Severe Weather Center

Track severe weather in your location using our interactive radar:

An unpaid bill leads to costly video game battle

Updated: Wednesday, January 29 2014, 04:33 PM MST
An unpaid bill leads to costly video game battle story image

By: DERRIK J. LANG, AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — James Carl was asleep when the first shot was fired.

As he slumbered away in Costa Mesa, Calif., the 29-year-old banker's virtual space fleet was under siege early Monday morning in what's become the most destructive and expensive battle in the 10-year history of "EVE Online," the gargantuan online sci-fi video game.

"EVE Online" — with more than 500,000 players from around the world piloting starships, trading goods and engaging in galactic espionage — utilizes its own in-game currency, and Carl expects the damage from Monday's conflict to be the game equivalent of about $500,000 in real-world cash, based on data compiled from within the game.

The skirmish first erupted after a member of Carl's coalition missed a payment to protect an area that's been used as a staging ground for a war raging between Carl's Pandemic and N3 coalition versus CFC and Russian forces.

"Supposedly, it was set up for auto-pay, just like any other bill in real life, but either that didn't happen or the money wasn't in the wallet, and then everything just escalated out of control from there," said Carl. "The dust is still settling on that issue. Everyone is just focused right now on fighting to try to regain control of the system."

During Monday's encounter, more than 100 Titan vessels were destroyed. The megaships, which are akin to the Death Star from "Star Wars," are the largest ships in the game and are worth about $3,000 each in real-world money. The Titans also take months for gamers to build. That's months in real time: a lot of nights, weekends and days-off actually spent constructing the virtual warships.

Carl was awakened by a messaging app on his phone used by alliance members alerting him that their system B-R5RB was under attack by rivals. He wasn't scheduled to work in real life Monday, so he spent the entire day sending virtual ships into the fray. He said dozens of his alliance members took off work to join the fight, which is being waged by more than 4,000 players — and spectated by thousands more on the game streaming service Twitch.

It's an unprecedented battle unique to "EVE," which simulates a universe of more than 7,000 stars and whose virtual economy is linked to real-world money, unlike many other online role-playing games, such as "World of Warcraft" and "Lord of the Rings Online."

"I'd be lying if I said our servers weren't sweating a bit," said "EVE Online" spokesman Ned Coker of CCP Games, the Reykjavik, Iceland-based video game developer who created the online universe. "Allowing players free movement wherever they want in a game with over half a million players means for some pretty tricky technological requirements."

To compensate for thousands of starship captains battling each other online, Coker said CCP Games instituted what it calls "time dilation," which slows down the game's servers to about 10 percent of normal time, so players aren't dropped and their commands are issued in the order in which they were received. Carl said it has made for a massive but slow battle.

"In many ways it's a quintessential sci-fi experience, where thousands of people from all around the globe are waging a huge conflict that will have real repercussions on the politics, economy and social structures of a virtual universe," said Coker.

The real-world value of "EVE" currency is based on an actual exchange rate set within the game, but the primary basis for value in the game's virtual economy is the time and skill that gamers put into such concepts as the mining of minerals, the selling of goods and services, or the stealing of goods and money — just don't get caught.

However, if players want a shortcut, they can put real-world money into the game to buy "EVE" currency and equipment, as determined by the exchange rate, but the money can only be exchanged from real to virtual.

Meanwhile, Carl is optimistic his coalition will recover from the latest "EVE" upheaval.

"It looks like CFC is winning, but we're hoping now that all of our U.S. players are online, we'll turn the tide," said Carl. "Whatever happens, we'll keep going. 'EVE' is a universe full of grudges and constantly changing politics. If we were to lose, we'll rebuild. Then, we'll go back and start another war."

An unpaid bill leads to costly video game battle
comments powered by Disqus

More El Paso Entertainment

'Perfect Guy,' 'The Visit' stronger than expected
LOS ANGELES >> "The Perfect Guy" and "The Visit" sailed past modest opening weekend expectations — and budgets — locking in debuts in the mid-$20 million range thanks in part to good timing and robust female turnout.
The Chamanas: El Paso-Juárez band releases debut album
The Chamanas are catching flight. The borderland quintet, which calls itself "a metaphorical bridge between the two cities," has made big leaps toward making a name for itself.
El Paso Chopin Festival kicks off Saturday
Dr. Lucy Scarbrough knows a thing or two about renowned composer Frédéric Chopin.
Coming up: Mexican Food Cook-Off, Zedd, Jason Aldean
Mexican Food Cook-Off: The annual event is set for 4 to 11:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at Union Plaza, Downtown.
Nightspots: Things to do in El Paso
Aceitunas Beer Garden: 5200 Doniphan. 845-2277; Alumni Lounge: 2714 N. Piedras.
Tiempo calendar: Authentic Oktoberfest, Dog Swim Day
Today, Sept. 11 Authentic Oktoberfest: The second annual festival is set for Sept. 11-13 at the El Paso County Coliseum, 4100 E.
Country crooners Gary Allan, Wynonna to perform at Inn of the Mountain Gods
If you are a fan of country music, pull on your boots, tighten your best belt buckle, hop in your pickup and take a drive up to Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino in Mescalero, N.M.
Dining out: Places to eat in El Paso
Central Amigos Restaurant: 2000 Montana, $$, 533-0155. Classic Mexican food with great specials. Ardovino's Pizza: 206 Cincinnati, $$, 532-9483, ardovinospizza.
Block party gives El Pasoans one more week of summer fun
Mother of Pearl Vinyl, West El Paso's all-vinyl record shop, is getting to be known as the little record store that could.
Movie capsules: 90 Minutes in Heaven, The Visit, Meru
Compiled from El Paso Times staff and wire reports. Listings are subject to change.
Queen Elizabeth II surpasses Queen Victoria's long reign
LONDON (AP) — It was a day for the history books. But it was not in her majesty's temperament to make much of a fuss.
Los Angeles prosecutors set hearing on Diddy UCLA case
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles prosecutors have set an October meeting with a hearing officer to resolve a case over a confrontation Sean "Diddy" Combs had at the University of California, Los Angeles, in June, an official said Wednesday.
Stephen Colbert debuts on 'The Late Show'

NEW YORK (AP) — Stephen Colbert began his tenure as host of the CBS "Late Show" Tuesday with a tribute to predecessor David Letterman, a brief conversation with rival Jimmy Fallon and a surprise cameo from Comedy Central buddy Jon Stewart.

Obama to award arts medals to Sally Field, Stephen King

WASHINGTON (AP) — Actress Sally Field and author Stephen King are among luminaries set to receive a National Medal of Arts or a National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.

Boston awaits release of new Bulger movie 'Black Mass'

BOSTON (AP) — On the streets of South Boston, where the name Whitey Bulger once evoked fear, the locals have become accustomed to books and movies that try to capture the life of the notorious gangster.

Come back often for updates of TV listings and El Paso area and Las Cruces entertainment stories. KFOX14 covers entertainment, programming and other entertainment related subjects. KFOX14 is dedicated to providing the best, timely and up to date entertainment news for El Paso and Las Cruces.

KFOX14 El Paso - Live Cast Watch live broadcasts of KFOX14 News seven days a week!
KFOX14 El Paso - Live Cast Like KFOX Scoop on Facebook!