Monday, April 30, 2012

CCP's War On Bots: Questor Developer Caught In RMT Sweep

In early March CCP's Team Security scored a major victory in the War on Bots™ and the illicit RMT trade when they caught the developer of the Questor mission bot, Da_Teach, in an RMT sweep on 15 March. 
Da_Teach:  "Well it wouldn't be fair if I didnt post here :)

"I got banned yesterday on 9 of my 10 accounts. I didn't run 24/7, max 8ish hours per day. But I doubt they got me for botting, I just did a lot of RMT :) The fact that they got my mule-char (and another char that never ran a bot in its life) pretty much proves that."
tetrikx:  "I really hope this doesn't make you abandon the Questor project. Getting banned expecially in eve might be a big emotional hit but many found the inner strength to continue and/or start over."
Da_Teach:  "It was not an emotional hit :) I haven't actually played eve for over 1 1/2 years now and the bots was the only reason I actually started up eve. For me this project is over and done for.

"There are a few dev's that can maintain DirectEve and I might also consider making DirectEve open-source.

"However, I will no longer work on it, look at it, or otherwise maintain it. I'm giving away my final char to a friend who's accounts where also banned and I'll be moving on to other games."

On 19 March, Da_Teach indicated that he was changing his mind, at least partially.
Da_Teach:  "The project is still "mine". I might not work on it, but the license hasn't changed nor will it.

"That said, it seems a few DE dev's are only willing to work on DE if people donate. This is against my idea behind DE. As such I might look into two possibilities, either go open source or go partially paid (where I would still solve the issues within DE). Donations to a particular DE dev is still paying them to profit off my work (and before those dev's start saying "I did this and that", it doesn't begin to compare to the amount that I put into DE)."

A couple of weeks went by while Da_Teach decided how to proceed.  The tears started to flow.
I3Questor (5 April):  "Whatever the decision it, can it please be made soon. I have bots that think christmas came early because they havent worked a single minute since the stargate patch.

"I would like to make a decision on whether I am still running questor or go back to my mining bot because right now a few bill a month is better than nothing.

"I have already PMd People who are charging and got the answer that "oh we are only allowing selected people" *sigh* so obviously my US$ are not good enough.. lol

"Please get something going."
I3Questor (6 April):  "Dude right now, all i care about is getting Questor back up and running. If someone is charging and the bot is working.. then I'm in.

"This thread has been going for long enough for DT to get a fair idea and while I understand that he will probably have to get a billing system organised etc, I would still like to know HOW LONG IT WILL BE and how much I will have to pay for my bots.

"Right now I am making 0 income because I am not a coder and everytime I try to compile any of the builds that are on Git, I get a sea of red..

"I just need things to move faster than the snails pace they are currently moving at."
Daruna (6 April):  "Basically this, right here. I don't bot in order to RMT whatever I make, and I completely understand that those who make the bots, like DT, frown upon it. I have purchased ISK in the past because you get more than double the isk than a PLEX for the same price, and for me, money is pretty tight right now, and I'd like to be able to do things like play EVE for as little money as possible. If that means paying for a bot that in general costs as much as or less than a single EVE account and get it to pay for 5, then yes, I am very much willing to pay DT for his hard work.

"But I'd really love it if it happened sooner rather than later ;~;"

Finally Da_Teach unveiled his plans.
Da_Teach:  "I can't stress enough that the subscription is for DirectEve support. While I will fix any major-game-breaking Questor bugs (and compilation errors), I will not improve it nor will I fix any bugs that it probably contains that are not game breaking.

"The fact that I will be providing a build server is mostly to get rid of the 'Ok, I am not smart enough to perform a command-line compile' posts on this forum. Don't confuse this with me supporting / further developing Questor in any way, shape or form.

"What you will get, for your $1 per instance, is:
* A patched DirectEve as soon as possible (usually within 24-48 hours, exceptions may occur)
* A daily compiled Questor master-branch (compilation errors will be fixed within 24-48 hours)
* Optionally the ability to compile any Questor-fork (compilation errors will not be fixed, it could possibly not return the correct binaries)

"If that's not the support you where looking for, for your $1 per instance, then I guess the support subscription is not for you and you'll just have to wait a week (and compile Questor yourself)."

Does this mean that Questor is currently a top-notch bot?  Not according to some of the tears associated with changing the names of star gates.
Ritticus (6 April):  "I found 4 typo errors referring to destination directories just in the compile.bat alone who knows how many real errors are in the code itself, I deem this project broken for now. DT seems to be heading away and until someone steps up or a pay-to-use alternative is established. this is as good as dead for now."
goldenlancer (10 April):  "Just saying - I support making questor paid - but I have not had questor in over 2 months. Its been broke that long as far as I'm concerned. (Habitually broken for longer)

"I WRITE MY OWN CODE. I'm not a complete retard - I made my own AHK script (for anomalies) and have given up - im writing a code for missions too. Yet I look at the fixes I'm able to see, and none of them work. I've spent more time trying to fix questor than probably would have been necessary to write my own AHK script.

"Your alienating the very population you want to keep in the near future. I realize in the past this attitude leads to fewer people -> Less CCP attention, but these are the very people who are willing to fork over money for a product. People smarter then me will just write their own. People stupider then me usually dont have this sort of patience to sit idle.

"I wish you all farewell"

So basically development of Questor by Da_Teach is over, with the only work being maintaining the code after each patch that CCP publishes.  From what I can tell, each Eve patch requires a rework of DirectEve since CCP does things to the code that makes botters lives difficult.

Questor development has always put in tasks that are a barrier to casual people picking up the bot and using it.  Some technical expertise is required.  Reading through the forums I get the impression that Questor or Questor-derivitives  form the engine for many illicit RMT farming operations.  In fact, in the leak of the GeneralStab logs following the fall of Northern Coalition last year, The Mittani opined that using Questor is more profitable than moon mining.
[08:54:53] [the mittani] i know a rmt transaction of about 2 trillion
[08:54:58] [the mittani] that's about 40k usd
[08:55:09] [the mittani] don't knock rmt, it's p. serious cash at the upper levels
[08:55:36] [the mittani] fuck, iskbank had records of about 300k in profit
[08:55:56] [rat salat] Advice... skip the rmt, quit eve and get into med school lol
[08:56:14] [the mittani] rmt is relatively easy and doesn't involve 120k+ of debt
[08:57:06] [the mittani] it's not like humans do work to generate rmt isk
[08:57:09] [rat salat] No, but it does take 80 hours to control the corp
[08:57:14] [the mittani] it's all virtual machines running bots, or moon products
[08:57:23] [rat salat] Now, botting, that's different
[08:57:32] [the mittani] primarily it's questor in l4 mission hubs
[08:57:33] [rat salat] There's some RMT to be made there
[08:57:50] [rat salat] 1 bot over a month makes a tech moon look silly
[08:57:51] [rat salat] so yea
[08:58:57] [the mittani] and due to virtual machines, you can run as many bots doing missions as your cpu can handle
[08:58:59] [rat salat] E#xactly
[08:59:18] [rat salat] So tech for RMT is fucking irrelevant as far as I'm concerned
[09:01:59] [the mittani] goo embezzlement is an 'out'
[09:02:12] [the mittani] if you set up a rmt shop as a business from the start, you do bots in vms in empire
Since Da_Teach is not going to make DirectEve open source, hopefully that means the bot will soon become out of date and those who supply the illicit RMT trade will lose one of their best tools.


  1. The problem he has is that his bot is busted and he probably doesn't know how. If he starts selling it he and other people are just going to get caught.

    Sreegs, as an ex-Goon, I'm sure is devious enough to pose as a player and pay $1 for a copy of the bot if he needs to so that he can reverse engineer it. The Goons are famous for infiltration in the game.

    It's obviously been an incredibly good run for serious botters but those days are over.

  2. Sreegs doesn't need to pay any money to reverse engineer Questor. It has been free basically forever.

  3. Wildly naive to think there has been a real dent in bottling OR rmt. The accounts are all mostly young, right? Throw-aways. The main accounts will always be protected behind a few layers of money laundering young accounts, different IPs and machines. Running VMs on one machine doesn't protect anything as the Eve client detects and reports the VM when it connects to the cluster. Not a surprise at all that Mittens knows all about botting and rmt. He's probably one of the crookedest POS in the game. The update might have put a dent in the drone botters, and a few might have been caught, but I think the reports are a lot of PR bullshit. The same botters are still out in the systems, even after being reported multiple times, for over 6 months. The biggest problems are where the biggest money can be made, and that is null. Wait, Mittens is in null. Big surprise. ;)

  4. @Pointy Sticks - Sreegs and Co. are shutting down the RMTers, by attacking their customers, not the bots. They will continue to mostly leave the bots alone, since they use them to track down the accounts involved in RMT.

    The real goal is to scare players from buying ISK from RMTers, and get them to buy PLEX from CCP. This is what is important to CCP, and not the ISK farming, in of itself.

    Is it working? Yep, although you cannot see the effect directly from Sreegs' numbers. In my corp, a lot of players - who used to buy ISK from RMTers - have decided it is no longer worth the risk of having all of your ISK and assets seized, as well as being banned. They have switched to buying PLEX instead.

  5. "Sreegs, as an ex-Goon, I'm sure is devious enough to pose as a player and pay $1 for a copy of the bot if he needs to so that he can reverse engineer it. The Goons are famous for infiltration in the game."

    the "logic" part of Questor has always been open-source, just go to github and download it.

    the part that does the heavy technical lifting (DirectEVE) has always been provided only in compiled form (and as it is .net bytecode obfuscated to prevent reverse-engineering - iirc with a current SmartAssembly version). It is very doubtful that Sreegs could reverse-engineer DirectEVE without a massive time investment - just loading it into Reflector won't get him anywhere.