Wednesday, August 17, 2011

War Against Automated Gaming Agents?

CCP Sreegs came out with a dev blog yesterday about the use of the new "Report A Bot" feature.  More than 500 reports of suspected bots have come in, and apparently in many cases the person submitting the report is so bad at telling a bot from a real player that CCP Sreegs actually suspects some players are actually using the feature to try to grief other players.  Hard to believe, right?

Being the kind, understanding type, CCP Sreegs' dev blog also gives tips on how to detect botters.
Therefore, before submitting a report, we encourage players to perform a brief but structured investigation.
  • Observe the behavior of the player and break it down into stages of processing (States, Conditions and Actions)
    • Break down the behaviour into states
      • What is each individual phase of the activity a subject carries on ?
      • Consider each phase a "State"
      • Example of states : "Idle, Docked, Warping, Mining, Hunting, etc"
    • Break down the behaviour into conditions
      • When does the activity of a subject change ?
      • Consider each change one or several "Conditions" that has been met and a transition to another "State" 
      • Example of conditions : "if state is mining and cargo is not empty then; if state is mining and ship is targeted and enemy is not NPC then; etc"
    • Break down the behaviour into actions
      • How does the subject carry on his activity ?
      • Consider each individual operation or group of operations carried out by a subject as an Action
      • Example of an action in a certain state when a certain condition has been met : "if state is mining and ship is targeted and enemy is not NPC then warp (to safe spot); etc"
  • Try to determine if the player you are observing seems to act repetitively according to a strict set of rules (for example, executing the same steps over and over for an extended period of time)
  • Try to determine its goals
  • Challenge the rules (try to think of possible triggers that would cause it to respond in a certain way if it is truly automated)
  • Trigger events and perceive reactions (does it respond to communication? How does it react to being locked or being warped in on? Does it react the same every time, for example by warping always in the same direction before returning to the exact same spot minutes later?)
  • Finally, use your human intelligence to determine whether it is a soulless automaton or simply a fellow, single-minded player.
* Note
There are different types of bots, each type having other rules according to which they carry on their activity. Try to adapt your investigation to the type of bot you are observing.
Having covered the War On Bots™ now for a few months, I think a smart miner would align when seeing a spike in local, even in high-sec.  Suicide ganking is an accepted tactic nowadays as long as you can say the target is a bot.  It is part of the reason I don't have a Hulk yet.  A Covetor is just easier to replace, especially since I don't like mining that much. 

CCP Sreegs is promising another blog Soon™, this time on Automated Gaming Agents:
"It describes Automated Game Agents such as Bots and Macros in much greater detail, including the principles, concepts and techniques used to bring them into existence, how they work and what their limitations are. It is meant to give everyone hints on how to differentiate Automated Game Agents from human players right from within the game."
Automated Gaming Agents?  War on Bots™ just sounds cooler.

1 comment:

  1. The easiest way to find a bot is to see if it is mining for more than 5 hours . Anyone who doesn't mind mining that long is not human and should be reported immediately.