Jumpgate: EVE's Devs and the Friends They Keep

Joe

New member
Jul 7, 2006
981
0
0
Jumpgate: EVE's Devs and the Friends They Keep

Over the past few days, news has been trickling out about certain members of the EVE Online development team using their position to give the player corporations (guilds) they belong to an unfair advantage. The story was originally broken by a player who utilized his in-game spy network to listen in on conversations between corporation alliance leaders, looking for intelligence to sell to other alliances, but he stumbled into a controversy that ultimately got him banned from EVE and exposed what could be the most blatant case of developer misconduct in years.

We had a chance to speak with the player in question, who asked to be referenced as Kugutsumen. Kugutsumen infiltrates EVE corporation message boards - via "bribery, social engineering, etc." - for in-game currency as a hobby. In the past, he's spied on the largest alliances in the game in order to provide intelligence to other groups. During a fairly routine run, Kugutsumen uncovered a story that's been circulating the internet over the past few days, a story about cheating developers and the CSRs who tried to cover up their indiscretions.

As he was checking private messages between directors on BoB's (Band of Brothers) official forums, Kugutsumen uncovered messages from a person calling himself Lord Stone (from Reykjavik, Iceland, where CCP is based), who was applying to join Reikoku, a corporation that?s part of the BoB alliance, in March of 2005. Lord Stone's life was fairly unremarkable until March of the following year, when he was appointed to be a director in the corporation, someone near the top of the alliance. Later that year, as he was leaving the corporation for "unforseeable reasons," Lord Stone sent a fellow director a private message with a link to CCP's "Jobs" page and said, "If you're still interested in working for us, we have an opening in SysAdmin department. Send your CV to [email protected]"

Nothing too big there; it's a good thing when developers play their game, right?

Well, maybe not. A poster on GameSetWatch who claims to be part of the EVE in-game event team claims shenanigans have gone on in BoB, but reports to GMs have been quashed. "A long term 'joke' by the players is that BoB was run by senior Dev's and ISD [event team volunteers]," the poster said. "We know this too be true and that it is also a known fact that char sales reported to the gm staff were ignored when certain TaCs breaches were known to be done by these people." Recently, the alliance LV was given a heads-up by a volunteer that led to them acquiring a mothership, one of the most expensive ships in the game, ahead of everyone else participating in the event where the ship was given away

But it doesn't end there. Another member of Reikoku, an Ishos Rerajan, was quickly making his way through their ranks. He was eventually appointed the head of their capital ship fleet - ships piloted by players who've logged upwards of a year of training time. One of his duties was to monitor the progress of the pilots below him, meaning he'd have access to their account information, which is in violation of EVE's rules.

Eventually, Ishos Rerajan was exposed as a developer, and per CCP policy had to withdraw from Reikoku. However, a month before he left, he gave the corporation 10 BPOs, (Blue Print Originals). BPOs are worth billions in EVE?s in-game currency, and can be a powerful moneymaker for an alliance, as well as an easy way for them to build ships without paying outside producers. Upon discovering Ishos' status as a developer, numerous players alleged he came upon the BPOs by way of cheating.

Furthermore, in a message originally released only to in-game alliance GoonSwarm, Kugutsumen was able to uncover who Ishos Rerajan's owner was. After doing some digging, he determined the person to be Vincent "t20" P, a core EVE developer.

Think of the things you see when you're talking on your guild's message boards. Account sales, hacking programs, account sharing. Now, imagine you're key to the development process of the game you're playing. Where do your obligations lie? To the people you've been playing with for the past couple years, or the people you've been working with for even longer? It's not an easy question, but Vincent/Ishos chose to give away billions of ISK worth of BPOs to his friends and ignore their indiscretions for months.

If you were his employer, what would you do?

Earlier this week, Kugutsumen had five of his accounts banned after offering to work with CCP to help them figure out exactly what happened and what changed hands. Their reasoning was he violated the game's Terms of Service and EULA, specifically:


7. You may not violate any local, state, national or international laws or regulations. ? 16. You may not engage in any activity that increases the difficulty and/or expense of CCP in maintaining the EVE Online client, server, web site or other services for the benefit and enjoyment of all its users. ? 18. You may not communicate, post or publicize any subscriber?s personal information within the EVE Online game world or website. ? 25. We reserve the right to ban any user from the game without refund or compensation.

"My first thought was, 'Oh my wife's going to be really happy about this,'" he told me. "Of course it felt a bit weird," but Kugutsumen also has other options. Members of his spy network [http://myeve.eve-online.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=397477&page=1] have offered to transfer characters to him on new accounts if he decides to keep playing.

In public response to CCP's decision to ban him, Kugutsumen posted: "If CCP is not willing to work with the me on a serious issue like this, and rather prefer to ban my accounts and attempt to silence me, then I will have to work with the players so they know the game is rigged and know what they're paying for," and went public with his information. As it made its way to the official EVE boards, his findings sent a tidal wave through the community. Members of BoB - and BoB's enemies - began posting wildly, forcing CCP's message board moderators began auto-deleting posts with certain keywords related to Kugutsumen and his findings. Eventually, the call for action became too loud to ignore, and CCP began an internal investigation into what happened.

Meanwhile, Kugutsumen was conversing over email with Kieron, CCP's Community Manager. Kieron's concluding email read:

Please forgive me for having a hard time believing your statement about your intentions. Instead of taking your concerns to the proper channels and dealing directly with CCP, you have incited the EVE community, besmirched the reputations of a number of innocent players and developers, and much more. Your actions have done damage to this game you profess to love, damage that is going to take a long time to repair.

Until you remove all content on your site concerning these allegations, I have nothing to discuss with you. Removing said content will be the first step in proving the honesty of your intent. As I stated on the forums, CCP is investigating and further outcry will not speed the investigation along.

kieron
Community Manager
EVE Online, CCP Games

Kugutsumen acquiesced and closed his site temporarily, trying to help CCP get to the bottom of the situation.

Shortly thereafter, Kieron posted an official response [http://myeve.eve-online.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=471868], announcing a completion of their investigation:


Our goal is to provide the best possible game, gaming experience and development process possible. In light of that, we would like to address the recent allegations of CCP employee misconduct. CCP has taken these charges very seriously and since they surfaced we have launched a thorough investigation consisting of an examination of character histories ranging back to their creation as well as into any connected characters owned by the developers involved. This examination was performed by the same internal division which is also tasked with standard periodic audits of all developer and volunteer accounts. Areas of investigation include, but are not limited to: messaging history, financial and transactional history, combat and corporation logs, item and cash transfers and IP logs.

As for the allegations themselves, they consist of two parts. The first part involved a case that happened seven months ago when a CCP employee?s identity became public knowledge within his corporation. Per company policy, the incident was investigated and actions taken where appropriate, including the removal of characters whose identities were compromised.

The second part of the accusations stem from a leak of information pertaining to an in-game event arc. Due to the amount of time that has passed since the planning and execution of the event arc, we have not been able to confirm nor deny the veracity of these allegations.

In both cases, these accusations were recently brought forward when a player revealed the identity of numerous CCP employee characters. Since these play characters are known to belong to CCP employees, they will be removed from the game. Many of them have been around since the creation of EVE and it is most unfortunate that these developers are now forced to end their relationships with their in-game friends, but that is our policy when the anonymity of staff members has been compromised.

Last summer, CCP implemented stricter monitoring procedures and audits on all CCP employees? EVE accounts. We are confident that our rigid procedures and protocol will prevent any misconduct or, at least, allow us to quickly discover it, should such an unfortunate scenario arise.

As the community knows well, we at CCP enjoy not only playing EVE Online, but improving EVE and interacting with our playerbase. We feel EVE benefits from the developers playing EVE as any other members of the community do, and to impose artificial limitations -- such as no access to Tranquility or special flagging on a developer?s player character -- would greatly hinder the development of EVE.

CCP is very passionate about EVE Online and is committed to its continued growth. We hope that this statement will put this issue behind us once and for all and allow us to continue moving forward with the support of our community.

Which boils down to: "We couldn't prove it using our logging programs, but we deleted the characters we loved so much anyway. Hope you're happy." Understandably, a lot of players were still livid, and were expecting at least one head to roll, but their dissent has been heavily moderated. A archived original [http://graham.elitistjerks.com/bobsigzz3.jpg], it's easy to see CCP is still trying to keep a lid on things.

When we contacted CCP for more yesterday, they said, "CCP feels it is important for our community to hear from us directly and firsthand via our official website regarding the recent issues related to EVE Online. Please refer to http://www.eve-online.com for more information.?
However, just minutes ago from the time of this writing, CCP developer Vincent "t20" P wrote a a blog post admitting to his misconduct [http://myeve.eve-online.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=424] and apologizing for his actions:
Sadly enough, the allegation regarding unlawfully obtained blueprints are, in my case, true. I?m here, laying out the facts of what happened in June 2006 so this whole issue -- which jeopardized my colleagues, my company and our community -- can be put behind us, I hope for the better.

The blueprints in question will be returned to CCP and reintroduced through a new raffle in the future.

...

Regrettably, my actions inevitably led to a shadow of suspicion being cast on a number of my co-workers, as well as Reikoku and Band of Brothers. I wish to make it clear that I acted alone and my co-workers and corp/alliance mates have been cleared of any alleged wrongdoing.

As much as this is a confession it is also a request for your forgiveness for events of which I?m truly sorry.

And Hilmar, CEO of CCP, made a blog post about updated company policy [http://myeve.eve-online.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=423]. Here's a partial excerpt:
A pivotal case was uncovered last summer during a routine investigation of developer accounts. Unfortunately CCP did not act with the same decisive consistency we have used on previous occasions. Those left at the helm chose to react cautiously, as sometimes is appropriate under these circumstances, leading to more leniency and understanding than we are used to in these matters. Upon review I personally would have chosen to act differently, but what's done is done. Difficult decisions always have to be made, and we cannot always second guess how these would appear if, in part, they are revealed to outside parties who do not have the same information to base their choices on.

This particular case, involving a single developer, underlined where improvements needed to be made and we have since focused our efforts on reinforcing rules and processes so that consistent ruling is assured. As of the beginning of January this year, we have been building up a special institution within our company similar to the Internal Affairs divisions of law enforcement agencies. For this team, we have assembled the most ardent hardliners in our ranks. They all fully understand the enormity of what they have accepted to do and we are certain that they will be able to shoulder this responsibility.

To sum up, t20 has admitted to cheating, but as of February 9 has not been terminated for his actions.

But for now, the world turns, and EVE will survive with fewer developers in BoB, though their jobs are presumably safe. But the damage to CCP's credibility may be felt for years to come.


We currently have questions out to CCP and a leader from GoonSwarm, the largest alliance in EVE. As they come in, we'll update immediately.

JR Sutich and Shannon Drake contributed to this article.



Permalink
 
Feb 9, 2007
4
0
0
Joe said:
We had a chance to speak with the player in question, who asked to be referenced as Kugutsumen. Kugutsumen infiltrates EVE corporation message boards - via "bribery, social engineering, etc." - for in-game currency as a hobby.
That's very, very inaccurate. Kugutsumen is a relatively famous (in such circles) hacker, who has in the past been responsible for hacking the FBI and running them up bills of >$250,000. He's French, but ran away to Indonesia to avoid hacking laws.

He isn't bribing his way into those forums. Very far from it. If he was bribing, he wouldn't have had his accounts banned.
 
Nov 18, 2006
12
0
0
hippoking, do you have evidence to back your claim that their statement is inaccurate?
Are you saying he hacked his way into the corporate forums?

You can access other accounts (and corporate forums) without hacking. Just ask 100 people for their passwords and you will probably get at least 1 or 2 if they think they can trust you or if you offer them enough cash. Therefore, social engineering and bribery.

Personally, I don't even give my passwords to my best friends. They have no reason to ask for them either.
 

Virgil

#virgil { display:none; }
Legacy
Nov 17, 2020
1,507
0
1
hippoking said:
That's very, very inaccurate. ...
I think the glossing over the details of how the information was obtained was intentional, as the focus should probably be on the actions and consequences of these events instead of targeting the messenger. Unless, of course, the information is incorrect, but all indications seem to lean otherwise, including the official statements from CCP.
 

Joe

New member
Jul 7, 2006
981
0
0
Just a heads up. A slashdot poster says people are getting banned for linking the story in-game, so be careful if you do.
 
Feb 9, 2007
4
0
0
Ammo: he has made no secret of this fact. Him brazenly admitting it on both his own, and the official Eve-Online forums is why he's banned in the first place...
 

Bongo Bill

New member
Jul 13, 2006
584
0
0
So, uh, let me see if I have the whole picture here.

An EVE player who can get to places he's not supposed to be found evidence suggesting that one or more employees of the developer used their employee status to cheat with their EVE accounts, correct? Then, in the ensuing mayhem, a number of accounts were identified as belonging to employees? One employee confessed to this and apologized publicly, but claims that no other employees have done any such thing, and the developer makes similar claims? Oh, and the developer is doing its damnedest to shut up everyone who tries to talk about it before the whole situation is understood?

Aside from the shutting-everybody-up part, I fail to see why this is such a major incident. After all, the person who did it confessed and was reprimanded accordingly, right?
 

LxDarko

New member
Nov 11, 2006
43
0
0
Bongo Bill said:
Aside from the shutting-everybody-up part, I fail to see why this is such a major incident. After all, the person who did it confessed and was reprimanded accordingly, right?
The reason it is such a big deal is because MMOs take alot of time to play. In most MMOs it can easily take over 100 hours just to make any kind of headway to get to the point where you character is of high enough level to do anything fun. And with people cheating or taking a shortcut to that fun in a way invalidates even playing the game, because while you were toiling away leveling your character someone else just used their status in real life to get some of the best items in the game.

Also MMOs aren't just a game they often become a time commitment. Cheating takes away from the feeling of success players have when they reach a certain level in a MMO when they know someone else just took a shortcut and didn't have to deal with all the crap they did.
 
Feb 10, 2007
10
0
0
Joe,

I'm afraid that I must disagree, strongly, that where it came from is of no account. The fact it came from a hacker MUST make it suspect. And if some of it is true, that is no guarantee all of it has. It's a simple credability issue.

Yes, t20 should be fired, immediately. He should of been fired THEN.

But you're staking a lot of the rest on a foundation of sand. From someone whose activites are probably criminal, and deserve legal action. I don't believe you can escape the consequences of this. This is no simple whistle blowing, and I fully believe he deserves the ban.

Further, for reference, the alliance making the noise - Goonswarm - are all guilty of a major offence themselves. At one point they were using programs to change cache files to give them additional data, client side data file modifications. Why they remain in the game is a further question which should be answered.
 
Feb 10, 2007
2
0
0
Andrew Crystall said:
Further, for reference, the alliance making the noise - Goonswarm - are all guilty of a major offence themselves. At one point they were using programs to change cache files to give them additional data, client side data file modifications. Why they remain in the game is a further question which should be answered.
In fact, CCP was so bothered by the "client side data file modification" that they integrated it into the game in the latest content expansion.
 
Feb 10, 2007
10
0
0
That is an excuse. The fact remains, it was a client side hack. Period. End of story.

That CCP could not come up with a good way to defend against or detect it and had to add the functionality to the base client to ensure certain parties did not have an unfair advantage is just the end result.

Goon, you're throwing nukes in a glasshouse.
 

Echolocating

New member
Jul 13, 2006
617
0
0
I haven't played EVE, but I have the impression that the game is more than just statistics and level-grinding. From the commentary and articles on The Escapist, it seems like a game that encourages thinking outside of the box. Investing in companies, buying protection, bribing, money related fraud... all these types of things put EVE on a whole new level; a very intriguing one at that.

So now we have an admission of guilt from Vincent "t20" P (let's call him the CCP scapegoat, as I'm sure this admission is not news to the development team) and a hacker, Kugutsumen, who supposedly exposed the foul play through the only means possible for an outsider to "uncover the truth", as illegal as it might have been. CCP has been censoring all posts (or speech, if you will) and making statements in response to the overwhelming protests against them.

It'll be interesting to see how things unfold.

-----

A part of me almost believes this to be some grand viral marketing scheme (thinking outside the box). It's like CCP is playing the role of the evil and powerful dictatorship, squashing all free speech and broadcasting their propaganda to the rebelling citizens. To appease the angry masses they present a scapegoat to them, one to direct the focus away from the governing body. However, we owe this all to a man who went beyond the confines of the law to uncover the truth, an anti-hero of sorts... and for that he was given the harshest punishment possible. Rumors are now circulating that the government is punishing those who even speak of the matter.

It just seems a bit surreal. Like everyone involved is falling into a predictable role and playing it out. Anyway, my two cents on the matter. ;-)
 
Feb 10, 2007
2
0
0
Virgil said:
hippoking said:
That's very, very inaccurate. ...
I think the glossing over the details of how the information was obtained was intentional, as the focus should probably be on the actions and consequences of these events instead of targeting the messenger. Unless, of course, the information is incorrect, but all indications seem to lean otherwise, including the official statements from CCP.
Actually it is very important. Because those informations were obtained by a person who has absolutely no credibility and frankly is like they say full of bull...
For instance the part about mothership. There was a big leak from the ISD about an event arc a while ago, about half a year of work from CCP. Person responsible was permabaned. Nonetheless it had not anything to do with ill gained mothership :)

You bend the article so it suits one point of view apparently, so how does this help the focus eh?
 
Feb 10, 2007
2
0
0
One more thing...

Joe said:
Earlier this week, Kugutsumen had five of his accounts banned after offering to work with CCP to help them figure out exactly what happened and what changed hands. Their reasoning was he violated the game's Terms of Service and EULA, specifically:


7. You may not violate any local, state, national or international laws or regulations. ? 16. You may not engage in any activity that increases the difficulty and/or expense of CCP in maintaining the EVE Online client, server, web site or other services for the benefit and enjoyment of all its users. ? 18. You may not communicate, post or publicize any subscriber?s personal information within the EVE Online game world or website. ? 25. We reserve the right to ban any user from the game without refund or compensation.

"My first thought was, 'Oh my wife's going to be really happy about this,'" he told me. "Of course it felt a bit weird," but Kugutsumen also has other options. Members of his spy network [http://myeve.eve-online.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=397477&page=1] have offered to transfer characters to him on new accounts if he decides to keep playing.

Poor Kug.. he got his accounts banned. All he did was reveal corruption.

Yes and no. He did reveal corruption and I'm appalled that it happened. But he got banned because he hacked forums of numeral corporations and whole alliances, hacked not social eng. like you chose to write, hacked numerous e-mail accounts and who know what else. Severely breeched EVE EULA and TOS. If he's so righteous as you draw him, he should be the first to disable his game accounts :)
 
Feb 9, 2007
4
0
0
Virgil said:
hippoking said:
That's very, very inaccurate. ...
I think the glossing over the details of how the information was obtained was intentional, as the focus should probably be on the actions and consequences of these events instead of targeting the messenger. Unless, of course, the information is incorrect, but all indications seem to lean otherwise, including the official statements from CCP.
Whenever you start glossing over the details of a story to alter the message, you can stop pretending to be a useful or informative news source.
 

Virgil

#virgil { display:none; }
Legacy
Nov 17, 2020
1,507
0
1
kyle elyk said:
Actually it is very important. Because those informations were obtained by a person who has absolutely no credibility and frankly is like they say full of bull...
I disagree. While the original source is certainly not reliable on his own, how the information was revealed is still significantly less important than the information itself. I would feel the same way if a real criminal, in the process of a burglary, were to stumble onto corrupt cops selling confiscated drugs. At this point, with the company and developer admitting to the problems, there's little reason to consider the information suspicious. Attacking the source is simply ad hominem [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem].

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want the guy playing any game I was, and I personally believe that he should be banned if he did any of the things claimed. That doesn't change the resultant issue though.

You bend the article so it suits one point of view apparently, so how does this help the focus eh?
Well, that is what Editorial articles do. That's probably why it's posted as such (if it were simply presented as news, I might agree with you).

hippoking said:
Whenever you start glossing over the details of a story to alter the message, you can stop pretending to be a useful or informative news source.
As someone who doesn't play EVE, and someone who was not involved in this article at all, I found it to be both useful and informative even with its omissions.

Overall, this seems like another fascinating event for EVE. With developer encouragement, the players have pretty much encompassed every aspect of real-world politics - including illegal acts, bribery, and corruption of authorities. While I couldn't get into the game myself, I do admire the results, and am looking forward to seeing how this plays out.
 

Shannon Drake

New member
Jul 11, 2006
120
0
0
I don't think any of us who worked on the article think Mr. K is an angel, by any means. You can check out the Q&A with Remedial if you want to see his take on it, and we do regret we weren't able to run it when the article first hit, but time and wars kept him from us until late/early this morning.

Mr. K was willing to talk to us, and we thought the story was important enough to run, especially when CCP admitted wrongdoing. From all the information we can gather, he may have been involved with shady doings, yes, but he also uncovered very high-level corruption among the developers, brought it to the attention of the player base and CCP, and was banned and gagged for his trouble.

What seemed like the attempt at a coverup was what made this story an actual story. Whether having obtained accurate information through either hacking or the EVE-style corp spying is problematic is certainly a discussion we can have, and I think we'd all welcome it. This is not simply a black and white story of good versus evil, but that's part of what makes it so compelling. CCP admitted wrongdoing, and we thought the initial clampdown was further mishandling of the situation. Mr. K may have hacked, bribed, or otherwise hustled his way into the information, but his information was accurate. This is the kind of dilemma that, I think, only EVE could have.
 

Joshua Foiritain

New member
Feb 10, 2007
2
0
0
kyle elyk said:
Poor Kug.. he got his accounts banned.
Maybe he should have put some thought into that before he ran off hacking corp/alliance forum servers. Good riddance tbh :)

Jacob Majestic said:
In fact, CCP was so bothered by the "client side data file modification" that they integrated it into the game in the latest content expansion.
Regardless of what they did later on it was announced to be an exploit. Hence GoonSwarm (as well as several other major alliances in one way or another) are guilty of cheating as well. They can pretend to be on the moral high ground all they want, even their executor and one of his directors violated the EULA by sharing accounts to refuel posses with the carrier.
 

aural [deprecated]

New member
Feb 10, 2007
1
0
0
If CCP has any sense at all dev characters on the live server will be deleted and devs will henceforth be banished to playing on the test server only.

This scandal is preposterous and has damaged CCP, Eve and BoB (with good reason) beyond imagination.
 
Feb 10, 2007
1
0
0
I've been playing EVE for over 2 years so I'm qualified to comment on this on-going-shit. There is no way CCP or it's fanboys can spin this crap it's cheating and dishonesty plain and simple! Hippoking's allegation sounds crazy unless he can provide evidence to back those claims up, please provide us with credible sources to those claims otherwise it's just wild speculation. But the fact of the matter is CCP's clean image of openness and honesty is in tatters it might just be a game but it's still cheating.

I just wonder who it was in CCP that told t20 to put his head in the meat grinder I bet (but can't prove) there is a load more we are not getting told and this will full the speculation. All this has just soured my feelings towards CCP and EVE, sick.