This evening one of my members asked me if it was all right to put an alt into another corporation that operates in a different area of New Eden. He asked because sometimes when he logs in nobody else in ILF or IPI is around. This is a time zone/scheduling thing, and understandably, the player gets lonely.

teamHe gets major props for asking first. It’s considerate beyond measure: he could have just rolled that alt and joined that other corp without saying anything, but he didn’t. Thank you.

I told him I can’t tell him what to do, and said I hoped it wouldn’t take away from the time he spends with us and wouldn’t become a liability to ILF. I don’t think he actually expected I would say something like, “Absolutely not!” Obviously being CEO doesn’t mean I can forbid anyone from using the other slots on their account in whatever way they want. Still…it was nice to be asked.

But as a CEO I worry when this kind of thing comes up. I dread seeing comments about being alone in Corp chat, because nine times out of ten it usually means the next thing that happens is that person gets fed up and leaves. I left ILF once for that reason and I still feel bad about it. Not only do I hate looking at that gap in Sakaane’s employment history, but I wonder how I made Saxon feel by telling him I was quitting corp because no one was around. Did he feel like it was his fault? Did he question his effectiveness as an EVE CEO?

I was able to turn my absence from ILF into a decent RP opportunity after the fact, but at the time? I wasn’t actually enjoying EVE all that much so I flailed about, trying to find something easy that would satisfy the needs I had. After I came back to ILF I decided that leaving could never have solved the problem I experienced; there was no guarantee where I went would be any different (it was, but it was bad in other ways), plus I made the situation worse for everyone I left behind. And at the time, another player (his main and his alt) quit ILF with me.

When someone decides not to quit outright but puts an alt in another player corp first as an attempt to alleviate the solitude or the boredom or whatever, it creates a new problem: divided loyalties. The player now has one foot in two (or more) camps. If all of the corps are active in such a way to allow the player to maintain balance, things might be okay, but obligations to those corps can quickly come into conflict. And in a situation like the one I encountered today, I know the player’s needs aren’t being met by my corp. Unless I can do something to resolve that issue, his alt is probably just a stop-gap measure. If the other corp he chooses is more active in his time zone, eventually he’s likely to just decide it’s better to fly with them all the time. That alt will turn into his main, or he’ll pack up his existing main and move it.

Before I was in a position of authority in ILF I saw some players do exactly that to Saxon. They had alts in one or more other corps and eventually left us for them. Later on, some players started to do it to me, too, and one day in a fit of bitterness I kicked all the inactive characters I knew about while watching their active counterparts chatting away in other channels. It made me realize that some players, whether consciously or not, really do think it’s nobody’s job but the CEO’s to make the corp grow and that this will magically happen while they go off and do whatever they please. Not once did anyone who complained about being alone in Corp chat actually say, “What can I do to help?” That’s why I feel bad for quitting ILF in 2010. I never bothered to ask that question either; I just thought, Man it sucks to play by myself and then went looking for greener pastures.

I’m not saying the player who talked to me today is a selfish jerk who thinks that way too, or that he would end up leaving us for the other corp in the end. But having been there myself and having had it done to me before, and seeing that same kind of talk coming up again… Ultimately he’s stuck playing by himself and I feel like it’s my fault and I question my effectiveness as an EVE CEO.

Recruitment is hard. It’s the worst kind of PVP there is in EVE. For a corp like mine, we have to be charismatic, appeal to a player’s ego, playstyle, and roleplay plans, and make ourselves attractive in ways that outshine the competition, all the while hoping that the person we recruit will invest in the corp and not disappear after a couple of days or weeks or months for whatever reason. And there are thousands of Directors and CEOs just like me all trying to do the same thing. Talk about blobbing the target.

After my previous experiences trying to handle recruitment I decided I had to get everybody involved to spread the load around. Asking just one or two people to do the job can be tantamount to asking them to never undock ever again. So, there’s a link perpetually displayed in our Corp MOTD so anybody who sees a likely candidate has it handy. We’re roleplayers. We’re not pirates or villains. Our niche is ridiculously small. The more corp members who try to recruit for ILF, the more chances we have of actually finding people who will enjoy playing with us. The more corp members who actually use our public channels instead of just sitting silently in them, the more other players will notice that yes, we are actually active as a group. And so on.

That’s the only way I can think of to solve the problem the player I talked to today has been having. I do want to solve it. It’s not enough for players to just do their usual solo/small gang activities and hope they get noticed by someone in Local who’s looking for a new corp. The trick is getting my other members to actually pitch in and be more proactive beyond themselves.

And other than that, I don’t know what else to do to make recruitment easier without compromising the fabric of the corp itself. Maybe that makes me a bad CEO. I do what I can.

I was told today that PVPing in ILF is hard. I ask myself, “Am I too strict with our ROE?” It’s a lot looser now than it used to be. How do I make it easier for ILF to play the game, and thus make us more attractive to the average player, without turning us into pirates, so that our small gangs won’t be quite so small, so that we will have better fights against other players? Questions like this plague me every day. Do I say, “Fuck it—if ya can’t beat ’em, join ’em!” and toss our hat into that ring, destroying eight years of “We’re here to help people”? How do I mitigate the damage that would do to everything that has been built up by this group simply to make it easier for players to join us to shoot red boxes on the screen?

I look at ILF and see a team, not a bunch of individuals who happen to hang out together. My goal is to get people to invest in the team, which in my mind should mean that they’ll benefit as individuals automatically. If the team is helping to recruit, we’ll get those time zone holes filled more easily. If the team is working together, those time zone holes will stay filled because players will remain engaged. And if players remain engaged in ILF, maybe then we could have an easier time at growing the alliance, too. Then no one will have any reason to think about putting alts in other corps and won’t feel frustrated about spending a little time alone in Corp chat now and then.

That’s the goal. I can’t force people to not roll alts. I also can’t force people to invest in my team. So how do I get us there?