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CSM Candidate Spotlight: Alexis Finch

June 3, 2020

By Twilight Winter

As you probably know, voting opened recently 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.

Today I sat down with Alexis Finch, a Brave Collective FC and UI specialist, to talk about the Eve Online UI, the new player experience, and her candidacy for CSM 15.

Twilight Winter: Let’s start at the start, what made you decide to run for CSM 15?

Alexis Finch: I was inspired by many of the members of leadership in my own alliance who have served in previous CSMs, that I see as friends. Specifically Dunk Dinkle, and Yukiko Kami. I’ve seen what they’ve done in the CSM body, and that inspires me. My favorite type of work in EVE is the human connections. Working with others to solve problems, through coordination comms, or through talking through issues in chat.

That type of work is what the CSM does all the time. In a way, the CSM is another form of what I already do. And because I have things I want to work on, for the good of the game, this is a great opportunity to make things better for the playerbase.

TW: What do you think you can bring to the CSM that other people can’t? What’s your unique selling point?

AF: I’m an out of the box thinker, and extremely open minded. I can see situations from angles others don’t, and come up with new solutions to old problems. Secondly, I’m very relaxed in nature, and am able to work cordially with others, even those I disagree with fiercely on, to find solutions that all sides can agree with.

And lastly, I have experience in user interface design, which is something I’ve seen very lacking in CSM members in the past, and will help when I work on my proposed UI modernizations, especially an overview update.

TW: Obviously you’re a member of Brave Collective, one thing we hear from readers is that nullsec blocs have too much representation already. What would you say to them to convince them to lend you their vote?

AF: That’s a good question, and one I can understand on a personal level. Nullsec really does have a lot of representation. Especially large blocs. I am in Legacy. So in a sense I am a bloc cantidate.

However, I learned the game in a small alliance called Lost and Found. in Wicked Creek. We had, at peak, fewer than 200 members, with a single Fortizar, and no more than 3 capital ships in our entire alliance. My heart belongs to brave, but I will never forget my time in Lost and Found. The challenges of independent alliances are many, and I understand them. My time as a small alliance member gave me nothing but respect for the little guys.

I work with a handful of independent alliances in areas around New Eden to keep an eye on them, and make sure they’re holding out on their own. That is why I will focus on the game. Because there are people out there, who I care about, who would be hurt badly if I did not.

TW: Great answer. Going back to your UI design experience, can you think of any specific areas where the EVE UI needs some love? What would you do to improve them?

AF: We’ve all heard the joke. Spreadsheets. in. Space!

And when you think about it, what spreadsheet does that refer to more often than not? Of course, the overview. We stare at this thing for most of our time undocked, and yet over 80% of players I’ve asked do not know how to navigate the settings menu for it.

I’d like to overhaul the overview settings, making them more accessible. But ‘overhaul’ is such a buzzword, so here’s what I actually mean when I say that:

  • Expandable text-fields in the settings.
  • Color selection buttons for tabs, instead of requiring entering style code into the headers.
  • A drop-down menu for changing between profiles, instead of having to make a tab, set the profile, and editing it that way.
  • Customizable overview icons, using the same engine that creates corp logos.
  • A “check/uncheck all” button on the settings page that changes what is visible on the overview, for the entire page, and one for each category.
  • A new default overview that’s more in line with what players need.
  • And lastly, a brief CCP endorsed guide on how to customize your overview with these settings, not only linked publicly, but specifically mentioned in the new player experience.

That’s for overviews. I’d like to make a few other modernizations, but these I don’t have quite the level of detail on. To pick two others which I believe deserve the most focus:

“Show Info” pages with descriptions that help players understand what things are for. Why? New players look in descriptions to understand things. It isn’t intuitive that you need to look at traits and attributes, and ignore the description.

Lastly, updating the mastery system to make sense with the modern meta. To give one example of a horribly out of date mastery, carriers still show Remote Repair as a mastery requirement. While I’d hope that anyone in a carrier would not rely on mastery only, the goal of an in game tool is to be useful. Any in game tool that gives misinformation should be fixed or removed.

TW: Thanks, that’s a detailed set of proposals. Let’s focus more on newer players, since you touched on issues where the UI could confuse them and we know the NPE has been a major part of CCPs focus. What else do you think needs to change to improve new player retention?

AF: That’s a good question, and one that’s constantly on my mind. What are the things that new players enjoy? What do they dislike? This is a complex issue that requires a far more complex answer than I can provide.

But I do have a piece of the puzzle. A new player joins the game. They get started. And they start asking questions. Within an hour, most are given at least one out of game tool to use. Within a few days, three to five.

Why are we giving players out of game tools, to in game problems? Especially, they would complain, when there’s an in game tool that seems to do the same thing! EVE has become incredibly reliant on out of game tools for basic daily tasks. This is a sign of poor judgement. I believe that we should strive to keep the players focus within the game window whenever possible.

Make the estimated price based on Jita buy and sell rates to replace Evepraisal. Make Ansiblexes show when you set destination. Things like this, when the player leaves the game, the player is thrust into an experience CCP does not control, and has no say on the quality and user friendliness.

I say this in other games, and I will say it here. Every time a new player has to alt tab out of the game, to play the game, they are more likely to just alt-F4 and stop playing.

TW: That’s an interesting take — CCP is very reliant on third party developers for tooling. Do you think there are other tools which belong in game and are currently third party?

AF: A few, yes. One such example is a tool many nullsec alliances use, called PAP links. They keep track of who joins your fleet, and when they are in your fleet, to track member participation in strategic ops for your alliance. I’d like to see the in game fleet system be able to generate these without requiring complex alliance IT tools, that not all groups possess or have the technical ability to set up.

In addition, the corp menu is something that confuses corp CEOs to this day. Out of game tools are used in its place because the alternative is far too confusing. An overhaul of the corp management UI, without actually changing its functions, will make things better for higher up leadership of established alliances, and new corp CEOs.

TW: Another thing that’s managed entirely out of game is coalitions. Should they have some kind of in-game implementation?

AF: That’s a complex can of worms. In the end, coalitions are far more fluid than people realize. An in-game representation of this would only lead to tying them down. There would need to be a serious incentive to using such a representation for any coalition to use it.

TW: Fair enough. You’re an FC, what do you think CCP could do to get more fleets thumping into one another?

AF: I think CCP is going in the wrong direction. More expensive ships, less value in space. This does not make fights. This kills fights. People fight when the space has value worth taking, and when they can afford the loss.

CCP imagines they are making a mad max environment, where we’re fighting for scarce resources. But this is not the case. This is the dust bowl. If all the farmland is barren, extra farmland is not something worth fighting for.

Cheaper ships. Better space. Return passive alliance income. That is where the fights come from.

TW: The dust bowl criticism is something I’ve heard a few times in different words. Where do you hope CCP goes next with the resource changes?

AF: They’ve stated before that this is a phase in a larger plan. I hope this leads to the creation of additional resources. To speculate wildly, the events in Raravoss are an exciting possibility, if they connect to this.

It is my belief that the Triglavians are harvesting blue stars. What I see as a future option, is that we will gain access to that technology, enabling alliance ran Stellar excavations as a new form of passive income. This is my hope for the change. And so far, I’d be surprised if they did anything else.

TW: What’s your position on the sov system and citadels? Do you think the lack of… well, fun… in contesting those timers is a big part of why there isn’t more interest in going to war, or is that a distraction?

AF: That seems a bit of a distraction to me. While is is important that it be made more enjoyable, I have never, not once, in my career as an FC, heard the following conversation:

“Let’s take this space”
“It won’t be fun”

Strategic assets. Staying power in a region. Income. These are things we fight for. The line, and FCs, are focused on fun. But line members and FCs don’t start wars. They end them.

My alliance has a corporation, Incredible., who held sov in the region of Scalding Pass for one year, against the full force of winter coalition. They had more fun than I’ve ever seen anyone have in a sov campaign.

Sov wars are what you make it. If you go into one with the mindset that you will enjoy it, you probably will.

TW: What do you think about the Surgical Strike changes?

AF: They were.. interesting.

I have one major concern though. They toppled the balance between armor and shield supercapitals.

With the introduction of Nirvana implants, mere months before the surgical strike changes, shield supercaps got a 50% boost to hit points. Then with the nerf that came with Surgical Strike, they’re actually back to normal, pre-Nirvana health levels.

In other words, armor supers got heavily nerfed. Shield supers got a required implant set added, but are at status quo. This is not reasonable. As for the other changes, I’m in support of them, and like what I see.

TW: I’ve heard a lot of support for the supercap changes, but also a lot of people saying the issues with supercaps aren’t something that will be fixed with numeric tweaks. What do you think CCP can do with supercaps to make them less of an ‘I Win’ button, and more engaging?

AF: Reduce their application, make their target profile restricted to killing capitals and supercapitals.

My vision for capital warfare is three layers of a war. Supercapitals, Capitals, and Subcapitals.

I want there to be interplay between each layer, with the bulk of shooting happening WITHIN layers. Subcaps fight subcaps, but can engage caps. Carriers fill the role of subcap fighting cap, and engage the subcaps. Faxes support the carriers, as well as supercaps. Dreads shoot caps and supercaps. Titans and supers shoot caps and supercaps.

Supercaps should not be an ‘I Win’ button against subcaps, however they should be a strong deterrent against an enemy escalating to capitals. They are the final level of the escalation chain.

TW: Great, lastly, I’d like to give you an opportunity to sum up your platform in your own words and explain why our readers should vote for you.

AF: I’m just a lady who is easy to work with, who enjoys talking with people I disagree with to solve problems. I want what’s best for the game. If elected to the CSM, I will work for making the game balanced, modernizing the UI to ensure that the challenge of the game is knowing what buttons to hit, not finding the buttons, and keeping things sustainable and fun for all players in nullsec, whether in a bloc, or in a small group.

I will support all players, and anyone can come to me with an issue. Whether I agree with it or not, I will raise it in the CSM body and ensure it is given fair representation.

In addition, because this is a public environment, I want to take a moment to speak about something that’s important to me. Broadcast 4 Reps. Things are scary these days. Nobody is without value, and nobody is undeserving of asking for help. If times weigh heavy on you, here are some resources that can help. Remember, when you’re redboxed, broadcast for reps.

TW: Thanks for your time, and thanks for providing a shoutout to such a great organization. Best of luck with your candidacy.

If you’d like to follow Alexis Finch’s campaign, you can read her candidacy thread.