Daily Archives: November 11, 2015

The Fountain War – Not Winning Fast Enough and Other Issues

A week ago I wrote about the Kickstarter for the Fountain War novel, my desire to see a project like this successful, and a few of the problems I felt the project faced.  They key items, as I saw it a week ago, were speed, money, and The Mittani himself.

On the money front, the project has at least clarified why it is asking for $150K.  This is the breakdown that has been offered:

  • 60% Author Expenses (normally covered by a publishing house)
  • 20% Publishing and Distribution (including editing and proofreading)
  • 10% KS and processing fees
  • 5% to Merchandise
  • 5% to Marketing

The bulk of the money amounts to a $90K advance for the author (assuming they get exactly $150K) so he can take time off from his day job as a consultant and focus on the book.  Whether or not you feel Jeff Edwards rates that sort of advance, that is the plan as it stands today.

As for The Mittani, the project has at least removed some of the more obviously Mittens focused rewards.  You can no longer pledge $200 and expect to go on a roam with The Mittani.

Like I said, being in space with Mittens is special

Seeing The Mittani in space… you can’t even buy that now…

However the project still has his name stamped all over it, something guaranteed to raise the ire of many in New Eden.  Using that name for the original news/propaganda site, depending on how you view it, got it a certain level of attention that it might have otherwise struggled to attain, but it came with baggage that is now hindering this project in a way that it might not have had they been able to work out a way for CCP to at least nominally take the lead in this campaign.

And then there is how well the funding is going.  After a full day they had hit the 10% mark, which was a lukewarm start.  Not fatal, but nothing to write home about either.  A week in though, looking at Kicktraq, the campaign is hovering around 20% of its goal and does not appear to be going anywhere fast.

Today's early morning mark...

Today’s early morning mark…

Right now the project needs to bring in over $4,600 a day to meet its goal.  Yesterday it brought in $666.  The day before it was $475.  That is not the path to success.

And while these problems persist, more storm clouds have appeared.  Over at Reddit the EVE subreddit has become something of a hotbed of activity against the project.  There have been outraged posts about the project.

The Jeff Edwards AMA had to be moderated, quickly going from “Ask Me Anything” to “Ask Me What The Reddit Moderators Think Is Okay.” (AMWTRMTIO?)

And then there was the general ban on new threads about the book because The Imperium was sending out pings with links to Reddit threads about the project, including the AMA, which is against the Reddit rules. (This is vote brigading; though I never once saw a ping that explicitly said I should up/down vote something, I suppose that could be inferred.)  So we will speak no more about the project there unless it is something official from CCP… or, judging from what I have seen since the ban, critical of the project.  Posting about the project is apparently okay so long as it is clear you’re against it.  It isn’t like there is much of that, but if that is all you get, that is all you see.

And so goes a vocal corner of the EVE Online community.

Then there is Gevlon, who makes the claim that there is a non-zero chance that he killed the project, though he is still annoyed at his fair weather friends on Reddit.

But perhaps the most troubling thing to come up so far has come from the team running the campaign itself.  They have released some sample excerpts from the book, which you can find linked on the project page, bonafides of the fact that there is actually working already going on.

They aren’t objectively awful or anything… they are certainly better than anything I could crank out.  But they are… well… how do I even put this?

In one sense we all share New Eden together as a joint venture and what we do and how we interact weaves the story of the game.  That is the over-arching view of the EVE Online.

However, on a more personal level, we all experience the game in our own way.  Some of us just push buttons to make things happen, it is a game on a screen and nothing more.  Others immerse themselves in New Eden, imagine ourselves really undocking from a station and flying through space.

And how that does or does not play out in our minds is uniquely our own very personal experience.  It lives inside of us and no matter how many details we wrangle about… are the ships fully automated or do they have crews… if they do have crews, how big are they and should we care about them… how do skills really work and how am I learning them… or what is it like in a capsule and how do I really control my ship… or even when we come to some agreement, the sensation within us as to what these things mean are likely nowhere close.

So my vision of boarding a ship… injecting my control capsule into the hull so that I may take command… doesn’t really align with this description:

Captain Darius Yaaah lowered his body into the pod, feeling the warmth of the semi-liquid amniotic gel enfold his limbs and torso. He gave a final encouraging nod to his bridge crew as the door of the armored capsule swung down to enclose him.

I mean, I can see this as perhaps an accurate representation of somebody’s view of what taking control of a ship might mean.  And for a novel about a war that takes place on an individual level some sort of transition in and out of a ship is required.  I get that.  But I have never once in over nine years of playing EVE Online sat down and considered that my capsule is more like something from The Matrix than, say, Star Wars.

And, in having to take that in and reconcile it against the story my brain has been concocting by itself for most of the last decade is… distracting.  It is, in a way, like Tom Cruise being cast in the lead role of a film version of a favorite book.  Tom Cruise does many things well… nobody can sprint on screen like he can… but becoming a character is not one of them.  Meryl Streep is amazing because she disappears into so many roles, becoming the person she is playing.  Tom Cruise is generally just Tom Cruise thrust into the middle of a story.

And it goes on and on, my brain stumbling over every variation from what it has built to make the New Eden experience a thing.  A bridge crew?  Getting into the capsule after getting into the ship?

Piling on top of that is the decision to sanitize the book.  I understand that, when it comes to individual names, perhaps the story can do without Pedobear69 or whoever.  But when the plan includes retconning the CFC to make it The Imperium during the war… I’m not sure why you can’t say “clusterfuck” for an organization but can have dialog that declares an operation a “giant fucking trap” elsewhere… and my brain is going to trip over that and mentally try to correct for it every time.  But I am somebody who shouts revised sentences or correct pronunciation back at audiobooks in the car when they trot out and awkward turn of phrase or say something wrong, so this might be just a “me” thing.

Still, I do wonder if I, as somebody close to the story being told, am going to be able to read the resulting book and not find a mental burden to get through or end up feeling alienated from it due to the way it had to be put together to work as Jeff Edwards’ vision of the war.

I do like hearing tales of the Fountain War.  In fact, this week’s Asher Hour podcast has former GIA head Endie as a guest and includes a few “now it can be told” tales from the war.  Great stuff.  I could listen to that sort of thing all day.  And I would pay for a lecture series by Andrew Groen about null sec wars after having seen his presentation at EVE Vegas.  But I am feeling a little queasy about the novelization at this point.

All is not dark clouds though.  I was told specifically that this kickstarter campaign will succeed and how this will come about.

Vince Snetterton (Has anybody determined if this is the same person in comments on various blogs as Dinsdale Piranha or somebody else with very similar views and an appreciation for the same Monty Python sketch?) responded to a comment of mine over on Rixx Javix’s post about the whole affair explaining that, when he has a moment free from telling CCP how to run EVE Online, The Mittani will merely tell his followers that they need to pledge some cash or they will be kicked out of The Imperium.  Looking at the coalition tallies, there are over 42,000 characters in The Imperium.  Call that maybe 5 characters per actual forum account… a surprising number of people only have one or two characters, and past surveys have put the ratio at 2.5 character per real life person… so maybe 8,000 people total.  You just need to get them to pony up $20 each and op success!

The logic behind this is that the pilots of The Imperium, being a solid block of non-dissenting robots, trained by either by being “forced” to pay $10 to join the Something Awful forums or by being required to click on participation links in fleets, will obediently and without complaint do what Mittens tells us.

So pretty much a done deal then.  I will see you all at the mandatory spontaneous demonstration of support when the goal has been achieved!

Hail the Fountain War Kickstarter campaign!