EVE Online universe is a dark and harsh place, the market overflowing with con-artists and the skies filled with pirates looking for some easy prey. The sandbox style of New Eden enables emergent gameplay like market manipulation, corporate infiltration, spying and theft. When faced with the choice, some players choose to be ruthless outlaws who will stop at nothing to further their own goals. Political puppet-masters pull the strings on the alliance war machines from behind the scenes, spies infiltrate corporations to gather intelligence, and thieves plot their way to riches.
The latest official game trailer makes a big point of this side of EVE, telling an incredible story of revenge and theft that closely mirrors the reality of New Eden. As if to highlight the point made by the trailer, this week EVE player Bad Bobby confirmed that he'd stolen a total of 850 billion ISK from players in the investment market. Concluding a plan set in motion years ago, Bobby pulled off the theft last week of his supposedly secured Titans4U company. In keeping with this recent theme of theft and corruption, this week's EVE Evolved is a story of revenge, corporate infiltration, social deception and utter destruction. I've embellished the story in places and names have been changed to protect the privacy of all those involved, but the events described are real.
In this week's article, I begin to tell the very real tale of an EVE player's revenge -- a precision strike against an industrialist who made one fatal mistake.
For every action in EVE's colossal sandbox, there must exist a motive -- a reason to invest effort in the activity. Players grind for ISK, corporations work together and the megalithic armies of New Eden frequently war, but there is always a reason behind it. It makes sense, then, that this story should begin with the motive. Right at the beginning, before the months of planning or that plan's flawless execution, one single event set everything in motion. One fatal mistake was made, forcing the idea of revenge into a determined pilot's mind. From that point on, the outcome was all but inevitable: That arrogant Minmatar slave was going to lose everything he owned.
"Crap," said Scott to his corpmates, "That's 300 million down the bloody drain." In his haste to liquidate the corp's unused assets, Scott had sold a large starbase control tower to a dodgy buy order. For his trouble hauling the 320 million ISK control tower halfway across the galaxy, he was left staring at a transaction for 340,000 ISK from a player by the name of Zeeqo. With half of its war fund wiped out in a single market blunder, the corporation's plans were thrown into disarray. If they were to stand any chance against the Gallente war forces in Black Rise, Scott and his corpmates would need to get that ISK back.
"Can we contact this Zeeqo guy and ask for it back?" asked a naive recruit in the corp channel, struggling for ideas. "At this point I'll try anything," Scott replied, composing a politely worded mail to the beneficiary of his market mishap. The group waited an agonisingly long time for a response, the pilots passing the time by planning how they might replace the lost ISK. When the response finally came, Scott became enraged. "That arrogant Minmatar prat is gloating," he spewed into corp chat. "He calls this 'Market PvP'. I'll show him bloody PvP!" The mistake was made, and the idea of revenge was forcibly crammed into Scott's mind.
Stalking the prey
What started out as a simple plan to declare war on the thief's corporation quickly became something much more sinister. It wasn't enough to simply blow up a few ships, decided Scott. His revenge had to be complete and surgically precise, dealing at least 320 million ISK's worth of damage. Over the coming weeks, Scott and his team used locator agents to find Zeeqo and kept tabs on his movement using a cloaked covert ops frigate. It wasn't long before a pattern began to emerge, and where there's a pattern there's a definite predictability that can be exploited.
During the week, Zeeqo could be found in the asteroid belts around Jakri in the Araz constellation of Kador region. He'd mine there for hours at a time in his high-spec mining barge, sometimes on his own and sometimes with a few of his corpmates. Every Saturday evening, he would load up a freighter with his weekly takings and ship them to Jita for sale. It was this predictability that would be his undoing. A strategy began to form, not just to deal over 320 million ISK's worth of damage, but also to steal at least that amount right back off him.
A change of face
The crucial first part of Scott's plan for revenge was talking his way into Zeeqo's corporation. A simple war declaration would let Scott and his corpmates attack their target, but it would give him advanced notice. From within Zeeqo's corporation, they could take him completely by surprise and at the worst possible moment. If Scott and his crew were to make their move on Zeeqo, he would surely recognise their corporation's name and sense that something was up. A change of identity was in order. The members of Scott's corporation set about creating the alternate personas with which they would exact their revenge. Three new characters were created, one played by Scott and the other two by members of his corporation.
Entire alternate personas were created, along with convincing back-stories for the players behind the characters. They would be Richard, Steve and John, three friends from Milton Keynes in the UK. A cursory online search turned up some useful facts about Milton Keynes that could be integrated into their personas. Universities, places of work and street names were selected. No matter what question they were asked, they were prepared to respond. Their characters were equally convincing, first spending a week in the NPC corp before joining a random player-run industrial corp. They concocted realistic skill plans, lists of questions new players tend to ask and reasons for leaving their previous corp.
As Zeeqo was a keen miner, Scott decided the group should play the role of innocent newbies looking for a mentor in the world of mining. The idea was that anyone willing to engage in Zeeqo's particular brand of market PvP would more than likely appreciate a few mining slaves to exploit. With weeks of preparation behind him and his heart racing, Scott opened a conversation with Zeeqo. If they failed to get into the corp, all of their effort would have been for nothing.
In the hours that followed, a lengthy discussion ensued about their previous corp, their home town of Milton Keynes and the reasons they wanted to get into mining. For every foreseen inquisition, Scott and his team had prepared a response. For those they hadn't considered, some quick thinking filled in the blanks. The conversation came to a close as the three players' applications were accepted. Stage 1 was complete -- they were in.
To be continued...
Special thanks to a certain anonymous thief for letting me tell his story.
Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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