Thursday, 26 February 2015

Response to GRN Open Comms Show 25th Feb

This is a response to part of a podcast over at The GRN Show I started writing some of this as a comment but it grew a little too large so I decided to write it as a blog post.  Now to get it out clearly to being with, I have in the past used ISBoxer.  I am not however a current ISBoxer user and neither was I an ISBoxer user when the EULA enforcement change was announced.  I do though understand why ISBoxer users are upset with the way that CCP has handled input multiplexing changes.

The part in the podcast I am responding to is from around 1:48.  I have a lot of problems with the way the Open Comms Show was conducted.  First and foremost, it sounded like an ambush on shadowandlight rather than a constructive discussion, and this was highlighted by the overuse of the word "mong" towards the beginning of the segment.  (edit: for clarity, as Dirk MacGirk has rightly pointed out, he did shut this behaviour down quickly).

Now I don't disagree that shadowandlight suggesting that CCP are steering the game towards 1 player 1 account is pretty ridiculous.  While it might be something that some devs would prefer, the game has progressed too far to be able to realistically do that, and CCP know that fully.  I do however disagree with a lot of the arguments put against him.  I absolutely hate the repeated notion that a "manual multiboxer" is somehow a better person for doing just that.  Too much throughout this whole argument I've heard "well, I only use the EVE client and no tools to control me and my alts", as if that's deserving of a medal or something.  I don't care if you choose to use tools, or not use tool, or if you play the entire game 300 feet away from your computer using nothing but McDonalds straws taped together to push buttons on your keyboard.  Everyone has a different style and everyone has different skills.  I'm a long time gamer and a competent programmer by trade.  I can fire off input at a ridiculous rate compared to a 50 year old small time computer user who has chosen to use EVE.  Should that mean they should be awarded because their computer skills suck and yet they fight through adversity to compete in the same game?

That's part of my problem with this whole argument.  The argument is always put forward "oh, if you use ISBoxer, you are more efficient".  That's not a given, it simply isn't.  Sure, if you have 100 accounts, the likelihood is that using ISBoxer is going to be more efficicient simply because others can;t run that and switch between controls that fast, but there are maybe a couple of users with the hardware setup that would actually support that and, to be quite honest, if they want to put all that together and chuck CCP a grand a month, good on them.  For most ISBoxer users, 20 accounts is pretty much the limit.  Now I've seen players mining with 20 accounts with no software, and believe it or not, it's far more efficient than using ISBoxer.  ISBoxer is dumb, it can't make decisions such as "how much ore is left in this asteroid, and thus at what point should I cancel and cycle my lasers again" which you can if you are manually multiboxing.  ISBoxer isn't more efficient at mining than manually controlled characters; it simply takes less human input and in return throws out blind commands.  Even players using ISBoxer to mine tend to use broadcasting only to get out to the belt and move ore into a hauler, saving them clicks, not making it more efficient.  You're far better off not broadcasting and just manually running each miner in response to their individual circumstances.

Now the point raised by shadowandlight which I most agree with is that this is a game mechanics issue, not a EULA issue.  This is because whether you use ISBoxer or not, you can get a ridiculous level of efficiency doing things like mining, ganking, bombing and even incursions simply because the mechanics involved in those are far too passive.  Go grab ISBoxer, run up 20 accounts and go do multiboxed exploration.  Now working out for you?  How about missions?  Broadcast those buttons.  Wait, what?  The NPCS are all over the place and the mission objectives are completely different and thus input broadcasting isn't working out?  Fine, let’s try trading.  Oh crap, I just sold some tritanium on this account and accidentally sold a stack of PLEX for 6 isk on that account.

The problem is that if game mechanics being used by ISBoxer are so ridiculously simple that you can just mash your face into the F1 key and successfully complete those activities, then those activities is far too simple.  EVE players will game any system and minmax everything they can to benefit as much as they possibly can, and reining that in should be done by restricting what the game will let you do, not by banning people when you feel they've grossed some invisible limit.

The biggest problem with treating this as a EULA problem is that players can be (and as far as I am aware have been) banned without actually using any form of multiplex, or even without using input multiplexing at all.  If you are fact enough manually multiboxing you can find yourself in trouble.  You can definitely find yourself in trouble if you are using programs like Voice Attack, which when combined with both mouse and keyboard input can make you ludicrously efficient.  Yet as it stands, Voice Attack is allowed.

My next issue with it is communication.  CCP have failed to communicate with the very people they are banning.  They are purposely being vague and then people are surprised that players are pissed off that they don't know where they stand.  How would the ganking community feel for example if CCP said "you can't gank people too much or you're banned" and that was that?  With no line drawn, they would have absolutely no idea where they stand.  There's clearly perfectly valid questions put forward, and they aren't answering.  This is further highlighted by the fact that I have to refer to it as a change to EULA enforcement, because it's not even a change in the actual EULA.

As shadowandlight stated on the podcast that buying PLEX and using software like Evernus or Elinor are also ways to give yourself an artificial advantage over a "normal" player, to which the response was "but that's not against the EULA”.  Neither was ISBoxer!  It was completely allowed, not just accepted but petitioned to GMs and DEVs and classified as allowed.  Now that it's suddenly not, people just expect ISBoxer users to lie down and not kick up a fuss, even though their gameplay is being destroyed pretty much because a load of people not doing it whined about it expecting that to mean they will get more of the highsec ice.

At the end of the day, the complaint that third party applications like ISBoxer that grant theoretical benefits over other players, yet others don't simply because of "input" is disingenuous at best and retarded at worst.  I'm a trader and an industrialist.  There is no way I could do what I do in the hour before I go to work without the use of the custom marketing tools, databases and reports, even if I had all day to do it.  I simply couldn't work through that much information and put feed that much data back into EVE if I didn't have those, so how is that not third party tools granting me a benefit over a manual player, yet ISBoxer is?

Finally, while it might come across as such, I'm not pro-ISBoxer.  I'm fine with CCP deciding they don't want it, but I think they need to be a heck of a lot clearer with what they are banning and why they are banning it, and I think that if third party tools are a problem that we need to look into a whole host of other applications too.  If it's not OK for a player to use tools to be able to gain a benefit another player doesn't have, then we need to understand what benefits are OK and why.

I'd honestly like to hear a reasonable discussion over this, which isn't either a bunch of players yelling over the top at each other, or a group of players all on one side of the argument casually agreeing with each other that the opposing side is wrong.  I'm beginning to think that increasingly unlikely however.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

CSM X Candidate Analysis: Sabriz Adoudel

Sabriz is the CODE CSM candidate for this year, so highsec is his primary area of operation.  It's quite surprising that CODE is actually putting forward a serious candidate considering their history, but supposedly he's being serious about it.

Sabriz's campaign is focussed around conflict, though I'm not entirely convinced he's clear on how.  In his campaign thread and his CSM page, he lists conflict as being inherent within EVE.  Everything you do is conflict, be it mining, missioning, trading, or any other activity.  As he puts it, "Every interaction in EVE is about conflict".  The problem arises however though his ideas.  Many of them are about driving players to have to shoot each other, primarily by incentivising shooting back, and punishing evasion.  This is at odds with his prior statement about everything being conflict, as clearly this indicates that the conflict he wants to drive is shooting.  If he wanted to drive all conflict, then there are much better ways to encourage it rather than pushing people to play in ways they have no interest in playing.

Now I'm not against people shooting each other, it's definitely something that EVE needs a lot of, but I can't help but feel that many of his ideas are geared towards encouraging players to offer themselves up as content to groups like his own.  You can shower a PvE group with as much isk as you want, but that's not going to make them good at PvP, and so fighting back is almost always going to be futile.  All in all, a lot of his suggestions seem to be about feeding CODE members content, but then that's probably not a surprise considering what CODE thinks of the majority of the highsec community.

Now in addition to pushing a PvE group to engage with a dedicated PvP groups being a pretty one-sided battle, it also undermines the entire playstyle of the PvE players.  They play, unsurprisingly, to engage in PvE.  They don't want to engage in PvP.  Sure, you can go and blow them up and that should always be an option, but why should their benefits only come from shooting back?  That would be the equivalent of encouraging a PvP group to mine rocks when they are attacked by offering them increased yield.  Sabriz seems to have a hard time understanding that PvE players really do enjoy their playstyle.  They aren't playing the game wrong just because they aren't engaging with PvPers in direct combat.

Much like Tora, Sabriz seems to want to push for benefits to his group at the detriment of other players, and proposes token changes which would realistically have little effect.  For example he suggests altering the way concord works so that gankers can be freely attacked with a higher sec status.  This is pretty much irrelevant, since using alts to scout, insta docks and undocks, and dirt cheap ships, you're almost never going to get caught outside of a gank, and very rarely are you going to care when you do, so it's an idea he can offer up to appear to be balanced in his views without endangering his playstyle.

During his Cap Stable interview, one thing that struck me was when he stated that the majority of CODE members would like to live in lowsec if it were viable.  Now while I don't believe that to be entirely accurate, I do wonder what exactly it is that makes stops it from being viable.  Plenty of players do in fact live in lowsec, albeit less than anywhere else, so why is it something just can't be done, and perhaps making it more viable should be more of a focus than trying to scrape together some easy to kill fodder from high sec corporations to shoot at.

Another was his response to the awox changes.  He seemed to believe that these will have a huge negative effect on wormhole space, and clarified this by saying:
“It’s the indirect effect of increased safety in highsec, because right now someone that intends to run incursions or missions in high sec has to worry about the potential of an awoxer and as a consequence that’s one vector though which they’re unsafe.  Mission runners are very difficult to attack in any other means at the moment and so this will dramatically increase the safety of mission runners and as a consequence will just simply make the isk/hour better in high security space than wormholes currently are because in wormholes you do lose ships frequently and so I think you will start to see as I said the trend of people leaving wormholes and coming back to high security and running incursions will become worse with this change, and that’s why I think it will do so much damage to the wormhole community.”
This strikes me as a particularly large warning sign, as it fundamentally misses the mark.  There's absolutely no reason to assume that a highsec incursion runner would need to be in a normal highsec corporation and more often than not is in their own corporation where no recruiting will ever be done.  With no recruiting, there is no awoxing, and therefore the awoxing change would not increase incursion income vs wormhole income at all.  Even before the awox change, if a wormhole player wanted to get their income from incursions, they could have done so with no worries about awoxing.  So there would be no impact on wormholes.

The one thing he had going for him in the interview was that he sounded fairly well spoken and educated.  He tended to run on a little, but don't we all at times?  Overall though, I don't think Sabriz would be a good fit for most players.  If you're a ganker in highsec he's probably your ideal candidate as he wants to promote that playstyle, but anyone else will probably want to look elsewhere for a candidate that either suits their needs or is objective enough to serve a variety of players without the underlying desire to serve themselves.  If you're a highsec player who enjoys any level of PvE playstyle, you'll definitely want him off of your list.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

CSM X Candidate Analysis: Steve Ronuken

Steve Ronuken is one of the CSM IX incumbents running for re-election in CSM X.  His platform this year is much the same as last year, with his main focus points being Industry and Third Party Development.

Steve is a highsec industrialist, running mainly T2 production with a little bit of trade, so his main expertise is in highsec.  That said, he has a wide ranging understanding of industry in EVE Online.  If you've had any serious interest in industry, chances are you will have stumbled upon Steve's website, Fuzzwork Enterprises and if you haven't stumbled on it, bookmark it now.  Fuzzwork is a site which has a vast array of tools to help with industry, general PvE and third party development.  With each new release of the static data export, he also offers up conversions of that from CCP's formats to various other formats (like MySQL and PostgreSQL) to save people the chore of doing that (thanks Steve).  Oh and he also runs EVE Lexicon, so you can better understand EVE speak, and EVE Bloggers which is an easy to use site which combines feeds from a plethora of EVE blogs, and he seems to have a lot of love for Twitter's bootstrap.

Anyway, enough with getting side-tracked, back to the subject.  Steve's previous work on the CSM has helped push forward the third party development side of EVE, with CREST having plenty of updates and improvements over the last year.  As I'm a developer by trade and just love digging into APIs and chucking together little tools on the weekends, this is a big plus from my point of view.  Steve is one of the only if not the only CSM that has such a focus on third party tools, which is crazy since I imagine most players have used third party tools in conjunction with EVE, such as EVE-central, EVEMon, EFT, Pyfa or JEveAssets to name a few.  This year he plans to continue that work to help make CREST as useful as possible.

Outside of that, Steve wants industry further iterated upon.  Changes in recent times have made improvements but he wants to see more work on further refining it down, and working on things like industry corporations which right now are more often than no one guy sitting in a corp of alts.  On mining, Steve also has some ideas.  From his campaign post, he states:
"I'd (still) like to see more activities added to mining. I don't want to take away the 'target rock, turn on laser, wait' method, but I want to see the ability to mine in a faster, but less efficient fashion (asteroid chunks flying everywhere). I want to see a new way to find the asteroids in the first place. And finally, I want to see the ability to claim the asteroids you find for your corp, so someone mining them from under you, becomes a legal target for you."
This is a sentiment I am very much on board with.  I'm of the opinion that active gameplay mechanics are far better for the game than passive ones, and that players being able to retain as much efficiency as they do while AFK is a problem point for the game.

Steve's interview on the Cap Stable podcast was very good.  He came across well-spoken and intelligent, and is a confident candidate answering the questions with very little hesitation.  Much of what he covers in his interview is contained within his campaign post without too much variation, which is a good sign that his campaign is solid, and not likely to change at a moment's notice, though you would expect that from a CSM member having already served a term.

Overall I'm 100% behind Steve's campaign and he'll likely secure the top spot on my vote list.  I know as a nullsec member I'm supposed to be voting for all things null, but I'm a developer and an industry player first, and let's face it, enough focus goes into nullsec.  You should definitely check out Steve's campaign and see how it looks to you.  As with most of the candidates, he'll be happy to answer any questions you have in his CSM campaign thread.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

CSM X Candidate Analysis: June Ting

Next up for review is June Ting.  June is currently the Executor of the alliance Of Sound Mind, an alliance which is part of the HERO coalition.  She operates along the same lines as Ali Aras, and is running this year because Ali has decided to step down and wants those ideals to remain represented.

June's main campaign focus points are small gang warfare and mentoring new players, which is what she currently does in Of Sound Mind.  Importantly, June wants to ensure that as sov mechanics are changed, small gangs are given the opportunity to make meaningful claims to space for themselves.  With all indications pointing to that being a primary focus for the next CSM, that's an important consideration to have.  One part about that that worries me (and I'll be clear here, it's a very tiny worry) however is that while at this time there's no indication of whether June is to be a bloc candidate, if she does get pushed as the HERO bloc candidate then there might be conflicts between HERO's needs and what small players would need.

June has listed the following as overall principle on her campaign:
- EVE's challenge comes from making meaningful choices. Ishtars online and supers online do not make for interesting content. Everything should have a counter.
- Newbies are the future of EVE. If something would hurt incumbents, but make it easier for newbies to get sucked into EVE, I will advocate it every time.
- Smaller objectives make for more interesting content over 'big bang' once in a blue moon 10% tidi lagfests.
From a broad perspective I can agree with two of these outright.  I'm a big fan of action and choices being meaningful, rather than some mechanics we currently have which just are because they are, I'm behind getting newbies into EVE as I think the current community is stagnating and turning quit toxic because of it.  I can't fully agree on the third point however, as I think a good mix between small and large objectives is needed.  While the systems used certainly need to be looked at as tidi is pretty horrific, plenty of people love the enormous battles and they make good news.  One of my biggest worries over the sov changes is that they will completely drop the large scale battle in favour of more small-scale and passive methods of holding sov, which I think would be quite a blow to the game overall.

Listening to her on the Cap Stable interview, June sounds like she's quite professional and detail oriented, however she speaks quickly and from that limited sample seems to run on a little in places but is certainly eager to communicate, which overall is a good thing, and she readily summarises key points.

In her campaign thread, I was a little taken aback by her claims that her experience as a software engineer in the MMO space would allow her to "determine whether something is realistically possible for CCP to implement, or whether it would suck time away from more important development work for comparatively little gain".  As a software developer myself, I'm well aware with how varied codebases can be and how much that can affect the ease of predicting how long a given change will take.  With EVE's codebase, we're talking about a mix of code of different ages sitting on a very old core.  Changes which should be relatively simply aren't, and without actually seeing the codebase I find it hard to believe anyone could determine the difficulty of a change easily.

Overall, I think that if you are a newer player, a nullsec small gang player, or someone that believes in supporting small groups breaking into sov then June is a pretty good candidate for you.  For me being a large group null player who runs highsec industry and trade on the side, she's a bit hit and miss but will likely find a place on my ballot as I broadly agree with much of what she has to say.  Her campaign is definitely worth a read and some consideration whatever you do and wherever you call home.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

CSM X Candidate Analysis: Tora Bushido

This year, Tora Bushido, leader of The Marmite Collective has thrown his hat into the ring for CSM X.  Marmite is a highsec wardec corp, and so it follows that Tora's campaign is primarily highsec focussed.

Tora's campaign has changed over time.  Originally it started out as effectively a "balance highsec" campaign.  This included ideas such as making gankers have to be in player corps, not be able to dock for 30 minutes, and to reduce loot drops on ganked ships to 25%.  At some point he then decided his campaign was now "EVE is evil", where he will be on board with pretty much any idea, no matter how ridiculous, as long as it's evil.  His nerf-ganking-to-death idea then morphed from what it was to a "hideout" mobile deployable which allows players with a criminal timer to hide from CONCORD to reship, while ticking their criminal timer down twice as fast.  So effectively the change has gone from "reduce ganking and make it less profitable", to "improve ganking and make hyperdunking easier".  That's a pretty big swing considering the CSM application period hasn't even closed yet.

Another idea suggested was a slot machine minigame for miners and a "click me every X minutes" notification for AFK in space players to make them be more active, which has varied over time. His ideas all range vastly in the areas they affect, and change direction rather rapidly, with one underlying feature being that he wants beneficial changes to his playstyle - for example the introduction of dreadnoughts into highsec, or the increase in low-end war costs to push smaller corps into paying more to wardec each other while only minimally affecting his bottom line.

One of the biggest problems I have with Tora's campaign however isn't even the type of ideas he produces, it's the way he thinks of the CSM.  He seems to be more about throwing ideas out there rather than giving feedback himself.  The CSM is about representing the players, and it's important to show in the candidacy period your skills related to that, not to show people how many mechanic ideas you can come up with.  If you want to throw forward ideas for consideration by the CSM, you can do so by posting them in the Assembly Hall section of the forum, you don't need to run for CSM for that.  He also seems to believe that the CSM will have the power to simply reject ideas, preventing CCP from pushing through a change he dislikes.  This is again not the case.  And for campaigning he believes running around forums, blogs and local chat posting up his "Vote Tora" banners like this is some kind of high-school election is the best way forward.  Maybe it is, maybe that will win him a seat, I doubt it, but time will tell.

The way he responds to criticism is also an issue.  He tries to turn it into a joke, or he throws insults about, or he simply starts blocking people.  I've been quite critical of a few CSM members since the beginning of these campaigns, and Tora is the only one that has gone out of his way to ignore me, even going so far as to block me on twitter from reading his feed.  CSM members get criticised.  It's going to happen a lot, and it's going to be considerably more critical than I have been.  If a CSM member can't even make it through campaigning without "losing one's sh*t", then what chance does he have of holding other people's needs forward if bombarded with criticism as a CSM member?

Listening to his Cap Stable podcast interview he also sounded quite confused for the most part, likely related directly to his rapidly changing campaign direction.  One notable point was when asked about the NPE and the upcoming awox changes, he responded with the following:

"That's part of EVE.  I'm in a big large mercenary alliance.  We do security checks, but if somebody looks fine and his killboard looks fine, and his skills look fine and he joins my corp, he could also awox me.  I've been playing for 5 years so that's always an issue.  It doesn't really matter how young old you are."
Now this misses the mark for a number of reasons.  First off he's in a merc alliance, full of PvP players.  The chances of him being picked for an awox are slim anyway.  Secondly, his SP criterion is >20m SP last I checked, with another requirement of a good KB, both things that also keep newbies out.  So his corp is displaying the exact problem CCP is trying to address.  CCP don't want people to be rejected because they haven't played much or don't have a decent amount of SP, and so they are making sure you don't need a player to have enough info and playtime to be vetted.

Overall, I don't believe either Tora or his campaign are mature enough to be considered for a CSM position.  If you are in a merc group, you might consider voting for him on the grounds that he will want changes that benefit that playstyle, but I'm not sure he'll have the staying power if people push against him.  Other highsec players will only benefit from him wanting to keep their playstyles relevant enough so they remain in game and continue to be the fodder to feed his alliance.  Perhaps next year if he's back with a cooler head, a clearer campaign, and a good idea of what the CSM is for, then I'll look at his campaign more favourably.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

CSM X Candidate Analysis: Jayne Fillon

The second post of my CSM X posts is about Jayne Fillon. Jayne is a player I've not followed very much in the past.  He ran for CSM 9 with a fairly broad and underdeveloped platform and did not manage to secure a place.  This year, he's looked more into what the CSM does, how they work, and what specifically he bring to the table.  His new platform is incredibly strong.

He's primarily an NPSI (not purple, shoot it) player, having founded Spectre Fleet, and as you would expect his main focus is on mechanics which support that playstyle.  That's not to say that's his only area of interest, and he's shown he's willing to comment on other areas of the game with.  He's fully supportive of the upcoming changes to corporation and alliance structures and has a good understanding of why corporation roles suck beyond the telling of it.  That's an important subject for a CSM candidate to consider, as it's likely to be in play when CSM 10 gets started.

Speaking on the Cap Stable podcast, Jayne also discussed the social group mechanics that are currently being discussed by CCP.  He describes how in contrast with corps and alliances have terribly designed role mechanics, social groups simply have nearly no mechanics.  The only in-game tool most NPSI groups rely on is a chat channel.  The problem with a channel is that anyone with operator privileges can hijack the entire channel, including the removal other operators.  Beyond that, most NPSI communities rely on third party tools, like Fleet-Up.com, to do everything else.  The social group mechanics could change that, bringing the management of those communities in game.  For that reason it's vital for those NPSI communities to make sure they have people who understand their playstyles in the CSM.

It must be noted that Jayne made it clear that he doesn't expect social groups to replace corporation and alliances, they won't be there to encourage people to avoid joining corps, they will be there to supplement them, and to provide a way for players who would otherwise stick to what they know to venture out into other playstyles and try them out without having to commit.  Spectre Fleet works much like that now.  You can join up, go on a fleet and if you don't like it, go try something else, no harm no foul.  Done right, these mechanics could really help give people that nudge towards group play that we've needed for a long time.

One point in his interview where I confirmed Jayne was a candidate I'd vote for (as a non-NPSI player), was when he was asked: "If you could remove one mechanic from EVE what would it be?" his response was "Wardecs, I want wardecs to burn in a fire."  He then went on to clarify his position with the following:

"Wardecs themselves, the concept is fine.  The ability for corporations to interact with each other in a sense of conflict is very important in the game. Currently, and in my opinion - only my opinion - wardecs are used more as a griefing tool, for basically shooting people who have no idea, they don't know any better, and we're just killing these people without any chance or any expectation of return fire or defense."

He the pointed out that there are no really serious highsec corporations doing things like incursions.  He also raised Red Frog as a prime example.  Red Frog operates out of NPC corps, and the entire reason they do that is constant wardecs.  If they attempted to operate as an alliance, they simply wouldn't survive.  The only highsec corporations or alliances you hear of are wardec corporations because they're the only ones that can survive.  I agree with all of that.  Wardecs don't really provide content for more than the relatively small groups who dish them out in waves, and the cost of that is degrading the experience of corporation experience in highsec.  He's likely to get a fair bit of flak from the wardec corps and groups like CODE over that, but let's be honest for a minute, what those groups want is more targets to shoot regardless of how it affects anyone else.  I'm all for finding ways to make wardecs actually mean something, but as they currently stand the wardec mechanics are just a way to turn off concord so that a handful of corps can prey on less combat experienced players.

Overall, Jayne is a strong candidate with a wealth of knowledge, and he's an absolute must have on your list if you are at all interested in NPSI communities.  He's not someone I've followed in the past, but I certainly will now, and he will be very high up on my vote list when the time comes.  If you've not been in NPSI fleets and want to try some out, Jayne has also put together a forum post that lists various NPSI communities, which can be found here.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

CSM X Candidate Analysis: Mike Azariah

This is the first of my posts about the CSM X candidates.  I'm leading off with Mike Azariah, as he's a player I've followed for a while now and a CSM member who is currently on his second term.  Mike is primarily a highsec candidate, who describes himself as a casual highsec carebear.  While this means he will take on issues relating to highsec, he's proven over the last two terms on the CSM that he is willing to not only listen to players outside of his area of expertise, but to strive to get a better understanding of other playstyles.

While I'm not a highsec player for the most part, with the extent of my highsec activity being some industry and trading around the major hubs, slinging some ISK to red frog to move assets about from time to time, I have in the past been a heavy highsec player, and if you follow me on the forum at all can be quite outspoken about the way highsec players are and should be treated.  When listening to Mike talk about what should be done with highsec, I rarely if ever disagree with anything he says.  One of his main points about highsec is that highsec players like it, yet there are many players who would like to tear it down to add more forced conflict, claiming to be wanting it to be more dangerous.  To be clear though, this doesn't mean what he wants is a safe highsec.  There should be danger in highsec, but it should be supportive of the highsec player base.

In his Cap Stable podcast interview, he notes his resistance to a player’s proposal to stop concord from protecting T2 ships as an example of players wanting to change highsec in this way.  He points out that what most players like this really want is more targets for them to shoot that won't shoot back.  I wholeheartedly agree with this.  Highsec is not the place where you can just fly around and shoot everyone you see with no response.  Remove or reduce that too much and you've just got lowsec.  Most highsec players don't want that, which is why they play in highsec, and forcing them into playing in a different way is just as wrong as forcing a player to PvE when they don't want to.  That reminds me of a post Mike made a while back about the idea of a "peace dec", the opposite of a war dec.  Anyone reading it knows it's ludicrous, which is the point of it, to get you to see things from a different perspective.  Nobody likes to be forced to play a game they don’t want to play.

During his Cap Stable interview a very interesting analogy was made for EVE and the way many players try to force more combat into highsec with no regard for the players who live there.
“Everyone keeps saying ‘but EVE is a PvP game’.  No Eve is a space simulator in which PvP can happen and does, but it’s like a rec centre.  There’s a swimming pool, there’s hockey, there’s a library, there’s a weight room and there’s a squash court.  Now just because the hockey players like to do body checks does not mean they get to freeze over the swimming pool then laugh at all the people freezing their asses off in bathing suits.”

This is shockingly accurate for the EVE forums.  Players often want to force more PvP combat onto the highsec player base, and they often use the "EVE is a PvP game" as a reason for why highsec players should just accept changes to force them to be someone else's fodder.  EVE is not a PvP sandbox, it's just a sandbox.  What you do and how you play is up to you.

The new player experience is something Mike is also very supportive of.  He petitioned to get put back into the Rookie Chat channel (which you automatically get booted out of once you've played a while) so that he could help out newbies in there, and he also runs a project called Operation Magic School Bus, which is a project to give new players PvP fit frigates and put them with players who will take them out into the game and guide them, to get a taste of the rest of the game.

Overall, Mike Azariah is an excellent candidate.  He constantly communicates with the player base, being a highly active member of the community and is often willing to go on podcasts to talk with players.  When it comes to communicating, he's well-spoken and confident which is vitally important for a player that you are expecting to express your thoughts and concerns to CCP.  He understands that the CSM is designed to facilitate communication between CCP and the players, and to give views to CCP on the changes they put forward, rather than come up with ideas the individual CSM member likes.  I'd definitely recommend reading Mike's platform thread and sending a vote his way.