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The Battle of Asakai refers to a major multiplayer battle that occurred in the MMORPG EVE Online in late January 2013. The battle mainly took place between two multiplayer alliances known as TEST Alliance and Goonswarm, which involved almost 3,000 individual combatants and totaled nearly $20,000 (USD) in losses for both factions, 99.7% of which belonged to Goonswarm. Due to the scale of the battle and the escalating tension of an all out war between two of the largest factions, the battle received notable media coverage throughout the Internet.
EVE Online is an MMORPG in which players control spacecraft to trade with or battle against other players. The players can also wage warfare to control territory and form alliances. Two of the largest Alliances in the game are Goonswarm, the unofficial group for posters from the Something Awful forums formed in June 2006, and TEST Alliance, created in May 2010 and associated with a group of Redditors known as Dreddit. Likewise, both factions also lead the Cluster Fuck Coalition (CFC) and Honey Badger Coalitions (HBC) respectively, which were groups of unified alliances. Prior to the Battle of Asakai, Goonswarm and TEST Alliance were bound by an agreement not to attack either factions’ infrastructure after their alliance degraded into antagonism.
Beginning of Relations
Relations between the two factions began when the Reddit-based faction Dreddit was organized. Prior to their inception, Goonswarm had already been <a href=“http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/goonswarm-eve-online-great-war”a well established faction within the EVE Universe, and held significant power in the game. Shortly after beginning to conduct mining operations, Dreddit ships were attacked by Goonswarm members. Though they were exceedingly underpowered compared to Goonswarm, Dreddit fought back in defense. Impressed by their efforts, Goonswarm offered a truce and assisted Dreddit in gaining more power and influence in the game. Dreddit complied and begin to grow, eventually becoming the head of the TEST Alliance.
Breakdown of Relations
Dreddit and Goonswarm worked together on good terms for many years, to the point that both parties assisted each other on in-game raids and operations. According to a detailed account by Redditor LG03, Dreddit and Goonswarms biggest accomplishment was OTEC.
OTEC is a cartel that controls an extremely limited resource in the game (called Technitium, or TECH) that is vital for construction of advanced modules and ships. As can be expected everyone participating in the cartel grew rich and bloated beyond reason. Prices and markets were and continue to be manipulated across the universe and holding TECH moons is the goal of any would be alliance.
However, due to this alliance and massive control over the rare resources, prices for TECH began to stagnate and things began to slow down for both parties. During a joint operation on an opposing coalition, the CFC (SomethingAwful’s Coalition) left part-way through leaving the HBC (Reddit’s Coalition) to finish the job on their own. Many accounts varied on the causes of CFC’s departure, as some claim that CFC had neglected their responsibilities of the operation, while others claim that HBC had withheld their end of a deal concerning the outcome of the operation, therefore allowing the CFC to not be obligated to their duties.
Whatever the case, relations soured to the point both agreed to a pact where any party associated with either faction can attack ships belonging to the other, though neither were permitted to fire on each other’s infrastructure to preserve OTEC and maintain income of in-game currency.
January 27th: Battle
On the early morning of January 27th, 2013, an unknown Goonswarm pilot accidentally warped his ship to a hostile zone, instead of summoning the alliance members to his location, just moments before the launch of a planned raid. Stuck in enemy space and unable to warp out of it, the Goonswarm pilot’s ship was attacked by rival factions, including members of the TEST Alliance. As reinforcements from both sides continued to arrive, the scale of the battle soon grew to more than 2,500 combatants involved. At its peak, the influx of Eve Online players resulted in significant time dilation and combat lag at an approximate conversion rate of one hour of gameplay to four hours in real time. In addition, the first-person crossover of the game DUST 514 went offline due to the server overload. Eventually, Twitch.tv member ShigsyTV began livestreaming the events.
ShigsyTV’s livestream station was linked on Reddit, where it received 3563 upvotes, 1880 points overall and nearly 1000 comments.
Other commenters in the thread began exchanging kill statistics for the lost ships, including one that was reportedly worth nearly $800 (USD), taken down by 1,070 different players. Additionally, a ship that was destroyed lost almost $2,300 USD total and was taken down by over 950 different fighters. What made it notable was that it was of the same type of ship that trigged the battle, though it was not the exact same ship. The same day, EVE players who took part in the battle began sharing various albums of screenshots as well as summaries and opinions to /r/Games and /r/EVE subreddits. Blogger Alizabeth at The Mittani also compiled a series of real-time reactions and kill reports. Kotaku Australia became the first news outlet to break the news, followed by stories on Polygon and Examiner.com.
January 28th: Aftermath
On January 28th, Mashable, Eurogamer, VentureBeat and PC Mag featured stories on the event. Additionally, videos and images were posted of the battle, including an Imgur album which has obtained almost 50,000 views 3 days after its original posting. On Reddit, Lighth_Vader submitted an Explain Like I’m Five post asking EVE users to simply explain the game and the reasons behind the fight, which was met by almost 400 comments on gameplay, the battle itself and how gameplay translates to real monetary currency. Redditor jimmysaint13 elaborated further on the battle’s monetary losses in a post on /r/Games by breaking down the cost of the ships and estimating that more than $17,000 (USD) in ships were destroyed. Of that $17,000 lost, it was estimated that 99.7% of it belonged to the Cluster Fuck Coalition.
January 29th: Developer’s Reaction
On January 29th, 2013m, CCP Mainfest, the Public Relations representative of the EVE Online Development made an official post in the Development Team’s Blog concerning the events that took place on the 27th. In it, he gave a brief description of the events as well as dispelling some myths of the event. Manifest explained hat the Dust 514 server did not actually go down, and that the battle was not the largest battle in the game to take place, which happened in October 2012.
Manifest also explained why and how the managers of the game handled the battle server-wise. In the post, Manifest explains:
The customer service duders (GMs) keep an eye out for gigantic fights like this. We’ve got a cluster status webpage that shows big red numbers when a node gets overloaded like it was by this fight, so it’s pretty easy to see what’s up.
From there, a few things can happen:
We do nothing. Either we expect the fight to be short or the load is manageable. A large majority of fights fall here thanks to our hardware investment. Yay technology!
We move other solar systems on the node away from the fight. This disconnects anyone in those systems temporarily, but spares them from the ongoing symptoms of being on an overloaded server. It helps the fight system a little bit as well, especially if a reinforcement fleet is traveling through those other systems. This was done for the Asakai fight over the weekend, but is rare.
We move the fight system onto a “supernode”. We’ve got a couple machines that are crazy-good hardware, well above what the rank and file of the cluster is. This is the machine that systems get reinforced on when players request that for a preplanned fight of this magnitude. Unfortunately, the same thing above applies – anyone in the system when the move happens gets disconnected. Because of this, it’s basically never done for a battle already in session. In this case, the fight broke out because of a Titan put out of position by accident. Had we gone this route and moved the system, the Titan and his friends simply wouldn’t have logged back in, killing the fight. So, yea, this just isn’t done…
…Past that, there’s really nothing to be done. The machines run full speed all the time, so Scotty’s not kiddin’ when he says she’s givin’ ‘er all she’s got cap’n. We have Time Dilation in place to cover us going over what the machine can handle, and that’s all completely automated, so I get to sleep instead of being called at 3AM.
What kind of twisted man is CCP Veritas that he can sleep while this is going on is beyond me. But a quick explanation of “Time Dilation” (aka TiDi) might help. Basically that’s one way to deal with a massive server load that would crush other games. We actually “slow down time” on a node so that all server calls happen in the right order and the fight becomes fair. If we didn’t do that, the sheer amount of data traveling back and forth (people, modules, positions etc gathered and rebroadcast out to each of them) might mean one side’s modules and commands wouldn’t go through and all of a sudden it is just a game of flip-the-coin. So for this fight, it was still able to happen because time dilated to it’s server saving cap of 10% to deal with the massive amount of people coming in and shooting spaceships. It’s slow, but it still allows for gameplay--a sort of managed lag. Since the system itself slows down but others around the server do not, it actually also helped reinforcements arrive from non-dilated nodes quicker.
Reddit – 2000+ Man fight going on in EVE Online, Honey Badger Coalition (Reddit) vs Cluster Fuck Coalition (Something Awful). Dozens of thousands of dollars worth of internet spaceships on the line.
Reddit – webu comments on ‘EVE Online: A compilation of the background/news/videos/screenshots from the giant battle last night’ / Posted on 1-27-2013
Reddit – Kavok comments on ‘EVE Online: A compilation of the background/news/videos/screenshots from the giant battle last night’ / Posted on 1-28-2013
YouTube – Pretty Lights: The Battle of Asakai in (sorta) Real Time [EVE Online] / Posted on 1-27-2013
EVE Online – EVE Insider Dev Blog: A weekend of epic destruction in eve online / Posted on 1-29-2013
Joysitq – EVE Evolved: Top ten ganks, scams, heists and events / Posted on 10-28-2012