The Five Year Spree, Part 3: Fountain

By Jim Rossignol on September 2nd, 2009 at 10:14 am.


In this, the third part of my retrospective on five years of an Eve Online corporation, I discuss our guerrilla war, a heroic evacuation mission, and the few weeks of play that will, I fear, diminish all game experiences to follow. For the story so far: Part 1, Part 2.

Having fled the collapse of Veritas Immortalis and the unstoppable march of the RedSwarm Federation in the East of the galaxy, we looked around for a new home. What might be interesting, we thought, was to contribute to one of the free-trade zones, those areas of idealism which pop up occasionally across Eve’s map. The notion, in these areas, is that you don’t shoot anything that moves, and help to defend against pirates and raiders. Such agreements seldom work out, but something along these lines was being attempted by a potent player corporation called Celestial Apocalypse. Only in this particular case it was like a kind of casual guerrilla club.

Celestial Apocalypse, a large, PvP-skilled corporation, had moved into a region called Fountain. The Fountain region is unusual in that it has a mix of uncapturable NPC stations in its “core”, and a number of outposts and stations around its edge. These outposts at the time were run by Band Of Brothers (BoB), who were arguably the most fearsome military alliance in the game at that time. As such, the region was relatively quiet, free of territory war and was being exploited by BoB allies, such as Xelas Alliance and The Horde. Celestial Apocalypse had moved into the uncapturable NPC stations and declared that they would provide “blue” or non-aggression status with anyone who wanted to move up there and fight BoB’s local minions with them. A few small alliances and corporations had taken up that offer, and were making the most of Fountain’s core as a base, while Celestial Apocalypse rampaged around the region.

The situation was close to unique, and I would spend a large stretch of the following years attempting to recapture it. BoB’s military was engaged elsewhere at the time, or was alternately secured in Delve and Querious, their other two regions. The BoB community in Fountain, therefore, was largely left to fend for itself. While no one was particularly interested in messing with BoB territorially the stations remained unscathed, so Xelas and The Horde got on with making money, and that left them open to attack by Celestial Apocalypse’s rag-tag free-trade posse.

When we arrived Celestial Apocalypse had begun to get bored and while they were would be around for many weeks following, it seemed that they had begun to lose interest in the project. Now though, there were a whole bunch of neutrals, all allied to each other, living in Fountain core. After savaging Xelas and The Horde time after time, and having several huge fights with roving BoB fleets, Celestial Apocalypse were beginning to look for other targets. But where they left off, The State – our newly formed alliance – began to gain momentum.

The first on the scene was Thesper, one of our solo aces. Flying a physics-tricked absurdo-ship, the nanophoon (now impossible in the game), he introduced himself to the locals with a week of non-stop slaughter. He’d earned perhaps a hundred solo kills by the time the rest of StateCorp jumped its carriers in to our base, the dead-end system of WY-9LL.

WY-9LL instantly captured my imagination: a remote bastion of space-faring civilisation. Only one jumpgate in and out, which meant we could always see trouble coming. The locals at the time were Celestial Apocalypse blues, which meant they were blue to us, too. We arrived to mild, friendly chatter, and I noticed one of the stations sat atop an asteroid, an unusual design, and just the kind of thing I loved seeing in eve.

There were around twenty people in The State at this time, and we were soon to be seeing peak attendance, with everyone showing up to our scheduled ops, and perhaps half a dozen people available at almost any time of day for impromptu skirmishes around the Fountain core. Having introduced ourselves to Celestial Apocalypse and their local friendlies, we began to attack nearby outpost systems. We weren’t interested in any kind of territorial gain, we were just there to keep the BoB allies out of the core, and to earn as many kills as possible. I chalked up around 500 kills on my own, raiding against Xelas and The Horde the nearest outpost. I took great joy in loading up a disposable battlecruiser, scouting with my second account (a cloaked ship) and then ploughing into their wobbly defences. It became a daily routine in which we’d regular catch our enemy unawares. My cloaker silently watched them for weeks on end, and they’d never quite know when I was active, and when I was off at the pub, or asleep. It provided constant amusement.

In the core itself there were numerous factions using the neutral NPC stations. Greatest of all of these was Norman Protector, a kind of one man army who would fight us almost no matter the odds. He’d often win improbably fights with his crazily equipped cruisers and battleships. He’d see you and demand PvP in broken English. He usually got it. He was the greatest.

Slightly later came the mysterious and erratic “Cors”, at least some of whom seemed to be multiple alts of the same person, usually all in battleships. We’d regularly engage them throughout Fountain, once taking them on in a running battle lasting nearly an hour, in which I lost my ship, and was able to do a thirty jump round trip to get another and return for the end of the fight. They always seemed keen for a brawl, and would often sit on jumpgates or stations just waiting for us to wake up and engage.

So despite the lack of huge fleets and territorial war which had characterised our last couple of years of play, Fountain was never quiet. If it wasn’t the BoB community providing us with targets, then there were raiders from other regions or, occasionally, huge gangs of Chinese currency farmers. For reasons unknown these guys would occasionally band up in large groups of battleships and provide us with a fight. Most of the time, however, the sat quietly in side-systems, harvesting the game for money. We stalked them mercilessly, and they complained bitterly about the “boat violence”.

Possibly the most interesting event in this early Fountain period, at least from our perspective, was when a rift occurred between BoB’s vassal group, The Horde, and the rest of the BoB community. Xelas turned up to attack The Horde pilots as they attempted to evacuate from the outpost in which – until that afternoon – I had been routinely battering them. Now the Horde pilots turned to me for help, asking whether The State and the other denizens of the core would help them get out alive. We agreed, and rallied the locals to trounce Xelas and get our former enemies to safety. Arriving in small, well-armed gangs, we surrounded the station and nearby gates, forcing the BoB minions to dock or flee, before escorting the exiled Horde fleet to their new Empire home. It was a glorious day.

Almost as glorious as the time the ultimate BoB leader, SirMolle, narrowly missed doomsdaying us with his titan (smartbomb effect of the most powerful ship in the game) and then somehow flew an alt carrying a billion-isk in recyclables into our gatecamp. That kept us going for weeks.

But it probably wouldn’t have kept us going if it hadn’t been for the tireless work of occasional RPS contributor RoBurky, who spent the many months in Fountain constructing a corporate hangar that had come to be know as the Hop. The Hangar Of Plenty.

Using corporate assets, and plenty of his own elbow grease, Rob gathered blueprints to manufacture almost the entire range of tech 1 equipment, and many ships besides. He kept the hangar well stocked so that we could equip and launch a ship for almost any eventuality at a moment’s notice. I know that we didn’t thank Rob adequately for his work, but I suspect The Shop Of Death was thanks enough.

The Shop Of Death, aka RoBurky’s Emporium of Certain Doom, was something of a fluke. The station we had moved into had some peculiar physics bug which meant it was enormously difficult to align and leave once you had undocked. This meant that enemy pilots, arriving to buy the reasonably priced goods that Rob had placed on the market, seldom got out alive. For our allies it was a cheap, consistent source of equipment. For our enemies it was a deathtrap. We could even see what it was that they had bought, and would often loot it from their wreckage and then put it back in the market after the gank.

What if it was a ship that we couldn’t kill before it redocked into the station? No matter, we’d simply wait in the direction he’d have to take when we left, and kill him then. We always got our mark.

So, back on the timeline: Fountain was far from over when The Horde moved. We had two more waves of BoB-friendly enemies to contend with. The first was Aftermath Alliance, a small splinter group of Xelas’ competent PvP players, and the second was Coreli Corporation, a small alliance around the same size and skill level as The State. When they first burst through our jumpgate and into WY-9LL we knew the fight was on. It was beautiful.

The best thing about fighting people who are roughly as competent as you are: your own skill level increases. On the one hand you’re not being slapped about by a greater force, and losing the will to continue, but nor are your enemies simply victims to be slaughtered. Coreli were perfect sparring partners, always ready to innovate their own tactics, and often keen to spring one of our elaborate traps. I began to spend less time raiding outposts as Coreli and Aftermath brought combat within just a couple of jumps of WY-9LL. We engaged all day, every day. The killboards – websites maintained to keep track of ship-destructions – sprawled with the statistical evidence of hundreds of small battles.

One memorable night we rolled out of our base with a full gang and wracked up twenty battleship kills, along with multiple smaller craft, without suffering a single loss. Nor was it the usual trickle of random kills: we had three gang vs gang brawls, including one stand-up fight on a hostile station. It was a credit to how efficient Statecorp had become that everyone knew how to stay alive, even without the kind of “nano” setups that people would use to make speed their protector.

I like to think it was a measure of Coreli’s leader’s respect for The State that he added us to his territorial map – a hand-drawn record (as opposed to automated efforts) of region influence and conflicts, that he updated for several years. We were probably the smallest entity ever to make it onto that map, thanks to our continual efforts in the Fountain core. I think back on the fights with Coreli and Aftermath with great affection: it was one of the best gaming experiences I have ever known. The few months in which we fought, toe to toe, is something I’d love to be able to recreate or recapture, but I know it’s lost. A singularity in the history of gaming. It was so valuable: a time when the kind of game I’d always dreamed of had come to pass: carving out our niche in a living universe, protecting the weak, working as a team to make money and bring down enemies.

Yet it had to come to an end. Eve is change. Eventually, after months of scintillating small-scale combat, things began to falter. Once again the larger alliance politics would push The State to the sidelines. D2 and their immense northern coalition had decided to use the Fountain core as a base for an assault on BoB’s empire. Our quietly embattled region was suddenly heaving with 500-man fleets. While we were allied to D2, as anti-BoB locals, we had little reason to want to support them. BoB actually being removed from the region was not in our favour. After twiddling our thumbs for a couple of weeks, we decided to take a roadtrip to Syndicate. It was a rough, messy time for the corporation, in which we battled with Syndicate locals and saw attendance drop off. Eventually we arranged a return to Fountain, but things weren’t quite the same. WY-9LL had new friendlies move in – BULG – who would later become Sons Of Tangra, a major power that would hold territory in Fountain.

The balance of power in Fountain was changing, and the fight dynamics were no longer ripe for raiders like The State. In retrospect we should probably have adjusted and come to work with our new allies, but I’d had enough. Bored, I looked elsewhere for conflict. We would hit the road once again, heading for the last great war that StateCorp would play a role in, and, ultimately, the end of our journey.

Next: Bullies in Geminate, Insurgency, old friends. Next: the end.

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93 Comments »

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  1. Dominic White says:

    It’s kinda RMT, but in reality it works more like an extra money-sink to help cut down on inflation. For every 300mil paid to keep someone playing another month, that’s 300mil less money in circulation.

  2. cyrenic says:

    @Dominic White

    How does it help with inflation? If I understand the system correctly, players sell PLEX to each other, keeping the money in the economy.

  3. Dominic White says:

    That game-time needs to be bought from the developers at some point – it doesn’t just magically appear in-game.

  4. Tapin says:

    Hopefully I will get a honourable mention in the next episode :)

  5. TooNu says:

    More EvE Jim MORE!

  6. cyrenic says:

    @Dominic

    Right, but I think players have to use real money to buy PLEX before anyone can buy it with in game money. In other words, as far as I can tell from the wiki (http://wiki.eveonline.com/wiki/30_days_Concord_Pilot_License_Extension), there’s no way for a player to use in game money to buy PLEX directly from CCP, it always has to be from another player.

  7. Pockets says:

    would definitely be up for an rps corp, even though I’m rather clueless.

    And if anyone signs up and starts doing the gallente training missions in clenellion, I can supply free tracking computer; I’m currently selling it at 37944 and 37940 I think, will check when I get back in 30 mins or so, if you give an rps secret handshake Ill give you a refund. Its not much, but anything to help (and forcibly engage conversation :) )

  8. Serondal says:

    @Cyrenic = Which means that money will stay in the ecnomey so yah, it’s not a money sink. It is more so a way for a player to BUY in game money with real world money. (but they’re not buying it from CCP either so it isn’t add TO inflation either)

  9. Pockets says:

    To provide context for 300m isk, as a complete noob I’m on track to make approx 30m this month from selling these tracking computers, so its not a day 1 thing but its certainly not insanely high

  10. Serondal says:

    Very interesting indeed :)

  11. DD says:

    I dont care if it will ruin my life. Im playing this game and taking all my friends with me.

  12. Evan says:

    Loving the articles Jim!

    By the way, since I’m a sucker for maps (I love fantasy books with good maps!), I did some research to find some maps of the Eve Universe of those of us who have never played and might enjoy some small frame of reference for the adventures Jim is describing. I apologize if someone already provided this and I just missed it in my comment reading.

    Here is a basic color-coded map of the Eve Universe that (as I understand it) updates daily based on current faction holdings. Hosted by the Eve Tribunal.
    http://dl.eve-files.com/media/corp/Verite/influence.png

    And here is a PDF download (not entirely sure how current) of 2D diagrams of Eve maps for each major region. You can check the Bookmarks list to find Fountain and then find the WY-9LL system that Jim refers to.
    http://www.ombeve.co.uk/ (link is on the site)

  13. We Fly Spitfires says:

    Loving your articles! Where do you get the screenshots from? Are they your own? Look wonderful.

  14. Serondal says:

    Wow, that map is insane ! There seems to be a lot of totally unclaimed area in the middle there.

    There is a picture some where on the internets of all the Eve ships all together to scale with each other that has ALWAYS driven me crazy. I just sit there looking at it for 30 minutes or so amazed at the scale of the game and how awesome some of the ships are.

  15. Pockets says:

    The central area is the Empire high-sec; the NPC-owned region with policing etc. largely populated by people who only do the dull stuff like mine, and noobs like me.
    The 0.0 areas that don’t look to be any one group’s control at the minute on there are around A821-A, Great Wildlands, and Stain.

  16. medwards says:

    So, seriously, who recently started a trial in Minmatar territory? I’m getting read to go exploring a bit. First a tour of the sites to see in the Empire Region then we should all figure out a plan for some fun. (Pockets, I’ve already got your evemail right?)

    @Serondal: That’s NPC owned territory. So the actual ‘states’ control those regions and its generally high security so kicking peoples asses in there is frowned on. Or so I’ve been told. Somebody told me that the CONCORD (the cops) guns hit like “the hammer of god” and I’ve been itching to see it in action.

  17. medwards says:

    I also need to serious consider if I’m going to continue this past the trial because I’m definitely buying this then http://www.eve-maps.com/

  18. Magjam says:

    “..scouting with my second account (a cloaked ship)..”
    “It provided constant amusement.”

    Talk about gaming the game. It`s because of players like yourself that I tired of eve. I tried my absolute best to play solo pvp on one account, but for the most part it was very hard due to people always having a cloaked falcon or the like, ready to push the “I win, you loose” button.

    So really the amusement you had were produced by gaming the game, or how I like to call it, cheating, to gain an unfair advantage over other players.

    I know “everyone” does it, and that the game encourages you to pay for more accounts, but that still produces an artificial high standard of entry for players wanting to pvp. More so than long skill training times. And when you use 2 or more accounts in pvp, it`s not player skill anymore, it creates unbalance.

  19. Magjam says:

    “..scouting with my second account (a cloaked ship)..”
    “It provided constant amusement.”

    Talk about gaming the game. It`s because of players like yourself that I tired of eve. I tried my absolute best to play solo pvp on one account, but for the most part it was very hard due to people always having a cloaked falcon or the like, ready to push the “I win, you loose” button.

    So really the amusement you had were produced by gaming the game, or how I like to call it, cheating, to gain an unfair advantage over other players.

    I know “everyone” does it, and that the game encourages you to pay for more accounts, but that still produces an artificial high standard of entry for players wanting to pvp. More so than long skill training times. And when you use 2 or more accounts in pvp, it`s not player skill anymore, it creates unbalance.

  20. An Innocuous Coin says:

    You know, I only ever hear reports from this game that was either a mess of backstabbers, mistrust and timesinks, or glorious experiences like this. I, personally, would love the latter.

  21. Pockets says:

    Also, quick question for you all; are GTCs are all the same? As it looks like if bought in dollars it could be way way cheaper.

  22. Serondal says:

    I dunno that still takes a lot of player skill to command two or more space ships at the same time in the same battle. Unless you’re using a bot for one or the other then I would agree that IS cheating but if you’re real time controlling all the ships (accounts) that are in the battle then I don’t see the problem. You could just as easily get a friend to scout for you in a falcon or the like and then gank people just as easily as him. The game is like real life, if you make friends you can trust you do better. If you always strike it out alone you are much much much more likely to get ganked :P IF you don’t like people then do what he did and CREATE partners lol.

  23. Mil says:

    @Pockets:

    The 0.0 areas that don’t look to be any one group’s control at the minute on there are around A821-A, Great Wildlands, and Stain.

    Those areas are also controlled by NPCs and unclaimable by players. Otherwise somebody would have claimed them, believe me.

    For people who want maps and other game information, check dotlan: http://evemaps.dotlan.net/ It’s a player-created site that gets information from the EVE servers via an API that the EVE developers (CCP) published for general use.

  24. Janek says:

    Pockets:
    Should be I think. There used to be 30 and 90-day GTCs (with suitable economies of scale) but then they inexplicably changed it to just 60-days. Just had a look at the two main sellers, price is identical at $35 for 60 days. I think it just charges it as dollars directly, with appropriate local conversion rate.

    Magjam:
    To an extent you have a point there, yes. Personally I saw use of alts as eyes no different to having someone else do it, or keeping an eye on intel channels, although everyone has different opinions about precisely where the boundary of acceptable “meta-play” is.

    Certainly I have noticed a shift towards a more risk-averse attitude, be it due to decreasing naivity, more ISK being at stake, or some kind of game mechanic change. Plus when you have such powerful force multipliers as Falcons, capital hotdrops, or arguably broken mechanics like speed used to be, it exacerbates that problem, and perhaps encourages the idea that your ship is a precious flower, not to be placed under significant risk at any costs.

    Hell, maybe this is just the ranting of a grumpy old veteran (it is), but certainly the lack of people who just went “fuck it!” and charged into a fight for the hell of it is what caused me to drift away in the end.

    (Not that there weren’t counters to most things, and solo PVP certainly isn’t impossible, but the attitudes of a lot of people got… frustrating)

  25. Serondal says:

    Sounds like natural selection there Janek. The people who would charge into a fight even if they thought they were going to lose it (and could easily avoid it) probably went the way of the dodo after losing over and over again ;P

  26. Wanoah says:

    Eve is terrible. Truly *terrible*. It will suck up years of your life, and afterwards, you are destined for a life of perpetual and bitter disappointment as every single MMO you try fails to come even close to offering the sort of experience that Eve did.

    The MMO genre would do well to look at Eve’s best bits, learn from them, and stop churning out pale WoW imitations.

  27. golemraider says:

    I’m just finishing a punishing amount of lvl 4 missions which should give me 5billion isk reward. (about another week to run) With that isk, i’m going to pimp fit out my golem and sail off into the wormhole space for months. Wormholes are the best thing in Eve at the moment. forget the 1000 ship blobs, get small teams together and jump into the unknown.

  28. john t says:

    A little bit of history in map form:

    http://dl.eve-files.com/media/corp/verite/20090131.png

    Eve in January of this year — note Band of Brothers territory in the SW, and Goonswarm in the South East.

    http://dl.eve-files.com/media/corp/Verite/20090205NoText.png
    February 5th, One of the BoB directors defects to goonswarm and empties their treasury and disbands the alliance

    Goonswarm announces an all out migration to Delve. They literally pull up stakes and take everything they can. They have a few months to conquer everything before BoB can regain the defensive bonuses they had from having alliance sovereignty.

    http://dl.eve-files.com/media/corp/Verite/20090206NoText.png

    BoB uses some kind of loophole in the sovereignty system to transfer all their assets to a new support alliance they had set up previously called Kenzoku. Now GS is has a one month clock to conquer everything before Kenzoku’s defenses come back up:

    http://go-dl.eve-files.com/media/corp/verite/20090313.png

    A month later, GS has a new homeland. That Delve invasion was probably one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of gaming, in terms of the number of man hours spent, the coordination, strategy, tactics, etc.

  29. Rogue says:

    I’m really going to miss Statecorp. And the sad thing is… Jim is still a good ways from the point in State’s history when I came along. I missed all the best bits :(

  30. golemraider says:

    http://www.fiercewebs.com/arcdragon/EverythingWormhole.pdf

    a great guide (contains spoilers) on what is in wormhole space, how to live/kill there

  31. truly awful login says:

    @medwards:

    just started up a trial in Minmatar yesterday, my handle is:

    Pynchonme I’mDreaming.

    hence the name here. I blame Jim for these wonderful writeups that convince punters like me to have a go.

  32. fearian says:

    “roBurky is starting to strike me as “that guy” in the gaming community. He seems to crop up in the background providing minor services and intelligence all over the place.”

    I know what you mean. About a year ago I played a public TF2 game where RoBurky was the only other player with voice chat. thanks to our (but mainly his) co-ordination our team won every game, and we ran some good heavy medic combo’s together. I never spoke to him again, but I remembered the name for some reason and later saw it crop up in RPS comments. Since then he’s shown up more and more often, as a kind of behind the scenes, omnipresent internet guy.

    here’s to more RoBurky!

  33. TinyPirate says:

    I made this video to commemorate the occasion that Antipodean Inc flew past SirMolle in his doom-ship while we lived in Fountain. Loved that spot, I did!

  34. fulis says:

    @ John t goon much? They didn’t use a loophole to get sov back and they only got sov 1 anyway

    “That Delve invasion was probably one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of gaming”

    Or not. People have taken defended space in the past you know. Hope you had fun camping pr- for a month

  35. Dodgy says:

    I still have Gen’s corpse in WY-9LL. :D

  36. Psychopomp says:

    I reactivated to-SKILL TRAINING COMPLETED

    Ah, how I missed that sound.

    Here’s to RoBurky!

  37. roBurky says:

    Hey Fearian! I remember that! I friended you as we worked so well together. I’m sure we joined games for a few more after that.

  38. Ben Skall says:

    Anyone with the skills and dedication to set up that RPS corp? Love the idea and would join in a heartbeat!

  39. Psychopomp says:

    I really, really doubt an RPS corp would end well.

  40. Yargh says:

    on the other hand you could call it Rock, Paper, Starship…

  41. sun says:

    Rab and Ryan from Consolevania started a corp which I was in for a couple of months. Unfortunately nearly everyone except myself and 2 other people were new, so inevitably as peoples trial subscriptions started running out they nearly all left, or started not logging in or turning up for op’s, so it all fell apart.

    Forming a fleet with a few corp mates and jumping into low / null sec looking for targets is a great laugh, and as people start to get the hang of things, it just gets better and better.

  42. RagingLion says:

    The affection with which you speak of and describe this gaming experience and it’s place in your overall life is quite striking.

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