An Interview with Kelduum Revaan.
The below interview was conducted by Psia in Nov '09, and will hopefully be the first of a series.
So, you are Eve University Director of Operations, what does that mean exactly?
Put simply, those involved in the day-to-day operations of the Uni report to me, and make the big decisions on everything barring combat related ops. This involves the Personnel, Logistics and Training departments, as well as things like Diplomacy and Communications. The vast majority of the actual work is done by the directors, managers and other staff, but if there's a problem, or a big decision needs to be made, I'm likely involved at some point. When it comes to combat related elements, Silentbrick is Fleet Admiral and handles that side of things, with both of us reporting to Morning Maniac, the Founder and CEO of the Uni.
And before you joined the University, what path did you follow?
I joined eve way back in June of 2006, enticed by the stories of massive bank heists, and political power blocs with competing ideologies. For the first few weeks, I didn't get up to much, but after a fair bit of research, I found the Uni's recruitment advert on the official forums. This was around the time The Big Blue was collapsing, and not long later, the Uni left TBB, suffering some early harassment wars, and eventually forming its own alliance.
If you weren't in the Uni, where do you imagine you'd be by now?
Hard to say, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't still be playing Eve. Initially I had joined looking to get some experience before joining Ars Celestis, then a member of the Huzzah Federation alliance. That sort of got sidetracked when I realised that I was enjoying myself in the Uni, and was given the Director title.
What was it about the University that made you want to accept the position of Director?
Its difficult to chose a single or even a few factors, but in short, I'd say its the community. Being part of something like E-UNI which is one of the few truly altruistic groups in New Eden, really is something great, and the members make it more than the sum of its parts. The actual title actually came fairly soon after I joined, as I somehow found myself involved in a discussion with someone who had been shot by Sabre A, and managed to diffuse the situation. For those who don't know, Sabre A was the Diplomatic Director before I took over the role, which has to be the least suitable title for anyone in Eve.
When you see students leave the University, what would you hope that they take with them?
I would hope they take the friendships they built while here, as well as a little of the community spirit we have, not to mention the knowledge and experience they gained while a member. Quite a few changes have been made over the last few months to make leaving less painful for most members, without compromising security. Before those, we had people sticking around in the Uni as they didn't want to leave their friends, which lead to some tensions with the RoE and Policies, but the changes have meant that they can still stay in close contact after leaving, both with the friends they made as well as the Uni in general wherever they end up, without the restrictions we have in place.
The SOP is often criticised for being overly harsh, and this can lead to accusations that the Uni leadership is overly autocratic. How would you answer those criticisms?
The SOP during wars is something that tends to grate with a few new members every time we enter a war situation, but it has evolved and grown to be quite efficient and work very well for the majority of members. Primarily it is there to prevent wars for being 'fun' for the aggressors, while still allowing those who stay in the corp to get some significant PvP and FC experience. Imagine what would happen if we had 1,300 members running around unawares, mining, hauling, and missioning in expensively fit ships - the corp would quickly become Eve pinata's, with people from all over attacking just for the profitable loot!
As far as any claims of autocracy or dictatorships go, that's to be expected - members are usually here to learn, and the leadership has some significant experience, having seen many many scenarios before, so we often need to be very clear exactly what does and doesn't work, especially when it comes to wars.
I would imagine that your Uni position can often be a hard and thankless task, how do you unwind and relieve some of that stress?
I often just take some time away from the computer, and go do something else for a while. A great deal of the work is done by the excellent team of directors and managers, so while I am involved to a certain extent with many areas of the Uni, It doesn't consume as much time as it could.
And how much of your time is taken up on Uni-related tasks?
All in all, taking things like forum administration, keeping up to date, removing inactive members and cleaning up the TS server, its maybe four or five hours a week of direct work while logged in. Apart from that, there's countless hours of discussion, analysis and speculation on various Uni-related topics, so while I may not be in-game, there's likely some Uni-related thought processes running.
Given a free choice of role in a combat fleet, what would chose to do?
Ideally a fleet support role. In what recent combat I've been involved in, I've taken primarily support roles, scanning down targets, hauling supplies for fleets and so on, although I don't get enough time to get involved most of the time. If I had the time, and a bit more experience, I would probably take the role of FC in a command ship or similar.
And what's your favourite ship, and why?
I'd have to say the Machariel, although it could so with a jetwash. Despite its size, its a very fast and manoeuvrable Battleship, and is very flexible when it comes to fitting. A close second would probably be the Legion, the Amarr Tech 3 'Strategic Cruiser' - again, its versatility mean it can fullfill pretty much any role needed.
What change do you hope to see come to Eve in the not-too-distant future?
I'm looking forward to a revamped Neocom, especially stuff like the IGB and EveMail changes, and I'm hoping that in the near future there will be a good few adjustments to the other parts of the interface, mainly the corporation section. The tools we have to manage a group the size of E-UNI are clunky at best, and while they mostly do their job OK, theres a significant amount of improvement available.
And what already announced change are you most looking forward to?
The shake-up with sovereignty will be very interesting, and I will be watching the maps closely for a good few months after Dominion launches. And of course, it will be interesting to see what happens with Incarna.
A bit of future gazing now, how long do you imagine that Eve will persist, and will it go out with a bang or a whimper, when the time comes?
I would say that Eve has a good few years left in it. Subscriber numbers have been steadily rising since launch, and while its unlikely we would ever see multiple millions of subscribers as things are at the moment, I really expect that Eve, and the University, will still be here in many years to come.
Are you planning to play Dust 514?
Certainly. Although I'm admittedly not all that good at them, I do enjoy first person shooters, and the interaction with Eve itself will make things very interesting.
When you aren't playing Eve, what other games (online or offline) do you play?
Quite a few... a quick list of the stuff I have played recently would be: Torchlight, Machinarium, Borderlands, Fallout 3, GTAIV, Dragon Age: Origins, Darwinia and Fable II. Barring Eve, I tend to play single player games mainly, and while I own all the formats, the Xbox 360 tends to me my most popular gaming platform.
Any forthcoming MMOs that you'll try out?
I tend to get involved with quite a few MMOs at launch, but I've not found anything that grabs me as of yet. As a fan of Knights of the Old Republic, and the Old Republic era in general (Revan, Traya, Bane, etc), I'm looking forward to Star Wars: The Old Republic. There is a great period of time before the films which is practically empty, and I'm looking forward to filling in some of that backstory.
Back to Eve, do you see a time coming when the University might look to have a semi-permanent 0.0 presence?
Well, technically, we already have a 0.0 presence at the moment in Division 6, but k-space nullsec can be very problematic. We need to stick to NRDS standings to maintain neutrality (which shouldn't be confused with pacifism), and without people using the space, we don't encounter the groups there and therefore can't set standings to identify valid targets - effectively a catch 22 situation. Projects such as CVA space, while apparently ideal for our kind of situation, can also be an issue as they often require us to follow their standings lists, meaning that there are situations where we shouldn't be attacking our reds. Hopefully the updated mechanics coming in Dominion will better allow these kind of arrangements, and simplify a lot of the behind the scenes work. Getting back to the actual question, once things have settled down in nullsec, we will be seriously looking at arranging access for members, but its a difficult balancing act to do so without either compromising our neutrality or expending resources which could be better used elsewhere. In the mean time though, members are free to run around in NPC nullsec (Curse, Great Wildlands, Syndicate, Outer Ring) as much as they want!
Is there anything that the university doesn't offer now, that you'd like to see in the future?
I would like to see E-UNI with a nullsec presence, and while we only really teach the basics, its likely that will become a more significant element in Eve life in the very near future. I feel it is really the only major part we are currently missing, but its a lot of work setting something like that up and maintaining it.
And a last few questions: Beer or Coffee?
Pirates or Ninjas?
Dogs with hats or flying monkeys?
Flying monkeys, but with hats.
Is there anything else you'd like to say?
Peace is a lie, there *is* only passion. Really.
Thanks for your time, Kelduum.