Every once in a while I have people who don't play EVE Online ask me about something major that happened in the game. This past weekend, I have had a lot people asking me about the Battle of Asakai, in which one pilot's simple mistake led to over 3,000 players being called into one system to fight.
EVE's wild frontier allows players to do anything they want. And in the Battle of Asakai, they wanted to blow lots of things up.
A simple operation went horribly wrong when a Titan pilot from the ClusterFuck Coalition (CFC) clicked the wrong button. Instead of warping his fleet to his location, he warped himself alone into the territory of the Pandemic Legion (PL). PL had a prime target with a solo Titan so they began the assault. CFC didn't want to lose their Titan, so they called for back-up, and the reinforcements started to come in droves. Many EVE players use messaging services like IRC, Jabber, or even their cell phones to always be on call when things like this happen.
Pilots called in their corporations to help out, and then entire alliances began to show up. PL is a part of the HoneyBadger Coalition, and they decided that they would also rally their forces to the fight. Something like this can be a good excuse to blast someone you don't like. If anyone had a grudge against someone, this was a good time to join the opposing side. It's sort of like how everyone got involved in World War II. Allies called on allies and some people just hated Germany so they joined in the war.
In the Battle of Asakai, 717,033,768,274 ISK worth of ships were destroyed -- or $24,921.30, converted to US currency. Let that figure sink in for a second. This killboard shows every ship that players lost. A total of 3,161 players from 262 alliances consisting of 715 corporations were involved in the battle. The most amazing part is that no one planned on this happening; people started calling in their friends and allies to help them out, and it just kept escalating.
EVE uses a system called Time Dilation to keep lag to a minimal on the servers. Time slows down when massive amounts of players are in one system, and this allows everyone to respond to what's happening. It also prevents the server from crashing or getting overloaded with commands. The amount of ships in this battle caused the system to move at 10% speed. So if it normally takes a missile three seconds to hit an enemy ship, it would have taken 30 seconds during this battle.
An interesting side effect of this is that it makes it easier for other players to jump into a battle already in-progress. Only the system where the battle is happening is effected, so everyone outside has time to get into the action. A battle that would normally be over in an hour can last for ten hours, for example.
It's not just the players involved directly in the battle that make this impressive. Most of these ships, weapons, and even ammunition were made by players from materials gathered by players. I mostly mine when I play EVE, so I don't often take part in these large-scale encounters, but I know the materials I sell contribute to the massive war machine. Three giant Titan class ships (the largest in the game) were destroyed. These ships have to be built at player-controlled structures, and they can take up to two months of real time to be constructed. The player stations have to be guarded and fueled to keep everything running as well. That's a lot of time and resources to build these ships, folks.
At the end of the battle, CFC was thoroughly beaten. CFC lost over 650 billion ISK worth of ships while HoneyBadger's side lost only 67 billion. That is quite the whooping.
A weekend of epic destruction in eve online [EVE Insider Dev Blog]
The battle of asakai and poinen must burn by the numbers [EVE Insider Dev Blog]