This will be the third of the set of articles that I wrote as the first annivesary as Head Diplo of TEST. This has been on my draft list since a while ago and I was reluctant to post it, since it is already kind of old and I didn’t want to spill any sort of drama. But I think it is worth to post it anyways.
And the obvious disclaimer proceeds as usual: 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.
I already pointed out the issues that we had with our allies during our year in HERO coalition, that are mostly on the previously linked post. This article is about my point of view on BRAVE evolution since their birth to today. I did not have relations with BRAVE until the Lychton era, besides what I was gathering from the news about them as a newbie corp that was growing at a massive rate and catching a lot of attention.
Most of my direct relation with them was through their higher ups and a couple of diplomats. Besides Lychton and Lquid, I rarely needed to contact someone else. Usually, when you have a top-down structure, you talk with your counterpart on the other organization. Nothing wrong here. Besides that we always needed to be doing this even for irrelevant and meaningless stuff from daily interactions between our members, to some sort of bigger dramas between our leadership.
They went from an exciting bunch of newbros to a lot of backstabbing bittervets herding a ton of unaware linemembers in the span of one year. But what it is worse, BRAVE was also a sort of experiment, with people from everywhere, without any kind of secretism, with everything exposed to the public, without any kind of top-down structure based on the belief that their culture was the only truth and that everything figured out previously was metagaming and therefore evil lies to not have fun on this game.
The root of the problem
Many people blame the leader, Lychton, as the main culprit of how BRAVE is failing. Failing according to what most of EVE says, not according to their own metrics based on fun per hour or whatever. The general consensus is that they are failing, so I’m sticking with that. Not trying to fall into a generalization fallacy, but usually when everyone says that you are shit, you should at least look under your shoes.
Trust me, I’m high leadership in an alliance that has SHIT branded with huge letters on our forehead. Not because it was self imposed, but because everyone kept telling us until we realized that they were partly right and that we were, indeed, shit. Most of my time has been spent trying to erase that word from there, but that’s another story.
The root of the problem is very simple: denial of failure or failure as a mean of life. I’ve already stated at some point that embracing failure as part of your culture is extremely dangerous. We did, and it almost killed us. So I know very well why one has to get the fuck out of that attitude as soon as possible.
“I don’t want that this newbro gets upset when he blows a ship, so I will tell him that losing a ship is fun and he doesn’t have to struggle when it happens, we just give him another ship and no fucks given”.
Hey, that’s awesome! Not only we are encouraging a newbro that he doesn’t need to feel bad, but also we are giving him a pat on the head so he goes and keeps fighting! That’s awesome!
The problem is when this becomes:
“Losing is fun so why one must bother to improve. Improving is for bittervets and no lifers 24/7, improving sucks, let me play the game as I want because this is how I have fun.”
The idea is the same, but this has been corrupted. When you lose on purpose, it ends bad. Even if it is not on purpose, if you don’t put any means to improve in a game that is constantly evolving and adapting you are doomed. And if you are in a position of leadership, meaning that a ton of people depends on your choices, you should at the very least be aware of the consequences of what that implies.
Not only that, you create a whole generation of players that think that they live in a consequence free world.
Let me use this metaphor. In our “real” world, we have become extremely consciouss with kids and their “traumas” to the point where a kid cannot “fail”. When there is a competition, the winner gets a trophy, and everyone else gets a trophy too. Playgrounds all have soft edges. You have personal protections for everything. Children outside alone get arrested. Everyone gets a prize. And no matter how hard a kid tries, he will not be allowed to experience failure. This creates a consequence-free world where the kid doesn’t experiment failure until he reaches the adult life and faces the reality.
Coming back to EVE, the newbro that has been educated in this consequence-free world will at some point realize that losing sucks. That no matter how much you keep trying to convince yourself, at some point you want to be better than others. That you don’t want to lose. So you either try to fix it or move from there. This is where the one year old bittervet is born.
At this point, he might also have been swallowed by a gigantic disfunctional leadership that has a plethora of levels to make sure that no one is left without a title and a medal. If your leadership is a gigantic circlejerk where people only wants to feel that they are on the top of other people, it is time to burn it to the ground and start over. But this never happens, as we are in the magic world where there are no consequences for anyone.
I’ve seen people fucking up really hard and never had any sort of backfire to them. I’ve also seen people been kicked for arbitrary reasons that are kind of hilarious, as well. All in a self-called democratic organization where some people is entitled to do whatever they want because no one else will pick up that seat and therefore they are needed. Or because they do a good job so they are entitled to shit all over the place. That doesn’t work well either, as it alienates your truly worthy people out.
No matter how hard you try, there is always a phase of denial prior to solving any problem. Because to solve it, first you have to acknowledgement that it exists. Someone needs to step up and voice “Hey guys, we fucked up right? Lets fix it!”
This has yet to happen. Many people have offered friendly hands to help, that have been neglected based on the fear of metagaming or the fear of external injerence in their culture for the benefit of Bob knows who.
Since they have never had a truly private forum, their public subreddit has been their laundry as well, and there are people that have spent hours trying to advice them. But it has always been denied and buried with accusations of trying to make them implode or whatever, the evil machinery working against their will, that sort of things.
I have to give a shout out to Elise Randolph as he has been trying to give an honest advice since a long time ago. I truly believe that he wanted to make them succeed, because as any player with a functional brain can understand, having a constant stream of newbros in a 12 years old game like EVE is more important than anything else. And holy fuck, he spent there a ton of time giving inputs. But they were ignored, because no one wanted to acknowledge that they were fucking up. To this day.
Usually the same excuses come once and again, like “you are trying to harm us”, “you are a bad person”, “you want to use us in your own benefit”, “you know nothing because you weren’t there”, etc. It is somehow funny that there are still people that think that they have something private to this day, but still.
Narrative can be pushed down the throat of the linemembers very easily and can be used in pernicious ways. We call this “drinking the kool-aid”. Because they are spouting phrases and propaganda as if it was their very original idea, but in reality it is only propaganda at work. Propaganda truly works and they truly believe what they say, but it is not their original idea, they have been mind-fucked to believe that.
I’ve been on that train as well, I know the consequences of blindly believing what X people says because they have a medal and they are space important. I know what happens when you accept the authority as truth without having critical judgement. And holy fuck it hurts your pride so much in the long term thats why it’s better to hide it under the carpet and simply deny, whistle and pray until they forget about the problem.
Denial of the problem only has bad consequences on the long run. They are now wondering why they have 8000 inactive members and why they can’t field 200 guys on a stratop to fight over moons. They are being bankrolled by an idealistic dude that won a shitload of isk in a raffle. They still don’t know what can be failing to them if their model is the best and BRAVE is the best place that a newbro can dream of.
Except it isn’t. The hype post spotlight is long gone. The bad propaganda on Reddit and other means is now paying off. And yeah, they blame others about that. But the problem is still there being denied. The ones that tried to remove Lychton as the root of the problem, were even worse.
I like Lychton and I think he is a great guy. I think he should step down to others that actually have time to run the alliance, but watching the shitshow that they have between their hands I can’t blame him because I’m pretty sure he fears the consequences of that. But the consequence is that nothing has changed post-coup as many of us pointed out that it would happen. He should have stepped down after regaining the power making sure that the alliance was left in good hands.
In my opinion, as of today, they lost this train long ago. I don’t see how anyone can fix this, even if today everything did a 180º turn, the inertia is just too catastrophic to stop it. But still, lets try, once again.
First of all, there needs to be an acknowledge and a consensus that things aren’t going well and learn to identify the reason. The reason is not always external, blaming others is childlish and doesn’t get you far. Accept the consequences of what you do. This is the most important thing that a leader has to have: responsibility on your own actions and ability to say sorry when you fuck up. Because you will fuck up, and people might get angry, but someone has to decide, and if it was you, understand what it comes up with the power you got. This needs an exercise of humbleness.
Then, they need a massive overhaul in their leadership structure. It is overly complicated and needs to be simplied. Put people where they can help, based on their knowledge, and not on a circlejerk of friendship. You are not making a council to suck your own dick, you need people that you can trust in, people that won’t tell you what you want to hear, people that will tell you that you are a huge stupid when you are being a huge stupid, and so on. Make a functional leadership by appointing people that knows what the fuck is going on, and since you are trusting them, give them leverage to make executive decisions and accept the consequences of whatever they decide to do.
What is the purpose of having leadership if they don’t have leverage and have to come back at you to decide anything? Why would I want to live that massive pain in the ass? I have diplomats on my team to have less headaches, not more. If someone gives me headaches, fuck off, this is not paying me, I do it because I’m a masochistic autist. This is why you don’t need a gigantic and overbloated structure. Have the necessary people to grant redundancies, to grant timezone coverages, but there is no reason in the world to have 40 diplomats, for example. You are not the fucking UN.
Meritocracy can work well here. Make them clear how they can promote and allow them to build a career if they want. If they are useful and are happy they won’t leave. And even if you expose yourself to be backstabbed sometimes, in the long term, it is worth it. At least it is much better than having a gigantic disfunctional clusterfuck.
BRAVE has the dojo, which works pretty well, and should be the core of everything. Since they build around newbros, give those guys more pride and help them to do it better, make the newbro experience in BRAVE worth it and not a quick way into nullsec so they can yolo into a deathcamp and die because thats how you play this game. Be honest with them and teach them, learn to improve, etc.
Moving away from the culture of failure is the single chokepoint that can put an end to the rest of the problems that BRAVE has. Because that’s the root, and cutting the root, makes the tree fall. And it will hurt, it is a pain, it takes time and it takes a lot of effort. Trust me, I’m in TEST, we are pretty good at fucking up things over and over again. We deployed to a system without owning the sov, let me tell you about fucking it up. And i can take at least the 50% of the blame for that. Come at me :D.
A third thing that could be useful would be having their own private forum instead of a public subreddit. Because even with spies and leaks, it is always much better to have at least a first barrier to prevent the pond to leak shit everytime something happens. They live in a constant stress about drama because everything is a drama, because everything is on the first page with huge letters with bright colors and the rest of the universe is there trolling and eating popcorn and fucking them with flair games. This should have been a priority long time ago, but I guess it means effort.
Right now their subreddit has a ton of ex-braves acting as bittervets, some random visitants that are trolling to feed on popcorn, and the newbros freaking out because they don’t know what the fuck is going on. And that makes the whole subreddit a soap opera where half of eve spends their evening because kugu is dead.
To finish this article, I want to say that I hold no grudge with them and I would really like to see them working as an entity because I believe that the original BRAVE project was very good for EVE. But right now, they are a sad shadow of what they were, and they just seem to be asking for a mercy shot that ends the pain. I hope someone comes out of nowhere and fixes that, because the game needs newbro friendly entities that are worth it.