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CSMX Candidates Quizzed: Sugar Kyle

 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 lowsec’s very own, Sugar Kyle.

Character Name: Sugar Kyle

Twitter: @Sugar_Kyle

Candidacy Thread: Sugar Kyle for CSM X

PART 1 – The Questionnaire

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

Null Security Space. It scores bonus points because to fix it, other long needed fixes have to happen to make it happen.

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

Low sec is in a better place after the attention it has received over the last year, but that does not make it fixed. Fixed would mean that CCP never has to come back and look at a system. I do not believe any part of Eve will ever qualify as fixed. I would like to see Faction Warfare receive attention. I would like non-Faction Warfare low sec to receive focus on differentiating it from Faction Warfare space. Low sec is an area where soloists, small gangs, and medium sized gangs can all exist and find content. It is as important to preserve the unique aspects of low sec that keep it separate from high, null, and wormholes as it is to debate change and keep the content interesting and accessible.

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

I have plans to push CCP to iterate on all of Eve. When it comes to low sec, Faction Warfare needs attention. It needs the balance of its missions across factions looked at. The back and forth flow of the warzone is a delicate balance where sides should be incentivized to continue their fight. The warzone control should spread further. There is a huge war going on between the empires about their control of some areas of low security space. It expands to high security space. It should be something people recognize and know about and feel to some extent.

Non-Faction Warfare space has started to receive definition and attention. However, industry and PvE in low sec need more attention.

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

A question of a ranking system does not mesh with how CCP works on things. While resources may go towards one area that does not mean that every other area sits on a shelf and waits to become the focus. CCP works on many areas at the same time. I believe that the current development cycle should focus on the rebalancing of sov null. With it come other changes and improvements that will affect the rest of the game. These things function independently or are only used by one area of space. One of Eve’s beauties is that it is interconnected. But if I say that the focus should be on the long promised sovereignty changes, that does not mean that I cannot get productive, useful things done to low sec. Advocacy is always important because things can always be done.

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

Low sec is freeform and the residents choose its mechanics because they work for them and the play that they enjoy. The situation between high and null sec with the ease of wormhole access gives the space its shape and form. Low sec has gate guns and sec loss with no bubbles or bombs. It is a home for Faction Warfare with its publicly accessible complexes which create small, dynamic pockets of potential just waiting to be tapped. It has become an active, thriving place with a full range of combat from frigates to small scale capital fights that range from roams to brawls over assets. Each player is going to have their own reason for coming to low but it is going to be the mechanics and potentials that keep them there over other areas of space. That is why it is important to preserve what low sec is while we look at what it can be.

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

Piracy is an aspect of life in low sec. It is not good, bad, or ugly. It simply is. What a pirate is changes meaning from group to group. It is often a free formed concept for those with negative security status. It is also embraced by those who wish to engage in combat for the love of combat as well as the traditional sense of ransoming and looting.

The current form of piracy is something that people choose to embrace. It is a way that players define themselves and immerse themselves into the game. Eve is a game of players interacting with players in all ways. Piracy is another one of those interactions.

A piracy focused expansion would be interesting.

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

This is not a notion that I have ever been approached with. But, with it being asked, it is not one that I agree with. A better low sec is one that is vibrant and filled with different players living different lives and interacting with each other naturally. Low Sec can be dangerous for players venturing in for PvE activities. But dangerous does not mean inaccessible. I believe that player knowledge is key. Understanding what, where, why, and how will allow a player with awareness to put themselves in the best possible position to achieve the tasks they have created for themselves while mitigating the dangers they have chosen to risk.

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

Faction Warfare is a fascinating concept. It allows an entry point into PvP while providing a diverse ecosystem for players of all ages to engage in different types of activities that blossom from its existence. It has clear goals and rules but an open enough floor plan to let players create their own content. It also still falls short in some areas and needs balancing in others. It’s implementation should affect high sec more. Tax rates, markets, industries, should all feel what is happening during the war. The changes of the war zone should matter to more people than the militia members.

However, Faction Warfare is not the defining characteristic of low sec space. Faction Warfare is the defining mechanism of Faction Warfare low security space. It is a large part, but someone can live in faction warfare space and not participate in faction warfare productively and happily. I like that you can live for years in low sec with very little or no Faction Warfare interaction or that you can live for years in low sec without ever leaving Faction Warfare space while having plenty to do.

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?

I would ask CCP why they had dropped the needed changes to null sec, corporations/alliances, and POS.

If low sec received a focused expansion it would be a beautiful time for CCP to look into smuggling and piracy. The pirate factions could slip into non-Faction Warfare low sec. Smuggling could become something fun and engaging. Players could work with or join Pirate Factions.

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

I entered the game after this was changed. I like the solid, red. It burns against the background of the overview and speaks volumes silently.

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?

Emergency services. I’ve been a dispatcher and an EMT. Currently I’ve stepped up into teaching and certification for first aid and CPR. I’ve spent a lot of time in my jobs talking to people, gathering their information, and communicating it. I’ve spent a lot of time transcribing what people say which had the interesting side effect of helping me process the minutes. I do not think that my background helps my chances of election. It has taught me, however, how to listen and how to work with people.

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.

Corbexx. He is willing to listen to anyone who comes to him and he will help them find the help that they need if he cannot provide it for them. I think that is an important quality to be able to listen, evaluate that you do not know the answer, and then seek the answer or solution even if it is not your area of expertise.

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

Minecraft. I run a server that I play with other Eve players. Also Viscera Cleanup. Scrubbing space stations is amazingly relaxing.

You’ve been involved in far more aspects of lowsec than most individuals can claim. What’s your favorite aspect of that space?

The unpredictable nature of things. I died on a gate a little bit ago, after going to do a DED complex with a corpmate. We found a Charon trying to warp through, and while attacking it a cruiser fleet landed and killed the Charon and then me. You cannot control low sec’s environment and I love that about it. Awareness and adaptation are important and I think that is fantastic.

There have been many suggestions on how to make faction warfare more visible to players not directly involved in the fighting over the years. What methods do you favor for making players in both highsec and lowsec ‘feel’ the war raging between the empires?

The economy. A war would hit people in the pocket. An empire should not be able to wage an all out war and not feel a ripple effect.

Billboards should reflect the war zone status and result, kills, medals, and give reports on systems. Billboards that border contested space should announce the spaces contestment status and what has happened there.

Taxes, fees, agent rewards, should feel the pressure in the warzone. To spitball ideas: Maybe agents would pay out more for faction missions depending on the warzone control.

I’d love for players who do not wish to contribute to the war effort by fighting, to be able to contribute to the war effort with ‘war bonds’ of some type that go to the Militia PvPers. Faction Warfare is a perfect area to work on creating more ways for players to interact with and reward other players for combat in their stead.

Encouragement for the work that the militia fighters put into the warzone is incredibly important. Things that will help one group recover and fight to get their space back are key goals.

Also a PvE rebalance is needed across the missions.

The concept of ‘smuggling’ illicit goods in Eve has never been very well treated. What do you think could be done to bring illicit goods (and their transport) into a more prominent role within Eve?

A Pirate and smuggling based release or series of releases. It can clean up the pirate factions and let the players invest more heavily into that part of the storyline. It can also give rise to a needed revamp for bounty hunting and those who would seek to hunt criminals. Boosters could be expanded to become something people in all areas of their game play for enhancements.

What is the contribution you made to Eve Online during your term on CSM 9 that you are most proud of? Where do you think you could’ve made a bigger impact?

I am extremely proud of the anomaly and escalation revamp and fixes. That was something that I put together, gathered the various problems, and broken sites, and got in front of the correct people to fix it.

I’ve been trying to spend more time posting on the forums and not just reading and discussing posts with individuals. I am not much of a forum poster anymore but some people have said that they would like more of a CSM presence there.

Last year, your stated areas of focus were: enabling lowsec players to support themselves aside from FW; addressing the ‘identity crisis’ that lowsec faces in the progression of the game; expanding the impact of Faction Warfare on the game; a renewed focus on PVE content, corporations, and player retention; and a fresh look at boosters (drugs). Do you feel you made sufficient progress on these items with CCP?

In some areas yes. Some areas are in progress. And some areas, such as boosters, no.

Over the last year low sec has started to develop its personality as an area for roaming and movement. This has been enforced with the design changes and additions that CCP has done and in general low sec has started to gain traction as not just being an area of space but its own area of space with content ranging from faction warfare to exploration to risky but potentially profitable belt ratting. I have pushed to define low sec as a place of movement and action where rewards can be found that allow that residents to pay for their game without sitting in one spot grinding for hours and preserves the free flow of interactions as pilots have a reason to move through space. I feel I have achieved the foundations and now want to strengthen that.

Faction Warfare has received some tweaks that have helped some issues. While good discussion and possible progress have gone into quality of life improvements I have not yet seen them and I want to. My goal is to see some development time dedicated to broader rebalances of Faction Warfare PvE, a look at standings mechanics, and the general concerns of the war zones health.

I’ve made great strides in areas that could be fit into the design PvE team’s schedule to do quality of life improvements for anomalies and complexes. This has included fixes to improper restrictions, broken gates, broken complexes, needed commands such as fleet warp to anomalies as well as leading to a complete rebalance of the anomaly spawning mechanics which opened up more content to players. I am hopeful that the PvE Design Team will have solid progress in their tools work so that we can move to the next stage of refreshing, rebalancing, and expanding PvE.

Corporations have finally started. We are seeing the first steps with CCP Punkturis doing some quality of life improvements as well as their existence CCP’s roadmap. It is not done or in a public state as of yet but we are getting there. This is the time to focus on making corporations something that make sense from the moment a player interacts with them and that I am doing.

Player Retention has been interesting task of player effort and CCP communication. Several members of the CSM, myself included, have gone out and started sitting down with new players and charting their reaction to the game and their perceived needs and frustrations to use as a guide. The importance has not been lost to CCP and some of their small changes in Rhea and Proteus were direct quality of life fixes for immediate problems. But the larger revamp of the NPE has not yet been completed. As it has progressed I’ve been involved. My goal is to focus more on avenues to educate adults and that create more intuitive information absorption.

There has been no progress with boosters so I will continue to work on that.

This year, you’ve stated that you’d like to see war decs, markets and contracts, PVE in general and mining in particular looked at by CCP. This would seem to be a significant shift from last year’s goals. Has your constituency changed, in your opinion? Have the needs of last year been addressed and it is time to move on to other things, or have you reevaluated what needs to be done first?

These things are simply additions to what I am currently (and will continue) doing. Before election you have an idea of what you want to do. Now that I’ve spent the time on CSM9 I have a broader idea of all that I can try to do. The areas you listed are things that I have not been able to work on this term. Now, I am trying to add them in. They are areas that are very important to players and often come up in ideas, suggestions, and conversations. If I am re-elected in March I will continue what I have been doing and these are more areas that I am trying to pull attention and energy into as the players have asked of me.

In the recent CSM9 devblog (http://community.eveonline.com/news/dev-blogs/csm-9-review/), your colleague Sion had some blunt words about the CSM-CCP interaction process. Do you agree with his assessment of the situation? Is the situation as bad, in your opinion, as it would seem to be?

I too have said that communication in recent months has not been what it should be. It is frustrating that we are having communication lapses at a critical time in the game’s development. For an issue as large and anticipated as sovereign null security rebalance it is so large and important that it is worrisome. However, the problem and the feeling that we have lacked in communication for areas or that we are being cycled into changes at the last minute has been discussed by the members of the CSM with CCP and we are working on methods to cycle us into the development process at an earlier point than the CSM has been brought into in the past due to the changes in the release cycle. We have seen the problem. We have stated the problem. We have started to work to resolve the problem. That is part of this job.

It is also not a problem in all interactions. We have broadened the CSM interaction with teams in CCP where we had less contact in the past with things like the soundboards that Corbexx pioneered that bring developers and players into small, group discussions about issues in the game. I will continue on this path of opening communication and pointing out and resolving areas of poor or missing communication..

I think it is safe to say that CSM 9 has been the most proactive at communicating with the playerbase of just about any other CSM. Perhaps too proactive. With so many members focusing so many hours of effort on communicating with players, do you feel this may have contributed to some of the communication issues that have arisen between the CSM and CCP themselves? If pressed, which communication set is more vital for the CSM to be an efficient body – CSM to players, or CSM to CCP?

I would love for “over communication” to be a problem. As it is now, we still have huge swaths of the game that do not know what the CSM is or that it exists. Reaching out to the player base is a task that is not yet refined enough.

It is each member’s choice to communicate with the playerbase and their choice in how they wish to communicate with the player base. In the past there has been fault that the CSM is elected and vanishes. I do not think that one can be ‘too proactive’ in trying to communicate and reach out to the people one represents. Nor is open and extensive communication bad. The players elected me to be a conduit for them. I feel it is my duty to do so to the best of my ability.

Communicating with the players does not degrade communication with CCP. There is no quota. A lot of time has been spent asking to and trying to open up information and possibilities with the player base for feedback and iteration during development and before release. Those connections open up areas of player to CCP teams that did not exist before. This is how we are charging forward with things like the art soundboard where players said directly what they wanted about accessories and color options while learning of the limitations of the avatar system for very regular requests such as cross dressing.

One does not exist without the other. If the CSM is elected to speak for the players to CCP. Their existence depends on both because it is a vital system.

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

I don’t have one thing, I have dozens.

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