We don't have to worry about ISK for a very long time, now.
August 21, 2011 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Phaser Inc., a trading company in space-based MMO EVE online, have absconded with a record-breaking 1 trillion ISK and revealed themselves as a giant ponzi scheme in a remarkably frank open letter. Their haul of the in-game currency translates to just over $50,000, or 242 years-worth, of PLEX (traded for playing time). [via RockPaperShotgun]

Say the scammers: "It's been a journey for all of us. Some people trusted us. Others didn't but accepted the risks. Yet, other people were skeptical at first, but became convinced by friends and testimonials (those were all genuine by the way). Everyone has his/her own Phaser Inc. experience. A couple of you withdrew your ISK this week - just in time. Probably some of you were just about to do it, but forgot to send the mail, and are a little too late now; all part of the experience."

Eve News 24 have the numbers, and the text of the in-game announcement. "You’ve invested it, got a chance on some profit, but it turned out to be not the best choice you’ve ever made. That’s how investing works. At least, that’s how it went for the most of you."

Previous notable events in EVE include:

* 800 billion ISK of hardware and cash stolen from Titans4U by one "Bad Bobby".

* A vast fleet battle in February, with around 1 trillion ISK of ships destroyed.

* The destruction of the Band of Brothers alliance by the SomethingAwful-based Goonswarm in early 2009.

* The in-game massacre and theft of 30 billion ISK by the Guiding Hand Social Club.

In-game scams, spying and sabotage are 'legal' and allowed by the makers of the game as long as they don't involve account-hacking or real-world illegal activity.
posted by Drexen (82 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hey, an EVE post! I started playing a couple months ago.

This particular scheme was so obvious, so clearly a scam, anyone caught up in it surely earned their loss. This isn't a sneaky, underhanded case of espionage, it's LOLNOOB.
posted by ryanrs at 8:26 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


As others have said before many times, I wouldn't care to play EVE based on sheer complexity, but damn does it make for a fascinating read.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:26 AM on August 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


EVE posts are always so fucking fascinating but man, I am glad I never started playing.

I kind of wish I was a grad student in an appropriate field to study this, though.
posted by elizardbits at 8:27 AM on August 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


stop reading my mind with your gadgety mind rays dude
posted by elizardbits at 8:28 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, I'm taking bets that they end up more punished the people running actual schemes and stealing real money and causing real crashes? Any takers?
posted by The Whelk at 8:28 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Punished? Phaser Inc. just won EVE. Legitimately.

This is how EVE is played, folks.
posted by ryanrs at 8:30 AM on August 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


I will be very upset if not one member of Phaser Inc cackled manically in a swivel chair at some point during the scheme.
posted by The Whelk at 8:32 AM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


All of this sounds intriguing and I feel so old and mothballed. Guess I'll have to start with a googling of what is EVE unless there's a FAQ some kind young'un can directly link to?
posted by infini at 8:35 AM on August 21, 2011


Here's a cynical rumination on "bad crazy" in EVE by GoonSwarm "Spymaster General" Mittani.
posted by Drexen at 8:39 AM on August 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


I remember the convoluted article on EVE currency, so are they just stuck with buying a couple million monocles, or can they actually cash out?
posted by FJT at 8:39 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


infini: EVE is an MMORPG like World of Warcraft and Everquest. The difference is you attack with spreadsheets.
posted by Mach5 at 8:40 AM on August 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


Um. You could also just check the eveonline tag at the top right of this post?
posted by elizardbits at 8:40 AM on August 21, 2011


Smarter then your average bear.
posted by clavdivs at 8:42 AM on August 21, 2011


I remember the convoluted article on EVE currency, so are they just stuck with buying a couple million monocles, or can they actually cash out?

Sounds as if they just want to use it in-game to buy nice things for their other accounts.
posted by kenko at 8:44 AM on August 21, 2011


I remember the convoluted article on EVE currency, so are they just stuck with buying a couple million monocles, or can they actually cash out?

From their letter, it appears they intend to use the currency in-game, to built fleets and stuff. I'm not sure what would happen if they cashed it. I suppose if they cashed it slowly they might be able to realise quite a lot of the value.
posted by memebake at 8:45 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember the convoluted article on EVE currency, so are they just stuck with buying a couple million monocles, or can they actually cash out?

The accounts that perpetrated the scam are now unusable, so they've transferred the money to other accounts that basically never have to grind for ISK again.
posted by fatbird at 8:46 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


And for more info on EVE Online itself:

The website.
The wiki.
The wikipedia page.
The Five Year Spree, a retrospective series of articles by RPS-ite Jim Rossignol.
Travels in Three Cities, his free ebook including more thoughts on the game.
posted by Drexen at 8:48 AM on August 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


A trillion ISK is about a dozen Titans, I think. Less than a thousand monocles.

If you think of it as 242 man-years of play time, then it's not that much, in the larger scheme of things. Large alliances have many thousands of players.
posted by ryanrs at 8:49 AM on August 21, 2011


Looks like $10-$20 from three to four thousand players. High volume of small legal thefts is how most corporations (look'n at you Verizon) seem to make the big bucks.
posted by sammyo at 8:53 AM on August 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


Converting in-game money into real money is prohibited by the game rules. The scammers have been a bit too public about everything to risk cashing out, I'd think. CCP (the game developer) will be watching their transactions very closely. At the first sign of real money transactions, the entire balance will disappear in a puff of smoke.
posted by ryanrs at 8:55 AM on August 21, 2011


There's no legitimate way to cash out. However it's relatively easy to turn the ISK game currency into time cards (inside the game) and then sell the time cards at a discount for the $15 retail price. Although as ryanrs says, CCP will probably be watching closely.

MMOs are moving closer and closer to trading in real money. Blizzard has really moved the bar on this with their plan to let you sell Diablo 3 items to other players for real dollars. At some point game items and currency will have enough real-world value that people will start wanting policing.
posted by Nelson at 8:57 AM on August 21, 2011


I was interested in playing EVE when I first read about it, but the more I read about the actual players, the less I wanted to. Libertarian computer guy universe = hell.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:57 AM on August 21, 2011 [24 favorites]


I grew up playing TW2002 on BBSes and EVE always sounds like the ultimate version of that. Like what I imagined I was playing in my mind as I played TW.

If I were 13 again I would totally play EVE.

I love these schemes and robberies and shit. What's the point of playing this game if you were to eliminate them? Seriously, what would be the point? Anything goes.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:58 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain to a non-EVE player exactly what happened here? What is the 'scam' that they perpetuated?
posted by modernnomad at 8:58 AM on August 21, 2011


It was a textbook ponzi scheme. Players sent money to the in-game corp Phaser Inc, which then paid them a 5% dividend each week. Players could withdraw their 'investment' if they wanted, right up until Phaser Inc pulled out the rug.
posted by ryanrs at 9:05 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


They told the investors that they were 'expert traders' to explain the dividends.
posted by xorry at 9:07 AM on August 21, 2011


"So this is EVE, a galaxy filled with socially inept spreadsheet nerds on the one hand and obsessive, ambitious griefers on the other. Resources are limited and must be fought over, and the only way out is to quit entirely." (From the mittani article linked above)

It sounds so.... appealing. But fun to read about, at least.
posted by advil at 9:13 AM on August 21, 2011


They told the investors that they were 'expert traders' to explain the dividends.

Meh.... what's the use of playing a game that so closely mirrors real life?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:25 AM on August 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Even the griefers have to be fairly good with numbers in order to optimize their ships. And it's not just single griefers, mind you. To properly grief, you need a gang of several people working together on voice comms.

For example, my corp maintains an active home defense fleet of at least 3-4 people even during the quietest game hours. During busier times, dozens participate. This is maintained 24/7/365 by players in the Americas, Western Europe, and Australia. Everyone is in constant voice communication.

With that kind of active defense, interacting with hostile gangs can be fun.
posted by ryanrs at 9:28 AM on August 21, 2011


(BTW, we don't have assigned shifts or anything crazy like that. It's just that with a large, international membership, a corp will naturally have people online all the time.)
posted by ryanrs at 9:31 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was interested in playing EVE when I first read about it, but the more I read about the actual players, the less I wanted to.

Dude, the other players are the ONLY reason to play EVE. The single player experience is boring, repetitive, and just all-around terrible.

When I have to mine or shoot NPCs to earn ISK, I read Metafilter while I do it. It's so repetitive, you can more-or-less play without watching the screen. You can get up to go to the bathroom while you are fighting the NPCs.

Your fellow humans, on the other hand, will keep you on your toes.
posted by ryanrs at 9:48 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Poet_Lariat: "They told the investors that they were 'expert traders' to explain the dividends.

Meh.... what's the use of playing a game that so closely mirrors real life?
"

It's sobering that EVE's the one with adult supervision.
posted by vanar sena at 9:52 AM on August 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


When I have to mine or shoot NPCs to earn ISK, I read Metafilter while I do it.

I do that too, without the EVE part.
posted by fleetmouse at 10:10 AM on August 21, 2011


Spock, Scotty - phasers on SCAM!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:12 AM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would normally have an opinion on this but since the Incarna update I can no longer run EVE on my desktop because my graphics card is so old. So, goodbye, EVE. One of the game's selling points was that it ran fine on older hardware. But not any more. It was fun while it lasted. No more pew pew for me. :(
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:18 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Players sent money to the in-game corp Phaser Inc, which then paid them a 5% dividend each week.
I know lots of MMORPG universes are supposed to be prone to inflation... but is there really enough inflation in EVE to make a 1000%-per-year nominal return on investment that shouldn't strike everyone as too good to be true?
posted by roystgnr at 10:22 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


One theory I've read is that many of the investors in Phaser Inc knew it was a pyramid scheme, but figured if they got in early enough it'd work out OK for them. It was such an obvious scam I tend to believe this. For a contrast, read the sordid, fascinating history of Eve Bank. That was set up like a legitimate bank although it too fell prey to fraud.
posted by Nelson at 10:36 AM on August 21, 2011


I tried getting into EVE on two separate occasions, each lasting less than a month. For such an interesting game, it sure gets boring to actually play.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:48 AM on August 21, 2011


I love you all but I think at this point in the story we've heard every variation on "I don't play EVE but it sounds fascinating." Some of you need to step up your roleplay. Drexen, roll initiative.
posted by BeerFilter at 10:59 AM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Welcome to our Libertarian future. Once the Koch brothers realize their plans, it'll be all Eve, all the time. Except without the spaceships.
posted by happyroach at 11:11 AM on August 21, 2011


OK, here's something fun you can do in EVE.

In your home system, form a fleet of a dozen ships and a gather them around a Titan. Then send out a cloaked scout to search for juicy targets in neighboring systems. The ideal target is a couple players in fancy, expensive ships shooting NPC pirates.

Your cloaky scout creeps up on the targets, decloaks, and lights a hyperspace beacon. Back at base, the Titan activates its jump bridge and creates a hyperspace tunnel between your fleet and the beacon. Your fleet jumps through and lands right on top of the targets. A hilariously one-sided fight ensues.

This is known as a 'hot drop'. It's lots of fun and very exciting, especially when your targets turn out to be bait for an even larger enemy fleet hiding nearby.
posted by ryanrs at 11:32 AM on August 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


I once dated a girl called Eve. We were playing catch in the Antarctic one time with a small, but fairly well adjusted, Emperor Penguin called Dave when she pulled a Detonics .45 Combat Master and shot me in the thigh; laughed; and walked away ...out of my life forever. I still have no idea why.

I wouldn't want to ruin such a perfect moment with other associations.

It sounds fascinating, though.
posted by titus-g at 11:33 AM on August 21, 2011 [10 favorites]


Cool story, bro. But she should have shot the penguin, too.
posted by ryanrs at 11:39 AM on August 21, 2011


I don't get it. Are there laws and contracts keeping people in check? Or is every single business and investment relationship "at your own risk?" Because that doesn't sound much like real life, or even a libertarian version of real life...
posted by naju at 11:51 AM on August 21, 2011


Oh, sure! For example, there are several kinds of contracts that are enforced by in-game mechanics: item exchanges, auctions, and courier contracts.

For example, you can set up a public courier contract to move some items from A to B, set the fee for successful delivery, and required collateral to be deposited by the shipper. To take the courier contract, the freighter pilot must deposit the required collateral before receiving the freight. This collateral is returned, along with the reward, when the package is successfully delivered. If the package is lost or stolen, then the freighter pilot loses the collateral and it is given to the customer. It's pretty scam-proof.

But that's not what happened here. These scammers were saying "Give us your money! We'll pay you back, with dividends! Honest!". If you're an idiot, you then right-click the scammer's name, select "Give Money", and type in an amount. Then they get your money.

This scam did not use the in-game contract mechanics. It was just some dude spamming on the text chat channel. Plus a nice out-of-game web site and other window dressing. Super-obvious scam.

The real EVE marketplace and contract system is pretty robust. It's a major part of the game.
posted by ryanrs at 12:14 PM on August 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


And just to make a point about Diablo 3 mentioned above; Diablo 2 had a robust real world currency-->item exchange market going on -- it was just third party people and not Blizz. Blizz rather cleverly said hey, why not be the middleman ourselves?

Eve stories are always so... I don't know, Randian. Except this one's a bit more "woo hoo scam website"; like someone on chat yelling "PLAY LOTTO WITH ME! 3:1 ODDS FOR YOU!"
posted by cavalier at 12:25 PM on August 21, 2011


Or is every single business and investment relationship "at your own risk?"

When I joined my corp, they required my full api key. That key gave them a read-only data dump of every fight, every market transaction, every contract, and every in-game mail I've ever sent using that account. This data was used to deduce my social network and run a background check.

There was also an hour-long voice interview.
posted by ryanrs at 12:28 PM on August 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


(internet spaceships are serious business)
posted by ryanrs at 12:36 PM on August 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


For example, you can set up a public courier contract to move some items from A to B, set the fee for successful delivery, and required collateral to be deposited by the shipper. To take the courier contract, the freighter pilot must deposit the required collateral before receiving the freight. This collateral is returned, along with the reward, when the package is successfully delivered. If the package is lost or stolen, then the freighter pilot loses the collateral and it is given to the customer. It's pretty scam-proof.

Except for the scam that you require a very high collateral, ship something worthless to nullsec space, and gank them en route. They fail to deliver, you keep the very high collateral.
posted by fatbird at 12:38 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The high risk is communicated by the high collateral. If a freighter pilot is moving extremely valuable freight through nullsec without a fleet of scouts and support ships, maybe they deserve to lose their ship and collateral. I don't know anyone who uses public contracts to move stuff in nullsec.

Even in highsec, most freighters will not service courier contracts that have more than 1 billion ISK in collateral. This protects them from suicide ganks, whether perpetrated by their own customer or anyone else.
posted by ryanrs at 12:57 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


If nothing else, I feel like I should play EVE so that ~500 years from now my nth clone will have a leg up on managing the iron fist of a space monopoly.
posted by elizardbits at 1:11 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


If nothing else, I feel like I should play EVE so that ~500 years from now my nth clone will have a leg up on managing the iron fist of a space monopoly.

Just make sure they don't clone the clones. I've seen Multiplicity.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:23 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hypothesis: EVE is secretly run (whether by CCcP or just controlled by power interests) by fiscally leftist operatives. They create multiple shenanigans like this, which are entirely due to an un(der)regulated banking industry, and carefully track them.

5-10 years down the road, they're going to publish in whatever the big academic economics journal is, as well as a media blitz.

The only problem is that for this to be plausible, they need some sort of control, a game with regulated banking. Anybody know of one?
posted by Lemurrhea at 1:25 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only problem is that for this to be plausible, they need some sort of control, a game with regulated banking. Anybody know of one?

If influencing the populous required a control group we wouldn't have SWAT teams armed like paramilitaries.
posted by Talez at 1:38 PM on August 21, 2011


Thanks for the link, Drexen.

"bad crazy" is a pretty grating phrase though
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:41 PM on August 21, 2011


So this is EVE, a galaxy filled with socially inept spreadsheet nerds on the one hand and obsessive, ambitious griefers on the other.
author's note: dichotomy not actual

also if you swap out every mention of "monkeys" with "space monkeys" and make it a link to the imdb for fight club it makes the article funnier in a way the author may not intend but probably is all the better for that
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:50 PM on August 21, 2011


As always, EVE is the best of times and the worst of times, usually simultaneously.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:54 PM on August 21, 2011


Dude, the other players are the ONLY reason to play EVE. The single player experience is boring, repetitive, and just all-around terrible.

The reason I was interested was that, in the '90s, I had a single-player game called "Escape Velocity" for my Mac, which was all space-trading and space-fighting and so forth. I would've liked to play that kind of thing again.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:16 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still don't understand why the company running Eve allow users to convert ISK earned in the game to game time.

Stating the obvious people are able to play for free that way, while still using the resources of the game owners (servers etc.). I can understand buying a bigger/better ship with earned currency, but the why not still insist that the plex is paid for with real money?
posted by selton at 2:22 PM on August 21, 2011


MMOs are moving closer and closer to trading in real money.

FWIW Second Life runs a currency exchange and lets you cash out in-game currency via PayPal or bank transfer. I essentially sell my Lindens on the exchange and transfer out US$ every month. I have not closely read this Wikipedia article but it seems accurate enough if you're interested in how that economy works.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:45 PM on August 21, 2011


I would normally have an opinion on this but since the Incarna update I can no longer run EVE on my desktop because my graphics card is so old. So, goodbye, EVE. One of the game's selling points was that it ran fine on older hardware. But not any more. It was fun while it lasted. No more pew pew for me. :(

I haven't been able to play since Incarna, either. :( But because I am dumb I log in to update my skill queue in the thirty seconds before EVE crashes my system. I've gained more than six million skill points, but haven't been in space in months.

Hopefully at some point I'll get a new machine that can run the ridiculous new requirements.
posted by winna at 3:08 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now I want to do a story where a real-world commercial space launch business gets it's seed money from Eve Online scams.
posted by happyroach at 3:44 PM on August 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also I just read their exitorial and looked at the original site and these people are AWESOME.
We wanted to play the game, and beat it in a different way than with PVP.... We now wanted to beat the game in another area.
They did it totally within the rules, they completely pwned the system and 3,000 players, and basically: they win at EVE. I hope they're cracking open space champagne.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:12 PM on August 21, 2011


I still don't understand why the company running Eve allow users to convert ISK earned in the game to game time.

Here's the game mechanic:
User A gives User B one month of game subscription.
User B gives User A a pile of in-game currency.

All the business with PLEXes is just a way of securitizing the one month of game time so it can be traded on the in-game market like any other virtual item.

CCP (the game developers) still get paid for every single month of subscription time. No game time is created "for free" by killing dragons or something. All PLEXes are bought from CCP with cash*.

The upside of this arrangement is that it sucks away all the casual business from the commercial ISK sellers. Players can buy game currency without going to large-scale ISK-farmers.

* There are some edge cases. For instance, CCP will give you a free PLEX for referring a new customer.
posted by ryanrs at 7:07 PM on August 21, 2011


When I joined my corp, they required my full api key. That key gave them a read-only data dump of every fight, every market transaction, every contract, and every in-game mail I've ever sent using that account. This data was used to deduce my social network and run a background check.

There was also an hour-long voice interview.
That sounds... fun. Although I suppose with the level of shenanigans it make sense.
Here's the game mechanic:
User A gives User B one month of game subscription.
User B gives User A a pile of in-game currency.
That makes sense. You can give someone game time and then they can work for you.

That said when "242 years-worth, of PLEX" I thought they meant 242 man-years of actual playing time would be required to earn that much money. At $20/hr that would take $10,067,200 of labor to earn.

If 1T ISK = 242 years of PLEX does that mean playing for a year in game costs 4.1 billion ISK? And a month costs like 350 million? If so, that doesn't seem like too much.

How much ISK is there in the whole economy?
posted by delmoi at 10:13 PM on August 21, 2011


The reason I was interested was that, in the '90s, I had a single-player game called "Escape Velocity" for my Mac, which was all space-trading and space-fighting and so forth. I would've liked to play that kind of thing again.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:16 PM on August 21 [2 favorites +] [!]


Then get yourself some Space Rangers 2. It is delicious, semi-randomized, and WILDLY varied in the sub-missions... the main game is a semi-turn based strategy space combat / trading game, and side missions run from choose-your-own-adventure style narrative puzzles to RTS robot fights to arcade shmups to who knows what else. It's addictive, I warn you!
posted by FatherDagon at 10:54 PM on August 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'd feel better reading these EVE articles if I had any faith that say one in ten players would contact their representatives in Congress and advocate for NASA's budget. Oh, right, it's only a game. Piew piew piew!
posted by newdaddy at 11:29 PM on August 21, 2011


242 man-years of actual playing time would be required to earn that much money

Yeah, that's possible. Very few players have more than a billion ISK in their wallets. A trillion ISK is huge, even for 5,000 player mega-corps.


At $20/hr that would take $10,067,200 of labor to earn.

Ha. Nobody gets paid $20/hr to play EVE.


And a month costs like 350 million?

Yeah. One PLEX sells for around 350 mil ISK. All the other numbers that have been mentioned are derived from that.

Keep in mind that very few people pay for their accounts with ISK. However, the people that do tend to have multiple accounts, which may skew the numbers a little.


How much ISK is there in the whole economy?

A lot. This scam is not large enough to perturb the markets. I suppose it would be noticed if the scammers plowed all 1 trillion into, say, buying Titans. That might drive up the mineral market a bit. Maybe.

This episode can be compared to someone completely robbing a major Las Vegas casino. On the one hand, wow that's a lot of money. On the other hand, it's sure not going to blip the national economy as a whole.

Now when CCP cracks down on large-scale botting (automated ISK farming), that's something that blips the economy. Still, it's just a blip, not a massive restructuring.
posted by ryanrs at 12:20 AM on August 22, 2011


And a month costs like 350 million? If so, that doesn't seem like too much.

Do you really want to grind for 10 hours a month just to save $13? Keep in mind that this is the part of the game that is horrible and boring. Is that how you want to spend your time in nullsec, rather than fighting epic wars with your space bros?

(Oh, and if you're grinding solo in high-sec, you'll need to grind a lot more than 10 hours/month.)
posted by ryanrs at 12:40 AM on August 22, 2011


I'd feel better reading these EVE articles if I had any faith that say one in ten players would contact their representatives in Congress and advocate for NASA's budget. Oh, right, it's only a game. Piew piew piew!

But.. it is a game. Why does the game setting have any relation to political positions on funding space exploration?
posted by odinsdream at 6:21 AM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most of the people I play with are in Western Europe and Australia. NASA politics don't really come up that often. I think the rioting in England was mentioned a couple of times, though.

It's pretty cool to log in at 5 AM and discover that all the space pirates now have Australian accents.

(And of course any truly cosmopolitan space corp maintains a text file of dick jokes in cyrillic to troll the Russians.)
posted by ryanrs at 6:56 AM on August 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


This collateral is returned, along with the reward, when the package is successfully delivered. If the package is lost or stolen, then the freighter pilot loses the collateral and it is given to the customer. It's pretty scam-proof.

Quite correct, but besides what fatbird said, I'd add the caveat that you'd better have calculated your collateral correctly -- if it's lower than the market value of the goods, the courier could sacrifice the collateral and still make a profit. If they did, though, it's your fault for miscalculating.

I've been on both ends of courier runs -- I used to do them quite a lot, as it can be a milk run, and I offer them a lot as I clone jump quite a bit and don't want to bother hauling stuff around (it's worth the money to pay other players to deliver items for me). I've also had my couriers attacked when they tried to take a shortcut through low-securtity (more PvP risk) space, but that's their choice and when it's happened, they accepted it as part of the game.

Or I should say, I used to offer them. Like winna and BitterOldPunk, my laptop can no longer handle the latest upgrade -- and, personally, I don't care about seeing my avatar in-station as opposed to just the spaceship -- and since I work on the road a lot, my time on my desktop is limited to every other weekend, if that.

I gather that CCP is having cash flow problems, but their latest "improvement" just lost them a subscriber, and I've been playing (on the very same laptop) for years. I don't see why they can't do a lite-graphics version to maintain backwards compatibility.
posted by Gelatin at 4:58 PM on August 22, 2011


I Love New Eden by Test Alliance Please Ignore (Redditors)

I play internet spaceships with these guys!
posted by ryanrs at 7:11 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Things are hotting up again in the CSM vs. CCP stakes. Jim Rossignol of RockPaperShotgun has some thoughts.
posted by Kattullus at 8:30 AM on September 6, 2011


The Mittani, metagame master and King of Space, has decided to force changes to the EVE development roadmap by directly attacking CCP upper management in the gaming press. I'd say there's a pretty good chance he can pull it off, too.
posted by ryanrs at 6:52 AM on September 8, 2011


I remember a Star Trek episode where Geordi asked the computer to create a holodeck character that can defeat Data. This is basically what CCP has done.
posted by ryanrs at 6:52 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


To repeat myself from the RPS comment thread...

CCP's problems are much more interesting and complicated than any other developer’s. They’re running into the age-old problem usually only suffered by autocratic governments. If you create a democratic political body in an attempt to quell dissent that will create a powercenter whose legitimacy is derived from radically different sources than your own. Some autocratic governments throughout history have managed to delegitimize or shut down these democratic bodies, but the long-term damage has usually been already done. CSM was underutilized by players as a tool, but it was there to be exploited by someone like The Mittani. It’ll be interesting to see what happens, how this age-old struggle plays out in an MMO. Of course, unlike autocratic real-world governments, CCP has complete control of the reality of New Eden, but on the other hand, EVE players can leave the game a lot more easily and with fewer consequences than when people flee their homes.
posted by Kattullus at 7:48 AM on September 8, 2011


The post by The Mittani is interesting. How many hours a week would a player have to invest on average to meet the "strategic ops" attendance requirement? And how many hours over and above would it take to collect the necessary materiel to be an effective participant in those ops?
posted by vanar sena at 1:54 PM on September 10, 2011


WOOOOO! My first big fleet fight!

Just got back from a battlecruiser fleet that killed 2 supercarriers, a dozen carriers, and acres of battleships. I don't think that's ever been done before. To put it in context, supercarriers are the most powerful ships in the game. They are so ridiculously overpowered that CCP has announced they will be scaled back in the next release (October-ish). In comparison, battlecruisers are cheap beginner ships. You can be flying a Hurricane with tech-2 shields and tech-1 guns in less than two months.

Vanar, to answer your question, alliances in the Clusterfuck Coalition (headed by the Mittani) generally do not have strict participation requirements for strategic ops. You are strongly encouraged to go, of course, but no one is following you around and checking your attendance. However, if a corporation as a whole has poor participation, then they will likely be kicked from the alliance.

The Clusterfuck uses fairly cheap tech-1 ships for its strategic fleets, so the in-game insurance payout covers most of the cost of the hull. Alliance reimbursements cover most of the remaining costs, including fittings.

For our battlecruiser fleets, a fully fit ship will cost you about 70M ISK. In case of loss, insurance and reimbursements will pay out about 60M. So the net cost to you is about 10M, which you can earn back in under an hour of ratting in nullsec.

I actually lost two battlecruisers in this fleet battle because I died, bought a new ship, got back in the fight, and died again. By the time I got the third battlecruiser on the field, the battle was over. So I'm out about 20 million ISK. But here's the 18 billion ISK supercarrier I helped kill.

(I should mention that fleet ship composition rules are very strict. You are not allowed to bring whatever ship you want, or mess with the fitting. You fly exactly what is called for, and you are reimbursed if it dies. If you bring a ship with a special snowflake fit, reimbursed will be denied.)


I suppose what you're really wondering is if you can play for a couple hours a week and still participate in the EVE end game. Yes, you certainly can. But it might be hard to get in on many of the big fights because you'll generally get less than an hour's notice when they happen. But there's a lot of small gang skirmishing that is scheduled a day or two in advance, plus station sieges. Sometimes those will turn into big fleet battles, too.
posted by ryanrs at 4:18 PM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's almost precisely what I was asking, so thank you. If I ever find myself in a place where I can get <200ms latency to a server I'll probably give it a shot.
posted by vanar sena at 8:30 PM on September 10, 2011


Oh, I forgot to mention that 1-day-old pilots flying Rifters will never be turned away from a fleet. That is the one ship that is always allowed. If you cannot afford a Rifter, you will be given one for free.

It is Clusterfuck policy that every player can participate in every fleet, regardless of their skills or ISK. Rifter pilots can be scouts or tacklers, both of which are much more exciting that flying a fleet battleship. I usually fly a Rifter for strategic ops since I can't fly a fleet battleship yet.

Every ship counts.
posted by ryanrs at 11:58 PM on September 10, 2011


Just discovered the hi-sec research corp that supplies blueprints to our enemy's shipyards. We burned their infrastructure to the ground.

In a couple months, once they get back on their feet, we'll do it again.

These guys are eterna-fucked. They will probably need to sell off their characters and get new accounts.
posted by ryanrs at 5:36 AM on September 12, 2011


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