Multiple Signatures in EVE Online

Nov 26, 2022

In case you aren’t familiar, EVE Online is a space-themed MMORPG in which players build, buy, and upgrade ships, space stations, and planets to generate resources in order to enable them to do even more building, buying, and upgrading. One of the main late-game mechanics is corporations, where players band together in order to pool their resources and enable commanding ever greater portions of the galaxy.

I’ve never played EVE Online, but I’ve followed its drama and storylines off-and-on over the years, and they regularly consist of large corporations or even larger alliances being betrayed in one way or another. This mostly seems to be because single players in positions of trust have enormous access. So if you’re the treasurer of the Galactic Union of Hooligans and you’re feeling poorly done by, you might decide to transfer a trillion spacebucks to your new friends at the Interplanetary Gadflies, leaving them at a marked advantage in the inevitable war you’ve likely sparked.

Which led to this morning’s idle shower thought: what if you could have a system of multiple signers for a bank account? (This might already exist in-game, I have no idea.) Instead of having a single trusted individual that controls the keys, you’d have a trusted third party maintain a bot account whose entire job is to be the holder of the keys. There could be a web application where you’d configure who is allowed to sign for what, propose distributions, and cosign them, and then once enough signatures were added the money would be automatically transferred by the bot.

Obviously this moves the trust to the operator of the signing system, but ideally this would be someone who doesn’t participate in the game’s political machinations and is just doing it for the fees, which you could imagine being a percentage of assets being protected. There are various complications that need to be dealt with (what do you do if a signer is on holiday when you need to finance a war effort, how do you change the signing rules, etc.), but those seem tractable. I also don’t know if this would violate the game’s rules in some way, probably it would, especially since it involves running a bunch of different bot accounts 24/7.

And, of course, it introduces various kinds of custodial failures like “borrowing” customer deposits to fund risky ventures which subsequently explode, which seems wholly in line with the spirit of the game.

Anyway, those were my random Saturday morning shower thoughts.