenshots by roBurky.