Perimeter Keepstar Attack: An Evolution of Playstyle

2020-08-08

Art By Redline XIII

The Perimeter Keepstar will be attacked at 19:00 UTC on August 10. The attackers will primarily fly T1 Destroyers, with plans to reship when necessary from a stash of 20,000 ships kept nearby. The Keepstar in question was anchored in late 2018 by Moose Militia, before being transferred to the Tranquility Trading Corporation. Ownership today is split between Test Alliance Please Ignore, Pandemic Horde and Goonswarm, who share its profits, under the Tranquility Trading Consortium.

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.”

Going All In

Halescott is an individual who believes EVE players have become risk averse, and he chalks this up to how video games have changed. “I grew up playing video game consoles which didn’t have the ability to save your location. If you turned the console off, you lost all your progress and had to restart from the beginning (and) you also had a limited amount of lives, and if you lost them all, you had to start from the beginning.” He said playing those games was “punishing” for a kid growing up.

“Me and my friends had to learn to deal with that, and I believe many EVE players in their early 30’s or older can understand what I’m talking about. As video games have developed over time, they have become easier with more save points, or even save the game whenever, or wherever you are.” Conversely, he said, “the first Resident Evil game had items which were ‘used up’ when you saved the game, so you couldn’t save it as often as you would like, and this created an element of risk to the game, so that your heart actually started pounding because some crazy monster just unexpectedly jumped through the window to get you. It wasn’t really the ‘monster’ that scared you, but more the fact you could lose hours of hard work figuring the game out to get back to where you just died.”

When it comes to younger EVE players, Halescott said, people understand that there is no ‘save point,’ and that creates a risk that some players don’t want to take. “They don’t want to get involved with things which may come back to bite them on the ass later, even if there is no risk to them. They are far more comfortable with the status quo, and would rather mine, rat, do missions, and stay out of anything potentially ‘political’ in game, or even content creating, especially if there are other players on the other side who may lose ships and assets. They simply don’t want to make enemies, who may one day come and ruin their game, and because of that, they’re not willing to ‘go all in.’ He added, “Trying to convince a brand new rookie player, who has zero ISK to his or her name, to come gank some innocent miners is next to impossible.”

The Perimeter Op

“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.”

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Comments

  • Simon Chui

    And what will happen? Crippling tidi, the frigates won’t do any damage to the keepstar, and they’ll get slaughtered by more organised fleets. I think more interesting will be who comes to defend the TTT. How much of the war is being funded by TTT money, and which side needs it more?

    August 8, 2020 at 10:59 PM
    • Nate Hunter Simon Chui

      unlikely that anyone will form an organized defense fleet for the shield. It’ll be interesting to see if they can gather the needed alpha toons to reinforce it.

      August 8, 2020 at 11:35 PM
      • Simon Chui Nate Hunter

        I think some people will come shoot the frigates just for the fun of it. That sounds more entertaining than shooting the keepstar. But I guess we’ll find out.

        August 9, 2020 at 12:44 AM
  • I appreciate his attitude overall, but yikes is that story about blanketing highsec space in alpha hauler alts and automating the intelligence gathering process cringy. What a game design facepalm.

    August 10, 2020 at 12:40 AM
  • Bkaczor

    day TTT will fall the real war will begin

    August 10, 2020 at 10:01 AM
  • WhiteHalo117

    LARP!

    August 11, 2020 at 1:19 AM
  • Digital Tectonics

    Any updates?

    August 12, 2020 at 1:54 PM