Art by Major Sniper
When we claim that Eve is played on one server, what we truly mean to say is that those who play do so on the main server. Those who are locked behind a great wall, those who cannot play with us, do not. I have read comments from leaders, fleet commanders and many fanboys like myself, and one mantra in particular is at the forefront. If it’s not on Tranquility, it doesn’t matter. I like to think of parallel universes. Here on Tranquility, for example, I make one choice, yet in the other universe I do not. While it is not exactly the same, it still allows us to look at the what-ifs.
First Light on the Fifth Day tells but a moment in the story that is the parallel New Eden. I had the honor of an interview with the brilliant strategist Lord Maldoror of Rooks and Kings about this spectacular video. While I would have loved to ask Fulcrum about the different people and the personalities of the Serenity server, sadly he was very busy during the writing of this piece.
Johnny Crowe: How long have you been living in a foreign land combating the enemies of your friend Fulcrum?
Lord Maldoror: Fulcrum first got in touch with me around seven or eight years ago. He was the leader of a corp within PIBC and he wanted to incorporate a lot of force multipliers that RnK were using on TQ, such as combat-refitting triage groups, Pantheon and things of that kind.
There were some immediate issues with transposing doctrines. For example, at the time we were also flying a lot of wonderfully unsporting Guardian-T3 fleets (up to 50-50 Logi-T3 split, garnished with many neuting Legions). I think Fulcrum even joined a few outings to see it from the inside. But it transpired that a T3 hull on Serenity cost four times as much as one on TQ. PIBC didn’t have the unlimited funds they have today and so we had to pick something else. In that fashion, there was plenty to learn about the ins and outs of the Serenity economy and its impact on doctrines and choices.
Gradually I learned something about the different entities, personalities and politics of Serenity. Gradually, too, through his ability to lead and FC, Fulcrum rose in power in PIBC and PIBC’s power also grew (through the work of many, many people there).
If you want a picture of that period from our side, think of it like this: after a hard day’s fighting, a collection of weary, debauched generals on Teamspeak study a map of The Front, while fiddling on their cigars and toy soldiers. Then, at the stroke of midnight, Fulcrum walks in and we flip the map upside down to help plot his shenanigans in Eve’s mirror universe.
In time I was able to join PIBC action directly and see these operations for myself. Of course, I don’t doubt that the need to translate for me and provide ships and fittings makes me more of a hindrance than a help. But I’m very grateful for them giving me a window into that world.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say RnK in the broadest terms ‘are living’ on Serenity. Fulcrum does and the video is a chance to tell his story (or at least a campaign from it).
In terms of where we are ‘living’, take this month for example. Obviously we have a diet of different games and virtual worlds. Then Nozaj is building his Dali-esque land of photogrammetry and sculpture, which aims to be the most detailed VR location on HiFidelity’s platform. So we get to log in there and be his tour guides for curious people with heavy headsets and wandering hands.
All this GPU power that records (and occasionally cameos in) Romoto’s Lancer fleet must be put to use, too. Meissa (maybe still Eve’s longest serving CSM?) builds neural nets to compete in Machine Learning competitions. The last one, involving an AI to write music, won, as did his AI for analysing astronomical data (which has had academic success too).
So, being on a good run, Meissa laid out the obvious next step: AI porn. And why not? Nvidia have shown neural nets able to generate the faces of humans who believably could exist but don’t. By which I don’t mean pastiches of existing people mixed together ‘Photoshop style’ but actual, fresh, believable people from an AI seed. Yet that’s just the face – so why not the whole person, birthday suit and all?
It’s surely fodder for an Anatomy of a Fight sequel: can the doctrinally free-thinking RnK minds reconcile with the free-thinking acrobatics of our AI’s take on human coupling? Now, I must admit to you, this neural net still needs ‘work’. However, once more to the rescue comes the remarkable malleability of human sexuality. Limb missing? No problem, it’s amputee porn. Extra breast? Sure, why not? Total Recall fetish. And so on. There’s a scene for everything and long may it be so.
And into that mix may come Fulcrum, telling me that RAC are back at the gates and he’ll find me a ship. And then I’ll log in, for what little good it’ll do, and assail him with a plan worthy of General Melchett.
JC: If you had not been dear friends with Fulcrum would you have found yourself on the other side in this war?
LM: Well, the other side might not have had the patience to babysit me. It’s a lot of work to translate for someone, sort out their ships and fittings and have them in the right place at the right time. They may also not have accepted my ~Moemoe~ which was rather rudimentary until I was initiated into the dark art by XianXian & co.
But if I was coming to Serenity fresh, in the middle of the events depicted in Fifth Day? Sure, I might well have knocked on the rebels’ door. So many games strive for the battlefield romance of fighting outnumbered against the odds in some desperate cause – yet Eve is the only virtual world where you can really live that.
Nonetheless, at some point we all play Eve for our community and for the friendships we make. Quite aside from the fact that I wouldn’t be of any use to anyone on Serenity outside of the context of a friendship (translations, ships, babysitting), there’s too much history and too much water under the bridge to ever do anything other than support my friend there.
PIBC are a fascinating entity, brilliantly led by MB and all the staff there. They have a strong, unusual culture and it’s been an honour to see something of their rise in Serenity.
Finally, no matter how many Titans Fulcrum can call on these days, I look around at modern ‘gaming’ and I look at everything it might fall to from what virtual worlds like Eve once promised, and I assure you that I still feel thoroughly outnumbered.
JC: Something that has struck me time and time again while reading about your adventures in a distant land, the women. Here on TQ, women are our logi anchors and FCs and corp CEOs and alliance CEOs as well, but many of your stories involve women at the tippy-top of coalitions and loyal men dying in a fire happily for them. Is it just my perception or do more females play on Serenity and do they generally see higher ranks than those we see on TQ? Now don’t get me wrong, I think a woman has the ability to be as good or better than any other bloc FC; it is merely a observation that led to a question.”
LM: It is indeed the case that two of the power players in the story are female (XianXian and the Leaf Queen). However, I’m not sure I’d want to draw any broad conclusions from this rather specific sample.
For example, let’s consider the Leaf Queen’s speech to her command staff. A number of people have commented on its melancholy charisma and clearly the message itself is tenacious and uncompromising. A few words go a long way.
Now, you put this person in a gaming environment which is conducive to girls doing well, and sure, this person will do well. But I think that if you put her in an environment which isn’t conducive to that, she’ll do well anyway. She’ll still be giving the same fanatical speech to the same command staff.
Thus there is only one certainty to draw from this: here is an environment which, at the least, makes room for the exception of exceptional people. It’s a good baseline to live by.
XianXian is also an exceptional person in every way, whether in battle or at the pulpit of PIBC North, although I’m a rather biased source since she is a part of the world that I know directly on Serenity.
JC: Now I know what I think and I know what you hinted at are very much the same thing, so I’ll just ask outright. They totally fed you that dread to satisfy your ‘boredom’; is that uncommon? Are they truly willing to throw away capital ships to break up the monotony?”
LM: I’m fairly certain that I was singularly responsible for that man meeting a grisly end in the video. Obviously I wasn’t actually bored that day or on any other day – their perception of it made the magic of the moment.
As a serious point about ‘monotony’, I’ve noticed that the big groups on Serenity tend to take fights that coalitions on TQ probably wouldn’t. At first I thought it might be down to the mineral situation there, which could perhaps make it easier to replace capital and supercapital losses and thus devalue the significance when lost. However, on several occasions I’ve seen Serenity supercapital fleets nearly obliterated and take months or even a year (or more) to repair to some level of operational potency.
I really think that there is a preference to solve things in Apex Fleet Combat once both sides are dressed for battle. Some people might ascribe a cultural element to that but I think there is also the matter of a single timezone, a single language and a single nationality. Although there are definitely meaningful differences between the alliances, this commonality may still make it easier for line members to envisage where the grass could be greener if their FC doesn’t lead them headlong into a rousing battle.
JC: As for your Moemoe, which one is yours?”
LM: Thanks to Reddit, I now have a Test-MoeMoe-Best-MoeMoe:
Look upon my works and despair.
I would like to thank Lord Maldoror again for giving us this interview, and moreover sharing the events from our sister shard. While men like Elo Knight and Doomchinchilla have nothing but shade to throw, I for one would love more videos about anything from Lord Maldoror. The man could read me ingredients from the shampoo bottle in my bathroom and I’d still watch all his videos.
I tried to reach out to the refugees from Serenity to get their take on things, but unfortunately they were unable to speak to me about it. Now I don’t want to talk ill about the way any group runs things, but I will say this – come on guys, if you asked any line Goon how they felt about PL’s supposed relevance or whether they think Elo Knight knows other ships besides Muninn exist, you’d have a plethora of fun answers. I know you all only want the boss to speak, to keep yourselves from trouble, but here on Tranquility things are different (unless you are with Asher and groups that don’t exist). My advice? Shit up local to your heart’s content, my friends.