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


Tiempo calendar: Paul Rodriguez, Haunted UTEP Tour, Ghost Stories by Moonlight
Today, Oct. 24

Paul Rodriguez: The popular actor and comedian will perform at 8 p.m. Oct. 24-25 at the El Paso Comic Strip Comedy Club, 1201 Airway. $27.50. 779-5233; ticket web.com; laff2nite.com.

'Flashdance: The Musical' at Plaza Theatre, features Socorro High School grad
Andree Harper. Gladys Ferrari. Ana Guerrero Moncada. Monica Flores. Names of famous Broadway dancers? No, they're El Paso teachers, people who inspired Eduardo Carrillo how to dance, how to perform, how to take his talent to the next level.
Stage review: UTEP Dinner Theatre's 'Footloose' offers toe-tapping good time
It's quite common for original theatrical musicals to be turned into films. However, turning successful movies into musicals is the latest trend.
Restaurant review: Hillside Coffee & Donut Co. serves up delectable donuts, delicious drinks
There is a science to how the baristas at Hillside Coffee & Donut Co. prepare its variety of coffee. And if you have a few minutes, they'll guide you through the entire process.
Movie capsules: Dear White People, John Wick, Ouija
Compiled from El Paso Times staff and wire reports. Listings are subject to change.
Things to do in El Paso: Nightspot listings

Ardovino's Desert Crossing: 1 Ardovino Drive, Sunland Park, N.M. 575-589-0653, ext. 3. Breezy Cade, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25.

Coming up: David Sedaris, Psychedelic Furs, Blue Oyster Cult,

Blue Oyster Cult: The popular 1970s-80s rock band, best known for "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," "Godzilla" and "Burnin' for You," will perform at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino, Mescalero, N.M., at 8 p.m. Oct. 31. $25; $70. Ticketmaster outlets, 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com, innofthemountaingods.com.

Stay in tune: Shakespeare on the Rocks Festival returns, Border Legends concert to take over the El Maida Shrine
The Shakespeare on the Rocks Theater Festival will celebrate its 26th season at the Chamizal National Memorial today through Nov. 2.
Dining out: Places to eat in El Paso

Amigos Restaurant: 2000 Montana, $$, 533-0155. Tasty food and great specials.

Music legend Engelbert Humperdinck to perform in El Paso
Music legend Engelbert Humperdinck is coming to El Paso.
Review: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group Heart mesmerizes El Paso
It was a concert to remember.
Disney on Ice 'Frozen' coming to El Paso (update)
Are you a huge fan of the movie "Frozen"?
FX cancels El Paso-Juárez drama 'The Bridge'
Officials with the FX cable network announced Tuesday they will not bring back the El Paso-Juárez-based series "The Bridge" for a third season.
›› Photos: On the set of FX's show 'The Bridge'
Cost of making 'Hobbit' movies up to $745 million
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - The movie trilogy "The Hobbit" has so far cost nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars to make as the epic continues to set new benchmarks for studio spending.
San Francisco radio stations ban hit song 'Royals'
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The popular song "Royals" by New Zealand artist Lorde is getting caught up in the fervor over the upcoming World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals.

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!
advertisement
advertisement