Sunday, January 12, 2014

Blog Banter #52 - The Other Side

When I started this blog, I had no intention of writing about serious EVE topics.  It was going to be a place where I wrote about my activities in EVE and a receptacle for the lessons I had learned about the many aspects of mission running, manufacturing, trading, and ship fitting.  However, I read Ripard Teg's response to this week's Blog Banter topic and I felt compelled to add to the discussion.

When I was still in the Air Force, many of my co-workers started playing World Of Warcraft.  I had played EverQuest for years and was reluctant to make the switch to WoW, but when the EQ playerbase dwindled, I decided to try WoW.  I started playing just after the Blackrock Spire patch, before the first expansion.  One of my co-workers, a lady named Christina, rolled a new character with me and we leveled together.  We formed a guild together, and when BC came out, we rushed to the new level cap and started recruiting for grinding heroic instances.  We got into raiding as fast as we could, and we continued this trend all the way to the beginning of Cataclysm.  We both felt that Cataclysm felt like a step in the wrong direction for the game, and were quickly burned out by the now-mandatory daily quests; before you could skip daily quests like IQD or the Argent Tournament, but that all changed with the Firelands.  So we took a break from WoW that became permanent with the announcement of Panda Land.

We tried other MMOs, but the market was (and still is) pretty stale.  Age of Conan, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Aion, SWTOR, Rift, Neverwinter, Guild Wars 2, Diablo 3,  etc.  It was clear that nobody, not even Blizzard, was capable of making a game good enough to keep our attention for more than a few months.

In January of 2012, I got an email from CCP games inviting me to reactivate my trial account for EVE Online.  I had created an account back in 2006, had never even downloaded the game client, and had forgotten all about it.  I decided to give EVE a try.

My first foray into EVE ended badly.  After completing the tutorial, I tried to run level 1 missions.  It was clear that I did not possess enough skillpoints to handle even the simplest of missions.  But I did have a Venture given to me by the tutorial missions.  So I started training up my mining skills and joined a mining corporation based out of Amarr.  The corp was less than a month old, and had 19 people.  All of us were brand new to the game; between the 20 of us, we had a combined total of 26 million skillpoints.  But we were a tenacious bunch, and in what seemed like no time at all, we had moved from Ventures to Covetors.  I used my free time to transport the minerals from our mining ops to Jita in a Badger, and the CEO took notice of my efforts and made me a director.  And when we had raised enough isk to buy an Orca, the CEO held a vote to see who the members trusted enough to pilot the almost 1 billion isk ship for the corp, and I was chosen.  I immediately stopped training for a Hulk so I could get into the Orca as fast as possible.  And after a month or so, I was capable of not only piloting the Orca, but providing near-perfect mining boosts.

One day, during one of our regular mining ops, a strange notification appeared on my screen.  Another corp had declared war on us.  I immediately disbanded the mining op and docked the Orca.  I read up on the war mechanics of EVE, and when I felt that I had a sufficient understanding, I held a corp meeting.  I wanted to disband the corp and reform under a new name.  My reasoning was that we were all miners, all our skillpoints were in mining, all of our ships were mining ships, and none of us had any combat experience.  But something happened that I did not expect.  One of the line members that hardly ever spoke up started talking.  He said that my way was taking the coward's way out, and that if we all banded together, we could fight off the enemy corp.  He was able to rally almost everyone to his cause.

Over the next week, the corp that war dec'd us killed nearly 2 billion isk worth of mining ships.  We had been AWOXed.  Most of our members left the corp, and in less than a month, 19 of the original 20 of us had unsubscribed from EVE.  Only the CEO remained subbed, and he still logs in every once in a while to update his skill queue.  The Orca that I was once so proud to fly now sits in a corp hangar that has long since been impounded. 

Several months later, I decided to give EVE another chance.  I couldn't remember my EVE password, and my email account I had used to sign up had been hacked (fuck Yahoo mail), so I started a new account.  I had heard that the best way to enjoy the game was to be in null sec, so this time I focused on ship fitting and combat skills.  I joined a corp called Southern Cross Empire, which was the training corp for an alliance called Flying Dangerous.  At the time, Flying Dangerous was based out of G-0Q86 in Curse.  I went on numerous roams with them and learned about small gang PvP.  It was actually a lot of fun, which surprised me considering my WoW and PvE background.  But my fun was quickly soured by the alliance leadership.

To understand the situation, you have to know about how Flying Dangerous (FIGL) is structured.  There were 3 corps in FIGL.  Southern Cross Empire was the training corp, and had over 1000 members.  Southern Cross Trilogy was the next step up, and it was made up of veteran FIGL pilots and the fleet commanders.  Southern Cross Incorporated was the executor corp, and contained all the alliance leadership.  SCI set the policies and the criteria for advancement from SCE to SCT.  SCI members rarely logged in to the game, and they had their own area of Teamspeak.  There was rarely any interaction between SCI and the other corps.

My first experience with an SCI member came during a frigate roam.  We were 20+ jumps from G-0 heading towards a carrier that had been scouted ratting in a belt.  A SCI member chose that moment to log in and grace us with his presence.  He muted everyone in our teamspeak channel and said that he was disbanding our roam so he could FC a battlecruiser roam.  So like sheep we headed back to G-0.  Those of us that could pilot a battlecruiser re-shipped into a battle cruiser.  I was less than 3 weeks old, and all I could fly was an Atron.  When he called for us to post our fits in fleet chat, most of us were in frigates.  This dude flipped his shit.  He demanded that we get into battlecruisers immediately, and when we pointed out that we were all less than a month old, he kicked us from the fleet.  That left him with 4 people in his fleet, so he cancelled his op and logged off in a huff.

Then the SCI guys started getting pissy because all the new players couldn't afford to field pirate faction ships.  The one I remember most was when they wanted to do a battleship roam.  There were 30 SCE guys online, 5 SCT guys, and 2 SCI guys.  I had just trained Gallente Cruisers to 1, and I had no cruiser sized weapons trained, so I X'd up in fleet with my Atron.  An SCI dude flipped out and said that only an asshole would X up for a battleship roam in a frigate.  Immediately, corp chat dropped from 30 down to 6, and most of the new players left over the next few days.

There were many incidents like this, but things finally came to a head when SCI decided that we were all going to move to Hemin.  I had spent all the isk I had stockpiling frigates and ammo so I could go on roams, and I didn't want to leave it in G-0.  So I asked in the teamspeak lobby if someone with extra room in a carrier would be willing to move 100,000m3 of frigates and ammo from G-0 to Hemin.  One of the SCT guys said that they had plenty of room, and that I should contract the hulls and ammo to him.  But then an SCI guy came into the lobby; he had apparently been listening in somehow, and proceeded to chew me out for 15 minutes or so about how I was freeloading from the corp and that I was a "little bitch" because I couldn't pilot a carrier.  I decided that this was a good opportunity to find something else to do in EVE, so I left the corp and moved to high sec.

While being in an NPC corp had its perks, I decided that I needed to have a corp of my own.  So I created a corp and had all my alts join.  I also remembered the password I had used for my first EVE account, so I resubbed that account and had its characters join the corp.  I had beaten the rush to Destroyers 5 and Battlecruisers 5 (just in time for them to be divided into racial subgroups), and had Command Ships injected, so I trained my missile skills and built up my standings.  In short order, I had a Drake capable of completing level 3 missions with ease.  And less than 2 months after that, I was in a fully T2 fit Nighthawk plowing through level 4 missions.  I wasn't losing ships left and right like I had been in PvP, and I was able to start paying for my accounts with PLEX.  And I was having fun.  I felt like I had found my niche in EVE: high sec carebearing.

Fast forward to December of 2013.  I gave my friend Christina a Steam key for EVE that came with 1 free month of  playtime.  She created her account a few days after Christmas and slowly went through the tutorials.  On January 2, she redeemed her holiday fireworks, put them in a Badger, and started traveling towards the system I run missions out of.  We hadn't gamed together in several years, and we were going to spend the day shooting snowballs and fireworks at each other.  5 jumps in to her journey, 3 Tornados alpha'd her Badger, and one of the gankers called her a cunt when he saw that she had only been carrying fireworks and a festival launcher.  She hasn't logged in since, and I do not believe that she will continue her sub past the 30 days I gave her.

So to answer the Blog Banter question, "What's on the other side of that plateau?", this is it.  We are on the other side of the plateau.  We as a playerbase have chased off any decent human being that wants to play.  We have distilled ourselves down into everything that is wrong with humanity and convinced ourselves that it is all some kind of elaborate inside joke.  We are what is wrong with the game, and the worst part of it is that we hold CCP hostage.  Every time they try to expand the game or draw in new players, we create a scandal to sabotage their efforts.  I hope CCP can find a way to get away from depending on EVE as their main source of revenue, because that's the only way EVE will ever get better and grow.

**Edit 30/04/2014**  A representative of Flying Dangerous contacted me via Twitter and asked to speak with me.  He was very concerned about the prospect of FIGL leadership acting inappropriately toward the SCE members.  After speaking with him, I am satisfied that my bad experiences were the result of one person, and that it will never happen to anyone else.  Props to SCI for reaching out to me and looking out for their new guys.