Zebra’s Unite!

For today’s entry, I had the chance to talk to the Blue Moon Crew. It’s one of the smaller organisations in our community. Or perhaps, the word ‘enterprise’ depicts them better, you can be the judge of that after reading today’s entry. In trying to set up a meeting with the Blue Moon Crew, I was faced with just one small problem. Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.

Only days after my interview with Cybrex I received a video message from Ben Fargo – a member of the Blue Moon Crew. In an effort to expand their services into my region of space, I was asked if we could have a small meet and greet. Since meeting people and poking my nose where it doesn’t belong is in my job description, I agreed to it without hesitation. At first, I thought I could add another trip to my expenses. But once I started planning the logistics of meeting up with the Blue Moon, it quickly became clear how difficult a mission it was.

Sure, I could wait until they docked port close to home. But I had a deadline to keep. A rendezvous mid flight seemed like the next logical solution. However, my team of engineers quickly explained to me how difficult it is for 2 moving objects to meet up in space. Never mind the actual cost in Quanta. Outpost Zebra is non-profit though that doesn’t mean we don’t have to manage a budget.

After much deliberation, I decided to invest in a second-hand long-range communications satellite. It wouldn’t allow for instantaneous communication but it would allow me to send and receive messages without having to rely on 3rd party hardware. I figured I would use it enough to justify the purchase. I was hoping my supervisor would feel the same way.

As a short introduction for my readers can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a retired programmer from Wisconsin.  I worked for forty years at the same job, doing in-house application development for a university. At one time, I did a lot of online role-playing.  My favourite was a World of Darkness MUSH called Port of Dreams.  World of Darkness is an RPG system best known for its vampires, but it included various other urban fantasy beings.  Even though WOD is generally classified as a horror setting, the sessions I was involved in usually were more like romantic comedies.

Coming from MUSHes where role-playing was taken very seriously, it was sort of a shock to me when I tried my first MMORPG’s and found no one was role-playing.  The MMO’s I’ve played have primarily been Anarchy Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Second Life, Star Trek Online and Landmark.  I’m not very active in any of them now, but I occasionally log into some of them that are still available. I also enjoy drawing and painting.  Sporadically, I write stories.  Some of them are posted under the name of Xylch at Writing.Com.   

Very interesting and I’m a former Anarchy Online player myself. Despite all of its flaws, it did some very interesting things that we haven’t seen since. Going from your list of games I can tell you are what we call a veteran of the genre.

Personally, I have always been intrigued by the name of your organisation. Can you explain to us what the Blue Moon Crew is all about?

The Blue Moon Crew is different than many other organizations which seem ready to accept anyone no matter what kind of activities they prefer.  Our organization is the crew of one specific ship, a small independent cargo vessel called the Blue Moon.  We intend to build our own ship, then support it through trade and transport.  Trade means we buy goods and sell them somewhere else, while transport means we take jobs delivering items.  I expect we will be doing some of each, but it depends on what we find profitable.

That is a very interesting concept in my opinion. It has good potential for some great role-playing. What are some of your goals?

Our goal is not to become rich, just to make enough profit to build, expand and maintain our ship.  We do not expect our organization will own any property beside the ship and what it can carry.  While we will not belong to any other organization, we hope to have good relationships with many of them. We will look to them not only to be our customers, but to sell us the materials and elements we need for our ship and to provide the ports and stations where we can dock it.

Another thing that sets us apart is being a partnership.  All significant decisions are made collectively. For example, a new member cannot join unless all of the existing members approve.  I hope to formalize this structure when the RDMS becomes available, but for now, it depends on an understanding among the members.

We are wanderers who have no roots, yet always take our home with us.  We are peaceful people who struggle to survive in a hostile world without giving into hostility ourselves.  We are dreamers who look at the stars and believe we can reach them.

Oh definitely, always reach for the stars. And Dual Universe will be fueled by the dreams of its players. To me the name Blue Moon Crew brings up many images, can you elaborate a bit more on it? Where did the idea come from?

The easiest answer would be to say it came from the Firefly series.  The Blue Moon is similar to Serenity in many ways.  Both are small, unarmed cargo ships with their crew living aboard them. When there were still plans to create a Firefly Online MMO, I actually registered a ship called the Blue Moon for it. Honestly, the idea of focusing on a ship and its crew is common enough in science fiction that I probably would have thought of the Blue Moon Crew even if the Firefly show had never existed.  That is just the one influence I can pick out readily.

True enough, a ship and its crew is one of the more common themes in popular sci-fi. On TV alone we can go from the Enterprise to Blake 7. The list grows much longer if we include other popular media like books or movies.

Now picture me as a potential customer. Why should people choose your services?

They should choose our services because we are honest people who believe in treating everyone we deal with fairly. Since the same item can have a different value to each person, exchanging goods can benefit everyone involved if it is done right.  We believe those organizations that are open to trading with other organization will be the ones to prosper in DU and we hope we can contribute to that. The difficulty we and every independent organization will face is building a reputation.  It is easy to say we are honest and fair, but those who aren’t will say the same thing.  In the beginning, all we can do is ask people to give us the trust we haven’t earned because we can not earn it until they do.

Ain’t that the truth. I can tell you if your operations run as smooth as your sales pitch, you will have plenty of customers. Assuming you are still looking to expand the crew of the Blue Moon. What are some of the qualities you are looking for in potential members?

Being a partnership and managing by consensus only works with a relatively small organization.  We currently have three members and I think the ideal size would be about five, so there is still room for a couple more in the crew. The first requirement is that the person must intend to be an active member of our ship’s crew.  Since we are going to limit ourselves to a small number of members, we will need each one to be involved in running the ship.

The next thing is the ability to discuss issues civilly and the willingness to work to reach an agreement on them.  Since control of the organization is shared by all members, this is essential. Members should act in a way that reflects our values.  They should be peaceful, honest and fair. There will certainly be mercenaries, pirates, smugglers and unscrupulous traders in DU, and it would be a rather uninteresting game if there weren’t any, but they do not belong in the Blue Moon Crew.

There are also a couple of things that some organizations care about, but we do not.  One is location.  We already have members scattered widely around the world, so we are used to people being in different time zones. Another is what other games if any, someone plays.  Our organization exists only in and for DU, so we are not looking for members who will participate in other games.

Is this your first time setting up a community or do you have previous experience?

This is the first time I’ve started a community.  Actually, in most games, I haven’t even joined any organizations.  DU is one of the few games I would consider a genuine MMO where what other players do really matters and that excites me.  The way most MMO’s are designed, they would be better as single-player or small-group games, since the rest of the players only destroy the illusion of being the hero who saves the world.  I did not see much benefit from joining an organization in those kinds of games.

I can relate to that. If everybody is special, nobody is. And as a seasoned MMO player myself, it’s a situation I have grown tired of.

When I first learned about DU, I expected there would be a lot of organisations that planned to be the crew of some ship.  To me, that seemed one of the most natural kinds of organisations to form in this kind of game.  Instead, most organisations, whether they called themselves a corporation, a federation or an empire, seemed to be focused on controlling as much territory as possible.  Since I could not find the kind of organisation I was looking for, I created one.

After I had started the Blue Moon Crew, I did learn of the Tempest Mission.  I was seriously tempted to join it.  While I admire what they are attempting, it is not really the type of ship I want to be on.