The Rise and Decline of Immobile InfantryHVAC Repairman
For a wee weekend special, HVAC is taking us through how he became the CEO of GSF’s Dust 514 wing. Expect Part 2 next Saturday!
I’d first heard about Dust 514 when it was announced at GDC Europe in 2009. Like a lot of things CCP has done over the years, the announcement came out of left field. CCP was now entering the shooter genre with a title that not only took place in the EVE universe, but would have both games directly connected. First-person shooters have always been a guilty pleasure of mine; I had spent a bulk of my free time growing up playing games like Quake and Duke Nukem 3D. By the time GDC Europe happened in 2009, I’d been playing EVE for several years; combining the spaceship game that I loved with a Halo-like title was more than enough to pique my interest. In late 2012, I was accepted into the closed beta and immediately hooked up with the existing Goonswarm group, led by Cerebral Wolf.
Cerebral Wolf was an interesting character. He’d been allowed to run the Goon branch of Dust by virtue of the fact that no one else had shown any interest. He wasn’t particularly well liked, but still managed to put together a solid team of directors and had recruited an active player base. When it was announced corporations were being patched into Dust, Cerebral Wolf took suggestions for the name. I had suggested Immobile Infantry as I had always been a fan of Starship Troopers. Cerebral Wolf thought it was clever and made it the official corporation name.
At some point I had gotten into a minor squabble with the second-in-command, Samahiel Sotken. Cerebral Wolf, Samahiel, and few other random Dust guys were talking about Dust in a non-relevant thread on the Goonswarm forums. A few of the Goonswarm guys started downvoting the Dust posts in that thread. A thread went up on the II forums asking guys to start talking more about Dust on Goonswarm services and I raised objections. I wrote a post saying that we needed to remain as separate as possible, not step on anyone’s toes, and that we should be worried about setting up a solid foundation for the corp and prepare for integration with Goonswarm when the time was appropriate. At about the same time, I had begun talking privately with Samahiel about the direction of the corp and learned from him how things were being run.
After a couple days of talking, Samahiel offered me a position as a corp director. The job had no formal responsibility, as I would be included only in an advisory role. One of the problems Cerebral Wolf had as a leader was that he had a difficult time dealing with opposing opinions. The other directors were a mixture of goons from EVE and somethingawful. Half of us had ties to EVE, the other half were purely DUST players. The other directors were good at their specific jobs, but weren’t willing to engage in constructive criticism. Of the seven or eight other directors already on the team, I was the only one not hired by Cerebral himself. I would later learn that Cerebral Wolf was against the hire and nearly blocked it, but had relented at the last minute.
Out of game drama aside, anyone who was playing at that time knew how bad Dust 514 was. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the beta version of Dust 514 may have been the worst game I’d ever played. The game had terrible graphics, the controls were clunky, the UI was abysmal, and everything was overly complicated. While Dust today still has several major issues and may never be a hit, it’s still a far cry from where it was in the beta.
The complicated nature of the game meant that there were cool and fun ways to bend or break mechanics. One of the core selling features of Dust was the ability to call down orbital strikes on your enemies. To do this (at the time) you needed to accumulate a certain number of warpoints by killing enemies, completing objectives, or reviving teammates. Dr. Eevil, a director and one of II’s FCs, had figured a way to manipulate the values to call down multiple strikes in a very short period of time. After successfully testing the exploit and reporting it CCP, we recorded a video of us testing it and uploaded it online. The discovery of the bug came at an interesting time; it was in the middle of a Dust corporation tournament sponsored by CCP. In order to fix the bug before the next round of matches, CCP FoxFour and a team of devs in Iceland came in on the weekend to release an emergency patch to close the exploit. A few days later an article appeared on TMDC.
Many of the corporations in Dust had mandatory kill death ratios. To join you had to have a certain KDR; if you fell below it you’d be kicked. Many players began obsessing over their KDRs on the forums, which led to one of the most innovative griefing tactics I have ever seen in New Eden. At the time there were two types of matches: public and factional warfare. In public matches your squads are randomly seeded and you can’t pick where you fight. That’s not the case with Factional Warfare contracts, though. Factional Warfare allows you to pick your contract, meaning you could stack both teams with players from your corp.
Once we had players on both teams in the match, we’d commence a griefing campaign we called “needle fucking.” The idea is that one side will kill a random pubbie, while your corpmates on the other team will revive the guy you just killed. There is no pause mechanic after you’re revived. So the guy you just killed will automatically get back up, in which the first team will immediately kill him again. You keep doing this over and over for as long as you can. Since there was no way to prevent yourself from being revived, you could potentially end the match with the victim having least a hundred deaths and effectively destroy their KDR for a long period of time. This caused the general Dust community to go into an uproar on the forums.
Things got worse when Dust was finally connected to Tranquility. One of the big projects Cerebral Wolf had been working on was setting up an empire with other Dust entities to dominate the upcoming Planetary Conquest feature. I didn’t have a real liking of any of the people we were friendly with, and I made my opinion known often. Other directors either agreed with me or didn’t mind, but no one besides Cerebral Wolf was excited about the possibility of working with the group he had assembled. Problems would arise daily because Cerebral would show up, make someone in the empire channel angry, and then appoint someone (usually Samahiel) to smooth things over. I considered this wasted time, but it was Cerebral’s corp and he was free to run things as he pleased.
Cerebral had also developed a weird obsession with another Dust CEO, named ZionShad. I never really understood what exactly what was going on there or why they hated each other, but Cerebral was always talking about him. He claimed that Zion was harassing him in real-life and that other shenanigans were going on. Cerebral attempted to tar and feather Zion publicly and spread all sorts of rumors around. It made everyone else in Skype uncomfortable to discuss it with him.
On 18 March, 2013, CCP Dolan announced the creation of the Council of Planetary Management. The intention of the CPM was to be the Dust counterpart to EVE’s Council of Stellar Management. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea; there weren’t a lot of people in the community I considered qualified, nor did I think it would be a good use of anyone’s time. I was concerned that even if it were a real thing, the lack of elections (as CCP decided to hand pick the first CPM) would destroy any shred of legitimacy it might have. Cerebral Wolf had told us he had no interest in the project and that he would decline if his name came up. Later, Cerebral revealed that he had been contacted in regards to potentially serving on the CPM, interviewed for it, and that he was “a guaranteed lock” for a spot. Even though I was against the CPM, I hoped he would make it; the directors were tired of dealing with him. He was going AFK at inconvenient moments and wouldn’t be around for days at a time. When he would show up again, he’d create a new mess that someone would have to clean up. It was at this point that Samahiel and I started discussing ways to get Cerebral to step down; a spot on the CPM would have given him a perfect excuse to step aside.
Samahiel eventually approached Cerebral Wolf privately and asked him to step down. He was given the opportunity to stay on board as a director and remain in the decision making process. Predictably, Cerebral not only declined the offer, but threw a tantrum and declared that “only he would decide when it would be time for him to go.” Samahiel quit not long after that. I would have followed, but I wanted to see how the trainwreck would end. Samahiel and I stayed in contact, discussing the idea about making a new Dust corp in the near future. It wouldn’t be long before our idle chats would become reality, as Cerebral’s behavior would soon land him in hot water with Goonswarm’s CEO, The Mittani.