Thursday, March 13, 2014

CCP's War On Bots: One Step Closer

CCP's War On Bots doesn't just involve the security and community service teams.  So while a lot of people were excited about the changes in Rubicon 1.3 that launched yesterday, I was more excited about CSM candidate Steve Ronuken's tweets yesterday.



What's Steve so excited about?  CCP has opened up access to historical market data via CREST.  A feature mentioned at Fanfest last year, CCP managed to get some of the functionality released before this year's event.  And Steve went right to work.


So what does CREST and Steve's work with market data have to do with the War On Bots?  Simple, really.  When market data is available, hopefully the practice of obtaining the information through cache-scraping will go away.  Cache-scraping is a practice that violates the EULA, but CCP employees years ago told players was okay anyway.  I can't blame players for believing that the practice was acceptable because CCP even added objects to make the practice easier.

I've never liked cache-scaping because I never saw the difference between someone operating their account AFK with code running to mine ore in an asteroid belt for hours at a time and someone operating their account AFK with code running to mine information from the market interface for hours at a time.  But once people at CCP woke up to what was going on, the practice had gone on for years and the decision was made to allow the practice to continue as long as cache-scraping did not turn into botting.

Whenever I step back a moment, I always find the fact that some of those who cry the loudest for CCP to do something about market bots are the staunchest defenders of the practices that make developing market bots easier.  Hopefully, as CREST opens up the market data that players are scraping the cache to obtain, the constituency for cache scraping will go away and CCP will have an easier time banning the bad guys.  Yesterday was a good first step.

7 comments:

  1. Those who care about market bots are traders who need good market information. There is nothing wrong with"mining for information". There is plenty wrong with having a bot update your orders for you every five minutes.

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    1. Except, of course, that running a macro that scrapes the cache violates the EULA and helps hide market bots.

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  2. Market bots work with current *almost* real time data (i.e. the table of info you see in the market window) so their orders are always in prime position. This is the data obtained from cache scraping.

    As crest is atm, you only get daily information like the history tab of the market window. Bots almost certainly won't use this as it is of little use to them. It is however of use to people who want to analyze markets.

    Even when the market data cache is finally removed, bots will still use screen scrapers and be just as effective at controlling the market. Sorry to burst your bubble but the crest api isn't going to help unless CCP make current market data available via api, in which case everyone will probably end up running bots of some form.

    TL;DR This change will have no effect on bots, but may make serious market analysts happier.

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    1. Sure it will have an effect. Right now, if CCP sees a character cycling through all the market screens they can't automatically flag the character because it could be someone doing a "legitimate" activity. Once all the market traders are using CREST, then the bots will stand out and can be banned easier.

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    2. This. ;-)
      If everyone gets the data the same way it is hard to find the bad guys. but if there is away for legal operation and one for not so legal it is much easier to separate the bad guys

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  3. "I've never liked cache-scaping because I never saw the difference between someone operating their account AFK with code running to mine ore in an asteroid belt for hours at a time and someone operating their account AFK with code running to mine information from the market interface for hours at a time."

    100% agreement on this. Game companies tend to go after the most visible cheaters first, the ones other players notice and complain about, like mining bots (gather bots IOW).

    Most players don't play the market (auction or w/e depending on the game), they don't notice market bots, don't complain about them and so the game company doesn't do much about them.

    Yet just 1 "well run" market bot can be far, far more disruptive to the economy than a fleet of mining bots.

    IMO, no matter what game you're playing market/auction bots are a far bigger problem and should be addressed before gather bots.

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    1. You are 100% correct that market bots do not stand out as much and can do more harm...

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