I expected transparency, which of old was one of the high standards of GSF— so my confirmation-biased mind believed that the Fountain War book was about how cool eve online was. That the primary reason for the idea was to cement the legacy of Mittens and the rest of us with a really cool sci-fi book that we could show off in a year, in 5 years, or in 20.
-Helmdacil/Kratisto, Reddit Post of Existential Meta Angst
That kind of sums up my feeling about the Fountain War Kickstarter, because in the end, that is all I wanted, just something cool about the game. Something to put on the bookshelf, read through if it was any good, skim through if not, where I could find bits and pieces described where I was during the war.
My highest personal aspiration was to try and get a reference to my guns jamming at the battle of Z9PP-H. Just a throw away line like, “over coms, Wilhelm in squad 14 reported his guns had jammed, but otherwise the fleet was set to engage” or something. I sent links to all of my Fountain War posts in to the email address they put out for such submissions. My personal wish was a long shot, of course, but I was sure that my posts would have something to add. But who knows, maybe Jeff Edwards subscribes to the same philosophy as S.L.A. Marshall, as reported by David Hackworth in his book About Face, that every individual mentioned in a book was good for five more sales.
However, for now that hope is off in an uncertain future. The Fountain War Kickstarter failed, being closed down a couple days early, far shy of its desired goal.
Why it failed is obvious. The campaign simply asked for more money than the potential audience was prepared to commit. You can slice that into some finer detail, but in the end the ask of $150,000, which had it succeeded would have made this the most successful literary based Kickstarter campaign to date, the current champion sitting at $118,000 (on a $12.5K ask), was way too much.
The Mittani put up a post on the Goonfleet forums (leaked everywhere by now) describing a litany of sins about the campaign, some of which I noted in my own first post about it (too much money, awful rewards), and some of which I hadn’t bothered to dig into, some explanation as to how the situation came about, and an apology to those who back the project for mishandling it badly.
The plan is to return to Kickstarter with a new campaign based on lessons learned in March. It sounds like the first lesson will be a much smaller ask and much more modest goals. A $90K advance for Jeff Edwards to take time off his day job just isn’t viable.
But can we all get back to normal after this?
The campaign seemed to unleash a torrent of drama, accusations, and a gratuitous misuse and abuse by all sides of the word, the idea, and the actual reality of “community” when it comes to EVE Online. (Hint: If you believe you represent, speak for, or otherwise “know” how the community feels, stop right there; you’re wrong. Feel free to repeat the same to me should I ever do that.)
I mean, some drama is always expected. This is EVE Online. And that goes double (or maybe quadruple) when The Mittani is a factor. But this blew way out of proportion to the reality of the situation. It is one thing when the drama occurs in the usual locations (Reddit, FHC, TMC, EN24, and blogs), but when it starts leaking out to the more mainstream gaming press you start to wonder if things have spun a bit out of control.
Were feelings really that hard? Or are there other things in play here? Is there even a “normal” to get back to?
We are, after all, in a new era in null sec. Dominion sovereignty is no more. The time of Aegis sovereignty is upon us with Entosis link modules and such. This caused once great empires to recede and sometimes fade completely from the sovereignty map. Goons and their allies, once underdogs in a fight against a seemingly unassailable power, now stand a decade later as the great power in null sec. Secure in its northern holdings, no current combination of powers available can join together and take their sovereignty from them, should they rise up to defend it.
But as Alexander wept at the thought of no new lands to conquer, so The Imperium faces the existential threat of no new worthy foes. Who do we fight? People declaring that the purge of Cloud Ring and the expeditions into low sec were to promote the Kickstarter, or some sort of rage move against those opposing the Kickstarter, failed to answer the question, “What else was The Imperium going to do?” Was there some other war we should have been fighting? You take the foes that present themselves.
Meanwhile, the viceroy program, is just a thin veneer over a plan to just generally get people mad enough to fight us. “Grr, Goons” is a resource, why not use it? But will people fight or just fade away before us?
Inside The Imperium people are wondering where we should head. What do you do when you are the remaining sov holding superpower? Some wild plans have been suggested. Splitting apart has been broached several times, but who and how is always an issue. There was a plan to become a permanent invading force, just taking one region after another, moving in a constant circle around null sec, but the logistics of that are daunting. Armies have been ground to pieces by simple movement. And it is always easier to just sit on our asses in any case. We like to have a home to come back to.
We face the existential question about our role in New Eden. What should we do?
It has crossed my mind that maybe I should leave The Imperium and move elsewhere. Listening to Asher’s podcast (must pimp senpai’s work) this past week with Garst Tyrell of Triumvirate and how they are down south fighting the Russians and having a good time was inspiring. Maybe I could run off and join that circus?
But I also have a lot of fun with Reavers and am already established there and would miss those ops if I left. This is the essential problem with “The Imperium should break up!” scenarios. We establish social bonds, and that is what keeps a lot of us playing.
So, like Helmdacil/Kratisto in the quote at the top of the post, and probably a good number of other The Imperium members, I am asking myself what I should do and how I really feel about where we stand. (I’m not really concerned about RMT-ish aspect of TMC, because I don’t really care. I have gotten more out of my time than I have likely put in.) Are we all going to just get bored and fade away? Will we break into pieces? Will groups splinter off? Are there no great crusades left for us? Is there anything in CCP’s plans that will break this malaise and establish a new raison d’etre for us? Should we be holding out in hopes of that or making our own plans?