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EVE Online's GoonSwarm Sums Up BoB's Collapse

Updated Fri, Feb 27, 2009 by Cody Bye

In last week's In the Trenches, Ten Ton Hammer's Cody "Micajah" Bye took a long, hard look at the interesting developments that were occurring in the online gaming marketplace.In particular, EVE Online displace a major player run event, where a corporation actually forcefully disbanded another alliance. With so much at stake in EVE Online, we wanted to get to the bottom of the event, and I think we've accomplished this feat in this week's article, which features the commentary from the famous EVE Online corporation, GoonSwarm.


Ten Ton Hammer: How are things going for the GoonSwarm?

The Mittani: The war in Delve is very hot now and rapidly developing; just yesterday we killed Sir Molle's latest Titan (he's lost four now, I wonder why they keep giving him more), destroyed a titan that was in production in a Capital Assembly Array, and generally ran around the place wrecking things. So questions regarding the disbanding are easy to answer, but the story of the aftermath of the incident is developing on a daily basis.

For some background, here's some pieces that have already been written on the GoonSwarm Intelligence Agency, the disbanding, a recording someone made of me when I explained the heist on GS teamspeak, and the eve-radio interview that was done regarding the event.

http://www.brokentoys.org/2009/02/06/doubt-thou-the-stars-are-fire/
http://www.shacknews.com/featuredarticle.x?id=527
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nvwk4QncSG4
http://everadio.gamingradio.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=83&Itemid=2

Ten Ton Hammer: How did the GoonSwarm get ahold of the BoB director access? Who was the individual that switched sides? How was he influenced to do so?

The Mittani: Tamir Lenk recruited Haargoth Agamar as part of a standard recruitment scam; he tells this part of the story best, because I wasn't a part of it yet. See this thread, which includes chatlogs:

http://myeve.eve-online.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=991219&page=1

When Haargoth outed himself as a BNC director, I was contacted and took over from there.

Why did he leave? In his own words, from our chat where this all began:

[ 2009.02.04 03:26:42 ] The Mittani > I'm in no rush. If it takes until tomorrow, that's fine. The key thing is acquiring it; that will secure your place. I'm curious what made you decide to switch, though.
[ 2009.02.04 03:27:06 ] Tamir Lenk > I am too damn sexy to resist
[ 2009.02.04 03:27:11 ] Haargoth Agamar > heh
[ 2009.02.04 03:27:16 ] The Mittani > if you'd prefer i could start acting like I AM A SPACE TYRANT rather than being a mitten i know how bob rolls
[ 2009.02.04 03:27:18 ] Tamir Lenk > worth a shot
[ 2009.02.04 03:27:30 ] Haargoth Agamar > well basically
[ 2009.02.04 03:28:15 ] Haargoth Agamar > Ive had enough of f***ing ret***s in bob thinking they are awesome when the average member is terrible and the leadership gets emo about nothing and cannot just stick to plan
[ 2009.02.04 03:28:31 ] Haargoth Agamar > and then even more fa***ts are getting promoted to leadership positions that make it even worse
[ 2009.02.04 03:28:33 ] Haargoth Agamar > like nobu
[ 2009.02.04 03:28:48 ] The Mittani > well, this is what happens when you recruit from goodfellas and rise and corm
[ 2009.02.04 03:28:49 ] Haargoth Agamar > and I dont even know most of the people in corp chat anymore
[ 2009.02.04 03:29:04 ] Haargoth Agamar > I recently joined the military and had to do basic training
[ 2009.02.04 03:29:13 ] Haargoth Agamar > and every time I came back once every month or 2
[ 2009.02.04 03:29:24 ] Haargoth Agamar > there would be a bunch of newbie faggots in corp and alliance
[ 2009.02.04 03:29:29 ] Haargoth Agamar > and none of my buddies would be online
[ 2009.02.04 03:29:45 ] The Mittani > on the one hand, you're telling me things which confirm my preexisting opinions, and thus my judgement is biased
[ 2009.02.04 03:29:50 ] Haargoth Agamar > and the leadership channels would get even more retarded with thol going emo at everyone and getting banned from bobsecure
[ 2009.02.04 03:30:17 ] The Mittani > on the other hand, i play the employment history game with bob in local every day, i'm aware of their recent hilarious recruiting policy and the dilution of any talent they may have once had
[ 2009.02.04 03:30:27 ] Haargoth Agamar > yes, youve done it to me before
[ 2009.02.04 03:30:31 ] Haargoth Agamar > in delve :p
[ 2009.02.04 03:30:55 ] Haargoth Agamar > most of all it was dice that pissed me off
[ 2009.02.04 03:31:04 ] Haargoth Agamar > people like ladyscarlet and kayo
[ 2009.02.04 03:31:22 ] Haargoth Agamar > Ive wanted to leave for a while now but there was just no other places to go
[ 2009.02.04 03:31:29 ] Haargoth Agamar > alot of people in bnc feel the same way
[ 2009.02.04 03:31:45 ] The Mittani > to be fair to bob, almost every other 'elite' pubbie alliance suffers from the same eventual dilution of identity and drift
[ 2009.02.04 03:31:57 ] Haargoth Agamar > and then by chance Tamir recruitied my alt a couple days while intending to scam her orginally
[ 2009.02.04 03:32:00 ] The Mittani > to be unfair to bob, the leadership is some of the worst out there so uh vOv
[ 2009.02.04 03:32:04 ] Haargoth Agamar > and I get welcomed very well into the corp
[ 2009.02.04 03:32:11 ] Haargoth Agamar > people trying to help me out and everything
[ 2009.02.04 03:32:14 ] Haargoth Agamar > and it was really nice
[ 2009.02.04 03:32:21 ] Haargoth Agamar > first day in bnc everyone ignored me
[ 2009.02.04 03:32:31 ] Haargoth Agamar > well they ignored me until I was a director really :P
[ 2009.02.04 03:32:42 ] Haargoth Agamar > so I decided to take a chance with this
[ 2009.02.04 03:33:03 ] Tamir Lenk > how did you go from ignored to director?
[ 2009.02.04 03:33:13 ] Haargoth Agamar > fcing
[ 2009.02.04 03:33:17 ] The Mittani > that'd do it
[ 2009.02.04 03:33:32 ] The Mittani > ok son here's how this process is gonna work
[ 2009.02.04 03:33:45 ] The Mittani > right now you make me a v. happy mitten with the bnc login
[ 2009.02.04 03:33:54 ] Haargoth Agamar > I fced alot in the us tz during delve campaign
[ 2009.02.04 03:33:56 ] The Mittani > we're going to get the bob alliance/director login from you
[ 2009.02.04 03:34:13 ] The Mittani > then we're going to speak to some other gia agents in bob to make sure that your story is believable
[ 2009.02.04 03:34:21 ] The Mittani > re: which directors are particular assholes, the nobu stuff
[ 2009.02.04 03:34:32 ] Haargoth Agamar > alright
[ 2009.02.04 03:34:39 ] The Mittani > in the meantime you can keep harkani in the alliance but he'll have no roles
[ 2009.02.04 03:34:50 ] Haargoth Agamar > understandable
[ 2009.02.04 03:34:51 ] The Mittani > and i'll ask you to stay away from ops until this is sorted out
[ 2009.02.04 03:35:02 ] Haargoth Agamar > thats fine

Ten Ton Hammer: Was everything that occurred perfectly legitimate in the game world?

The Mittani: Yep, though there have been hilarious rationalizations from the former BoB camp. Accusations of hacking, suggestions that Haargoth wasn't actually himself because he didn't have a microphone in the teamspeak recording I linked above, etc. It was impossible for the loyalists to believe that any of the flaws in their organization would result in someone defecting.

The whole hilarious nonsense was put to rest many days ago by this petition response from CCP:

Hi, senior GM Spiral here.

This is a mass-reply to all players currently with an active petition relating to the recent events surrounding the disbanding of the in-game alliance known as Band of Brothers. Please read through the reply. If it does not directly apply to the contents of your petition then please update the petition so we may handle it as normal.

The investigations conducted by the EVE Online customer support team have not revealed any sort of foul play, exploits or other issues at hand that behind the disbanding of the alliance Band of Brothers. Their disappearance falls within game mechanics and as such CCP will not intervene. Further discussion surrounding the disappearance of the alliance will only be discussed with the leadership of the parties involved through the petition system.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this then please do not hesitate to ask.

Best regards,
Senior GM Spiral
EVE Online Customer Support Team

Ten Ton Hammer: Can BoB recover from this sort of attack? Will the alliance reform itself under another name? Can BoB regain the power and prestige it once held?

The Mittani: They're calling themselves KenZoku now and they're getting curbstomped thus far. BoB's apex was the ASCN war; since that time their reputation and power has declined to becoming the butt of a thousand jokes. To summarize briefly, since that time they suffered the loss of half their space in the first Great War, combined with the t20 corruption scandal, the failure of the 'MAX DAMAGE' campaign, and a recruitment policy which resulted in mass hirings of subpar yet sycophantic players. Disbanding their alliance was an act of mercy.

Ten Ton Hammer: How did the BoB vs. Goon conflict arise in the first place? The hatred for both organizations seems pretty intense on both sides. Why is their so much ferocity in a universe that's only part of a game?

The Mittani: In June of 2006 a BoB member found a forum signature of one of our members, Tetsujin, which they misconstrued as mocking a dead player who was somewhat well known in the early days of EVE. This sparked an 'invasion' of Syndicate, where GS lived; the invasion lasted two and a half weeks before BoB declared extremely loud victory and left. Since you cannot 'conquer' NPC space, and 2.5 weeks is an extremely short war, the whole thing was a dizzying display of sanctimony, hypocrisy, and hubris.

GS remained in Syndicate for another 3 months and then commenced allying with Red Alliance and Tau Ceti Fedaration, forming the Red Swarm Federation in the process. We commenced exterminating the BoB allies in the Southern Coalition and have been working our way from the northeast of the galaxy down towards the southwest, annihilating their renters and quislings on the way.

Up until the BoB invasion, we were fairly innocent in the ways of EVE. We wanted to be a 'respected 0.0 alliance' and maybe hold a region. 2.5 weeks of idiocy later, we became the 'cancer of EVE', an alliance of 'monsters and sociopaths'. As Sir Molle said when he announced the July 2006 invasion of Syndicate, 'There are no goons. This is as personal as it will ever get'; we are pleased to see that, like all his proclamations (or one of his titans), this one has blown up in his face spectacularly.

Ten Ton Hammer: In my article "In the Trenches: How Socialization in EVE Online Killed BoB", I make the argument that the charisma of the GoonSwarm is really what ended up putting the axe to BoB. Do you think this is true? Why or why not?

The Mittani: I think that any 'silver bullet' analysis of what results in an interaction between tens of thousands of players is inherently flawed (no offense, mind you, because I liked the article). One of the core concepts of the failure cascade (the term we use to describe what sends an alliance splintering into breakup and failure) is that a whole interplay of factors cause groups to shatter: military failures, a lack of a shared culture, a shift or a removal of identity, or social humiliation.

In this case, Haargoth was ready to defect even before he was 'recruited'. He offered his director access to us out of the blue, as the chatlogs in Tamir Lenk's eve-online thread which I linked above show. It wasn't that Tamir seduced Haargoth, or that I seduced Haargoth (which is what your article suggests, ultimate power in the hands of one charismatic goon); Haargoth was fed up with the cultural failings and intellectual hypocrisies of BoB and did what is called, in espionage lingo, a 'walk in'. Hey man, I'm a BoB director, f**k those guys, let me help you.

While I dispute the 'one man, one theory' analysis in your account, I do think that what has occurred could be called a 'cultural victory', a la Civilization, as well as an espionage victory. Haargoth defected because the BoB culture in the leadership was toxic, and in GS we had the insight to not merely steal a bunch of stuff or offline a system, but to disband the whole alliance - an act which had, heretofore, never been conceived of and followed through on. It's a chain of luck and circumstance; he had the access, GS happens to have the most ruthless and experienced spy group in the game.

Ten Ton Hammer: Do you think BoB made a mistake in allowing their directors so much access to important alliance tools? Should alliances and corps be run be single individuals? Or should there always be a separation of power?

The Mittani: They made a mistake in having a toxic culture and no core identity besides being 'the best'. They also made a mistake in not auditing their roles adequately. Other alliances have directors devoted entirely to roles audits and security. Haargoth has been inactive for some months, and had no legitimate reason to have the roles int he executor corp (Tin Foil) that he had, but for a failing of oversight and due diligence on BoB's part.

Every alliance has full directors; these roles are rare and precious. If you hand them out willy-nilly and don't keep track of them, bad things happen.

I personally don't have a stake in the game design argument, despite conceiving of the disbanding. I suspect the outcry will result in the mechanics being changed; my focus is really only on ruining our enemies in as unpleasant a fashion as possible so they will not try to impact the security or integrity of the Swarm.

Ten Ton Hammer: Does this event affect the way you look at EVE Online? Are you hesitant to risk so much effort in an online game from this point forward?

The Mittani: Hesitant? This is the single biggest espionage coup in MMO history, and we pulled it off. Mostly I'm being smug - or I would be smug, but for the fact that we're invading Delve and wrecking the remains of BoB on a daily basis, and that has required a lot of focus from the whole of the Swarm and our allies. Yesterday, we killed a titan, at least one confirmed baby titan in a CSAA, a mothership, 10 or so carriers, and a bunch of towers.

It was possibly the largest single amount of damage done to an alliance in one day in the history of eve - between 200b and 500b isk of damage, depending on how you quantify the contents of the 3 CSAAs we destroyed. In the aftermath of the disbanding, our collective level of effort put forth has increased to levels previous unimaginable. We've abruptly abandoned something like 7 regions of territory, evacuated our assets, simultaneously invaded Delve and commenced to live there... it's chaos. I love it.

Ten Ton Hammer: Competition always drives individuals to extremes. Do you think the competition in EVE Online has created a better play atmosphere for the game, or is everyone to busy looking over their shoulders to enjoy the players around them?

The Mittani: Different games for different people. You don't have to be competitive in EVE - that's what Empire is for, after all. 0.0 is extremely competitive and it's not for everyone. I like it, because it makes the PvP meaningful. You don't get interviewed by multiple media outlets when you win a raid in World of Warcraft, or when you whack someone in Counterstrike. The player-driven nature of EVE, and the ruthlessness it fosters, makes it fascinating.

Ten Ton Hammer: How important is socializing with other players in EVE Online? Does true power in EVE come from being trusted by the widest variety of people? Or is that just a secondary portion to the true power of having the biggest, baddest ships?

The Mittani: This question is flawed. There's no such thing as 'true power'. People have power for a variety of reasons and power is often purely situational. Power can stem from having a reputation of power; we've often fought 'amazing elite pvp' alliances which turned out to have reputations based entirely on rumor and a good forum presence. Power can stem from raw intellect, being about to outsmart the other guy and predict his moves. Power can stem from espionage, having more intelligence than your opponent and using that to neutralize his advantages. Power can come from lots of expensive ships. Power can come from having gobs of isk. Power can come from having a better logistics operation. Power could come from being friendly and well trusted, I suppose.

For me personally, power comes from espionage, intellect, and outright ruthlessness. But then, as a 'spy guy', what else would my choices be?

Goonswarm had to make do with nothing in our early days - no isk, no skillpoints, no capital fleet, no 0.0 space, no allies. We survived because of our common culture, we neutralized our enemies' vast military advantages through espionage, and also by being quite possibly the meanest people in the game to our enemies. We treat our friends very well, but our capacity for cruelty is something that is highly developed and well known. When pressed to make a terrible nerd analogy, I often end up comparing Goonswarm to the Reavers in Firefly, except we make more dick jokes.

Ten Ton Hammer: My "In the Trenches" column is all about competition and beating the crap out of your opponent. If there was one strategy in EVE Online that you would point out to players for them to be successful, what would it be?

The Mittani: I'd point to one of the paths to power suggested in the previous question. Success is judged in a sandbox game by the individual; are you a spy, a merchant, a warrior, etc?

The one universal piece of advice I can give, regardless of one's goals, is to learn every aspect of the game mechanics and ascend the learning curve. EVE is the most complicated game that I have ever encountered, and the vast majority of players know only a tiny portion of the rules. They get a narrow understanding of one aspect of the game - ratting, mining, production, 0.0 combat, lowsec combat, etc, and then they stay in that rut. Play around on the test server, learn how to parse fact from fiction, and learn how every aspect of the game works.

Two other axioms: Trust no one; Be meaner than the other guy.

Ten Ton Hammer: Do you think the remnants of BoB will go after GoonSwarm looking for revenge?

The Mittani: They'd have to muster a significant fleet, stop losing supercapitals, and pry us out of Delve. It's entirely possible that we'll lose big in Delve in the end; spectacular failure is always a possibility. But at this point the 'remnants of BoB' consist of the failed pets we slaughtered in the first Great War (Lotka Volterra, RISE, EXE, CoRM, etc) who were mass-recruited into the 'elite PVP' alliance formerly known as BoB. If they were a force to be reckoned with, you'd think they'd have audited their director roles.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there anything else you'd like to tell Ten Ton Hammer readers and EVE Online fans?

The Mittani: Goonswarm is a Christian organization and we take the accusations of griefing that we have been confronted with over the last week very seriously. We will be praying for BoB and Sir Molle in particular, and will be holding a bake sale after church on Sunday to help him raise funds for his fifth Titan.
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