I'm an Eve player. I'm a TEST member so for quite a while I've been an allie to the alliance he was a member of but thats not why I know him. I knew VR because he was one of the most well know and well respected diplomats in the complex and amazing game of eve.
For those that don't play the game you have allies(who are called blues) and enemies(reds), and neutrals(greys) TEST(reddit) and Goons(SomethingAwful) always would joke about their ability to shoot blues(allies) for fun. But it would always require a trip to Vile Rat to sort it out.
I didn't know the man personally but I have respected him for a long time in a game that I really enjoy and from that I honestly feel personally connected to him. I have a lot of friends in this game who actually are personally connected to him.
Eve is fun, eve is empires with consequences, eve is taking a risk and losing it all. Something I think the traditional HN crowd would enjoy.
And condolences to your family and your many friends around the world and all the people that have seen your messages, watched your diplomacy and looked up to your lead.
EDIT: for people up voting me for this. I appreciate the thought but I don't feel comfortable collecting virtual points for this. Instead of an up vote please just post a reply.
Having spent some time playing with VR (in goonfleet, I was part of his initial corp of diplomats), this was a shocking way to wake up. The guy was super dedicated to both Eve and his job. He used to share stories about the State Department (obviously, only what he was allowed to share) and explain various aspects of diplomacy.
It might seem silly, since this was just an internet spaceship game, but his knowledge of real world diplomacy made Eve very exciting. He was a lot of fun to play with.
Goonspeed Vile Rat, you were a pretty awesome guy to shoot internet spaceships with :(
Exactly this. I was in GoonFleet several years ago and was always amazed at the crazy behind-the-curtain machinations were going on all the time when I was just a newbie. But VR was a good guy and a good poster, and loved his job. He posted as much information as possible about new job postings in the Foreign Service Information department and answered everything that was thrown his way.
So, you can basically think of eve as a giant sandbox full of stars and spaceships. There is one game world, out side of china, and the Company that runs the game, CCP, lets the player play however they want. As a result, the game encourages underhand and terrible behavior by everyone in it.
Think of the whole thing as a pirate movie. Essentially betrayal and back stabbing are encouraged, expected, and generally considered to be inevitable.
In this sort of environment, you need some one who can get other groups to play nice with you. It is a fantastically difficult problem. You have a large group of players who are actively seeking to make a profit on other players misfortunes.
Now, its 3 am on a Tuesday, and a few of my guys get drunk and decide its a good idea to go out and blow some stuff up. They get excited and "accidentally" kill a friendly ship or half a dozen. Someone has to be around to make sure that this doesn't rapidly escalate out of control, pirate bar fight style.
Add to this the fact that the "friendly" assets in question can take literally months to produce in game and are simply lost with no recourse. This is to say when you die my guys took all the stuff you had on you and you restart with nothing you had on you. Suddenly, I need to have a point of contact to ensure that 3 drunk guys don't cause a huge war with my friends between now and when I log in at 6pm tonight.
This can, as usual, include major loss of assets for everyone in my group. This translates rapidly into actual US dollar losses in some cases.
That is what your diplomats do. Make sure that when I log in after work. That the whole galaxy is NOT trying to kill me. It is fantastically hard to do. I am obviously glossing over a large chunk about in game minutiae here.
As a final closing post, here are further links of interest relating to VR's passing:
Goonfleet held a "candlelight vigil" memorial ceremony for Vile Rat, in which they fired cynosural fields (ship-launched jump portals) as a send-off:
(at about 13:40 he shows the EVE starmap and the graphical effect of lighting that many cynosural fields in a single spot - http://i.imgur.com/TyNDi.jpg . There's also a little guitar solo and 10 minutes of silence, and at the end they start blowing each other up in remembrance of VR.)
Hmm, that does sound like a very hard problem. How would a diplomat achieve that? I'd imagine I'd be pretty angry if a bunch of drunken dicks destroyed things that had taken me months to build, so I can't imagine what someone could say to make me not want to nuke a ship.
Is it the standard "let's be level-headed about this and see what they have to say for themselves when they log on"? Or does the diplomat do something else in that case?
I played on VR's "corps diplomatique" for a while, and I can attest to it being a difficult problem.
In that situation, you have several tools at your disposal. If you are friendly with the corp (they are in your alliance, or allied in some way), you can offer repayment or replacement of the object. You can promise punishment of the perpetrator. You can allow the other corp to seek out revenge on the perpetrator (although this can escalate quickly and be bad). You can say "Tough shit, be quiet or we boot you from the alliance".
If it happened to a neutral corp/alliance, you can use the weight of Goonfleet as leverage. Goonfleet is huge, with a lot of friends, so not many people want to start a war.
Diplomacy is essentially the same in EVE as it is in real life. EVE has a huge metagame element, where various corporations (guilds) and alliances are always making deals and breaking them. I wasn't playing EVE when this happened, but Vile Rat was instrumental in getting allies for Goonswarm during their early years, which enabled them to take down one of the largest EVE superpowers. That has hugely influenced EVE's political landscape. He also served on the CSM, a real world committee of EVE players that works with CCP to improve the game as well as act as an intermediate between the players and CCP.
I hope and trust that members of CSM have no delusions that they need to be honest and fair when dealing with CCP, and Residents main focused on their goal of ripping off other players for fun and profit.
I am thankful that the first time reading this post I missed them. Vile Rat was a leader in an alliance in a game that was disliked by a lot of people. But even the alliances currently at war with his in game could take a minute to show appreciation for the man he was. He was a good man.
Wars, religious freedoms, whatever don't matter. What matters is that a guy who volunteered to work in the conditions he did from a sweet(and safe) job in the Hague died today. While trying to help a country.
I appreciate needless flamewars being buried. Since I can't stop the up votes I will give $10 for every one up to 3 that I receive to the family. And a further donation of $970 for everyone removing the distraction from this thread.
I was in TEST the entire time I played Eve (from day 1 of Dreddit until about a year later). I don't think I ever spoke to him, but had small indirect interactions - being in the same system during a siege, listening to him on voice chat, buying items from him in VFK.
He was a legend, and it's hard to overstate the impact he had on the game. His actions and words could and did affect the fates of literally tens of thousands of Eve players (really, most of the population). He was a large part of the reason Eve has the rich, complex, and unique metagame it has. It may sound silly... but for everyone who played, these things mattered.
I appreciate the story being here and I'm glad to see it at the top of the page. But all I offer is a short memory/thought which doesn't deserve the same response hence my edit. I hope people read my post and think about or appreciate the man. I don't want anything for the memory I personally had of him though.
Personally I'm amazed at how high up this submission has made it on HN. I mean, VR wasn't in the hacker or IT community AFAIK; he helped run a big clan in a cult internet spaceship game. He was the victim of extremists in a dangerous region, like quite a few others. Yet a blogpost about him has risen to the top of HN.
There must be a good number of (ex-)EVE players here, or maybe it's because people strongly feel the immediacy and tragedy of an event like this even though they aren't part of the communities involved. Maybe they've even only heard about EVE on HN itself, but somehow feel like this guy was someone worth respecting - I don't know.
I don't really have a point to make, but I'm bemused and sort of glad.
Personally, I find it interesting and relevant here for two reasons:
1. It shows how mainstream computer games have become. There's still a stereotype that gaming is not for serious people, but here we have an actual honest-to-god diplomat working overseas who was also a hardcore MMORPG player.
2. One can actually be a big deal as a diplomat in an MMORPG. I had no idea that EVE could get that deep. I don't know if his real-world diplomacy informed his EVE playing, or the reverse, or if it was just a matter of being interested in that activity, but I find the whole concept of a real-world diplomat who plays a virtual spaceship diplomat in his spare time to be fascinating.
I don't mean to deflate your fascination, but he was actually an IT contractor/support worker for the DoS. I don't think he actually handled diplomacy, even low-level work.
With EVE, it's often the case that the leaders perform much higher-level tasks than they do in their everyday lives. I guess when people are given a chance in a new environment with different rules, new leaders and people of talent emerge. Maybe Vile Rat could have been a mover and shaker in the business or tech world if he had moved in the right directions.
A sad loss to his family, friends, country, and EVE.
"I don't think he actually handled diplomacy, even low-level work."
Diplomacy isn't like steel working where 'regular' people can't do it without a lot of equipment. There are really good diplomats in all sorts of places, from the president of the PTA to the stay at home parent with more than 2 kids. The guy's ability to see the problems and a path to solutions was legendary in the Eve community, so he wasn't negotiating who really owns what island in the south China sea, he was an excellent diplomat.
I've never played EVE and don't know anything about VR. I upvoted because this kind of personal detail for a guy who died of horrible circumstances exposes the mortality of everyday life.
One minute you're sitting at your desk shooting internet spaceships, and the next a psychotic religious fanatic is literally throwing a grenade through your window because he doesn't like the building you're inside of. Kind of makes me feel a little sick.