Wednesday, 25 May 2011

(Fiction) Meat Salvage

It's not just the wrecks of ships that get re-used after a battle. Hear the gruesome truth about what lies in store after death for a capsuleer in EVE Online.

This is an audio adaption of a short fiction piece written by Seismic Stan. The original can be found here.

DIRECT DOWNLOAD

Monday, 23 May 2011

EVEcast: A Creative Call to Arms

The EVE community is one of the strongest, most talented and most creative gaming communities in the world. As a result of the work of inspired and gifted individuals, the EVE Online player base has a wealth of online resources and entertainment to enrich their gaming experience.

Podcasts and other media are no exception. Already there are a number of informative and entertaining EVE-focused podcasts that do a fantastic job of bringing all manner of news, discussion and entertainment to the attention of the EVE fanbase.

The CCP community team recognise this and to that end CCP Fallout has recently announced she will be running an official EVE Online podcast aimed at highlighting the best podcasting moments from the community shows.

With your help, there is huge potential to expand on the EVE audio entertainment available and to provide exciting and diverse material for these existing podcasts or as stand-alone downloads.

Some of the existing podcasters have got together and formed a community initiative called EVEcast. EVEcast aims to provide a platform for all manner of creatively-minded individuals to undertake shared audio projects and explore the possibilities.

EVEcast is for everyone with ideas or skills that could contribute to or inspire all manner of EVE-flavoured audio projects. If you're intrigued or think you've got something to offer, come join Angus McDecoy (the "dirty roleplayer" of Fly Reckless fame), Arydanika (the velvet-voiced co-host of Voices From the Void), Garheade (EVE Commune host and the mastermind behind the EVE Commune community) and Seismic Stan (Freebooted blogger and audio skit producer).

So if you fancy trying your hand at being a voice actor, sound editor, writer, composer, producer or foley artist, check out EVEcast. We've set up shop at the EVE Commune forums and we hope to see you there.

Let's prove to the world that EVE most definitely has sound.

Friday, 20 May 2011

(Parody) Tech Gear - Star in a Reasonably Priced Frigate

A parody of a popular UK TV show, this is a second Freebooted appearance for The Mittani as he guests on the 'Freebooted: Tech Gear' holoreel show. Hosted by Russell Clarkbeard.

With apologies to the BBC.

DIRECT DOWNLOAD

(Mockumentary) The Mittani Uncovered

This is a mockumentary set in Iceland at EVE Online's yearly expo, Fanfest 2011. The Mittani is one of EVE Online's most well-known players and chairman of the sixth Council of Stellar Management. If you ever wondered what the Mittani is like behind closed doors, this exclusive report may hold a few answers.


DIRECT DOWNLOAD

(Fiction) Social Clones

'Social Clones' is an audio adaption of a short piece of EVE Online inspired fiction written by Seismic Stan. It focuses on two engineers working deep within the bowels of a space station trying to fix a blocked biomass processor and their unique perspective on a universe filled with space-faring clones. The story gives an explanation to one of the potentially immersion-breaking aspects of EVE Online's gameplay.

The original article can be found here.

DIRECT DOWNLOAD

(Report) Fanfest Flashback - The Cult of EVE

First appearing on the EVE Commune podcast, this is a reading of an article that originally featured on Freebooted and looks at the community culture surrounding the EVE Online Massively Multiplayer Online Game. It discusses the 'EVE is real' theme that was prevalent at EVE Fanfest 2011 and examines the social impact of EVE Online, comparing it's influence to that of a religion.

The original article can be found here.

DIRECT DOWNLOAD

Freebooted Audio Files

I am proud to announce the Freebooted audio skits made for EVE Commune are now available for individual download. Each one is a bite-sized chunk of EVE-flavoured aural entertainment and are MP3s approximately five minutes long.  
I intend for these 'audioblogs' to continue to debut on EVE Commune and will be made available separately approximately two weeks after their first appearance.
These have been my first (mostly) solo experiments and it has been a very enjoyable creative experience so far. I hope to continue producing them for some time. I believe that I've just skimmed the surface of the potential for EVE-based audio entertainment and I have a feeling there may be some exciting things to look forward to in the future. There's a lot of talent out there.
Here are the files so far:

1. Fanfest Flashback: The Cult of EVE
This is a piece of editorial journalism looking at the 'EVE is real' theme, discussing EVE Fanfest and the social impact of EVE Online. 

2. Social Clones
This is a fiction piece based on a short blogpost I wrote last year. It focuses on two engineers working deep within the bowels of a space station trying to fix a blocked biomass processor.

3. The Mittani Uncovered
This is a mockumentary set at Fanfest 2011. If you ever wondered what the Mittani is like behind closed doors, this report may hold a few answers.

4. Tech Gear: Star in a Reasonably-Priced Frigate
A second look at The Mittani as he guests on the 'Freebooted: Tech Gear' holoreel show. Hosted by Russell Clarkbeard.

5. Meat Salvage
Another fiction piece based on an earlier blogpost. This one looks at how the medical facilities in low-security systems operate.

6. Technology Revolutions
Seismic Stan is in Iceland for an exclusive interview with a key CCP technology expert.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Claims of the Normal

The long arm of EVE Fanfest stretches on into the year as I was invited by a journalist I met in Iceland to participate in a podcast called 'Claims of the Normal'.



Petter Mårtensson, who covered Fanfest 2011 for Gamereactor (view his article here) co-hosts 'Claims of the Normal' along with the suspiciously asteroid-sounding Arkenor and lead podcaster Breki Tomasson. The podcast is released twice a week and covers a wide range of topics from popular 'geek' culture. Their discussions are witty and informative, with each presenter having different gaming tastes.

In 'Claims of the Normal' episode 24, I had the opportunity to discuss a number of topics with them; including Sony's ongoing woes, the impending Christian 'Rapture' ascendancy, why World of Warcraft is simple, the sexual preference of yetis(!) and how bad I am at EVE Online.

The show is a very entertaining listen and I can thoroughly recommend it as a regular addition to your audio itinerary, if nothing else but to remind you that there is a world outside New Eden.

In addition, their host site, The Committee for the Surrealist Investigation of Claims of the Normal, features a variety of articles on movies, television, games, science and more.

I have certainly become a fan and I hope you do too.


23

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Docking Games: The Secret of N.I.M.


“Will you two stop dicking about!”

Gantry Commander Eskrid Vandeven tried to sound stern as she berated the two laughing technicians in her charge, but it was difficult to muster the necessary tone; their docket was hardly overloaded and the two men were quite amusing.

“Sorry Ma'am,” chortled the ever cheery Kalen from his console, “but Bal saw something outside.”

Eskrid looked out of the observation pane in the direction suggested and studied the vista. The familiar sight of the vast industrial sprawl of the Imperial Armaments Factory filled her view. Amongst the harsh industrial lines, row upon row of lights twinkled vaguely in the exhaust gases from the refining processes deep within the bowels of the four-hundred deck, forty-five kilometer structure. Narrow towers like their own hung on the station's lower surface, casting their long shadows in the azure light reflected from nearby gas planet of Yuhelia V. The tranquil landscape was framed by a breathtaking star-smattered velvet blackness and distant swirling nebulae.

But even by combining her familiarity with the scene, her keenly trained eyes and her bitter experience, she could see nothing out of the ordinary.

“Yeah look,” grinned Bal, “there it is again.” He pointed out beyond the docking perimeter toward the starfield.

Eskrid squinted, but could still detect no unusual activity.

“Oh yeah, I see it. Wow.” chimed Kalen in support.

“I'm still not seeing it.” Eskrid grumbled, “Run a vector scan.”

“You don't need a scan to see that.” Kalen said excitedly as he rose to his feet. “It's right there!”

“Yeah, can't you see it Ma'am?” Bal said as he peered out into the dark, “It's there almost all the time now.”

“See what?” Eskrid demanded in an exasperated tone.

The two men sat back simultaneously and looked at her with mischievous dismay.

“Exactly. Nothing. It's all we ever see. Endless empty nothing.” Bal stated glumly.

The young woman frowned at their satisfied looks of a point well made. She realised she'd been the target of their boredom-fuelled humour yet again. The Gantry Commander could appreciate they had little to do due to the complete lack of starship traffic to bring in to dock, but that was no excuse to mock her. She'd put them in their place.

“Yes, well done, you are very entertaining. Perhaps you should consider starring in your own holoshow.” the two men beamed, missing her sarcasm. “You can look into that right after you've both run a thorough diagnostic of the tractor arrays and the NIM. Twice.”

“Aaw, what?” Kalen protested, “But we did that five times last rotation.”

“And once yesterday.” added Bal.

“Nevertheless, it can't be done too often. You know what can happen if the NIM glitches.”

The NIM, or Neural Inhibitor Matrix, was a powerful interface exchange system that linked directly with the NEOCOM that all capsuleers relied on to interact with their world. Every docking gantry in every station was equipped with a NIM to seamlessly allow gantry crews like themselves to take control of capsuleer ships and guide them into docking bays. Like everyone, Eskrid had heard the stories of what it could do to capsuleers if it were to malfunction.

“I don't see the harm in the occasional glitch.” muttered Bal as he began his checks. “So the odd capsuleer ends up with a different accent or switches from right- to left-handed. Sounds pretty funny to me.”

“I heard that one podder ended up convinced he was Tibus Heth and immediately declared war on the Gallente hangar crews.” said Kalen, busy at his own console. “It took four security squads to contain him.”

Eskrid sat at her own console and tuned out their chatter, content that they were doing something constructive. She'd heard many such stories before and, although apocryphal, there was every possibility of truth to them. She recalled what she had learned during her Orbital Technologies studies at Pator Tech School:

The Neural Inhibitor Matrix was designed to release the deep-seated neural control mechanisms of the capsule-bound pilot without causing any neurogenic trauma. Without doing so, to seize control of a capsuleer vessel and tractor it into dock could cause untold neurological damage to the pilot as he would instinctively, but unsuccessfully, fight to maintain control of his ship. In the dawn of the capsuleer era, such episodes had been documented to result in a total and permanent loss of all motor skills in afflicted capsuleers. The NIM had been created to prevent that.

However if all the NIM did was disconnect the pilot, it would still be a deeply unpleasant experience for the capsuleer, who would be paralysed, blind and helpless in the darkness of his pod for the minute or so it takes to guide his vessel to it's docking point. So the NIM also provides a degree of Immersive Pseudo-Reality to the disconnected capsuleer; firstly repeating the last image received from the camera drones, then fabricating the hangar interior until stasis fields are engaged and control could be returned. Although reportedly still a mildly jarring experience, psyche evaluations have shown an immense improvement in the mental stability of most capsuleers since NIM systems became compulsory.

The last genius feature the NIM was the 'shroud' effect. Once disconnected from the controlling capsuleer most ship systems shut down, rendering it very vulnerable during final approach. Many capsuleers would not hesitate to take advantage of this. It is at this point the NIM accesses the local NEOCOM and effectively deletes any visual reference to the docking vessel, rendering any nearby pilots unable to see or interact with it in any way. Few capsuleers question the sudden disappearance of docking vessels, presumably because they are familiar with the technology at work.

Her reverie was interrupted by a quiet alarm sounding. A light blinked on the system display indicating incoming gate activity. She watched as Bal ceased his diagnostics and established contact with Gate Comms, who would already have transmitted the ident codes for the inbound vessel.

“Inbound industrial vessel from the Barira gate. It's an Amarr Sigil class, ident: BX-947-F. The 'Golden Slug' registered to a Max Entropy of Decadence Enterprises. It's a capsuleer vessel. No security alerts. The customs scan indicates an empty hold.” Bal was professional when he needed to be. “Looks like they're coming shopping.” But he still enjoyed a little colour.

“There's a nice underwear shop on the deck 147 boulevard. Maybe they're after a cargo load of nasty underwear for their Minmatar concubines.” leered Kalen, whose professional boundaries were much less well defined.

“Tasteful.” Eskrid chided, “Stow the smut and stand by for tractor acquisition.”

“Roger that.” Kalen took the hint and switched to a more professional tone. “We should have visual contact...now. Establishing passive lock.”

Eskrid looked out of the viewport to see a golden-hulled cargo hauler slide out of the darkness and appear silently on the docking perimeter. Despite being nearly half a kilometre long and having a crew compliment in the hundreds, to her naked eye it appeared as little more than a glimmering speck floating on the inky backdrop. It was dwarfed by the sprawling station that it slowly drifted toward. She thumbed a button on her console and a magnified view blinked up on the viewport HUD overlay.

“Docking permission requested.” stated Bal.

Eskrid glanced over the scan results, everything was in order. She checked the ship hangar logs.

“Granted.” she said. “Bring them in. Bay three is prepped and clear.”

“Tractors active.” Kalen announced.

“NIM engaged.” Bal said as his fingers flitted across his control console. “All ship systems inert and NEOCOM shroud active. Sweet dreams podder.”

Eskrid supervised the two men as they worked efficiently to guide the vessel toward the gaping maw of the waiting station hangar. The powerful station tractor arrays moved the vessel inward, her expert team guiding it at speeds the hauler was unlikely to be able to achieve under it's own propulsion, at least not without heavy modification. She initiated the internal cameras and watched as the ship was passed from tractor array to tractor array and steered through a series of vast, illuminated hangar chambers toward it's resting place.

She wondered if the capsuleer within was aware of the ship's movements at all or if the pseudo-reality images they were broadcasting directly into his brain completely cushioned him from the sensation.

Then darker thoughts rose to the surface, riding painful memories. How many innocents had this podder killed or helped others to kill? She knew from bitter experience that they were all murderers. She blinked and briefly saw fire and darkness; it was her last memory of the exploding starbase control tower on which she had served until it fell to a marauding capsuleer fleet. That ordeal had nearly cost her her life and it still haunted her.

She unconsciously ran her hand across the skin of her new vat-grown forearm whilst briefly entertaining the idea of ordering Bal to give the capsuleer nightmares like the ones she had to endure all too regularly. But she took pride in her work and valued her reputation. Besides, she knew they could never get away with it. Maybe one day she wouldn't care about the consequences, but today was not that day.

“Docking beams engaged, planck fields all nominal. They're all tucked in.” Kalen's voice dragged her from her darkness.

“Fading out neural broadcast loop. Re-engaging capsuleer visuals.” Bal grinned, “Shall we give him a lisp or a girl's voice?”

“Tempting.” Eskrid replied, wondering if Bal knew of her loathing for capsuleers. “But neither.”

“Fair enough. NIM disengaged.” Bal said cheerily. “Welcome to Yuhelia-Five, podder. Enjoy your stay and please spend generously. Oh, and try not to kill anyone, or we will melt your brain when you undock.”

She smiled, knowing that Bal's comms were off and there was no way the waking capsuleer could hear his words, but part of her wished that he had.

“Well, that was exciting, wasn't it. Now what? ” chirped Kalen, sagging back into his chair. “I know. I spy with my little eye, something beginning with 'N'”.

Eskrid rolled her eyes and settled in for the next round of predictable 'nothing' jokes. It was going to be another long shift.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Null-Sec: Getting There, a Cautionary Tale



Tales of null-sec are often heard from the safety of high security space. Long have we Freebooters been content to hear from afar the stories of epic fleet clashes, hot-drops and anomalies made of pure ISK. But no longer.

Here begins a grand experiment to see if a motley collection of rookie pilots, missioneers and - most importantly - relatively casual players, can cut it in the unforgiving depths of null-sec; a place where CONCORD has no hold and every pilot in local can ruin your day.


Planning the Exodus

Having been accepted into Split Infinity alliance, we had to figure out what we needed to take with us and how we were going to get it there. In fact, even before that we had to come up with a way of getting ourselves there without getting reduced to tiny carebear pieces.

Also worthy of consideration was the readiness of our pilots. Teh Smit and myself were long enough in the tooth to be prepared for the undertaking, but Lozyjoe and Caveat had only been playing for a few months and this was likely to be quite an upheaval for them. Freebooter old-timers Long Jack and Karpov have seemingly disappeared into the ether, so we couldn't factor them in.

We needed a plan, after all as ex-Royal Marine Commando Karpov likes to say, "don't forget the Law of the Seven 'Ps'*". Eventually we came up with a four-stage strategy to ease us into our new lives. I affectionately called it Operation Adama.

It went something like this:


Phase One: Beach Head

Our initial objective was to get some kind of presence in the alliance home station system of KW-OAM. With a thirty-one jump hellride through the null-sec regions of Curse, Catch and Tenerifis ahead of us, we needed to exercise extreme caution. As our application had just been accepted, we would at least be 'blue' to the residents of the last few systems, but it was still a high-risk journey.

Teh Smit and myself were the only T3 strategic cruiser pilots amongst our number, so we headed out, taking comfort in our ability to cloak and warp unfettered through interdictor bubbles. In spite of this, I was still paranoid enough to fit a warp core stabiliser and an emergency ECM to my Tengu, just in case. Teh Smit opted for a massive armour tank on his Legion and as such had the agility of a brick. Over the course of the journey, this resulted in me creeping ahead, so I unwittingly became his scout.

Surprisingly, it was a fairly eventless journey, punctuated by some vague attention from a lone Stealth Bomber for a couple of jumps, but he soon lost interest. As we made our way through the last few systems, we idly speculated that the occasional pilots seen in local were essentially farmers and we were flying through the blackest of rolling countryside and verdant anomalies.

We arrived in 'Kaydub' without incident and were able to make first contact with our new alliance compatriots. They were welcoming.

PHASE ONE OBJECTIVE: COMPLETE


Phase Two: Reinforcements

Loz and Cav had only been playing EVE for a few months and had settled into a high-sec missioning and manufacturing 'carebear' routine. They were understandably a little edgy about stepping outside their Empire safety bubble. The main priority for them was to obtain some jump clones so they would be able to retreat back to high-sec as they needed.

After learning Infomorph Psychology, they were able to apply to briefly join Estel Arador Corp Services to acquire the jump clones. This is a fantastic corporation that exists solely for the purpose of allowing newer players to get jump clones without having to spend weeks grinding through missions. With their jump clones purchased, Loz and Cav returned to Greenbeard's Freebooters with the new-found ability to leap from one side of the galaxy to the other once every 24 hours.

Then they mustered for the journey; surprisingly Karpov put in an appearance to join Kasmira Dufay, Loz and Cav, all of whom were in T1 frigates fitted for escape and evasion. Their journey was to be much shorter than the first foray, as they'd be using the Against All Authorities (-A-) jump-bridge network that we'd since learned of.

They plunged into HED-GP, a notorious null-sec system adjacent to high-sec, and successfully warped to the POS that was host to the first of the jump portal arrays. Unfortunately, they found it to be camped by a Red Overlord interceptor, who wasted no time locking and opening fire. The Freebooters were forced to dive inside the POS shield for cover, with the jump portal array frustratingly beyond reach 40km outside the shield.

I'd optimistically been hoping they would enjoy an eventless journey, but at least they were getting a relatively gentle taste of null-sec. After a quick enquiry in alliance chat, it transpired that the Red Overlord pilot was 'sort of' on the same side as Split Infinity, at least insofar as both organisations were fighting under the -A- flag against White Noise. However, the Split Infinity and Red Overlord alliances were neutral to each other, so aside from -A- led operations aggression should be expected. Despite this, there is apparently a 'gentleman's agreement' in place to not aggress at jump-bridge sites. Clearly this Red Overlord pilot was no gentleman.

So one jump into their new lives and they were already up to their armpits in a diplomatic incident, pinned down and under fire. The Red Overlord interceptor orbited the jump portal array menacingly. Kasmira Dufay poked her Rifter out beyond the shield and and the interceptor reacted, engaging immediately. Bravely, Kasmira fired back and suddenly it started to look like the interceptor wasn't so menacing. The interceptor clearly agreed and bugged out. Our intrepid rookies took advantage and made a bolt for the jump-bridge, thankfully getting away clean.

The remainder of their journey was quiet (albeit unnecessarily slow due to Cav's failure to fit any kind of propulsion booster) and they hopped along the jump-bridge network without further trouble, arriving safely in Kaydub.

PHASE TWO OBJECTIVE: COMPLETE


Phase Three: Exploration and Integration

This brings us more-or-less up-to-date. Although we've not had much opportunity to find our feet and learn what is out here to explore in Tenerifis yet, we have already taken on a few anomalies and found them to be as lucrative as level four missions (aside from the lack of loyalty points accrued). There's certainly more than enough PvE content to challenge the rookies.

Amusingly, our resident rock-worrier, Lozyjoe, was sent into a joyous delirium when she saw the mining opportunities, fervently referring to her scrapbook of geek notes.

During our short time in residence, some of us have already attended a condensed version of a basic PvP lesson, hosted by one of the alliance's leading Fleet Commanders.  I have also had the opportunity to get in on a small gang roam that was quite successful. I have been impressed by the knowledge and the experience of many of the current alliance pilots, I hope that we can find a way to contribute to their combat efforts.

Gaining an understanding of the gameplay differences in null-sec is going to take a little time, but the theory is that as part of a community, corp members will be able to join in with the more challenging events as part of a larger force.

To this end, encouraging corp members to make use of the alliance communication network is key, with access to knowledgeable and friendly players on voice-comms and a wealth of shared information on the forums. Already it's clear that being part of a null-sec alliance is a far more interactive experience than the oddly isolating gameplay of high-sec.

I just need to stop the rookies from jump-cloning back into high-sec the moment I log off.

PHASE THREE OBJECTIVE: ONGOING


Phase Four: Consolidation and Profit

In order to get comfortable operating on a day-to-day basis out in null-sec, it is important that we find some kind of revenue stream. At the very least we need to be able to cover our costs, contribute to the alliance community and ideally to be able to expand our interests and make a profit. Most importantly though, it needs to be fun. So to give us the best possible platform for entertainment and success, I decided to invest a significant portion of our corporation funds in a POS with some manufacturing and refining capabilities.

Before his departure from New Eden, Greenbeard had steadily built up a reasonable collection of blueprints that have been gathering dust in various bolt-holes around the cluster. Finally, they could be put to use again. Combining Lozyjoe's fondness of industry and the making use of these forgotten corporation resources would surely be a recipe for success. All I needed to do was make it happen.

I've had some experience with POS management in the past, but I'm by no means an expert. However, with some sage advice from alliance members and some tinkering in EVEHQ and EFT, I came up with a shopping list of POS modules, ships and other resources that would kick-start our null-sec enterprise. Now just to get it there.

A friendly alliance industrialist with access to a host of big ships offered to help out and we arranged a high-sec meet-up to transfer the goods. Unfortunately, I didn't get time to gather Greenbeard's 'treasure' in time for his departure. No matter, I'd got the hang of these runs through hostile space and was confident I could safely make the journey. It would be useful to get my Sisters fitted Covert Ops ship down there anyway and it didn't make sense to put all our eggs in one basket, did it?

Sadly, it turns out that this approach was more of a case of putting some eggs in the basket, whilst hurling the remaining ones at a wall, as this killmail proves.

Oops.

We've now got a nicely set-up corp POS in Kaydub, but starting manufacture may be a little tricky. I'm just glad Greenbeard wasn't around to witness this.

Now we really are back to being a rookie corp.

PHASE FOUR OBJECTIVE: Erm...


*Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Null-Sec: The Final Frontier

And lo, as the Age of the Capsuleer enters it's eighth year and capsule-bound gods roam the heavens of New Eden in greater numbers than ever before, there has been a disturbance in the equilibrium of Greenbeard's Freebooters.

Once a fearless quartet of renowned and peerless warriors, the Freebooters have become a fading force, with three of original members now lost, absent or defeated. Once they ruled the stars with their wisdom and skill, having faced all challenges and vanquished all enemies, but now ...

Oh, who am I kidding.

Like many old corps in EVE Online (in a little over a month, the Freebooters will also turn eight years old), the merry band that once was has disappeared into the vortex that is reality. We were never that successful anyway, but we did spend years enjoying the content available to a small independent corp; missioning until we knew them all inside out, indulging in some Faction Warfare, skulking around in low-sec, making some ISK with planetary interaction and a couple of marketing coups, roleplaying when the mood suited. They were good times.

But those times are in the past and there is little left for the Freebooters to do. No challenging stone left unturned.

Or is there?

Enter the Black

The one thing that has always eluded us (or we have just avoided), has been that mythical, dark realm beyond the borders of pirate-infested low-sec. A world apart from those nestled comfortably in the folds of Empire space. That forbidding other game-world they call 'null-sec'.

Null-sec is a strange beast. Many of it's denizens seem to see it as 'the only way to play EVE'. There seems to be a suggestion that if you're hanging around in high-sec and 'carebearing' you're missing the whole point of the game. There is definitely a them-and-us relationship between Empire-dwellers and null-sec players, with each side happy to go about their version of EVE whilst pretending the other doesn't exist.

However, the rise of the CSM in recent years clearly turned a few null-sec heads and this year they emphatically seized control of the sixth administration with the intention of championing causes that matter to 'their EVE'. It must be noted that there has always been a degree of null-sec representation on the CSM, but this term there is an overwhelming majority.

So now seems like as good a time as any to find out what their beef is with current sovereignty mechanics and large fleet fights. One way or another, Greenbeard's Freebooters is going to go see what all the fuss is about.

Can I Join Your Team?

The problem with null-sec is that it's full of alliances comprising hundreds of players and they don't take kindly to small independent corporations wandering around in their backyards. Clearly, the way around this problem is to join an alliance, but even that can be fraught with problems. Many of the more established alliances will not entertain small corporations, preferring that players enlist with one of their existing member corporations. This would not be a problem for most I suppose, especially if you're an independent free agent, but Greenbeard's Freebooters is an institution. Granted, it's a small delapidated institution that probably smells like a gents urinal, but it's important to us. Well, to me. And those blue cubes don't taste too bad.

Historically, attempts to resolve the alliance issue have not gone well for the Freebooters. We flew for a short time with the TREAD alliance, who were a modest alliance concerned with policing the then CVA-dominated Derelik low-sec regions. They disbanded around the time the CVA were shown the Providence door by Against All Authorities, leaving the Freebooters to fend for themselves in an increasingly lawless low-sec. That was actually quite an enjoyable period - standing defiantly resolute against the tide of hostile fleets whilst maintaining our low-sec operations. The truth be told, we were too small and inconsequential for anyone to pay us much attention.

Eventually we grew to yearn for more contact - EVE can be a very solitary experience if no effort is made to be gregarious. We sought a new group to bunk up with, but many doors were closed to us due to our small size. Finally we found the Art of War alliance who were based not far from our low-sec haunt. They offered small-gang action, training and orientation for those unfamiliar with PvP combat and a community. That lasted a little short of a week, before an untimely war-declaration from a 'griefer' corp saw us suspected of being spies.

So the 'Booters were cast adrift again.

Generation Next

The next period saw the old guard become increasingly inactive as the jaws of responsibility, real-life and disinterest locked down. Although Long Jack and Karpov Katyusha are still around, their appearances in-game are currently at an all-time low. I am hoping that upcoming excitement may lure them back. Greenbeard alas has allegedly hung up his neural implants for good, but who really knows for sure.

Fortunately, fresh faces have begun to appear, both veteran players and newcomers. There's Teh Smit; a font of endless EVE wisdom (did you know how to get into the last room in Angel Extravaganza without the appropriate tag? I didn't.). Lozyjoe, a budding industrialist with a weird space-rock fetish, and Caveat Emptor Tempora who, despite his name, has very little to do with trading but shows all the hallmarks of being an excellent scout and combat pilot.

It is in the company of these brave and foolhardy souls that I will partake in the next chapter of Greenbeard's Freebooters and I'm glad they're buckled in and coming along for the ride.

Because I have a feeling that this one is going to be special.

Endless Crack?

The truth of EVE, especially the null-sec portion, is that it is a social event. It is not a part of the game that is intended for the crowd-shy and the reclusive. So it is fitting that it was whilst getting bewildered and drunk in Iceland at Fanfest 2011 that I met two people whose alliance I hope we Freebooters will fit perfectly; Quivering Palm and Luminus Aardokay.

I am pleased to say we are now proud members of Split Infinity Alliance.

I hope to keep you apprised of how we clueless Freebooters fare in this brave new world of sovereignty warfare and null-sec politics. At the very least I can now start developing an informed opinion.

Watch this space.

And local.