Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Suicide By Team Security

I think the end game is fast approaching for what is now clearly CCP's attempts to curtail the use and abuse of the ISBoxer advanced multiboxing software within EVE Online. Of course, close is a relative term, but I think yesterday's announcement by Blizzard of the introduction of WoW Tokens into World of Warcraft in patch 6.1.2 will give many current users of ISBoxer a destination to which they can retreat. But until that day arrives, I expect to continue to see some pretty amazing things come out of the ISBoxer community.

The latest came from a user who goes by Mog2 on the Dual-Boxing.com forums and Verisimili in EVE. He published the below video on 7 February showing what he believed was a EULA-compliant set-up.

He then posted the following:

Verisimili's Challenge
Not exactly the smartest thing in the world to do. I'm not sure, but Verisimili may have even submitted a ticket pointing to this video. At this point, Team Security has to take a look. As I suspected, Verisimili would get banned. On Friday, Verisimili posted the news.
"Well, all 20 of my accounts were banned yesterday for 'Macro Use' while I still had a ticket in about multiboxing. I have not received an email explaining the situation, just a message when I tried to log in. When I do get it, I intend on posting it for everyone's edification.
"In other news, a little birdy sent me a copy of a response they got from CCP about multiboxing. I'm presently negotiating its release to the public; in short, though, I'll say that in CCP's view, anything that you do with ISBoxer or a similar program that makes controlling multiple characters faster than alt tabbing is considered a bannable offense."
If anyone wonders if Verisimili intentionally threw himself in front of Team Security so he would receive a ban, I would say that is certainly possible.  A little later on Friday, he posted the following:
"Thanks for the support guys. I knew when I resubbed in late January that there was a 50-60% chance of getting banned; I wasn't walking into it blind. I figured if I did get banned it'd make it easier to go back to WoW, and if I didn't then I could have fun getting ships blown up "
The posts of another Dual-Boxing.com forum poster, thedevilyouknow, indicated Verisimili would receive more than just a 30-day vacation from EVE:
"To clarify, I wasnt unbanned (misuse of the word apologies) The ban ran its course, and my accounts were drained of isk (apparently isboxing is in line with the policy for botting, yay...not like i spent dozens of hours theory crafting, training and practicing)
"mosg i saw that page, my response looks identical in many areas with just a bit extra"
Perhaps at this point I should review the penalties for macro/botting in EVE. Since March 2013, CCP has maintained a two-strike policy for botting, with offenders receiving a 30-day ban for the first offense and a permanent ban for the second. Also, CCP announced in April 2012 that CCP would remove all ISK gained from botting when the ban took effect. In a separate dev blog, CCP also announced that:
"...characters who receive a warning such as this will have the characters locked to the account. This means that once you've received a warning for botting your character transfer privileges have been revoked in perpetuity. This is to prevent people trying to circumvent the rules by recycling accounts."
And as per Section 5B of the EULA, CCP reserves the right to suspend or terminate all of a player's accounts, not just ones involved in an actual breach of the EULA or Terms of Service. Actually, I think cases where CCP does not suspend or terminate all accounts is rather rare. If players are receiving notices from CCP that they are receiving bans for "macro use", then I would expect that all of the player's accounts would receive the bans and the penalties for violating the same sections of the EULA as botters.

I'm not going to feel bad for Verisimili. From reading the forum thread, he sounded like he wanted to "win" EVE, but couldn't quite force himself to unsubscribe. So, much like a man who points a gun at a group of police officers, Verisimili created a video likely to have CCP ban all of his accounts. I'm judging this a case of suicide by Team Security.


  1. Multiboxing is allowed. Multiboxing software that gives an advantage is not allowed. Multiboxing software that does not give an advantage is not worth using.
    So I'd say it's pretty safe to say that multiboxing software is illegal. I once considered using isboxer so I could run 3/4 clients using two screens using videoFX to show all overview windows but any repositioning outside of what the eve client itself allows is clearly illegal.

  2. Hands up, Don't Ban

    "I can't Box. I can't Box."

  3. The problem I still have with this is that there's no way to tell what's multiboxing use and simply window layout. I could easily run 12 clients tiled across my monitors with no alt tabbing and no software required, so would that also be bannable? CCP is unlikely to be able to see whether or not players are using obscure software to do it, so how would they tell if I had tiled windows or homebrew VFX style software? So how are we supposed to be assured that we won't get banned for legitimately multiboxing if we pick to perform an activity shared by ISBoxer users?

    As for the isk draining, that's quite absurd. It's removed from botters to prevent it's misuse as they are generally botting to fund RMT. A player using ISBoxer, software that up until a few months ago was listed by GMs and devs in petitions and publicy on the forums as being allowed, suddenly having all of their isk removed because they've crossed some fuzzy line which CCP still actively refuse to clarify is absurd. Why don't they just come out and say "ISBoxer and other such software is not allowed at all". It would be far fairer to the playerbase than all of this "well there's some use cases and some things you can do but not others and we won't tell you which is which. Good luck!". Honestly, their ludicrously unprofessional and childlike attitude annoys me to no end.

  4. ccp hasnt banned anyone wronlgy over this. mutiboxing, no matter how pro will show different on a server in terms of tiem ontervals, repeat , frequency and pattern, for days in a row. versus tooling,

  5. Whether you like it or not, CCP thinks they've been perfectly clear. I don't quite agree myself, but if Lord's Servant and Lax have been pretty close to what CCP has been looking at as breaking the EULA, then it hasn't been all that mysterious.

    As for getting banned for using ISBoxer if you don't, CCP has demonstrated that they can monitor users of ISBoxer (read the Summer Summit minutes). Considering it runs in the EVE client's memory space, detection shouldn't even bring up privacy concerns.

    As for the funny cutting up of images, which is probably why Verisimili was banned. That requires importing an executable called dxNothing.exe in order to run the dxNothing windows. If a user has never imported that executable into any of their setups, then it should not show up in the memory space. If the user has, but is not running a dxNothing window, then I don't know. But it is possible that CCP could use the presence of the ISBoxer extension for Inner Space combined with the presence of dxNothing to make their determination. I could be wrong, though.

    As for the ISK draining. CCP has made it clear that people should not profit from breaking the rules. Taking the ISK tells people that if they get caught, they won't profit. But if you really want me to start talking RMT, I'd need a full length post.

    As for just banning the use of Inner Space? I'm all for that, but I know that is not going to happen as long as players can make the case for the windows management functionality of ISBoxer.

  6. Well supposedly you are dead wrong there, people have reported bans without even having isboxer installed. Someone even got banned for using synergy, which simply allows you to run 2 PCs side by side with one mouse and keyboard - exactly the same as using 2 monitors.

    And yes, the pattern will show differently *if* they are banning multiplexing. Since they appear to be banning other behaviour too though, they are showing that they aren't just looking at that, meaning that anyone with a setup that's "too efficient" is at risk.

  7. Well if CCP think that, they are dead wrong. They aren't stupid, so I'm sure they know it too. And sure, they can monitor for innerspace, dxnothing, etc, even outside of EVEs memory space, it's in their ToS, but can they monitor for everything? I could write an equivalent to VidoeFX write now. Hell, I could write it using excel's VBA (and have done similar) so how would they detect that? Not to mention the hundreds of other programs that offer a significant gameplay advantage.

    I agree that people shouldn't profit from breaking the rules, so take they isk they made while breaking the rules. They are draining the accounts, taking all isk. If you exploit and make a bucket load of isk, they take that isk, they don't wipe your account.

    There are already other programs that allow you to copy over window layouts, and CCP are supposedly looking at making import/export functionality native, so there's already no case for it. Allowing it is obscuring the rules.

    Honestly, when CCP start acting like a professional company, I'll be much more impressed. They way they've treated the players in this is absolutely disgusting. I know plenty of people are too busy cheering the death of ISBoxer players because they wanted more ice or because they are peasant poor and think it's unfair that other players are richer than them (note, if you thought ISBoxer was "cheating" because others made more isk than you, you've obviously never met a trader, and you'll forever be at the bottom of the ladder), but that doesn't excuse their total lack of communication and clarity in this.

  8. 20 multiboxed accounts, presumably operating fairly optimally, all plexed and run for many hours a month.

    It must be having a significant effect on the Eve economy seeing these massive producers leave.

  9. Having read and listened to the logic used by the ISBoxer community, I'm now convinced there was no good way for CCP to tell them they had to start following the EULA. CCP's big mistake was giving them the exemption to bans while banning others for violating the same sections of the EULA.

  10. For starters they could have gone ahead and not categorically accepted it as allowed in the first place, you know, before people spent thousands getting set up. Secondly they could have just banned the lot and stated that "Usage of ISboxer or any similar program affecting input or the way the game renders is strictly prohibited" for example. Finally they could have just answered the simple questions put forward. "Is videoFX allowed like this", "Nope". It's like day 1 of a course in customer relations. It really shouldn't surprise me that CCP sucks beyond belief at communication, yet it shocks me every time.

  11. Just to add by the way, I've thought about how VideoFX works, and as far as I know they don't touch EVEs memory space. VideoFX uses the Windows Aero preview system.

  12. Would it surprise you if I agree with everything you just posted?

  13. It's not VideoFX that touches the EVE client's memory space. It's Inner Space itself. Inner Space executables like ISBoxer, DirectEVE, and ISXEve run in the game's memory space. I don't know if dxNothing gets pulled into Inner Space and winds up running in EVE's memory space also.

  14. I'm not sure how the others work, but for Innerspace I believe a lot of that is to control their rendering as you can put in FPS limitations and such. You certainly don't need to touch their memory space to achieve the same effect and any homebrew applications could do it on anything > vista.

  15. Well, that doesn't mean I still don't think that ISBoxer users were stupid for investing so much money when CCP stated that they could change their minds at any time and posted that fact in their policies.

  16. Agreed, though it's understandable why they though it's safe. Much like the cache scraping and the use of teamspeak overlays, these are things that have been against the EULA, so people have checked and be told that they are fine. ISBoxer was the same. They stated that as long as nothing was automated and as long as one click did one action - regardless of how many clients it occurred on - then it was fine. From that information people made decisions on the way they wanted to play.

    CCPs policies have always had to be taken lightly, since there's so many addendums they've added over the years in the form of forum posts and GM responses. I know I'll get called out and insulted for suggesting this by most, but strictly speaking, everything I use to trade is against the EULA based on the policy used to ban ISBoxer. I use third party tools to analyse information which 100% without a doubt give me a massive advantage over a "normal" player. Moreso than an average ISBoxer gains, that's for certain.

  17. Except you can't compare ISBoxer to something like StealthBot because you can't get up from ISBoxer and expect it to continue to function.
    For "modifying the client", ban TS3 and Mumble for their overlays as well.