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Aug 13, 2004



Damn.... I've paid good money for Sci-Fi novels that weren't nearly as interesting. It would make a good short for Analog. Oh, waitaminute, you mean this isn't fiction?

A fine morality play, I think.



Yeah, the writing style is just superb - raw and gripping. Pure genius and twistedness at the same time. Forget sci-fi novels - I've seen many movies this year that weren't nearly as interesting.


'Why, Richard, it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world...But for Wales!' (Robert Bolt)

err ISKs! Or is this just part of the game?


Fun to read, and fascinating. Now here's the million dollar question: is that a *good* game or a *bad* one, and from what perspective?

Lots of very interesting bits to it, as well--for example, the complicated symbiosis between forum discourse and live development (which I've now come to conceptualize as a bizarre hybrid of the absolutist state and God in terms of what development teams do in the virtual worlds they create) that leads to something like "Let's make trading ships easier for pirates to catch."


That was beautiful. The guy writes like a junior HST.


That was an amazing account! :)

The ending is beautiful, and i wish other scammers would read it too, a great moral play "it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world" indeed.

There are indeed lots of discussions ingame about how best to "swing the nerf bat of happy abandon" but its a really tricky line the devs have to walk.

strip mining asteroid is still today one of the most lucrative ways of making isk (potentially) and it is also the most boring way of doing it.... Personally i think that this game is a nice balance in that way not of "risk vs reward" but of "fun vs reward".

The most fun activities in Eve (PvP) is usually one of the least rewarding, and can most often lead to big losses, but the least fun things are the most rewarding.

ps, that guy who was doing the macro mining, if he had been spotted by any game moderators (ISD) he would have been banned so fast it would have made your head spin.

But enough, great great story, but for me the big question raised is... should a game concentrate on "risk v reward" or "fun v reward"?


"He does an incredible job of explaining the complexity of MMORPG worlds, the emotional salience of interactions, and how play transforms into work. "

or player transforms into workaholic?


What is missing is an ingame legal and contract system. What would happen if there would be a player driven justice system? Something in the direction of ATITD even if it would need to be more scalable.
A nightmare for a designer but still an interesting concept.
In any case the long read was worth it :-)


contract system. What would happen if there would be a player driven justice system?

Eve-Online does have a player driven bounty system - players can take out "contracts" on other players. I don't have a good sense of how much a deterrent it is in practice, or whether its just amalgamated into the whole pirate - trader - miner conflict culture.


In game justice obviously wouldnt be enough, expecially in this case as he claims to have quit the game.
I would think that legal action would be taken against the guy? Is it really any different than the oriental guy that stole the girls house?
The Eve-Online people should be all over it, i mean, this guy could be attacking the game itself, not just a few players.

Or, is the whole story a hoax... a warning. hmm.


If he has quit probably yes, but most of the scammers do not quit. A deterrent could be the fact they had to fear ingame consequences for their actions, may it be a suspension, a jail term, a banning from particular areas or anything else.
As long you do not have to fear any consequence for your handling, we will see an increasing number of negative actions, a factor that can reduce retention in a game.


In this case a legal system would confiscate the isk from the random newbie he gave it to, as it's stolen goods.

I don't see any serious issues with designing or coding it. All transactions are logged by Eve anyway.


Hi (here from Google: "mmorpg" --> Wikipedia entry) Actually this account is seriously tempting me to cancel my Planetside and Ultima Online subscriptions. I'm one of those out-gunned moral players, but it is becoming harder to differentiate my playstyle as a truly valuable one in the growing absence of diversity and risk. Players often demand a disproportionately safe and unchallenging world where the price of gratification is as close to $0.00 as possible. Con artists, like thieves (NPC and real) often play necessary roles in sci-fi and fantasy. They belong.


> Jacob: Players often demand a disproportionately safe and unchallenging world where the price of gratification is as close to $0.00 as possible. Con artists, like thieves (NPC and real) often play necessary roles in sci-fi and fantasy. They belong.

That depends on what you think the function of a virtual world is. If virtual worlds are to be "realistic", evil certainly belongs.

But I guess that many people pay their $15 per month to live in a virtual world which does not have all the problems of the real world. Virtual worlds are already rigged to provide players with a lot of success stories, make the players into heroes, make them rich and powerful. Even death in the virtual world is now often not even throwing you back, just slowing down your future advancement. If the very purpose of virtual worlds is to provide satisfaction to the players in exchange for money, then scammers and thieves are harmful to the company selling this entertainment.

> Timothy: Now here's the million dollar question: is that a *good* game or a *bad* one, and from what perspective?

For the reasons stated above, I think that EVE is a *bad* game. Not only because of the possibility of scamming, but because all of the other examples that Nightfreeze mentioned. It is far too easy to have a major part of your wealth invested in your current ship and cargo, and then get shot down and podded by some PK griefer. That will throw you back by weeks, both financially and with your skills. I really liked the trading system when I played EVE, but I was not willing to invest my time and money in a game where some pimply teenager with a hormone problem can decide to ruin my day without me being able to prevent it.

If you feel relatively safe in the real world, it is because crime has serious enough consequences to deter 99% of the US population from becoming criminals (worst case scenario, US prison population now being 2 million people, highest percentage in the world). In a game like EVE crime often has no consequences at all. A criminal can do like Nightfreeze, quit the game after having caused immense damage to other people, and brag on a website about it with no consequences whatever. Warholian 15 minutes of Terranova fame for having a brilliant writing style, and no punishment.


The document can no longer be found at the above address. Too bad I'd liked to have read it.


You can find it here. All it's missing is the Reservoir Dogs parody ending.


Google Cache is my friend as well, but thx.


Original story located here as well.


Timothy Burke> "Fun to read, and fascinating. Now here's the million dollar question: is that a *good* game or a *bad* one, and from what perspective?"

As in the "Heroes" thread, I believe that PC villany can be very dangerous for a game. From the perspective of community and retention, I believe that scamming like this will be very damaging to both. IMHO, it would be much better to implement villany that was controlled by the game company in the form of NPCs, while at the same time rallying the PCs to fight that villany. That way, you get something interesting (and villany is very interesting), but can hopefully implement it in a way that can mitigate its damaging effects to community and retention.



If anyone is interested, I converted the text to a more readable PDF file and posted it to my blog on http://virtualflavius.com/blog/archives/000037.html . It's 207K, 44 pages and much more readable. You are welcome to download the file and post it on your own website.

Kind regards,
Asaf Prihadash


That's a great read, even if it's fictional. Could easily be an article on Wired or Salon, even with the swearing!

For me, this is why I'll never get too involved in a game that allows flagrant PK'ing, and combining it with a player-run economy is just a recipe for disaster, it seems.

While I admire the guy's balls, all through the latter part of his story I was thinking "Why is he doing this?" I think he might have come to the same realisation - that it was all sorta pointless - at the very end.

Having said that, he took the time and effort to write his story. So he obviously still wants his 15 minutes.


Very interesting story. Great read.

As far as this (and other things) making EVE a *bad* game, that's nonesense. Any person so motivated could pull a scam like that, in any game. Heck, there are plenty of scams out there that involve real money, not just credits.

For those of you who haven't played EVE Online (which you should do, www.mmorpg.com has a free 14 day trial for it), simply dying to a pirate is not a huge financial blow. Granted, he was hauling lots of expensive items into unsecure space but it's UNSECURE space. He knew the risks and took it (and survived). He could just as easily gotten a route that did not travel into unsecure space, but it would have taken more jumps (and thus more time).

A corporations job is to ensure a couple of things: a) traders/miners have protection when going into unsecure space, and b) a single player losing his ship(s) is not a fatal loss (most corporations give out ships to their members for free or for low fees).

EVE has a great universe and game. It's a little lonely for a newbie but once you get into an active corporation it's a very rewarding experience.

(Also note that there have bit changes to the game since the story was written, mostly for the better!)


(note: the following is written as if it were a real story)

Wow, that was quite the interesting read, I was rivted and bedazzled at the same time. Having played EVE only for a little while and never long enough to traverse into 0.5 or below sections I can't say I understand where exactly he's coming from in relation to the pirates but having had PK experiences in other games I can only imagine the pure hatred ammassed toward someone destroying a considerable amount of your time invested in a game.

Even if this story is not true, it could most certainly happen in ANY game, especially if this person went to the trouble of setting up such a huge roundabout rouse. Now imagine if the person, instead of dropping the money off on some random newbie, went and sold it on eBay and then repeated this same type of scheme with minor changes?

I'd imagine some players would be mighty ticked off, and it would definitely be a good arguement for influencing companies to be responsible and accountable for in game items. I don't know of any game except for perhaps There that would actually try and follow up with something like this.


Clay Shirky's thoughts:



JC has just posted a link to The Great Scam text on MUD-DEV. In his post he references the Black Rose logs (aka Black Rose Incident). I’d actually never read this piece of MUD lore, so for everyone else who has not been doing their homework here is the full text of the Black Rose Incident.


I just hope the massive kickback on the game forums taught the developers not to ignore the needs of people who wish to play non-violently in the face of the few killjoys with loud voices. I blame the developers and applaud Nightfreeze for what he did.

An excellent read, one of the best non-fiction short stories i have ever read.




http://singlevolunteers.org/svdc/rideshare/wwwboard/messages/5449.html complimentwhosewondered


http://wwwboard.satel.ru/catv1/messages/3135.html lakematchedvarious


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It is a great story, but, unfortunately, it has been confirmed as a hoax. Even if true, however, it is nowhere near the biggest scam pulled in EVE. That honor would go to Istavaan Shogatsu and his Guiding Hand Social Club. They spent a year infiltrating one of the largest and most powerful corporations in the game. When the time came, they implemented their plan and completely destroyed the corporation in an hour.


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It is true actually. No hoax. There are plenty of logs and even after all this time you can still find his victims palying Eve. Currency in a gaming world represents a great deal of effort. After all an internal CCP financial report on the Eve economy stated that the average player makes 100m isk a month. With just one common battleship lost to pirates, even if the ship is insured, they just robbed you of a months work. Ironicaly the high stakes of loss that spurs tooth and nail competition is why there are scammers and pirates in the first place. Stealing something that has no value is pointless, whereas this currency has the same value as real money. It represents effort.

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