Friday, March 15, 2013

Mouse Without Borders

Yesterday I received a nasty little surprise about a piece of software I was using, Input Director.  The freeware allows a user to use one mouse and keyboard to operate two or more computers.  I started using it long ago and found it worked better than Synergy.  Input Director only has one slight problem that TurAmarth ElRandir brought up: it has the ability to duplicate keystrokes onto multiple computers.  Worse, Input Director has the ability to create macros up to 256 characters long.  Yikes!


Now, some of you reading this may think I'm overreacting.  Surely CCP is not going to ban me for macro use as long as I don't use the functionality that duplicates keystrokes or use macros, right?  Probably not, at least for now.  But Eve Online is not the only MMORPG I play.  I also play Guild Wars 2.  We may have a raging debate about ISBoxer in Eve, but ArenaNet is taking a tougher line...

As part of ArenaNet’s policy on third-party programs, we are often asked about multi-boxing and the use of macros. Here is our policy:

Macros
Guild Wars 2 players are permitted to use macros as long as the macros are programmed with a 1 key for 1 function protocol.
  1. This means that if you program a macro, it must require one keystroke per action. You may not program a single key to perform multiple functions.
  2. For example, if you Press A and it results in the casting of a single skill, you’re ok. If you Press A and it casts multiple spells, you’re not ok.
  3. You cannot program a macro to perform the same or multiple actions on more than one account at a time.
  4. You cannot program an “auto-clicker” macro that, for instance, opens chests while you play elsewhere.
Dual- or Multi-Boxing
  1. You may use more than one account at the same time.
  2. You may use more than one computer at the same time.
  3. You must be actively playing on each account.
  4. And as stated above, you may not program your keyboard to perform functions on more than one account at a time.
    a. For example, if you press W on your keyboard to move forward, a single character on a single account should move forward. The keystroke or mouse click should not perform functions on more than one account.
That description pretty much rules out the use of ISBoxer.  And while I have a pretty good feel of what CCP does and does not allow, the only thing I know is that ArenaNet takes a tougher line on cheating than CCP.  Also, I have no idea about ArenaNet's detection methods.  I do know they are trying to implement automatic detection systems similar to what CCP has created over the past two years.

I like to play safe with these matters so my personal policy is to try to adhere to the rules of the game I play that has the strictest standards.  If I do that I don't have to worry about changing my setup depending on the game I play.  For me, that meant replacing Input Director.

I discovered doing research that none of the freeware available lacked the broadcast mouse clicks/key strokes to all computers option.  Not good.  But I did have a choice of software that did not have macro capability.  I decided to go with Mouse without Borders, an application released by Microsoft in September 2011. The software can allow a single mouse and keyboard to control up to four computers and as I discovered is ridiculously easy to install and use.  And I still have the ability to share the clipboard between my computers and copy files from one to the other which is something I do all the time while I blog.

Look, no macro tab!

The GUI is very simple and the ALL PC mode is disabled by default.  Better yet, people wanting to create macros across computers are not going to want to use this since other applications offer them more.  I figure if a company starts in with application bans, Mouse without Borders won't show up on the list.  At least, that's my theory.

Am I too paranoid?  Probably.  But I've watched over the years game companies become more and more sophisticated in their fight against botters, although they usually have to get hit upside the head with a serious botting problem before they reply with serious actions of their own.  I'd rather assume a game company is doing application checks and be wrong than assume they are not doing application checks and receive a nasty surprise in the form of a ban.

20 comments:

  1. One of the critical items are #3 under Macros and #4 under multi-boxing. That is a big difference between AreaNet and CCP (as we currently understand CCP anyway).

    As I often run 3 accounts on one machine and switch clients to push commands onto each client in turn, I'm not worried. However, those that click once for multiple responses on more than one machine may eventually be in for a big change.

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  2. As far as I can tell Anet are strongly opposed to the kind of multiboxing that would be seen as normal in many other MMOs. The determination not to have any kind of /follow command shows that.

    After EQ2 went F2P and I found myself with several accounts I got into the habit of having three or four logged in at once and running characters around together using autofollow. It's common practice there. I never set up any macros or anything like that, just tabbed between the accounts and played each as needed, but it without the in-game autofollow that wouldn't have been feasible.

    I have two accounts in GW2 and it would be nice to be able to duo my characters but it's completely forbidden, other than in the circumstances outlined above. That pretty much limits you to laboriously moving two sets of characters from chest event to chest event or having one in town for banking purposes. I can't see much point bothering, other than to save the trouble of logging in and out.

    Also I get the feeling that there is a strong opinion from GW1 players that multiboxing is cheating plain and simple (an attitude which used to be the norm in most MMOs not that long ago) so I would expect to get reported by other players for playing two accounts regardless of what the official line might be. Certainly moderators on the official forums believe multiboxing is an EULA violation and my experience over many years tells me that GMs frequently have only a partial understanding of the rules they are paid to enforce.

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  3. This is very interesting. So are you saying that you "hope" that CCP will have no problems with Mouse without Borders? It sure would make Multi- boxing a lot easier.

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  4. I think it is telling how you are freaking out about this without direction. You don't know if a piece of software will or will not provoke the ire of CCP, even something as simple as a software KVM. There is no direction, other than vague fearmongering. This is the kind of shit that fascist dictatorships, bad parents, or testosterone-poisoned managers pull, lol.

    Just by the way, here is the dirty little secret when it comes to CCP and their 'war on bots'. Their detection methods suck. The *good* bot software is not detectable programmaticly by CCP, it is detected behaviorally. They see someone moving massive amounts of isk around, someone logged in ridiculous amounts of time, someone who is relatively frequently reported as a bot by other players, they send someone to go check him out.

    They aren't going to detect you using InputDirector or Synergy - and, frankly, as soon as they ban someone for using that software is the moment I quit Eve and never give CCP another dim. Because it means that they are scanning people's computers outside of the memory space which they have any reasonable right to access (the eve client itself), and EVE has turned into spyware. Fuck that.

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    1. I guess you don't read the botting forums :)

      And you do know that people have been banned for using Synergy in the past, right?

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    2. I do read the botting forums, I know Lax and Amadeus from the MQ2 days. MQ2 was hella fun, and sparked my interest which has led to my current career, but it ruined EQ for me, so using the spiritual successor (ISXEVE) is something I haven't done. I used InnerSpace with Eve, and still use it for some other games for its abilities to manipulate the way the game is rendered (fake fullscreen, which was very nice for eve before they officially implemented it, but other games havent caught up), but I stay more or less up to date out of professional curiosity.

      And people have seriously been banned for using Synergy? I need to investigate this. If this is true, and use of Synergy was truly all that was happening, and it was detected by software scanning... I'm done with this game.

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    3. Sorry, but you are behind the times. According to civan, the developer of Red Guard, here is what CCP is checking for...

      http://www.publicdemands.co.uk/showthread.php?24120-New-week-new-scans-CCP-detection-status

      -> Check whether isxeve.dll is loaded
      -> Check whether directeve.dll is loaded.
      -> A check for probehelper script (is that still working even?)
      -> A check for autopilot hack.
      -> A check for IsDebuggerPresent (somebody should tell them they they got one already in their binary)

      Was CCP checking for anything else or will CCP begin checking for new things? Or if bot developers are successful in hiding their processes from now on, will CCP just say "fuck it!" and ban Inner Space as being the easiest way to take care of the problem?

      And with this I will stop feeding the troll.

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    4. This is a genuine question - why am I a troll, but the guy who says that if you question CCPs methods, you are a cheater, is not a troll?

      Also, you should read the rest of the thread, or even the first post. Those dll checks are being executed using the method GetModuleHandleA - which, while ISXEVE is closed source and I can't say for sure that Ama is doing it right, ISXEQ hasn't been vulnerable to that kind of check in like 4 years.

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    5. if they start banning for synegery they will ban for mouse w/o borders. Ive always felt that ISBOXER was cheating. I am a multi boxer and as far as im concerned broadcasting commands is just as bad as botting. That said if they do start banning for programs that allow you to use multi computers they will lose my subs. Im not plugging in 2 extra kb and mice just to play eve.

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  5. @enneract... Unless you are a Dev or employee of CCP, you need to take care hen making bald faced statements about anything they can or can't do... and obviously you have a vested interest in them NOT finding bots or EULA violations or you wouldn't be so set against it... so...

    "...the moment I quit Eve and never give CCP another dim." and can that day come too soon? Nope!

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    1. Remember kids, if you don't play the game the way cranky Uncle Tur wants, then you are a bad person and should feel bad. Just quit now. You have alts? Schizo! Head case!

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    2. Wow... U Mad Bro? So upset at little ol me that ya gotcher panties all inna bunch now dontcha? LOL

      Ahhhh... it's soo easy... so very very easy... run along now, you're bothering the adults. =]

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  6. We have a little baby McCarthy here, don't we?

    If you don't have anything to hide, you don't need privacy, eh?

    Obviously I'm a botter if I have a problem with the idea of a third party scanning the programs running on my computer beyond the scope of what I have consented to (the memory space of the client itself).

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    1. And if I knew for sure how all of these programs worked I might not be so paranoid. But if one of these programs puts something into the game's memory space, poof goes the account.

      +1 on the troll. I just wanted to make a point and you gave me the opening.

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    2. By that logic, you shouldnt run ANYTHING on your computer other than Eve. They've given themselves the justification to ban you based on any software which is running on your computer, period. More to the point, they are saying that they will take the mere presence of tools to be evidence of cheating.

      This reminds of the old SecuRom DRM would which not let you install games if you had disc virtualization software installed, because it could be used to facilitate piracy (one of innumerable uses). Whats next in this, saying that having AutoHotKey or AutoIt installed/running is evidence for cheating?

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    3. Lord help you if you have encryption. Clearly the only people that need encryption are terrorists and pedophiles.

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    4. Your OS is 3rd party software. THEY CAN BAN U FOR ANYTHING

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    5. Yes... your OS may be third party software... but strangely I don't think Microsoft wrote XP or Win 7 as a mod/tool/utility expressly gaming, or the game EVE Online... But if you want to be childish and take the extreme sophomoric argument that Unless EVE comes with it's own operating system CCP will ban you... then go right ahead... but please, be considerate of the adults who wish to have a reasonable discourse on this subject, and go forum whine elsewhere.

      And unlike the generous Mr. Noisy... -1 for your childish attempts at logic.. nothing but fail.

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    6. Well, it still is a serious point. EVEMon is third party software that facilitates gameplay.

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  7. Thanks for this little gem (mouse without borders that is).

    Swapped from Synergy to ID and felt I had it down, but there are naggling little issues with ID (esp when doing cut'n'paste between computers) and this one works without a single hitch.

    And like others, I often run multiple clients (1 - 3) on 3 different computers (and monitors) because I prefer to see what's up.

    Never felt the need, nor drive to figure out how to use macros or replicating clicks.

    I just enjoy not having to have 3 mouse/keyboard combos on my desk.

    (And hooking the laptop to the circus means that I don't have to bother with the tiny keyboard and annoying strip of foil they pretend to work as a mouse).

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