Archive for February, 2011

Dear CCP :: Please Investigate Keybinding Lag

Posted in User Interface on February 26, 2011 by Easley Thames

CCP, the release of Incursion has brought many welcome changes. For example, I am a big fan of the group-weapons button. This feature can save time when grouping weapons, and helps avoid a major disaster if your guns burn-out and have to be quickly  un-grouped.

There is only one thing I noticed with the initial release, using F-keys for module activation has been buggy and unreliable. I encounter problems most often in those life-or-death moments where I jump into a gate camp and every second truly matters.

For example, I recently encountered a camp with 2 T3 cruisers, 3 BC and one probing cov-ops while in my shield cane. All but 1 BC were aggressed and in my system (some on-gate with me, some on another gate in system).  When I jumped-through I was met with a lone an armor brutix and saw another cane on scan.

I decloaked 18 km off the Brutix, pressed F1 (for my mwd) and hit align to a celestial in front me (away from the gate not towards the brutix). I was hoping he would gcc stupidly and I could melt him with gate guns on my side before his help arrived. If he was strongly buffered my plan was to warp  away, but experience told me I could test his tank and might get lucky here.

He not only GCC’d but caught me! I had to mash the MWD key a dozen times before it activated and by then the brutix was half way up to top-speed and landed an over-heated scram when he neared top-speed before I could hit 1/4th maximum speed with my MWD on. He was able to catch me because the mwd was not responding to the F1 key input (where it was bound) as it has so many other times.

I didn’t have any drones in this engagement because I lost them earlier and, even fighting the blaster brutix + other late-comers, I took him to low armor. He was indeed armor tanked, and if I could have started the fight by kiting while pouring some barrage into his hull before switching to close-ranged ammo when he invariably tried to break-off pursuit I would have taken it fairly easily even with his late-comer allies.

Taking him a distance off the gate before they arrived was the key, and it wasn’t possible because my module failed to activate the way it always has for the last 5 years.

This is still a rather new keyboard (about 6 months)  and I have no problems with the f-keys in other applications. I cleaned it just to be sure and if it’s an electrical problem it isn’t manifesting in any other game as far as I can tell. I’ve had this keyboard since before Incursion and it worked fine then.

My standard procedure is to use the F-keys for most of my modules. I am quicker if I use the overview for navigation with my fingers already on the MWD (or AB, cloak, ecm burst, etc.)

I wrote it off at first as my own fat-fingered ineptitude, but I’ve been testing it and the issue is happening consistently. Other pilots have told me the same thing, some after I asked and some have brought it up on their own. I don’t think this is an imagined problem.

After jumping through a gate, being able to activate key modules instantly is crucial when re-approaching or burning off. Being able to cloak on the first press of the button is also something that HAS to work right, or else you die in embarrassing ways. Mashing the cloak button isn’t an option, it will end up de-cloaking you. We MUST have accurate and responsive keyboard controls.

I’ve taken a couple incredibly silly losses due to what seems to be an entirely new delay associated with key-bound activation of modules.

The work-around for now is to use the mouse. Clicking modules seems to work as before. The problem is I am so accustomed to being able to use the mouse for navigation and targeting, having to go back to being a “clicker” is not fun for me.

The pejorative connotations of the term “clicker” are lesser in Eve than other MMOs, since reaction time is often de-emphasized in Eve, but for those of us who like to fly without a safety net, it’s very important that the game responds in a predictable way.

I hope that CCP will investigate this issue.

Advertisements

About This Blog

Posted in Uncategorized on February 19, 2011 by Easley Thames

With a large number of new people subscribing for updates here, I thought I might say a few words about why I started this blog.

I have always been fond of blogging. Blogs have played a role at times in my professional life, and I have at least a dozen personal interest blogs bookmarked on my phone for casual toilet reading.

I had been thinking about starting an Eve-related blog a couple years before I actually went through with it.

Around the time -MVN- was having very memorable experiences pirating around in Domain, it occurred to me that I would forget half of these incredible stories if I never wrote them down.

Regretting never blogging about my experiences with -MVN- in various alliances or as a pirate, when I came back to Eve after a period of inactivity, I was inspired to finally get started by PK’s blog.

I had planned to blog about killing people who spent hours smack talking us before getting caught the next day in their freighter. Stuff like that.

When I was new to Eve, I greatly enjoyed Eve Pirate and the stories by TRAPS leader Nexa Necis in particular. Those were the kind of stories I originally intended to blog about.

However, I ended up starting my blog right in the midst of Max 2.0, which drew -MVN- away from small-gang warfare into the domain of uber-blobs.

My early posts were often about major battles, but I did occasionally discuss scouting, small-gang tactics and some rather enjoyable U.S. timezone ops (where Doom, -MVN- and various Init Corps had some good times together).

I had participated with MVN in the first MAX, which was more successful, but even then we had some mixed experiences.

On one hand there were some epic fights back then. On the other hand, Yaay was FCing GBC fleets and getting us horribly owned over and over again (and then yelling at us about it).

 

There are a few other things I wanted to note in regarding recent events.

First off, I am happy that people felt my recent posts were especially worthy of being linked on their respective corp / alliance sites and a wide range of social media & social news pages.

Whenever I post, I always see new inbound links from a variety of forums and other blogs, but recently they’ve been coming from all sorts of places.

Here is a snapshot of a busy day’s referral traffic (those who followed links here) from a couple weeks ago:

Regarding Eve News 24, whenever there are sufficiently relevant posts here they reach an even broader audience on that site as well.

EN24 seems to be making a good faith effort to expand the number of perspectives from nearly exclusively NC and PL players to include others, and I’m happy to contribute.

Much more fun than the hit-count has been the level of discussion.With players from every side of the map weighing in, I feel honored to have briefly amused (or angered) some of you.

So, item number two…

Could Have Taken It Solo may be getting a face-lift. The current theme I use was exactly what I had in mind when I was looking for a template.

Unfortunately, there are issues with the format, and I don’t like the way it handles some of my chosen widgets. I am evaluating switching themes.

(I know no one gives a shit so I’ll get to the point)

Part of the change involves updating the banner, and I’m interested in a new banner. I would consider paying ISK for something I really love, but pro bono work is preferred since I’m not much for making isk and rarely have much.

If anyone wants to discuss working on a banner, get in touch with me in-game.

 

In conclusion, this blog will remain a journal of my in-game experiences above all-else. I want to leave a record for myself, and I enjoy the process of writing each entry. If anyone else enjoys it, that’s a bonus to me.

I am not writing for a specific audience. I post from a certain perspective, which is unavoidable, but I always write about events as I see them. I think my track record so far has been brutally honest and I suspect that is part of the reason people enjoy reading my entries.

In the future I will continue to provide first-hand battle reports, insight into events I have a connection to, and occasionally a little editorial on 0.0 politics or game design.

Thanks for reading and commenting. I have enjoyed blogging here for the last 9 months, and I hope everyone continues to find this site amusing from time to time.

-ET

An Offer We Couldn’t Refuse

Posted in Against All Authorities, Corporate Management, Roaming on February 15, 2011 by Easley Thames

With IT Alliance in stasis, adrift and losing corps at an alarming rate, -MVN- recently moved into Curse. Our only goals coming in were to enjoy flying together and pick fights.

I am a big fan of the Curse region, and I recommended a constellation that I felt would provide everything we needed in a new playground.

On my first roam with the corp in Curse, I caught and nearly solo’d an Orca before being so generous as to invite the rest of the gang to jump in and whore the mail. They caught a Loki earlier in the day, and as more people moved in, the number of gangs was steadily increasing.

While I would be fine never joining a sov-holding alliance again, it wouldn’t be the preference of most of the corp, so inevitably we would be going somewhere new if IT didn’t start to show signs of life again.

Despite many good offers from other alliances, our plan was to stay in Curse for a significant amount of time.

Not only were we unwilling to seriously consider any offers while IT still stood some chance of fighting back, but we also wanted to do our own thing for a bit.

Even with RKK CEO Argentina announcing we would not try to protect our remaining space, all of the officers agreed that there should be no rush to join a new alliance.

Things changed suddenly when our ideal offer came along.

One of Avi’s connections indicated that there was a possibility for us to join someone whom we respected. We would be taking over systems we have always wanted back since they were lost to us years ago in IAC. Most importantly, we would be staying in the South close to all the action we want to be a part of.

I wanted us to stay in Curse for a while, but this offer makes it possible to play in Curse without losing the benefits of holding sovereignty.

The Maverick Navy will be joining Against All Authorities and living in Catch.

The problem with choosing a new alliance was not a lack of offers, or even a lack of good offers, it was the lack of places we would fit-in with and could be proud of.

AAA provides a best of all worlds arrangement for us, and we are excited to come aboard and devote our efforts to supporting them to the best of our ability.

We joined with a minor condition, that we would not be required to be directly involved in purging IT infrastructure. I admit it would be somewhat fun to bulldoze certain constellations, but the rest of AAA can do that without us anyway since IT has already said it will not fight for its remaining space.

Individual Mavericks can get involved with any ops they want, but we’re not forcing our members to shoot IT stations/infrastructure.

Why Didn’t You Join XYZ/ABC/123 Alliance?

(1) The NC was not an option. The lack of proximity to hostile alliances makes roaming more of a chore than it should be when you have NC standings. We also don’t want to sit around waiting for a single brave alliance to assault our coalition before blobbing them into the stone age. The NC is the most effective coalition in Eve’s history, and I’m not saying the individual alliances are all bad, but this just isn’t a viable option for us.

(2) The GSF/TEST coalition is slightly more promising than living up North, but also not an option for this corp. The Southwest might be a fairly busy area in the future, and it would be great to be part of a U.S. coalition for once in our lifetime as a corporation, but there are too many barriers to this happening. There is too much irrational hatred between those entities and most of our grunts. Even if these alliances were open to it, our corp would freak out at working with, “goonie scum.”

(3) The Drone regions didn’t get any serious consideration. The only thing exciting about joining would be the chance to potentially invade the NC from the east, but that isn’t enough to make us want to live in drone space. The East has some strong alliances but it just wouldn’t feel like home.

(4) PL was briefly discussed, but we knew it wasn’t realistic. We would have to kick 90% of our members and go terrorize some poor pet alliance for months to get the requisite street cred, and even then it probably wouldn’t make up for the stain of being ex-IT in the eyes of PL corps.

(5) Providence was a somewhat interesting option. NCdot and Evoke are currently stomping CVA, and the addition of around 800 ex-IT players from the reformed BNC corp + DICE should make this even more imbalanced. At this stage, there isn’t much of an attraction in helping to pacify Provi into an NBSI wasteland, even though I must admit I get a little satisfaction in seeing Aralis buried time and again due to his personal interpretation of how CVA should operate.

Why Was AAA So Appealing?

(1) The Location: Our corp functions better with some of its own systems. Not everyone can embrace a nomad’s life the way I do. The location we are moving into is ideal for both indys and combat pilots.

Combat pilots get proximity to Curse, Providence, low-sec Amarr empire systems, and IT space (which we are hoping will become a thunder-dome soon) among other great spots for pvp. They can also run anomalies with less risk than in NPC 0.0 systems to replace lost ships.

Indy pilots get incredibly easy logistics to empire, security, and profitable space to use. Our indy wing is also undergoing an overhaul that will have major advantages for the corp and its members.

(2) Their Politics: AAA is a southern power with a southern mindset. AAA has historically had more than enough targets to roam or invade. There are times when they had a fair number of allies, like last year’s invasion of the NC, but they at least value the concept of avoiding unnecessary standings.

(3) Strength, Willpower, and Good Allies: AAA proved they had the dedication to retake their space and impressed us in the Catch campaign. AAA also has good allies who support it when needed. The overall “Stainwagon” coalition has shown itself to be formidable and dedicated. This coalition consistently punches above its weight.

(4) Their Culture: When our representatives were on comms with the AAA people to discuss things there was laughter. It generally seemed like we would all get along very well. People with sticks up their butt are no fun and we’re somewhat tired of those types. The AAA leadership we’ve met with are chill guys who like to roam around and shoot people.

(5) A Familiar Mission for MVN: While AAA doesn’t have a strong U.S. timezone yet, we have a great opportunity to once again step up and make things happen. Since AAA has a very energized EU timezone, our Euros will have no problem staying active in the period where we have less leadership online. They might want to brush up on some Russian though.

IT Alliance :: Administrative Shutdown In Effect

Posted in Alliance Leadership, IT Alliance on February 11, 2011 by Easley Thames

I have had some mails asking about whether IT is disbanding. I saw EN 24 posted something about this, so I just wanted to clarify what is actually going on.

RKK CEO Argentina announced to the alliance that February 10th would be the last day of “administrative functions” for IT Alliance until further notice.

While this sounds rather underwhelming, it’s an official declaration of some very serious changes:

1) The alliance will officially not be fighting for its remaining space.

While we haven’t had anything planned recently, this essentially does away with the uncertainty for some people who were still hoping to fight back. Roams are encouraged to pass the time.

2) Reimbursements are no longer offered for any ship losses.

This is only logical since there are no more official/reimbursable operations. Reimbursements owed up until the 10th will be paid out as usual.

3) Alliance leadership is officially on hiatus.

This means all issues should be handled on a corp level until there is some kind of reorganization after the evacuation.

Many corps are “doing their own thing” now in various corners of Eve, so I think this is another intuitive order.

4) Anyone who hasn’t moved everything to low-sec or NPC 0.0 should hurry up and do so now.

All IT corps took care of this long ago. Truthfully, I thought the NC would be here camping pipes and incapacitating bridges much sooner. Their lackadaisical approach and choice to finish Fountain first made it a cinch to get out every last asset.

[And yes, I know, Evolution lost some freighters, but it wasn’t to Clusterfuck/NC, it was just a smart gank by an unrelated party].

Argentina’s Post for Reference —

Before I mention anything else, I just want to say that I love the RKK duck signatures. :cultural victory:

Now for where the clarification is needed. This announcement does not mean IT Alliance will be disbanding.

The alliance will remain open, and those who want to stay can stay. I do not know if there are concrete plans for the future yet, but there have been some efforts to make it easier for a future regroup if and when that ever happens.

Unlike the fall of Kenzoku, this time around the GBC breakup has been fairly ugly with several corps leaving with a strong distaste for the leadership of other corps.

It speaks volumes that there are dozens of familiar faces in other corps re-subbing now that the war is lost, simply because they won’t have to deal with people they hated in the alliance anymore.

A great deal of good will between IT corps has been lost since we reconquered our space, and I think it would take very strong leadership to bring a majority of the GBC elements under the same banner again.

At a bare minimum, some time will be needed to shake off the baggage from the last 3 months.

Down the road, I wouldn’t rule out a revival, but the chances of getting back the corps that have already left in the near-term future seem slim-to-none.

I was not surprised when IT was formed. Everyone, wanted revenge after BoB was disbanded and Kenzoku got dog-piled. This time, IT Alliance killed itself more than any particular hostile group, so I don’t know if the same strong motivation is there to reform.

That said, if it were any other group I would be far more doubtful. Ex-BoB and GBC corps have a way staying connected even after shattering defeats.

It will be interesting to see where each IT corp ends up. So far, Dark Rising and The Executives are the only ex-IT corps not to join a new alliance. The Executives just left, while Dark had been out since the early days of the Fountain invasion.

Other ex-IT corps seem to be joining new alliances together in pairs. Finfleet & X13 joined Raiden together, and now DICE + BNC are joining NorthernCoalitionDOT.

I do not know for sure who is staying long-term in the alliance at this point. Another week or two to allow the dust to settle is needed before taking an official “head count” of who is still around.

Alliance Communication Strategy :: An Introduction

Posted in Alliance Leadership, Corporate Management on February 9, 2011 by Easley Thames

Communication is a basic and essential behavior in communities of all sizes. Despite this fact, there are glaring differences between the way leaders in Eve Online choose to communicate: both externally and within their own organizations.

I have been fascinated by the importance of communication in Eve for a long time. This is my first attempt to compose my thoughts on the topic of alliance leadership & communication.

Here, instead of focusing on specific examples, my emphasis is merely on setting forth a general introduction to the importance and practice of communications from the position of an alliance leader.

INTERNAL COMMUNICATION

There are many ways to communicate internally. Some alliances do a monthly or weekly meeting, while others simply post orders for the rank and file to comply with.

In general, I think alliances in Eve should avoid implementing any form of direct democracy, but members shouldn’t feel terrified to make suggestions either. The correct balance depends on the circumstances surrounding a particular discussion.

If things are going badly, members will look for guidance and reassurance. When things are going well, you don’t have to deliver fire-side chats quite so often.

Regardless of HOW leaders announce their plans to members, the medium is often just as important as the message. There is something markedly different about alliances that use graphics, videos and songs when conveying messages.

Having a creative side to your message can help you play up the humor in a simple brag-post (perhaps after a victory) and alliances with a strong overall “brand” (of which message and creative material is a part) tends to make your alliance more cohesive.

Compared to those who lazily type out a few lines of text, alliance leaders who can tap into a shared culture (even something shallow like a catch phrase or image theme) will get much greater results.

Further complicating the problem are the issues of “encoding” and “decoding” a message. Using images pulled at random are less effective than ones that are familiar to your audience. In other words, the most effective communication comes after taking steps to build a relationship with the membership.

I am going to reference (http://web.njit.edu/~lipuma/352comproc/comproc.htm) repeatedly to introduce some basic theory from marketing 101.

For reference, here is a brief introduction to business communication theory:

The communication process is made up of four key components. Those components include encoding, medium of transmission, decoding, and feedback.

[…]

In order to convey meaning, the sender must begin encoding, which means translating information into a message in the form of symbols that represent ideas or concepts. This process translates the ideas or concepts into the coded message that will be communicated. The symbols can take on numerous forms such as, languages, words, or gestures. These symbols are used to encode ideas into messages that others can understand.

This symbolism is evident in numerous, successful alliances. The Goons with their bees (and now Frogs?) or the NC with their rainbows and carebear dolls are examples of this. When a bee is stinging a clown to death, that’s an encoded message.

However, the extent to which members relate to (and understand) a message will depend on several factors.

After the appropriate channel or channels are selected, the message enters the decoding stage of the communication process. Decoding is conducted by the receiver.

[…]

The receiver is the individual or individuals to whom the message is directed. The extent to which this person comprehends the message will depend on a number of factors, which include the following: how much the individual or individuals know about the topic, their receptivity to the message, and the relationship and trust that exists between sender and receiver.

All interpretations by the receiver are influenced by their experiences, attitudes, knowledge, skills, perceptions, and culture. It is similar to the sender’s relationship with encoding.

When does a gimmick seem stupid or a diversion from important events? When you’ve lost faith in your leadership.

The message will not be effective, no matter how clear, if the relationship between a leader and his members has been degraded sufficiently.

This implies that, when attacking an alliance on a psychological level, it is wise to destroy the image of their leaders first.

If you insult pilots directly, they’ll stand up for themselves. If you give them someone else to blame for their defeats, human nature will lead to finger-pointing.

That is why strong internal communication is necessary to dispell misinformation and rumors as soon as possible.

Beyond playing defense, alliances should have strong messages that have a positive influence on membership pride and trust. Don’t let others define your organization from the outside!

Finally, a major part of internal communication – and the area that differs the most from communication with those outside your corp/alliance – feedback.

Feedback is the final link in the chain of the communication process. After receiving a message, the receiver responds in some way and signals that response to the sender.

[…]

“Even a lack of response, is in a sense, a form of response” (Bovee & Thill, 1992). Without feedback, the sender cannot confirm that the receiver has interpreted the message correctly.

Feedback is a key component in the communication process because it allows the sender to evaluate the effectiveness of the message. Feedback ultimately provides an opportunity for the sender to take corrective action to clarify a misunderstood message.

“Feedback plays an important role by indicating significant communication barriers: differences in background, different interpretations of words, and differing emotional reactions” (Bovee & Thill, 1992).

Effectively communicating requires a safe-cracker’s ear. You can’t simply churn out information in a one-way stream.

Even if you do not want to engender democratic practices (and I don’t feel Eve CEOs should to any significant extent) it is essential that a leader LISTENS.

Not only does turning a deaf ear to feedback prevent you from effectively adjusting your message, it is flat-out aggrivating at times!

Key members, valuable corporations, and even entire alliances have changed sides because someone simply failed to listen to their feedback.

EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION  — PART ONE: PROPAGANDA

As far as MMO’s go, Eve Online stands alone in terms of the use of propaganda by players. It really adds something to this gaming community that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Sure, there are terabytes of WoW-related guild machinima and other videos / blogs / news sites. However, there really isn’t a need for players to attempt to influence each other in a way that can impact in-game PvP.

When I was a noob running missions in empire, videos like Stahlgren’s classic Goonswarm campaign records opened my eyes to the world of 0.0 warfare. I know their newbie drives added many fresh pilots every year, and this has clearly impacted the balance of power in 0.0 over the years.

Recently, Goonswarm Federation took back the title of largest alliance with a whooping 88 corps. Most members are concentrated in the massive GoonWaffe corporation, but “pubbie” corps are a large part of the alliance, and many of those pubbies were drawn in by the successful forms of communication that have become inextricably linked to Goon culture in Eve (and other MMOs).

Band of Brothers has had some good propaganda over the years, including the “Relentless” video of great notoriety a few years back. While newer players likely have no recollection of such events, the circumstances surrounding BoB’s alamo-like stand at that time were impressive to say the least, and stand in stark contrast with the current situation in Delve.

Unlike BoB, IT Alliance was simply not successful in creating propaganda, managing its image, or even releasing your run-of-the mill fleet pvp videos on a regular basis.

This was the first thing we put out as an alliance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AY7ysblqhM&feature=related. I will leave you to judge for yourself how effective this clip is compared to what Lofty and Stahlgren produced.

Since IT has imploded before a major challenge in Delve, I thought I’d share some -MVN- propaganda we had cooked up for the siege. A few examples were also included above, and in my previous post.

Enjoy the shameless pic dump:

By Janos Vaas

By Captain Sonic

By Cugel Iocounu

By Janos Vaas

As a quick note to Popsikle and other MVN Artists not featured in any posts: Most of your work would break Word Press rules against NSFW images. I don’t want to get anyone fired over pics of Avi and Mittani shopped onto gay porn, erotic as they may be.

EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION — PART TWO: HUMILITY, HUMANITY, AND… HUGS

Those who spew forth nothing but propaganda when communicating publicly become pariahs, or mere things of amusement at best. They lose the potential to be credible sources of information.

I think all of the best known CAOD-posting heroes might fall into this category. Sensible posters looking to discuss in-game events rarely bother with that forum anymore. It has become the default presumption that anything posted on CAOD is a troll until proven otherwise.

How can you persuade anyone if you are only seen as a dishonest or delusional? Remember that your credibility factors into how your audience will “decode” a message from you.

Public relations is a term that gets thrown around alot, usually by people who don’t understand it or do very much of it. If you really want to have a relationship with the public, you need to do more than lie (or exaggerate) when communicating with them.

If your entire “PR” department is limited to creating propaganda, you have already failed in a sense.

There is something to be said for “un-marketing” in Eve.

Being a relateable human being and engaging in communication not related to “serious business” can be one way to do this.

Truthfully, it shouldn’t be a purposeful or conscious decision to do this. You should simply allow yourself to be something other than a caricature of yourself when representing your alliance publicly.

Humility: In some ways, Test Alliance Please Ignore might embody this fairly closely. They are the 2007 Goons, before all the un-ironic smugness crept in.

Finally, “hugs.” I think that a little bit of respect for others is important. Expressing it at times can help you keep friends around for when those ties will really count.

Alliances with strong allies can rebound from a devastating event more easily for at least two reasons: (1) Others can step in for you directly and prevent your collapse, or (2) they can at least offer you a couch to crash on while you recover.

If you try to shoulder everything alone, your alliance will fall as soon as you’re unable to deal with even one major crisis.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Effective communication can take on many forms. While there is sound theory that can guide a leader along the way, it isn’t so important to follow a recipe that he or she should ignore inspiration or the desire for originality.

What makes certain alliances truly great is not their moon revenue, territory, or the size of their titan fleet on any given day. Those things can all be taken away by your members at any time if they decide to do so; not to mention your enemies.

What make an alliance great is uniqueness. As long as you offer some particular kind of identity and experience, there will always be people who simply “fit” there.

Sensitive Dependence On Initial Conditions

Posted in IT Alliance on February 5, 2011 by Easley Thames

With IT Alliance spiraling into oblivion, it’s only proper to look back and try to trace our steps to where it all went wrong.

In a sense, IT Alliance was formed with a specific mission in mind: taking back the space that was lost when BoB was disbanded. IT succeeded in that mission because participation was high, leadership was active, there was a clear goal, and we also had some exceptional fortune along the way to aid us in conquest (both in Fountain and Delve).

With our space restored, some time was set aside for empire building, but soon things got dull. Until Max 2.0, IT was asleep. There were not enough ops being run to maintain cohesion and keep up participation. This period wasn’t all bad though, making ISK and building supers helped us stay ahead of the curve when the super-capital buff came along, but many of them became personal toys that didn’t ever see much fighting.

When Max 2.0 happened, we slow-played our invasion, and our own players started to get bored. Instead of going for a blitzkrieg in coordination with our allies, it was a gradual invasion, and we ended up working independently. This allowed the NC to out-blob each enemy fleet as they came.

When we finally made a serious move in H-W, the plan drawn-up by Manny and Perseus was implemented wrong by Molle, who inexplicably started things off at the end of a weekend instead of the beginning. This made a huge difference and favored the home team.  When H-W became a perma-camp with many friendly super capitals trapped in system, relations with -A- and Atlas were strained to say the least.

After Max 2.0, confidence in IT plummeted. Our public stock was trading at an all time low, and internally people had serious problems with the way the campaign was conducted. Many also blamed our allies, some with good reason, but certainly we deserved a large share of the blame.

The NC showed the world that they were a far cry from the days of the original Max campaign, and we were – quite frankly – an underwhelming invader even with the best coalition the South has (and likely will) ever muster due the Southern cultural proclivity against building super-coalitions.

After Max 2.0, the seeds of our downfall had been planted. We had already achieved our mission to retake the homeland, and it was established that we could not wipe out the NC. What purpose remained for us?

IT’s imminent downfall has taught me that even small events can influence players in a way that spreads quickly, gaining force and momentum like a snowball that turns into a violent avalanche. Indeed, a huge part of the problem was that IT’s top-level leadership were too focused on BIG EVENTS to do the small things that make an alliance feel like a fun gaming community worth fighting for.

In the face of ever-growing opposition from the northern collective and their allies, there was an extent to which our troubles were beyond our control long before any corps left IT Alliance. The game has never seen a coalition as vast as the current “Extended NC Family” (old NC + Clusterfuck) and there is no clear sign that they will ever consider a reset or NIP arrangement so long as even one other alliance holds sov somewhere on the map.

And yet, despite the numbers difference, I don’t think there is a single person in IT that feels we fought back to our full potential. After all, paper numbers mean little when there are hostile alliances bringing only 20 people to major ops on average out of their 1000 members. What matters is morale & who wants to win more. That’s the key. A big part of sustaining morale is actually having fun in the process.

Needless to say, people in this alliance DID notice issues along the way. They brought them up, offered solutions, and were often met with silence or a couple empty posts full of posturing.

In the (defensive) Fountain campaign, which is now at an end, there were several FC meetings where profanity flew freely. Both sides of an argument would leave teamspeak channels pissed off and full of nerd-rage. That’s a sign of internal issue that are not being addressed by the high-level leadership.

The question people in IT have been asking recently is simply, “What can we do at this point?”

We can certainly fight and face the coming siege of Delve. I don’t see any reason why a well-motivated IT Alliance + friends (even without X13 and Finfleet) couldn’t make it interesting for several months if we had wanted to. Alternatively, we can just bail and take whatever isn’t tied down with us.

It seems many corps are going to cut out the posturing and leave. At the time of writing this, BNC + DICE + SUITS have publicly announced they will be following Dark + X13 and Finfleet.

This still leaves some of the more determined corps behind, but our fleet strength will be diminished beyond the point where it will be possible to field a large enough BS fleet to challenge hostiles over infrastructure. We will likely be confined to bombers and other gangs suited to hit-and-run tactics.

-MVN- is not among those who have left, and we will not be leaving until the end as long as Avi is calling the shots. However, as is only prudent, our pilots have been mitigating their risk by spreading out assets.

I think it would be fair to say that most IT Alliance assets are in NPC Delve/Fountain or in low-sec currently. When you have to resort to such measures, it’s never a good sign.

A few weeks ago, I could have honestly said that I felt we had a small chance to somehow hold the line. Perhaps at Y-2 or 5-C. Unfortunately, the loss of another wave of corporations puts us well past any measure of reasonable hope of winning.

I do not think there can be any question at this point that the alliance will be handing over sov without  making much of a fuss. A recent Kugu thread suggests one corp even tried to sell their space and others are trying to get in on selling off infrastructure/sov. I have no idea if it’s true, but I don’t see why anyone would pay for what will be free in the near-future.

-MVN- will be there for this last chapter of IT, but I would by lying if I said I’m expecting there to be any effective opposition to the legions that will inevitably descend. Bombers and small gangs, sure, but I wouldn’t expect to see many IT Maelstrom fleets up. Here’s hoping our scorch bombs strike true and hard.

Again the question arises, how did we fall so far that corps aren’t even staying to make a last stand in Delve?

Dissent, division, and a lack of clarity in purpose set forth by the leadership are the opposite of what a successful alliance needs when facing a larger enemy coalition.


I have waited a long time (out of respect to my corp) to write about what was wrong with IT.

Small indignities from arrogant has-been members of “old-BoB” corps that hardly run any ops of their own, baseless pride from untalented nobodies who were put into positions of power, and the pervasive sense of superiority over far more active and vibrant alliances: all of these things have I endured (mostly) silently.

Almost as bad as the culture in IT was the resistance to improving our fleet doctrine, which had changed little since 2007 by the time we were fighting the second Max campaign in 2010. It took many threads and conversations to get this alliance to open up to new ideas after our defeat up North, some of which (like bombers) we never perfected by our FCs, despite their incredible potential to influence large-scale fights.

Our fleet doctrine, for a very long time, was based around using long range “sniper” battleships with “mid-range” battle-cruisers providing anti-support fire against tackle & dictors. Flying anything else  was sacrilege to some, and it took far too long for this to change.

The biggest change came when a Finfleet member was appointed (by what process I have no idea) to revise our fleet doctrine. Gery Zon devised a Shield BS fleet composed principally of Arty Maelstroms, Pulse-Apocs and HML Drakes w/ e-war. The Drakes were later replaced with tracking disruptor scorpions.

We were bringing Maelstroms en-masse well before the enemy because we were constantly going up against drakes. Having superior range and high-alpha to counter logistics was the prefect recipe for dead battle-cruisers. The pulse apocs were initially included as a counter against a-hacs, which were FOTM among NC and PL gangs, and the apocs could also melt any light support that came near us during the fighting. When the BS were in close range, apocs were the top damage dealers, although heavy lag was more favorable to maelstroms.

Drakes were mostly there for e-war support and – honestly – those who couldn’t fly a proper battleship.Time and again, we had far too many drakes, but after weeks of yelling at people the maelstrom numbers rose significantly. Adding a non-T2 gun setup to the reimbursement list was also a big part of that.

The high-alpha was a strong counter to logistics, which were seeing greater use both with A-HAC fleets and drake blobs. Overall, it wasn’t a bad fleet doctrine, though I felt we should have stopped allowing drakes and apocs eventually.

For all its flaws, IT Alliance was not a joke. If you put IT up against an alliance with an equal number of pilots without allowing either to bring help, I think IT would win more often than not. Our problem was more complex than simply being too arrogant or too slow to change tactics.

I think many people would say diplomacy has actually been our weakest point. Bobby Atlas and Manny blamed Molle for failing to orchestrate a successful campaign in the North. Much like an unsuspecting sophomore who agrees to go to prom with the captain of the football team, they said they were rushed and weren’t ready when the big night came along, but that they were forced anyway.

I don’t want to harp on the H-W debacle, which I mentioned above, but this was the move that effectively ended any hope of working with Atlas in particular in future campaigns. I think this might be one of those “tipping points” that could be singled out in the story of our demise.

Others might point to Syndicate, where we retallited against an “enemy of my enemy” over a few moons that we didn’t really need. By driving off Evoke, we cleared the way for Test/GSF to expand into Cloud Ring.

Personally, I think everything was still in salvageable condition until PL attacked AAA. I will admit that I laughed, and made no attempt to help them. Supporting Initiative seemed the best course of action at the time.

In hindsight, we could probably have pressured Initiative to join us in defending AAA, and thereby earned-back a powerful ally. I think Blaster Worm essentially asked Molle to do this and was ignored, but I can’t confirm that. The problem was that AAA seemed worthless back then, and we also held a grudge from their half-hearted participation in Max 2.0.

Later, AAA would be renewed and reborn by this crushing defeat. They rose like a phoenix and assaulted Initiative systems countless times, showing impressive determination. Much like IT Alliance, retaking their space was a clear goal that resonated with the members.

Facing a war on two fronts, the top-level leadership in IT Alliance had to make a choice very early in this war. It was a simple decision, but it set the stage for many of our current problems, both internally and as a result of the impact on our enemies.

In late 2010, Initiative was feeling the blow-back from conquering more space than it ever really wanted. AAA had gone from being a sleeping bear to an active force, and they had significant backup from their oldest allies.

During this time, Fountain was being invaded by the “Western” NC alliances (later identifying as the “Deklein Coalition,” and today as the “Clusterfuck”) while the Eastern NC was occupied with the drone region residents and PL.

After being picked on by elite small-gang PvP groups like GK inc, the Fountain alliances had a weak public image, and internal morale was dampened significantly. Despite this, I have always felt our weaker allies were really no worse than any “guests” in the NC. I’m not saying they were amazing, but it was simply a mis-match for them to face the Goon-lead coalition without IT involved.

All coalitions have their major and minor powers, and the Fountain war was for quite a long time a one-sided fight between GSF/WI/TEST (major NC powers and 3 of the largest alliances in-game) and only minor powers (Blade, Talos, Blast, Hun) from the IT block.

In contrast, Init were in the big boys club by this point, with their own minor powers and indeed even renters within their orbit. Though they may have deserved “major power” status, Init + Initiative Mercenaries and friendly neighbor Sys-K were still not a match for the enemies they faced, and were slowly losing ground.

IT leadership faced two questions: (1) Should we divide forces and fight both fronts? (2) If not, which front do we deal with first?

The conclusion was that we would handle Catch first, with full force, and then regroup in Fountain to repair whatever damage was done. This decision caused major fallout internally, to say the least, and it would ultimately prove impossible to put the genie back in the bottle.

[As a quick note: This following is as accurate a depiction as I can give from my personal knowledge and conversations with people who were present at the time these decisions were made, but I don’t claim to be infallible or omniscient. I welcome any corrections.]

Dark Rising left IT over a combination of the Fountain issue and some long-standing grievances I am not sufficiently knowledgeable about to elaborate upon. Dark was responsible for the part of Fountain that was first to come under assault, and the loss of several key Fountain jump bridges due to improper preparation for their departure was a very real disadvantage. Perhaps even more important was the lack of a presence of “locals” from IT to set timers and generally provide a direct envoy to Fountain alliances with their home-constellation alts while the alliance was fully-deployed to Catch.

With drama brewing at a CEO level, RKK either limited its deployment or flat-out refused to participate in Catch. I believe it was limited to sub-capitals, but it could have been a flat-out refusal later on (I’m happy to see a comment clarifying it from RKK on this issue).

This defiance infuriated our lead FCs in the European timezone (most notably The Supremacy and Nuker Payback from X13). Later on this would lead X13 (a super-capital-heavy corp with strong E.U. timezone leadership) and Finfleet (the corp home to IT fittings/fleet doctrine masterminds Gery Zon and Cflux) to retaliate by limiting and/or flat-out refusing participation in Fountain.

A major undercurrent of discontent among FCs was growing because of boisterous CEOs and many long-since un-subbed veterans talking big and doing nothing in-game worthy of note. Even among FCs, we were not often of a single mind about how things should be done, but there was certainly a greater level of pragmatism among those actually involved in the war than those on the sidelines.

Let’s examine the reasoning behind the decision to go to Catch:

The general feeling was that our space in Fountain, while perhaps guarded by a weaker force in our absence, could be more easily reconquered by a strong counter-offensive. In comparison, the newly-emboldened AAA/Stain coalition were attacking an ally that had only recently started to tighten its grip on a new, vast empire.

With a bad reputation for letting other alliances lose their space while protecting our own, the alliance made a decision that broke with the expected course of action. We would allow the Goons/NC to do their worst in Fountain, perhaps even taking large portions of it, while we went on an official deployment to save our strongest remaining ally at that time.

Some at the top-levels hoped that demoralizing Stain/AAA/Others would be possible. While we were present in Catch, there were some good fights, and it was clear AAA/Stain would not be able to win a war against IT/Init together.

However, there was also no possible way for us to “win” a war against a foe living in NPC space. It was effectively a standoff. Realizing this, we would eventually pull out, but not before the Fountain situation had worsened significantly.

Meanwhile in Fountain, the Clusterfuck Coalition was rolling along. As victories were earned, people x’d up in greater and greater numbers to kill our allies. New corps were attracted to the bandwagon, and various NC alliances saw a good opportunity to win a chunk of space for themselves in the South in exchange for sending as little as 10 or 20 pilots on a daily basis to help Test and Goons.

The first battle after we moved back from Catch was the final timer for PNQY. We had lots of people miss the convoys up from Catch, and there were other mistakes including the choice of ships. When the system fell, people started to realize that Fountain would present a serious challenge, and would not be an easy area to cleanse.

Talos lost a station next, with little resistance from our side. However, the offensive slowed to a crawl at this time.

Our U.S. timezone crew was spamming SBUs everywhere, all day. The enemy had to shoot these, or else we would have opportunities to re-take lost systems. We were also ninja-dropping capitals on any infrastructure we could find to create additional timers for the enemy to worry about.

Things seemed to be improving when U.S. timezone efforts were matched by a strong Aussie prime-time crew, usually lead by Zammas, who was working to continue our daily efforts all the way through downtime before handing off the baton to the Euros.

The problem was, the traditional IT Alliance European prime-time advantage had disappeared. We weren’t capitalizing on opportunities created by the U.S. and Aussie-based players. In the past, this timezone was when we won our major victories, but increasingly our defensive timers were being set for Aussie prime to reduce hostile participation.

Fast-forward to a couple weeks ago. It’s the battle for Z3 (part 2 from my perspective, but there were other fights here as well). We’re going all-in with supers on field for the second time in this system. In the previous fight, we edged-out the enemy and scored a GSF super-carrier kill with no supers lost on our side. This time around, we’re losing, and the non-participation by several corps is no longer funny to anyone. Our resounding defeat influences morale on both sides of the war, and internal tensions rise.

With the disputes at the CEO level not resolved by this time, X13 and Finfleet made their exit.

The enemy had only taken two major systems by that point, but the result of the war was looking rather certain to many.

-MVN- continued stepping up. PK and Cardking ran snipe hac gangs and did what they could to cheer up IT pilots with some minor victories wherever they could be found, but it just wasn’t enough. The alliance was so far gone that morale plummeting.

Molle’s speech had a major impact, but his brief presence was a rare exception to the rule.

Honestly, if you’re getting married and moving to another country in real life, Eve shouldn’t be a priority. I get that, and most people in IT do too, but the truth is that his absence exacerbated other serious problems that might have been resolved if the alliance had his normal level of attention and involvement.

In Molle’s absence, the active FCs were the closest thing people got to alliance leaders that would actually talk to them on a regular basis.

When PK was banned for spamming local and Goons started camping 6VDT, people in IT started pondering the best way to save their assets in Fountain.

The last area where we failed as an alliance was in the area some might call “Soft Power,” which has been described as “the power to attract and persuade others.” I think that some alliances play the mind-game / meta-game / cultural war game far better than others.

Propaganda is a small part of being successful, but most people can smell bullshit. This kind of media is important, but only so far is it can get your own side excited about what they are doing.

Forums are a part of any cultural effort. For some alliances, far more than others. Some forums are also more important that others.

BoB was pretty active on Eve-O in its hey-day, and I seem to remember a pretty dynamic set of personalities that projected an image of strength. The fact that IT leaders felt they could assign a few alts to “handle PR” shows how limited our thinking was on this front.

Finally, a huge part of being successful – and perhaps the most overlooked by IT –  is communicating with your own members and having a “message” that articulates clear goals. We just haven’t had the kind of encouragement and communication that we needed to get maximum participation.

Eve players are not salaried employees, they need to be motivated on a personal level to show up for things, even when those things are in their own self-interest.

I might post again about the importance of alliance cultures, but for now I feel it suffices to say that many problems in IT Alliance stem from apathy in these aforementioned areas.

Other power blocs have embraced these tools and are thriving.

Numbers. Numbers? Numbers!!!

It’s plain to anyone that the North is growing in numbers, accepting into its arms numerous corporations and alliances who were either removed or choose to leave the south. The most notable examples would be Goonswarm (taken in by TCF and later inheriting their region) and the many former providence residents who almost exclusively NC guests.

With improved organization, teamwork, and downright better piloting than they had in MAX 1, the MAX 2 campaign showed everyone that the NC was more than formidable before growing. They’ve now grown to a size far greater than any other sov-holding coalition, without many serious threats left to work again.

However, the real story of this campaign is that of the resurgence of the Goons and the rise of Test Alliance as a major 0.0 player. At the time of writing, both alliances had surpassed IT Alliance in membership. Once they hold several new regions, I can only imagine their ranks will swell even further, as ours did.

*Several Corps Now Leaving Are Still Counted Here as Members

In my opinion, the NC is something like N.A.T.O. in the real world. It is an organization whose original mission has passed it by. BoB is no longer traversing the galaxy crushing empires, in large part because everyone else can fly capitals and T2-fitted ships now too.

PL is perhaps a substitute “boogeyman” for the NC, but the only remaining empire that really threatens them is the drone region coalition, which I do not think would survive a long war with the current NC in its current form.

In contrast, the South has stuck to the traditional Eve Online mindset: cold dark universe, trust as few as possible, revel in dangerous lifestyle of a feudalistic universe in chaos, and so forth.

If IT alliance only had to deal with the Clusterfuck, but not the “old NC” or AAA/Stain, then I think things would never have turned out this way. However, it was a foregone conclusion that the rest of the NC would support them.

That suggests that the most critical factor was our ability to get support from other strong Southern powers like Initiative or AAA. The existence of a 2nd front tied up both of those entities, and eventually drew us away from the bigger threat descending from the North.

We are truly saddened that half the alliance is bailing before a single shot has been fired in Delve. It is starting to feel like this region has some kind of curse for its holders, as many have remarked, but the reasons for our current troubles are not so mysterious.

In conclusion, -MVN- is here for the remainder of this rather bumpy ride in the clown car. I wasn’t always thrilled with our alliance, but there were much worse places we could have been, and staying with Atlas would not have allowed us to grow the way this opportunity did.

IT Alliance was where -MVN- grew from a desirable null-sec corp to an invaluable one. We’ve gained great new members, our FCs are more numerous & active than ever, an incredible number of new supers were built, and we will take with us great set of lessons that we will absolutely refuse to allow anyone to ignore in our future endeavors.

Comments and factual corrections to this post are more than welcome.