Editor’s note: This is the third and final part in a series by Mukk Barovian on his views concerning recent events surrounding Brave Newbies. You can read part one here, and part two here. – Niden
EVE is a tough game. After much calculation, leading scientists have graphed the EVE learning curve and it is not pretty. At its heart, getting better at EVE means looking at what mistakes led to failure, and then correcting the mistakes. Those dead guys are probably players who gave up after a particular mistake led to a bad outcome, though I might be wrong. They could just be people who literally killed themselves playing EVE. The difference between a successful player and that guy who was hung by his neck, is whether they were able to learn the hard lessons of EVE. Learning is a matter of practice followed by meditation, with a willingness to try again after failures. Any particular failure only ever needs to happen once. Climb up the cliff face a little further and try again.
Brave specifically does a great job teaching newbies the basics of the game. They get up underneath that overhang, and set up camp behind the hanged men. That is it. The attitude “it is okay for newbies to be bad,” turns into “it is ok for us to be bad.” A tiny handful of FCs are among the crucified men trying not to get run over by the bulldozer. The cause of this is the way that Brave encourages newbies to get into PvP. The natural state of a newbie who hasn’t done PvP before is fear laced with excitement and terror. Getting someone to go out and PvP, is like getting them to dive into an icy lake nekkid. There is a lot of hesitation. Getting someone to step up and FC is exactly the same way. The Brave solution is to lower the perceived risk while adding a bit of peer pressure into participation. YOLO WE DON’T CARE IF YOU EXPLODE. GO OUT AND PEW. WE DON’T CARE THAT YOU HAVE A TINY PENIS. TAKE YOUR CLOTHES OFF. JUMP IN THE LAKE. JUMP. JUMP. JUMP! This is an incredibly successful strategy. A lot of people PvP, a lot of people jump in the lake, and a lot of people step up and FC fleets. Brave leadership sees a success, and they pat themselves on the back.
At about this time, it would be a good idea to take a new FC aside and give them a few tips and pointers without being too critical. It might make sense to ask what went wrong, or to go carefully over the events that lead to a specific outcome. For new ground, it would make sense for everyone trying to break a trail and the senior FCs, to come together and talk seriously about the current project. I’m sure this happens sometimes, but it doesn’t happen nearly enough to turn the YOLO attitude into a serious learning environment. Maybe the current setback will force them to reevaluate the strategy.
FCs generate the content in EVE. This makes management of FCs one of the most important empire building activities an organization can undertake. Fortunately for Brave, a hands off approach works pretty well. FCs rise and fall without much outside help. Pilots need FCs for any content beyond solo. A good FC gets people into fleets; a bad FC gets fewer members, or at least can’t convince fleet members to fly shiny ships in his fleet. It helps the sorting out process if the organization doesn’t provide unlimited ship replacement. The wrong incentive scheme can skew behavior undesirably. Only SRP for CTA events, ‘dictors, and logis are fine examples of a good incentive schemes. The guy who wants to FC Vindicators is on his own, and can only make it work if he can convince pilots that it is worth risking their ISK to fly with him. The only real hurdle an organization normally faces, is in getting individuals to be FCs in the first place. As established earlier, Brave has a good method for getting them to take the dive. So this should all work itself out, right?
Somehow, it doesn’t. Instead of giving FCs relatively free reign. Brave places them and their actions under the scrutiny of a bureaucracy. Not that this might seem contradictory, because I have previously stated that Brave don’t seem to pressure their FCs to improve. What is the oversight doing if not pushing inexperienced FCs to be better? Well, instead of talking about how to improve performance, the bureaucrats spend their time telling people what they can and can’t do. They have this chart of ships starting with cheap doctrines and extending up to the more expensive items. FCs are rated for particular doctrines and aren’t allowed to even try to fly beyond their rating. That’s why in the famous middle manglement meeting, there are all kinds of tickers next to people’s names. Brave have taken their content generators and tied them down with red tape. The bureaucrats literally started talking once about creating forms to be filled out for using titan bridges. The system creates a load of work for content generators, because on top of everything else they have to do to run a fleet, and get ready to run a fleet, they also have to appease the bureaucracy. This system doesn’t even create superior performance, just headache.
The proper solution is to lean back a little bit on the regulation. It might help if you look at the situation as a market. FCs are looking for pilots in exchange for content. Pilots are looking for good content in exchange for their time, but have to pay an ISK cost if the FC is bad or unlucky. This market can sort itself out just fine most of the time. Regulation is only needed to prevent really bad behavior—“newbie FCs do not have permission to run capitals.” Over-regulation simply stifles the market. Brave could do better simply by doing less.
The bureaucrats have not let down their members when it comes to the matter of managing FCs. However, it would be unfair to blame the manglement for being what it is. The kids take it apart every day, and we just gave up reassembling it… no, wait. I mean, when you spot a problem with the management of an entity, look to the top. In Brave’s case that is Lychton. I don’t know Lychton, and I have never talked to him. He has never stuck me with a $300 bar tab, nor stolen my shirt. It doesn’t matter. The point is that Lychton’s leadership is evident in the rest of the management structure. He chose what the org chart looked like. He chose who to hold responsible for failure, and he chose how to delegate authority. He should have chosen to slim down the manglement, reduce regulation, and create positions that have both authority and accountability. Maybe recent events will encourage him to change. Not long ago the Manglement came alive and tried to eat him in the early hours of the morning. Its time to put it down.
Ultimate Responsibility: It’s Over 9000
PL has beaten Brave Newbies’ door down. In many ways, the argument that Brave are responsible for what happened to them feels like a similar argument: “If she didn’t want to be raped, she shouldn’t have gone down that dark alleyway.“ Let’s be clear—shooting virtual guns at somebody’s space pixels is not rape. EVE is a game of simulated combat. Beating someone at EVE is as morally reprehensible as beating them at chess. People play for the same reason they play FPS, the thrill of the simulated fight. The players are out looking for simulated fights, and the environment is expected to be hostile. Furthermore, Brave live outside of highsec. They elected to participate in the pewpew. If she didn’t want to run into some chess masters, she should have run screaming out of that dark alleyway and docked in an NPC station.
Brave is responsible in the sense that they could change their behavior to alter the outcomes. They can’t easily change PL’s behavior, or the behavior of any other EVE group to alter the outcomes. If Brave refuses to change their behavior and get the same undesired outcome, it doesn’t make sense to complain about some outside group.
The real offense is when a group fails its own members. When a player gets stuck with a group that is not at least trying to deliver excellence, that player is getting a sub par game experience. Brave owes a debt to the many pilots that make it a thing by their membership. Brave owes them the best experience it can provide. It is not PL’s responsibility to make sure Brave members have fun. It is PL’s responsibility to make sure that PL members have fun, because those members are contributing to the existence of PL. The same goes for N3, Black Legion, the CFC, and any other group you can think of. It isn’t a responsibility to beat the PL capital fleet. It isn’t a responsibility to hold as much territory as possible, or make the most ISK. The responsibility is to deliver fun-per-hour, to exhibit excellence in the face of adversity even when the cards are stacked in the dealers favor, and to discern good content from bad content; to strive hard to make life better for the group. The line member’s experience is subject to the decisions of the leadership, and the leadership has taken responsibility for the line member by accepting his membership. Failure to live up to the responsibility is not akin to rape either. Failure to live up is wasting the time and the effort and the tears of all the Brave line members who have put a part of their lives into this hobby that is EVE. It is wasting the massive combined potential of all the Brave pilots.
This doesn’t have to be the case. CFC started as a new organization filled with newbies and look where they are now. There is nothing actually wrong with the Brave pilots themselves. They just have an organizational culture that has stopped being a useful tool. It’s a problem that can be easily fixed. There are even examples from successful groups out there free to be “borrowed.” The PL model, the NC. model, the CFC model; they can pick any group they like. Furthermore delivering excellence is hard work, but not hard to do. You spend your time on actions, not words. You learn lessons as quickly as you can. You try your best never half-assing a task, and you don’t ever give up. If you are careful and lock your doors, the Manglement might not come after you.