Signaleer Void Raven

Editor’s Note: Another in character interview in our Signaleer Series!

Void Raven

Void Raven

Void Raven enters the small, and evidently popular, pub on the Perkone station in Saisio. She has intentionally arrived a little early for the interview, so as to find suitable seating and create a good first impression by not being late. She waits a few moments for her eyes to adjust to the low lighting and then looks around. There is no free seating at the bar counter, and there are only a few tables, most of which are occupied. Void finds an empty table in the far corner, sits down and confirms on her neuro-occular display that she is indeed early. Relieved that so far things are going as planned, she orders a drink and glances around the pub’s interior.

Tapestries, similar in style to the artwork in the Achur cultural center she visited enroute to the pub, line the walls. Dark wood paneling softly reflects the muted light from frosted-glass wall sconces. Planet VIII looms large in the window on the opposite side of the pub. By chance, today is also the peak of the Potan meteor shower in Saisio, and Planet VIII is putting on quite a show as hundreds of meteors plunge into its atmosphere, spawning the trails of light that betray the end of their long journey through space. Pleasantly fragrant, but unfamiliar, aromas drift around Void and her stomach rumbles in response.

When her drink arrives, she orders some Achur-style food, but immediately regrets doing so when the server walks off, as she realizes that eating during an interview at which she will be doing most of the talking is probably not a good idea. Void’s thoughts turn to the upcoming interview. She reaches out to her drink and endlessly rotates the glass with her fingers, her gaze fixed on her hand. The chatter and murmur of conversation among the other patrons dissolves into the background as doubts creep into her mind. What had she been thinking when she signed up for this? A young capsuleer with no experience to speak of and a troubled past – what could she possibly say that would be of interest to anyone? Her leg bounces up and down on the ball of her foot.

“Void Raven?”

Void gives a jolt as she hears her name spoken and her stomach tightens when she looks up to see Katia Sae standing in front of her. She takes a deep breath and stands up quickly to greet her, bumping the table and spilling half her drink.

“Katia! How… how long have you been standing there? Sorry, I was just…”

Void takes a few more breaths and continues, “What a pleasure and honor it is to finally meet you in person, Katia. And I also just want to say congratulations on your inspirational achievement. Thanks for suggesting this pub as the place to meet. It’s perfect. As I mentioned to you, I feel so much more at ease in casual settings. But, even so, I’m… uh… I’m so darn nervous right now. I mean, I’ve never been interviewed before. See, I decided on this white blouse in case I start sweating. It won’t show sweat as a darker top would. Did I just say that? Please tell me this isn’t already part of the interview. Okay, okay, I need to calm down. Umm… can I get you something from the bar?”

As they sit down, Void gestures at the food she ordered earlier and says, “I wasn’t thinking. Like I said – first interview. Help yourself if you would like any, Katia.”

Smiling in understanding, Katia waves off the offered selection, “I completely understand. Would you believe my nerves still get the best of me during interviews? You’d think it would get easier with experience, but I’d rather face down a Loki on gate than talk to a reporter.”

After some pleasant conversation that relaxed them both, Katia steered the conversation to the interview.

“Tell me why you became a capsuleer?”

Void’s face hardens upon hearing the question. She mops up the spill on the table from earlier with her napkin, as if hoping that a delay in answering would make the question go away. But it hangs in the air, waiting patiently.

“Now, this is going to unearth some difficult memories for me. So, let’s see how it goes. I became a capsuleer to escape from a troubled upbringing and avoid an adverse future. I grew up in Gallente lowsec. In an environment that was not really…uh…supportive of a great childhood. I was exposed to…to a way of life that, had I fallen into it, would have left me disillusioned and, sort of, drained of any goodness. Instead, I would have been filled with an unquenchable rage as I selfishly blamed the whole of New Eden and everyone in it for my situation. An outcome which would have, you know, been to the detriment of others as…as their paths crossed my own in that sinister future. You see, my mother Black Raven took some bad turns early in her life that she wasn’t able to recover from. I didn’t want a repeat of that, so I left home for capsuleer school and for what I hoped would be a fresh start.”

Void loses her composure a little. Shaking her head she looks down at the floor and continues, softer than before, “I’m sorry, Katia. I do want to share my past with Signal Cartel. I owe that to everyone; you…you have all been so welcoming. But I’m unable to go into more detail about it today. Maybe some other time. Umm… suffice it to say that a little over five years ago, I guess fate interceded on my behalf, and then in 03 this year I graduated from capsuleer school with a deep fondness for exploration, but no idea of where to go next.”

Void’s translucent grey-white eyes come alive as she continues, “But then, serendipitously, news broke of a new statue in Saisio, which, sort of, spoke to me with unusual clarity when I read the inscription on it. I mean, that star in your hand, Katia, it lit the way for me to find Signal Cartel. And today I’m…uh…so grateful to be here and to be able to contribute to New Eden in a positive way to counterbalance the…the darkness that surrounds us all.”

Void hesitates for a moment; reflective. One hand is wrapped around the fist of the other in front of her. She seems undecided about her next utterance, but then says, “Okay, the Credo demands that I be honest and forthcoming. Fine. I question whether I didn’t perhaps become a capsuleer for the sole purpose of gaining ‘immortality’ and so not grow old as just another invisible and miserable baseliner. So I could rise above the wretched masses. The reason I gave earlier is then no more than a rationalization to avoid confronting the unpleasant implications of that. I mean, do I harbor a veiled desire for superiority or supremacy over others? By the Sisters, I truly hope not. I’m left wondering what it says about me that I might unconsciously hunger for immortality.”

Void takes a sip of her drink.

Blushing slightly on hearing the Saisio monument reference, Katia still found herself embrassed by the attention, which she knew didn’t make sense. Prior to the interview, Katia had a feeling Void’s story would be an interesting one to hear. Not wanting to pressure her further she went on to the next question. “What is your background as a pilot? Did you jump right into exploration, start in the military, hired by a corporation, or something else?”

“So, I have no real piloting background to speak of, having only recently graduated. I mentioned my innate love of exploration earlier; I’m drawn to see what lies beyond the figurative horizon. And then the next one. I don’t know… maybe my desire to explore comes from an unconscious need to keep ahead of the shadows of my childhood.”

”What attracted you to explore New Eden? Do you have a goal, have you achieved it? If not, are you still working towards it?”

“I don’t have a particular goal. Well okay. I’m Gallente. So, maybe the pursuit of individual freedom? Umm…I love to get lost in the beauty of New Eden and simply let it wash over me. To admire the… the background tapestry of whatever system I’m in. There are many locations of historical significance to investigate and learn about and I’m only just starting to… uh… scratch the surface with this. The adrenaline rush of hacking ancient and long forgotten relic and data sites in Anoikis is, kind of, borderline addictive. I am the hunted in the natural order of things and, counterintuitively, I find that exhilarating and liberating, you know.“

Void suddenly laughs and says, “Oh, speaking of hacking reminds me of a story. Do we have time? Yes? Great! Once, when I was super focused on hacking a site and all was deathly quiet, Allison, probably because she was bored, simulated herself dropping some… umm… plates or glasses or something and they shattered in a sudden explosion of noise. I almost died of fright. I mean, I came close to having a heart attack, which is no joke. As you know, Katia, the clone retrainsplantation process is initialized upon detection of a pod breach. An in-pod coronary does not exactly meet that requirement. She apologized, sweet AI that she is, so we’re still friends.”

Void takes another sip of her drink and continues, “Tending and sowing rescue caches and Thera wormhole scanning are intrinsically rewarding activities. I also recently finished assisting ARC on an unidentified wormhole research project in Drifter Hive Systems. So, for me, there is no end goal or destination. It’s all about the journey into what the future may bring.”

Void takes a pause, then says, “Katia, am I rambling too much? I mean, it’s all sort of stream-of-consciousness at this point, isn’t it? I’m too serious, right? Maybe my goal should be: ‘Be less serious’. Or I could aim for off-beat.”

”You’re doing great, no worries at all. I really want these interviews to be as much as you are comfortable sharing. So, let’s continue with your favorite ship. Do you have a favorite and if so, why?

“Oh, that’s easy. My favorite ship is simply the one I’m in at the time. Out in the void, we’re… umm… at one with our ships and they protect us from the ravages of hostile space. It’s not a… a symbiotic relationship, since that would imply two separate entities interacting. No, we are truly one. In this way every ship earns favorite status from me.”

Void smiles and continues, “But I see you want more than that. Okay, just between you and me, my Astero and Helios occupy a special place in my heart. They both carry the name Raven’s Pride. You know, the elegant lines of the Astero and the… umm… graceful sweep of the curved semicircular structures toward the aft of the ship, holding within them that ethereal veil of light cast by the inset lights, captured and held my gaze from the first moment I saw one. The Helios has its own, different form of beauty. I recall another Signaleer say of the Helios, ‘If you can free your mind of symmetry, beauty will rush in to fill the gap.’”

”During your travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that has surprised you?”

• “The overwhelming extent of New Eden and Anoikis. 7,805 known systems. How many unknown to us?”
• “The catastrophically damaged Jove Observatories. Enigmatic and haunting.”
• “The 24/7 hustle and bustle of the ships of powerful commercial interests centered on Jita 4-4.”
• “The Sisters of Eve Flotillas in the Drifter Hive Systems. Although a beautiful sight and a reassuring presence, they leave a faint scent of mystery in their wake.”
• “The Shattered Wormhole systems. I shudder at the power that caused such devastation.”
• “The labored, deep breathing of end-of-life wormholes. Such a creepy sound can signal only impending death.”
• “The Katia Sae Monument in Saisio. Where would I be today without it?”

Katia continued despite her involuntary blush, ”What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

“Jump right in and go for it. Yet, patience is a virtue. In New Eden, you can see and do quite a lot with quite a little, really.”

”Do you have a favorite image that you wouldn’t mind me posting and sharing from your explorations?

“These photos of the SOE Flotilla in Vidette are currently among my favorites.”

“That’s it, you did great Void, thanks so much for taking time out from your explorations and I certainly wish you well on your journey.”

“Katia, thank-you for this opportunity to tell you and Signal Cartel a little bit more about myself. You know, as nervous as I was at the start of the interview, I enjoyed it. At times it was even cathartic. I hope you and your readers enjoy it too. But now I really do need to leave so I can put on a fresh blouse.”

Void finishes the last of her drink and she and Katia rise to leave the pub.

Signaleer Thanaella

Editor’s Note: Back to our Signaleer Series with another in character interview. Not that I’m biased (well, maybe 😉 ) but I do enjoy the Roleplay aspect of gaming.

Thanaella

Katia arrived early at the Armateur, one of the upscale restaurants at Zoohen Theology Council station. Not an establishment she usually visited, but it was a place where the staff and clientele alike knew to respect the privacy of others. Along with that she often would be offered a secluded area of the restaurant with a fantastic view that reminded her of why exploration called to her heart.

Thanaella

Reviewing her datapad, Katia caught up on her next interviewee: Thanaella, Gallente, considers herself a wanderer. Then out of the corner of her eye she caught sight of Thanaella being lead to the table. Smiling, Katia stood, offered her hand in greeting, then nodded at the waiter to bring the prearranged appetizer. Some time later, after finishing their meal which certainly was up to the standards of an establishment such as the Armateur, the conversation moved on to the interview.

“So tell me, why did you become a capsuleer?”

In my head I was always drifting off into fantastical, far away worlds full of war, forever questing, slaying dragons and hunting for treasure. And then one day, 9/9/YC111 to be precise, I decided to “grow up”, become a capsuleer and do the adult thing. What good it brought me.

Katia wondered about that last statement, but decided not to pry. She wanted her interviews to be casual and forthcoming as much as the interviewee allowed without pressing, perhaps more would come out later. “What is your background as a pilot? Did you jump right into exploration, start in the military, hired by a corporation, or something else?”

I started, like so many of us, fresh out of the academy with not an ISK on me. Leaving me no choice but to run missions for whoever wanted to pay me. Dropping off a child’s doll 20 systems away, sure why not. Killing another capsuleer because he pissed you off? Of course, would love to… I hated it, hated it! Where was the adventure, the spoils of war, the excitement?

And then it happened, someone podded me. inevitable I guess and who cares. Everyone knows about the transneural burning scanner. Don’t worry, all will be fine! Until its not…

I died 3/19/YC112 and did not wake up until somewhere in YC116. They told me that’s not possible, that the system is flawless. They made it sound like I am insane, or a charlatan or even worse.

So, off I went, to do the same thing all over again. THE definition of insanity. And just like that, history repeated itself. I got podded again and did not wakeup until very recently.

Odd indeed, Katia thought, perhaps this was a hint? “What attracted you to explore New Eden? Do you have a goal, have you achieved it? If not, are you still working towards it?”

So where does my little problem of not waking up leave me? Every death potentially means losing years and attached to that friends, loved ones. But staying in the station all day like an ISK trader is even worse, or roaming HiSec to hit at rocks. You might as well unplug me now.

And so I roam aimlessly, from wormhole to wormhole, trying to avoid known space and its inhabitants like the plague.

Joining Signal Cartel gave me an additional purpose of tending caches while I am out and it helps to have like-minded capsuleers to talk to. It proves that I am not insane, or not the only insane one.

“Silly Mistake III”

“What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring?”

“Silly Mistake III” is the name of my ship, an Astero. Why do I fly it? Have you seen its form? Its sleek, beautiful, full of purpose. No visible weaponry, its drones nicely hidden away. I might be passive, but not defenseless.

Katia smiled, she was all too familiar with her own favorite Astero class hull, “Voyager”. “During your travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that has surprised you?”

Not much surprises me to be honest. Too many years, too many experiences. It makes one stoic, hardened, and yes cynical. Surprises lie with the inhabitants of space, that one capsuleer that doesn’t kill you. Or the pilot who talks to you when your down and close to initiating the self-destruct sequence. Or the clowns that makes you laugh. It’s the stories we tell, the stories we live.

“What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?”

Seek out like minded individuals, find a Corp that suits your style, even if you are the silent lone wolf type. Nobody likes to fly alone. No one should fly alone.

”It’s interesting you say that, because I think it’s so true with Signal Cartel, for the most part, we are lone wolves who’ve found comfort in community, yet still fly alone. So, from your wanderings, do you have a favorite image that you wouldn’t mind me posting and sharing from your explorations?”

How does one capture the darkness, loneliness, and cold of space? With its natural beauty, its splashes of color and sprinkles of light. Alas, I tried but have failed, yet again…

“Splashes of color and sprinkles of light, so true and eloquently said. You’ve not failed. Thanks so much for the interview, so glad in getting to know my fellow Signaleers.”

Interviewer’s note: After the interview Thanaella supplied me with the more technical aspects of her Astero.

Signaleer Bob N’Weave

Editor’s Note: Taking a break from the winners of our Eve Fiction Writing Contest for another in our series of Signaleers. Enjoy!

Bob N’Weave

What attracted you to EVE Online and how long have you played?

Bob N’Weave

I started playing EVE many years ago (2008.07.18) when my brother had been playing already for some time. I used to go to his house where our kids would play together and he would be heavily injected into the game and I would sit by and watch. He was part of a corp called NI4NI and they were a pirate corp out of Fade or Delve (upon further review, it looks like our HQ was in Curse)… I was fresh out of the box with no clue how to do anything and played a few days till I went out to meet him and basically just shadowed him and salvaged his wrecks for content. After a while, EVE became to expensive to sub so I let it go…this was right around when Goons were rising up against BoB….we were also against BoB, but not with goons exactly….anyhow, after many years off I decided to try the free version….and here we are now….

What is your background as a pilot? Did you jump right into exploration, start in the military, hired by a corporation, or something else?

This toon started as my Jita alt for when I was involved in Pandemic Horde (after our move to Geminate), I was an explorer there and found that also after the move. While we were still in Fade (on my main) I was a salvager, made tons of isk on Serpentice salvage, but upon arrival in Geminate it became a desolate wasteland of Guristas wrecks and I needed to make isk bad… lol… so I dared venture out into the great unknown as an alpha, in an astero…lol…it went exactly as it sounds like it would… I spent a great deal of isk learning this trade….haha

I have an alt (my main) in a PVP WH corp but that doesnt suit me or my play style…so for the time being this is it for me…i enjoy exploration and am happy just going thru wormholes tending/sowing and hopefully doing some SAR work.

During your travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that has surprised you?

I think the most surprising thing about New Eden and Anoikis is that you can never tell how someone is going to treat you being there… I have had people chase me for what felt like ever and I have had people save my hide when I bit off too much in a sleeper site (dood even lost a Gnosis). I do tend to take a look at the sights but for the most part I like to scan and hack and scan and hack… that keeps me occupied most of the time.

Most interesting fact: There is Never enough time in my life to play this game the way I want to… lol

What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

Don’t go out in an Astero till you can cloak. Don’t sit still scanning if you can’t cloak. Don’t hack in Null-Sec if there are unaccounted-for pilots in system with you (unless you’re prepared for a fight)… they are most definitely waiting to pod you and take your stuff. And lastly… learn from your mistakes and be happy about it… its only a game, dont let it affect you. It took me a long time in gaming to let go of the results and just enjoy it as much as I do now… I learned that here. 🙂

Do you have a favorite image from your explorations?

My favorite image has to be the one I shot of my (new at the time) Stratios (still flying it now) in the hand of your statue (Journey of Katia Sae Memorial).

Signaleer Theana Gaterau

Editor’s Note: This week in our continuing series, Theana Gaterau joins us with a freeform response to our curious questions. For those that don’t know Theana Gaterau, please let me just take a moment and introduce her. One of Signal Cartel’s foundational stones is be the content you wish to see. Theana took that to heart when founding and building our Signal Cartel Fleet School. (Yes, Signal Cartel runs fleets that partake in the PVE content that EVE has to offer 😊 ) Because of her hard work and dedication leading and FCing weekly fleets, mentoring up and coming FC’s, building a great Admin team, Signal Cartel can proudly say we have a full-fledged PVE fleet division that our members can participate in. To date that’s been 185 unique pilots participating in SCFS Fleets. Thanks Theana!

Theana Gaterau

Refresher of the questions that inspired her response.

What attracted you to EVE Online and how long have you played? What is your background as a pilot? What attracted you to explore New Eden? What is your goal and have you achieved it? What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring? What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

Theana Gaterau, “The Hyena”, SCFS Founder

I started playing Eve on January 1, 2018. I joined Signal Cartel almost immediately and became a Signaleer on January 9, 2018. As a brand new pilot in a very big universe, I wanted to learn about the cluster and exploration seemed like a good way to do that. Participating in the ESR program by tending rescue caches was something I could do right away and I set out into Anoikis to tend and sow rescue caches. In recent months my interests have turned to PvE. I’m still out in wormholes a good bit of the time, but I spend more time now eradicating The Sleeper Menace than I do tending rescue caches.

My first “goal” in Eve was to move up from my starter Imicus into Captain Crinkle’s Helios fit. It was a major accomplishment for me when I could fly that fit comfortably!

Damnation, SCFS No Touchie

I wanted to get involved in some group activities and trained into a Coercer for VulfPup fleets. I flew my first fleet on February 9, 2018 and even though I ended up losing my ship, I knew that fleet PvE was what I wanted to do.

There weren’t very many fleet opportunities in Signal Cartel at the time, so I decided I would create the content I wanted to see. I remapped for Charisma and started training the fleet support skills I would need to effectively FC. After a lot of training I am now able to use the Armored Command Mindlink. My bursts are strong!

One of the best moments I’ve had in-game was the day I undocked the Vex’ahlia, gifted to me by Quinn Valerii. I lost that hull in The Killings at Kurnianen but I rebuilt. To this day I fly a modified version of that fit, now named SCFS No Touchie, every time I lead an Armor Fleet in combat.

That hull is skinned and started out black!

Learning to FC wasn’t an easy path initially, and still isn’t. I learn something new every time I take out a fleet. Sometimes it’s something I should have done but didn’t, and sometimes it’s something I did that I shouldn’t have done. Mistakes are going to happen – the goal is to learn from those mistakes and get better.

The best advice I can give, based on my limited experience, is EVERYTHING is ammo. Ammo is ammo, hulls are ammo, and pods are ammo. Give a good fight and Die With Glory!

Theana Gaterau’s Damnation SCFS No Touchie

Signaleer Thrice Hapus

Thrice Hapus, CEO, Signal Cartel

What attracted you to EVE Online and how long have you played?

Editor’s Note: This answer was taken from Thrice’s introduction forum post when he had only been with Signal Cartel for one month. It’s a fun read!

Thrice Hapus

I’ve enjoyed playing MMO games since they started becoming more popular a decade or so ago. My play time has always been fairly limited, so I’ve mostly stuck to the tried and true, like World of Warcraft, and it’s been a lot of fun. This past year, though, those games have started to lose my interest. After spending years completing quests, farming mobs, skilling up mostly meaningless professions, and seeing the online community slowly disintegrate, I realized it just wasn’t that much fun anymore. I still enjoyed the genre and still hoped for the promise of community that MMOs offered; I just wasn’t finding it in WoW and their ilk any more. And I really wished it would all be a bit more meaningful at the end of the day. Of course, it’s “just a game”, but even within an avocation, progress should mean something more than simply time put in, and that progress should be fun to attain. And, in an MMO, it should all be done within a great, supportive, challenging community. Otherwise, what’s the point?

I’d heard about EVE on and off over the years. Mostly about how awful everyone who plays it is to one another, how cutthroat it can be, how it’s mostly boring with a few brief moments of excitement here and there. Still, the science fiction setting appealed to me, and as I read about its almost entirely player-driven economy and industry, I realized this might be an MMO where “crafting” was worthwhile and “progress” was what you made of it, even if the community was a bit rough. Maybe a hostile community would be better than none at all?

So I decided to check it out in December of last year. The UI and premise of EVE are so completely different from what I was accustomed to, that it took me a bit just to get my bearings. As I started to read and learn, I was astounded by the general helpfulness and courtesy in rookie chat. This was not at all the sort of community I had expected to find based on what I had heard about EVE. Not only was everyone fairly respectful (in rookie chat, not so much in NPC corp chat!), but there were so many people online at the same time! It felt like I was part of a bustling society, and one where I might over time find a way to make my own small contribution.

I realized right away just how HUGE a game this is. I struggled to figure everything out. Once I undocked for the first time, I struggled to even know where to begin! Someone in rookie chat turned me on to the career agent missions, and those proved to be exactly what I needed to get better acclimated. After running all of the career agent missions and the Blood-Stained Stars SOE epic arc (occasionally thinking, “I’m right back to running quests again…”), I fell in love with exploration. I’ve never enjoyed PvP all that much, mostly because my reflexes are not as quick as most, so it is hard for me to keep up! But to be able to stealthily whisk around New Eden, avoiding PvP more often than not as my skills increased and my knowledge of game mechanics grew and not just based on my “twitch” — that appealed to me quite a bit. And to be able to make a potentially very large amount of ISK in the process; well, that just sealed the deal.

After the final mission of the SOE arc ended, I realized there was no clear “next step” I was being channeled into by the game. I thought, “I guess I’m NOT just back to running quests again!” And I knew right away what I wanted to do: Get out into null sec and start making some big money on relic sites. But first I wanted to dip my toe into low sec and see how I fared there.

Before my first foray into low sec, I had read something from a more experienced capsuleer about how he had never lost a ship while outside of high sec. I think now this must have been sheer braggadocio on his part, but at the time I thought I could probably achieve the same pristine loss ratio.

Despite everything I’d read about not flying ships you couldn’t afford to lose, and thinking I was prepared for it to happen, my first death to another player was rough. Even though it was a mostly stripped Velator and easily replaced, it rattled me to be so quickly snuffed out. I am extremely risk-averse, even when it’s only pixels on the line, and so I made it my goal to get smarter, fly safer, and not “lose” again.

Imicus

I had good success for about a month. I learned more about fitting an Imicus and had some success in running sites in low sec. I got more comfortable in systems with other players. I learned about bookmarks and safespots and started placing them faithfully in every system I was in. I read the well-known exploration guide, Billions and Billions of ISK, and started having dreams of becoming space rich. And I had some pretty good luck. I didn’t lose a single ship all month long.

One of my very first treks into null sec was planned to be a quick ten-jump hop in and back from Gallente low sec. The stars aligned and I found some quiet systems with relic sites I could actually hack without them exploding on me. When I hit 200 million ISK in my hold, I figured I had better quit while I was ahead and scramble back to high sec to sell it all off. This was all going to go just like I had envisioned. Getting rich via exploration was going to be a cakewalk! All I had to do was rinse and repeat what I had just done and I would have it made in no time.

But, of course, that’s not how it works. My luck ran out, and I got blown up and podded in a bubble at a gate camp on MHC-R3, one jump away from my low sec connection system. I thought losing that Velator was rough, but losing my first Imicus, “Odyssey”, to another player was something different entirely. This ship was mine in a way the rookie Velator had never been. I had real time logged in it, real effort invested in its fit, and a hold containing the, for me, unbelievable sum of 200 million ISK. (zKillboard value is different now, but I’m sure it was 200 million+ at the time of the kill.)

I was devastated. Like sick-to-my-stomach-couldn’t-catch-my-breath CRUSHED. I was so dispirited by the image of my frozen corpse floating in the black void of uncaring space that I immediately quit the game and had to get up from the computer and walk away. Because of my “success” the prior month, I assumed I must be doing everything right and was well on my way to “winning” at EVE, or at least my version of it.

After three days of sulking, I finally got up enough courage to try to replace what I had lost. I fitted a new Imicus, headed back to the same area of Syndicate, and started over. This time I was ready for any contingency: I had a mobile depot stowed in my hold, and I would anchor it at a safespot and dump all my cargo in it if I felt uncomfortable at a gate.

Soon I had about 50 million ISK in loot, and I decided I would head back with that. I jumped from 8-JYPM to EZA-FM and found myself at a camped gate. (“Oh, no, not again!”) My heartbeat quickened. I quickly retreated back through the gate and warped to one of my safespots before I could be followed. Once there, I deployed my mobile depot, stashed all my hard-won loot in it — and then wasn’t sure what to do next.

I could log off in space and wait them out. I could try taking another route back to somewhere “safer”. But there was no way I could see to play the game and be as safe as I wanted to be. So, I figured, “What the heck?” and I jumped my now-empty ship back into EZA-FM, got trapped in a bubble, and saw my corpse floating in space once again.

Since my hold was empty, I didn’t think getting podded would bother me that much. But it really did. Because now I was back in Gallente high sec with no good options to gather up my loot from the mobile depot. I had 50 million ISK, and no way to get to it. And I could go scan down some more sites and find some more loot, but what was to prevent the exact same scenario unfolding each and every time I did so?

I was so proud of my little bit of progress in learning to scan, thinking to stow a mobile depot, making tactical and safespot bookmarks. But despite my very best efforts, EVE was beating me. EVE was just really, really hard. Too much for me, I guess. I uninstalled it from my computer and tried to forget about it.

A couple months went by. Although I didn’t really want to even login to EVE at all, I followed a few headlines about the game here and there. One of the things that initially fascinated me about EVE was how it would occasionally show up in the actual IRL news due to some especially egregious player behavior (either in-game or otherwise) or a huge battle the losses of which amounted to an astonishing sum even when tabulated in US dollars. One such headline caught my eye: the announcement of Andrew Groen’s history of EVE’s early wars, Empires of EVE, being released.

I think I bought it on my Kindle the day it came out. Even though I was lousy at the actual game, I still really loved the world CCP and the players had created, the depth of the lore, and, more importantly, the ridiculously intricate web of alliances and corporations (and the inevitable clashes between them) that the players had layered on top of it all. Maybe I couldn’t play in that world, but I would at least enjoy reading about the heroics and anti-heroics of those who could.

Empires of EVE reads like a history text aimed at a non-academic audience. In other words, it is a bloody page-turner. Even though the aspect of the game it details—huge wars between massive alliances—is one that I have little desire to participate in myself, it is incredibly engaging reading. I recommend it to anyone, both in-and outside of the EVE community. It is fun to learn more about some of these outsized characters and the real people behind them. It is fascinating to eavesdrop on back-room deals and to witness heart-breaking espionage. I almost could not put it down. And when I was finished I knew I had to re-engage with this magnificent, awful, wonderful, terrible universe in some capacity.

Empires of EVE

I also knew the main thing I would do differently. My best early experience in EVE was the rookie chat channel. When I got kicked out of it after my first 30 days in the game, I felt very much alone. Empires of EVE had convinced me that EVE was best experienced as part of an active corporation. The first thing I would do when I logged in again would be to apply to a corp. And that is just what I did.

I reinstalled the game. I re-upped my subscription. I logged back in. The last player who had podded me had belonged to EVE University, and I had relied heavily on their wiki during my first month of learning the ropes in the game. Since I am a teacher (among other things) at my day job, the idea of belonging to a corp that existed to help new players learn the game and improve their skills appealed to me.

The folks at E-UNI are terrific. Incredibly helpful, dedicated players who go out of their way to help you learn. Although their application and induction processes are a learning curve in their own right, once navigated successfully, a world of options opens up to you as a member. And I surveyed a lot of them, trying to figure out the best way to engage with this new group. Campuses in high sec, low sec, and null sec. Even a wormhole campus. (Wormholes, what’re those?) Courses on planetary interaction and skilling up an alt to try that out. Skilling up a hauling alt and trying that out for a bit. Joining the mentor program to see what I could learn from a more seasoned player. Learning about FleetUp and Mumble and higher-level mission running.

But something was missing. And it wasn’t hard at all to figure out what it was. I had fallen in love with exploration, and I could not find any group of folks pursuing this somewhat lonesome interest as a group. Not that such a thing doesn’t exist within the Uni—within their vast offerings, I am sure it must! But I could not find it, and so found myself in a corp at last, but with little to contribute.

And, for me, it all felt a little self-serving—chasing all these personal in-game interests just so I could make a little bit of ISK so I could chase those same interests some more. It conjured up memories of the “grind” I was trying to get away from in other MMOs. After experiencing the majestic, larger-than-life sweep of Empires of EVE, I wanted to be part of something larger within the game, to make a contribution that mattered in some way beyond just kicking in some ISK in taxes to the corporation’s coffers while I went about my own business.

That’s when I remembered seeing a departure mail from a Unista mentioning they were leaving the University to join up with a corp that was more exploration-centric, called “Signal Cartel”. I dug that mail up, and started following some links.

I’ve been with Signal Cartel for exactly one month as of today. I feel a little foolish saying it, because I don’t know any of you very well, but I think I’ve found the place where I can make my own small contribution to the grand world of New Eden, in a way that is both fun for me and still genuinely helpful. I believe I’ve found my home in EVE.

I’ve loved being involved with the Thera Wormhole Maintenance program, and I plan to continue on with that work as much as I am able. It was great fun to see my name show up on the EvE-Scout web site after I’d mapped my first Thera hole to Tripwire. And I’ve been able to do most of this mapping work in my humble, beloved Imicus (I think I’m on “Odyssey IV” now), so losing a ship isn’t too big a deal. And if I’m super-strapped for ISK, I am grateful to know the Ship Replacement contracts are just a click away.

It has been a great eye-opener to learn about wormholes in general, and to be more or less “living” in one now is not something I would have foreseen even one short month ago. As I learn more and continue to build up my piloting skills, I’m looking forward to participating in the Search and Rescue program and the Rescue Cache seeding. And I hear something about a dedicated “Anoikis” division of the corp; I might have to check that out, too.

And when I need a change of pace from all of that, there are still relic and data sites to be scanned down and hacked. I just made my first successful foray into Sansha space the other day, hacked about 50 million ISK from a single site, and made it back to Thera safe-and-sound, thanks to knowing a little bit more, being a bit more bold, and having a few more skillpoints accumulated. And I was piloting a Helios, if you can believe it! I’m really living on the edge these days.

Ares

They say that “EVE is real”, and while that’s mostly just marketing, there is, as with all the best hyperbole, a note of truth to it. I’m real. So are you! We’re building something together that’s made out of time and effort, and that’s real. Offering services to the entire community of New Eden at no cost is a good of measurable value. That’s real. And helping, by our participation, to manufacture the warp and weft of what Signal Cartel is all about, both as a refuge for the beleaguered and a tonic for the jaded, is perhaps of the most enduring worth. I can’t thank Mynxee and Mr. Splunk enough for envisioning and establishing this ideological “safe harbor” in the rough-and-tumble world of EVE.

I’ve got a skill queue almost two years long now, thanks to direction from the New Member Guide and some other reading I’ve been doing, so I guess I’ll be around for a while. My heart still races in a lot of situations, and I will inevitably lose another big haul at some point in the (not-too-distant) future. I’ll see my frozen corpse out in space yet again, I’m sure. But when I do, I won’t be staring into the void alone. I have a home to go back to now.

What attracted you to explore New Eden? What is your goal and have you achieved it? If not, are you still working towards your goal, do plan to continue, or what are you currently doing?

It’s beautiful. I actually cried the first time I flew in space after I upgraded my graphics card and could run the game in something other than pure potato mode. It’s the most gorgeous game I’ve ever seen, and I love space and sci-fi.

When I started playing, I wanted to become someone like Chribba in-game. A rare trusted person within the den of thieves. Then I found Signal Cartel and realized I was way more interested in doing that within a community than doing it solo as he had done. Running ESR for about 18 months was a step in that direction. COO of the corp was, too. Now I’ll try my hand at CEO for a while and see how it goes.

In 2018, I had a short-term goal of wanting to see Signal Cartel get some mainstream gaming press, and, much to my surprise, we had the interview in PC Gamer by March. A Talking in Stations appearance followed. And then all the cool stuff around your Katia Sae’s quest that recently wrapped up with the statue this April. It’s been a pretty awesome year for seeing Signal Cartel in the news!

What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring?

It’s embarrassing to say, but I do not. I so rarely undock any more. I have my Astero for wormholes and my Ares for null and a bunch of other random ships for the rare occasions I can make a SCFS fleet. Almost all of my game time these days is email, forums, Discord, etc. I guess on Bartle’s taxonomy, I am officially a Socializer these days.What is the name of your favorite ship that you enjoy flying the most while exploring?

During your travels, what has been the most interesting fact, amazing sight, or other aspect of New Eden that has surprised you?

AD Parrot

The naming of systems is so interesting to me. I read that the nullsec names were generated from a database of expired Iceland automotive license plates. I do not know if this is true, but I hope that it is. The mystery of J-space names is still out there to be solved. I know they must mean something! I have spoken with AD Parrot about this at length, and I know he has some theories.

What have you learned or what advice would you give to someone interested in exploring New Eden?

If you want to see something or be something in New Eden, you can make it happen. So cool!

Do you have a favorite image from your explorations?

Go to Razorien’s flickr and choose a random image. That one is my favorite today. It will be a different one tomorrow.

Astero, Signal Cartel Birthday Fleet by Razorien