The Price of Admission

Plus one.

Eve Online is a very complex game.  Flying spaceships is easy enough, flying them well is harder than you think.   But playing Eve is more than just flying spaceships.  It’s a game where you have a ton of information hidden in the myriad interfaces that CCP has provided.  Sifting through the information can be taxing.  Research, manufacturing, market trading, planetary interaction, corporate management to name a few, playing Eve (the Spreadsheet Game) is Hard.

And while the new player is trying to find a happy medium between flying spaceships and getting their Microsoft Excel Certification, they have to deal with the biggest hurdle in the game:  other players.

The greatest challenge to New Players in Eve Online are Eve Veterans.  A new player can expect to be disinformed, scammed, robbed, ganked, and in general, abused by the Eve Veteran within days of starting to play.  Eve players take great pleasure in the idea that new players need to suffer though all the same hardships that they went through.

Some would call it a Right of Passage.  I call it Hazing, or even Bullying. In the United States, there are laws prohibiting it.  In Eve Online, it’s the prevailing culture.

I’m sure that the handful of Eve Veterans who just read the above are rolling their eyes.

Don’t try to make my Sandbox a Theme Park, Bren.  Eve is Real and newbies need to Harden The Fuck Up.

Roger that.  Have a seat.  Here’s some cocoa.  Take your meds.

When I was in college, when asked why I never rushed a Greek fraternity, I just smiled.  I really didn’t want to explain that the idea of standing outside of cafeteria, head shaved, barking like a dog for the entertainment of my future “brothers” just didn’t appeal to me.

Before you come at me in the defense of your college fraternity, understand that I know you love your brothers, but really, this isn’t about you.

I just believe is something innately wrong with a culture that instructs you to demean yourself in order for it’s members to accept you as their equal.  I believe that if you want to be in a group, and the group has standards and encourages new people to work hard to meet them, people who want to join that group will work hard, if being part of that group is important to them.  But if it involves pain or humiliation as a rite of passage, you can keep it.

Can a culture have clear standards and demand potential members meet that standard? Absolutely.   Military organizations and adult fraternal organizations do so every day.  But the culture of Eve is that of a society which makes a guy climb a cliff to prove his worth, while being shot at by veterans who laugh when he falls.  It seems pretty dysfunctional to me.

I joke about Eve Online being a role playing game where everyone plays the same asshole.  I don’t think anyone can deny that there’s some truth in that.

Now imagine for a moment how tough it must be to be a game developer at CCP.  How do you encourage new people to try your game when it’s players are just jerks?   If you tell the guys who have been playing since beta that they need to be nice, you lose revenue from subscriptions when they quit.  If you let them treat newbies like crap, you lose revenue from subscriptions when they quit.

Don’t get me wrong, CCP actually encourages those same Eve veterans to be jerks, because it makes the game more dramatic than any reality TV show.  Go figure.  But they need to improve subscriber retention somehow.

New players.  New blood.  Profit.

Maybe in order to encourage new players to try out your game, you need to make it easier to access.  Maybe you need to separate the new player from the hardened veteran somehow.  Make it easier for them to start to like the game without dealing with the guys who chase newbies away.

Maybe you put your development dollars into developing a F2P console version of Eve.

Minus one.

Sometimes You Eat the Bear

Plus one.

So Red Alliance has been playing the NPC Sovereignty game.  They are a top ten alliance mixing it up with Solar Fleet in SOV space,  getting into the big fights with the big guns, dropping supers hither and yon.  They’re temporarily based out of NPC space and flying off heaven knows where to do heaven knows what against other SOV holding alliances.

It’s a cool game. I guess.

They are currently staging out in Open University of Celestial Hardship’s home region of Curse. We see 50 to 100 ships in local at a time.  We figured that they were licking wounds and preparing for a big push back into wherever the hell they came from.  No idea what they really are planning, but while they are here, we’ve been bridged, blobbed and bombed by RED pilots with nothing better to do than to try and kill frigates and cruisers.

They’ve taken up residence in Hemin, one of the handful of systems in Curse that actually has cloning facilities.  They blast through the Curse Pipe in 20 to 50 man gangs looking for fights.  We dodge and watch and pick off stragglers:  That’s what the evil little small gangs do in Curse.  We’ve had a lot of practice.  RED’s not the first major SOV alliance we’ve had as customers:  RAZOR, INIT, -A- all have come and gone through Curse at one time or another.

A RED Manticore decloaks in our bubble.  It’s amazing how many times this happens in a week.  Scram-Web-Paint-Track-Damp-Jam.  Boom.  48M.  Get the Pod.  Scram-Web-Paint-Track-Damp-Jam.  Pop.  We send him back to Hemin or wherever he came from.  18M.

An hour and a half later, same guy jumps in from VOL.  He’s on Dscan.  It’s a Drake.  Oh no!

You know that there is a gang on the other side of that gate waiting to jump in.  You don’t need to be a fortune teller to know this.  You don’t even have to have a scout over there.

It’s payback time you freaking Art of War Alliance noobs!

The Drake lands in the bubble.  Scram-Web-Paint-Track-Damp-Jam.  The torpedoes of four stealth bombers, one of each race, stream in.  Boom!  His shields drop a third with the first volley.  His fleet jumps in as the second volley is on the way. Boom!

You guys are sooooo dead it’s not even funny.

Boom! His shields strip away and he’s in armor.

Guys, I could use some help here!

We’re in warp!

Boom!

Guys! I’m in structure!

RED fleet on Dscan.  Hurricane, Hurricane, Rapier, bunch of T1 and T2 Frigs.  Ready to Rumble!

RED interceptor lands on the bubble and the AWA tacklers all go to warp.  1-2-3-4-5, GONE!

Boom!  The last of the torpedoes finish the Drake as the rest of his rescuers land in the bubble.  80M.

<Censored>

An OUCH student miss clicks a tactical warp and lands in the bubble.  There goes the clean kill.

Get him!!! 

They pop the Rifter.  800K.  Thankfully, the kid’s trained enough to get his pod out.

Victory!

Ah well.  I guess sometimes, you eat the bear and sometimes, the bear eats you.

Minus one.

The Eve Online RPG

Plus one.

I came to realize why I keep coming back to this game.  It’s not the spaceships.  It’s not the explosions.  It’s not the tears in Local.

It’s the new guys in the Open University of Celestial Hardship who come to us honestly and wholeheartedly wanting to learn.  I want to give them the tools to protect themselves from people who would offer a 1 day old pilot free stuff in a can in high sec, and justify blowing the same 1 day old pilot by telling themselves that they are teaching them a valuable lesson.

It’s the old guys I hang out with in Teamspeak that I log in for each day.  The permanent members that we call the Operations Department of OUCH.  Sometimes they are funny, sometimes they are jerks.  But they log in and hang out with me and make me laugh.  Then they laugh at my jokes, and listen to the same stories I tell over and over.  They tell me I’m right when I am right and, boy, they tell me I’m wrong when I’m wrong.

It’s seeing the transition of the new guy to the old guy, from the newbie to the vet, from the rookie to the up-and-coming team leader.  It’s being part of that process of personal and social growth.

These guys are my friends.  Not Online friends, not Eve friends. My Friend friends.  People when you haven’t logged in game for a while, they pick up the phone and they call to make sure everything is alright.  Even when they are across country, or around the world.  They’re here for me and I’m here for them.  Let the entertainment begin!

They prove to me that while Eve Online is a role playing game where everyone is playing the same asshole, all the cool assholes are in my corp.  In my alliance.  Among my blues.  On my contact list.  In every game I play, it always comes down to the people.

I do so like the spaceships though.  And the explosions.  And the tears in Local.

Minus one.

Eve Online Educational Organizations

Plus one.

Ripard Teg over on Jester’s Trek writes a monthly post with small snippets of interesting things in Eve that didn’t rate a full blog post.  In his September junk drawer, he pointed at the Eve Online Educational Organizations page and noted that, strangely enough, Goonswarm was listed.  It was enough to make me comment on his blog for the first time.

If you check it out, Goonswarm essentially claims to be an educational organization that helps new players.  I suppose that is true:  Goons educate baby Goons everyday.  It just seems kind of dubious to me.  But the Goons are not alone.

Of the 33 organizations on listed on the page, discounting the corporations targeting non-English speaking players, the vast majority are not what come to mind when I think “Educational Organization”.

Eve University?  Definitely.  Agony Unleashed? Certainly.  Open University of Celestial Hardship?  Well, I hope so.  But most of the other corps are just regular corps using the page as a recruiting tool, claiming, like every corporation that accepts new players, that they are going to teach you how to play Eve.

So the question comes, what’s the purpose of this page?

Hello,

I wanted to let you know, as the CEO of Open University of Celestial Hardship, that we have created an article in the EVElopedia to highlight all the educational organizations that can be found in EVE Online. The purpose of this article will mainly be to direct new players to it so they can find people to help them get a good start in the game, though of course we list all educational organizations, even those that are not set up for new players.

As the EVElopedia is a wiki you are of course more than welcome to go in there and edit any information on your own organization as you wish, or even remove it if that’s your preference. If you have any questions, please let me know.

http://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Educational_organizations#

Vänliga hälsningar / Best regards,
Christian Danhill
Community Team Manager
CCP NA, EVE Online

That’s a note sent to our founder a year ago.  That’s where this started.  But only a year later, it’s just become another useless page of corporate propaganda.  “Join us and we’ll show you how.”  There’s lots of promises on that page, not a lot of substance.

So what’s the fix?  How does a player sift though all the corps out there selling themselves as teaching or training organizations to find the one that’s right them?    How do you find a corp where someone is teaching something other than “fly a Drake/Tengu” or “get in 50 fights”?

What educational organizations in Eve Online need is accreditation.

Minus one.

With A Little Help From My Friends

Break-Break.

I’m looking for a direction of what we’re going to be covering here.  Of course, I want to spotlight what the Open University of Celestial Hardship [OUCH] does: teaching null sec survival and basic PvP.  Eve has a learning curve,  er, cliff, and we’re trying to equip new pilots with mountain climbing gear.

It’s not my intent to repost all of my Life on the Bubble posts here, because they are easily accessed in the OUCH public forum. I plan to keep the posts on the forum separate from the blog, but there are a couple of really good posts that I think I will definitely mirror here.  Don’t despair, there will be plenty of fresh content here.

But this post is all about giving Gunpoint Diplomacy’s Sard Caid a shout out.  He gave OUCH and Art of War Alliance props on his Twitch TV Live Stream, and I can do no less than to thank him publicly and promote what he is doing over there.

Sard is out doing great work, soloing in everything from T1 frigates to battlecruisers all about New Eden.  What makes him different than all the other guys out there videoing themselves?  He demonstrates solo combat piloting, then he explains to you the how and why of what he’s doing.

You want to know about “fighting in falloff’?  Overheating?  Target selection?  Gank versus tank?  Watch, listen and learn.

He’s teaching solo and small gang PvP as he does it.  He’s doing it because he wants to.  He’s answering questions LIVE and explaining how he plays his Eve.  Right now, he’s started a new character and is walking through how to build a combat frigate pilot from the ground up, step by step, live and in color.  I think there’s a lot we can all learn from following his stream.

OUCH was founded on a principle of teaching new pilots the lessons we learned the hard way.  Sard Caid has learned in his own school of hard knocks.  He’s helping new players make the jump into low sec by passing along what he knows to the next generation of pilots.

You don’t have to be in a training corp to be a teacher.  You just have to teach.  Bravo Zulu, Sard!

See you in Curse.

Bren Genzan