Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What Part Of "Any" Don't They Understand

As we get closer to 2015 and the enforcement of the EULA using the terms input automation, input broadcasting, and input multiplexing, I have the feeling we will see a lot of bans of ISBoxer users, not for input broadcasting, but for input automation.

Input automation, as CCP Falcon defined in his forum post on 25 November:
"...refers to actions that are commonly also referred to as botting or macroing. This term is used to describe, but is not limited to, the automation of actions which have consequences in the EVE universe."
So why do I believe that ISBoxer users are going to receive bans for input automation?  Because of the workarounds they have publicly described on the official EVE Online forums and other places.  These descriptions of actions users will take to circumvent the input broadcasting rules led Team Security's CCP Grimmi to write the following in Friday's security dev blog:
"During discussions about the input multiplexing and broadcasting issue on forums and in tickets, we have noticed a frequent misunderstanding we would like to take this opportunity to address.  Any use of macros to interact with the game world is prohibited by EULA now, and has always been." 
Since I was told on the forums yesterday that I couldn't possibly have read the security dev blog since it was unclear on what is and isn't allowed, I'd like to take the opportunity to deconstruct these two sentences.  The first sentence reads:
"During discussions about the input multiplexing and broadcasting issue on forums and in tickets, we have noticed a frequent misunderstanding we would like to take this opportunity to address." 
This sentence, I believe, refers to the back and forth going on between the players who support the stricter enforcement of Section 6A3 of the EULA and those who don't.  One of the main arguments of those who oppose the enforcement of the prohibition of input broadcasting claim that the ban will have no practical effect and then go on to describe several workarounds that they believe circumvent the input broadcast ban and are compliant with the EULA.

The next sentence, I believe, demolishes that argument:
"Any use of macros to interact with the game world is prohibited by EULA now, and has always been."
The second sentence, in my view, implies that at least some of the workarounds described are considered macros and are violations of the EULA.  Quite frankly, I have not waded through the over 140 pages of the forum thread, so I don't know all of the workarounds listed.  But one I do know is ISBoxer's round robin option.

Now, I was unsure exactly how round robin in ISBoxer works, so I found a YouTube instruction video filmed by Joe Thaler, the creator of Inner Space and ISBoxer, that explained how the feature works.  Starting at the 2:00 mark, and ignoring all references to broadcasting, which is not necessary to use round robin, I took away that round robin performs the following steps.

  1. ISBoxer performs an action in the game world.  For example, in EVE, the press of the F1 key.
  2. ISBoxer performs an action or actions that selects the next client to interact with the next time the hotkey is pressed.

Oh.  So pressing one hotkey will perform multiple tasks, one of which interacts with the EVE Online game world.  Let's look at that second sentence again:
"Any use of macros to interact with the game world is prohibited by EULA now, and has always been."
He used the word "any", didn't he?  Any, in the context that CCP Grimmi used the word, is easily replaced by the word "all".

I think ISBoxers are going to get caught because, when I looked at the video, round robin appears to act as a simple hotkey.  The focus of the display window never shifted, so the user may not realize that more than one action is performed.  But, according to CCP Grimmi's statement, if more than one action is performed, that is activity prohibited by the EULA.

I almost feel sorry for ISBoxer users.  Almost.  But those who use ISBoxer for the windows management and don't try to violate the spirit of the EULA won't run afoul of Team Security.  I believe only the users who try to get cute and rules lawyer their way around the ban will wind up with a 30 day ban.  Watching the results next month should prove interesting.


  1. A fair few problems here:
    1. As it's understood, a macro is only something affecting the game world in multiple ways. If a key were to press F1 and open notepad, I'm pretty sure that's not under CCPs EULA. If it is now bannable, then anyone with a Push to talk keybind for their chat software will want to check to make sure they unbind it in EVE. For example, if you use EVE as default settings, and use ALT to talk on Teamspeak, you're gonna get banned! That key will talk on TS and perform the "look at" function in EVE. MACRO!

    2. Round robin doesn't actually perform a task as such when you press the key. It knows you've pressed it, but nothing happens beyond that pieces of software tripping a flag. My keyboard software knows when I've pushed a key too.

    3. They have absolutely no way of telling if it is a round robin key or just someone switching windows and pressing a key. Alt tab might seem like a long and easily detectable delay, but then alt tab isn't the only way a window receives focus. Some operating systems can be set to send keypresses to the window being hovered over for example.

    4. If all forms of multi input like this are banned, then what happens when I go into combat and I use 4 fingers to press F1, F2, F3, and F4 simultaneously? Is that now banned? Having multiple fingers is the same as macroing!

    At the end of the day what they don't want is complex macros which can automate tasks, and they will act on them if they detect the same sequence of action being taking with the same delays between. The second they start banning people for pushing keys to fast is the sign that EVE is truly on it's way out.

    Using round robin isn't rules lawyering. It's following the rules. If CCP want to ban it, they can come out and say "Nope, you can't do that". But they haven't. And you can say "spirit of the EULA" all you want, but we DO NOT KNOW what the "spirit of the EULA" is as they've not actually told us why they are putting this ban in place. We've got at most some educated guesses about what the reasons behind it actually are.

  2. The question about what CCP can detect and enforce is different from their ideal.

    And I think your comment is the perfect example of what I call "rules lawyering." CCP is spelling out in pretty simple language what they intend. Or perhaps what you and others on the forums are doing is advanced spin before CCP starts banning people. That way, you can jump up and down about how unfair CCP is and how they don't communicate with players.

    I'm done with trying to figure out what CCP wants to do. I think I have that figured out. The next step is what CCP actually does. I think we'll see that in about 9-10 days when the first bans are issued.

  3. Well no, wanting to know where you stand in the rules isn't rules lawyering. If they want to ban the use of multiple fingers too, fine, but they should say so.

    All they've said is broadcasting is banned, and that beyond that everything else is as banned as it was before. Yet now we've got people like yourself going "Oh no, the 'spirit of the EULA' states you can't do: *massive list of other things which aren't broadcasting*". Why don't they just ban multiple clients, then we don't have to have a problem at all. Everyone will know where they stand, it's easy to enforce, the end. I'm fed up with having to put up with half assed rules and a complete lack of support through the channels they state we're supposed to use for support, leaving us to all sit around arguing and guessing about what they may or may not do and who may or may not get banned. It's ridiculous.

    And all for what? So some crying little carebear will think for a month that PLEX prices will drop down to a level they can afford them before reality sets in? Or so that CCP can avoid fixing their crappy game mechanics because half the talent in their dev team has jumped ship?

  4. CCP has the issue of non-linear game progression to contend with, hence why most people opt to create an alt or 2. Banning alts would probably lead to people getting bored with the game and playing less often or even quitting, as opposed to spending 6 months training for a jump freighter on your main character. A more reasonable suggestion is to cap accounts at a workable number and the reduce the need for alts, ie. deployable cyno structures.

    On the round robin 'work around', well, i don't see how it's a work around, it is a macro, that's clear. It's not going to be able to be used in bomber fleets or 40 man incursion or mining fleets, those days of highly visible mass ISBoxed accounts are going after this year. If we see people using 'round robin' they will be using smaller groups of characters than before which is a success in terms of PLEX and effect on EVE. As above though, it is not a workaround and should be a bannable offence which CCP will pick up on over time, doubly so if the ISBoxers turn to it on mass.

  5. Lol, Rain6637 has got a GM response stating that pressing F1 through F8 on a single key is fine, and was also pointed to a forum post indicating it was fine to use this to turn on all hardeners in a press. So either there's confusion in GM land, or some macros are fine.

  6. Did Rain6637 specify after 1 January? Or did Rain just ask what's legal? Or did Rain ask for after 1 January but the GMs give a current response. Because the ruling doesn't take effect for a week and I would expect the GMs to run with the current rules until then. I'd also expect the GMs to keep handing out their canned responses until then.

    Given that in another thread ISD and CCP Logibro told someone to file a petition because they couldn't give an authoritative answer on the forums and then the GM told the person to ask on the forums, my vote is for confusion.

  7. Lucas, you've read everything I've written. If that doesn't convince you, then I'll never be able to convince you. Then again, I think your arguments are pretty weak and seriously disregard the public statements that CCP has made. So I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

  8. But as you pointed out above, "Any use of macros to interact with the game world is prohibited by EULA now, and has always been."

    So the ruling on such a thing should be the same either side of Jan 1st.

  9. Now you're just playing games, because we both know that's not reality. CCP, according to CCP Grimmi's dev blog, is changing the rules, but they don't want to admit it.

    You're just arguing for arguments sake and you really don't care if people get banned come New Year's Day. Fine. I'm through responding.

  10. At the end of the day, whether we agree or not is beside the point. The only thing that matters is CCPs actions. I very much doubt they are going to go through the amount of banning that would be required to ban things like round robin without making a statement about it. If it does get declared a violation, I would expect them to state that publicly. I just wish they'd do so now, rather than waiting until after Jan 1st and messing everyone around a second time.

  11. I'm not arguing for arguments sake, according to them the rules on macros are as they have always been. Nothing is there to suggest any different, and if GMs are still responding saying "yup that's fine", what are we supposed to take that as?

    Merry Christmas by the way :D

  12. "...and always has been" is a snort-inducing attempt to rewrite history. My takeaway is that CCP is again inching closer to banning for ISBoxer use, but still not quite sure they want to go *that* far. They've left themselves wiggle room, but less now than they "always" have.

    And that's okay. Security ought to be and is a moving target, and bans ought to be handed out as needed. IMO the game ought to provide all the macros they want us to have, and any third-party enhancements used at all should earn bans. I'm just amused by the weasel words.

  13. I read a post by another blogger who mentioned he was told that using his mouse to turn on all hardeners with one click was a macro and thus illegal.
    Feel free to try out, maybe CCP can't detect it or won't punish you for using it. Just share the results with us.
    Oth, the feature I would use isboxer for is the videofx that allows you to reposition parts of the eve client window.