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Daily Tip:Any time you move to a new area of space, be sure to sell as much of your old stuff as possible. The odds of ever returning are low.

Sins of a Solar Spymaster #13 - The Participation Game - Page 2

Posted Tue, May 26, 2009 by The Mittani

Tax Hike: Negative reinforcement rarely works, yet alliance leaders continue to invent new ways to punish their membership into engaging in a voluntary activity. Among the more commerce-focused organizations, during combat operations the leadership will temporarily set the corporate tax rate to 100%, rendering it impossible for a pilot to earn isk, in hopes of forcing a pilot who has logged in to join on an op. In practice, this always backfires; pilots who don't want to go on the op will simply log out, spending less time in New Eden - eroding their attachment to the game itself. Whoops!

EVE 03

Chat Porn: Nothing inspires the troops quite like reading about the sorrows of the enemy. Publishing spy reports from hostile forums has always been a morale-booster. Unfortunately, this is useless in the midst of a participation slump, because the enemy tends to be gloating. But when on a surge, posting chat porn has become standard practice to keep the troops full of energy.

Outright Bribery: Rich alliances have tried this method since the servers opened. In many cases, it can actually work. Most alliances have loss reimbursement programs; by pumping up the payouts for ship classes the alliance needs in battle, pilots can lose ships without any personal loss - until the alliance wallet runs dry, that is. Reimbursement programs also gives the member-level pilot an obvious reason to fight for the goals of the alliance; while the arcane mechanics of sovereignty warfare may be beyond him, everyone understands how awesome free ships are.

Faced with an enemy invasion and on fire, the Swarm directorate would have to do something - anything - to pull their participation out of a tailspin, or Querious would be lost.

KenZoku chose I1Y, a station in Querious right at the edge of Empire, as the focus of their assault. For days, Goonswarm bled towers in I1Y and overall manpower. Since early April, I had been personally using the 'Just the Facts' strategy with some success, writing a war update every morning explaining exactly what had taken place the day before.  But now that we were on the back foot, the raw truth wasn't keeping our fleets full. Within a week of the I1Y offensive it became painful to write about. The truth was becoming a recitation of our failures, and we were flirting with a despair-fueled backlash. What else could we do to try to inspire our pilots to log in? Chat porn wouldn't work, since Goonswarm was busy being on fire - the updates themselves had become chat porn for KenZoku, another reason they had to stop. Lotka.Org, Red Pen and Tax Hike are options only chosen by failures, a recipe for certain death. No matter what, the policy of truth would have to be sacrificed to expediency. That was fine by me - I've never been a fan of truth.

Glossing over the failures of the next two days in increasingly brief and vague updates, the directorate played for time, scrambling for a variation of Outright Bribery - a very public reform of the reimbursement program. A plan was hatched with our allies to arrange for a mass offensive on the upcoming holiday weekend. Diplomatic muscles were flexed to give the Swarm some good news - new allies from the Northern Coalition agreed to intervene in the war to help stave off the nineteen enemy alliances fighting us. In the end, we had to fall back upon the oldest trick in the book, the Inspiring Post:

This weekend is Memorial Day. On Friday, we go on the offensive. Our allies are returning from the North, having handily slaughtered Triumvirate, and bringing new 'friedns' to the party. Our Eurotime contingent will be restored, and we will be smashing enemy fleets and towers nonstop. I expect pitched battles in every timezone. It is time for us to bring out the long knives and the cruelty, to meditate upon the unending faggotry of all things Molle, and to lust for vengeance.

Querious, Molle says, is where this war will be won. His plan is now obvious. KenGoku intend to sink their roots deep into our buffer region and drop outposts to transform it into a secure staging point for long-term warfare against Delve. After I1Y falls, ED (next door) will be hit, and then a single new outpost will give him a Sov4 adjacent to empire. This is critical for his bandwagon of pets, who own no space and mostly live in lowsec; they must have a 0.0 station close to where they belong.

In order to accomplish this, over the past week our enemies have dropped more than a hundred towers, mostly in our bridge systems and R64s. P4, which contains two R64s, is a particularly egregious example; there are 33 KenZoku towers there, and no station - yet.

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We must scourge this cancer from Querious before it spreads and strengthens. If KenZoku is allowed to settle without opposition, their membership will surge and we will be starved out of Delve. Querious contains 40% of our alliance income as well as our logistics route to empire. Without it, we will be cut off and Delve will wither and die. We have been slowly losing stations while our allies were away, but they are returning and now it is time to regain lost ground.

Avail yourselves of our expanding reimbursement programs. Enjoy the resources you have ripped from Molle's grip. If we capture and secure more R64s, these programs will continue to expand. Fleet BS, Dictors, Battlecruisers, Stabbers, Mallers and Covops are currently offered. Logistics and Heavy Interdictors are being considered next. After that - IF we secure our space - the sky is the limit. This is your alliance, and you will be rewarded for your efforts.

There are no other fronts. There is only Querious. See you Friday. Through Monday and beyond, we fight.

The next morning, as soon as the servers booted up, 410+ pilots were on the coalition's teamspeak server. Over the next few days, every single hostile tower in I1Y was destroyed. Fourteen titans were parked on top of the KenZoku staging tower in I1Y in a display of raw, excessive force. KenZoku's gains of the previous two weeks were ruined, and they found themselves in a situation where they were actually worse off than before their attack on I1Y.

How did this happen? Was it the bribery? The inspiring post? The timing of the holiday? The announcement that allied help was on the way? Or was it something much more mundane, such as the end of 'finals season' in college, a natural and predictable decline around mid-May and mid-December each year? One of the most frustrating truths about the participation game is that there is no verifiable way to determine which method makes an impact, just judgments after the fact based on observation and the characteristics of a particular alliance. We are like shamans, beating drums and looking to the sky for rain.
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