Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tales from the front lines

The below is what I hope to be the first of a series of 'tales from the front lines'. These are stories written by members of OUCH about their experiences out there on the front lines of nullsec combat. If you like what you read, maybe you'd like to join us
I'm a relatively young combat pilot, on the staff of a non-profit null security space survival corporation. Our job is to train pilots of various levels of experience to be unafraid of living in null sec, and to give them the skills they will need to move on in their careers as combat pilots. We have decided to do that by "maintaining a blockade in null sec, interdicting traffic bound for Empire".

Blockade duty is boring: Sometimes you fight, sometimes you run, but mostly you wait. And wait. And wait some more. And it seems like nothing is going on. Then BAM, a stealth bomber decloaks in the bubble, or a small T2 gang jumps in come in and tries to gank you, or a large gangs sweeps through and your gang runs to your safes, your skirts flapping in the wind. Sometimes, you don't see a soul for hours, and you ask yourself, "Isn't there something better that we could be doing?" It seems to be a lot more fun to be in the small gang looking for a bubble camp to break, or the large gang sweeping through null looking for a battle. But then I look at it from our adversaries point of view.

* * *

A member of a neutral alliance based a half dozen systems away lands in a bubble and loses his ship. He tells his corpmates that there is a camp in system N1-4U2. An hour later, another guy gets caught in the bubble and he complains about it to his mates. After a couple of days of this, there are a bunch of people in that alliance that really are annoyed that their travel been restricted. A few of them head over to N1-4U2 to "teach those guys a lesson". They pop one or two ships but they don't get away clean, the campers kill the bait. The next day, they attack the campers using the same tactic, but the cowards don't give them a fight. They kill the bubble and leave. The campers put up a new bubble, and later that evening, kill another alliance pilot.

Days later, the bubble camp is up again and a recon ship lands in it. The campers web and scram and take the ship quickly down into armor. Then local comes alive: stealth bombers and recons appear from nowhere, lock and kill several of the bubble camping fleet. They just got hot dropped by a Black Ops gang, who are very pleased with themselves for the battlecruiser kill they got today. That will surely teach the campers not to be so predictable. But hours later, those stupid noobs are back, camping the same gate in N1-4U2.

On the weekend, the alliance organizes another raid, a dozen ships. They scout N1-4U2 with a cloaked ship for an hour, bring in their fleet and the campers run off to safes like a bunch of screaming girls. The only casualty in the contest is a Mobile Small Warp Disruptor. The fleet leaves, and the campers set up another bubble.

Meanwhile, the alliance from the system next door, they jump in and engage the campers every day. Sometimes they get kills, sometimes they get killed, but most of the time, they just kill the bubble, smack-talk a bit and move on. Our campers look forward to them coming by to visit, and put up a new bubble.

But a few of the members of the big alliance down the street decide that something must be done about this camp. They get a recon ship and station it spying on the camp and wait for the opportunity to implement their plan. A fleet stages in at the closest POS: cruisers, recons, HACs and battlecruisers, ready to take on a camp of, well, pirates from their point of view. They closely orbit one of the largest ships in the game, an Erebrus. They are ready.

The recon uncloaks and lights off his cyno and 20 cruisers and battlecruisers jump in and destroy a 6 ship frig and cruiser fleet in seconds. They cheer, and pat themselves on the back, sending a clear message to these pirates:

Your scouts cannot protect you. We can take you, without warning, anytime we want. We own you.

A few hours later, they get word from one of their corpmates: The bubble is back up in N1-4U2. Don't those noobs ever quit?

They put out an advisory to their alliance: N1-4U2 is permanently camped. Proceed with caution. Various members place dedicated scouts in system, alts to log in and check the system status. Some place cloaked alts and leave them up for hours at a time. They are not the only corporations to do so.

All of them watch and gather intel. They fly through in big fleets. They fly carefully when solo. They change the way they operate to avoid this camp when they remember. When they forget, they end up in the bubble and more often than not, in their pods. N1-4U2 becomes a very popular system. The pilots of the region start to learn that they can find a fight there if they want it, but if they go overkill, all they'll find is a bubble.

* * *

I'm just one pilot, in a small alliance. We've got a handful of experienced combat pilots, teaching brand new players how to fly and die in null. We fly mostly T1 Frigates and Cruisers. We're nobody special, yet what we are doing, playing our Eve, affects hundreds, maybe thousands of pilots as they fly through a small "useless" system in a quiet region of NPC space.

Proceed With Caution. That's a snapshot of the Eve PvP dynamic. No TCU required.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How to be a CEO

I've had the pleasure of being a CEO now, in one form or another, for the past 5 years. In that time I've run an industrial Corp, an anti-pirate Corp, a pirate Corp, and now a PVP and nullsec survival training Corp.

But I do know that I'm not an expert - there are others out there who are much better and more dedicated than I am at building highly successful Corps and alliances. All I've done is developed my own style, in line with my own interests, and achieved some success along the way.

But when someone asked me the other day if I had any advice for them on how to start their own Corp, I felt reasonably qualified to give them some tips and advice. As a result, I decided to put the results into a blog post, so that you readers might get some value from it too.

So let's get started...

1) As a CEO you're going to have to acknowledge to yourself that you can't do it alone, and you shouldn't even try. You need to get some dedicated people onboard with you that share your goals, so that you can work together on them. So you need to...

2) Develop a 'mission statement' for what you want to achieve in the game, and how you want to achieve it. This is going to define everything you do, and even how you do it. By making this public in some fashion you will attract people who want to be part of your vision or even support it, and it's the latter who may end up becoming your 'senior staff'. If your mission is simply to relax and have fun, then make sure you detail that, or you'll get people joining who might take it all too seriously.

3) Establish operational policies for all activity within the corp. The policies establish the rules for all members, so that they understand what they can and can't do, and what the penalties are for disobeying the rules. Make sure these policies are in line with your mission statement, and the image and reputation you want to create. Include policies for industrial activity and logistics, security and PVP operations, and even wartime operations when affected by wardecs. Common sense goes a long way.

4) Get dedicated department chiefs to manage each of the depts, eg. a PVP Chief, PVE Chief, Industrial Chief, etc. You won't have the time to manage the departments individually, nor are you likely to have the expertise, but you WILL have time to manage the Chiefs who'll each have their relevant expertise in those areas.

5) As soon as you can, form a group of 'senior officers' from members that are eager and willing to step up and give you advice about how things should be done. These people need to have experience to back up their advice and support. Make sure they are sensible and obviously promoting the best interests of the corp and your goals. Only trust those who want to support the growth of the corp, and don't lose sight of what your vision is. Anyone who tries to change your mind or lead you in a direction away from your vision, dump them immediately. You'll be better off without them.

6) Never give anyone Director status, and never give anyone access to the Corp wallet. However, if you really think you must, then make sure you protect your assets by doing the following:

- transfer most of the corp funds out of the master wallet and into your personal wallet where they can't touch it
- transfer needed Corp assets out of Corp hangars and into your personal hangars

The reason for all the above is because anyone can betray you at any point, and you want to minimize the temptations that might encourage them to betray you. If more money is needed, you can transfer it back into the Corp as needed. If assets are needed, you can hand them out one at a time as needed, and make sure you get them back when finished.

7) Transfer at least 51% of corp shares to your CEO. This will ensure that you maintain ownership of the corp and even if you do make people Directors and they try to vote you out of ownership, they can only succeed if they can get a majority vote against you, as voted by shareholders. If you own the majority, you can always ensure any votes you don't like will fail.

8) Always pay your bills. If you have offices, make sure you pay your monthly rental costs, or you'll lose it. If you have assets in Corp hangars, you don't want the hassle of having to go to that station and retrieve them from being Impounded.

9) Run your corp as a 'dictatorship', where the final decision is yours and yours alone. Running by committee will ensure that your decision-making process is tied up in committee discussions which never go where you want them to go. Let your senior staff and even Corp members provide advice and suggestions and feedback and input, but at the end of the day it's your decision as to how you want your corp to move forward. When people make suggestions that are in line with your vision, allow those suggestions to move forward as actions. But if the suggestions are in opposition to your vision, then smash those suggestions into the ground where they belong.

If people don't like it, they'll leave. Let them. You want people that support you and support your vision (make sure you publicise it to your members, as per rule #2 above).

10) Learn everything about the Corp Management tab, including corp wallet, setting up divisions, managing and monitoring members, accepting applications, and how titles and roles work. Understanding all of the Corp management options is essential.

11) Blog about your experiences. You'll be surprised at how many people you'll attract and recruit simply because you're writing about your corp, its' activities and your own activities. Be a public figure, as that helps with your notoriety. But...

12) If you want professional, fun, respectable members, make sure that you are being exactly what you want in your corp. If you're an idiot and smack talk others all the time, then that's the kind of recruit you'll attract. If you're mature and talk about the level of fun you have, then you'll get mature people looking for fun as well. Be the kind of person you want to attract. (Interestingly, this works in life too. :)

13) COMMUNICATE. It's very important that you establish and maintain effective communication between yourself, your senior staff and the corp members. Set up a forum to allow discussions between members - it's essential, regardless of what type of corp you run. Learn about how to administrate the forum, including various levels of permissions related to different sections of the forum. If you don't want to learn that, find someone who is skilled in forum administration who can do it for you.

Communication is what keeps a corp together, and is what motivates it to work together. Keep everyone informed about changes, new developments, or items of interest. If the leader is silent, the members lose morale and move on. If there's very little for you to actually communicate, make sure your senior staff and dept chiefs are communicating about their departments instead. Always keep communication going, so everyone knows what's going on with whom.

I hope all the above helps to get you started. It's a lot of work to run a corp, and it's a lot MORE work to run a successful corp. But working out what you want to achieve from running your own corp will be very important to determining how it grows and operates.

Don't forget to keep it in alignment with your own personal values. If you're not passionate yourself about the corp and the goals you have for it, then it simply becomes a huge chore that will bore the hell out of you and make you want to quit playing. Keep that in mind.

This isn't enough! I need more...

If anyone wants more personal help, I'm willing to offer my time and knowledge on Corp management in exchange for ISK (which will be considered as donations to OUCH's funds). Also, I'm available to create an alliance for you if you can't do it yourself.

Contact me if you would like to discuss anything further.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Help Wanted

There's two things I need help with, and I decided to put it out there to the community.

The first thing: admin assistant for

I lead quite a busy life, and give myself only a small amount of time each day to Eve Online. in that time I'm usually managing OUCH (nullsec survival training corp) and the Art of War Alliance, dealing with administration issues, membership queries and management, and diplomatic relations. I rarely get time to actually fly, but that's ok, as my game is now admin and management.

But as a result of the immediate need for my daily involvement in this way, I have very little Eve time for anything else. That means that is suffering from my lack of time to manage it. It's a project in its own right that serves the Eve community, and it's suffering.

I've been able to organize some assistance within OUCH, which has been fantastic and freed up a lot of my time to focus more on 'big picture' management.

I need that now for

What I need is someone to help me with adding new blogs to the site, so that I can focus on other admin-related tasks for the site, as well as promotion of it to the greater community.

If you have time, and you'd like to help me and the Eve community, please contact me at I'll provide you with training to know what needs doing, along with ongoing support.

The second thing: tell me when you're mentioning OUCH or

I read every single blog update that passes through I get excited when people mention OUCH and I usually visit their site and thank them for the mention. I also have an alert that tells me when someone sends or includes me in a tweet (to either @Alexia_Morgan or @Black_Claw or @eveblogs) so that I can keep up with mentions in the community.

However, I don't listen to podcasts at all. They just take too much time that I don't have. And if I'm listening to anything, it's usually relaxing music to wind down from the rest of my life...

So I'd like to establish a couple of new hash tags for you all to use with your tweets that would really help me out:


If you promote either of those, or even if you just mention OUCH or in a podcast, please use those hashtags in your tweets so that I can receive them in hashtag alerts, have a listen, and then promote you even further with my own comments or posts.

Thank you for your help!