The brains behind the Keepstar attack belong to Jim Halescott, a UK-born teacher who lives in Japan and teaches first, second and third graders in English and science. He started playing EVE in 2013 and his play style has undergone several changes since then. “For the first three years, I was rather cautious and doing a lot of mining and PI stuff,” he explained. “Eventually I joined a group of people who had a camp in highsec, but lived in DP-JD4 in Providence.” That group eventually disbanded, sending Halescott back to highsec. “I stayed in highsec, mining, and eventually was ganked by CODE. and their friends. Initially I was pissed off by this, after losing a couple of Mackinaws, but I quickly came back to the game and decided to form a group to NOT actively oppose gankers (i.e. not hunt them down).”
The Dark Side
Instead of hunting them down, he dispatched scouts to the outgoing gates, creating an early-warning system for their new home in Ahkour in Tash-Murkon. “We were able to give ourselves advance warning for gankers coming in. But eventually this ‘island of safety’ became known to some botters in the area, who moved in and started mining 23/7 and sucked up all the resources.”
That’s when Halescott turned to the ‘dark side.’ He explained, “We joined the gankers to remove the bots from our territory … and I eventually quit mining to pursue other forms of gameplay and content.” Specifically, he dove into wormholes for exploration and mining. Then he saw the ‘Grand Theft Citadel’ video, which changed everything.
CCP introduced Upwell Structures in mid-2016, with the ‘Citadel’ expansion. Then, in 2017, Halescott formed a group with some friends to take advantage of the unanchoring mechanic of the new player-owned stations. “We set up a group called The Thieves Guild, which was more of a thinktank on how to make money off the back of other players. It didn’t necessarily have to do with structure theft, but we were able to manually find stuff ‘unanchoring’ and then simply monitor it for days at a time in the hopes of stealing it.” The Thieves Guild quickly gained notoriety, as structures began to disappear under the noses of their owners.
Halescott had the time for that back then. “I had a lot of time due to being in university, and pretty much studying at home, so I could monitor stuff very closely over a multitude of characters at the same time. Eventually though, after rejoining the workforce in real life, I had to adjust some of my methods to fit my limited free-time.”
The new methods took advantage of changes CCP introduced to Upwell structures. With those changes a pilot with no access to a citadel can still drop off cargo to it using the “Drop Off Cargo” function. “This allows people to drop assets into a player owned structure, even if that structure isn’t publicly accessible,” Halescott explained. Prior to CCP’s changes, a pilot could not drop off, tether, or use any services from a citadel if they didn’t have docking privileges.
Halescott decided to drop one unit of Tritanium in every structure in highsec, public AND non-public, because when the structure is ‘removed’ from space, either via a war dec or an unanchoring, a notification is sent to the owner of the asset. “This information, of course, can also be harvested from the ESI, and put into a Discord Bot,” he said. “I also created a large number of alpha accounts, with three characters each, with T1 haulers each, so when a medium structure unanchors, I just search for the system name in my database and it tells me which account and toon to login, so I am instantly in the target system.”
Halescott’s escapades certainly provided plenty of income for the Thieves Guild; “I am going to guess I made a good 800+ billion ISK in stolen goods,” but all that stolen ISK had to go somewhere. “It can’t just sit in my wallet doing nothing. So I began creating content, and competitions, or whatever I simply wanted to do.”
“I saw the war in nullsec beginning,” Halescott said, “and I decided to try and distract (the blocs) by attacking something which generates a lot of revenue for them.” He set up a Discord server and seeded social media with announcements about the operation. While he’s gotten a lot of responses, he’s also noticed something about EVE in 2020 that concerns him.
Even in big wars, Halescott sees the risk aversion. “Take the current war in nullsec as a good example. Nothing is really going on, like it used to. There are battle reports, but there’s barely any BIG fights with thousands and thousands of players, fights that almost bring the server to a halt from the lag and TIDI. And honestly, this is a big shame. Of course there are the occasional skirmishes here and there, but the large majority of the time, there’s barely any battle that escalates now into a giant shit fest, which is one of the key reasons why I came to EVE Online in the first place after seeing some of the crazy stories that the media pumped out about the game.”
Halescott set up the Perimeter op as a social experiment. “People create alpha alts with a buddy link. No training required. I provide them with a skill set for the purpose of the operation. No thinking required. I provide the war headquarters, all the ships, and replacements, free of charge. No ISK investment required. And finally, because the majority of people are using alt toons, no risk of backlash on their main accounts.”
Participating in the op, Halescott said, means there’s “nothing to lose, and everything to gain.” As for the defenders reaction? “I would absolutely love a defence fleet on the shield timer,” he said. “I’m expecting Hurricanes, but honestly I would rather be surprised, so I’m keeping an open mind.”