A year in review: The case of BRAVE

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.

Denial

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.

The solution

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Un año en perspectiva: el caso de HERO.

Este es el segundo artículo de la serie sobre mi primer año como Head Diplo de TEST (la primera parte se puede leer aquí).  De nuevo, esto no debería ser tomado como una declaración oficial en el nombre de mi alianza, dado que se ha escrito en mi blog personal. Cualquier declaración oficial se hace mediante otras vías, pero no aquí.

Necesitábamos un héroe

HERO se convirtió en coalición en Marzo de 2014. Comenzó como una joint-venture entre  Brave Collective, Spaceship Samurai, Nexus Fleet y nosotros, Test Alliance Please Ignore. El principal promotor de este proyecto fue uno de nuestros ejecutores históricos: montolio. Pero ¿por qué?

En aquel entonces, estábamos centrados en reconstruir la estructura interna de nuestra alianza para convertirnos de nuevo en una entidad funcional. Pero como una alianza abierta a novatos con raíces profundas en nullsec, necesitábamos un entorno adecuado y nuestro plan era retornar a la soberanía. Sin embargo, con los recursos perdidos y con la mayoría de la gente quemada de tomar roles de liderazgo, no estábamos en el mejor momento para asumir el papel de liderar una coalición.

Nuestra asociación con BRAVE fue evidente. BRAVE fue fundada por un ex miembro de Dreddit, que pasó unos pocos días en 0.0 antes de pensar que era de algún modo difícil para él en aquel entorno y decidió volverse a Jita, publicó un  hilo en reddit y Brave Newbies Inc. vió la luz. Desde el primer momento, TEST tuvo relaciones cercanas con ellos, simpatizando con su proyecto y desde temprano les tendimos una mano. BRAVE tuvo un crecimiento desproporcionado gracias a la gran espectación creada en Reddit y un Community Spotlight en la página oficial, que les hizo crecer rápidamente.

Su cultura sin embargo era muy distinta a la nuestra, desde que forjaron el “stay classy” alrededor de la idea del respeto y desterrar el uso de bromas racistas o cualquier tipo de humor negro, que es uno de los pilares de nuestra propia cultura. Pero pensábamos que permanecer alrededor de una enorme bandada de newbros entusiasmados era un buen ambiente para que volviéramos sobre nuestros raíles. Tendríamos la ocasión de hacer cosas sin tener que preocuparnos de tener que tomar las riendas. Estaríamos ahí para aconsejar y ayudar.

Al principio hubo mucha confusión, lo cual es normal cuando intentas mezclar grupos de gente que no se conocen de nada, que tienen un pasado distinto, aspiraciones diferentes y distinta experiencia. Puedo imaginar que no fue fácil para BRAVE cambiar el chip de ser una entidad en lowsec a convertirse en una entidad soberana en 0.0, considerando lo intrincado que puede ser el Juego de la Soberanía en términos de política y metajuego. Recuerdo que estaban completamente obsesionados con el metajuego pensando que todo el mundo quería mangonearles hacia sus propios intereses, cuando en realidad todo el mundo ya tenía alters metidos dentro.

Aquí es cuando HERO se establece en Sendaya, en Derelik, y mira hacia Catch, que estaba prácticamente abandonado y que tendríamos la oportunidad de atacar la región desde allí. Juegos de Sov de nuevo, la aburrida mecánica de Dominion sin supercapitales, pero al menos los timers no serían contestados. Arrasar una región en subcapitales es extremadamente aburrido, así que llevó un buen rato. Entonces, nos desplegamos finalmente en Catch para para terminar la conquista de una región que nadie quería aparte de nosotros, en aquel momento.

Miles de newbros intentaban mover sus assets entre Sendaya y V-3 (la capital temporal designada) y estaban siendo masacrados hasta que empezamos a utilizar nuestros titanes para bridgear a la gente. Recuerdo su emoción cada vez que saltaban, hordas de newbros que nos bumpeaban constantemente. Fueron unos días intensos hasta que todo el mundo estaba establecido. El principal reto de formar una coalición pasaba por tener a todo el liderazgo aliado coordinado conjuntamente, y para esto decidimos utilizar los servicios IT de TEST, y las comms de BRAVE para flotas grandes y stratops.

Drama

Drama. Es cuestión de tiempo que haya drama. No se puede prevenir, pero sí se puede atajar para minimizar sus efectos colaterales. Teníamos drama constantemente sobre pequeñeces. Desde las fricciones habituales como el drama de rateo o drama en el market a situaciones más serias donde la gente se quemaba y dejaba el juego por disconformidades.

La convivencia es lo que mata las relaciones. Puedes ser un gran amigo de alguien hasta que tienes que vivir con él. Y eso empezó a hacer nuestra experiencia en HERO un tanto desagradable.

BRAVE era enorme y estaban al mando, tenían sus propios dilemas internos que afectaban a los demás miembros de la coalición. Lo más visible era la falta de estándares de reclutamiento, que hacía muy sencillo introducir alters para destruir assets aliados, lo cual nos forzaba a tomar medidas drásticas como declarar Kill on Sight a cualquier nave de BRAVE que warpease en una anomalía nuestra.

En realidad, era un tremendo choque cultural. Pasamos por tiempos muy complicados y, en este punto, teníamos claro las razones que nos llevaron a fracasar. Por eso, ver a otras personas siguiendo el mismo camino que nos llevó a los mismos errores era estresante. Especialmente cuando todo tipo de advertencia o consejo eran ignorados, cualquier crítica silenciada por algún tipo de “no sabes nada, Jon Nieve”.

A menudo pasaba en canales como alliedfc u otros canales de coordinación intra-coalición, pero también en su subreddit público. “Si viene de TEST debe estar equivocado porque son una mierda”. Similar al síndrome de “no se ha inventado aquí” o un aislamiento completo del exterior llevando a pensar que todo fue inventado y averiguado localmente y que cualquiera del exterior no tenía ni idea. Este tipo de círculo vicioso es muy peligroso, especialmente cuando intentas hacer algo en un juego que tiene 12 años donde las posibilidades de que inventes algo nuevo son remotas.

Personalmente dediqué mucho tiempo intentando prevenir daño colateral a mi alianza hasta el punto de que estuve al borde de dejar de jugar. Era una forma de prevenir que mis propios miembros se quemaran o dejasen el juego o causasen drama entre los aliados mientras a la vez intentaba que la coalición funcionara bien para que la gente estuviera contenta, no se sintiera fuera de lugar o que no pensara que no tenía las mismas oportunidades que en otros sitios. Hoy pienso que fue una pérdida de tiempo, porque no puedes prevenir que la gente ande su propio camino, cometa sus propios errores y tenga su propia experiencia vital y no importa lo mucho que te empeñes en decirles lo que duele.

Por ejemplo, abrazar el concepto de fracaso como estandarte. Todo comenzó con el “somos malos en EVE”. Fue una especie de meme que comenzó hace años en entidades amigables con novatos como GSF para evitar que la gente se sintiera mal al perder naves en el campo de batalla. Era algo pensado para que un fc novato no dejase de sacar flotas por perder. Pero nunca significó desdockear para que nada te importe, no era una excusa para no mejorar PORQUE perder es divertido.

Cuando piensas que perder es divertido, ya es demasiado tarde. Porque te estás mintiendo. Perder no es divertido. Perder puede ser divertido esa tarde de sábado que no tienes nada mejor que hacer y montas una roam y la gente está medio pedo. Pero no se puede perder de forma consistente e intentar hacerlo a propósito. No puedes vender que perder es como juegas a este juego. Porque entonces la gente competente se te marcha al momento que se dan cuenta de que perder es una mierda y al final solo te queda en la alianza gente a la que el juego no le importa ¿Y sabéis qué? Para triunfar en EVE hace falta tener a gente al mando que le importe el juego, que le importen las metas a largo plazo y que esté dispuesta a dedicar tiempo de su vida personal en mejorarlo, que sea consciente de los problemas y de los errores.

Tan pronto como BRAVE se fue a Nullsec empecé a ver a muchos jugadores de 1 año de edad convertirse en bittervets (i.e. veteranos quemados) en el espacio de un par de semanas. Esto llevó a un ambiente semi tóxico en el que nos llevábamos la culpa de la toxicidad porque “TEST es tóxico”  y “las comms de TEST son racistas y poco amigables”, etc. Pero yo fui testigo de cómo fleet commanders aliados eran extremadamente tóxicos, poco amigables y desde luego no seguían en absoluto la tan cacareada regla de “stay classy”. Pero nos llevábamos la culpa porque después de todo nunca negamos que todas esas cosas eran parte de nuestra cultura y lo que nos hacía movernos.

Tener un liderazgo efectivo es muy importante. Y esto implica tener la cantidad adecuada de gente en los puestos necesarios para que el show continúe sin quemar a nadie, con la cantidad apropiada de puestos. Estamos aún lejos de alcanzar eso en TEST. Hemos trabajado mucho durante dos años para retornar y sin embargo aunque tenemos un liderazgo efectivo nos siguen faltando cosas.

La saturación de mandos intermedios fue algo que pusimos a debate en numerosas ocasiones. Cuando vas a una reunión y encuentras que hay 50 personas y cada uno de ellos quiere expresar su opinión sabes que esa reunión durará 4 horas y va a ser inútil. Da igual cómo organices las cosas si tienes claro quién hace qué y cuando ese quién está disponible. En un año, yo fui capaz de comunicarme a través de dos personas: el head diplo y el ejecutor de la coalición. Y aunque pueda tener sentido que la comunicación entre dos entidades ocurra a niveles paralelos de responsabilidad (alto mando habla con alto mando) encontré que mis diplomáticos tenían grandes problemas para encontrar gente con la que hablar para resolver menudencias.  Y muchas veces, esos convos eran rechazados o se les insultaba.

Esto llevó a un sentimiento de ciudadanía de segunda clase a mucha gente dentro de nuestro leadership que les llevó a quemarse y a marcharse a otras entidades dado que éramos incapaces de solucionarlo. Teníamos que arreglarlo o marcharnos. Y tuvimos que tragar mucho contra nuestra voluntad cuando demandábamos acciones contundentes y todo eran excusas.

Para la mayoría de nuestros miembros que no eran del leadership todo esto era transparente. Ellos jugaban al juego y no les afectaba realmente. Por eso decidimos seguir durante tanto tiempo. Posiblemente estábamos preocupados o temerosos de las consecuencias de saltar al vacío sin un plan B.

Desde que entramos en HERO siempre quise tener un plan B y un plan C si el plan A (HERO) fracasaba. Porque me sentía mal pensado que algo podría suceder fuera de nuestro alcance y quedarnos de pronto con una mano delante y otra detrás mientras no estábamos presentes. Siempre estuvimos buscando oportunidades, por si acaso, tener un plan de escape. Creo que era cuestión de responsabilidad hacerlo. Mucha gente cree que esto es una traición, solo porque teníamos un “y si…” en nuestro bolsillo desde hacía muchos meses. Yo pienso que era sentido común hacerlo.

El héroe ya no era necesario

Con el tiempo, nos vimos en un espacio que no era nuestro, con bastante gente del liderazgo o bien afk o bien sin suscribirse o quemada, con numerosos fleet commanders yéndose o sin jugar. Estábamos sacando como 20 personas a las stratops. Nuestros miembros empezaban a acusar los problemas de vivir en el safari de 0.0.

La coalición de newbros que nos iba a salvar y dar la vida, nos estaba matando. Dejamos de tener un influjo constante de newbros dado que tener soberanía vende más que no tenerla. Estábamos experimentando muchos problemas internos y todas las voces externas de amigos de otras entidades y ex miembros nos mandaban el mismo mensaje. Y tenían razón. Era lo correcto.

Nos marchamos de HERO para sobrevivir y encontrar nuestro camino.

Yo, sin embargo, no quiero culpar a BRAVE de todo esto. Creo que todo el mundo tiene derecho a experimentar, a cometer sus propios errores, a vivir sus propias decisiones y aceptar sus consecuencias. Nosotros somos veteranos de una guerra que casi nos destruye y no podíamos caminar a la par  que una entidad recién nacida con aquel entusiasmo de hacerlo todo por primera vez. Nos estábamos enganchando con una correa a un carromato que nos estaba asfixiando, y no era su culpa, ni tampoco la nuestra, de modo que nos fuimos para poder trabajar como siempre habíamos querido.

BRAVE estará bien, mientras gente como lychton, que realmente le importa la alianza estén al mando. Encontrarán su propio camino para perdurar en  EVE y la cagarán tanto como sea necesario y sobrevivirán como puedan. Les miraremos desde cerca como hemos hecho desde el día que nacieron, cuando les ayudamos a dar sus primeros pasos mientras nosotros nos lamíamos las heridas en la postguerra. Y tras un año en HERO tengo claro que HERO nos dió muchas cosas buenas, aunque nos llevase a una situación al límite del fracaso otra vez. Y dado que la responsabilidad sobre TEST estaba parcialmente sobre mis hombros, creo que tomamos la mejor decisión para todos.

A year in review: The case of HERO

This is the second article on a small set about my first year as Head Diplo of TEST (you can read the first part here). Again, 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.

We needed a HERO

HERO became a coalition in March of 2014. It began as a joint-venture between Brave Collective, Spaceship Samurai, Nexus Fleet and us, Test Alliance Please Ignore. The main promotor of this project was Montolio (one of our historic execs). But why?

At that time, we were focused in rebuilding our alliance internal structure to become a functional entity again. But as a newbie friendly alliance with deep roots in nullsec, we needed to rebuild in a better environment and our plan was to return to nullsec. However, with the lack of the former resources and with everyone pretty much burned out of coalition management, we weren’t in the best moment or in the mood to jump into leading a coalition.

Our association with BRAVE was straightforward. BRAVE was founded by an ex-Dreddit member, that spent a few days in 0.0 before thinking that it was somewhat difficult for him to be a newbro in that environment and he decided to pod back to Jita, posted a reddit thread and Brave Newbies Inc. became a thing. Since the very begining, TEST had close bonds with them, we sympathized with their project and early on started to lend a hand. BRAVE had a massive growth thanks to that Reddit hype and a community spotlight in the official webpage that made them grow a lot.

Their culture however was very different from ours, since they forged the “stay classy” around the idea of respect and the lack of usage of racial slurs or any kind of dark humor jokes, which is one of the pillars of our own culture. But we thought that sticking around a massive flock of excited newbros was a good environment for us to get back on our rails. We would have the opportunity of doing things again and we wouldn’t have to worry about holding the reins. We would be there to advice and help.

The begining had a lot of confusion, which is normal when you try to mix together a bunch of people that doesn’t know each other, that have a different past, different aspirations and different levels of knowledge. I can imagine that for BRAVE changing the mindset of a lowsec entity to nullsec wasn’t an easy step, considering how harsh can be the Game of Sov in terms of politics and metagaming. I remember them being extremely afraid of being metagamed by extrenal entities where at the same time they had already alts of everyone inside.

This is when HERO deploys to Sendaya in Derelik and turns the eyes into Catch, that was pretty much abandoned and we would have the opportunity of hitting the region from there. Sov games again, the boring Dominion sov without supercapitals but at least the timers weren’t going to be contested. Grinding a region in subcapitals is extremely boring, so it took a good while. Then, we deployed into Catch to grind an uncontested region that no one wanted besides us, at that point.

Miriads of newbros were trying to move their assets between Sendaya and V-3 (the designated temporary capital) and they were being killed repeatedly until we started to use our titans to bridge people around. I remember their excitement every time they jumped into, hoards of newbros bumping us all the time. It was an intense journey that lasted several days until we all were ready in our new home for the next year. The main challenge when it comes to build a coalition is getting allied leadership to work together effectively. We decided to use TEST Jabber as the place for coordination between the different entities, and BRAVE comms for big fleets and stratops.

Drama

Drama. Give it time, and drama appears. You can’t prevent it, but you can handle it and deal with it to minimize the side effects. We had a lot of constant drama over minor stuff. From the typical frictions of convivence such as ratting drama or market drama to serious events where people are burnt out after it happens and eventually decide to leave.

Convivence is what kills most of the relations. You can be a very good friend of someone until you actually live with them. And thats what started making our experience in HERO not very pleasant.

BRAVE is huge and they were running the thing, and they had their own internal issues that affected inter-coalition partners. The most visible was the lack of HR standards that made extremely easy to get awoxing alters and forced us to establish ridiculous measures like declaring kill on sight every blue frig that warped inside an anomaly that you were running previously.

It was a complete culture clash at the end of the day. We passed through very fucked up times, and at this point we are very aware of the reasons that led us to fail. So watching them walking through the same paths that were leading to the same mistakes was stressful. Specially when any kind of advice was ignored, any kind of criticism was immediately silenced by some sort of “you know nothing, Jon Snow”.

This happened commonly in channels like alliedfc or other inter-leadership communication channels, but also on their public subreddit. “If it comes from TEST it must be wrong because they are shit”. Similar to the “not invented here” syndrom or a complete isolation from outside leading to think that everything was invented and figured locally and everyone else around knew nothing. This kind of circlejerk is very dangerous, specially when you are trying to run something in a 12 years old game where the chances that you invent something new are very low.

I spent a lot of time trying to prevent collateral damage to my alliance to a point that I was almost going to stop playing EVE. It was a sort of preventing my own members to not burnout, leave or yell at allies and at the same time trying to make the coalition work better so no one felt bad, out of place or that we weren’t giving them the playstyle that they wanted. Today I think I wasted my time, because you can’t prevent people to walk their own way, to make their own mistakes and to have their own life experience, no matter how much you try to tell them that it hurts.

For example, embracing failure as a gimmick. It all started with “we are bad at EVE”. It was a gimmick that started many years ago in newbie-friendly entities like GSF and was meant to prevent newbros from feeling bad at losing spaceships in battle. It was something to prevent a newbie fc from feeling bad when he gets crushed the first time he runs a fleet. But it was never meant as a way to not improve, to simply not care, to undock to lose, to not improve BECAUSE losing is fun.

When you reach the point where losing is fun, you are already doomed. Because you are lying to yourself. Losing is not fun. Losing might be fun that saturday night that you are drunk and make a ridiculous roam. But you cannot consistently lose and try to lose. You cannot sell your people that losing is how you play this game. Because then competent people will fly away at the second they realize that losing sucks and gets old after the second time. And then you will be left with people that doesn’t care about the game. And guess what? To succeed in EVE you have to have people in charge that cares about the game, that cares about long term goals and that is willing to spend their time willing to improve, aware of the problems and mistakes.

As soon as BRAVE moved into Nullsec I started watching many 1 year old newbies become bittervets in the space of a couple of weeks. This led to a semi toxic environment when we were blamed about toxicity because “TEST is toxic” and “TEST comms are racist and unfriendly”, etc. But I was witness of allied fleet commanders being extremely toxic, unfriendly and totally not following the so-called “stay classy” rule. But we got the blame because after all we have never denied that shitposting and shittalking is one of the things that keep us moving.

Having an effective leadership is something very important as well. And this means having the precise amount of people to run the show without burning out, with the proper amount of redundancy and such. We are far from reaching that point in TEST. We have been working hard during almost two years to get back in track and despite having a functional leadership we are still lacking in some aspects.

The bloated middle management has been something brought up many times. When you go to a leadership meeting and you find that there are 50 guys and every single one of them wants to voice an opinion you know that meeting is going to last 4 hours and it is going to be useless. It doesn’t really matter how you organize your thing as long as you have figured out who does what and where is that “who” available. In one year, I was only able to get things done through two people: the head diplo and the coalition executor. And while it would make sense that communication between entities can be handled at the same level of responsibility (high leadership talks with high leadership) I found our diplomats having a really hard time to get in touch with people able to fix issues. And many times as well being talked down or straight ignored and blocked from convos.

This led to a second-class citizenship sentiment from many people from our leadership, that ended burning out some of them that left to other entities as we were uncapable of fixing that. We had to deal with it or walk away. We faced many palms on the wrist as a response when we demanded a more convincing or forceful response.

Most of our linemembers and their linemembers were unaware of all of this. They were just playing the game and this wasn’t really affecting them. This is why we decided to continue for so long. Probably we were afraid of jumping the ship to the void without a plan B.

Since we joined HERO I always wanted to have a plan B and a plan C if plan A (HERO) failed. Because I felt uneasy the whole time. I wasn’t able to be sure that someone wouldn’t disband or cause a huge damage while we weren’t watching. So I was always looking out trying to have an escape plan if something failed. My main focus was plan A and I worked for it during countless hours, trying to make it work. But I thought it was better “just in case”. Many people thought that we were sort of backstabbing them just because we had a “what if” plan in our pocket since many months ago. I think it was just common sense.

We no longer needed a HERO

With time, we saw ourselves in a space not owned by us, with large portions of our leadership afk or unsubbed or burned out, with most of our fc’s bailing or not playing. We were showing up with like 20 guys to stratops. Our members were also tired of the situation, being in the safari of 0.0 in that situation.

The coalition of newbros that we thought it was going to save us, saved us and helped us, but in the long run it was killing us as well. We stopped having a constant stream of newbro blood as being in the sov holder sells better. We were having our leadership struggling with playing the game on this situation, every external voice that I had, every single ex-test member or friend outside was telling us to leave. And they were right. That was the right thing to do.

We left HERO to survive and to find our own way.

I am, however, not blaming BRAVE for all of this. I think that everyone is entitled to have their own experience, their own mistakes, their own decisions and living up to the consequences of them. But we are veterans of a war that nearly killed us and we couldn’t walk in pair with an excited newbro that does everything for the first time. We were hitching our leash to a cart that was choking us, and it wasn’t their fault or our fault, it was that we walked away to each other and we would work better that way.

BRAVE will be fine, as long as people like lychton, that truly care about the newbros are in charge. They will find their own way to last in EVE, they will fuckup as much as they need to and survive as much as they can. We will watch them closely as we have been doing since the day they were born, when we helped them to give their first steps while we were bleeding after a war. And after one year of HERO I know that HERO gave us many good things, but it led to a situation that was putting us very close to the edge of failing again. And as the responsibility of TEST was partly over my shoulders, I think that we did the best for everyone.