I’d like you to try something. Fire up your main character and open up the assets window. What do you see? If you’re the typical player who has been around for a bit there is an alarming number of stations listed, each with a more alarming amount of stuff. Now imagine you’re changing corporations or consolidating your assets to sell off the junk and turn it into something more useful. You need to move that stuff. I’ll bet you’d rather uninstall than drag all that stuff across the vast expanse of New Eden!
Fortunately, there are people who seem to actually enjoy this (or at least, don’t appear to complain too much); corporations like Red Frog Freight and PushX Industries. Have you wondered how these people can maintain their sanity when the rest of us would rather just point the freighter at the center of the nearest star and wait for blissful death … at … 75 …. meters …. per … second … ?? My name is Franci Sco, a hauler for Red Frog Freight. Let’s go behind the scenes at Red Frog and experience A Day In The Pond.
To those who use their services, Red Frog is the Trip Calculator at red-frog.org. What you may not realize is that that website is a whole management system for the alliance. Written and maintained by frogs, it interfaces with New Eden to capture, validate, track, and close about 4,000 courier contracts per month. One of its main features is the Nearest Contract Finder (NCF). Frogs will use that to plan freighter routes with the fewest deadhead (empty freighter) jumps as possible. Routes can be one system over or 37 jumps. 37 jumps. Imagine doing that at 1.3 AU/sec. Then imagine realizing you didn’t put the courier package IN the freighter before you made those 37 jumps. Yeah, it happens. Is that just the worst?! Nope.
GANKED! So you fly 37 jumps back, pick up the package, and head through Uedama…again. From “Burn Jita” to CODE. to wardecs, Red Frogs must run their packages. If there’s one thing they’re good at, it’s running the gauntlet in the most vulnerable ship in the universe. Sure, freighters have a ton of EHP, but two dozen destroyers melt them pretty quick. The typical precautions of scouts and webs and, as a last resort, bulkheads, are used, of course. But having several freighters running through New Eden has the advantage of a lot of eyes and up-to-the-minute intel. But when you just can’t get around them, there’s always their internal insurance department. This, alone, is probably the best reason to use a logistics company like Red Frog. They worry about replacing the 1.3B ISK freighter. They worry about compensating you for 1.5B in freight. You simply wait for your package to arrive within 3 days, guaranteed.
Seriously? Another war dec?! Who invented this game mechanic anyway? When the folks at Red Frog wake up to a war dec notification it’s a rather amusing waste of ISK. The entire alliance is purely administrative. Red Frog operates under the Permanent War Model. The toons flying freighters are neutral alts of the administrative character. No matter how many rabid high sec grief corps declare war on the frogs, the shipments will continue without interruption. If the war dec corp is lucky, they might see a Frog whiz by in a shuttle.
There are strict rules about the handling of packages, rush or regular, and any disputes that arise because of them. Contract Managers are always on hand to calm any ripples in the pond. If there are any contracts outstanding or the NCF reports any issues they will do everything they can to address them immediately. But at the end of the day, frogs close out their couriers and put away their freighters; most have 1 freighter alt but some more than 30! They curl up on their lily pads and rest, to see what the next day will bring in the big pond that is New Eden.
*Note: the author of this piece is a part-time pilot for Red Frog*