Players of mahoosively complex and intricate EVE Online have been deemed by developer CCP as possibly “the most crafty in the world”.
The developer’s comments come after notorious alliance Goonswarm managed to find an exploit in the recent Inferno expansion that enabled them to walk away with approximately 5 trillion ISK.
"Regarding anger, certainly there's none on our end," Eve Online senior security administrator Sean Conover (CCP Sreegs) - former leader of Goonswarm (!) - insisted.
"We'd rather not be in a position to have to dig through all this, but it's also certainly more interesting having what may be the most crafty players in the world prying at cracks in our system in order to gain a competitive edge than adjusting spreadsheets to determine whether people are farming wolf pelts too quickly."
Alexander “The Mittani” Gianturco, formerly chairman of the player-elected Council of Stellar Management (CSM), leads the Goonswarm alliance (a collection of corporations, or guilds if you will). The player was previously subject to scrutiny from CCP after mocking a suicidal player of EVE Online.
A corporation within the Goonswarm alliance, referring to themselves as Goonswaffe, has been showing off about its recent success in exploiting the Inferno expansion. A member described the loot-grab as "a literal currency fountain very nearly without limit".
"I'm not sure I'd classify it as a theft," Sean Conover said. "It's certainly an exploit.
"Because the Loyalty Points are generated from thin air by this exploit (there's a lot of work involved so that's pretty simplified), it would be better equated to printing a currency than stealing it from someone.
"I don't believe we've ever been in this situation before," he added. "So, as far as currency manipulation is concerned, then it is by default the largest enterprise of its kind, but it is still an illegal enterprise from our perspective."
5 trillion ISK mightn’t be the exact amount: “We haven't verified the total as 5 trillion ISK," explained Johnson.
The exploit was carried out by "manipulating disparities" between two in-game currencies - ISK and Loyalty Points. If you’re not an EVE follower or player, then we’ll explain a little more: Loyalty Point are gifted as rewards by NPC factions or corporations when Faction Warfare missions (which Inferno has updated) are completed. The Loyalty Points gained can then be used to buy cheaper implants, or blueprints for special Navy ships.
There’s an ever-changing fluctuation in the conversion rates of ISK and LP, meaning the estimate of how much Goonswarrm managed to bag is hard to put a sturdy finger on. Sean Conover doubts there’s really anyone with “a real calculation” of what they managed to grab.
"We can say that the LP (Loyalty Points) value farmed was in the low single-digit billions," said Sean Conover.
A post on the EVE Online yesterday featured a graph by Conover in which he demonstrated the massive spike "Loyalty Points made in total ever" on June 10th and June 17th.
"I'm not an economist really so I don't want to speculate on what various amounts of currency might do to a market (and I doubt more than two economists in a room would agree on that either)," he explained.
"But what I can say is that the currency which was generated from this exploit will never be in the economy, so we've prevented any problems which could potentially be caused by it.
"Were this not to have been adjusted and the exploitation allowed to continue, then it is certainly a fair assessment that the LP market would have suffered a bit of a crisis."
Players who took part in the sneaky operation have had their Loyalty Points “temporarily seized” while CCP carry out an investigation out that looks at what exactly was gained. When they finish this (‘s gotta be a lengthy task) then the dev team will take away the "LP gained value in LP and items" and return the ISK that was used to carry out the operation.
"This essentially will set each of them back to the original point at which they began this activity," Johnson explained on the CCP website.
So will they be carrying out any further “punishment”?
"By policy," came Johnson, "we don't get into the business of calling out individuals who have been involved in administrative actions of any kind or their alliances.
"I can say that the five people who found and utilised this exploit will not gain from it."
Goonswaffe’s bragging about the incident described the whole affair as “a bust”, "The revamp to Faction Warfare in Inferno was the single biggest mistake CCP has ever made," said poster Ayrth.
"I'd say my perspective is the complete opposite," came lead game designer Kristoffer Touborg’s response. "The things we've done with Faction Warfare in terms of gameplay, UI etc. makes it one of the best things we've made for a long time.
"Monitoring the game, cleaning up issues and exploits is a part of daily life when you run a live product and this situation isn't "special" in that regard, it's business as usual here. That we had to close a loophole doesn't take anything away from the fact that this Faction Warfare iteration has been extremely successful and it will be even more so when we round it off in a few months.
"So yeah, completely disagree."