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Leaks: Gentlemen’s.Club Alliance Update

October 9, 2015

Another day, Another leak! This time showing you the Gentlemen’s.Club update

From: SSLink
Critical – Read ASAP For the last few months I have seen things steadily heading this direction, and have been unable to invest the time and energy to actually do much about it. However, my assessment is that GCLUB is not growing and developing in a way that would allow us to continue to maintain our current approach to the game much longer. I am not sure if this is due to changes in sov mechanics, changes in the universal political landscape, the fact that I (and others) have been semi inactive for the last couple months, or a combination of all of the above (the latter being most likely).

What I do know is that when I look at Eve in general, there is definitely some major problems in terms of active players. I notice when I log on, the player count is often in the 15-17k range (where it used to be 25-35 similar times of the day). Recent rises in Plex prices is another indicator that Eve itself might be in trouble (i.e. supply vs. demand and isk:$ Ratios being askew). More specific to GCLUB, I am seeing a steady drop in fleet participation, and have been getting an escalating number of complaints/concerns about morale, culture, atmosphere, and enjoyment levels. Though I will accept a portion of the responsibility for this (with my reduced play time), I also have to acknowledge that my reduced play time is NOT the ONLY factor, and more the cause of a delay in reacting to a changing environment.
I have spent the last two and a half years focused on building, and maintaining what I call a “sov empire”. Until a few months ago, I was having considerable fun, and though the weight and time consumption of my position was daunting, it was (mostly) justified by the enjoyment I got from the process. However, as I look forward to more play time returning this winter, quite honestly I am dreading it. Through some combination of the game changes, the changes within the alliance, my own burn out, and/or gaining perspective from stepping back from the game… I simply don’t have the desire to return to 50-60 hours a week of politics, personalities, and firefighting. I don’t mind some of that stuff (I will always be drawn to it), but a full return to what I was doing before my quasi break seems like zero fun.
For the last month or so, I have been contemplating resigning as alliance CEO, and instead just being a corp CEO, FC, and have some fun. I have been waiting to see how things develop, and if I thought there was some combination of leadership to carry the torch in a way that wouldn’t result in a massive deterioration. However, at this point that does not seem viable. We have come a long ways, built a major reputation, and in many ways are at the top of the sov game. I can’t stand to watch that just degrade and deteriorate through trying to hold on to too much, and/or failing to accept the realities of the game changes CCP has implemented. Everything we have built has been built on some basic principles, chief among them is keeping the game fun, putting our culture and atmosphere at the forefront, and making sure our reach (and egos) don’t exceed our grasp.

To be clear, there are many members of our alliance leadership (from FC’s to CEO/Directors, etc..) who are performing their functions quite well. We do have a very solid core of dedicated members and leaders who are capable of great things. However, nobody seems to be able to step into the role of comprehensively generating inspiration, drive, confidence, and vision. When I mentioned the possibility of stepping down a month or so ago, I got a flood of mail, Skype, and PM’s basically telling me that if I step down they would leave GCLUB (corps and members), and/or it would be the end of GCLUB. As gratifying as that is to hear, it also makes me feel horribly trapped. The last thing I want is to let anyone down, but I also have to make sure that this game stays fun for me.
Then there came two recent events, that told me that it is definitely time for a change:
1 – The SFC/AFC team has been doing a great job to make sure that the day to day military stuff is handled. However, I am seeing a steady deterioration of the FC team. Chucky is in China, Rhae is still inactive, Agame is afg on and off (his usual schedule). Toucher has been handling the bulk of the fleets recently, and Advent (and a few JFC’s) have been trying to be proactive. However, there is lacking a general direction and central leadership. I have spent some time in this area over the last couple months, but not nearly enough. This hit home when we had a meeting about a week or so ago, and were discussing our options with SW. We had intel that they were coming for us in a serious way, and I was proposing that we go on a major offensive against their core territory. Though strategically we agreed that this was the right move (at the time), the response I got was that we don’t have the FC coverage, nor the reliable fleet numbers to properly lead an offensive war on that scale. For the last few months we haven’t maintained a state of development on the FC team. We haven’t been cultivating new JFC’s, nor developing JFC to AFC, etc… Instead we have been losing FC’s (either to IRL or leaving alliance, or whatever).

2 – Mean has done a tremendous job in my (perceived) absence. Though I kept the financial elements of my job, and the FC team stepped up to handle the vast majority of the military aspect, Mean has taken on the remainder (internally and externally) for both the coalition and the alliance, which that alone is a LOT (believe me). He has done a great job, and was at the top of my list in terms of someone possibly stepping up and taking on that “inspirational power figure with vision” role. Instead, he recently told me that he is planning to leave us, largely because the elements of my job that he has been doing for the last few months has burned him out to a point where the game isn’t fun for him anymore either. I don’t blame him a bit, and as I have always told everyone… be sure to keep your game enjoyable. I will leave it to him to provide more details about his direction and reasoning, and I wish him well, but Mean will be leaving us in the next week or so (at least for now). For the last couple months he has been the glue holding us together, and even when I was fully active, he did a ton (diplo, API checks, corp level stuff, and a lot of internal politics as well).

So now I am assessing… Though my play time should start to increase in a few weeks, it will be mid winter before it returns to old levels, and even when it does, I am literally dreading taking on the old work load, particularly with the changes that have occurred in Eve itself (game mechanics and politically). Our FC coverage has deteriorated to the point where we cannot mount a serious offensive, which ALSO means we are not viable defensively if we fell under serious attack (which is now starting to happen). Finally, the one person who has been holding things together (on a comprehensive level) politically, is burned out and is leaving.
The bottom line is that Eve has changed, GCLUB has changed, and I think it is time for a major direction change, and to start a new chapter in the GCLUB history.
Before making anything official or announcing anything publicly I want to get feedback and input from our corp level leadership (CEO & Directors). I have a vision for our direction, but despite the “dictatorship”, I have always known that I only lead by consensus, and ultimately this is a democracy where corps vote with their feet. So I will lay out my vision in broad strokes, and allow some opportunity for you guys to provide input before I make the official announcement. With any major change like this, it is guaranteed at least a couple corps will part ways. However, assuming there is a sufficient core group of corps who will be moving forward with us, we will simply be adapting to the current game mechanics, and starting a new, exciting chapter for GCLUB that will hopefully maximize our game enjoyment, while minimizing the “work load” for us all.

Here are the realizations I have come to in terms of the current game mechanics: Holding a “sov empire” is tedious, boring, and difficult with very little upside. The process of attacking is far more enjoyable than defending (which in some ways is a full reversal from pre Fozzie Sov). Storing primary assets in a sov station carries considerable risk, and it is too easy to lose access (something that will change some in future expansions). A stationary target is very easy to hit, and as well all know in Eve, there is ALWAYS a bigger fish. Though there is considerable income associated with “sov empire” it also comes with massive costs. This is only partially in terms of isk (sov bills, infrastructure, heavy SRP losses, shipping, etc..), but more importantly the amount of member time required to maintain it. Time is money, and when all assessed, I think it is far more possible to have MORE upside for less work and cost.

Therefore, I think the best model includes the following factors: Staging primary assets in NPC Nul Holding 1-3 quality sov constellations within direct jump range of our primary (secure) staging. Being able to chase good, quality PVP content (aka mobility around the universe). Sov nul sec holdings should be considered a temporary resources to extract income, not a permanent need (flexibility is key). Having sufficient income to maintain good SRP’d content, and more investment (isk and time) in the Meta Game. Getting back to the quality vs. quantity aspect of our core principles. We have gone a bit too far down the road of bigger/shinier is better, and ego masturbation. Though I absolutely intend for caps, supers, and shiny shit to be a part of what we do, I very much want to get away from the “shiny for the sake of shiny” mentality. Warfare is financial and at all times we need to get the most bang for our buck, not just bring the biggest buck. We should always bring the right tool for the job, not just the one that makes us look cool.
How would we be funded?

1 – First and foremost, if we don’t squander it, we have built a considerable war chest that can sustain SRP’d combat operations for months (potentially many month if properly managed) with ZERO income. This gives us a lot of power and flexibility, and we should carefully leverage this through the transition.

2 – We will be able to hold moons wherever we go, but this time around I do NOT want to have many (if any) alliance held moons. I would like to decentralize the process, and have corps own and hold almost all moons, and instead pay a percentage (probably a flat fee in the neighborhood of 20-25% of goo value) to the alliance. After costs, corps will net approx. 60% of the net income from all goo (including 64’s), and 100% of the additional profit from reactions which should serve as a huge motivating factor. Corps can then be as aggressive as they want (in taking moons, or reacting them), and ultimately the more isk our corps make, the more funding the alliance receives. This is FAR less politics and bullshit for me, and removes all the restrictions and politics that are always part of the moon game.

3 – We would offer ourselves for “merc work”. We shouldn’t be completely dependent on this income, and therefore can be selective to take the work we want to, and can also afford to be creative in terms of “form of payment”. If we do it right this should provide considerable content, as the attackers (more often than not), and ultimately could become a primary source of funding for regular, quality PVP content. Honestly I have wanted to do merc operations for a long time in this game, and I have a TON of ideas about how to run a very successful, organized and profitable merc operation. I probably won’t be devoting a ton of time to this aspect until late November, but this is probably going to be one of my main areas of passion (in addition to training and development).

4 – Though I do NOT want to move forward with a rental program, I think the dues model is uniquely suited to this direction, and very much plan to continue it. This will mean that securing a quality PVE pocket will give our PVP corps a place to carebear, while simultaneously providing a stable (albeit smaller) source of income from our industrial focused counterparts. See below for details.

What About non PVP corps?

I would prefer to completely shed the “renter” model. I have always seen dues paying corps as a full replacement for the archaic rental system. That said, the dues paying corp model is uniquely suited to this arrangement. My goal would be to ultimately secure a small, quality pocket for our PVE activities (1-3 constellations). Dues can easily be scaled to the quality of the space. So all GSP0T corps (currently renter or dues) who want to move forward with us will be welcome to do so, on the understanding that as soon as we secure a new, quality PVE pocket, they will be expected to pay monthly dues again.

What Will The Transition Look Like?

Initially we would do a full move to J7A, and be primarily staged from Curse for the next month or two. We would not focus on defending our current assets or holdings, however there is no reason we can’t use them while we have them, and have a ton of fun harassing those who try to take them (on our terms). It can be a lot of fun to snipe timers, selectively defend, and generally play massive psych warfare. In the meantime, we can continue to use and enjoy our current space until it is lost, and in the process we can enjoy making it miserable for those who would try to take it, and implement something of a “scorched earth” policy.

What about Transition for Dues and Rent?

We would NOT take any rent for the month of November. Basically October will be the last month we collect rent for “system rentals”.
As for dues, effective November 1st I would suspend mandatory dues. GSP0T corps will be welcome to use the space we have access to (whether our current space holds for weeks or months, temp space access, etc…). Then, once we secure a pocket of space (whether we hold the sov, or simply get access in trade for merc work, or whatever), and once we have a new, secure and consistent PVE zone for our GSP0T corps, mandatory dues will resume (likely similar to current rates, but ultimately will be based on the value and quality of what we have).

I expect the above to be how November and December will probably look. Through that time we will be working on relocating our primary staging location to an NPC nul sec area of space in a different part of the universe. This location will be selected based primarily on access to PVP content, and secondarily on our ability to secure a nice pocket for our PVE activities. Realistically I would expect to spend approximately 2 months (Nov and Dec) having fun in this area, and it would be a goal to be settled in our new primary staging and PVE pocket by the first of the year.

What About Our Borderlands Allies?

We have made many good friends, and all of those people will continue to be our friends. Those who wish to come with us, will be welcome to do so, and we will discuss particulars, expectations, requirements directly with their leadership. Anyone who chooses to stay in their current location will continue to receive our support while we are here, and we will do everything we can to help them secure their future. Individually they will not be the same level of target as we are collectively, so for those who wish to stay and try to hold a small pocket, they may very well be able to do so. Unless they change their allegiance, we will remain blue with any of the Borderlands groups while we remain in the area, and will re-assess when the time comes for us to relocate. Regardless, friends remain friends, and over time good groups who work well together will always gravitate toward one another and find ways to work toward mutual benefit.

What Will My Play Time Look Like?

No real change to what I have been saying. Toward the end of October my IRL work should really start to quiet down. We just had a rush of leads and closes, and my October so far has been crazy as hell, but I expect things to seriously dry up by late October (early Nov at the latest). My business will be in the new location by the end of the month as well (we have the entire month of October as overlap to move, but have to be out by 10/31). Though my home move is still pending (likely to occur in December or possibly even Jan at this point), that will be a crazy week or two, but shouldn’t last for more than 10ish days. Basically I expect that by late Oct to early Nov I will have an increasing amount of play time, and by the end of November it will be back to 30+ hours a week with a sudden drop for a week or two whenever I end up doing my home move. As long as I am having fun, I intend to continue to play Eve, and devote considerable time and energy into developing a fun and successful solution to the current challenges with the Eve gaming mechanics.
What matters to me?

I want to enjoy the game, and not feel like shit if I only have 10 hours a week to do “game work”. I hope my play time is at least 25-30 hours a week through the winter, but I insist that at least HALF of that be spent truly having fun (just PVP’ing, or hanging out with friends, or whatever). I am totally fine (and ultimately drawn to) spending considerable amount of game time wearing the “CEO” hat and doing politics, administration, and firefighting. However, I think it is very reasonable to say that 10-15 hours is enough, and with a leaner, meaner machine that should be totally realistic.
The funny thing (what most people probably don’t realize) is that for this last couple months… even though the perception is that I have been completely AFG, I have still spent AT LEAST 10 hours a week on GCLUB business, and ZERO actually playing the game. I have continued to do SRP (though just recently I had Badboris take on even more of that), all of the coordination (fuel acquisition, reaction input acquisition) for POS team contracts, coordinating shipping and running market transactions, managing rental/dues team, generally coordinating with SFC team, coordinating with Meandeane, doing some SWOT’ing, and dealing with 10-20 private communications (game mail, skype, PM through forums, etc…) each week. So even throughout this “ZOMG Sslinky is AFG” period I have probably averaged 10-12 hours a week on administrative work load for the alliance in its current configuration. This is part of the reason that the prospect of being “back” and suddenly tripling or quadrupling that, when in reality it never even really went away, seems so daunting.

There are plenty more details to be fleshed out, and there is plenty of time to do it. To summarize what the most immediate aspects of this change would entail: Full deployment and shift of ALL major assets to J7A We will not collect rent or dues on November 1st. Though we will continue to fight those who would try to take the space we hold, we will do so selectively, and in a way that maximizes fun rather than a desperate NEED to hold our space. It is likely our space will shrink over the coming weeks, but members are free to use it for as long as we have it as long as they are smart about their asset location and management. We should expect to relocate to a new area of space around the first of the year, and become a serious thorn in someone’s side :P. We will take moons to be held at the corp level with a percentage of the value paid to the alliance. The Merc aspect will probably be rolled out in late November or December, and we may start taking contracts before the end of the year. Our current PVP operations will continue under SRP, but we will be selective about the fights we take, and will be rolling out some less expensive options so our AFC/JFC team can get more experience with less expensive fleets.

To be clear, the above is NOT being officially announced today. Right now I am giving you guys a heads up and opportunity to provide feedback before I make anything official. That said, I don’t want this to sit in limbo for too long, and will need to be announcing something official by the end of the weekend. So please, provide your feedback and thoughts below, and ASAP.

One thing I also want to remind everyone. I am still as busy as fuck right now. I was hoping to delay this discussion for another month or more, but recent developments have forced me to address this right now. So, I will be very thoroughly monitoring these forums over the next few days (though I have a super busy weekend), and I will be looking to make an alliance/coalition wide announcement by the end of weekend, or early next week at latest. Even though I am very excited about this new direction, and (for a change) looking forward to increased play time to dig in… I will still have a very limited amount of time for Eve for the next few weeks, so please understand that this transition will be incremental, and the only thing that will be immediate is our staging and PVP objectives and priorities.