Tag Archives: Fountain War

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?

The Fountain War – A Video Documentary

Scott Manley has put together a video about the Fountain War, going through the players, how the war came about, and how it played out. (Direct link)

Of course, this coincides with the struggling Fountain War novelization Kickstarter campaign.

Reinforcements bridge in

The fight at 6VDT-H

And I have my own tales of the Fountain War, collected here, from which a number of the assets for the video were drawn.

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!

EVE Online, Kickstarter, and The Fountain War

One of the things talked about at EVE Vegas was the Fountain War book.

Author Jeff Edwards, in cooperation with The Mittani Media, and fully endorsed and licensed by CCP, is set to write the story of the Fountain War of 2013, the conflict between the then CFC and TEST and its allies as the CFC attempted to wrest the moon-rich region away from its owner.  The war ran from June 6, 2013 through to early August of that year… longer if you want to include the cleansing of Delve.

The war saw regular large and often bloody battles including The Lazamo, the node reset fail at Z9PP-H, and the final epic confrontation at 6VDT-H, the latter which remains the largest battle in EVE Online history, with more participants than the supercapital slaughter at B-R5RB a few months later.

Reinforcements bridge in

6VDT-H station during the battle

I addition to the battles, there was a simmering build up, where war seemed likely at several points, the painful need for the CFC to change up doctrines after the war started, along with spies, politics, personalities, alliances of convenience, betrayal, and propaganda, all things that make for a spectacle in New Eden.

The Fountain War is also somewhat recent in the History of New Eden, at least compared to the Great War and the destruction of Band of Brothers, which culminated back in 2009.  Plenty of articles about it remain on new sites… except EN24, which at some point purged its posts from that era.

For me the book sounds great.  I was there and very active throughout the Fountain War.  I wrote a whole series of posts about the war, which I summed up in a list here.  I would very much like to see a military sci-fi novel telling the tale of the war.

Yesterday, the Kickstarter to fund the project went live.  The goal is to raise $150,000.

As is usual for Kickstarter campaigns, there are a wide variety of support options.

For a mere $10 you can get an ebook version of the whole thing once it is done.

Ten Bucks...

Ten Bucks…

And if you have $10,000 burning a hole in your pocket, you can have a whole chapter in the book about you and your character and what you did during the war.  I would love somebody who just scammed people out of ISK in Jita during the whole thing to sign up for that.

To be a start you must spend like a star...

To be a start you must spend like a star…

There are some rewards that seem more than a bit dubious. One got declared RMT.  You cannot give away The Mittani’s in-game corpse for real world money. (Waiting for the Gevlon post on that.)  And I am not sure who would be motivated to lay down $500 for a virtual pizza party with Jeff Edwards and The Mittani.  But I thought I saw that John Smedley was in for $1,000 for the dinner and private party at next year’s EVE Vegas.  Can’t find where I saw that through, so maybe I just dreamt it.  Wait, no… there it is.

And Smed brings up another aspect of the Kickstarter, the support from both within the video game industry and without.

Supporters graphic from the Kickstarter

Supporters graphic from the Kickstarter

In addition I have seen people like Lord British, Gordon Walton tweeting their support for the project.

So we have a well supported Kickstarter campaign on a subject about which I am both familiar and enthusiastic; I’m in.  I pledged last night, though my donation to the cause is far closer to the “Digital Copy” end of the spectrum than the “Your Own Chapter,” or even the “Virtual Pizza Party” end of the spectrum.

However, even after my own enthusiasm, all the external support, and all the effort that has gone into setting up this campaign, it does not look like it will be a slam dunk success.  Jeff Edwards and The Mittani Media are going to have to work to make their goal.  Here are some of the hurdles I see facing the campaign.

Not Winning Fast Enough

While that didn’t apply to Dominion Sovereignty campaigns, Kickstarter campaigns are a different thing altogether.  Support for Kickstarter projects tend to look like an inverted bell curve, with a large spike in the first and last 48 hours of the campaign.  My own, admittedly limited, observation of Kickstarter indicates that campaigns are won or lost during those time frames.  Rare is the Kickstarter campaign with a strong mid-game.

In the first 48 hours your true believers pile in and give their support.  This is the measure of the core fan base, the people you can depend on.  The Fountain War campaign managed about 10% of its goal in the first 24 hours.  That isn’t bad.  Nobody should be folding up the tents and heading home yet.  But that wasn’t a really strong outing either.  20-25% in the first 48 hours would make me more certain.

Follow The Money

For his Kickstarter campaign, Andrew Groen, a professional journalist attempting to tackle the history of null sec in his Empires of EVE book, asked for the modest sum of $12,500.  He exceeded his goal almost immediately and finished his campaign with $95,729.  That allowed him to expand the scope of his project and produce a better end product.

Jeff Edwards and The Mittani Media are asking for $150,000 to write what I will unfairly call “some fan fiction” about one war in null sec.  So tell me why they are asking for 50% more money than Andrew Groen got and twelve times as much as he initially asked for?

On that Kickstarter page there are all sorts of wonderful endorsements and rewards and blue sky forward looking statements, but there isn’t a word about why they need that specific amount or what it might be earmarked for.

And when I see somebody associated with the project responding to questions about the money with retorts about not knowing how the publishing business works, my gut response is, “You’re right! I don’t know about the publishing business, and your response didn’t increase my knowledge one iota!”

I think there has to be some statement about where the money will go.  And if it is because Jeff Edwards will be devoting his life for the next six months to this project so we have to pay his mortgage and utilities or because publishers require a big deposit to setup printing of a third party project or that the team had to provide coke and whores for the head of Random House in order to get the project going, that is still better than telling me I’m not in the business so I wouldn’t understand.

The Mittani Himself

Has there ever been a more divisive person in a multiplayer video game?

I think you literally have to go to Derek Smart to find somebody who can command more knee-jerk rage than The Mittani.  I don’t think Smed could match him, even in front of an audience of SWG fans.

For every dedicated follower I would be willing to bet there are two EVE Online players who hate him, even if they cannot figure out exactly why.  Let me help you.  He’s arrogant.  He’s smug.  He scams people, even using his position as chairman of the CSM to further his efforts.  His followers blow people up in high sec, scam, and bring war and destruction wherever they travel in New Eden.  And not only is he in the null sec club, a group that thinks they are THE game in the game, he also runs an elitist organization that you cannot join.  You can be an affiliate, a partner, an ally, but if you’re not one of Lowtax’s chosen, you can’t get into GoonWaffe.  And he barely even logs into the game.  He just likes to play the meta game.  Seeing Mittens in space is quite a thing.  And a couple of the rewards being offered reinforce some of these views, like:

How soon until he mutes you though?

How soon until he mutes you though?

Like I said, being in space with Mittens is special

Like I said, being in space with Mittens is special

Naming a media site after The Mittani certainly got it past the obscurity barrier, but it still faces the stigma associated with that name.  But at least it still gets people who go there just to be enraged.  But asking for $150,000… that just feeds the hate.

Well, we shall see.

I personally want this project to succeed if only because of my personal attachment to the events in question.  The campaign is into day 2 and has passed the $17,000 mark.  I will be watching it on Kicktraq to see how it is trending as time goes by.

If you missed any links above, you can find the Kickstarter page here.

 

L7-APB Falls – TEST Officially Out of Fountain

TEG-SD was the next to last system to go.  That went down about noon on Sunday my local time.  I got into the Baltec fleet for the operation, but like so many ops since 6VDT, the capital ship fleet went and did the work while we sat on a titan, ready to ride in and support them should the enemy appear.

Riding a titan again in Fountain

Riding a titan again in Fountain

Then, about six hours later, the timer for L7-APB ended.  I wasn’t around, but capital ships and a Baltec fleet deployed again for the final stage of the sovereignty grind in Fountain.  There was no resistance and the system was taken.  The conquest of Fountain is complete.  115 systems in, or soon to be in, CFC possession.

Fountain - Aug 5, 2013

Fountain – Aug 5, 2013

Now there is the wait for sovereignty to rise and infrastructure to be built in the region.  And, of course, the need to figure out what to do next.

A Little Gasoline on the Fire in Fountain?

A check of the map over at DOTLAN shows that the sovereignty clean up in Fountain continues apace.  But I did notice a system of a different color this morning.

6VDT-H in Orange

6VDT-H in Orange

The system 6VDT-H, the symbolic capital of Fountain for TEST, the place they went all-in on in last Sunday’s big fight, was given to the CFC alliance Fatal Ascension.

And while what I don’t know about null sec politics and the relationships between alliances could fill a very thick book, I do know that TEST and FA do not get along.  They have come to blows off and on during my time in null sec, often when they were both part of the CFC.  Blow ups between the two nearly kicked off the TEST vs. CFC conflict six months early.  There was war fever back in January over that.

And while shooting did not start, TEST was reset at that time and a real war became a genuine possibility going forward.

Later, after Asakai, TEST made the FA angle part of their post-battle propaganda.

So FA being given that particular system seems to me to be sending a very specific message, and that message is not “We want TEST back in the CFC.”

What do you think?  Is the CFC now spitting in TEST’s eye?

Fountain – The Fighting Goes On

The war in Fountain has been declared over.

Boodabooda has said that TEST is leaving the region.  The CFC is busy picking up systems and knocking down the remaining TEST towers.  The latter seem to be all empty of strontium and conveniently labeled.  We hit one last night with the name “TEST R16 reimbursement fund moon.”

Who needs scanning?

Who needs scanning?

Systems are going our way.

Fountain - July 30, 2013

Fountain – July 30, 2013

The map is slowly turning our color.

Fountain turns yellow... eew...

Fountain turns yellow… eew…

What will happen beyond Fountain seems in doubt however.

Boodabooda is saying that the CFC will “almost definitely attack Delve.”  And certainly, in terms of chance, Goons attacking Delves seems only slightly less likely than there being a maintenance downtime on any given day.  It is almost habitual at this point.  They all have supplies and stuff sitting in stations from the last few ventures.  Even I still have stuff in Delve from last summer’s expedition.  So it is practically the natural order of things to head to Delve.

Arguing against an invasion of Delve are several factors.  It will be at least a month until sovereignty rises high enough in Fountain for a jump bridge network to be established to create a pipe into Delve.  It was a big deal for us to get the jump bridge from J5A to 4-EP, as it meant holding those systems for 35 days straight.  Now we have to wait that same 35 days after taking systems before a full jump bridge network can be established.

There is also the nature of the war from the CFC point of view.  The stated reason for taking Fountain was to possess the moons.  You may ascribe whatever additional sinister motives you like, but the moons are still important.  They are a source of income and they need to be protected.  We cannot all go back to Deklein and Branch and Tribute and expect these moons to remain unmolested.  Which means somebody needs to live in Fountain.  I expect that in a couple of weeks there will some realignment of sovereignty to cover the Fountain front, and a lot of people will be moving into new homes.  It is difficult to do that in the midst of a war.

And then there is the question of what happens if we do invade Delve.  Best case scenario is that TEST rolls over and dies, leaving us Delve in their will.  We march in and then face Northern Coalition in Querious and Tribal Band down in Period Basis.

The Delve Neighborhood

The Delve Neighborhood

Last summer when Delve was taken, the war moved immediately to Querious and would likely do so again, what with a competent foe holding a grudge and in possession of a lot of support sitting right there.  That means war with just about everybody from Cobalt Edge to Querious.  And while the most deluded conspiracy theories see total null sec domination as part of the vast Goon conspiracy, the idea of a great Goon donut strikes me a implausible.  Even if it were manageable militarily… and I wouldn’t grant that one… and could be held against all comers… and there would be many… I am not sure they could find enough competent and trustworthy satraps to administer and empire without them coveting each others possessions, fighting amongst themselves, or attempting to break with the empire altogether.  I think a Goon null sec Caliphate would be a very brittle entity before long.

And, finally, there is the fact that the war isn’t over.  Did I say that it was?  Yeah, I was clearly full of VF day enthusiasm when I wrote that headline.

Sure, TEST is pulling out of Fountain.  And they are not contesting timers any more.  Sovereignty is rolling over to us.  But there is no agreement in place, no peace plan in process.  Boodabooda is digging trenches in Delve waiting for the Goon onslaught.  We’re busy camping 6VDT station trying to keep TEST from evacuating anything valuable.  Gates are camped.  TEST is still red.

And just last night Northern Coalition and friends… and they let TEST tag along this time… attempted to pick off another CFC titan.  This time they dropped right into 4-EP to try and get it.  An observant CFC member noticed NC dreads in the system while a Baltec fleet that had been forming  for a structure shoot was able to jump right into the fight.  The siren went off on Jabber and a big battle ensued, with the NC fleet losing more than 20 capital ships.  And while they took down a few in return, no titans were killed.  Titans did, however, drop on the field and got to doomsday the hostiles.  See my current site banner (which I stole) or this NC video of the fight.   Here is the battle report.  (A write up at The Mittani as well.)

CFC kills in blue

CFC kills in blue

I missed that fight by just five minutes, but got into fleet in time to chase people all over Fountain and then go shoot some structures.

Titans were still hanging around when I got there

Titans were still hanging around when I got there

So fighting continues and seems likely to carry on for some time.  Grinding out sovereignty… even when uncontested… goes much faster with capital ships, and when capital ships are flying somebody will inevitably seek to blow them up.

Last night in comms, somebody said that TEST is the new Intrepid Crossing, an alliance that used to be on our border in Cobalt Edge and which we used to raid for fights, but which we never sought to conquer. (That is until Razor pushed the joke too far one day and IRC’s house fell over.  And now Razor owns Cobalt Edge.  Nice going.)  And that seems like an apt enough analogy.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of “win” in attempting to exterminate TEST, but having a hostile neighbor we can tangle with has value.  If nothing else, it gives us something to do and someone to fight on a regular basis.  That might not be something you would want in real life but, in a game like EVE, that could be the best possible situation for now.

Or such is the way things look to me.  But I am just a CFC grunt and the most exalted position I have ever aspired to is that of squad commander in a fleet. (I trained Leadership V somewhere along the way.)  I have no special insight into alliance politics.  I go where they tell me and shoot who the FC calls out.

So feel free to correct my assumptions and tell me where you think this whole situation is headed.

6VDT-H – The Biggest Battle in EVE History Ends the War in Fountain

Well, we won, not only the largest battle in the history of “Eve Online”, but also Fountain. While I was out enjoying a ~victory dinner~, TEST threw in the towel and is now busy retreating to NOL. We have a bunch of clean-up work to do and can’t let our guard down, but hi5s all around and well fucking done.

The Mittani, post-battle broadcast

The Preparation

Sunday was a long day online.

The battle had been in the sights of both sides for a couple of days now, and the work leading up to it started well in advance.

Saturday evening I was actually out on one of the preparatory missions, taking down jump bridges and blowing up the one remaining TEST POS in 6VDT-H.  Afterwards GSOL, the heroes who keep all of our infrastructure going, dropped 26 towers in the system, one at every possible location, so that TEST would have no safe spot at which to rally in the coming battle.  It is my understanding that TEST only figured this out during the battle when they sought to drop a tower to create such a haven and found all the parking spots full.

That work went on throughout the night while I slept.

Sunday morning I rose late.  The op was set to begin at 11:30am local time for me, so I rolled out of bed a little after 9am and jumped in the shower.  After getting dressed and having the “breakfast of champions” (cold pizza and a coke) I got myself logged into my computer and into the various comms channels with well over 90 minutes left before the form up time.

I was greeted by calls to stock food around my desk, to say farewell to my family for the day, and to get online and in a ship and undocked ASAP to avoid the rush.

When I got in game in 4-EP there were already 1,300 people in the system and that number was growing quickly, even as early bomber fleets assembled and jumped out.  I got slowly undocked and joined the mass of Megathrons at the staging POS where we attempted to form a conga line.  It was still nearly 45 minutes before the official operation start time when, faced with 2,000 pilots in the staging system and time dilation hard over at 10%, the decision was made to form fleets.

Six Baltec fleets were created and the megathrons flooded into them so rapidly that I only just found space in the sixth fleet under Zagdul.  All six were full and you could already tell the system was getting stressed.  On a number of occasions, our fleet showed 257 members, despite the limit being 256.

One by one the fleets were bridged out through the tidi.  We went by the numbers, so the sixth fleet went last while command was attempting to form up additional fleets for people still waiting.  Fortunately for us, getting to 6VDT-H involved a single bridge from 4-EP.  By the time it was our turn, tidi was fading in 4-EP and, while there was tidi upon us jumping into 6VDT-H, once the loading into system ceased, tidi went away.  We moved to the station where one of the recurring pictures of the battle was six fleets orbiting the station.

Waiting on 6VDT-H station

Waiting on 6VDT-H station

The view was compared to ants swarming.  I preferred to think of it as bees around a potential new hive.

Then it was time to wait.  Even delayed as we were, there being six Baltec fleet to move out, we were there with plenty of time to spare.  The station still had nearly an hour before it came out of reinforce and the main point of the battle… shoot the station… could begin.

The clock counts down

The clock counts down

We sat in orbit of the station, where we would remain for the bulk of the battle, waiting for bits of intel to dribble in while Solo Drakban was no doubt fretting over the comms infrastructure.  In the past, big operations like this have brought down our voice comms, requiring the server to be re-provisioned to accommodate the load, a process which requires every pilot to go change their Mumble configuration.  Since, at the best of times, maybe 4 out of 5 people actually hear (but not necessarily comprehend) instructions coming over comms, that sort of thing becomes a major undertaking on its own.

So we were told to just stay quiet and use voice comms as little as possible, lest we bring the whole house down.  This actually worked, at least on our channel, which was surprising.  Goons and allies are a talkative bunch and, when left with little to do, will begin to chat or argue about whatever happens to come up.  With the warning in place, for long stretches, it was like being in the “no chatter” channel, where you can only hear the fleet command personnel speaking. (That channel can be a mercy when the topic of the day becomes violently inane.)

We were told about TEST and their allies from time to time.  It was clear that they were forming up (answering the “Will they fight?” question) and that they had at least 2,000 pilots on hand from various sources.  In that at least some of their friends from the east, done thrashing SOLAR FLEET, had returned and there were contingents from Northern Coalition, Nulli Secunda, Why So Serious, joining TEST and Tribal Band for the big show.

Gevlon has a post up about the TEST fleet coming together that gives the view from that side of the battle that is worth a read.

So we sat and orbited the station as the timer ticked down.  At one point a good chunk of us got disconnected and had to ask for re-invites back to fleet on a specific chat channel.  That actually worked surprisingly well.  I just had to type “x for Baltec 6” and I was invited back immediately.

Finally, the moment arrived, the station came out of reinforce.  We locked it up and shot at it.  Then, finally, TEST began to arrive on scene.  The battle could begin.

The Battle

The local count began to rise and tidi, mostly absent up to that point, began to impose its iron will upon the fight.  3,600.  3,800.  3,900.  Then it was past 4,000 people in system.  TEST got themselves together and landed on us at the station and the fight began in earnest.

And for the next five hours we struggled to kill each other.

Why you name your ship

Why you name your ship

Tidi is one thing.  Everything, including your UI, moves at 10% of normal speed to help the servers keep up.  But beyond a certain point tidi is not enough for the servers to keep up.  And then you have entered the lag zone, where the UI ceases to respond, where you can spend a long time waiting for a target that shows as locked to actually become available, where attempting to activate your guns fails more often than not, where you fear to change ammo or scripts or targets because things just started working and you are afraid to mess with it.

There was a point later in the battle, when the numbers in local dropped down to 3,000 and CCP’s servers began to catch up, that merely being in 10% tidi felt liberating.  Simple things, like your guns activating on the first try or targets actually locking in the time indicated were like a breath of fresh air.  Running at one tenth normal speed is a doddle, if only the client will actually respond to your actions.

As for the battle itself, TEST landed on us and the fleets were intermixed in that odd way that happens in very large fights.  At times I found myself flying between a pair of NC dominixes or through a cloud of TEST logistics.  A Nulli Secunda logistics bantam appeared to orbit me at one point.

Meanwhile, we shot.  Targets were called and we struggled to get our guns to fire on them.  In the end I managed to get on 38 kill mails, primarily zealots and legions, which were our main targets.  I had to change my overview a number of times.  First I had to exclude capsules, which began to litter the field, and which we were told not to shoot.  Let them walk home was the plan.  And then I had to narrow that down to just the current target type so I could lock up the called target, as fleet target broadcasts were taking a long time to arrive on my screen.  I need to sit down and make a series of “just X” overviews, as my more general ones become useless in a big fight like this.

At its peak, the system was moving so slowly that there were times when we were told some intel over comms, we would then read about that intel in the live report updates over at The Mittani.com, and then the actual action would come to pass in game.

One such action happened when TEST and pals appeared to be pulling out.  The rallied around the B17 gate, then changed their mind and decided to end the battle in a glorious death ride straight into the teeth of the enemy (us), which by this time included two reinforcement Baltec fleets and a large fleet of dreadnoughts supported by carriers.

There is a decent summary of the battle posted over at The Mittani.  I will link more as they show up.  The numbers themselves are immense.  The Battle Doctor report, (or try this one) which has finally caught up and settled down so might be somewhat accurate, shows a total 5,095 characters involved over the course of the fight with over 1,500 ships destroyed, and a pile of capsules on top of that.

CFC kills blue - TEST kills red

CFC kills blue – TEST kills red

The battle raged on until even tidi began to ease up.  I was logged in for almost eight hours straight before it became time to take my wife out to dinner.  Lots of people came and went.  Gaff, who was busy at the beginning of the fight, got back in time to join the capital fleet that dropped into the middle of the fight.  Over at DOTLAN stats for the system were prominent.

Over a six hour fight

Over a six hour fight

Not sure how that aligns with the Battle Doctor report.  Maybe it hasn’t caught up after all.  And then there were the big spikes in the 6VDT-H system graphs.

Spikes in the Graphs

Spikes in the Graphs

I did not stay until the bitter end.  After all day on the computer, I took the family out to dinner.  But we were mopping up before I left.  The numbers were down to JUST 2,000 in system and tidi was going away.

The Result

The battle was won by the CFC, as was the war.  Reports of TEST retiring to Delve were in before I arrived home from dinner.

The war is over.  A good thing I got my second propaganda post up last week.  There is a large amount of clean up to be done.  And there will be plenty of groups out there eager for some kills who will no doubt be camping gates.  But operations will be unlikely to face full fleets of opposition.  We are back to the general state of null sec at rest, with 10 man gangs sitting on gates or on drag bubbles between gates ganking single passers by.

While I lived through the big battle, I managed to get myself killed in a silly and embarrassing way by a member of SOLAR FLEET no less… because everybody showed up I guess.  This was after I managed to escape from some NC zealots at the sun, who neglected to bring a tackler with them.  I wasn’t at the keyboard when the critical moment came and deserved to die.  Life in EVE.  At least I lost the cursed megathron that I had problems with at Z9PP-H.  And it was insured.

And since we managed to lose a titan during the post-battle operations, I don’t feel so bad.

There will be lots of musing about this battle.  It was a victory for the CFC as well as for CCP, who managed to keep everything going for a whole day under very trying circumstances, and with the memories of z9PP-H looming.

Coverage of the battle made its way from EVE sites to MMO sites (with Massively noticeably terse and late to the party) to gaming sites to the mainstream news.  Granted, the BBC seems to have a soft spot for EVE Online, and we are in the summer season of slow news, but still that is some coverage.  Various coverage:

And in the blogesphere, reactions and commentary continue to flow about various aspects of the battle.

Added:  CCP has a dev blog posted about the 6VDT battle now.

And then there is what to do with Fountain itself.  While the CFC grabbed the region for its moon wealth, that very wealth will make it vulnerable to those who would seek to mess with the CFC in general and the Goons in particular.  To protect them, somebody is going to have to move into the region.  I expect we will see some shifts in the sovereignty map as alliances get rewarded for their participation in the war.

Finally, there is the spectacle aspect of this, which is where the general media joined in.  A great event happened.  A record was set.  A war was won and lost.  And I was there.

Ironic twist: We didn’t actually take the station.  We just put it into the next level of reinforce.  That was expected.  But those on the outside looking in might be a bit confused over that.  Finishing that off is all part of the “more work to do” aspect of victory.

And after that, what are we going to do in space?

The Pictures

As usual, I took a screen shots during the battle.  A gallery of pictures is available after the cut.

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TEST Invokes a Star Wars Metaphor, Casts The Mittani as Emperor

A new bit of video propaganda that cropped up this week, putting the war into very understandable nerd terms I suppose.

(Direct link here)

The best bit for me was at about 0:32 where the picture they used is one I took. (It is also the thumbnail picture.)

I’ll take that as a compliment.  I do wonder that comments and ratings have been turned off for that video.  That seems very un-Reddit.

We shall see how TEST and its plea fares.  What is assumed by some to be possibly the last big fight of the war, the battle for 6VDT-H, the capital system in Fountain for TEST, their VFK-IV, their Jerusalem, looms.  That battle is slated for tomorrow.  Last night ops ran unopposed.  CFC fleets roam, shooting structures while a TEST oracle fleet tried to distract.  The fight has gone out of them for the last few days.

But tomorrow will tell the tale.

Fountain Downfall

Fountain Downfall

Will TEST rise up and defend their capital, die heroically in the attempt, or just stand down and effectively cede the war?

The bluster so far is that they will fight.

Flood 6VDT

Flood 6VDT

And, frankly, if they won’t fight for this, what will they fight for?

More Propaganda from the War in Fountain

I have continued to collect propaganda from the was that people have linked in local. You can see the last batch I posted here.

I decided that I had best post what I have today, given the uncertain state of the war.  TEST got robbed yesterday by a disgruntled director and then later stood down all ops.  The changes in Fountain for July have all been TEST losses so far.  PNQY-Y and four other systems fell to CFC alarm clock ops last night.  And while the new TEST military director has brave words for the alliance, they seem to sum up to “let’s go die hilariously.”  So on to the propaganda!

TEST vs. Goons

TEST vs. Goons

While I pitch this as TEST vs. Goons, one of the most prolific creators of propaganda during the war has been Marne Deville of Gentleman’s Agreement, an alliance in the CFC.   He has also created some of the best and most memorable pieces and his work is well represented in local.  You will find some of his work below.  Aside from those, which are signed, and one that I recognize from Alizabeth Vea’s forum signature, the authors are unknown.  I post them with the usual caveat that if your work is shown and you want it removed, please let me know.

Propaganda after the cut.

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