EVE Diary Part Three: Oui Together

By Rich Stanton on April 28th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

Rich Stanton has been playing player-driven space MMO Eve Online – read parts one and two here. In this third and final part, Rich joins a corporation and goes to war.

In Stendhal’s The Charterhouse of Parma an idealistic young Italian called Fabrice del Dongo runs off to join Napoleon’s army, and ends up at the Battle of Waterloo. He gets bonked on the head, sees soldiers running around, shoots a retreating opponent, and gets stabbed in the leg by one of his own side. The whole thing’s a mess, Fabrice has no idea what’s going on, and he returns to Parma broke and dejected, wondering if he really was at Waterloo. By the end of the novel he’s an old man, and spoken of with reverence as one of Napoleon’s key captains.

Reader – when Brave liberated the HED-GP system, I was one of their key captains.

I’ve recently joined the corporation Brave Newbies (more on whom later) in an effort to get slightly less worse at PvP. On the glorious day of our Lord Hilmar the 22nd April 2014, I was mooching around in one of the home stations looking for something to do. Lo and behold, in the fleet finder tab, the ‘HED-GP Standing Defence Fleet’ jumped out at me.

I didn’t know my HED-GP from my tail, but I figured there had to be some action there, so I joined up, jumped on mumble, and began slowly making my way over to the system – 16 jumps, so ten to fifteen minutes’ flying time. I used it to read up.

It seems that HED-GP is a nullsec pocket of space that Brave has ambitions on. But all the experienced players hate Brave, so they camp up certain areas with their big ships and elite fits for what they see as easy kills – and I’m one of them. Brave’s basic strategy when faced with situations like this seems quite simple: numbers.

As soon as I’m two or three jumps away, things get tense. Not only is comms rather a confusing mess, with our fleet split over what seems to be three systems, but the gates leading into HED-GP have been bubbled – preventing you from warping straight to them – and in some cases camped. I manage to make it through and jump to HED-GP, where I immediately align to a Brave POS, which is basically a meeting-point for fleets, and warp.

I land on top of three enemy ships. My fleet’s in this system, but none of them are here. I’m instantly scrambled, and five to ten seconds later the Kestrel I’d spent the last two hours fitting is an attractive explosion. I switch to my pod overview instantly, hold the ‘S’ key and spam click on space to try and insta-warp out – but too slow. They catch my pod, and I’m unceremoniously blown up.

My clone awakens sixteen jumps away. I’m still in fleet comms. I’m a bit pissed off at my own stupidity for warping to a POS rather than fleet, but the more I listen the more I feel for our inexperienced FC. Every single pilot in this fleet is ‘new’ to the game, but the FC is the only position that really matters – if he makes a mistake, all of our ships explode. I start the long journey back.

As I get closer the FC has handed over to another player who’s doing just as bad a job at herding cats, and it sounds like a real clusterfuck. But it’s not until I make it into HED-GP that I realise why. I don’t know what the hell I’m looking at. A somewhat-occupied system has now become another type of system: my overview is jammed with reds (bad), yellows (bad), and a few scattered blues and purples (good).

Some of these ship types I’ve never even seen before; but they see me. My warpdrive is disrupted almost instantly, and I make an heroic dash towards the bluey-purple blob. In one of EVE’s little miracles I escape for an instant and arrive among comrades – half of whom, a few seconds later, warp off. Not knowing what else to do I follow and, as we jump from place to place around the system, it’s clear we’re being chased.

One jump turns into two, into three, into four. Our FC has changed again. No-one knows what’s going on. As yet another jump starts I’m scrammed. This time there is no escape – four, five reds with more incoming by the minute, with myself and a few other stricken pilots left behind. I’m dead and podded in an instant. I don’t even know what killed me in the end.

Having lost around 15 million ISK worth of ship, I decide that’ll do for this evening. I’m utterly confused as to what just happened. It’s only the next day, browsing the EVE subreddit, that I happen across this post on TheMittani.com, from the superbly-named Angry Moustache, called ‘HED-GP Falls (Again).’

As the title suggests this is not one of those landmark EVE moments: this was no B-R, no Asakai, no Waterloo. And even though the system is now controlled by the Brave Collective, there were many other allies who helped. But it was a battle with consequences big enough to be noted by key players in the game, not just random ships pew-pewing each other. Even though that’s what it felt like.

When I read that post I felt like Fabrice del Dongo. Was I really there? I logged into the client to double-check the killmails, and I was. I’d been one of the grunts in the frontline, clueless and green, watching things zip around me and boom in the distance without ever realising what it meant. I died twice and killed nothing. But I was there.

The strange thing is that I instantly felt a part of Brave. Sure I was already a member, but this was a feeling I can only compare to being at a football match with your fellow fans; a camaraderie firm in the knowledge of a shared purpose. My personal loss had become a win.

(Never one to miss an opportunity I popped into corp chat and asked if I could be reimbursed for the ships I’d lost at HED-GP. One of the Corp higher-ups immediately did so, with grace. Stand aside for the war hero, lads.)

And here lies the reason that EVE threatens to consume me. This is an experience that is truly player-driven, inasmuch as any multiplayer videogame is player driven. Sure CCP control how the ships and mechanics work, and there’s CONCORD (the space police) in HighSec to give players some level of safety, but beyond that the story of this game – what actually happens – is being written every day.

The Battle of BR5RB made headlines because it’s a great story, and of course it’s the kind of thing that pulls in players like me – we want to be a part of something like that. But what’s important to understand is that BR5RB was exceptional because it was so big, and not because of the nature of what happened. The battle I was involved in came about because hundreds of people across the globe, on that day at that time, decided it was going to go down. And so it did. And so things change.

This is the fabric of EVE – from the micro to the macro scale it is a world that changes depending on what the players decide to do. There is no space conductor waving his baton, and the closest thing to it would be those individuals like the Mittani – who, as prominent and powerful as he is now, could be gone tomorrow. He’s only human, after all, and humans make mistakes.

No other game is like this. I said in the first of these diary entries that what blew me away in EVE was the vision, and what’s so astounding is the courage behind letting players dictate the game’s goals. It is unique.

And even if you won’t be flying a Titan in a battle like BR5RB a few weeks after starting, you can be a Fabrice del Dongo like me – on the fringes of something great, and making a difference simply by virtue of being there. You don’t have to join the same corporation I did, but take a little of their spirit and you’ll be fine. Come on in, and be a brave newbie.

Rich Stanton is off to EVE Fanfest – stay tuned for his reports back from the frontline.

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36 Comments »

  1. Inglourious Badger says:

    Right, that’s it, I’m resubbing. Thanks a million, Rich

    • Walsh says:

      All because of his thrilling account of flying twice to the same system then exploding twice?

      • Inglourious Badger says:

        Yeah, that and the fact it’s been a growing itch since before this series began. It’s the reminder that there’s a whole universe out in there still bubbling away without me. I wanna be a part of it again.

        Ridiculous, I know, it’s just a computer game. But less so than any other.

        • Janek says:

          I feel the same, I really do.

          Buuuut I know my own personality, I tend to get a bit obsessive which isn’t really healthy.

          Also all my stuff’s in the middle of Curse with no access to cap ships to remove it again ¬_¬

          Maybe as a treat in the summer…

          • sinbad269 says:

            I’m the same. The issue I have is there’s so much choice in what to do. I mean, I know pure PvP is where all the excitement is at, and I was part of an alliance and coalition that could hold it’s own in a fight, but I wasn’t sure if that’s what I wanted.
            I’m thinking maybe Fleet Warfare next time or something… Although I’d like decent shield skills for that :/

            This indecision and that none of my RL friends play EVE, and me not wanting to drag myself through the whole uncomfortable introductions again, means I’ll probably hold off

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          I haven’t ever played EVE, lacking as I do the time or money for an MMO, but I don’t think it’s ridiculous in the least. Being a part of something feels freaking awesome. More importantly, if it’s fun, ffs do it. More power to you.

          • CJMBC says:

            I caved, Resubbed… I started a new character and i have to say, so much has changed since i was last here.. the tutorials and such are really good now, and you can make quite a nice little sum of money and a good few ships after just doing all the Tutorial agents.

            My old character is sat in a pod in nul sec, i dare not leave the station hes sat in because who knows what i will find..

            but ive been sucked back in, and strangely i feel that this time, with all the work CCP seem to have put in to make it more ‘newb’ friendly.. it will be for much longer than before.

      • Shadow says:

        Yeah, Walsh… I got pretty much the same amount of excitement from the article as you did. Despite the praise for a player-driven universe and all, in the end Rich described flying through a couple dozen jumps, gawking in complete confusion and getting blown up twice.

        Even if you got your ISK reimbursed in the end, I didn’t get the vibe it was a good, rewarding investment of time. I don’t see the fun, and I don’t think the “I was there” feeling would impress me for long after I realized I ultimately accomplished nothing in what probably lasted a few hours.

        • Premium User Badge Kelron says:

          You can say the same about most games. It’s just the choice of how we enjoy wasting our time.

    • Richard Stanton says:

      See you in space bro – fly safe :D

      7o

  2. rexx.sabotage says:

    TL; DR – spaceships got blow’d up

    EVE is like a dining room or kitchen table. Alone it’s not particularly interesting but, when people gather around it and connect with each other, the atmosphere surrounding the table becomes a fun place to be but, the table itself still remains as dull as ever.

    • Richard Stanton says:

      I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the game – EVE is one of the most tense, exciting things I’ve ever played. It certainly does have downtime, though, and especially at first it can be hard to know what to do (I certainly didn’t).

      You may also like the Beautiful South song ‘The Table’

  3. Liarali says:

    o7, Robo Kurvora

    Edit: Here are his lossmails from HED-GP:
    https://zkillboard.com/character/94338719/system/30001161/

    At no point were you podded in HED, sir.

  4. Cres13 says:

    Wonderful stuff, keep them coming!

  5. zer0sum says:

    I’d love to be able to embiggenate screenshots that you guys post here,but alas, I never can.

  6. Calculon says:

    If any of the corps had a policy of reimbursing faction fitted T3′s or capital ships, I’d consider re-subbing again.

    • FireStorm1010 says:

      My allaince (Nulli Secunda) has exactly that policy, providing you loose it under one fo the FCs.Im pretty sure may others have too.

    • Gesadt says:

      many decent alliances reimburse t3s, at least hull and subsystem price, as well as capitals. provided you loose them in important alliance ops

  7. Matias Otero says:

    Hello Rich! I’m the founder of Brave Newbies Inc. and I have to say I almost got a bit emotional reading your article. Your experience reflects what I set out to achieve when I created the corporation, and even now a year later when real-life duties have taken up most of my playtime, I’m glad to see new players are finding the magic of EVE Online with us. Fly brave!

    To those of you who are on the fence about trying EVE but don’t know where to go, I want to invite you to the Brave Newbies and fight with thousands of other new and old players from around the globe in fleets hundreds strong against all who oppose us! This link: https://secure.eveonline.com/trial/?invc=a3c55891-86f0-456e-9d52-49a52df6b2ea&action=buddy gives you access to an extended 21-day trial. When you pay your first month, I will be able to give you 350m ISK as part of our new-player induction program!

    See you all in space!

    • Richard Stanton says:

      Thanks so much! You did a great thing for the game. I’ve been playing EVE for 2-3 months now, and joining Brave Newbies was the best decision I ever made. It’s a wonderful corporation to be a part of, and I look forward to many many more nights in space with them.

      I thoroughly recommend anyone thinking of trying out EVE follows Matias’ advice and give BNI a bash – that 350 million ISK won’t hurt either, it’ll buy you hundreds of frigates (the type of ship you tend to fly at first). In a game that can be somewhat unforgiving, Brave Newbies is a like a big jolly safety net. Great people, great times.

      Thanks again – fly safe!

      7o

      • PoLLeNSKi says:

        So cheeky using this to plug your 21day freebie ;-)

        nb: he gets 700million isk if you follow up your trial by subscribing which is where your 350mil comes from.

        I’m not trying to take these deals away from him, just filling in the gaps for anyone who wondered (I used to hang around newbie forums and help a lot of new players with the same 50/50 deal when I played, so it’s all legit)

      • Matias Otero says:

        By the way, I can see you were wondering about HED-GP. This is to give you a better idea of what you were part of. HED is unusual because it is one of few nullsec systems with a direct connection to high-sec space (no need to go through pirate-infested lowsec), so it’s a natural staging point and trade route. It’s a high-value system like few, and as such it has traditionally been home to the alliances that have owned the region.

        Who used to own the region a year ago? A reddit-based alliance called TEST. TEST was part of a large regional coalition called the Honey Badger Coalition. The HBC fell apart due to in-fighting and TEST stood alone. This is when the EVE super-power known as the Clusterfuck Coalition (CFC), which is led by the infamous Goonswarm Federation, came in from the north in full force and attacked TEST space. Though powerful, TEST was no match for a 12000-man coalition and the wealthiest military machine in EVE. TEST was driven out to lowsec and remained there, biding their time.

        Anways, back to HED-GP. So this was one of their strongholds and a symbolic home for many TESTies, as they like to call themselves. When BRAVE attacked the region we did so as a multi-alliance coalition that included TEST. Together we drove out the usurpers installed by the CFC (who in true super-power fashion, did not care much about their fate after they left the region), and it was agreed that TEST would get to re-assume posession of their ancestral home in HED-GP. The battle to retake it was highly significant for our allies and symbolized their return to the high-stakes game that is sovereignty warfare as part of a new and rising power.

        So there you go, that’s what you were a part of. Pretty awesome isn’t it? =)

    • JasperGibson says:

      Ah, this might be just what I need, starting an account tomorrow :)

  8. FireStorm1010 says:

    Again very nice report:)

    I remember those times when lfying under not so experienced FCs when slaughter was the order of the day and tottall confusion:)

  9. Premium User Badge Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    HED-GP? That’s my old stomping grounds. I had some of the best game time of my life in Catch, including carelessly bumbling straight into an entire hostile fleet in my Thorax cruiser. I led their scouts a merry chase, bouncing between moons to keep myself out of their range, keeping tabs on the fleet so my Alliance got real-time intel. A couple of Interdictors had managed to guess my next moonshot and held me down, but couldn’t do enough damage to more than inconvenience me and burn a couple of capacitor charges. My Alliance started setting up an ambush around the gate at the far end of the pipe they were traversing, and I got to give real-time intel of ship types, movement, and scout disposition right up until a Dominix droneboat turned up to do some “explosive counterintelligence”. The enemy fleet was repulsed. I made a difference that day.

  10. yabonn says:

    it’s a great story, and of course it’s the kind of thing that pulls in players like me

    The greatness of the story matters less, imo, than its retellability : “… so we hiked from Freeport to Qeynos”, “… and so we just tried to clean Kz without tank…”, “…what actually happened in Hed-GP…”.

  11. Premium User Badge phuzz says:

    I need to make the jump and join a non-NPC corp, but I’m never quite sure who to join, and I’m not far off being able to fly a Drake…

  12. Romeric says:

    A really great series of reports with an emotional conclusion. I’ve never played the game but I’ve always been curious. Perhaps I’ll fire up the free trial when I’m done with my degree.

  13. disorder says:

    Without saying, exactly that I shaped Eve I have played a high level hand in the coming about of its current state. I see Eve from the inside out now in terms of regions, not systems. What’s so much of a challenge, is the route in for new players. It is so difficult to bridge the gap – from the lacklustre tutorials, the dull (solo) PvE and utterly banal tasks that people do in high sec. Pulling people across that chasm (new, or career troglodytes) into the dynamic, and at times amazing player-ruled world is sometimes just much, much too far.

    Because not everyone is ok with flying 16 jumps – twice – doing something they don’t understand, accomplishing nothing more than arrive and dying by they don’t know what. Fewer at all even learn to do even that much, successfully. In my case this journey (a while ago now) was dodging two fleets chasing me, in a drake before (guided) hitting a bridge network. That felt like entering – really – a new domain.

    A domain which we built, it was fluid – and somewhat later which, against any expectation, would fall. To an invasion that began with the failure of a periphery alliance’s sovereignty, through actions of a spy, breaking out into major war and leading to engagements both won, and lost. As a week became a month. And another; fighting an inexorable, grinding retreat through destroyed infrastructure, and the shells of broken alliances to the walls of the heartland. And stalled, by impressive shows of force – for a time; amidst growing pressure. Not keeping pace. Deployed on tasks beyond the front, scouring through the ruins of a fallen empire. Which in its own world, it was. For thousands of people. Until incomprehensible losses, and scenting blood, preceding massive attacks on strategic/financial assets – which went undefended. The real end was as quiet as the drop of a feather. This was a war I /lost/.

    Inducting people into that is so very hard. It means effectively, enrolling into an international corporation of tens of thousands of people. And some of what that entails is about as fun, and takes about as much time. BNI are the only /new/ group that really made anything of an impact in the last couple of years and despite bodies, it’s still a featherweight. In most ways I’d say it is scale that is as much Eve’s enemy as its friend now – for it makes the task of running a successful independent of middling size so much harder. As I’m /certain/ BNI would agree..

    Without lots of those – Eve does lose dynamism. And without that, interest – for current players, and prospective ones. The real political map of today is east, west and minor entities. It is only these – really – two groups that have the resources and people with experience in running these massive organisations to produce the processes that lead to say- B-R. It’s not as practical as it ought to be to be to take and win an asymmetric campaign against shall we suggest, ‘all sizes’ of ship, nor to make worthwhile kills with the cheap but numerous against the expensive and well supported fleet doctrine. And to be healthy, Eve needs both of these things – for things to do every night, not only the once-per-decade set piece accidents, which drive narrative, industry; the whole game.

    Politically speaking, we’re still in the B-R aftermath – something – eventually will happen without CCP’s interest (as custodians) – to shake things up (it did before, as above. This time.. ?). But for Eve to prosper, it’s time they deployed some vision of their own for 0.0 – make it easier for the next BNI to make a difference and unfortunately, the next expansion featuring rebuild to the industry UI’s is not going to be the one that does it.

  14. luckystriker says:

    These gaming diaries are always excellent to read and something RPS should seriously considering do a lot more of.

  15. Premium User Badge Tom De Roeck says:

    In case you want to try something else thats Evelike, go for Perpetuum and join the RPS channel, someone will get you processed into the official RPS corporation StateCorp (STC).

    It just went on steam for only 30€ for a lifetime sub!

  16. cylentstorm says:

    Why I love EVE: I’m a total sci-fi geek, with a soft spot for epic space opera….The massive universe that begs to be explored, and the possibilities presented by the primarily player-driven narrative.

    Why I hate it: Despite the vast range of possible activities and pursuits, the majority is shallow and pales in comparison to the depth of the economy and the dedicated PvP community….The mostly player-driven narrative is full of typical MMO players that say things like “toons” and “builds”….i.e: tedious and it breaks the immersion

    I play games to escape, or at least experience something new, or different. All of this talk about being part of something bigger than ourselves, or the feeling of doing something important and inciting change only serves to remind me of how hollow and pointless that EVE–or video games in general–really are…

    I think that it’s time for something (almost) completely different… Try something new–do it for real… You know–back in good ol’ analog physical reality. Or is that still too frightening for us? Would any semblance of unity shared in the digital realm with no risks involved fail to translate properly into “real life?” Hmmm…maybe you’re right–I should just have a drink, kick back, and shut the fuck up. Remember–it’s just a ride.

  17. jacko says:

    Oh HED-GP, eternally camped, that last jump to sweet sweet high sec space.

  18. Whelp says:

    I get an itch to shoot some brave newbies now, brb.

  19. salattu says:

    I used to get a yearning to dive into EVE from reading about it. I did try it, but couldn’t justify a continued time investment. Nevertheless, I enjoy reading about an online world I can’t say I’ve really participated in, and that I couldn’t say of any other game.