Happy Code Day, everyone! It was two years ago today, on June 24, 2012, that the New Halaima Code of Conduct was declared on EVE-O. (The link to this and other historic posts may be found on the Links page.) That's how it all began, with a simple forum post by a corp-less character named James 315.
...You might have heard of him.
As we celebrate the second anniversary of the founding of the Code and the New Order, nothing could be more appropriate than a bit of quiet reflection on where we started and how far we've come. It truly is a remarkable tale.
It began, of course, with that forum post. The summer of 2012 was a dark time for EVE. CCP's focus had long since shifted away from providing EVE players with genuine, content-filled expansions. Instead, the winter and summer "expansions" consisted primarily of nerfs to highsec aggression. The nerfs were aimed at pleasing the teeming carebear masses of highsec, whose subscription fees would supposedly float CCP on a wave of cash as they developed CCP's future: Dust 514 and World of Darkness.
At the time of the drafting of the Code, there were still more nerf "expansions" to come. Despite having already rolled out the summer 2012 expansion (a nerf to wardecs), August saw an "emergency" expansion to massively buff the EHP of mining ships and end Hulkageddon Infinity. For the next expansion, scheduled for December 2012, CCP planned to nerf can-flipping and aggression baiting. Not exactly the stuff of which video game legends are made.
And yet, almost entirely hidden beneath the thick darkness, there was a point of light. In spite of everything, in defiance of the vast, surrounding blackness, it still shone. It represented hope, the possibility that the spirit of EVE was alive, somewhere.
Obviously I'm referring to myself.
On June 24, 2012, I presented the EVE community with a different vision, a different highsec than the one they saw every day. Everyone believed that highsec was impossible to change. It would forever be dominated by bots and bot-aspirants, AFK carebears who would only input a few minimal clicks to receive their risk-free internet space money. These misguided players would continue to lobby CCP into skewing the risk/reward balance and fattening the highsec carebear population. In doing so, they would leverage their numbers to gain even greater lobbying power until EVE was transformed into the effortless theme park they desired--and which some believed would make CCP rich.
My forum post presented a radical alternative. I would do something about the carebears. A single player in a single ice field in a single system of highsec would perform an act known as "miner bumping". Carebears would be bumped out of the ice field, one at a time. They could escape this fate by following a set of rules called the Code. The requirements of the Code were extremely limited: A fee of 10 million isk per year, and the miners had to behave like players instead of bots. It was such a small thing--but far more than they had ever been asked before.
The EVE community reacted. Although the EVE-O moderators repeatedly moved the thread from one subforum to another (twice in violation of those subforums' rules), players found and read the Code. They were skeptical, but strangely fascinated. In a parallel thread in the Market Discussions subforum, I advertised the sale of New Order shares. Only 100 were available for purchase, to raise a total of 100 million isk. They sold out almost immediately. More were made available. These sold out even more quickly. Not a single miner had been bumped yet, but people knew something was happening in highsec.
Then the time came. A Stabber Fleet Issue named "Invincible Stabber" warped into the Halaima ice field. In a future post, as part of our continuing celebration of the anniversary of the Code, I will release never-before-seen logs related to the first days of the New Order. These logs offer insight into the pre-Agent, pre-MinerBumping.com era of the New Order.
Before the MinerBumping blog came into existence, highsec could only experience the Code by reading a few shareholder reports I posted in Market Discussions, or by making the pilgrimage to Halaima. A small following gathered, mostly inspired by curiosity. I announced that there would one day be a great empire in highsec, and that the Code would be followed by all. The miners found this claim incredible, the delusions of a lunatic. I was but one man. What possible difference could I make?
The rest, as they say, is history. A few people decided to join in the fun of bumping miners. They became the first Agents. At first, miners believed these Agents must actually be my alts, because no one else could be crazy enough to support the Code. Meanwhile, there was so much interest in New Order shares that the limits on their sale were lifted. The shareholders, too, were dismissed as my alts.
In August, at the same time mining barges were being buffed, MinerBumping went online. It was an instant success. Now people could experience the joys of the Code at their own convenience. The blog quickly became one of the most widely-read blogs in EVE. Players saw stories about Agents, and they wanted to join in. They also sent in more isk for shares, though no one yet knew how the isk would be used. It was simply deposited in James 315's wallet with the belief that it would somehow do some good.
In the first few months of MinerBumping, there was a vacuum of sorts. The August 2012 barge buff led to the immediate cancellation of GoonSwarm's "Hulkageddon Infinity", which reimbursed all players who ganked miners. Miner ganking all across highsec came to a halt. When the CSM winter summit convened, CCP reported that miner ganking was at an all-time low--though the population of highsec miners was at an all-time high.
In a series of articles for TheMittani.com, I criticized the direction CCP was taking EVE. As each new "expansion" was revealed to be yet another nerf to highsec PvP, more and more players agreed with me. The articles, along with posts on MinerBumping showing what the carebears were really like, changed the community's outlook. In their eyes, the carebear lifestyle was not a legitimate way to play. The carebears were largely AFK, sucking isk from ice fields with infinite ice. Aside from a few mouse-clicks per hour, they were identical to bots. They contributed no content to the game, but because of their numbers, they were able to persuade CCP to remove content from the game through nerfs.
And the carebear view of the game was more warped than anyone had realized: Many carebears genuinely believed it was against the rules to kill them in highsec. As MinerBumping posts proved, they were petitioning CCP because their spaceships were being shot at or bumped. They really did want to remove all risk from highsec, and in many cases, the carebears assumed non-consensual PvP was already against the rules.
As 2012 came to a close, two dramatic things occurred. On EVE-O, bumped miners had been whining endlessly about the New Order in thread after thread. The moderators were concerned. GMs knew that miner bumping was causing a lot of petitions to be filed. It had started with numerous petitions against a fellow named "James 315", but then other players were being identified as bumpers. From the perspective of the GMs, these petitions must have been mystifying. Getting blown up by a ganker was one thing, but why would the miners be so upset by bumps? Would the carebears force CCP to end the bumping? The situation was getting critical.
Removing or penalizing bumping was technically problematic. Innocent bumps occurred constantly in the trade hubs, so it couldn't be flagged. Besides, the physics of ship movement and bumping were probably coded by someone who had long since left CCP. Previously, CCP had to go to great lengths to deal with the legacy code of even minor aspects of the game, such as the billboards near stargates. There was also the sticky problem of the growing anti-carebear movement. If CCP nerfed something as harmless as bumping, CCP would make themselves look ridiculous all while validating James 315's criticisms. However, the carebears kept moaning. CCP was between a rock and a hard place.
At first, EVE-O moderators attempted to squelch all discussion of the New Order by locking all threads about miner bumping. They might have initially suspected these threads were publicity stunts made by New Order alts. But they weren't, and the angry carebears kept posting them. Finally, CCP took the unprecedented step of creating a special thread for community feedback on the bumping issue. If the carebears united, CCP could say that they were merely reacting to the consensus of public opinion by doing something about bumping. Years later, a similar strategy would be used during the Erotica 1 scandal. But this time, there was a major miscalculation: The feedback thread was put into the Crime & Punishment subforum. True, this kept it out of the sight of the widely-trafficked General Discussions subforum. But it also meant the feedback would come largely from "criminals" with no love for the carebears. Overwhelmingly, EVE-O posters condemned the anti-bumper crusade.
When all was said and done, the bumping mechanic survived without a nerf or a new rule. It was a small victory for the anti-nerf crowd, but it was the first. The carebears had been told "no". In attempting to ban bumping, they had overreached, becoming a parody of themselves. It was a major turning point.
Don't forget, I said two dramatic things happened before 2012 was out. The other one? The New Order began training Catalyst pilots.
To be continued...