My statement on the BRAVE coup

Just two weeks after TEST left HERO, Lychton Kondur, the executor of Brave Collective was ousted over night by an internal coup. In this article I will expose my own opinion on this and will try to explain TEST’s point of view as well.

TEST’s history with BRAVE is very close. Matias joined Dreddit and left to create Brave Newbies Inc. Our former executor montolio helped them during their first days, and HERO was born to help each other in new endeavors. Despite our culture being very different (theirs promoting “staying classy” and us being, well, just TEST) we have always liked newbros and we worked together.

As part of the high leadership, my main relation with BRAVE management was with their higher up people and to be more precise, with Lquid and Lychton. Both of them have been always super helpful and it has been a pleasure to work with them. We might have had different opinions, we have had frustration over unsolved problems and many times we would have preferred to get a different response, but so far they were always eager to help and they were just there to make sure we were able to work together.

I can understand the frustration of Middle Management about not getting things done. BRAVE has a gigantic middle management. And for those that don’t know what middle management is, it comprises everyone with a leadership position but the CEO and the high leadership. So yes, CNM, floaters, fc’s, diplos, and everyone that went to a meeting to decide something was part of the middle management.

One of the main things that caused drama between us was the sensation that our issues were swept under the rug. They tried to solve them, but in the end of the day, not only it was not solved, but it came back with a sort of excuse like “we will have a close eye on this guy so we make sure it doesn’t happen” or something like that. Constant issues arise because of lacking of HR standards meaning that spies where everywhere at all the time leaking anything of significance and disrupting our activities multiple times.

This kind of events led to many of our leadership people burning out and leaving because they didn’t want to deal with what HERO meant for them at that point. We lost several corporations, a handful of our main fleet commanders, IT staff and some others. We decided to keep trying to fix the problems that caused this, but it never happened.

The continued frustration over not being able to fix anything added to the fact that we were the zebras in the game pvp preserve led to stagnation and we (TEST leadership) needed to break with that situation, so we left HERO on friendly terms and went to Wicked Creek, just two weeks before writing this lines. We have always been supportive of our BRAVE friends and on our way out we donated several billion worth of minerals and hulls from our test_free program to BRAVE Dojo to support their newbros, and we offered support to have them set up their IT that depended on our services so they were never blacked out over night. We scheduled a mutual reset sometime in the future but there wasn’t a real rush to do that.

Then, the coup happened. Lychton lost the executor of BRAVE and a new management established in using votes and shares. Lychton demonstrating once again his integrity decided to help the traitors to not damage BRAVE at all since he didn’t want to harm the newbies, at all. But we consider him to be a hostage of this entire situation that could have been done in a completely different way.

While we understand the frustration of not being able to fix things, it is extremely unfair to blame Lychton for everything. Of course, as executor he is the ultimate responsible. But the huge amount of useless seats that float around every meaningless decision that needs to be resolved, are equally responsible and should have stepped down immediately.

In my opinion, if you are trying to argue that leadership is not capable of fixing anything and you chop the head of the ultimate responsible, they should have all ceased immediately and the new leader would have reformed a top down tight structure without that enormous amount of irrelevant people all around the place. Of course this is never going to happen because there are many people hungry of a small amount of power and they will never recognize that they are completely useless and making everyone waste their time in huge meetings that never solve anything. I was dragged more than once into meetings like that.

When you pay attention and listen to the Q&A that even had a hilarious threat of taking legal actions against the leakers, you will find how everything sounds like a complete artificial stage where nothing is actually answered, where no plan is shown, etc. If you are removing a leader to place yourself, at least have a plan. Otherwise you are simply a figurehead handed by someone else which seems to be the case.

Lychton is not exent of responsibility. He could have prevented this many moons ago if he nuked the entire clusterfuck of structure they had and established a lighter top down structure that actually got things done. I can understand the reasoning behind not wanting to get into that to avoid drama, but drama can’t be avoided and it is only a matter of time until everything rolls down the hill. I think that he was afraid of the consequences and he never trusted anyone enough to step down and move on. I can see now why.

If you honestly find yourself in a position where your higher management is incapable of giving you tools to do your work, you either bail out or try to stay to fix that situation. They could have, for example, wrote an open letter moving the debate outside. The whole middle management could have then stepped down putting him in a position where he would have been forced to do something. But they decided to oust him because they don’t really want to step down, they just want to move along and Lychton was a very nice scapegoat to simply just let him go like that. Of course, now we are blamed of being bitter ex girlfriends and trying to capitalize on their lowest hours. Because it is always easier to blame others rather than help fixing the problem.

As I have stated in their subreddit, TEST doesn’t consider Brave Collective to be a trustable entity under this new management, and therefore we reset our standings and we aren’t willing to work with them. This doesn’t mean that we hate BRAVE Collective or their line members. But we cannot keep relations with someone that thinks that treason is a legitimate way of solving your problems. Because we know very well the consequences of that.

Therefore, TEST is no longer affiliated by any means to BRAVE Collective unless this situation is fixed. However, we lend our hand to those that are not willing of taking part of this shameful coup.

Un año en perspectiva: el caso de TEST

Este es el primer artículo de una pequeña serie para recoger mi primer año como Head Diplomat de TEST (y como “conductor designado” dado que no consumo alcohol y EVE es un juego donde muchas cosas se entienden mejor si estás bebido). A pesar de que soy el segundo al mando de TEST, esto no debe ser tomado como una declaración oficial en nombre de mi alianza, porque está publicado en mi blog personal. Cualquier declaración oficial puede ser expuesta en otros lugares, pero no aquí.

Aprendiendo a fracasar

Al igual que ocurre en la vida real, tendemos a aprender mejor de los errores que de los aciertos o, para ser precisos, del hecho de que las consecuencias de dichos errores no son tu elección así que no tienes otro remedio. Un crío que decide tocar una llama para entender que el fuego quema no necesita un segundo intento para reafirmarse. La consciencia de la situación es muy importante. Evadir la responsabilidad únicamente otorga una breve tregua a tu fracaso y no se puede engañar a todo el mundo a tu alrededor por tiempo indefinido.

Tuve la ocasión de observar cómo la monstruosidad que eran TEST y la Honey Badger Coalition se iban a pique como un tren que descarrila desde los ojos de un recién nombrado diplomático junior. Pero ya había experimentado en mis propias carnes muchos de los problemas que llevaron a ese punto y cuando decidí que me iba a quedar me convencí de que no repetiría los mismos fallos.

Antes de eso, fui director en una pequeña corporación hispana que entró a TEST durante la campaña de Delve en 2012. Yo estaba entusiasmado con la propaganda que Tez Saurus había hecho y quería formar parte de aquello así que convencí a mis compañeros y trabajamos desde ser una pequeña corporación de newbies en Highsec hasta una corporación miembro de la mayor alianza del juego en aquel entonces y empecé a vislumbrar cómo es la vida en nullsec para un recién llegado en un barrio en el que todo el mundo tiene ya la vida resuelta.

Aprendí a amar la enorme comunidad que teníamos. El aspecto social era alucinante, pero había también algunas sombras entre las cosas buenas. Ahora, con perspectiva, es claro como el agua: todo el mundo tiene sus propios objetivos, ambiciones y planes y mucha gente no es leal a ninguna otra cosa, a pesar de lo que digan públicamente.

La lealtad es un concepto venenoso en un juego como EVE Online. Es sin lugar a dudas una espada de doble filo. Algunas personas, creen que la lealtad implica hundirse con el barco. Otros piensan que es una herramienta para conseguir lo que quieras de quien te propongas porque tiene algo que tú deseas. Y no dudarán por un segundo saltar a tu espalda para apuñalarte cuando llegue el momento. EVE es un gran lugar para sociópatas, pero creo que es tan solo uno de los muchos precios a pagar. Yo creo que no le debemos lealtad a nadie más allá de nosotros mismos, y mientras sigas siendo honesto, romper con otras personas debería ser fácil. Pero nunca lo es.

TEST sufrió una implosión. La alianza no solo perdió el control efectivo de 7 regiones, perdimos además más de 70 corporaciones, dos tercios del total de nuetros miembros, divisiones enteras de nuestro leadership y una gran cantidad de assets e ISK. Pero no solo eso, las decisiones que llevaron a tal extremo, sembraron sal sobre la tierra en la que pretendimos rebrotar y hasta esta fecha, aún portamos las heridas que se hicieron a nuestras relaciones externas en aquellos días.

Yo estuve ahí la noche que la HBC tocó a su fin. Cuando nuestro en a quel entonces líder BoodaBooda decidió abandonar la HBC y se resetearon los standings tras el Estado de Alianza. Me pasé toda aquella noche pidiendo disculpas a demasiada gente porque se habían encontrado sus assets atrapados después de una decisión infantil y estúpida que nunca se tenía que haber tomado, al menos de aquella manera.

La gente dice que la confianza es el asset más preciado en EVE. Pero no porque la confianza sea difícil de conseguir, sino porque una vez dicha confianza se traiciona, es extremadamente difícil recuperarla. Y arruinarla es muy sencillo, especialmente si estás cayendo por la ladera de un monte dando vueltas de campana sin otro plan mejor que intentar no morir cuando inevitablemente choques contra algo.

Pese a todo, nadie está exento de arruinarlo todo y ser ejecutor no es una tarea sencilla por lo que no puedo realmente culpar a nadie por sus errores, especialmente en una cadena de sucesos como aquella. Fue simplemente otro más. Pero ni siquiera fue el mayor error. Porque tan solo era la punta del iceberg. Otros errores mucho mayores ocurrieron antes de aquella fecha, que tuvieron consecuencias a más largo plazo. Cuando los logs the salieron a la luz quedó claro, pero ya lo sabíamos. Nuestro antiguo leadership estropeó permanentemente nuestras relaciones con nuestros antiguos aliados. Además, había distintos discursos de cara al exterior y puertas para adentro, que no tenían nada que ver. A la gente se le contaban cosas sostenidas por una narrativa retorcida para que siguieran una mentalidad de horda, tragándose mentiras y demás.

Nos encontramos en Aridia, en lowsec, muriendo de nuestras propias heridas, desangrándonos en gente marchándose y otros intentando alimentarse de nuestro cadáver. Pero no estábamos muertos. Algunos de nosotros aún creíamos que había la posibilidad de resurgir, y decidimos quedarnos para encauzar la situación y, sin importar como, resurgir de nuestras cenizas. Nos acosaban sin parar y tuvimos que dejar el despliegue en Curse porque no había forma de sostenerse en medio de un campeo permanente de nuestro undock.

Booda dimitió y le pasó el testigo a SkierX. Una de las últimas cosas que me dijo a mi y a Sapporo (nuestro actual CEO) fue que cuidásemos de TEST. SkierX fue el ejecutor que TEST necesitaba en aquellos oscuros días. Es posiblemente una de las personas más humildes y de cabeza fría que he tenido el honor de conocer en este juego. No es el típico presumido que le encanta el sonido de su propia voz. Su cabeza fría tiraba de las riendas cuando la gente se desmadraba. Invertimos un año en intentar reconstruir el leadership desde cero. Fue cuando me nombró Head Diplo una vez que rob3r renunció y pasé a formar parte del Alto Mando de TEST desde entonces. E históricamente, el Head Diplo y el MilDir son los siguientes en autoridad al CEO. Así que me convertí en el “conductor designado”.

El ruido externo

Cuando pasas a formar parte del leadership, empiezas a tener un punto de vista diferente de prácticamente todo. Intentar obtener un punto de vista objetivo es muy complicado. No solo porque tienes acceso a más información y a la toma de decisiones, sino también porque es difícil encontrar una crítica honesta y objetiva. Todo el mundo quiere algo y todo el mundo te susurrará cosas al oído. Mucha gente te alabará también, por muy distintas razones.

Es por eso por lo que es muy fácil convertirse en un cretino que se adora a sí mismo: cuando las cámaras te apuntan y muestran una imagen de ti que te gusta, es fácil creérselo. Y esto es solo un juego. El Leadership existe por cuestiones prácticas, no debería ser un concurso de medallas donde gente sin ego lucha a muerte por conseguir notoriedad. No todo el mundo comparte esta opinión sobre lo que es el leadership. Creo que es una forma de servir a gente que te importa, porque crees que puedes aportarles algo bueno y contribuir a una causa mayor que tú mismo. Y sé que es un punto de vista estúpido e idealista, pero aún así.

La diplomacia (externa) ocurre generalmente fuera del juego. Ya sea en chats o en otros juegos o sosteniendo una cerveza. Es un aspecto social. Y para ser un buen diplomático, hace falta conocer mucha gente y escuchar lo que tienen que decir. Tienes que entender el poder de tus palabras y lo que puedes y no puedes decir, sin contar mentiras. Porque las mentiras tienen las patas muy cortas y si te pillan diciendo mentiras, se acabó.

A mi me gusta hablar con entidades neutrales y jugadores que a priori no tienen nada que ver conmigo. Especialmente cuando tienen más experiencia que yo. Aprecio la crítica y respeto a mis rivales y enemigos. Es muy sencillo de entender pero también importante que los standings y la amistad son cosas diferentes y cuando eres diplomático, o cuando intentas ser un buen diplomático, mucha gente hablará contigo constantemente para compartir pensamientos e información, y aprender de su perspectiva es importante. También, es de esperar que compartas información (no información vital tipo espionaje, sino por el hecho de que eres un punto oficial de contacto) y obtendrás información asímismo. Esta es la principal vacuna contra convertirte en un gigantesco e inútil festival de autocomplacencia.

Pero uno de los mayores retos es el ruido externo. Escucharás y leerás todo tipo de cosas que no quieres leer o escuchar y tienes que aprender a separar cuales son relevantes y cuales debes ignorar porque vienen de gente que simplemente quiere ver el mundo arder. Y no es sencillo. Especialmente cuando ves a antiguos amigos intentando que ardas. Es una mierda. No debería importarte, pero te importa. Es casi imposible que no te importe. Porque eres humano después de todo. Y a todos nos gusta gustar.

La fuente principal de ruido externo tras un evento así no es la explosión en sí misma, sino toda la gente que se marcha y que te apunta desde su nueva posición para recordarte todo lo que se ha hecho mal (incluso si tú no tienes nada que ver con aquello o incluso si ellos fueron los responsables de aquellas decisiones). Algunos intentarán permanecer cerca para decirte cómo se hace todo desde la barra del bar y recordarte lo malo que eres porque la cagaste. Incluso después de todo este tiempo, estamos en 2015 y todavía se nos juzga por cosas que ocurrieron en 2012 instigadas por gente que ya hace tiempo que dejaron el barco porque se fueron en cuanto se abrió la primera vía de agua, y han actuado como exnovias despechadas desde entonces.

Como dije anteriormente, la lealtad es un concepto muy complejo en EVE Online. Deberías ser libre de ir adonde quieras. Si te vas e inmediatamente intentas hacer daño a todos los que has dejado atrás (y no hablo de explotar píxeles espaciales que es el propósito del juego) es normal que la gente se sienta defraudada y no quiera que te quedes. Sin embargo, vendrán con la falacia de “es solo un juego”. Sí, es solo un juego pero tú utilizaste nuestra amistad para apuñalarme repetidas veces. Es divertido cuando se intentan distanciar de ese discurso pero buscan la menor oportunidad para volverlo a hacer. Sí, justo lo que una exnovia despechada haría.

Obtener un borrón y cuenta nueva con entidades externas en este escenario es prácticamente imposible. Todo el mundo te juzgará por tu pasado y una vez que tu marca está crucificada, hay poco que puedas hacer. Pero como sé que las palabras solo te llevan hasta cierto punto, prefiero actuar y respaldarlas con mis actos en vez de hacer a la gente creer comiéndoles la cabeza con mágicas palabras. Nadie te da a elegir las cartas con las que juegas, tienes que apañártelas con lo que tienes.

Pero incluso tras una larga tormenta, el cielo vuelve a clarear. Y es cuestión de tiempo que los amigos de verdad aparecen en tiempos de necesidad y entienden la situación. Hemos encontrado amigos así durante el camino. Y es ahí donde HERO aparece, pero eso es material para otro post.

Resurgiendo de las cenizas

Lleva tiempo, horas incontables de tiempo de mucha gente, pero es factible. Por supuesto, es más fácil pulsar el botón, desbandar, dejarlo ir y empezar de cero. Ahora entiendo por qué mucha gente lo hace. Porque reflotar puede ser extremadamente doloroso. Pero yo creo que merece la pena.

La primera prioridad durante los 40 años de travesía por el desierto es reconstruir un leadership efectivo de nuevo. Desafortunadamente, no tienes una baraja de la que sacar cartas hasta que estás servido. Lleva tiempo encontrar gente valiosa y confiable y que no se queme mientras intenta hacer su trabajo debido a las múltiples dificultades que ha de afrontar. Esto es con mucha diferencia la parte más importante y complicada de reconstruir una alianza, porque sin un leadership efectivo, no consigues nada, no reclutas nuevas corporaciones y no puedes alcanzar objetivos que te hagan crecer.

A día de hoy, estamos aún lejos de estar satisfechos con el funcionamiento de nuestra estructura. Funciona mucho mejor que hace un año y definitivamente mucho mejor que hace dos años, pero está lejos de haberse terminado. No obstante, nos permite operar y crecer.

Nuestra organización es dictatorial y vertical. Tenemos un ejecutor y CEO que tiene la última palabra. Luego, tenemos distintos directorados con uno o varios directores, cada cual con su propia organización interna (algunos pueden tener subdirectores). El ejecutor tiene la ayuda del Alto Mando formado por los directores de cada división y algunas otras personas. Está pensado como un think tank para alcanzar decisiones por la gente que las puede poner en práctica. No es un concilio. Incluso siendo partes de un cierto directorado, nos ayudamos entre nosotros para cubrir huecos allá donde sea necesario. Porque no estamos disponibles 24/7 y a veces hay que estar ahí. De modo que todo el que pertenece al Alto Mando debe estar cómodo tomando decisiones para que las cosas se hagan. Y esto implica que tienes que saber con quién hablar para hacerlo. Delegar es muy importante, porque coordinar las tareas lleva tiempo y hacerlo todo tú no es práctico.

Personalmente, me gusta mantener a la gente informada e intento actualizar con novedades tanto como puedo, porque sé que no es bueno cuando no te enteras de lo que pasa o cuando tienes la sensación de que todo el mundo lo sabe menos tú. Conseguir una buena comunicación entre las distintas partes del leadership es complicado y seguimos mejorando en este apartado. Hemos dedicado muchos recursos durante nuestro tiempo en HERO y afrontado múltiples retos debido a la falta de comunicación entre aliados.

Una vez te sientes cómodo con tu equipo, hace falta que la gente crea de nuevo. Algunos llaman a esto “tener una narrativa”. Y puedo entenderlo. La gente hace cosas no divertidas si les das una buena razón para ello. Plantar fuego a todo a tu alrededor o cagarte en el desayuno de otro puede ser un buen punto de partida. Aún así, tener una narrativa que funcione en el grupo particular de individuos que conforman nuestra comunidad no siempre es tarea fácil, en una alianza como la nuestra donde el troleo y el shitposting son la principal razón de existir. Es definitivamente un reto.

Nos llevó cerca de un año y medio encontrar una narrativa apropiada en el tiempo adecuado para retornar a la alianza a sus raíles. Ahora, en Abril de 2015 TEST es una entidad que respira de nuevo y tiene por delante un futuro brillante. Crecemos a ritmo constante y hacemos cosas divertidas por nosotros mismos y por fin somos capaces de mantenernos en pié. Hablaré sobre nuestro tiempo en HERO en otro momento, dado que de lo contrario, sería demasiado extenso.

A year in review: the case of TEST

This is the first article on a small set about my first year as Head Diplo of TEST (and “designated driver” because I don’t drink and EVE is a game where many things are better understood when drunk). Despite the fact that I am the second in command of TEST, this shouldn’t be taken as an official statement from my alliance, because it is written on my personal blog. Any official statement may be done by other means, but not here.

Learning to fail

Pretty much like in real life, you tend to learn more from mistakes than from success and mistakes, or to be precise, since the consequences of said mistakes aren’t a choice so its not like you have any other chance. A kid that had to touch a flame to understand that fire burns will not need a second attempt to reassure. Awareness is very important. Dodging responsibility only sets a small delay to your failure and you can’t fool people around you forever.

I had the opportunity of watching the monstrosity that TEST and the HBC coalition was to fall appart like a derailed train from the eyes of a brand new junior diplomat. But I had already experimented most of the problems that led to that point, and when I decided that I wanted to stick around I tried to make sure that we wouldn’t repeat the same story over and over.

Before that, I was director in a small spanish corporation that joined TEST during the 2012 Delve campaign. I personally was amazed by the propaganda that Tez Saurus did and I wanted to be a part of that, so I convinced my corpmates and we worked our way from a highsec newbie corp to become part of the biggest alliance in the game at that point. We made it, and I started to experiment how the life in nullsec was from the perspective of a newcomer in a neighborhood where everyone is already pretty much figured out.

I learned to love the big community that we had. The social aspect was amazing, but there were also many shadows amongst the good things. Now, with perspective, it is crystalline clear: everyone has their own objectives, ambitions and plans and many people aren’t loyal to anything beyond that, despite their public speech.

Loyalty can be a venomous concept in a game like EVE Online. It is definitely a double edged sword. Some people, thinks that loyalty entails sinking with a ship. Others, think that it is just a tool to gather whatever you want from who has what you want. And they will not doubt any second to jump to your back to backstab you when the time comes. EVE is such a great place for sociopaths, but I guess it is one of the many prices to pay. I think you shouldn’t owe loyalty to anyone besides yourself and as long as you are honest, breaking up with people should be easy. But it rarely is.

TEST suffered a collapse event. The alliance not only lost the effective control of over 7 regions, we also lost more than 70 corporations, two thirds of our membership, entire divisions of our leadership and a huge amount of assets and ISK. But not only that, the decisions that led to that point, salted the ground where we would try in the future to regrow and to this date, we still carry out the wounds done to our relations with external entities.

I was there the night that the HBC came to an end. When our then alliance executor BoodaBooda decided to pull out from the HBC and standings were reset after the State of the Alliance. I spent that night saying sorry to way too many people that found their assets locked after such a childlish and stupid decision that should have never been done, at least that way

People says that trust is the most valuable asset in EVE. But it is not because trust is difficult to earn, but because it is extremely difficult to have it again after you ruin it. And ruining it is extremely simple specially if you are rolling down a hill without any other plan than trying to not die after you inevitably crash onto something.

However, no one is exent of fucking it up and being executor is not an easy task so I can’t really blame anyone for making mistakes, specially in a chain of events like that. It was just another one. But that wasn’t even the biggest mistake. Because it was just the tip of the iceberg. Other worst mistakes happened prior to that day, that had bigger consequences. When the TMC logs were leaked, it came to the public light, but we already knew. Our former leadership fucked it up really hard with our former allies. There were different speeches, public and privates, that had nothing to do. People were being fed up by a twisted narrative to fall into a mob mentality, kool-aid drinking and such.

We found ourselves in a station in lowsec Aridia, dying from our own wounds, suffering the bleedout of people leaving and others trying to feed from our dying corpse. But we weren’t still dead. Some of us, still believed that there was a chance for us, and decided to stick around no matter how, to rebuild the house from its ashes. We were being harassed nonstop, we even had to leave our deployment in Curse because there was no way to sustain or rebuild under a permanent camp of our undock.

Booda resigned and SkierX took the ropes suddenly. One of the last things that he told me and Sapporo (our new exec) before resigning was to take care of TEST. SkierX was the executor that TEST needed during those horrible days. He is one of the most calmed and humble individuals I’ve had the pleasure to meet in this game. Not the typical entitled guy that loves to speak to listen to the sound of his own voice. His calmed head pulled the strings when people around were freaking out. We spent a whole year trying to rebuild an effective leadership again. He appointed me as Head Diplo after rob3r left and I became part of TEST High Command since then. And historically, the head diplo and mildir are the next in authority after the executor. So I became the “designated driver”.

The external noise

When you become part of a leadership team, you will have a different point of view of pretty much everything. Trying to get an unbiased point of view is very difficult. Not only because you have access to more information, and you take decisions, but also because it will be very difficult to get a honest and unbiased criticism. Everyone wants something and everyone will whisper to your ear. Many people will compliment you, for many different reasons.

This is why it is extremely easy to become an entitled and selfish asshole: because when cameras point at you and picture an image of yourself that you like, it is easy to believe that. And it is just a game. Leadership exists for a practical reason, it should not be a medal gathering contest where people lacking of ego and self respect fight to death for notoriety. Not everyone has the same opinion about what leadership is. I think it is a way to serve people you like, because you think that you can give something good to them and contribute to a cause bigger than yourself. I know that this is a stupid idealistic gimmick, but still.

Diplomacy -external diplomacy- usually happens outside the game. Either in chats or in games, or grabbing a bear. It is a social thing. To become a good diplomat, you should like to meet people and listen to what they have to say. You have to understand the power of your words and what you can say and what you can’t, without lying. Because lies are very easy to catch and once you are marked as a liar no one will take you seriously so you will be useless.

I like to speak with neutral entities and other players that have no relation whatsoever with me. Specially when they are more experienced. I value the criticism and I respect my rivals and enemies. Its very easy but equally as important to understand that standings and friendship are two different concepts, and when you are a diplomat, or when try to be a good one, many different people will talk to you on a constant basis and you will share your experiences, and learn from their perspective. You will share non compromising information (you are not a leaker, but an official point of contact) and you will gather information. This is the main vaccine against becoming a gigantic disfunctional circlejerk.

But one of the biggest challenges is dealing with the external noise. You will hear and you will read a lot of things that you don’t want to read or to hear and you have to learn which ones you should care about and which ones are people just wanting to see the world burn. And it is not easy. Specially when you see former friends trying to set you on fire. It definitely sucks. You shouldn’t care, but you care. Its almost impossible to not care. You are a human, after all. And we all like to be liked by others.

The main source of external noise after a collapse event is not the explosion itself, its all the people that have left and point fingers at you to remind everything you have done wrong (even if you had no involvement at all, or even if they unironically were responsible of these choices). Some will try to stick around to armchair everything around you, to tell you how to do everything properly and to remind you how bad you are because you fucked up. After all this time, it sounds extremely ironic, but still. Give it time and everyone will show who they really are. It is 2015 and we are still being judged by things people did back in 2012 and most of the times instigated by people that was involved in those mistakes, that left when the ship started to sink, and that have been acting as bitter exes since then.

As I said before, loyalty is a fucked up concept in EVE Online. You are free to go where you want. If you go and immediately start actively trying to damage those who you left behind (and I’m not talking about blowing spacepixels which is the purpose of this game) then its normal if people gets upset at you and don’t want you to stick around. However they will come with the “its just a game” fallacy. Yes, its just a game but you used our “friendship” to stab me repeatedly. Its funny when they distance themselves from that discourse yet they take the smallest opportunity to come back at you. Yes, exactly what a bitter ex girlfriend/boyfriend does.

Achieving a “clean slate” with external entities in this scenario, is almost impossible. Everyone will judge you by your past. And once your brand is cursed, there is little you can do. But I know that words get you only so far. And I prefer to act and to show and to exemplify rather than making people drink kool aid to believe. You don’t get to choose which cards you would like, you play with what you have.

But even after a huge storm, the sky comes out clear again. Its a matter of time that true friends show up in time of need and will understand the situation. We have found some of this friends across the path as well. This is where HERO and some other entities play a role. But thats material for another post.

Rebuilding from the ashes

It takes time, it takes countless of hours of time by devoted individuals, but it is doable. Of course, it is easier to push the button, disband, let it go and start over. I can understand now why many people do this. Because refloating can be extremely painful at times. But I think it is worth it.

The first priority during the fourty years through the desert was rebuilding an effective, top-down leadership again. Unfortunately you don’t have a deck to draw cards until you get everything sorted. It takes time to find valuable people that you can trust and that doesn’t burnout because of the many difficulties they will have to face. This is by far the most important and challenging part of rebuilding an alliance, because without an effective leadership, you will not succeed, you will not recruit more corporations and you will not be able to achieve objectives that make you grow.

As of today, we are still far from being happy with how our structure works. It works much better than the last year, and definitely much better than two years ago. But it is far from being finished. However, it allows us to operate and grow.

Our organization is a top-down dictatorship. We have our executor and CEO that has the last word. Then, we have different directorates that have one or two directors, each one with their own internal structure (some may have subdirectors). The executor has the help of a High Command formed up by the division heads and some other individuals. It is intended as a practical think tank to come up with decisions by the people that puts them into practice. It is not a council. Even if we are the heads of certain divisions, we help each other to fill gaps whenever they exist. No one is available 24/7 and sometimes you need to be there. So everyone in High Command has to be comfortable to decide and get things done. This means that you need to know who to talk with to get it done, rather than doing it by yourself. Delegation is very important, and coordination tasks can be very demanding in time and resources, so you won’t have time to do it by yourself.

I personally like to keep people on the loop and try to update as much as I can with what we are doing, because I know that it is not good when things happen and you don’t know or when you get the feeling that everyone but you knows what it is happening. Achieving a proper inter-leadership communication is difficult and we are still improving in that point. We have devoted many resources during our time in HERO coalition and faced many challenges due to the lack of communication between allies.

Once you are comfortable with the team you have, you need to start making people to believe again. Some people call this “having a narrative”. I can understand why. People will do unfun things if you provide them a good reason for that. Setting everything on fire around you or shitting on someone else’s breakfast can be a good starting point. However, getting the narrative that works with the particular set of individuals that make your community is not always an easy task. And for an alliance like us, where trolling and shitposting are the main reason of our existence, it is certainly challenging.

It took almost one year and a half to come up with a narrative in the proper time and form to get the alliance back on its track again. Now, in April 2015 TEST is a breathing entity again with a bright future. We are steadily growing, we are doing funny things by ourselves, we are finally capable of stand still. We can close the chapter of the failcascade because it is in the past. Now, with lessons learned it is time for new exciting stuff. I will speak about our time in HERO in the next part of this set of articles, because otherwise it would be way too long.