Busy Little Bees

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with Goonswarm!

Busy busy bees.

Busy busy bees.

One hallmark of a good corp or alliance is that the group is busy. Potential recruits and existing members tend to place a lot of importance on not being bored, on having ops to join in on, and on being able to have fun. They tend to want to know there are goals to work toward and plans for the future. This is all perfectly reasonable and I know I’m responsible for making sure ILF and IPI live up to this expectation.

As with recruitment, I believe each member of my group should be willing to share the responsibility for scheduling ops and coming up with ideas for activities that everyone can partake in. Many hands make for light work.

Since we’re a roleplay group, I realize my members might sometimes find it challenging to come up with suitable activities (beyond the usual “Let’s go shoot reds!” patrol) if they exist in a vacuum of information. To that end, one of my primary tasks is to maintain and outline our overall RP in such a way that it’s easy for people to understand it, invest in it, and feel empowered to create content of their own in support of it, schedule ops regardless of their rank or length of time spent with us, and so on. The roleplay needs to have sufficient depth to keep people interested and allow them to find their own way within it, but not be so complex that their hands feel tied. This is an ongoing process.

But what happens when the group is small? In particular I’m thinking about scheduled ops. They take quite a lot of effort both to plan and to execute. When a question exists as to whether or not a sufficient number of players will be available on the chosen date, a low turnout can easily frustrate an individual and leave them feeling like their effort was wasted, or their op wasn’t interesting enough, etc. This can be compounded if the op goes ahead with less than ideal numbers and results in having the gang wiped. The “reward” for the effort doesn’t feel worthwhile. Under such conditions, there’s a tendency to favor ad hoc gangs instead.

There’s nothing wrong with ad hoc gangs. Spur of the moment activity is thrilling. But is a complete lack of scheduled ops bad? In general I say yes. “Ad hoc” doesn’t spell success nor equate to “being busy” in the same sense as “scheduled ops” do. Total reliance on ad hoc gangs raises questions in my mind about player investment. Nobody wants to wait around all the time in the hope that something might happen for the group.

On the other hand, I can think of people I’ve known who were expected to be logged into their game at scheduled times every other day or every week to raid or join fleets…or else. ILF has never operated that way and never will. Having my play schedule dictated to me under threat of being kicked from the group if I don’t show up when I’m told to is not my idea of fun. I have a life, thank you, and many other interests and responsibilities outside of EVE, and so does everyone else.

Where’s the middle ground?

Lately I’ve been tossing around the idea of group objectives—sort of like our own brand of “missions”. Other corps do something similar (“deployments”) but what I have in mind doesn’t involve picking up and relocating to a different place in New Eden each time. They could still be considered “scheduled” ops in the sense that they’ll run for a certain duration of time—maybe a few weeks to a month. They’ll be team-oriented; one person won’t be able to satisfy the objective alone without going to extreme measures (and shouldn’t try since the point is to encourage people to work together). Each objective will have a metric to measure success. RP can play a heavy or light role in the objective, too, depending on the nature of the activity.

My hope is that my members will be willing to participate. The objectives won’t take up all of their time but will give them things to do. I also hope they’ll be inspired to create objectives of their own—again, many hands making light work. It will still take effort to plan them out, but there are more possibilities for variety and the pressure will be off for everyone to show up on a specific date. People in off timezones won’t miss out. A bit of creativity and out-of-box thinking could make for some pretty interesting ideas.

A PVP objective might entail focusing on a couple of systems in our area of operations to achieve a certain amount of (eligible) targets killed or ISK destroyed.

A PVE objective might involve picking a specific NPC corp in our area to run missions for to raise corp standing by a particular amount, which will give us easier access to jump clones, lower station service fees, etc.

A mining (or even PI) objective might entail bringing in a certain amount of a specific material.

These are just some basic ideas. Tracking metrics for these categories is pretty easy: For PVP I can set a campaign on the killboard; for PVE I can look at wallet transactions and standings changes; for mining I can see how much material has been dropped into a can or hangar.

Exploration…? My people love to scan down signatures, but at the moment I’m stumped on what could work as an easily tracked metric for this. Creating bookmarks isn’t enough; the idea would be to somehow measure how many sites people actually completed. More thinking required.

DUST514…? Not sure about this one either but it would be nice to include those players too.

Objectives could come with rewards for successful completion (nothing wrong with encouraging a little competition).

I plan to get ILF started on this in the next little while and I’m eager to see how it pans out.