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That's a titanic amount of isk!!!!oneeleven!!!
February 16, 2011 9:09 AM   Subscribe

According to my calculations the equivalent of at least $50,000.00 USD was obliterated in a single fleet engagement on February 14. The location was the Uemon system, which is located in everyone's favorite space sandbox - Eve Online. This fleet engagement has been dubbed the Valentine's Day Massacre by EveNews 24. Here(NSFW) is a typical Eve Online propaganda video, which also contains an example of endgame fleet warfare. (note: the fraps capture is sped up) If you want to skip the propaganda go to the 8:00 mark. Here is another example of fleet warfare.

According to preliminary reports(NSFW) 12 Titan class hulls were lost along with 7 Supercarrier class hulls. Keep in mind that this preliminary tally does not include Dreadnought class hulls, Carrier class hulls, or the massive support fleets needed to support capital and super-capital deployment. This means that the final dollar amount is surely higher.

Ok how does the math break down? Well a good metric to gauge current USD to isk conversion rates is the current price of PLEX. Currently a PLEX costs $17.50 and can be sold in game for around 325 million isk. An average fully fit Titan class hull costs around 62 billion isk. An average fully fit Supercarrier class hull costs around 30 billion isk. If I have done the math correctly (and that's not guaranteed as math isn't my strong point) the preliminary USD amount lost, before capitals and support are factored in, comes to around $51,369.15
posted by AElfwine Evenstar (164 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
You say money was "lost" and "obliterated." What does that mean, exactly? Where did the money go?
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:15 AM on February 16, 2011


The economic benefit of keeping EVE Online players confined to their own homes is much greater.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:15 AM on February 16, 2011 [42 favorites]


I cannot distinguish this post from one ironically making fun of EVE.
posted by odinsdream at 9:15 AM on February 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


Do Eve spaceships stay completely still during fierce battles for a reason?
posted by memebake at 9:17 AM on February 16, 2011


This online community will mock that online community.
posted by srboisvert at 9:17 AM on February 16, 2011 [27 favorites]


EVE Online is one of those strange phenomena I will almost certainly never participate in, but which I find endlessly fascinating. I love hearing these stories.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:18 AM on February 16, 2011 [29 favorites]


MrMoonPie: Objects in the game which could have been sold for a total of $50k in real money have been "destroyed".
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:18 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm relieved that I know nothing of what this is all about.
posted by quarsan at 9:18 AM on February 16, 2011 [15 favorites]


An interesting story is an interesting story, and people will appreciate it even if it comes from some weird online game. The problem is, most people don't play said online game. So in presenting your interesting story, you need to go the extra mile to use plain English and provide enough context so that outsiders can understand and say, "Okay, I follow. Yeah, that is kind of neat." This is not that post.
posted by cribcage at 9:21 AM on February 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


Do Eve spaceships stay completely still during fierce battles for a reason?

Yeah, because it's an MMO, as opposed to, say, a fun game.
posted by notmydesk at 9:22 AM on February 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


MetaFilter: The Best of Some Arithmetic I Did (Math Isn't My Strong Point).
posted by Wolfdog at 9:23 AM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wait, so people buy ships that cost as much as cars, and then they just go poof?
posted by smackfu at 9:23 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


You say money was "lost" and "obliterated." What does that mean, exactly?

Virtual Goods Start Bringing Real Paydays

Sales of virtual goods boom in US

Where did the money go?

Into the coffers of CCP.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:24 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some of the forum comments point to simple network lag as a problem for owners of these huge ships.

There's an interesting legal point to be made here, in that, if you can simply buy a ship from the developer, CCP, and your "investment" is ruined by a fellow player because of a network lag issue, can you get your money back?

You are entering into a competitive space with other players, and recognize the risk. At the same time, you can expect the developer to maintain a reasonably level playing field. Does the EULA include an uptime and performance guarantee?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:24 AM on February 16, 2011


You say money was "lost" and "obliterated." What does that mean, exactly? Where did the money go?

Are you being obtuse? Virtual goods with real cash value (ebay, etc) were virtually destroyed. This is an interesting phenomenon and raises all sorts of intriguing questions. There was an article in Harpers several years ago about World of Warcraft/MMRPG gold farms...
posted by nathancaswell at 9:24 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


You say money was "lost" and "obliterated." What does that mean, exactly? Where did the money go?

You could think of it as potential real-world cash. Eve is one of the few games where ingame cash can translate straightforwardly into real cash - the PLEX (which are how one pays for a month of gametime) can be sold both in the game and in the real world, giving an conversion ration that actually has real-world meaning.
Thus, ingame goods were destroyed whose value equalled x PLEX which equals y real dollars, potentially.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:24 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do Eve spaceships stay completely still during fierce battles for a reason?

Yeah, because it's an MMO, as opposed to, say, a fun game.


Or is that the bigger ships are stationary but the smaller ones are moving around?
At about 9:30 in the posted video (nsfw, apparently) it doesn't look like anything is moving. But maybe the smaller ones are?
posted by memebake at 9:25 AM on February 16, 2011


I understand this post almost as much as I understand poetry by Charles Bernstein. Which is to say: not at all.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:26 AM on February 16, 2011


Holy crap. TWELVE Titans went down? Daaaaaaaammmnn.

Hmm. Wonder if there's anything out there worth salvaging?

*checks map*

Oh, shit, that's like the other side of New Eden. Take me all afternoon just to get there. Assuming I didn't get ganked in null-sec.

*never undocks, as usual*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:26 AM on February 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


Does the EULA include an uptime and performance guarantee?

Ha! EULAs are for taking away consumer rights, not providing them. The Software, System, Game and all Game Content, and all other services and material provided in connection therewith, are provided "AS IS," with all faults, and without warranty of any kind.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:27 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thus, ingame goods were destroyed whose value equalled x PLEX which equals y real dollars, potentially.

Yeah, but it's more complex than that because those goods don't have a fixed potential value. The real money comes from the subscriptions of users. It's not like you can go to Bank Of America and take out a mortgage backed by your Eve ship.

I wonder if anyone is going to perma-quit because of this.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:28 AM on February 16, 2011


What did the attackers gain by destroying the fleet? Is it economically advantageous for them to prevent the fleet reaching its destination (a new colony? a new trading post?) or were they just being dicks?
posted by rh at 9:29 AM on February 16, 2011


You are entering into a competitive space with other players, and recognize the risk. At the same time, you can expect the developer to maintain a reasonably level playing field. Does the EULA include an uptime and performance guarantee?

Lag has been a factor in EVE since the beginning. CCP (the developer) has made some strides--a battle that would have brought the servers to their knees and turned everything into a slideshow is now old hat.

But 12 titans down? I remember when we threw everything we had and the kitchen sink at a system just to destroy a titan under construction (which, come to think of it, was also on Valentine's Day several years ago.)

Ah EVE, I remember things like that and forget the dreary mess that is most of the rest of the game...
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:30 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not like you can go to Bank Of America and take out a mortgage backed by your Eve ship.

Don't give BoA any ideas.
posted by odinsdream at 9:30 AM on February 16, 2011 [20 favorites]


East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94: "MrMoonPie: Objects in the game which could have been sold for a total of $50k in real money have been "destroyed""

Thank you, I had no idea what AElf was saying.
posted by mwhybark at 9:30 AM on February 16, 2011


Eve Primer for mefites, based on previous posts:

Sovereignty scandal
In which the game's developers cause a scandal by hacking resources into certain teams unfairly, leading to the formation of a player-elected council.

Banking scandal
A scandal involving the in-game bank, resulting in real-world stealing of about $12,000

the Spy is in the Refrigerator
Stories from the murky world of Eve espionage

It's as if Apple dissolved Microsoft
Huge upset in the game as a double agent brings about the downfall of one of the largest alliances.
posted by memebake at 9:32 AM on February 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


AElfwine, this post would be so much better with a brief overview and background of who the players were (There were two teams here? A third party? Out of how many teams in the EVE universe? One was getting revenge for something the other one did?) and what exactly happened (One team jumped into the other teams base, fortified the other team's base (??), didn't fight, but tricked them into chasing them into an ambush?) and how this fits into the overall EVE ecosystem (Does this sort of thing happen regularly? Once a month? Once a year? Totally unprecedented? What percentage of the total EVE economy does this loss represent? How many $$ worth of ships are normally lost in more common battles?)
posted by straight at 9:33 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


An interesting story is an interesting story, and people will appreciate it even if it comes from some weird online game. The problem is, most people don't play said online game. So in presenting your interesting story, you need to go the extra mile to use plain English and provide enough context so that outsiders can understand and say, "Okay, I follow. Yeah, that is kind of neat." This is not that post.

It's pretty simple actually. isk has a USD conversion value. Pixels worth $50,000 USD were destroyed. Not extremely complicated.

Yeah, but it's more complex than that because those goods don't have a fixed potential value. The real money comes from the subscriptions of users. It's not like you can go to Bank Of America and take out a mortgage backed by your Eve ship.

But you can go on ebay and sell your eve ships and modules for real money. Of course this is against the EULA and you risk getting banned, but this has been done in the past and is being done as we speak. That brings to mind the Evebank scandal where one of the Evebank directors embezzled the equivalent of $18,000 and then proceeded to RMT it on ebay. He claimed it was to pay his mortgage.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:33 AM on February 16, 2011


Ah ok according to membake's link it was 12 thousand. I thought I remember reading 18.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:35 AM on February 16, 2011


And why didn't the losing team run away before all their ships were destroyed?
posted by straight at 9:36 AM on February 16, 2011


After reading this FPP I can honestly say, I am glad I am not familiar with this.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:37 AM on February 16, 2011


I've always had the impression that Eve is way too complex for me. Watching that video confirmed this.
posted by brundlefly at 9:42 AM on February 16, 2011


I'm relieved that I know nothing of what this is all about.

I'm relieved somebody else doesn't, because I felt like I was insane reading and trying to understand this post.
posted by something something at 9:43 AM on February 16, 2011


smackfu Wait, so people buy ships that cost as much as cars, and then they just go poof?

My understanding is: More or less - people don't pay for them directly, but it takes a lot of time investment to build the ships in game, which allows a 'real world' cost of each ship to be estimated. (And ships can be illegally bought for cash on eBay, according to AElfwine)

Individual ships that normal players use aren't too expensive. But this post is about a battle in which most of a fleet of hundreds of ships gets wiped out, including 12 Titans which are huge capital ships that take an extreme amount of effort to build in-game.

And bear in mind that Eve players tend to work together in corporations and alliances made up of hundreds or even thousands of players.
posted by memebake at 9:44 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


This post isn't that hard to read. There was a very big battle in Eve Online, and a bunch of ships got destroyed. AElftwine then has a go at estimating the real-world value of the ships.

The videos though, are well confusing.
posted by memebake at 9:48 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you're going to dither about time and ebay gold values, I'm pretty sure that I've spent $50,000 just repairing my armor while running raids in WoW over the last few years.
posted by crunchland at 9:48 AM on February 16, 2011


I'm just glad things didn't get reduced by one tenth.
posted by srboisvert at 9:49 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Straight - ships can fit various modules to convey abilities, and one of those is a warp disruptor that prevents ships from activating warp drives and escaping. Usually, fast small ships (colloquially called Tacklers) are fitted with these modules and are tasked with holding the targets in place. They're hard to hit with the large guns of the capital ships, so your fleet might need a few anti-tackle fitted destroyers or interceptors to free your larger ships...
posted by Spacelegoman at 9:50 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whackbat!
posted by billcicletta at 9:50 AM on February 16, 2011


Before anyone gets their panties too wadded up:

People "destroy" millions of dollars in the form of fireworks in every city, every 4th of July. Destruction of ships and "value" is built into the game's economy, and the only news is the scale on which it happened. Destruction/wear/tear/obsolescence is built into our normal economy too.
posted by explosion at 9:54 AM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm just glad things didn't get reduced by one tenth.

That would be akin to decimation, the ultimate horror of large online battles.
posted by Mister_A at 9:54 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


And why didn't the losing team run away before all their ships were destroyed?

EVE's world of New Eden consists of solar systems linked by warp gates. Some systems have only one gate, some may have several. These are the only ways to get "out" of a system. So if your enemy finds you (or your fleet) and has enough manpower to cover all the exits, then, well, you're trapped. You can try to "hide" in-system by using a cloaking device or speeding to a "safe spot" that is far, far away from everything else, but a patient and prepared enemy will have brought ships designed to do nothing but sniff out concealed foes. You will eventually be found. And podded (ship destroyed, character destroyed, hope you have a clone stores cuz you're toast)

Of course, this is battleship/destroyer/cruiser combat I'm describing. Chicken feed, compared to Titans and dreadnaughts. These ships are so big, they don't fit through warp gates. They require teams of smaller ships to construct jump gates just for them. So if an enemy overruns your jump gate, you'd better hope you've got enough firepower....
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:57 AM on February 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


stored
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:01 AM on February 16, 2011


Ok for the uninitiated here is a breakdown of the hierarchy of spaceship hulls in eve online from smallest to largest. I will also include their uses in a large fleet engagement.

frigate - scout, bomber(think dive bombers in WWII), tackle(prevents ships from escaping)

destroyer - tackle

cruiser - heavy tackle, scout, electronic warfare support, logistics(healing shields and armor
of support fleet), tertiary fire support

battlecruiser - secondary fire support(protects battleships)

battleship - primary fire support

carrier - damage dealer, logistics(healing shields and armor of other capital ships)

dreadnought - damage dealer

supercarrier - damage dealer, logistics, electronic warfare

titan - logistics(creating jump bridges to move entire fleets long distances, damage dealer
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:01 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


These are the only ways to get "out" of a system.

No they aren't, especially when we're talking about Titans. Those are entirely capable of generating their own jump portals.

I too am curious as to why the NC didn't bug out...
posted by valkyryn at 10:03 AM on February 16, 2011


There's an interesting legal point to be made here, in that, if you can simply buy a ship from the developer, CCP, and your "investment" is ruined by a fellow player because of a network lag issue, can you get your money back?

No. The lag issues are old and well known, and alliances actually use lag as a tactic. If you're under attack by a large fleet, you can flood the zone with your own players, incurring lag and defeating the attack by making the zone unplayable.

Does the EULA include an uptime and performance guarantee?

No. Eve Online runs on a cluster of blade servers (over 200, I'm pretty sure, as of a year or two ago)--that alone is quite an accomplishment, engineering a cluster like that to provide a single persistent world with 40,000 simultaneous players. The universe is divided into 6,000 zones, and a set of nodes from the cluster is dedicated to handling particular zones that see a lot of traffic; other zones share a single node.

They've put a lot of work into dynamically rebalancing the node->zone ratio on demand. It used to be that 200 players in one zone would lag the system to unusability; they've increased that effective cap to around 1,000 players, I believe. But fundamentally, they can't really guarantee anything without actually capping zone population, which they've been hesitant to do because it's such an arbitrary thing; they'd rather have the cluster arbitrarily scale to handle it.

I think one of the most interesting parts of Eve is the engineering challenge. They're the only MMO out there with a single persistent universe for all players, and they're solving the issues of having thousands of players directly interacting with each other in a massive space battle. They use their own version of Python called Stackless Python that uses, IIRC, a tree instead of a stack for memory management to provide much better concurrency via a lightweight threading model that makes coroutines effective. The history of Eve will be as much about the computing advances as the game. I don't know anyone working so directly with parallel computng issues.
posted by fatbird at 10:03 AM on February 16, 2011 [20 favorites]


this post is about a battle in which most of a fleet of hundreds of ships gets wiped out, including 12 Titans which are huge capital ships that take an extreme amount of effort to build in-game

Which could, in turn, have an impact on the entire in-game economy, as the massive amount of resources needed to replace 12 Titans (to say nothing of the other ships) are now in demand.

In other words, mining asteroids for basic minerals might possibly become more lucrative in the coming weeks.
posted by Gelatin at 10:03 AM on February 16, 2011


A dastardly plan, to attack on Valentine's Day when they knew their opponents would all be away with their dates!
posted by Theta States at 10:04 AM on February 16, 2011 [40 favorites]


Can you write off the loss in your real world income tax?

Can you sue the vandals who destroy your wealth?

Are people actually paying real live cash for online items, or are they earning cash in the game that they spend, but sometimes selling it in the real world?

It all sounds stupid to me, but then a lot of things do when looked at from the outside. I mean, really, the tennis I play is pretty pointless If I really give it a critical look. Yet i love it.
posted by cccorlew at 10:05 AM on February 16, 2011


I never thought I'd say this, but I miss EVE Online. Stealthing past bubble blockaded gates was a real thrill.

Yes I said it. A thrill. You ground pounders will never know.

::sigh::
posted by Splunge at 10:06 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do not understand. What is this thing called a game? Why do entities commonly known as people engage in such activities? Of what value to a potential mate is this item referred to as a titan? This destruction of monetary units, is it a display of hunting prowess?

Please provide further information.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:07 AM on February 16, 2011 [38 favorites]


I didn't realize titans could create their own jump gates.

Sorry for the misinformation, folks.

That's how completely disconnected I am from EVE's endgame -- the chances are good I'll never even SEE a Titan in-game.

My policy is pretty much "if it's bigger than me, run."
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:07 AM on February 16, 2011


I'm trying to connect this post to my vast experience playing Barren Realms Elite, but I am still failing to comprehend Eve. Maybe I should have played Trade Wars instead?
posted by Theta States at 10:10 AM on February 16, 2011


I think the only two groups who like to brag over their ignorance on a subject are uneducated boors and snarky assholes.

I'm not sure there's much real difference between the two.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:10 AM on February 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


In other words, mining asteroids for basic minerals might possibly become more lucrative in the coming weeks.

Woohoo! Finally, something in EVE I can do well!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:10 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have absolutely no idea what's going on here, but the post was totally right about this being not safe for work. Now my boss thinks that I watch episodes of Care Bears in my spare time.
posted by koeselitz at 10:11 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the record, my ignorance on this subject is coupled with a vast sense of awe. Snark and awe.
posted by Theta States at 10:11 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I too am curious as to why the NC didn't bug out... the

Once you have the titans tackled with heavy interdictors(hics) they are stuck unless the opposing fleet can destroy your hics. That is where logistics and electronic warfare(EW) become important. You can use your EW ships to jam enemy ships attacking your hics and use logistics to keep them alive. Or you can just blob their titans with hics.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:14 AM on February 16, 2011


Amazing how much time and effort these guys put in to no real effect at all. Sad, really.

(Chops down wood, takes wood to bottom of mine. Makes crafting table out of planks. Makes pickaxe out of wood. Picks at three units of cobblestone, uses cobblestone to make stone pickaxe. Resolutely digs through stone, using vast stores of accumulated cobblestone to build new pickaxe whenever pickaxe breaks. Occasionally finds iron. Makes pickaxe out of iron. Uses iron pickaxe until it breaks. Makes stone pickaxe. Slowly builds dream of completely hollow map.)
posted by DNye at 10:15 AM on February 16, 2011 [17 favorites]


(Chops down wood, takes wood to bottom of mine. Makes crafting table out of planks. Makes pickaxe out of wood. Picks at three units of cobblestone, uses cobblestone to make stone pickaxe. Resolutely digs through stone, using vast stores of accumulated cobblestone to build new pickaxe whenever pickaxe breaks. Occasionally finds iron. Makes pickaxe out of iron. Uses iron pickaxe until it breaks. Makes stone pickaxe. Slowly builds dream of completely hollow map.)

Yeah minecraft is one of those games I had to stay away from because I know myself. Eve online is bad enough. I don't think my marriage would survive minecraft.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:18 AM on February 16, 2011


Yeah minecraft is one of those games I had to stay away from because I know myself.

One of the lurking terrors in my life is the sure knowledge that at some point in the not-to-distant future computing power will reach a level that will permit a Dwarf Fortress MMO.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:28 AM on February 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


Once you have the titans tackled with heavy interdictors(hics) they are stuck unless the opposing fleet can destroy your hics

Thought Titans were immune to EWar. Apparently tackling doesn't count?
posted by valkyryn at 10:35 AM on February 16, 2011


The craftingularity.
posted by DNye at 10:35 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


(That in response to Baby Balrog, of course. Comedy. Secret of. Et cetera.)
posted by DNye at 10:36 AM on February 16, 2011


@Baby_Balrog Yeah, I worried about similar lurking terrors when I first heard of both Star Wars Galaxies and Star Trek Online -- I figured I'd be first in line for the implant or permanent personality uploading or whatever it took to be there.

Unfortunately (or fortunately I guess), from what I read the former got royally FUBAR'd by its developers, and the latter is rather bland.

Non-mmorpg Minecraft is enough of a time sink for me, I can't imagine expanding it into "clans" or whatever.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:36 AM on February 16, 2011


Heres what I think happened, I don't play eve any more. if anyones really interested in the whys and hows

NC (the Nortern Coalition) after BoB aka IT was defeated is pretty much the single remaining superpower in EVE have apparently attacked the Russians, who are pretty much isolated and usually play by themselves in the eastern parts of the galaxy.

They appear to have engaged a smaller russian fleet who then ran away to another system. NC followed and reengaged them only to be surprised by another russian fleet.

Now when you get lots and lots of players in a system you get lots and lots of lag especially if its a system no one expected to fight in. (you can notify the GM's ahead of time to get MAOR computer POWAH to a system where you expect to fight.)

On top of that the russian fleet had loads more motherships while the NC fleet where Titan heavy. Now motherships can use an autonomous drone called a fighter bombers. Drones don't ussually suffer that much under heavy lag since the players client don't really need to much more then tell them which target to kill, and that might not even be neccesary if they are set to fight anything that takes hostile action agaisnt the player. While Titans use GIANT guns that the player have to activate again and again during the fight.

Why didn't they just run away? you ask. Well they where probably "bubbled" all to heck IE. small anti jump drive ships where preventing them from leaving, and i suspect they where hesitant to just try their luck since someone is alway bound to be left behind. Titans are immune to some ewar not bubbles though

And "you just don't leave a titan" behind is pretty much ingrained in a fleet commander worth anything. Plus it can be pretty hard to figure out who's winning and loosing in engagements like that, fog of war and all that.
posted by Greald at 10:40 AM on February 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


Where did the money go?

Into the coffers of CCP.
That doesn't seem right to me. CCP didn't profit any greater (or lesser) by this stuff's destruction than they would have if it hadn't been destroyed.

Unless, that is, that $50,000 is something that people will pay directly to CCP to get it back -- e.g. "pay CCP $8000 and you can have a new dreadnought" -- but I don't get the impression that that's the way it works, is it? Rather, that $50,000 is something that, theoretically, some set of players might have paid to some other set of players. Right?

Certainly people will keep playing, and therefore paying CCP for playing time, and some of those people will use that playing time to try to get replacements for the stuff they just lost. But they would have kept playing, and therefore paying CCP for playing time, if the stuff wasn't lost, too. And perhaps there might even be some people who give up in frustration after this, in which case it might even be a (small) net loss for CCP, not a profit at all.

The actual answer, I believe, is that this $50,000, in the sense that it has any degree of reality, didn't "go" anywhere: It's still sitting in the pockets of the people who might be willing to directly buy a dreadnought or whatever on eBay, exactly where it was before the destruction.
posted by Flunkie at 10:41 AM on February 16, 2011


Star Wars Galaxies

I got in on that really early and tried to play a Droid Engineer, I figured "How cool would it be to build my own droids", the answer was not very cool.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:42 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've personally banned myself from playing MMORPGs due to an unhealthy MUD addiction a few years ago, but this is definitely the kind of thing that makes me want to buy a copy of Eve and go for it. This is the kind of thing I could get lost in for hours.
posted by SNWidget at 10:45 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thought Titans were immune to EWar. Apparently tackling doesn't count?

As far as I understand it Titans and Supercarriers are immune to targeted EWar. Heavy interdictors activate a area of effect bubble which prevents all ships within that bubble from jumping out or warping away.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:50 AM on February 16, 2011


The way I am picturing this (as a former WoW player):

A WoW guild weaponizes Ironforge [a major city], mounts it on giant hen's legs, and marches around Azeroth imposing its will... Until it takes a wrong turn somewhere in the Outland and is dismantled by hordes of locals. And like that, the Baba Ironforge is gone.

I know it's an analogy that's far from perfect. Maybe this fleet isn't that big. Maybe it's bigger.

But.

It's kind of thrilling that there could be an in-game, manipulable product of this kind of magnitude that — despite the way it changes the game's landscape wherever it travels — has a risk factor attached to it. It makes me want to play the game to witness that kind of intriguing tension.

What I'd wonder, though... Do events like this have the kind of effect that BitterOldPunk jokes about?

The tough balance for games is to let players enact dangerous maneuvers safely while producing just enough risk to give them a sense of excitement / risk. If the balance falls one way or the other, the thrill is either lost or avoided.

The simulation becomes either too fake or too real, essentially.

So, yeah, is the effect of this type of catastrophe that major powers will be more conservative in putting their assets on the line? Similar to real power struggles / warfare. Groups too small and immature to realize their risks — or simply with little to gain and less to lose — might wage meaningless combat on par with games without mega-assets. But the ones that have the presence to create epic experiences may be more stagnate as far as the game's combat is concerned.
posted by pokermonk at 10:51 AM on February 16, 2011


nathancaswell: "You say money was "lost" and "obliterated." What does that mean, exactly? Where did the money go?

Are you being obtuse? Virtual goods with real cash value (ebay, etc) were virtually destroyed. This is an interesting phenomenon and raises all sorts of intriguing questions. There was an article in Harpers several years ago about World of Warcraft/MMRPG gold farms...
"

Someone should do a study of Shannon Entropy and Information Theory on destroyed in game objects.
posted by symbioid at 10:53 AM on February 16, 2011


SNWidget, I too had a MUD fixation, though mine was 20 years ago. I stayed away from MMO's not to avoid repeating that, but because it always seemed like MUD's were a lot more interesting and dynamic. I mean, I had friends who leveled up to the point where they were given "wizard" status, and thus able to play with the MUD source code. One guy made his own Monk guild/class. At my suggestion, he implemented a "koan" command that would periodically cause your monk to utter a random amusing bit of nonsense. Then, he set it up so there was a weekly contest to see who could come up with the best koan, which would then be added to the random list. True, WoW has graphics and realtime, but otherwise, you obviously can't do anything like making your own content and functionality.

But Eve sounds a lot more interesting to me, too. That one I avoid for the possible addiction.
posted by Edgewise at 10:53 AM on February 16, 2011


It's not like you can go to Bank Of America and take out a mortgage backed by your Eve ship.

Come on, this would not even be the most stupid thing done by the mortgage industry in recent years.
posted by elizardbits at 10:56 AM on February 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


Doubt it will make a noticeable dent in NC's long term willingness to put assets on the line, they sit pretty squarely on the most resource rich region in eve since the whole technetium debacle.

It might discourage some of the smaller alliances and some the individual players and might make the fleet commander a bit more weary. Though if the FC leading the battle is who I think it was, hes ego maniacal enough that it wont make difference. (all the good fc pretty much are).
posted by Greald at 10:58 AM on February 16, 2011


Money is never "obliterated" in that it doesn't exist anymore. Even if you literally burned a pile of cash, all you have done is made all the other money in the world slightly more valuable.

At best, you can say that time/effort/resources were spent to generate cash that was traded for virtual goods and services, and the thrill(?) of seeing your doods get pwned.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:02 AM on February 16, 2011


A WoW guild weaponizes Ironforge [a major city], mounts it on giant hen's legs, and marches around Azeroth imposing its will... Until it takes a wrong turn somewhere in the Outland and is dismantled by hordes of locals. And like that, the Baba Ironforge is gone.

Soup worth approximately $0.10 was obliterated when I read that.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:04 AM on February 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


CCP didn't profit any greater (or lesser) by this stuff's destruction than they would have if it hadn't been destroyed.

CCP could have profited two ways. First, from the monthly fee players pay to spend time mining and producing the lost super-capitals. This time spent playing to amass the materials and build a supercap has real world value. Second, they could profit from players buying plex with USD and selling them on the market to build up enough isk to buy a titan hull.

Unless, that is, that $50,000 is something that people will pay directly to CCP to get it back

If they want to get into another supercap they will end up paying ccp for the time needed to do so. If they don't want to spend the time then they will go the short route and buy plex to sell.

Now a player if really wanted to he could decide that he doesn't want to play anymore. If he is a frugal person he will want to recoup as much of his time and money as possible. Instead of just deleting his account and rage quitting he could sell his character and all of his assets for isk. He can then convert that isk into real world money. There are several avenues and techniques used to do this but the result is the same, ie you can convert isk into USD. Granted this is illegal and can get you banned but if you are quitting the game anyway what do you care.

Money is never "obliterated" in that it doesn't exist anymore.

Tell that to the stock market and banking industry circa 2007.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:09 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tell that to the stock market and banking industry circa 2007.

OK, I will. There, they just agreed with me.

You can lose money. A whole bunch of people can lose money. Even a bank can lose money. But money isn't GONE, poof, vaporized into the ether.

The world just doesn't work that way, dude.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:15 AM on February 16, 2011


Greald, thanks for the background info.

Do you have any idea what % of the NC fleet this represents? Are losses of this magnitude routine in EVE or extremely rare?
posted by straight at 11:17 AM on February 16, 2011


There are several avenues and techniques used to do this but the result is the same, ie you can convert isk into USD. Granted this is illegal and can get you banned but if you are quitting the game anyway what do you care.

Actually illegal or just Eve Online illegal?
posted by Bonzai at 11:17 AM on February 16, 2011


I LOVE these Eve Online posts. Keep em coming. No, I don't play Eve Online, and I am pretty certain I never will, but as a MMO player and gamer I can appreciate the magnitude of news like this.
posted by Xoebe at 11:20 AM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Supercaps aren't usually bought with plex at least not at that level, they're pretty much financed through corp and alliance activities. At least the NC, which I used to be part of ,makes a LOT of isk by selling moon mins and building caps/supercaps for the rest of EVE.

Now it a loss like that might mean a slight increase in tritanum prices Eve wide for a while if they want to replace the loses. And that would mean slightly more expensive ships and items.

Well it would if prices weren't supressed artificially from bots and inflated through insurance "fraud".
posted by Greald at 11:21 AM on February 16, 2011


I'm not sure why people are talking about this in terms of money being destroyed. This is no different from having your house burned down. You've lost something worth $100,000 (or whatever), and the economy has lost something worth $100,000 ("wealth" was destroyed), but you wouldn't say that the economy has 100,000 fewer dollars.
posted by straight at 11:21 AM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually illegal or just Eve Online illegal?

Eve online illegal.

But money isn't GONE, poof, vaporized into the ether.

Where does money come from? Is there a fixed amount of money in the world that never increases or decreases. Or does it only increase? As far as I understand it fiat currency is a fictional concept of exchange that only works because everybody agrees it works. In the end the only thing of real value are material goods. If civilization collapsed tomorrow I guarantee you that a shit ton of money would be obliterated. Material goods would remain.

Point taken, though, as far as it concerns our current system of exchange. You are correct "money" can not be obliterated or "vaporized". It was a poor choice of words or a word. I should be clear I am only implying that in the game of eve online game virtual space ships that can be valued at $50,000 were destroyed.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:27 AM on February 16, 2011


but you wouldn't say that the economy has 100,000 fewer dollars.

Why not? If wealth is destroyed and no-one benefits, the economy is smaller by at least that amount.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:29 AM on February 16, 2011


First, from the monthly fee players pay to spend time mining and producing the lost super-capitals.
I directly addressed this in the post that you're responding to here. As I said, this does not cause that $50,000 to flow into the coffers of CCP; those people would pay that monthly fee anyway, regardless of whether this stuff had been destroyed or not.
This time spent playing to amass the materials and build a supercap has real world value. Second, they could profit from players buying plex with USD and selling them on the market to build up enough isk to buy a titan hull.
Am I understanding this correctly - are you saying that one can directly purchase in-game currency from CCP, using real world currency?
posted by Flunkie at 11:30 AM on February 16, 2011


As far as I understand it fiat currency is a fictional concept of exchange that only works because everybody agrees it works. In the end the only thing of real value are material goods.

Services also have real value. The US Government provides services (e.g. military protection) in exchange for taxes. Taxes are required to be in US dollars. That is one obvious way in which the US dollar has real value.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:30 AM on February 16, 2011


To break from the lol gamers a bit, thousands of dollars are spent on disposable goods and services on a daily basis without thinking about it. Average theater take for the top movie last weekend? $8K. Average wedding? $24K Superbowl? Several million. If that in-game currency had been converted into ETCs, the cash would have gone into the pockets of CCP for development and support.

Rather, that $50,000 is something that, theoretically, some set of players might have paid to some other set of players. Right?

Not really because CCP bans, (or discourages) most such transactions. Instead, how it works is:
1: CCP sells EVE time codes (ETCs) which extend your subscription for 30 or 60 days at slightly more than the monthly subscription cost.
2: ETCs can be converted to in-game objects called PLEX.
3: PLEX can be traded to other players or sold on the market for in-game currency (ISK).
4: ISK can be used to buy ships or materials for building ships.

It's a nice little system that helps to reduce some of the problems with gold-selling that have plagued account security for Blizzard. If you really need the ISK, there's a way to buy it that won't risk having your account compromised.

Where this breaks down is that it's a highly asymmetrical transaction. $->ISK is easy. ISK->$ is harder and higher in risk.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:31 AM on February 16, 2011


Of course, the real reason that people desire US dollars to pay their taxes is so the IRS doesn't send them to jail. But not-going-to-jail is a genuinely valuable thing and a sound basis for a currency.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:32 AM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


But money isn't GONE, poof, vaporized into the ether.

Money can be destroyed fairly easily i.e. the money supply goes up and down according to things like interest rates. Currency, on the other hand....well, it can be destroyed, but that usually involves fire.
posted by Edgewise at 11:35 AM on February 16, 2011


Cool Papa Bell : But money isn't GONE, poof, vaporized into the ether.

This money thing confuses me (because it seems to basically boil down to money = confidence in money, it seems). But money/wealth can definitely be created, right? The amount of money/wealth in the world is not fixed. So why can't it be destroyed?

Even if you literally burned a pile of cash, all you have done is made all the other money in the world slightly more valuable.

This idea seems to conflate two concepts: money and the 'value of money'. Is the total 'value of all the money' in the world fixed as a constant?

Yours, confused.
posted by memebake at 11:39 AM on February 16, 2011


Am I understanding this correctly - are you saying that one can directly purchase in-game currency from CCP, using real world currency?

Yes.

those people would pay that monthly fee anyway, regardless of whether this stuff had been destroyed or not.

Yes, but that monthly fee is time to play the game which has a real world value. You are correct that they will pay it anyway, but if they don't spend it creating supercaps they will spend it creating something else which also has a real world value. That's the beauty and consequence of eve being a sandbox where players create most of the content. There are consequences if your ship blows up. If you want to replace it you have to pay ccp real world money to do so.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:44 AM on February 16, 2011


Am I understanding this correctly - are you saying that one can directly purchase in-game currency from CCP, using real world currency?

Just to clarify, players buy PLEX which is game time, which can be sold in game for isk.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:45 AM on February 16, 2011


Is the total 'value of all the money' in the world fixed as a constant?

No. However, if you destroy a $100 bill that you would otherwise have spent or invested, the effect is to decrease the money supply and make individual dollars more desirable and valuable. This effect is limited to your nation's currency, and it assumes that the powers-that-be choose not to manipulate the money supply to counteract your behavior.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:48 AM on February 16, 2011


are you saying that one can directly purchase in-game currency from CCP, using real world currency?

Current exchange rate is approximately 18,570,000 ISK/$1. As Aelfwine says, what you do is buy a PLEX, i.e. a monthly time code, with real money from CCP and then sell the PLEX on the market.

This, of course, works the other way around too. The richer players actually wind up playing for "free," as they use ISK to purchase time cards from players who bought them with money.
posted by valkyryn at 11:50 AM on February 16, 2011


"You say money was "lost" and "obliterated." What does that mean, exactly? Where did the money go?"

The same place the money goes when you buy a burger and eat it.

I'm sometimes struck by the possibility that some people think money and value must obey some sort law, like thermodynamics, where it can't actually be destroyed. Money and value go "poof" all the time here in real life. It's common and ubiquitous.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:52 AM on February 16, 2011


valkyryn: This, of course, works the other way around too. The richer players actually wind up playing for "free," as they use ISK to purchase time cards from players who bought them with money.

But this isn't true liquidity because there's no easy way to convert that ISK into dollars or euros.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:57 AM on February 16, 2011


Or to put it another way:
If I have $17.50 I can buy a PLEX and sell it for 325 million ISK.
If I have 325 million ISK, I can buy a PLEX but I can't sell that for $17.50 without going through the grey market.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:05 PM on February 16, 2011


This money thing confuses me (because it seems to basically boil down to money = confidence in money, it seems).

Money has value because governments collectively agree that it has value. How do they peg the value? It's pegged in value to everything else. How do we know how much a dollar is worth? Because we look at it from the perspective of the euro, the yuan, the yen, etc.

Yes, it really is that weird. There's no fixed table somewhere that says "one dollar always = one widget."

But money/wealth can definitely be created, right?

Yes and no. You can't create money, per se. Rather, you turn time and effort into something of value that someone else will pay you for. And that means of exchange is money.

The amount of money/wealth in the world is not fixed. So why can't it be destroyed?

Because there's a money supply -- a finite amount of currency in circulation. If you burn a $100 bill, all the other pieces of currency get a tiny bit more valuable because there's less of it around, as East Manitoba correctly points out above. And, as he also points out, governments adjust the total amount of currency in circulation, for various reasons.

I should be clear I am only implying that in the game of eve online game virtual space ships that can be valued at $50,000 were destroyed.

And that's about the only thing you can say that happened. That's they key point.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:14 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sometimes struck by the possibility that some people think money and value must obey some sort law, like thermodynamics,

Yes, it is weird...

... where it can't actually be destroyed. Money and value go "poof" all the time here in real life.

... wait, the first part of your statement disagrees with the second part.

The value of an object can be destroyed (your house burns down). But money is money is money ... until we all stop agreeing that it is.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:17 PM on February 16, 2011


"The value of an object can be destroyed (your house burns down). But money is money is money"

To be more clear, I was equating value and money as the same thing. Value can vanish, thus money(=value) can vanish.

But, I am not an economist by either trade or hobby, and I could be completely full of shit. In fact I am, by profession, a village idiot. So please take my babbling about economic theory in that context.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:36 PM on February 16, 2011


Cool Papa Bell: Because there's a money supply -- a finite amount of currency in circulation

But Money =/= Currency, right? Because the way banks receive and lend money mean that there is a flexible amount of money in circulation - e.g. Reserve Requirements etc.

So if I ask my bank for a loan and they add the loan amount to my bank balance, the amount of money in the world is increased by virtue of them agreeing the loan. If I then take that money out as cash and deposit it in another bank, that second bank will then lend it to someone else, etc.

Which makes me think that burning a $100 note would have no effect on any other cash because its all just paper and money is being created all the time and it only works because we think it does aaaaarrrrrgggggghhhhhh
posted by memebake at 12:39 PM on February 16, 2011


So if I ask my bank for a loan and they add the loan amount to my bank balance, the amount of money in the world is increased by virtue of them agreeing the loan. If I then take that money out as cash and deposit it in another bank, that second bank will then lend it to someone else, etc.

Nope, they have to have it to lend it.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 12:40 PM on February 16, 2011


Overall, this is making me think that dollars and isk are equally real.
posted by memebake at 12:41 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Money in a MMO behaves slightly different then real world money though, since you can actually create currency as an individual in a game like EVE.

a better touch stone for the worth of stuff like this is look at the time it takes to create 62 billion isk.

An experienced lvl 4 mission runner which is the touchstone for ay money making venture in Eve makes (or did when i was playing a couple of years back) somewhere between 100 and 200 mill isk an hour. Between a quarter and half that is actually new money entering the money supply.

lets say 200 mill isk and hour.

That makes the loss around 4750 man hours or in the excess of 2 years worth of grinding as a full time job. (unless I missed some decimal some where)
posted by Greald at 12:41 PM on February 16, 2011


erm I meant 9 trillion isk the sum total of the loses, not the paltry 62 bil.
posted by Greald at 12:43 PM on February 16, 2011


Nope, they have to have it to lend it.

But the person that originally deposited the money with the bank 'has it'. When the bank then lend some of it to me, they are creating money.

Which is why everything goes wrong when too many people withdraw money from banks at the same time.
posted by memebake at 12:45 PM on February 16, 2011


EVE isn't exactly my cup of tea. Now, if they came up with a mmo-version of Escape Velocity—that is, featuring more PvE exploration and lore, and more action-oriented battle mechanics—then I would be ready to say goodbye to the real world.
posted by polymodus at 12:48 PM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


What's it all about, AElfy?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about when you sort it out, AElfy?
Are we meant to take more than we give
or are we meant to be kind?
posted by StrikeTheViol at 12:48 PM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


But the person that originally deposited the money with the bank 'has it'. When the bank then lend some of it to me, they are creating money.

Which is why everything goes wrong when too many people withdraw money from banks at the same time.


Ah, but the person doesn't have it. They have left it in the hands of the bank, with an agreement that they can fetch it whenever they want some. The bank, on their part, borrows the money from that person's pile to lend to the person who is borrowing money. The bank has to hope that it can make enough money from the temporarily borrowed money (via investments, interest on loans, etc.) to be able to have enough cash on hand to give out to the people who want cash from their piles.
That it goes to hell when everyone wants their money back actually proves that they aren't creating money, but juggling many piles of it - if they were creating money, there would be enough to hand out.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 12:53 PM on February 16, 2011


A couple people were commenting that it looked like the ships were stationary during the battle. Remember that these are massive ships with no terrestrial equivalent. The inertia of ships that big would render them nearly impossible to maneuver in these sorts of point blank space battles, to which the closest analogy I can come up with would be something like the battle of Jutland... except slower and with less movement.
posted by Justinian at 12:56 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


L'Estrange Fruit: Ah, but the person doesn't have it. They have left it in the hands of the bank, with an agreement that they can fetch it whenever they want some.

Ah, thanks for that. I hadn't thought to the bottom of the conceptual difference between 'having money' and 'having money in the bank'.

Still, I'd argue that generally, people 'think' they have the money that is in their bank accounts. When you ask someone 'how much money they have', they would include their bank balance - and they would be right to, because the bank has promised they can have it back whenever they ask. I'd also argue that in these days when we use cash less and less (I could easily borrow $1000 and spend it without ever handling any cash), the conceptual difference between 'money' and 'money in the bank' is smaller than ever.

What the banks are doing is equivalent to (say) me giving two of my neighbours the gift of a lawn mower, but telling them I'm going to keep it in my garage and giving them a key so they can come and use it whenever they want. In reality, there's only one lawn mower, and if they both come to get it at the same time, I'm revealed as dishonest. Banks saying you can have your money whenever you want is dishonest in the same way. But they have enough lawnmowers and neighbours that they can get away with it.

Which is all to make the point that banks (practically, virtually, for all intents and purposes) create money. I'm wondering if there's a similar reverse process that can (practically, virtually, for all intents and purposes) destroy money.
posted by memebake at 1:16 PM on February 16, 2011


It's a little misleading to say that the ships were "worth" $50,000.

The economies of most virtual worlds work on a faucet/sink model. Wealth is created, circulates among the players of the game for a while, and then is destroyed. For example, in WoW (and pretty much all similar games), the game creates money out of thin air when you kill monsters and pick up coins from their corpse. There's an infinite supply: Money will keep flowing from the faucet as long as you keep killing rats.

You can buy things from other players with this money (WoW example: the auction house) but there are always sinks designed into the game that eventually destroy it. (WoW example: Repair costs, purchases from NPCs like mounts and skill training)

In EVE, the raw materials (minerals) that ships are created from are effectively infinite, though your skills limit how quickly you can mine them (how wide you can open the faucet). Players spend time and ISK to convert the raw materials into ships, weapons, and ammo, which are bought and sold (circling the drain). Finally, the wealth is destroyed in a spectacular fashion. ISK itself works the same way, being created out of thin air when you complete missions or receive insurance payouts for your ships, and destroyed when you purchase insurance contracts or certain NPC-sold items from the marketplace.

What CCP did with EVE was allow game time to be traded on the in-game market for in-game money. When I buy a 30-day game time card for $17.50 and sell it to someone for ~350m ISK I'm not creating money, but rather paying someone else's subscription fee for a month (money that CCP would get anyway) in exchange for some of their in-game cash.

This only works one way, though. If I have 10 billion ISK, I can't convert it into $530 USD without going through grey market channels, which is against the rules. Not that this stops everyone, but it's not a simple currency conversion and there's a risk of getting caught and banned.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 1:20 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Okay. So the discussion of the nature of money is fascinating, really, but as someone who has never played EVE I need a point of reference for how genuinely epic these titan things are. Can I think of it as a battle where 12 death stars got destroyed? Was the battle that epic? Or was it just, like, a battle where 12 super star destroyers got blown up?

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that the economics is theoretically interesting and all, I mean, I figure there's people out there in several different disciplines writing dissertations about EVE right now, and I would definitely like to read those dissertations when they finish... but I'm not going to be able to think about economics clearly until I know precisely how awesome the giant space splosions were.

(... perhaps the fact that I consider giant space splosions more viscerally compelling than economics explains why I've never actually played EVE...)
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:26 PM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


You can buy things from other players with this money (WoW example: the auction house) but there are always sinks designed into the game that eventually destroy it. (WoW example: Repair costs, purchases from NPCs like mounts and skill training)

When I played Kingdom of Loathing and listened to their radio show regularly, I was fascinated by how much of the work of running an MMORPG ended up being managing the economy through the creation of various currency sinks and farms. At some point they had some bug that gave people some ludicrous amount of currency, and they came up with a whole plot arc designed entirely to get players to dump billions and billions of Meat out of the economy. If any economists took MMORPG economies seriously, I have no doubt that there would be some very interesting studies to do.
posted by Copronymus at 1:30 PM on February 16, 2011


Can I think of it as a battle where 12 death stars got destroyed?

Yes.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 1:30 PM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


This only works one way, though. If I have 10 billion ISK, I can't convert it into $530 USD without going through grey market channels, which is against the rules. Not that this stops everyone, but it's not a simple currency conversion and there's a risk of getting caught and banned.

I suspect that CCP has effectively undermined the demand for ISK-buying. As a buyer, why should I risk my cash and character in an unenforceable grey-market contract exchange when I can buy a PLEX from an authorized reseller? It strikes me as a brilliant move.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:41 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks! Damn, 12 death stars. on the losing side of a battle. that's hella rad. Good job, EVE players!
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:41 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay. So the discussion of the nature of money is fascinating, really, but as someone who has never played EVE I need a point of reference for how genuinely epic these titan things are. Can I think of it as a battle where 12 death stars got destroyed? Was the battle that epic? Or was it just, like, a battle where 12 super star destroyers got blown up?

This wiki page has some info on Eve ships. Looking at the smallest class of ships (Frigates), they have a mass of about 1,500 tonnes. The Titans have a mass of about 2,278,125 tonnes, which makes Titans about 1,500 times bigger than the smallest ships. A mid-range Battlecruiser is 13,500 tonnes, so a Titan is 160 times bigger than a Battlecruiser. I haven't seen size measurements but the wiki says they 'rival cities in size' and that "Successful construction of a Titan would require high levels of secrecy, as well as months of skill training and research. Currently, a Titan takes approximately eight weeks to build (in real time), not including its primary components which are required for construction"

Here's a nice video of one of the first Titans to be successfully built in Eve. It looks quite big.
posted by memebake at 1:58 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It looks like an aroused horse's penis.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:03 PM on February 16, 2011


Ah, here's a nice video showing comparative size of Eve ships. The smallest ship is 48 metres long, the Titan is about 13 kilometres long.
posted by memebake at 2:09 PM on February 16, 2011


Bah!
The Death Stars, the Galactic Empire's ultimate terror weapons, were battle stations several hundred kilometers in diameter and mounting a directed energy superlaser capable of completely destroying a planet with a single shot along with 15000 lasers, ion, turbolasers batteries, and heavy turbolasers in all plus an additional 768 tractor beam emplacements.
According to the eve-wiki, the Titan's volume is 155,000,000 m3 -- AKA 1.5x108 m3.

According to the Wookiiepedia, "The first Death Star was 160 kilometers in diameter, while the second Death Star was 900 kilometers in diameter."

That gives a volume of 2.145×1015 m3 for the first and 3.817×1017 m3 respectively.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:18 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Thanks to Wolfram Alpha for quick calculations.)
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:19 PM on February 16, 2011


memebake: "This money thing confuses me (because it seems to basically boil down to money = confidence in money, it seems)."

This is exactly how money works in the real world, isn't it? Money is a consensual hallucination. That piece of paper isn't really worth a dollar. We all just agree that it is. The map is not the territory.

Or am I doing it wrong?
posted by Splunge at 2:20 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


The second Death Star was 100x as massive as the first? I HAD NO IDEA. I thought they were the same!
posted by Justinian at 2:21 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I spent about a year playing Eve. If you like spaceships and building games it can be a lot of fun. But network lag makes fleet battles pretty dull - possibly an entirely realistic experience of what space warfare will be like in the future, given the limitations of light speed, but something less than fun. And then the time it consumed...if you want to spend your entire day doing resource management and project schedules, you might as well just get a job as a project manager and submit your Eve avatar as your resume. The time I wasted on the game was worth a lot more than $50,000 when you factor the accumulated opportunity costs.

It result in an improved understanding of economics, though, and Eve's economic system is so elaborate that it has attracted some academic interest. In case you didn't know, CCP has an economist on their staff to help them understand what goes on in their virtual markets. I think the game would actually be an excellent platform on which to conduct a first-year economics course. Hell, if I had enough professional experience I could probably make money teaching one in Eve.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:28 PM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is exactly how money works in the real world, isn't it? Money is a consensual hallucination. That piece of paper isn't really worth a dollar. We all just agree that it is. The map is not the territory. Or am I doing it wrong?

Kind of. It's the dollar itself which is an arbitrary imaginary thing. The note or coin in your pocket is just a claim token on x dollars worth of purchasing power.

The same would be true if we were still on the gold standard. Gold doesn't have any unique inherent value in terms of physical properties - for almost any use of gold, other metals can be substituted which would work equally well (it is, however, the least reactive to acid of all metals). Mainly people like its aesthetic qualities, mix of density and durability, and it's both distinctive enough and scarce enough to have economic signalling value. So it's been a handy store of wealth in many places through history. By this I mean 'something that can be easily exchanged with almost anyone else, for something else you want or need.' It's not perfect, because you can futz with the weight in order to fool people, but until the late 60s even large countries found it convenient to settle accounts with gold transfers, and you notice most governments still retain quite large reserves of the stuff. Currency notes emulate the scarcity aspect of gold by (generally) being quite difficult to print thanks to special inks, materials and so on.

But ultimately, currency is just meant to provide a convenient means of exchanging value. Instead of me giving you a claim form on 2 of my sheep, and you not being entirely sure whether it will be honored until you turn up at my farm and receive them, with currency I can just hand you $50 and we're done. As long as you are sure my currency is genuine then you don't have to worry about whether you can trust me, or investing your valuable time in establishing how trustworthy I am. You look at the currency, see it's not fake, and you are able to trust the government's promise that it will back the cash with the force of law. If you owe someone value, and give them a suitable amount of cash, they have to accept it.

That's important, because if someone could say 'meh...I am not interested in your shiny coins, the only way you can repay me for the enormous value I have given you is to herd my sheep/plow my field...unless of course you can slay a mystical dragon and retrieve my magical and probably fictional family treasure, which is beyond price' then you very quickly end up with institutionalized slavery. Currency gets you off the hook of that problem, because the creditor no longer gets to specify which forms of payment are acceptable, only an amount. This wasn't really intentional, it's just an unexpected positive externality, which has to be weighed against a variety of negative ones.

As the volume of money exchanged electronically in markets (speculative, commodity, and commercial) continues to outpace the amount of physical currency that exists, and as transactions get faster and more automated, perhaps it will lead to the end of money as we know it. At some point it seems more sensible to hand to the business of counting and budgeting over to a computer, and just have a card or something with a glowing bar graph, and filters which just display the things you can afford to buy or need to live, without the distraction of more expensive/cheaper-but-inferior stuff, which you don't want because it's not good value.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:53 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just to give an idea of how much ships cost in USD, here is a handy chart created by metafilter's very own heresiarch. (previously) Just a note; his titan price for some reason is double what they actually cost in game.

Here is a chart of the ships of eve shown to scale.(notice the Eiffel Tower in the bottom left hand corner)

Here are a few youtube videos illustrating the relative scales of the ships of eve. (I can't vouch for how accurate these are, but still neat nonetheless)

frigate through battleship

battleship through titan(with base jumping off a titan)

And finally a titan over New York City.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:10 PM on February 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


So that's what I saw last night!
posted by Splunge at 3:16 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


And finally a titan over New York City.

okay that is srsly fucking awesome. i want one. does it come with minions? i need minions.
posted by elizardbits at 3:20 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Complicating this is that, as we saw with the financial crisis, we like to put a cash estimate on "worth" based on the current value of largely intangible instruments. An example of this was discovering that a few million dollars of Bill Gates' net worth vanished overnight in a bad day. That net worth is estimated partly by the market price of Microsoft stock. But he probably couldn't unload all that stock in one day without changing that market price.

Mortgage-backed securities are another example. As long as everyone believed that they were better than government bonds, you could swap them around at market value. When they were downrated due to rising foreclosure rates and the ridiculous overleverage of the companies behind them, the whole thing imploded.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:20 PM on February 16, 2011


Awesome post, thanks! I'm proud to see my old corp Oberon Incorporated was in the fight, as part of the NC. Oberon has a long, bitter history with "the Russians", dating back to mining near our old home in Esoteria when they'd show up chatting in Cyrillic and we'd make fun of them for speaking in Klingon. Looks like my old corpmate took a chunk out of a Nyx and a couple of Dreads. If I read the killboard right he was in a Titan himself but didn't lose it. Good on him!

The talk about real-world value of these spaceships is valid but a bit misleading. I like the analogy up above to fireworks; you buy these things for fun, not as investments. Doubly so since the primary currency is virtual and only secondarily tradeable for actual money, and even then with severe limitations. Also #1 maxim of Eve is "don't fly a ship you can't afford to lose": no one's going hungry tonight for having a spaceship blown up. Folks who play this game this much welcome the chance to actually get in a big fleet fight, it's the reward for weeks of resource harvesting.
posted by Nelson at 3:33 PM on February 16, 2011


Oberon has a long, bitter history with "the Russians", dating back to mining near our old home in Esoteria when they'd show up chatting in Cyrillic and we'd make fun of them for speaking in Klingon.

My own corp has made a nice sideline in destroying Russian macro-miners and mission runners. We respond to the occasional angry Cyrillic EVE-mails with Wingdings.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:38 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Heh. I spent time in Oberon as well. Glad to hear they're still around.
posted by Splunge at 3:50 PM on February 16, 2011


The physical scale of the Titan ships is cool, but ultimately just an arbitrary convention of the game design.

The real question which I still don't get is how rare Titan ships are. Did the Galactic Empire lose all their Titans? Half their fleet? Twelve Titans out of a fleet of thousands?

And how often do Titan ships get blown up? Is this a once-in-a-game event? Or do Titan ships get blown up every few weeks?
posted by straight at 3:52 PM on February 16, 2011


I actually created a pilot named Annoyance. In her bio I had "Lick my sweaty balls" in Cyrillic. Then I'd fly into their blockades with a noob ship to force their cloaked ships to uncloak and kill me. They hated that. I had to stop when I got a message from a GM saying that I was griefing them and if I kept it up I'd be banned.

Good times, good times.
posted by Splunge at 3:58 PM on February 16, 2011


One of the Wiki's said there are estimated to be about 150 titan ships in the game - in a universe of about 300,000 players. A few years ago they were very rare; they're a bit less rare now.

Here's a good article - an interview with the Mittani (the Goonswarm Spymaster) about a fateful day when one of their fleets got wiped out by one of the first Titans into the game:
As the founder and director of the GIA, an anomalous spy organization serving the thousands-strong, SomethingAwful.com-derived GoonSwarm alliance, The Mittani has seen over a hundred agents and sub-directors working underneath him over the past year. All have been devoted to one cause: the downfall of GoonSwarm's enemies, by any means necessary ....
... A small light appears amidst the blackness of space. The spark then expands into a furious cloud of energy, chaotically spiraling around the seemingly-innocent cynosural field. The worst scenario has become a reality: Lotka Volterra's first Titan-class starship--a Death Star-like behemoth long kept secret from even the corporation's upper echelon--has revealed itself for the first time, activating its Doomsday superweapon from inside the system.
posted by memebake at 4:02 PM on February 16, 2011


Did the Galactic Empire lose all their Titans? Half their fleet?

Another thing about Eve is that because the game is played out between largish corporations with multiple levels of secrecy, misdirection and propaganda, no-one really knows whats going on most of the time. Alliances are not likely to say how many Titans they have. Similarly to questions about the Valentines Day battle - what events led to it, etc; information like that will take a while to come to light, because with thousands of secretive players involved its hard to work out the bigger picture.

One more thing for people new to Eve to bear in mind: Because players over the whole world play against each other in the same virtual universe, many of the corporations and alliances form along nationality lines - thus you have Russian corps, Japanese corps, etc. I guess the language barriers also make the wider picture of that the corps are doing a bit harder to fathom.
posted by memebake at 4:07 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


hrmph. if there's 150 of them in the world, and if they're "only" Manhattan-sized, I'm going to have to say that they're closer to being like super star destroyers than like death stars. Still rad, but maybe not quite as hella rad.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 4:31 PM on February 16, 2011


Are bombers any good now? I have a few on an account. My friend and I wanted to do wolf pack stuff with them. But we never found people who were any good at understanding basic maneuvering and tactics. At least not any we would trust in the corp.
posted by Splunge at 4:45 PM on February 16, 2011


I still don't get is how rare Titan ships are.

According to the "official" count there are approximately 402 titans in New Eden. I don't think this tally has yet incorporated the Valentine's Day Massacre yet.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:54 PM on February 16, 2011


Yeah, because it's an MMO, as opposed to, say, a fun game.

I laughed explosively at this, although technically there are a couple MMOFPS games which might be considered fun, although the less massive the better in my mind.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:07 PM on February 16, 2011


Well fun is a relative term.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:10 PM on February 16, 2011


What's it all about, AElfy?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about when you sort it out, AElfy?
Are we meant to take more than we give
or are we meant to be kind?


I wish I knew, but I honestly have no idea. I just do what my CEO tells me to do...I'm just following orders.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:10 PM on February 16, 2011


You know who else just followed orders? No, not him. He GAVE the orders. Psych!
posted by Splunge at 5:15 PM on February 16, 2011


Never having played the game, I love these posts. If I were ever to start playing, I imagine I would be crushed under the weight of all the built up expectations I've gotten from MeFi.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:06 PM on February 16, 2011


Anyone who does want to join, and in particular anyone who wants to grief care-bears in high security space, send me a MeFi-mail or join #The Ninja Alliance in game and ask for Natthias or Margo.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:23 PM on February 16, 2011


grief care-bears in high security space

:(

I love EVE, but I think I'm constitutionally unsuited to really play it in a way that would be fun.

MY NAME IS BOP, AND I AM A CARE BEAR
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:24 PM on February 16, 2011


Nah, I've played with you. You're a smart bear.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:40 PM on February 16, 2011


I really want to like eve. I tried various schemes to get enough money to be able to go around adventuring. There's mission running and "ratting" (shooting dumb pirate mobs for a bounty) which are typical MMO grindy, then there's the whole world of scams and business. I tried T2 production for a bit, and the logistics of making a loan, servicing it, getting materials in the right place, pipelining production, and getting goods to market was enormously complex, but very instructional.

If I were doing a startup and had to pick between a harvard mba or someone who ran logistics for a massive alliance, it would be a tough choice. The IT infrastructure in the alliance I was in (voice chat, forums, wiki all with single sign on) rivaled some companies I've worked for. It's impressive how much interesting work Eve can inspire for a game, I just wish there was a way to engage with the game that avoided all the time sinks.
posted by heathkit at 12:11 AM on February 17, 2011


I just wish there was a way to engage with the game that avoided all the time sinks.

Suicide ganking.
posted by infinitywaltz at 7:09 AM on February 17, 2011


Anybody care to give some examples of what the game play experience is like? Preferably both for the established player and what it would be like for one of us starting the game for the first time?
posted by paisley henosis at 11:27 AM on February 17, 2011


It's often described as spreadsheets 'n' spaceships. It's definitely not an action game, and yet it's not something you can really play AFK, either, even in supposedly "safe" areas, thanks to roving bands of suicide commandos like my own corporation. For some good insight into the game for people who haven't actually played, check this post.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:36 PM on February 17, 2011


If I were doing a startup and had to pick between a harvard mba or someone who ran logistics for a massive alliance, it would be a tough choice. The IT infrastructure in the alliance I was in (voice chat, forums, wiki all with single sign on) rivaled some companies I've worked for

Hell, if I worked for the CIA, I'd have recruited The Mittani a long time ago.
posted by empath at 5:30 AM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anybody care to give some examples of what the game play experience is like? Preferably both for the established player and what it would be like for one of us starting the game for the first time?

First of all you have to understand that eve is a cold, dark, unforgiving place. When a player first starts in New Eden they are usually alone. Step one is to get some friends. Eve is above all else a social game, and without the social aspect it fails completely, at least that's my opinion. I suggest trying to find a good player run corporation to join. In the beginning you will be completely broke, and unless you want to spend some RL money on PLEX which you can sell ingame for some isk you will be mining to make enough money to buy ships and mods.

The first six months are the hardest part and there is a steep learning curve. In my experience (4 accounts) you really don't begin to shine as a character until about 20 million skill points(sp). That's the point at which you have most of your core skills trained up and have specialized in one area. From there on out you can begin to specialize in whatever other ships or professions you want to. Depending on whether you have implants(lowers training time for skills) getting to 20 million sp can take anywhere from 10 months to 1 year.

Depending on your play style, a new player experience varies greatly. Many love the game for the intense pvp, and end up spending lots of time in space stalking prey or participating in roaming gangs. This is usually small scale pvp. The next step up, as far as pvp is concerned, is lowsec. Here you can find some larger scale pvp, think 50 vs. 50, without having to get into the whole 0.0 alliance game. And of course the endgame of pvp is fleet warfare which reaches truly epic scales. Fleet battles with 1200 people crammed into one system duking it out in realtime. When it works(ie ccp remembered to reinforce the node) and there is minimal to no lag it is an experience like no other. In my gaming experience there is nothing like it.

Other play styles are a little more boring, at least for me, but hey whatever floats your boat. Some players prefer to sit in a station, never undocking, and play spreadsheets in space. The trader profession has pvp just like the military profession. Market pvp is just as intense as ship to ship pvp. Building up a supply chain through buy and sell orders is key to perfecting market pvp. You can spend months building up your empire only to see it all come crashing down because you got cocky and tried to push someone out of a market who had deeper pockets than you.

Another profession is being a scientist. Again lot's of spreadsheets with lots of time spent building up a supply chain and figuring out the mechanics of doing what you are trying to do. Trial and error is just as important here as it is in rl science. Unless of course you have a friend who has already mastered the techniques and can let you in on the math behind the science interface and how it works.

A manufacturer is kind of a mix between trader and scientist need both skill sets to really shine. Building things, if you do it correctly, will always be profitable.

Other professions/skillsets I haven't tried: explorer, wormhole exploitation, planetary interaction, miner, hauler, military commander, logistics specialist, station placement/defence, mission runner and many more. There are also the meta professions, ie the ones that involve building and perfecting tools for playing the game smarter not harder.

Now here is the awesome part about eve. Each of the professions I have just outlined is actually not in itself a profession but rather a skill set needed to master the multitude of professions that emerge out of the skill sets as a natural consequence of player interactions. So let's say you have the skill set to become a scientist. Well what kind of science do you want to do? Do you want to research Tech II and become a preeminent arms dealer? Do you want to research drug manufacturing and become a drug king pin? Do you want to master the art of complex reactions, mining moons and combining the materials to make the raw materials of industry? Do you want to become an archaeologist and research the ancient races that came before and try to reverse engineer their advanced technology? These are but a few of the professions that a scientist can undertake. All of them dependent on the demand of other players. And remember in Eve you are never confined to just one profession you can do them all. The only limiting factor is the time needed to train the skills.

I have been playing eve for over 5 years now and I have still barely scratched the surface. There is still so much for me to do. I have four accounts. Two are pure combat, one is pure idustry, the last is a mix of industry and combat. Luckily I have been playing long enough and am rich enough that I can basically play for free. I use my in game wealth to buy PLEX for my four accounts. I have pretty much done everything, except fly a Titan or Mothership, as far as warfare is concerned. On the industry side my characters skilled for this provide an ample profit from minimal effort. On the average I spend three hours a week with industry toons making money. The rest of the time is spent shooting things and performing logistics necessary to shoot things. Logistics is a whole other profession, arguably the most important profession in the game as far as large scale alliances are concerned.

Well I hope that gave you some idea of what eve is like or at least what the possibilities are. It's actually kinda hard to explain to people what eve is like, it's one of those things you have to experience for yourself. Eve is a game of months and years not days and weeks. The best way to describe Eve is that it is like a RTS game where all the units on the field are real people and if you can be the one to build up the trust and institutions that brings these units together into an army you will be the warlord that subjugates entire star systems and even entire regions of space. The average player never gets to these lofty heights but the potential is there for the person that wants to put in the time and effort.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:17 AM on February 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


@AElfwine - I've always had the sensation that it's rather like a video game version of Traveller, the old RPG I loved back in the day. I had as much fun generating solar systems and character life stories, as playing the actual game. Not to mention reading up on the rich back story.

I mentioned early in the thread that I am fascinated by Eve despite not likely playing it -- RL nowadays is more attuned to casual gaming like Minecraft (my current obsession) rather than MMORPGs -- but it is always a temptation. Thanks for the description.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:44 PM on February 18, 2011


If you like some lulz, Hulkageddon 4: Tears of Veldspar just started. That's the week where mean bad awful space pirates go and attack all the carebear miners who generally think they're safe hanging out in low-sec. Suicide ganking brought to an artform.

In the first 7 minutes the Killboard already has 7 victims, including a kill of an Orca valued at 430M ISK, or 1-2 months free game time.
posted by Nelson at 4:16 PM on February 18, 2011


I mentioned early in the thread that I am fascinated by Eve despite not likely playing it -- RL nowadays is more attuned to casual gaming like Minecraft (my current obsession) rather than MMORPGs -- but it is always a temptation.

Let me tempt you further. In Eve if your account is active you are progressing as a character regardless of what you do in game. You can go afk for months at a time and still progress your character. Now your ingame relationships may suffer a bit but you can always come back later and when you do you will be more powerful than when you left.

But then again that's another thing about eve, power is so relative. Unlike wow it is possible in Eve for a 6 month old newb who is specialized in a certain ship type go head to head with a five year veteran in the same ship type and the person who has the better piloting skills wins. Skills only matter if you know how to use them and if you are good you are only limited by the time it takes to specialize in certain ships and the weaponry and modules you need to mount on them to make the hull effective.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:28 AM on February 19, 2011


i wish there were an MMO like Eve that didn't have XP or levels-- or at least used them minimally. I hate games that just reward you for playing a lot (or in the case of eve, paying a lot of money in monthly fees and not playing).

To my mind, the proper use of 'character advancement' is to guide the player to learn how to use their abilities properly before giving them more abilities to use, but it should be pretty minimal.. Just giving players more hit points and making all their weapons do more damage and making all of the enemies have more hit points just gives the illusion of progress, while not making the game play any more interesting.
posted by empath at 10:15 AM on February 19, 2011


You should just breakdown and sign up Empath. You know you want to. :)
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:45 PM on February 21, 2011


My experience with EVE's character advancement system is that it's more about width than depth, so to speak. Once a character has their core piloting skills trained up (precise definition of "core" varies depending on who you ask) they can fly a ship just as well as a 4-year veteran character. The veteran character might have a slight advantage (say ~10% effectiveness) if they took a lot of extra time to specialize in whatever ship/weapon type they're using, but their real advantage is being able to fly back to a station and hop into a completely different type of ship. Or in practical terms: You can get just as good as a veteran in flying Gallente cruisers quickly, but the veteran can probably fly a lot of other ship types you can't yet.

(Note that I'm talking about the character, not the player controlling it. Knowing how to play the game is almost as important in EVE as your stats. This differs from the standard DikuMUD derivatives where a level 50 wizard could stomp a level 1 noob by rolling his/her face around on the keyboard pressing random buttons by sheer virtue of numerical stat advantage.)
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 9:43 AM on February 22, 2011


The moment someone here on metafilter described EVE Online as 'spaceships and spreadsheets' I was determined to play. Once I figured out that I really didn't have to spend hours a day every day playing, as I did with EQ, I was feverish to play.

So here is my experience with EVE as a player with only five months of play.

The learning curve is a wall, but there are copious guides and an entire University devoted to demystifying some things, although there are lots of things that are still obscure. The interface is comparable to that of Dwarf Fortress for intuitive design, if that tells you anything.

First of all, space combat is not very cinematic. There's apparently some tactical way to approach other ships from oblique angles to increase your firing accuracy and decrease your target profile, but I'm in graduate school and work full time so I haven't really spent the time to hone my pew pew techniques to that level. So from my perspective fighting (I am a filthy care bear) is just talking to some sneering person in a station and going out to mash buttons at NPCs. I've worked out some strategies for doing that, but it's basically button mashing. It is fun to mash buttons!

At my extremely inept level of play, the real success in fighting comes from correctly designing your spaceship. There are several third party tools and research guides that allow you to do this, but it's still a process of trial and error to intuitively understand why a certain build is better. There are apparently as many ways to do this correctly as there are players, so chat is always full of people arguing about builds. I have probably lost twenty real dollars of spaceships because I am inept. Did I mention I am inept? It is a thing in the world.

It would be possible, even at my level, to support myself from going out on missions, blowing things up, and raiding the remnants for parts. That is honestly one of my favorite things. I figured out how to get a tractor beam and trained Salvage first thing, so I smear space with the wreckage of pirate NPCs and then fill my hold with their burnt and twisted wires and circuits and motherboards. That is what I do when I have time to actually play. It is not the spaceship fighting that amuses me - it is chortling as I sell a broken trigger switch. But that is not how I actually fund my space salvage.

As people have said, you can buy PLEX to either fund your subscription or sell for ISK, the currency in EVE. It's a significant amount of ISK - I have about 600 million ISK from selling 2 PLEX, but I've used most of it buying ships that I subsequently explode and buying skills. I think there may be some subtle prejudice against it as a stigma of people who don't play well enough to not have to buy their toys with real money, but who cares.

The market is apparently a way to earn enough money to fund yourself without paying money, but it is also skill-based. There are a whole herd of skills you need to train, as far as I've been able to tell, before you can effectively market. I've also not found anywhere in-game any sort of useful documentation for how to use the market, and don't have hours to spare researching it in my thirty minutes a week of free time. But it is lovely and complex and has graphs and charts, so at some point I will want to figure it out.

Everyone hates miners, which is a shame, because mining is totally amusing in a very low key way. I like drifting in space in my Retriever, which looks like a weird mechanized bagette, blowing up rocks with a laser and watching my little mining drones zip around. I sit on the couch and watch a movie and drink tea while my ship loads up with ore. But you have to be careful, because everyone hates miners and you need to keep an eye on proximity to other people in the asteroid belts. They will apparently blow you up or trick you into being blown up and then steal your ore out of spite.

You can build things with ore, and on a low-level it's pretty simple. There are apparently all these tiers of technology that I haven't yet explored. I've started saving my salvage because you can build things with it, but at the moment it's just cluttering up my dock.

Apparently there's a whole system of exploiting planets for materials, but even though I have a planetary base and read a guide, it's still mysterious and I basically don't do anything with it. I have a huge backlog of algae, which I guess is piled in a corner with my busted drone guidance systems.

The thing I like about EVE is that it lends itself to telling myself stories about the game rather than the game itself being the entertainment. I was actually disappointed they are giving us station walking (in which you will actually have an avatar rather than simply docking and seeing a ship image) , because I'd decided that all the 'capsuleers' (EVE's name for pilots) were in reality just brains in jars that piloted ships and had human avatar faces to gloss over that fact.

I joined EVE University, a guild specifically run for new players, because they have a huge volume of research and guides about the game. In addition to that the guild explicitly bans sexist or otherwise bigoted speech, and many of the players are female. It is refreshing in a MMORPG to see someone say in the chat 'don't say sexist things in the chat' instead of it being a free-for-all of UR GAI and all the time. They have a lot of classes you can attend and podcasts about the theory and the mechanics of the game, but alack I don't have the thing you earth-people call free time so I have only been able to do a couple of those.

Many of the players are adults, and most of them seem pretty sharp. This is good, because you are playing with people who are not ten, and it is bad, because EVE is a libertarian paradise gone berserk and all kinds of schemes and stratagems are possible that would not be things ten-year-olds would think of doing.

You can only train one skill at a time, and some skills that I have will require a month of training. Skills are tiered, so you have to train Skill A to get to Skills B, C, D and Z. They train even when you're not on, so I've learned to be very careful to make sure I always have skills queued so that if I don't play for a week I'm still progressing.

There is a certificate system that is supposed to guide you in the decision for which skills to train, and lots of people online who will tell you which skills go to what path, but it is a completely Byzantine system and I've basically just started finishing off certificates just to have something to do. Again, there seems to be a pretty serious investment of time to understand the path you want to choose.

So to sum up: A lot of EVE is sitting in space mashing a button and staring at at spreadsheet. It helps to make up stories about why you're out there, and it is certainly atmospheric. You don't spend your time grinding for skills, but you'll certainly spend time (perhaps an equal amount as you would if you were grinding) researching the game. It's fiendishly complex and data heavy, and requires a lot of patience. I like it. I haven't recommended it to most of my friends, though, because they're not the type of people to be allured by the notion of being a garbage picking rock hound in space.
posted by winna at 11:12 AM on February 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


A lot of EVE is sitting in space mashing a button and staring at at spreadsheet.

This is true. In eve information is everything. Now in PvP instead of staring at spreadsheets your information source is human. They can be in the form of a scout, a spy, or an intel channel for your region. PvP does become a bit more than rolling your forehead along F1 to F8 to open fire, though. You are correct, winna, there are strategies and techniques of piloting that if followed will minimize incoming damage and optimize your own damage output. These techniques are all based on the mathematical formulas behind the game engine. For example here is the way that turret damage calculations are done. Here are some more resources for the eve player noob or vet:

evegeek, eveinfo ,evelopedia, evemon, and eve fitting tool (eft)

I joined EVE University, a guild specifically run for new players, because they have a huge volume of research and guides about the game.

You mean corporation. :) But yeah that's good advice. Eve University is a great place to learn the ins and outs of eve and also lets you make some friends in game.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:29 AM on February 23, 2011


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