Samstag, 27. April 2013

Why I failed to let the corporation stay alive

After I already wrote about what happened the last month' in my Eve Online career and described on what infrastructure I built the corporation, now I will write about the reasons the corporation fail cascaded. I figured 4 reasons, 3 small and a big one (the letter I will write about in a few more entries).

First mistake was to reevaluate the plan I had with the corporation. I should have never changed the direction I set at first and go much earlier into Nullsec. There were understandable reasons why I chose to wait until summer with watching for an alliance living in Nullsec. Several members were just too young to move into Nullsec that early, just able to fly a lowskill fitted cruiser. There were also huge issues with logistics, because before summer there was no pilot able to fly a capital - and capitals are mandatory in Nullsec.

At least during the time in Cha Ching PLT we also noticed issues with alliance doctrines. They had highend fittings mainly with armor tank. That was a hugh problem because the most pilots in the corporation skilled for shield tanks and were in general not able to fit such highend fittings. Though the most pilots in the corporation were PvP interested, this issue was very demotivating, because they weren't able to participate in alliance operations.

Zombie Ninja Space Bears threatened to fail cascade and had a terrible incompetend high command which caused our early alliance switch and then the problems with fleets and other issues which caused hugh pressure to our corporation by Cha Ching PLT high command, made our corporation moving assets around 3 times in 1,5 month, which is a lot for such a small corporation without any capitals.

The second mistake was to give pilotes roles they weren't able to fulfill because the lack of game experience and/or matureness or just because they had not the time to do what they had to with such a role. I made mistakes in guessing character attributes wrong and oversaw that a few pilots weren't able to fulfill the exemplary function that's needed as a director. But I needed help and due to mostly very young pilots a had no options.

The third mistake was to not define any new direction and not to determine new goals. After we moved into Nullsec, our primary goal was fulfilled. So we had nothing our members could orientate to which motivates to go along. They developed their own playstyle - which is not bad, but there were a few that went in a direction I never wanted to fully support (perfect example here is mining). At the end PvP wasn't even a subject at all, though we were a PvP orientated corporation!

Last but not least there was a technically minor issue, but combined with the first 3 mistakes it was a huge problem for everyone and the corporation: At 2013/03/01 I lost my DSL internet. Though I was able to route with my smartphone, I only had 32 kbit/s download speed and was no longer able to visit my members on teamspeak or play anything with them. I was just able to log into the game commanding everything and everyone by chat channels und private chats.

The lack of teamspeak made it difficult to communicate not only with the corporation members, but also with everyone in the alliances. So my directorate had to do all the communication. Without the needed game experience we weren't able to do the right things, to do the right decisions at the alliance level.
Finally the lack of communication supported even more the progression of different playstyles. I had no chance to intervene any developement and had to passivally watch all this happening.

At the end I had a broken corporation sitting in Highsec, demotivated, no longer enthusiastic and mostly disunited, which caused me to delete the corporation and let everyone find their own way to play the game. At least they learned a lot. I showed them how to fit ships, how to get into the game, and the most different playstyles from different perspectives. It was time to let them do their own experiences.

Freitag, 26. April 2013

What the corporation infrastructure looked like

Yesterday I already mentioned I'll write an entry about my corporation management and the ways I used to build a healthy infrastructure. Though my corporation fail cascaded in the end, I'm still positive about it was a really successful way.

1. Directorate

It's important to find competent player at the beginning to get them into the directorate and manage the growing corporation. There were only a few roles I had to assign:
  • The diplomate; has to communicate with certain corporations and alliances (was very important later when we joined an alliance).
  • The recruitment manager; as you'll see in the recruitment section we did a lot of work to get more pilots into the corporation. So I picked 2 recruiter to help me with that.
  • The IT manager; to do the code work and server administration.
  • The logistic manager; helps a lot to have someone flying around a freighter and transport assets from and to Jita.
  • The junior fleet commander; a very interested PvP pilot in training to get full fleet commander.
  • Co-CEO; was needed because of my problems with internet.
2. Recruitment

2.1. Get pilots interested

Though most veterans in Eve Online don't know about the possibilities to add adverts in the recruitment section since it's a new feature, it's very successful at the beginning. I wanted to build a german only corporation and made the needed adjustments. It was very important for me to get the advertising text flawlessly and professional - because most people react positive to that - and put a little content into it: A few sentences about the corporation history, what we are about and finally what we are searching for. This worked pretty well as long as we had no critical mass (>15 in our case).

It's also important to get the advertisements into certain forums online bumping them daily, though there are a lot of trolls searching for a new corporation.

Recruitment Channels are also helpful, but there are a lot of trolls, too. We tried to get our advert bumped every 25 - 30 minutes if possible.

However the most successful way was to fly around in empire and put our advert into the local channel. Nearly 2/3 of my members were recruited that way at the end. But it's hard work and needs a lot of time.

2.2. The interviews

There are a lot of corporations out there never doing any interview with interested pilots. It was important for me to have pilots that are able to work together and talk with each other in teamspeak. You never know how well they fit into the corporation without an interview.

At the beginning I had just a few conditions which I checked in every interview. Though we had a lot of applications at the beginning, I had nearly 2 or 3 interviews every day, but only 3 or 4 pilots every week fitting into the corporation. That was a lot of lost work, so I invented a online-form (with google docs) activelly filtering which candidates fit and get an interview with the recruitment management. This worked pretty well and saved us a lot of time.

3. Meetings 

Never underestimate the value of meetings. They are very important and give your members a feeling to know everything happening in the corporation and are a important part in the decisions you make. As you would guess I made the corporation half democratic - I searched for different options, only took the best of them and gave them every member in the meetings to decide what they wanna have. This prevents the typical democratic mess up if you know what I mean.

To have a propper meeting I always did a little bit organization before. I gathered the topics I wanted to discuss and wrote them into a doc. Noted everything I wanted to say. This helped not only to get a common theme but also to not forget something important.

In the meetings I clarified that my members had to be quiet as long as I talked about the topic, but that they have the chance to ask and/or critize everything I said just after. This gave the meetings a little bit structure and prevented a pointless discussion about things I would possibly mention later in the topic. It also prevents everyone to talk across each other.
I tried to moderate their questions and critics wisely and took notes in my doc if there was anything constructive.

4. Content

Since I searched for pilots wanting to do and learn PvP, I needed to get a schedule with content. But first I had to search for a staging system that allowed us to get into Low- and Nullsec within a few jumps, to do missions between level 1 and 4 and wasn't far away from Jita.

After I found a staging system and most of the corporation members settled there I made a schedule that repeated every week:
  1. Monday: Nothing special planned
  2. Tuesday: PvP Roaming at 20:00
  3. Wednesday: PvE Action at 19:00
  4. Thursday: PvP Roaming at 20:00
  5. Friday: Nothing special planned
  6. Saturday: Maybe a little bit mining at 16:00, PvP Roaming at 20:00
  7. Sunday: PvE Action just after Downtime
This provided enough official PvP and PvE fun to let them stay motivated and train them in both doing PvP and run PvE to get some money. Monday and Friday were for the individuals to do what they want to. 

Because we had a professional website designer, we were able to insert a fleet manager that worked in the Ingame Browser like you would click an item link in the chat channels. I ensured that my members subscibe to announced fleets in the fleet manager and I was able to click and invite them into a fleet by the website. This also gave me the ability to see how many pilots were interested and who wanted to fly with the fleet (due to skills and statistics).

5. Doctines

Yeah, your first impression to this topic will be it looks exaggerated for a small corporation like mine. But for a PvP interested and orientated corporation with very new pilots it isn't. If you have doctrines, your pilots will always know what they should train for. And it makes it a lot easier to command a fleet because you always know what your pilots are able to with their ships.

As there were very young pilots in my corporation I did a lot of EFT worriering to get some fittings that were very cheap but accurately fitted, work as intended in a small fleet and don't need too much skilltime to fly them. Since we trained mostly in Lowsec, I picked some frigates (Rifter, Slasher and Condor) and got fittings for around 5 mio ISK each.

With further growing and better skilled pilots I made a few more doctrines the next month, mainly based on Caldari and Minmatar ships. There was a Thrasher doctrine, a missile doctrine with Caracal, Bellicose, Blackbird and Scythe and a Towerbash doctrine with Tier 3 battlecruisers longrange fitted and stealth bombers.

6. Reimbursement/Taxes

My goal was it to get the taxes as low as possible and to reimburse lost PvP ships as much as possible. First I went with 0,1% taxes to pay every corporation bill and reimbursement. Since we never lost that much ships at the beginning and were able to loot destroyed ships, it worked pretty well. We had a growing corporation wallet during that time.

Later we decided to raise the taxes to 1,0% to be able to buy some stuff like industrials, get an office, etc. When we went into Nullsec, we finally raised the taxes to 5,0% to pay the alliance fees and certain investments you need to do to settle in Nullsec. At this time we also decided to take the loot and salvage from Wednesday and Sunday PvE Actions to raise the reimbursement into what we called a free ship program. Our pilots only needed to buy a blueprint and the fittings; the ship hulls were for free.

So yeah, that were the six basics I cared about to ensure a healthy infrastructure. And it worked in most cases pretty well. But it always needs a lot of communication with the base members and the directorate to stabilise mentioned basics. And here's where I failed at the end because I wasn't able to talk without my DSL internet...

Donnerstag, 25. April 2013

Back to the blogger world

I'm back! 

Long ago, back in October, was the last post from mine and since then a lot happened in Eve Online as well as IRL. I'll write a lot about that the next few days step by step and start with the past few month ingame. But first what will be changed in this blog:
  1. I won't write any longer in my native language, german. Hopefully that will give me more reader :D This also means there will be a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes, so don't be rude ;) I'm still learning!
  2. Less statistics, more opinion text and - hopefully - more battlereports about what I've done soloing and smallscale roaming around mainly in Lowsec. Goes everything as planned there will be also documentating videos, so stay tuned!
  3. Maybe a few changes to the structure my blog is presented, but only if I get bored in the future :)
Now let's get back what happened the past few month. When I wrote my last entry there were a lot of changes in the alliance I was in: Ev0ke. Basically we tried to get rid of the big problem techmoons. It destroyed nearly everything Ev0ke stood for the previous years and made everyone lazy and only looking for largescale escalations. Simple roamings in small- and midscale never made it out or were very ineffective. So we sold the techmoons for 250 billion ISK to CFC and got to Syndicate to reevaluate what Ev0ke will look like in the future.

Fast forward to december Ev0ke lost a few corporations and a lot of individual players that weren't satisfied with the living in harsh NPC-Nullsec that is Syndicate. Motivation was absolutely low, roamings never started because no one was interested in it or considered to do it. We just did some Highsec missionrunning or hanging up in station doing nothing. I wasn't satisfied either, but for other reasons than the most that left in that time: Trying to get a dedicated FC especially for smallscale I never got pilots willing to fly with me. On the other hand to try to do some solo roaming was a no-go in Syndicate because most entities there were simply random faggots never engaging a fair 1 vs 1 - guess sniping Tornados or Tempests on saves some 100 km away.
I also predicted more shifting in the alliance, mostly in a direction I don't wanted to see for Ev0ke. So I left my corporation TWIUS that didn't wanted to leave the alliance and got back to Highsec in the mids of december.

I opened my own corporation, simply because I thought it looks better. Just a few days later I got the idea of doing newbies a favour and teach them to get into the game, knowing how to fit and what's all possible in Eve. In the past I saw so many new pilots quitting the game because they got bored with missionrunning and never considered to try anything other or because they never got over the learning cliff and got frustrated with the simpliest thinks in Eve Online. 

Thanks to the Winter Expansion Retribution and a lot of advertisement by CCP I got abruptly 20 Members and built the infrastructure for the corporation. First I tried to do a website with my limited abilities but then got help by a Member who made a nearly professional website for the corporation that had to fulfill a few goals I wanted online - one of them was the fleet manager to get fleets better organized.
My plan for the corporation was to get them all in one system and doing random actions together in fleet such as missionrunning, mining or PvP in Lowsec. We were pretty good with our lowskill frigates and made a lot of killes during that time. I wanted to teach them in PvP as much as possible and to get them into the best ships possible to being flexible to every PvP and PvE action in Eve Online. Because I really like to do Incursions I made the first corporation goal to get a working Incursion fleet with my members. I also like to be in nullsec, so I made it the second, greater goal for the corporation and planned this step not earlier than late august/early september (around the time I would be able to fly a well skilled carrier).

The successful PvP fleets made my members eager to get into Nullsec as fast as possible and made hints to leave the corporation if I would go on with what I had planned. The enthusiasm and pressure by my members made me reconsider the plans and I searched for nullsec alliances willing to let my very very young corporation join them. At the end we all voted for Zombie Ninja Space Bears, some fresh nullsec guys that joined the Honey Badger Coalition a few weaks ealier, and joined them at the near end of January 2013.

As always you loose some guys when you try something new, especially when it's such a big move like going to Nullsec. But we were very motivated and got our shit into Esoteria. Sadly the Zombies were very instabile and about to fail cascade every second. The High Command got hugh pressure by TEST Alliance for the missing participation in Stratops and made several bad moves by collecting money to pay sov and reimbursement. Because they never got their shit done, all german corporations left at once to join Cha Ching PLT (just 4 weeks after our joining). Zombies fail cascaded just a few weeks later...

Cha Ching PLT was an interesting alliance because their structure and ability in fielding different doctrines was similar to what I had experienced in Ev0ke, but were mostly industrial specialized players only defensively acting in PvP. So we left Esoteria and got to Impass and made a lot of money by ratting in very good space. It was luckily around the time when most of the very new pilots got into battleships and with it the ability to do their own moves.
Sadly it was shortly after we joined Cha Ching PLT when I lost my DSL internet and was only able to get online by connecting my smartphone with my notebook routing the slow internet that was possible this way. That made it nearly impossible to join the teamspeak comms and move around in Nullsec (it was like moving in slowmotion - a gate jump took me up to 5 min).

We and especially I lost track of most of what happened in the alliance and what my members did, wasn't able to communicate in an acceptable way with everyone. Since I did all the fc'ing in our fleets and my members were eager to do some PvP, they tried to fly with the alliance fleets only to get more and more frustrated by the high doctrine borders and bad FCs that never knew how to use pilots with lower skills properly or were to bad in general.
Motivation and communication problems and missing new corporation goals made it that we left Cha Ching PLT just 3 weeks after joining and went back to Highsec. 

A few member never got back online since we moved back and the problem with my internet made the remainings more frustrated. They searched for new directions, parallel to what the corporations was looking for and drifted into some I never wanted to support. I reconsidered what I wanted to do with the corporation and made the decision to step down and let someone else do the job. Sadly the most competent players rejected my invitation which caused the fail cascade of the corporation just 4 month after creating it.

What I learned by this? Basically 3 things: It was the second try to get my own corporation running and failed the second time. So I won't try it again in the future. Also it's always wrong to change the planned way you thought is the best. Finally, nullsec is nearly impossible to get your feets in as a corporation without any capital.

Tomorrow I'll introduce you into the structure I established with the corporation and seems really successful as long as you're able to keep tracking and don't do any mistakes. So stay tuned! :)