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EVE Devs Dissect, Explain Massive Economic Exploit

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the this-is-how-you-deal-with-such-events dept.

Games 139

In December we discussed news that a major exploit in EVE Online had just been widely discovered after being abused by a few players for up to four years, creating thousands of real-life dollars worth of unearned in-game currency. Representatives from CCP Games assured players that the matter would be investigated and dealt with; a familiar line in such situations for other multiplayer games, and often the final official word on the matter. Yesterday, CCP completed their investigation and posted an incredibly detailed account of how the exploit worked, what they did to fix it, how it affected the game's economy, and what happened to the players who abused it. Their report ranges from descriptions of the involved algorithms to graphs of the related economic markets to theatrically swooping through the game universe nuking the malfunctioning structures. It's quite comprehensible to non-EVE-players, and Massively has summarized the report nicely. It's an excellent example of transparency and openness in dealing with a situation most companies would be anxious to sweep under the rug.

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Cool! (4, Interesting)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810585)

Makes me actually want to go and play the game. I mean, when you have a company that obviously does care, to a certain degree, you should go and help them out a bit. Only problem is, the game has a complexity level that has me reeling.

Re:Cool! (4, Insightful)

DamienNightbane (768702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810615)

The problem is that they don't care. There are so many bugs in the game that have been complained about for years and not fixed that it's no wonder that such an obvious exploit managed to survive for four years. Frankly, CCP makes SOE seem competent.

Re:Cool! (2, Insightful)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811605)

Like what? I play Eve and have not had any problems for quite a while.

Re:Cool! (2, Informative)

Loki_1929 (550940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26813691)

Let's see, of the four times I've filed petitions, one was taken care of in seconds, two within a day, and the last (which would have required some digging into logs on their part) about a week. In all cases, staff was nothing but friendly and as helpful as they could be.

I've played for several years now, and I've seen my share of bugs (as you see in any other software). Of all the bugs I've encountered myself, only two persisted very long (more than a week), and only one continues to be an intermittent problem today. The first was a bug (since quashed) which resulted in improper arrangement of items within a storage container. For some odd reason, they always wanted to occupy only a single column every time there was a session change until I resized the window for that storage container. That one lasted a couple of months. The other is a very intermittent issue that happens almost exclusively after combat wherein right-clicking for a context menu on an object in space doesn't work unless it has an icon (only man-made objects have these icons) on which to click. The problem will persist for less than a minute and then fix itself. It works fine if I right-click in the overview.

99% of the bugs I've seen have been killed within days, unlike plenty of other games (hey there Dungeon Lords). So I'm curious what all these different bugs are in the game which have been complained about for years which I've somehow never managed to encounter throughout Empire, 0.0, low-sec space, mining, ratting, trading on the open market, fighting in fleet combat, and running missions.

Re:Cool! (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26814473)

Atop the issues of CCP compliance in the BoB alliance's rise to power, this whole issue would be laughable, if it hadn't caused so many people to waste so much time.

Forums are rife with people who are "We fought these guys for months. We thought we were doing well... killboards looked good, etc, but they just kept throwing ships at us, and we could never figure out how they could do it! Now we know, what a waste".

I am amazed that CCP's ECONOMIST - they employ a Doctor - would say such a thing as "Oh, you have to realize the amount although it looks big, is only about 1% of the EVE economy" - HUH? EVE has probably in the region of 200,000 chars... up to 40,000 on at any given time, and you're saying the fact that 137 accounts (the number banned for direct involvement) having 1% of the economy is not a big amount?!?

Re:Cool! (1)

Tycho (11893) | more than 5 years ago | (#26814819)

I am amazed that CCP's ECONOMIST - they employ a Doctor - would say such a thing as "Oh, you have to realize the amount although it looks big, is only about 1% of the EVE economy" - HUH? EVE has probably in the region of 200,000 chars... up to 40,000 on at any given time, and you're saying the fact that 137 accounts (the number banned for direct involvement) having 1% of the economy is not a big amount?!?

So this is pretty much like the world as it exists today, isn't it? Yet there is serious howling against any sort of punishment, from certain groups, when the top 1% of the wealthy in real life do similar crimes. Prosecution, restitution, fines and prison time are only the results in the highest profile cases.

Re:Cool! (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 5 years ago | (#26816589)

I'll bite. Give me an example of a real life "economic crime" that has gone unpunished.

Compliance, eh? (2, Interesting)

ThePsion5 (1037256) | more than 5 years ago | (#26816383)

To say that CCP was compliant to BoB's rise in power is simply a lie if you actually stick to the facts.

FACT: A single dev illegally spawned BPOs (NON-EVE PLAYERS: Blueprints that can be used to manufacture a ship) for his personal use when he was in Band of Brothers. These Blueprints were all for ammunition (NON-EVE PLAYERS: Blueprints of this type for ammunition are the least valuable and least used) and a single Ship, the Sabre class Interdictor. No one else at CCP was involved with this.

FACT: These BPOs were then eventually donated to Band of Brothers, without anyone other than the dev in question knowing that they were created illegally

FACT: This event came to light in February of 2007

NON-EVE PLAYERS: the Sabre-class Interdictor is a destroyer-sized (small) ship designed to prevent ships within a certain radius from warping away, and while a useful ship overall, a single copy of its Blueprint is not nearly enough to have any significant impact economically or militarily. You cannot conquer systems with swarms of interdictors.

To claim that the dev in question had any real impact in BoB's conquests is unrealistic unless you subscribe to conspiracy theories with about as much evidence as the US government's orchestration of 9-11. Furthermore, if they depended on handouts to conquer and maintain space, how is it that they've been continuing to do so for the two years after these BPOs were removed from BoB's possession? Or do you simply fill that gaping plot hole with further conspiracy theories, claiming that they still somehow receive handouts from other developers?

Re:Compliance, eh? (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26817191)

Conspiracy theories? You might want to check out the now open BoB forums, where there are posts of BoB members email correspondence with GMs, "Oh, we need standings here with this NPC faction", "Please give us 3 x faction battleship blueprints", "Needs more officer spawn", "Some more freighters, please". And so on and so forth.

You're also forgetting that many in BoB command had, and boasted of using MSN as a communication medium with GMs - with several reported instances of GMs acting upon it (one in particular I'm thinking of was related to an ISD reporter in a battle). Explain to me again why other people need to submit petitions for reimbursement when they disagree with a ship loss, but yet BoB would get out of band relief and responses.

You're also forgetting GM Gandalf. "Request reimbursements, etc from GM Gandalf, he understands our plight and will arrange it"

Amusing though, as you try to spin the extent of the BoB/CCP conspiracy as being "omg, t20, BPs, we didn't know, not our fault, and meant nothing in the grand scheme". Keep at it.

Re:Compliance, eh? (1)

ThePsion5 (1037256) | more than 5 years ago | (#26817517)

Conspiracy theories? You might want to check out the now open BoB forums, where there are posts of BoB members email correspondence with GMs, "Oh, we need standings here with this NPC faction", "Please give us 3 x faction battleship blueprints", "Needs more officer spawn", "Some more freighters, please". And so on and so forth.

Originally, Band of Brothers claimed space that was not occupied by an NPC 0.0 entity, and CCP added one to the space they occupied, the result of which was that BoB no longer able to claim constellation-level sovereignty in those areas. They were reimbursed for those, multiple alliances put in similar requests. Ask a player who was in one of the major alliances and they'll tell you the same thing. Unless, of course, they're in on the conspiracy as well.

You're also forgetting GM Gandalf. "Request reimbursements, etc from GM Gandalf, he understands our plight and will arrange it"

Different GMs have different frequency of reimbursements regardless of their alliance? Clearly this is a sign of the deepest levels of corruption!

Amusing though, as you try to spin the extent of the BoB/CCP conspiracy as being "omg, t20, BPs, we didn't know, not our fault, and meant nothing in the grand scheme". Keep at it.

Ah hah, so it's already clear to you that I'm one of them. Well thankfully I'm here to inform other /. users, not to argue with conspiracy theorists.

Re:Cool! (1)

zeropointburn (975618) | more than 5 years ago | (#26816607)

His point was that although the impact to specific players and corporations was huge, the impact to the overall market affected only very specific t2 segments, and even then the effect was restrained by limiting factors involved. Consider also that the 0.7% of the market controlled by the exploiters was for the most part created out of nothing. The exploit makes it a non-zero-sum problem. They created wealth, they weren't taking it from others. Other people who were legitimately producing these materials were harmed by lower prices, but they were still profitable. Other people who used the materials to produce other items did benefit from increased supply, but they would have been profitable without them.
  The market as a whole responded well to the whole ordeal. Even now, things are more or less back to normal. Some of the materials involved are still being influenced by speculation to some degree, but the overall result is that prices and supplies are back where they should be.
  I'm in no position to discuss the impact this exploit had on alliance warfare, but do consider that a lot of capital ships were deleted as punishment.

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26815751)

Screenshot or it didnt happen. :)

Re:Cool! (2, Informative)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810623)

Before anyone posts the 'cliff of death' drawing...

It is the complexity that keep one playing the game, day after day, year after year. So think of it like this; When you first learned to ride a bike, it was a rather complex task just to stay balanced, no?

Learn to ride this bike, and you can have a lot of fun.

Re:Cool! (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810663)

That's true, but when you have trouble finding up to date help on the web and the ingame channel ignores you, what do you do? ;)

Re:Cool! (0, Troll)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810713)

Give up, because you're too stupid to use a computer.

Re:Cool! (4, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810795)

Give up, because you're too stupid to use a computer.

If only you would apply an alternative branch of this advice to your attempts at online communication. Congratulations you managed to flame someone. For the record, you could of gotten the same satisfaction thinking the thought and then you wouldn't have announce that you're a social pariah.

Re:Cool! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26810869)

pot, kettle...

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26812505)

Uhm... dude, or dudette as the case may be... You just did the same thing, only using more words, and from a different sociological level.

The other poster who stated, pot, kettle... was correct and not flame-baiting... as you were.

Just because you couch it in typically acceptable terms, doesn't mean you didn't have napalm charges rigged inside.

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811475)

You find a Noob friendly corp.

Look for Lost Soul Enterprises.

Great noob corp, there to answer all your questions!

Re:Cool! (2, Informative)

rokknroll (677118) | more than 5 years ago | (#26815807)

Use the many help tools available in game, including the EVE Wiki which is available in the ingame browser. Aurora (the female voice) also has a slew of informative tutorials available from the help menu. Eve wont hold your hand for you, if you cant take that then it's not your game. Eve is to WOW as Bash is to Windows basically, cant just click and hope, you need to read the man pages.

Re:Cool! (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26817157)

The eve forums [eve-online.com] are pretty good at providing help.

One other commenter to your post mentioned the eve wiki available through the In Game Browser (IGB). It's not my favorite, but it does have the eve-online database behind it. Other wikis include www.eve-wiki.net [eve-wiki.net] (my favorite), as well as one run through wikia (eve.wikia.com [slashdot.org] ). Each of these provides links to yet more eve resource sites.

The advantage of the wikis, of course, is that when you find your answer through other means, you can add that information to the wiki for the next poor lost soul looking for help.

Re:Cool! (0, Troll)

paulhar (652995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810771)

The mightly EVE cliff... [winterblink.com] And of course don't forget the YouTube EVE training video. [youtube.com]

Re:Cool! (4, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810823)

OK, this just makes me want to play it more.
If I learned to play Dwarf Fortress I can learn to play EVE.

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26810917)

You will never conquer Battle Toads, though !

EVE has WICKED Tutorials! very easy to learn (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26815737)

The tutorials are the best part about this extremely complex game. :)

CCP has done an excellent job and I enjoyed every minute I _USED_ to spend playing the game.

Moving forward in life and accomplishing RL goals is infinitely more challenging, when you achieve enlightenment.

If I couldn't get out of bed, this is a game I would definitely be playing until I died. :)

Re:Cool! (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811405)

If I play EVE Online I can travel back in time?

Re:Cool! (0, Offtopic)

paulhar (652995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26812801)

No. And I can't believe I was marked as a troll. Anybody who already plays eve will know the eve-o forums regularly have rickrolls. *sigh*

Re:Cool! (1)

Crumplecorn (904797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26813011)

You mean the eve-o rickrolls also feature a forum, right?

Re:Cool! (5, Funny)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26814231)

Learn to ride this bike, and you can have a lot of fun.

If Eve is a bike, then instead of having pedals and handlebars to control, it has complicated and unintuitive set of buttons that take a full day of tutorials to understand. Then once you get this bike, you have to ride the same trails over and over until you can get a better bike. Then once you get a better bike you ride a more challenging set of trails over and over, until the boredom is unbearable. Once you get a good enough bike to race against other bikes (or you just get sick of the trails), you find that all the veterans will always have better equipment, skills, and money then you. So only way to way to win at bike races is to get a bunch of friends, sit outside a gate, and beat the shit out of any unsuspecting bikers that come through, and then race them while they have broken legs.

Re:Cool! (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#26814725)

If Eve were a bike, it would be one without any seat. And 5,000 volts would periodically be shot through the handlebars.

That said, it's still the most wonderful online experience available short of teledildonics (and I understand the devs are adding that skill to the next expansion...)

Re:Cool! (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 5 years ago | (#26815065)

Just wait until you get Teledildonics IV. Then you can train Advanced Teledildonics, which contrary to what the name may lead you to believe, enables you to make "One Hell of a Caucasian."

Yet another example of the steep EVE learning curve.

Re:Cool! (1)

Jaeph (710098) | more than 5 years ago | (#26815443)

Nice analogy extension that's total BS beyond your opinion of Eve's treadmill (I don't think it's so bad, you do, whatever).

But competitively, if I'm in a top-level tier 1 frigate (rifter, etc) with max skills, and you are too, then we're even. It doesn't matter that you're also an accomplished miner, interceptor pilot, etc. What matters is the skills you're using now.

Even if my skills aren't quite as good as yours, I can still be within 5% or so in a variety of dimensions, having spent a lot less time training. So yeah, the noob is quite on the same plane, but it's not so totally unbalanced.

Until the day that the tier 1 small ships (frigates, cruisers) are not viable in combat this will be the case. But many people delight in taking these guys into combat - they are cheap and do the job that they need to do.

Re:Cool! (2, Insightful)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26816547)

I pretty much agree with everything you said. The problem is that Eve is that, since "dying" is punished severely (at least, compared to other games), PVP battles are rarely fair matches. If you have a decked out frigate and you run into the interceptor pilot who is in similarly fit rifter, he will run away and come back with an interceptor. Isn't one of the main rules of PVP in Eve "Never get into a fight that you aren't guaranteed to win?" Since many players follow this rule pretty well, the majority of your PVP in Eve is lopsided. This is what I mostly experienced when I did group PVP in RMR. I resubscribed to Eve last year to see if the faction warfare changed this. At that point of time, I found that it did not. If you like Eve, good for you. I just found the gameplay to extremely repetitive (even for an MMO), and slow.

Re:Cool! (2, Insightful)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#26817539)

How is it BS? You run boring missions over and over until you can run higher level boring missions that give more ISK and require a more powerful ship with more skills. Until you finally get to the top and decided to PvP. Then you get destroyed unless you outnumber people. Most of which is just sitting at gates and killing poor people who don't have a chance. That pretty much sums up Eve. Oh...devs cheat occasionally and they leave in bugs for years so their friends can take advantage of them. Miss anything? :P

I am exaggerating a bit, but that is essentially Eve. They make you log in to change your skills rather than actually letting you queue them...which is dumb. Massive PvP happens rarely. The community on the forums is harsh and rude. And the only time it makes the news is when someone gets massively screwed over, horrible long-term bugs, and dev cheating (and not getting fired over it).

It is a game that we all really want to love...a lot of potential. But watch the zero punctuation review...its like that. They somehow made a space MMO where you blow shit up as exciting as an excel spread sheet.

Re:Cool! (1)

rokknroll (677118) | more than 5 years ago | (#26815899)

or....not. To extend the analogy, eve would be downhill racing, flatland BMX, or even just dirt riding. Achievable results with time that lead to satisfaction. Is it just me that doesnt expect/want everything on a plate, with no learning curve involved? And , yes, get off my lawn young whippersnappers, there is a satisfaction to applying yourself to something until you understand it. Used to be known as grokking. Dunno if the kids(sic) these days could be arsed even googling that. Off to collect my bus-pass brb.

Re:Cool! (3, Insightful)

ThePsion5 (1037256) | more than 5 years ago | (#26816763)

Going by this analogy, WoW would be a Tricycle. It's a comfy, brightly-colored tricycle with a cute little horn.

There's only one trail to ride, and it's in a large circular hallway with pretty wallpaper. Every hundred laps they change the wallpaper to something else pretty.

Eventually they run out of wallpaper to show you, so instead they let you improve your tricycle! Every couple of dozen laps they give you a new streamer, or a thimble of paint, or a sparkly sticker for you to put on your tricycle.

Not challenging enough? Well if you want the best stickers, paint, and streamers, you can join a group of twenty other people and ride together! Each of you has to ride a specific way and if someone isn't good enough no one gets anything. After a couple hours of riding like this, there's a small chance that one of you will get another sticker. Now, get ready to do the same thing your years and years and then you'll have all the best stickers you can have!

Then you realize that you've been riding a tricycle over the same course a hundred thousand times.

Re:Cool! (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#26817285)

Complexity doesn't keep people playing. Fun does.

Re:Cool! (4, Funny)

NightRain (144349) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810627)

Only problem is, the game has a complexity level that has me reeling.

That's not "a problem". That's what makes the game worth playing :)

Not-So-Cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26814713)

It should be noted that playing EVE is like playing Axis and Allies on a galactic scale, more rules and complications than you may ever care to learn. Now this does not make it a bad game, Axis and Allies was good too. But it is a lifestyle more than a hobby. People will say but there are huge battles of epic proportions that look so good on the graphics engine; you could just as easily rent Battle Star Galactica, because you will have the same amount of control of the outcome of that battle.

There is also the fact that EVE has been going on so long that for you to advance in the game you must play time-wise, not skill-wise. For this reason you will never catch those who started even 1 year before you. It could be easily compared to climbing a ladder, you cannot pass someone on this ladder provide you both play the same amount of time.

To summarize, not a 'bad' game. But more of a lifestyle and less of a game.

To qoute ZP- "I already have a life, I don't need to pay you to have another..."

Re:Not-So-Cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26816213)

Quoting ZP is akin to calling IE "the internet" round these parts....

Re:Cool! (1)

Alari (181784) | more than 5 years ago | (#26816237)

I dare you to play Starquest. =)

Get ready to Ctrl-Alt-Shift Double Right Click!

Re:Cool! (1)

ramul (1103299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810651)

its the freedom and variety that makes this look like such a good mmorpg. i felt the same way about ultima online..unfortunately i have played neither.

can anyone tell us what eve online is like?

Re:Cool! (4, Informative)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810789)

EVE is a large, single universe. It's adversarial at almost every level, and ... only the most trivial things can be done solo.
The market is entirely player driven - barring a few very limited exceptions, everything there is player made and traded.
What it's not, is it's not a PvE experience - they're looking at improving the PvE content in March, but as it is right now, if you want to go 'compete with the system' then ... well, frankly EVE just isn't particularly deep in that part of gameplay.
What EVE is is a massively multiplayer PvP game. It's got a lot of 'strategy game' type elements - whilst you fly your own ship, and don't control much else, there's very definitely supply lines, logistics, intelligence, espionage, diplomacy, tactics, unit experience and morale. You don't necessarily get to be 'commander' but the really good corps and alliances are those with strong and effective leadership teams, at every level, but only when supported by competent and intelligent pilots.
It's very open ended - you don't get told to 'go do this quest' or 'go level up' - this doesn't suit everyone, but once you grasp that it's just a case of 'go and do something you find interesting/fun/profitable'... well, that's the start of a giant space playground experience. I've been playing for ... 4, 5 years now, and I'm still not bored with it.

Re:Cool! (1)

Crumplecorn (904797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810997)

only the most trivial things can be done solo

Speak for yourself. Anything but solo is easy mode, tbh.

Re:Cool! (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 5 years ago | (#26812965)

Don't forget that the EVE universe is the ultimate paradise when it comes to "might makes right". My entire corp is based on making fellow players face the consequences of what they say and do. Friends get help, advice and defence, and those who choose to act like asses...well, let's just say explosions are often involved.

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26810801)

"I want to name her Dottie after my wife . . . she is a vicious life-sucking (woman) from which there is no escape." - Carl, Armageddon

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26810889)

Join SniggWaffe ( www.pandemic-legion.com ), they will take you in and teach you the ropes. Best of all, they're the training corp for the alliance that are practically the best alliance out there right now. "Pandemic Legion" - winner of 6th alliance tournament too :)

Re:Cool! (1)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811791)

They were losing real money due to that exploit. Companies usually care when that happens.

Re:Cool! (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26815811)

They don't care about plenty of other things, though. For example: eyestrain. How hard would it be to make the fonts scalable? I think the developers of EVE all use CRTs at 640x480. I have a high resolution LCD, so EVE is entirely unplayable for me.

Making the game more accessible to n00bs would also help a lot. They just keep adding complexity (or tedium) to the game to string the current lot of junkies along. They seem uninterested in simplifying the UI enough to get new people involved.

Re:Cool! (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#26817137)

It really isn't as complex as people say. If you just stay in on the tutorial until the end (it is long) then you will easily have the basics. Everything else, just read the forums a bit. Ask a question if you need to. That being said, the game really doesn't have a compelling PvE an PvP is something for the more hardcore.

Now... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26810631)

They should find and fix exploits in the real economy.

Earth-online.

Re:Now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811905)

I seem to remember something like that at the end of Fight Club.

Re:Now... (3, Insightful)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26814169)

What exploits in the real economy? This exploit was only possible because in a computer game the wealth generated was pretending to correspond to something real, but in actuality was just numbers in a centrally-controled system that can be incremented and decremented out of thin air.

</irony>

Re:Now... (1)

Tycho (11893) | more than 5 years ago | (#26814887)

As compared to the nutritional content of your average bar of gold bullion.

Re:Now... (1)

kLaNk (82409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26816891)

... wealth generated was pretending to correspond to something real, but in actuality was just numbers ... that can be incremented and decremented out of thin air.

Good point.

Nothing at all like the securities market. :)

Re:Now... (1)

chrisG23 (812077) | more than 5 years ago | (#26817733)

What exploits in the real economy? This exploit was only possible because in a computer game the wealth generated was pretending to correspond to something real, but in actuality was just numbers in a centrally-controled system that can be incremented and decremented out of thin air.

</irony>

In the real world, wealth is generated out of nothing on a regular basis. This is called the fractional reserve system of banking. In the United States it is set up like this. A person or people start a bank. Lets say they have $1 million to put into it. By the rules of the United States Fractional reserve system, they are legally allowed to lend $9 million dollars out to borrowers. In the U.S the ratio is set at 9:1, different countries using the Fractional Reserve system have different rates. $1 million just became $9 million. Now most of the time paper currency is not given out, it becomes a number in a book or computer. If all the borrowers want cash instead of virtual credit in a book or computer, the bank will be able to get $9 million dollars worth of paper currency from the Federal Reserve, to avoid panics and things. This is the exploit in the real economy. If people were better educated and spent less time occupying themselves with entertainment and more time considering the world around them, then I don't know what. Let's give it a try and see what happens.

They still don't get it though (-1, Troll)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810707)

Blaming your paying customers for using a feature that you provided (through choice or ineptitude) is hubris, plain and simple. Smart developers do not have an adversarial attitude towards the people that pay their salaries.

Why not just quietly fix it, smile, and move on? Ego. They're pouring massive resources into breaking the 4th wall and retconning their entire game universe for no better reason than to prove that their dicks are bigger.

Idiot savants, at best. Silly brittle man-children at worst.

Re:They still don't get it though (3, Insightful)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810729)

Really? You'd say allowing people to willfully exploit until a bug can be fixed is a good thing for a game? To incentivise your playerbase to keep 'decent' exploits hidden for as long as possible, to maximise their gains?
No, I don't think so. EVE GMs don't ban you for 'finding' an exploit. They're banning people for blatantly abusing said exploit. Sure, exploits 'shouldn't exist' but they do, and they always will.

Re:They still don't get it though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26810835)

How is the player to know whether it's a feature or a bug?

Upon discovering an "exploit", there's no reason for players to assume it is a bug. They've just found a new way to make in-game money more easily, by using the game code (effectively its set of rules) in a new way. Why should it be up to the players to somehow figure out whether their actions are compliant with the game's design document?

Re:They still don't get it though (4, Insightful)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810919)

Let's say you rent a safety-deposit box, and use it normally for a few months. Then you cancel it and... through some weird oversight they forget to take back the key and access.

So the day after, you take a look in the safety-deposit box, and find it stacked full of money. You go to report that the situation.

However, the guy you're talking to is one of the spanish janitors they got working there, and he doesn't really understand what you're talking about. He's not a banker, he's just there to clean the floor.

So what do you do? You take the money, and return the next day. Oh my, there's even MORE money in there. And you kinda realize the bank is using that box for storage, so you're not really stealing it from other people using the bank. And as long as you don't go strolling out of the bank with bundles of money sticking out of your pockets, they'll have a hard time catching you.

I guess you could be stupid enough to think the magic money is clean. And the close friends you told about the safety-deposit boxes, they're also all that stupid.

The exploit was pretty much the equivalent of the above.

Re:They still don't get it though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811055)

GP here. Fair enough.

Still, two remarks:

* You're right, in this situation it's fairly clear-cut and obvious that this was a bug. I was talking in a more general sense. The policy in MMOs seems to be ban first, ask questions later, which seems silly. (I'm not sure about Eve specifically.)

* In situations like your example, banks tend to give the customer the benefit of the doubt. They'd rather spend time and money to prevent similar fraud from happening in the future, than to sue people for damages and to blacklist them as a customer (i.e. to ban them). (In some cases they will go after fraudeurs though, so please don't take this as advice of any kind.) (And yes, I realise that the EVE guys are effectively doing both.)

Re:They still don't get it though (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811375)

What fucking bank do you do business at? Contrary to what you learned playing Monopoly there is no such thing as a "bank error in your favor".

Re:They still don't get it though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811557)

I actually used to work at a bank, that's why I know this.

No I won't tell you which one.

Re:They still don't get it though (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#26812595)

What fucking bank do you do business at? Contrary to what you learned playing Monopoly there is no such thing as a "bank error in your favor".

I can think of two examples of exactly that. But then maybe banks where you live are perfect...

His point was exactly that the 'bank' would catch you and get its money back anyway.

Re:They still don't get it though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26813461)

"Bank error in your favor" seems awfully far-fetched. The few widely publicised cases of "bank error in your favor" I recall here in the U.S. involve banks accidentally depositing largish sums of money (several 100 K) in the wrong accounts. The people whose accounts the funds ended up in chose to shut up about it and spend the money even though it wasn't rightly theirs. When the banks worked out the mistakes the people who'd taken advantage of the errors didn't end up benefiting too much. Especially in the cases where criminal charges were filed. Saying that you thought the money was a "gift from God" doesn't really cut the mustard when you're brought up on charges.

Re:They still don't get it though (1)

kLaNk (82409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26816995)

What fucking bank do you do business at? Contrary to what you learned playing Monopoly there is no such thing as a "bank error in your favor".

Year ago or so there was a fradulent paypal charge put through on my account which resulted in $4,500 being removed from my account. My bank floated me $45,000 (instead of the correct $4,500 amount) while the fraud was being investigated.

While the error was corrected, it was still a "bank error in my favor".

Re:They still don't get it though (1)

discord5 (798235) | more than 5 years ago | (#26817441)

the guy you're talking to is one of the spanish janitors they got working there

"I know noooothing. I am from Barhelona"

Yeah, I'd give up after that too.

Re:They still don't get it though (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26814917)

You'd say allowing people to willfully exploit until a bug can be fixed is a good thing for a game?

You must be from the Remedial Comprehension class. That's exactly what I'm saying. It. Is. A. Game.

To incentivise your playerbase to keep 'decent' exploits hidden for as long as possible, to maximise their gains?

Unlike what happened here?

Is "adversarial" too long a word for you?

Re:They still don't get it though (5, Insightful)

Olix (812847) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810761)

Internet Spaceships are SERIOUS BUSINESS for a lot of the people in EVE, who tend to be much more in to the game than players of other MMOs. If the Devs didn't come down hard on this, the forums would be in open revolt.

Note how, at the end of the article, they are careful to inform us that no Devs were involved in carrying out the exploit. The last time a big story like this broke, it was to do with a Dev cheating, and the players were in uproar.

Eve is all about breaking the 4th wall. Hell, CCP employ a real, Phd-equipped economist to analyse their game, and provide market analysis every few months. The spy scene in Eve is quite famous too - most of that is carried out through mechanics outside of the game. Eve is not WoW, the userbase demand a completely different treatment of bugs such as this, that could potentially effect the balance of in-game politics.

Re:They still don't get it though (4, Informative)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810831)

EVE has a single universe, and a notable penalty for failure. Those two things mean that 'something like this' can have far reaching consequences across the universe and gamedynamics. It's not really like someone item duping on a PvE server, where ... well, actually that guy over there cheating doesn't have much impact on your game. The magnitude of this exploit is such that alliances can rise and fall with the amount of cash in question - and when an alliance falls, there's another player on the receiving end of the sackbeating.
To use an analogy, no one really cares if you've got god mode on in single player Doom. Maybe you find that more amusing, but no one really cares. Face off on someone in a deathmatch though, the fact that they're invulnerable and you're not ... well, takes a lot of fun out of the game.
And yes, they're quite careful about the devs thing, because of that scandal. If they _hadn't_ mentioned it, then the question would have been asked. From what I've seen over the last ... year or more ... internal affairs is scrupulous about it, because the vast majority of CCP employees are as much EVE addicts as the player base.

Re:They still don't get it though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26810937)

To use an analogy, no one really cares if you've got god mode on in single player Doom.

What does Doom have to do with cars?

Re:They still don't get it though (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 5 years ago | (#26813119)

What does Doom have to do with cars?

When your mother gets into the drivers side.

YOU miss the whole point though...... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811975)

EVE provides a realistic, persistent world that is NOT totally controlled by the people that programmed it.

Game events depend on the players in many more ways than a simple MMO like WoW. (Not that WoW is simple but in comparison to EVE it plays like a kid's game in the simplistic play.)

It's more like the difference between driving an R/C car and an airplane. The Car (WoW) is more 2D in the gameplay. You're restricted to forward, back, left, right. All the characters pretty much play the same. With EVE, the sheer complexity of the skills and economic systems makes the gameplay extremely rich and absorbing.

In fact, that's the downside to EVE. It, like all MMO's becomes a timesink of immense proportions.

One of the best features is the fact that dying can bring with it immense setbacks, wiping out months/years of work and finances. That's an ever present edge that most all other MMO's lack. Keeps you glued to your seat during firefights. :)

As for the complexity? The game has one of the best tutorials and new-game experience of any game I've ever played. They know it's complicated (but then so is life) so CCP has gone to great lengths to make it EASY to learn how to play. It takes time and talent to play well. :)

Smallest violin in the world playing just for you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26817417)

"If the Devs didn't come down hard on this, the forums would be in open revolt."

LOL at players revolting in forums. Hopefully they don't wet their panties as they type furiously into the keyboard at you.

Re:They still don't get it though (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#26817687)

If they could only find someone with a PhD in making games fun...

Re:They still don't get it though (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26810895)

Looks to me like there are a fair few more than 134 people who are decidedly pissed off that the exploit occured. I suspect that if they'd let it go on then they would have, like in RL, skewed the market and caused a crash. Then they would have lost a lot of dedicated players, I would think.

Re:They still don't get it though (1)

DarkAce911 (245282) | more than 5 years ago | (#26812917)

I like the part where they took away someone's Titan. That's got to be a great feeling when you find out you have been banned.

Re:They still don't get it though (4, Informative)

^BR (37824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811315)

Smart developers do not have an adversarial attitude towards the people that pay their salaries.

Who pays their salary more? The odd 150 cheaters or the 150k non cheaters expecting the cheats to be banned? They'd lose more customers if people got the idea than cheating wasn't kept in check than they lost with that round of bans.

EVE Economy fixed, how about the real world? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811347)

Profits based on this exploit were taken back and the people responsible will never be a problem again. Why is this not being applied to the people on Wall Street who gave fraudulently high ratings to securities?

Re:EVE Economy fixed, how about the real world? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811569)

Because in EVE, the cheaters don't control the gameworld.

Re:EVE Economy fixed, how about the real world? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26811887)

Well, not since GoonFleet dissolved BoB.

Re:EVE Economy fixed, how about the real world? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26812117)

because they pay off all the right people?

Real fast summary (5, Informative)

arkham6 (24514) | more than 5 years ago | (#26811965)

There was a bug in the way items were produced, making free items.

The economy reacted accordingly by decreasing the market cost for these items.

Items that need these free items were also accordingly cheaper.

When discovered, the costs of the free items and the items requiring them shot up due to market speculation and decreased supply.

The economy in general will have some bumps, but will eventually recover.

The perpetrators have been shot.

RTFA you POS (5, Informative)

ghmh (73679) | more than 5 years ago | (#26812053)

If anyone is wondering what POS is short for, it's "Player Owned Station".

Personally I think the article reads a lot better if you instead use "Piece Of Shit":

CCP Games explains the scenario from the ground up, detailing the POS game mechanics for those unfamiliar with the industrial side of the game, and pointing out how the POS exploit worked.

The proper order in which to evaluate a POS is essentially breadth-first traversal....

POS Reactors are complex beasts, but not quite so bad as POS Control Towers.

and so on.

Where's the HOW? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26812097)

posted an incredibly detailed account of how the exploit worked

I followed links all over the place and found lots of summaries on the response and fallout, but only very vague descriptions of HOW the exploit worked. It looks like they found a way to make reactors or run them without their fuel source (one of two kinds of moons?) Sorry I'm not an eve player so I can't just guess at these things. Can anyone summarize HOW the exploit worked? Something like having a requirement to make a reactor (have a resource), then make it, then remove/reuse the resource without the reactor being shut down / removed, then rinse n repeat?

Re:Where's the HOW? (2, Informative)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 5 years ago | (#26812383)

Something like having a requirement to make a reactor (have a resource), then make it, then remove/reuse the resource without the reactor being shut down / removed, then rinse n repeat?

Basically, yes... someone removed the resource silo link when the reactor was running, and the reactor continued to create material after the resources were cut.

Re:Where's the HOW? (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26814865)

Exactly. And due to a "logic" flaw in optimizing their code, they removed the check that the reactor was still receiving input material from the silo before generating its output. "Because why run an operation to see make sure there's an input before generating an output"! Oops.

Re:Where's the HOW? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26812419)

The second link. The devblog on the web page clearly explains how the exploit worked.

tl;dr;don't have the capability to understand english.

Set up reactor. Let it run for a few cycles. Cut the links while leaving everything online.

Re:Where's the HOW? (3, Informative)

FlameWise (84536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26812439)

Quoted from the "incredibly detailed account" linked in the OP:

Reactors always need inputs, right, guys? Right. Let's save cycles here and just not evaluate this reactor! I mean, it'll never get evaluated and thus never come online, right? ... Right?

Oops.

So, presume you've run a few cycles of your POS. Your reactor is humming along nicely. It has produced stuff this cycle. It has produced stuff last cycle. The Control Tower is running all of your stuff in the right order. Everything is fine. Until something unexpected happens.

The user cuts off all the links to the reactor.

The Control Tower, crazed by its optimization logic, careens through the production code. Wide-eyed, it reaches your reactor first. In its addled eyes, it sees only that the poor reactor has no links.

The Control Tower speaks.

"We can't stop here! This is bat country!"

Onward the Control Tower drives, speeding towards the silo at the far end of the reactor's link.

The reactor has not been evaluated. It does not know that another cycle has passed. It still remembers, fondly, grazing on inputs during its previous, un-bugged production cycle. Without this information, the silo goes ahead and adds another cycle's worth of goods to its stack.

Free stuff has entered the system.

Re:Where's the HOW? (1)

random coward (527722) | more than 5 years ago | (#26813871)

Then set it up to do this right before downtime; so its not one cycle but all the cycles that would happen during downtime, but aren't being processed because its downtime, and the server is down/rebooting.

Re:Where's the HOW? (1)

TheGeniusIsOut (1282110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26817111)

Well, downtime is usually only an hour, if not less, and the cycle is once an hour, so there would be only one cycle at downtime anyways. The only exception to this would be on a patch day, when the downtime can be 12-24 hours depending on the size of the expansion, in which case I'm sure the cycles would all be run at once when the system is back up.

Re:Where's the HOW? (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | more than 5 years ago | (#26812457)

This is a futuristic space game. Maybe they thought that POS mechanics included a reactor that ran on a perpetual engine that created matter. How were they supposed to know. I mean it apparently was in the game for 4 years!. Only the biggest corps used this to create tons of cash, probably in and out of game with their time card trading scam.

Re:Where's the HOW? (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26814895)

Well, to be fair, in the tutorial you learn about Villard Wheels, so who knows ;)

Explanation for non-EvE players: one of the tutorial missions is a series of tasks relating to obtaining a blueprint for a perpetual motion engine, procuring parts and assembling (but it has to be handed in to complete the mission, and even if not, doesn't actually do anything, but still).

Re:Where's the HOW? (2, Informative)

andersa (687550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26812661)

The starbase production contains several steps.
At the start of the run it is determined which structures are active.
When it has been determined which structures are active, the next step is for each structure to perform one work step. One structure reduces its material stack. Another structure produces an item. Yet another structure adds the item to its output stack.

The bug was in the algoritm that determines if a structure is active or not.

All structures are assumed to be chained together in a particular order. Reactors must have an input silo with materials ahead of it in the chain and an output silo behind it. Because it was assumed that a reactor would not be online if it didn't have an input silo ahead of it, it was skipped during the check if it was first in the particular chain of starbase structures.

The exploit worked because you could remove a structure from ahead of the reactor chain while it was online. The reactor therefore became first in the chain while still being online and since it was now first it would be skipped in the activation check. The reactor would therefore remain online forever, producing materials during each production run, but without consuming any reactants.

Old EVE_Online (0, Offtopic)

TheHawke (237817) | more than 5 years ago | (#26812921)

This was 3-4 years ago now. I recall when jet can mining was the cats meow and finding a niche in the regional market and making a few million ISK off of it was the Big Deal.
I'd build Medium and Large Energy Shield II's and III's and sell them in Amarr space to Caldari drivers for a fine killing.
I used to do Cattle Runs, running NPC livestock between systems and stations, buying low and selling high, turning a few million in the process, until they flipped the market upside down and turned Jita system into a Major Trade hub.

Where have I heard this before? (1)

fava (513118) | more than 5 years ago | (#26813217)

So what we have here is a situation where few individuals manage to manipulate the system and avoid the rules designed to limit this kind of activity and create enormous amount of unearned wealth right out of thin air.

Sounds just like Wall Street.

Re:Where have I heard this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26815503)

Nah, the unearned wealth on Wall Street actualy comes from other traders (or their creditors, if they borrowed the money they spent). This is more like magical commodities trading--creating pork bellies out of thin air because your butcher somehow didn't notice you've run out of hogs.

Give me a break... (1, Insightful)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26814455)

It's an excellent example of transparency and openness in dealing with a situation most companies would be anxious to sweep under the rug.

Yeah, like CCP has never been guilty of sweeping things under the rug.

What really happened. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26814689)

I have read the source article on what the bug was and read several "summary" attempts and all the summaries are lacking.

I know this does not have a shot at getting read, but whatever.

What Happened
--------------
Some people figured out how to make their space stations produce free resources.

How they did it
----------------
Space stations take some raw inputs, spend "time" processing, and produce valuable outputs. Since no real work needs to be done in the "processing" stage, there were code optimizations to make processing 1000s of space stations more efficient.

Some people figured out that if they get a station running and then cut off the inputs and outputs from the "processor" at a certain time, then the outputs kept coming even though there were no inputs. The optimized code was running on cached data from the "processor" that it was creating output. You got the "processor" stuck in this mode by removing the inputs at the right time.

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