Eve Online: Audience With The King Of Space

By Quintin Smith on April 7th, 2011 at 2:35 pm.

You need to imagine the Imperial March from Star Wars in the background.

Eve Online player The Mittani is the CEO of Goon Fleet, the single largest corporation in Eve Online, both loved and reviled for its practices which include teaching new recruits to scam other players. As of two weeks ago The Mittani was also voted in as the new Chairman of the Council of Stellar Management, the player-run and player-elected body that CCP liases with with the aim of improving the game. Prior to the announcement of the election results, I caught up with him at the Eve Fanfest for a mammoth interview. Click on through for talk of warfare, intrigue, hatred, propaganda, and why he says Eve Online is a terrible game.

RPS: You referred to yourself as ”a pretentious douchebag” twice during your presentation yesterday. For anyone who doesn’t know anything about Goonswarm or its leadership, could you explain why?

The Mittani: I refer to myself as a pretentious douchebag because I have a reasonable self perception. [laughs] No, it’s because I’m quite arrogant and people make fun of me for it, so it’s easier than trying to deny it.

RPS: How does somebody who’s arrogant end up leading a group that’s known for being irreverent?

MT: Well, I’m only arrogant about things that we’ve accomplished or things that I’ve done over the years. And we don’t have much of a hierarchy, so even though I lead a large alliance, even non-members can take me to task or call me a silly larping metrosexual. It’s just all in good fun.

RPS: You also mentioned in the same talk that Goonswarm is an autocracy. Is that just a preventative method against espionage?

MT: Autocracy is the most effective form of government in null sec [the enormous sections of space within Eve Online with no AI police, where players rule themselves]. Council systems don’t work very well. Goonswarm is very lucky in that we have one large corporation, Goonwaffe, which used to be Goonfleet, which is mostly Something Awful members and has over 2,000 people. Since I’m the CEO of that corporation all the other ancillary corporations in the alliance are relatively powerless, and that works towards an autocracy. Council-based alliances typically have corporations of roughly the same size.

RPS: And that’s problematic because… ?

MT: Democracy is death. In a situation where you need to be able to respond quickly and with force to strategic problems, invasions or what have you, you can’t wait for a vote.

RPS: Could you not divide those duties up?

MT: It doesn’t work in practice. In theory though, all of Eve is a democracy because there’s no way of forcing someone to log on and play the game, and they can always leave the corporation if they don’t like it.

RPS: I want to give a little background as to how Goonswarm came to be reviled by a certain chunk of Eve’s playerbase. Could you provide a potted history?

MT: In late 2005 and early 2006 we entered into the game from the SomethingAwful.com forums. There are SA members in most MMOs. But at the time, Eve was structured in such a way that rewarded “old guard” players. Because Eve has a skill point system rather than an experience point point system, you can’t just grind to get powerful. You have to wait.

That really institutionalises a new player vs. old player divide. We got into trouble almost immediately because despite the fact that we had no skills and no money, we were able to leverage the size of our community – and I say no skills because we had no skill points, which isn’t to say that we weren’t skilled players – we were able to get around these ancient veterans and disrupt the social order of the game. But in order to do that, we had to ignore some of the social mores that had developed in the game, or “e-honour”, as I sort of disparagingly refer to it. This “I’m an honourable space-samurai and we’re going to joust on the field of battle” thing. These people who focus on their kill/death ratios, and fret about ethics, and all this sort of silly bullshit.

Anyway, it wasn’t honourable to use what they call “blobbing” tactics. When you’re using frigates [the smallest ship class in Eve] to blow up heavy assault cruisers, and you lose 50 frigates in the attack but the cruiser costs 400 times as much as a frigate, they’re gonna get really mad and say that you’re being dishonourable.

RPS: Did those Eve players know that that was even possible?

MT: No, we took them by surprise. They thought we wouldn’t amount to anything, and when we did start amounting to anything we were vilified immediately.

RPS: And what was your role in the corporation back then?

MT: I was sort of a shadow chancellor. I ran the espionage program. We probably have the single best spy network in Eve, because in order to succeed we had to metagame. It was just one of the ways that we’d level the playing field with older players. We’d do whatever it took to win. So I was the spy guy, and that was how I made a name for myself. When the time came for a new CEO, it was just a really good fit because I’d just retired from my law practice.

RPS: What stands out as something you’re particularly proud of?

MT: The central narrative of Goonswarm is always “The Great War”, which was a conflict between us and a now defunct alliance called Band of Brothers which was implicated in a developer corruption scandal. They were also one of the first organisations to come after us when we arrived and referred to us as “a cancer on the Eve community”.

At first, when we arrived, we’d tried to play nice. We’d reached out to respected members of the Eve community, we didn’t scam, we didn’t grief, we didn’t pirate, we didn’t spy, and it was only after we invaded our first conquerable region and started destroying capital fleets and punching well above our weight that Band of Brothers started taking an interest. They resurrected the fact that our CEO at the time – who was a tremendous douchebag, to be fair – had mocked the real-life death of an Eve player more than two years before. All of a sudden now that these capital fleets were being destroyed, NOW they were really offended by that, never mind the fact that two months prior they’d been cheering on us cute newbies who were invading the Cloud Ring.

RPS: This is the same CEO who you mentioned was facing some massive real-life financial scandal?

MT: Yes. Dan Dargon, aka Remedial, was the founder of Goonfleet and he was a lawyer who was running this mortgage modification business in New Hampshire without a license, and is now facing twenty-five million dollars in fines from the New Hampshire banking department. I wish I was making that up, but it’s true.

Remedial’s certainly a character. But yes, some people think that Goonfleet’s always been made up of scammers and griefers, but we tried to play nice originally. Then we decided to become the monster that they made us out to be.

RPS: Hearing you tell it, it sounds like you guys were the ultimate underdogs. That can’t have been all there was to it.

MT: What I feel is an issue here is the inherent hypocrisies in the mores of the Eve community. Many people who are not in Goonswarm – who are our enemies – really do think of themselves as honourable space samurai, when in practice most of the things that happen in null sec are based upon ugly realpolitik. We just don’t feel the need to lie about it. Everybody spies in nullsec.

RPS: I thought that was a given?

MT: Some people didn’t use to. We did it because we had to, in order to survive. The fact that everybody does it is one consequence of us winning the Great War and becoming one of the dominant powers in the galaxy.

RPS: So what happened to Band of Brothers?

MT: I, uh, disbanded them.

RPS: What? How was that even your choice?

MT: At the beginning of the second stage of the Great War we had a defector from the executor corporation of Band of Brothers who thought that we were cooler guys. Basically he thought that his alliance was full of assholes, because their leadership structure was full of guys who wanted to be in “the most elite alliance in Eve”. Whereas Goonswarm, a lot of the time, were bad. We had a lot of newbies and no pretentions.

The disbanding itself was covered by the BBC. Ordinarily when you have a defector you do smash and grabs, just getting the other guy to steal everything that’s not nailed down and come over to your side. Now, I was still just the spymaster at this point, and I was sitting there in my office and I had this brain fart – with the access that this guy had, he had the authority to kick out every single corporation in the alliance and then shut down his own corporation, thus disbanding the alliance, which has the impact of disabling all the sovereignty defenses in their region. This had never been done before. All of a sudden I was like, “Holy shit! I can do this!”

Also, at the time Goonswarm owned half the galaxy. We controlled all of these regions, but as soon as we disbanded Band of Brothers we abandoned everything and all moved into what had been their territory. Over the course of two very bloody months we purged them and took all their space.

RPS: You hated them that much?

MT: Well, this goes back to the T20 scandal and these people declaring us a cancer on Eve. The entire Great War took four years, so yeah, maybe we were a little vengeful.

RPS: How loyal are most Goonswarm pilots?

MT: Extremely loyal. Most Eve pilots spend some time playing alone, in Empire space, and they eventually find a corporation and join up. Something Awful forum members start playing and they go straight into null sec. They know no other world. Which is great, because high sec and low sec are hideously boring places.

RPS: Are you guys bound together by your history?

MT: We do have a culture and an ideology. One of the reasons why we’re no longer as vilified as we used to be is that that culture has spread. We won the culture war. The fact that the defector left to join us is an indicator of that, but there are also many memes that Goons pioneered which are now endemic throughout the Eve community.

If you look at people posting on forums, you see people using tildes [~], instead of writing “post” they say “poast”, all of those things came from Goonswarm. Even if they hate us they use our nomenclature, which I think is hilarious.

RPS: Do you think the Great War happened because you guys needed something to keep you entertained?

MT: No, it really was a bitter grudge war. They took it outside of the game. When they invaded Syndicate space it wasn’t a retaliation, it was them saying that Goons are bad human beings. …one higher up at Band of Brothers said “this is as personal as it ever gets”. And then it came out that one of their leaders was a CCP developer who was giving them items, which ignited a huge firestorm of controversy. You had these elite players who were the paragons of the old guard telling everybody, quite literally, “We’re better than you”, and then it turns out they’re a bunch of disgusting cheaters who are being given some of the most valuable items in the game by the developers.

RPS: What’s next for you guys?

MT: People ask us that a lot, but we don’t plan more than a month or two in advance… we do scheme a lot, because thanks to our spy network, we know what the other alliances are doing. But fanfest usually brings everything to a crashing halt. The game gets really boring around fanfest, because everyone’s planning on coming here.

We are griefers. If nothing is going to happen then we’re going to try to find something that screams and bleeds and poke at it.

RPS: Griefing is something goons are known for doing, but now I’m talking to you it’s not something I can imagine you personally doing.

MT: Technically speaking, by running a spy network I am griefing.

RPS: But would you go out and aggravate other players for the Hell of it if you were a lower ranking member of Goonswarm?

MT: Well, most lower ranked Goons make their money by doing that. Scamming people is a very quick way of making money in Eve. Rather than making an honest buck, you take that buck from somebody else.

RPS: But you turned to spying and scamming back when you had to, in order to hold your own. Now you don’t have to do that.

MT: [Pause] I don’t see any reason for us to suddenly become a hypocritical e-honour type. We are this way because they made us this way. And the fact of the matter is, Eve online is the only game where you can be a complete and utter sadist and not only have fun, but get rich doing it. We are much more powerful now than we would be if we were nice.

When we go to war with someone, they know they’re going to be screwed over six ways from Sunday. Most of the time they’ll just flee or give us what we want. It’s one thing to fight a space samurai who’ll salute you after every fight. It’s another thing to fight Goons who will as they’re going after you mock you into the ground, publish your forums for everybody to laugh over – that’s what we call forum porn, which is where we fight somebody and they will scream and cry about how we’re mean to them, and then we’ll publish that for the world to laugh at.

RPS: I was talking to Dr. Guðmundsson [CCP's paid-up Eve Online economist] and he was saying that it’s interesting how Goonfleet became fast friends with the organisations of Russian players in the game.

MT: Oh, he was talking about that? Yeah, we have a fairly strong relationship with them. Back in the early days when we were being vilified, there was another organisation that was being similarly vilified, which was Red Alliance, the largest Russian alliance in the game. They only had about eight hundred characters and even fewer players, and they were being invaded by a group of about thirteen thousand people called the Southern Coalition. They were massively outnumbered and losing all their space, and the leader of the Southern Coalition was making a lot of racist comments about Russians, he said that they were selling ISK [Eve’s currency] to feed their children, that they were dishonourable because they’d use tactics like logging off to avoid fights, or not granting the enemy fights when the enemy wanted fights.

Basically the Russians wouldn’t roll over and die and were vilified. And we were like, fuck it! If we’re going to be a cancer, let’s band together with these other guys and fuck everybody. We moved into the one space station they had left, and Red Swarm alliance was formed. Together with the French friends that they had, we proceeded to murder everyone.

RPS: Do you feel like expanding on what you said as we were walking over here, about Eve being a terrible game and that it’s the players who make it interesting?

MT: Well, I suppose since I’m going to be on the Council of Stellar Management and I’m probably going to be the Chairman I should probably clarify that.

Eve, for Goons, is fun because we play with Goons. By itself, it’s a game where you have to jump through a lot of hoops to have fun. I think all the small fixes CCP are doing at present are good. Eve players make fun of World of Warcraft a lot, but if you look at what Blizzard has done ironing out all those flaws and annoyances, it’s a tremendous achievement. Eve’s learning curve is vertical, and full of spikes, and the beautiful side of Eve is the image of it that players have in their heads.

The best analogy for Eve is this: 1% of the time, when you take part in a massive fleet fight, or take part in some epic espionage caper or something, it is the most fun game you will ever encounter. 99% of the time you’re just waiting for something to happen. But it’s that 1% that hooks people like crack cocaine. I mean, you don’t get interviewed by the BBC when you win a WoW raid.

RPS: For my money, Eve might be the most fascinating game in existence today. But that doesn’t stop it from being interminably boring as well.

MT: Right. I mean most Eve players are stuck in high security space mining, and a lot of the core PvE in Eve has you sitting there are watching three grey bars slowly turn red.

Goonfleet is a socialist alliance. We give people ships so that rather than being forced to rat [fight low-powered AI NPCs] they can take part in PvP, we teach them how to scam so that they don’t have to mine, we teach them how to make ISK most effectively, we give them a lot of ISK and we reimburse their losses. This way they can focus on the fun aspects of the game, like griefing and warfare, so they’re not forced to endure derp-derp-ing around high sec.

RPS: Why did you choose to run for the Council of Stellar Management? I was in the CSM meeting yesterday and had two goonfleet pilots in the audience behind me making fun of them the whole time.

MT: Goonfleet has always had a representative on the council. Always. In the beginning the council was mooted as a PR move to deflect criticism from the Band of Brothers corruption scandal, and it accomplished basically nothing. We still had a member on there in case it wasn’t useless. …by the fifth CSM, everyone who played Eve at a level which was not drooling retardation had lost interest in the CSM as being a paper tiger, so most recently all of the null sec power blocks have spent the last year watching the idiotic ideas of the CSM with mounting horror, and saying “Well, fuck”, because now CCP has made them stakeholders in the company, and we’d lost interest in it and hadn’t voted.

RPS: I was talking to a member of the CSM who said that null sec candidates were a terrible idea, because you guys can’t be expected to look after the interests of high sec players, who statistically make up almost 80% of Eve’s players.

MT: Who was saying that?

RPS: I can’t say.

MT: Well, that’s unfortunate for them because we have the votes. CCP were boasting about the high voter turnout this year, but of the forty eight thousand votes cast over the two week voting period, twenty one thousand of those votes were cast on the first day. What was that? That was null sec, saying “Get the fuck out”.

And those statistics that say where characters play are actually very biased. They only say where a character is based, and all null sec players have alts [secondary characters] based in Empire [high sec space] who just sit in the trading hubs and do logistics or production. I have four characters in Empire right now, and four characters in null sec. It’s a hazy thing.

RPS: All the same, as a council member would you raise issues which would help the population of players fooling around with mining and PvE in high sec space?

MT: The main reason why the CSM has been seen as useless is that previous CSMs have taken almost everything that’s been suggested to them in the assembly hall and upvoted it to bring it to the attention of CCP. Good ideas and bad ideas, too.

The problem is actually getting CCP to implement these things. One of the things I’ve been saying, and one of the reasons I’ve got a lot of guys in high sec voting for me, is that the issue of this backlog affects everybody in the game.

There is a false conflict that gets brought up by people that know nothing about null sec, which is that high sec and null sec are opposed. They’re not opposed, they just live in seperate worlds. So, if we say that everybody has issues languishing in the backlog, and we get CCP to do something about that backlog, we improve things for everyone. The backlog is a scandal. CSM 4 and CSM 5 were asking how they can do anything on the CSM if they say “The players say this, we say this, let’s do this” and CCP says “OK, sure!” and then it just gets filed away and forgotten about.

RPS: You’ll still only be one voice on the council, of course.

MT: Well, I’m not one voice, because… well, see, this is me being a pretentious douchebag.

The CSM is a dirty election. It’s a third world election. Anything that’s allowed under the EULA in Eve is allowed in the election. You can buy votes, dead people can resubscribe and vote, you can scam people for votes, so it’s hardly an iconic democracy. So, this coming election, almost every major candidate you will see on the council will have been backed by a null sec plot. In advance, we’ve all met and spoken to one another to decide on the issues of the day. So I’m not going to be a voice in the wilderness. I’ll be speaking alongside people I’ve been fighting with or working with diplomatically for years.

RPS: Are there any particular issues in the backlog that you’d say it’s criminal that they haven’t been addressed?

MT: Really, I’d just focus on clearing the backlog and expanding the power of the CSM. I’d like it to not be a joke. I keep coming back to that backlog, but it’s not just a soundbite. Personally, one of the issues that I’d love to see is the interface improvements they keep promising, because I really think the UI in Eve is essentially an Excel spreadsheet.

RPS: But they said [in the big CCP presentation not one hour ago] that they were working on that right now.

MT: Yeah. Four years ago at a Fanfest presentation they were also talking about how they were going to allow corporation decals on ships, and as you saw that was something that featured prominently this time around. You’ll notice the tepid applause for the Incarna business and in general most people sat through that presentation scratching their heads and not getting wildly excited unless they were prompted.

RPS: What are your opinions on Incarna? [The upcoming Eve update that'll give players avatars and allow walking in stations]

MT: I think many Eve players have a naive view of Incarna, because it’s popular in some circles to piss on Incarna. But Incarna’s gonna happen. Incarna is the alpha test of the World of Darkness MMORPG engine. The World of Darkness game is going to happen because CCP acquired White Wolf. That game is going to be developed. Period. As an Eve player you have no control over that. With Incarna, we can at least get something in Eve from this code that is going to happen. Whining isn’t going to accomplish anything.

One of the reasons we make jokes about Eve being a bad game, or a spreadsheet or what have you, is that it lacks immersion. It’s just talking space ships. And most of the time you’re so zoomed out because of the lag that you don’t even see your space ship. It’s just a little bracket fighting another bunch of brackets, and the overview is a spreadsheet, and then your targeting reticule’s a bracket.

I would like Eve to be a better game. Eve has always been a vision, an idea of a universe, that’s always been poorly realised through the medium of a game client. I almost never log on to Eve Online itself because I run a spy network. For me, Eve Online is talking to people in a Jabber client.

RPS: So why have all the characters?

MT: People just give them to me. I’ve become something of a minor celebrity in the Eve universe.

RPS: This idea of leadership is something I’ve become fascinated with since coming out here. The fact that whole corporations and alliances can be built around one person.

MT: Eve is a fascinating social sandbox. People with the ability to bind people to them are rare in real life, and they are in Eve as well. One of the scariest moments for me in Eve was during our most recent campaign, the Fountain Campaign. We’d created this coalition called The Clusterfuck, and I was set to give this speech. Occasionally we do this, and we call it the State of the Goonion and it gets four hundred or five hundred people on Teamspeak. So I gave a speech and welcoming the Clusterfuck, and found one thousand, two hundred and seventy humans had tuned in to hear me talk about a bad game. And then we went off to break up the alliance we were at war with.

You can’t kill an alliance unless you break up the social bonds that hold it together. Espionage is only ever a means to an end to induce a failure cascade.

When things get bad, when an alliance starts losing enough that they stop logging in, when they start blaming each other and they start internalising their failures, then you start seeing “the graph”. An alliance goes into failure cascade when its capabilities have been degraded to the point that one failure piles on top of another, and they start shedding corporations, because rather than identifying with the alliance the pilots say “Well, I’m still a proud member of my corporation”, and then one corp goes its seperate ways. And if one corp stops showing up on operations, everyone else says “What the fuck is with these people?” And it becomes a circular firing squad.

During the Great Wars 1 and 2 we had destroyed Band of Brothers and taken their space, but they were still a cohesive social force and simply reformed. It was only most recently during the Fountain campaign that they went into true failure cascade, and are now three or four different alliances which hate each other’s guts now. Which is great!

Failure cascades just fascinate me. That’s why I play the game, really- to tear social groups apart. That’s the stuff that’s interesting about Eve. The political and social dimensions. Not the brackets shooting brackets shit. That’s why we say Eve is a bad game.

RPS: I’m sure lots of people reading this are people who’ve tried Eve and been unable to locate that metagame. How do you get involved in diplomacy or the like?

MT: Well being a spy is fairly easy. There are two types of agents in the world, and this is my personal division, but I guess as the spy guy in Eve I get to make the call. There are nationalistic agents and narcissistic agents.

A nationalistic agent is someone who’s in it to try and improve the situation of their alliance or corporation. In that case, you just need an alternate character who’s off in some other organisation.

A narcissistic agent is even easier. These are people like the Guiding Hand Social Club, who had one big heist which was really famous in the early days of Eve but haven’t really done anything since. But the thing about being a narcissistic agent is saying “I’m in it for me, I’m in it for money. I’m in it to infiltrate random corporations who’ll take me in, let me take all of their stuff and giggle about it.” Anybody can get into that. All you’ve got to do is join the recruitment channel in Eve and act like a normal person.

RPS: But ultimately, those spies still have to play the game.

MT: Yes. People who live in Jabber, who we call the Jabber crew, because most alliances use Jabber instead of IRC these days- are sort of this incestuous null sec old boys’ club. If you lead an alliance you can get into that, but you have to be a leader. And you either have that or you don’t. You either have the social ability to make people listen to you, to convince people that you’re effective and useful, to rise in the ranks of an organisation or found one yourself, or you don’t.

RPS: I think I’ll indulge you. What makes a good leader?

MT: I used to actually be a very bad leader. Many years ago Remedial – the guy now facing 25 million dollars in fines – retired and made me CEO against my will, and I failed spectacularly. I listened to too many people and tried to poll my membership for what I should do, and it was a disaster. I handed leadership over to somebody who knew what they were doing and the organisation was much better for it.

Later, after watching so many failure cascades, I saw some commonalities in what made good and bad leaders. Through my spy network and watching the mistakes of others I developed into what I would call a good leader.

It’s essentially about delegation. People will show up and be good leaders, but they’ll try and do everything, then they’ll burn out, disappear and their alliance dies. For example, in Goonswarm we have a team structure. I’m the autocrat, but we have a finance team, a fleet commander team, a logistics team and so on, and these teams don’t have heads. These teams simply work together to solve common problems, and that removes single person dependencies which are a huge problem in alliances.

In some ways, it’s a lot more complicated than running a small business. Most small businesses are between a hundred and two hundred employees, or less. We run an organisation of six thousand people in a coalition of ten thousand.

RPS: So you can remove any one person in that power structure…

MT: And it won’t fall down. The purpose of the autocrat is to essentially let the people who are experts do their jobs, make large strategic decisions and be a figurehead, but a lot of it’s just human resources work. Resolving disputes, hiring good people, firing bad people.

I don’t know shit about logisitics, I’m not a fleet commander – I’ve got spying down, but I’m just a leader. I’ve got the charisma. Micromanaging is death. It leaves you with good people wondering why the fuck some asshole is telling them how to run a logistics chain or what ships to use in the fleet they’re composing. A lot of other autocrats meddle too much.

RPS: How do you reinforce against a failure cascade?

MT: This was actually asked by somebody in IT Alliance when their alliance was already in failure cascade. They just hadn’t noticed yet, and had yet to split apart.

The best way to deal with a failure cascade is to not generate false expectations about a situation. If you’re honest with your people as to the strategic situation, you’ll be able to survive terrible things. Goonswarm has lost all of its space before because we forgot to pay our sovreignity bills, and we just imploded. We were nearly destroyed at one point when we were beaten back to one region.

So yeah, don’t lie to your people because they’ll find out what’s going on from other sources, and then they won’t trust you. You also have to have a coherent culture and ideology.

The reason Red Alliance were able to survive again a thirteen thousand man alliance that beat them back to a single station is because they had a strong nationalistic bond. The reason why Goonfleet was able to survive crippling failures was because of our culture.

There’s one type of alliance that cascades easier than any other, which we call “renter” alliances. They’re the ones that don’t own space, but rent it from somebody else. What we call Space Feudalism. There are three types of government in Eve, Space Feudalism, Space Communism and Council Systems.

RPS: Finally, how do you feel about Titans? [The relatively new death-star sized ships.] I was looking at some statistics and saw the number of them in the game is just spiralling upwards.

MT: Titans used to be one of the worst things in this game. I personally still think that supercapital ships were a mistake, but I think the current level of Titans is balanced.

Supercarriers, though, which used to be called Motherships – I have no idea why they changed the name, I think Supercarrier sounds retarded – are hugely overpowered and desperately need to be nerfed. Everybody acknowledges it. They were too weak, and they got buffed, and now they’re way too strong. The joke used to be that Eve Online is Capital Ships Online. Now the joke is that it’s Supercapital Ships Online.

Mudflation is a problem for any MMO or evolving universe. That said, it used to be a lot worse.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

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128 Comments »

  1. terry says:

    Wow, considering I’ve never even considered playing EVE, this is fascinating to look into. Great article, Mr S.

    • lothinator says:

      I played Eve for a few months, and really… it is not a game for everyone. Not like WOW. The only reason it has the size fleets, etc that it does is that everyone is logged into ONE single server.

      The problem is, really, if you’re not like this guy and his goons, you won’t enjoy the game. You have to be a lying, scheming, cheating *ssh*le to enjoy Eve. If you aren’t, you’re going to be eaten up for lunch at spit out – and you won’t have fun. Trust me on this. If you’re not the type, don’t even drop down your first month’s subscription fee.

  2. Sentinel Red says:

    Great interview. I only dabbled briefly in Eve about 6-7 years ago but I’ve always loved reading about it. Last I had kept up with was when the Goons lost Delve and almost fell apart so it’s rather good to hear they kept things together and BoB/IT Alliance are finally over.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    I find reading about EVE much more interesting than I ever did playing it.

    Fascinating social dynamics, but the motivations of entities like Goonswarm just serve to reinforce my confidence in Directive 483227-6.

  4. Premium User Badge

    mpk says:

    Really, really interesting.

    I’ve got a lot of time for anything Mittani says, after poring over his columns on tentonhammer. He’s a very clever guy and knows the game inside and out.

  5. rivalin says:

    The wonder of the internet is that it allows complete non-entities like this guy to believe that they are actually “charismatic leaders”, when in real life he looks like the guy who works in your local blockbuster.

    Comedy GOLD

    • Dominic White says:

      Half the world leaders on this planet are far from photogenic. It ain’t just the internet.

    • Urthman says:

      There’s a reason English has separate words for “charismatic” and “beautiful.”

    • kyrieee says:

      Leading people in EVE requires you to be a good leader just as much as leading anything in real life does. You’re still leading real people.

    • Jesse L says:

      rivalin:

      Wanted to say what Kyriee already has. I would say he’s less of a non-entity than random commenters like you and I. The leadership ability is real, regardless of the talents to which it’s put to use.

      Isn’t that a nice, rational answer? You don’t deserve it, but I include it for the cause of sanity and coherence everywhere.

      Also, picking on his appearance: classy! Let’s all post our pictures now, because our appearance is more important than who we are and what we do.

    • adonf says:

      Are you speaking of the picture of a bald man with a beard surrounded by bees in the middle of the article? Cuz that’s not him.

    • jetRink says:

      Though that ugly man surrounded by bees was a charismatic leader.

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      Of course, because pretty people are renown for their greater intelligence and that “important” people can never be dumb.

      No really.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Actually, it always amazes me how often political leaders are not only un-photogenic, but seem to be completely lacking in public charisma. Maybe this is a consequence of the American presidential system that separates the executive and legislative functions, but the party leaders on both sides of our legislature aren’t even good at giving pre-written speeches, which is the one public skill I’d think a politician would have basically mastered.

      What they’re good at is negotiating and forming deals with other members of the legislature. Which is an extremely difficult and important skill–probably much more of a crucial skill to our democracy than giving public speeches and looking good for the camera. And, though I don’t know anything about him and have no idea what he looks or sounds like and so mean no insult by this, it might be that The Mittani had these sorts of skills–the kind that make you really good at forging deals over Jabber. But I’m not sure I’d describe those skills as “charisma”.

    • Jambe says:

      I am thoroughly surprised nobody replied to Rivalin with “u mad?”

      Also somewhat disappointed, because it was such a softball.

  6. Fumarole says:

    King of Space? Prince of Space is where it’s at.

  7. President Weasel says:

    It’s “social mores”; a “social moray” would be a particularly neighbourly eel.

  8. Mort says:

    Eve is a damn curse, it has blighted my gaming life since it launched. I’ve cobbled together enough time in the game to amass over 100m skill points on two characters during the lifetime of its existence. But I do hate it so.
    It goes soemthing like this: Re-sub, play, play a lot more, burn out, un-sub with exhaustion and anger, try and ignore the almost daily nudges from CCP in my inbox to re-sub……..re-sub.

    Problem is I like ‘games’, all of them. Eve is the ultimate, but it comes at a cost; pretty much any time to play all other games. Therein lies my dilema.

    I am currently un-subscribed, but this interview IS NOT HELPING

    • bwion says:

      My position has long been that Eve isn’t for me, as I already have one career and do not need another.

      But yeah, stuff like this doesn’t help my resolve any.

  9. pakoito says:

    That took a while. Good read though, may show it to some people that don’t believe in net life.

  10. Oak says:

    Crazy old world.

  11. mlaskus says:

    A fascinating interview, it almost makes me want to play EVE. I’ve tried it once, right until I realized that I would rather spend my time playing something fun.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      I am experiencing that right now. The only thing keeping me going is the prospect of a tie-in article between Wired and RPS. Watch this space!

    • Commisar says:

      in that case, just get X3: Terran conflict. All the fun of EVE, with none of the griefing

      • Slurpy says:

        I thought the whole point of this interview was to say that the only fun part of EVE *is* the griefing. So you’re saying that X3 has zero funs?

    • egg651 says:

      And why Quin, may I ask, are you not part of the RPS Corporation?

    • President Weasel says:

      yeah, why aren’t you part of RPS holdings? They’re pretty Space Awesome to space hang around with, you know.

      The worst part of Eve, for me, is the thought that there might be an Amazing Space Adventure just after you log off, even though you’ve spent most of an evening camping an untrafficked gate with the three other people who could be bothered to log in.

      Eve: 1% Amazing Space Adventures, 90% hanging about hoping for an Amazing Space Adventure to start, 9% hearing/reading about other people’s aesome space adventure that you apparently just missed out on.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      I haven’t joined a corp yet. I was just doing some tutorials to familiarise myself with the interface. Again. Next time I log on, it’ll be to join RPS holdings.

  12. Vexing Vision says:

    So, why exactly would I want to play a MMO with a bunch of griefers?

    *shrugs*

    I’m sure there’s enough masochists out there. This guy makes it sound so very appealing.

    • Dominic White says:

      Most Eve-playing Goons make Eve sound like the least enjoyable thing ever. But for some reason, it seems to appeal to a subset of them and brings in more players are a fairly solid rate.

      Fortunately, as was pointed out, the cutthroat politicking and constant paranoia only happens for about 20% of the playerbase.

    • GHudston says:

      The way that I see it is that EVE (when played as intended) is like a giant, slow moving RTS. The players control a single unit rather than the entire force.

      I don’t think it’s really “griefing” in the sense that it would be in another MMO (i.e. killing someone weaker than you over and over so that you can ruin their enjoyment and laugh at their pain), it’s more like the scouting and harassment tactics that you’d find in something like star craft. If you’re at war with someone, why wouldn’t you try to undermine their forces while you build your own?

      The thing that I like about goonfleet is that they’re famous for picking on people who are stronger than them and winning. That’s not griefing. That’s awesome.

      EDIT: Not to say that there aren’t any griefers in EVE. There are tons, but a lot of what this article describes as “griefing” is actually more like “playing the game”.

    • Premium User Badge

      Kelron says:

      For me the “griefing” is all a matter of context. 90% of MMOs are friendly, co-operative games where there’s no advantage to be gained from ruining another player’s fun. Griefing there is like playing a board game and tipping the board up to ruin it for other players, or team-killing in an FPS. The problem comes when people take their principles from these MMOs into EVE, a viciously competitive game.

      No one would accuse me of griefing for lying, backstabbing and stealing my way to victory in a game like Solium Infernum, why should it be a problem in EVE?

    • Tei says:

      oops.. wrong post.

    • Pinky G says:

      (warning, goes off on tangents)
      @GHudston: Regarding EVE is like a RTS, and comparing with starcraft.
      I am a broodwar player and I can totally agree with you there. After reading this article (and others on eve) there are many similarities in tactics. Playing a game of broodwar is probably a bit like trying to manage goonswarm is for the mittani.

      Regarding the failure cascade is like the moment you realize you have won a match. The better a player is, the earlier he knows he has won, or induced a failure cascade. For instance, overwhelming and taking out a critical mining base can mean that the next few minutes are likely to be an inevitable cascade of failure for the other player as he slowly finds out that he cant replace his army fast enough leading to weakened reinforcements leading to…etc. This is similar to when Band of Brothers in eve lost thier sovreignty defenses eventually leading to the the break up into 4 factions. Its very interesting.

      I like to use eve or starcraft as essentially simplified models of the real world as a whole to understand complex things like the economic recession we are in currently.

      Also, in the early days of the goons, they used swarm tactics similar to massing zerglings to overwhelm the more expensive ships of BoB. There are so many variables in a persistent world (ie the real world and the eve world but not starcraft as every match is a reset) that it is actually very lucky as to the outcome of a winner in a battle. Any major battle such as the world wars could have gone the other way but nobody will ever know or be able to test it for sure. This is something many people do not know or believe. Broodwar can demonstrate this because it is not a persistent world.

      If two players play 2 games against each other, and do exactly the same build orders and attack at the same times in both games it should be 2-0, but the results can lead to a 1 all through the tiniest of deviations that noone could have accurately predicted beforehand. This seems obvious because it is really but people sometimes forget that essentially WW2 was a game of fighty biff between 2 ‘players’. The difference is that these players didnt both start with 4 workers each, in the same way that goonswarm didnt start with the same assets as BoB. Anyway, Im completely lost on a friday afternoon essay, hopefully someone enjoys this!

  13. Jonathan says:

    Eve is insane, it really is. I would love to have the time and patience to play it, but even just reading stories about what goes on there is fascinating enough. There’s no way I’d want to read about the derring-do of something like a WoW guild, but this interview was great.

  14. matrices says:

    (Brief aside: I’ve played Eve Online on and off for the past five years (mostly off, now), and I spent a good chunk of that time in “the Great War” on Goonswarm’s side, from the days when the alliance was on the verge of demoralization and defeat to the feverish campaign to dislodge BoB from Delve.)

    One interesting point not explained in this piece is the way the end-game of the BoB v. Goonswarm war actually unfolded. We dislodged BoB from Delve thanks to the defection of Haargoth and a frenzied invasion campaign, but BoB simlpy reformed as IT alliance – dropping their “elite PVP” pretense and becoming his huge blob, vaguely like Goons 2.0 but minus the cultural cohesion.

    So IT, in turn, dislodged us from Delve only a few months later. Goons then had to reform and solidify some alliances. And when Goons counterattacked, IT simply fell apart for good this time – because the “elite PVP” culture, which they abandoned in order to defeat Goons, had been replaced by a nebulous blob with far less loyalty. Poetic justice, or something like that.

    Anyway, yes, the metagame (politics) is far more fascinating than the in-game play, though some of the fleet battles were admittedly epic and amazing when the server held up.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Mittani talking about how BoB reformed as IT Alliance was among the parts of this interview I cropped out, but he didn’t mention the stuff about how their “elite” self-perception fell apart. Interesting stuff.

    • Premium User Badge

      mpk says:

      The “original” BoB was formed from five corporations who painted themselves as the best of the best and reinforced this notion by beating the shit out of anyone who naysayed them. They were basically space bullies. The BoB v ASCN war gave them a lot of positive propaganda but was pretty much a one sided affair – like a fight between army regulars and some school kids in camo.

      Then, during the first Great War, BoB diluted their “elite” image by opening up the alliance to other corps, and that really brought them down in a lot of players’ eyes. IT really was a joke, though. It took a long time for all the original corps to join and even then they didn’t stay long, and their first major action as an alliance was to invade Syndicate (an area of 0.0 with NPC sovereignty for the non-EVE people – it’s a fairy unimportant region with little money making prospects where, historically new alliances come to learn PvP and old alliances go to die) and camp the Reblier gate with titans in local.

      By this point Goons had already won the propaganda war, although I know that there’s quite a lot of EVE that doesn’t like either side, and never will. I don’t care much about ehonour, personally, I’d just rather play EVE with people who aren’t complete dicks. Unfortunately, in space, no one can hear you scream cos local chat is full of spock porn.

  15. jealouspirate says:

    Fascinating article!

    I find EVE terribly boring to play, but I love reading the stories about it.

  16. Premium User Badge

    ropable says:

    That man is about the most fascinating character in one of the most fascinating games. Always interesting to hear what he has to say. Of course, he comes across as a total sociopath, but still…

    • Bureaucrat says:

      I’ve met the guy via work connections when he was still doing the law thing in DC. (And, as an aside, it’s a little grandiose that he refers to his time as a document reviewer in a basement cubicle as “my law practice.”)

      Certainly an entertaining chap. “Sociopath” is a bit strong, but he’s not the kind of guy you’d want as a co-worker. He hated the job, and it showed, which can be something of a downer to everybody else working there.

  17. Jesse L says:

    This is a wonderful piece, thanks RPS!

    Developer interviews…eh. But I’ll always have time to read what The Mittani has to say. Besides, you know, the generally fascinating nature of Eve politics, he’s just so very well spoken. You can see why people would want to work for a genial autocrat.

  18. Spatula says:

    fascinating read- the guy comes across as an arse- perhaps intentionally so- but i can’t help feeling that he’s actually fairly straight-up and honest in his duplicity.

    Again as has been pointed out above- i LOVE the idea of EVE, but always found that i lacked the free-time or inclination to ENJOY EVE; there’s just far too much time spent watching bars turn red.

    As the man said, 99% dull, 1 % fantastic. But if as i, you only get a few hrs gaming a week (if your lucky) then EVE’s really a none starter.

    Fun to read about mind you.

  19. Bilbo says:

    Yeah, EVE is definitely complex and fascinating to read about… it doesn’t make it any less boring for me, though. I gave it a good try… really did… and reading these sorts of articles always makes me tempted to saddle up again, I just hated it the first time round

    • matrices says:

      The key in this game is to play with a corporation, or guild, that’s in 0.0 space. PVE is largely boring and I tired of that within two weeks. Low-sec can be interesting if you’re an avid pirate (that is, preying on PVE players), but 0.0 space is the real font of drama.

      Of course, it also helps if there’s some sense of cohesion within the corp. Forum-based communities seem to fare best in this regard since there’s already an established culture (Ars Technica, Reddit, and Something Awful all have an in-game presence).

    • Bilbo says:

      Yeah, and this is also kind of the problem for me – I like to go it alone, don’t like being too reliant on other players, and don’t like forums much either. I’m sort of a misanthropist. I’m not saying it’s a bad game, per se, just that it’s really not right for me.

  20. Web Cole says:

    I say, that was rather interesting. Made me a laugh with wonder and astonishment on a few points.

  21. cerberus says:

    I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
    Dreadnoughts on fire off the shoulder of cloud ring.
    I’ve watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the poitot gate.
    All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
    Time to die.

    • johntheemo says:

      I quoted this the other day in game as I flew towards the EVE wormhole and detonated my ship.

  22. Sweep says:

    I spent about 4 months playing on and off and I always left feeling slightly deluded by Eve. I was, as Mittani mentioned here, spending most of my time learning how the game worked instead of actually playing the game, running boring PvE missions in high-sec and too worried about my ship being blown up to adventure anywhere interesting. Hearing the stuff that Goonswarm gets up to makes me think that I was simply unlucky not finding a decent corp to help me find my way into the game and exposing me to alternative playing styles.

    I would definitely be interested in giving Eve another look, especially after reading this interview. Is Goonfleet still recruiting newbies? :DD

    • theSAiNT says:

      I smell a spy.

    • RP says:

      I think Goonfleet is always recruiting… from actual goons. I’ve never played EVE, but I’ve read some of their threads before and they’re peppered with hopeful “newbees” who have paid their monies, registered just for Goonfleet, and get mercilessly mocked.

      It sounds a bit silly, but it’s true- goons have a culture and ‘loyalty’ comes out of that shared bond. Paying $9.95 to get in would be the epitome of a “renter alliance”, just in real life money instead of moon bucks.

    • egg651 says:

      Definitely a spy. But you could join RPS Holdings, we’re just cool like that.

    • Sweep says:

      Haha, you Eve kids are paranoid :D

    • Thursday says:

      RPS Holdings has a strict policy against hiring non-spies. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Spies.

  23. Farsearcher says:

    This reminds me of reading one of Tom Clancy’s netforce books when I was about 12 maybe 13. One of them was set in a massive mmo where the king of a powerful nation admitted to one of the main characters he was a garbage man in real life.

    I’m not trying to put down The Mitani, his leadership skills are obviously real. Just thinking its one of many cases of fiction predicting reality.

  24. smi1ey says:

    As with others commenting here, I find EVE a lot more fun to read about that to play. I was bored as hell, and Mittani makes a great point is speaking of the 1% of excitement vs the 99% of general lameness.

  25. Janek says:

    Fascinating stuff, great interview. Never had any love for the Goons, but Mittens’ insights are certainly interesting.

  26. Moraven says:

    Interesting read!

  27. Navagon says:

    EVE looks like it should be really enjoyable. But all the accounts I’ve heard of it suggest otherwise. So the game and its popularity still mystify me.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      The people who didn’t enjoy Eve were doing it wrong.

    • Navagon says:

      Given the player base I can only assume that’s true. Even the ones that posted comments about the game that I took to be pretty negative were either sticking with the game or had stuck with it for a long time. It just strikes me as odd that I haven’t read anything that’s really all that positive about the game.

      Maybe it’s all due to this n00b deterrence that Mittani referred to?

    • kyrieee says:

      @Jim Says someone who quit after the nano-nerf? :P

    • Keilnoth says:

      People who actually enjoy EVE do not need to speak about it. You have to taste it to make your own opinion, that’s all. And half the people who stopped EVE are frustrated because days are only 24h long (that’s me here). :)

  28. darthmajor says:

    The Mittani? In my RPS? Watch out hive mind, if you aren’t careful you will end up getting Mittens are your OVERMIND.

    Nice read, hope the new non-retarded-csm-in-the-ways-of-nullsec manages to fix some screwups and stop CCP from making some horrible changes to 0.0.

  29. Thule says:

    Those who want to read more awesome and in-depth stories from the Mittani might want to go here:

    http://www.tentonhammer.com/features/mittani?page=2

  30. Premium User Badge

    TeraTelnet says:

    As with many others, I find EVE interesting to read about but found it not to my liking playwise. I do feel guilty about joining the training wing of a corp and then basically disappearing, though. One of these days I should re-sub and pay them back for the stuff they gave me.

  31. Cooper says:

    I particularly enjoyed the odd-one-out screenshot in the middle.

    For all its beauty, if you are in large PvP battles, that is what you will be spending your time looking at.

  32. The Great Wayne says:

    From a long time TCF player, I really hope the swarm keeps fofo’ing like nobody never fofo’ed.

    It’s weird how this game just gets to you. I’ve played a lot of mmos since UO, and most of them I would come back just to have a peek at what’s new. I played EvE for four years nonstop, quit playing a year ago and I’ll just *never* come back.

    I know, never say never, but atm it’d feel like going back to live with an ex-girlfriend you were once fond of but you left nonetheless. You know that, although there are positive aspects, you had valid reasons to leave, and that eventually it’ll come around. Most people wouldn’t take the risk to spoil the good memories by coming back and ending up fumbling again.

    It can sounds a little far fetched, but it’s the best I got to describe it, and I know I aint the only one who came to that kind of conclusion with eve.

  33. bascule42 says:

    To paraphrase Seth Gecko; He’s not just a bastard. He’s a fucking bastard. And I like him. Make me want to join SA and resubscribe to EVE.

    I remember trying to convince my ex that EVE was important using that BBC story as an example.

    great interview/interviewee.

  34. DeepSleeper says:

    So I’m the only one who finds this article vaguely horrifying and the prospect that a game breeds this behavior and validates it to be queasyness-inducing?

    Probably not a popular opinion, but it makes me very happy that online games have come a long way and developed multiple systems to stop people from screwing each other over.

    • dsi1 says:

      Eve isn’t like other MMOs, or games in general, what you think is griefing is gameplay. (griefing still exists in Eve, but it isn’t anything like other games)

  35. psyk says:

    So how much is this guy making from all this?

    Because I seriously doubt his paying for that account

  36. Consumatopia says:

    I found it fascinating how the conflict between Goonswarm and it’s rivals was one of competing narratives and even competing ways of playing the game. Which makes me wonder if Goonswarm’s apparent victory is a consequence of their style of play being the most fun in EVE as it currently exists. As long as the game is just a glorified spreadsheet, then people are going to find the spying metagame more fascinating than the combat in-game, and therefore the Goonswarm style of play is more compelling than BoB-style elite samurai style.

    But if future modifications to EVE made combat more fun, this could go back the other way. If player to player combat were a more compelling experience–players would find BoB’s samurai narrative more compelling and corporations adhering to these norms would have more internal cohesion.

    Or if Incarna brought more of the social aspects internal to the game itself, people might be less interested in the Jabber meta-game. Also, other players within your corporation might become more likely to be genuine friends, and spying might become harder.

    Or one could imagine a game where the mining/construction aspects were more interesting (e.g. Space Minecraft). In which case, mining/construction friendly norms might evolve among the corporations.

    It would be interesting to see what kind of positions The Mittani/Goonswarm take in this CSM, then. The advantage of their style of play isn’t due to the relative power of a certain kind of ship or faction, it’s due to how compelling players find their style of play is to relative to other styles of play.

    • Janek says:

      With regards to playstyles being “more fun” than each other, I think that’s entirely down to the individual.

      What changes between styles is your ability to actually be in a position to have that fun – it could be argued that no matter what’s happening, folks like the Goons were able to engineer their own fun. But for an adherent to “e-honour” who wants to enjoy a good well-balanced scrap, it’s highly dependent on having a “worthy” opponent with a similar playstyle. If the opponent brings a different approach to the table (login traps, spies, corp thieves, capital hotdrops, “blobbing” etc) can actively make it harder for them to find their type of fun. Some will adapt these new tactics, and some will just not bother any more. All of which will make it even harder to find foes to have fun with, and the waits between bouts of adrenaline-fuelled exhillaration will grow longer and more frustrating.

      I suspect the most long-lived and populous entities will be those whose fun can’t be “taken away” like that – the mission runners, the hi-sec miners, the middle-of-nowhere nullsec ratters, and those in 0.0 who have a less limited view of what’s fun than I do. I never really found the metagame to my tastes, and in the end it ended up being so difficult to get the type of fights I wanted that I just stopped.

      (Reading that, it makes me look a lot more bitter than I actually am. I hope the point wasn’t lost in rambling anyway. And man I used the word fun a lot. Fun fun fun.)

    • Premium User Badge

      Lacero says:

      It’s not quite he whole picture though, the real “best” playstyle is NAPs and sucking up moon goo and selling for more isk than most people can dream of. But there’s no antangonism there, just greed, which makes it hard to whip up a mob.

      SImilarly it’s much easier to whip up a mob to take down samurai than for samurai to demean themselves to kill a mob. This isn’t about binary playstyles, it’s about what points of view make it easier to motivate people against others. Rock, Paper Scissors like, but with more sides.

    • Consumatopia says:

      @Janek,

      With regards to playstyles being “more fun” than each other, I think that’s entirely down to the individual.

      Depends on what you mean by “down to the individual”. Different individuals will find different styles of play more fun, yes. However, the design and features of the game itself will have a large effect on how which individuals will find each style compelling. If space combat feels like Wing Commander or X-Wing, then players with fast reactions will be attracted. If it feels like a naval simulation, then players with tactical interests will find it compelling. If it feels like brackets and spreadsheets, then expect “meta-game” players to show up.

      But for an adherent to “e-honour” who wants to enjoy a good well-balanced scrap, it’s highly dependent on having a “worthy” opponent with a similar playstyle. If the opponent brings a different approach to the table (login traps, spies, corp thieves, capital hotdrops, “blobbing” etc) can actively make it harder for them to find their type of fun.

      But if players are interested in a specific playstyle, they might team together to punish players who are ruining it. That’s the point of “e-honour”–for e-honourable players to punish e-dishonourable players.

      But perhaps as a result of the skill system in EVE, new players had no stake in e-honour–it was just a system for keeping them permanently down. So they joined corporations violating it, and even eHonour based corporations had people defecting to the other side.

      In fact, that could mean that even though the skill system rewarded players who had been subscribing the longest, it may ultimately also have been these players’ downfall–because it weakened the moral legitimacy of e-honour.

      @Lacero,

      It’s not quite he whole picture though, the real “best” playstyle is NAPs and sucking up moon goo and selling for more isk than most people can dream of. But there’s no antangonism there, just greed, which makes it hard to whip up a mob.

      Sounds believable. But a differently designed game might give such players something other than aggression to bind each other together (or make greed a better motivator for long-run cooperation). If building structures were an act of social expression, like Minecraft, then builders and miners might have more stake to hang together when defending themselves from pirates and negotiating with samurai.

      SImilarly it’s much easier to whip up a mob to take down samurai than for samurai to demean themselves to kill a mob.

      Well, that isn’t how it works in the real world–samurai frequently (though not always) manage to find lower-ranking thugs to put down the mob for them. Maybe that’s the real reason the samurai system failed–the skill system based on time-subscribed meant there was no stake in the samurai system for lower-ranking thugs

    • Premium User Badge

      Lacero says:

      If building structures were an act of social expression, like Minecraft, then builders and miners might have more stake to hang together when defending themselves from pirates and negotiating with samurai.

      Restricting building to the corporation was a clear attempt by CCP to enforce their ideal of people having to work together to access the end game. However if individuals were able to build more and make their buildings interoperate I think eve would become a more interesting game, and the concentration of power in homogenous alliances would be weakened. I hope Planetary Interaction is a sign of CCP realising this, but I suspect it’s just coincidence.

      Maybe that’s the real reason the samurai system failed–the skill system based on time-subscribed meant there was no stake in the samurai system for lower-ranking thugs

      Well, the reasons for success and failure are complicated and difficult to generalise about. I feel comfortable in saying that I don’t see someone being motivated to take down the NC, moon goo sucking NAP mobile that they are. Idealogical differences were what drove the armies of the french revolution, and motivation is all that matters in eve. The motivated opposite against the NC would be… what? hippies dedicated to sharing wealth? PEople who believe in all out warfare with no friends? In eve neither group would have enough power to achieve anything.

      Otherwise the opposition to the NC is people who are greedy but don’t have as much ISK, and they’re not motivated nor resourced enough to succeed.

      I don’t want to concentrate specifically on the NC but they’re a good example. People were sort of motivated against Red Alliance and AAA because of the RMT rumours, and people were not motivated against the Provi-Blob because it was kinda of a cool place, but the NC has become the symbol of naked self interest and greed in a game dedicated to it. Goons vs BoB wasn’t the great war between two game defining sides so much as a war between the sides with the most differences and the most motivation to hate each other. The game defining side doesn’t have enemies, it has inferior copies.

      I’m rambling now, it’s too late. sorry if you read this far.

    • Consumatopia says:

      No worries, Lacero, your last post was helpful–I think I misunderstood you the first time.

      I guess if what you say holds true (I assume it does) then my hypothesis that it’s driven by players upholding norms that facilitate their preferred playstyle doesn’t really have much explanatory power. Some kinds of players ideologically oppose one another, while others are just choosing whatever method makes them the most ISK. So if you somehow doubled the number of “griefer” players or the number of samurai-wannabee players, it might not make any difference to the overall game balance because neither of those types have ideological motivation to focus their aggression on goo suckers. So pouring CCP developer time into making one style of play more compelling wouldn’t have the kinds of effects on norms that I was imagining.

    • Dworgi says:

      There is a rather strong narrative against the Northern Coalition, in that moon goo is the ultimate old boys’ club. You need only watch how aggressively the NC defends their precious ISK printing machines by vastly outnumbering their enemies.

      Their playstyle is supported by the mechanics of the game, but ultimately no group of players can actually kill the NC. Traditional combat doesn’t work because the server is brought to its knees by the numbers the NC alone can field – actually having a fight that can be won is nigh-on impossible.

      Even the spy game is largely powerless, because no individual alliance is powerful enough to cause a full cascade of the coalition. BoB and Goons were both brought down by a single action that ended up disbanding their alliance – the NC cannot be killed this way either. The recent disbanding of Rebellion Alliance should prove that beyond any doubt. Yes, it gave the Russians a foothold, but it didn’t cause anyone in the NC to panic – they just calmly took back their holdings and reformed the alliance under a new name.

      At this point, I think it’s safe to say that the NC have “won” EVE. However, it’s boring and stagnant and does no good to a game that thrives on its player-driven narratives and the NC existing stifles most of these narratives. At this point, CCP must be taking a hard look at what they can do to reset the state of EVE and allow for a more dynamic universe – it was the point of Dominion, which failed miserably.

  37. Keilnoth says:

    And you got a nice link on EVE Online’s Facebook page. :)

  38. Tei says:

    Wow, amazing interview.
    This is like the president of the Internet, or something like that.

    Eve is trully a special* thing.

    *
    OOOO
    OOO

  39. TooNu says:

    I play EvE online ebcuase I feel if I stop subscribing, I’m going to regret it when my accounts at that time will be super powerfull and super rich. I am of course assuming that in years to come, EvE will be THE game to play and I will have a tremendous advantage.

    Also, I think Jim “quit” becuase he values his RL over his implants. Read his book btw.

  40. Urthman says:

    Whatever you think of Goonswarm, those posters sure are some fantastic propaganda.

  41. Poppis says:

    I have never played Eve but I’m always fascinated to hear anything Eve related. Great interview.

  42. Scott says:

    Absolutely bloody good interview!

  43. SG Goonslap says:

    “It’s another thing to fight Goons who will as they’re going after you mock you into the ground, publish your forums for everybody to laugh over – that’s what we call forum porn, which is where we fight somebody and they will scream and cry about how we’re mean to them, and then we’ll publish that for the world to laugh at.”

    Interesting Mittani suggests this about goons, because they can dish it out but they can’t take it. Seems any and everytime I have trolled goons in their chat channels or on the forums, a number of them get all whiney and butthurt about it for hours even after I have gone AFK.

    Mittani has a certain recognizable insight for predicting the future of Eve. I also have such a nack for adding up all the pieces, seeing the large picture and seeing where it leads. Many will walk away, many will forget, but then someone comes along whose path you cross, they don’t walk away and they don’t forget. They become a thorn in your side for the rest of your days. And where one such man comes, another follows, then another then tens then hundreds then thousands. You have reached the summit of your days, ahead lays only your future, tread carefully.

  44. Arachnyd says:

    Seriously, fuck the Goons.

    I was an EVE beta tester and played for several years, and those inbred retards completely ruined the game. As soon as they showed up and imported their memetastic somethingawful immaturity fest culture the game took a nosedive. The Corp/Alliance forums turned into a spamfest of “LOL INTERNET SPACESHIPS!” and it was impossible to have an actual serious political discussion. What used to be an intelligent game was suddenly a race to the lowest common denominator.

  45. JFS says:

    I love the “I don’t even think my weapons are loaded” poster. However, the prospect of there being sort of alternate realities where people spend their lives freaks me out. Really. I mean. We’re all escapists and nerds to a degree, but *this*.

    It’s f~cking creepy.

  46. AdamK117 says:

    When I picked up EVE (before WoW was released) I found myself really protective about my small collection of frigates and destoyers and was a little scared to go in anything below, like, 0.5 security rating. Eventually, I took to trading commoddities but the alure of low security routes just had me getting blown up by some bloke and resetting any profits I made :(

    My main problem with it is the same as most other peoples. The game itself is a little bit boring and you have to use your imagination quite a bit to get the ball rolling. I also couldn’t find any easy way to join a corporation that was doing something, most of the bigger ones were highly paranoid about who they took on (spies) and corps like EVE University seemed far too serious in their approach to fleeting for me to get really immersed.

    • Kelduum Revaan says:

      We (EVE University) aren’t that serious about fleets, at least for normal non-war PvP.

      As long as you aren’t drunk and/or aren’t planning to get everyone killed, its pretty open – we just ask you write an After Action report when you’re done to everyone what went good and what went bad, so people can offer tips and advice, and avoid the same mistakes.

      We’re probably the only corp in-game which will let a brand new player lead a 200 man fleet :P

  47. A-Scale says:

    How long until we get serious, peer reviewed analyses of political science theories using Eve as a test model? What does the rule that pervades null sec say about the efficacy of anarchism, socialism and democracy? Is autocracy really superior?

    • Premium User Badge

      mpk says:

      EVE truly is a world in it’s own right.

      I’m sure I read somewhere that economics students in Iceland were getting free subs to EVE to study how the market worked – I don’t see why people can’t learn about the politics of war and diplomacy.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      The rules says that if you’re running a war, you don’t have time for elaborate democracy. Which I think has already been proven pretty well.

      There are alliances that operate as a council in peace time, but suspend the practice immediately during times of pressure.

      So for militaristic entities autocracy is an obvious choice. There were entities that tried to run a democratic approach even with unwashed hordes at the gates, and they usually failed spectacularly in an explosion of infighting.

      But trying to learn lessons about real life from a computer game where people can just leave if they’re unhappy should be done with extreme caution. If I’m unhappy with my corporation, i just quit and chances are I’d even make a lot more money if I did.

  48. Spacewalk says:

    I love reading about EVE and this is my favourite thing so far. Good job.

  49. Istvaan Shogaatsu says:

    “A narcissistic agent is even easier. These are people like the Guiding Hand Social Club, who had one big heist which was really famous in the early days of Eve but haven’t really done anything since. But the thing about being a narcissistic agent is saying “I’m in it for me, I’m in it for money. I’m in it to infiltrate random corporations who’ll take me in, let me take all of their stuff and giggle about it.”

    On behalf of the Guiding Hand Social Club we confirm and cherish your assertion about us. We are indeed retired, and frankly barely capable of playing Eve anymore. The mantle of King of Space is yours, and yours rightfully, Mittani.

    Use it to hurt people, as is right.

    - Istvaan Shogaatsu
    GH-SC Operations Chief (ret.)

  50. InterFaced says:

    Great article. The weirdest thing in my mind is that one of the most influential and important players in EVE doesn’t use the in game client as much as a generic chat client to … uhm … socially engineer advantages for his organization?

    I’m still envious of the tales of gigantic server-crashing battles. From where I’m standing Mittani’s position seems to be less fun than some new recruit who wants to jump in and see the action, which is exactly what I’d do if I had the time to invest in internet spaceships.

    Then again I guess his fun is getting interviewed by the BBC and RPS.

    After being exposed to years of propoganda on the awful forums, I think my favorite is goonswarm’s channeling of SHODAN near the end of their “Great War” with BoB. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4diQEwrjv8&feature=BF&list=PL8938BC36DA7A1EC8&index=12