Saturday, August 17, 2013

TEST Alliance: Please Disband

Memoirs of a Former Middle Management Dino

I've been reluctant to speak about my time in TEST, since I was hoping to keep the door open. I no longer feel that that is necessary. TEST Alliance is a failure. Not because they got kicked from Fountain, but because they failed to achieve enough organization and leadership to stay viable. I want to put a massive disclaimer on this. This my opinion, based on my perceptions as a line grunt, who was in a TEST corp, that wasn't Dreddit. This is not intended as scholarly opinion or a journalistic piece.


This is TEST's primary failure. First of all. The alliance leader needs to participate. Montolio's reign was characterized by him "winning Eve" (not logging in). Yes, I realize that there is a lot of back-channel things that go on out of game, but for the most part, he was not involved. Same with rob3r. Yes, we got an occasional Jabber ping, and a quarterly forum post, but that is about all we got out of him. 


TEST forums were the most hostile, caustic environment I have experienced to date (other than my extremely brief stint with League of Legends . And I spent 8 years in the US Navy submarine force, so that is saying something. If you aren't in the "cool people" clique or an "adorable newbie", pretty much anything you say on the forums will be mercilessly down-voted and you will be verbally insulted. Also, they tolerated some seriously inflammatory posting from certain members. The primary intention of many of these posts was just to set new records for most number of down-votes  but if you tolerate this from some members then you should tolerate it from all of them. Which was not the case. 
Now let me caveat this, by saying I am a firm believer in free speech, even if that free speech is offensive to other. I believe that political correctness is an illogical fallacy, put forth by a delusional minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous and sensationalist mainstream media, that holds that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end. I even joined the military to protect the rights of people in my country (the US). That said, I believe it is ok for communities to not tolerate hatefulness.

Team Building

This is where TEST failed the most. They did not attract and retain talented people or build bench strength and delegate properly. Basically a small group of individuals bore most of the responsibilities and then were worked to the point of frustration until they rage quit  The "Goodbye, you guys never appreciated me, I'm joining PL" threads were regular and epic. Their FC boot camp program was horrible, because they constantly purged it. Players with limited time would get kicked before they had enough minimum roams to not get purged. Almost no other group purged as frequently as  this one. After a while I quit rejoining this group, basically every time I wanted to FC a fleet I found that I was purged from the group and no longer had access to the jabber channel to coordinate getting a fleet started. This could have been a major reason that Test has so few FCs. Basically everyone that is overworked felt unappreciated and got butt-hurt and left. It also doesn't help that PL and other major players regularly poach actual talented people. If you can't give someone a good reason to stay then they are certainly not going to ignore an opportunity to join PL.

Random Bullshit

Lack of respect.There are stories about people or groups getting kicked from the alliance and then rejoining and doing the same thing again. This demonstrates a lack of respect and unity, but it happened regularly.
Keeping people in the dark. Again there was a regular pattern of keeping the line grunts in the dark and the "elite" fully informed. When members asked "why" a certain thing was done they mercilessly got down-voted and told "because I said so."
I fully understood the need for OPSEC from my time in the Navy, been there, done that, got the Top Secret clearance. But "I told you so" isn't good enough in a video where you participate voluntarily. I'm not saying we should have space democracy or anything, but when I ask why we are doing something, you owe me an answer.

It's Not All Bad

I did enjoy my corp (Ars Ex Discordia) who were from the Ars Technica community. I have enormous respect for those guys and I had fun when I flew with them (which was not frequent). Unfortunately, the corp is mostly a bitter-vet retirement home, so they weren't as active as I would have liked. But they were good guys and the only reason I stayed in TEST as long as I did.

Life In Low Sec

Just Another Gate Camp

I recently listed to my corp-mates, Rixx Javix and Marc Scarus, have a nice chat with Xander Phoena from Crossing Zebras. I thoght I would add some thoughts on living in lowsec and having a negative security status. 

First, I agree that lowsec can be fun and that it is probably the easiest way to undock and start blazing away at someone. Ok, second easiest. The honor goes to RVB for first place in that category. Often there are fun suprises that you really tend not to see in null sec. Like, ratting orcas, or cosmetic faction ships. You get to shoot people who have no business being there and are ripe for the picking. Sometime you get to turn the tide on people that get too greedy and get lazy.

Second, it's not all champagne and roses. Income is tough to achieve from many sources. Missions could be good, but your mission boat is dangling there on dscan like a prize for piratey types, or you could lose it in a gate camp if you have to move to.another system. Exploration yields barely more than hisec, but not more than nullsec. PVP opportunities can be scarce at times. FW plexers are mostly there for the LP and not to fight (I'm not saying FW types never want to fight). It boggles my mind that CCP made the plex changes that took us from gunless active tanking Incurses (that's the plural of Incursus, isn't it?) to completely unfit ships being viable to farm LP in. I wish FW LP farmers needed the slots used by cloaks and WCS to actively do something to earn LP, rather than mindless spamming d-scan. If that was the case I would consider LP. There really isn't any incentive for these guys to fight. They don't need to win to achieve their objective LP, they just need to outlast the hunter in the chase. I have stayed in systems for 15-30 minutes warping around like a Keystone Kops episode to to try catch plexers that didn't want to be caught. They smack-talked me, saying I would never catch them and I was wasting both of our time. Well, at that time, my objective was to disrupt their slovenly, no effort LP farming. So I was succeeding. But in general they are correct. It is better for me to move on and fight someone that wants to fight than to endlessly warp around. Side note: CCP can we PLEASE let the plex timer count down or reset when the plexer warps out? They should incentivized to fly a well-fit ship and fight not run away and come back right where they left off. Other industrial or PVE activities are much worse in lowsec, due to the lack of intel networks and bubbles.

Then there is security status. The bane of the lowsec pvp'er. Also, the badge of honor. While other people having low security status is fun because you can shoot them whenever you want, its bad when you are the one with low sec status. Everyone else gets to shoot first. In a Frigate battle this can be crucial. Being an outlaw also means you are more vulnerable on gates and stations because you don't get protection from the gate guns.

Why do we keep doing it? I'm not sure. The thrill of the hunt?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bound For The Floor

I've recently hit a slow spot. I have gone on several solo roams where I didn't kill anything (except a few cyno ships). So I haven't had anything to blog about. The other night a corpmate mentioned he was jumping in a freighter from hisec, so I offered to bring out my trusty "Orca-pusher" Rapier and web him into warp. I did so and spotted some interesting ships on scan. By interesting I mean self-named and they guy they are named after is new. Easy prey. I whacked the limited edition Catalyst that I narrowed to a belt (he was on scan from the Ranielles gate), then found an Algos warping between sites. I saw that he was about a week old. He was on a Novice site acceleration gate and I knew he wasn't going in, I grabbed an Atron and went for him. While in warp I discovered my fit didnt work (I had recently been podded and didn't have any fitting implants in) and I only had 2 guns. I knew it would be enough. It was. Unfortunately, some dude in a Kestrel showed up and sniped my killmail and put a scram on me. I flew out of range and warped off since a 2 gun Atron doesn't have a prayer against a rocket Kestrel. 

On my next roam I was playing around with different ships in my hangar and I fit up a Thrasher. For some reason, I could not get a hold of any Small Core Defence Field Extender I rigs, so I had 2 empty rig spots. Apparently I forgot this, because I undocked and started killing stuff. It was a pretty fun roam. 

I had 2 back to back kills in Murethand. I had a nice conversation about Eve with the Venture pilot that I sent to the clone vat. He was on his third trial account and was just over a week into it. I liked his attitude so I decided to be helpful. When I asked him why he was mining in losec, replied that he just got finished the career missions and had a bunch of frigs so he told himself why not and sought out 0.3 and 0.4 security systems and went to go get in trouble. He asked how to make ISK, so I steered him in an appropriate direction. I was going to send him some ISK, but the truth is the starter missions shower you with more ISK, ships, and skillbooks than you know what to do with at that point, so giving him some welfare would probably just stunt his growth as a capsuleer. After that, I started heading back via Indregulle. There I found a Heron on D-Scan at the sun. Usually this means some noob is looking at his system map and scanning for something. This guy wasn't. He had an alt or booster scouting for him. As soon as I landed I was scrammed, so I wasn't able to pull range as planned. I got a shot or two off, but then he got so close I was missing every shot (250mm arties were fit). So I aligned to a belt and hoped for the best. Once I got to hull, I started spamming warp. Eventually I heard the little buzz sound that the client uses to let you know the agression is over, so I assumed I was in my pod. About half-way through the warp I saw that my modules were still showing. I still had my ship! I was at 77% hull, but I won. Had a nice convo with the guy as I warped back to loot and then got out of Dodge. I repaired at a nearby station and went home.

I didnt kill anything valuable, I didnt make a ton of ISK. Many of my fellow piratey types would call this a bad night. But, I had fun. That's really the important part. Its the reason I can't quit EVE. Every time I want to give up, something cool happens and I keep playing.