What Makes a Great Corporation: The Big Story

For the first two parts of this series, see the posts on fleet commanders and building a community.

There are a lot of dull and dreary little corporations in Eve.  And, strictly speaking, each of those has a story arc.  That story tends to go like this: someone decides that he wants to run a corporation, with no goal beyond the office, the title, the importance and perhaps the riches.  Babes would be nice but one even self-important oafs are not total fantasists.  He trains the skills; he forms the corporation; he invites some people from the godawful linguistic desert which is newbie corp chat; he advertises for a few more members and buttonholes people that he notices running level 4 missions in empire who are in NPC corps; he collects tax at 10%; they get wardecced and lose some ships; they join a nullsec renter corp; they jump alliances when their ratting space is taken by an invading space and they can no longer rat; he stops logging in as much; they atrophy and die; they sit there with 17 unsubscribed and unbooted members until the servers go dark.

Strictly speaking that’s actually not the grim future for almost all Eve corporations: that is actually a more exciting and successful trajectory than almost any eve corporation will experience as they live and die without even leaving a mark on dotlan http://evemaps.dotlan.net/corp .  But it won’t excite or entrance anyone; it won’t build loyalty and a shared bond.

CCP’s Masterstroke

What CCP did with Eve that was so different from almost any other game out there was to create a world with the tools and the mechanics to allow players to join into groups and tell stories together.  Never mind that holding space is, currently, nothing to write home about in terms of tangible rewards: it’s the story, stupid.  Probably the most famous story in the history of the game took five years to play out from start to finish, and concerned the vengeance of Goonfleet upon the Band of Brothers alliance.  Five years!  That’s half as long as the Trojan War!  And, like any good Homeric epic, it had heroes, great generals, great victories and terrible reverses.  It was reported across the gaming press many times.  It gave CCP endless marketing collateral.  It drew in thousands of players and stuck them like glue to the game.

If you want to hold onto your best players – if you want to make a group that can stay together, improve and do memorable things in Eve – then you have to make sure that those players feel like they are heroes (or at least participants) in a story.  You have to make sure that you present a history of what has happened, with stories that they can tell each other in comms on boring ops (“do you remember the time…”).  And you have to make sure that you sell it to them.

If you can come up with a real, exciting narrative for your corporation (or alliance) then your players will stick like glue to you.  They will want to know how the story plays out, and they will want to be there when it happens.  As with Goonfleet, revenge can be a wonderfully motivating motivation, but there are many others.  Choose small goals at first, and make sure that you can sell them to your players.  Make sure that they understand where you are taking your people.  Friday’s operation isn’t just a gate camp: you’re locking down your system and sending out a message to the other lowsec pirate corps.  The POS-shooting operation isn’t just about grabbing a moon: it’s securing income for the next phase of your progress; or it is clearing out a threat in your space.

Finding an Alliance

Now the sad fact is that there are probably only nine or ten really good alliances in the game, and your corporation is not going to get into any of them in the next year or more.  I, The Mittani and Vile Rat all get propositioned by would-be member corps wanting to join Goonswarm every week, and we virtually never even mention them to each other before saying no, despite decent killboard stats, a smattering of supercapitals or long histories in nullsec space.

Before you get into the major leagues, you have to work your way up through the system.  And right now, that means getting noticed as PvPers.  Forget getting in as an “industrial corp”: industrial corps are ten a penny and can be replaced by one good jump freighter service.  Only third rate alliances will accept “industrial corps”.  You neeed to PvP.  You need that FC from the first article, and you need him to take your people out on roams every few days for several weeks.  At that point you should have a few hundred kills (and probably a lot of losses: that’s fine).

Don’t grab at the first alliance that offers: you have an FC and you have active PvPers and that already puts you in the top ten percent of Eve corps.  You don’t need to accept an offer from some ponzi scheme dressed up as an alliance.  Check their killboards.  Ask about their FCs.  Search for references to them on Kugutsumen and on Failheap Challenge.  You need someone who is not just a renter corp in the Russian commercial space (currently virtually the entire south-west and west of Eve).  You need people in a big, nullsec war, who own their own space, preferably not as renters.

Providence is often a place to look for that first start.  Some Syndicate alliances can be a decent springboard, on the basis that if you can make it there you can make it anywhere.  In general, an alliance living in NPC nullsec is probably at the more promising end of the range.

More on the move to nullsec later, but here is one vital, cautionary word before you make that move…


Known to the Russian side of the map as Blue Tacklers, these are disposable spy characters who join corporations (often by claiming to be the cyno alt of an existing member in their application) then immediately act as tacklers for hostile gangs: they jump in ahead of their gang since they are blue to everyone in the bloc whose space it is, warp around sanctums and belts, find a pricy ship then tackle it.  The rest of their gang then jumps in and kills the victim, who is in any case probably a bot who won’t report the kill for hours.

This will harm your corp in a couple of ways.  One is that an awoxer with a good gang behind him can easily chew through half a dozen tengus, Navy Ravens or other pricy ships.  Welcome to four or five billion in compensation that you need to pay out to victims.  The other is more insidious: all that reputation that you have been working hard to build up, and all that sense of cameraderie within your membership, will melt away like snow off a dyke when everyone laughs at your corporation for accepting anyone with a pulse.  A second awoxer will make you a laughing stock.

It all boils down to being strict on who you accept: you want your members to believe that they are in at the start of something special, after all.