CZ Minutes: Grr Goons?


What began as the usual back-and-forth between trolls, cat-callers, naysayers and supporters of the Fountain War kickstarter has escalated into a full-fledged conflict this week. Bloggers, youtube producers, redditors and of course the EVE news sites all stepped to the pulpit and participated in the ever escalating discussion about the nature and merit of the project by Mittani Media. The opinions range between two extremes. Imperium spokespeople accuse their detractors of petty ad-hominem agitation which hurts the EVE community as a whole. Their opponents accuse them of shameless money-grabbing and unparallelled arrogance. Is this really an indication of the moral bankruptcy of Goon leadership, or is what we see the result of blind “Grr Goons” rage by people who simply want to see the Imperium fail? Where do you stand?

Jason Quixos: I stand on my own two feet. Aside from that I have actually been sceptical about this project from its announcement. The KS goal was questionably high, and when I consider Andrew Groen’s Kickstarter, he managed to raise £90k+ without a “media” company sfupporting him. I feel TMC set their goal so high for many reasons, but it had to be higher than this figure for vanity reasons. The meta may have got salty, but it has been justified. Goons have been shitting on players for years. The samples provided by Jeff were so far off the mark for many people, myself included.

I thought it was only women who had selective memories, then Sion makes that post blaming the rest of the EVE community. The defeat in his tone has sealed the deal for that entire kickstarter ever succeeding. Was he however a victim of the saltiness and shitposting on /r/EVE resulting in his poorly articulated pigeon holing of the entire playbase? Or being a savvy move and knowing full well the kind of response and click-bait material included in his post, has this been a clever way to boost some traffic over at TMC? It certainly hasn’t made any new promoters for the KS.

I do not think this will be the end of “grr goons” or the end of TMC making use of the IP license on another project.

JEFFRAIDER: I declare myself Viceroy of this document.

Tarek: … and by Imperial decree I declare Viceroy JEFFRAIDER entitled to 5% of the drama this document generates.

Gorski: Isn’t it nice seeing goons all pro community… they pretty much invented weaponized boredom and did their best to drive people away from the game.

Psianh: What Gorski says is very true. I can claim a pretty strong unbiased stance in this kind of thing. As a player I’ve had no loyalties to any organization; perks of being a mercenary. The Goon schtick has always been that they’re here to ruin your game. They don’t care about the overall health or future of the game, they’re here to have fun – even at your expense. And that’s amazing. To me, it reflects well on the game of EVE that this type of gameplay is part and parcel with the experience of playing. I love that we have a game universe that lets players actually play how they want. I don’t hold it against the organization or its leaders that they chose that type of approach when deciding on how to make their mark in EVE.

“Could this book reach untold numbers of new readers who had never heard of EVE before?”

But for the same organization to cry foul when there aren’t enough people willing to pay up over a completely optional project, saying that they’re hurting EVE by not doing so, is ridiculous. First of all, that assumption is tenuous at best. Could this book reach untold numbers of new readers who had never heard of EVE before? Would we see waves of new players creating accounts and sticking around? Perhaps, but I seriously doubt it.

The Mittani Media did some things well: they received backing from notable members of the community, convinced a published author (many times over) to helm the writing, and – well, I guess that’s about it. Everything else was handled about as well as you’d expect from a group of people who have no prior experience with publishing, marketing, or even creating a large, written novel. And nevermind the source, which presents so many problems that have so rarely been addressed before, providing few to no resources on which to rely on for help and inspiration.

So how, we must ask, would a group that can’t even convince the players – that would be most interested in reading the results of this project – then go and convince people who have little to no interest in EVE to not only read the book, but then join the game? Quite simply, they wouldn’t, and as seen by the results of the Kickstarter and the handling of that failure, couldn’t. It’s absurd, and quite frankly insulting, to lash out at the people who you’re relying on to fund your project. And if that’s the best PR and marketing you can muster at this stage, I have absolutely no faith that if the book were somehow funded, non-players would ever be convinced to buy into the premise of the book, much less the game as a whole.


Luobote Kong: Where do I stand? Well I am not Grr Goon. I can’t in my heart be Grr anyone. I am not Grr books either. It is important the Eve can be expressed and enjoyed in other ways. But this isn’t about Goons or books. It is about a subsidised media organisation imagining it had a monopoly on the Eve zeitgeist. When it  discovered it hadn’t, its conclusion seems to be it is the community’s (customer’s) fault. An ounce of self awareness would averted most of the drama. Where do I stand? Apart. Apart from the mob and apart from the embarrassing and polarizing antics of TMC.

Tarek: Actually, I have already written a piece about what I think of the kickstarter. Like Rixx Javix, I don’t see that as a Goon issue, but as the brainchild of TMC and their shareholders to make some money. I don’t even have an issue with that either. If they can provide something that their community is willing to pay for, good job.

What I have an issue with is people who constantly emphasize that I am not one of them, and when I then smirk at their “community project” they turn to a defensive-aggressive attitude implicitly talking down at me again since according to them I am part of the people who can’t see the value of their efforts..

“…once you start believing the narrative which you have created about yourself, you are starting to lose it.”

The other thing I get from this is, that the likes of Mittani and Sion are high on their own kool-aid. You can cultivate a persona, even use it for scams, manipulation and other subterfuge, but once you start believing the narrative which you have created about yourself, you are starting to lose it. I am getting the impression that they have grossly overestimated their clout with the community because they started to believe in the myth they have created about themselves. Maybe this whole episode brings them to a point where they reflect on themselves and that overblown sense of importance they have. Not holding my breath though.

General Stargazer: My feelings are also in line with Psianh’s comments as well.

I’ve not been the biggest fan of this project since the get go. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the concept and outreach by CCP to the community, but feel like it wasn’t done the right way.

It’s been branded since being put on Kickstarter as a community project, but in my eyes, I’ve seen it as a goon community project instead of an Eve community project. It annoys me that the blame has been put into this community for not getting it funded and its negative feedback about the project instead of actually taking that negative feedback, learning from it, taking it on board and re-doing the project over in a better way. If you want to community to contribute to something: Either ask us what we’d like to see or have a proven track record within our community.

The community is full of some fantastic story writers (checkout the pod and planet project or eve bloggers) and the Eve true stories graphic novel only came into existence because of community support. Perhaps they should have taken submissions, or done the project under a different name, who knows. All I know is, being part of this community is that, in my eyes, we aren’t the ones to blame for TMC media’s failings.


MukkBarovian: This reminds me of gamergate. Somewhere in there, both sides have arguments of merit. However the tenor of the argument is incredibly stupid. Sion made a terrible mistake when he started insulting the community for failing to back his project. Moral outrage that people will not give over their money is ridiculous. Add to that years of trying to ‘ruin the game’ for others. TMC getting upset when people do not trust them to have their best interests at heart is laughable. The high ground would be to quietly scrap the project, pull whatever lessons could be gleaned from the wreck, and launch the next product line, whatever that is.

“Why would TMC, having alienated everyone outside of their group, not select a price point that their loyal supporters could achieve?”

I originally thought the kickstarter was going to work. I thought the goons themselves would provide enough support to launch it. Why would TMC, having alienated everyone outside of their group, not select a price point that their loyal supporters could achieve? Since the failure to hit that value, my tinfoil hat theory has been that TMC is intentionally firing up anger between the community and the Emporium in order to put the fire into their own guy’s bellies. Enough of an us vs them narrative might convince the Emporium members to fork over the cash just to stick it to Reddit, Horde, and Waffles. So far it has been no good.

Diana Olympos: Well. Seems the last week proved once again that the past years have changed Eve a lot. The thing that KS number tell us is simple. People don’t care about the CFC. They are not afraid of it. They don’t hate it. They just forget it. It has no impact on their life. It is not a big deal. They live in their space, have their own site and that is. Why care? Why should I even try to talk with them. Or follow them.

And when they come with head full of hot air and big ideas, people react as they always do when someone makes a fool of himself. They laugh. So thank you for the laugh, CFC. Now I can get back to playing my game. And if you become relevant for the big picture of Eve or my game again, I will maybe have an interest in what you are doing.

Neville Smit: When I first saw the Fountain War book Kickstarter announcement, I was surprised by the size of the goal. I wondered why TMC was setting themselves up for failure, when they could have established a more achievable target and then celebrated blowing through it, citing this as an example of widespread support by the EVE Online community. Excessive, unrealistic ambition seeps from every aspect of this project. It would have been far better to do something more modest, and then built upon a foundation of success in follow-up projects. With patience and care, this kind of book could have become a repeating, well-accepted brand – and a source of reliable, recurring revenue for TMC.

However, modesty is not a Goonswarm motif, by their own choice. And I must admit I’ve been amused watching the TMC staff squirm uncomfortably in public, while they try to process the idea that they are not as universally beloved and supported by the EVE Online community as they had assumed.

“How dare we not all throw money at this project, as planned?”

But I’m also disappointed by the ongoing drama, too, perpetuated by the TMC staff’s own actions. Sion Kumitomo’s lashing out at the community reeks of entitlement. How dare we not all throw money at this project, as planned? It never seems to occur to him that at least some of this failure is due to their own bad decisions – bad goal-setting, bad marketing, bad budgeting, and bad communications. For years, Goonswarm ironically insisted that they are “bad at EVE” – turns out they can not-so-ironically fail in business.

But guess what? There isn’t a business in the world that hasn’t had a taste of failure from time to time. The good ones learn from the experience, accept responsibility, and apply lessons learned to their next project, thus ensuring a higher likelihood of success. The bad ones blame outside forces beyond their control, don’t learn anything, and repeat their mistakes, until they are no longer a going concern. Which of these are we seeing now from the TMC team? It doesn’t make me optimistic for their long-term viability.

The most glaring indictment of TMC’s failure is the low support they have garnered from their most likely customers. If they could have convinced the 16,000+ Goonswarm Federation alliance members to contribute a few bucks each, they would have easily surpassed the $150,000 goal. One of the fundamental rules in marketing is to sell to your primary target market first, and then expand out to secondary and tertiary markets. It seems like TMC expected to appeal broadly to all – an unrealistic and naive strategy.

Another perplexing aspect of this whole episode: why would any rational person care about opinions on reddit? Anyone who reads it for more than five seconds can see that most of the postings there are juvenile, at best. And yet, I continue to see tweets and comments and posts from the TMC team reacting to swirlings of the /r/eve cesspool. It confounds me, especially when so much of the blathering there can be so easily dismissed as unrepresentative and irrelevant.

“I sincerely hope that the TMC team embraces and owns up to this failed project, sees it as a life lesson, and adjusts their behavior accordingly.”

I sincerely hope that the TMC team embraces and owns up to this failed project, sees it as a life lesson, and adjusts their behavior accordingly. But from what I’ve seen so far, I doubt that will actually happen – and that is rather sad.

Niden: So much has been said, I have little to add. I don’t personally agree with the entire Goon/Imperium mentality and would rather quit EVE than play the way they do, but I will defend their right to play the game as they see fit – yes even if they weaponise boredom and have repeatedly said they are here to ruin everyone’s game. It is their right to do so, it is at the very core of what makes EVE special. Why am I saying that? What does this have to do with the Fountain War book? Unfortunately, too much.

It is extremely unfortunate that not only was the book associated with the Imperium to begin with because of the source, but then it was made even worse when The Mittani himself intermingled the book and Imperium interests in his infamous speech. The Goons, and to an extent the Imperium, have actively worked to set themselves apart (some would even say alienate) from the rest of the community, which has probably served them well in the past, but in this case, given that the association between the book and the Imperium was not only there but actively strengthened, really torpedoed any chance the Kickstarter campaign had.

I made a futile attempt calling people to divorce their feelings for the Imperium and their disposition towards the book itself, but when The Mittani made the two virtually the same thing, the last shred of hope was lost. The CFC/Imperium has spent a long time cultivating hatred from the rest of the community, which is fine, even impressive, but effectively using the same brand to launch a kickstarter was doomed to fail.

Mistakes were made and it is unfortunate, I would have liked to see this book become real. It is important that constructive criticism is taken at this point. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the Imperium leadership are instead using the event to demonize the rest of the community in order to conjure up an enemy that is intended to motivate their people. I can understand the strategy, and it appears to be working. However, this is also unfortunate because it further cements the perceived relationship between the Imperium and the book, which was a mistake to begin with, as well as further alienating Imperium members from the rest of the community.

All this being said, and while a sober debate is certainly needed and some valid criticism has been leveled, the witch hunt on Goons that freely makes use of the book as a tool is not healthy either, it will only further alienate many Imperium members. These are people just like you and me, and we as a community need to learn to stand above petty differences born out of ridiculous ingame meta. It of course does not help that Goons seem to have internalized the whole idea that the entire world is against them on the basis of what happened with a kickstarter run by a very select few of their leadership, either, and now appear to have instead renewed their vows to ruin as much as possible for everyone else.

In the end all we are getting from something that could have been an inspiring testament to the strength of this community is massive rifts between people and is ultimately a failure for all of us, no matter what “side” you are on.


Tags: cz minutes, CZM, Fountain War Kickstarter, goons, Imperium, The Mittani Media, tmc

About the author

Tarek Raimo

Former nullsec spy (no not under that name of course) and current failure at lowsec solo PVP, Tarek spends his time not logging in to the game as much as he keeps thinking about its social and metagame nature and sharing some of those thoughts with the CZ readers.