Wednesday, February 27, 2013

That's Not A Bot, Honest

"In Microsoft Word and other programs, a macro is a saved sequence of commands or keyboard strokes that can be stored and then recalled with a single command or keyboard stroke."

For those who may not know I wrote an article for The Mittani DOT Com that was published yesterday.  I discussed some of the aspects of the current controversy of the creation and use of macros by the market/industrial community.  I'd like to take a little closer look at one of the issues: what is an acceptable macro?

"Macros are legal in Eve?" you ask?  Blasphemy!  Exactly my point.  The vast majority of players never read the EULA or, if they do, just gradually glance over the document.  In many ways the situation is very similar to that of Christianity in medieval times when the vast majority of the laity could not read and depended on the priesthood to read the holy scripture to them.  And since they were the only ones who could read the words, they also interpreted the words to their flocks as well.  In today's world almost everyone using a computer can read and since every game company includes a catch-all "we can kick you out of the game any time we want" clause anyway, why bother reading if you follow the standard socially acceptable behavior within a game?  So most people don't.

Those following the whole controversy know that the butterfly effect led the attention to move from Kelduum's desire for some ISK seized by CCP that was donated by someone banned two weeks for botting who proceeded to rage quit to some of the code practices of the developers of market tools.  Apparently CCP allows those playing the market to use some relatively simple but powerful macros as part of their gathering of market information.

The video above is something I wanted to show in my article that appeared on TMC but was unable to due to not knowing how to work the site yet.  This promotional video is from Eve Mentat, a tool that comes up frequently in discussions on the subject.  The video shows the Eve Mentat web page looping through 67 items, opening the market window for each one.  By definition, clicking on one button that performs 67 tasks is a macro.  The question then becomes, "is the macro legal?"

I maintain that the macro violates Section 6, Paragraph A3 of the EULA:
"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."
However the developers of the market tools and their market and industrial users claim otherwise.  But the question is, if market tools like Eve Mentat utilize macros should CCP allow that?  Before you answer, scroll the Eve Mentat video to 2:55.  The video shows that Eve Mentat also detects when a buy order is undercut and automatically calculates a price .01 ISK lower than the lowest order that the user can then paste into the market order.  Very useful for playing those .01 ISK games on the market, right?

I've heard a lot of people complain about bots undercutting them by .01 ISK every five minutes because they can't imagine someone constantly looking through the market windows watching when someone undercuts them.  But with a tool like Eve Mentat a player doesn't have to open hundreds of market windows.  All the player has to do is put up a bunch of orders, have the macro populate the cache and then Eve Mentat highlights the orders that need attention.  After that, rinse and repeat.  A player would only need to do this every 5 minutes if he has 100 active orders, which is how often a player can update an order.

So all of you complaining about the market bot constantly undercutting you by .01 ISK every 5 minutes?  Probably not a bot.  You just ran into someone using "legal" macros.  Following the logic of the market/industrial community, you should HTFU and go out and get your own macro.  Apparently that's what Goonswarm did with their Goonmetrics market tool.  But to tell the truth, I always thought Eve Online was a player vs player game, not a player vs macro or macro vs macro game.


  1. The problem obviously goes beyond the Market Macros and involves especially the Boxing Miners. There is someone out here in the ass-end of Ammatar that controls 6 Mackinaws, each placed in one of the 11 belts in system. They mine a full cargo load, then warp off, then warp back to the next belt.

    So by the time us legitimate miners (I ATK mine with 2 Hulks and an Orca) are encountering belts with areas chewed out of them like apples with a few missing bites. And the dude will do this 14-18 hours a day, EVERYDAY, never giving the roids time to grow to a descent size making legitimate mining a frustratingly tedious experience (which it is already, but worse).

    The point here is that EVE's population is obviously growing and resources, especially in High Sec are becoming scarce. What was a dead end backwater here 8 months ago is now as crowded as Caldari. Exploration sites are mostly not to be found anymore, especially the descent ones (Anyone want that Sansha Yard that's still sitting there?, belts are cleared or chewed up by these Boxers....somedays there is nothing to do but Mission.

    This is horrible for the game, and with so little to do on some days as an Industrialist I fear for EVE's ability to retain new players who want to choose this career path. This is going to bore new players into unsubscribing eventually.

  2. The 3rd wall is the elephant in the room here if you ask me.

    If it was truly immersive game play, this would not be a discussion.

    Does anyone truly believe that spreadsheets in the future use anything but macros to take care of the mundane daily tasks that keep us from actually being productive? I would imagine it keeps getting better not worse.

    The only way you wouldn't be able to use them legally would be if they were banned in game by an in game entity (market regulator) that would actually have to be made up of players.

    1. So because this game plays in the future it should allow automatism. Tho if I need money I click the button "give me money" and I will get it.

      RL Stock traders use there super computers dealing sounds of transactions in seconds to make profit out of 1/100 cent difference. Beside the fact that they are flooding databases with a huge overflow of traffic and take profit out of doing nothing I really don't want a game where the guy with the best computer controls the market.

      On the RL stock trade, ever tried to use the money you get for less then a second? How can the movement of money bring profit if companies need time to develop the stuff financed with that money? (Getting off topic...)

  3. "acquisition of items, currency, objects, character attributes, rank or status at an accelerated rate when compared with ordinary Game play. "
    Which item, currency, or object is being acquired at an accelerated rate? If you're claiming that "data" is an in game object (the only objects that the EULA can cover), how is that different than using the API dump to build your manufacturing spreadsheet instead of going through every BPO in game manually and entering its information that way?

    Define "normal gameplay."
    My definition is "using the tools CCP has designed and made available in the manner which CCP intended them be used." The fact that CCP had to intentionally insert the hooks into the IGB and the fact that they rate limited the use of the hooks indicates pretty strongly that they intended the hooks to allow this.

    1. This deserved its own post...

  4. Judging by that video, it seems much easier to me to just manually click through items on your Quickbar, visually inspect the order to see if your blue highlight is on top, and then modify the order if it's not.

    Obviously that video was made before some of the newer market features, like the Quickbar and the My Orders highlight.

    1. I think your right if you are only going to do this once. But if you are going to play .01 ISK games for hours at a time, I think the macros win in the long run.

  5. Simple rule to detect a macro:

    Is it designed by a single player for their own use, or a large coalition? If single player= macro. Coalltion=creative coding.

    1. Sorry, but I have this quaint American belief that corporations are people too :)

  6. I can't believe people actually support this.

    Are YOU playing the game or is the Macro playing the game ?

  7. But to tell the truth, I always thought Eve Online was a player vs player game, not a player vs macro or macro vs macro game.

    That's your first mistake. Eve Online is a tear generating game, a griefer game. PvP is just the most obvious way to grief.

    On to the macro. It is an information gathering macro, not an action macro, and I would argue the distinction is important. You use the IGB to fill the cache, then you use Reverence (a Python library) in a third party tool, to access the cache. That's all it does, fill the cache. Now, this may be news to you, but it is the basis for sites like Eve Central (and some pretty spiffy custom alliance programs/sites), and has been for ages. I have written custom tools for myself for everything from PI to research to manufacturing to market assistance. All the tools do is tell me what to do. Every gameplay action is performed by me.

    That is where I would argue the boundary should lie: gameplay actions. We are in agreement that a macro is a sequence of commands which perform actions. We just disagree on what constitues "action". We both can find what we want in the EULA, because it is ambiguous as expected. I can cite "no macros .. that facilitate .. acquisition of items, currency, objects, character attributes, rank or status" as allowing looking at local or the market or whatever to fill the cache, you can cite "otherwise manipulate data .. to acquire .. beneficial actions" as a counter.

    Ultimately I would argue that seeing that Eve is a computer game, third party tools will always be used. Prime example of course being a spreadsheet. EFT is the next obvious suspect, as is EveMon. All those tools allow for a way to look at the information present in Eve in a way not possible in the client. Using the spreadsheet as an example, you have been alt-tabbing between Eve and your sheet, copying info line by line. Then you found out other people were using the static dump, the API and the local cache to fill their spreadsheets, and are mighty miffed. In other words: are you sure you are not arguing for clemency on the ignorant?

    Finally, there are plenty of ways to deal with .01 isk-ers in game. Anyone who blindly copies info from cache -> tool -> game is just asking to be exploited, and that's just how it should be. Market PvP is PvP too. And marketeers tears are just a tad sweeter ;)

    Are YOU playing the game or is the Macro playing the game ?

    Is exactly the point I'm arguing. Please note, I (like everyone except Sreegs and the banned dude) have no information about the eveuni case. If Sreegs says it's botting, I'm perfectly willing to assume the guy used python injection to automatically change orders.

  8. All this crap is just killing the game for me. My first character will be 2 years old this summer. I just wonder if he will make it.