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Jan 16, 2008



A few comments

a) Spies .. I dont find any mention of it in that analysis and A LOT of decisions on politics and morale in EVE are based on the work of spies. As a sub genre you also might include corp theft morale effects.

b) Maps .. there is a definite trend to objective automatically generated influence maps, as they use a public algorithm (modifiable) processing downloadable in game data. The old style subjective political boundary map is falling out of favour (especially because the impartiality of the guy(s) creating them have come under suspicion more then once). The later are often called propaganda tools.

c) Videos ... the same video can be a moral booster for both sides of a conflict. One side sees a hero making an epic fighting withdrawal versus overwhelming odds. The other side sees an aggrogant villain and bully falling back in disgrace from occupied territory after having lost his meatshield of allies that he usually treats like crap while demanding payment for protection.

d) Burnout ... i suggest you talk a bit about the serious burnout problems that players encounter during a long alliance war .. especially the fleet commanders.

e) Game bugs ... you may also want to mention the effect of bugs, server crashes, metagaming, nerfs etc. on player morale and 0.0 alliance politics. Out of game effects can be the nucleus for serious in game changes in alliance wars.

f) Propaganda ... you might add some words about a new aspect in the EVE propaganda war .. the articles in mainstream media (like NY Times or Der Spiegel) about EVE Online. In the past such reports have been seen in the gaming media exclusively.

g) Hubris and the reaction to hubris .. you might want to discuss the community reaction when certain groups in EVE commit "the crime of hubris".

Have fun


Good work Nate. I've been watching this come together, and yeah, its getting interesting.

The BOB vs Goonswarm thing is really just an artefact of the abundance of source material on the subject (Both are pretty noisy alliances, and both are pretty damn large in terms of thousands of members, space holding, etc)

But 3 cheers for Nate.


The thing about 'sacrifice a night' is pretty key to much of the strategy of system sieging, particularly when warring alliances are out of synch timezone wise. Much of this game is not just about spatial control (really topological control, when you think about the games structure, but thats another topic), but temporal control over game experience.

The major game mechanic for capturing a system involves "POS warfare", a mechanic designed to facilitate set-piece battles. Basically each system which is to be captured, is won by having the highest number of POS ('player owned stations', small deployable structures that can be anchored at moons and not to be confused with Outpost and Conquorable stations, usually the actual target of the system siege) in a system, thus gaining sovereignty of the system, and thus the Outpost in the system.

When a POS is attacked, when it hits the end of its shields, it goes into 'reinforced mode', and becomes invunerable for a period of time depending on how much 'strontium' it is fueled up with. Both sides know when it comes out of 'reinforced mode' and at that time, it needs a second attack to finish it off. Often the defending alliance will turn up at this time , often resulting in the massive fleet fights EVE is famous for. Its partly designed to counteract players turning up at 3am and leveling the enemys POS's when the enemy is asleep.

The trick for the defender is often to "alarm clock" the POS , so that it comes out of reinforced at a time that is unsuitable for the attacker (Ie 3am in the morning for the attacker, ergo 'alarm clocking'). However the defender has to set the reinforced timer (ie put enough stront for 8 hours) BEFORE the POS is attacked, so the attacker might make inferences as to the timing schedule of the POS's and try to turn the 'alarm clocking' back against the defender.

Largely this is a huge dynamic of regional battles, with both sides attempting to wear out the defenders and attackers or cause multiple systems to come out of reinforced at the same time (Thus making the attacker/defender chose which system or split forces or whatever), and so on.

Its really a war against sleep.


Its never a problem to do 1 or 2 "alarm clock" ops. But alliance wars last for months, even years. Try alarm clocking for weeks on end.

You can easily spend 20 hours in game in EVE for months on end and will ALWAYS have something critical to do, especially in the current Pendulum War ("The Great War").

Thats why "burn out" is a serious problem amongst EVE PvP pilots (especially fleet commanders). And maybe even more of a problem amongst the logistics people, the true heroes operating behind the curtain of flashy killboard statistics.

Have fun


My alliance just fought one such fight this week. Our POS was attacked by a vastly larger force at a time of day when we really couldn't put up any kind of fight. The POS went into reinforced but it came out at a time that was good for us so we repaired it and fought off the attack to kill the station later. Our enemy, learning from their mistake, attacked at a different time of day and took our POS into reinforced mode again. The second time we came close to repairing it thanks to people logging on at times other than their prime play-time, but the final wave of attackers was the largest yet. One count of enemy ships included about 15 Dreadnaughts and at least one Nyx class Mothership. While I didn't sacrifice any sleep, I did take a day off work so that I could respond to the alliance call to arms. Since the enemy was able to replace our POS with one of their own, we are forced to counter-attack to remove the offending eye-sore in our front yard. So the cycle of defend and repair changes to a cycle of attack and re-attack, but this side of the fight can be at times of our own choosing.

As mentioned above, the logistics guys really have a tough time with situations like this. POS need to be fueled and delivering large quantities of supplies in wartime conditions means a lot more work and odd hours for the guys who have to deliver the goods.


Read the pdf guys. Nates really nailed this one down.


SVgr. Yeah. POS war is both horrible (A lot of eve players, including myself, hate it , because of the way it can colonise our time), and really interesting.

Honestly, the solution is to recruit as many timezone as possible to counter. Part of the love between the goons and "the russians" (RA/AAA) is that the goons have 3 timezones, East/West coast American (our strongpoint), "Anzac" (australia, NZ, and asia), and "Euro" (Western Europe). We where however traditionally crap at Eastern europe timezones. RA however are absolute domination at this timezone. So it all works out well.

The solution to the war on sleep is a confluence of dreams.

(Note: I've had a few drinkies, so excuse the dumb in this post)


It really does boil down to the sadder, the winner.
Although, the point about (finally) a benefit of a cross continental corp. raises some interesting questions about why people group together online. For friendship and guild marriages, please, just go to sexy chat if your RL is that desperate. For mutual benefit that doesn't end up with your heart exploding on caffeine, sounds good!


Another morale tweaker in the game is the whole "spy game" metagame. Both BoB and the Goons have fairly extensive spy networks, basically players who join the opposing team and perform espionage and sabotage.

Often the results of the spying are used as morale boosters. When the enemy team has a big defeat, it will often lead to arguments on the forums of the defeated team. The spies then take the discussion and posts it on his own forum for the victor to have bit of a gloat. Sometimes these might be posted on the main eve-o forums to try and humiliate the team. So on.

"Forum porn" (as its sometimes known) can sometimes be used as an incentive for participation in boring ops (Ie pos shooting ops, which can be pretty boring). "Turn up to this pos shot op, and at the end Mittani will read some BoB forum porn!"

Its nasty stuff really, but its entirely sanctioned by CCP (encouraged even) and it has a huge effect on the game.

Part of the demoralisation of ASCN before its defeat was a perception in ASCN that there was no safe places to discus strategy. BOB had guys on teamspeak, and tactical maneuvers would constantly be anticipated. This got pretty demoralising for them.

I have no idea how extensive the BoB spy network is, but I believe Mittanis one is pretty large, and I have no reason to believe BoB's one isn't large as well.

The problem is, it'd be damn hard to study it, because espionage programs won't be openly talking too much about it for obvious op-sec reasons


Are there any double or triple agents? Any stories of spies who got turned out there?


> Enrillion, "spies" etc.

Excellent points, Enrillion. I will do what I can (to the limits of my understanding).

This brings me to a larger more important point. To those who have contributed in comment over the series so far, and to those who have played and have read this series, I encourage you to think about your experiences - good and bad - and pull together thought on what you think it means and let us all know at some point.

Because of its single shard + sandbox design and its scale (200K subscribers), I firmly believe EO is a unique experiment in virtual worlds now. I think in 10 years time we will all look back at it as one of those really big experiments that I fear may leave us poorly documented.

A problem of Eve Online -IMHO- is how insular a community it is. Part of it is its longevity - starting from a small base that has built up a crusty and hard to understand culture. It also has a harsh PvP culture that doesn't translate well to gamers on the outside (though it is IMHO terribly misunderstood). And above all the kinds of players it tends to attract - older (I think the medium age is late 20's), more educated, tends to mean these are more of the professional types who don't talk about it as much outside of the game community than with younger games - or so is my impression.

It gets worse. The "deep space" or 0.0 game which has been the focus of this series is even less well understood. Even many empire Eve Online players don't get it. Reasons here are isolation, isolation and isolation - 0.0 is hard to get to (for reasons well discussed in this series). It also seems that 0.0 tends to attract a clammy but strange military-hybrid-PvPer crowd who tend to reduce nuanced propaganda plays, for example, to "forum porn" lingo -- hard to digest outside the culture.

For whatever (and all) the reasons, I've been struck over the years about how misunderstood Eve Online has appeared to me by those outside the community. Worse still, as uniquely interesting the place is (I hope some of it has been communicated in the series thus far), the outside understanding (e.g. documentation) is appalling. Yes, I've spent a lot of time looking for it for this series.

Enrillion hits this point on the head above. Any public forum that a EO community has access to is turned into a propaganda tool. This may lead to interesting story telling, but in 10 years time, I hope those looking back will have more to remember of this fascinating (and IMHO bleeding edge) experiment in virtual worlds.

Back to the spy discussion. I have no idea about the extent of its use, except one - it is in the realm of Eve-Online murk and such stories are used as propaganda. I'm working on a couple of slides on this now. The problem and fascination with a sandbox is how every player has a different narrative - think of their story as a single thread moving across a very large space and time. Dave Rickey talked about this in comment earlier in the series. This is why I also think we need to - over time - pull our pants up a bit and try to apply the stories to larger understanding of what is going on.

This is why the more academic-oriented players of Eve should take a few cycles and write some of their stuff down and if they are just fragments, send 'em in to TN and I'll even (volunteer) to edit em up - if that is what it takes. Write. I'd love to hear objective (no propaganda, please) reminiscing by alliance leadership types - a rare crowd.

On this point, I'm really struggling with a taxonomy to generalize what was presented in the slides as well as some of Enrillion's points in terms of 4 or 5 (say) categories. Weigh-in here now, or weigh-in later when you see what I propose.

Oh yea, did I say write?


Not that I'm aware of, but it'd be a pretty fun little outcome I guess. What DOES happen is bogus/scam turncoats.

I've done it once. I was talking to some guy from a smaller enemy alliance, and I convinced them I was really disillusioned. The guy then offered me 100mil to sell out a fleet op. I "agreed", got 100mil and told a complete porky, which ended up with the enemy calling a defense op for an invasion that didn't happen. Which I thought was kind of funny.

Which actually reminds me of another morale tactic. "Blue-balling". Basically denying the enemy a fight not because of tactical ability, but to bore them. The idea (when it works) is you smash as much of the enemys stuff as possible, but when they come to attack, hiding in POS shields , logging out (controversial, but technically within rule) or docking. Doing this repeatedly, the theory goes, makes the enemys ops boring so numbers drop. Compare and contrast with "Meatgrinder".

Ultimately its about control of fun. Goons observed a year ago, that the winner of alliance wars ultimately is the team having the most fun. The downside is it means denying fun to the opponent. Propagandists oft talk about 'make the enemy miserable'. Theres actually something to that (as horrible as it sounds). To 'win eve' , you need to control space, you need to control time, and you need to control fun.


A correction: You state on page 7 that standings are the prerogative of corporations. This is incorrect.

Standings are very complicated, but the primary things standings are used for are 1) visual identification of friend-or-foe by pilots and 2) automated FOF identification by game objects (for instance, telling POS guns who to fire at, or telling a station who is allowed to dock). In general, type 1 is determined by alliance standings, or if no alliance standing is set towards a particular pilot, by corp standings, or again if no standing is set, by personal standings. This means that if my corp has your corp set blue, but my alliance has your corp set red, I will see you with a red tag on your name and your ship.

Game objects, however, use only the corp standings of the owning corp. This means that in the above example, my corp's POS guns would shoot at you.

So corp settings are only of political import when applied to POSes or docking rights, and alliance standings trump corp standings in all other cases.

Also, as a minor note, you got the name of my alliance wrong on page 9. It's "Knights of the Southerncross" rather than "Knights of the South."


dmx - "you need to control fun."

I've heard a variant of this that goes as "you need to get them off their game" In this case what was meant was quite specific. It was made in recognition that very specific player niches have certain patterns of activity that they like to do. There are quite a few of 'em. To undermine a particular player group, you need to decode what they are about and as this reference meant it, you need to force them to play a different game from the one they like to engage in. The further you force them to play afield, so to speak, the more successful you will likely be in "winning."



rgr, will correct.


Nate, may I say that your comment above is a fantastic explanation of your overall project with regards to EVE?

I'm not sure if I qualify as alliance leadership, but I am on the next rung down - upper corp leadership within a 0.0 alliance. Can you tell us what kind of stories you're looking for? Overall narratives (what it's like to lead a corp), assessments of events (a campaign, or our time in a particular alliance), war stories...? (I kind of suspect the first, but I'd like a bit more detail).


Hey "great big Misunderstood alliance" buddy , Delvin. Hi5 :) I really like the KOS boys. True survivors in the game.

Anyway. Yeah. I should probably at some stage write up a bit of a history of our alliance. I think the goons are kind of an oddity oft not well understood, particularly with the whole narrative of 'goon culture' and the like, and whilst the 'swarm will inevitably fade away one day, it'd be nice to nut down what the whole big adventure was all about.

I would however really enjoy hearing more about life as a long term empire denzien. Its practically a different game in the middle there, and as someone who's been in 0.0 since day #1 in the game, I don't know an awful lot about it. Empire scares me a bit.

Anyway, Eve is a unique game. I truly believe it the most interesting, academically, game out there.

I've tried and tried to like Second Life, but the whole thing seemed to me to be, well, an academic exercise , sort of a wish fulfillment of a lot of academic dreams of 'cyberspace' the wide eyed cyberculture academics of the 90s always wanted. But it just isn't fun and the commercialism and cheer-leading really wrecks it for me.

But Eve is a game by gamers for gamers, not unlike say WOW in that respect, but its most interesting at how amazing the emergent gameplay is. In some repects EVE really is 'spreadsheets' online. Its not necesarily a relaxing game, and it not always 'fun'. But the compelling narrative thats being built communally by this big old community of dorks is what keeps me at it. Its our sandbox, and we are filling it with star trek. And loving it.

The game is Space-Opera proper. Its every fulfillment of my Star-Trekking dreams. By day I'm a terminally bored coder and failed academic with a literature background and shit-house grammar. By night I'm a cunning space pirate out to overthrow an empire. It doesn't get better than this.

But the memory of girls fades further into the past....

Hell yeah this needs to be documented.


Devin >
Can you tell us what kind of stories you're looking for? Overall narratives (what it's like to lead a corp), assessments of events (a campaign, or our time in a particular alliance), war stories...? (I kind of suspect the first, but I'd like a bit more detail).

The simple answer is whatever you think is relevant to a broader understanding of corp/alliance leadership. One way to frame it in tangibly is in terms of what do corp/alliance leaders do now, what are they good at and where are they lacking.

Constance several years ago sort of took this approach wrt guild leadership tools, it well illustrated the challenges that guild leaders had.


In the EO politics slides above I cite an example of what a fleet commander has to do with a >100 fleet. I think most people (certainly few non-gamers) would find it very hard to comprehend how complex (and stressful) that in-game "job" is - I don't think it is excessive to say that it may be as complicated (in part because of the degraded set of tools/practices/training they have to work with) than many RL jobs we place in that category (though since the consequences of failure are less, likely less stressful).

That flavor. What do alliance leaders *really do* and how are they capped by the limitations of technology, practices, and tools would be an interesting subject to begin to nibble away at.

For those who have carefully read the series to date, one will note that there is a substantial gulf between most of the alliance players and those in the leadership cadre. This pattern is true for most mmorpgs but i think it is more complicated in Eve because of the different levels of organizations (corps/alliances/coalitions) and the wider range of ways they must interact in-game.

By and large, most players are the "footsoldiers". Some may have a few extra roles - e.g. mid-level managers. But the top is very thin and often hard to understand how it works. I don't play at that level, but all players do get glimpses into it from time to time. whether it be forum postings, channel discussions or pep-talks on vent. But what is presented there is typically the end-result of a decision making process. How it is made is much less clear.

I started an in-game character 'Terrantus Novalum' which will serve as my TN "diplomat", if you know folks in leadership roles who want to say something here, they can Eve-Mail to this character, in case it makes it easier.

For the benefit of non-Eve players, "diplomat" characters are typically used only as stand-ins or contact characters for a corporation or alliance. They are used to better manage contacts to the outside - e.g. keep eve-mail separate, only log-in when ready to handle "diplomatic" functions etc.

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