Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Null-Sec: Chasing Goalposts and Dodging Burnout


It's been a little over a month since our modest gang of Freebooters struck out into the great unknown to become part of Split Infinity alliance. It has been a month that has presented challenges and demands as we toiled to establish ourselves in deep null-sec.

The Casual Approach

It was always my intention to establish a base of operations that would allow our members the freedom to enjoy the null-sec content as they please; as casually or intensively as they liked. I had no desire for any of the Freebooters to feel compelled to participate in alarm-clock ops or be judged poorly by alliance colleagues if they failed to respond to a call-to-arms.

This isn't to say we weren't committed to pulling our weight in the alliance, but as a tiny corp of relatively casual players used to high- and low-sec, we knew we were never going to be the driving force at the beating heart of the organisation. Fortunately, Split Infinity's leadership were willing to take us onboard despite our underwhelming resume.

Indeed Split Infinity seemed well-suited for us; they were a small alliance holding sovereignty in a single solar system and their modest ambitions made few demands on it's members. We would have ample support and opportunity to establish ourselves and become familiar with our new way of life. We were grateful for this as we had no idea how arduous getting all required ships, modules and other resources to our new home system was going to be. We began to ease ourselves tentatively into the deep null-sec waters.

Then everything changed!

Feel the Burn

Mere days into our membership and it was announced the alliance was going to war under the Against All Authorities flag alongside a number of other junior alliances. It was to be a competitive arrangement with rewards for the alliances making the greatest contribution to the war effort. Requests to attend operations started to appear in our inboxes and calendars. Fortunately no pressure was applied directly to the Freebooters - we were nowhere near ready - but there was a change of atmosphere on comms.

This was when I began to struggle a little. These first few weeks were becoming beset with challenges. The not insignificant amount of work required largely fell to me and I found myself planning, buying and contracting ships and POSs, then orchestrating their distribution and construction at the other end. I was also aware that we needed to contribute to alliance affairs, all the while attempting to break the more devout Freebooter carebears of their habit of jump-cloning back to high-sec whenever my back was turned. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that my spirit was further deflated by the critical loss of a number of blueprints that would have significantly eased our start-up woes.

My EVE Online experience was becoming an exercise in frustration. It was feeling less like entertainment and more like work. Having established the basic corp infrastructure, I found myself logging in less for a couple of weeks. I felt a little guilty for leaving my corpmates to it, but lacked the motivation to do much in-game, instead finding more satisfaction writing and recording EVE-related podcast material.

Power to the People

However, during my mini-sabbatical something wonderful happened: The Freebooters stepped up.

I'd left Teh Smit as the only active Freebooter entrenched in our null-sec home, but a friendly alliance Teamspeak environment and a starving POS finally lured Lozyjoe and Caveat into making more frequent null-sec appearances. Additionally, Long Jack suddenly started being more active and we even acquired some new recruits in the shape of some of Teh Smit's old low-sec crowd.

Now I'm pleased to say that my fugue seems to be over, the Freebooters have successfully put down roots and are breaking even if not turning a profit. Our POS (Greenbeard's Tomb) is up and running and we've got enough Planetary Interaction going to sustain it.

Recently we've even managed to get in on some action; I took part in some Infrastructure Hub bashing (dull but important and a good opportunity to socialise with fleetmates) and an amusing Benny Hill chase of a hostile Cynabal faction cruiser around our home system (the slippery bugger was toying with us methinks). Teh Smit has been out on some roams, we've all been on a number of alliance PvE operations and Lozyjoe even had her PvP baptism when she lost a Harbinger battlecruiser to a Wolf assault frigate and a Machariel faction battleship. The hilariously panicked voicemail Loz subsequently left me led me to believe that our home system had been hot-dropped by a marauding super-capital fleet that was laying waste to our station. I learned the truth when I scrambled onto Teamspeak, much to my wife's bemusement (it was meant to be a non-EVE night). In Loz's defence, I had forgotten how intense that first PvP experience feels. Lozyjoe's adrenaline-fuelled gibberish voicemail will be available on iTunes soon. ;)

One thing our null-sec experience has made me realise is that EVE really is all about the people you play alongside, both in corporation and alliance. They are the reason you log in and the motivation to get something done. I'm grateful that the Split Infinity community is so friendly, knowledgeable and easy-going and because of that, things are looking up. After a bumpy start and some hard work, it's looking like the Freebooters can actually start to relax into our new lifestyle and have some fun.

Oh wait, what do you mean we've been awarded sovereignty for our sterling war efforts and are now responsible for a gazillion systems that'll all need Sov gizmos set up?

Yikes, if moving a ten-man corp nearly burnt me out, I'd best hide now.

Damn these moving goalposts.

3 comments:

  1. The challenge in it is something that can be captured in the term of "casualisation of games".

    A lot of game developers confuse that with social gaming or leisure gameplay, and maintain a limited viewpoint on it. Many of them can't see further than Zynga.

    EVE has a definite challenge in this. But it IS a challenge of affinity and game design.

    Many of the older CCP crowd, don't play EVE for very similar reasons as why many EVE players tune out. It remains surprising that they have not seen the challenge and picked it up. It IS worth it.

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  2. It would be nice to see some 'casualisation' of some EVE gameplay aspects, although I appreciate that many would fear a 'dumbing down'.

    I think CCP's approach to Incarna and Captain's Quarters shows they are aware of and are starting to address accessibility issues.

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  3. Having to organise everything is a pain isn't it :P

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Lay it on me.