Thursday, June 12, 2014

Subtraction By Adding On?

One of the features of EVE Online that I like is the official absence of use of macros inside the game client.  According to Section 6A3 of the EVE 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."
Okay, that's the official written policy.  Over the years, some exceptions were made for industrial use, but in general, if someone is beating me 1 vs 1 in EVE, I know it's my own lack of skill and knowledge about how to play the game, not because the other person is running better macros.1  But that's not the case in most of the games I've played.

In my first MMORPG, World of Warcraft, I used to run around Alterac Valley on my paladin using an add-on called Decursive.2  The add-on allowed me to remove negative affects from my team just by spamming buttons.  I didn't need to target anyone.  Just spam.  I found the add-on useful because it allowed me to influence events before I could reach the scene of the action and participate in the fight directly.

Near the end of my time in WoW, though, I soured on the use of add-ons like Decursive.  The incident that still sticks out in my mind is running into someone in Silithus who complemented me on how good I was.  But that wasn't me, that was a bit of code that I found and imported into the game.  At that point I felt like a fraud.

Just because I had the bad experience in WoW didn't put me off from writing macros.  Everquest 2 has a macro system and I created some macros.  The most complicated one involved switching between my combat gear and my crafting gear.  But I never did download add-ons for EQ2.  I'd like to say for philosophical reasons, but the biggest thing that turned me away at first was SOE's monthly deployment schedule.  Did I really want to wait a day after every patch for an add-on dev to patch his add-on?  During that time, a player gets exposed for relying on outside software.  Why have that happen when I could just learn how to play the game the way the devs intended?  I think three years of that mindset really prepared me for playing a game without macros/add-ons like EVE.

So now I'm playing a game, Wildstar, that allows add-ons.  I Googled "Wildstar addons" and found a site called Curse.  Apparently the site is a clearing house for add-ons for many games.  On the front page for Wildstar I found this passage from a description for an add-on called Ayth_Quest:
"The purpose of Ayth_Quest is to show you the closest objectives for your quests, quest givers, harvesting/farming nodes, and path objectives. The inclusion of path objectives and harvesting/farming nodes is rather new to Ayth_Quest so they may not work 100% as intended. I know my settler doesn't get any lines drawn at all for it's objectives, but Aytherine is constantly updating this addon and I'm sure it'll get all paths working soon. As you can see in the image below, Ayth_Quest shows you which objectives are the closest by overlaying dotted lines that point you right where you need to go with the distance also thrown in for good measure."
Basically what the add-on does is give you the same functionality that is built into Neverwinter.  That is, a path opens up to the mob a player needs to kill or a resource a player needs to gather.  No looking around required.  Some might even say the add-on dumbs the game down.  Perfect for those looking to reach the Elder game (what Carbine called end game), but designed to make me unsub from the game quickly.  For me, if the choice is raiding or quit, I usually quit.

But is that really the way the devs designed the game?  Feels like cheating to me.  But ... it's not.  In fact, players will mark down games if the game developer does not allow player-created add-ons.  At one point, I found the situation humorous when WoW players who never played with the Blizzard UI extolled the virtues of the Blizzard UI.  In their minds, using a player-designed user interface meant that Blizzard did something right, not that Blizzard failed at UI design.

In Wildstar, I most likely will play with the macro system.  I think having a macro to wave to someone fits in with playing an Exile.  Unlike those stuck up Dominion types, we're friendly.3  But I really don't want to download any add-ons.  Carbine is planning a monthly patch and I don't want to get locked out of playing because any of my add-ons need updating.  I'd rather learn to play without relying on the add-ons.  Waiting for a patch to download is bad enough, I don't want to wait any longer than that.  I'm impatient that way.


1.  Yes, I know about ISBoxer.  I also believe that this is one of the reasons people don't like the use of ISBoxer.  Who likes getting beat by software?  Especially when that software technically violates the EULA.

2. This was back in Vanilla WoW, so I may mis-remember the name, but the functionality was the same.

3.  Not to say that the Dominion can't use emote macros.  People playing Chuas probably need at least 5.


  1. Can it be argued that New Order using HTML to automatic their message of their CODE is type of third party software used to obtain isk for permits is violation of EULA? Rather ironic given all of the bot aspiring they warn about.

    I recall that Source games have access to very complex macros. Which has always been acceptable,

    1. I don't know if that counts as macro'ing, but it sounds like very bot aspirant behavior to me.

  2. If I want to get beaten by another player by her programming ability, we'll play RoboRally. Otherwise, play the damn game vanilla. Its hard enough to compete at a level playing field in EVE as it is, with the prevalence of OGB, fleeting alts, and neutral reppers, Throw macros (auto heating optimization, auto piloting, whatever) and its even worse.

    ISboxer should not be in use. Full stop. If that means idiots start taping mice together again to hardcontrol multiple physical boxes with one hand movement, then so be it.

    1. Once upon a time I played a heavy-PVP mud (Achea) for switch people scripted heavily. It was common for people to complain that you weren't trying to beat character X, you were trying to best X's combat script with your combat script.

      It sounded like 0x10c was going to be a programmer vs programmer game. I wonder if that's part of why the idea folded?

  3. Speaking as someone who no longer uses addons, I actually like WoW's UI a lot. I sometimes get the sense that there's some improvements Blizzard has made that people don't see because they use addons. I also don't participate in content where using addons might be a really good idea instead of just personal preference, but hey, if you wanted someone that likes the default WoW UI, here I am.

  4. Addons are one reason I finally quit playing WoW and the lack of addons in Eve was a plus for me too. After years of playing WoW I was fed up with the neverending addon race.

    If something is difficult, it won't be long before someone makes an addon to make it easier, then you had to get it if you want to remain competitive. Next thing you know you have 50 addons, some you don't even want but your raid/guild leader insists you must have.

    Playing the auction? Good luck trying to compete with anyone using an auction posting and crafting mod if you don't have it too. And macros? Most wouldn't believe how much can be done with very simple autoit or ahk mouse/keyboard input scripts, especially when those can be used to run complex in-game macros and mods.

    Eve's not having macros was a big point in it's favor when I started looking for another game to play.

  5. Years ago when I first started playing WoW I refused to ever download addons. People would ask me what I was using or assume I was and I would tell them I had none and they'd act like it was a crime. I stuck to this policy for a very long time, I enjoyed the basic UI as it was.

    Eventually I was convinced I should get addons because I was leading raids and people got on me about it, so I got a few basic ones. I even tried some of those ones that changed the entire UI and I could not stand those. I loved the basic UI.

    Eventually like MoxNix said, I ended up with around 50ish addons when I finally left the game. I joined Eve shortly after. What a breath of fresh air Eve is.

    I came back to WoW a year later, I didn't install any addons, I just returned... and found myself unable to play the class that I felt I knew more than anything else. And it was all my fault for having those stupid addons from the previous years. Somehow I came to rely on them even though I wasn't aware of it. So I know how you felt that day in Silithus!

    I did relearn to play (and never did get those addons back) but WoW lost it's charm long ago so I left not too many months later. Eve has changed the way I appreciate games and there is just no other like Eve. I wish I had found Eve years ago.

    I like that Eve has no requirements to get addons, none of that. And I rather like the Eve interface.. I'd not want it any other way.

  6. I think your view on add-ons is a bit narrow minded. The vast majority of add-ons in most games are quality of life add-ons (e.g., inventory management, rearranging GUI elements, auto-selling trash items, selecting a random mount, damage meters etc.) that just improve your enjoyment of the game but don't really make you more competitive.

    With respect to WoW, I am pretty sure that by the time Burning Crusade had arrived (the very fist expansion), Blizzard had overhauled the macro and add-on system so that I-win-buttons such as the single button decursing no longer worked.

    Eve's GUI is mediocre at best. If it supported WoW's level of GUI customization, it could be improved tremendously. Plus, there are so many cool features that could be added. Just think for a second how sweet it would be if the tooltip of an item, for instance, showed you how many items of that kind you have account wide, listed separately for each char and/or region/station/whateveryouchoose.

    I loved customizing my UI in WoW. It was so much fun and so satisfying to make the interface look and feel exactly the way I wanted.

    1. A tooltip of an item showing where you have how many of that item throughout all of New Eden on all your alts?

      You really didn't think that one through, did you?

      Tooltips are supposed to provide a small amount of useful information, not fill the screen with the details of those single Scourge Cruise Missiles you have in every station in Metropolis because you once put up a region-wide buy order without a minimum volume …

  7. Silly people, of course EvE allows add ons. What do you think the API and the in game browser is all about?

    1. The API is supposed to be for out of browser use only. And the stuff CCP added for the in game browser really added to macro use that technically violated the EULA. You are aware that cache scraping violates the EULA, but CCP just doesn't enforce it, right?

    2. I won't argue legal details. EVEmon, EFT, various killboards and many other users of the API all are used to create an enhanced game experience (which CCP did not have to pay for the its development) Not to mention POS maintenance.

      And it isn't just stuff you can do while you are docked. The NPC map kill API is used to track down PVE types in wormhole space.

      All that stuff is clearly within the scope of "add ons" and CCP not only tolerates it, but encourages it.

  8. I dunno... while I do think some wow addons go too far (the raid timing boss-mods come to mind), most of them just serve as excuses for blizzard to not cleanup the UI.

    Let me see if I can remember the mods I used to use...

    * An inventory combining thing. It did a ton of other things, but the main thing it did was combine all your bags into one window, and give you nice filters. Eve could really use improvements here (it's better than it was, but still)

    * Replacement health/mana bar thingy. Simple user interface reskinning. Made health/mana more obvious, and allowed you to resize/replace cast bars. I kinda wish Eve had a few options here (I could do with just not even seeing shield on an armor frig, for example)

    * Deadly Boss Mods (or it's competitor... not remembering the name atm)... a raid helper. Not much in Eve is timed the way WoW raids are, not really applicable. I didn't like it from a game design perspective, but it did make me a more effective raider (particularly when you know how to customize it)

    * An addon for adding more color/customization to the chat windows. I don't remember everything it did, but mostly it felt like adding features that every IRC client since 1990 has supported... which Eve still lacks

    * Bartender... added a bazillion customization options for action bars. It would be nice to do this in eve from time to time.

    * Tooltip customizer... just allowed you to make more relevent information pop out. Tooltips are new enough to Eve that I'm not sure how much this applies.

    * Grid: basically a better interface for doing raid management/healing. Holy crap does eve need something here...

  9. Add-ons in WoW could be very useful. Tanking without a decent threat meter was not ideal, for example. What annoyed me was "Gear Score", a single number generated by an Add-on to assess just how "uber" you were. I am sure incursion runners would love something like that... .

  10. In the old days of WotLK I used a lot of addons... Most of them were UI improvements, like those mentioned by Anon@11:53. What I don't like the most are those fixed UIs which were designed by some ppl who probably did not play any game for more than a hour or two in the last ten years. They might contain sparkling, trendy, whatevers, but cover up a good portion of window space with useless stuff and having the important ones in the worst places. At least, EvE has that basic functionality of window repositioning.

  11. BTW, the original Decursive, that selected the target for you, stopped working when BC came out. Blizzard weakenedthe API for add-ons so they could automate playing that much.

  12. Macros and bots abound in EVE, and despite the EULA, it is obviously a big fat grey area. The first macros I used were given to me by a former corp mate, who happens to now be a CCP dev. And, my first bots came from another former mate, who is now an alliance leader and former CSM member, who also still uses them - with CCP's knowledge.

    I've received one ban warning about macro and bot use from a GM, which I petitioned to our former favorite security dev, who told me not to worry about it. CCP is far more worried about catching RMTers than a few gamers who are just trying to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome resulting from poor UI design.