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EVE Online political betrayal results in record-breaking theft

The EVE Online twitterverse exploded late last night with the news of a political twist so enormous that it’s become the largest recorded theft of in-game assets in the game’s history. In the middle of the night and without warning, major EVE military alliance Circle of Two (or CO2 for short) was betrayed by its diplomatic officer, a player with the ominous name of The Judge. In addition to cleaning out the alliance war funds and assets to the tune of over a trillion ISK, The Judge also transferred ownership of CO2’s 300 billion ISK keepstar citadel in its capital star system of 68FT-6 to a holding corporation, effectively stealing the alliance’s home space station.

News of The Judge’s betrayal trickled out of EVE all through the night, and it wasn’t long before the full extent of the incident was known. The 68FT-6 keepstar was sold to enemy alliance Goonswarm Federation, while CO2’s smaller citadels throughout Impass are now in the hands of TEST Alliance. The theft combined with the value of the citadels is estimated at over 1.5 trillion ISK, easily beating the 2011 trillion ISK Phaser Inc scam to become the highest-value theft in EVE‘s history. The actual damage done is even more extensive, injecting a huge dose of chaos into CO2 alliance and throwing fuel on the fire of the southern war.

Read on for a detailed breakdown of last night’s record-breaking theft, the reasons behind the betrayal, and the political situation that led us here.

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EVE Evolved: The controversy over EVE Online’s capital ship nerfs

EVE Online players have been up in arms this week over sweeping nerfs that are about to hit to high-end farming gameplay styles in the player-owned nullsec territories. It started when CCP Games announced that the Excavator drones used by Rorqual capital industrial ships would be getting a sizeable mining yield reduction and that a respawn delay would be added to ore sites in nullsec. As players were still reeling from that unexpected news, developers then announced a surprise general nerf to fighter damage with the goal of making carriers and supercarriers less effective in PvE and PvP. This significant balance change was just announced on Friday 9th June and goes live on Tuesday 13th, prompting outcry from the community over the lack of feedback-gathering on such a significant change to capital ship balance.

These nerfs both seem to be reactions to the latest few Monthly Economic Reports, which showed that the total money supply in the game economy is over a quadrillion ISK and rising rapidly. The detailed breakdowns of economic activity in the reports tell a more complex story, with ISK supply from bounty prizes roughly doubling over the past year and mining in the Delve region shooting off the scale in the past few months. It seems that a large number of nullsec players are spending more time farming and building up resources, and it’s the scale and efficiency of the top-tier farming setups that has CCP worried.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I discuss the upcoming Rorqual and fighter nerfs, look at the economics of farming, and explain why this trend could be a more serious indicator than CCP realises.

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EVE Evolved: Low-security space has lost its identity, but it can be fixed!

When I first discovered EVE Online back in 2004, it had been out in the wild for just under a year and was a much simpler and friendlier beast. There were fewer than 50,000 players in total and most of them were flying around in tech 1 frigates and cruisers, either mining, grinding their way up top level 3 mission agents, or PvPing. Most corporations lived in the relative safety of high-security space and warred with each other for all sorts of reasons, and some power-hungry corps tamed the lawless nullsec regions to hunt battleship NPCs and mine ores containing valuable Zydrine and Megacyte.

Low-security space offered a tempting middle-ground for players back then, a place you could go to reap better rewards than highsec but at the cost of a proportional increase in risk. Pirates faced much lower consequences for attacking another ship unprovoked there than in highsec, and the areas around stargates and stations were kept safer by automated sentry turrets. The delicate balance between risk and reward in low-security space began to fall apart as the sizes of player groups in EVE increased and ships got better at tanking the damage from sentries. Nearly a decade later and with very little done to revamp the area, today’s lowsec still suffers from this legacy and has lost much of its identity. But how can this problem be solved? Hints may come from recent rumblings at EVE Fanfest 2017 on the future direction of PvE.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the reasons I believe low-security space has lost its identity and a few of the ways CCP could inject some much-needed personality and speciality into this neglected area of the game.

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EVE Online GMs removed at least 25 trillion ISK worth $400,000 from the game

If you’ve been reading the gaming news this week, you may have heard about the enormous amount of wealth that was recently removed from EVE Online‘s economy when the players behind EVE gambling website IWantISK were banned for real money trading. The figure was initially rumoured to be around 40 trillion ISK, but the only sources for this information at the time were one of the banned players himself and a third party using guesswork. With the release of CCP’s latest monthly economic report, we now have a verified primary source to work from.

Digging into the CSV records attached to CCP Quant’s October economic report, we were able to see that on the day of the ban (October 12th), total ISK supply dropped by 24.85 trillion ISK overnight. Accounting for the average upward movement of ISK over the previous month gives us a figure of around 25.77 trillion ISK that was likely part of the ban wave. This amount of ISK could currently buy you around 20,295 PLEX game time codes on the in-game market, which have a real world value of between $303,000 and $405,000 US depending on the price paid per unit.

Keep in mind that these figures account for only the liquid ISK in the banned players’ accounts. The value of any assets frozen on those accounts could bring the total even higher, but the frozen assets can’t be verified at this point. The bans came after intensive investigation of the accused players for real money trading offences, and happened on the same day that CCP announced that all third-party EVE gambling websites would have to shut down.

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EVE Evolved: Can EVE be played casually?

We’ve heard a lot recently about huge territorial wars raging in EVE Online with thousands of pilots taking part, which some consider to be the ultimate endgame of EVE. PvP on that kind of scale and with real consequences and territory on the line is certainly one of the game’s primary draws in an MMO space that is getting more crowded every year. The problem is that the kind of time investment and commitment required to be an active member of a large territorial alliance that’s under pressure can be excessive. The average PvP operation in EVE lasts several hours, and some players even set alarm clocks to get up for battles in the middle of the night.

The demands placed on fleet commanders, corp organisers and community leaders are even more intense, to the point that they may spend all of their free time engaged in EVE-related matters. Those of you who remember my early EVE days from 2004 to around 2012 will know that I used to play EVE pretty hardcore, doing everything from helping to run a nullsec alliance and managing public corporations to running investment schemes, faction warfare groups, incursion fleets, and lucrative wormhole expeditions. I probably spent over six hours per day playing EVE during that time, but like many players, I’ve found my available play time each day has decreased over the years. Nowadays I find myself doing something that many people outside of EVE say isn’t feasible but that is actually far more common than they think: playing EVE casually and enjoying it.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the split between the power players of EVE and its not-insignificant casual playerbase, and I discuss a few of the most casual gameplay activities that can fit into very limited play time.

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EVE Evolved: Four PvE improvements EVE needs

EVE Online is typically thought of as being a heavily PvP-oriented game, and for good reason. Players can attack each other anywhere in the EVE universe with varying levels of consequences for their actions, and most of the big stories about the game do seem to revolve around players smashing spaceships together or screwing each other over in some manner. Even playing the market is considered PvP, as traders attempt to corner the market for particular items and force the competition out of business. Despite all of this, stats on the EVE playerbase have always shown that a lot of players engage primarily in PvE activities, and NPC bounties always come top of the ISK faucets lists in EVE‘s monthly economic reports.

All players have to kill a few NPCs now and then to pad their wallets, but PvE covers more than just shooting NPCs and many aspects of EVE‘s PvE gameplay are woefully outdated. Mission-running is an archaic system that provides little challenge or variety, mining is a severely unrewarding profession, and the Sansha incursions should have been replaced or heavily expanded on years ago. We found out at EVE Fanfest 2016 that CCP now has several new teams working on PvE, and this week game designer Linzi “CCP Affinity” Campbell released details of an interesting new PvE event called Shadow of the Serpent that will be kicking off at the end of the month. But what would our ideal PvE systems look like, and what more can be done to improve EVE‘s rapidly antiquating NPC-smashing gameplay?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at what the Shadow of the Serpent event means for the future of PvE and delve into four key PvE improvements that I think would improve EVE Online for all involved.

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EVE Online player uses patch trick to dominate the PLEX market

Among the patch notes for EVE Online‘s recent Citadel expansion release was a fairly innocuous increase in the fees for listing items on the in-game market from a minimum of 0.25% to 2%. While most people saw this change as fairly minor, one player by the name of “probag Bear” figured out how to use it to multiply his ISK by temporarily cornering the market for PLEX, one of EVE‘s most highly traded commodities. The player realised that if he set up buy orders for PLEX before the patch, he’d pay the old tax rate of 0.25% for setting them up while anyone buying after the patch would pay the higher 2% rate. This would give him a competitive edge and a higher profit margin than other players.

The second part of the scheme used an odd quirk of the Margin Trading skill mechanics to set up hundreds of buy orders worth thousands of times the ISK actually invested. The result is that probag Bear now has the ability to buy and sell over 17 trillion ISK worth of PLEX at higher profit margin than anyone else can obtain, giving him temporary control of the PLEX market and turning his 70 billion ISK investment into over 300 billion ISK profit. Some players have called this confusing scheme a borderline exploit, but CCP is not expected to interfere. Emergent behaviours like this are often considered part of EVE‘s sandbox gameplay, and players may yet build a low-tax trade hub citadel to nullify this market advantage.

Source: Reddit. Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

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