Xander Phoena had expressed his thoughts on the use of ISBoxer before the CSM election and expanded upon them in his weekly CSM summary on Sunday:
"My own personal thoughts on this one are simple. Isboxer and it’s variants are a symptom of the problem rather than the cause. There are certain mechanics in game that cause people to use Isboxer because otherwise it would just be too damned tedious. However – and this is a big one – there are individuals out there piloting 20, 30 man bomber gangs solo with deadly precision. These people aren’t multiboxing because of a faulty mechanic as such (unless you want to argue that bombers are grossly OP in the current meta which makes them a faulty mechanic which they probably are) but because it is the ‘perfect’ way to run a small bomber gang.
"So yes, the mechanics need fixed, but none of us are so naïve as to believe that’s an overnight job. I would ‘like’ to see the likes of Isboxer banned. Of course, I’m well aware that ‘banning Isboxer’ isn’t quite as easy as that for CCP. It’s a pretty messy one. What I would like to find out from CCP definitively is what is and what isn’t allowed under the EULA. My understanding is that at the moment Isboxer itself is fine. What ‘may’ not be ok is using a piece of software such as Isboxer to allow one mouse click to activate 30 modules on 30 ships over 30 clients (yeah, I know – why would you use Isboxer otherwise).
"I’m not going to let this one go. Soon as I can organise a meeting with the correct people in CCP to make things more black and white, I’ll report back."
Sugar Kyle made a brief statement in opposition to ISBoxer in her weekly CSM update and expanded on her reasoning in the comments:
"It is the point where human ability to mulitask that ISBoxer shores up that does it for me. I'm a multiboxer but once I have 3 or 4 accounts going I mess up. I make market mistakes. I forgot to dump ore. I leave alts on gates. I don't cloak someone. I don't jump someone to a gate.
"It removes the breakdown of human error that comes with keeping track of so many things and so much divided attention."
But I didn't really get a sense that the issue was gaining attention within the CSM until I heard Major JSilva bring up the topic at the end of Big Country's talk show on EVE Radio last night (or this morning if you live outside the Americas). In the chaos that followed, I didn't quite get Major JSilva's position, but I think he thinks that having a pilot actively at the keyboard for each ship in space, even if using ISBoxer, is better than seeing pilots park their ships and walk away from the keyboard. I did hop into Sugar Kyle's chat channel after the show was over and confirmed that Major JSilva not only supports the use of ISBoxer, but is also a user.
Multi-boxing software is, at best, frowned upon by major MMORPG companies today. The use of software like ISBoxer is banned in Guild Wars 2 and Wildstar while Blizzard took steps last year to curtail its use in the PvP setting of World of Warcraft battlegrounds. People don't like getting pwned by software. That, I believe, is driving the current movement against the use of ISBoxer in EVE today.
But, how big of a problem is the use of ISBoxer, if its use is a problem, in EVE? I think CCP really needs to quantify the issue and determine just how prevalent the use of the multi-boxing software truly is. Of course, when I talk about multi-boxing software, I'm referring to Inner Space, the software that runs ISBoxer.
Inner Space, in addition to running the ISBoxer extension, also runs extensions that power bots like DirectEVE1 and ISXEVE. If I were CCP, I would want to know how many Inner Space users are running ISBoxer vs extensions that power bots. Is ISBoxer just a cover that helps hide serious botters who run Inner Space? Or is botting use just a small percentage of Inner Space use and most of the use of the software is to run ISBoxer?
Also, farms of twenty, thirty up to fifty accounts mining make me suspicious. Multi-boxing software would really help skirt around the prohibitions against botting use. While botting is very cost effective for those gathering in-game currency for the secondary RMT market, having one player control 15 accounts at the same time would server the same purpose. If I were the nosy type, I'd want to know if a lot of those accounts are linked to RMT rings or if users are running the software responsibly.
Don't ask me the answers to any of the questions I just posed, as I have no idea what the answers are. But CCP could find out. Back in 2013, CCP demonstrated the capability to detect Inner Space extensions, as the software runs in the EVE executable's memory space. At the time, bot developers reported that CCP was just looking for the DirectEVE and ISXEVE extensions as well as Red Guard and an autopilot warp to zero hack. If CCP were serious about finding out what is happening in their game, they would put some of the detection back in place to gather metrics. Assuming, of course, that doing so would not stretch the resources of the security team.
Resources. For me, that is the biggest issue. Is trying to enforce the EULA where ISBoxer is concerned really worth the time and effort? Perhaps CCP did the research last year and already knows all of these answers. If so, according to my reading of the policy on client manipulation, the answer up is no. But CCP did leave the policy open to change. The question is: how big is the problem, and does CCP have the resources to do anything about the problem? Assuming, of course, a problem actually exists.
1. However, there is a move among botters who don't want to pay Lavish Software so they can use DirectEVE to develop a version of the Questor bot that does not use Inner Space. I hear that at least one development fork actually works.