OK, I'm gonna try to stay out of the whole coup thing. But there is something else that is really giving me the creeps, and I'm going to take that on.
If you play Eve as an MMO, you play the metagame, whether you like it or not. (Just as if you play Eve PVE you are the PVPers' rat, whether you like it or not.) I'm in Brave, I'm playing, so I'm being meta'd. Do not like. Particularly do not like being told not to fight back.
Now I'm just a fairly new line member, and not a very active one at that, so it would serve me to just keep my mouth shut, find the parts of Brave I enjoy, and let new leadership (NL) handle all the complicated stuff, as we have recently and repeatedly been told to do by Officials. But I don't see anyone effectively countering the game being played by PL's amazing Elise Randolph (PLaER), so it feels like my tribe is being punched over and over again and no one's fighting back. (And yes, PLaER is amazing, even if only "amazing at being an asshole.")
Disclaimer 1: this document has undergone a lot of revisions. You may find language (like "tribe") that expresses feelings of allegiance to Brave/HERO. Don't take that too literally, as it remains to be seen what those entities have become. Our ex-CEO was not history's best leader, but if the replacement is a bunch of goon spaiez then we have gone from bad to worse. What remains true, however, is my allegiance to the ethos I believe was at one time embodied by Brave, and that is: respect, fun, game, together, whatevs, yolo, responsible irresponsibility, respect, forgiveness, togetherness, laughter, move it move it move it, try really hard but WELP ha ha hahaahhahahaahhaa ... beloved laughter.
How is it possible I've enjoyed Brave so much while playing with Brave so little? How is it possible I've enjoyed Eve for years while playing Eve for only months? There are more things in heaven and earth, my dears, than we can ever dream ...
Disclaimer 2: there will be a lot of discussion of PLaER in this document. I am not a psychologist and I do not know the person behind the PLaER persona. I am not saying that that person is psychologically askew. However I am going to propose that in the context of Eve, and of meta combat, it will be useful, if not essential, to understand PLaER as a deeply sociopathic and abusive personality, as well as an expert manipulator (as many such people are). In fact, the original title of this essay was "Managing the Psychopath." To that end, I will be referring to PLaER as "it," both to emphasize the distinction between the persona and the person, and to help dehumanize it, which I believe is a necessary step in attacking the sympathetic image it has managed to construct for itself for many in Brave. Don't be surprised at that image; the charm of the sociopath is well known among psychologists.
Psychops will continue to be part of the game, and I want to help inoculate Brave line (and leadership too, what the hell). I keep seeing PLaER using well known techniques of abuse and manipulation, and I don't see anyone stepping up to combat it. But to battle an abuser as a third party, you often have to first convince the abused that the abuse exists, and educate them on how this has been happening without their awareness. This is just as true of soldiers as it is of abused spouses. Well, I'm not an expert at that kind of stuff, so I'm probably going to fail. But I'm Brave, and I'm willing to go in with low tank; somebody out there is coming with reps.
What follows is my analysis of one of PLaER's most recent posts:
Catch: A Tale of Two Braves - A retrospective from The Bad Guys
I am not going to copy the whole post, but if you think my editing has changed the semantics in any significant way, please call me out in the comments.
PLaER starts here:
OK, so what is this picture doing here? Unfortunately, my google-fu fails me and I'm not finding a reference that is authoritative and on-point; maybe others can help with that. But here's the best I can find at the moment:
It has been known for a long time that showing your audience an image that they find pleasurable before beginning your argument makes them more receptive to your argument. By triggering a pleasurable response in the brain before you start, you smooth the road for your argument. Given Brave's overwhelmingly straight male membership, this image is not here for decoration.
PLaER is not here for the pleasure of your company; it is playing the game with every tool at its disposal.
So, some people have asked me
"I'm only here to help. Heck, you called me. I could be enjoying a nice cuppa right now, but cause you asked, I came by to hold your hand. Don't thank me, it's just my way."
on the Brave subreddit for an AAR of sorts from the PL perspective. This was intentionally made to be posted on /r/BraveNewbies but the threads got deleted and I got banned from posting there.
"I'm the victim here, baby."
I love to post, as you’ve no doubt figured out, and I do love you guys.
Setting the emotional stage: "I love you baby."
For the most part you guys like me too;
"And you love me."
Again, preparing the neurons. This is not by accident.
I’ve only once been embraced like this from another alliance and that was with PL (back when I wasn’t in PL). That said if you are of the opinion that I’m here to ~meta game~ you or sow seeds of discontent, you really don’t want to read further. It’s going to make you upset, and I have no intentions of doing anything like that.
This is where the good stuff starts. The abuser says "I love you; you love me. I'm going to explain how all the pain you've been feeling lately has been your fault. You may hear things that make you uncomfortable or that you find hard to accept; you may experience cognitive dissonance. If so, that's your fault. I warned you not to listen to me if you thought it would upset you."
IOW: "I would never hurt you babe, but you keep running into my fist."
Unfortunately due to length I had to split things into two parts. Luckily we were here twice!
With Phoebe we also needed to stress-test some new doctrines. We had some theories at what would be strong, but just like anything with Eve you need hands on practice to see what actually works. There is no need to rehash every fight (though I must say, you guys are so much shit to bombs) but suffice to say that you were a fantastic stress test for us. We eventually settled on what worked and what didn’t. The most spectacular failure we had, though, was to put tracking-fit Nyxes in a safe spot assigning Fighters under a scan inhibitor. I was confident that this would be the most hilarious thing ever, but it never worked. We actually had an awful track-record with dropping caps in general. You guys fielded so much triage in every fight that the only thing we could do was tank and wait for the GODBOMB.
Don't know enough about game mechanics to comment, but let's assume his analysis is legit (where "legit" means "would not be laughed out of the room if a group of random Eve experts were talking amongst themselves"). Well, the skilled spinmeister provides a fat helping of the true and unremarkable into which to stir the spin.
I know it’s narrative destroying to suggest that you guys fielded caps, but you guys did it for every single timer and got away with it.
Now PLaER gets back to work. It is imperative that it define the narrative that we desire. Brave's narrative must be "poor widdl us we have no titans no fair boo pl." It must continue to infantilize us, to cast us as lost without its help.
At the time we had no idea of this, but there was a lot of undue panic from your leadership and middle management speculating about our presence. We were just there to have fun and shoot dudes, but the leadership channels became gridlocked with doom-and-gloom drama while trying to come up with a narrative to motivate people. I think this the one areaa of the game that Brave is very weak at: managing the management.
Yes, well. I'm not privy to what happened among management, but if "undue panic" was people saying "PL is going to kick us out of Catch," yeah, I guess that was totally misguided and uncalled for, since that didn't happen. As to the last part, no argument there. Of course, it omits the fact that much of the difficulty in "managing the management" came from the fact that it was leading our ex-CEO around by the nose.
From my perspective (obviously), these guys have a very warped view of the game. It’s like they learned how to run a coalition from Chinese whispers of how to run a coalition; “you have to manage the meta, you have to fabricate a narrative” etc. In reality you only need a narrative to motivate an otherwise unwilling coalition to go to war. And you have to be very careful in making one; it’s easy for a story to backfire and make you look like an idiot. You guys weren’t in that position at all; the narrative you came up with actually disparaged you more. So there was this very gung-ho excitement phase, followed by this abject depression a few days later when things didn’t pan out (you got bombed really hard). But it’s ok, because things turned around.
"Your leadership is deluded and incompetent. You need my help, but don't fear; I will explain it all for you."
I’m not sure what happened, but you spun out of your funk and rebounded. There were some good results, and you guys came up with this really nifty plan to drop on our caps as they were grinding. Out of nowhere, 40something dreads dropped on one of our titans. Unfortunately you guys had a bit of a miscommunication and dropped on the /wrong/ Titan and it lived – but it was exciting! You guys took a swing at the giant and made him bleed. This type of action – an invention and risky decision that your military directorship was really against – inspired you guys more than anything else.
"See? I really do love you, cause I know all the best things about you. I remember the first day you put your pants on by yourself! No one knows you like I do; without me, your best memories will be lost."
The all-time killer in Eve Online – the one thing responsible for more alliance collapses and expensive losses – is hubris. We try like the plague to avoid it, but occasionally we get caught with our pants down.
Statement Against Interest! See, it can admit when it screwed up! It must be telling all that's true, and all that it's telling must be true.
This happened to PK’s Avatar. Another plan – this time executed perfectly – and you bagged your first ever Titan and Super kill. Swagger came flowing through you, and fleet participation skyrocketed. Nothing cleanses quite like the champagne bath of victory. In HED you guys successfully defended the station (using caps), and you bagged your SECOND Titan kill. That one wasn’t due to our hubris or a trap, just a questionable FC decision (yours truly) that didn’t pan out. It was actually very fun for us, and I think it goes down in Eve history as the biggest fight (in terms of ship kills) the game has seen. No narrative, no fear mongering, no bureaucratic red tape, just fun in the sun. This is where you are strongest, this is where you are a force of nature.
Swoon! Daddy loves me! Uh, mommy. Er, whatever.
We were still experimenting and learning just how strong caps were in Phoebe (an aside, we learned that they’re significantly stronger now) and then got a contract offer. In November we made the decision to just get rid of our rental empire – which was the biggest in the game – to just do our own thing. As a result it meant that we had to make money another way and we defaulted to mercenary work. Although you guys were way more fun, we started to make plans to move over to the dreaded dronelands.
The Second Coming
Having played this game for so long,
"Newbs. Newbies. Dummies (loveable, but). Have I mentioned recently how little you know (but you're so cute) and how much I know? I only say it because it's true."
and having learned from some of the best guys out there, I appreciate better than most that is almost impossible to plan more than six weeks in advance. If you try to plan out your next year – or even six months - you’ll quickly find that things fall apart.
I don't want to let this one pass, because it's such a skillful mix of true and not-true. I am quite sure it's telling the truth about not planning more than a few weeks ahead when it comes to things like deployment, engagement, and movement of assets. This will especially be true if it has been truthful about PL's leadership structure, and I see no reason to believe it has not been. If your structure is a group of co-equals proposing limited campaigns and voluntary sign up, then yes, naturally there would be an average time for those campaigns, and it would make no sense (and have no benefit) to try to plan beyond that period, since you'd never know who would come up with what crazy plan next. Fun!
But again, it omits crucial context. The kind of planning talked about in the above is only part of the planning a deeply skilled and experienced group like PL does. PLaER does not want you to think about the other kinds of planning and analysis PL (and the other experienced major players) are doing right now. Planning is not just "strategic" and "tactical." There are many levels, and the kind of players who have made it into PL don't ignore any of them. NO ONE who is a force in Eve today is ignoring Brave; it would be simply idiotic to do so, and none of these people are idiots. They know we will change the game; the question is, will we change it in ways that will be inconsistent with the survival of their preferred style of play?
No one successfully leads a long lived collaborative effort involving a large number of people without learning how to manage and mitigate risk, and Brave represents the greatest risk to the established order that has come along for a long time. So you'd better believe they are all paying attention. They are going to continue to try to tear us apart, because Eve is a power struggle, and power is never surrendered without a fight. They will fight us at every turn, with everything they have, because they have an investment in this game. They did not become major powers by giving away the advantage.
So on our way out I approached your leadership about coming up with a deal so that we would leave you guys alone.
"I keep trying to help, I'm only trying to help, but you guys!"