Header art by Redline XIII
In a follow-up to a story INN first reported on November 5, CCP’s renewed engagement in live events with players continues. At roughly 1800 UTC on November 5, Minmatar FW alliance Ushra’Khan (U’K) undocked a Providence-class freighter in Kahah. A Typhoon-centric fleet with a contingent of Exequror and Nestor logistics ships provided escort. Their mission: run the blockade around Kahah III. The Opposition: Amarr and Caldari Militia forces including members of Praetoria Imperialis Excubitoris (PIE), and elements of the Royal Khanid Navy, led by the Aeon-class supercarrier of Arraz Nomarya. The engagement saw the Providence destroyed despite the efforts of the Minmatar logistics pilots. The Aeon, however, warped off at this point, and the remaining Amarr loyalist forces were unable to hold the field.
While the final tally of 14.5B ISK is tiny by the standards of large nullsec engagements, the fighting was significant for a few reasons.
First, and more minorly, Ushra’Khan did not limit their violence to their FW enemies. Once the fighting began winding down, they turned their guns on the Marshal battleship flown by Oveg Drust of the DED. More notably, they even managed to kill it before CONCORD’s automatic responses kicked in and obliterated the ten pilots involved. The destruction of the CONCORD vessel was a response to “CONCORD support of war crimes in Kahah.”
More significantly, though, as many as three members of the Live Events team appear to have been involved. The NPC actors involved in events included Sa-Baron Alar Chakaid as well as Drust and Nomarya. However, three NPCs is not definitive proof of involvement from multiple members of the Events staff. The better indicator is the lack of presence of Sardar Marshal Soshan Fayez. Fayez is the Khanid officer charged with overseeing the Kahah operations for the Kingdom. This made his presence somewhat expected, if CCP responded at all. That he was not demonstrates CCP’s tendency to allow specific members of the team to work with specific characters in order to preserve voice and characterization.
Most importantly, CCP did respond. That matters because while CCP orchestrated the Kahah chemical attack, and rebellions, the U’K action was players. CCP’s personnel, either volunteer or employees, were not involved in the planning of this event whatsoever. Players did this, and CCP’s involvement marks a big shot in the arm to player attempts to revitalize low- and high-security space, and to participating in the ongoing story of EVE Online.
Behind The Scenes
INN contacted two of the Ushra’Khan players responsible to get their reactions:
Ferra Orta: “There’s not much I could have wanted more from that, everything was covered and handled really well—and accurately to the realism aspect. I had chills from the moment the Khan entered the system to the moment they left again at the end. Proudest moment in my EvE story for sure. Armast deserves a lot more of the credit than myself though in my opinion! For sure.”
Armast Darkar, the pilot of the Providence, paid for the entire operation. He purchased the freighter, its cargo, and all of the ships the rest of the U’K fleet fielded. He also supplied the staging Raitaru they used, and all of the reships U’K had waiting, just in case.
Armast Darkar: “Kudos and thank you’s to Ferra Orta, Harkon Thorson and Ushra’Khan for supporting the event. I would also like to thank CCP for their participation and their dynamic storyline in Kahah, The Discourse for their video coverage, and the Amarr militia and pro-Amarr loyalists for taking the fight on grid.
My goal with this event was to make an in-game world story as accessible to as many people as possible. A fight between the Amarr and Minmatar militias (unfortunately Villore Accords was unable to attend due to a scheduling mishap) seemed like a natural culmination of the tensions that CCP wrote about in this article.
I had anticipated it would be much easier for the Amarr to draw numbers (I mean, who doesn’t want to kill an enemy militia freighter in highsec?), so my biggest disappointment was that so few were there to oppose us. As I wasn’t expecting CCP involvement at all, and as players were messaging me out-of-character about the awkward time and their formup difficulties, I was having misgivings about the event after I saw Ushra’Khan’s numbers.
So, imagine my joy and surprise when CCP graced the event with not one but three NPC actors! I think that without the Aeon and CCP being there, the event would have likely been a flop both from an in-game battle perspective and from the controversy it was generating within the roleplay community.
As it turned out, however, I am very happy with the outcome. I wish more Amarr militia was present to participate because I had asked Ushra’Khan to remain on grid for an hour or until we were all dead. I was fully expecting to lose the entire fleet I brought to Kahah (Fifty Typhoons, sixty Exequrors, three Nestors, and some support vessels that actually all died). And in case anyone has this question–no, CCP did not ask beforehand if they could kill my freighter ( 😛 ).
I hope that everyone involved had fun!”
It wouldn’t be an INN piece if we just went on about how everything was awesome, though. Two issues come to light when looking at the events of Nov 4-5 in Kahah. First: CCP’s people are only human. They can’t be there 24/7. Given the company’s location, it’s not surprising that they were more able to get involved with an EUTZ event on a Monday than Fweddit’s action during the weekend. It’s likely they would face similar stumbling blocks getting involved in a late US or AUTZ event. While it would be nice to have devs in all time zones, that’s really not possible.
But that doesn’t have to be a game-breaker. The volunteer ISD team holds the front line on Live Events these days, not the devs, and volunteers can definitely be in all time zones. People just need to sign up and help out. Obviously, they can’t accept everyone who signs up. Still, it provides one more avenue of involvement in the game we all spend way too much time on.
The other thing that could have helped is the new AI tools. Right now, there is an NPC AI that is responsive, is adaptive, and fields legitimately dangerous fleet compositions. But it’s not everywhere. One of the places it’s not is in the hands of the Live Events staff. A pair of Khanid fleets were spawned for this confrontation, but they used the gate police-AI. That means they only attacked people with very bad Khanid standings. Otherwise, they ignored everyone who didn’t shoot at them. That impaired their performance and hampered their ability provide more challenge.
At Vegas this year, we took a look into the future of EVE. CCP asked us to imagine a game where you, the player, could call on pirate or empire support. While that game may not be quite on the horizon yet, getting the new AI tools into the hands of the Live Events team marks a big step in getting there. When CCP Larrikin first announced the Sotiyo AI at Vegas a few years ago, he did it in the context of ‘this is an application of tools we’re building’. The tools work. We’ve seen that in the way the AI adapts to what players throw at it. (That’s why you just dust off, drop four supercapitals, and just nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.) Let’s get them used.
Still, taken together, this marked a good day for EVE. Players on both sides showed up, willing to fight, and made this work—made this happen. CCP’s involvement showed a direct willingness to support player efforts, as well. It’s all a very good sign for the state of the less-hyped sections of the game, going forward. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
No, really, c’mon, CCP, Amarr Civil War to open up the New Year. You know you wanna.