Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Friday, November 29, 2013

Camping the spawn point

We play a funny game sometimes. And nowhere is it funnier than the tendency of EVE players to want to push every in-game and out-of-game border to see where the breaking points are. EVE developers don't like to make concrete statements about what is legal and what isn't when it comes to these borders. The reason is that if a dev makes a concrete statement that "doing X 17 times is legal, but doing X 20 times is illegal":
  1. there will invariably be someone who insists on doing X both 18 and 19 times to see how CCP reacts; and,
  2. any concrete statement a dev does make will be picked apart and picked apart to look for loopholes.
With that in mind, let's look at the Erebus kill that Shadow Cartel managed the other day. Normally I wouldn't write about this until my KOTW post, but there's so much going on with this titan that it deserves a deeper look. I'd rather not clutter the KOTW post with all the details.

When a ship is logged off or disconnected in space, the ship will execute an "e-warp" or an emergency warp to a random location one million kilometers away from where the log off/disconnect happened. When the player logs back in, their ship is then return warped back to its previous position in space. While this return warp looks like any other warp, the player cannot abort the warp by stopping their ship, nor can they jump the ship to another system (if it's a capital ship). The return warp is really part of the process of logging back in.

However, as the art of probing has advanced over the last couple of years and become quicker and more precise for the practitioners of it, it's become more and more common for players to probe down these e-warp locations. As player risk aversion and patience have increased also over the last few years, it's become more common for players to wait hours or even days for a ship logged off to return. In a way, it's not much different from sitting on a POS or a titan for several hours, but with one difference: sufficient patience in this situation will guarantee a kill, often an expensive kill. The CEO of my own corp has been heard to remark "you don't leave beer to go find beer" and while my alliance doesn't bother with this kind of log-off camping, there are a number of corps that do.

This situation was becoming common enough that as part of the deployment of the Inferno patch more than a year ago, CCP was asked to make a ruling about this situation: was tackling ships in their e-warp positions considered legal? CCP Masterplan said yes:
...you'll be warping back from a random 1M km point. If someone manages to find this spot and bubble it before you align, they will now prevent your warp. They could always do this with targetted tackle, this change just makes bubbles consistent.
But what about low-sec, where you can't use bubbles? You can only tackle a super with a directed heavy interdictor point. In actual practice, players trying to do this to return warping supers in low-sec found they were unable to do so... probably a side effect of the log-in return warp process.

So EVE player W0wbagger and his buddies at Shadow Cartel decided to innovate. If they couldn't "infini-point" a super coming out of a return warp, they decided to prevent it warping by bumping it. In normal EVE play, this is a perfectly valid technique and has been used to prevent many players from getting into warp. But in a e-warp return warp scenario, it's really all the tackle you need against a super. Since the super is trapped in the return warp process, they can't even use an emergency cyno to jump their ship out of harm's way!

And that's how this titan kill went down. Shadow Cartel bumped the Erebus repeatedly until they could arrange a proper dread fleet with which to kill it.

Needless to say, those involved quickly split between those crying "exploit!" and those crying "oh clever!" W0wbagger wrote a post on Failheap Challenge justifying SC's use of the tactic and wrapped it up with:
TLDR – don't feel it's an exploit due to masterplans post/previous patch changes, Rubicon just made it easier to do. Has always been legal in null. Only issue is inability to cancel ewarp. Hopefully CCP clarify.
And it's taken CCP all of 24 hours to "clarify", with an EVE Online news post written by CCP Dolan:
Bumping a ship in order to get it stuck in emergency warp alignment limbo when its pilot logs in is now considered an exploit.
So that means the issue is completely settled now, right? Well, there are a few people disputing it (and the argument is raging back and forth on FHC) but for the most part players are OK with the announcement.

But if you are currently saying "Jester, this is a concrete statement by a CCP dev. Are there players out there picking it apart looking for loopholes?", well done! Award yourself +1 Internet. No less a personality than Helicity Boson did:
Bumping a ship in order to get it stuck in emergency warp alignment limbo when its pilot logs in is now considered an exploit.
Obviously it was going to be ruled exploitative imho, but as the statement shows it was not consistently ruled an exploit until now, this has now been resolved.
Hee! It just never stops, does it? EVE players can't help but camp the spawn point, wherever they find one. And people wonder why EVE devs drink...


  1. The actual developers at CCP are going to be extremely pissed off at you for calling CCP Dolan a "dev". At best he's a glorified gopher. What's next, Mintchip gets the title "Database Architect"?

  2. It's a fascinating feedback loop to watch. Devs develop stuff, players find inventive ways to use developed stuff for unintended purposes. Devs scramble to decide whether a certain usage is legitimate or not. Repeat.

    Yeah, under those circumstances I'd start the day with some coffee mixed into my brennivin as well.

    And no, CCP can't close such loopholes beforehand, because they don't have the funds to employ the devious brainpower required to find such loopholes. It's only in hindsight that exploits really manifest themselves clearly as exploits.

  3. It's only an exploit if the ship disappeared from space. If a ship logs with aggro but logs in again before it's tackled the ewarp will prevent it from being tackled, but since the ship didn't disappear you're allowed to delay the ewarp by bumping it.

  4. as a note - regarding "But what about low-sec, where you can't use bubbles?"

    masterplan in the same post says "They could always do this with targetted tackle, this change just makes bubbles consistent."

    Obviously this wasnt implemented as they thought but it makes their intention clear, and that, combined with the fact you are not invulnerable on login kind of implies CCP are pro login deaths - the non cancellation of ewarp is the unfair aspect from CCP's pov it seems, not the death at login.

    Personally, I hope that they find a fix for ewarp cancellation that isn't op (people avoiding bubbled poses etc) so that this can become a reasonable mechanic - it's not like it's unavoidable (with mwd and istabs making you uncatchable) and it introduces some more risk to super capital usage, which many people would agree is sorely needed. Just my opinion as someone who hunts them about as much as I use them.

    1. Every post you write makes you more and more like a sore loser. That devpost is not the word of god. CCP have made it pretty clear what their intentions regarding the mechanics are and it's not what you want it to be.

    2. Exactly. The problem is that there is no word of god from CCP. We mere mortals must interpret the word of god. I mean, it would be nice if we humble masses could read the petitions and correspondence players have with CCP, but sharing CCP correspondence is a banable offense. Probably because CCP knows their chosen messengers are on the incoherent and confused part of the spectrum.

  5. PS not that it matters but we only bumped it once :P - 50 dreads on an untanked erebus - 7 of our guys didn't even get on the mail :S

  6. To be fair, Jester, EVE was designed by a group of drunk vikings. They might drink a bit harder due to the player base, but that is not WHY they drink. Drinking fuels a lot of their hair-brained ideas, after all.

  7. "Bumping" is one of the dumbest, immersion-breaking features in EVE.

  8. The concept of people waiting hours, even days, for a supercap to log in, just to get a killmail, shows what is oh so wrong with this game.

    This kind of obsessive personality permeates null sec, and I am quite certain that many a psych grad student could get their doctorate on analyzing the insanity demonstrated by the Eve players who engage in this kind of operation.

    1. Not really: Once you have the correct people on watch list, and know why they log on(ie its a titan bridging alt) thus if Joe is online, and his corp start forming up, there is a good chance that Fred the titan alt will be logging on shortly, so if Susan already has her alt Jane logged off in Freds home system it's a simple and quick process, and doens't require a large amount of preparation, assuming that Fred is highly likely to log on in Susan's prime time, and of course assuming that Susan's alliance is large enough (or has enough friends) that they can muster a dread fleet in a few mins. And after all we are talking about DT - your common garden titan bridgers, and SC - who are not unknown for being able to drop 20+ dreads with 2mins notice.

    2. I'm afraid those grad students might find you an even more interesting subject, Dinsdale..

  9. Bumping mechanic is kinda stupid...

    Instead of bouncing, ships collision should deal damage. Eg a frigate flying straight to big meany battleship will means the frigate will explode on contact while the battleship get tiny scratch on it's armor/shield/whatever.

    1. I actually like that idea a lot! Maybe not to that extreme, but certainly damage to both ships commiserate with the speed and mass of the ships involved... it would certainly add a nice kamikaze mechanic to the game in addition to, or in lieu of, the simple alpha strike. The one big problem is deciding if a sec status change is involved for "accidentally" colliding with another ship. Otherwise, we'd have people in Machariels just running around crashing into every frigate it could catch just to watch them smash into tiny pieces... it would also change the gameplay around collidable objects.

    2. This would cause many laughs as you observe the Jita undock as an unending wave of explosions


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