IA investigation update: Three investigations concluded
We have concluded our internal investigation of the allegations levied against CCP Games. The following report details our findings in as much detail as company policies and the privacy rights of our customers allow. We apologize for the length of the blog, but there is much information to present in an effort to show these allegations for what they truly are.
The investigations were launched as a result of a number of complaints brought to CCP's attention in a massive posting campaign that started on the EVE Online forums and spread to other gaming and computer industry related internet news and information portals on the evening of 25 May, 2007.
To begin, we address the allegation of CCP Sharkbait joining a player corporation to spy on their alliance.
As you are about to read, this allegation is FALSE.
The history of the incident is as follows:
A petition was filed on May 6th in regards to an issue with factory slots. Please note, the following images are published in order to debunk accusations claiming we have lied to the EVE community. Here is the petition, as seen from our petition console:
The petitioner’s name has been blacked out in order to comply with our player confidentiality policy.
Here is the creation date and various information regarding the handling of the petition, again with the petitioner blacked out:
Note that the last answer to the petition is filed after it’s claimed on May 9th. As the problem is then solved and no further communication is required, the petition times out normally.
Some may notice the involvement of a number of GMs before this issue brought to the attention of developer. GMs who did not have experience with the issue in the petition forwarded it to more experienced GMs before Krymus finally determined it was something they couldn't resolve. He then sent an internal email:
As GMs anonymity must be preserved, GM Krymus’ real name has been removed from the email, as well as the station the BP was located and internal server address. Pete Thacker, aka CCP Sharkbait, responded shortly thereafter:
Pete joins the corporation and fixes the problem. He then resigns from the corporation and sends a confirmation that the issue has been dealt with:
This proves conclusively that there was nothing malicious about Pete’s actions. It also confirms that a petition was filed and when, counter to the claims of our accusers. Why the corporation claims to not be aware of this, let alone chose to wait almost three weeks before following up with their 'open letter' remains a mystery to CCP.
Joining and leaving corporations has long been a tool GMs and developers alike utilize when investigating petitions or bug reports. As this has deemed unacceptable to some of our players, we will notify the petitioning corporation via EVEmail if this is necessary.
Next is the allegation of the Aurora event team rigging an event arc.
This has also been proven FALSE.
I’ll quote CCP kieron’s previous statement here:
Nothing new has been presented that merits re-opening the investigation into the events following the actions taken against the player/volunteer who violated a Non-Disclosure Agreement in regards to the 'Cult of Tetrimon' event arc.
Concerning the allegation of event rigging in particular, the document referenced in the 'Open Letter' is not a finalized script of events, but a proposal and living document based on player interaction with the event arc. The paragraph he refers to states:
"As said earlier, we can have the ending open if allowed by you or we can stack the cards in favor of Theology Council so that we after the arc go back to a T2 status quo for the Empire, but without any Tetrimon Cult (who will be forever branded traitors of the Empire and utterly wiped out)."
In short, it simply gives CCP the option of deciding which direction to move EVE's Prime Fiction at the end of the arc, or to allow unfolding events to determine what is to follow. The claims of CCP rigging events to benefit a player, corporation or alliance are groundless.
We work with hundreds of people all over the world in our efforts to make EVE the best experience we can for our customers. We utilize 'living' design proposals and documents to keep everyone on the same page, this proposal was taken without permission and leaked. We reacted when this information reached us and the event arc was cancelled.
Last, there is the allegation of the unfair dismissal of an ISD member from the volunteer program.
Again, this has been proven to be FALSE.
There are two sides to every story, only one side was publicized here. Expelling someone is never a pleasant or easy task and it is entirely understandable the volunteer in question was not happy about it.
However, we were not happy with his contribution to ISD, as we had other complaints filed about him in the past, from within ISD as well as from players. This petition was filed against him and concerns the matter that ultimately led to his dismissal:
His departure was thus not prompted by a single incident or developer bias as claimed; it was the result of previous internal discussions between leads and primarily the result of his own attitude towards his responsibilities, our players and his teammates.
This concludes the investigations into these allegations. We will continue looking into other allegations of misconduct, as well as following up the leads we have received from our players over the weekend. Further updates will be posted as they become available.
About the Accusations and Accusers
Since last Friday, an unnamed corporation posted over 4000 times on EVE's message boards concerning these allegations. In addition, 1046 posts were made on Digg.com; 235 comments were added on Slashdot; and made multiple EVE-related edits on Wikipedia. Each of these sites was hit within a few hours of each other, at the start of the three-day Memorial Day weekend in the US and a three-day weekend in Iceland, all referencing unfounded allegations — now proven to be false — that occurred three weeks ago or longer.
The volume and timing of these near-simultaneous references is no coincidence: we were the target of a carefully constructed and well-timed social engineering effort by one of the largest player groups in our community. The intention? To undermine EVE Online and the credibility of CCP Games.
More specifically, the objective of this scheme was to permanently paint CCP as a biased and corrupt company that favors a select group of players over the rest of our community. In this particular case, instead of receiving notification of a possible problem and sufficient time to examine and address it, we faced a coordinated and hostile attack executed on our forums, Digg, Wikipedia, Slashdot, and other outlets at the beginning of a three-day weekend. We believe this speaks volumes of the intention of the person(s) responsible for orchestrating this scheme. Verification of this can be readily found on the forums of the people responsible—or at least could, the last time we looked.
Claims that the goal of this effort was to expose corruption within the company cannot be taken seriously. They are simply a smokescreen intended to mobilize and use the EVE community against CCP. There is no evidence to support the claim of information sent to CCP concerning internal corruption and wrongdoings on the part of our employees is being systematically suppressed.
The fact that this attack took place over a holiday weekend was especially revealing of motive, which we believe was specifically by design to ensure that CCP would not be able to react as fast and efficiently as we would under normal circumstances. The allegations investigated above by this internal affairs department will also be examined by our legal resources, as we do not intend to sit idly by while our servers, community and reputation are under attack.
Internal Affairs and CCP
Regrettably, there was an isolated issue last year in which a member of CCP had acted in an unbecoming manner and we as a company did not address the matter as swiftly or effectively as we should have. However, we eventually addressed the matter candidly — the case and its outcome are well publicized here on our dev blog section. We do not claim to never have made mistakes, nor do we sweep them under the carpet. We are committed to maintaining reasonable transparency and an open, honest dialogue with our players. However, people need to realize that CCP as a company cannot broadcast details of our day to day operations to the outside world, let alone sensitive information involving our employees.
Since last year’s incident, we have established and introduced a unit within the company that addresses all allegations of misconduct and proactively monitors CCP employees to ensure the entire EVE community, player and developer alike, play on an equal field. Internal Affairs aim to create a visible and lasting presence within the company, to safeguard the integrity of CCP and to guard the interests of our customers. The department is working on creating policies and a monitoring structure that can be utilized in future projects produced by CCP.
Examples of action taken or initiated by Internal Affairs include a complete and ongoing revision of existing in-house rules, as well as all investigations into any allegations of misconduct. This activity has on occasion led to employment termination of staff and volunteers, in accordance with processes we have in place to address such incidents. While we do not enjoy speaking or publicizing these instances, they have occured.
At this point, I would like to emphasize that there are working procedures you can follow if you feel that there is an issue with employees of CCP or members of ISD that needs serious attention. You can either submit a petition, or email the Internal Affairs Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CCP Employees and EVE Online
It is worth restating here that there is absolutely no categorical CCP preference towards anything that transpires in the EVE political landscape. This notion is quite simply unthinkable to so many of us who have spent the better part of our lives investing time and our futures into building a company and a game (CCP turns 10 years old next month, and EVE just celebrated her 4th anniversary). The very suggestion we have done this only so that we can decide who “wins EVE” makes no sense, not morally and certainly not from a business perspective.
CCP's goal was always to design the game to be as self-moderating as possible. That’s why if you are not happy with how things are transpiring in game, the game is built so there are ample opportunities to address it yourself or reach someone who can address it for you. CCP staff is generally easy to reach, we have designated IRC channels, we read the forums, and we host open developer chats, to name but a few avenues players can use to contact us when needed. In times of need, the aforementioned petition or email route is also available.
While it’s somewhat understandable that the participation of CCP staff in EVE is being questioned once again, our answer must once more be that our involvement is vital to the development of EVE. Barring CCP employees from the game would effectively stop EVE in its tracks. EVE is such a complex application that it is impossible to understand it without participating, playing on the test server is not the full EVE experience, nor is it possible to replicate issues involving our server structure or large amounts of players using it.
There is simply no way to develop a world as complex as this without experiencing it firsthand. You cannot develop it by proxy, evaluate fun through statistics, or make judgments without fully understanding how it grows and evolves, especially when nearly everything we create and place in EVE can be used by players in ways that were never anticipated.
In order to do justice to our game and to meet your expectations, we must share your frustrations, joys, successes and failures. One cannot fully appreciate the investment of time and effort that players make without trying it one's self. Every employee at CCP should know what it is like to work themselves to exhaustion for something you, the EVE community, believe in and love, in game and out. At the same time, each and every CCP employee is expected to exercise their judgment while doing so and treat EVE, CCP and our customers with the respect they deserve. Nothing else is acceptable, not to you and certainly not to us.
Thank you for taking the time to read this statement and for your support of EVE Online.