EVE Online war journal: how I became an embedded reporter
EVE Online is infamous for the freedom it gives players to organize, trade, build, and kill each other. I am infamous for nothing, because my pilot is greener than Kermit. After playing for just a few weeks, I hear that war has erupted in the Delve region. It seems like the perfect opportunity to see what EVE is all about, so I name my ship "PCG War Reporter" and head down to gawk.
I clearly have no idea what EVE is all about. As you can see in my livestream, the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply. Instead, lasers are applied to me, and my aspirations are dissolved into space dust. Oh, and I didn't move my clone, so I return to life on the other side of the galaxy. Crap.
Welcome to Delve
"Trust me," says Blawrf McTaggart. "If you run into a gang you will probably die. I'll try my hardest not to let this happen."
Here's the first rule of EVE: don't trust anyone, especially if they tell you to trust them. So, I decide to trust Blawrf. After watching me struggle on the livestream, he's offered to escort me into the contested Delve region, and I won't get anywhere without help.
Blawrf and I fleet up and head toward 1DH-SX, the staging system for Test Alliance Please Ignore, a major player in the war. We jump into the next star system and I'm encased in a bubble of blue electricity. My frigate is disintegrated by a shower of projectiles. Again.
"Oh dear I told them not to shoot you," says Blawrf. "That was supposed to be your welcoming party."
Welcome again, for real this time
On our second attempt, Blawrf comes through. My welcoming party stands down and I finally dock in 1DH. Woo! Now I'm being flooded with messages. ASCII penises. Threats. A marriage proposal. And, to my surprise, genuine well-wishes. A lot of them. On top of that, over half-a-billion ISK (EVE's in-game currency) appears in my bank account from player donations.
"I feel the need to tell you that when you asked if you could trust me, lots of people found that hilarious as I have scammed over $30,000 worth of EVE stuff," says Blawrf.
It's true -- at least, the part about being an infamous scammer. Want to join the GoonWaffe corp? Don't give Blawrf your stuff. That's not how you join.
So why is a career scammer helping me? Why isn't he trying to convince me to turn over my assets? I think he's genuinely interested in acquiring an embedded war reporter, and he's not alone.
As I settle into my new home in 1DH, messages of support continue to come in. Some just with me good luck, but others tell me exactly why they're happy to have me: they want mainstream coverage. They want more people to play EVE, and they're tired of being labeled as spreadsheet-loving eccentrics. They want me to understand why they love the game.
Joining Test Alliance Please Ignore
At this point, I do want to understand, but I'm stuck. Being neutral in nullsec (unpoliced) space is a bad thing which will get you killed. Unless I show up as an ally to the occupiers, I can't even undock from the station, so I'm missing all the space violence.
I don't have to wait for help: it's being offered so fast I can't keep up. The Kaesong Kosmonauts, a Test Alliance corporation, offer me a spot as a non-combatant, and I take it. With that taken care of, I can undock, visit staging areas and join massive fleets, and listen in on Test Alliance and Goonswarm comms (how EVE players refer to chatter in Mumble and Jabber servers). I laugh when I find this:
percelus: blawrf we already have a surprise party waiting for him
Blawrf: i don't really want to get him killed but if you insist
percelus: then why are you talking to him?
So, that's how I made it into Delve and became embedded in Test Alliance Please Ignore. I didn't think the livestream would attract so many players, or that they'd get so involved. I misjudged the EVE community, and now that I'm on the inside, I feel I have to push on and see where the story goes.
For the most part, I don't know yet. I can't open up EVE and experience a manufactured story -- I have to stick around and see what trouble I can get up to. So far I've tagged along for three fleet ops, survived two of them, been killed by pirates, been contacted by a counter-intelligence officer, and I now have over 1 billion ISK in cash and assets. I'll describe all that when I can put it in the context of the larger story. I still have a lot to learn, and the stories are better when I understand how they fit into the whole.
I want to livestream more, but I have to be careful. The counter-intelligence officer wasn't messing around: compromise operation security and I'm out. I saw it happen -- during one fleet operation I tagged along for, I watched and listened as a streamer was rooted out and destroyed. If I use a significant delay, I should be able to get permission in the future.
Ideally (for me), the war will escalate and I'll be along for the best stuff -- the stories that will be remembered long after this summer is over. Now that the scene is set, I'll follow up with an explanation of the war -- who's involved and why -- and accounts of specific battles. Like this one, for example:
The video, taken last week, takes place in Delve system UEXO-Z. A Goonswarm spy recorded SoCo chatter as the battle happened, and as it begins with criticisms of Goonswarm leader The Mittani and concludes sourly for SoCo, it's become a popular bit of propaganda for the side of the conflict I'm rooming with. The language is salty, of course.