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EVE Online Community Spotlight: a Q&A with Chribba

James Egan
June 30, 2008

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Trust is a rare commodity in EVE Online. Many players are drawn to the game by the fact that almost any form of deceit, betrayal, and outright treachery is allowed in EVE. Not all players head down this path, of course, but plenty do. This element of risk is what makes the game exciting, but even those who are wary of the online personas of some EVE players may still find themselves getting backstabbed and robbed, or worse. Many in EVE have learned to profit from the misfortunes of others. However, this social environment has created certain opportunities for individuals who are able to establish their credibility over time, and through great effort.

Among the most trustworthy in EVE Online is Chribba, a player who's very active in the community and provides a number of services to EVE fans, free of charge. Helped by Chribba's efforts, EVE Online has expanded into a game where players become auteurs, creating videos and sharing their in-game pursuits with others, either for their own glory or their organization's propaganda. Of course, his contributions don't end there, as most everyone in the EVE community knows. Massively recently caught up with Chribba and asked him to share a bit about what he does for the EVE player base, and why he does it.

You're viewed by most EVE players as being extremely trustworthy -- to the point where your reputation allows you to profit from your word. You run a third party escrow service in EVE, where you broker deals for items that are

either ludicrously expensive or very risky to buy and sell. Tell me a bit about this service.

This really wasn't any intended service, I was asked privately to help in a mothership trade due to my status in the community since the buyer didn't want to transfer some 40 billion ISK to the seller with the risk of getting scammed. So after a long conversation with both buyer and seller everyone agreed that I was to be used as a 3rd party, holding the ISK while they traded ship.

While others did scam people on mothership trades I guess the rumor spread, as I was asked once again to help a pilot with getting his ship safely. After that I decided, why not give this a go, I spent years building up my reputation, helping and offering services here and there. So I simply posted in the Sell orders forum that I would help people with securing their transactions for a fee. From there on it just went on and on, and today I have become pretty much standard for these types of trades -- and as far as I know there hasn't been a successful mothership scam for close to a year.

Do you broker titan transactions, or deals which would be impossible otherwise -- like the outright sales of corporations and their starbase holdings?

Yeah I do titan transactions as well, I pretty much am able to help in any type of transaction if wanted. No matter how small or large the ISK sum is. Of course if there are better ways than to use me I will inform the involved parties about that - e.g. no need to use me for selling some item that can be sold via in-game contracts. But I do help in verifying assets in corporation/starbase trades, holding the ISK while CEO's switch place and similar transactions that involve trust.

Have you had any unusual requests for what people would like you to help them buy or sell?

Now and then a request for securing some module or BPO comes, but in those cases contracts works better than using me, so I simply inform the pilot about that and they take care of it themselves. I have been known to auction out items and modules for a customer though, in the event that he/she wants to remain anonymous (or they just want to (ab)use my reputation for a better sale lol).

Are there individuals or organizations in EVE that you won't do business with, or is your door open to anyone, carebear or psychopath alike?

I do business with everyone, however I may refuse to help if said party has targeted me in a way I feel unsuitable or similar, I have secured transactions for known scammers and pirates many times (since they pretty much have destroyed their own reputation and using me is their only way to get their hands on things they might want).

So I am open to everyone and will deal with anyone unless they treat me badly, so far no one has though. I have given it a thought though, if I should aid the transaction of a known scammer or not, however it's a business and EVE is a dark harsh place so I don't see any reason to turn down a customer based upon what path he/she has chosen -- even though I may dislike their path. I mean that would be the same as turning down a customer just because he or she mines in a capital ship -- no sane pilot would do that right?!

You're one of the most recognizable characters in the game. Is there a downside to this? One would imagine you receive a lot of convo requests when you're logged in.

Thus far I have not encountered any downsides, people shout in local when I pass, convo and evemail me just to say hi. For me that is a bonus, since I play solo I don't have many others to talk to then everyone I meet along the way :) and if there are too many convos I simply don't answer until I have time to do so.

You run the hugely popular EVE-Files website, where players host the videos they capture in-game, and all of their other EVE-related content. How did you get started doing this, and is it difficult to maintain?

Similar to the 3rd party service, EVE-Files was originally started (not under the name EVE-Files though) as a favor to a RL friend (C4w3) as he and his corp had the need to host some EVE videos, so I simply gave them an ftp account on one of my servers. This was very much appreciated by the pilots in the corp so I figured why not offer this to all other pilots as well, since content on the forum had a strange way of working right now -- but not next week.

Slowly it grew as more and more pilots hosted their content, and from there I just began running it to save as much as possible of the game we all love. Currently it doesn't take that much work to maintain as the admin-tools have become pretty easy to use, so it is very easy to verify the content being uploaded -- and since I keep a strict policy of content to be EVE-related all other content gets removed quickly and people seem to have realized that it is no use to put up anything else since it will be removed right away. So much thanks to the users for not filling it with trash.

In addition to EVE-Files, you're also running a few other sites that benefit the EVE Online community. Do you plan to keep going with all of them? Is there anything new planned?

Yeah I will try to keep them running for as long as I can -- or until there is something better and with more use than mine, then I'll happily close down and ensure the player base ends up at the better place. I love nothing more than to see the community have the best and to push it forward for the benefit of everyone. If that is me doing it or someone else, that's no major thing in my world. I currently have nothing new planned, I just finished giving EVE-Search a fair bit of boost so I'm all happy with that -- and with summer and all, maybe I'll even take a little vacation from the coding.

You're the first western person I'm aware of that documented the experience of playing the Chinese 'Serenity' version of EVE Online, armed only with Google. How did this experience turn out for you?

I had a blast! It was great -- and a huge adventure due to the language differences... Since I don't speak Chinese at all. The Chinese pilots were very friendly, possibly due to the fact that it was me? It was a very interesting trip, the only downside is that the average player count is what TQ had back in 2003 kinda, so space was extremely empty with the exception of the bigger trade hubs.

The art of navigation was really a challenge though, as all systems and names are in Chinese someone like me had no idea which stargate or system was named what, but with the aid of Google translation and a client connected to TQ I could "dual fly" by looking at both screens for which stargate to aim for. It worked, but hardly suitable for any longer game experience.

However the biggest problem was getting access to the server itself, the "trial" accounts you can register are for Chinese citizens only, meaning in order for you to get a trial account you need to fill in your Chinese personal details -- getting a Chinese social security number isn't that easy when you're not Chinese... Yet again, Google to the rescue. Their image search provided me with the photograph of the ID card I needed to register (and major thanks to "one who I shall not name" for providing me with a retail copy of the Chinese version at the 2007 FanFest, and my apologies to Mr. Xian Cho for using his SSN to sign up :D

But despite the problems with getting access it revived the feeling I had back in 2003 when I first started playing, learning things, exploring, it was all new but so similar to TQ. If it wasn't for the language and registering problem I would encourage everyone to at least take a trial over there. The Chinese community is very friendly and do their utmost to lend a helping hand, even if their own English skills are not at Lv5.

You pilot a unique ship in EVE. Not unique in terms of what it is, but WHERE it is. Your Revelation dreadnaught is in high security space, where no other ships of that class can enter now. I know your 'Veldnaught' is used to mine Veldspar ore in your local asteroid belts. Have you ever wanted -- even for a moment -- to swap out your mining lasers for Giga Pulse lasers and just go on a rampage? It would be the end of the Veldnaught, but it would certainly be glorious.

Giga Pulse what? Never heard of them. But really while I do have both the skills for the capital guns and the guns themselves, they are rarely fitted onto its turrets. They have been known to get undusted on one of my alts from time to time though, but besides that I feel absolutely no urge at all to unleash its offensive powers. I never had any interest at all in PvP, and have since the start never engaged in combat with the exception of once defending myself against the (in)famous m0o's -- I died though, not too surprisingly.

In other words, the Veldnaught is the friendliest dreadnaught a pilot will ever encounter, its cargo rigs don't really aid the offensive fitting it could use.

Your in-game corporation, Otherworld Enterprises, is basically a one-man-show, right? Have any corporations or alliances ever declared war on you? If so, what was the result?

Yeah, me and my ego contest the hangars of 'OTHER', as well as the alliance Otherworld Empire, which also is just me and always has been. I once received a war declaration, back in 2004 if I remember correctly, this was due to an upset pilot who happened to buy some overpriced overdrives from me (after I put them back on the market for making the same stupid mistake). I believe the issuer didn't really expect that chasing after one solo pilot would be somewhat hard. I happened to zip by the aggressors once during the time the declaration was in effect. So that war was pretty harmless, not that I would have even tried to fight anyway since I just flee no matter what (I'm so lame).

Over the years though many have grown to respect me to the point that they turn down contracts on my head. That feels very good, and also drives me to keep doing what I do to help others.

It's often said that EVE isn't a game someone can solo. That may be true for certain playstyles, but you seem to be doing just fine. Can you tell me about your playstyle in EVE, and what is it about the game that keeps you interested?

That is so true, it isn't called a multiplayer game for nothing. Some years ago, my intention was actually to prove the multiplayer description wrong by simply doing it ALL solo. I guess I was immature, that just doesn't work for EVE; without the multiplayer concept it would be dead boring. While I have come a long way in proving "them" wrong, that simply isn't the goal any more.

It was said that only the biggest of corps would form alliances -- since they were for the bigger groups and those with the wallets to create them, I proved them wrong on that early by creating my own alliance with only me in it (and as a bonus all my alts have their own alliance as well, so basically I run two alliances with only myself in them).

Secondly it was said that only the biggest of alliances would have the wallets and logistics to build capital ships, in response I became the owner of the Veldnaught (even though I did not do the logistics for that one, I do have capital production logistics of my own).

After that they became common; everyone and their cat had a capital in amongst their assets so super capitals (moms/titans) were introduced. Now those are a bit tricky with logistics, and definitely need a larger wallet. However that as well didn't stop the solo me from also having a few (to mine in of course). So I guess the next step is a titan, and that is in the pipeline too, but this time not to prove anyone wrong but merely because I want to and can.

But in the end, the solo play style is just the path that works for me. I can do what I want, when I want it, setting goals for myself and not having to rely on others for it to work. It goes in my timeframe and I can only blame myself if things don't work out. This play style isn't for everyone, and I think everyone needs to find the play style that works the best for them.

I would say that is what keeps my interest up as well, I know that corps have loads of fun, but sometimes that fun also is their downfall when someone may end up not keeping the goal that was set or something like that. Or it could even be someone deciding that he/she should rob the entire corporation assets; I am sure many feel that the fun for them is over by then. So it's hard to say what drives me, but the freedom to do what I want and the community is what drives me -- and I don't see myself stopping playing for years.

The community is really what makes EVE so great, with all personalities and play styles EVE offers, in my opinion there's nothing that beats it... although Hello Kitty Online looks pretty promising too...

Thanks for your time, Chribba. And good luck with your ventures, both in-game and out.

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