Monday, December 15, 2014

CCP's War On Bots: Rhea Breaks Bots

One of the features that many EVE players looked forward to in Rhea is the new UI.  However, some players probably dreaded the day.  That's right, botters.  When the Unified Inventory system was introduced in Inferno back in 2012, some bots failed to work properly for two weeks after launch.  Are we looking at a similar situation today?

Early reports from TinyMiner users, a mining bot, showed that bot devs had some work to do.
Omnissiah (TinyMiner - 9 Dec): "Just fired up TM after patching for the update that came out today. Even though I saw the UI changes I thought I would give it a try. Well it looks like everything went fine untill it tryed to warp from bookmark to the roid...TM does not like the new UI. Sorry but this is as far as I could test things."

O5iris (TinyMiner - 9 Dec): "I also tested. TM could not find the roids. It tried several belts with no luck. I think it has to do with the new window sizes. The cursor kept missing the roid in the overview. I even tried to place the overview window so the cursor would hit it, with no luck."

adak (TinyMiner - 9 Dec):  "Warp to zero free style no longer works as well."
Developers for other bots described some of the problems they faced.  The developer of the H-Bot ratting/anomalies bot was a bit optimistic on launch day:
H-BOT (H-bot - 9 Dec): "You'll notice there are no color sliders now in General settings of Eve but it's ok. To use H-Bot in Rhea all you need to do is go to General settings and select the black theme which I don't recall the name right now and remove the transparency. You'll notice that even with these settings the windows are not 100% solid black but it's not a problem as I've modfied H-Bot's OCR engine to work with the new UI. If dragging the transparency slider seems to have no effect to eve windows you have to set 'Post processing' to high in graphics settings."
The developer for the Eve Pilot series of bots, which includes mining, courier, and market bots, came out with more pessimistic posts:
Slav2 (Eve Pilot dev - 9 Dec): "This will take several days to fix bot. Shit happens. Relax and wait for update!"

Slav2 (Eve Pilot dev - 9 Dec): "Last time when eve switched UI it took 2 weeks to fix everything. I had to develop new text reader as fonts were also changed. I will fix bot as soon as possible, but dont want to make any eta."
On Wednesday, some of the H-Bot users who trusted the dev came back with some bad news:
kalitarev (H-bot - 10 Dec): "Another issue...there is a hostile in the system (even 2 hostile) but bot start to going on belts there is no hostile!!"

morti (H-bot - 10 Dec): "Bot dont warp to safespot, when neutrals appear in local chat. Lost ship today"
Well, bad news for the botters.  For those of us who like seeing bots explode, the news was pretty good.

The H-Bot dev is always overly optimistic and wound up backing off on when the bot would actually work:
H-BOT (H-bot - 10 Dec): "This was the most significant change to eve UI after the font change that's why there are many bugs. I'll be fixing bugs and releasing new builds every day or two untill H-Bot is back 100% working."
The Eve Pilot dev faced a different problem based on his payment model.  Some users didn't want to pay for lost time:
realtitan (Eve Pilot - 9 Dec): "Hi, Is it possible to pause the licences? Right now it's just wasting it."

Slav2 (Eve Pilot Dev - 9 Dec): "When you pay for a license you agree, that I will update bot for free when it became broken due to eve patch. If we start pausing licenses, I will charge for updates from time to time (as many developers do)."

viticus (Eve Pilot - 10 Dec): "Wow so I have only recently ordered from you guys and you are seriously saying it could be two weeks before I can use your services again. I can sort of live with that as you have no power over EVE updating. What is sort of ridiculous is the fact that we have to swallow this time period like we are paying for nothing.

"I was seriously considering getting other packages as the service has been great so far but now I truly don't know as this could happen often (paying for no use/nothing).

"I understand about charging for updates and I guess you would be within your rights to do so. I'm pretty sure if you did that you would see the custom base drop like a stone.

"I guess it comes down to being fair and thinking of your fellow player. But oh well we will see how long this issue takes to fix. On a final note this is something I would be sure to point out to friends who would be considering signing up for your services (word of mouth). It may of been clearly stated when signing up but I'll be honest and say I saw nothing about it."
Didn't realize botters respected terms of service so much!

Apparently, something also happened with the way that Eve Pilot bots interact with video cards, but I'm unsure whether that is related to the EVE client or something within EP:
slaterbotting (Eve Pilot - 11 Dec): "Im having the same problem. I had the miner working on a windows 8 OS for a week with no problems. Then i changed in shared settings for the bot to use Expanded PNP and Local Chat. (an update to eve pilot also came out when i changed it) That is when I started to get the error. I decided to move the bot to my main computer due to windows 8 not being supported and my main having Windows 7. Same problem. I tryed to swap it back from expanded Local chat and am still getting the problem.

"Error: 'Please update videocard drivers. Dont use beta drivers, use only stable release. If applied, disable FXAA mode (hardware antialiasing) and enable SLI (double video card) mode'"
I have to wonder if the error is triggering for some users because of the new Physically Based Rendering system introduced in Rhea.  Whatever the cause, I only saw complaints about video driver errors associated with Eve Pilot.  I included this post as an example of how some of these bots aren't exactly compatible with the latest operating systems.  However, I will concede that some people question whether Windows 8 actually works.

Surprisingly, the subject of bot security came up concerning Eve Pilot.  One user gave some advice:
casper (Eve Pilot - 13 Dec):  "One thing I'm doing it trying to manually log in each client and make sure they're online for the same amount of time each day as normal, doing things like research or markets whatever while time passes.  Look a little suspicious that a player that was online 7 days a week, disappears for a week right after the patch."
The poor botter.  He gets a subscription to use a bot so he doesn't have to play, and not only does he not get credit for the time the bot is down, he actually has to play EVE in order not to avoid detection from Team Security.  Both casper and Slav2 gave more advice on the dangers of botting and how to avoid detection:
casper (Eve Pilot - 13 Dec):  "rules of eve, don't fly what you can't afford to lose. nothing different here, don't use a pilot you cannot afford to lose.

"Bot is currently down. The bot itself is perfectly safe, it is the players that are the threat to it (both yourself and other players)

"You don't set it up right and it acts like a bot, its busted. You make foolish isk transfers, busted. Other players try to interact with it and report it as a bot, busted."

Slav2 (Eve Pilot dev - 14 Dec):  "Bot is safe, but you may be unlucky and mine in a system with players who report bots. That is why I recommend to change systems every 2h with traveling list or, if you already used one system and was not banned during a month, better to stay in this system.

"To detect such system, check that system has no manufacturing slots, encounter agents of 4 lvl, far from trade hubs, not so much local. Choose abandoned station where no one is sitting most of the time or floating outside of a station."
CCP's automatic detection algorithm's can only do so much, although from the discussion concerning input broadcasting, CCP is probably upgrading the algorithm at the beginning of the year.  So for any players who see bots, keep using the "Report Bot" button.  That includes any players who decide to suicide gank bots.  Please remember to report the bot after killing it.  Hopefully, the information above will help track down where to find some bots, for those interested.

So how are things progressing for the bot devs?  The H-bot dev posted a bug-laden version on Saturday and plans to upload a new version today.  The TinyMiner dev posted he had fixed the bot and would upload a new version on Saturday.  However, as of 12 hours ago, users were still waiting:
Omnissiah (TinyMiner - 14 Dec):  "Waiting with baited breath.......turning blue......but still holding out hope :)"
As for the Eve Pilot bots, don't hold your breath:
Slav2 (Eve Pilot dev - 13 Dec):  "I am working on it. Eve itself is bugged, you cannot edit shortcuts now. Need to wait for eve update before I can finish bot. I do tests which dont use shortcuts only."

1 comment:

  1. I know of at least one market bot that's affected. I think anything using OCR technology was affected by the work to make the windows semi-transparent.