Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Eve and the Sacking of Rome

[update: Really good summary here.]

I've meant for a little while now to blog this really interesting development in Eve Online, in which the 'Band of Brothers' Alliance was destroyed by a rival faction. As always, I hate playing MMOs but love following the stuff that goes on in them.

For those unfamiliar:

Eve Online: (snipped from wikipedia): is a player-driven persistent-world MMO set in a sci fi space setting. Players of Eve Online are able to participate in any number of in-game professions and activities, including mining, manufacturing, trade and combat. The range of activities available to the player is facilitated by a character advancement system based upon training skills in real time, even while not logged in to the game.

The event (as Destructoid put it): In the most balls-out act of deep space espionage in the 21st century, GoonSwarm, EVE Online’s in-game Something Awful forum contingent, has finally defeated their arch enemies, absolute rulers of the game universe, Band of Brothers. Thus ends a years-long David and Goliath dance that has made modern gaming history on multiple occasions. As this is a breaking story as of today’s wee hours, I’ll spare you my verbal flatulence and put my better-informed friend Bjorn Townsend on blast:
Literally, Band of Brothers is no more. They got a spy into the executor corp at director level, kicked out every corp, stole all the assets they could lay their hands on, and altered standings so that everyone will start shooting everyone else. And then they closed the alliance, and created a new corporation called Band of Brothers with the same corp ticker, so they can't even have the old alliance name back.

How awesome is that. Even more awesome when you remember that there are ways of turning in-game currency into real-world currency, and that this cloak-n-dagger takedown netted an amount equal to about $15k USD. This is Halting State turned real, or close to it.

As usual, Raph offers an interesting perspective, which I agree with:

And the game, as a game, does want BoB to fall, because from a purely mechanical point of view, what is fun about EVE is the struggle, not the victory condition. The victory condition is boring. Lots of folks lose their livelihoods when an empire falls, and players invested in BoB are likely upset that years of work were lost. But EVE is not a game about the height of the Roman Empire. It’s a game about the sacking of Rome by barbarians, so that they can become the next short-lived top dog

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