How TEST was saved

Disclaimer: while i have been part of TEST high leadership, i am no longer affiliated with it and therefore this post is just a personal opinion about my experiences during this years. Nothing said here is to be taken as the “official” TEST point of view.

One year ago, i did a series of 3 articles that were a review of my first year as Head Diplo and Second in Command of TEST. I was appointed for that position shortly after HERO was formed, and stepped down last august and left the game for a while. This are the links:

This were not my first articles on that matter, but probably my first “public” articles in english so far. There is much more content about how we lost the Fountain War and the “dark ages” we went through published on this blog. Probably it would be worth a read, but for this article, I’m more interested in the first one of this series of three, the one I first posted that explains a lot about what we did.

How an entity that owns 7 regions and 13000 players collapses all of a sudden like TEST did? Was it because of the war? External pressure? Drama? It was all of it.

First and foremost, let’s not forget that TEST was raised on the couch of the Goonswarm Federation, like a bunch of fresh newbros learning the ropes of the game. If you go through our main corp subrreddit, you will find this gem where vile Rat (RIP), former Goonswarm Lead Diplomat started this relationship that helped TEST to grow and take our first steps. TEST as part of the CFC (the coalition lead by GSF) was given the Fountain region to build up and grow.

Let me fast forward from this point to the summer of 2012, when TEST was already a huge alliance, first one by number of characters, and was part of the Honey Badger Coalition, a big bunch of alliances tagged along to burn to the ashes the so-called Southern Coalition in a war that lasted a few months until Against ALL Authorities and other russian entities were pretty much vanished.

The HBC had about 40000 characters and so many different alliances, cultures and interests mixed together to last long. And this is a good thing, because for the universe it is better when huge coalitions don’t last for too long. Peacetime sucks, and for huge entities even more.

Our alliance executor and the appointed HBC leader montolio was in charge during that time of leading the HBC. He wanted content and fun for this 40k guys and at the same time, he wanted TEST to “cut the ropes”, to stand on it’s own and to walk its own way without being a part of the CFC too. This is when the tensions between TEST and Fatal Ascension (part of CFC) started to arise, even though they came from a couple of years before that. In January 2013 Montolio then posted a public announcement in our forums (that section is no longer visible for the public, but let me quote the last bit:

We’ve been removed from GFAllies because of our rivalry with Fatal Ascension and some blunt unofficial words said by Bring Stabity. We’ve been painted as attempting to undermine and kill Fatal Ascension. We’ve been painted as poor friends. The opposite is true. FA holds themselves up as a core CFC member, yet every action they took towards Test and BDEAL weren’t just hindering, unfriendly, and self serving. It was abusive and destructive. These actions took place in a coalition that holds themselves up as equals. In that context, the most disgusting thing is not that they did what they did. It’s that they were allowed to get away with it.

Here we had pretty much a “casus belli”. The Mittani posted his reaction shortly after in “The madness of Montolio” where he was labeled as a mad leader that was backstabbing their allies and such. It’s better if you read it.

Montolio stepped down shortly after because the HBC was not interested in going to a massive war, and it was when the coalition was handed to Sort Dragon and collapsed shortly after when the new executor BoodaBooda decided to leave not accepting the terms on which Sort Dragon wanted to lead the coalition.

TEST was left alone. And it was when we were declared a war for Fountain. Fountain had become a very rich region in terms of moongoo and that was the public reason to invade it and evict TEST from there. This is when everything began to fall appart . TEST still managed to field more than 1000 pilots in timers such as the 1-SMEB iHub in Delve and the alliance overall was eager to fight and stand on its own, but during peacetime, a lot of internal problems showed up.

Some people thinks that the Fountain War killed TEST. I think that it was only the last bit of external pressure needed to break it, but TEST was rotting inside since long before. And this was because of a bunch of reasons:

  • Bloated leadership: we copied GSF leadership structure, which might work well for them, after years of being established and working fine. But TEST was a very young entity that didn’t need that many people everywhere. An excess of leadership easily leads to entitlement and unnecessary amounts of people that are just there to hang with the “cool kids”.
  • The lack of a goal: TEST was huge and had many systems but, what you do when you want to pvp? What happens when there is pretty much no one left to fight? When this happens, corps that are thirsty for pvp leave for entities that offer that content, and corps that want a safe space to rat remain. This is also true for individuals. It is very easy to lose individual talented people if there is no clear goal. Different people, different interests. When this happens, only a strong alliance culture that ties everything together manages to stand the pressure.
  • Internal toxicity:  Our culture where pretty much everything is okay leads to allow toxic people to be able to grow, become sort of popular and if you are not careful, they become the vocal members of the community and people starts to gimmickly mimicking that behavior. In no time you have the forums, jabber and comms drowned in a toxic environment where people seem to hate each other and drama appears for nothing everywhere. This is probably because we never really enforced the “don’t be a dick” golden rule. It seems fun, but it ends burning out people in charge of stuff. And when they go, sometimes there is no replacement.

With all of this in mind, we went through the Fountain War. And considering we were vastly outnumbered, at least we fighted and we managed to stand for a while. We lost our capital, 6VDT-H on July 28th, 2013 in one of the biggest battles in the history of gaming. If we had to die, at least we would make a good show out of it. During this war the “failcascade” started to happen. Many corps started to leave already, some straight into the hands of the enemy. When you are losing so hard, you live the denial phase: you blame everyone else but yourself. There is a world conspiracy to destroy you, you are the good guy and everything is unfair. And since you are too busy finding culprits elsewhere no one does the repairs that are needed to keep the shit together.

Without a clear purpose and now without land, TEST faced the exily while bleeding so hard. We lost 9000 characters, over 70 corporations, every asset and ISK not nailed to the ground, etc and were left to rot and die in lowsec Aridia. It was when montolio talked to Mittani to congrat him for winning and got a “TEST will never have sov again” sort of response/tantrum. In fact, we were pursued everywhere, from Aridia to Curse, and camped in our staging until we were pretty much killed.

When you have no income for SRP or any kind of alliance activities and your people has been forever tied to sov to make ISK, you have a big problem. This is when we decided to join the Caldari Militia in Factional Warfare to have something to do while we tried to rebuild our leadership. Because most people left the ship and there were tons of vacancies, but also this dying TEST needed to downsize its leadership and to figure things out again, to understand the reasons why we failed, why everything happened and to try to learn from it while the remaining people tried to have fun on this game. It took a while to get people into the “packing light” mentality and to think of TEST as a no longer sov-holding alliance, but one that wanted to find its own identity again.

This was by far the harderst part of this story. Not only you lose people, talent, ISK and sov. You also loseyour place in the universe politics. You are no longer an entity that people wants to talk with, because you are irrelevant, meaningless, little and unworthy. And while being irrelevant though, gives you some leverage to fuck it up and blame it on your irrelevance, in reality it only makes everything harder because no matter how good diplomat you are, words have always to be backed up by facts, and in EVE that means fleet numbers, military power. And of course when you struggle to put 20 guys together on a fleet, you have nothing.

Losing that hard was one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced and taught a lot of things about how people is when you are popular and everything is funny, and how different some are when you are at your lowest. That not everyone leaves you to rot, that some people still offers you a helping hand, etc. Becoming the laughing stock and the one everyone wants to see biting the dust is not a funny experience, but I’ve come to think that if you have some humilty and honesty you learn more by losing than by winning. Specially when it comes to people. Some people are silent hard workers but they show how much they are worth it when they have to fight against the odds. We were lucky to have a good amount of them and helped us to go throw this dark ages.

TEST left the militia to become a part of HERO, a new coalition made by “rookie” alliances that wanted to find a place. It was intended to be a proving grounds for us, to put all the lessons learned to a real test and see what happened. HERO helped us and also had it’s cost in terms of people and burning out (myself included) due to many little-not so little things and daily drama between TEST and BRAVE.

But it was the step we needed to get some initial inertia. Turns out we started to roll again, we started “believing” that we could do things on our own and when you have a positive mood, it is easier to get people engaged and eager to try new things. When we left to Wicked Creek, we had an outburst of enthusiasm. The Creek lasted for a year. The sov grinding was painful because of russian timers, but the alliance was a living thing agan.  I stepped down and left the game due to having burned out and went to a space vacation until last month.

I cannot tell you what happened during the eight months I was away, but you have the objective numbers to see. TEST nowadays is in an excellent health. We have 5k characters, our recruitment is skyrocketing again and the morale is high. TEST is no longer the sov-holding entity it used to be. TEST learned to pack light, learned to live through the adversity and learned how much it sucks when you have nothing. Many are today surprised that TEST is not holding any sov that is being conquered in the north. This is for a reason. Sov is not why we fight. Sov is a tool, a temporary asset, but we lost our home and we decided to make our home wherever we go. We know how important and valuable this momentum is to keep things alive, and how easy is to let it rot when you sit down in the same place for too long. A lot of hard work should not be thrown into the sink for no reason.

They say many things about us, some are true, some are not. I am very proud of what TEST is today and having been a part of all this rebuilding. We are very aware of the dangers of entitlement and to give things for granted. I am however very confident of the people that runs TEST nowadays. People that genuinely loves this game, that logs in every day to play with their fellow pilots, that are not sitting in a throne wanting to be worshipped. That are in TEST because they love it for what we are, and not for what we have, or where we are.

If TEST is alive right now, excited and happy is thanks to the silent work of many people through this long three years that took to rebuild it again. Now many newbros join us and don’t know anything of all of this, they are just excited and happy, and we teach them how easy is to lose everything. We teach them to have fun on this game, to not take things too seriously, to strive to become better and to improve without forgetting that losing is part of life as well.

I have been asked, where do you see TEST one year from now? Well, last year we were recently moved to the Creek. If someone told me by then than a year after that we would be rolling over the Imperium with half of the universe, with so many people returning and so on, I would have thought that that was insanity. I can’t tell. But at least I know something: the guys that managed to keep this thing up and alive, will keep working hard to make sure it remains. Because if we have learned something, is to be resilient.

What is dead may never die.

 

 

 

 

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.