Not a Nice Game (Blog Banter 22)

Welcome to the twenty-second installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week or so to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to crazykinux@gmail.com. Check for other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!
This month’s topic is brought to us by L’Dene Bean of Nitpickin’s who asks: Why, and how did you pick your corporation? Is your loyalty solid or just until a better placed organization “recruits” you. The shorter version:  Who holds your Unshakable Fealty and why?

“In a changing world, some things do not change. It may be fashionable to decry the simple Virtues, but we still like to find them in our friends. Loyalty, honesty, frankness, gratitude, chivalry, magnanimity – these are the hallmarks of the good friend, the good husband and father, the nice guy we all hope our daughters will marry.

In the amoral world of Diplomacy, however, they are the hallmarks of the born loser. If a fallen enemy reaches out a hand for assistance, the wise man lops it off. If a friend does you a good turn when you’re down, wait until he’s down, then beat him to death. If an ally asks for your help … give it freely and copiously, then do the reverse of what you agreed and let him take the counter-attack. Try to surround yourself with people who trust you, then let them down; find an ally who will gladly die for you and see that he does just that.

In short, Diplomacy is not a nice game; to win, it is necessary to behave like a complete cad. Some people adopt a tone of moral outrage at the philosophy of the game, and refuse to play it at all … Not a nice game, as I said; but a marvellously entertaining one.”

-Introduction to The Game of Diplomacy, by Richard Sharp, 1978

With a few minor edits to bring things up to date, the above might have been written about Eve.

As I look back on my history of gaming – and no, I’m not quite that old (I first encountered the Avalon Hill board game Diplomacy in 1987) – there is no game I have played before or since that reminds me of Diplomacy from the perspective of the baseline assumptions so much as Eve.

On the surface, Diplomacy is a simple game with simple moves, often compared to a 7-player game of chess played on a map of Europe. Eve, while complicated in its execution, is simple in its premise – fly internet spaceships. But the undercurrent of both games is: Kill or be killed, survival of the fittest. Tell a lie, run a subterfuge, do what you have to do to look out for number one. CCP has made hay lately of the ability to topple empires from within. In Diplomacy, there is a tactic that is a foregone conclusion, simply called “The Stab” – in short, it is effectively impossible to win without executing at least one fairly spectacular betrayal. “Not a nice game” indeed.

I signed up for Eve in some ways because I love this concept. A largely pure, free market. An arena in which any choice can be made, so long as you pay the price.

Paradoxically, that is something I personally work to mold and shape in my personal space to be something where I can use the freedom, but find some measure of solidity. It is reflected in my play style in both games. In Diplomacy, I worked very hard to cultivate one player who I fully intended to partner with, and not stab, the entire game – for those familiar with the game I regularly played Russia and angled toward a “Juggernaut” victory. That partnership requires a strong level of trust because it is easily betrayed – but if they hold together the team is unstoppable. This approach was quite successful when playing Diplomacy with my fellow amateurs, but an experienced player would have found it laughable.

It has been that way for me with Eve as well. My first corp posted the Lupus Vires Manifesto in their recruiting drive. It was exactly what I was looking for, and I signed up. It says, among other things:

We are an apolitical organization that is focused on building a community first. We keep friends close and we are not opposed to working with any like minded corporation but we will not sacrifice our values just to be a part of one EVE power bloc or another. The north, the south, don’t exist as far as we are concerned. Our hands on experience with most power blocs in the game are poor. They are infested with poor leadership, who treat people and corporations as objects. They openly lie to their members and then scapegoat them when things turn bad. EVE coalition blocs are nothing but good-ole-boy systems ran by a handful of people drunk on their own self-importance and power. We stand against these values. We are focused on treating our members as individuals instead of pixels and we won’t join any organization long term that doesn’t share our values. The community is more important than the in game goals. No amount of in game pixel gold is worth the corrupting influence of the elitist 0.0 mindset. We will gladly rent 0.0 space from our friends and leave the politics to the corruptable.

If you have the time and interest, read the Manifesto in its entirety. It really was precisely the kind of community I wanted to join. And for about two months, it was exactly as promised. I could see myself with them for a long time. But as regular readers of this blog will know, many of us were new and green, and in the end the leadership got knocked out by RL, leaving a bunch of newbies and middle-aged guys without a lot of game time to lead a corp from scratch. It was clear early almost immediately that it wouldn’t work. It was a bummer.

So where did I go next? To another corp with roughly the same philosophy – but a much, much larger user base and thus not prone to self-destruction without its CEO. Eve University has its own declaration of principles, which says, among other things:

All capsuleers have an unrelenting desire for more; more strength, more space, more ISK, more power. Many will take from others; without hesitation or mercy, without compassion or regret … one man recognized that ‘more’ did not have to be the only objective … we agree to recognize that together, as a community, we can teach those new generations of capsuleers … we do this not for power, or influence, or money. We do this because we too recognize that ‘more’ does not have to be the solitary goal.

In dark circumstances and chaotic environments, I look for and gravitate to the bedrock principles I have held for my whole life. Find a base to operate from, or build one. In the end, I have to be true to myself and decide to trust others on an individual basis. Now, that’s not to say I trust all the individuals. I am pretty sure that the vast majority of Eve University fleets ship out with a spy alt of a pirate based in Amamake, or Rancer. But I have to trust the institutions as a whole.

In the end if you are going to choose anything other than paranoia, you have to pick people to trust. I would happily and unquestioningly follow Eve University FCs StoLo, StrydeTaz or James Arget into battle at their request, in corp or out. I get a kick out exploring and swapping notes with Mark from Eve Travel. I’d up take my old corpmate Qel Hoth up on a missioning invite in a second. After my tour at Eve University, I am very likely to fly out and spend some time living aboard the carrier of my ex-corpmate Dalcho, who lives like a Thukker nomad in deep nullsec. Once every few weeks he sends me a gem like this one:

Hey, we hit the mother lode last night … found a 10/10 plex, total profits I would say about a bil to split 3 ways. Not bad for a night, wish you were here 🙂

In a game that’s not nice, being nice can be surprisingly successful.

But in the back of my mind, it sounds much more fun as a game to run with Aiden Mourn and Suddenly Ninjas. To learn solo pirate PVP from Lady Shaniqua and Wensley (who has posted a compendium of knowledge you must read). To get in a Dramiel and fly in pirate wolfpacks with Seismic Stan and Greenbeard’s Freebooters or Nashh Kadavr and the Bastards. To run with the mercenaries of Noir.

Maybe Casiella Truza has the right idea after all. The one thing I could never do in Diplomacy was play two countries at once. Maybe what I really need is an alt.

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7 Responses to Not a Nice Game (Blog Banter 22)

  1. Absolutely start an alt! You get a second pilot that lets you train an entirely different set of skills – great for scouting, spying, convenience, covering your weaknesses, or for a combat wingman that will always have your back if you’re into double-boxing. Also, it gives you an entirely new avenue of roleplay for the second character – a vibrant new personality who can be as deviant as you like.

  2. Pingback: A "CareBears" Journey » Blog Archive » EVE Blog Banter #22: Am I Loyal, Or Just Complacent?

  3. Pingback: Who holds your Unshakable Fealty and why? | Nitpickin's

  4. La'Dene says:

    An alt is absolutely necessary I’ve most recently learnt. Good solid advice, above. I enjoyed your response to the query.

  5. Pingback: Esprit de Corps

  6. Pingback: See Also… (Blog Banter 24) | Interstellar Privateer

  7. Pingback: The Tyranny of Choice | Interstellar Privateer

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