Monday, January 26, 2015

Input Broadcasting Bans Have Begun

I hate doing the breaking news thing, but I woke up to a message that CCP has begun banning multi-boxers.  Here is a copy/paste from the EVE Online section of the ISBoxer forums:
Dear CCP,
When you published the new "regulation" regarding ISBoxer clarifying an old rule, we all were happy:
Finally, a word from CCP what is banable and what no. The ISBoxer community honored the new rules, and we looked into our hard- and software to change our ways of playing the game to be EULA-conforming if it wasn't already. We looked for ways how we can play with ISBoxer without broadcasting and without violating the EULA. 
To achieve this we tried to get answers via petitions if our new setups are okay with the EULA or not. But the answers we received were only:
- Pre-made text blocks, which were not even related to our questions at all! Did the person answering the ticket really read it? Obviously not.
- EULA quotes - which are useless if there were issues interpreting the EULA and if the ticket is asking whether a certain setup would conform to the EULA by CCP. This is a huge issue, as we have designed setups to play without broadcasting, but some people got banned even if they were not broadcasting at all. Some even did not have ISBoxer installed, and were banned. 
- The majority of tickets were either closed or did not receive any answer (apart from your message closing the ticket because it was inactive for a while)
In your dev thread on the forums regarding the ISboxer rule changes and broadcasting bans, you mentioned that you want us to get in contact with you if there are problems.
Yes, there are problems. For two month we are trying to get in contact with you and get a clear answer if our new methods playing without broadcasting are within the terms of the EULA. Were are getting nothing. You are ignoring tickets completely, and those tickets which are being answered contain only unrelated text macros or EULA quotes which are not helpful at all.
Now CCP started banning innocent pilots who are using more than one account on the same IP address who are just fast. Even some without ISBoxer software. If you are commanding more than one account in a time-frame of three seconds from the same IP CCP considers this broadcasting and you will likely receive a ban, even if you are not broadcasting. This is because CCP's immature and flawed detection software can not differentiate between manual fast actions and broadcasting. If you can't clearly prove that someone is broadcasting and you are still banning because it MIGHT BE POSSIBLE that someone is broadcasting you are doing something wrong and you will probably hit many innocent pilots.
I am not kidding. This happened to 4 guys I know. Two of them aren't even using ISBoxer and are only commanding two clients at once without any software aid. CCP's reaction on petitions filed by those:
Our systems says so, deal with it.
We are touching legal terms right now, if you are banning a paying customer without clear evidence, from a game he paid actual money for. This will sooner or later cause a lot of trouble.
We want a clear statement if our new ways to multiboxing is allowed or not. And we request that you stop using an inaccurate and flawed detection software if it can't differentiate between broadcasting and pushing buttons fast. Assume that people are acting in good faith, if you are unsure and can't prove the opposite.
regards
charadrass
To which, Nolak Ataru (aka bugme143) added:
TL;DR: CCP's not following their own EULA, banning people for 2+ commands in three seconds even without ISBoxer installed.
I listened to the GRN Show yesterday in which DJ Big Country asked CCP Falcon about a possible meeting between CCP and the ISBoxer community.  CCP Falcon basically replied that if anyone has a question to submit a ticket, but that sharing the contents of communications between CCP and a player is against the EULA.  CCP Falcon made a clear point that nothing had changed in the EULA, which is true.

The problem is that CCP did not enforce the EULA on this matter for years and only openly declared the use of ISBoxer a EULA violation in April 2013.  Worse, users like Nolak refused to believe that the practice ever violated the EULA.  But CCP Falcon's post was directed not only at ISBoxer users, but code-assisted multi-boxers in general.  A follow-up dev blog from Team Security in December emphasized the point:

Refresher Course - Macro Use
During discussions about the input multiplexing and broadcasting issue on forums and in tickets, we have noticed a frequent misunderstanding we would like to take this opportunity to address.  Any use of macros to interact with the game world is prohibited by EULA now, and has always been. The EULA clearly stipulates:

Conduct
A. Specifically Restricted Conduct
3. You may not use your own or any third-party software, macros or other stored rapid keystrokes or other patterns of play that facilitate acquisition of items, currency, objects, character attributes, rank or status at an accelerated rate when compared with ordinary Game play. You may not rewrite or modify the user interface or otherwise manipulate data in any way to acquire items, currency, objects, character attributes or beneficial actions not actually acquired or achieved in the Game.


The above from the dev blog is the famous Section 6A3 that people are tired of me talking about.  The problem that some ISBoxers have is that they ignore the speed issue mentioned in Section 6A3.  If CCP is going to rule that input broadcasting is bad due to this rule, why would anyone think that another software solution that allows the same speed is allowed under this provision?  Also, I think that because the ISBoxers made such a ruckus and made everyone believe that the issue was solely about ISBoxer, that other multi-boxers ignored the warnings from CCP, believing they did not need to change anything in the way they do things.

We are now at the he said/she said point where users proclaim their innocence and the game company states they have proof.  Unfortunetly for charadrass, CCP can't assume everyone is acting in good faith while videos like the one below are floating around, with users demonstrating how to possibly violate the EULA.


Given some of the rhetoric coming from one portion of the ISBoxer community, I was surprised that the bans took this long in coming.  What I think happened is that Team Security took a step back and reevaluated their detection methods and what is allowed and waited almost 4 weeks before pulling the trigger on the bans.  We'll have to wait and see exactly what happened.  For all we know, CCP may walk back the bans later this week, if not later today.  But for those who thought the great input broadcasting ban kerfuffle was over, think again.

UPDATE: Joe Thaler, the creator of ISBoxer, posted the following on the ISBoxer forums:

"A random rumor post on the official EVE forums from a random person claiming there's this new detection where you can't touch more than one window within 3 seconds from the same IP? I seriously doubt this claim, considering the number of active EVE multiboxers around here... that we know are still using Video FX to touch many windows in less than 3 seconds...
"More likely they are banned for a different reason."

47 comments:

  1. "with users demonstrating how to possibly ban the EULA."

    I don't think that's what you meant to write. Good post tho.

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  2. Eve was known for a long time as a game where multiboxing via ISBoxer was not only tolerated, but "allowed". Sure, vast mining fleets were never really an issue, because, when we look calmly at the situation, there is no difference between one guy flying 20 miners or 20 guys flying one each.
    What changed? ISBoxers strted using their multiboxing software in incursions and in pvp.
    Theses fleets of stealth bombers, all pilots being called "replicant xxy" hit their targets in flawless, perfect timing. Petitions were written and CCP had to make a decision. Is multiboxing in pvp an unfair advantage? In mining, it was certainly not, but in pvp, where reaction times count, there is no denying that it gives one single player an unfair advantage. Same goes for contested incursion sites, muliboxers will always out-alpha human fleets and so win every contests.
    Hence the decision to change their formerly "generous" attitude towards multiboxing.
    Sadly, the efficiency of multiboxing and the widespread use of alts in EVE does lie in the poor game mechanics. There is only one activity that is "profitable§ doing with lots of others: PVP
    In every other aspect of the game, cooperation with other players is penalized by CCP's set of rules.
    If CCP was able to bring back the MMO aspcet of this game (outside of pvp), then people would play more cooperatively...

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  3. " there is no difference between one guy flying 20 miners or 20 guys flying one each"

    I dont totally agree with this but I accept it might be true but... this is not the case. The real scenario is one guy flying 20 miners with a macro and another guy flying 20 miners without a macro!

    In this scenario you cant refuse the fact that there would be a difference. After a couple hours, the guy with the macro would had mined more since he is more efficient. So... a third party software is giving an advantage over a player that doesnt use any software and that is why its not allowed.

    The reason people dont understand why this is a violation of the EULA and endup banned and revolted is because of statments like yours, they migth be true for the scenario they are representing but they arent the scenario that is being targeted by the bans and cannot be used to advocate that 3th party software do no harm to the game!

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  4. There's an EVE Character of the same name (Charadrass) who recently made these statements in the German Language Help Channel, which is a public and system provided channel:

    [ 2015.01.13 20:24:42 ] Charadrass > es gibt kein erlaubtes broadcasting. roundrobin oder über verschiedene tasten an jeweils einzelne boxen ist ok

    [ 2015.01.13 20:24:42 ] Charadrass > es gibt kein erlaubtes broadcasting. roundrobin oder über verschiedene tasten an jeweils einzelne boxen ist ok
    [ 2015.01.13 20:26:22 ] Charadrass > http://i.imgur.com/CxsdMHs.gif
    [ 2015.01.13 20:26:23 ] Charadrass > das hier meinte ich
    [ 2015.01.13 20:26:33 ] Charadrass > ich nutze die mittlere methode
    [ 2015.01.13 20:26:39 ] Charadrass > zeitverzögerung == null

    English:

    - there is no form of allowed broadcasting. round robin or [sending] different keys to different boxes is ok
    - [image link]
    - that's what I mean
    - I use the method in the middle
    - delay == zero

    To me, "delay == zero" and "[innocent pilots] who are just fast" are something different.

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  5. If CCP and the Users have a problem with Broadcasting, than why should Rollover / Roundrobin be allowed? This sounds like fishing for a technicality.

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  6. ... or an attempt to tiptoe to the edge of what's allowed. Or rather what an individual player thinks, is allowed.

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  7. The OP on the EVE forums (which got copy/pasted to the ISBoxer forums) can be found here: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=400578 (locked already)

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  8. So they're not answering the rules lawyer questions and giving them ways around the rules. Good!


    Maybe they should just make it easy and ban ISBoxer altogether.

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  9. Actually there is a big difference.


    Without the macro the 1 guy wouldn't be able to run 20 miners all by himself anywhere near as efficiently.

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  10. Well, since I don't know for sure that some of the workarounds actually violate the EULA, I used the word "possibly". However, I strongly suspect that some of those methods do violate the EULA.

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  11. The problem with a straight ban of specific software (and in consequence no ban for other tools) got explained in detail with the context of the topic of input broadcasting/multiplexing.
    That's why CCP won't just say "ISBoxer is not allowed"

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  12. Well i can only say it hit me hard whit a bann. Using round robin. http://isboxer.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6569 or see the reddit post i dont know if the isboxer maker is cooperating whit CCP http://redd.it/2tqphs

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  13. Woosh :)
    What you suggest is that players are able to use the EULA against itself and proof that the EULA should be banned.

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  14. Ah, now you are confounding input multiplication with macro use. That was the big difference between ISBoxer and mining bots. ISBoxer multiplies his manual commands, whereas a macro substitutes them...

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  15. This 3-second claim should be easy to test. Incredibly easy in fact.

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  16. actually, 3rd party software does absolutely not hamr the game. Take EVEMon or EFT for example. tey are great tools and until one of the latest patches, only EVEMon was able to give a player a complete overview of his assets, as the EVE client was not capable to disply container contents...
    Trading tools like NEAT, Evementat are brilliant, ban these too?



    And what about material calculators to organize and optimize ship production? POS configuration tool, jump route planners, dotlan, wormhol.es or tripwire?
    Ban people for using adashboard???
    Even the argument about comparing the performance of a macro user and a tired "human miner" is lacking, as a macro with fixed mining cycle times will only work like the literal clockwork, being far less efficient than an actively piloted mining ship. So, until the moment the human miner gets tired, I estimate that he mined 50-100% more efficiently than a stupid macro ever could. So, all these Macros would have to mine for a very long time to outmine a human miner, which would simply raise a suspicious flag on the server logs...
    I am absolutely not defending the use of macros or ISBoxer, what pisses me off is CCP's attitude towards their customers.
    It is a fine icelandic tradition of not making clarifications, banning arbitrarily and not even being able to admit having made mistakes, fix these and apologize.
    I think the scandal about the EVE Monument was examplary of how badly CCP handles tough situations. The same goes for the banwave due to Erotica's bonus round scam.

    CCP employees or their legal consultants are just worthless. It is no wonder that the fluctuation there is above average and that no subscriber data has been published since Incarna....

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  17. ISBoxer was expressly allowed by CCP in numerous previous posts and Dev blogs. It was declared to be in violation of the EULA in April with the caveat that CCP was not enforcing any bans regarding it unless you stepped over the line into AFK botting.
    Rule 6A3 has been repeatedly been stated as being enforced on a PER. CHARACTER. BASIS. Straight from a GM.
    Please do some journalistic research before regurgitating the same old garbage.

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  18. That which cannot be killed will never die. Players trying to push too hard will always exist, but they are not helping their long-term case. The pendulum will eventually swing deeper against their position as they attempt to push harder against it

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  19. Where in the EULA does it state that Section 6A3 is on a per-character basis? I don't see it. Sorry, I'm not going to take an out-of-date judgement from a GM that was posted on the forums of proof that something is allowed. CCP Falcon's post and the follow-up dev blog by CCP Grimmi didn't mention any per-character exemptions either, and those are the latest statements of what is allowed.

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  20. Yes, Lax is trying his hardest to make sure users stay within the rules. But the users have the ability to disable to defaults and use the input broadcasting features like they did before 1 January.


    Also, didn't Lord's Protector warn everyone against using round robin because it could result in a ban? I'm pretty sure I read a post from him stating that.

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  21. You're right. I'll correct it when I get home.

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  22. With the latest ruling, both input broadcasting/multiplexing and macro use violate the same rule.

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  23. But it would be what some people are trying to do.

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  24. I love these guys. The tears have that pinch of cinnamon added to the flavor from the years of being allowed to abuse the game with isboxer. So so delicious.

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  25. Lax was trying to stifle discussion of it or put out his hand to CCP to beg for money.

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  26. 6A3 was stated as a per-character basis in GM and CCP posts in the daily "wah isboxer" threads, by CCP in one of their Dev Blogs, and again by another CCP on either reddit or an interview with someone. 6A3 was always aimed at using software to reduce cycle times of weapons / mining lasers, increase % of valuable loot drop, or otherwise mess with the game.

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  27. I know it's hard to believe, but using nothing but straight broadcasting to mine is not the most intelligent thing to do as your lasers target one asteroid and you get incomplete cycles.

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  28. It can be argued that programs such as Fuzzwork and Pyfa allow a player to squeeze more isk out of a deal than a player who doesn't have it, or save ISK by not buying each and every meta named variant in an attempt to fit his new PVP frigate.

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  29. The rules lawyers want to know exactly how far they can and can't go so that they can explore new ways around the rules. That's a losing game--Whack-A-Mole, specifically--for CCP. The current bans show how far CCP wants to and is equipped to go in banning cheats. CCP telling us more would be taken as a promise to go no further, and that would be stupid.

    Whatever edge you think you can exploit today could be the point where CCP wants to start banning tomorrow. So don't concern yourselves with precisely what generated a ban yesterday.

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  30. I was banned on tuesday for which I can only assume is this specific issue as I run 5 accounts at the same time on most nights however I do so without the use of Macros or ISboxer however i DO use the same IP for all of them. I was banned without an email or explanation out of nowhere for what I can only assume was a blanket banning without investigation. It's actually pretty rediculous.

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  31. No it wasn't. It also is the rule that bans the use of macros and bots. And now explicitly input broadcasting, although I always read 63A as banning input broadcasting.

    Also, I don't consider those rulings valid as of 1 January 2015. They are outdated.

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  32. Yes, I see it interesting that you are attacking almost everyone now.

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  33. Just calling it how we see it. If the USA suddenly banned all Toyota cars, do you not think the CEO of Toyota would have something to say about it?

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  34. They are indeed outdated, however I must have missed the part in the article where you talked about how they were rendered outdated as of Jan1.

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  35. Why would I have to mention it when merely using ISBoxer was against the EULA?

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  36. Because it isn't? CCP has never said "The program ISBoxer in it's entirety is in direct violation of the EULA and will earn you a ban". They just changed the rules regarding broadcasting, not the whole program.

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  37. Thanks for proving the point I made in my post :) Using ISBoxer was considered a violation of the EULA until the Third Party Policies page was modified on 25 November.

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  38. Except it never was, even before Nov25. Re-read what I said:

    CCP has NEVER said "The program ISBoxer in it's entirety is in direct violation of the EULA and will earn you a ban".

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  39. Oh, so because they did not use your exact wording, ISBoxer was not a violation of the EULA, even though Team Security said it was and the Third Party Policies were modified to indicate as such, just that CCP would not enforce the policy?


    Once again, thanks for proving my point :)

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  40. No, you are confounding macros with bots. Bots automate a full process and run without the need of user input in a continuous loop. Macros are a way of abbreviate a sequence of keys commands. So, you press one button and multiple commands are issued and it ends. It doenst need to be on the same application. That is why macros and broadcast are on the same rule. Even the roll-over technic is a macro since with a single movement of the mouse you issue on a 3th party application you multiple commands on multiple clients.

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  41. You are right, it never said that but it said that after Jan 1, input broadcasting or any kind of macro is a bannable ofense. There is no problem with IsBoxer, just dont use the macros or input broadcast.

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  42. The diference between the programs you mentioned and the ones that are causing players to get banned is simple. The banned ones interact with the client and the others dont! Any kind of 3rd party software that interacts with the client and gives and edge to the player using it is bannable since it puts the other players who play fairly at a disadvantage.

    And before you say EveMon scraps the client memory for market information, CCP already said it doesnt like it, they gonna remove this feature in time and its not such a big issue since it doesnt give the current player an edge over the other ones. It actually collects the data and sends it to a public site where everyone can see the information instead of storing it locally and only make it available to the current player.

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  43. Direct input broadcasting is banned, yes. Round Robin broadcasting is still within the EULA, and that's what's getting some of these people banned.

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  44. If you're referring to the 3rd party policies that were modified BEFORE Jan1, CCP would have mentioned in a post that ISBoxer was banned if it was indeed banned. Team Security also said cache scraping was banned, but that they wouldn't go after people who were. That was the same situation that ISBoxer was in. So yes, thanks for proving my point.

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  45. Actually, I think we both mean the same thing, macro is input automation and ISBoxer was input multiplication. The fine difference was that a macro (bot) runs without any input from the player once started, whereas ISBoxer needed the pilot to manually input the commands.
    Basically, I personally think that ISBoxer always was cheating. For a very long time, CCP tolerated it, because of reasons. Only recently, when ISBoxer users heavily used it in incursions and in pvp, the playerbase really became upset.
    CCP only then changed their minds, "nothing" changed except for CCP's attitude.
    Now, when players ask for clarification, CCP remains silent or sends preformatted text templates. That is not ok!
    Their early announcement that they would change their view towards ISBoxer was a good move, now that they put this new policy into effect, CCP needs to explain and talk to those players who are concerned.


    It is the same with bugs and exploits, a creative player finds a way to use the mechanics to his advantage, which is in some way one core element of EVE playstyle. The mechanics, while mostly well functional, but in this case not, give the player a very disproportionate advantage over his opponents (i.e. POS shield "intrusion" via cyno) and this "hole" in the mechanics will be exploited. Some victims analyze this and file a ticket to CCP. CCP looks at it and decides it is an exploit.
    So far, so good, then shit happens. CCP announces that a certain, only "vaguely describedbehaviour" is considered an exploit, instead of making a video and clearly stating: "This is cheating, if you do that, you get banned! No warning, a ban it is! So, don't do it!"
    Instead, CCP invites drama to unfold...


    Do I like bots or ISBoxer? No, ofc I don't. I consider them cheating and have so since my first day in EVE. What I don't like is how CCP treats their customers.


    CCP provides API/CREST information in order for 3rd party software developpers to come up with helpful tools. Providing market data to external software and then saying we don't like it, is so hypocrite....
    As trading is and has been the most lucrative activity with absolutely zero risk, trading bots are, in my opinion, the worst cheat ever!
    One way to nerf OP trading would be to change the delay time for changing market orders, but very long delays would permit bots to update market orders, log-off and relog after a certain delay, which might spotting bots harder...

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  47. CCP has clearly and explicitly stated that ISBoxer is not banned. Only the use of input multiplication/broadcasting/et al. Though they have not specifically addressed rollovers, I'm sure that qualifies since its 3rd party software that takes one input, multiplies it by the number of clients, and then sends modifies it into a keypress on all clients.

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