Online Hate

In a recent Jester’s Trek post, Ripard Teg wrote:

Let’s be blunt: a few of you out there — not many, but a few — are disgusting, sadistic grotesques lacking the most basic human qualities of empathy and compassion.

But go read the whole thing. And while you’re at it, go read the whole Penny Arcade Report post he links.

Seriously, read them both straight through. What I write next assumes you’ve read them.

I’m really glad Ripard wrote this post. Speaking as someone who has done “public” stuff–public speaking, public writing, etc.–in my professional life, I can confirm that there is something broken in how some people perceive their relationship with any sort of public figure, no matter how small or insignificant. The relationship between such a person–whether a blogger, a Space Celebrity, an actor, a columnist, a business leader, whatever–and a typical viewer/reader/listener/consumer has a creepy asymmetry that many don’t like to talk about. Partly because it benefits the public figure, and partly because talking about it weirds out the average fan.

A public figure (like yourself) may be read every day, or every week, or whatever, by someone “out in the crowd” for months. Over time, that person comes to “know” you. Well, we know that it’s only partly true; but at least in *their* mind they begin to think they know who you are as a person. But you don’t know them, do you? Sure, social media and things like forums and comment sections somewhat level that playing field compared to the way it was in past generations, but not really as much as some might hope. And so total strangers will break social boundaries with a “celebrity” because they feel they have a level of intimacy with the person that the person could not possibly feel they have back. Barack Obama and Jay Leno are in a person’s living room day after day, but the feeling that there’s a personal connection is false and one-way. Not that public figures don’t benefit from that misperception.

But it means sometimes people take liberties in their interactions. Most of the time those liberties aren’t a big deal; they’re just “weird” feeling. Sometimes they’re a little flattering, but mostly their just…odd. However, once in a while they are downright evil. People sometimes think that because they know your media persona, and are aware of the ideas that persona puts forth, that they somehow know the real you and are able to judge your worth as a person. And because they are also simultaneously distant from (and perhaps anonymous to) the celebrity, they misperceive that they can get away with “letting out the beast”. Death threats, vile wishes, bizarre promises, and hate-filled demands flow forth.

To which some will say, “Well, it’s just a minority, so brush it off.” But the problem is, the percentage doesn’t matter to a person’s sanity; just the raw number. What do I mean?

I remember when I regularly appeared before small audiences. Usually a few dozen people at a time. Whether in conferences or other venues, the crowds were small. I did okay. Usually, though, there were always one or two people who hated what I had to say. Or nit-picked it. Or were offended by how I said it. Or whatever. Over time, I got good at brushing it off. “There’s always one or two in a crowd.”

As time went on and I started working with larger audiences, I started to wonder if I was getting worse. At one point, when I was appearing before groups in the hundreds, I realized that every time I appeared, there were a dozen people who had complaints about me, no matter how well I did. Yes, the number who loved what I did ALSO went up, but praise has far less lasting effect than criticism. It FELT like I was getting worse, despite the growing crowds.

See, the percentage was the same, but the emotional drain was much bigger. And it continues to scale like that. In any crowd, any public figure can count on there being a set percentage that will NEVER be happy and that is willing to vocalize their unhappiness. But at some point, a normal human being is no longer interested in putting up with the noise. Some are stronger than others. If you have a million fans, that means you have thousands of people vocally pissed off at you every time you perform. And they all have the power to speak to you now.

One of the reasons that I keep my Eve life and my public life so carefully separated is that it is nice to be able to loosen up and not worry so much about public perception in the framework of this so-called game. But part of it is also that there are sickos who really will connect the dots and look up home addresses and send disturbing packages, and I really don’t want to multiply my base of enemies. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a big haters list these days, but it hasn’t always been like that.

At one point in my life, because of political blogging I did, I began to get all sorts of weird phone calls and emails. As I gained audience, I also gained attention from some scary people. The lone whackos were one thing. But in the political world, some of those whackos are organized, and have national governments funding them. My wife finally said she was worried because of some veiled comparisons made in public between myself and another figure who had been put to death for backing a similar position I had taken. By the foreign government that I had been critical of. I think the comparison, in a twisted way, had been meant as a compliment, it having come from a dissident in that country. But it was part of a larger pattern and it understandably freaked her out.

It’s thrilling when you start to get an audience. But there is an inevitable percentage of any crowd that is dangerous and vile, and you can’t build an audience without also building a growing base of enemies. Most of those enemies lack the means and the courage to act on their threats. But it is only a matter of time before the numbers game catches up with you.

So “just brush it off” only works as a short term, small-ball strategy. But the big-leagues approach of private detectives, lawyers, and “private security” is a bit beyond the typical game blogger, dev, or spaceship celebrity. So when yet another public figure of Eve says, “Screw you all, I’m out,” I get it.

One final thought, and one I know many will disagree with vehemently and instinctively: human beings are basically awful. Yes, we are capable of rising. Yes, every single human has the ability to be loving and kind and caring and helpful in amazing, moving ways. But most of the time, the main reason most humans behave reasonably well is that we are all conditioned to stay within certain boundaries through fear of punishment, either by loss of life, property, or reputation. And that’s a good system. It gives us all breathing room to learn to be selfless, if you think about it.

But create a situation where people start to believe that they are beyond punishment, and greed and selfishness will surface where before there was quiet civility. Saying vile things to someone online makes people feel good, because it makes them feel powerful. They are getting away with letting out hate that is normally constrained by society.

I’m an optimistic person, overall. I believe in the potential of the human race. But I have no illusion when it comes to our darker nature. I’ve seen up close too much evil from sources too common and vanilla. People can rise above themselves. But many don’t.


We like to say that “Internet Spaceships are serious business.” Our game is full of painful losses, vindictive attacks, brutal wars, and assholes whose tunnel vision leads them to do awful and pointless things. But Eve Online doesn’t hold a candle to Real Life.

In protest of a movie–a movie–a bunch of brainwashed semi-literate armed retards who bring shame to Allah attacked and set fire to the U.S. consolate in Benghazi, Libya. American staff had been relocated to a secondary building, so at first they were not in immediate danger. Then members of the Libyan security detail assigned to protect them decided instead to tip off the little-minded hate-filled mob about their targets actual location.

In Eve, it’s called Awoxing. But in Eve, no one actually dies.

Four real people died. They were the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, two U.S. Marines, and Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith. To those who know the world of Eve, however, Sean Smith is also known as Vile Rat, the extremely successful spy and later Goon diplomat.

I never got to personally know Sean. But I followed his exploits as closely as I could. His work for the GIA is legendary. A large part of what initially motivated me to finally open an Eve account were stories of his and a handful of others accomplishments in the infamous Eve “metagame”. I admired him as a player, even as I worked against him in the game.

His murder fills me with anger. The fanatics who shot him probably never even saw the film they were protesting.

There is something in human nature that wants to destroy anything that is not itself. It takes on many forms. Greed. Selfishness. Hate. And it is the nature of the human mind that what we desire is more powerful than what we think. Our will can completely dominate our intellect. And so we rationalize. When we are in competition with someone, there is always the danger that our will, given free reign, will manipulate our intellect into coming up with justifications for awful, disproportionate behavior. Let’s post the real address of that guy in the game and get people to send death threats. It’s okay to cut power to his house in the real world because his titan is a threat to all that is good in New Eden. I can say anything about anyone no matter how false, disgusting or hateful, because they are The Enemy.

Folks, this is a GAME. When you experience real hate for someone becuase of what they say or do or represent in a digital game of let’s pretend, then you are broken. Log off. Unsubscribe. Get the hell out of my game. You are not mature enough for this playground.

Yes, I know there is a discrete degree of difference between actually shooting someone dead in Libya and merely desiring someone’s death in your heart. But while civil law is all about the effects of human decisions, moral law deals largely with their intent. And my personal moral failing is that when I see murderous hatred, whether acted on or merely given voice to, I, too, hate. I am disgusted. I struggle to not write you off as non-human.

I’m upset so I’m rambling. Those people shouldn’t be dead. Vile Rat should still be in the game. The people who committed this atrocity did it over a piece of media. And perhaps I’m anticipating a stereotypical tone-deaf response from some anti-goons. Frankly, I’m hesitant to log on today. But maybe you all will surprise me. Maybe, for once, we can forget reds and blues, and just acknowledge that Vile Rat played the game well, and that his death is an ugly, evil thing, without justification.

Here’s news coverage:

And’s official statement:

Official statement from Oldma, Dibrle, and Intrepid Crossing:

Other coverage mentioning Vile Rat:

UPDATE: Thank you, thank you, Eve community, for exceeding my fearful expectations. The sincere-mourning vs. stupid-troll ratio looks very healthy. Glad we can come together on this.


The Good Reverend Sells Out

Beat you to it! (You know who you are.)

Anyway, I have begun writing for that new Eve news site. You know the one.

I have been impressed with both their quality standards and with their efforts to use writers with a diversity of viewpoints. For instance, my own alliance is quite red to (and at war with) the CFC.

My first contribution is a review of the book, Rules for Radicals. I have long felt that it has useful things to say to anyone at all interested in nulsec politics and warfare. You can see its principles being actively applied by major alliance leaders, if you know to look.

Not convinced to read the book for yourself? Well, at least check out the short review I wrote before you decide.


The Monkey Who Came In from the Cold

Kim Philby

[22:05:18] digi > Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the lord.

So began the most interesting convo I’ve had in Eve to date. It’s a quote from the Bible, delivered by an infamous Goon: digi.

I won’t reprint the rest of the conversation; one does not simply publish convos involving digi. :) But I will say that it was fascinating, and that the man is intelligent, sociable, and extremely good at his job.

But how did I come to be taking a private meeting with the infamous–and, to some, frightening–Director of Goonswarm Counter-Espionage?

Well, in addition to being a fleet scout, perpetual PvP student, and all-around helpful guy in my corp and alliance, I am a spy.

When I first started playing Eve, I knew I would some day want to try my hand at The Great Metagame. Studying real-world espionage has been a hobby of mine for decades. Both the technical craft and also the complex psychology involved in the story of a Kim Phillby, for instance, fascinate me. And the story of Eve–for me–was intimately tied up with the story of the Goons, The Mittani, and the infamous metagame takedown of Band of Brothers. I know some decry that sort of thing as a corruption of the game, but to my thinking, that IS the game.

Originally, I had a long plan to start in industry in hisec, move to nulsec, eventually switch focus to PvP, get good at that, then eventually start getting into assembling a spy network. But plans are just starting points, and events create opportunities better than any plan, if one is on the lookout. I abandoned industry almost immediately upon moving to nulsec. PvP was more immediately accessible than I had at first thought. Yes, it still required a certain skill point level to really get into the fun kinds of fights I wanted, but the barriers to entry were lower than I had at first heard.

But even easier to get into was spying. Spying is totally meta. There are no skills you can “train” to make you a better spy. No ISK investment needed. In fact, it turns out you can make ISK as a spy with very little effort.

And so, I began planting seeds. I created accounts. I wrote up back stories and personas. I crafted infiltration plans. I targeted different groups. Some alts were designed to take the long path: build up in-game histories that would help me get them into hard-to-infiltrate organizations, and wait months before making any real moves. In one case, the plan calls for total loyal contribution to their target alliance for a minimum of two years before “activating” them.

Others I moved quicker on. There are some corporations that are crazy easy to get into, and once there, you can just not log on to the game and yet reap intelligence from their forums and jabber pings at very little risk.

And then there was Nero.

Nero Askulf was created with only the barest of plans: float like chum in the sea of hisec noobs and wait to be approached. I made a point of having him ask noobish questions in help channels and in local of some strategically targeted systems. He hung out in the Recruitment channel, occasionally interacting with the hucksters and scam-masters that seem to run that place. He did tutorials, ran missions, and generally slogged through some of the most dull parts of the entire eve universe, waiting to be “rescued”. To mangle Mao: I moved amongst the noobs of hisec as a fish swims in the sea.

It was, frankly, a longshot. An experiment, if you will. If you’ve read my posts on learning PvP you know I am a fan of taking crazy gambles and making lots of mistakes in order to learn from whatever comes from the experience. I knew how to actively infiltrate an organization, but if I could get a target to actively recruit ME, I theorized, I would be able to move them faster through the hierarchies of trust and power; the most powerful means of selling someone on something–product, plan, philosophy, whatever–is to make them work for it themselves. “Playing hard to get” works, because it convinces the prey that it is the hunter, so all that happens after seems to them to be their own idea and not yours.

But honestly, I was about to give up on poor little Nero. He was so much work. Playing those tutorials and missions was such a drag, and acting like I didn’t know what I was doing, as “more knowledgable” players offered advice that I then had to pretend I didn’t know was actually sometimes quite bad–well, lets say that it was a challenging role.

And then I got my first nibble. I quote the entire convo below for those who are interested, but you can just skim it without missing out on anything critical to the plot, here. :)


Channel ID: -32268869
Listener: Nero Askulf
Session started: 2012.07.21 23:15:35

[ 2012.07.21 23:15:39 ] SMA GUY > hi
[ 2012.07.21 23:15:48 ] Nero Askulf > hi
[ 2012.07.21 23:15:49 ] SMA GUY > you new to eve?
[ 2012.07.21 23:15:55 ] Nero Askulf > yep
[ 2012.07.21 23:16:02 ] SMA GUY > how ya doing so far
[ 2012.07.21 23:16:32 ] Nero Askulf > ok I guess. about 80% through this sisters of eve mission thing.
[ 2012.07.21 23:16:40 ] Nero Askulf > more interested in getting into pvp at some point, tho
[ 2012.07.21 23:16:48 ] Nero Askulf > why?
[ 2012.07.21 23:16:57 ] SMA GUY > ok,,oh so fighting is your game?
[ 2012.07.21 23:17:06 ] SMA GUY > alot more to eve then pvp
[ 2012.07.21 23:17:22 ] Nero Askulf > heh. well, I’d like to try it. I have no experience at it yet, tho
[ 2012.07.21 23:17:35 ] SMA GUY > be prepared to get killed
[ 2012.07.21 23:17:48 ] Nero Askulf > :)
[ 2012.07.21 23:17:52 ] SMA GUY > surviving is what i like
[ 2012.07.21 23:17:58 ] Nero Askulf > so what do you do in eve?
[ 2012.07.21 23:18:04 ] SMA GUY > making myself self suffiecient
[ 2012.07.21 23:18:25 ] SMA GUY > i am a industrialist i build stuff
[ 2012.07.21 23:18:51 ] Nero Askulf > Given how much stuff blows up around here, I bet that pays well
[ 2012.07.21 23:19:17 ] SMA GUY > where ever i go i can build my own stuff do not need to go everywhere to buy it
[ 2012.07.21 23:19:28 ] Nero Askulf > that’d be convenient
[ 2012.07.21 23:19:32 ] SMA GUY > plus i can build and sell it
[ 2012.07.21 23:19:59 ] SMA GUY > don;t you hate it when u have to fly 10 jumps to get something then find out you forgot something
[ 2012.07.21 23:20:15 ] Nero Askulf > lol. only done it once so far, but I’m sure it’ll happen again.
[ 2012.07.21 23:20:21 ] Nero Askulf > but yeah, it’s a pain
[ 2012.07.21 23:20:22 ] SMA GUY > yep
[ 2012.07.21 23:20:38 ] SMA GUY > so how u making ur money now
[ 2012.07.21 23:21:20 ] Nero Askulf > well, so far this mission arc is paying pretty well. But I’ve been told that it pays better than most missions. Not sure what my next move will be
[ 2012.07.21 23:21:47 ] SMA GUY > ok well if u need to learn how to build let me know
[ 2012.07.21 23:22:04 ] Nero Askulf > kind of you to offer.
[ 2012.07.21 23:22:21 ] SMA GUY > ya i like helping new people it makes the game easier
[ 2012.07.21 23:22:35 ] Nero Askulf > :) well, i hope you don’t mind my asking, but eve has a reputation…what’s in it for you?
[ 2012.07.21 23:23:04 ] SMA GUY > oh..maybe u can return the favor sometime
[ 2012.07.21 23:23:23 ] SMA GUY > it is like building allies
[ 2012.07.21 23:23:24 ] Nero Askulf > fair enough
[ 2012.07.21 23:23:32 ] Nero Askulf > that makes sense
[ 2012.07.21 23:23:57 ] SMA GUY > in pvp u would not kill me if i was willing to help you
[ 2012.07.21 23:24:23 ] Nero Askulf > do you do much pvp yourself?
[ 2012.07.21 23:24:32 ] SMA GUY > nope very seldom
[ 2012.07.21 23:25:04 ] SMA GUY > i am more of a business guy in this game
[ 2012.07.21 23:25:20 ] Nero Askulf > Ah. Cool that this game has so many ways to play
[ 2012.07.21 23:25:27 ] SMA GUY > yep
[ 2012.07.21 23:25:35 ] Nero Askulf > is your corp mostly business oriented? or is that just a role you play?
[ 2012.07.21 23:25:40 ] SMA GUY > i play the stock market in real life that is the real game
[ 2012.07.21 23:25:48 ] Nero Askulf > heh
[ 2012.07.21 23:25:55 ] SMA GUY > we all kinds in our corp
[ 2012.07.21 23:26:57 ] Nero Askulf > so do you “play the market” in eve, too? or is gaming meant to be a break from that?
[ 2012.07.21 23:27:11 ] SMA GUY > eve is break from market
[ 2012.07.21 23:27:59 ] SMA GUY > why be the pvp guy when u can hire people to do it…that is what happens in real life
[ 2012.07.21 23:28:07 ] Nero Askulf > lol.
[ 2012.07.21 23:28:19 ] SMA GUY > u want to be a grunt be a pvp guy
[ 2012.07.21 23:28:54 ] SMA GUY > the hiarchy in this game is the ones with the money
[ 2012.07.21 23:29:14 ] Nero Askulf > sounds familiar
[ 2012.07.21 23:29:19 ] SMA GUY > yep
[ 2012.07.21 23:29:45 ] SMA GUY > think big ,,,eve will have people working for them just like in real life
[ 2012.07.21 23:30:03 ] SMA GUY > and you will pay a monthy charge to work
[ 2012.07.21 23:30:23 ] Nero Askulf > lol. interesting way of looking at it.
[ 2012.07.21 23:30:43 ] SMA GUY > ya so u give ccp 14.95 a month and u end up working in this game
[ 2012.07.21 23:31:25 ] SMA GUY > so how would u like to learn how to make money even when ur offline
[ 2012.07.21 23:32:17 ] Nero Askulf > doing manufacturing?
[ 2012.07.21 23:32:24 ] SMA GUY > no planet miing
[ 2012.07.21 23:32:27 ] SMA GUY > mining
[ 2012.07.21 23:32:48 ] Nero Askulf > how’s that work?
[ 2012.07.21 23:33:19 ] SMA GUY > u setup some planet mining and it keeps mining even when offline and then when u come back u can sell the minerals from it
[ 2012.07.21 23:34:00 ] Nero Askulf > can you do that anywhere?
[ 2012.07.21 23:34:33 ] SMA GUY > yes
[ 2012.07.21 23:34:36 ] SMA GUY >
[ 2012.07.21 23:35:13 ] Nero Askulf > holy cow. this game has games within it. :)
[ 2012.07.21 23:35:28 ] Nero Askulf > does it take much capital to get into this?
[ 2012.07.21 23:35:45 ] SMA GUY > nope
[ 2012.07.21 23:36:06 ] SMA GUY > this game is complicated
[ 2012.07.21 23:36:23 ] SMA GUY > this is not for the average guy
[ 2012.07.21 23:36:32 ] Nero Askulf > I’m getting that. this web page has a lot of information in it, and it’s describing something I had no idea was in the game. :)
[ 2012.07.21 23:36:37 ] Nero Askulf > I love it
[ 2012.07.21 23:37:11 ] Nero Askulf > cool, i just looked at a planet
[ 2012.07.21 23:37:13 ] SMA GUY > oh ur just in the beginning :)
[ 2012.07.21 23:37:47 ] SMA GUY > add me to ur contact list keep in contact i am in usa for time zone
[ 2012.07.21 23:37:54 ] Nero Askulf > well, thanks. This was never mentioned in any tutorial.
[ 2012.07.21 23:37:56 ] Nero Askulf > Yeah, ok
[ 2012.07.21 23:38:08 ] SMA GUY > yep
[ 2012.07.21 23:38:30 ] SMA GUY > ya there is alot of stuff to learn
[ 2012.07.21 23:38:45 ] SMA GUY > i have been playing since 2006
[ 2012.07.21 23:38:58 ] Nero Askulf > ok, so I’ve got a question then:
[ 2012.07.21 23:39:07 ] SMA GUY > ok
[ 2012.07.21 23:39:17 ] Nero Askulf > given how skill points work, are new guys hopelessly permanently behind guys like you?
[ 2012.07.21 23:39:52 ] SMA GUY > probably
[ 2012.07.21 23:40:17 ] SMA GUY > depends on field alot of people are ahead of me in the pvp area
[ 2012.07.21 23:40:31 ] Nero Askulf > hm
[ 2012.07.21 23:40:51 ] SMA GUY > there is always some one better then u just like a boxer
[ 2012.07.21 23:41:00 ] Nero Askulf > fair enough
[ 2012.07.21 23:41:06 ] Nero Askulf > there’s always a bigger fish
[ 2012.07.21 23:41:14 ] SMA GUY > yep
[ 2012.07.21 23:41:42 ] SMA GUY > so u may excel in a field against someone else that pick a different area
[ 2012.07.21 23:42:15 ] SMA GUY > and this is not all about against each other u will find out u cannot do it all by urself
[ 2012.07.21 23:42:39 ] Nero Askulf > makes sense
[ 2012.07.21 23:43:14 ] Nero Askulf > I’m already starting to think about finding a corp I can learn with. I’ve had a couple recommendations, but haven’t really been ready to choose, yet
[ 2012.07.21 23:44:52 ] SMA GUY > well i have a corp also with another character it is very small but u can start there and learn
[ 2012.07.21 23:45:02 ] Nero Askulf > my current plan is to finish out this mission arc thing, then maybe try out red versus blue. but that’s not set in stone.
[ 2012.07.21 23:45:12 ] Nero Askulf > what does your other corp do mostly?
[ 2012.07.21 23:46:01 ] SMA GUY > what ever they want it is mostly a place to talk to others like i said very few active in it..but u can learn from those few
[ 2012.07.21 23:46:44 ] SMA GUY > or u can jump right into this corp which is big and were in low and zero sec very dangerous areas
[ 2012.07.21 23:46:57 ] SMA GUY > and in war alot
[ 2012.07.21 23:47:10 ] SMA GUY > press f10 and look at map
[ 2012.07.21 23:47:17 ] Nero Askulf > ok
[ 2012.07.21 23:47:30 ] Nero Askulf > got the map up
[ 2012.07.21 23:47:36 ] SMA GUY > does it show regions
[ 2012.07.21 23:47:42 ] SMA GUY > like placid
[ 2012.07.21 23:47:51 ] Nero Askulf > mmm. just my current one
[ 2012.07.21 23:48:07 ] Nero Askulf > ok, npow it has all regions labeled
[ 2012.07.21 23:48:10 ] SMA GUY > on the menu go to star map
[ 2012.07.21 23:48:26 ] SMA GUY > then labels
[ 2012.07.21 23:48:30 ] Nero Askulf > got it :)
[ 2012.07.21 23:48:37 ] SMA GUY > check all region names
[ 2012.07.21 23:48:53 ] Nero Askulf > cool. so where are you guys?
[ 2012.07.21 23:49:09 ] SMA GUY > we are on the top in branch
[ 2012.07.21 23:49:19 ] Nero Askulf > whoa, that’s way out there
[ 2012.07.21 23:49:31 ] SMA GUY > yep and not easy to get to
[ 2012.07.21 23:49:39 ] Nero Askulf > so who are you at war with?
[ 2012.07.21 23:49:57 ] SMA GUY > several corps alliences it varies
[ 2012.07.21 23:50:20 ] SMA GUY > when a corp is at war ur not safe in high sec either
[ 2012.07.21 23:50:46 ] Nero Askulf > i’ve read a little about wardecs while looking up red versus blue
[ 2012.07.21 23:51:02 ] SMA GUY > ya so u can see how big this game is
[ 2012.07.21 23:51:29 ] Nero Askulf > that’s awesome
[ 2012.07.21 23:54:31 ] Nero Askulf > well, I’ve only been playing for a short time. I need to do some reading and some thinking about what direction I want to go. But the idea of going out to the end of the galaxy in 0.0 appeals. Or I could hang out in a smaller corp and learn.
[ 2012.07.21 23:54:38 ] Nero Askulf > But I gotta think about it. :)
[ 2012.07.21 23:55:19 ] SMA GUY > ya either way
[ 2012.07.21 23:55:49 ] SMA GUY > but u need to get ur skills things are harder to get out there no stores like there is here
[ 2012.07.21 23:56:25 ] Nero Askulf > I’ve heard that you need a certain level of skill points to live in 0.0
[ 2012.07.21 23:57:20 ] SMA GUY > ya it is not as easy
[ 2012.07.21 23:58:48 ] Nero Askulf > Well. I gotta log off. But I’m really glad to have talked to you.
[ 2012.07.21 23:59:21 ] SMA GUY > ok np where are u in real life
[ 2012.07.21 23:59:57 ] Nero Askulf > Texas
[ 2012.07.22 00:00:04 ] Nero Askulf > you?
[ 2012.07.22 00:00:05 ] SMA GUY > indiana here
[ 2012.07.22 00:01:01 ] Nero Askulf > talk later. :)
[ 2012.07.22 00:01:22 ] SMA GUY > ok
[ 2012.07.22 00:01:25 ] SMA GUY > take care

Space Monkeys? Interesting. I had already figured out that they were a security soft spot in the CFC. Did I really want to put Nero in SMA? I was well aware of the irony of being recruited by what some have called “the IRC of the CFC.” Could I do better? A part of me had a certain fondness for them from other interactions I had already had in other areas. But still…

Well, it was too early to decide, anyway; my plan for Nero was sketchy–no backstory, no fake persona on forums etc–but it had one rule: always turn down the first offer.

And so Nero finished the Sisters of Eve mission arc, and moved to Lonetrek to start his level one mission grind.

But not long after, he got a second bite, from a different member of the same alliance, and decided to just give in and see what happened:


Channel ID: -32373442
Channel Name: Private Chat (The Head Honcho)
Listener: Nero Askulf
Session started: 2012.07.26 03:25:29

[ 2012.07.26 03:25:49 ] The Head Honcho > Hello there!
[ 2012.07.26 03:25:51 ] Nero Askulf > hey
[ 2012.07.26 03:25:54 ] The Head Honcho > I would like to invite you to join Spacemonkey’s Mafia! We are a great corp in an awesome alliance and we take pride in training our newer pilots! We even give you the ships and skillbooks you need to get started having fun and making isk! :)
[ 2012.07.26 03:26:37 ] Nero Askulf > what’s involved in joining? (I’m totally new to eve, so pardon any ignorance)
[ 2012.07.26 03:27:23 ] The Head Honcho > Its no problem at all :) you just have to click SpaceMonkey’s Mafia and hit apply to join while you are docked and Ill grab your app so we can get you started :)
[ 2012.07.26 03:28:11 ] Nero Askulf > ok. I’m in a mission. I’ll dock up when done.
[ 2012.07.26 03:29:03 ] The Head Honcho > sounds great :) Ill have a training officer on standby for when I see your application :)
[ 2012.07.26 03:49:13 ] The Head Honcho > great give me one second and Ill have a training officer message you

And suddenly Nero was a Space Monkey. I watched my API access log as they vetted me, and as I was walked through the now-familiar opening moves of the nulsec alliance orientation/mating dance, I mentally scrambled for a rough outline of a plan for Nero. How quickly did I want him to pick stuff up? What was his personality? How smart was he? Was he a reader who picked stuff up quickly? A poor listener that needed to be constantly retold stuff? Was he quiet, friendly, needy, cute in his noobishness? I had not properly prepared him the way I had set up some of my other “agents”.

And integration into the Monkeys was quite swift. In general, I will say that most CFC alliances tend to be very good to total noobs that join their ranks. I quickly was given advice, ISK, ships, and opportunities to contribute. I could see nearly every checkbox in Cialdini’s Influence getting covered in how people behaved around and toward me. I suspect that much of it was no longer intentionally planned, but had become an unexamined part of their culture. The people running the Goons seem to be more consciously aware of how they are manipulating the psychology of their members, but their allied client-state alliances in the CFC seem more to be emulating Goon culture and practices without fully realizing the strategic benefits of some of their “traditions”.

Anyway, I was let in very quickly as a member of their noob corp, SpaceMonkeys Mafia, and was almost immediately flying a sebo’d arty-rifter. Not long after, the current Northern War between CFC and NCdot launched into full swing, and I was tackling my main’s blues in giant fleet fights.

Yes, I tackled blues. Did Nero’s actions have any real impact on any of the fights he was in? Not the important ones, no. In fact, more often than not, Nero just blew up in a tiny puff of Minmatar-scented rust without accomplishing anything at all. But part of the spy game, if played right, is convincing the target that you are truly their man, and the most convincing way to do that is to actually BE their man, lock, stock and barrel.

But I was reckless with Nero. In general the smart thing to do is to ignore opportunities to act on intel from a new agent; instead, let them gain trust and power, maturing slowly over time. Once you actually activate an agent, the risk of their being burnt goes up substantially. But I guess in my mind Nero was kind of a throwaway experiment. And I broke my own rules with him. I started passing intel gained from his access to Goonfleet comm tools directly and openly within my own alliance and its allies.

And I was totally public about it. And for my hubris, I got poor little Nero burnt. I hadn’t taken proper precautions. And, despite all that I had read about the Goons counter-intelligence prowess, I had wrongly thought it unlikely that Nero’s account could be directly linked to mine.

Being a spy, by the way, seriously undermines your own trust in other people in this game. Not that Eve is known for engendering trust for one’s fellow capsuleer in general. But once you are actively spying, you become hypersensitive to behaviors that are potential tell-tales of other spies in your midst. Plus, you act in constant risk of yourself being exposed. You keep notes about what different characters are supposed to know. You have to remember to not use terminology that predates your spy alt’s supposed date of entry into the world of Eve. You unintentionally hear in every conversation the possible probing of a counter-intelligence agent.

And in general, such paranoia can lead to some crazy extra steps to cover one’s tracks. Steps that are a pain in the neck, to be honest. And there was a part of me that, every time I felt the need to take a precaution, would suggest that, perhaps, I was overestimating the faceless enemy.

And so Nero got burnt.

When I got the convo invite from digi, I knew something was up, but wasn’t certain where it would head. He was very up-front about it all: he had successfully connected Nero Askulf to Reverend Mak. And, of course, he was not interested in telling me how he had done it.

And now my paranoia has been doubled. And my taste for the spy game sharpened. And these two things are at odds with one another. I have my suspicions of what chain of events had to have happened for Nero to get caught, but I’m not certain, yet. And until I have more confidence in my theory of what went wrong, I’m thinking I will seriously dial back on other spy-related activities. For now. Mostly.

Passive intel-gathering will continue. And two of my deep-deep pre-agents will continue on their respective development paths. But the rest is getting paused, while I reassess.

And I’m going to miss flying Nero among the Space Monkeys. The dirty little secret of being a spy is that sometimes you have more fun as your spy alt than you do as your loyal and upstanding main. My main, Reverend Mak, is increasingly involved in all sorts of “responsible” behavior, in his corp especially, but also in his alliance. I still have fun playing him in Eve, but more and more of what he does is more like work than play. My times logging in as Nero were carefree. No market empire to manage, no meetings to go to, no pressure about his skill queue, no real worries at all. Just log in, fleet up, and have fun being a follower.

But, being honest with myself, within one or two more days he would have been volunteering to be on the SMA’s pos-fueling team, the “Wrench Monkeys”. (There is a requirement that applicants have been in SMA for at least one month; Nero got booted a day short of that.) And probably within a few months he’d be skilling up in covops and scouting for SMA and perhaps even looking at finding a way to eventually participate in GS Recon. Without a plan, Nero would probably have started to default into the kind of behavior the real me is naturally inclined toward. And with more responsibility, there’d be less care-free fun, albeit replaced with a more satisfying yet burdensome sort of entertainment. Oh, and much more useful access.

Whatever. That is no longer Nero’s future. Now he’s hanging out, jump-cloning around CFC space, selling off stuff, popping up in intel channels, and marking time while I figure out what to do with my first ex-spy alt.

Now why am I writing all this? I almost didn’t. Several times I stopped myself. But in the end, I decided to share, because we need more intentionally open source information (more in the sense of OSINT, than as in OpenSource) about this fascinating part of the game, for which there is no tutorial. That said, there are tons more things I could share with you, but that would be damaging to my future plans. But hopefully, this gave you a taste for one approach to the Eve espionage game. I know I have myself benefitted greatly from the rare writings of others in the Eve intel world, and so I wanted to contribute something myself.

So what about you? Ever consider trying the spy game? How’d it go? And if not, why not?

“We’re not so different, you and I. We’ve both spent our lives looking for the weakness in one another’s systems. Don’t you think it’s time to recognize there is as little worth on your side as there is on mine?” - George Smiley



Zen PvP, or How to Learn to Love Risk

Let’s talk about risk aversion. First, go read Azual Skoll’s interesting thoughts in The Altruist: Risk.

Here’s the core issue from that post:

Most eve PVPers are naturally quite risk averse, myself included. Nobody likes to lose, and when we’re offered the choice between taking a risk and making a relatively small change which would eliminate that risk, it’s only natural that most people choose the latter. …We rationalise it as common sense – why would we risk losing when we could win? Fighting fair is, after all, not what eve is about.

However in my experience, some of the best fights come when we put ourselves in a high risk situation and come out ahead. By avoiding fights where there is a risk of losing, are we in fact cheating ourselves out of our own enjoyment?

I love this. This is something I’ve thought a lot about since I first started playing this game and consuming its player-made lore. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone who read my “Ten Keys to Breaking into Your Killboard’s Top 10″. As a reminder, here was key number four:

4) Die. A Lot.

My attitude is that every ship I dock up is an unexpected gift. When you undock a ship, count it as lost but on loan. Make losing ships a goal. In addition to regularly being in the top twenty or so killers, I am also a regular member of the top losers club. But I mostly lose rifters on solo roams, so my ISK ratio is nearly always between 90 and 95%. Go find the stats portion of your alliance or corp’s killboard now. If you have serious PvPers in your group, you will likely see some folks in the top ten losers group who are also top ten killers. Kills cost losses. Learning costs losses. Rewards follow risks. Want to get good? Go lose some ships. In bonsai (Japanese art of training trees into miniature works of art) they say you have not begun to know what you are doing until you have killed 100 trees. And Malcolm Gladwell says in Outliers that it takes about ten thousand hours of doing something to become an expert at it. Start your ten-thousand-hour journey to PvP mastery by buying cheap PvP ships ten at time and get going. You have a lot of ships to lose.

So here’s my from-the-mouth-of-noobs wisdom for you today: risk is arbitrarily determined by your attitude, so you can become more powerful by an act of sheer will.

What do I mean? Just decide to not care. This is Zen PvP. Let go of your desire to not lose your ship, and you will increase your power over your opponents. This is especially true on the fleet/corp/alliance level, but also works on the individual level.

Some say market economics are essentially driven by two emotions: greed and fear. Ruthlessly purge yourself of these emotions and you can have an advantage over those who are still driven by them. Arbitrarily decide that you want to lose your ship, rather than preserve it. Set a goal for number of hulls lost this month and do your best to hit it. Embrace death with laughter.

There are two parts to this. First, you have to defeat your animal instinct to not want to die. You are, after all, immortal. Who cares if you “die”? You know this intellectually, but you have root level responses built into the “lizard brain” that sits at the heart of your nervous system, and it fights this notion. Yes, even in a game.

It’s more than just a fear of death thing. Through extension, it’s also all about fear of shame, fear of defeat, fear of loss of face, and a desire to be high in the pecking order. The ape that gets bested by the other ape has a lower chance of mating and reproducing, so your animal instincts don’t want to “lose”, no matter what the activity.

Let go of that.

The second part is more complex, because it operates at a slightly higher part of your mind. Your rational mind says, “Yeah, I’m immortal, but my ISK isn’t infinite.” In Eve, everyone says, death has consequences.

Eve is, essentially, a game of consequences. What you do matters. The fights big alliances get into have long-term consequences on the map. Becuase this game is not sharded, we are all participating in the writing of a single (albeit complex), permanent history. The Goons beat Bob. That happened. Not just to a few people on a single server. It happened to our universe. We all know about it, and future players will too. Even the smallest industrialist is contributing in a meaningful way to the overall economy, warfare and history of New Eden with every unit of ammunition that rolls off their manufacturing line. Every ship that is lost comes from the aggregate economic efforts of numerous players. And on a personal level, when you go boom, the personal cost of that loss is calculable in terms of minutes and hours of ratting, mining, trading, salvaging, scamming and grinding, or else in terms of real world currency converted to PLEX. Loss is meaningful, and that makes the game enjoyable. If losses don’t mean anything, then neither do victories. It’s why I don’t play any other MMO.

So how do you let go of that?

Well, here’s the thing: your brain is (probably) wired to overestimate the cost of risky behavior. I say probably, because there is a minority of the human race that seems predisposed to more risky behavior. Daredevils, Darwin Award candidates, fools. Also, entrepreneurs, pioneers, trailblazers, and doers of great things.

I say this as an ADD-riddled successful entrepreneur. And by “successful” I mean that those of my crazy ideas that worked were so profitable that they overwhelmingly made up for all of the hairbrained things I thought of that crashed and burned, or that never even got off the launchpad.

The secret to understanding your built-in risk assessment instincts, if you are not already one of those crazy people that is attracted to risk, is to realize that just one, single successful risk-taking action can wipe clean the cost of a long string of failures.

The great Eve PvP stories are the ones that early on involve someone deciding to do something that we all know is stupid. They attack an “obvious” bait ship. They take on a much more powerful ship in their smaller ship. And then they do amazing things.

But the thing is, these stories are not the norm. Most of the time, the people who have these stories to tell also have many, many more stories which start the same, but end in a more expected manner. The ship was a bait ship and its friends jumped through the gate and slaughtered them. Or they got further confirmation that, yes, their smaller ship generally doesn’t do better against the enemy’s larger ship. They welp their fleet.

But if you keep on taking against-the-odds PvP risks, you eventually hit the lottery. Only the odds are much better than an actual lottery. Because the other pilots out there do dumb things all the time. You are not playing against perfectly rational actors with perfect knowledge. There is a ton of assymetry in this game. And you can lose a dozen assault frigs doing stupid things and in the end come out with one badass kill that you will be describing to friends for a year or more.

Also, you are accelerating your learning curve. World Chess Champion Bobby Fisher famously said, “The only thing you learn from playing weakies is how to beat weakies.” In Eve, the main thing you learn by taking on easy fights is how to win easy fights. Play up. Take risks. And every time you lose some ISK (but not pride, because you’ve let go of that illusion, right?) in a fight gone wrong, you have the opportunity to learn and get better. And faster than the person you fought. It’s assymetrical. You are learning more from the transaction than they are. If it helps, think of it as spending isk to increase your real-world skill, which will save you isk in the long run.

Finally, you have to take fun into account. It’s why you play, right? So that fun has economic value. Let me put it this way: how much isk would you pay to have an amazing story to brag about? Or what would you pay for the thrill of taking down a low-odds big-ticket target? Put a number on it. Now subtract that from the isk you are risking losing and call it the price of fun.

At the alliance level, this can become way more powerful. Any corp or alliance that decides to use a different value system than the rest of the groups in the game will have an advantage. Goons did this. Early on they eschewed the all-mighty kill ratio as a valid measure of worth, and it made their noob-piloted hero rifters into a powerful weapon. Because they didn’t care about something that their enemies did, they could gleefully toss it away to achieve more meaningful strategic objectives.

Anyone can do this. It’s just a decision. Most people have a default value system that is drawn from the people and culture around them. But you can just decide to consciously reject it. High kill ratios. ISK efficiency targets. Avoiding LOLfits. Holding sov. Just pick something that everyone just knows is important, and give it the finger. It will make you powerful because you are magically changing the risk side of the risk/reward ratio.

So decide to take risks. Laugh at convention. Test common knowledge. Dare to be something more than average. Rewrite the wisdom of the day. And have fun doing it. In Eve, and in life.



Eve as Art: Help Me Choose

A little while back, I won an interesting prize at one of the monthly Austin Eve meetups. For the full details, go read what I wrote then.

Anyway, I went through a bunch of different options for a screen shot to turn into a print, and ended up with a shot of my Jaguar doing a flyby past the Intrepid Crossing TCU in DK0-N8 system, in Cobalt Edge. Tonight, I got back the proofs. There are two versions. Which do you like better?

The original image:

Or this edited one:

10 Keys to Breaking into Your Killboard’s Top 10

As I’ve said previously, I am a low skill point player. I’ve been in Eve less than a year, and I haven’t bought a used character. So my PvP main has only just recently broken past 15 million skill points. I am by definition still a noob. But I’m a fast-learning noob.

As I write this, I am barely a dozen kills away from being the number ten killer on my alliance’s killboard, for the second time since moving to 0.0. I probably won’t make it into the top ten by the end of this month, partly because I’m not into killmail whoring, and right now we are grinding through the now abandoned sov in Oasa and Outer Passage, after chasing xXDEATHXx out of the Drone Regions; so everyone in the alliance has a ton of structures, etc, on the killboard. If I wanted to really bore myself to death, I could go out and shoot abandoned POS modules for a week, but I play this game for “fun”.

But back in October I decided to try to break into the top ten killers list for my alliance, and managed to pull it off: IRC kill board, October 2011. And no, I didn’t do it by shooting POS mods, or by splitting my fire across non-primary targets, or by using any of the other killwhore tactics that are so popular. No, my goal was to become a valuable PvP asset to my corp and alliance despite low skill points and limited experience, not to just cheat my way into a stat with an asterisk.

Now, if I can do it, so can you. Here’s what you do:

1) Show Up

Seriously, this may be the most powerful key in this list. The people who get to the top of their killboards are the ones who log on and fleet up. Now, you don’t have to quit your job and play Eve 23/7, but you do have to log in more than once a week. And when you are logged in, you have to look for fights. Be hungry. If reds come into your space, join the fleet that responds to it. If there’s no fleet, form one yourself. If you are in an Alliance that, by policy, blue balls roaming reds, then disobey that policy. Take them on no matter the odds. You can rat or mine or whatever, but watch intel and the moment it twitches, swap your ISK-maker ship for something with teeth before you say or do anything else. Look forward to intel flashing, and cheer when a CTA is called.

2) Know Your Enemy

When I first started fighting, I didn’t know one ship from another. Yeah, I knew the general classes of ships, but specific ships by name? Nope. I didn’t know a rorqual from a rokh. In large fleet fights led by a competent FC, that didn’t matter too much, but in smaller fights it kinda hinders you. So what to do? Easy: go read the amazingly useful Know Your Enemy series of blog posts by Azual Skoll of Agony Unleashed. They are indexed in the article section of The Altruist.

3) Hang with the Cool Kids

Look at your killboard. Who is in the top ten for last month? Now find them and hang out. Is there a coms channel they sit in usually? Make that your new favorite hangout. If they put up a fleet for any reason, join that fleet. Watch how they play and listen to the conversations they have with one another. Don’t be creepy or annoying about it. Just respectfully hang out and learn from them.

4) Die. A Lot.

My attitude is that every ship I dock up is an unexpected gift. When you undock a ship, count it as lost but on loan. Make losing ships a goal. In addition to regularly being in the top twenty or so killers, I am also a regular member of the top losers club. But I mostly lose rifters on solo roams, so my ISK ratio is nearly always between 90 and 95%. Go find the stats portion of your alliance or corp’s killboard now. If you have serious PvPers in your group, you will likely see some folks in the top ten losers group who are also top ten killers. Kills cost losses. Learning costs losses. Rewards follow risks. Want to get good? Go lose some ships. In bonsai (Japanese art of training trees into miniature works of art) they say you have not begun to know what you are doing until you have killed 100 trees. And Malcolm Gladwell says in Outliers that it takes about ten thousand hours of doing something to become an expert at it. Start your ten-thousand-hour journey to PvP mastery by buying cheap PvP ships ten at time and get going. You have a lot of ships to lose.

5) Turn Off Your Computer, Luke

Fly manually. There are times when clicking orbit is the thing to do, but good PvP flying involves a whole lot more than what your ship’s automatic navigation system is capable of. Learn how to spiral in to a target so that you close distance without dropping your angular velocity below an enemy’s guns’ tracking speed. Take your ship out, drop a can, and try orbiting it at specific distances with and without prop mods to figure out what orbit setting produces what actual orbiting distance, then reset your default orbit range. Never just “Approach” an enemy unless you know he either can’t hit you, or that he’s a missile boat (missiles don’t care about tracking). Learn how to reverse direction suddenly to break an orbiting enemy out of their loop. Figure out when to obey your FC’s align, anchor, and other navigation commands, and when to follow their spirit but not their letter.

6) Hit the Intertoobs

How do you learn these things? YouTube and the web. In particular, spend time studying the offerings at the following websites:

Read the guides, blog posts and articles on these sites, and search YouTube for fight videos. Then go out and experiment with ideas from what you’ve read and seen.

7) Ask Questions

Remember the “cool kids” you’ve been hanging out with? Ask them questions. You know the PvP heavy hitters in your alliance or corp who are not easy to hang with? Send them an eve mail. Be polite with your questions, and be up front and say you are a noob trying to learn to be a valuable PvP asset in your group. Ask specific questions, and ask for general advice. But don’t overwhelm them. One or two questions, then digest the information. Over time, you may be able to have one or more players willing to actively mentor you.

8) Shoot the Primary

When it comes to maneuvering, you need to learn to have a little initiative in fights, but when it comes to target choosing, shoot the primary the FC calls. Not only will this increase the likelihood of your fleet winning the day, but it also means you aren’t wasting your efforts on targets that may never generate killmails. While doing this, split your guns into two stacks, and stagger the two slightly when shooting. This way, if your primary target instapops when (or before, for missiles) your shot hits, you can instantly move half your guns over to the secondary target. Oh, and try to fleet up with FCs who call primary, secondary, and if possible, tertiary targets. But even if your FC doesn’t do this, you can still save time by locking up additional logical targets. This is where Knowing Your Enemy comes in handy even in large fights; once you lock the primary target, lock up several more likely future primaries. It’ll save you time when the current primary goes down.

9) Pick Fights

What do you do when there are no fleets to join? Form a fleet of your own! Recruit a more experienced friend to FC it, or have a go at leading the gang yourself. Be clear to people that you are new at this, and that you are on the “lose a hundred rifters” plan. And when you don’t have groups to go out with you, grab a ship and roam solo. Decide you are going to go out until you get at least one kill or get killed yourself. And expect to mostly do the latter for awhile. Then study your kills, and, more usefully, your losses. Ask yourself questions about how things went down. Examine later with a calm mind the decisions your panicky adrenaline-charged PvP noob brain was making in the heat of the fight. Make every loss count. Most importantly, though, don’t be passive. Accept every chance to fight that comes your way, and then fill every gap in between by making your own PvP opportinities. NPC nulsec is especially good for this sort of thing, but any enemy region can work. Be prepared, though: finding a “fair” fight while roaming–especially solo–is not the goal. It’s not really very likely. Pick unfair fights. Don’t just accept that a jaguar shouldn’t try to solo a ratting drake; pick that fight then find out if what you’ve heard is true, and why (or why not).

10) Fly Mainline Fleet Ships

There is a lot of fun to be had flying all sorts of specialty ships in all sorts of specialty roles. But when you are joining someone’s fleet while trying to run up your kill stats, fleet up in the main DPS ship called for, and be sure you are fitting it to the FC’s specifications. Not just because that will put you in the kind of ship that is going to get kills; frankly, you can get on tons of kills flying an ECM boat or an interdictor. No, the reason to fly the mainline ship called for is that you will live longer while getting your kills. Specialty ships either don’t get lots of kills (scouts and logi) or tend to be primaries early (ECM and, again, logi). Also, if it’s a maelstrom fleet but tempests are also accepted, fly maelstrom. Many FCs seem to target odd men out. You don’t want to be the solo hurricane in a drake fleet.

BONUS 11) Become a Great Scout

This last tip is a way to learn PvP so you can become a top ten killer, but it will actually hurt your killboard stats while you are doing it: become a scout. Scouting is possibly the most effective and intense way of learning about PvP combat in Eve there is. But scouts don’t get on a lot of killmails. So consider spending a month or more scouting, and then switch back to DPS ships to get on the board. (Or just ignore stats and become a world-class scout!) Scouting will give you an inside view to what the FC is seeing and thinking. It will teach you how to fly your ship. You will get practice dscanning and probing and maneuvering. And you will learn the map quicker and, if you are doing it right, accumulate a great stockpile of tactical and strategic bookmarks that will be useful to you in many other PvP settings. How do you become good at scouting? That’s another article altogether.

Until then, fly like you’re already dead!

Welcome to

Hello New Eden! You likely have no idea who I am, and I’ve only been playing eve for just under a year, and frankly I’m pretty bad at most aspects of the game. And therefore, you should read my blog.


Oh, and listen to my podcast, too, once it’s all pulled together. But more on that at another time.

Need more of an introduction than that? Sigh. Okay, here goes…

I’m Reverend Mak. I first heard about Eve Online years ago, and even downloaded the client. But for whatever reason, I never got around to starting a trial account. Fast forward to spring 2011: a friend can’t stop talking about the game, and I start reading more about the player-created history of the game, the rise and fall of alliances, the cons, the wars, the betrayals, the Goons, the spies… And so I made a character.

After fooling around in the game for a month or so, I bio’d my first character and started over. Thus, on 2011.05.25 (at 16:34:00 to be exact), Reverend Mak (Caldari-Deteis-Merchandisers for those who care about that stuff) became a capsuleer. I ran through all the tuturials and career agent missions then went on to that amazing noob paddywhack machine, the Sisters of Eve epic mission arc.

By the time I finished that, I had decided to focus on mining and industry, and then later create a pvp alt. Looking at the map, I chose Hageken system, in Lonetrek, to settle in as my first real “home”. Basically I wanted a Caldari system, with lots of belts and several good stations, and a 0.5 or 0.6 security rating.

And then I mined.

After not much time shooting rocks, I started to notice that there was a corp that was very active in Hageken, also doing mining. I saw their anchored GSC’s everywhere. So the first time I saw one of their pilots in local, I asked them how they liked being members of the corp. That’s how I met one of the directors of Abh Academy. They seemed happy and mentally stable (two things that seem oddly rare among New Eden immortals), and a little research showed that they had a sister corp in nulsec, where I eventually wanted to move my operations, so I applied to join.

I hung with the good carebears for a few weeks, mining and skilling, and occasionally making money running courier trips off contract. The game wasn’t fun in and of itself, so much as the interaction with other ABH Academy members. The most exciting thing that happened was a 1 week wardec. Instead of turtling up, a bunch of us decided to try to fight back. We had maybe two small fights with inconclusive results, and then our wartarget stopped showing up. It was fun, but looking back I can only shake my head at how little I understood about what was going on.

Eventually, though, our sister (parent, really) corp let us know that they were doing a recruitment drive, and who of us felt we were ready to “deploy” to nulsec? I was still very green, and was told I could wait, but the idea of moving to the “big show” was too appealing to put off. I refocused my skill plan away from the hulk/orca/refining/manufacturing path I was on to rush to get to the bare bones minimum requirement of being able to fly a Drake. Yeah.

Requirements for deployment from Abh Academy to Abh Empire have since gone up. But at the time they were really pushing to bump up membership in nulsec. You see, they had lost a bunch of carebears recently due to a war they had been in; now that the war was winding down, they were rebuilding.

Now, the friend I told you about at the beginning of this Great Expository Wall of Text was a director in a corp in an alliance associated with the Northern Coalition (RIP). So I had heard a little about the terrible juggernaut that was the DRF, and how the noble folks in the north were fighting a desperate battle for survival. So I knew a little about this war Abh Empire had been involved with, but I didn’t know what their role, if any, had been during the conflict.

Believe it or not, I only really realized that I had joined the “evil” DRF after I had been living in Cobalt Edge for about a week. Abh Empire, the nulsec side of Abh Academy, was a member corp in Intrepid Crossing (ticker IRC). IRC were the Euro/US time zone industrial client state of Russian alliance Solar Fleet. Many outside of IRC seem to mistakenly believe we are a bunch of Russians; this is based on some dunderheaded smack talk in local from various random roams that come through from time to time. But we are mostly a mix of English, American, German, Spanish, Dutch Portuguese, Canadian, and Latin American capsuleers, only a handful of whom know any Russian at all. Coms are mostly in English, with one or two corps also using a second channel for translation during fleet ops.

Anyway, I stumbled almost totally accidentally into being (as Arydanika keeps calling me) an “evil IRC dude”. But despite randomly falling into it, I am totally happy with the alliance I now call my online family. I love flying for IRC. And my friend from Fidelas Constans? I shoot his corpmates in the face every chance I get. (He’s now CEO of his corp, and so of course never actually has time to get in a fleet and play Eve. I’ll pod him someday, I’m sure.)

And speaking of shooting people in the face…

I set out thinking Reverend Mak would be a happy capitalist/miner/industrialist. After my first big fleet fight, though, I found that I spent all my mining and ratting (which in the Drone Refions is just a different kind of mining), watching intel for the barest twitch of a hint of action. Manufacturing was abandoned, skilling past the retriever was forgotten about, and my whole vision was quickly shifted to becoming an increasingly valuable soldier on the PvP side of the alliance.

I have an alt that does planetary interaction, trading, and blueprint research. My main shoots rats and collects alloys to sell, but mostly is out roaming solo or in gangs when my wallet can support the losses.

So that’s how I got where I am today. I am addicted to the post-PvP adrenaline shakes, fascinated by solo and fleet tactics, and still very intrigued by the Great Game of diplomatic PvP played out at the alliance and coalition level.

And that’s who Reverend Mak is. At least so far. It’s where I’m coming from. So as you read further blog posts here at, know that I truly am a noob at this “terrible game”, and that while I understand the appeal of the carebear life, I am, at my core, a large nulsec alliance PvP pilot, living and killing 24 jumps away from the nearest hisec system. And loving it.

War in the Dronelands: The Story So Far

My alliance, Intrepid Crossing (IRC), is in full-on war mode. For those who don’t follow nulsec politics very closely, the short version is this…

Two Russian alliances, Solar Fleet and Legion of xXDEATHXx (I always feel xXSILLYXx typing that name), went to war with one another at the end of 2011. IRC at first avoided involvement, but in the end entered the conflict because we owe a debt to Solar. While Solar and allies carved deep into Legion of xXDEATHXx’s territories in the south during Russian prime time, IRC waged a campaign to shut down Legion’s renter income by attacking Shadow of xXDEATHXx’s holdings in Oasa during U.S. and Euro prime times. Shadow is the renter alliance that is the source of most of Legion’s wealth.

Losing badly, xXDEATHXx hired uber-mercs, Pandemic Legion, with a contract to remove Solar from the Drone Regions. Along the way, Pandemic Legion, along with their occasional allies “NCdot” (not to be confused with the origional Northern Coalition, of course), ended up striking hard at IRC’s capital system, E-BYOS. We in IRC shifted to a suicidal insurgency model, since PL’s and NCdot’s super capital fleets were no match for our own forces in a toe-to-toe fight, but things weren’t looking great. PL and NCdot then brokered an agreement between IRC and xXDEATHXx: a mutual non-invasion pact. In other words, IRC would withdraw from trying to take systems in Oasa, and xXDEATHXx (and PL) would not try to take sovereignty away from IRC in Cobalt Edge.

There was a lot of grumbling within IRC when the pact was agreed to, but there weren’t many alternatives. Still, we were allowed to roam xXDEATHXx’s regions, just not threaten their sovereignty, nor place AFK cloakers in their system. So we had a new, closeby source of PvP experience, but had to otherwise bow out of the Russian Civil War.

xXDEATHXx (PL, really) then proceded to beat back Solar, forcing them to regroup and retreat to an extent. Solar handed all of their systems in Cobalt Edge over to IRC, while at the same time IRC began transferring its Tenal assets over to Raiden, who were preparing to fight against the Goons and their allies in the north.

Fast forward a few weeks. Solar begins to turn the tide, and with allies Against All Authorities (-A-) chases xXDEATHXx ally Red Alliance out of their homes, thus isolating xXDEATHXx. Then, in a move that so far appears to have been a gross miscalculation, xXDEATHXx broke the pact brokered by PL and NCdot with IRC. Cluster of Rebirth, who at the time were blue to IRC, suddenly started dropping sovereignty blockade units in IRC’s capital constellation, with xXDEATHXx corps doing the same.

This treachery kicked off a fierce multi-day campaign, seemingly coming to a close even as I write this, to head-shot IRC in the E-BYOS system, as well as the surrounding station systems. The height of the campaign included a dozen-hour period in which wave after wave of forces descended on E-BYOS and surrounding systems, while IRC pilots reshipped and reshipped. In the end, seven xXDEATHXx capital ships were destroyed, and billions of ISK worth of destruction was wreaked on both sides.

Now, as I write this, there are no sovereignty timers going in any IRC systems in Cobalt Edge.

Simultaneous with the defense of Cobalt, IRC launched a counter-offensive. Where before, we were in the fight to support our allies Solar and to disrupt xXDEATHXx’s income, this time things are different. xXDEATHXx have proved to be unreliable neighbors. For years they have not liked IRC, but also respected all mutual agreements entered into among the Drone Russian Forces. A betrayal like this, though, changes the equation. Add to that the likelihood that the powerful mercinary forces that saved xXDEATHXx the first time are not likely to get involved a second time with a client who sullies their diplomatic relations, and you can imagine the wild enthusiasm for all out war among the rank and file PvP’ers of Cobalt Edge.

But nothing is certain in New Eden, most especially during a time of war. The Goons have interferred several times, always entering in on the side of xXDEATHXx. And the story of the war for Tenal has yet to be written. But for now, I’m having a total blast as a scout and mainline PvP’er in Oasa, Perrigren Falls, and Outer Passage. Some of the battles I’ve fought, both at home and abroad, have been epic.

I joined Eve Online first and foremost for the opportunity to be part of the collective writing of the permanent history of New Eden. Hanging out on comms, going on roams, learning new parts of the game–peacetime is nice. But frankly, I find in this game I am a warrior (or perhaps a soldier–there’s a difference, you know) more than anything else, and so I am most in my element during war, however it fairs.

I started out writing an article I’ve been intending for some time, titled, “10 Steps to Becoming a Top 10 Killer for Your Alliance”, but realized that perhaps I should first post a little about what context I’m playing in, and where I’m coming from. I have one more sort of “intro” kinda article I’m going to put up, before I get down to the (to me) fun topics of becoming a top killer without a ton of skill points, triple-box scouting, and other such things. Until then, fly like you’re already dead.


I Need Your Help Right Now

Hey, New Eden!

I’m partway through an introduction post to this brand new Eve Online blog (yes we need another one; why would you ask that?), but I have something so pressing and important to talk to you about, that I’m just going to skip over long-winded autobiographical introductions and just come out and say it:

I need your help.

You see, I occasionally attend an Eve meetup in Austin, TX. You may have heard of it, especially if you listen to the awesome Voices from the Void podcast; Voices host Arydanika is a regular attendee at these meetups.

Anyway, our meetup group has recently picked up a sponsor that week: RealScreens. They’re a company that has developed a process to improve the quality of computer screen captures when blowing them up. They then take screen captures from games and turn them into stretched-canvas prints for hanging on your wall.

And at the end of the evening, there was a drawing, and I ended up being the one to win a free print.

But here’s the problem: I can’t figure out what I want a print of. Obviously, something Eve-related. For awhile I was frapsing practically everything I did, in case I came across a moment worth replaying and capturing a still from. But I live in nulsec and fly in a large alliance. Most of my view of the game is pulled out all the way and full of dozens–if not hundreds–of purple and red little boxes. My wife is already a little iffy about Eve art hanging on our wall; it’d help my case if the result was at least a little more artistic than a nulsec fleet battle.

So at this point I need to either stage something myself, or blatantly steal someone else’s work. That’s where you come in.

Please get back to me over the next day or so with any of the following:

  1. a suggestion of something that’d be easy to stage and capture that’d be awesome hanging on any Eve player’s wall;
  2. a link to a really cool eve screenshot that is online and that I might be able to get permission to use; or
  3. an original screenshot of your own that you think is so awesome it needs to be immortalized by stretched canvas, but that is not so awesome that I will have to pay you cash money for the priviledge of doing so.

For any of the above, keep in mind that the final print will be on a wide, panoramic-shaped (is that a thing?) canvas. Think widescreen but a little more. Check out the RealScreens site linked above for an idea of what I’m talking about.

Oh, and I need this, like, now. The next meetup is quickly coming up and I need to send the screencapture to the nice folks at RealScreen in time for them to produce the print for presenting.

So hit me up with a comment to this post, or send an email to or an EveMail to, yes, Reverend Mak. You can even tweet me @ReverendMak, if you’re into that kind of thing.