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Practical Espionage For Beginners In EVE Online

Posted Mon, Oct 25, 2010 by Space Junkie

EVE Online has a complex meta-game that can involve a great deal of trickery and deceit. For many people, it is one of the game's best selling points. But how can a spy succeed in a world full of paranoid corporation recruiters? And what the heck is an API, and how will it expose even the most convincing spies? This guide includes a look at some common goals of spying, some simple techniques for infiltration, and a selection of common mistakes.

This guide may not be for all players. Some players have a very real antipathy toward this sort of meta-gaming, especially if the espionage eventually turns into any kind of corporate-level theft where peoples' feelings get hurt. If you do not approve of activites along these lines, consider this a guide to what spies might do.

Scoping Out Targets

EVE Online

There are lots of reasons to infiltrate enemy corporations. Some pay off better than others.

The usual reasons to infiltrate a corporation include hostile politics, greed, and disillusionment.

The most common motivation for spying in high-security space is probably to get better intelligence during wars. Spies want to know about member movements, fleet form-ups, and points of vulnerability. Being able to see a list of people that are online in a given corporation is nice, too, especially if you have a friend or second account that can use locator agents to figure out their locations.

The most common greed-based reason to infiltrate a corporation is to establish some measure of trust, and then to abuse that trust to steal anything that isn't locked down. This might be as simple as emptying out a public corp hangar or borrowing a ship blueprint, or it could involve a somewhat more convoluted plan to tackle and kill a ship with valuable modules, as CONCORD will not intervene if members of the same corporation fight each other.

Lastly, when a player is frustrated with his corporation (or more typically, his corporate leadership) he may decide to try to help the other side. This can be a bit tricky, since gaining the trust of the people your corporation is fighting borders on the impossible. Consistently giving a lot of information to the same person will eventually work, if your information is accurate and leads to the infliction of disastrous losses.

Infiltration

Most corporations are constantly recruiting, and even if they are not, there is usually at least somebody willing to interview you. The two major exceptions are corporations that have recently had spy problems, and corporations that have only recently begun a period of hostility after a period of relative peace. In either case, the corporation is likely to be paranoid and less susceptible to conventional infiltration. It is probably still worth a shot, though.

As things stand, there are two main tools used by the majority of recruiters to check if you are a spy. The first is the API, and the second is your character's paper trail in EVE Online.

Every Spy's Worst Enemy: The API

API stands for 'application programming interface' and it one of the neat things about EVE Online. Basically, it allows players to have custom-made applications access certain portions of their character information from outside EVE. That information can then be used in a more innovative fashion than CCP would think of on their own.

There is a limited API and a full API, with the former having very limited information and being used by most corporation recruiters, and the latter giving extensive information and seeing use mostly by user-made asset management applications.

A recent CCP developer blog is probably the best way to learn more about the details, though the gist of it is that:

  1. If a recruiter wants your limited API, you cannot have any characters on that account that would draw suspicion. This includes characters with shady corporation histories.
  2. If a recruiter wants your full API, you cannot even have ISK donations from suspicious characters, possessions in suspicious null-sec stations, EVE mails that would draw suspicion, or unsavory persons on your contact list.

Most recruiters do not ask for a full API key, and many players in EVE Online would be unwilling to give one out, even to people in their own corporation. Refusing this might draw some suspicion, but probably not so much that a recruiter would warn other corporations not to hire you.

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