Wednesday, March 13, 2013

CCP's War On Bots: Inner Space

Yesterday got a whole lot more interesting when I saw a Tweet from Riverini directed to CCP Sreegs come across at 16:23 Eve Time:

I have actually been waiting for this moment since the release of Retribution 1.1.5 last Tuesday.  I knew that if Team Security was using automated methods to detect and permanently ban Red Guard users that Questor would receive some attention from CCP shortly thereafter.

But what does ISBoxer have in common with Questor?  A product called Inner Space.  ISBoxer is powered by Inner Space and Questor users need an Inner Space license in order to run the bot.  According to the Lavish Software website, Inner Space can provide a lot of functionality required to write a successful bot:
  • "Inner Space can run .NET programs and other custom scripts inside of the game for you, with a wide range of functionality available. Inner Space is 'unlocked' and does not limit the types of programs you can use with it!
  • "Inner Space natively supports many of your favorite input devices, making it easy to link not only your standard mouse and keyboard, but also your extra buttons to Inner Space functionality!
  • "Inner Space links your game instances together, making it possible to send commands (you know, like keystrokes!) from one window to another, even on different computers!
  • "Inner Space can override behavior and appearance of your game windows, making it possible to force a full-screen game into windowed mode, instantly move or scale windows, instantly re-arrange entire groups of them and more!"

"But wait a minute!" I can hear someone shout off in the distance, "CCP said using ISBoxer is not against the rules!"  Yes, that was the stated position at one time.  Now?  I went back to the statement and this is what it originally stated on 23 April 2010:
"Hello there,

To make a long story short, automation of gameplay is not permitted; players must be manually issuing the commands to control their character(s) at all times.

Our stance on programs such as Synergy and hardware/software combination such as the G15 keyboard is that they can be legitimately used as long as gameplay isn't automated. Synergy allows you to move your mouse cursor to multiple different monitors which are hooked up to different computers and we do not have any qualms with players using the program for this purpose. If Synergy was used in some way to control your accounts for you without a need for you to be at your keyboard, then that would not be allowed, but I am not aware of such a functionality with this program. If Synergy is used in conjunction with some other program to automate gameplay, it would not be permitted. G15 "macros" which allow you to group different commands into one keypress are allowed. For example, setting your G1 key to press F1, F2, F3 and so on for you with one key press is allowed (although this specific command is not as useful as it was before now that we have weapon grouping).

An exceedingly complex G15 macro which would effectively automate gameplay, such as mining, without a need for the player to be present at his keyboard would be against the EULA, regardless of whether the player utilizing said macro is sitting at his keyboard at the time!

Lastly, multiboxing is allowed, and programs designed for multiboxing in mind which allow a player to manually issue the same command to multiple game clients at the same time are allowed. In the same vein as what has been stated above, the player must be manually sending the commands; if a program is automating those commands for you, then it would be considered a breach of our EULA.

I hope this clears up this matter."
Did you notice I typed "originally stated"?  I hope so, because the post was updated on 18 February 2013, a little over 3 weeks ago, to read:
"This post was originally written almost three years ago and as software/hardware evolves, so must our stance on what goes within our game. It has become increasingly difficult for us to track the capabilities of various pieces of software over the years as their number, as well as the features they offer, increase greatly in number.

In other words, it is unfortunately impractical for us to evaluate whether specific pieces of software can be used without breaking EVE's EULA/ToS. This post should not be taken as endorsement for utilizing specific pieces of software/hardware with EVE, but as a guideline to what is acceptable.

Our general stance towards the concept of multiboxing has not changed but we cannot guarantee that the EULA is being upheld should you use any of the software/hardware mentioned by name in this post, nor will we at EVE customer support be able to officially endorse or sanction specific third party multiboxing programs.

Players wishing to multibox are responsible for familiarizing themselves with our EULA and Terms of Service, the following clauses in particular are of much relevance to this topic:

A. Specifically Restricted Conduct
2. You may not use your own or third-party software to modify any content appearing within the Game environment or change how the Game is played.
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.

21. You will not attempt to decipher, hack into or interfere with any transmissions to or from the EVE Online servers, nor will you try to create or use any third party add-ons, extras or tools for the game.
" [emphasis mine]
To spell it out clearly, ISBoxer is no longer an officially approved piece of software and no multi-boxing software is officially approved, nor will it according to this post.

More specifically, Inner Space seems like a botter's dream and I would run far away from the software, especially with its connection to the infamous Questor bot.  Inner Space is also used to run another bot engine called ISXEVE which runs a lot of the less well-known injection bots.  I personally think that Team Security is going to use the presence of Inner Space running on a computer as evidence of someone running a bot and will zero in on the player.  And since this class of bots are injection bots, users will receive permanent bans.

According to the Questor forums the hunt for Questor users has already begun.  Da Teach, the creator of the Questor bot and the DirectEve bot engine, basically shut down the bot for 24-48 hours beginning at approximately 23:00 Eve Time Tuesday while he ensures that Team Security will not catch his bot.  But while Team Security may have missed catching large numbers of Questor bots, I wonder what the success rate was against bots built around the ISXEVE engine?

Update:  For everyone stating that ISXEVE does not use Inner Space, I direct you to the ISXEVE wiki that states:
"ISXEVE is an Inner Space Extensions for the popular MMORPG game EVE Online. Please visit Lavish Software for more information on the InnerSpace application, including aquisition information and usage documentation. This extension REQUIRES Inner Space in order to work."

Update 2:  For those upset with the ninja edit on the old forums, I have posted why I think the ninja edit was done.


  1. I think that the bots with a lower market share are not targeted until they become a significant factor - probably as the result of shutting down other bots. I honestly have no idea how sophisticated these bots are, or the tools the investigators use, but I'd guess that most of them can be caught by watching repetitive reactions or the lack of reactions in some cases. Obviously, the bot creators will try to make the bots smarter, the security team will work on the tools, and sooner or later we will get to a point where creating a bot is possible, but it is so much effort, and the risk of getting caught is so high that it doesn't worth the effort to create one that you can sell. I guess this is the point where the security team can say that they succeeded with the war, because the bot penetration will be so low that it won't affect the gameplay of the average player anymore.

  2. CCP are a bunch of dickheads. The problem of false positives will always exist and they have written themselves a blank check to ban whomever they want. ISB Boxer was the kosher way to run a large ice mining op that wasn't botting. Hell, if you look at eve-kill, you can see a gank that looks like it was coordinated through ISBoxer. The problem is that even though they modified the original posts, like cowardly weasels, might I add, I still have no idea if it is ok to actually USE ISBoxer. How fucked is that?

  3. Not as fucked as botting. And if you read the post, its quite clear. CCP do not endorse and third party software, and if you use it, you might get banned. Use at your own risk

  4. CCP Sreegs has been pretty clear on that issue. No to all automation of input including duplication. Now, he never mentioned ISBoxer (or any other tool) by name, very likely on purpose (legal reasons, I assume).

    It's pretty clear the policy is: Yeah, we can ban you for it. We aren't going out of our way right now though, because we have bigger fish to fry. (But if we sort of stumble into banning you en passent: "don't cry, you have been warned).

    A similiar situation will come up in the future with Cache Scraping. CCP is now on record that they consider it an EULA violation, but currently aren't going after it. They might in the future.

    Just because it is not official that they are PURSUING the issue, doesn't mean they haven't (recently) been clear on the LEGALITY.

    Any kind of automation (incl. duplication of user input) is an EULA violation - it might lead to bans (now).

    Any kind of cache scraping is an EULA violation - it might lead to bans (some point in the future).

    1. And yet CCP uses the phrase: "guideline to what is acceptable." What is acceptable? Fuck your mouth pubbie. Typical Goon nonsense we have come to expect from CCP Spergs.

    2. If you want to stay clear: run the EVE client, alone, and foreground it when you want to issue commands to it. Use third-party apps that get their data from you directly and from the official API.

      ISBoxer seems like a reasonable price to pay for netting Inner Space, which sounds like every MMO developer's worst nightmare.

    3. Except you aren't paying the price. People who made a good faith effort to comply with CCP's stated rules now find themselves at the mercy of a ninja edit and ban. People went to the expense and effort of acquiring and plexing multiple accounts now find themselves at the mercy of a GM staff that is so incompetent that CCP bans players for publicly disclosing their own correspondence with the GMs.

    4. Actually, you are wrong.

      If you made a good faith to comply with CCPs stated rules, you would have already stopped using isboxer.

      Now if they ban you for past use of isboxer (before they changed their view on it), you might have a point. But so far they only seem to be banning if you are using it now (after the recent client changes to detect client manipulation), well AFTER they made it clear they consider it an EULA violation.

      Now they may not have clarified that they would go after that and punish you. But that is just you saying "I knew it was illegal - I just didnt know they were pursuing the issue."

      Your fault. They were (recently) quite clear on the legality, just not on the enforcement.

    5. In my opinion a "good faith effort to comply" does _not_ involve going through every past post weekly to look for ninja edits. If I've read a post in the past and determined that I was ok, I wouldn't expect it to have changed.

      I don't think CCP made an adequate effort to "make it clear", as you say, that their view on this had changed. People who make an honest effort to stay up-to-date on the topic (me for instance) didn't know about the change until Noisy wrote this article.

    6. As stated in the ninja edit, the legality of ISBoxer is unclear. CCP has purposefully made things more vague. All they have done is to state that they refuse to be held to any consistent standards. The entire premise of the post is that there is some conceivable set of multi-boxing software that exists that does not violate the EULA or TOS. What is that software? We don't know and CCP refuses to go to the effort of investigating or elaborating.

    7. CCP will never go into that level of detail because that would just hand the botters their game plan.

      I don't believe they're specifically targeting ISBoxer, either. If the developer can extricate it from Inner Space, it might become OK again. But since the dev built it on a notorious botting and client-modification platform, and CCP is on record as opposing both practices, it's not shocking that ISBoxer is a casualty of their efforts.

      In the mean time, nothing is preventing you from directly inputting keystrokes and mouse gestures to the frontmost application. You'll just have to accept that you're capable of doing as much and earning as much as CCP intended a single player to do, and to earn.

  5. Lol... I really hope that they aren't stupid enough to ban people based a program which has multiple functions for multiple purposes (and games), which runs as a quiet tray app until invoked, running on a computer which happens to also be playing eve...

    1. If you start EVE via InnerSpace then IS hooks into the EVE client (modifying the client).

      If you just have IS running in the tray (for use in other games) then EVE has no reason to care and it shouldn't show up in any (memory) integrity checks of the EVE client.

  6. But if I understand this correctly, CCP also did not specifically /disallow/ software like ISBoxer; instead CCP makes the outcome the criterium? ("software doesn't bot, people do.")

    Not that I'd to be too unhappy if one man-seven ship gatecamps would become a casualty of this large grey zone :)

  7. well i guess lack of multiboxing sw will essentially result in less plexed accounts/lower plex prices.

  8. I can see a lot of accounts going unsubbed because of this, i know of one friend that runs over 20 accounts with ISBoxer, he use's it for watching locals all over null sec and 0.0, and some times he will take a ice mining fleet out with it.

  9. If multiboxing software is using detectable components that are also present in bot programs they have little choice but to include them in the net. Otherwise bot programmers will do their best to appear to be simple multiboxer programs.

    Unfortunate, but as the situation changes so must CCP's policies.

    Stop blaming CCP and start blaming the bot programmers. They are the ones causing the situation to escalate.

  10. Cute post, but completely wrong.

    ISBoxer was never officially approved by CCP or any other MMO publisher (including Blizzard!), and CCP's stance regarding ISBoxer hasn't changed. Lelouch edited the post because some people apparently take non-prohibition of ISBoxer to mean that they can also use hacks that are unrelated to ISBoxer, and frankly hacks are against the rules. If you're worried about the changes they're making, then STOP BOTTING. Multiboxing is still okay.

    If they wanted to ban you for using ISBoxer, they would not bother specifically attacking ISXEVE and bots, they would simply go after Inner Space instead. But the fact is that they are not going after Inner Space or ISBoxer; just bots.

    In fact, there is currently an ISBoxer + EVE video contest, offering $750 in cash to the top prize for best video:

    1. Funny thing. I found the ninja edit by following a link from this page on the Lavish Software website.

      The context of the posting on the Lavish Software website was a player was banned for using ISBoxer, but then the GM made the post saying that multi-boxing software was okay after all. The strong inference is that ISBoxer is approved by CCP and that is the impression that Lavish Software is trying to give. If you have a problem, it should be with Lavish Software, not me.

      Here's the problem with assuming that ISBoxer users are in the clear. When I wrote this post I had no idea how CCP was detecting botters. With the information tweeted by riverini it was entirely possible that CCP was detecting Inner Space and users of ISBoxer would get banned as a false positive. It now appears that CCP is looking for the isxeve.dll, but we still really don't know what the detection method is.

  11. WOWWWWWWWWWWW I use Isboxer for window management when multiboxing gatecamps. FUCK.

  12. is there any bot program that can run wh class 5 or 6 anomalies whit capital escalation and do all the work a team of ppl are doing while running them?

  13. I petitioned CCP immedietly about my use of ISBoxer and the new updated EULA and detection methods, I was specifically told by a certain Senior GM that ISBoxer is and will continue to be fully legal, provided you are actually sat at the computer and operating them yourself. Once it can start doing things when you are not actually at the keyboard it will become illegal.