Selection time is upon us. Once again we - the loyal subscribers of EVE Online - get the opportunity to influence the direction in which our chosen MMO environment develops. The team of players elected in the next few weeks will champion player concerns for the next year. In the next month forums, blogs and podcasts will be alive with discussion as the many candidates vie for our favour.
Having read through many early candidacy threads and discussions, I'm starting to see this CSM election process as the selection of a dog sled team. As the dog-selector and “musher”, it is in the interests of the players to put together the dog team most likely to get us to our desired destination. The terrain we must travel over in the next year may be hazardous, as it was last year when we were fortunate to have an able pack leading us. There were times when we were reliant on the dog sled team to know the way as we were blinded by the NDA blizzard.
Our selection for the previous sledding season was good and the dog team got the job done. But is exactly the same team the right one for the new terrain ahead? Whereas last year the course involved negotiating the dangerous peaks and troughs of Incarnasfjöll and Fearlessjökull, next year will bring new challenges more diverse than the Crucible, on into faction warfare and beyond. The rules have changed too, with the pack now down from nine to seven. This can only make selection all the more critical and the competition more fierce.
Shuffling the Pack
Effectively we are now back at the dog pound, planning our next expedition and listening to the rising crescendo of howls, growls and barks. We're looking for the right signs from potential runners as they watch each other for signs of weakness and assert their dominance. It is fascinating to browse through the candidacy threads in Jita Park Speakers Corner to see how each runner asserts themselves.
There is a grand mix of bellicose hounds, yapping pups and the occasional ex-sled dog, flanks twitching for another run out. All the while the current team, lean and experienced but perhaps drained from the long season past, mingle with the pretenders. It's a heady mix of potential energy, aspirations and ego.
Our selections should ensure that the dog team takes the sled where we want it to go, rather than where the dog team thinks it should go. No easy task given the temperament of some of the front-runners. Here's a mushers-eye view of some of the hounds in the pound.
The lead hound in the current sled team, this wily alpha-dog is so confident of his position he is happily reclined in the most comfortable part of the pound, licking his balls in a congratulatory fashion. Occasionally he stretches idly and wanders through the canine mass, cunningly assessing threat whilst showing support or amusement as is his wont. Not the fiercest dog in the pound by far, but he has no need to be – he is one of the most calculating and has many of the local mountain wolves at his beck and call. Not entirely house-trained and has a habit of pissing on the sled passengers.
Another current team member, whilst possessing many of the attributes exhibited by Mittens, Seleene seems content to play the beta role. With a more open and approachable manner than the pack leader and some command of the local mountain wolves herself, Seleene is probably the most capable alternative alpha dog. However with the pack hierarchy established, it'd take some real sleight-of-paw to pull off a coup in the unlikely event that was her intention. She can be observed working tirelessly to broaden her appeal to the observing mushers, so who knows. Maybe it's time to back the bitch.
This loyal old hound is getting long in the tooth, but despite his drooping jowls and greying fur he just keeps coming back for more. With a stamina that belies his years, Trebor has proven himself time and again to be a team player and a hard worker. He's integrated well with the newer team members and we can only hope the old boy can continue to keep pace with the youngsters.
A new dog to the CSM pound, but long in the tooth generally, Kelduum has a proven record as an alpha male in the EVE University pack. His experience there will hold him in good stead with the selectors and should allow him to step out of the shadows. Whether he can work comfortably in a junior role within the next sled team or is hoping for the alpha role is uncertain, but he certainly has something to offer in either case. Kelduum's progress may be hampered by the yapping of one of his runts who tends to follow him around.
T'amber has had previous sledding experience, having been part of the team in previous years before chewing through her harness and fleeing into the snowy night. Now back in captivity, there is diminished confidence in her reliability or sincerity. Mittens even took time out from his ball-licking to casually snarl in T'amber's direction. Perhaps not a favourable addition to the team.
Possibly dropped as a puppy, Mintrolio is an endearing but misguided hound who's unintelligible howling - whilst entertaining - disguises any genuine sledding ability and may hamper his ability to bond with the team. His inappropriate relationship with a goat may ruin any real chances he has of being taken seriously.
A well-bred contender with bright eyes and strong teeth. Jagerblitzen is young and full of energy, coupled with some apparent real direction and purpose and the united backing of all the usually hostile Faction Warfare packs. Already he has garnered some serious attention from Mittens, with the alpha-dog recognising Jagerblitzen's strengths and usefulness and attempting to coerce him into a subordinate position. But the feisty youngster rebuffed the stalking Mittens; an interesting challenge of authority which may lead to teeth-baring and throat-ripping. Certainly a relationship to watch.
Draco has been running with the team for the past year and seems eager to participate again. Early signs show some popularity, as also indicated by his previous selection. Presumably a team dog with some backing from the remote quarters, Draco is possibly a quiet “do-er” rather than a noise-maker.
Hailing from the Inspiracy pack, Revenent has some fervent support from that quarter. Although a smaller group, Revenent's unique knowledge and perspective may be of use in the negotiation of terrain ahead. However, historically other breeds have struggled to accept Revenent's "characterful" kind easily, with many breeds being ill at ease with what is viewed as odd behaviour in some packs.
This odd little fellow is a mongrel who can often be seen chasing his own shadow and sniffing other dogs' behinds. Whilst he doesn't display any attributes remotely useful to the sled team, he is a cute little fella who might be better used entertaining houseguests. There is evidence that he has yellow balls.
I'm sure there will be others who will be worthy of our attention over the next few weeks and I'll endeavour to keep track as they materialise. Check back here for news of new arrivals, interesting throat-rippings and uninvited anus-sniffings.
In the meantime, head over to the pound, scratch some bellies and let them know you like them.