Roedyn offers his thoughts on how a corporation can burn too bright, too fast – and how to avoid the mistakes he made in his own journey.
I recently had a stint in a leadership role with a new corporation that was evenly comprised of new and veteran players. During that time, I realized that I didn’t know the first thing about developing new players and steering them into the direction of sustained participation in Eve. It was incredibly humbling to say the least.
We all came from Nova Haven. We were brought together by Kira Tsukimoto’s desire and ambition to provide a home for new players where they can enjoy the game and learn from grizzled veterans with below-average bitterness in their veins. In time, some members started showing a keen interest and desire to improve their PVP game. That was the catalyst that gave rise to our new corp – Get Off My Grid (GOMG).
We left Nova Haven on friendly terms and off we went. From the start, I tried to redirect decision-making back to the entire group. At the time, I simply did not have the desire to lead; I would have much rather guided and mentored individual pilots. A few took to leadership roles, but in the end it became this awkwardly democratic and fair decision-making body that did not execute on anything unless everyone agreed. It was honestly refreshing and it made me feel better that everyone felt like they had a stake on the health and quality of life of all members.
Due to the desire to PVP, the decision was made to join Faction Warfare. We were limited to joining either Caldari or Amarr Militia due to standings limitations, and most preferred to join CalMil, aka The State Protectorate. I wasn’t expecting much; I cautioned everyone to fly cheap, and take it as a learning experience.
When we made the move to low sec, we hit the ground running. Daily corp fleets were formed. We died, quickly reshipped, and continued to man the meat grinders. In the beginning, everyone was enjoying themselves. Excitement filled comms and everyone was motivated. Much to my surprise, these beautiful bastards somehow managed to get the corp within the top 10 rankings militia-wide for the most kills often. For our entire existence in the militia, we consistently reached no less than #12 in the corp rankings. Mind you, we had fewer than ten real people in the corp. I was proud.
The first signs of burn-out came when even the most challenging kills simply didn’t give the same joy and sense of achievement that it once did. We tried to overcome this by shipping up and trying out different tactics but it only worked temporarily.
The wins and the ISK started to have less meaning. The joy and art of the kill was replaced with routine. Learning and self-improvement came to a grinding halt. At this time, we decided to move to wormhole space for a change in scenery. That was too much. It was too much like a job, even if it did pay well in internet spaceship currency. Members simply stopped logging on.
It is very easy to put your organization in a situation where you are more susceptible to burn-out. Often, it is born out of trying to punch well above your weight class too often.
After seeing the clear signs of this, I should have tried to open up other types of game play within Eve besides PVP just to keep things fresh. I should have pulled on the reins and got membership back to a point where they were involved in more purely enjoyable activities as opposed to high stress ones, even if such activities were not necessarily so exciting.
During our time as a corp, we did not have any new additions to our little community. As part of leadership, I was simply too busy to dedicate the time and energy to reach out to other players and swell our ranks. Although it did create this close-knit atmosphere, since all of us got to know each other very well outside of our Eve personas, the lack of new ideas and points of view led to a cultural stagnation.
If you find yourself in a leadership position, make sure that recruitment is visited at least often enough to where there is a good chance that members are not logging on by themselves. Even if everyone is online and having fun, the rare isolated times tends to affected the social aspects of the game very quickly. However, at the same time, be aware that recruiting the wrong types of people that may not breed synergy within the existing group is just as bad as having a very small pool of bodies to call on.
Within the context of the space that we inhabited, we became very efficient very quickly. Members felt that they had experienced most of what lowsec had to offer in the short time that we lived there. In many ways, we did progress through faction warfare content pretty quickly. Looking back, I think the idea simply manifested itself based on our level of opposition, match-making, and target identification methods. On a small scale, we had a very good idea of how a fight might end, and whether it was worth taking or not.
Although these are definite signs of experience, planning, and execution, we failed to capitalize on this and expand to more challenging ships or tactics. The idea that “we are good enough” was the start of not bothering to get any better – hitting a plateau and being fine with it.
Eve simply does not have the traditional linear advancement that is offered by other games. There is no prompt that will tell you what your next challenge should be. Being able to fly bigger ships simply is that – now you can fly bigger ships. That doesn’t make you any more dangerous of a combatant; simply a warrior with more tools.
If you find yourself in a position where you feel you have exhausted the content pool of the space you fly in, then consider venturing into deeper bodies of water. Competition at the organizational level is fierce. Once you have mastered doing business in your current scale, go out and see if you can challenge other entities and operate in their larger scale. Tap into your competitive spirit, and see if you can challenge or even dislodge old local powers. Make preparations for higher difficulty of play. You may be the big fish in this particular pond, but there are innumerable oceans out there.
Alongside our idea of progression within lowsec, this was the most telling sign that our corp had run its course. Within the scale on which we operated, we knew that we were one of the best. We knew that the militia was garbage and that we were better. We knew that it was the few of us versus many of them. We ignored the social dynamics within a social game. We failed to play nice.
At least for me, I started to dehumanize my opponents in the field. “They’re not real people. They’re dumber than NPCs.” I tend to carry a little bit of this mentality with me so as not to take the game too personally and persevere through stints of consecutive losses. But at the severity that it occurred during our time in low sec, I knew that it was time for a mental break. In many ways, I’m still on mental holiday and have focused mostly on industry and other games in the meantime.
Along with this over-confidence, we displayed a strong desire to remain autonomous. We often found ourselves discussing joining other alliances, including ones based in nullsec, but the thought of mandatory participation quickly turned off some members, including myself. We wanted to preserve the spirit of the corp – active and skilled players. We were a tribe of head hunters that didn’t care much for missionaries. We were a closed society. We refused to compromise.
Be open to new ideas and to new faces, and stay humble. These are all prerequisites to your Eve education. The game will come to a swift end once you’ve learned everything – or at least when you think you’ve already learned everything.
In the end, we won Eve. We came in with ambitions and desires, we left with fat wallets and shiny ships, and we built a small but faithful community. In the end, our shared history of organizational failure, and our ability to stay together and just have fun, have been the glue that kept us together. To this day, we continue to play other games together, hang out in TeamSpeak and Slack, and build on the friendships we have fostered. We are no longer our in game avatars; just Simon, Jack, Evan, Chris, Carl, Myles, and John.
This is the brilliant, beautiful CCP trick – Eve isn’t a game. It’s an experience to be shared with people who like to play with internet spaceships. Sometimes we are too hypnotized by the endless space scenery, the sharp crash of hybrid slugs into the side of your ship, the whizzing drones that eat away at your shields, and the satisfaction of seeing gray corpses where your enemy once was. Take away the textures, numbers on spread sheets, and sweeping music that transport you to a different universe, and what you have left are human beings who just might become your friends. Eve was the venue in which we could meet and share ideas. It was the spark that started a community.
CCP delivers the tools, but in the end, it’s all about the people that you choose to undock with. When it stops being about the people, when the fun starts becoming a chore, take some time to reflect. Eve is a journey we make with friends; sometimes we just need to rediscover what it was that made it so.
*Header image courtesy of mmogames.com