As you probably know, voting opened yesterday for the fifteenth iteration of the CSM, an assembly of players who advise CCP on the pulse of the playerbase and on upcoming changes. Over the next couple of days, EN24 is going to spotlight as many CSM candidates as possible in order to help you — the player & voter — make up your mind about who to trust with the future of the game.
I managed to sit down with Brisc Rubal, a real-life politician and veteran lawyer, Meta Show co-host and SKIN collector in The Initiative, looking to make a return to space politics. We discussed his candidacy, life in one of nullsec’s most powerful coalitions, the “Briscident”, and the changes he would like to see made to the game.
Twilight Winter: So let’s get the obvious question out of the way first — why did you decide to run for CSM 15?
Brisc Rubal: I wanted to complete a full term and continue the work that I started on CSM 13. I felt like I accomplished some of my goals during CSM 13, but there were still things I wanted to do, and I strongly feel like the CSM needs a member who is willing to do the public work and interact directly with players. While I had largely decided to run again, seeing both Steve Ronuken and Dunk Dinkle choose not to run again for CSM 15, I wanted to make sure that somebody was there to take up the work they had been doing in the community.
TW: Where do you think your experience/knowledge makes you a uniquely good candidate for the CSM?
BR: The CSM is largely a lobbying body – the point of it is to represent player concerns and views to CCP, and to provide CCP feedback on their designs and plans for the future. It’s a job that requires collaboration, calm deliberation, a willingness to put the needs of the larger community over personal interests, relationship building and a willingness to work across ideological divides to get the job done.
This is literally what I do for a living. The skills that I have honed over two decades in politics make me uniquely suited to the dynamics of the CSM. At the same time, I play the game every day, I interact with the community constantly, and I have the passion and dedication to do the job. I think all of that, combined, makes me uniquely suited to the CSM.
TW: Political experience in real life helps with politics with CCP? That makes sense.
BR: Absolutely. Most of the stuff that I do in real life is analogous to the stuff we do on the CSM. The kinds of preparations I would make in testifying before Congress, or prepping for a meeting with a Senator are exactly the kinds of things I did to get in preparation for the CSM summit. Plus, the ability to be professional, talk about the game not only from a game perspective but also from a business perspective, helps to make my arguments and views more relevant to CCP.
TW: Can you explain the scandal that happened during CSM 13, and your subsequent exoneration, in your own words?
BR: I was accused of breaking the NDA and leaking information to two members of my Alliance, one of whom was accused of using the information to make in-game isk. None of that, however, actually happened. I never broke the NDA, I did not provide confidential information to anyone in my alliance, and my fellow alliance-mates had no access to inside information so whatever trades or transactions they may have made were concidental.
CCP rushed to judgment, however, and chose to publicly ban us before they heard both sides of the story, and once we had a chance to provide them with information, it became immediately clear we had not done what we were accused of. The result was a publicly apology and the reversal of the bans, which was unprecedented in the history of CSM related discipline.
The TL;DR was this: NO COLLUSION, TOTAL EXONERATION.
TW: It sounds like CCP needed to do a bit more homework. You live in nullsec, what do you see as the biggest issue facing nullsec today, and how would you advise CCP to address it?
BR: The biggest issue facing nullsec today is the lack of conflict drivers that provide positive reasons for the big blocs to go to war against each other. CCP needs to take a long look at the motivations of large groups to fight, what they want and what they need, what has driven major wars in the past, and real life analogues, and they need to craft in game mechanics that inherently drive friction between the great powers that can erupt into war.
They also need to work on reducing the tedium of existing mechanics, like that found in sov warfare and citadel destruction, that makes the idea of an all out war between the powers seem so daunting and boring that the large groups are willing to not fight each other than have to go spend the time and effort on something that doesn’t really have much of an upside.
TW: There’s a lot to unwrap there, you mentioned sov warfare and citadel bashes seeming daunting to players, which is definitely something I’ve heard and experienced in my own corner of space. How do you think those could be made more enjoyable?
BR: I think they need to develop a sov system that promotes the kind of fights that you see from most of the sov holding alliances – something the requires an actual fleet, encourages fleet on fleet fights, and has a valid escalation chain. The current system is designed around small gang fights, which provides no content for a lot of people and is too easy griefable. Citadel mechanics can be adjusted by tweaking damage caps and the number of reinforcement cycles.
The game has less spontaneous action these days, and too many timers. Timers are nice – it’s good to be able to plan when you need to be available to play – but too much turns it into work.
TW: The resource distribution changes have obviously been quite significant for nullsec, where would you like to see things go from here?
BR: I would like to see, as stockpiles and isk faucets are reduced, CCP start looking at finding ways to introduce new means of making wealth – like a return to passive income, for example – that can be part of the solution to the conflict drivers issue. As resources and wealth becomes less easy to access, provide new things to get and fight over is something that can be done without the potential damage to the economy that adding more wealth to an already wealth rich economy could do.
TW: You mentioned passive income. Older players will remember awesome dread brawls over R64 moons, but they might also remember OTEC. Newer players will primarily see high sec market hubs. How would you differentiate between a conflict driver and what we’ve seen turn into diplomacy or deal drivers which just establish more wealth for the large blocs?
BR: My approach would be to make it clear to CCP that the introduction of passive income has to include a focus on these being alliance level assets that are capable of being used by alliances of all sizes, that they provide enough of a benefit to fight for, but not such a significant benefit that it’s game breaking, and then let CCP’s team come up with the specific mechanics. This isn’t a new issue for them and I’m sure they have a number of approaches we can discuss.
TW: A lot of our readers live in bloc nullsec, but others are wormholers, lowsec dwellers, NRDS, or other underrepresented groups. What do you think you offer to those players?
BR: I have made a commitment to the community that I will be there to listen to their concerns and communicate those concerns to the Devs. I may not always participate in those playstyles, but I respect them and I will work alongside the folks who do play that way and are elected to the CSM to make sure their voices are heard. If, like we saw on CSM 13, there is no one to represent those views, I will always be there to help.
TW: If you could endorse one CSM candidate from outside of your own bloc, who would it be and why?
BR: This is a hard question, because I think there are a lot of solid candidates outside the Imperium and our spheres of influence. Folks like Phantomite, Darius, Jurius Doctor, Insidious Sainthood , January Valentine and Pandora Singularity would all make great CSM members. But if I was forced to chose one candidate from outside my bloc, I would go with Mike Azariah.
Mike is an extremely experienced EVE player, he’s served on three previous CSMs, and he is committed to helping new players as they enter the game. The Magic School bus has provided tens of thousands of players with billions of isk worth of ships, modules, skillbooks and the like and he’s made a lasting contribution to the game. I think his voice is needed on the CSM, and he’s had my complete support this whole election cycle.
TW: Finally, I’d like to give you a chance to sum up your platform in your own words and explain why EN24 readers should vote for you.
BR: In running for CSM, I want to continue doing the job that I began on CSM13 – representing all of the players of EVE Online to CCP, not the other way around. Regardless of your playstyle and where you live in New Eden, I will do my best to represent you and give voice to your concerns to the developers. Beyond the ideas for game changes I’ve outlined on my website and in the countless interviews I’ve done, my fundamental platform is this – I will work hard, every day, to make sure that the things you care about find their way in front of CCP.
TW: Thanks for your time, and best of luck with your candidacy.