Ridealong: The EVE Online Invasion of H1Z1

Ridealong is a new monthly feature where Brendan travels deep into game worlds to meet, question and journey with the inhabitants that dwell within. This week, the EVE Online pilots that are plundering H1Z1.

The Goons are invading. They’re coming over the top and killing everyone in sight, without remorse, without even a word of warning. But this isn’t an invasion into one of the unruly star systems of EVE Online, the usual scene you picture when you think of the brusque citizens of Something Awful. This is an invasion into an entirely different game. The Goonswarm has spread to H1Z1.

Jason Spangler, aka Commander Spanks, is leading the operation into H1Z1. He is The Mittani’s right-hand man and describes himself as a “boots on the ground” officer, holding weekly meetings with “Mittens”, the leader of the EVE Goons, about the progress of their invasion. I went into the post-apocalyptic wilderness of H1Z1 to meet him.

“I don’t have a base,” he says. “What I do is I travel around and play with all of our different squads. This is what I do as the Commander of the Imperium. I stay nomadic, I travel around. I make sure our forces have got everything that they need.”

The Imperium is the new name for the alliance of Goons and other groups inside and outside EVE Online. The Mittani rebranded the group because their previous name was not “marketing friendly”. Their previous name, for the record, was “Clusterfuck Coalition”.

Currently I am standing in a misty forest, awaiting instructions from the Commander. For the moment, I am only in touch with him on comms.

“I think these past few months I’ve done more talking than I have shooting,” he says. “Which I think is probably the sign of a good leader. I don’t need to be a good shot. I got 227 guys to shoot for me, you know what I mean?”

As impressive as this sounds, 227 is a small number compared to the organisation’s member list in EVE Online. It makes the H1Z1 players seem more like a splinter group of viking settlers than the stampeding hordes envisioned by The Mittani when he first made his call to arms in May this year. And although The Mittani says around 5000 of his men have tried H1Z1 since he sounded the war horn, only this small number is sticking around. But the chief’s trusted Commander seems to recognise this as a problem.

“I’m not happy at 227, Brendan. I wanna continue to grow our organisation. I’m already eyeballing 300. We’re gonna go to 400. And then we’re gonna go to 500. Myself and my officers are constantly talking about how to grow our community. How to dominate this sandbox… and it all revolves around strength of numbers. I’m not necessarily concerned with whether you’re a good shot or not.”

This is a classic Goon tactic. In EVE the Goons are dominant professionals of aggressive propangandising and recruitment. Like many groups, they treat their rookies like horrible little princesses, promising huge sums of money to get started and free implants and ships that would be unaffordable to a regular, unaffiliated newbie. Their most famous propaganda campaigns actively boast about their swarmlike numbers and suicidal techniques. In H1Z1, the same applies, to the extent that TheMittani.com has partnered with the devs to create special loot for Imperium members, including a machete engraved with their leaders famous slogan: “His Regards”.

But why did Mittens choose this of all games? H1Z1 is regarded by many as a poor man’s DayZ. A too-late entrance by Sony into the zombie survival genre. What attracted EVE’s khan of khans to this game in the first place?

“From what I understand of it,” says Spanks, “Mittani and John Smedley are friends [John Smedley is the former head of Daybreak, the studio making H1Z1]… and John is an EVE: Online player himself – he wanted to see what a large successful organisation from EVE Online could do in his sandbox. And a deal was struck. We were given skin packs and we were given a private whitelist server and told ‘come and beta his game’… help show them where the flaws were. Because if there was a flaw a Goon was gonna find it, right?”

So it was as much a business decision as anything. Daybreak and TheMittani.com have partnered to send Goons in, effectively acting as testers (I would later ask The Mittani himself about the exact nature of this deal. “We can’t really go into any business details,” he said. “Boring but expected reply”)

It’s time to meet the Commander. But the map of H1Z1 is vast. I spend a ridiculous few minutes spamming the “/respawn” command over and over again, watching myself die and respawn in random locations. I am looking for co-ordinates close to Spanks. This respawn method is used so often by the Commander that he has hot-keyed it to a button on his mouse. He kills himself that much.

Finally, I appear at a spawn point where we can meet, a forested hillside. After a few minutes the man himself finally appears at the bottom of the hill. Emerging from the fog.

He’s here to take me to the Wake Hills settlement, where there’s been an incident. Some intruders have been killed by the two Goons posted there: a player called Angel, and another called Changers, both ranked as ‘squad leaders’ of the Imperium.

On our way, the Commander teaches me to make a bow by shredding my trousers and combining the cloth with some tree branches. H1Z1 has a somewhat obtuse click ‘n’ drag crafting menu. But we soon have a bow each and some arrows. Both the Commander and I are now standing in our underwear. Neither of us mentions this.

We arrive at the camp. Changers, one of the guards, is a terrifying man in aspect. He wears a ghillie suit, has a giant sniper rifle and wears a face mask with a skull on it. On his feet: a pair of red converse. But when he speaks, its the ordinary voice of a young gamer. There are a couple of others lurking around the settlement. A man called Angel and another called Budberry.

This is the Goons’ method of invasion. They plant lots of small groups in various locations on the map to avoid overwhelming comms chatter. Then partner up or travel around when necessary. The Mumble is separated into geographic camps, a lot like how outposts in EVE are often organised, but on a much smaller scale.

“This is the repair shop” says Spanks. “We just smoked a guy here. Here’s his bag right here.”

The victims body is gone, but a backpack remains. The Commander offers it to me. I rummage around and get some trousers. I’m told I can shred these too and use the cloth to create some bandages. I look at the Commander in his underwear and decide not to shred the trousers.

The Commander shouts.

“There is a guy in the antique shop! Guy in the antique shop! Draw your bow and get ready.”

I look at my bow. I have no real plan to use it but I follow the Goons to the action. They home in on the trespasser. We are within a few feet of him when suddenly we are all disconnected. The server has hiccuped. We continue to be harrassed by disconnects for the following half hour. It is something many Imperium players have accepted as the price for playing early access. Gritting their teeth through server problems is simply an act of honouring their side of Mittani’s bargain with the developers.

Back in the game, the Goons look for their would-be victim. He’s nowhere to be seen. I ask the Commander about the rules of engagement. Are there any?

“When we say enemy, what we mean by that – because we are KOS [kill on sight] – is someone who doesn’t have a chevron [an in-game symbol floating over their heads] or is not on our Mumble or is not friendly to us. Everyone on the server is either an enemy or a friend. There are no neutrals.”

I look around Wake Hills. It is a fortress-like checkpoint. It stretches across a main road, wooden barricades and a wide roof that gives an excellent view of the road. But there are other buildings around. Angel and the skull-faced Changers take us on a tour. We jog around the decayed picket fences and through the old gardens of the settlement, looking at the run-down shacks. I wonder how much of Wake Hills is Imperium-controlled. The answer is: almost everything.

“We pretty much made everyone move out,” says Changers, taking us around the houses. “Most of ’em are abandoned. Those three by the repair shop are abandoned. This one over here on the otherside of the cafe is also abandoned because we blew them out.”

There’s only one building in town inhabited by ‘hostiles’. A fairly large wooden cabin just 50 or so metres from their own fortifications. Do the Goons ever have disagreements with them?

“Yeah, they don’t like us. Pretty much, they don’t like us because we don’t speak their language and they don’t speak English. We’re ‘kill on sight’ to them.”

We study the cabin. The foreign neighbours aren’t home right now.

“So, yeah,” says Changers. “We’re going to blow up their base eventually.”

The Commander is proud of his men. Almost boastful. He takes the opportunity to praise their efforts.

“It is safe to say Wake Hills is controlled – not that there’s a territory map. But if there was an influence map you would see a giant circle around Wake Hills and it would be controlled by Imperium.”

He estimates that about 40% of the map on this server is controlled by his forces. Sadly, there are no tools available to substantiate this claim. Such a big presence, however, is bound to attract attention. Has anyone ever tried to attack them en masse? Other groups?

“Yeah,” says Changers, “there’ve been groups of like 4 or 5 people that’ll run around together.”

“We had almost 20 guys helping someone up somewhere near Lone Pine, didn’t we?”

“That was like 30.”

“One of our bases was getting raided. And someone basically jumped on channels asking people for help and then ones that could help out, we all went down there… basically KoS-ed everything away from their base…”

Do they have any idea of the casualty numbers for that? How many people died?

“Too many,” says one of the men.

“There was probably a few of us that went down. But we pushed them back to get ’em away from the base.”

And do they carry out their own raids?

“Oh yeah. We’ve done a few raids.”

“Yeah, we just had a raid – what was it? – three days ago.”

“Just basically proving a point that we control the area, so GTFO.”

The Commander and I are on the move again. He has other camps to check in on. But what exactly is he looking for when when he goes between outposts? Why does he drift from place to place?

“I don’t want to be bogged down. I don’t need to have a base, I don’t need to have a box full of juicy explosives, I don’t need to give our enemies an excuse to hit our headquarters because if I build something that automatically could be construed as the Imperium headquarters.

“So by not having a headquarters what do we have? Well, we have 50 or 60 Imperium bases all spread around like McDonalds. We’re all serving the same menu. So if you think about it from that perspective I’m literally like the district manager travelling around checking in on each of my McDonalds making sure that everyone’s serving the same menu and that the Imperium ‘brand’ is being represented at each of our franchise locations.”

The next “franchise” on the list is called Dirty Deeds, which I’m told will be unmanned right now. The Commander is marching on ahead of me. As we make our way through the woods, we snatch blackberries off the bushes as we pass, to keep ourselves from dehydrating. Night has fallen. The Commander is still in his underwear.

“Wolf,” says Spanks calmly, then unloads a shotgun shell into a grey shape in the dark.

“Normally you want to hit them with melee.”

We hear more howls as we travel through the brush.

“There’s a wolf up here, see him? We gotta punch him,” says Spanks. “Punch this wolf here.”

He begins laying his fists into the second creature.

“Get up here and punch him,” insists the Commander.

I walk up to the fray, not really certain what to do, but the wolf dies before I swing even once. I’m sort of relieved. We march on and I flicker my flashlight on and off idly.

“So you definitely want to NOT use your flashlight.”

I turn it off. The Commander says this is known in the military as light and noise discipline.

“Which, by the way, I am former US Army, I’m also a veteran as well, so…”

He trails off. It’s something I’ve come to learn of hardcore online worlds. They contain a lot of military and ex-military people. Is this true of the Imperium as a group?

“Yeah,” he says, “the Imperium does have a very strong military [and] prior-military community. It’s one of the things that drew me to the Imperium. EVE, or just gaming in general, is just very therapeutic for me. And just talking about my experiences in Iraq with other people who have served is very therapeutic as well. It’s not the only type of people that are in the Imperium but there is a strong military presence… Now, this is interesting… do you see this?”

There’s a glow beside a tree. It’s a fire.

“Someone made it,” says the Commander. “Someone made it to either purify water or cook meat. So there is activity in this area…”

But there’s no sign of the person behind this fire. And we never do find out who made it.

“Let’s push into Deeds,” Spanks decides.

We arrive in a poorly lit industrial estate. On a concrete wall, I can barely make out the words ‘Dirty Deeds Disposal’ in the gloom. It is the entrance to a linear cave system stuffed with barrels of toxic waste. We enter the caves. The ground inside is covered in thick, yellowish sludge. A fire burns inside a barrel in a damp corner. This time the flames are just scenery, instead of something player-made.

“Unofficially, Dirty Deeds is our motherland, our home turf,” says the Commander. “We spent a couple wipe cycles here, learning to play the game, beefing up our forces, learning to raid, learning to build…”

My steps are slowed and I have to drag myself through the yellow slime. It’s very sludgy, I observe.

“Well,” he says, “it’s a toxic cave.”

He says that the caves haven’t always been in their hands. Recently, they lost control of Dirty Deeds to a group called THC.  This would not stand. The caves were their adoptive home in H1Z1. The Imperium went to war.

“They were a tough opponent because they ran with hackers. They really tore into our forces, just headshotting us, magic-bulleting us. But again, this is a sandbox, we kept coming back, we kept digging in, we kept showing a presence, we kept reporting the hackers and eventually we won the battle. Their hackers got banned, their legit players couldn’t keep up with our forces and we drove them out of the area.”

Part of the Commander’s strategy includes “being a complete pain in the ass to anyone who is not our friends”. This is also a mainstay of the Goon’s EVE strategy. They openly aim to make it unpleasant for their opponents to even log into the game. To make enemy grunts react with apathy at the very thought of picking up a gun.

Dirty Deeds also has a couple of warehouses where fertilizer spawns with regularity, a key ingredient in IEDs – homemade bombs. The Goons use a combination of these explosives and ethanol (made from corn, wheat, water and sugar) to raid and destroy their opponents’ bases. They pile these devices up aginst the gates of an enemy fortresses and detonate them to open a way in.

It can take about 50-70 of these bombs to blow a gate, I’m told. But laying down stacks of ethanol and using a single IED as a blast charge is “the preferred method for breeching gates.”

But it takes a long time to set up, says the Commander. He tells me the best technique is to have four men run up to a gate with backpacks full of ethanol, sometimes under enemy fire, and plant the stuff down in a huge pile. Then one man will light the fuse on an IED and try to join the others in escaping before the whole thing blows. The resultant explosion creates “a high probable chance that you’ll one-shot that gate.”

He tells me that Dirty Deeds is not a particularly busy area when it comes to passers-by or enemies. The Imperium has heat maps that allows them to view player activity – the “traffic” of each area.

This word “traffic” is very EVE-like too. In fact, a lot of the vocab of the Imperium in H1Z1 seems to have been influenced by their ancestral home among the stars. I also heard one of the Wake Hills boys ask another if he had “eyes on” when they thought they discovered an intruder. This military phraseology is a common EVE query, and it seems to have followed the Goons from their space stations to the wasteland.

The Commander takes me up to the rooftops of some nearby warehouses. I ask him to stand still for a moment, so I can take a photograph of him with the moon in the background.

“I would like to have pants on,” he says.

“No,” I say, “it’s better this way.”

The sun comes up and we get on the road again. The Commander finally did find some trousers in an abandoned caravan – a pair of camoflage combats. We pass a weird stretch of wooden decks, half-finished. This, he tells me, is the planned “Imperium Highway”, made out of wooden platforms, stretching from one of the organisation’s outposts to another. An ambitious project.

We are on our way to the Pleasant Valley camp, when we run into a zombie. It is the first zombie I have seen all game. It shuffles along, Romero style, dragging its heels towards us and gurgling. Spanks is not the least bit worried. He stops to do something on his computer. The zombie, about 20 metres away, keeps shuffling slowly towards us. Is he not going to kill it?

“No I’m not going to waste ammo on him because I don’t want people to hear me… I don’t want people to know we’re over here.”

We leave the zombie alone and continue to make our way over hills and along the roads, strewn with abandoned cars. Spanks is explaining his background, telling me again how he served in Iraq, when he cuts himself off, and begins dashing in another direction.

“Here’s a player right here.”

The player has spotted us. The Commander breaks off and immediately gives chase.

“He’s fresh.”

The player keeps running, frantically. I can see nothing distinctive about them, except that it is one of the female models recently added to the game. The Commander sprints after her, calling out for her to stop. Spanks is trying to get close enough to see the player’s name but she keeps on running. He fires a shot off.

“She’s clipped once, that means she’s bleeding.”

She keeps running over the grass. Frantically seeking cover.

“One more shot, she’ll go down.”

Spanks calls to her again. No answer. He fires again.

“Fuck, I missed it.”

He continues to run after her but he is losing patience. He fires a third time. The player falls into the grass.

“There we go.”

She’s lying in the grass, face-down. Dead. There’s nothing worth taking from her body. She was unarmed.

“Let’s get out of here.”

Night returns soon after we arrive at Pleasant Valley. This is the last Imperium stronghold on our trek and it is the outpost where we will find a place to hold up.  Spanks puts a call out on comms for a safehouse and a voice soon answers. We are directed to a large, dark cabin with two watchtowers. A wide outer gate swings open and a man with a 9mm pistol is standing inspecting us.

“Get in,” he says. “Quick.”

We scurry up the ramp like fugitives. I stop to take a picture of the player hosting us and he closes the inner gate without looking. I am now trapped in the “airlock” space between gates. I look around in my tiny space while the others chatter on. This must be what jail feels like.

Inside the house itself, the Commander is wrestling with Mumble and inducting a new player to the Imperium. A young man called Stim.

I begin to wonder how much under the whip of the Mittani these marauders really are. I would ask The Mittani himself this question later. “I don’t see a risk of there being a schism from our multiplatform operations,” he said. “That’s not how we work.” But when I asked his boots-on-the-ground Commander about this, he was candid about his men’s attitudes. He thinks it is more complicated than them being desperately loyal to Spymaster Mittens, and the old guard of EVE.

“There is definitely a loyalty built-in to being an Imperium EVE Goon. Because that is the top of the the political structure of EVE Online but when it comes to the Something Awful members or the Steam members, Mittens is a name they will hear in comms or if we start talking about EVE. He doesn’t play with us, or hasn’t played with us in H1Z1 in quite some time. He turned the keys over to me. He’s very busy with his website. He’s very busy being a space tyrant. There’s definitely a loyalty to the TheMittani.com and that culture, but not necessarily to Mittens himself.”

As for the Goons of the Pleasant Valley camp? Many of them are members because they had lived in the Valley before the Goons even showed up. When that happened, they either died, escaped or were absorbed into the Imperium themselves, like Germanic tribes embraced by Romans on the march, indigenous people marrying into settling viking clans, raiders grown tired of pillaging.

“We brought them into our comms, brought them into our culture,” says Spanks. “But having said that, they have their own culture, they have their own friends.  They don’t come from EVE Online. They are slowly learning what Imperium is about.”

I log out and say thanks to the Commander. Behind me, in a dark cabin in Pleasant Valley, the fresh recruit Stim is taken into the fold. The Imperium now numbers 228. Welcome to the swarm.

This article was funded by the RPS Supporter Program. Thanks for your funding!

113 Comments

  1. egattocs says:

    Must say, I’m really enjoying this feature. It’s really cool to get this sort of insight into games that I’m not likely to get into myself.

    Looking forward to the next one!

  2. Seafort says:

    I stopped playing H1Z1 months ago because of people like the Goons.

    It’s all about Battle Royale now and not about a hardcore zombie survival game.

    I wish them luck but I won’t be going back.

    • SomeDuder says:

      The real irony here is that Goons, who in the Eve Online universe used to call out Band of Brothers on their relationship with the game’s developers (A few members of BoB are/were friends with some developers, and there were some incidents where those developers showed special favours to BoB).

      Now, we have Goons playing a game where they have a relationship with the developers. It’s like we’ve gone back 10 years in time, to 2005, when Eve Online was just gaining traction.

      Will SirMolle be playing H1Z1? Will there be a big north vs south conflict? Can we please have Kugutsumen-level of dickery all over again? If so, I might seriously look into picking up this game, even if it’s terrible. Spaceship drama = best drama

  3. Captain Deadlock says:

    What a total catalogue of misery. Having a real tussle here between pity, contempt and indifference.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      Yep, reading that I just keep thinking this is one of the big reasons I don’t play multiplayer games.

    • Traipse says:

      Yeah, everything in this post sounds like the opposite of fun. Gaming as work, and as a replacement for actual social interaction.

    • varangian says:

      Yep, I gave up on DayZ (the mod version) because even without any large organisation dedicated to the task the only emergent behaviour was to shoot on sight. Why the devs of this game thought it would be a good idea to actively support this bunch of douches is a bit of a puzzle but maybe they’ve nothing to lose.

      • Mattpds says:

        I swear to god that if i had read this page before, I wouldn’t buy the game, i feel so bad now. I was looking for a zombie coop survival game, at first i thought yep, this is it. And now i Read this, I’m really REALLY disapointed.

    • tornflags says:

      It’s pathetic. I’m amazed that these people aren’t just some bored / confused teenagers.

      • Machinations says:

        I know, I love hating on people for their hobbies.

        Like those people who play DOTA, what a goddamn waste of time. Or people who go hunting – thats something I actually consider pathetic – and yet I wouldnt call them pathetic, simply because I dont need to.

        Its my judgement, and I only would state it if I wanted others to approve of it – or to confront them with it – and I dont need anyones goddamned approval.

        See? Its one of those circular materialist shame type things, you really dont want to go down..

        Disclaimer: despite my supportive posts, I dont play H1Z1, though I did fly with the Ars Technica-affiliated goonswarm corp years ago in EvE. I just like to be a logical doorstop for whiners.

  4. Freud says:

    Nice article. Having dedicated groups of players certainly gives longevity to massive online games. Even better if they are villains.

    • Distec says:

      I understand why they did what they did, but I think this move between TMC and Daybreak just underscored my problems with these zombie MMOs: There’s no cooperative spirit unless it’s in the service of rolling over the rest of the players on the map. And I think this kind of culture would have been more impressive if it arose naturally rather than straight-up importing goons.

      Honestly, while I’m comfortable with the CFC (Whoops, I mean Imperium!) being a good ol’ bag of dicks in Eve Online, they’re not a presence I’m clamoring for in most other online games. And while they are a good example of sandbox gameplay run amok, I wonder how many people skip out on or stop playing H1Z1 when they come up against forces like this. It’s one thing to have enemies, but it’s another to be facing down the “indomitable victor until the end of time”… which is pretty much what goons are in Eve Online and one of the problems that game is facing.

  5. Creeping Death says:

    I really dont understand groups like this. I mean… what is their goal? To control the server and drive away anyone that disagrees with them? And then what?

    • Jediben says:

      Wipe their hands, mutually masterbate to another “job well done” and then try to find something else they can ruin for other people. And why bother being responsible for yourself when you can join a swarm and bark “sir yes sir” to each other like good little lambs?

      • hungrycookpot says:

        I find it pretty strange that they’ve done this all with the support of the developer. So you want to turn your game into a kill-on-sight shit fest which turns off new players right away? Well, good luck with those 200 goons, I’m sure they will keep the lights on for many years to come.

    • SomeDuder says:

      Yea, they sound like dicks and there’s some stuff that makes you go “Mmmm”, but in the end, games are better for it. Eve Online would NOT have been so succesfull without the fantastic conflict between Goons and their nemesis, Band of Brothers. The level of competition went on outside of the game, where people infiltrate voice-comms, take days off work to get involved in the game and make fantastic content to motivate/demotivate others.

      And in the end, Goons are back where they started in Eve, so it’s not like they won the game. If H1Z1 starts showing this level of conflict, I’m in, don’t even care which side of the discussion.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      A couple of evenings of locust swarming lulz, then lost interest when the smaller groups and unorganised regular players just stop logging in. Perhaps leaving behind a salted scorched wasteland for the usual population to pick up from a couple of weeks later, if ever?

  6. Rhodokasaurus says:

    Believe it or not, community games like this are better with goons. They keep a game dynamic when it would otherwise languish in tedium. They provide a real enemy to fight against. The kind of people saying “I don’t like them” are the kind of people who weren’t playing in the first place.

    The real problem is that these games are 10:1 waiting vs doing. As this article clearly demonstrated you spend 6 hours running in empty fields and trying to find friends and 2 minutes in an actual confrontation. Who has time for that shit?

    • Jediben says:

      People who haven’t taken on responsibility aka students and the terminally unemployable.

      • Shadow says:

        Like people who have done military service. What’d they know about responsibility?

        Now seriously, I understand the general dislike for the Goons, but I can’t really support this kind of virulent, over-the-top, generalizing personal attacks. They haven’t killed anyone’s mother.

        • SoulStatic says:

          Well, apart from in Iraq and Afghanistan…

        • Contrafibularity says:

          Nothing. Else they wouldn’t have chosen to run around with bombs and guns killing people on the orders of career psychopaths who told them this would make the world a better, safer place, demonstrably false long before this shitty millennium kicked off with two retarded wars that succeeded only in setting the world on fire, largely for the self-serving purpose of “experiencing grand adventure” as the ads have it.

          It’s hard to blame soldiers who got tricked into joining when they were young and stupid, but you’re perpetuating the same romantic lies that made people fall victim to creatures like Tony Blair, George Bush and King Salman.

          If games like EVE and H1Z1 and games in general can be of some help to ex-soldiers that’s excellent though.

    • Baines says:

      “2 minutes in an actual confrontation” is kind of overselling the group struggling to gun down a single, unarmed person.

      It is honestly a bit of a shame that H1Z1 seems built to cater to CFC, even beyond the devs literally created special loot just for them. Stuff like glowing ID markers over characters mean that they don’t even have to think before they fire. They are playing Team Deathmatch when everyone else is playing a different game.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      They provide a real enemy to fight against

      Hmm? I thought they basically provided an unstoppable force of “Join us or die”, which given no other website on the internet wants to do something similar/can muster the numbers to do it in the first place, means the Goons ultimately win everything. Am I wrong?

      You’re not entirely wrong to say well, you wouldn’t be playing anyway – but one of the main reasons I would never play anything the Goons took a fancy to is basically the idea that from the point they turn up in force, you can be a Goon or GTFO, nothing else. That’s not my idea of fun.

      • Distec says:

        Rooks pretty much gets it.

        I like the idea of having player-created villains to unite against, but that can’t go on in perpetuity. If you want people to group up to take down the Big Bad, it needs to actually be feasible. Few people will actually try to challenge organizations like Goonswarm if it’s a mostly fruitless task, and the luster of “gud fights” or “sandbox content” is lost if the status quo is just maintained. Players banding together in some kind of game-changing uprising seems like a pipe dream.

        Goons have succeeded here and elsewhere because of their numerical strength and inherited organizational structures, neither of which have significantly atrophied over time(the latter seems to strengthen itself). The likeliness of an equally capable player entity challenging this kind of supremacy is highly unlikely; you’re pretty much reliant on some kind of internal power play or sabotage.

        Any way, don’t want to generalize Eve politicking to H1Z1 too much since they’re very different, and the goons are still comparatively young here. Anything can still happen. But it’s not hard to understand why there’s little love for them, even among players that would like a survival PVP game and accept its Darwinian tenets.

        • Behrditz says:

          Yeah, people think “its great to have this big enemy” Like in comics or movies where the settlers are fighting against some invading army. The thing people forget is that life is fucking shit and not fun for those settlers. Also, the only reason they start winning and have fun is because some superman character gets introduced into the story. Without Ken, Fist of the North Star would not be any fun at all. It would just be the massive group of raiders making life miserable for everyone else. The “Fun” of those stories comes from the overpowered destruction of the enemy that you can’t have in these actual situations.

      • Rhodokasaurus says:

        It’s not really like that, at least in EVE. I feel like you’re theorizing what it’d be like without having experienced it.

        You never have to deal with Goonswarm if you stay away from them, but you can join groups that will choose to skirmish with them or, for example, Brave Newbies who show up and scrap just for a good time. Occasionally Goonswarm even fucks with itself when it gets bored. I don’t know how this translates to H1Z1 and I have a feeling not a single person in this comment section plays it, myself included, but a 300-person clan is not capable of ruining the game, no matter how griefy they are.

        If you’re looking at the game like “Well, I’ll never beat the Goons so why bother?” you’re not seeing the narrative value. What would Game of Thrones be without the Lannisters?

        • ribby says:

          I think the assumption that no one would try to stand up to them is incorrect. I know that for me, even being a tiny thorn in the side of an unbeatable force would be glory enough to make it worthwhile for at least a bit.

        • zipdrive says:

          While it’s fun *reading* about the Lannisters, would it be fun *living* next to them?

          • The Great Wayne says:

            Except the Goons aren’t the Lannisters. They’re the wildlings. A bunch of alcoholized, raving, gun toting wildlings. Led by Lord Varys. Or something like that…

            I’ve been there alongside them camping POS for whole nights once upon a time, there’s definitely huge quantities of alcohol involved. It is known.

          • zipdrive says:

            The point remains. Feel free to replace Lannisters with Wildlings.

  7. RealityJones says:

    Sound like a bunch of jackwads. Glad I don’t play that game. Talk about an example of the worst kinds of gaming behavior…

  8. Lobotomist says:

    And here is the dirty truth about this thing :

    link to reddit.com

    • DevilishEggs says:

      Ahh it wouldn’t be Mittani-related without a reddit post breaking down some kind of major league hi-jinks or intrigue or bad behavior

  9. Sardonic says:

    I ran a faction of SA Goons in a browser-based game called Cybernations for several years. Any game can be made better with Goons. Any.

  10. anHorse says:

    Well at least they didn’t choose a good game to utterly ruin

    • Alfius says:

      So, anyone who plays a game in a way you don’t approve of is ‘ruining’ that game?

      • zipdrive says:

        Anyone who’s play destroys my ability to play my way….sure.

      • anHorse says:

        It’s a multiplayer game, their involvement has totally ruined my ability to do anything fun or significant

        They aren’t creating a fun force to fight against, they’re just crushing everyone else by sheer force of numbers

        • anHorse says:

          Oh and it’s a game they only seem to be playing after some very shady H1Z1 paid editorial stuff started appearing on their terrible eve newssite

  11. NephilimNexus says:

    At least Darth Smedley has finally come to terms with his own villainy.

  12. Jane Doe says:

    Ah, the Mittani. Ruining one game at a time. At least this one won’t be missed.

    • ShineDog says:

      They really didn’t ruin Eve though. They had a big evil space empire in a game about space empires, but to the average player it was some drama happening half a world away.

  13. DrollRemark says:

    Yeah, a couple of skins, sure. That’s all it took to get the large and swayable player base to try out your struggling generic zombie MMO. Uh huh.

  14. racccoon says:

    This is why I don’t play these games anymore.
    This has to border on Bullying tactics in numbers.
    I saw no reason track down a newb/runner & kill, it seemed quiet pointless and a unnecessary action, almost felt more like they are poisoned with a fever fetish to get onto the next one victim, which is bullying. Total control does nothing for gaming as it never seems to add any real gamers compassions. These guys are a joke!
    The only bloke I can say yay to in these games is FRANKIE, he plays the game and forms no shame.

    • Baines says:

      Developer-approved bullying, in the case of H1Z1.

      • Meoith says:

        PVP means Player verse Player anyone who plays that game mode knows what to expect. If you don’t like that mode fine but don’t be such a thin skinned cry baby and try claim its about bullying people when it clearly is just about trying to kill/steal off each other.

        PvP can be a nasty at times but learning to detach and learn from these experiences can make you a stronger more rational person in the long run imo.

        • Baines says:

          “Developer-approved”, in that developers are actually favoring CFC.

          And having an organized 200+ man group that goes around killing lone unarmed players is stretching the ideas of PvP that most people signed up for.

        • Vesuvius says:

          As the other reply said, you’re really rationalizing here.

          If it were player vs. player, or even player vs. small groups of friends etc that would be one thing, but in this case you have:

          player
          vs.
          a well-regulated, regimented and disciplined army of players who have actual real world money coming in to fund them (Mittani’s website and ad deal with this publisher and others), as well as developer support.

          This second group has total domination of the in-game resources and chase down non-threats (unarmed, unclothed) characters, killing them indiscriminantly unless they totally surrender and agree to join in to the army (which means you’re forced to play the game as work, doing what Goon Squad wants).

          That’s ridiculous, unfun for non-goons, and ruins any idea of sportsmanship or ground rules.

          • Machinations says:

            Not logical at all.

            I should note my first interactions with goons were fighting against them – and for a long time, and mostly losing. Yet I had a great time.

            You seem to be under the impression that goons are some monolithic entity that control EvE (or in this case, h1Z1) and resistance is futile. Nothing could be further from the truth.

            H1Z1 was filled with random griefing long before the Mittani pitched his tent. H1Z1 – and new survival games – will all also have griefers. Welcome to life.

  15. neoncat says:

    Super article. I would tip if RPS had a tip jar.

    Also glad I don’t play the game, so I can smirk at antics from afar.

  16. IshuTwar says:

    These Goons seem to be to multiplayer games what ISIS, Al Quaida etc. is to the real world. “You are either part of the Imperium or you are an enemy, kill on sight even the noons, rule the server” etc. And then these goons are military or ex-military that fought in Iraq, Afghanistan etc. You have to love that irony!

    • that_guy_strife says:

      You just won the thread.

    • Dozer says:

      Exactly this. This article reads very much like something I saw in the FT, someone going around interviewing the arms dealers who supply Daesh.

    • Alfius says:

      I think we need a new Godwin’s law for ISIL comparisons.

    • cpt_freakout says:

      The first one to say that “you’re either with us or against us” was George W. Bush. So no, there’s no irony there.

      Still, it is quite interesting that it seems a lot depends on a military sort of discipline and organization. It’s a question that goes well beyond RPS, but when he says that the game is therapeutic, I wonder why, if what he’s doing mimics quite thoroughly what he was probably doing in Iraq.

      • zipdrive says:

        I rather doubt Washington was the *first*.

      • Shadow says:

        “You’re either with us or against us” is generic enough to have been used by empires throughout the ages.

        I don’t really get the Daesh comparison, and just sounds like a cheap snipe at them. Probably very offensive, too. They’re just an organized PvP clan playing a number of games.

        Sure, sometimes they go too far (though always within the context of the game), but what’s really disturbing and shameful are the personal, over-the-top responses I’ve seen throughout this comment section and other places. Random commentators, often without any actual experience dealing with these people, are drastic enough I can’t help but actually sympathize with the Goons.

        Some people just take games FAR too seriously, if they’ll react so venomously to a bunch of players playing competitively.

        • Jediben says:

          Wait, getting annoyed that you can’t do something as basic as walk across a field without getting shit at by 200 people is taking it too seriously, but another acting as a “franchise manager”, travelling around from server to server to organise said 200 people into death squads is perfectly normal? Mate you’re a joke.

        • Machinations says:

          “Some people just take games FAR too seriously, if they’ll react so venomously to a bunch of players playing competitively.”

          Yeah, there are a lot of carebears on RPS, really shrill ones too. But not all of us, I assure you.

          NOW GET OFF MY LAWN KIDDOS

          • Archonmalantai says:

            What the hell is ‘playing competativly’ when it’s 30 on 1? So a football team camping where a teenager gets off of the buss then gang beating him.. Is competative to you? Because them ganking and camping everything is just like that. Some guy has a stick and gets jumped by a triple hand full of people with 308s.. yeah that was fun for him.. And again when he respawns and goes to get a new stick, then again and again.
            Yep good old compitition..

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      I’d liken them to a cult. They certainly seem brainwashed enough to believe whatever their ‘glorious leader’ tells them and they will definitely do whatever he tells them to do. All while he himself is making plenty of “business decisions” which we can only infer the details of because “We can’t really go into any business details,” (take his word for it there’s nothing interesting going on there).

      Alternatively it’s like having a botnet except the bots are all willing participants rather than compromised machines. He’s even renting out his botnet to other people now to maximise returns.

  17. wyrm4701 says:

    Goons have invaded lots of games, but the reason they’re referred to as ‘Eve’s Goons’ is because it’s the only game they’ve had any success. I miss the days when the Goons were a force united in the joy of overthrowing a corrupt, unreal empire. Now they seem just as sad and tiresome as the people they used to define themselves against. They’ve become boring. It’s too bad, they really were the best thing about Eve for a while.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Phasma Felis says:

    It is fascinating how these guys talk like they’re CEOs of something other than a bunch of pretend space pilots.

  19. Premium User Badge

    Phasma Felis says:

    Clusterfuck Coalition is “not marketing friendly”? Who the fuck are they marketing to that would be offended by that?

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      five year olds?

    • mavu says:

      No, he is talking about actual marketing. The Mittani has a stake in a Kickstarter, publishing a Book about Eve.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      I know, right? What’s he going to do next? Ask all his followers to stop throwing around anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs everywhere?
      The nerve of some people!

      • Machinations says:

        Yeah, why let a comment box pass without some slanderous comments about a large group of people who you don’t know. I guess I have your number, doll.

        • Yglorba says:

          Slander is spoken. In print, it’s libel.

          (Also, in the US, at least, the truth cannot be libel, so there’s that.)

  20. pauleyc says:

    They remind me of Ceasar’s Legion from Fallout New Vegas. Sure, in their case it’s all about having fun in virtual worlds, no real harm done etc. but to me there is a deeply disconcerting – or rather scary – undercurrent in such behaviour.

  21. dare says:

    “They openly aim to make it unpleasant for their opponents to even log into the game.”

    This is not making the game better for anyone. This is just win-at-any-cost bullshit.

  22. ephesus64 says:

    Looking over this, am I the only one who’s actually a little bit uncomfortable? I get that it’s in a game and many people enjoy being antisocial in virtual environments. I just can’t shake the thought that it’s people like this who, in a severe disaster situation, could end up “controlling territory” between me and food or shelter.

    I’m sure goonswarm members would do very well for themselves in the aftermath of a hurricane, but God help everyone else if even a few of them react to lawlessness in reality they way they do in a game.

    • Distec says:

      “Looking over this, am I the only one who’s actually a little bit uncomfortable?”

      Like, did you even glance at the comments?

      • ephesus64 says:

        Unhelpful. At the time I posted, many of the comments were concerns about goons ruining the play experience. Then pragmatists would defend the nihilists with a different opinion about how a platoon of jerks is somehow a force for evolutionary good in the game world. It’s the social psychology of it that bothers me, not the internal issues of another sandbox game.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      At least it’s pretty fitting for a zombie survival sandbox.

      If you’ve ever looked at the ideas of some real-life prepper communities or the zombie fandom in large. That people don’t cooperate in a crisis situation and the one with the most firepower wins.
      The zombie apocalypse fandom and some parts of prepping is often described as a “loosers fantasy” because most fiction pander to exactly that idea (Walking Dead and DayZ as glaring examples).

      • Machinations says:

        Its quite fitting for any apocalyptic scenario in fact. Some of us are apparently blissfully unaware of the violent predator that lurks beneath our civilized surfaces.

        Humans are not a nice species, full stop. We cooperate best in small groups and work well in families also, but beyond this, we are very competitive and the tribalism runs deep.

    • Kala says:

      ” God help everyone else if even a few of them react to lawlessness in reality they way they do in a game.”

      I don’t think there’s a reason to make that connection.
      I’ve been lawless and unethical in video games. Not so much in real life.

  23. dorobo says:

    Bored of eve eh? Not good.. should have opened that door.

  24. iainl says:

    Well, now I know to never buy H1Z1. Yet another attempt at complex inter-player relationships gets brought down to pew-pew.

  25. ribby says:

    Here’s how a zombie survival sandbox could prevent this. Fill it with a lot more zombies, have a good stealth system so that cities are full of loot but equally full of zombies and you have to slowly pick your way through. Then make sure gunshots altert many many zombies. Melee would need tightening up as well, because melee would be preferable to guns in urban areas.

    This would encourage cooperation, or at least discourage a ‘shoot on sight’ approach. It’d be easier to work together to prevent zombies surprising you and if there’s lots of loot in cities then hopefully there’d be enough so that it didn’t feel like you were missing out massively by not killing your ally?

  26. ribby says:

    I know a lot of you find this behavior irritating, but for me having ‘bad guys’ like this to fight against would increase my enjoyment immensely.

    My favorite minecraft experience was on this tiny server that was a recreation of Chernobyl. About 2 other random players and I would make lovely little postapocalyptic settlements, patching up ruined buildings all hickedly-pickeldy. Then griefers started to show up and the mission suddenly became hunting them down and keeping our lovely bases hidden from them for as long as possible. It was great fun.

    • zipdrive says:

      How much fun would have it been had the griefers outnumbered you 5-to-1?

      • Machinations says:

        You respawn, and come back with your own friends?
        Or is that too sensible, and its all about those iddle-biddy feelins?

        If you dont have any, make some?

        See, teaching life skills!

  27. The Great Wayne says:

    The key being : they’re not the bad guys. For the most players I’ve ran into in my EvE online days, they’re a joyful bunch who just like to fuck around.

    You formerly had real “bad guys” in EvE in the place of Band of Brothers, because most of the leaders of this alliance were unbearable elitists neckbeards, and it showed in their ways of interacting and communicating with the rest of the playerbase. The whole “we’re better than you” tend to grow old at one point, and it’s radically different from what Goonswarm advertised, which was something alike “we’re definitely not better than you, but we’ll wreck you nonetheless and have a kick doing it”.

    The Goons can be a pain in the ass, but it’s not to make them feel superior, it’s just to have a laugh or try stuff, like you’d poke at something unknown with a stick just to see what happens and if there’s fun to be had with it.
    The base philosophy is that, ironically – and it’s a huge paradox in itself, especially when it comes to EvE and the Goons – “mmos aren’t serious business” and they’ll deploy tremendous energy on metagaming just to enforce that point.

  28. Guzzleguts says:

    I know it’s called H1Z1, but one zombie???

    On paper, an open-world zombie survival game should be my absolute favourite, but so far the genre seems to be a flimsy cover story for bastard simulators.

    • Tekrunner says:

      7 days to die is an open-world zombie survival game that’s actually about surviving from zombies, so there’s at least one that’s actually about what the name of the genre implies (and it’s quite good).

      • Archonmalantai says:

        Though 7 days to die’s graphics are about as good as origional Ever Quest.. Ahhh the 90s…

    • Machinations says:

      You know some of us enjoy bastardry simulators as akin to real life.

      If you cant take loss of your pixels, how you can handle real loss is beyond me.

      Perhaps I just have perspective, but I enjoy struggle – not victory by default, but the dirty struggles, in the trenches, the politics, the deceit, the hardscrabble plays.

      If one does not handle loss well, as clearly many vocal people here do not, perhaps it is best if you play games where this cannot happen, or even (gasp!) play on a pve server of the same game.

      To each their own, and all that.

  29. corinoco says:

    Does anyone else find the parts about ‘a lot of us are ex-military and ex-Iraq’ just ever so slightly creepy? There are a couple of good doctoral theses on PTSD in this article alone. It’s the age old tale – you train what are essentially impressionable young kids to be trained killers, burn ’em up for a couple of years, then demob them to the civvie street and…. profit? WTF? You’ve got military-trained anti-social psychopaths running loose. Goonswarm is the result.

    How do they ruin a game? Ever had your car keyed? You aren’t hurt, you can still drive you car – but it’s just not the same any more, is it? Not as nice as it once was.

    Goonswarm tried to take over Elite, but clearly didn’t have the ‘blessing’ of the devs, so had to resort to client hacks to give away credits. It was pretty amusing to watch them fail – Elite Dangerous is not a simple FPS or macro-twaddle RTS, you actually have to have skill and reasonably expensive kit to play well. The Code try to take their place – maybe they are Goon-supported; but they are just the same kind of trash, mouthing off about ‘honor’ but being the first to combat log or cry cheat when they get spanked. I never made the connection about ex-mil though; hopefully this keeps PTSD psychopaths safely in their basements instead of out in the streets with AR15s.

    • Heimdall2061 says:

      corinoco, you have a lot to learn about both PTSD and psychopathy. I suggest looking up the definitions as a first step. You also have some pretty goofy ideas about how the military works, but whatever. Just trust me: there are a lot of guys who are in who wouldn’t do something like this, and there are a lot of people who do who weren’t in the military. Dickheads are going to be dickheads.

    • iainl says:

      One of the things I like most about Elite Dangerous is that it seems to have been custom-designed to make it impossible for groups like this to ruin it. Because anyone who thinks they’re being annoying can just form a private group and never see them again, but still have a perfectly good game.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        When I used to read the Elite forums, there was a common refrain of people wanting more stuff to make it more like Eve.

        “Do you want goons,” I always thought, scornfully, “because that’s how you get goons.”

        • Machinations says:

          Elite could use goons, frankly – its boring as all hell.
          It sits with 4 hours played, what a waste of money.

          • Archonmalantai says:

            Yep very true. having a group of 20 people jump you while you are fresh spawned, trying tio get any gear and just group snipe you out.. Then do it again when you respawn, and then blow up what little you made when you escaped their camping the last time, only to get killed when comming back to the burnt ruins… Is fun. So having a football team stomp a baby.. is much fun for the baby by your logic.

          • CubeTruth says:

            Elite has Goons, they’re just different Goons from the ones in EvE. They still practice Goon communism though.
            They were early supporters of Aisling Duval in the powerplay system though most have moved onto the other Duval.

    • Tim the Corsair says:

      You couldn’t be more wrong about CODE in Elite. I’ve fought them and alongside them and they are probably the best sports in the whole game and will absolutely take their licks if they lose.

      The CODE play in-universe bad guys and seem to be genuinely pretty cool people otherwise.

    • Kala says:

      “Does anyone else find the parts about ‘a lot of us are ex-military and ex-Iraq’ just ever so slightly creepy?”

      No.*

      Some of my friends in EVE were ex-military in some way, and were completely lovely people (After that, or maybe tied with, the largest percentile of career people disclosed was working in IT).

      They weren’t reliving combat by killing people over and over again or anything; they just enjoyed the team work, camaraderie and sheer escapism the game provided. Same as me.

      (*Though if I’m honest, I did find the juxtaposition of the military language, ex-military players, and the gunned down unarmed woman a little creepy. But that doesn’t reflect on the player, the game, or the in-game action; it’s just a stark semantic connecting of dots).

      • Kala says:

        Disclosed to me, I mean. In the sense that if people even mentioned their jobs or anything else about their backgrounds. Not attempting to portray that in any other way than anecdotal.

  30. MrUnimport says:

    Good old Smedley, openly inviting players to come and make his game unplayable.

  31. rochrist says:

    Yay. Dicks ruin another game!

    • Cromwell says:

      Full ack. A bunch of assholes and piss cunts. If that Mittani guy would be living near me and if he or his scum try to make their day on my costs, he would soon learn how “real life” PVP could have an impact on his health and his ability giving his genes to woman ;)

      • Machinations says:

        Just logged in to say that’s more than faintly pathetic.

        Also to say not all of RPS are crybaby killjoys, who seem not to realize there are PvE servers out there where no-one can kick over your sandcastles, and that us well-adjusted adults (with rather extensive real-time demands) actually enjoy the competition and loss.

        Toodles.

        • chris1479 says:

          Your armchair general posturing and poncy theorising on whatever passes through your ignorant head is far worse than what you’re criticising him for.

        • chris1479 says:

          Your armchair general posturing and poncy theorising on whatever passes through your ignorant head is far worse than what you’re criticising him for..

  32. evenflowjimbo says:

    I like the part where they were getting their butts kicked, and so they call them hacker and basically turned the tide to themselves.

    Favoritism is grand in any online games .. is it not?

    I mean, I know it’s really fun to play on a server in Rust where the owner’s group gets everything and kills on sight.

    That’s sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much fun.

  33. Cromwell says:

    One reason why I don’t play that game anymore. It is really a heroes deed to kill the unarmed, just starting players…
    In my opinion those fcukheads are ball less with small dicks and some sort of erectional dysfunction.
    Well done…

  34. chris1479 says:

    Same antisocial wasters who ruined DayZ Standalone as well as the mod. If you want to flatout murder every single person who is not on your team go and play CS:GO and stop crapping on everyone else’s lawn and acting like it’s original or funny instead of tedious and antisocial.

    DayZ is a perfect example / parallel to this antisocial behaviour. The game is tremendously deep and has a huge crafting system that means making a full suit and kit of crafted gear could take you days and yet one silent and probably micless jerk can just end it without even dignifying the interaction with a few grunts or holding you up like a bandit rather than murdering you. Crafting and PVE is half the game but is forced into 1% of the game because the other 99% of the game must be spent outright avoiding every other living entity because – inexplicably – it is vitally important that they slaughter you and waste your time.

    I am 100% ok with threat and loss in a game. I am not ok with people going out of their way to the extent of using real life funding for the specific purpose of wrecking a game for other people. The only acceptable response to these kinds of people is to immediately disengage and play something else. If they want to do this kind of thing let them do it alone, much like Everquest 2 and the hacker server where cheaters are banished permanently to play with other cheaters.

    It is antisocial. Accept that.