The Fountain War Kickstarter and Some Existential Questions

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.

Done for now

Done for now

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?

12 thoughts on “The Fountain War Kickstarter and Some Existential Questions

  1. Dinsdale Pirannha

    You had best look to CCP to provide you some interest in continuing to play the game, because as you said ” Secure in its northern holdings, no current combination of powers available can join together and take their sovereignty from them”.

    You won Eve. Congrats. You are the Star Wars equivalent of the Empire, except you had the sense to protect exhaust ports.

    So I would suggest that goons all bugger off to another game, and ruin it as well.

    Like

  2. Fenjay

    It’s literally the fate of all primarily PvP/territory claiming MMOs. I saw it play out in Shadowbane and Asheron’s Call (I) Darktide PVP server, and other games that I had less to do with. It has taken longer in Eve because of the happy accident of BoB almost being that “apex entity” but being failscaded by their disbanding at the end of Great War II, and GSF avoiding failscading for the same exact reason, though it was the Kartoon incident for them.

    It’s an interesting phenomenon and a hard problem. Something will come along to change things up – always does – but I have no idea what form it might take.

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  3. Gevlon

    $150000 wasn’t a long shot. If every CFC member had given 1/3 of the monthly subscription fee, it would be funded. The ultimate failure is that the book was NOT marketed as a “Goon book”, so Imperium members didn’t care much. Everyone else didn’t believe for a second that it’s not a “Goon book”.

    Like

  4. Rob Kaichin

    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?

    A long time ago, way back when the CFC ‘rebranded’ itself, The Mittani called out to the great empires of history and legend: “Trantor, Dune, The Culture, The Galactic Empire, Rome”. A quiet dissenter pointed out that almost all of these aforemention’d empires fell.

    I think, perhaps, that your greatest crusade should be an eternal one. A diaspora immortal and immemorial, embracing chaos and delighting amidst destruction. Let the Reavers turn on their own, let the fires of war burn everywhere.

    You have built the richest empire the world has ever seen, go forth and take your true share , Arcturus.

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  5. Mynxee (@Mynxee)

    You echo my same thoughts and questions about the Kickstarter campaign but also the community reaction. It is not Goons or The Mittani who were the demons in that thankfully and hopefully now over drama-raging. It was utterly appalling to watch such behavior unfold regardless of personas involved, in-game history, or anything else. I truly hope the relaunch succeeds.

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  6. Rob Kaichin

    Separate, more comment-y post:

    ” “Grr, Goons” is a resource. Why not use it?”

    I find this really interesting, because during Burn Amarr, there was an attempt by the CFC to mock people who held those opinions as taking the game too seriously, being mindless fanatics. You see it every so often now: “Grr Gonz, Hat Gonz”.

    I do have, sitting in my folder of never-to-be-published blog posts, a commentary on this, pointing out that what an effective way of removing opposition this was, by destroying their motivation. Is it somewhat ironic that having removed in-game and out-of-game motivation so successfully, The Mittani now struggles to foster it again?

    Having spilled the poisoned idea, how can it be recaptured? Pandora’s box lies open…

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  7. zaphod6502

    I think Goons have strayed far from their original mission in EVE which was a roving mercenary force that destroyed entrenched enemies via a thousand cuts using small ships then slipped off into the night. Somewhere a long the way this has been forgotten and they have now become “The Empire”. Brave Newbies tried to achieve the same but came undone due to a lack of leadership and infighting (less than a 1000 active members now).

    The danger for the Goons is complacency and literally having no meaningful enemy to fight. The bigger danger is to CCP. If there are no meaningful protagonists left then people will slowly filter out of the game and stop playing it and stop paying for it. Goons have become the one organisation CCP can not afford to lose. EVE Online is an old game and without an engaged player base that attracts new players the game will slowly fade away.

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  8. Stabs

    I think The Great Reset is needed and coming.

    Goonswarm Federation on its own is larger than any coalition in the game outside The Imperium. That’s right if Goons went it alone they would still be too big to fight.

    Another thing reddit loses with its emphasis on skilled Orthrus tactics is that Goons as a war opponent are much stronger than their numbers suggest. I’d back them to beat almost any other group of 16000 players that could be assembled to fight them.

    I do appreciate that Goons don’t want to convert their winning position into a losing one by some self-inflicted wound so maybe they’ll just hold it together as long as they can.

    If they do then I suspect CCP to route around them, perhaps opening up new space beyond the player-made stargates that is difficult for the Goons to colonise while still controlling their nullsec homes (bit like wormhole space).

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  9. Fountain Core Guy

    Someone posted about the need for a protagonist. In Eve, the biggest protagonist to motivate yourself and your allies is your neighbor: IF they are willing to fight, that is. The CFC has reached such a large size and controls so much space that where they DO have neighbors (NPC regions/pockets, or the edges of their empire), they are unwilling to fight or launch any serious campaign to fight the CFC alliances. The content has become so scarce that dozens and dozens of pilots pile into a fleet to drop on a 4 man roaming frigate gang. If the CFC deploys to find an enemy to fight, they will find nothing other than timers and abandoned space. No one with half a brain would try to mount a serious defensive (or offensive, especially) against the CFC. It is a losing proposition, and why fight the battle when you know you’ll lose? Only TEST is that crazy.

    I saw it posted somewhere (I didn’t confirm for myself) that 61% of pilots in the top 20 sov holding alliances belong to the CFC. The remaining 39% aren’t all blue with one another. The CFC has grown to powerful to contest in any serious manner. Players are having fun all over null sec, but CFC pilots are left out. Look at regions like Fountain and Delve. Many smaller groups fighting over their couple of systems or constellations. Pew pew everywhere. People seriously having FUN (I live in Fountain, so I am speaking from experience). The days of mega level coalitions are over. To foster an organic and vibrant play environment, a group must now be small and nimble, on a size where their neighbors can actually have a serious CHANCE (not a guarantee) of a good back and forth campaign. Here in Fountain, if our little 100-500 man alliances were to be invaded by ANY of the CFC alliances (most of whom are so large that they’d outnumber our entire region) decided to invade, we’d either head down to Delve, Aridia, or the NPC pocket in Fountain to wait for them to leave or get bored. I know I’m not going to fleet up for anything where I’m guaranteed to lose. That’s only SLIGHTLY better than being guaranteed a win everytime. If the CFC comes through, I know I’ll be GTFO’ing from Fountain quickly. I’m not going to try to go up against a 400 man fleet with 30 or 40 of my friends.

    I know I was rambling and incoherent, but I guess the TLDR is the same thing everyone is saying: the CFC isn’t a serious protagonist for most of Eve. They are too powerful to actually fight against in any serious manner. They have no serious protagonists of their own, either, for the same reason, just from the other perspective. No one will put up a serious fight for them. Sure, there may be a battle or two here and there, but there will NEVER be a serious campaign if the CFC brings their full force to bear.

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  10. Rumfarer

    I got bored in high sec, realized there was no reason to be afraid of null and joined karmafleet. It’s the most boring eve has ever been for me. I’m in null but I’m safer than I was in high sec, and most fleets are either camping some troll or roaming 25 jumps without ever seeing anyone.

    Like

  11. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Rumfarer – Well, there are plenty of people who will tell you that EVE itself is boring as a whole.

    Personally, I don’t like to go on roams or sit around camping a gate. I prefer to go on fleets that have a goal, so I tend to stick to strat ops or deployments with the Reavers SIG. I don’t care if we’re just going to go shoot a tower, we have a goal and we know when we’re done.

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