In the last week I’ve been lucky to meet some very cool, very interesting people in the EVE community. They have come from every walk of life, every part of the world, and multiple mother languages. Everyone I have had an interview with comes with a slightly different perspective, and everyone has a unique desire to do something – which for them is – interesting.
As a result of investigations the article on the failure cascade of Fidelas Constans, I got to learn a little bit about how a change occurred within the fabric of EVE. That, for me, is what I find interesting. I’m endlessly curious and I always want to know; more over, I want to know the human story. While the previous piece covers the story of FCON’s last ninety days at a higher level, there are always personal stories to be told, and they merit the same care and attention given to objective research pieces.
When a social group or organization starts to lose cohesion, it’s easy to point the finger of blame. Though, unless there were grievous faults or malicious offense, that blame is often unwarranted. It happens in the office place far more often than it happens in EVE; where an employee will find themselves the subordinate of a manager with whom they share such a discordant misalignment of communication style, work ethos, or goals that it can lead to the breakdown of entire teams.
Both individuals might be excellent in and of their own, and masters of productivity within their domain of specialty. Sometimes the fix is just to switch places, or switch teams. It rarely works out that way, as people’s identities, egos, and feelings get trampled in the defensive withdrawal from conflict. Sometimes there isn’t room for lateral movement. Inevitably someone becomes the victim of baseless vilification.
Such is the case for the directorship and CEOs and executors of alliances within EVE – and that’s if they keep operating status quo. It’s usually worse if the corporation, alliance, or coalition to which they belong finds itself in the midst of a collapse.
I had the opportunity to interview Tarkinius of FCON and PFED. I found him to be intelligent, mature, sensible, and we talked about the obvious in-game elements. We also discussed our real-life work, process, and things we’ve struggled with. In short, we talked to each other like people.
As you read the following, I’d encourage you to consider the same position I approached this interview and the previous article with: curiosity and compassion. Why? When FCON and PFED were good, they were great, and I don’t think Tarkinius is done doing great things.
INN: For those who don’t know you or who are new to the game, who are you and what is your role with FCON?
Tarkinius: I was the CEO of FCON and PF. Despite what others believe we didn’t make choices by committee. Both groups were dictatorial republics, where in long term major shifts in how we acted were voted on to give major entities a voice in their own future, but the day to day running of things was completely hierarchical.
INN: First question, for context, who are the Skyteam?
Tarkinius: The skyteam was our top military leadership group. Generally experienced FCs who had taken up the roles of planning strategy, fits, etc for the rest of the fcs. War planners and coordinators as well.
INN: Can you describe, in your own words, the pressures your team has been facing over the last three months? Has anyone in particular, other than yourself, bore the worst of it? Or is it firmly a team effort?
Tarkinius: I unfortunately cannot claim to have borne the worst of things over the last few months. My life situation kept me from being able to play eve (or do much of anything else aside from work) recently so I have not suffered the same as others. Line members almost certainly felt the worst pain, along with their CEOs who had to keep things together despite the pressure placed on us. Of course those who kept the alliance and coalition running absolutely had a rough time as well, devoting sometimes a majority of their free time to coordinating things even in the roughest patches.
INN: How would you, previous to ninety days ago, have characterized FCON’s role in DRF? Does that figure at all into recent events, if yes, how?
Tarkinius: Our role in the DRF was laid out in our deal to merge coalitions. FCON would become equivalent in decision major authority to XIX and Solar, but each entity would continue to operate very indepedently in every aspect of the coalition aside from coordinating a major war, such as we’re in now. In those cases command would be consolidated and coordinated centrally, generally through whatever group was the focus of the fighting.
INN: During the research for my piece, more than one party reported perceived infighting or political maneuvering. Others reported asymmetrical effort invested in CTAs and defense fleets. Was that your experience?
Tarkinius: The divisiveness between alliances regarding the contribution of each member isn’t very factual, and it was an issue I attempted to handle regularly. There were definitely disagreements and divisions between alliances that included the participation of individual groups relative to each other, but we had set standards of expectations and every group met them. Every group that earned a voting role also earned that by meeting the standards; every group had agreed to those standards.
So while some groups may have far exceeded them, they still agreed that those standards were viable as a metric that everyone had surpassed, thus the “3 out of 300” in a specific fleet might be true but didn’t reflect an overall contribution towards PVP over an extended period of time that we held groups against.
INN: Another issue raised by former members was a culture which struggled with FCs who were perceived as arrogant, or unwilling to accept responsibility. What’s your response to these claims?
Tarkinius: The slow removal of toxic FCs can be squarely laid at my feet. I’m a softy when it comes to kicking people.
INN: Do you feel that within PFED and FCON that all participating alliances had equal access to resources and equal opportunity?
Tarkinius: The wealth of systems had nothing to do with voting vs non voting (status). It just was that some were in PF early and had their homes, and some joined later and unfortunately I couldn’t magic up great space for them so I gave them what I could negotiate for from our neighbors, or convince internal groups to give up.
Multiple voting alliances ended up without great space, just because of how Sov was set up. FCON had several agreements, at many points of time, to allow groups with poor space to utilize our systems for income as long as ADMs were maintained.
INN: Why was Phoenix Federation founded? What was its objective?
Tarkinius: The goal of PF from the start was to allow groups that were new to null sec or needed a second chance to have an opportunity. What they did with that opportunity was up to them, but of course FCON was there to support their path forward. It always meant that PF would never become an incredibly strong organization in the military sense, since any group that moved beyond the need for PF would probably go on to build themselves an empire of their own elsewhere.
That was both expected and openly discussed. PF was a launching pad, not an empire. We took the risk on in trying to create opportunities for weaker alliances to flourish, and it cost us in the end, but I don’t regret doing it. Eve needs more opportunities for people who dream of building their own empire in null sec to have a chance to get a start without being stuck renting.
There’s a lot of things great about eve, but the lack of opportunity for new null sec entities to do something amazing is holding it back.
INN: Thank you for such complete and candid responses. In retrospect, would you have done anything differently?
Tarkinius: Almost certainly. I would have made changes to our military expectations and leadership early on, rather than just ask for numbers. Quality alongside quantity.
INN: I have heard Jake Lightman will be taking the helm for a while. Is that a reflection of your real-life demands taking hold, or in-game demands?
Tarkinius: Real life more than in game, but reflective of the fact that I can’t handle the in game due to real life (at the present).
INN: Why Jake, in particular?
Tarkinius: Jake is a solid leader who has a plan to transition FCON into a more PVP focused group, and he has been a vice-CEO of the alliance long enough to have my full trust.
INN: Will you be staying on as Executor?
Tarkinius: Probably not, (I’m) still discussing that with Jake. FCON needs an active leader in every sense.
INN: Thanks for your time.
Tarkinius: No problem, man. Sorry I couldn’t be fast on the uptake with everything, RL consumes me.