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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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What's worse?

Fair warning: this is another somewhat philosophical post.  I seem to be in that kind of mood this week.

One of my favorite odd-ball sort of comedies is a little-known flick called So I Married An Axe Murderer.  It's basically this goofy little movie whose plot can be summarized in about two sentences.  It seems to have been made strictly to let Mike Myers pull together a lot of off-beat comic actors and let them have a laugh making a movie.  About a third of the movie's running time -- and I wish I were exaggerating! -- is devoted to red herring little scenes that don't have anything to do with anything.  I've referenced one of them here before: the tin-foil "Pentavarite" scene.  Another is a game played by a few of the characters called "What's worse?" where they try to gross each other out with two really unlikely scenarios and then laugh over which one is worse.

So let's play.  What's worse... Jita bots... or... orrr... or or... ISBoxer?

The first is known to anyone who has ever gone into Jita, the various scams that are repeated in Local a thousand or more times a day in the hopes that someone will fall for them.  This money-making method is so easy and so prevalent that even CCP grudgingly recommended it in one of their New Player Training Sessions as a way of making ISK.  I mean, all it takes is one of a hundred scams, and a bit of fluff software either downloaded off the net or something that comes free with a lot of keyboards.  This is one of those things that is technically against the EULA but which has never been enforced; CCP kind of turns a blind eye to it.

EDIT (14/Nov/2013): Just to be ultra-clear, it's the keyboard macro that's technically against the EULA, not the scam itself, which is perfectly legal.

The latter is far and away the most common way of running large numbers of identical ships and doing silly things with them.  I've referenced it here before as well, but it was brought to my mind again lately due to someone playing around with it smart-bombing anything that's been moving in Rancer.  More often -- quite often -- it's used to run whole fleets of mining ships or do PvE in high-sec.  This is another one that it could be argued is technically against the EULA -- you're technically modifying the way the client works -- but again CCP turns a blind eye to it.

So which is worse?

To my mind, Jita bots are worse... much worse.  I mean, if you're using ISBoxer at least you're out in space, right?  As a player, I can do something about an ISBoxer if he annoys me enough.  Against a Jita spam bot, all I can do is go for the "Block" feature.  And that feature is only good for the character that uses it.  So yeah, Jita bots are worse.

CCP's security team apparently agrees because CCP Stillman and CCP Pelligro made themselves known in Jita yesterday and seem to have nuked everything that looked like a spam bot from orbit...  The impact, as measured by Chribba's tool which tracks conversations in Jita local, was rather striking (his graph, not mine):

So here's the philosophical bit: over a loooong period of time, I think we're seeing two trends out of CCP:
  1. they're slowwwwly starting to enforce bits of the EULA that they haven't enforced before; and,
  2. they're seem to be coming down harder on technical EULA violations that don't involve someone flying in space over technical EULA violations that do.
Now if I'm right about this, the smiting of the Jita bots is but a single, very minor, data-point.  But it's kind of an interesting data-point and it'll be worth watching to see if it's joined by others.

In the meantime, over the course of the day today, a new crop of Jita bots -- or, you know, something that looks and acts exactly like Jita bots -- are slowly making itself felt.  Let's see how long they last.


  1. http://youtu.be/a88Z7YOh_us ~Aliens

  2. I think a better 2 points to consider is 1) were players told it was okay to use the software or engage in an activity by CCP employees in the past and 2) how easy is it to detect. Before Darius JOHNSON took a position at CCP, some employees seemed to have a case of what GM Nova once called “EULARD” (End User License Agreement Reading Deficiency). So practices like using ISBoxer and cache scraping (which doesn't involve flying in space) are currently judged acceptable. Also, the practices involved to require some advanced technical tricks to detect.

    Spam bots, on the other hand, were never allowed, just not given even a low priority to be banned. And SOMER (and Eve-Games) was just something that fell through the cracks until people started looking at what exactly was going on. That's why both players and GTC companies were given time to conform to the new reality without being penalized for past actions.

    An interesting question I'd love to hear your opinion on is whether CCP is cracking down on practices they can't influence by game design. You know more about that than I do. But that could also cover why both cache scraping and ISBoxer is still allowed.

  3. ISBoxer brings CCP a lot of money. Jita spammer doesn't.

    I think it's been long since estabilished that CCP's interest lie in profits first and foremost, so ISBotters are 100% safe.

  4. The important part you seem to be overlooking is that CCP have always maintained that you have to be at the keyboard. This is why, so they say, they've always been ok with G15 macros and ISBoxer because someone has to be at the keyboard to press the button. The second you automate the (initial) button press you're in deep doo doo.

    The actual flying in space part is irrelevant as we know with mining bots.

  5. Jita spammers can be countered by minimising local, which nobody reads anyway.

    Multiboxers are flying in space and can synchronise all their weapons to fire (and thus hit) at exactly the same time. No one-or-two-second-gaps allowing logistics to get their acts together.

    There's no comparison: ISBoxer is far worse than Jita spammers.

    Now which one's worse: ISBoxer or a fleet of assisted sentry drones?

    1. "Why not both?" !!

    2. Still ISBoxer, at least with a fleet of assisted drones there is one player behind one ship.

      CCP will likely do something about drones in a re-balancing pass.

    3. A fleet of ISBoxers using assisted sentry drones?


  6. As far as "technical EULA violations" go, I'm not sure ISboxer qualifies, while a chat bot definitely does. CCP had an official clarification of how they interpret the EULA at one point, which was that software used to send input to multiple clients is legal as long as a human is originating each event. So that smartbomber is fine as long as he's pressing F1-F8 to fire each one himself. A smartbomber with a *single* client who used a macro to perfectly time each bomb and cap injection would be violating the EULA.

    So Jita spam is fine as long as there's a person ^v-ing it each time. Or even ISboxing 10 clients in 10 different hub systems and pressing a single key to paste spam in each system. You just can't use any type of software, or hardware, or a drinking bird, to do it for you while you're AFK.

    1. ISBoxer does qualify as a technical EULA violation as Inner Space, the software that runs ISBoxer, uses techniques that usually qualify as client modification. Botters caught using Inner Space, like most versions of Questor do, receive a permanent ban for a first offense instead of a 30 day ban because of how Inner Space works.

      But as I said before, CCP is currently not banning ISBoxer users.

  7. what is worse,
    -jita bots posting scam links in local chat so fast that you cant even click on them because they scroll too fast
    -real people talking such outrageous nonsense in local chat it destroys your believe in the humanity

  8. Personally I think ISBoxer is worse than the Jita spambot.

    While the Spambot is clearly against the EULA, it can be blocked, or local can be minimized, and any player who has been playing eve for more than a month will probably be skeptical of anything that sounds too good to be true, and is likely to know Jita is full of scams, so they have a minimal negative impact on the game.

    ISBoxer, on the other hand, gives an unfair advantage in actual combat, by running 10+ characters at the same time. When multi-boxing a player needs to operate each character individually, meaning that there is the opportunity for player error. With ISBoxer someone can run 10 identical ships and either suicide gank with perfect syncronization, operate a one-man-pipe-bomb in a way that no player should be able to (EVE is a multiplayer game after all), or just gatecamp without having to give a flying fuck about small gangs, since an ISBoxer can blap any fleet of <10 normal players.

    ***TL;DR***: ISBoxer is more detrimental to EVE combat, whereas Jita's Spambots only render a single Local channel near useless, with next to no effect on trade or the larger EVE community

  9. As Mara Rinn says, isboxer is much worse as it directly affects game play. Chat spam is annoying but can be blocked or ignored fairly easily. Fleets of synchronised miners, smartbombers, etc controlled by one person, not so much.
    Unfortunately those multiboxers spend money, or at least consume plex, so are much less likely to be banned.

  10. Which is worse? ISBoxer, no contest.

    All the Jita bots do is spam a chat channel in one system which most players deal with by just ignoring it.

    ISBoxers use an arguably illegal method to gain an unfair advantage over other players, whether through improving mining income or in combat by coordinating and running their own miniature fleet.

    It's a lot harder to ignore the several sets of guns shooting at you in perfect unison than a few spammers in local chat.

  11. By this logic, market bots would be the worse no?



  12. The problem with Jita local chat bots has always been detection. There isn't any way for CCP to distinguish between someone who is repeatedly using copy-and-paste and/or drag-and-drop (both features implemented by CCP and allowed by the EULA) and someone who is using a well-designed spam bot (which is not allowed by the EULA).

    Maybe local should become something you can only use while in space, uncloaked? That would make it possible for all-day spammers to be ganked, and CCP would not need to worry about trying to separate out false positives.


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