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I talked a bit before about content creation, especially as it relates to wormhole space. It is funny how that phrase comes to mean very different things to different people. For some it is making things in space, industry and construction of ships and modules used by players. For others it is the destruction of those space pixels in honorable combat and while for still others it is nothing more than suicidal destruction of their own ships to destroy those of someone else. Our identities in EVE are often wrapped up in how we view content creation.
"Ganking" is one of those content creators that is commonly found in wormhole space. It goes hand in hand with "blobbing". I don't have a problem with either one of these activities. A gank is simply a PvP engagement where one side is completely unprepared or unaware of his impending doom. Having spent a good amount of time in high-sec mining various things, I even have a level of respect for the suicide gankers of high-sec as they have perfected their art even though they prey somewhat on the ill informed from time to time. Most of those ganks are also blobs in their own right which again comes down to one side being unable or unwilling to bring enough force to the fight. The only issue people have with blobs is likely being on the receiving end of one.
I don't take a lot of pride preying on the weaker in any regard. The closer a fight is to a draw, the better it is naturally. That being said, as wormhole dwellers, we've participated in our share of what falls into the gank category. Being in a class 2 wormhole, we get visitors from high-sec frequently as well as those passing through and some of them simply get snared. There isn't, however, much glory in catching a week old player mining and destroying his ship, yet we do it. I've talked afterwards with quite a few of them and even have brought some into our corp later due to their obvious interest in wormhole space. It is not an uncommon story for many corps to recruit those they kill. I saw it frequently in the high-sec corp I was a part of when they hunted in their low-sec neighbor. I'm certain though that not everyone reacts so kindly to losing their stuff.
When I talk about content creation though, it is also about being in space, literally (well, as literal as it can be in internet spaceships). While there is plenty of interaction that can occur in EVE from a station, and market activity is still PvP however you look at it, more interaction is naturally going to happen when you are flying about. We try to instill this in our pilots. Wormhole space can be boring if you're not out looking for something to do. There are only so many signatures to scan, sites to run, gas to huff, or rocks to pound before you have to venture out from your home system looking for more. It is why we chose to live in a system with two static connections. More options for more content.
Last night was a prime example. Shortly after coming online, a new signature popped into my overview. Since this could mean anything from a connecting wormhole (with corresponding active pilots) to a simple gas site, I was already in my scanning ship and launched probes to scan it down. It turned out to be a wormhole which I warped to hoping to catch sight of whoever opened it. Turns out, that was me. We had what we call a wandering static to a class 2 wormhole. Now I was the one creating signatures in another system so I quickly jumped through to see what activity I would find. Turns out, it was just me again. But I was in luck. This class 2 had a class 3 static and I have been enjoying working in class 3 wormholes recently. Once again, I began to scan.
After resolving signatures, I was left with 4 wormholes, including ours leading to the class 3, high-sec, and low-sec. Unfortunately, the class 3 was at end of life already and wobbling badly but being early in the evening, I would have an opportunity to check out its replacement so I popped in to see what the current system was. With a null static and only two combat sites, this EOL hole wasn't what I was looking for so I checked out the high-sec connection (for some corpmates who were looking for paths to market) and then loitered on that hole. I recognized the system being one jump off my former high-sec corporations home territory. I knew it was a dead end system and fairly frequently visited by scanners so I thought that maybe someone would pop in and be content for us.
It wasn't too long before I noticed an Imicus on the hole. I had been up and down from the keyboard and hadn't noticed him arrive. He quickly left so I didn't think much of it until he returned not too long after in a Brutix. With only one combat site in the hole, I figured I knew where he warped off to and proceeded there cloaked. He wasn't where I expected and after a short time, I dscanned him at the high-sec exit and he left again so I returned to my perch. A wormhole crackle and now our Brutix friend is joined by a Myrmidon. Combat site, I think and warp again only to find they, again, are not where I would expect. Apparently my crystal ball is broken so I dscan around and find them at an ore site. Odd, but ok. I warp there and observe. They have already cleared the sleepers and have collected them with an MTU. They goof around with them for a while and do some very strange maneuvers which end up with the Brutix 100km from the sleepers and slowboating to them. The myrmidon leaves and to my surprise is replaced with a Retriever who starts to chew into some Arkanor. All this while I am keeping my corp channel updated and people are starting to smell blood in the water. A Retriever 100km off a Brutix is a nice target. One of the guys online is literally less than an hour in the corp and the other is my co-founder. As we are talking warp in points, I see an Orca on dscan. Now *my* mouth is watering. That is a juicy target which I expect to stay on the high-sec hole and I'm wondering if we can bump it off when it suddenly drops out of warp next to the Retriever. Jackpot! Now the race is on. We are quickly getting what we can. New bro is going to occupy the Brutix in his Ishtar while my co-founder and I will tackle with Legion and Astero (on my alt) while my main keeps watch in his cloaky Helios.
The plan almost went totally awry when a corp mate was trying to get into a ship and was delaying us from warping. I missed my warp out and my co-founder landed before I even left our home system. Luckily the Orca is a slow beast and he was able to scram it before it entered warp. The Retreiver escaped and the Brutix made for the hills while the three of us then, and finally joined by the fourth, ripped open the Orca. Welcome to the corp, newbro.
The scale of how content affects you and those around you in EVE is interesting. For many corps, this would be a good but perhaps unnoticeable notch on their killboard belt. For us, it was a huge win and a great lesson in being in space similar to our discovery of an unprotected SMA not too long ago. Being in space generates content and last night I happened to be in the right place and the right time, not so much for the Orca pilot...
There is quite the thread over at the EVE forums regarding the proposition by CCP to remove the NPC kill information from the API feed specifically for wormholes. The general reasoning is first that this was never intended to be exposed for wormholes, much like the previous removal of jump information and second that the reason it was never intended to be exposed is in keeping with the unique unknown nature of wormhole space.
I am quite on board with this change purely for the reasons give by CCP. It is in game data that is not available in game in any form (unlike k-space NPC kills which are visible on a map) and therefore should not be exposed via API.
Where it gets interesting is that this information is primarily used as an intel tool for PvP corporations, most commonly found in C5/C6 space, to determine prime gank times for capital escalation fleets. There are cries of outrage at the removal of this intel which has a not so subtle exposed hatred for PvE or "carebear" organizations. It is hard to even discuss this reaction without resorting to sarcasm and negativity myself at the prevalence of this attitude. At what point did PvE content become the scourge of EVE? I understand that some of the frustration comes from the tactics of these groups, taking advantage of the discovery scanner to safe up on contact as well as using logoff tactics to keep a fleet safe at all times other than when engaging in PvE. But at the same time, when did this also then become the crusade of these outraged organizations to need to remove these PvE organizations from the game and by extension any corporation that does not engage in PvP the way they do?
The lack of vision put forth by the corporations living in the high-level wormholes is a bit fascinating probably brought on by the high level of Goonswarm involvement in this thread. It is not so subtly speculated that the recent eviction of Goonswarm from a wormhole system prompted some kind of discussion at Fanfest with CCP regarding the use of this intel thus instigating this change. Maybe this is true, maybe not, though it doesn't really change the merits of the proposal. It does, however, bring immediate comparisons between how large null-sec operations run and how wormhole corporations do. I suspect that how Goonswarm views wormhole space and its inhabitants is that they appear to operate illogically.
Wormhole corporations are largely based around the idea of single system ownership. A corporation moves into a wormhole of the difficulty appropriate to their size and operate from that location. The higher level corporations tend to run in two camps, PvP or PvE. This dichotomy does not really seem to be that prevalent in null-sec, the space with perhaps the most similarities to wormhole space in terms of raw dynamics (no CONCORD, etc). I have yet to really hear of any wormhole organization (corporation or alliance) that has taken upon itself to control large portions of wormhole space. Some will occupy multiple levels of space, again, most likely based on difficultly in order to match up challenge with pilot skill in PvE, but it does not seem to be in the "meta" for any wormhole entity to begin to take over multiple locations. Why is this?
The first, obvious reason would be the very nature of wormhole space with its ever shifting landscape of connections. This makes force projection, reinforcements, and other logistical functions far more difficult than say in null-sec where jump bridges move ships across the universe at a moments notice. But does this really interfere with occupation? I don't believe it does. If you can build up 100 members to control a single hole, why can you not build up 200 members to control two or a thousand to control ten? Certainly they will not be able to directly influence each other as easily as other organizations but it is also not that uncommon for there to be relatively small distances between wormhole systems and with the prevalence of T3 ships in wormhole space, moving across those distances is not the same challenge it would be for larger capital fleets and who is to say that judicious use of well placed jump clones could not reduce those distances significantly in many situations. This would require scanning chains, finding connections most likely in k-space, and moving fleets through those connections. Ironically, these actions themselves might create plenty of content for PvP organizations simply by being in space.
But maybe that simply isn't the goal of wormhole corporations, yet it seems that those crying foul over how other corporations use the space they have occupied have no desire themselves to occupy that space. They simply don't want others to have it or to use it in the way they are using it. You will hear arguments that occupation by PvE corporations reduces PvP content which is bad. I don't buy that argument. In some ways, the NPC kill intel being available seems to restrict PvP content more than anything because if you do not have to have scouts and fleets out in space looking for targets.
As a lower level wormhole corporation, we engage in PvE more out of necessity than anything. Our income levels are lower, our members are newer, and the income is needed to keep them in the game. We have our PvP moments though will simply disengage from conflicts due to overwhelming force on the other side. Taking yourself out of a fight you cannot win seems to me to be a perfectly valid PvP tactic though I imagine cries of "Carebear!" will ring from PvP corps at that. Yet our members being out engaging in PvE, using our chain to find null-sec exploration or low-sec connections creates plenty of content for the rest of EVE because we are out in space, not logged off or at a POS waiting for NPC kill API to tell us maybe there is someone to attack.
I look forward to this API being removed. I think it will get more pilots into space and maybe, just maybe, spark something in organizations that have the numbers to grow into something more than a wormhole gank squad and actual engage in the empire building that many of us moved into wormhole space specifically for.
By now I'm sure many of you have read the recent dev blog on the upcoming industry changes coming this summer. It is universe shaking, to put it into a proper perspective, and will drastically impact what is truly the center of EVE, the economy. Recently Mabrick remarked that these changes, along with the average gamers desire for casual gaming was a combination that does not bode well for the long term growth of EVE. It is interesting that he remarks on this now because I have, in my own gameplay, been experiencing a bit of this and been wondering what to do about it.
Many aspects of EVE do not lend themselves to players who only have a limited amount of game time. For example, even in our wormhole, it takes me roughly 12-15 minutes to run a site and that assumes that I can directly log on and jump into a combat site. The reality is that the prep time to possibly scan down our connection, scout the hole and then switch into combat ships is enough that even a simple task starts to approach the hour mark. I would venture to say that other areas of space have similar setup time around activities though in different ways. And these types of activities seem to be the least time consuming in EVE. Others like mining, industry, station trading, etc. all appear to require a larger commitment of time. Even my PI which makes me money while I'm not in game can take a relatively large portion of time for someone who may only have an hour of gaming available to them.
Much ado is made about how to retain players. Perhaps this aspect of "casual gaming" is one of the reasons that EVE has a harder time holding onto a large percentage of new players. Gaming has always had it share of dedicated hard core players and casual players looking for fun in small portions. It is an interesting issue and perhaps one that does not have a decent solution for EVE. Turn based games like Civilization can be picked up and put down on a moments notice. Even FPS like Titanfall have a limited time spent in each fight making it relatively easy to consume in small bits. EVE takes dedication and can be frustrating to someone just looking to spend a short period of time playing. It can make that time spent seem wildly unproductive and eventually lead players simply to no longer log in.
I find myself in the same situation. Running a corp takes time. It consumes pieces of time that you never thought it would just in communicating with members, answering questions, etc. My own personal play requires a certain amount of time to maintain my PI infrastructure to fund my accounts. This has left me recently feeling like I haven't really "played" EVE in a while even though I'm still getting things done. Sometimes things aren't about just the ISK/hr I'm making from PI but the desire to simply be playing...flying spaceships in space and maybe blowing some things up. I believe I've come up with a good way to balance this going forward for my own personal enjoyment. It will perhaps be something that I bring up more with new recruits to temper their expectations of EVE. While it may not cater to casual gamers, if you can find value in what you do and make sure that what you do in EVE has value to you, then it will be time well spent.
As CEO, one of the things that creeps into your head from time to time is "Are we successful?" which begs the question, how do you calculate or measure success. For myself personally, as a minimum, it is earning enough ISK to pay for my accounts by buying PLEX. It has been a goal of mine since I started, or should I say, restarted, playing EVE and more so in the past week since I reactivated my 2007 account. Each account has to be paid for and done so without drastically impacting my other. I may have a post in the future about how I meet that goal, but how do you measure a corporation's success?
Oddly, for a wormhole corp, perhaps the bare minimum is "I'm not dead yet!" every time we log on and our stuff is still where we left it. Not evicted today? *Whew*
Taking it beyond mere survival, does a corporation need to have goals greater than its members meeting their own personal goals? I suppose that all depends on the type of players that make up a corporation. Some may be the kind that thrive on the greater good, on their purpose in a larger organization and their contribution to it. Some may be independently minded where their success is their own and the organization is simply the structure through which they achieve that success. I derive a fair amount of personal satisfaction from meeting the needs of the independently minded pilots. I find that it empowers them to be content creators if they desire or otherwise meeting the personal goals resulting in, I hope, a mutual benefit. But what of those pilots who long for more?
I do not believe that the two are mutually exclusive. A corporation can set and achieve goals while empowering independently minded pilots to success. What any corporation must be cautions about is whether or not their goals are working against the goals of its pilots. I think if this is occuring, it manifests itself as burnout or maybe even the bittervet syndrome. Some of that, I think reflects in my own initial start with EVE. That 2007 account I reactivated has a meager 1.5M SP. I wonder sometimes if he is the oldest lowest skilled person in the game though I'm sure that can't be the case. I stopped playing back then for no other reason than EVE felt like a job. I don't recall that I was part of a corporation at the time yet I still came to feel that what I was doing was a grind and not worth it. My circumstances have changed and I was able to overcome that hurdle in my high-sec play long enough to reach the state I am in now inside the wormhole able to generate enough income via mostly passive sources to fund my account.
I believe this is the single most important thing that I offer to new pilots in the corporation: set up in our corp, get your income stream flowing, and EVE suddenly becomes much easier. As such, I think we've attracted a certain kind of player that reaches above the grind and is able to do so due to our environment. It pains me to think how the "rest of EVE" gets along trying to grind out enough cash to survive. There is a hurdle there. I see it with my co-founder who runs missions on one of his character slots. He has finally reached level 4 missions and is now in a similar situation where the income level has reached a level where the effort is worth the rewards. It is the hurdle I failed to clear my first time around.
What are the goals of my corporation? They're simple really. I sincerely want to provide a place where new players can clear the hurdle of making EVE fun and much of that involves removing the feeling that all new players have that they are, ultimately, poor. I have cleared that hurdle in my own play. I think our corporation has this goal firmly met and solidified in our foundation. I am setting my sites on the next goal which likely will involve moving the corporation in the future. This will be something that impact every player directly and probably initially as a detriment to their wallet and a dent in their play time. Will this be a positive change for the corporation? Perhaps. Any move up the food chain, so to speak, pulls us further and further from the new player foundation that I have set the corporation on. Only time will tell if this works out, but until then
Not dead yet
Previously, in my introductory post, I had remarked on the difficulty of recruitment in wormhole corporations. This challenge reared its ugly head for us this past weekend in a series of encounters that left us frustrated and looking for solutions. The short version is we were on the losing end of two engagements in our hole, both of our own choosing.
The first started with the sighting of a Tengu. Solo ships are rarely alone in wormhole space so we expected that this Tengu had some friends. We had what we thought was decent intel on the number of visitors in our hole as well as eyes on our entrances to be aware of any reinforcements. After some time running PI and generally trying to evoke a response, I decided to clear our sleeper site in my Dominix. It is a tanky ship I have used in C3 wormholes before and has micro-jump drive capabilities to get out of sticky situations. If the Tengu wanted something juicy, I figured this would be it. Our scouts were cloaky, though in smaller Astero frigates and we had one of our more experienced members in a Recon ship ready to go. Not a terribly powerful combination, but perhaps enough tor a Tengu and maybe a companion.
As I was nearly finished with the site, as expected, the Tengu dropped and here we began making mistakes. First, our scouts left their positions to engage. For a small corp, it is necessary to bring any available pilots to a fight. We do not have the luxury of dedicated scouts in most cases. Some of us run multiple accounts but for the most part we are individual players. Unfortunately, the hole the solo scout left was the one the reinforcements came in. We had alts on at least one other entrance, just not the one that ended up being critical. In the end, our small contingent was dropped on by three Tengu which made quick work of the Recon which had landed directly into the fray instead of landing at range. A simple piloting error, but a costly one. Luckily for me, my Dominix was able to MJD to safety and make it out alive.
In our second encounter the next day, we took the bait of a Drake lingering in the wormhole scanning and jumping from hole to hole and eventually being caught on our high-sec entrance. Our high-sec entrance was a busy starter system so this type of visitor is often commonplace in our wormhole when we have that type of connection. I was in my hunting Astero and gained lock and tackle while my corpmate landed with his Proteus. The target jumped to high-sec and the Proteus followed (later learned to scope out the situation in high-sec and check if there were reinforcements). Unfortunately for us, the reinforcements were in the wormhole, not in high-sec and when the two came back polarized, it seemed our good fortune that we would now destroy this visitor who could not warp way or duck back into the wormhole. It was at this point that we should have disengaged. No high-sec visitor or even WH resident in a Drake set upon by a Proteus and Astero would jump back into a wormhole, polarizing himself, unless he knew he had the friends to back him up. The heat of battle sometimes gets the better of you. Two Proteus, another Drake, and an Onyx landed almost immediately and began laying into my corpmate and his Proteus. I made for cover knowing that as soon as that Onyx dropped his bubble, I was done. The only other corpmate online was the Recon pilot from the first encounter who had yet to replace his ship or have any other PvP ships available. The Proteus was lost and there was nothing we could do about it.
We are supposed to learn from our mistakes. The reality for us, and this was a topic of discussion inside the corporation after these encounters as well, is that we continue to be behind the curve in active members. We are not lacking in attitude or willingness to fight in the members we have. These are solid pilots with superior dedication to the corporation and what we are doing together. I feel bad in many ways that I escaped with my ships while they did not. We continue now to explore new ways to bring pilots into the corporation with some great ideas coming out of of our memberships. Our community is strong though small. We are doing plenty of internal things to strengthen that but our biggest hurdle continues to be growth and we are starting some projects to maybe address that long term which I will definitely discuss later as they take root.
Just a quick post to give my thoughts on the upcoming CSM elections. Being an avid blog reader and podcast listener, I have gather up a fair amount of information on the candidates and have a few that I will certainly be casting my vote for
1. Sugar Kyle
Superb blogger with a gift for what I consider to be the style of play that benefits EVE as a whole. She embraces the community not in a max/min way but in one that is mutually beneficial to those she encounters and has a head for many aspects of the game and should be a great addition to the CSM
2. Ali Aras
Incumbent and extremely well spoken. Her current term on the CSM has been well used in my opinion and deserves a second go-around
Goon, yes, but perhaps the smartest person in the room...in most rooms. Without a doubt an asset to the CSM seeing things that perhaps no one else has thought of.
4. Mike Azariah
Another incumbent and worthy of a repeat trip to the CSM. From everything I've read on him, he has been a valuable member of the CSM and a great spokesperson for the accessibility of EVE to new players.
5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Asayanami Dei, Karen Galeo, Jayne Fillon, corbexx, and Proclus Diadochu
As a wormhole resident I would be amiss and wanting to see a wormhole presence on the CSM. These four candidates all bring something unique to that platform, especially Jayne who operates the Spectre NPSI fleets. I would love to see one or more of these candidates on the CSM so that wormhole life, which really impacts many other aspects of EVE has a clear voice.
10. James Argent
Another incumbent with a good track record. I believe a strong mix of new and previous CSM members will provide excellent consistency between terms which, given CCP's long term plans is beneficial to all of us as players
11. Steve Ronuken
Master of Fuzzworks, great voice for the out of game developers and those who give back tools to the community.
The most important part...get out and vote
Greetings! My name is Obil Que and I have been running a wormhole corporation for 8 months…and 2 days. Is that right? Time must move faster inside a wormhole than normal space because the three months I spent in a high-sec corporation seems to be a much longer span of time than the eight months in wormhole space. Must be that time dilation everyone is talking about.
This space will be a collection of my thoughts on the EVE universe specifically from the perspective of both a wormhole resident and CEO. I cannot profess to be an expert in either of these things but hope only that this serves some benefit to those that take the time to read it.
The nature of wormhole space develops a kind of operational paranoia within you, perhaps more so as a CEO than as a member. Plenty of space exists in EVE where you are constantly looking over your shoulder but none like wormhole space where you are left without any built-in intelligence of your surroundings. It is an exciting landscape filled with opportunity, but as CEO, there is something greater at work. You see every open wormhole as a doorway to disaster with a fleet of tower bashing ships waiting for you to blink. You read stories of evictions and wonder how you can protect those pilots that have chosen to join you and not lose everything. You take a risk with every pilot you do accept into the corporation because they introduce an unknown variable into your presumably working equation. And then, then you become paranoid of your own members and their ability to make off with assets that you cannot protect from themselves or from each other.
I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I am invigorated by the challenges associated with wormhole space. I certainly am not the type to revel in loss or looking forward to being evicted from our space by an occupying force, instead knowing that we have made this space our own is a powerful motivator.
I think that the most difficult aspect of running a wormhole corporation lies in expansion. Open invitations to recruitment only open your corporation to destruction from within. As such, my approach has been to recruit only those pilots that I personally invite or that comes to me via one of my existing members. But being in wormhole space is isolationist in many ways and encountering pilots organically is near impossible without opening yourself up to additional risk. One common tactic is to recruit those pilots which you destroy in your own space. If they were adventurous enough to enter, they may be excellent recruits to live in wormhole space. But every open hole for explorers to find is an invitation for something darker to enter and has a negative effect that perhaps outweighs the positive possibilities.
I often think that the mechanics of living in a starbase is holding us back. Truthfully, if we had a perfect management interface with intricate levels of security, it still would not change the fact that an individual can bring disaster to your doorstep by being in your corporation and sharing the location with threats from the outside. This is the crux of secure wormhole operations. It perhaps is similar to null security space in some places, but in every other EVE space, you have, at some level, the safety of a station nearby where you can retreat assets to quickly and easily. Not so in wormhole space, and especially not so if a competent group takes control of your wormhole entrances denying you any possibility of entry or exit.
There is no easy answer to this “who do you trust” question so I ask, how would you answer the question of trust in this type of environment?