Test Flight: Valkyrie

Plus one.

So I went to Fanfest.  On the last day, I was beat.  Many miles walked, many bottles emptied.  We were at the Harpa and I was hanging with the boys in the PvP room farming pirate newb ships and I realized that the New Player Experience Roundtable was in progress, so I left the gang and roamed down to the session.

It was packed.  Crap.  I was in no condition to squeeze into the hot box, so I started to head back to meet up with the fleet, but they jumped in system.

They came down for Eve Valkyrie.

The line was short but I was in no mood for lines, and I am not really into first person shooters or flight simulators, so I sat down to wait for them.

You know, if you don’t try this out, someone is going to ask you about it and you’re going to be pissed that you didn’t at least try it.

Yeah, yeah.  So I got in line.  I hate lines.

When we finally got to the front, the Valkyrie Dev gave us a brief of the controls and told us to enjoy the flight, don’t break anything, and please remember to move your head or you will not get the full effect of the VR experience.  He pointed out one woman, facing straight ahead, moving only her fingers as she flew.

Don’t fly like her, he said.

I get to my seat and the pretty lady helps me fit my visor and my headset.  Looks okay.  I syncronize the unit to the sensor four feet in front of me.

I look left.  Cool.  I look right. Cool.  I look up and down.  I seem to be in a cockpit.  This is alright, I guess.  I lean forward.

Holy crap, I really am in a cockpit!

We launch.  I feel like I am in my Viper being catapulted off the Galactica.  I look to my left and watch the beams in the tube flash by.  Then I am in space and heading toward some asteroids.  I hit the booster and the ship shoots forward.

I’m looking.  I’m looking in all directions.  I head for the asteroids and structures and try to thread a needle.  I’m boosting, not continuously, but frequently.  I’m just cruising for a minute or so.  Just flying, checking out how the ship responds.  Seems to me it should be more responsive for a fighter.

Then my displays light up and an alert tone beeps. Someone is locking me.  I go to afterburner and start looking around for the bad guys.  I don’t see them.  Under boost, I make a turn to port and I am looking up over my left shoulder to see where this guy is.

I’m still turning but the ship isn’t turning fast enough.  Wait a sec, didn’t they say there was a brake?  I look down at the controller.

There is no controller.

This is VR, Bren.

Okay, okay.  This isn’t my first freaking rodeo.  The brake is the square, the square is here.  I tap it and the ship turns hard to port.  I release and hit afterburner again.

Let’s see some of that pilot shit, Bren.

I think I spot him.  I hit the brake and throw the ship to starboard.  My head snaps around to the right and I turn the ship around right to face my adversary.

Bandit at 2 o’clock high! 

Guns?  Guns?  Triggers!  I pull the right trigger and my target lock aid pops up on the HUD.  I track the target with my eyes from right to left across the screen.  Like riding a motorcycle, my hands follow my head and the ship turns left moving me behind him.  I get a lock, release the trigger and a missile salvo rips from the ship.

Swoosh, Swoosh, Swoosh, Swoosh, Swoosh.

But someone else is still on me and stuff in the cockpit is flashing red, alert tones beeping continuously.  I go evasive, snapping the ship around.  I turn left, brake and pull up, always looking for my guy, but it’s too late.  My ship explodes.  I cry out.


And I am launching again.  This time I think I know what I am doing.  I’m back in the game and looking for a bandit to splash.  I shoot at one guy, break off and go for another.   I am enjoying the hell out of this thing when it all comes to an end.

The pretty lady takes off my headphones and I take the visor off.  There are three guys sitting in front of me with the biggest freaking grins on their faces.

This is freaking awesome, I excitedly tell them, Don’t forget to move your head!

Hell, yeah, they yell back!

I get up.  Grab my stuff.  I’m pumped.    I want one.  Now.

Best Demo Ever.   No doubt, the best five minutes I’ve spent playing any flight sim.

And I’m pretty sure that the Valkyrie Dev told the next group, Make sure you fly like that guy.

I wouldn’t be surprised.

Minus one.

Coaching Them Up In New Eden 2014

Plus one.

A few months ago, I got into a conversation with DNSBlack of Dirt Nap Squad about the New Player Experience and coaching, and he asked me if I was going to Fanfest.  I said, Yes, I am  Black, in a very DNSBlack fashion, got very excited.  He told me, I’d like you to speak at the Coaching It Up In New Eden seminar, and gave me the link to the 2013 seminar.

Make a 15 minute presentation, he said.   3 or 4 slides.  Take 15 minutes and talk about how you help new players learn that null sec is not scary.

Sounds easy.  You like to talk.

So two months later, with TuxedoMask asking me almost daily, How’s your powerpoint doing?  It’s fine, I say.  But I am at a loss. I am on revision 4.  I think it’s terrible.  I’m not sure what to do and I have 2 weeks to go before Fanfest.

Deep breaths, Bren.  Work smarter, not harder. 

Right.  So I do my presentation in Teamspeak to a dozen OUCH instructors and asked each of them to give me feedback.  They were awesome.  Gave me a lot of great advice.  I took a page of notes and refreshed, I started to write my slides once again.

And they sucked.


So I reassess.  I write pretty well.  I blog.  I write long posts on my corp forum, clearly and concisely.  I speak pretty well in front of people.  Why am I all tied up about this?  Why can’t I make this stupid presentation?

A week before Fanfest, I wrote my presentation like I was writing a blog post.  2 pages long.  I spent the week rereading it over and over so I got all my points.  I sent a copy to Jak so I would make sure I had a copy if my luggage got lost or stolen.  I was ready.

Sitting on the stage waiting for my turn to talk, I pulled out my speech for one last review.  I was pumped.  I was ready.  My left hand was shaking.

Better not hold the paper in your hand.

Right.  DNSBlack introduces me to a room of about 200 people.   He tells me I have 10 minutes.  I have 15 minutes of material.  No pressure.  I stand , I smile.  I introduce myself.  My presentation goes out the effing window.

I talk.  I pace back and forth like like a tiger in a cage.  I am so full of adrenaline that I will explode if I stand still.  I tell people about my corp.  My fraternity of guys and gals who teach people that null sec is not scary.  My fellow pilots in OUCH who mentor and coach new players everyday.  I sell my corporation and ask every pilot in Eve watching me to do what we do.  Help CCP increase the player base by not being so hard on the new guy.

I have three points I want to cover, about what it takes to be an effective mentor.  Black tells me I have two minutes left and I’ve only covered the first one, which was kind of two points, Have a high level of knowledge and share it.  Don’t keep secrets.   I skip my second point, which is have high standards for yourself and your proteges.  I finish with the major point.

In order to be an effective coach, you have to care about other people.  I know it’s contrary to the HTFU attitude that the player base kind of promotes, but it you care about other people’s development, you can help me, you can help CCP, you can help us all.

And I end it there.  Put a fork in me and I am done.  I smile.  I wave.  The crowd applauds politely.  I walk back and take my seat and I hope that I haven’t totally embarrassed myself, my corp or DNSBlack, who gave me this opportunity to speak.

Coaching It Up Them New Eden Fanfest 2014

We’ll see.

Minus one.

Jet Lag

Plus one.

I went to Fanfest.   Stayed on East Coast Time the entire time, which is easy because the Icelandic people do not sleep.  I saw a little girl riding one of those 2 wheel Razor scooters. Zipped past me at 11 o’clock at night.  9 years old, if she was a day.

No kidding?

But it was me and 7 of my corp mates roaming in Reykjavik, gate camping the occasional restaurant or bar and then roaming again.  Miss Teri, Jak Reacher, Zurakaru Ze, QINTAKI, Merlin Aesir, Roi Defenestre and Metzorp.  We picked up 2 new recruits on the bus in from the airport and they hung in there too.

Had a great time.  Ate lamb and fish and then waffles at 1 AM.  Drank like Sailors.  Flirted with the local women.

Partied like rockstars?

Retired rockstars, maybe.  See the line where I said that Icelanders don’t sleep.  It’s ’cause it’s kind of hard to sleep when you go to bed after sunrise.

I’ll talk about a couple of specifics in a few days, like speaking at the Coaching Them Up seminar with DNSBlack, doing 5v5’s in the PvP room and playing 5 glorious minutes of Eve Valkyrie, but the truth be told, the best part of Fanfest was hanging with my fraternity of OUCH instructors.

But really Bren, how was the trip?  Was it fantastic?

It was cool.

Will you go again next year?

Ask me that again after Eve Vegas.

Minus one.