[TL:DR: Leading people is a big responsibility and I am serious person when it comes to responsibility, even with games. No YOLOs here.]
A week ago, I walked away almost everything in my Eve life to try something new. I left my hangar full of spaceships behind. I threw away my status as a flashy red outlaw. I shoved my fears into the closet and taped my worries in a chair. I then walked away from my home and my security to go and try to do something for someone else.
For some, leading a fleet is a casual thing. Some learn it is not to their taste and others find out they are good at it. I know people who came to Eve with the intent to lead fleets and that was the only goal they sought. For me, it has been a torrid journey full of angst and stress. I've been too intimidated to attempt to lead anyone that I knew. I'm a coward and I lacked the confidence to stand in front of the people who taught me the game and ask them to follow me. In many ways that has been reflected in my habit of picking up self contained projects where I could fail on my own. Out of sight. Out of notice.
I'm quite tired of that set of worries and fears. Life has changed a lot for me. Eve has been changing as well, but I'm still the same person at my core. I did wonder if I was a bit insane when I volunteered to help Rykki. Who was I to make this decision? Who was I, with no experience and no history to say to her that I will help you?
I wasn't anyone. I wasn't trying to be anyone. I wanted to help. I wanted to help more than suggesting mercenaries or even handing over ISK. In the center of all my fears and all of my worries there sits a pool of clear memories. There sits my own beginnings with the associated confusion, and worries, and stresses. And what I did know is that the start to learning was not the end point of being a bad ass, elite player. The start was much simpler than that. And, it was clear to me that this was something I could do. I could teach what I did know and go from there.
I like new players. Sometimes I do not like them when they become experienced players. But, when they are new and Eve is new I enjoy their company. I enjoy watching them run at full speed through the game because I helped smooth the path that they are on. Because, without that path it is very easy to fall in this game. And falls hurt. We learn from them too. But there will be hundreds of things to fall over and sometimes it is nice to spend a day without bruises.
So, I walked towards the unknown and I felt no fear. I was to busy thinking about what I would do and how I would do it. I had an idea that was starting to dawn in my mind and it based around teaching people the way that I'd most want to be taught. I knew that it would not be everyones favorite method but it would be mine. Who was I? That did not matter. I was who I was and I would simply be that person instead of worrying about it.
A week is both a long and short amount of time. For me, trying to think of things for people to spend their time doing every day, seven days looked like eternity. For those living it and drinking in the content that I could provide, I do not think it looked quite as long a time. It is no different from the length of time it takes to write or record material when compared to the length of time it takes to consume it.
Naoru sent me several fits and I cannot thank him enough for that help. I wasn't going to ask for help with the fits. I wasn't going to ask for very much help. I feel that I spend to much time relying on the people around me for the basics. However, I'm not so stubborn as to not appreciate good help when I get it.
This was not an organized, PvP corporation going to fight. I did not want to leave anyone out. That meant I had few demands. Instead of giving people a list of ships and fits to train into I worked with what they had. Rykki had the corporate hangar well stocked with basic skillbooks. Together, we directed people to plug in High Speed Maneuvering which allowed them to use microwarp drives. It is easy to forget that many people have no need of propulsion modules (prop mods) in high sec while they are doing industry and missions.
What that meant is that sometimes, when we headed out members were training the skill books as we moved. We would dock and let them online the modules and continue on. That may not be the optimal method to do things but it worked. It was inclusive. I refused to tell anyone that they could not come along because they could not play the game at a particular level. That would have negated everything I did and I would have invited them along in a rookie ship with civilian modules if that is what they had to fly.
However, Rykki busted her ass. She had ships and fits together. We stuck to T1 fits and low meta fits. We focused on low cost. I donated extra ISK and offered my hauling abilities. Rykki had an out of corporation hauler and did most of the push work. What I wound up doing was saving people from themselves. I moved a lot of ships around for the various corporate members instead of having them move them around. With the war target watching, a cruiser or battlecruiser run by a month old player would be very, very easy prey. I was there to deny that.
I received some criticism for not going after the war target aggressively. I did not because it would have been futile and boring. This was not that ideal war where the newbies fought back and the war dec corporation is delighted and embraces their struggle to learn Eve and then we end in a huge song and dance at the end. The war target cared nothing about us. I had a choice to teach them about fleets, fighting, and combat or I could chase the war target and team them about smack talk and station camping and dying after hours of boredom.
I know that there was desire to bait the war target and have glorious moments where he died under a wave of retribution. In a more ideal world that might have happened. In this world, I did not feel that pursuit of that type would give us the results that I was looking for. Those results were the newbies learning about combat and the Eve that exists outside of high sec.
It may be that I underestimated them. It may be that I didn't make it much of a war and instead turned it into a training fleet. I guess, in many ways I did. I found myself frustrated. Not with them but with myself. I wanted to bring them success on the battlefield but I did not have the experience to do everything I wanted to do in my mind. I learned that I could not dual box and run the fleet. I meant that we had to take what we came across and that often meant taking hard fights where the other side knew they were in a good position.
I also plowed them into the war target a few times. We died and he did not. Yet, I feel that they learned. I wasn't worried about the war target dying. I was worried about making sure prop modules were on and targets were locked and drones were deployed. It is easy to take for granted what we already know. It is easy to get caught into the flow of a fight you have done a hundred times. For them each fight was a new experience. The worry about winning a fight was never there. I wanted to get them through the fight without confusion.
I've had people tell me that Eve's combat is simple. Maybe, I too am simple. Yet, as I buzzed around talking as fast as I could, I didn't feel simple. A dozen commands came to my mind. A dozen more I felt that I forgot to say. I'm not sure if what I did was fleet command. I did not feel as if I produced anything similar to what I am used to receiving. I know that I am more comfortable with moving people and things around. I am more comfortable with giving orders and interrupting people when I need to be heard. There is still so much stumbling. Finding my own balance and rhythm of what I want to say and how I want to do things is surprisingly hard. The system names are a true terror.
What I had done was taken them from their comfort zone and put them into a much deeper pool. Damage controls were a must. Tackle, ewar, even turning their safeties off were new. I made them take security status hits and I explained to them about gate guns. I did not mind doing any of this and it was only a few days before they were able to keep up with Wex in low sec.
I'm glad that Wex offered to help. It gave them success that I think made the week better. I do not think that the week was bad but to be able to be on the other side of the kill mail gave them something more. It won't be every day and they know it won't be every day. They also died. They got lost. They got confused. Things did not always go perfectly. But they did things and doing things was one of the most important objectives to this entire thing.
There is a great responsibility to this method of playing. I asked them to give me their recreational time for a week and they did. People have said kind words to me but I believe that it all goes to them. To make a decision to change is hard but to blindly go into what you do not know with enthusiasm is harder. I've spent months, and really years, staying where it is comfortable and familiar. If anyone has been inspired by this group of people it has been me. They have given me an example to follow. I only hope that I can live up to what they have shown.
I do not yet know what this new me is, but a large part of the discovery is the journey.