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Sins of a Solar Spymaster #78: The Extortion of Empire

Posted Tue, May 01, 2012 by The Mittani

Why did we do it? The usual reasons were trotted out: revenge, celebration, petty griefing, market manipulations, conspiracy with CCP, real-life sociopathy, class warfare. The truth is that we did it because we could: we wanted to see what would happen to Jita if we hit it with all the organizational might of a nullsec bloc. We succeeded beyond our wildest expectations; rather than merely driving up the price of minerals, trade in Jita itself came to a crashing halt as hundreds of goons tore through the system shooting anything foolish enough to sit still.  By Sunday evening, almost a trillion isk of assets had been destroyed, and we withdrew. The more interesting question is how it came to pass, and what it means for the game as a whole.

EVE Fleet

An outbreak of rare peace across nullsec has unleashed upon New Eden a wave of macro-level market manipulations that have already begun to reshape the power relations between hisec and nullsec. Five critical events have coincided with this peace, two from CCP and three from nullsec blocs: the mineral supply changes in the Escalation patch released April 24th, a crackdown on botting and RMT by CCP’s security division, the creation of OTEC - a price-fixing cartel which controls the Technetium supply - the Sack of Jita, and the newly bloc-sponsored Hulkageddon.

The mineral changes in Escalation have essentially revived mining as a viable profession for the first time since 2007, when the introduction of the Drone Regions essentially killed mining - except as the province of bots, newbies, and the fiscally inept - with a flood of high-end minerals in the form of alloy drops. By removing these drops and replacing them with bounties, as well as removing common, easily-refined modules from agent missions, the supply of minerals across the game has disrupted. Speculation in advance of the patch drastically increased the price of staple goods even before the disruption occurred; that disruption was magnified by an unexpected crackdown by CCP on bots of all kinds - and the most common sort of bot is the mining bot, given the skull-crushingly boring nature of solo mining. Not only do the minerals in EVE now need to be mined, they have to be mined by humans.

Jita

The Gallente Ice Interdiction proved that an alliance could select a specific sector of hisec space, choose a good produced in that space, and choke off supply successfully to turn a profit - market terrorism as a method of macro-level finance. Anticipating the mineral supply shock, Goonswarm sank almost a trillion isk into minerals before the Escalation patch, and then chose the first weekend after the patch - the time where producers traditionally resupply their sell orders on the market - to strike Jita. Instead of spreading efforts across every system that produced oxygen isotopes as in the Interdiction, the Sack of Jita required only local superiority in Jita, Sobaseki, and Perimeter. The Sack was intended to exacerbate the disruption of Escalation, which would then be sent over the edge by OTEC and Hulkageddon.

In the past, Hulkageddon was an event run entirely by a crew of dedicated pirates, led by the irascible Helicity Boson. Previous Hulkageddons offered prizes to the teams which could destroy the most exhumers and mining barges during its run. These major prizes would only be awarded to the top winners (with a few additional prizes for achievements like ‘largest smartbomb kill’) , which meant that the contest tended to be devolve into a competition between a few dedicated teams fighting for the top spot, with less vehement gankers dropping out after the first few days. For this Hulkageddon, Goonswarm offered to sponsor the event and pay prizes to casual gankers, using a killboard scraper to offer 100m in bounties for every ten exhumers killed to anyone who participates. Hulkageddon was scheduled to begin immediately after the Sack of Jita finished - and instead of lasting only one or two weeks as in past years, this year Hulkageddon will last for an entire month.


so this will probably prompt a lot of name calling but w/e. the consequences of an entire month of hulkageddon should probably be looked at a little more closely, not merely towards the status of markets and profits and prizes but what sort of impact it might have on anyone unfortunate enough to be on their trial or fisrt month of eve when this event takes place. a lot might be said about steep learning curves and dealing with the reality of the game, but its still a game and if some newbie gets everything they have destroyed before they ever establish a foothold or the capital to replace their losses, that would dramatically reduce the probability of them enjoying the experience to continue. and think about the timing, its the begining of summer break in the States, schools are letting and that next generation of potential eve players is going to have more free time to try out new games and the last thing we want for the future of eve is to discourage new blood from discovering internet spaceships. and no, none of my pilots are miners or haulers or w/e, and yes i was shooting any pod i could find in jita over the weekend. just every time you gank that 2 week old miner think about how different the game would be if a quarter of the industrialists and miners in the game didnt exist

To be honest, it will give the impression that, as it once was, EVE Online is a hard and tough place, where justice and fairness are subjective concepts and if you want to do well, you must adapt. Those with thin skins shall find good homes in other MMO's, while those who want to carve out their own slice of New Eden with a "the ends justify the means" mindset will take to it like fat kids to cake.

Mining barges and exhumers can't be trained on trial accounts. Also, if a persons first and only experience with EVE is mining I'd be shocked if they lasted long in the game since it's not very engaging gameplay.

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Kind of saw some of this coming to be honest, and I like it. This is why this game is great, in no other game could you manipulate the market like this. Great post, can't wait to see more bears tears.

an example effect...

- 200+ alliance ceases to mine anything (mining is almost twice more profitable than it was a year ago but 2x suck still equals double suk, and now with a high risk assessment)
- instead, alliance moves operations to pi, nullsec ratting (still relatively safe in numbers), incursions, etc.
- this means less dedicated miners = higher mineral prices = more you pay for your pvp/gank ships

what goes around comes around.

additionally, for those that purchase plex, you'll notice that although you get approx. 25% more isk (currently), mineral prices have almost doubled, which will then cascade thru the market. wonder how long until it (an isk itself) is effectively worthless.

finally, i find it amusing how gankers and twitchies fashionably jump on the bear-hate bandwagon. eve isn't the only place to graze. imagine how much a steak would cost if you killed all but the last cow. extrapolate, iterate...

I think what you fail to notice is that as ship prices go up, not only do gankers pay more for ships to gank in, but miners also must pay more to replace their Hulks. Suddenly those high mineral and Tech prices seem more trouble than they are worth.

In fact, you could argue the cost to the miner is great as those who are ganking are generally flying in cost effective, t1 hulls with cheap mods fitted. Conversly, the miner is typically in a T2 mining ship (Hulk) with T2 mods and generally +4/+5 attribute and some skill implants as well.

When considering these factors, tell me who ends up paying more? You'll find it's the miner every time, and the higher the mineral prices go the worse off the miner actually becomes when gangs of gankers increase.

I disagree, I think that high mineral prices to the point where flying tech1 ships becomes a reasonable financial hit as well as an issue of time to reship will make this game much more interesting again.

The issue is T1 ships will always be cheaper than their T2 counterparts, for VERY obvious reasons.

You can gank a Hulk for about 50 million in cheap t1 ships and fittings. The Hulk itself, only the hull, costs about 300 million in Jita currently.

You're trying to tell me that gankers are going to be worse off? Hardly.

Of course Miners will suffer more than pirates, that's why they're called pirates. I don't think many people are silly enough to gank in a ship worth more than their target.

This is a prime example of what makes Eve a brilliant game. Like in the real world, we have seen colonization and occupation by force, where strategy and managed resources determine the victor. The next logical step is economic control. Gangs do it, Corporations do it, Governments do it... why not the Eve Elite?

Frankly I'm surprised this hasn't happened sooner! Cartels and Oligopolies will claim entire markets, as our oil and mass-media empires have done. Like it or not we live in a world of price fixing and market manipulation on a massive scale, and have become so immersed in it that we often don't see it.

Be assured, the high mineral and Tech prices will not be more trouble than they're worth... at least not to the entrepeneurs controlling those markets. They're doing it for personal gain, not to improve the economic mechanics of the Eve universe. Personally, I think co-ordinating market domination on that scale is quite a feat!

But, there will always be profit in piracy.

Presumably the miners are far more wealthy than the gankers.

Seemingly they can afford to keep turning up in expensive Tech II ships and mods while the gankers have to try and kill them for drops that are a fraction of the value of the ship.

So really, who are the smart ones here, the miners or the gankers? Just thought I would throw that in the mix, something to muse on while your gloating about how clever you are.

PS I don't mine (too boring for me).

As a CFC pilot, I can just ask for a single suicide Catalyst in alliance chat and instantly receive 10 in my hangar free of charge. Many CFC industrialists have the BPOs and tech necessary to literally shit ganking ships as an afterthought of daily trade. Minerals are cheap in null sec hubs.

Why do people not understand this benefits everyone? From the miner to the salvager to the producer and then last off the industrialists

Newbie benefit by actually making more money and also having a more local trade hub (more trade will go to lesser trade hubs if jita keeps getting attacked) and also experience the excitement of eve.

I cant really see newbies getting blown up in hulks to be honedt, can't see many 2 week olds using hulks and strip miners so that's a poor argument.

The tech cartel is worse than the jita and hulkageddon events and hopefully soon ccp will sort out this major bottleneck or some other null sec alliance will have some balls to break it.

Interesting. Mittens generally has good ideas. I certianly don't mind fighting his duders in highsec. But I'm left wondering. Why hasn't tech been nerfed yet? Its been imbalanced for years now. Why is the north a gold mine while the south is so inferior?

-A butthurt Southerner.

Because there should be a reason to take and hold an area of nullsec? If all of null is equal value, there's no reason for conflict aside from having more of it. The value of tech should be pulling tons of heat onto the North. Other alliances just need to bring the fights.

I completely agree with you about the incentive to push into someone else's region. That said, I think the moongoo 'rebalancing' that saw Dyspro/Promethium replaced by Technetium as THE production bottleneck was something CCP didn't think through (shocking, right?). What kinda sucks is instead of having systems in far-flung backwater systems where if you wanted to hold a monopoly you would have to be on standby at all hours ready to deploy to some faraway system (which, unfortunately, isn't such a big deal when supers can cross the galaxy, blap all the dreads and be back home literally hours before even the zippiest interceptor was halfway there. Ugh. Supercapitals are literally the antichrist.) to defend your stuff.

Keeping all the cashcow moons in one segment of the map is kinda counterintuitive on CCPs part. I've personally seen CFC Tech moons in Syndicate seized by relative nobodies and never defended or reclaimed because effort, apparently. Those nobody moons will now be fought over by other nobodies, but there ~will~ be fights generated on a regular basis as they change hands back and forth which is pretty great. Were Tech - or whatever future bottleneck arises should CCP attempt to 'rebalance' again - to be roughly distributed across the galaxy, but still heavily favoring certain regions to allow for both major regional power plays AND slug-outs between locals in remote backwaters (like the aforementioned moons in Syndicate), that would just be nifty neat.

Or something like that, idk v0v

Yes the tech should create an incentive for conflict and change.

And lets face it, it did. There was a huge reshuffle of the map and location of alliances and a lot of conflict originally.

But that is now over. The battles have been won, the power bases re-established and now actually Tech just provides a powerful incentive for inertia and boring game play.

Moon profit goes into the pockets of a tiny few alliance leaders (good on goons for opening up the accounts tbh). Everyone is blued up to the hilt to protect those riches. Far from fighting to gain more, they constructing a universe that maintains the status quo.

The best thing that can happen for the game and people's "fun levels" is for a rebalancing, create something new to fight for or another bottleneck.

Yes on the face of it, those that have worked hard to gain their dominance may initially be annoyed at the change but actually when they start having to re-strategize , fight again, when friendships and alliance bonds have been re-shaped and back stabbed by a new wave of greed to own the "latest" scarce resource, they are going to agree the game got a lot more fun.

Worst thing for the game is maintenance of the current status quo.

If only there was someone who could keep pushing this issue on behalf of the players. Right?
Maybe someone on the CSM with well-placed access to CCP's ears.
Maybe a former CSM Chairman, with a track record of getting shit done, could have a bit of influence.
Too bad we don't have any of those around.

Im just gonna state the obvious here, it takes you months to train for an exhumer in which time you should have learned enough about the game to know what risk it is to take a 300m isk flying brick out into space. You should also know to keep up on whats going on in the game on the meta level or be in a corp where people talk about this stuff.

Personally, I run a newbie mining corp and Ihve made sure that everyone knows whats going on. Not just for their own personal security but also because its events like these that shows what the game is really about. Player generated content.

I tip my hat to the Goons and Mittens, well played sirs.

Mittens has always stated that he supports moon rebalancing. Maybe with otec hes trying to force CCP's hand in this matter.

Hulkaggeddon does have one major positive impact and that it inspires miners to actually higher guards and logi to watch over them. They can no longer park the orca and sent out the 14 accounts, they may actually have to work with some pvpers that have an interest in making some isk(no im not making the argument that all miners are solo people who multibox).

Miners. If you have friends in pvp that can guard you or provide logi, higher them. Get them into your corp. This synergy is what makes EVE great. All though you will be working with PVPers you yourself can still mine.

too bad that all the gankers need to be profitable is one hulk kill and it doesn't matter how many pvper's are guarding you they can alpha the paper thin barges really easily. This is the same problem in null sec, there is absolutely no way to run a mining op in 0.0 because it only takes a couple of reds to disrupt it, despite a pvp defence fleet.

I beg to differ. I'm a miner, playing since 2003, and have 5 accounts. I live in 0.0 as one of my alliances mining foremen. We regularly hold mining operations without interruption from reds or neutrals. Hulkageddon hasn't stopped me, and all these arguments are just plain ignorance. If you try, there are over 5400 systems of known space, 2499 systems in wormholes, and many aren't even traveled within a given day.

If you leave more that 4 jumps from your trade hub, set up shop, you'll have a better life expectancy. You might even have to be attentive too, like watching local for unknowns. Good luck and come back with a real argument instead of bitching about 'I want but you won't let me.' This is just a game and nobody is stopping you, just making you think.

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I think you've got it right; this is all fine and dandy until tech is rebalanced and can't be controlled by a cartel in the same way it is now.

That said, I think it's a brilliant idea. If anything will force CCP to rebalance tech, this would be it.

Mittens and Helicity....sigh so proud of what? your minor incursion to jita and the minor incursion that is hulkageddon will have very little long term affect.

Just like the mittens to ride on the coattails of other factors to claim success ( like he did in csm constantly ). There are a tonne of other factors that were already well in play before this and continue to have a long term affect....but if it makes you goonies feel self important. Go ahead...your game hasnt changed mine in the least.

you shouldn't post anymore

you shouldn't post anymore

Lol - tears at the reality Burn Jita has exposed, this is a big game with a lot of players and actually despite the hype, CFC is pretty irrelevant to the grand scheme of things.

Burn Jita didn't even create a blip in an economy that is so massive it dwarfs your event. All burn Jita achieved was creating some pew pew fun to keep restless goons from getting bored in a world where your leadership has blued up everyone of interest to control Tech. And thank god for the Tech because it paid for the half a trillion ISK or so your lost hulls cost and enabled your leadership to sponsor the event.

The more you protest and complain there was some meaningful impact, the more you just look stupid.

The rest of the game just has to keep playing and enjoying themselves, reminding you how irrelevant your actions are - hitting you in the ego - far more painful than any losses that can be achieved in game.

you should skill yourself

(in game)

The guy put together a weekend of fun and good times for literally thousands of his 'closest friends'. Even if they lost ten times the ships they did, the CFC further solidified their camaraderie and morale by spending this weekend warping around Jita, laughing and dying together with not a care in the world for isk lost or 1337 killboard efficiency nonsense.

The long-term effect is not so much Jita prices. What he truly achieved here can't really be graphed.

You should post more often. Don't let the CFC drones drown you out with their constant repetition of whatever the glorious leader tells them to say.

Who cares about the long-term effect? It only needs to last long enough to cash in on their investments.

You should go fly your pod into the sun of Jita and kill yourself in the game.

You tell 'im!
We all know, the things YOU have done are what everyone REALLY aspires to emulate.
(But first, would you mind telling us what it is you have done that is so memorable?)

Thanks for tweeting/linking the anthem Mittens. I had a big cheesy grin on my melon all day at work after it hit.

And congrats on an event that, love it or hate it, reminded everyone that Eve is unique.

"Why did we do it?"

Wait what? You guys did something in highsec? I haven't noticed anything. Even this so called "Burn Jita" event seems to have fizzled out right from the start.

Hey! Hey guy. I love to say things too. Let's say things together!

Really the only thing that's going to produce any sort of meaningful protection to moongoo manipulation is if it moved away from being an (almost) totally passive activity to something that actually involves humans doing 'stuff'. The bring problem with tech isn't so much that it can be controlled by just a few groups, it's more the fact that once taken, tech moons need very very few ongoing man-hours to produce those massive incomes.

Make moon mining a more active, err, activity again and you have the potential of people not bothering because of :effort: - that should shake things up a little.

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brilliant article.
well written and informative.
safe is boring.
wish i understood more about how EVE worked.

I kindly request that you rename "Hulkageddon" to "Hulkamania"

Most impressive Mittens

do you write that dripple with right hand, while servicing your selv with the left, fantasizing about how your goons drink it all up?

Its sad how a lot of devs also seem to be goons, which might explain ccps reluctance to touch your techmoons

the mittani is just a douchebag plain and simple. Plus what is it with that stupid name?????

1

I don't see any long term adverse effects from the ganking of Jita. Short term.. maybe a week.

What I do see is goons emo-nerd-raging because their icon received a slap on the wrist for innapropriate antics. CCP is well within their right as a company, from a marketing standpoint and from a human standpoint to exercise some control over the situation. Within the game is the sandbox, outside of the game you are subject to the laws of state.

You knew that Alex.

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