A Carebear in Goonland

JMoravia 2018-04-24

Header art by Empanda.

“Fair warning,” my friend told me when he invited me to an EVE chat channel he runs. “The people in here will give you a hard time when they find out you’re a goon.”

“I’m trying to hook you up with someone who would be a great source for the article you’re writing,” another friend told me a month or two later. Then there was a pause. “Uh, nevermind. He said he doesn’t want to talk to someone from the Imperium.”

“The reputation does precede us,” I admitted.

Most of my time in EVE, though, has been spent outside the Imperium. I joined EVE in May of 2017, did a whole lot of nothing for the summer, made a new character in September, and spent the next four months hanging out in high-sec, in a one-member corporation, mining and running the occasional mission. I never went to low-sec, except once when I bought an item there by mistake. I never went to null-sec at all. I didn’t even know who the Imperium was, or PanFam, or Legacy, or DRF, et cetera, et cetera. But I had heard of the goons. It was impossible not to. In every game they’ve ever played, goons have a well-deserved reputation for being the trolliest trolls who ever trolled. Even before I joined EVE Online, I’d heard of the legendary exploits of Goonfleet, and how they had basically joined the game for the sole purpose of griefing the other players.

However, I had also come to EVE with the goal of flying with my brother, and my lonely solo mining didn’t provide those kinds of opportunities, so I applied to join the Provi-bloc null-sec corporation in which he was a member. Acutely aware that I knew zero about null-sec life, or EVE in general besides “lock asteroid and press F1,” I googled “EVE Online news” and clicked the first result, which happened to be INN. After reading the site for a month or so, I figured I could use my writing and editing background to write about the game. I submitted an article, applied to be a staff writer, and the rest was history. When PL invaded Providence, I was perfectly placed to be INN’s eyes in theater.

When that first Provi article ran, my brother pulled me aside. “You’ll want to be careful that you don’t share anything that the corporation or alliance might consider opsec,” he told me. “I don’t know how they’ll react to finding out that you write for the goon news agency.”

Wait…what?  I’m working for the goons?!

Sucked In Slowly

Like I said, I knew absolutely nothing about life outside of high-sec mining, and since I didn’t know that “Imperium” meant goons, I panicked a little when I discovered that I had basically signed up to work for the “big bads” of the EVE Online universe. I’ve been an actual goon, a member of the Something Awful forums, for almost fifteen years, and I knew that goons prided themselves on bringing chaos and insanity to every game they played, from Cyber Nations to World of Warcraft to War Thunder. The thought that I was now working for these people in EVE Online made me profoundly uncomfortable – would they attempt to exploit their relationship with me to gain intel about Provi-bloc? Was I now in bed with professional griefers?

The reality turned out to be nothing of the sort. All the writers and editors in the INN Discord channel were…well, profoundly normal. They all greeted me politely, and were incredibly patient with my stupid questions about EVE and my fundamental misunderstandings about the game. INN proved to be a welcoming environment, where I felt comfortable and accepted. The goons, it turned out, were pretty nice people.

This really messed with my internal narrative. Weren’t they supposed to be insufferable jerks? Weren’t they supposed to be the meanest and most chaotic people in New Eden? I’d seen hundreds of scam contracts offered in Jita and Amarr by goons. I’d been ganked in Providence by a pair of Goonswarm pilots. And yet my new friends – could I call them friends? – were nothing but helpful and kind to me, when it would have been very easy to dismiss me for the clueless idiot that I was.

Suddenly PL took over northern Providence, and our corporation had to flee to Immensea and then to Oasa. In the midst of all this chaos, my brother confided to me, “I think it’s time for us to join KarmaFleet.”

I was going to be a goon for real.

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Nothing about being a member of Goonswarm Federation has matched what I thought beforehand. In Oasa, our corporation was limited to a single system for ratting and mining; in GSF, anyone can go anywhere, anytime they want, and do anything they want. In Providence, we were constantly plagued by CTAs and (possibly joking, possibly not) threads of AWOX against anybody who didn’t drop what they were doing to come join a fleet that would putter around Providence, get no kills, and then disband. In GSF, there are fleets going almost constantly, but there is no pressure to join. In Jita, dozens of goons are waiting to scam you, con you, and steal your ISK.  In GSF, so much as attempting to scam a fellow goon will get you instantly booted, no questions asked. Outside of Delve, the popular conception about goons is that they worship griefing, that they want nothing more than to see the universe burn. Inside of GSF, goons pride themselves on their economic output, on the fact that Delve out-produced The Forge by 25% during the last quarter – and the only people who have griefed me in the past month have been from PanFam and GOTG.

This is not to say that good content and good people are unavailable elsewhere in New Eden. I have gone on record with praise for my former corporation. But what surprised me was the disparity. The popular stereotype of goons – and even my interactions with them when I wasn’t a member – had absolutely zero relationship to my actual experience once I actually joined Goonswarm. I’ve made around a billion ISK a week since joining (not bad when you consider I can’t fly a Rorqual or a carrier yet), and there are numerous ISK-making opportunities, prominently featured on the GSF forums, of which I have simply not taken advantage. I’ve had an amazing time in the famous Saturday Night Swarm on several occasions. By the way, if you have admin privileges in Goonswarm Mumble, please do something about the fact that I’m muted by the server. I apologize for that time when my headphones came unplugged and the whole channel heard my wife and me discussing Harry Potter.

I spent an hour earlier this week watching the finals of the GSF FC tournament. (Asher Elias won, which is awesome, because I’ve flown with him in Saturday Night Swarms.) Eight FCs entered, and each was given five billion ISK to outfit their fleets and fight against each other (and presumably more after each round of the tournament to replenish losses). If the idea of a coalition spending tens of billions on a friendly fire tournament sounds crazy to you – well, I think the word you were looking for is “awesome.”

What’s On Offer

I will be extremely honest about this: my INN editor explicitly told me, “I would love to see an article about how you’re finding the Imperium now that you’re a member.  It’s good for people to hear that we’re not the evil empire.” But I will also be extremely honest about this: it was very, very easy to write this article.  I cannot recall the number of times over the past month when either my brother or I said, “I’m so glad we joined KarmaFleet.” I even spent real-life money on a KarmaBee t-shirt. (If you’re not an Imperium pilot, does your coalition have personalized merchandise?)

I feel comfortable and at ease in EVE in a way that I haven’t since joining the game. I have jump clones in several systems around New Eden in case I want to PvP, and I have other clones around in case I want to PvE. My wallet balance won’t stop going up, my zkillboard is looking better every week, and I’m making new friends every day. Again, I’ll be honest: with over 8000 pilots in KarmaFleet alone, never mind the rest of GSF, it can be difficult to know people on a first-name basis, but it’s also not impossible. If you want to make ludicrous amounts of ISK in anonymity, GSF is your jam. If you want to meet new friends by name, GSF is also your jam. It all depends what you want to get out of your experience.

The most fundamental thing about the goon presence in New Eden is that it has evolved. In Cyber Nations (an online browser game), the goon presence began as simple griefing, but evolved to become one of the largest and most influential alliances in the game. In World of Warcraft, on the private Emerald Dream server, the goon guild <lets get weird> evolved to become one of the most significant raiding presences on the whole server, responsible for a number of first kills of bosses. Goons may have entered EVE Online under the pretext of ruining the whole experience for others in the name of lulz, but that is no longer what the whole enterprise is about. Now there is incredible wealth being generated, and being shared with whoever wants to participate. There are fleets going out daily, both fighting strategic actions and goofing around for fun.

Maybe you’re where I was in November of 2017: hungry for more content, longing for more money, but with no knowledge and no clue where to start. Guess what? The Imperium has an entire in-game chat channel where “little bees” can ask any question they want and get answers with no ridicule. Maybe you’re a seasoned EVE veteran who wants to take her PvP experience to the next level. Guess what? There are twelve or fifteen fleets every day you can join, and even training classes that will help you become an FC if you want.

There are more than thirty thousand pilots in Goonswarm Federation. Whatever you love, whatever you want to do in EVE Online, I can pretty much guarantee you that GSF does more of it, and does it better, than you ever dreamed possible.

In Conclusion

Some people will read this and think I’m trying to convince them goons are decent people and GSF is a great alliance. That is, in fact, not my goal at all. I’m not trying to convince anybody of anything. All I’m doing is telling facts, and it’s up to you whether you believe them.

If you’re unhappy in EVE and you want more content – more ratting, more mining, more fleets, more industry – Goonswarm Federation can be your place. If you’re a corporation that has been suddenly thrust from its old home and you’re longing for some competent leadership for a change, Goonswarm Federation can be your place. And if you really want better content but you’re skeptical of goons as human beings – remember that three months ago I was horrified at the thought of merely writing for the goons – then let me gently challenge that opinion. Maybe, just maybe, your stereotype doesn’t correspond to reality.

I certainly found that my own mental stereotype didn’t correspond to reality. I’m happy in KarmaFleet, and I hope you’re happy too, wherever you are in EVE. If you’re not, though, there’s plenty of room for you in Goonswarm Federation.

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  • Paul Luap

    Does GSF take corps?

    April 24, 2018 at 7:51 am
    • Daito Endashi Paul Luap

      No, only souls

      April 24, 2018 at 8:49 am
    • Havish Montak Paul Luap

      In some cases yes. Please go to our recruitment teams.

      April 24, 2018 at 2:46 pm
    • Rammel Kas Paul Luap

      They do, but you have to show genuine active membership of at least a minimum amount. Otherwise it may just be easier for the guys to all fold into one of the megacorps like Karmafleet or ASCEE. Once you’re an integrated part of Imperium however your members can move about the Special Interest Groups and Squads as long as they meet the group requirements in the recruitment thread without needing to move from corporation to corporation ever again. Depending on what interests them of course.

      From memory you begin the corporation integration through the diplomatic channels. The other option, to bring your members individually is something they can achieve by just finding the public channels for ASCEE or Karmafleet, hanging out, reading the MOTD and asking any questions they may have. The Karmafleet one is “KF_Public” in game. I forget the ASCEE one sorry, but I think it is listed in their in game corporation discription.

      April 24, 2018 at 4:14 pm
  • George T

    nice article.

    April 24, 2018 at 8:20 am
  • Zebra N°1

    Nothing to see here, move along. Goons are here to grief. BECAUSE I SAID SO!!!!!

    April 24, 2018 at 9:26 am
  • Erick Asmock

    Nice article. This is clearly the experience many folks have in the game.

    April 24, 2018 at 10:39 am
    • xearal Erick Asmock

      I already had an inkling about this fact before I joined karma myself. When I finally did, I was amazed at the level of organisation and sheer open meritocratic and friendly atmosphere there was in goonswarm.
      I eventually got kicked for inactivity, as I was well.. utterly inactive and away from Eve doing other thing. I’m still not really back, but one simply does not quit Eve Online.
      Eventually when I get properly back into the game, I will most definitely be reapplying for Karmafleet again and enjoy all the shenanigans we did.

      April 24, 2018 at 4:28 pm
  • Mipps

    To be honest Goons haven’t been about griefing for years, the last significant “grief” they did was start Burn Jita. Frankly in the Null Sec community no-one really sees goons as griefers anymore, and the perspective has mostly shifted to them simply being carebears with little else about them.

    April 24, 2018 at 11:10 am
    • Havish Montak Mipps

      Can’t shoot what doesn’t undock.

      April 24, 2018 at 2:47 pm
    • Kyeudo Mipps

      Carebears who shoot back.

      April 24, 2018 at 7:54 pm
      • Mipps Kyeudo

        not really, Theta shoots back, and they only do it cause they can drop supers

        April 25, 2018 at 7:27 am
  • Alot

    When you continue to pump out articles about how goon spies manage to pull off these grand acts of socially rooted espionage, you can’t be too surprised when people get hesitant to talk to goons.

    Imperium branded itself in a specific way. It worked -.-

    April 24, 2018 at 2:56 pm
  • Absence of Substance

    Yeah ever since the CFC became the Imperium a lot of effort has gone into polishing the image of the organisation.

    Can’t run an a media outlet tied to something with a name like CFC and a brand like the “old” goons.

    Still one of the most if not the most successful organisation(s) in EVE.

    April 24, 2018 at 9:06 pm
  • imsosly

    “incredible wealth being generated, and being shared with whoever wants to participate.”

    Blatant lie # 42 in the article.. lol!

    April 24, 2018 at 10:12 pm
    • dragonshardz imsosly

      Out-produced Jita by 7T, and all you have to do to get in on that profit is undock and mine some rocks. Might be a small part of it, but there you go. Keep trying.

      April 25, 2018 at 7:06 am
    • Zebra N°1 imsosly

      Yes, it must be true because you said so.

      April 26, 2018 at 9:52 pm
  • imsosly

    “There are more than thirty thousand pilots in Goonswarm Federation”
    Lie #55.

    Try more like 3500-4000 UNIQUE players, most with 5-25 alts.

    Even your articles are straight out of ‘The Art of War’. Alex must be proud.

    April 24, 2018 at 10:15 pm
    • dragonshardz imsosly

      Pilots meaning characters, friend. In terms of real people it’s closer to 5000, with half of that alone being KF and ASCEE.

      April 25, 2018 at 7:07 am
  • Samantha Dax

    I’ve been around this game since 06. The GSF has some of the best back-in infrastructure players that I’ve seen in any game. What is surprising is the respect and dedication from the high level leadership and it starts with Mittens. NC., PL, and TEST are respected foes and, from my stand point, a pleasure to fight against or with.- Their choice.-

    April 27, 2018 at 2:45 pm