Friday, September 6, 2013

The Cache Scraper Scare

I'm used to going onto the botting forums and reading botters complain about CCP breaking their bots.  Then some cry because they have to wait for a bot dev to fix the bot.  I never thought I'd read a thread on the EVE Online forums that would let me know that bots were broke.  But that happened Wednesday when someone started crying about market data not getting uploaded to EVE Central.  Apparently CCP changed the format of the cache files.  Which means that all the market bots that rely on cache scraping were broken as well.  Yes!

As much as I would like to see all automation within the client stopped I know, at least for the short term, that's just a dream.  For those who are curious, here's the latest from CCP Stillman on the subject.

Sable Blitzmann - "But again, I stand by my statement that they are within their right to modify the cache without putting it in the patch notes, especially if something came up that required it to be modified to ensure stability (with new items / features / what have you). Since the cache is not an official third party data source, us developers can't expect them to tell us jack squat about changes."

CCP Stillman - "You're right, technically cache scraping is not currently something the EULA allows for. But as we've stated, it's not something we'll enforce.

"In this specific case, the fact that cache scrapers broke is a side-effect of a very major engineering change in the EVE code base that's been in the works for a while. I won't get into the specifics other than the fact from our perspective it's great and wonderful. It's a shame it broke some cache scrapers though, as that was not intentional.

"If we decide to make away with the cache, then we'll make sure not to create a huge void in it's place. We had this discussion at Fanfest, and I've had this discussion both with other CCPers and with the CSM lately as to how to remove the cache without causing major disruption.

"That's not to promise that anything is going to happen. As a security guy, I can't make promises. But I know there's a desire for the cache to be removed, as it's actually decreasing performance rather than increasing it."

Psihius - "Wouldn't CREST access to market (at least to read) enable market scraping just like cache, only more precise :)"

CCP Stillman - "Certainly that's the logical conclusion. But if/when that would happen, I do not know. That's something I'd suggest you make the CSM push for. I'm pretty sure they'd agree with you."

Bill Saisima - "Maybe our english vocabularies differ a great deal, I never found anything restricting reading game files. Just re-read it and it's just not there. Reading game files is required to play and it's not your business what I do on my PC outside of eve process space as long as I respect the terms (which don't prohibit reading of files).  Maybe you are talking about a version that is not even published yet."

CCP Stillman - "Lets start by looking at the EULA for a quick second."

"You may not reverse engineer, disassemble or decompile, or attempt to reverse engineer or derive source code from, all or any portion of the Software, or from any information accessible through the System (including, without limitation, data packets transmitted to and from the System over the Internet), or anything incorporated therein, or analyze, decipher, "sniff" or derive code (or attempt to do any of the foregoing) from any packet stream transmitted to or from the System, whether encrypted or not, or permit any third party to do any of the same, and you hereby expressly waive any legal rights you may have to do so. If the Software and/or the System contains license management technology, you may not circumvent or disable that technology."
"Seems pretty clear-cut to me. And our lawyers, this being a legal document, agrees that cache scraping is covered by this. That's not the intent, but it's what it says. We've gone over this topic in depth already, so I'm not going to engage in another discussion about this. It is what it is. We won't enforce it as far as cache scraping goes."

So that is the current status of the cache scraping situation.  The player developers have adjusted their libraries for the new format, which means the bot developers have the fix also.  CCP will not enforce the EULA in this regard so everyone using applications that rely on cache scraping are safe from bans.  And I'm still waiting impatiently for CREST market functionality to appear so all those devs can stop playing in the client and CCP can take the limits off of efforts to catch market bots.


  1. wish they would make some in game market bots. Trying to stalk items in Null sec is tough without a cash scraper and make it an Isk Sink to do so.
    But restrict their use like in Jita where the market is already competative and the quantities being sold are massive and there is plenty of profit to be made by a 1 isk change.

  2. You want all automation within the client stopped? Ok, I mean, I don't like bots either but manually checking prices across multiple regions on multiple items is a huge pain in the ass. As implemented it is a huge amount of busy work for anyone that wants to get into the production and distribution side of the eve market.

    1. Maybe you are trying to handle too much then. Focus in one region only.

  3. It is not just market bots which rely on EVE Central and similar services (if any - do market bots care about other regions but the one they are in?); honest industrialists engaged in capital-intensive production (T2 materials, T2 ships, capitals) do so as well in order to have to avoid hours of tedious data entry into their spread sheets.

    An API to retrieve time-delayed market prices is long overdue. PvPers can use automations like evemaps to look at signs of target activity in other systems without having an alt there (NPC kills, jumps), so it'd be only fair if industrialists could look up market data from afar as well.

    1. The market bots aren't using EVE Central. They use the same mechanics that the cache scrapers that supply EVE Central and similar services use. In effect, the market bots get to hide amongst all the users that CCP don't ban. Getting the market info out to an API or a CREST API would take away a hiding place.