My first encounter with CCP Soundwave was during Alliance Tournament IX. He was the host. I'd only been playing EVE for a few months at that point, and tuned into EVE TV out of curiosity. I was actually expecting a laughable production.
Hell, if I was wrong.
Alliance Tournament IX was a helluva production, mainly due to the personalities. Wise decisions on who to fly in as commentators, for sure, but also the host. Affable. Well-spoken. Charismatic. I found Soundwave to be funny as all get-go. His humour is dry and absurdist. That's my kind of humour. I was almost more interested in the panel discussions during that tournament than the matches themselves.
I was already pretty committed to EVE Online at that point. I'd finally found my original Ultima Online. A game of no-holds barred. But by the end of Alliance Tournament IX, I was more committed to the game. I started my Twitter account during the tournament. A week or so later, this blog. It was Soundwave's vision for EVE, the direction he wanted to take it, that had me wanting to get more involved with the community as a whole.
And then Greed is Good happened. And I was crushed after reading Soundwave's piece defending microtransactions, pay-to-win as a viable strategy. Granted, his article wasn't supporting full-on pay-to-win, ala World of Tanks, but a subset of that. It was disappointing all the same. I had a hard time reconciling what he'd written for Greed is Good, with his vision for EVE expressed elsewhere.
The summer of 2011 moved on, and a change in direction was announced by CCP. The Crucible expansion was released to much acclaim. And a large part of its success was due to Team BFF, Soundwave's pet group of developers, tasked with fixing "little things." An enormous number of little things did they fix. Soundwave's star was back on the rise again. So much so that I gave him an honourable mention when I announced CCP's Employee of the Year (an unknown and almost coveted award.)
A little over a month ago, the Inferno expansion released. As lead designer for EVE Online, Soundwave sets the expansion themes, approves (or not) major design decisions from each of the design and development teams. Generally, he sets the tone for the game in its entirety. He of course has his own bosses, and colleagues upon which to bounce off ideas, but ultimately he is the face of EVE Online. If player's aren't happy with the direction the game is heading, he's going to earn the brunt of the anger and attacks.
Crucible and Inferno have been successful enough that he's earned more praise and high fives than bitter anger. There's always going to be some of the latter, but CCP's new commitment to iteration has mitigated much of the dislike for some new features, or new features gone awry. Soundwave is committed to fixing things, not just leaving them be.
Going forward, Soundwave continues to have the best interests of EVE Online at heart. I'd like to point out a number of quotes (and I'll give you links so you can read them in context, or in full) he's made recently that make me glad that Soundwave is leading the design of EVE into the future:
Fairness ... isn't really a design philosophy in EVE.
Ring mining would be getting moon minerals through collaborative PVE. It would take it out of the hands of the alliances and into the players hands.
I'm not entirely sure I trust a system of dynamic resources in a game that's so built around settling down and carving your own piece of space.
I'm not sure EVE is a game that would benefit from dynamic resources. I'd much rather invest in a system where we encourage conflict through social dynamics. Where you go to war because you dislike someone and want to e-stab them with your ship.
What if we based it on a system where you for example could upgrade your space at the expense of someone else's space? Let that simmer for a while and people will be fighting in no-time.
I'd rather rely on a mechanic where people poke each other than moons.
Are [moons] conflict drivers? Or even more importantly, are they a good conflict driver? Is the degree people fight over them (which doesn't seem to be much right now) worth the amount of money they provide?
I'm not sure having a tower that basically mines money is a good idea compared to having a group of people doing an activity that the alliance then has some tools to tax.
That's another issue, making sure your alliances health/money is linked to your members. Right now it really isn't and I think EVE would be a better game if alliances would benefit more directly from their members actions, rather than a tower sitting somewhere.
I think POCOs require a certain minimum traffic to be interesting. If we let them be taken over in High Sec (which I desperately want to do), they'd become a lot more interesting.
Might also force people to only hold as much space as they actually need. :)
The overarching theme of each of those quotes is one of driving conflict and driving community. EVE Online is a game of conflict. It is a game of community. Without conflict, the game is an empty shell. Without community, from whence does the conflict arise? Lose conflict, lose community, you lose the game. And Soundwave understands this. He's concerned about giving people more reasons to fight, and more reasons to work together. If that is his vision for EVE Online, then it is in good hands.
Damn it. That all came across like Sonnet 116. It's not like that. Honest. I just respect the guy and what he's trying to accomplish.