Some of my friends ride with the Nazgûl

Current events in EVE have stirred up a flurry of postings on the Reddits, the Twitters, and assorted Slacks, Discords, and other centers of discussion. I haven’t really engaged a lot there, but here are a few things to think consider.

EVE Online is a game far more than complex than spreadsheets and a space battle simulator. EVE is a game of narrative and personal relationships. Rarely do pilots ‘alarm clock’ for events because a spreadsheet says to; they log in to support their friends and comrades-in-arms. They are motivated by playing a role in helping their cause be successful.

Failure to motivate pilots is the death of groups in EVE. It has been seen repeatedly. Break the enemy morale and you win the war. Failure in this area is the source of the oft-discussed ‘failscades’ that can occur.

The first time this really hit home was when I went to my first large player gathering, EVE Vegas. Until then, the other groups were near mythical in status, powerful and unapproachable. When I arrived, I soon realized that they were all turbo-geeks, like myself, and we had much in common. I’m a bit extroverted, so I started reaching out to all kinds of pilots, friends and foes, to meet the people behind the ships and shitposts.

It’s a amazing EVE family we have, from coders to soldiers, lawyers to truck drivers, builders to lobbyists, and corporate execs to retirees. There are people behind those icons on the screen.

EVE Fanfest 2018 (L-R): Kylie Bitkin, Elise Randolph, DNSBlack, RonUSMC, ProGodLegend

I’ve chatted with players from almost every group. I’ve partied with friend and foe. Swag I made is in the hands of players of every coalition. I’ve even cooked ribs for a gathering of enemy pilots that happened to be in my town.

It took some big losses in game for me to put it all in perspective. I have been with Brave since the beginning and have been through our ups and downs, and downs, over time. The first big hit was Brave being pushed out of Catch by Pandemic Legion. Previously, Brave had been on top of the world, astounding numbers of pilots, huge potential, and universe changing perspective on the game. I watched it get squandered with a poor leadership and an unmanaged narrative that gave pilots little reason to stick with Brave when the chips were down. I have to take some of the blame for this as well.

At the time, I was posting various morale posts to help encourage people. Every group need to keep motivated when the tide is against them and I did what I thought best.

At one point, I posted something so full of shit, that it got rightly called out and the narrative turned against me. I reached out to a bunch of outsiders to get their perspective and learned that yes, my morale posting was full of shit and doing more harm than good. Overdoing a morale post can have the opposite effect and make things worse. A tough lesson to learn, but worth learning.

Posting can be broken down into two basic flavors, smug and salt. Smug is the flavor of running an extra victory lap around the losers. It’s continuous dumping on the side that’s already on the ropes. It’s relentless mockery in all the community spaces. Salt is the flavor of complaining that things aren’t fair. It’s blaming everything but themselves for the failure. It’s not taking responsibility for the loss.

As in cooking, a little goes a long way, and lot spoils the broth.

Smugging and salt are normal reactions to conflict. To be honest, after being on the losing side of things for five years, it was mighty tasty for me to be able to doomsday a Pandemic Legion titan, and watch it disappear.

I have to admit that that I also enjoy good meme farming and EVE players create some great stuff. Some of it is literal laugh out loud stuff that makes Mrs. Dinkle roll her eyes at me and shut the door to the office where I play.

Much of what we are seeing today is too much smug & salt. Sure, it might taste great in the moment, but like eating a lot of super spicy food, you can have some real pain later due to the after effects. Grudges can last a long time and come back in ways unexpected.

When the attacks get personal, it’s bad for EVE.

Elise Randolph and Doomchinchilla have both frustrated me in the game on multiple occasions. Frustrated enough to turn off the computer and go sit on my patio pondering why I play. But in person, I like hanging out with them and chatting.

Keep it in the game, don’t make it personal, and remember to much smug or salt ruins the broth.

Stay Classy. Have Fun. Be Brave.