Thursday, February 14, 2013

Final Thoughts On Eve Uni Botted Isk Scandal

I originally intended to close out my coveragethought about making today's post a summary of all of CCP Sreegs' comments in the locked thread on the Eve Online forums concerning the seizure of the botted ISK from Eve University.  I decided not to because of all of the other issues that arose from the security chief's posting.  I will probably include some of those points in my writings sometime closer to the start of the CSM 8 election campaign as I think the candidates need to address some of the issues.  Instead I'll just give some final thoughts on the whole sordid episode.

First, what I see as the biggest story out of the whole mess was the slowness with which the ISK was seized.  I wrote it at the time in a tweet to Kelduum...

I thought that CCP Sreegs' original post on the subject was extremely interesting.  I've bolded the parts I think others have overlooked...
"2) We committed an error in not removing the isk before it got to EVE-U. However we did rectify this problem and our logs show that it was discussed and approved prior to either them receiving the isk or petitioning. We apologized to EVE-U however the petition was escalated as high as it could be and the decision remained. We cannot typically share this information with them as it's really none of their business.

"3) The only authority higher than the Director of Security for these complaints is the Executive Producer and then the CEO. This is a higher level of escalation than the Customer Service arm and IA automatically looks at our work. I'm not sure why we feel we should be able to escalate higher than the highest reasonable authority but the fact is that this team operates with significant oversight. We believe the issue here to be more that this particular CSM feels he isn't in the loop, something which is quite frankly the only proper way to do business in a unit that handles secrets."
Now to do some of that speculating that CCP Sreegs' tends not to like.  Is this an indication that CCP Arkanon, the head of Internal Affairs, had looked into the events if not when they happened then as soon as Kelduum petitioned?  Of course, following Kelduum's argument to its logical conclusion we shouldn't trust either CCP Sreegs or CCP Arkanon but I'll disagree with my former CEO and state I believe that CCP Arkanon is totally trustworthy.  As Arkanon wrote in his dev blog when accepting the position...
"First and foremost, I still consider myself a GM, here to serve the game, the players and CCP, in no particular order. As before, my job is to understand and enforce our rules, to take action when needed and raise the alarm when something is wrong. Only my jurisdiction has changed. Perhaps my new position will not always be the most pleasant of jobs, but I accept it and I'm glad that my personal intolerance for cheating can be utilized in this manner and potentially benefit so many."
Hopefully CCP Arkanon didn't need to hire too many witch doctors to deal with this case, but I wonder if one looked into the possibility that the ISK was not removed because the player in question was a member of Eve University and the person handling the ban was playing favorites.  Because given Eve University's high profile as one of the good guys in New Eden someone might think that.  In effect, IA probably investigated the possibility that the beneficiary of a new T20 type event was Eve University.

I am beginning to wonder if a year into the latest push against botters CCP still doesn't have some bottlenecks in their procedures.  I refer to CCP as a whole because I do not know if the banning process involves Team Security doing the detecting and then customer service processing the paperwork and issuing the actual bans to people.  First we have the three weeks needed to resolve the situation that occurred when Psyco Groupie had all of his accounts incorrectly banned.  Now we have resolving this issue by taking the botted ISK taking three weeks.  I know that CCP Sreegs' plan is a slow steady burn but is the technical side, as slow as some people complain about, still moving faster than the rest of the people involved in the process can move?  For all of those complaining about the three strikes rule for botters at least not handing out permanent bans immediately gives CCP time to correct mistakes.

Finally, one final word about Kelduum.  In real life he works on Sony Online Entertainment's Planetside 2.  That game is quickly building a reputation for being a home for cheaters using aimbots, scripts that allow for the 100% accurate targeting of other players and SOE President John Smedley is doing everything in his power to combat the threat to the game.  Kelduum works in the industry and should know how damaging things like speed hacks, aimbots, resource gathering bots and other forms of in-game cheating are to MMORPGs.  Yet he pulls this crap of attempting to make CCP's team fighting cheaters look bad.  I bet he wouldn't be so understanding if "John" had done this type of activity in Planetside 2.


  1. I tend to disagree. The most damage to the game is done by the fact that many of the "Devs" play the game in the huge powerblocks.
    Your example how the logi chief of -A- got banned (20 accounts) from the game perfectly illustrates this. I strongly believe that -A- is only "dead" now because the devs were more involved (even if only emotinally) than is good for the game.
    Also that's mainly the reason I don't play anymore.

    1. I won't debate what is most damaging to MMORPGs because the perception that devs actively intervene in games on the behalf of favored players is something all game companies need to take seriously and fight. A prime example was the T20 scandal in Eve. But I don't think anyone can argue that things unethical players do like hacking, botting and RMT (which I didn't list) don't cause harm the games we play.

    2. Contrary to popular conspiracy theory, few devs are stupid enough to risk their RL job for the sake of cheating in a game, esp. one in which they receive no financial benefit.

      Psyco Groupie got flagged because he took possession of two tainted toons, which were proven to be involved in RMT activity. Unfortunate, yes - but part of the risk of buying toons, rather than skilling them up yourself. The situation had nothing to do with devs playing the game.

    3. Well, "I was there" and I can tell you that there were many occasions that "made you wonder" suddenly bombers were broken after a patch (could not use them anymore), directly following some days of mad bomber pwnage by -A-.
      The "ban" incident and many many more.
      Also it is very very disturbing, when a huge propaganda wave washes over you. Like -A- is shit (which they were not), -A- treates renters and allies like shit (which they did not) and -A- are cockroaches that shall be driven from the game. And you know there are devs participating.
      Ok, understood. There are other games to play...and thanks for the fish.

    4. I was there, too. -A- was shit.

  2. Kelduum works on Planetside 2? :o

    Geez, that is very problematic considering that it is Dust 514's prime competitor...

    CCP can't be that happy about it.

    I hope he respects the NDA.

  3. "gives CCP time to correct mistakes"

    what mistakes ? take all assets and ISK because of 14 days ban even if those were not all earned by bot?

    1. Believe it or not, there ARE false positives on botting. Sometimes the false positives are hard to catch for one reason or another.

  4. In my point of view, the only problem in this particular case is the late ISK apprehension and CCP's late explanation.
    Error is human. And I do think it was an error that CCP tryed to correct after(with bad results).

    If CCP had explained the reasons to Kelduum when he asked, he wouldn't have all this weight on this case. This was the second error that make the case tilt in favour of Kelduum.

    If the delay on the apprehension was related to any favoritisms(in any way), it's highly reprehensible.

    "Yet he pulls this crap of attempting to make CCP's team fighting cheaters look bad."
    I tend to read this phrase as an biased assessment. If you want to keep the unbiased role, you shouldn't type stuff as this.

    There's something that has been ticking behind my ear and it may or may not be related to this case, but it was hinted by both sides. My view is that there's not one security agent/entity that feels that if everything isn't under thier full access/control, hinders their performance(wich is true of course, but having an healthy system of check and balances it's paramount). Security definitly doesn't need to have an 'shrouded' agenda, but sooner or later if their actions aren't publicly scrutinized they develop draconian methods.