FCing takes a great deal of knowledge and the ability to make qualitative judgements quickly. It demands awareness of scouting, all the major ship types and what they can do, tracking issues when positioning the fleet, fleet composition theory. You need the confidence to give orders and you need to present the authority to make people behave lest it become a circus. Then you need an understanding of the geography of space, what kind of entities live where, how the space is connected including any bridges that may exist in the area. You need to know what pvp tricks are commonly employed and you need to understand the political landscape of at least the area where you plan to operate. How many pilots can they field in fleet, what ships do they like to use, ect.You can get away with limited knowledge on each of those subjects, but you have to have some idea about these things, at bare minimum that they exist. Most people don't go into eve with the objective, "I want to be an FC." So by time they accumulate a bare minimum of knowledge, they have a moderate number of SP. Remember that on top of all this you need a minimum pilot skill to fly your ship with basic competence, and you need to be able to fit it halfway decently.T1 cruisers lower the bar, but they don't make up for lack of knowledge.
Eve, simply put, is a gerontocracy. Now before you race to your dictionary, let me explain. In Eve, the older and more experienced a player is, the more capabilities, influence, and credibility they wield. It isn’t too often that you’ll see a character with less than 10 million SP FCing a major fleet or controlling a large null sec alliance. On the flip-side, I dare you to show me a veteran capsuleer that doesn’t have a large amount of credibility among the newer pilots they associate with.
When thinking on this social paradigm, I wondered to myself what the cause of this disparity is. There was the obvious answer that the older you are, the more SP you have, and the more things you can do well, but anyone with half a brain and a little Eve experience could figure that out. There had to be something more subtle at play. Eventually I narrowed it down to two additional factors, reputation and interpersonal skills.
It’s often said that Eve is a game that revolves around reputation. There are those in Eve that have become space celebrities, the likes of The Mittani, Chribba, Alekseyev Karrde, just to name a few. Of the myriad of qualities that space celebrities have in common, one is nearly universal: experience, i.e. how much time they’ve put into this silly internet spaceship game we all love/hate. You don’t get to be at the Mittani's level of influence without a lot of invested time. New players can’t get around the fact that you have to put in a lot of hours to gain any amount of credibility. As such, they’re often looked over when it comes to responsibility and decision making.
The other thing that most new players lack is the interpersonal skill that Eve requires of those in the upper echelons of power. I don’t know about you, but I didn't come into Eve knowing the ins and outs of managing hundreds or even thousands of players. Outside the realms of business and politics, people are rarely asked to make choices on that scale in their everyday lives. These are skills that one doesn’t develop overnight.
Dispensing with the social philosophy, let’s look more to the practical side of things. The first question any noob will ask themselves is, “How the #@^& do I compete?!”. What are they supposed to do outside being relegated to the role of tackler, bait ship, mining grunt, and the other myriad tasks we place on the new bro? My answer to you, intrepid new bro, is to focus on the so called “soft skills” of Eve. These are the sorts of skill that aren’t linked to a skill point number. Notable examples are FCing, scouting, trading, and my favorite; espionage. This last example is particularly suited to newer players. You would be surprised how much information you can be told about the inner workings of a corp or alliance with seemingly innocent and noobish questions. Unfortunately for you, most of these soft skills do take time to become competent in, and even more to master. The beauty of these skills though, is that the speed at which you become competent is not bound by game mechanics, merely your own ability to learn.
So new bro, you may be thinking to yourself, “Those soft skills are all well and good but I don’t really want to get into such high profile roles this early in the game.”. Firstly, I say to you “Grow a pair!”, but in the meantime the Retribution expansion has come to your rescue. With all the T1 ship rebalancing, it’s easier than ever for a new bro to contribute in a meaningful way. A notable example is the logistics role. No longer the exclusive domain of grizzled vets, you too, timid noob, can try your hand at the subtle art of keeping the rest of us from dying in a fire! If that’s not your cup of Quafe, there’s always the 500 dps Vexor. Always remember, even you can take out a Titan, you just need to bring 2000 of your closest friends, preferably in their 500 dps Vexors.
Now enough with the noob pandering, lets shift our attention to you bitter vets. The average bitter vet, I would say, values the gerontocracy and rightfully so. If you’ve played Eve for any significant length of time, there have been numerous occasions where you’ve had your teeth kicked in by this cruel internet spaceship mistress. But rather than throwing in the towel and calling it quits, you picked yourself up, dusted off your implants and charged back into the thick of it. You’ve earned your position. You made it through the days when the tutorial consisted of you being handed a gun, a mining laser and being unceremoniously thrust into space with the advice “Don’t die.”.
The gerontocracy is a fixture of Eve’s social landscape. I can’t imagine it going anywhere anytime soon. There will always be the new bros craving more and the bitter vets having responsibility thrust upon them. So bitter vets, help out your new bros now and then. New bros, listen to your vets, they probably know what they’re talking about.