What is the difference between a good MMO GM team and a poor GM team?
A good MMO GM team is responsive and pro-active. Being pro-active means keeping track of what's going on in the politics and in the "outside world" of your game and preparing for the logical outcomes of events in advance. One of the things I mentioned in my "good things about Perpetuum Online" post the other day was the fact that a PO GM contacted me about 30 minutes after I started playing the game to let him know if I had any questions. I did, in fact, have a few, and the GM was quick to respond to those questions as I raised them. My first question was very basic, in fact: how do I open the cargo bay of my Arkhe when deployed? It was a simple UI question and the GM handled it.
Even more than these sorts of simple questions, though, the Perpetuum GMs (and later, the devs) reacted quickly and efficiently to the influx of new EVE players that hit their servers. They were also very responsive when that influx itself caused problems. They had what fighter pilots call "situational awareness": they could see outside factors influencing their area of responsibility and pro-actively responded to those factors, reinforcing the positive outcome of better game servers and limiting the fallout of negative outcome of potential player rage.
Over and over again, in forum after forum, I'm reading stories about pro-active and responsive Perpetuum Online GMs. Even though I found the game itself to be a bit second-rate, there's no question that those involved in the making and supporting of it are enthusiastic and on top of things. More than one EVE player has described it as reminiscent of EVE back in 2003. And those GMs and devs are being rewarded: more than one such EVE player has urged others to support PO and to encourage their GMs and devs to retain this level of involvement. They recognize the game is weak but also recognize that money and support will improve it. That's what good situational awareness buys you: an involved, positive player base.
Compare and contrast with EVE Online, particularly in the area of being pro-active.
There are only a few areas of New Eden that are active from a 0.0 large bloc warfare stand-point right now. There's some fighting going on in Delve, certainly, between the Nulli Secunda bloc and various enemies. There's also large battles going on in Catch/Provi between -A- and White Noise. Still, in the new era of 0.0 warfare, these are currently no bigger than skirmishes, mostly with only a few dozen pilots, with perhaps as many as 200 pilots on each side for the largest battles.
The biggest 0.0 hot-spot over the weekend was unquestionably VFK-IV in Deklein. Goonswarm had trapped and rape-caged a flock of "New NC" super-caps at POSs in orbit of three moons in that system. The Goons were keeping hundreds of people in that system 24/7 to keep those rape-cages up and active. Only a complete 0.0 moron could fail to notice this. The system was showing up like a freakin' cyno beacon on the in-game map for days, with a population blob color to rival the most active systems in high-sec. There was no way in hell the New NC was going to leave those super-caps there to rot. There would definitely be a rescue op, and it would come sooner rather than later.
And the EVE Online GMs, obviously anticipating that this action would take place... did absolutely nothing at all.
When the hammer dropped, it dropped on an unreinforced node.
Hundreds of players ended up jumping into the dreaded black screen and having to relog in order to play. Before it was over, there were near 1200 pilots in system, something that was entirely predictable given the size blobs that both groups can field. When players did get on grid, lag swiftly reached soul-crushing levels. And in the middle of all of this:
A gm was seen in local saying that CCP was not notified about the extra load the node was to experience.Nice. Real nice. Way to blame the victim.
Granted, there's a fleet fight form to warn GMs about upcoming large battles(1). But you know, EVE GMs, it would have been nice if you'd shown the tiniest bit of awareness about your game and pro-actively reinforced this node until the situation stabilized. Are there that few servers that can be shuffled around for reinforcing nodes? Were they that busy?
Show some situational awareness, please.
(1) But the form, of course, assumes that players will use the form when it's appropriate to do so. The Goons had no reason whatsoever to do so, even though they knew the battle would take place. Soul-crushing lag would generally work to their advantage, so why would they fill out the form?