If Inner Space weren't such a powerful tool used by bot developers I probably would have avoided the subject altogether. But when this Twitter exchange between Riverini, the publisher of Eve News 24, and CCP Sreegs occurred my interest peaked.
@seanconover is it possible to get banned by using isboxer?
— evenews24 | riverini (@evenews24) March 12, 2013
@seanconover "client was modified" - the guy is literally crying, permabanned right off the bat, I told him to write firstname.lastname@example.org
— evenews24 | riverini (@evenews24) March 12, 2013
Did this mean that the new automatic detection code released with Retribution 1.1.5 on 5 March was creating false positives and banning ISBoxer users because ISBoxer uses Inner Space? Or had CCP changed its policies?
Doing some investigation showed that CCP had changed some policies. On 18 February 2013 GM Lelouch updated a post from April 2010 with the following information:
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.This raised the question of why CCP chose to edit a nearly 3 year old post like this. The answer was staring at me from my computer screen because I found the post from the ISBoxer web site on a page called "Is Multiboxing with ISBoxer allowed?"
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.
|From ISBoxer.com 14 March 2013. Misinformation underlined in red.|
"A big thank you to CCP for correcting this mistake and clarifying the rules! Now I can use Synergy again and not have to mess with the retarded mouse cluster seen below, but make no mistake, Eve is one of the hardest MMO's to multibox on a large (5+ accounts) scale even with perfectly synchronized mouse clicks. Multiboxers coming from WoW or EQ will find it very frustrating at first."That ends the summary of the trip so far. Now comes my poor attempt to decypher what CCP will and will not allow. That means once again going to the Eve Online EULA and Terms of Service. GM Lelouch specifically pointed out three items to look for when evaluating software, although none of the software should violate any portion of the EULA or ToS so I'll begin there.
EULA, Section 6A2. 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.
KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switching software like Synergy, Input Director or Mouse without Borders do not violate this section of the EULA. Neither does ISBoxer. Any screenshots or videos that apparently shows a modified UI setup in an Eve client is actually looking at the ISBoxer client, not the Eve client. For any other dedicated multi-boxing software do your homework.
EULA, Section 6A3. 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.
Evaluating this portion of the EULA required a bit more thought. From what I've seen in my research all the free KVM switching software has the capability to broadcast keystrokes and mouse clicks to multiple client computers. That is an option that users can disable and usually are disabled by default. I was using one virtual KVM, Input Director, that also has macro capability. While I was not using that capability (and, embarrassingly, didn't even know about it) I switched to the Microsoft Garage virtual KVM switch Mouse without Borders to avoid any problems with a game company scanning for the presence of Input Director running. Besides, the possibility exists that Microsoft could include the functionality of Mouse without Borders in a new version of Windows.
After giving ISBoxer a few days of consideration I do not believe that ISBoxer violates this section of the EULA. While Inner Space gives software developers the capability to program extremely complex tasks, as far as I know ISBoxer's functionality is limited to broadcasting keystrokes and mouse clicks. That just leaves the question of "other patterns of play". That other pattern of play is multi-boxing and since GM Lelouch's post stated that CCP's general stance on multi-boxing has not changed (it's allowed) then ISBoxer also meets that standard.
Some will disagree, stating that the global broadcasting of keystrokes and mouse clicks represents a variation of "stored rapid keystrokes." While I agree intellectually with such a stance, I have to try to interpret CCP's statements. In particular I am looking at this paragraph from GM Lelouch's original post, which I believe is still valid:
"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."Of course, if I am wrong then ISBoxer violates the EULA and players should not ISBoxer. Players should then also ensure that any broadcast to all computer functions on any KVM switch software is set to "Off" or "Disabled".
So for the checks with the EULA I found the KVM software switch programs and ISBoxer in compliance with CCP's rules. That and $7 might get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. So how about compliance with Eve Online's Terms of Service?
ToS - 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.
This is the part I have problems with interpreting correctly. Once again, not only do I have to figure out what is actually occurring but what CCP may rule and act upon. I'll take the second part first, since addressing that is easier:
"nor will you try to create or use any third party add-ons, extras or tools for the game." - This is the part of the ToS that bans the creation of mods for Eve. For the software KVM switches, the answer is easy. They are built for general use to connect computers. So they were not created for the game. The same holds true for ISBoxer. ISBoxer was created to handle all games, not just Eve Online. Is that semantics? Probably. But that is the way I read this portion of the statement.
"You will not attempt to decipher, hack into or interfere with any transmissions to or from the EVE Online servers"
This, I believe, is the phrase more commonly referred to as client modification. So does KVM switching software like Synergy alter the client? I don't believe so. I don't know exactly how these programs work though so I'm not sure if they use any techniques that CCP considers client modification, such as injecting information into the client. But to the best of my knowledge they do not do so.
ISBoxer is a different story. While I don't know the technical explanation of how ISBoxer works, I do know CCP's view of Inner Space when the subject is related to botting. I asked CCP Sreegs if a bot used any code injection if the botter would receive a permanent ban or a 14-day ban for a first offense. He replied that, "Any attempt detected at client manipulation leads to a permanent ban across all accounts." So if Inner Space is performing any code or DLL injection (I hope I got the terms correct) into the Eve process to make ISBoxer work, that is a violation of the Terms of Service. Given the reaction that CCP has toward injection bots I have to believe that CCP sees Inner Space as doing that for ISBoxer.
So in the end I believe that Synergy and Mouse without Borders don't violate the Eve ToS but that CCP would rule that ISBoxer does. Am I saying this analysis is infallible? No. The possibility exists that I am completely wrong. But CCP is not going to tell us. All they've said is read the EULA and ToS and that some of what was posted before is still valid. But people have asked for answers so I posted mine.