A View From The Line: One Year of Brave NewbiesGuest Post
What follows is a submission from Brave Newbies pilot Dunk Dinkle. Dunk started playing Eve in 2008, finding it close to Ultima Online in spirit. After wasting years with an empty skill queue, he’s flying once again with Brave Collective, waiting for pilots to broadcast for reps and spamming comms with a soundboard.
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January 30th, 2014, marks the first full year of the Brave Newbies Initiative in Eve Online. As an early member, here’s a brief insight into what life is like within the crazy.
While I’ve been with Brave a long time, I’m not formally part of the leadership of the corporation and speak only for myself. I wrote this to provide a view as to what life is like in Brave Newbies from a line member’s perspective.
When the battle of Asakai occurred, I wasn’t playing Eve at all. I had spent time in a high sec missioning corp until the married couple who led it got divorced and the group closed down. After a bit, I gave Faction Warfare a try when it was first released. I joined a FW corp and helped Caldari Militia take over all of Gallente space (even got the medal) at a time when faction warfare was not lucrative in any way. Time passed and my enthusiasm waned, so I moved on to other games.
Then I read about Asakai on Reddit. I got excited reading the story and wondered if I could get into Eve again. I looked at Dreddit, but they were swamped with people trying to get in through their screening process. I saw a link to /r/BraveNewbies and took a look. “Why the hell not?” I thought. Soon, I patched up my Eve Online client, applied to BNI, and in minutes, I was in – 5 days after Brave Newbies had formed.
Flying my Caracal to Hek, what I found was chaos. Wardeccers camping the station, comms in disarray, and few with any clue on how to fit a ship for PvP, let alone FC a fleet. Soon, people stepped up and we started to push back against the wardeccers. It is amazing what the concept of an instaundock bookmark can do for your corp’s survivability. Within a couple weeks, fleets of Arty Thrashers were forming regularly and there was room for hope in the corp. Not many pilots flew support ships, so I started flying logistics ships and ECM to help out against the countless enemies we faced.
Soon we moved from Hek to Rahadalon, where many of the core concepts of BNI formed. These early months were crucial in establishing Brave’s main principles of Having Fun and Staying Classy. Our founder, Matias Otero, is a remarkable man, with wisdom beyond his years. Without his initial leadership, Brave would have folded quickly. A Council of Newbie Management was put in place, power decentralized, and basic guidelines put in place for line members. After test deployments into CVA space and Syndicate, we made our next move to Barleguet and formed the Brave Collective Alliance. As we transitioned to Lychton’s leadership, Brave found itself stronger than ever, with high morale and great participation in the various shenanigans that pop up on a daily basis.
I would have never imagined that rag-tag group from the first week of Brave Newbies would end up being one the largest groups in Eve a year later.
Life in Brave Collective
Life in Brave is a bit chaotic. There are fleets up constantly. With a global membership, someone is always tired and ready for bed at the same time someone else is eating breakfast. Weekends are full of varying levels of drunkenness at all times of day. Ships are exploding constantly. If you want a lot of rules, organization, and structure, Brave is not the place for you.
The Brave Culture
The culture has evolved slowly over time and has moved from a pure “Let’s Shoot Things” attitude to a wider “Let’s do fun things together” attitude. Members not only play Eve together, but also whatever is the new game du jour.
Overall, the attitude in chat & comms is relentlessly positive. When someone loses a shiny ship, condolences are given and constructive discussion occurs. Sometimes people will mock a loss or fitting, but generally that is looked down upon. The same attitude applies to local chat; posting enemy killmails and shit-talking is frowned upon. We try to keep local chat light and full of ‘gf’s and funny gifs. Remembering that the enemy is just another person trying to have a good time is key.
Our policy on tolerance made same waves, and has been reinforced; slurs are looked down upon. It is a fine line to walk between a welcoming atmosphere and an overly PC one. It will never be perfect, but at least we are trying to make an environment that is friendlier to players, as opposed to sticking with the traditional HTFU attitude found in many other places. For the younger players, I think it’s great for them to encounter different kinds of people and realize that they are not so different, even if their nationality/race/gender/orientation/pronunciation of ‘gif’ is different than their own.
Each new day brings new pilots to BNI. Many are new to Eve and need help understanding the basics of PvP. Some are long term players that have never left High Sec. We try to warn them in the standard welcome Evemail, but many end up losing their beloved mission boats to wardeccers. It sucks, but it happens. Low sec and null is the place for Brave pilots, unless they are in a fleet prepared for the limits of high sec combat.
We spend a lot of time teaching new pilots the ropes. We use graphics and gifs to try to get the concepts across, but Eve’s learning curve is steep. Some lessons are still learned the hard way. It is not uncommon for people to send ISK to new members that have gotten blapped on the way to Barleguet.
Repeatedly explaining the basics on a daily basis can get old, but we have several ways to spread the load, from specific help chat channels to training fleets. It takes patience, but appears to pay off when new players grow into strong, involved pilots.
Even older pilots new to Brave are encouraged to fly inexpensive frigate tackle until they understand the way fleets run, so as not to lose shiny ships to confusion. That said, we still see the occasional battleship arrive on field as part of the Barleguet Defense Fleet, flown by a new member thinking that bigger is better.
There are multiple fleets up at all times. Each system we operate in has a defense fleet that everyone in the area is expected to join, even if docked. Our strength lies in numbers and mutual aid. Hearing “X is in fleet” is shorthand for telling everyone to defend a fellow Newbie. This has expanded to helping with rats and other non-combat situations, but generally reinforces the idea of backing each other up at all times.
Unlike some other groups, any pilot is free to start their own fleet and go do something. There are no restrictions, except the golden rule: Don’t Shoot Blues. Want to go rat in Null? Start a fleet. Want to gatecamp a choke point? Start a fleet. Want to gank haulers in high sec? Start a fleet. Want a frigate roam to shoot FW pilots? Start a fleet. The more people that step up to FC, the better.
When we have a more serious objective, such as a large enemy fleet in the field, one of our official FCs will step up, and the fleet becomes a more focused beast. Fleets are reorganized to account for boosts, anchors are watch-listed, and comm discipline is enforced. Things are kept fairly loose until we are warping into battle, at which time “Battle comms” is called and the “general sperging” disappears. I’m always impressed at the transition from partyfuntime to seriousbizness in just a few seconds. And when we get serious, we bring both numbers and discipline. When you are facing 50 Thorax with logistics support, you will have a bad day unless you have a carrier on standby. As more pilots progress into Battlecruisers and Battleships, we retain the ability to field mass numbers and create even more havoc.
Brave members rarely avoid fights. It may take a while to rally the fleet, but we don’t like to blueball people. That said, if you bring a gang of capitals to our undock, or a 30+ AHAC gang with Guardian support, we are not going to intentionally whelp a fleet just to say we tried. We play to have fun, not for statistics or leaderboards. Therefore, if we know a fight does not have a chance be fun, we will avoid it, no matter how you might taunt in local.
BNI currently has a limited number of moons, held to help fund the alliance. With such an open recruitment policy, security around POS rights is tight. This puts a lot of pressure and work on a small number of pilots to keep everything running. We are developing the kind of services that other, older groups have had for years, but it’s a slow process to get the tools in place. Right now, it’s a struggle as we learn lessons now that others learned years ago.
People often ask “when will BNI make a play for sovereignty?” Right now, sov is about capital ships; capitals are needed to take and defend systems. In theory you can do it without them, but the reality is that sovereignty is a rich man’s game. While we can field a handful of capitals on occasion, we simply don’t have the numbers needed to make sovereignty anything but a painful and fruitless exercise. However, once the number of capital pilots in BNI rises, anything is possible.
Politics and Drama
Brave Newbies has done a great job in keeping the majority of traditional Eve forum trolling to a minimum. Since BNI is not entangled in any of the major coalitions, the corporation manages to stay out of the sovereignty drama. We do have a few alliances that we are tight with, working together and providing mutual aid, but it’s more that we like their attitude than we are scheming to form a new coalition. We want to be on ‘frenemy’ terms with the major groups so that we can have good fights that don’t turn into vendettas. Pilots have already left Brave and moved into various, more powerful alliances and it’s good to have friends that respect us there. In EVE, one never know when one might need a favor. There’s probably more going on with Leadership and the major alliances/coalitions, but as a line member, I’ve never been told that anything but blues are off limits or that I can’t have friends in other corps.
That said, we do have our fair share of drama cynos lit. From arguments in comms, to AWOXs of questionable rationale, to alliance mails, to badly fitted ships on corp contracts – pretty much every week brings a new drama llama to get hashed out on /r/BraveNewbies or in comms. When things get too heated in comms I tend to play Miley Cyrus songs, which usually breaks the tension quickly.
Sometimes, bittervets arrive and start up with habits that are expected in other corps but that don’t find approval within Brave. Mocking losses or fittings, starting in with the HTFU speech, and other things that seem common in other groups simply don’t find a receptive audience. People are willing to listen to constructive advice, but no one likes a know-it-all that insists on telling everyone how wrong they are and how perfect their ideas are. Some find Brave refreshing and get re-energized, but most don’t fit in and find their way out of corp quickly.
Bravery through Adversity
A group this large and diverse is unwieldy. There are so many directions to go and things to try that no one can agree on an exact path. The Council of Newbie Management has a tough job of trying to point everyone in the same rough direction. The formation of the Brave Collective has allowed different corps to focus on different playstyles, but finding a fun alliance-wide goal continues to be a struggle. I’m sure every large alliance faces the same issue.
The call for sovereignty gets made regularly, with opinions coming from every possible side. For now it’s not on the table; but when sov does become a goal, it will be a stressful time that will need to be handled well by leadership and line members both. I’m hoping for Hull Repair Drones to be in-game before then.
Spies are an issue that is going to continue to grow. With an open recruiting policy, it’s easy to slip an alt into Brave and know exactly what’s going on at a tactical level. There are the people that like to come to Barleguet and pick off pilots in belts while listening in comms to gain an advantage. That kind of thing isn’t the end of the world. Nor is it the end of the world for a spy to report the name of our FC for head-shotting during a fight, or other typical tactics for gaining the upper hand in a battle. The real concern comes later, when we are flying more expensive fleets that aren’t easily replaced or a key money making resource is compromised.
We’ve already seen a Brave corp leave to join another organization and it will happen again. While it is not necessarily a bad thing, it does create a bit of personal drama when you find former allies, allies that you liked as individuals and have chatted with for months, suddenly shooting you. My fear is that this might escalate into an even bigger problem down the road. There is no real way to avoid it, but the way arrivals to and departures from Brave Newbies are handled will make all the difference.
Finding Fun in EVE Online
The one factor that I’ve enjoyed more than any other in Brave has been the people. From my friend the FC from New York City to the Dutch/Pakistani peacemaker/instigator; the furries to the German hacker; the whiskey aficionado from Colorado to the Australian fire fighter; the military veterans talking about their deployments to the Texan oil rig worker; the angry Scotsman to the college students complaining about finals; from bitter vets finding Eve fun again to the hundreds of other people I’ve met and connected with because of Brave.
Logging into comms is always an adventure. Sometimes, the sperging or endless fitting talk is too much to take, but for the most part it’s a wonderful, amazing thing to be part of a global team of people, most of whom have never met in person, all sharing in a common adventure. Together, we are all learning not just about Eve, but about how much everyone has in common, regardless of their points of origin.
Okay, maybe that’s getting a little too ‘kumbaya’ for an Eve essay, but you get my drift.
I also love shooting internet spaceships. It’s fun saving that ship out of structure with reps during a fight or jamming the enemy, knowing they are pounding their fist on their desk somewhere in the world as I grin.
But nothing is as fun as taking on smug fleets in their shiny faction ships and turning them into wrecks with our blob of T1 ships. The tears, they are so very delicious. And with any luck, they will continue flowing for years to come.