The Middle Way

Alright so I am going to start this one from way out in left field. In Buddhism, the fundamental state of the universe is described by what’s called the Four Noble Truths:

  1. All of life is jacked up.
  2. There is a way out of all the jacked up crap.
  3. The Buddha knows the way out.
  4. The way out is the Eightfold Path.

Now the Eightfold Path is eight things to get correctly in order to achieve enlightenment. They are things like Right Thinking, Right Intent, and six other things you can look up if you really care. But what they basically describe is what Buddha called, “the Middle Way.” Before he found the correct path, he wandered among a bunch of groups that advocated extreme asceticism and dedicated practice on the one hand and epicurean not worrying about anything on the other. His goal ended up being a middle way between these extremes.

So thus endeth the lesson on Buddhism. Totally irrelevant, yeah? Well, I see my alliance, the Brave Collective, as finding its way between two extremes. On the one hand, we are a group that is completely devoted to individual gameplay. We’re all about fun per hour and devoting ourselves to the individual’s game experience, sometimes overwhelmingly to the new player. However, on the other hand we are a nullsec alliance and we do the things that nullsec alliances do: hours of POS bashes and sov matches, laborious logistics, etc. We get all the alliance mails that sov alliances send out: train this, show up for that, etc. We are not like the Pandemic Chodes who have PL take care of everything for them and who must leave their alliance to advance via Waffles. In Brave, the bloc FC and the supercarrier pilot have the same alliance ticker, often the same corp ticker, as the day old noob. Events like B-R and the This is Eve trailer fill us flush with new members from time to time where our noobiness is overwhelmingly apparent, but those events don’t happen every day and at times we actually show some age, with a lot of members having been in the alliance for months or years. We also have players that have been in the game for many many years. Our mantra, the beautiful and necessary commitment to ‘undock and die’ can in many members be replaced by the burning urge to undock and kill, and to do that we need to run a tight ship.

In addition to our role as a holistic alliance that runs the gamut of nullsec experience, we’ve also had a penchant for being in between the powers. Although we have recently suffered defeat at the hands of Pandemic Legion’s ploy of welching on agreements and exploiting miscommunication in order to poach members, in fact most cases of our alliance’s moves and evolution have been defined by our becoming too big and bad for our environment. We are all too often just too powerful for many enemies but not powerful enough for others.

Because of these situations, our commitment to being a for-fun alliance for newbies on the one hand and a legitimate nullsec alliance on the other, and for our being very powerful in some respects but very weak in others, it’s easy for a member to get confused about Brave’s focus. I mean we send out mails and post on reddit about participation but we don’t count participation via PAP links or anything. Further, summer is upon us. Summer is normally a time where logins fall and CCP keeps things going via various events (ala alliance tournament and others) until people hole up for the winter for serious gaming. So a lot of people in Brave are wondering what they should do.

Well, I think the answer to that is to understand Brave’s place in the overall kind of game that Eve is. Yes, a lot of our newer members are with us because of the This is Eve trailer that portrayed Eve as being filled with more gut-wrenching excitement that HALO or Diablo III. It probably didn’t take long before most of us realized that those moments in Eve can be infrequent. Eve really isn’t that kind of game. When thinking about hobbies, I might compare Eve to my days of sport bike riding where I would wake up at 5 AM to perform an hour of maintenance before an hour long ride to my road of choice that I would ride over and over, memorizing every curve, calculating just how far I could lean and how fast I could go, ultimately mastering the road and the ride after weeks of work. A lot of you probably don’t know it due to surfers’ reputations as Jeff Spicoli pot heads, but surfing involves early mornings for long drives out to beaches for hours of wading through 50-degree waters braving rocks and sharks in search of that perfect wave. Eve is a bit like that. It’s a game to be worked at and to be mastered. Those who do well have something to be truly proud of, like a chess master or a medalist in a sport.

In Eve I’ve heard tales of how glorious it was to grind Catch in stealth bombers. Yes, there were many comments of ‘that was the most miserable thing I have ever done in life,’ but there was an honor gained by doing it and a certain pride in telling the story. I’ve heard stories of the collapse of Fountain during the days of TEST about all the valorous (and thoroughly miserable) things that happened to those guys. Those stories are the height of pride for those who have them.

Now going into summer, and having thought about the above, I think the way to reconcile Brave’s goals as an alliance for fun per hour with its goals as a legitimate nullsec alliance is to convey an understanding of what fun is. In Eve, fun is most certainly getting that sweet kill or chilling with the bros over beers while mining rocks. However, it is also in building oneself in order to build one’s corp in order to build the alliance and the coalition. Eve is actually a game where the fun is in working at stuff, and fun is in accomplishing things through the group that you can’t accomplish alone.

That said, should we become like every other alliance and take PAP links for fleet participation and kick people who don’t have the doctrines trained? No. Should we refuse to support any kind of content that isn’t station spinning until the next stratop? Definitely not. I recommend a middle way. When you get the mail to train Crucifier because it’s just a week long train, see if you can get it done in a few weeks. When you get the mail to form for every fleet, see if you can make a commitment to fleet up 2, 3, 4 times a week or however much a responsible assessment of your schedule allows. Further, just because it’s sunny outside, don’t abandon the game for the next 3 months. Your alliance is counting on you. No need to play every day all day, but see if you can log in on a regular schedule. I’ve read that the overwhelming majority of the world’s geniuses and exceptional people, from Mozart to Michael Jordan, were raised in environments where they could practice to an extreme degree. Mastery of Eve requires practice, just like football or olympic sprinting. It’s not about the skill queue. Player expertise is the key.

So for Brave, let’s take a middle road and make sure we have healthy lives and casual, fun play, but actually consider devoting ourselves to our sport (Eve isn’t really a game – it’s a sport) and our community of friends in a moderate and responsible way.

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