Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Corruption of Ideals

"There are no faces behind the spaceships anymore." Brando told me.
"Were there ever?" I asked.
"The anti-pirate mentality is one of persecution. At the time, it was massively important. I've become the thing I feared, without even noticing." He told me. "It was a genuine process that I had not been aware of until yesterday and it has taken more then a year."
Morals. Values. Focus. Reason. Goals.  They are all lacking in the basic structure of Eve. Nothing forces them on us but our own humanity. The sandbox exists as a shell full of interactive abilities and nothing else. When a player enters the game they are equiped with whatever they had, as an individual, before they entered but they are not given anything more. The player is not given morals. They are not handed values. There is no reason for them to do any particular thing. They are cast out into the game and everything that they do has to come from everything that they currently are.

In a way, choosing particular paths in Eve comes easier than others for these very reasons. To move into Faction Warfare is to take a side in a fight. A side that has a history and a background. It comes complete with allies, support, and work. To become an industrialist is to build and create. To rip from the world the basic building blocks of the game and mold them. It is a very productive job. To mission, to incursion, to go and participate in the vast raging battles of Sov Warfare are all there at ones fingertips.

I've grown up Pirate in Eve. My soul is seeped in aggressive, PvP. Even as I learned to play those around me were giving up even a semblance of enforced game morality. They stopped ratting for their security status and sank into the pits of flashy red outlaw status. The last shreds of protection that CONCORD offered were discarded because retaining them was simply not worth the effort and lost opportunity. Although security status increases have improved many still eschew a positive security status and become comfortable as outlaws.

In a way, we are the villains of the game. We are an easy choice to hunt if one is going to hunt players. The game itself punishes us for our crimes. We're called criminals and our actions cause reactions. I have met many, many a player who wants to bounty hunt and chase pirates. The shiver with the excitement of going after the darker element of the game is very appealing. It is almost as appealing as being that element.

Anti-pirate is perhaps one of the most common goals I hear after mercenary. I would say that people want to be the hero but it may be more correct to say that people are used to being the hero. There has been a swing in games where one is a more ambiguous character but few games have allowed a player to be evil. Those, I think of fondly. Dungeon Keeper. Overlord. Considering that my character choice is often rogue, theif, assassin, the jump to pirate makes sense.

There are others that fall from heaven. 7-2 is made up of people like this. Dirty Protagonist and Titus Veridius, the founders, had a very interesting goal with 7-2. And they sought out to create that goal with the individuals that they needed. Such was the corruption of players and their fall from the heavens. The backgrounds of the individuals in the corporation as an interesting mix of anti-pirate and pirate and lawful neutral. For those that were good they were very good. They followed rules of engagement against hostiles, they patrolled space, they resisted the urge to slip in a bit of evil and accepted reprimands and punishments. Some even role played and took their path with a calm, professional seriousness.

For those that were bad they were very bad, but we're not here to talk about them today.

My discussion with Brando was an end of a path that I had started on months earlier. I had been interviewing our various ex-anti pirates. With the acquisition of Robinton Jax and Prettyboyfloyde we had become a complex beast of a corporation, full of layers within layers and enemies who were now friends. For those who have not lived in Molden Heath they would not understand the strangeness of Flyode giving Diz intel while riding in a fleet with Sard Caid. They'd not understand how strange it was for Altaen to discuss burning down the universe or watching Dave Lash ride herd with Aliak for Recruitment.

The transition was not always smooth. There were some bitter memories that had to be moved beyond in some areas. Kaeda logged in one day after a few weeks away from the game and said, "Robinton was my last kill mail." Aye. An odd thing that was. We'd fought them for years but we had never really gotten to know them. They were not allowed to associate with us. Morals again. Values. Don't mix with the enemy. We knew them from the other side of our turrets, from the brilliance of the explosions, and the quickly said 'good fight' in local.

When they approached us, quietly and politely to ask if they could apply, I was excited. I did not know them but I wanted to know them. For people who I had never curled up on coms with to talk to late into the night I should have been more reserved. But, I wasn't. It seemed right. After all, while the exterior paint on 7-2 may say pirate to many our core was a PvP corporation. I could see them struggling at their ties long before they applied. "When will they?" was the question in my mind.

And how quickly they fit in. It was not surprising. There were others in the corporation who shared the same path. Their welcome was warm. The were handed a corporation ticket and told to go forth and kill. And they did, with glee. It was as if they were finally able to stretch. At some point they had grown in such a way that they no longer fit their old forms. And now with a great stretch and a flare of ammunition they stepped into piracy.

But what of their path? It was a bitter thing. Their old home felt betrayed. And while we had no problem with them keeping their old associations, to many of their old associations did not want them. As they felt bitter rejection it was tempered by sweetness of a new home. I've always said that we don't hold anything personal. Seeing their absorption into our corporation and community was a a highlight to that fact. It was not an easy jump for them but it was the right jump. In sadness came joy. A revitalization of their game play.

I asked Robinton to sit down with me and tell me what the change was like. He was kind enough to create a long write up for me that I read several times. Pinning Floyde down was harder. But he chated with me. The overwhelming response I read was, 'Freedom'.  Over the years they had developed a taste for PvP. They had also becomes experienced veterans of the game. It was hard to see potential targets go. But they did, because they respected where they came from.

Altaen had been lured in a while before. A Secret Santa exchange got him onto the forums and from there he found the DayZ thread. That hooked him in and a relationship built off of respect and violence was born. DP and Titus had gone out and wooed all they could for their corporation. It was about the people who they wanted to coordinate their efforts with not about what the people labeled themselves. For, to come to 7-2 was an abandonment of the past and an acceptance of the future. With that would come an acceptance of the here and now. A change of culture that would both open and close doors.

 I often joke about killing all the things. While it is said in jest it is also true. In a lack of rules there is freedom and with that freedom comes cost. For some, it has been the loss of past friends. For role play or real beliefs, some cannot look past the player for the character. I have seen every single one of my corpmates who were once anti-pirates at one time or another treated as a hostile enemy by a memory of their past.

It is a long fall, the one from grace. Fortunately, it has had a soft landing.

3 comments:

  1. Still falling myself. The pirate community has been one of the most welcoming, and frankly, nice groups I've ever met in New Eden. I enjoy flying with them immensely. On the other hand, I still couldn't bring myself to destroy a Venture that wandered into low sec.

    In a funny position now. I know I can't go back to serve in the militia again. But I'm not sure I have the capacity yet to kill all the things.

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  2. I recognize what Brando is saying in a sense. I was never an anti-pirate, I take viscous (real) delight in griefing (in the knowledge it is only a game and I'm not causing any real damage).

    Still I fell a pang guilt whenever somebody convos me and I ask 'who are you?' to receive the reply; 'you killed me once' I no longer recall 'the faces' of my in game victims, I used to... But they have become faceless ghosts behind keyboards in a sense, and I'm not really proud of that, though it's partly just a numbers thing there's just to many to remember now.

    As to the community, I've been in highsec, I've been in lowsec, I have alts in sov 0.0; Pirates are the nicest warmest people in EVE in my experience, the camaraderie is fairly unrivalled.

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  3. Sugar Kyle... compelling moar people to piracy by the blogpoast.
    You can bio that or use it as a tagline here. ;-) No charge.

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