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I focus almost exclusively on PvP, whether solo, small gang, or large bloc warfare. In the past, I've been a miner, mission runner, and faction warfare jockey. I'm particularly interested in helping high-sec players get into 0.0 combat.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Change Is the Only Constant

On Saturday, I wrote about some big news coming down the pipeline.  Now that everything’s said and done, I can announce that I’ve decided to leave null-sec and join Sky Fighters, a WH corp.

Granted, it’s big news for me, but you, dear reader, probably don’t care much.  I’ll still be PvPing and writing about PvP, and if anything moving to WH space will allow me to more easily confront a variety of situations… the next WH could take me anywhere in the galaxy, and there could be a fight through every one.  Fraps is ready, and as is my willingness to write about both my successes and failures and the lessons that everyone can take from them.

But, with each post on Target Caller, I try to give something valuable for you to apply to your own Eve time.  With that in mind, I want to give the story behind the change.  Maybe it’ll resonate with you, or maybe it’ll provide some insight that will help with your recruitment and retention efforts.

So let me spin my tale.

I first played Eve in 2009 – Talvorian is actually the character I first created – but I barely knew anything about the game.  I actually didn’t understand about capacitor regeneration and was deeply concerned that I’d be stuck in space forever if I went below 50% - and couldn’t make my way back.

I started mining initially.  I knew about the three kinds of each type of ore, but I only mined in high-sec.  I started to learn enough to know 0.6 and 0.5 space was better than 1.0 space, but by then, I had ventured far enough to know about missions.  Missioning was the only way I knew to earn good isk back then.  When I gathered loot – literally flying to each wreck and scooping it – I didn’t realize actual players set the buy prices very low near mission hubs.  I didn’t know about Jita, Amarr, Rens, Hek, and Dodixie.   I knew nothing about low-sec space, and lost a few mission Ravens that way.

I was under the impression that null-sec was a dangerous world (it is) teeming with psychopaths (they are) where new players would surely die (they would).  I didn’t have any idea that dying a lot is how you learn.

I joined a The Jagged Alliance with a corporation named Borealis Mining Concern to dip my toe into null-sec.  They did a variety of tasks, and as I was coming from high-sec, that appealed to me.  At the time, I had about 500 million isk to my name.  They quickly left that corp and joined Imperial Legion.  That was my first true taste of null-sec.  My net worth increased to about two billion isk.

But after a while, I wanted a more hardcore PvP experience, and I found Razor back when they only had five systems in Pure Blind.  I didn’t know it at the time, but it was between their peaks, during one of their rebuilding stages.  I was in awe of the concept of fleet doctrines, trolling losses on killboards, and CTAs.

Over the next two years, Razor taught me what it meant to PvP.  To truly PvP.  The list of campaigns began to mount.  Branch.  Tenal.  Tribute.  Vale of the Silent.  Delve.  Cobalt Edge.  Fountain.  Delve again.  Curse.

I can’t say enough kind words about Razor, and the goats who flew with them.  They acted professional when they fought… no smack-talk in local, kill your targets and get out.  And I have nothing but positive feelings for them and everything they do.

But if they are so wonderful, why am I leaving?

Take a look at that list of campaigns.  In two years, I noticed something… I was always fighting the same people.  We were having the same fleet fights.  Sure, the ships changed, but the basic cast of characters was the same.  This is, after all, a game of immortal capsuleers, and one of the side effects is that null-sec is locked in the same conflict time and again.  It’s part of the reason why there are still so many people for the CFC to fight… they just start up new corporations and continue the fight.

Even during the best of times – going out in small gangs and harassing your enemies – it’s still a bit of a grind.  With the current deployment having lasted several months, the war effort has consumed all our time, and that means fleet doctrine fight after fleet doctrine fight.

If you’ve read this blog, you know that fleet doctrine fights, while essential for sov-null, are something I tend to endure rather than enjoy.  You can only have so many 10% tidi fights before they start to wear on you.  Over the months, the other types of fleets – the pirate fleets (kitchen sink fleets), the wormhole expeditions, the pick-up fleets – have all seemed to drop off.

Now, I did say, “seemed”.  As I look around the alliance, those fleets are still going on in the USTZ, as much as or more than ever.  But I started to become deaf to them, even though they’re exactly the type of fleet I want.

I was starting to get burned out by the sov-null grind.  I realized I needed a change to keep myself engaged with Eve.  Oh, I still loved talking and thinking about Eve, but I was increasingly disinterested in logging in and actually playing.  When I did, I found myself ratting instead of PvPing.  That was the wake-up call.  I had lost my passion.  I need to make a change.

No matter what niche your corporation or alliance fulfills, ultimately, the majority of your organization’s time will be dedicated to that main raison d’etre.  A pirate organization will tend to pirate.  A FW corp will engage in FW.  A mining corp will do mining.  Sure, you can do other things, but ultimately, the primary purpose of your existence will take precedence.

As much as anyone wants to claim, “We are a PvP organization” isn’t a clear enough statement.  What kind of PvP group are you?  Do you do small-gang?  Large fleets?  Bomber fleets?  Hot-dropping?  High-sec warfare?  They’re all quite different, and in the end, you will gravitate towards one primarily.

In Razor, we have many FCs who specialize in different types of fleets, and during peace-time, they run a lot of those fleets.  But when Razor is at war, a certain portion of those fleets are crowded out by war operations.  A certain portion of those war ops start before I can play each night (I have a wife and two kids to put to bed first).  A certain portion of the rest take more time than I have available.

The net result is that, though the number of fleets remain the same, my ability to enjoy them isn’t.  A person can endure that for a while – even years – but eventually, burn-out sets in, and we all tend to long for something different.  Different teaches us.  Different helps us grow.  But different is scary sometimes, too.

So, I tried to be rational.  What did I truly love about Eve?  The thrill of the unknown, not knowing what’s in the next system.  Small gang- PvP, having to dictate range and fight outnumbered in unfamiliar situations.  The joy of learning new things about the game, not just how to fly ships, but mechanics.  Fighting new enemies, with unpredictable capabilities and flying styles.

And when I thought about it, if I’m going to make a change, it makes sense to make a big one.  Success is not achieved through half measures.  I’ve been living in null-sec for three years – and only entering empire space to kill people during two of them.  I really wanted – no, needed – to try a different style of play

So I identified a few corporations that might be interesting.  I wanted a group with a very heavy USTZ presence, so I researched them on eve-census.  I wanted a PvP-oriented group that still ran some PvE to fund it, so I checked eve-kill to see the times of day when they saw action.  I wanted a mature group that didn’t have a lot of drama, so I asked probing questions of their recruiters.  I wanted a group that had a well-established, social culture, so I excluded particularly small groups.

Sky Fighters came highly recommended, and seemed to fit all those criteria.  This’ll be something new, something wholly different from my time in Razor.

Yet, I had a lot of anxiety, dropping everything I knew to try something different.  Razor had been nothing but good to me, and I had no complaints.  Did I really want to give up my comfortable patterns for the unknown, where nothing would be the same?

But, then I realized how things would progress if I didn’t give it a try.  I’d be less and less engaged as the months went on, and would come to hate the things I still loved about Razor.  It wouldn’t be entirely fair, as my complaint wasn’t with Razor itself – I’m convinced they’re an excellent null-sec home for anyone, and I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with everyone there – but rather, I was just tired.

The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.

Every so often, we all need to change things up, to keep them fresh.  It helps us rediscover the things we’ve lost, while uncovering a few new surprises.  That’s just human nature.  Think carefully on the comfortable patterns you’ve fallen into.  Do they suit you?  Do they suit your membership?  If not, you may want to look hard at whether something needs to change.  Perhaps you’re a CEO and not being true to what you intended for your corporation.  Or, perhaps – like me – you’re a player finding yourself increasingly frustrated with Eve, and don’t realize that you may just want to try something new.  Look into those reasons, and you may find yourself rediscovering joy in this game.

As for myself, I leave behind me great friends, a wonderful experience, and a classy group of people I’ve truly enjoyed flying with.  And before me lies – hopefully – wild fights, new friends, and a little education.  After all, if I’m not learning, I’m not having fun.

And that wouldn’t be a very entertaining read, now would it?