The setting of EVE Online is a vast galactic sandbox called New Eden, with thousands of charted solar systems and thousands more hidden in uncharted space. The title's developer CCP Games provides the expansive setting and PvE content, but beyond this it's up to the players to define what the game can really be. Although there are plenty of opportunities to take risks in the game with commensurate rewards, a large percentage of the game's playerbase are content to remain in high security space where there are less dangers. Many of these players spend their time mining in asteroid belts and ice fields, which most would admit can be a semi-AFK playstyle. After all, the process of mining is rote: lock asteroids, fire up your mining lasers, and some cycles later you've harvested ore that can be sold outright or used in manufacturing.

That zen-like calm punctuated by the gentle hum of mining lasers was shaken up for many high sec dwellers earlier this month though, when the player-run event Hulkageddon II tore through the mining ship hulls of over 1000 players. The core idea of Hulkageddon II, as with the original event, was to destroy as many mining vessels as possible over the course of a week... a goal that many players pursued with reckless abandon. Indeed, there were numerous prizes awarded and 'achievements' that players racked up over the course of Hulkageddon II. Ultimately, the event injected some much-needed risk into the game -- whether some players wanted it or not -- in places where miners once felt they were untouchable by EVE's criminal population. Of course, a player-run event that pitted players eager to rack up kills against those who would prefer to avoid conflict has proven controversial.

The man behind Hulkageddon II is Helicity Boson, a pirate who flies with The Python Cartel, though he was helped in large part by fellow player Garmon (aka El'Tar) and generous donations from other players. Massively caught up with Helicity to discuss his motivations behind running Hulkageddon II, his views on the game in general, and why some EVE players might be wound up just a bit too tightly.

Can you tell me a bit about your playstyle? Are you purely into piracy or are you involved with other aspects of EVE?

I've tried most things in EVE at least once since I originally started playing the game in 2007, but I quickly got bored of the PvE-type playstyles. At the time I really had no clue how to go about PvP in EVE at all (not that I'm a PVP genius now or anything), I quit the game for a while, but was ultimately lured back in after reading Spectre3353's blog entries. I gave them a shout in-game, and above all my expectations they let my newly rolled character, Helicity, into the corp.

In Python Cartel we do all sorts of things, mostly dependent on where we are at the time, but pretty much all of it involves shooting other people in the face, or getting shot in the face ourselves in one way or another. I do have a hauler alt, who can fly a Hulk even, but I rarely touch her unless it's to haul a new supply of killy-things for Helicity.

What made you decide to create the Hulkageddon events in EVE Online? Was it a response to any particular game mechanics that makes something like Hulkageddon possible?

The original Hulkageddon event was just something I did on a whim, I'd heard of Jihadswarm of course, and I had (and still have) a large number of friends in various pirate corporations. At the time I thought it would be nice for all these disparate groups to do something together for once, and it was a nice little event and brought people a little closer together. (Note: it's normally not easy to get pirate players to do anything together as the various groups tend to have some animosity towards one another and can usually not be relied on to be in one system without killing each other).

"Even the best sandbox MMO will get boring if nobody does anything to make it more interesting. I think I have succeeded in this. "

Hulkageddon 2 was catalysed by two things: [EVE Online player] Garmon putting up a large cash prize for first place, and some insane pseudo-nuns reacting in a frothing rage to a (rather friendly and balanced) reply I gave to one of their blogs, in which they were complaining about EVE's asymmetric PvP paradigm. Assuming they had mistaken the sandbox for a themepark, I tried to explain why things would never be as they wanted them. For my trouble these "nuns" decided to use foul language, compare me to Hitler and generally behave in a manner not befitting a real nun. (I later found out their "religion" is not even a registered one, and they spend their time being a pain in the butt to other MMO communities as well).

This, of course, only inspired me to work four times as hard to make the event big, nay, HUGE this time.

Hulkageddon exists for a few gameplay related reasons as well, I'm trying to teach people they are in a sandbox, they are not entitled to anything, save for what they can win through clever play, hard work and knowledge of how the sandbox works. Playing the game AFK (as many miners tend to do) in an untanked mining barge is not a valid method of playing a game; or at least it's not safe in EVE and no amount of crying on the forums will ever change that. Furthermore, on the other side of the coin, I am of course also highlighting the somewhat ridiculous nature of the insurance system currently in place. It's pretty broken and needs some looking into.

But the primary reason is, and will always be: "To liven things up". Even the best sandbox MMO will get boring if nobody does anything to make it more interesting. I think I have succeeded in this.

Hulkageddon II-mania basically swept over New Eden this month. Did you have any idea just how big this would become?

Well, I knew it was going to be far bigger than the first event; afterall I did spend the Christmas holiday and the weeks leading up to it making a lot of noise on every medium I could find to attract as many participants as I could. What I did not expect was that within an hour or so after the starting signal we'd have 300 dead exhumers and over 500 participants already. I was stunned, delighted and amazed, all at once.

Let's talk a bit about the numbers with Hulkageddon II. In the end, how much damage was inflicted on New Eden's miners in terms of ISK?

It's difficult to put a real up-to-date pricetag on the whole event. The total, as calculated by the killboard, was 278,865,104,560 ISK (that's two-hundred and seventy-eight billion). In reality the number is probably significantly higher, as the killboard undervalues Hulks and Mackinaws by roughly 40 and 20 million isk each off the top of my head. Over 1200 Exhumers were destroyed, hundreds of mining barges, hundreds of pods and even twelve Orcas.

This article was originally published on Massively.