CSMX Candidates Quizzed: Psianh Auvyander

 A few years ago, I ran a questionnaire for CSM candidates regarding lowsec. This year, I’ve decided to do the same, with a twist: there is now a bonus round of questions tailored to each individual candidate that fills out the questionnaire. As quickly as I can, I’ll be posting up their responses: without edit or commentary. Next into the questionnaire octagon is Psianh Auvyander of Noir.

Character Name: Psianh Auvyander

Blog: Golden Crusade

Candidacy Thread: Psianh Auvyander for CSM 10

PART 1 – The Questionnaire

What single part of the game do you feel requires the most work in terms of iteration by CCP?

Sovereignty requires the most attention right now – and while it is the primary focus of CCP, it’s still going to need an attentive hand for quite some time to ensure that we have gameplay mechanics that have a long lifespan that provides a truly fun environment.

Of course, focusing on sovereignty is slightly self-serving as I truly believe that a healthy nullsec sovereignty system will be a healthy environment for mercenaries!

Do you feel that lowsec is ‘fixed’? If so, explain why. If not, explain what you want to see done to fix it.

Lowsec is in a really health place right now. It has a very large population that lives there permanently, it has a high degree of activity in both PvE and PvP, and it has multiple scales of PvP, from frigates in FW, cruiser roams, and even super capitals.

I would like to see frigates have more viability in the day to day life outside of faction warfare, but overall I’m very happy with where lowsec is.

Do you have any plans to push CCP, if elected, to iterate on lowsec in general?

While I can’t be certain without seeing more details about the planned changes to the game in the very near future, I have a very strong suspicion that areas outside of nullsec will need to be given a passover to ensure parity.

Any time major changes are made (and even small changes, often times) there needs to be a smoothing over period where other areas of gameplay are checked and double checked for balanced risk and reward to ensure that players – who naturally look for optimization – don’t flood to one area or another. Lowsec will likely need some tweaks after everything is said and done, and it’s vital CCP does its due diligence.

In your opinion, where should lowsec rank in terms of priority for iteration by CCP?

As I’ve said earlier, lowsec is in a healthy place right now. I’d like to see CCP devote all its attention to nullsec, since that’s what it’s currently focusing on anyway, to make sure that it does a good job there. After which, I’d love to see CCP turn its attention to high sec and work on bolstering the player engagement in a fun and enjoyable way for multiple types of players.

What, in your opinion, are the main factors that make lowsec more attractive to its current residents than other areas of space?

My experience has taught me that you can’t ever sit still in lowsec, nothing can be hidden, and maneuverability is life – but you’re still close enough to trade hubs that it’s not annoying! That’s an interesting dynamic to the other areas of space that is very appealing to people who want to pick up a little extra ISK than they were in high sec, or those that want to play for the pure joy of the fight.

What is your thinking regarding piracy in lowsec – is it good, bad, or ugly?

I started EVE as a pirate. I absolutely love the idealogy and playstyle, and as almost any new player can attest, it’s one of the major themes that’s known to non-players, often times attracting people to the game on its own. I couldn’t imagine an EVE without pirates.

What are your thoughts on the notion that increased protection for PVE players in lowsec will result in a better lowsec?

Increased protection is a very broad term, so it’s hard to know how to approach this question, but lowsec as an area is meant to be dangerous. It’s important to balance that risk with an adequate reward, of course. However, when it comes to talking about changes in risk and reward for lowsec, it’s important to keep the risk and adjust the reward as needed rather than the other way around.

Make it dangerous – just make the incentive to take the risk worth while.

What are your thoughts regarding Faction Warfare, particularly the idea that FW is the killer feature of lowsec?

Faction warfare is definitely a large part of why lowsec is so active lately, and I think almost everyone would agree that its revitalization has been a success. I would like to see more dynamic effects caused by player actions.

Whether faction warfare is the “killer feature” of lowsec, I’m sure that depends on who you talk to.

If elected to CSMX and subsequently informed by CCP that lowsec was the ‘hot topic’ for iteration in the coming year, what input and advice would you have for them?

My primary concern would be to ensure that lowsec retains its unique culture, something of a devil may care attitude with guns – lots of guns. Perhaps at one point nullsec was meant to be the wild west, but in reality low sec is. Any changes that deteriorate that face would be completely anathema to me.

Secondly, as I’ve iterated time and again, the risk and reward needs to be balance. I’d love to see more industrial features specific for lowsec that are balanced by increased amounts of vulnerabilities. As a mercenary, I’ve found that people love to fight over POSes and POCOs in lowsec – and for good reason. Adding more features that get people to fight over limited resources for large rewards would be terrific for the overall activity levels in both PvP and simply those wishing to make a living in lowsec.

BONUS – What lengths are you willing to go to in order to make pirates flashy red on overview by default again?

Pirates are dangerous. Pirates are notorious. Let them be known!

PART 2 – The Interview

What’s your personal background,in real life? What kind of work are you in? Does it help your chances of election, in your opinion? Why or why not?

I have an extensive background in community management, having worked for a handful of independent games studios in the past. I’ve also spent a year as a sales and marketing consultant for a major national company here in the United States. Both of these fields have taught me an enormous amount when it comes to communicating efficiently and effectively with a wide variety of personalities. It’s definitely a strong background to come from concerning the CSM. Being able to communicate well on a wide variety of topics was part and parcel for my real life work and for the CSM.

If you weren’t running, but you could singlehandedly ensure that any other person in EVE would be elected to CSM, who would you pick and why.

I was asked this by another CSM coverage source and my answer would have to remain the same: Sugar Kyle has impressed me the most over the last year and I would love to work with her on CSM X. Having people who are really dedicated to the work that has to be done to ensure a smooth process is vital.

Other than EVE, what was your favorite game last year (2014)?

Does it have to be a 2014 release? If not, Arma 3. It’s been my go-to pretty consistently since it was released in Alpha. It reminds me a lot of EVE in some abstract ways. Perhaps I’m beginning to reach that age where one starts to narrow down their focus – some people call that age “old”, but I’m not so sure yet.

How long were you a pirate in lowsec, and in what regions? What did you learn about EVE whilst pirating?

Only about three months or so, back in 2009. I was referred to The Black Rabbits Academy by Wensley and really enjoyed my time there. It was an eye opening experience for me, as I had never done any PvP where I actually wanted to fight before that time. Back then we were all about the ransoms, and it was a heart-pounding experience to try and get one out of a player before someone else could arrive. I eventually made it into the Black Rabbits, but they literally disbanded the next day.

You ran last year for CSM9 and failed to get elected. What did you learn from that experience, and what makes you think you can get elected this time?

After that I began to dig deeper and deeper into the CSM experience. Plus, I made a lot of friends through the election process that I’ve been in contact with since – that’s probably the best part of it for me.

The election cycle itself is tough. It’s not an easy thing to do, for someone like myself who has basically spent their entire EVE career being unaffiliated with any major organization to be chosen. I’ve spent the last couple of years trying to leave an indelible mark in EVE in some small way, and I hope that people will look back fondly on the work I’ve done and how it’s helped them become more in love with EVE.

Do you feel there was a lack of representation for the mercenary playstyle in the last CSM?

Oh, absolutely. Ali Aras was a member of Noir. during her CSM9 term, but due to the demanding nature of CSM, her focus was definitely on that rather than on being a mercenary. She’s done a fantastic job, no one can argue, but her experience as a mercenary just wasn’t strong enough to be a representative for us in the true sense.

I think it’s absolutely crucial to have a representative for the mercenary community. As I’ve said before, mercenaries remind me a lot of pirates – we’re sort of spiritual cousins. Both are aspects that many people want to try but few focus on long-term. They’re both sci-fi tropes that have a reach beyond the game, players know about the pirates and mercenaries in EVE even if they don’t play. But still, we get practically zero attention from CCP. It’s an injustice!

You seem to be a fan of recent developments in EVE Online. With nullsec sovereignty and corporation/alliance mechanics likely dominating the rest of the year, what do you hope to contribute to the process that isn’t getting done now, and is relevant?

I don’t have any plans to revolutionize the CSM. However I would like to continue the efforts that have begun recently, specifically building relationships with teams that weren’t typically in contact with the CSM. The more embedded the CSM is, the better quality results we’ll receive.

My calculations may be a bit off, but I’m also fairly certain that a lot of the nullsec sovereignty changes won’t be finalized by the time CSM X comes into office, and it’s going to be critical that it’s done right the first time. I fear that if there missteps a third time, it’s going to have some negative effects that stay with us for a long time.

You, like Jayne before you, are an erstwhile member of the TMC circle, having worked (very well, I might add!) on the site for awhile now. However, recently you had to draw back your involvement on the site due to time constraints. Similarly, you did have to step down as CEO of Noir. Academy for a period of time. Will these same factors inhibit your ability to produce results as a CSM member? Do you have a plan to deal with other factors and make the CSM a priority in the coming year?

Not at all. I stepped back from TMC to focus on CSM, in fact! I stepped back from Noir. Academy for about 30 days last summer, but it wasn’t a time issue. I’ve always been pretty good at managing my time and getting all the things done in an orderly fashion, so I’m certain that it won’t make an impact on my time as a CSM member.

I will say, though, that one thing I’ve picked up over the last year that’s really been really cool in keeping track of things better is a Moleskine weekly calendar. They’re not even paying me to right this!

What don’t you like about EVE right now? You seem pretty complimentary of everything CCP is doing.

Corporation management. Is that fair, since it’s on the chopping block? If not, then the lack of attention given to mercenaries, bounty hunters, and pirates. I mean, come on, even the front page entry for bounty hunters is completely off base!

Do you believe the recent force projection nerf has encouraged intra-regional conflicts (a goal of your past campaign)? Or is there more work to be done to ensure that smaller, more frequent fights define nullsec?

Definitely! As mercenaries, we’ve seen a significant uptick in contracts because people are more willing to attack their local neighbors, where they weren’t before. There’s definitely more work to be done though. I’d love to see more reasons to need what your neighbor has without the incentive to just be friendly with them.

Have you ever lived in nullsec, in a sov-holding entity? Would you be qualified to speak with regards to nullsec occupancy sov changes from some angle?

A couple of times, in fact. In Providence for a bit. A few friends and I ran a small corporation out there. I also have a lot of experience on the matter simply from being a mercenary. There are quite a few contracts where our work has been explicitly tied to sovereignty mechanics.

How would you improve the PVE experience in highsec? Most of the population, statistically, is in highsec to pursue PVE activities, and aside from the already-announced nullsec revamp, you’ve stated you’d like to see highsec worked on.

PVE needs to encourage people to work together for a common goal, something more than just grinding for standings or ISK. PVE feels so separated from the rest of the game to me, and changing that may go a long way to getting people interested in the larger game world. That’s not to say the metagame, but rather, “Look, you’re part of a living universe! Make your mark!”

What makes lowsec more of a ‘wild west’ environment than nullsec, as you stated in your responses to the questionnaire?

Nullsec has rules. You don’t go here, you don’t do this, you can pass freely. You’re in trouble for saying this in local or shooting at this guy. Here’s your penalty!

But lowsec doesn’t have that, at least not to that degree yet. It’s definitely a gunslinging atmosphere. Shoot now, sort it out later. People go to lowsec for the knock-down, drag-out brawls. Where else do people go to for that sort of action? Saloons.

Finally, if voters knew nothing else about you, what would you want that one thing to be?

I’m a mercenary player down to my bones. That means that I’m going to be looking out for groups like mine, groups that are small and medium in size, that love fighting, and love being a part of something fun. Something permanent.