Sunday, May 01, 2016

AAR: Noble Sentiments vs itself

I am scheduling this post to be posted automatically half a month from now. At that point our assets should be completely evacuated.

Noble Sentiments started out as an idea between a few older members of Sleeper Social Club. The idea was simple: create a C5 PvP corp that wasn't limited to innovating by directors who still had control of the direction of the corp but didn't actively play. Being led by severl who were big names and content creators in the USTZ particularly, Noble Sentiments gathered many USTZ folks from SSC who split off to join.

We settled into our home, a C5 Red Giant that was only chosen because it was already owned by one of our directors. We had our eyes set on a C5 Pulsar but ultimately diplomacy concerns meant that our plan of evicting the owners (some of whom included people like Lazerhawks) wouldn't be the best idea for a young corp.

However, early on, there was some disagreement at the director level about the direction of the corp (this was prior to me being appointed a director). Two of the biggest content creators ended up on a side against the rest of the directors and some comments made in poor taste by one of the directors at the time only served to exasperate the situation. While I advised my contacts in the directorship to quickly sort out the situation and ensure apologies ensued, it was too little too late and our two biggest content creators left for different pastures. At this point the director who made the initial comments was demoted by the CEO and other people, including myself, were appointed directors to fill in the gaps left behind.

Losing two of our biggest content creators was a big blow but not necessarily a devastating blow. We still had other content creators in the corp. However, for some people in the corp, the idea of being a small fish in a big pond was not their idea of a fun time. For others, the work required to get a new corp off the ground was not something they were interested in doing. Especially in a small C5 corp, every member needs to be on board to scan, create content, and make an effort to be around. This was more work than some people wanted to put in and other opportunities (i.e.: other established corps) were too appealing. Other people just vanished all together, which might have been fine in a big corp like SSC but was incredibly noticeable in our little group. Finally, several positive developments in our corp members' lives meant that some people just did not have time to dedicate to growing a small corp and being active.

All of these factors combined meant that we had a very small group of active individuals. This meant that content was far and few between, and with no EUTZ to speak of the USTZ was often logging into the same old chain from yesterday, usually end of life. We often times did not have enough people available to tackle some of the content we wanted to try. As the director responsible for recruitment, I worked incredibly hard to try to drive recruitment so that we could replenish our ranks. We did have interest from people who liked my recruitment ads, but unfortunately I was bringing one person in as two or more were leaving.

We switched our focus from big, expensive doctrines to small gang. This was ideal considering our smaller group of people and more focus on pilot skills. However, again, we just didn't seem to have the interest to sustain small gang work. While I wanted to drive content in this area, I was forced to spend weeks away from my computer in a dispute with my landlord followed by a move. By the time I had internet installed in my new place, activity even in the USTZ was barren. It's hard to blame anyone for that, as solo scanning the chain was something I did before moving and it was not fun to scan chains that no one was going to use.

Ultimately, the lack of participation is really what ended up killing Noble Sentiments. We started with a bunch of skilled people but I think the move out from SSC burned some folks out and perhaps others who agreed to come along were already burned out with Eve (or w-space) in general.

Do I regret coming along for this ride? No, I don't. I think that this corp could have been successful if things had panned out differently, starting with mitigating that director-level disagreement at the beginning and also by encouraging participation by having content from the very beginning.

It's unfortunate to see this good group of guys split up. I've been flying with them for a year and a half now and I've had great times with them. People are heading off in all different directions, some to bigger w-space corps and others are leaving for k-space or a hiatus from Eve.

Me? I don't know where I'm going to go yet. At this point I'm feeling a bit lost, like a piece of driftwood floating aimlessly in the sea being rocked by currents outside of its control. I was deferred from Waffles, a group I thought that I would excel in, due to an inactive killboard. And that deferral has really made me hyper-aware of the lack of killboard activity on my character. It also made me hyper-aware of the kills I was losing out on when I was flying support roles like logi when our whore drones were asked to be swapped for utility drones. One thought is to take the advice of my recruiter and join Pandemic Horde for "dank frags" and have some non-serious fun for a while, potentially joining Waffles later down the line. Other options include returning to Eve University to practice FCing in one of their campuses or join a small gang PvP group like Agony Unleashed. I would expect that my prospects of joining a C5 PvP group are low given my killboard metrics that make it seem like PvP is of no interest to me. Sadly metrics speak more loudly than experience as I've found out, so I might need to focus on racking up kills to apply to more serious corps in the future.

If you have suggestions for where I should go, I'm all ears. See you in space!

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

New Beginnings

My old corp, Future Corps, perhaps better known by the alliance it flew under - Sleeper Social Club - has shut down. It came as a bit of a shock to me. One week we were having fun, getting fights and the next week I'm pulled into a private conversation on TeamSpeak and asked if I'm interested in joining a new corp - a splinter cell. After that conversation I took a little closer look at my surroundings and noticed the fractures appearing as I noticed people starting to get their ships ready to leave.

As it turned out, a good number of the people that I knew and enjoyed flying with were planning on breaking off into this group and I decided to go along with them. Other people that I enjoyed flying with ended up in different places, some in another new corporation and others grabbing spots in the various established w-space corporations. The one "good" thing about SSC shutting down was that it ended up spawning two additional w-space corporations. That's a net gain of one new corp in w-space, which I consider good for the space we love so much.

Even though I had agreed to join this new corp, for a while I was having some doubts as to whether or not it would be the best place for me right now. I considered joining Waffles to work on improving my PvP skills and FCing ability. I went back and forth on this and eventually ended up applying. As it turned out, I was "deferred" because of my killboard and told to go join Pandemic Horde to "get some dank kills" and "prove" my interest in PvP. I laughed a bit at this because my killboard stats were almost identical to my recruiter's killboard prior to joining Waffles - and he mentioned at one point that he didn't believe my kills would go from what they were to something higher. The irony of his statement after I had researched him probably as much as he had researched me wasn't lost on me, but it is what it is. This is not to mention that I had one quarter of the number of kills that he had in terms of ISK value while having significantly less kills in terms of raw numbers.

I'll admit that I wasn't expecting to get turned away from Waffles. I figured my skills and willingness to fly support roles like scout, logi, ewar plus a heavy interest in improving my FCing would look good to them but they were too focused on killboard metrics. As someone who is always the first to jump into a support role, I've missed out on kills more times than not. Sometimes there are no whore drones in your bay because the last person didn't refill them. Sometimes there are smart bombs on field and your drones get eaten alive before they can get on a target that dies. Sometimes you're told to bring non-whore drones so you don't have the capacity to whore at all. And other times, you're the one relaying intel to the FC from your position, in a cloaky non-combat ship - an effort that is required to get kills but also an effort that doesn't reward you with killmails. Or, in an example I pointed out to my recruiter, I've been the scout sitting on the other side of the gate watching for reinforcements or standing by to tackle should the person on the other side of the gate being killed by my friends deaggress and try to get away. All of these things don't get picked up by killboard metrics yet they were used to judge my application.

At the very least, the rejection or "deferral" from Waffles was enough to put that idea to rest in my mind. I would have happily joined them if I was accepted, but now that I've been turned away it's easier to move on with my Eve life and not think about "well what if I had applied to Waffles". This gave me renewed drive to focus on this new corp.

Getting started in a new corp is no easy task. There's tons of logistics to do (after we spent tons of time and energy moving out of our old home). Plus, you're no longer the big kids on the block. We're all used to being able to ping and have a flood of people show up. We're all used to having back up waiting just on the other side of the hole. Now, we're a much smaller group and chances are there's not very many people just a ping away.

That's okay though, this is a new experience for all of us and the fact that we're small guys means that we need to start thinking like small guys and not big guys like we used to be. That leaves tons of new and interesting options for us to pick when we're going to fight someone. I personally believe we need to be smarter, quicker and sneakier than these other guys to compensate for the fact that everyone else probably outnumbers us. Maybe we need to rely more on ewar and less on the pure numbers of DPS to break through other people's tanks. This is a work in progress and it will take time for us to get to that point.

I ended up being promoted to Director for this new corp, which I can only feel is a major vote of confidence in myself as a pilot. Director roles are never given out easily and especially not in a wormhole corporation where none of your assets are tied down in personal hangers. My focus is doing what I do best: recruitment and propaganda for our corporation. So, if you're looking to join a small, primarily USTZ C5 PvP corporation, come talk to me! Or, you can check out the corporation Noble Sentiments in-game and pop into our public channel "T0RAH Public".

Monday, January 04, 2016

CSM Candidacies

Well, the new year means that CSM X will be winding down and we'll be looking forward to CSM XI. Already many people have announced their candidacy and I wanted to write a bit about some interesting contenders and of course those candidates who shouldn't be running for the CSM.

I'll start, like always, with the wormhole candidates.

Chitsa Jason is running and as an ex-CSM member and member of my corp, I feel it fitting to start with him. I find his candidacy post leaves a lot to be desired however having known him for about a year now, I know that he's very knowledgeable and passionate about the game. He's also one of the organizers of the wormhole NPSI fleets (think wormholer's version of Spectre Fleet) and seems to have friends all over who help him make things happen. You'll note that there's some drama brewing in his thread from other wormholers. I called some of them out on it for talking smack without putting forward candidates of their own, to which I did not receive a reply. (Later, Noobman stepped up, which we'll discuss next.) What I find mildly infuriating is that as people who live in wormhole space, we shouldn't be attacking other w-space candidates. Someone who seriously cares about w-space should be voted for by anyone who lives in w-space, period. Petty rivalries between corps should be left behind when we're talking about the potential betterment of where we live. 

As I mentioned, Noobman of Hard Knocks put forth his candidacy for w-space. I know of him in two ways: one, in-game as an excellent Hard Knocks FC and director and two, out of game where he was willing to answer my questions about the Python coding that he was doing when trying to automate his w-space killboard stats. From what I've seen I think he'll be another great candidate for wormhole space.

A relatively unknown (to me) wormhole candidate is Bradford Clear, the alliance executor of P-NAH, a wormhole alliance. He seems promising to me although after reading his candidacy post I find myself itching for more information about what he wants to bring to the CSM. However, another serious wormhole candidate is great for making sure that wormholers are kept in mind when designing things like citadels and making changes to capitals, etc. 

Stepping away from wormhole candidates for now, Apothne is running and I'm certain he'll get in. A fantastic FC, incredibly knowledgeable guy and all around good person he'll be great for the CSM. 

Steve Ronuken is running again and will certainly be on my ballot as someone who has proven himself time and time again.

Nikolai Agnon has a very well written post about low sec, and we'll be needing a low sec representative now that Sugar Kyle won't be running for a third term (seriously, that is going to be our loss - she's a fantastic CSM). He seems very promising to me.

Gorski Car is running again, and after "filling in" for two half CSM terms I think he's close to getting an actual seat. I'm not too familiar on what he does or what he has brought to the CSMs that he has been a part of, but he's worth watching.

Other interesting candidates right now include Mr Hyde and Joffy Aulx-Gao. 

Xenuria is of course running again and there seems to be a movement to elect him for the luls. He's running on a platform of reforming the CSM, but he has yet to describe how exactly he'd want to reform it, what his version of the ideal CSM would function and whether or not it's up to the CSM to push for reform themselves or whether they should stick to their duties and CCP should push through any sort of reform. As far as I'm concerned, it's CCP's job to change the CSM so it works better for them, so a vote for Xenuria is just a wasted vote. 

These are my initial impressions of the CSM candidates as it stands right now. I'm sure more will flesh out as we get into campaigning season, with interviews and more questions for them to answer. 

I tend to agree that the CSM has fallen on some tough times with CCP as the trust seems to have been broken. I'm hoping the next group can start rebuilding that trust as I still think that the CSM is a useful vessel and sounding board for CCP. We shall see what CSM XI brings us soon enough!