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Planting the Interstellar Grove: Training Pilots for NRDS Nullsec, from Scratch to Academy

June 16, 2019

Lesson One: Seeding the Ground

My career in EVE seems defined by inheriting leadership positions: my very first corp was run by people who looted all the assets (right during Christm- uh, Yoiul, even!), quit to form a troll squad, and then left the game entirely. I took over as CEO, ploughed ISK into it, joined an alliance, followed the alliance into Providence, and built the corp from there. We eventually left, but many years later I got recruited to come back to Provi, and—upon returning—was made CEO of that corp as everybody else quit. I spent six months on my own, slowly saving up ISK for … well, I wasn’t sure. But coming back to Provi felt like coming home, so I wanted to make it work.
My colleague Twilight Winter convinced me that what EVE (and Providence) needed was something like what the other major power blocs have: a large, new-player-oriented training corp with the resources and dedication to train new pilots.1 As he later argued, the large noob corps recommended to virtually every new player—Pandemic Horde, Brave Newbies, KarmaFleet, or EVE University—are aligned to some degree or another with the major power blocs in EVE: groups like Legacy, Imperium, or GOTG. His article is worth reading in full, but I’ll cite the key passages here:

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we now have a vast majority of new players heading to NBSI sov-holding nullsec alliances, and that every other way to play Eve is slowly dying off. … If the vast majority of Eve players recognize the aforementioned style as the way to play Eve, they’re not going to be interested in joining an outlier; nor are CCP going to allocate their dev time to supporting niche playstyles. … But the most harmful part of this is that all of these new players are forming this opinion about ‘how to play Eve’ without ever having tried anything else. It’s the only way they know to play, and all these experienced people around them are doing it, so it must be right.

He made that same argument to me: that Provibloc (the loose coalition of alliances living in and around Providence), and NRDS more generally, had no equivalent to what all the major NBSI coalitions had to drive new players into their ranks, and that NRDS needed it (both for the sake of its own future, and for the health of EVE overall).
So, I took what I had and what I’d inherited, liquidated what of the old corp I could, and founded my current one. Billed as a school to train pilots to work within the NRDS framework, I had (and still have) considerable ambition for where I wanted the corp to be someday: something comparable to EVE Uni, or Brave, or any of the other enormous new-player corps, with extensive resources to support new players coming into the game. I wanted my corp’s name to be on that list told to new players coming into EVE: that if somebody has just created a character, finished the tutorials, and now wants to step out into New Eden, my corp would be one of the ones recommended.

There’s a slight flaw in my plan: at that point, I was a 1-pilot corp, with hardly any resources, and (most importantly) no clue whatsoever how to get there.

(narrator: “there were several flaws in the plan”)

So that’s what this blog is going to be. I’m going to be writing about my own experiences trying to start a new-player corp from nothing—not any material resources like ships, blueprints, ISK, or stations; nor any human resources like directors, teachers, or trainees; and not, on my part, any real knowledge how to build any of those things besides my experience rescuing corps from implosion—and what I’ve learned along the way.

I have fair experience in real life teaching in my own field, and it’s something I enjoy doing. I’ve also been in EVE a long-ish time, and know a decent amount about a few things.2 But I don’t really know anything about running an enterprise of this scope, and so (as is often my experience teaching in real life) I’m probably learning more myself than I’m actually teaching my students.
Following Twilight’s argument that there should be as many training resources in EVE as there are playstyles, and even some for ones we haven’t thought of yet, I’m hoping that sharing my own experiences will help some of you who might be in a similar place: you have a way of playing EVE that you like, and care about, and want to see grow; but you don’t see any resources out there teaching new pilots how to do what you do, and so you want to take up the charge yourself.
With that in mind, let’s begin, well, from the beginning: laying the groundwork.

The first thing I learned: It takes a lot of resources to start up a school for new EVE players.

The large schools have thousands of members, massive infrastructure, extensive BP libraries, and dedicated staff who handle the day-to-day work of running the corp while also teaching players how to play. I had … a ratting ship and some mining crystals.

With the seed money from my old corp and my own wallet, I set to buying what I would most likely need.3 Here are some things you’ll want to have on hand to start:

  • Skillbooks (less important now, but still helpful to simplify your recruits’ lives, and a nice incentive to join if you can provide them free of charge). Have every book your recruits will need on hand at all times;
  • BPOs, so you can build anything and everything you need;
  • A set of doctrines, which you can use to combine the first two things to provide pre-fit ships to your members that you know will match their skillsets;
  • A plan for training, because there are so many skills your pilots will struggle to figure out which to train, when, and to what extent. Simplify it for them: make it into easy-to-remember levels. Veteran players forget that we’ve invested years in training: and that training time, for a new player, is a precious resource. You want your recruits to be able to have skills to fly in any fleet, even if they’ve only been in the game a week. In this, I was fortunate that my alliance already had something like this as well as the doctrines, so I could just point my recruits to those. Fleet-up, your auditing services like SeAT, etc., also can help with this function (we’ll get to those later).
  • Shipping resources so you can support recruits moving out to wherever you are, and delivering whatever you can’t source locally. For me, living in Providence, that means (at least access to) a jump freighter, and possibly a carrier or three to move their assets into your space. This is important: for a new player, trying to navigate what ships they’ve spent their time acquiring—through a nullsec pipe, where they run the risk of getting caught by gatecamps (which they might not have even known were a thing)—is an obstacle to their wanting to stay out in nullsec, and you want to remove as many obstacles as you can.4
  • Lots of time and dedication. Seriously. This is going to be a slog. Be ready for it. Love it. Want it. Need it.

The JF and carriers alone are going to run you over 10b, not counting skills to fly them, and I’d guess I probably invested another five at least into building up the BPO and skillbook stack. From there you want to set up mineral purchases: it’s good to get into the habit of building as much as you can in-house early, because eventually you’re going to delegate that to your industrialists so your noob corp can sustain itself. You can supply your shipbuilding with all those mining ops you’re going to be planning in the not-too-distant future; but in the meantime, build up your wallet by making deals for discount minerals from friends, fit up the ships, and sell them at some moderate profit to sustain it.

This is for my case of building a school for nullsec NRDS. Your needs may vary, but I expect most gameplay outside of hisec is going to need something similar (and really, even for that first corp I was in, the one major asset we had was a freighter).

Once you have that on hand, it’s time to start plugging for recruits. That was my first big struggle after I had everything more or less in place, and was the source of my first big mistake. We’ll cover that in the next article.


-The author is CEO and founder of Akadeimia Keipouron SVK, a training corp for new(er) pilots to live and work (and fight, and make friends, and, uh, serve up dog memes, apparently) within Providence, a nullsec region abiding by NRDS rules of combat.

1 To be honest, it didn’t take much convincing. After meeting the CEO of EVE Uni at Fanfest, and realizing what a great community of players EVE had, I’d had an itch for a while to do something to help EVE thrive. Twilight gave me the final push I needed.

2 It’s worth mentioning at this point the excellent video from WINGSPANTT about EVE that points out, that every time you think you know EVE, you realize that your little island of expertise is sitting in some vast ocean of game about which you know nothing, and your career in EVE is going to be driven by a need to discover what else is out there.

3 And here, I have to thank the veterans too numerous to name who gave me excellent advice on all of this, Twilight foremost among them. Probably one of the other critical resources for starting a corp is getting advice from your friends. EVE’s community is an amazing resource; use it.

4 It’s also worth remembering the advice a famous teacher of children once gave to a medical association when they asked him to help prepare a training manual for pediatricians: “remember, you were once a child, too.” It’s hard for a veteran to remember that, to a week-old player, that Cormorant or Tormentor or Venture might be the only ship they’ve flown so far, or that they spent hours of mission time to save up for that cruiser, and that losing even that small investment to seemingly insurmountable foes is a bitter pill to swallow.