Why You Should Never Trust Anyone In EVE Online

EVE Online

In space no one can hear you betray.

I read an interesting article over at the Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah today about how one of the alliances in EVE Online, the Ushra’Khan, had been disbanded just a few days ago after being infiltrated by one of their enemies over the course of a year. Although I’ve never been able to engage in that stratosphere of gameplay in EVE (yet) I still love reading about these stories and try to follow the goings-on throughout New Eden as much as possible. To me, this constant struggle between corporations and alliances for dominance is a real attraction of its sandbox design. It’s not necessarily about PvP either but rather more the idea that individuals can actually shape the virtual universe around them and that their actions have impact and consequences. CCP call it the butterfly effect, I call it darn cool.

The curious thing about this sort of gaming environment though is that suddenly it’s not just about navigating pixels and hitting numbers on the keypad but also about the real relationships between players. As in real life, players can use and abuse relationships to further the gains of themselves or their corporation. War goes beyond in-game combat in EVE too and stretches into political slander and smear campaigns across the Internet designed to affect the emotions of the people behind the avatars. This mix of the gaming world and reality is arguably the stuff of true, and unforgiving, roleplay.

For instance, when I read Kirith’s article I was fascinated by the concept that a player decided to spend an entire year infiltrating an enemy alliance, slowly working their way up the ranks, navigating themselves into a position of power all with a cunning and calculating hidden agenda in the back of their mind along the way. It’s quite stunning really and, to me, it seems almost mind blowing that someone could sacrifice playing with their old friends and fake relationships with new ones all in the name of a greater good. It all makes me wonder – at what point do people stop ‘playing’ and just act themselves?

I guess the answer to that question is that it never stops, or at least not for some people, and that’s both a scary and exciting thing about EVE. The game blends and infuses the emotions and actions of the player with that of their avatar. In WoW or any traditional MMORPG, we can pretty much take at face value the actions of our guild mates and comrades in arms but in EVE, what a player says to you in group chat or even over a microphone could all just be part of their insidious master plan. That’s a tough thing to stomach I suppose, especially if one is used to other MMOs, but it does carry a certain appeal to me because, in many ways, it creates the ultimate immersive experience which you just can’t get anywhere else.

-Gordon

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31 Comments

  1. Longasc says:

    Universe to Gordon: You are several years late with this story.
    It was a lot of bullshit early on, and over the years it just became more.

    Have you ever made up and tuned a story so that it makes you look better?

    Yep, that’s what Istvaan Shoogatsu and the Guided Hand Social Club did.
    Some people just rob the guild bank when they are bored, some stomp the shit with both feet and make it fly… and also make a fantastic story of it.

  2. While this might make for fascinating stories, it can be very frustrating for players. I saw the same thing happen in Meridian 59. I’ve told the story before about how one of my friends had this happen to them in game: someone they trusted went in and pretty much trashed their guild because they could. Guild chests (banks) looted clean of all items, major guild members were booted out, etc.. The really sad part is that the guild was intended to help new players, so most of the guild items were intended to get new players geared up and going in the game. Someone just wanted to kick over their sandcastle for the sheer malice of it.

    But, it makes for awkward dinner conversation when you visit them afterwards. But, they pretty much left the game at that point, and the game was poorer for it.

    It’s something that tends to discourage new players. The post you linked said, “Any alliance in today’s Eve that lets someone only a year in the alliance move up the chain of command to a point where his finger is beside the big red button deserves to die.” So, not only am I going to be considered a scrub if I don’t spend enough time working up the proper skills, I have to put in a certain amount of time? And, in a years’ time, will it be “don’t trust anyone under 2 years”? If MMOs do live and die by their newbie supply as people have mentioned before, this is potentially toxic.

    Another point of view.

    • Fergus says:

      I disagree with Brian actually. The reason I started playing EVE was when the same thing happened to BoB a couple of years ago.

      The treason and backstabbing is what keeps people playing,

      • Rhii says:

        My brother was (very peripherally) involved in the breakdown of BoB. He was part of one of their member corps… and he took it kind of hard. But last I knew, the group that broke up BoB had fallen apart as well. Even though my brother was again only very peripherally involved (I think his new alliance absorbed some of their former space) he took it as a personal mission of vengeance. It was an exciting event for him, because he was personally involved in it. Now that’s cool.

        I think the large alliances that form are easier to be loyal to than small guilds in WoW, because you don’t have to desert your alliance just to find people you like better. Instead you can just find a new “cell”. Also I think the loyalty is stronger than it would be to say the Alliance or the Horde, because you know that the Horde isn’t going to be wiped out tomorrow. It’s a lot more personal to buy in when your chosen faction could be gone tomorrow.

        • Gordon says:

          The risk factor in EVE is something that I find very intriguing as a game mechanic because it creates a far stronger bond to the world than say in WoW. Ultimately in WoW you know that you can never lose anything irrevocably yet in EVE, all of the hard work put in by an entire alliance or corp could be wiped out by someone else. That’s pretty exciting stuff.

      • Gordon says:

        “The treason and backstabbing is what keeps people playing,”

        I can believe that. It’s one of the thing that intrigues me a lot about it!

    • Gordon says:

      Yeah, it is a very brutal system that presents a sort of hyper-reality for war and politics. For me, it would be an interesting social experiment to be able to play EVE enough to partake in some of these scandals to see what it’s really like. Still, great stories :P

    • Dblade says:

      I quit EVE over something similar. I had joined a corp and was kicked twice because the director was paranoid about spies in the corp. Before that I was in FW and had my ship blown up by ex-militia because I left after a day being annoyed when one of the FCs refused to engage another fleet due to spy paranoia, and they thought later on I was a spy alt.This was when I was a low sp newbie.

      Everyone thinks spying is romantic, but the metagaming is one of the most corrosive aspects in EVE.

  3. Galo says:

    Well I play EVE and you can trust me!

    I live in high sec empire space and have heard a bit of the espionage that went on with UK alliance in null sec. However it really didn’t have that much effect for me and talking to my corpmates either since none of us spend any time in null sec or know anyone that’s in any Corp there on any name basis. Null sec seem a world away of all that goes on there.

    Though I did find the UK story a bit interesting in the overall effect of things. I won’t exactly say you can’t trust anyone in EVE it’s just a very short list of the people that you can trust. As well the universe of EVE is such that you have to be and remain guarded at all times. As you never know when your friend can suddenly become your enemy. Players choose their own fate and path and that somewhat determines a bit if they will somewhat gain your trust or not. Beyond that who the he’ll knows how it will all play out. But that’s all EVE.

    I’ve been playing EVE just over three months. I may not have my hands on the red button in my Corp but it’s pretty close to it!

  4. It’s quite stunning really and, to me, it seems almost mind blowing that someone could sacrifice playing with their old friends and fake relationships with new ones all in the name of a greater good.

    What’s mind-blowing are the varied definitions of ‘greater good.’

  5. Also, this crazy quote from one of your links:

    At the end of the day UK leadership should acknowledge that they were responsible. Any alliance in today’s Eve that lets someone only a year in the alliance move up the chain of command to a point where his finger is beside the big red button deserves to die.

    I just like the idea that a year isn’t enough time. I mean, this is a game. Right?

  6. Werit says:

    I like these stories, but they are also part of what keeps me away from EvE. It’s difficult to prevent that kind of deception, since there is really no deterrent. All the spy has to do is delete the character and that ends it. The player is not risking anything.

    • Mojeaux says:

      Well, you do lose a character that you put a lot of time into if you go that route.

    • Gordon says:

      They’re risking the time they’ve put into the game which is probably about as much as anyone could risk in a video game.

      • Dblade says:

        They risk nothing, Gordon.

        They buy a second account while they have other accounts for normal playing. When the scam is done, they delete the character, sell it, or just mothball it. Part of the reason why is to avoid API checks linking the scam alt to one they play, or to other scam alts.

    • rowan says:

      I’d have to agree that this sort of thing keeps me away from EVE. From the article it appears that maybe the UK had it coming. I suppose it has its appeal for some, but I certainly don’t want to have to work that hard at something that is supposed to be a pastime, a hobby.

      People spend a lot of time working on this or that accomplishment. To have someone come along after a year and destroy it seems harsh, all the more so because there was nothing tangible to begin with. But imagine if you had built something, like a back deck or a model railroad layout. Then, just as it was about finished, one of your buddies who had been helping came in with a sledge hammer and smashed the whole thing to pieces, then stole all your tools. That’s essentially what this player did.

      I want no part of a game culture that condones or encourages this kind of behavior.

  7. Akely says:

    I too like these EVE stories. But lets be honest here… Takovers and incidious behaviour exists in any MMO. In effect, what is different from this and a guild leadership take-over in EQ2, LOTRO or WoW?

    A thing I always wondered with stories like this is wheather the take-over wa planned from the start. O rwas it a player that was a real member that sold out (as opposed to infiltrated)… I’ll never know for sure, because in the end, I would never trust an infiltrator.

    • Gordon says:

      I guess EVE has a way of making it sound far more intriguing and magical than in EQ2, LotRO or WoW or any other MMO. In those game it’s just classified as guild drama but in EVE it’s an epic story :D

    • Dblade says:

      It was HYDRA reloaded, and they probably planned it. I never have seen in EVE any real defections on that level, because U’K would make that diplomat’s life a living hell even if they have to suicide gank him. Most scams only happen if the scammer can place himself out of reach of retribution, either by quitting the game or using alts.

      EVE is very carebear that way, with players gaming the system to avoid real retribution.

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