Sunday, February 8, 2015

27 January 2013 - The day EVE came down with cancer

Note: God love the ISDs who moderate the official EVE Online forums. These tireless volunteers donate many hours of their personal time to protect us all from the danger that we might actually have conversations with each other instead of logging in and playing EVE. The article below was one I posted on those forums only to see it locked almost before I finished posting it. The reason given was "ranting ". Eh, probably accurate, but I thought it was funny enough that people should have the chance to read it. Fortunately I have a blog, so I can publish it myself. Enjoy!

Asakai, 27 January 2013

Good morning, class, time for a history lesson. Keep reading, I'm actually going somewhere with this one.

The Battle of Asakai
In the days leading up to this pivotal moment in the history of EVE, nullsec had been dominated by two entities known as the Clusterfuck Coalition answering to Goonswarm Federation and its younger brother the Honeybadger Coalition, answering to TEST. These two groups had long been allies and had effectively rendered all opposition in nullsec irrelevant, leading to the first grumblings about the "blue donut."

Everyone involved was pretty bored with the situation, but even back then the leaders of nullsec were completely burned out on sov warfare and just wanted some content with a better ratio of fun:effort, so they stirred up some pretext and declared that CFC and HBC could now shoot each other, they just couldn't try to take each other's space. It was an effort to basically turn nullsec into RvB, just with a larger theatre of operations.

The line membership, like most nullbears most of the time, we're tired of ratting and feeling starved for content. So they seized the opportunity and started fighting. Drama ensued. Then one day the Gods of Pew clouded the eyes of a certain titan pilot and caused him to jump himself into a certain fleet. Batphones were dialed, then those that came batphoned others, and pretty soon most of EVE was there trying to ***** on as many Titan kills as they could. It soon became the largest fleet battle in the history of EVE up to that time.

That's my take on it all anyway. Probably inaccurate, since I was like "**** Tidi" and spent the evening safariing some noob corp that was too out-of-touch to know that anything was going on.

Anyway, I tell this story not to remind you all of the details of some long-gone fight, but to set the context for the real topic of today's conversation - the aftermath of Asakai and the consequences it had for EVE online, some of which are only now becoming truly clear.

The Baby Boom
Following the battle, Asakai was widely featured in the wider gaming media. The reddits lit up and thousands of World of Warcraft players who had never heard of EVE Online before were suddenly subscribing in record numbers. These players had no knowledge of the culture of EVE and were only here for one reason - they wanted to get in big awesome nullsec fleet battles.

For the most part the great powers of nullsec took a look at these eager, simple minded newbies and shook their heads. TEST was the only established power who really opened their doors to them. But soon after, the CFC decided to put down their old allies and thus eliminate the last unstable element of any significance in sov-null, so that they could get back to their ratting anomalies and their contrived Pewpew encounters without worry that anyone would try to stir the pot.

So nullsec for the moment was out of reach for these poor lost WoW players, and they were all milling aimlessly around high and lowsec bumping into things and getting eaten alive by the natives. A clever fellow named Matias Otero went to reddit and said, "hey I just got in a PvP encounter and it was fun, anybody want to form a corp together?" And within a week Brave Newbies Inc. surpassed 1000 members. BNI became the banner carrier for the post-Asakai generation.

Brave Newbies Inc - the Excitement, the Disappointment, the Reaction
As Brave Newbies ballooned, it created a lot of excitement not just from the new generation, but from EVE veterans as well. All these newbies were doing it right - they were heading out to lowsec and suicide-blobbing massive fleets. They had no idea what they were doing but didn't care. 

The population of Hek in that period rivaled that of Jita, and most of them were blundering around in space doing things most of the time, so of course they became the corporation to wardec. Which, of course, is entirely right and natural - as it should be. But it was cool because Matias Otero was like, "Bring it on, we embrace EVE as it is." Soon BNI moved to lowsec and started killing everyone in the neighborhood. I even joined for awhile, but I found that in PvP fleets I would tackle a target and try to call the fleet to kill it, only to find I couldn't get a word in edgewise on comms (over all the gay male pornography being read aloud and the associated commentary.) I wished them well but decided that it wasn't for me.

A year after Asakai, another great battle went down in B-RB5RB. It was a fight over some silly nullsec thing that I can't recall at the moment. The reasons for the battle are not important. What is important is that it brought another enormous tidal wave of bright-eyed WoW players whose only interest in this game was getting in massive nullsec-style fleet battles, like the children of Asakai. BNI was quick to recognize these kindred spirits and to bring a large number of them into the fold.

In those early days, EVE players of all stripes opened their arms to BNI and to others of their generation. I published my own Handbook for Evil Shenanigans as a BNI member to teach my young corpmates how to have a successful and profitable career as an EVE pirate with less than a million SP. Some were interested, but the large part of the group didn't understand the concept of piracy or care about it - they were only there to blob people. Which is fine, such as it
www.everevolutionaryfront.blogspot.comSoon, though, the dark side of the character of the post-Asakai generation began to show. When their leaders were contacted by the New Order of Highsec to welcome them to our game and make arrangements for their mining permits, they scoffed and refused outright. BNI initially seemed baffled by the New Order, but soon their prevailing collective opinion of the legitimate and democratically elected government of highsec became negative, even accusatory. James 315, of course, anticipated this and took a dim view of the Brave Newbies from the beginning, but many of his followers (including myself) were more naive and made efforts to reach out to them in friendship. Legendary "griefer" Psychotic Monk joined the Newbies and made efforts to help them find their place in the EVE community, but vocal elements opposed his right to even be in their corp. Other infamous AWOXers tried to join and help them, but were rejected. BNI had abandoned their philosophy of "all are welcome," and changed it to "all who share our weird values are welcome". It became clear that as the BNI generation grew up, they were becoming aware that other people also played this game - people who cared nothing for the giant fleet battles that they had come here from WoW for, people who had other interests altogether, and had started playing when CCP was advertising things like AWOXing and corp thefts to lure new players to the game. And the BNI kids did not like or approve of this. Not one bit.

Soon forum posts began popping up in which prominent BNI members condemned time-honored EVE play styles like wardeccing, ganking, and corp infiltration. At one time these things were advertised features of the game. Remember "EVE Online - Where your dreams can be someone else's nightmares..."? Remember "HTFU?" But the children of Asakai did not transfer over from WoW for these things. They came to fight battles in nullsec, and nothing else. Any aspect of the game which did not appear to lead to that end was perceived as flawed mechanics or senseless griefing.

Matias Otero and several other BNI candidates ran for CSM9 largely on an anti-wardec platform. They wanted to nerf this great playstyle into the ground, simply because it wasn't their own and had inconvenienced them at one time or other. During the campaign I confronted Matias (my old friend) about this. "What happened to your 'come at me bro' attitude?" I asked him,"What happened to accepting EVE as it is and going at it with courage and style?" He replied to me with a sad story of how wardeccers drove BNI out of highsec with their relentless griefing. It was a revisionist fabrication - BNI left highsec because their sights were always on low and null, not because of anything anyone did to them. Matias had fallen - he had begun to believe the poisonous narrative of his generation.

The atmosphere of Brave Newbies Inc has only gotten worse since then. Two weeks ago, a normal and happy thread popped up on reddit. A corp thief had robbed a highsec mining corp to the tune of 20 billion isk by posing as a jump freighter pilot and had come to brag about it. A great EVE story - one that any true EVE player would congratulate. The top comment on that thread, with over 800 upvotes, declared hatred of the OP and said in no uncertain terms that anyone who would deceive another player to scam them of their isk was a sociopath and a terrible person in the real world. There were rumors, which I believe, that the leadership of BNI had treated upvoting that comment (which any sensible person would regard as pure crackpottery) as a CTA. It was an organized effort to disparage a playstyle that did not fit into the narrative of EVE as a game of pure nullsec fleet battles.

But is BNI the sole problem with EVE's community? No. Brave Newbies Inc is the softball-sized malignant tumor lodged in the brain of EVE Online, but sadly the cancer is well advanced and has spread throughout the body of this game's community. The disease that threatens the game we love, gentlemen, is the entire generation of players who started this game since the battle of Asakai.

The generation of entitlement
People who know me know that my newbro-friendliness credentials are absolutely impeccable. I got my start in EVE University, where I stayed for roughly my first year. I created the Solitude Rifter Team there, and thereby helped a lot of brand new players to get their first taste of small gang PvP. I was a founding member of their Nullsec Campus in Syndicate, and it's first resident FC. After the Uni I started a successful new-player oriented pirate corporation. I've posted hundreds of times here in NCQA, and I've published highly regarded guides for newbros to get started in pirate career paths. There is only a very short list of pilots in this game who can honestly say that they have done more to help new players than I have.

But in spite of all my efforts, I have failed to save the children of Asakai from themselves. Part of it is their own fault. They came to EVE for the wrong reasons. They took no interest in the history and culture of this game. They came from other games which pampered them and offered risk free Disneyland-style content. Part of it is our fault. We should have destroyed them when they were still weak. We should never have allowed them to infest our game without submitting to it's true nature. We were all just so excited to have a lot of new faces around and foolishly thought we could influence them to our own playstyles by being nice. We were wrong.

Part of it is CCPs fault. The generation of Asakai never knew an EVE in which a 10 hour alt in a T1 Thrasher could solo gank a Hulk in 0.7. They never knew the exquisite pain of dying to canflippers in their rookie systems, or the sweet justice in doing the same to someone else. They never knew an EVE of unlimited wardecs for 2 million isk per week. They never knew Hulkageddon. All the nerfs which came before, which made the game less than it once was, all these contributed to their smug sense of entitlement.

The damage they have done over the last two years is undeniable. Time and time again this most foul generation of players, accompanied by their allies the carebear apologists - the Ripard Tegs and Veers Belvars of the world - have loudly cried for the removal of other playstyles from the game. The results have been plain. Over the last two years ninja salvaging has been virtually eliminated and suicide ganking has become more difficult by an order of magnitude. Under this pressure, CCP stands poised to eliminate highsec AWOXing completely from EVE with the next patch, leaving a whole segment of our player base to choose between finding another way to play EVE or to leave the game. And they are not satisfied with these nerfs, but are calling for more - nerfs to corp theft, scamming and especially to wardecs, and a more draconian stance on perceived "griefing" overall.

Why do they want to eliminate other people's playstyles from EVE, you ask? Because they were lured here looking for the next Asakai, and take offense to the fact that other people are here for other reasons.

”But Hedo, I started after Asakai and I'm cool…”
It would be dishonest of me not to acknowledge that there are many fine players who came to EVE in the last two years and who do not fit into this generalization. They just happen to be a minority so small as to be easy to miss. Some have proven themselves to be alright through long experience. Many more have the potential to be good EVE players but aren't there yet.

When this generation started out, we all gave them the benefit of the doubt that they would turn out alright. Sadly, most of them disappointed us by trying to kill EVE to suit their own agenda. So now the burden is on them to prove they are worthy to play Everyone vs. Everyone online with the rest of us.

If you are a player who started this game after January 2013 and you feel that you do not fit into the stereotype that I have described, you should make a personal commitment today to embrace HTFU and swear the following oaths. You can do this alone by whispering them quietly to your heart, but it would be better to swear publicly in front of witnesses, either in this thread or on the voice communications server of your choice, or at home among your family and children, holding hands in front of the cool glow of your computer screen while your wife quietly weeps tears of joy. It would also be wise to copy these oaths in your bio, or include some message of similar content so that we will know that you are one of the good ones during the coming purge.

"I swear to honor the God of Pew, and to offer him the sacrifices he loves best - the frozen corpses of noobs and their salty, salty tears.

HTFU is my creed. I hold it in my heart.

I swear eternal warfare against Brave Newbies Inc and all who give them aid and friendship. I renounce all ties to them and swear that I will not rest until they all have either embraced HTFU or quit this game.

In all new endeavors I will ask myself, "What would James 315 do?"

I solemnly swear that Haedonism Bot is awesome and that I will "like" his forum posts.

I renounce Ripard Teg in all his forms. I swear to block him in all forums and chat channels that I frequent, and to never again knowingly click on a link to Jester's Trek. It shall be as if he never existed.

I swear to vote for Sabriz Adoudel and Tora Bushido before all other candidates in the upcoming CSM elections. Long may they reign."

Once you have sworn these oaths you will be ready to stop being a part of the problem and to become a part of the ultimate solution.

Treating EVE's cancer
Cancer is generally treated, in this age of modern medicine, by some combination of radiation treatments, chemotherapy, and surgery. Unfortunately, the cancer in our community can not be cured by such straightforward methods. And yet, they offer us some compelling metaphors.

We can perform surgery to physically remove tumors. Likewise we can operate on our corporations and alliances by kicking out any members who belong to the post-Asakai generation and refuse to swear the Oaths, unless they have proven their benign nature by demonstrating a commitment to HTFU through unmistakable actions.

Chemotherapy poisons cancerous cells with toxic chemicals. We can poison the cells of our enemies by infiltrating their corporations - particularly Brave Newbies Inc and the members of the HERO coalition - and attacking them from within. Once in we can steal their stuff, or go on wanton killing sprees, or discover their valuable assets and vulnerable operations and hotdrop our friends on them.

I can't think of a great metaphor for radiation therapy right now. But anyway, we should all just make a point of attacking and destroying all the new players we can find and then trying to get them to either swear the Oaths or quit the game. This may seem harsh, but make no mistake - they are here to destroy us and all we stand for. It's kill or be killed. Only through fire and imaginary spaceship blood can we save the game that we have given years of our lives to. If you can't kill them, then scam them or steal their assets. It is your duty as a good citizen of EVE. History has shown that we cannot count on CCP to preserve our sandbox - we must shoulder that responsibility ourselves.

It is sad the direction that EVE has gone in its development over the last few years, and nobody can deny that we have lost some of the best among our fellow players along the way. It may well be that the disease afflicting this once-great MMORPG has advanced further than any of us realizes - that EVE is already dying a slow and torturous death of a thousand and one nerfs, and not even the most heroic efforts will suffice to save it. But for those of us who love this game, who truly love it, we will not go down so easily. We will go down fighting, and when the day comes that Tranquility finally goes down for the last time, we will be able to say that we were here, that this game changed us and that we changed it in turn. 

And that we blapped noobs in the face. 

Lots of noobs.

Pod new players every day!

1 comment:

  1. While sloghtly over-dramatic, I do applaud your overall desire to see EVE stay true to its core - Everyone Vs Everyone!