Based on some recent podcasts, mainly with Alekseyev, Hans and Seleene, we know that there are some issues and features they feel are critical to the success or failure of their tenure. Some are issues that CSM7 states are important, others are important by player standards (no matter what level of input CSM7 may or may not have had.)
Faction WarfareThis is Hans' territory. This is going to make or break him and will be the determining factor on whether he gets re-elected next year (assuming that he does run.)
Some argument could be made that he's somewhat to blame for the current state of faction warfare, since through CSM6, he gave CCP a tonne of feedback on how he envisioned faction warfare as a system. Granted, not all of his suggestions were implemented, but a big deal was made of the fact that he did give CCP a lot of feedback, which then helped guide their development of faction warfare in the Inferno expansion. Of course, CCP rarely gets anything right on their first try, so some slack has to be given.
Retribution will be the last major pass at faction warfare (there'll be some iterations leading into 2013, for sure), but this is the last chance we get to make it right. If faction warfare is a failure come Retribution, it won't be getting any developer love for quite some time. Hans has been instrumental in supplying feedback to CCP, and many of the changes to be expected are issues that Hans has brought up himself as all-important to the welfare and longevity of faction warfare. Hans has certainly played a big part in the faction warfare changes coming in Retribution.
If everything else CCP does until the CSM8 elections are bang on and stellar, but faction warfare is their one failure, then Hans goes down with that ship. Faction warfare was the entirety of his platform.
TransparencyThis was a platform issue for most of the currently active CSM7 representatives. Being more communicative, and more often, with the playerbase. Being more candid about the issues they were working on (without breaking NDAs). Making themselves available and accessible to everyone.
Regarding the CSM Summit Report, I'd say they certainly delivered in this regard. The report was insightful and frustrating in equal measure. But I enjoyed it, all told. I appreciated the effort by those representatives that helped write it. I enjoyed getting a peek into the CCP/CSM process.
On the other hand, CSM7 fails miserably on the transparency issue. Of the thirteen members, only three are in regular communication with the playerbase, another two are occasionally in communication, and the rest are completely AWOL. That is simply not acceptable.
Three people, who are trying very hard, do not get to carry the other ten, and then call the transparency experiment a success. I certainly give kudos to those three for doing their very best, but if they cannot convince anyone else to join the crusade, then they fail overall at communicating the importance of their initiative.
POS RevampI would not be mentioning the POS revamp here, if Aleks hadn't blurted it out as a defining CSM7 issue during the Ripard podcast. But then, Aleks rarely thinks before blurting shit out. So, I suppose it's worth talking about if he feels it is that important.
This is still pie-in-the-sky ideaville. CCP has not begun any significant work on this, and most of what CCP has been saying has been their usual over-the-top bullshit. The case of CCP telling us what they would love something to be, but when finally delivered we instead get some pale reflection of those original flights-of-fancy Fanfest proclamations.
This won't get delivered until some time into the CSM8 mandate, at the earliest. It doesn't seem particularly prudent for CSM7 to be hanging any hats on a feature no one is going to see until well after their term is over. For all intents and purposes, the feature is vapourware until we see some definite progress from CCP.
Ship BalancingThe CSM has had limited input on this. About the only thing they can claim any credit on is convincing CCP to focus on logistic frigates rather than sniping frigates. (If CCP really wants sniping frigates in the future, they can design new class of T2 frigates for that purpose.)
The balancing process is as follows: CCP Fozzie balances a bunch of ships. He shows the CSM these re-balanced ships. They have about week to comment before the ships go public in a devblog.
About the only person who is truly capable of commenting smartly on Fozzie's work would be Elise Randolph. But that Fozzie only leaves the new numbers in the hands of the CSM for a week, preferring to get them to the players as quickly as possible, suggests that he sees more value in the threadnaughts of discussion that happen on the forums than the limited feedback that the CSM can give.
I would consider the input the CSM gives into ship balancing to be quite minimal. So, is success in ship balancing a success for CSM7? I would discount any claims the CSM might make in this regard. I would certainly give some credit to Elise Randolph, but he would be the only CSM7 representative that would have had any valuable input into the process.
CrimewatchI think there's a bit of a "let's make highsec safer" initiative over at CCP that the CSM is definitely not privy too. CCP Greyscale is in charge of this initiative.
I hold out little hope that Crimewatch is going to do anything other than make highsec even safer than it already is. I have little hope that the CSM can influence CCP Greyscale in any way whatsoever. I would imagine that CCP Greyscale communicates with the CSM as little as possible.
I would not blame the mess that Crimewatch is likely to be on CSM7.
CSM as StakeholderThe CCP team responsible for the bounty overhaul is the team that is participating in the stakeholder pilot project. CSM7 has had an unprecedented amount of access to the CCP development process via the bounty revamp team. From being able to view video of the initial sprint meetings to time being given so that they could comment and supply feedback on the development issues raised in those meetings. No other CSM has had this level of access to the CCP design and development process.
Currently, what we know of the new bounty system revamp, it looks reasonably solid. But then, faction warfare looked pretty solid last April too. We currently only have a limited picture of the bounty system, and are awaiting a much fuller picture via a devblog.
The CSM, as a whole, sinks or swims with the bounty system revamp. If the new bounty mechanic is a failure, then either the CSM gave poor feedback or failed to communicate the problems they saw in the system. It doesn't necessarily mean the stakeholder initiative is a failure, and that CCP should not continue pursuing it with future CSMs, but it certainly means that CSM7 didn't leverage the responsibility effectively.
Especially given that Aleks, Hans and Seleene, in interviews, have expressed stakeholding as the single most important issue during their administration. The access they achieve will affect every future CSM going forward. They're the pioneers. Do they end up being the Donner party? Or do they make it California?
Already Hans is distancing himself from any direct blame, if the bounty system proves to be a disappointment to the players:
Our job will be to leverage the success of the pilot project to justify involving us deeper in EVERY project, for the sake of future CSM's (sic). And if it fails, our job will be to leverage it to prove to CCP why they should have involved the CSM more to begin with.Basically no blame is to be laid at the feet of the CSM. If bounties succeed, then CCP did right in paying heed to CSM7 feedback. If the bounty system fails, CCP didn't pay enough attention to CSM7. This is where I roll my eyes. Hans' skill straddling fences is beyond reproach.
If the bounty system fails, then CSM7 simply failed at communicating their feedback to CCP. Or they simply failed at understanding the ramifications of the system, thus not giving any useful feedback. On the other hand, if the bounty system is a success (which I am moderately certain it will be), then CSM7 will deserve praise for successfully navigating this very first foray into stakeholding with CCP.
The bounty system overhaul, the stakeholder pilot project, in my mind, is the sink or swim issue for CSM7.