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Lots of other blogs are writing about B-R today. After chatting with CCP Manifest and CSM8 member Ali Aras last night, I thought it would be interesting to write a piece looking at the battle from a completely “outside EVE” perspective. In short, if you were trying to explain what happened in B-R to your uncle who has never played a computer game in his life, how would you do it?

So here’s what I came up with. National magazines usually run 1000 word human interest stories on this sort of thing, with a 150 word side-bar attached (a side-bar is an article within an article that clarifies some critical point). So here it is: 1000 words about B-R for a general audience with a 150 word side-bar. EVE players will note I have deliberately simplified critical points here and there while trying to retain overall accuracy. What do you think?

—snip—

EVE Online is a game about spaceships. As Star Wars and Star Trek have taught us, sometimes spaceships get blown up. And sometimes it happens in large numbers. This is a story about how $300,000 in spaceships were blown up in EVE Online.

Developed more than ten years ago by the Icelandic company CCP, EVE Online is an MMO somewhat like World of Warcraft. But while WoW is focused on a fantasy world of swordsmen and sorcerers, in EVE Online players take the role as private owners of spacecraft. But while Han Solo was content owning a single spacecraft, EVE players have the options of owning dozens or more. Only one can be flown at any given time, but each must be purchased and outfitted and each serves a specific role within the game. Some are good for trading, others for exploration, and others… others are good for shooting at other EVE Online players.

And that — finding other EVE players and blowing up their spaceships… and then telling the story afterward — has been the engine that has driven the game’s success for the last ten years.

SIDEBAR
Within the game, each player may purchase ships ranging in size from sub-capitals — frigates, cruisers, battleships — to capital ships to the so-called “super-capitals.” These ships have an escalating cost measured in the game’s currency, called ISK. A frigate will cost a player between one million and 50 million ISK depending on the specific type of frigate. Cruisers range from 50 million to 250 million. Money is earned in game through gathering resources, running in-game missions, or through building in-game items for other players. Typically, an income source in-game is considered “good” if it is worth 100 million ISK per hour, meaning that a single cruiser will represent anything from a half-hour to two hours worth of work to acquire.

As a player’s time in-game increases, that player can afford to purchase a larger fleet of ever-larger, more capable ships. Battleships range from a half-billion to a full billion ISK or more, capital ships are multi-billion ISK investments, and a super-capital ship can cost up to 100 billion ISK or more, representing months or years of effort on the part of the player that acquires one.
END SIDEBAR

EVE is also an on-line social experience: players usually join “corporations”, groups of players led by another EVE player. A corporation is typically a few dozen or perhaps a few hundred individuals, the size limited by the charisma and organizational skills of the single leader. These corporations can then join alliances of like-minded corporations to form organizations hundreds or thousands of players strong. The game of EVE Online takes place in a galaxy called New Eden, and the structure is set such that alliances can conquer parts of New Eden, taking them away from other players and exploiting the resources there for the benefit of that alliance’s players.

Think of it like any naval battle you’ve ever read about or seen in a movie, just with more nerds. Once an area of space is conquered, the resources of that area can be exploited but there are also in-game costs associated with owning that are of space that must be paid monthly.

Sometimes alliances themselves can themselves ally with each other in surprisingly complex dances of diplomacy; one of the diplomats killed in Benghazi in 2012, Sean Smith, spent some of his off-time as an EVE Online diplomat. These new organizations — called coalitions in game — are made up of thousands of EVE players and have the ability to form fleets of hundreds or thousands of EVE players.

Players, corporations, or alliances who do not wish to spend time gathering their money in-game may purchase ISK in the form of an in-game item called a “PLEX” from CCP for about $18 U.S. At the moment, this amount of money is worth about 600 million ISK. This also establishes a “real world” value for every object in the game. A battleship worth 600 million ISK is therefore worth about $18, though CCP prohibits selling in-game assets for real-world currency. As a result, once an asset is created and purchased in the game, it’s only good for getting blown up… which is where this story started.

Since Halloween of last year, two EVE Online coalitions have been at war for control of the “southeastern” portion of New Eden. The coalition owning the area, known as “N3”, has for several months been under attack by a coalition of Russian player alliances. N3 has been assisted by an alliance called Pandemic Legion; the Russians have been assisted by a coalition known colorfully as the Clusterfuck Coalition (CFC). And for months these four large groups have been going at each other for control of this area of space in ever-larger space battles. Each of these battles has been relatively large in scope. In a recent large fight, for instance, 500 billion ISK worth of spaceships were destroyed by N3 in the process of capturing a strategic CFC objective.

N3 had been providing an area of space that included a space station for their Pandemic Legion allies to dock and repair their ships after each battle, and to use as a staging area for bringing more ships into the fight. Maintaining this area and its space station was something that had a continuing cost in-game that had to be paid. And yesterday, N3 failed to pay that bill. That left that area of space and its station open to anyone who could bring the muscle to take over, and the Russian coalition moved in strongly. N3 and PL, unwilling to cede the important staging area to their enemies, brought in a larger fleet. The Russians called in their CFC allies and at each stage, both sides escalated the size and scope of the fight until hundreds of the largest ships in EVE were engaged. At its peak, some 2500 EVE players were directly involved in the main battle, while hundreds more fought in side actions in nearby areas. The battle raged for about 18 continuous hours.

And by the time it was over, nearly 100 “super-capital” ships worth about 100 billion ISK each had been destroyed, as well as nearly 500 capital ships worth anywhere from two to five billion ISK each. Total cost of the ships destroyed in this battle? 10 trillion (with a T!) ISK.

With a “good” in-game income source, you could pay that cost in something over 11 years of continuous EVE play, assuming you were able to play the game 24 hours per day for that 11 years. Or if you tried to pay that cost buying CCP’s in-game currency, that would set you back some $300,000 U.S. It will take EVE’s ship-builders months or years to build replacements.

Though not the largest battle in EVE’s history, it now holds the record — by far! — as its costliest. If you’re curious, the Russian coalition and their CFC allies won this round by a large margin. Whether this is the battle that ends that war still remains to be seen: there are still plenty of other spaceships in EVE Online to blow up.

– Ripard Teg

If you would like to read more we invite you to visit his blog here.

  • acetech09

    Not bad. Although the article seems to explain ‘B-R’ /and/ Eve to your uncle. Some of the eve info can be safely omitted, I think. Also, an Uncle won’t be bothered to read past 100 words about a silly spaceship game if there isn’t something to grab his attention. Nice work, though.

    • Provi Miner

      I thought it was to info heavy. I would have started with the cost of the battle made the conversion to USD, then explained why those ships blew up. And at some point I would have mentioned the sandbox/RW concept. Every action has a consequence and in this case a missed in game payment cause the battle.

  • SkidMark

    My Uncle tried to read this article and understand why I love this game….BUT as soon as he hit the second sentence he turned to me and said; “You need to get out and get laid.”

    • Homophobic John

      When i read that, I read it as “My uncle tried to read this article and understand why I love this game…..But then he decided he would rather feel me up instead.”

  • Dumbledore

    That surely will do if your uncle plays WoW, is a Star Trek addict, and knows who Han Solo is.

    My uncle plays with his ass crack, is an alcoholic, and often knows his way home from the Joe’s. I suppose he might listen to your story if you’d buy him a Jack Daniels or two.

    • Dick Hauser

      Your uncle is a bum. Not all people are bums.

  • Zed Traumati

    This is how I would explain it to the uncle who used to molest me when my parents were out dogging.

    • Gsy

      You now know that moment when you start laughing hysterically and when stop and look around everyone is just staring at you blankly…..

  • flatterpillo

    Ship prices are a bit off in the “sidebar”
    Don’t know what kind of cruisers you buy if the minimum price for one is 50 million.

    • Gsy

      I have a endless supply of ruptures for you 45m a pop 🙂

  • Bobby

    Forgot to mention how everything is played at 10% the speed to should be played at because the game can’t handle these fights, and how plays by and large don’t take part in these fights because they are fun, but because the game mechanics force such fights to reach alliance goals in nullsec space.

    • The Obvious

      Nobody forced you to be an f1 jockey. Take your butt hurt elsewhere

  • Billbo

    Hey Ripard,
    instead of wasting a wall of text telling us something we already know. how bout those winter summit minutes???

  • Muul Udonii

    I dunno who you’re currently buying your ships from, but I’d like to undercut them by 10% and still make immense profits.

    Here’s a much better way to explain B-R:

    “Eve is an online spaceship game, where players form groups called corporations, alliances and coalitions.

    Player groups can own star systems and space stations, and must pay a monthly fee for both.

    On Monday, one corporation forgot to pay the fee for system ownership, and they lost control of the system. Another group of players took advantage of that and shot the station, meaning they take ownership. The previous owners had stored lots of ships in there and now couldn’t get at them.

    So they and their coalition sent lots of really big ships into the system to try to get it back, and their enemies; who have a roughly equal sized coalition; also sent in lots of really big ships.

    They all shot each other for nearly 24 hours, until the original owners had lost about 70 of the biggest, most expensive ships in the game, along with hundreds of medium priced ships, and thousands of cheaper ones.

    At it’s peak, 2200 players were involved directly in the fight, with several thousand more in neighboring systems preventing reinforcements reaching the battle.

    You can indirectly buy in game money from the game developers, and the current value of the ships that were destroyed is around $300,000 according to the in game exchange rate.”

    • John Doe

      Cfc 50k n3 26-27k.
      Your story is much simpler also less immersive.
      Bo h stories need work. 🙂

  • Daniel Plain

    the style of the article is somewhat lackluster. for example, try ctrl+f ‘large’, ‘thousands of’ or ‘in-game’.

  • John Doe

    Btw: the best thing about these articles are the pictures…

  • Ciaphas Cyne

    sorry jester. usually i like your writing but this didnt really draw me in. wasnt super exciting, but wasnt informative enough to justify the amount of jargon youd need to learn. no offence intended, just didnt strike a chord with me.

  • PodGoo

    Don’t forget that many of these super cap pods that were destroyed are over 5 bil also

  • Billbo

    “If you want your uncle, you can keep your uncle. Period!

  • Ur Septim

    Your uncle is probably a perv if he doesn’t know the concept of MMO whether a fantasy or spaceships based gameplay. RL than virtual play. Also you should include on your sidebar how to fly the ships, you need millions of skill points to fly those supers which equates to months of training time.

  • lecorrecto

    You buy a Mustang. You buy a new longblock, with forged rods and pistons, stage 3 ported heads, billet cams. Upgrade the suspension all around, Brembo brakes, Borla exhaust. Long tube headers, Kenne Bell twin screw supercharger. Torsen dif with 31 spline axles. Total about $65,000+ in mods added. Fastest pony in the area.
    You get in a head-on with a transport, car’s totaled. you’re in the hospital for a year recovering, insurance gives you $20k for your car, cost of your license goes up 500%, wife leaves you for your best friend, dog dies, and you become allergic to beer.

    … welcome to EVE.

  • RA dude

    That was rather info-heavy, though I liked the comparison of ship costs in terms of money and time it takes to earn the required sum. Bringing WoW for comparison stung my eyes: I doubt it is common knowledge.

    There are a few factual inaccuracies as well. Southern coalition is not “the Russians” (Black Legion, C0ven, DARKNESS. are Russians, really?), though russian-speaking alliances are indeed most prominent. Then, from what I’ve heard, Razor were the first ones on spot to attack the system, not “the Russian coalition”. And battleships starting from half-billion seems too much: a typical CTA BS is about 250 kk fully fit (by the way, it is not specified in the article if it’s hull cost or including outfit).

    P.S.
    2nd paragraph: “But while WoW is focused…” and then “But while Han Solo…” right in the following sentence.
    6th paragraph: “…alliances themselves can themselves ally…”