A Deep Dive Into The Swarm
For those outside the GoonSwarm Federation, you must look at that great ball of bees and only see a glorious, homogenous whole that is our calling card. “Goon Who?” will be an ongoing series of articles that break through the hive into the sweet humanity and diversity of our member corporations. My goal is to humanize and share the passion and culture of our member organizations, and hopefully help readers connect with their fellow corps-in-arms. If the reader is not already part of the swarm, I hope they will find the perfect place to join up with us in pursuit of null security space dominance. I will be sharing both the direct words of the leadership and historians of each corporation, as well as my own thoughts and perspectives on what they shared with me as a curious onlooker.
From the very beginning I was amazed and inspired by my first subject: Ascendance. I had posted on the Goonfleet forums looking for interested member corps, and after a few days I was contacted on Discord by Uncle Pilot, the CEO and founder of ASCEE. Through my questionnaire and discussions with him on Mumble I was able to get a real feel for his passion for EVE, Goonswarm, and not least his corporation and its success. Major Sniper, his second in command, was just as driven, passionate, and verbose. I also was able to get to know him a bit more personally off the record, which is one of my personal goals with this project. EVE is a game about people and relationships, and building up those bonds is the best way to create loyalty and unity.
When Uncle Pilot told me about how he was an instrumental member in the formation of Karmafleet, my first question went out to him. Karmafleet seems to have a great system in place, so what made him decide on a new project? It turns out that he had been helping with changing the “Little Bees” newbee program into something that was more functional and better utilized by the alliance. It was rebranded as Gooniversity, and as a newer member of GoonSwarm Federation I can say that the Gooniversity forum was extremely helpful in its structure and information when I was getting settled in with the swarm. This project had taken most of his focus off of Karmafleet, and then for six months the Real Life Commitment Monster took him from us.
Cream Rises to the Top
But all was not lost, for out of the darkness came the aptly named Ascendance. Through Uncle Pilot’s description of coming back and wanting to take on building an EVE corporation from scratch, he really strikes me as a serial entrepreneur. He wanted something where he could really craft a tighter-knit community, and says “I have a great love for Karmafleet, and the lessons learned there were invaluable in building Ascendance.” So with these lessons in mind, Uncle Pilot knew he needed to start building a team from day one. That team would start with his second, Major Sniper, in an ironic and interesting story.
From the first moment, Uncle Pilot was trying to figure out how to build that first member. As he told me in our voice interview “I thought about who I truly trusted in this game (outside of GoonSwarm)… Nobody.” In this state of skepticism he figured he would join a channel specifically for South African players. Being South African himself, he felt that sharing a country with someone would help a bit with loyalty, and that he would like to start it with someone he could “punch in the face if they screwed me over.” Major Sniper was the man to take the first plunge.
After railing on Uncle Pilot about the idea for a while, Major Sniper was invited to a private conversation. He accepted, and Uncle Pilot asked him what he really thought about GoonSwarm. Major Sniper was honest with Uncle Pilot at this point. He had been a member of Tactical Narcotics Team earlier in his EVE life, and said being part of the CFC was “some of the most fun I’ve had in EVE.” Coincidentally, Major Sniper was actually in one of those all too common “giving up EVE” situations. He had run into some bad luck while building up a small wormhole corporation, and after a real life vacation found that his corp and their wormhole dreams were in shambles when he returned.
It seemed that Uncle Pilot and Major Sniper were a match made in South Africa. Ironically enough, Major Sniper had immigrated to the United States years prior, which flew in the face of Uncle Pilot’s hope for being able to reach out and touch his first member. Nevertheless, the two would press on and build a monster of a corporation. Major Sniper told me he threw all of his efforts into recruiting, so much to the point that his wife started to give words of encouragement like “How is the corp coming? How are the numbers?” With the Missus on your side, how can you do anything but succeed stupendously? After about a month and the slog to 100 members, both Uncle and Major said they haven’t had to actively recruit since then.
A Culture of Mentorship
Through action and policy, Uncle Pilot and Major Sniper have built a corporation that really has mentors from those just a little more experienced than the newbee on up. Both of them talked about how their corporation has a very low tolerance for disrespect and those out for themselves instead of the corporation and the alliance. Major Sniper especially drove home that Uncle Pilot does nothing in Ascendance unless “it is absolutely in the best interest of the alliance.”
As the corporation has grown, some of the markers of how their membership has become less “anyone with a pulse” to much more those that share the corporation’s values seem to be tied to corporate level infrastructure upgrades. As assets get anchored, the expectations of the members also increases, and the quality and age of applicants continues to trend up. Uncle Pilot and Major Sniper also give a nod to all that the alliance provided for them after they joined up. “Really Goonswarm takes away 80% of the work when it comes to running a corporation within the alliance” Uncle Pilot confessed to me. It really is true, and it is a wonderful luxury that we enjoy in GoonSwarm Federation. There is always a SIG (Special Interest Group) or Squad you can join for the exact kind of gameplay that you’re looking for in EVE. As an alliance we do it all, and that allows our corporations to focus more on culture and the attitude of their members instead of trying to figure out which corner of EVE content to explore.
In closing, Uncle Pilot also wanted to offer up a bit of advice to the prospective EVE CEO out there:
“Get competent people that you trust in leadership positions. Running an EVE corp can be similar to running a real world corporation in the sense that a CEO is only as good as the people supporting him/her. Also, sit down and plan things out. Define policies, procedures, and a very tangible plan. When things start getting overwhelming it’s nice to be able to fall back to something concrete.”
I can’t thank Uncle Pilot and Major Sniper enough for the opportunity to share the tale of how Ascendance came to be. Many articles about EVE can be all about the numbers and corporate policy. That’s all well and good, but I want to bare the soul of the machine to the average EVE inhabitant. There are plenty of players out there in New Eden that are in desperate need of some real hands-on mentorship. If you are lost in the EVE wilderness, why not grab on to the fast rising Ascendance through their in-game ad and be risen out of the High Security Wasteland? You can also apply through their online application here.