Friday, April 19, 2013

CCP's War On Bots: Darwin Award Nominees

"In the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species' chances of long-term survival."

In the midst of yesterday's uproar over the declaration that cache-scraping violates the EULA, a funny thing happened.  Well, I laughed, but the holders of 2350 accounts didn't find the situation so funny.  CCP Stillman made the following announcement:

"I want to start off with letting you know about action we took today during downtime. Through our new detection systems we detected 2350 accounts as using a specific hack, “Autopilot to zero”, which is strictly against our EULA, as it is only possible with client modification. Our normal policy for dealing with client modification is to apply a permanent ban to accounts in question and any associated account.

"However we recognize that we’ve addressed the particular issue of client modification poorly up until this point, and specific types of client modification may have been seen as “acceptable” to some people as a result of our inaction. Therefore, we’ve made an exception for most of the 2350 accounts affected today, and only applied 30 day bans. In the cases where we’ve determined that the accounts were in violation of other parts of our EULA or also were detected as using other client modification, we applied a permanent ban instead.

"It is extremely important to stress that this was a 1-time exception. In the future, we will be sticking to our normal policy where client modification is a permanent ban."
Normally I would agree with that assessment and grant CCP a mulligan because they were bad in the past.  And believe me, I could write a post about the confusion about enforcing that EULA.  Some of what I've read CCP employees told players was acceptable made me cringe.  But in this case I really have to take exception because CCP gave plenty of warning that they were watching users of the auto-pilot warp to 0 hack.

Back on 12 March, civan, the developer of Red Guard, posted on the Public Demands forums that among the items CCP was searching for was the autopilot hack.  Forum goers were reassured on 3 April when the developer released a version that would avoid CCP's detection routines.  On the Public Demands forums.  Which are open to the public.  Of course, no one from CCP would ever look there.  Can you tell this will end well?

Needless to say, the reports rolled in from all the hack users yesterday...

FDMarc (2:47pm)"I was one of the 2350 pilots who received a 30 day ban today for using "Warp to zero" hack, except I dont use it? Could it be something to do with mercury [another bot]?"

scofield (2:56pm) - "me to i`m only in jita and the reason to ban is warp to zero wtf?? lol, i have writh a petition to ccp. I will report" 

FDMarc (3:00pm) - "I personally wouldnt write a petition!! They have obviously found something in your memory or whatever it is they do and if you are saying you dont use Warp to Zero, they will be like "ok, you are using a different kind of bot" have a perma ban"

nic (3:06pm)"I agree, I am for one thankful that it's only a 30d ban. We used it, we knew the risks. Petitions would just rise awareness to your account(s), and they'll research into it further. Plus, why would they remove a legitimate 30d ban?" 

bomer778 (3:18pm)  -  "Same here. Same ban, same reason. Shit happens..."

couldusebots (6:27pm) - "Welp. Time for a 30 day involuntary break from eve. 4/2350 accounts right here.  Next time, I'll have to read the forums more often."

23the37 (7:14pm) - "Well they've managed to free up some time for me. I guess instead of playing the game I'll be writing new tools."

moonhan69 (7:39pm) - "yes I've been playing for about five months and now I'm banned for 30 days on 4 of my accounts.  I will have to read the forum more often to"

Of course, I saved the best for last.  Here's a tweet, courtesy of mynnna...
I've been hanging around botting and hacking forums long enough to realize they will loosen their tongues around like-minded souls.  But this guy thinking that Tweetfleet would feel sympathy for him?  Really?  Either he wants to win an Eve Online Darwin Award or CCP Stillman was correct about how badly the client modification rules are understood.


  1. I have no sympathy for any of them. There is a good reason for having AP hobbled the way it is. Directly bypassing a deliberate design decision is a pure cheat.

    I sure as hell don't buy the oft-repeated mantra, that it is bad game design that everyone agrees should be changed.

    Risk vs Reward is the mantra. Removing that 12k slow boat risk upsets a design decision.

  2. And now I have to complain about arbitrary decisions going the other way. It's no better to be 'nice' to the players if you aren't being consistent in the application of policy.

    For the love of the Great Dark Beyond just email every account a concise policy that explains what is bad and how enforcement works. Institute a 2 day grace period and then enforce the rules as they are written.

  3. If you do something for four years without punishment, then it is de facto allowed. Do you know why you can be banned for revealing GM correspondence? Because as you have said: "Some of what I've read CCP employees told players was acceptable made me cringe."

    Will I get banned for using Eve-Mon?

    "No, don't be silly."

    Isn't cache-scrapping against the EULA?



    "Cache-scraping is against the EULA. We don't care if you cache-scrape but if you do other things we don't like, we will ban your pubbie ass."

    Wha, I..


    And this is what happens when you make a Goon chief of security.

    1. "If you do something for four years without punishment, then it is de facto allowed."

      So if I kill people for 4 years and don't get caught, it's okay? -_-

      "Sir! We found out who the person who's been murdering people for the last four years!"

      "Really? Hmm...well, he's been doing it for four years and we haven't been able to do anything. There's really no point in trying to stop him now, he's use to it and feels entitled. Heck, he might sue us for trying to get him to stop. I mean, after 4 years he's earned the right to do so, yeah? I'd be unfair to let all that hard work he's put into this to go to waste."

    2. A more apt comparison would be century old laws banning sodomy and homosexuality. Even if laws are on the book, people still have a right to be mad if police suddenly start breaking down doors on suspicion of male-on-male buggery.

      CCP got into trouble with the T20 scandal not because "its there game, they can do what they want, lolz" but because they were using game mechanics to reward their friends. Many current CCP employees were former members of large null sec alliances. A vague EULA allows them to ignore the impropriety of their friends and punish their enemies for whatever reason. After all "its there game, they can do what they want, lolz"

    3. You got away with it, that doesn't make it okay.

      There are people that have been botting ice and rats for years, should they be let off the hook just for getting away with it for so long?


    4. I think the "real" problem that players seem to have about the EULA is that CCP is somewhat inconsistent about its interpretation and in their willingness to enforce it strictly, or not.

      But, the fact remains that CCP *owns* EVE Online, and they can do with it as they wish. They can choose to enforce some rules today, and not enforce them tomorrow, or completely change them next week.

      Complain, but get it through your thick skulls that your only real choice is to play by their (today) rules, or quit.

  4. Expending so much effort making tools to avoid actually playing the game. Mind-boggling...

    1. Sure - it a profitable venture. Some folks make a good amount of USD, converted from RMB, from selling ISK to RMTs in China (like those TLAs?).

      2350 banned accounts... and, yet, they still missed the 50+ bot accounts, run by my cousin and his pal, in null.

    2. Bet your cousin loves you giving out hints.

    3. The Jita spam abides. You would think banning someone that posts every minute, twenty three hours a day every day would be a no brainer, but you have to remember, a Goon was head of "security".

    4. @Stabs - my cousin has been "playing" for 5+ years, without getting banned. He isn't much worried about what I do or say, as long as I don't actually name names. ;)

      Personally, though, I've always suspected that he has someone doing CYA at CCP - that is well within his SOP.

      I don't know how much USD he makes via RMT, but he does have devs from various game companies on his consultant payroll, as well as certain bigger in-game players (alliance leaders, guild masters, and that sort) acting as agents to both buy and sell game currency from/to other players, as well as provide and/or distribute bots.