Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Monday, April 4, 2011

Quote of the Week: Griefing CCP

The Quote of the Week comes from a newly-former EVE Online player:
Players would normally not even consider "cheating" in other ways, think about giving botting a try, due to the perception of non enforcement and desire to compete.
The context of the quote is a long blog entry written by Htrag regarding his reasons for allowing his three EVE Online accounts to lapse, and the e-mail conversation he had with a CCP GM about this.  I'm only going to focus on one tiny portion of his list of reasons for my own blog post, but his full blog post is worth your time to read.  He covers a lot of issues of interest to the veteran EVE player, and hopefully CCP will take his list and learn from it.  God knows they probably lose a lot of customers from only the smallest fraction of the items that Htrag lists.

However, the botting portion of his blog entry is the portion that is most personally interesting to me.  I mentioned yesterday in my Tapestry blog post that many elements of EVE Online are intertwined.  Botting cuts across virtually every level of the game, particularly now, but let's focus on a few key areas.  The 4Q 2010 QEN specifies population density figures for each of the six major areas of New Eden 0.0, plus the four Empire areas, plus wormhole space.  Other than wormhole space at 7.53 toons per system average, far and away the least densely populated area in New Eden is Northeast 0.0, at 9.72 toons per system average, controlled by the Drone Russians and their allies, and a well-known haven for botters.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record for bringing this up again, in a couple of days, thousands of 0.0 residents will be losing their primary income source for PvPing, the ability to farm Havens and Sanctums.  No matter where you live in New Eden, if you think this doesn't affect you, you're wrong:
  1. If you're an Empire mission-runner, expect to see more mission-runners, because some 0.0 residents are going to fall back to Empire and make up this loss of income by running missions.
  2. If you're an Empire miner or site-runner, ditto.
  3. If you live in a wormhole, expect to see more 0.0 players running your sites for ISK, and (incidentally) attacking your wormhole ops.
  4. If you are a solo PvPer or hot-dropper, expect your business in the affected regions to drop to nothing as the previously common ratting ships disappear.
  5. And finally, if you're a botter, expect to see more people trying it out to replace their lost income.
CCP Sreegs (aka Darius JOHNSON aka the former head of Goonswarm), now heading up Security issues for EVE Online, led a round-table on Security at Fanfest last week.  Botting came up as part of that presentation, and was covered explicitly on a few of the slides, particularly with regard to enforcement.  Today, it's generally accepted that a botter that is "caught" suffers a 24 hour ban from the game.  The second violation comes with a thirty-day ban, and a third violation results in a permanent ban.  The response on the various forums has been humorous.  One poster summed it up remarkably well by commenting that, "Sure, that's a deterrent.  I'll probably never be caught botting.  But if I am caught twice, I'll just sell the toon on the character market, buy a new toon with the funds, and start again."

And that, of course, assumes that the botter will be caught in the first place.  Most bots are never caught.  And even when bots are found en masse, red-handed, the response is barely perceivable.  This drives an assumption that CCP simply does not care about botting.  If the botting account is paid for and current, that's what they care about.  The portion of the Security video talking about an upcoming patch that will allow players to right-click on a toon and report him as a bot is fairly humorous.  Sreegs casually slides right past the point that relying on players to spot bots is likely an exercise in futility.  I'd bet money that more people have been reported as bots because of spite or dislike from the reporter than actual bots have been reported.

Scrapheap Challenge picked up the topic as well last week, with a long thread on botting.  The thread itself is 18 pages of flames and counter-flames, and is probably not worth your time.  At the top of the thread, though, is a poll asking SHCers if they'd ever try botting.  A significant percentage of the respondents -- 20% -- picked the "yes" response.  And several people in the thread do point out -- correctly -- that Sreeg's presentation sets no concrete goals for attacking bots, and showed no metrics.  Aypse summed up one possible CCP response quite admirably.

Granted, CCP's goal here is deterrence.  And also granted, they don't want to ban false positives.  But this is the sort of link that I was talking about in my Tapestry post.  Every topic in EVE is linked to every other topic in EVE, somehow.  Take away one source of EVE player income, and EVE players are going to replace it, any way they have to.  And if they have to grief CCP to do it, a significant number of EVE players will.

Assuming they don't quit and take their money elsewhere, as Htrag did.  But I guess that's griefing CCP, too.


  1. Folk don't live in the northeast in no small part because the drone regions historically have been a rather poor place for an individual non-industrial pilot to live in.

    (1) Unlike pirate faction NPCs, drone NPCs do not pay out bounties and do not drop modules. Drone NPCs only drop alloys, which can take up quite a bit of volume. This means a player ratting in a belt must constantly return to his POS or outpost to drop off alloys; it also means a player running anomalies absolutely must have enough uninterrupted time to both complete the anomaly and tractor and loot all the wrecks. This makes it more annoying (it's not difficult to swap ships, just annoying) for your typical one-account player to make ISK.

    (2) Faction drone spawns (sentient drones) are almost completely worthless, while faction spawns elsewhere can yield several million in additional ISK from the bounties alone. This means a player living in the drone regions cannot expect to get lucky and find a faction module or even a hauler spawn with an absurd amount of minerals. Just lots of alloys.

    (3) Drone complexes are fairly pointless. The new DED complexes just rub it in further by pointedly ignoring the drone regions.

    (4) Drone anomalies suffer from rather bad design that should have been fixed years ago. Some spawn triggers do not always work correctly. Other anomalies have atrociously-placed warp-in points that inevitably land the player's ship in the middle of a large collidable object.

    In sum, the drone regions quite simply are not all that attractive to your typical pilot.

  2. @Serpentine Logic: The botters routinely open new accounts with PLEXes and temp credit cards. Burning accounts isn't going to mean a thing to them. Hell, burned accounts is probably the main reason why "law-abiding" EVE players can't move toons between accounts for free.

    @Anon0928: Yep, which is what makes those regions perfectly suited to bots. The latest bots sweep in behind the bot-Ravens with a bot-salvager and salvage/loot the drone wrecks, then dump the resulting drone alloys in a Corporate Hangar Array at a POS you choose. Hell, they can even page you or send you a text if they get a good drop.

  3. That's the usual setup from what I hear, although I've yet to see one in practice. However, I wouldn't say that the drone regions are perfectly suited for bots because rats there drop alloys rather than bounties and mods. A bot can shoot regular NPC pirates as easily as drone NPCs; if anything, it would be more profitable and much easier for a bot owner to set up shop outside the drone regions, since then both of his bot accounts could be used to harvest ISK through bounties. In the drone regions one account is effectively 'wasted' on a loot/salvage ship which does not contribute anything to the rate at which NPCs are killed.

    I suspect the real reason for the perceived proliferation of bot accounts in the drone regions is the low player density, which is caused in no small part by the lack of good rats and moons available there compared with other regions. A player who runs a bot 23/7 in a busy system will probably become quite unpopular in short order with his more-honest corp- and alliance members. A player who runs a bot 23/7 in a system that has few or no inhabitants, on the other hand, isn't hurting anyone in particular, although his conduct does have adverse indirect effects on the game in the aggregate.

    This is not to say that the drone regions are uninhabitable or even all that much worse than other regions. Just noting that there's nothing about the drone regions that would inherently attract botters. In fact, there's little in the drone regions that would attract players in general, although industrialists do seem to like the improved local supply of minerals from drone alloys.


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