Monday, July 13, 2015

So You Wanna Start a Corp (Part I)

(alternately: Who does this guy think he is and why is he bothering us with this crap?)

I'm Abavus Durden, CEO, Mission Grinder, and BPO Slum Lord.  I've now been in/around “leadership” positions in online social games (MMOs in particular) for a little over 20 years.

No, I have never been internet-famous; I've never led a large null alliance, have never troll posted at Failheap or Reddit.  My biggest claim to fame was a short interview in the early episodes of EVE-tv (circa 2008), which many of you won't even remember existed.

I also write a blog, which is apparently how you found this.

The social structure of EVE revolves around the Corporation.  Sure, there are chat channels and alliances and public roams and forum communities…  but the oldest, most fundamental, most influential, building block of the game's culture comes from the Corporation.

Corporations run the full spectrum, from 1-man operations to the mega-corporations.  The scrap heap of EVE's history is littered with failed corporations; those that exploded with drama and those that fizzled and died in a gasping choking sob, and many (far too many) that were smothered at birth.

The point of this document is to talk about a very narrow part of that spectrum:  Serious-minded corporations that start off with a legitimate intent to be successful, but don't end up in the top 50 for membership size (those types of corps have their own challenges to contend with that are beyond the scope of this document.)  I'm talking about the average Joe's that don't have thousands of members to contend with and the folks that are doing this as a hobby.

Just to boost my own ego, I'll list my resume:

  1. Game Master (Wizard) and Server Admin, and Officer, various MUSHes, 1993-1998
  2. Guild Founder and Leader, Pukin' Dogs – Earth and Beyond, 2002-2003
  3. Corp CEO, Pukin' Dogs – EVE Beta7 and Live, 2003-2004
  4. Corp CEO, Scruffing Looking Nerf Herders – 2004
  5. Corp CEO, Pukin' Dogs (rebuild) – 2005-2008
  6. Alliance Lead, d0gma – 2007-2008
  7. Guild Co-GM, WoW – 2007-2012

Since 2012, I've played a mix of GW2, EVE, and (rarely) WoW.  Today, I exist in these games as a distanced observer, but (in particular in GW2) sometimes play the role of consultant to the GM/CEO that gets consulted with quietly without actually holding a title.

But there you have it, 20 years of wasted time on computers.  Heh.

The target audience of this document is someone wanting to start a “serious” Corporation.  For the sake of argument, I’m defining a “Serious Corp” as an organization that has dozens to hundreds of members, has established/organized a core leadership, and has a reasonable expectation of longevity.  The invite-everyone-without-a-tag “Barrens Guilds” do not qualify under this definition.  And although I have nothing against Friends and Family corps, the F&F casual crew isn't what I'm talking about here either.


First, we'll begin with the obligatory two rules of starting a new corporation.  Go spool up some Pixies on Youtube and channel your inner Edward Norton narrator voice:

1.  The first rule of starting a corporation is… do not start a new corporation.

2. The second rule of starting a corporation is … do NOT START a new corporation.

The Fight Club rules are a meme of sorts, but the intent behind the message is real.  The notion to start a new corporation strikes many, but few arrive on the scene with the preparation to avoid a quick and disappointing fizzle.

So, before you begin – STOP.  Ask yourself why you're doing this, what you expect to get out of your start up, and what you intend to do with the corporation a week or five after you've picked the clever corp ticker.  If you can't honestly answer yourself, spend some time in someone else's corp and help them out.  If you can't bring yourself to volunteer for another corp's ongoing activities, then you have no business being a CEO.

Since you're still reading, I guess I'll keep typing.

At ground zero, you need four things:

  1. The skills.  From a purely functional/game mechanics standpoint, you need Corporation Management, which is cheap and easy; Megacorp Management is worth it too.  You also need a smattering of isk to get started.
  2. Pick a name.  Make it a good one.  Please don't steal/copy someone else's name.  Please pick something memorable and unique.  And holy crap, do yourself a favor and don't screw up the corporation generation window.  Spell check your entry.
  3. A support crew.  Your first members and likely your officer staff.  If you don't have any friends and intend to build up from a solo start, that's your call.  But if you can walk in the door with an established roster of officers you can depend on, you are miles ahead of other CEOs who start a corp with nothing but good intentions.
  4. A plan.  Don't have a plan? That's fine, keep reading.

Before I end this section, let's reiterate something:  It's vitally important that you have a support crew.  We'll talk later about burn-out, but it's important for you to go into this with a way to share the load.  Starting from scratch, and being responsible for the content of the corp channel and engaging in friendly banter, and recruiting, and answering questions (side convos and evemails), maybe tending to the web/social media, hopefully starting up some Corp Ops of some sort, plus dealing with the daily life of an EVE player is NOT a sustainable activity for one person.  Divide and conquer.  Adding more eyeballs can let you be in more places at once, and deputizing an officer staff (and LETTING them go off and screw things up) is simply necessary.

We'll stop there this time and pick up in a few days with the back end philosophy that can help provide a backbone to your new endeavor.


  1. Great start. I will read all of them. Remember to link from this one to part 2 and once in part 2 link to part 1 and part 3.

    It helps the reader find the previouse and next post

    Google like backlinks and this will help with SEO.

    1. Thought I replied, apparently I hit Sign Out instead of Publish.

      Thanks for the comment. You're correct that I should do the forward linking and I'll fix that soonish. Originally, I was going to write out the whole thing and then post them all rapid fire and accompany the final version with a downloadable PDF. This summer has been distracting more than most, and here we are doing one (or so) episode per week.

      Very ready for Fall. :)

      // Aba


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