Update (10am): The Eve Online Tranquility servers are not back online according to the Eve Online Status Twitter account.
Eve Online, the space-based videogame with over half a million active players, has been forced offline for more than 12 hours due to a series of cyber attacks against a cluster of its servers located in London.
According to the Eve Online Status Twitter account, the first signs of trouble were seen at around 8pm on Thursday, 21 August, and by 11pm the Icelandic-based CCP Games which develops the game had confirmed the problem was due to a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
DDoS attacks are a common tool used by criminals to flood servers with traffic in order to knock them offline and unavailable to anyone trying to access them.
Some had apparently linked the offline status of the game to the recent activity of the Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland which is on the verge of erupting, however CCP Games explicitly ruled this out.
The problem is affecting the Tranquility server cluster, which all Eve Online players connect to in order to play the game. This cluster of servers is based in London.
Even the Eve Online wiki is inaccessible as it too is seemingly hosted on the Tranquility server.
An update from CCP Games on Twitter at 8am on Friday, 22 August, simply saying: "Tranquility is currently under heavy load again" and pointing player to a forum thread. However this thread also appears to be offline at the time of publication.
DDoS attacks are often used by unscrupulous companies in order to knock rivals offline for a sustained period of time, with many cyber-criminals renting out DDoS services for as little as £5-an-hour.
Eve Online is a massively multiplayer online game set in the fictional world of New Eden where players pilot customisable spaceships through a galaxy of over 7,500 star systems.
The game is also unique in that its developers create the structure of New Eden but then handed over control of what happens in the game to the players. The rest is a virtual world where corporations and alliances hold huge power and where huge battles can cost the equivalent of over $300,000 in real world money.