EVE Online is as much a setting as it is a massively multiplayer online game. EVE's galaxy of New Eden spans thousands of charted solar systems, with thousands more waiting to be discovered in the uncharted frontiers reachable only through wormholes. For all the myriad opportunities New Eden offers players to explore and create, there are just as many risks. The dangers that other pilots can pose also provide memorable stories that few other MMOs can match. The outlaws of EVE Online halt the calming lull of mining lasers, inject some thrills into otherwise routine trade runs, and disrupt the rote completion of mission objectives. More often than not, encounters with New Eden's pirates will leave you with a pounding heart and surge of adrenaline to go along with the flaming wreckage of your ship, if not a one-way trip back to the cloning facility. They create that fear of what threats lie on the other side of the next star gate and ultimately set the tone for New Eden. But even among these criminals there are a few whose accomplishments truly stand out.
The capsuleer called Mynxee is a well-known pirate in New Eden's underworld. Hers is a name remembered well by the many victims who've met their end under rapid fire from her autocannons. She is the founder and CEO of Hellcats, an all-women pirate corporation in EVE Online, and a central figure in EVE's criminal society. Outside of New Eden, Mynxee has built up quite a following through her Life in Low Sec blog and is one of EVE's more active pilots on Twitter as well. If there is such an individual in New Eden that can be viewed as its pirate king, Mynxee is undoubtedly its queen. She first caught Massively's attention years ago with her flashy red dress (size -10), but she's since become a pivotal figure in New Eden, popular with players from all walks of life in EVE.
Massively recently spoke with Mynxee about the allure of being an outlaw, and how she has expanded the scope of her piracy -- bringing it out of the shadows of low security space and into the light, where players feel they are safest.
Massively: Hellcats is the first and only corp of its kind in New Eden. Why did you want to establish a women-only pirate corp and what challenges has this presented?
Mynxee: I had two initial motivations for establishing Hellcats. The first was to provide a nurturing environment for women players -- especially those with less experience in New Eden -- who were interested in a pirate lifestyle. It was clear from talking to them casually that quite a few new women players felt intimidated by the game and a less-than-supportive environment often found among more experienced players.
The second was to build a tight-knit group of yarr girls respected by peers and victims alike for doing what we set out to do in an effective and professional way. The biggest challenge has been attracting enough of the "right kind" of women, e.g., those who want to live as outlaws, are self-starters willing to invest in continual improvement (reading guides, using tools like EVEMon and EFT), and who enjoy both solo and small fleet action.
Thus far, has Hellcats lived up to the expectations you had when you came up with the concept? How has Hellcats changed over time since the beginning?
In terms of numbers and membership stability, it has not. We originally accepted players very new to the game, offering training in the basic skills of piracy. This turned out to be an enormous drain on time and energy given our small number of experienced players available to do such training. Furthermore, it turned out to be a dubious investment since a good percentage of new members ultimately decided that either piracy or EVE itself was not for them -- or they just dropped off the radar with no explanation. So we set some modest minimum requirements (4M PvP-related skillpoints), figuring that such players would at least have a clue about skill planning, ship fitting, and piloting -- not to mention a better idea of whether or not they plan to stick with the game.
"The biggest challenge has been attracting the 'right kind' of women, those who want to live as outlaws."
When Hellcats started, I had the idea of a small corp that could roll an effective small fleet around low sec, ransoming and killing. Considering the blob tactics so popular these days, that limited our targets considerably. By joining forces with our friends The Bastards for over a year, we had a lot more fun and a lot more kills. However, after a time I and my directors (Shae Tiann and Venom Orchid) began to feel a need to re-establish our independent identity. So we departed amicably from The Bastards and pondered our next steps. Accepting that Hellcats' numbers may always remain low, we decided to form the HellFleet alliance for the purpose of bringing together like-minded players to pursue our agenda of "piracy everywhere". Having the alliance reins in our hands means we can run the show the way we think it should be done.
You're well-known to many players in EVE for being a pirate, but I remember from our first conversation some time ago that you weren't *always* a pirate through-and-through. What steered you down the road towards becoming an outlaw, and did you find it difficult to make that transition?
I started playing EVE with a character specifically designed to be a trader. With her I spent time in industry corps mining, inventing, exploring, manufacturing, and yes... even doing some market trading! When I wandered naively into low sec and lost my ship to pirates, I happened to become friends with an anti-pirate by the name of Austinus who (along with some corpmates) rose to my defense (and got their asses kicked, but that's beside the point). When Austinus turned pirate not long after that, I was intrigued by his tales of low sec shenanigans and decided that was my desired path in New Eden. It's just too much fun to be bad, you know?
"The transition from carebear to pirate was not particularly difficult as soon as my eyes were opened to the fun of being an outlaw."
The transition from carebear to pirate was not particularly difficult - as soon as my eyes were opened to the fun of being an outlaw, I knew it was only a matter of time before the mining lasers would be tossed into the recycle bin. The hardest part was getting over the initial jitters that came from being clueless about PvP tactics and ship fittings. But that's what friends, forums, cheap frigates, and the Undock button are for! You literally just have to get out there and engage time and time again. There is much to be learned from both defeats and victories.
As someone who's active in different (if not opposite) spheres of the game -- industry and exploration on one hand, and piracy on another -- what are your thoughts on the divide between players from each camp? Do you find that after you've experienced these different walks of life in New Eden that your perspective has changed?
Much is made of the differences between pirates and carebears and both sides frequently ridicule the other. However, I know a lot of players from all walks of life in New Eden and - particularly among experienced players - don't see that much of a divide. Many players who embrace the yarr also engage in other activities (usually on second accounts). For one thing, there's too much interesting content in New Eden; willfully maintaining tunnel vision that excludes that content means you miss out on a lot. For another, pirates gotta pay the bills and keep themselves in ships. It's hard to do that by staying focused purely on piracy (though some manage it), so a lot of pirates do carebear stuff on the side. Oh, we might not be strapping on the mining lasers, but many of us run missions, do plexes and Sleeper sites, engage in trading, have low sec POS's working for us, etc.
Any divide that does exist between pirates and carebears is probably more between the experienced players who accept that EVE is a PvP-centric game and the less experienced ones who've not yet had their misguided sense of entitlement to "safe" game play removed by the realities of New Eden.