Friday, February 23, 2018

A Brief History Of CCP's War On Bots And Illicit RMT: 2009-2017

EVE Online once again is experiencing a period in which a significant portion of its player base is riled up about the subject of botting. From what I can tell, the origin for the latest round of bot awareness is the troubles on the Serenity server and the migration of Chinese players to the main Tranquility shard. A post from November 2017 on the EVE Online sub-Reddit, "The era of the Chinese empire: Fraternity taking all the outposts!", summed up some of those concerns. Below are some highlights.

badfcmath: There's growing concerns with Serenity (EVE's Chinese server), both in the stability of the company maintaining it and the inflated PLEX prices which many attribute to unchecked botting (think DRF renters but bigger). This is why we have seen many folks joining Tranquility, and the return of the divine Wind Spirits.

NeoExmachina: so are you denying that there's much more botting on the chinese server than on TQ even though it's economically provable?
Or that in China it is a legit job modell to farm ingame currency in MMO's for companies which then sell it?
Not saying that every chinese person is involved in RMT, but the assumption that there will be an influx of RMT with people from serenity migrating to TQ is not unjustified.

orici-andria: I will agree with you if this conversation starts 10 years ago but now things are quite different.

So called "gold farmer " groups are shrinking in china.simply because as economical grows more ppl tend to pay in game to enjoy the content than rmt.any decent daytime job earns more than that.u can check the skillinjector price curve since we came here.we are more like consumers than providers.

And botting in serenity is more complicated since some historical facts involved.but it is not as simple as "rmt ". Firstly the operation company failed to do its fucking job .they got sued by group of botters whose accounts were banned and hilariously the company lost the case this was a very bad signals to botters and ordinary players.

Secondly large alliances support botting to gain advantage over their enemies thus hundreds of supers were built with help of bots.those who didn't support botting had to face a dilemma whether got crushed by those supers that shouldn't be in this game or just do the same build fleet with "high technology ".and then all hell break loose. then botting followed by RMT is publicly acceptable even the RnK dude in this thread publicly support botting in chinese forum. And their leader-chairman of PIBC told corp CEO to buy isk from RMTer if they had not enough isk to pay alliance-tax.

Believe it or not we are those who hate rmt and botting.simply because we have seen what hell was like in EVE

RNK_Fu1crum: When botting become half-allow in Serenity, it would become necessary to half-allow your alliance member to run it. Just imagine what would happen if CCP half-allow people to run them if you don't do it you will be blobed and there is no way to fight back. It's operating company's duty to ban BOTs when they decide to allow it, there is only so much we can do. As the attitude against BOTs, https://tieba.baidu.com/p/4573418008, this thread could show more than enough of my opinion.(One of major company BOTs announced to shut down, I post a thread to celebrate.) But unfortunately, that's toxic we have to drink to keep us alive nowadays. It's more like the nuclear weapon, it would end the world someday, but if you refuse to have it, your world would end today. :(((

The concern continued to grow as the Chinese presence increased. In the aftermath of the destruction of 8 botting Nyx in Omist in January, the head of the Imperium special interest group The Reavers, Asher Elias, wrote the following:
"If CCP cannot catch a blatantly incompetent botter doing an action that is impossible for one person to do (ratting in 10 Nyxes in different systems at the same time) while they do so for over a year, how many more sophisticated bots are slipping through the cracks? Especially with the recent influx of Chinese players who came from a server notorious for botting, what assurances do the long-time EVE players have that their effort put into raising ISK won’t be dwarfed by another person who is playing dirty pool? Lastly, and most worryingly, how much evidence does the average player have to see that their honest efforts are being nullified by the most inept cheaters that CCP seems resolved to ignore and take their account fees before they decide that they have to join the race to the bottom so as not to be put terribly behind the baseline of success?"
Writing about botting and illicit real money trading in EVE Online for close to seven years perhaps gives me a jaded view on the subject. Or maybe the time I started playing EVE, six weeks after the launch of Unholy Rage, CCP's first major anti-RMT/botting operation. Perhaps a little history lesson is in order.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Guardian's Gala 2018: A Scouting Report

Today the second iteration of the Guardian's Gala event hits EVE Online's live servers. As per my usual practice, I logged onto the Singularity test server to make sure my Arbitrator could successfully run the event sites. I was unsuccessful after several attempts. I like using tech 1 cruisers to run the seasonal events, but for the Guardian's Gala I plan to upship to battlecruisers or even command ships. Below is a scouting report from Singularity which might shed some light on the situation.

The event description seems innocuous enough:
"The Serpentis Corporation has enjoyed celebrating its links with underworld business partners and New Eden's most fearsome criminal gangs for many years. The Guardian's Gala is, above all, an exaltation of its deep relationship with the Angel Cartel, particularly the Guardian Angels division that act as protectors and enforcers for the Serpentis and their illegal drugs industry.

"These gala events celebrating the longstanding and close relationship between the Serpentis and the Guardian Angels make a tempting target for law enforcement. Crashing this party is sure to stir up a reaction from Serpentis and Angels alike! Freelancers working for The Agency are certain to profit from successful raids against the Guardian's Gala!"
The event drops the usual mix of a new line of SKINs, cerebral accelerators, and combat boosters. One important point. The NPCs give no bounties. Also, I salvaged the wrecks from two sites, and aside from the event loot drops, the salvage was worth about 1 million ISK per site. But, as the CSM minutes revealed, while the event site itself is reused from last year, the NPC ships are new. Given that the Guardian Angels are the division of the Angel Cartel that developed the Dramiel, Cynabal, and Machariel, that means an event with a little higher level of difficulty.

WARNING: The below description is for the regular event sites. If you enter the VIP sites, the Guardian Angels will call in a carrier for support. Avoid these sites if flying dolo.

Now down to practical matters. First off, the Guardian Angels are flying Angel Cartel ships, not Serpentis, so plan accordingly. Angel Cartel ships are vulnerable to explosive/kinetic damage, with the key damage type explosive. Angel Cartel ships also deal explosive/kinetic damage. After having a bit of a worrying experience with a Cyclone with 70% explosive resists, I highly recommend getting that figure over 75%, with 80% the goal. I did most of my initial scouting of the sites in a heavy missile Damnation with 89% shield resists and 90% armor resists against explosive damage.

Not only are the Guardian Angels flying new ships, but they are also using new tactics. The NPC fleet composition consists of frigates who orbit within 5 km and apply webs. I found that the NPC fleet commander kept a swarm of frigates around my ship at all times, and I rarely had as few as two webs applied to my ship at any time. The cruisers are artillery fit, taking advantage of the frigate tackle to say out of close range weapons. I found that they attempted to remain approximately 24 km away. To complete the site in high sec required destroying either a battlecruiser or battleship. The battlecruiser would stay at 18 km while the battleship would stay at 40 km. Did I mention the battleship was labeled as a Bachariel? That's right, we get to face an NPC Machariel, except with fleet support.

The event NPCs also have another tactic that may disconcert some players. They will fleet warp to a ping and then land on top of your ship. Kiting is not going to happen. At one point I attempted to use a micro jump drive to gain some space and the NPCs just warped to a ping and back down on top of my ship. No picking off frigates as they race in to apply tackle in the Guardian's Gala event sites. The tactic is how the NPCs can keep tackle applied continuously.

How did I complete the sites? Since I don't have a Gila on Tranquility, I chose battlecruiser hulls firing heavy missiles. Drone use is problematic, as the NPCs do like to fire on drones, and they will split their fire. A Gila's 500% damage and hit point bonus applied to Valkyrie medium drones will do well, but for other ships, drone management is key. As for projectile weapons, autocannon on a battlecruiser don't have the range to effectively deal with cruisers or hit the battleship. Artillery, on the other hand, won't hit the frigates. The only weapon system that can reliably hit all the targets is heavy missiles.

For the initial warp-in to the site, I chose to land 70 km from the beacon. The distance forces the NPC fleet to warp to a ping, giving me time to align to a celestial and make sure all hardeners are active and the afterburner is lit. The tactic not only allows for a warp-off if the damage is too great, but in low sec allows for a fast getaway in case someone else jumps into the site.

Next, I concentrate on removing damage, namely the cruisers. Yes, the webs increase the incoming damage. The heavy missiles always target the cruisers unless frigates are the only remaining target. Any drones I deploy always attack frigates. Finally, once the boss NPC (either battlecruiser or battleship in high sec) lands in range, direct the heavy missiles onto the battlecruiser/battleship. Once the boss ship is destroyed, the site is complete. However, the NPCs do not despawn immediately, even if you warp out of the site after killing the boss. Since the boss NPC has the good loot (i.e. SKINs, cerebral accelerators, etc), I fight my way to the wreck. At this point, the site is complete, so no more reinforcements arrive.

A warning about warping out of the site. When running a site solo, and if a player warps off while the boss ship is on grid, upon returning, the boss ship will no longer appear on grid. The boss ship will appear again after fighting through more ships. Also, warping out of a completed site could result in the wreck with all of the event loot despawning. As an experiment, I warped out of a site after killing the battlecruiser boss ship and then warped back. The wreck was still present, but I landed 190 km from the wreck. Warping within the site is not possible, so I attempted to warp out of the site and then back in at a closer distance. All the NPC ships and wrecks were still present except one, the wreck with the good loot. However, killing all the NPCs makes the station despawn and you can safely warp out and collect the loot.

As usual, I will share a couple of the fits I tested over the weekend. The first is a permatank Drake.



The Drake is probably the battlecruiser with the strongest tank. Having experienced the DPS output by the event NPCs, I wanted a strong tank. With my skills almost all at level 5, I developed a shield tank with 87.4% resist against explosive damage and 83% resists against kinetic damage while maintaining a passive shield recharge rate of 380 effective hit points per second.

The tank begins in the mid slots, with 2 Large Shield Extender IIs providing a large shield buffer with an Adaptive Invulnerability Field II, Explosive Deflection Amplifier II, and Kinetic Deflection Amplifier I providing resist bonuses. A large buffer helps provide more passive shield regeneration, as modules like shield power relays work on a percentage basis when adding hit points to the tank. The mid slots are completed with a 10MN Afterburner II for the necessary propulsion required to complete the site.

The low slots are also mainly dedicated to the tank. The Shield Power Relay IIs help power the passive shield regeneration while the Damage Control II adds both resists to the shields along with a boost to hull hit points in case things go south. The final low slot is filled with a Ballistic Control System II to add a little boost to the ship's missile DPS.

Of the 7 high slots, 6 are filled with Heavy Missile Launcher IIs. During my testing, I used explosive missiles instead of kinetic, with which the Drake receives a 10% damage bonus per level. The seventh is fit with a Shield Command Burst II firing Shield Harmonizing charges for an extra 11% boost to all shield resists.

The rigs are dedicated to the tank, with a Medium Core Defense Field Extender I providing buffer and 2 Medium Core Defense Field Purger Is providing additional shield regeneration.

Finally, the drone bay is filled with 5 Warrior IIs. When running the sites, I never used them. The heavy missiles did fine by themselves, even firing non-bonused missiles.


The second battlecruiser was an XLSB Cyclone. The fit takes advantage of the Cyclone's active shield boosting bonus (37.5% at Minmatar Battlecruiser 5) to run a smaller buffer with a much smaller signature than the Drake. The resists are not as good as the Drake's (79.2% explosive/75% kinetic) but the ship runs the sites well, with the extra 82 m/s speed useful when cleaning up the field after the boss ship is destroyed.

Like the Drake, the tank begins in the mid slots with an X-Large Ancillary Shield Booster. The module gives the ship its name. When combined with the Ionic Field Accelerator I as well as the Cyclone's native bonuses, the XLSB can repair 1205 effective hit points per second. When running the module, I can usually get two repair bursts off before the 60-second reload cycle kicks in. During testing, though, I never hit armor.

The mid slots are filled out by 2 Adaptive Invulnerability Field IIs for resists and a 10MN Y-S8 Compact Afterburner. Both the Ionic Field Accelerator I and the afterburner were used instead of the tech 2 versions due to fitting restrictions.

The lows are a mixed bag. I use 3 Ballistic Control System IIs in order to get comparable dps with the Drake. A Damage Control II is included because every little bit helps to increase the shield tank's resist profile. Finally, a Co-Processor II is fit to provide needed CPU.

The high slots are reserved for 5 Heavy Missile Launcher IIs for damage and a Shield Command Burst II loaded with Shield Harmonizing charges to increase the resists in the tank. I left one slot empty not only due to fitting issues but because I really didn't have anything to put in the second utility slot.

The rigs are fit with a Medium Core Defense Field Extender I to provide a little bit of a shield buffer and a Medium Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I for additional thermal protection. I normally fly with an omni-tank, but I replaced the usual EM Ward II I fit in the mids with a second Adaptive Invulnerability Field II because I found I needed to get my explosive resists up to 75%. A Medium Processor Overclocking Unit I to provide more CPU rounds out the rigs.

Finally, the drone bay is filled out with 10 Warrior IIs. I do use the drones to quickly attack a frigate and then quickly retreat back to the ship when an opportunity to remove a web presents itself.

That concludes my look at the Guardians Gala event for 2018. Of course, CCP may have made last minute changes. What I do predict is a lot of tears flowing from players who find a much harder event than they are used to. I suspect the event was designed for old players flying solo and newer players flying with friends. Whatever you do, fly carefully.

Friday, February 9, 2018

CCP's War On Bots: Nyx Bot Math

I often say that one of the best places to find information about botting and illicit RMT is the EVE Online sub-Reddit. Unfortunately, sometimes sorting the wheat from the chaff is difficult. For instance, the income numbers for the botted Nyx supercarriers destroyed in Omist last month seem a little on the sensational side. For example, in the initial Reddit thread on 11 January, SvaraEir (quoted in the PCGamer article linked above) posted an estimated monthly income of between 1.1 trillion and 2.6 trillion ISK. Those numbers surprised me considering other posts of his I read, but everyone picked up on the higher figure.

A series of posts made by Reddit user nubicci on 2 February left me shaking my head.



nubicci - Yea, but in the meantime, the dude is making 8000$ per month.

If ccp is even doing what you assume, which would be the best case scenario.

Sadly I believe that the reality is a lot darker, and ccp just doesn't care, because in 15 years of playing this game, if I learned anything is to always expect the worst from the company that makes it.

And I have to say that Ive yet to be dissapointed.

nubicci - 10 nyx bots make 2 trill+ per month.

Russian isk buyers pay 3.5-4$ per bil on most rmt websites.

Even is ccp is using the guy as bait, (which I really doubt lol) he still makes money, and rmt'ers (resellers) who specialize in selling mmo currencies are prepared for it, and them losing throwaway chars to ccp bans, is part of a cost in rmt operations.

These people don't play the game, they just resell ingame currencies, so ccp cannot hurt them in any way that they didn't already expect.

The only person who gets hurt is the players that play fair, and people who buy isk from resellers.

JeronicaEVEIs that using 250m+ ticks?

nubicci300m per hour per nyx



I just have to question some of nubicci's facts. For instance, at the time nubicci typed his posts, the Nyx botter was in no position to bot. Of the 8 Nyx bots who died, 6 had already biomassed. The status of the characters was:

  • DLS (CEO of Ukranian Soviet Socialistic Republic) - Last killboard entry - 14 January.
  • WsD - Joined P I R A T on 14 January. Currently active in the Jita area.
  • Alexa Shepard - Biomassed
  • Dorithur VII - Biomassed
  • iskbear - Biomassed
  • Jessie Wind - Biomassed
  • Solci - Biomassed
  • terokrit - Biomassed

In addition, Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic lost its rental space in Omist when the corporation was kicked from Kids With Guns Alliance on 25 January. According to zKillboard, Kids With Guns Alliance began destroying Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic infrastructure on 26 January. The alliance also began to failscade with the news of the loss of the Nyx bots, going from over 80 members on 14 January down to 46 this morning.

Let's assume, for argument's sake, that the botter had a backup bot farm and is busily botting away with supercarriers in another remote null sec constellation. Is a figure of 2 trillion ISK/month a realistic amount? Fortunately, CCP Quant publishes a monthly economic report. Since January had way too many interruptions. looking at the December Monthly Economic Report might shed some light on the matter.

According to the December MER, players collected 1.567 trillion ISK in NPC bounties in Omist in December 2017. The 2 trillion ISK/month figure is not only high, but not possible given the statistics supplied by CCP. Even the 1.1 trillion ISK/month estimate seems high. Kids With Guns Alliance has 2300 members. Would a 2300 character rental alliance really only pull in 450 billion ISK over the course of a month? That doesn't really seem probable.

So how much does someone running 10 botting Nyx make in a month? To answer the question, I need to explain my math. The first assumption involves how long the botter runs the bots. In a Reddit thread discussing a group of possible botting Rattlesnakes in RO-AIQ, SvaraEir made the following observation about botter behavior:
"Just because I personally know that system, I can say yes; he shows up to turn it on usually between 0300-0900 (6-10h a day, but closer to the lower end of that, and taking at least a couple days off here and there every week is how most botters avoid being completely fucking obvious)."
Botters don't just stick to those guidelines to avoid appearing as obvious botters in local. In 2011-2012, CCP instituted an automatic bot detection system that resulted in botters having to end the practice of 23/7 botting. I'm not sure why SvaraEir didn't use these assumptions when calculating how much 10 botting Nyx make in a month, but they track closely with advice I've seen on botting forums, so I will use them. For a 30 day month, I'll assume each bot runs 8 hours a day for 22 of the 30 days in the month. According to these assumptions, I will use 176 hours per bot, or 1760 botting hours for the amount of time. Those people claiming the over 2 trillion ISK/month figure use 7200 botting hours.

Next comes how much a bot makes per tick. A tick is EVE terminology for how often players are paid for the bounties they collect from the game for killing NPCs. The figure is currently 20 minutes, so three ticks is the equivalent of one hour. I will use nubicci's figure of 100 million ISK/tick, or 300 million ISK per hour.

Using any information from nubicci at first glance seems dubious, which is why I went in search for corroborating sources. I found one in an article on INN. Noted Goonswarm FC Asher Elias also estimated that the Nyx bots were making 100 million ISK ticks.

The math at this stage is fairly simple. The number of hours the bot runs multiplied by the ISK/hour gives the amount of ISK earned in a month. The result is 528 billion ISK in a single month.

I'm still not sure that amount is correct. As Asher pointed out in his article, the bot software used by the Nyx botter wasn't very good. The truth is, finding a commercial EVE bot that can handle the new fighter mechanics is between hard and impossible. Now that we have an example showing that bots can control fighter squadrons, expect to see some emerge onto the market by the end of the year at the latest. But until then, I have to assume that the Nyx bot isn't nearly as efficient as a human. So for the bottom end of the range, I will go on the assumption that the bot is potentially only 60% as efficient as a human. With that assumption, the low end of the range the botter could make in a month is 316.8 billion ISK. If I do a little rounding, the botter's income was approximately between 320-530 billion ISK per month.

Now comes the fun part of writing this post, because I get to say, "I told you so." For years, I heard people, mainly from null sec, complain about high sec because that was where they believed all the botting occurred. When asked, I would always say the majority of the botting in EVE Online occurred in null sec. I held that opinion for two reasons. The first is that null sec is where the money is. The second is that botters are less likely to have players report them in null sec than in high sec. The fact that I read this type of logic on the botting forums helped solidify my thinking on the subject.

I know that while 320-530 billion ISK is not as sexy of a headline as 2 trillion ISK, even the lower amount I calculated is not insignificant. I could point out that the lower estimated range made up 20%-33% of all NPC bounties collected in Omist in December 2017. I could discuss how the botter could afford to purchase a keepstar in a month. Or point out the small to mid size supercapital fleet (depending on your definition) that would fund. The ISK could even purchase a large, if not full 255 ship, faction battleship fleet. But I think those comparisons don't quite display the potential impact of an active 10 Nyx botting fleet on the EVE economy.

Instead, I will compare the ISK faucet the botter opened up compared to the regions housing the major high sec trade hubs. The lower end of my estimate is a bit higher than the total amount of NPC bounties collected in Domain (316 billion ISK) and Sinq Laison (313 billion ISK) in the month of January. The high end of my calculations is almost the amount of NPC bounties collected in The Forge (582 billion ISK). When the difference in time is accounted for (January has 31 days), the Nyx bot farm only earns 1 billion ISK per day less in NPC bounties than all the players in The Forge combined. In other words, a pretty significant spigot for one player to open.

I know that at the recent CSM 12 summit held in January, CCP Peligro stated that the big source of ISK and skill points on the black market came from accounts accessed due to hacking of other websites. I also realize why CCP would prioritize preventing the hacking of accounts over a major modernization of efforts against botting like we saw in 2011-2013. Still, botting does have a negative impact on not only the economy, but players' perception of the game.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Benefit Of Advertising On R/EVE

Writing about botting and illicit RMT in EVE Online poses a challenge. On the one hand, I don't want to glamorize the practice or advertise for any botmaker or ISK seller. On the other, mentioning a bot or an ISK seller is almost a necessity when covering the subject. A recent example involved my coverage of the recent ban wave in EVE. I used some posts from a botting forum to confirm that CCP had indeed begun a ban wave. I then used sales data from a gaming currency sales site to report the effect on ISK sellers.

I get around the bot naming problem by only naming specific bots in association with bans or a banwave. For some reason, the normal player doesn't want to use a bot if CCP is busy banning its users. As for reporting on black/grey market prices, I settled on Player Auctions. Not only is the site huge and comes up near the top of Google searches, but academics use data from the site when writing about the subject. Combined with the small readership of The Nosy Gamer, my posts don't result in bumps in sales.

However, not everyone is as careful. One of the best places to visit for news on botting, exploits, and RMT is the EVE Online sub-Reddit. Over there, if the posters aren't actually working for an RMT site, then they give out enough information to greatly aid them.

One of the greatest examples occurred in December. A post appeared from a former player who allegedly didn't like RMT because buying ISK off the black/grey market for 18 months ruined the game for him. The opening post was deleted after around 24 hours. The post read pretty much like one of those paid advertisements, including links to RMT sites.

I didn't mention which date in December the post appeared. Let me present a graph with sales data gathered from Player Auctions, as one of the links in the opening post led to the site. Also, in follow-up posts, the poster appears to recommend the largest ISK seller on Player Auctions. See if you can spot the date the post appeared.


If you guessed 14 December, you are correct. The day the post went live was the highest sales date for ISK I saw in the 2 1/2 years I've tracked sales on Player Auctions. The 569 billion ISK sold (and I know I probably missed a transaction or three) beat the previous daily high by over 35%. Advertising ISK selling on r/eve seems to really pay off.

Like I stated before, r/eve is one of the best places to keep tabs on botting and the black/grey RMT markets. I just hope the mods will take a little greater care in not letting people advertise on the sub-Reddit.

Friday, January 26, 2018

How Much Is A Titan Worth In January 2018?

I watched the big Keepstar fight in 9-4RP2 Tuesday on the INN Twitch stream. Matterall and Dirk MacGirk hosted the stream and had a lot of knowledgeable guests like Grath Telkin (Pandemic Legion), Vily (TEST), and Seleene (Mercenary Coalition). One question that frequently came up was how much real life money a titan costs. A lot of long time EVE players don't like the question, as they see the conversion of ISK to U.S. dollars as a marketing ploy by CCP. Worse, when real life money is thrown around, people outside of EVE get the impression that people pay a lot of real world money for a bunch of internet spaceship pixels. In the past, the figure quoted for a titan has reached as high as $7000.

As someone who doesn't play with the big toys like titans and supercarriers as well as closely follows illicit RMT in EVE, I don't have quite the reluctance about talking about the price of ships as other people do. Still, some of the prices quoted out on the internet are a little silly. Also, a few methods exist on how to figure the price, so people can legitimately disagree on the real world price. Let me walk through the methodology of how to come up with the price of a titan.

First, all real world prices for events and ships in EVE are based on the conversion of ISK, the in-game currency, for game time in the form of PLEX. Currently, players can pay for a 30 day subscription (called Omega time by CCP) for 500 PLEX. The average price of a single PLEX is approximately 3.2 million ISK in EVE's main trade hub in The Forge, making a subscription 1.6 billion ISK.

Looking at the loss mails on zKillboard, I am going to use a figure of 80 billion ISK for the price of a titan. Some, like the Avatar, are priced lower, and I hear that the Imperium sells titan hulls for much lower, but 80 billion ISK seems a reasonable figure. So doing the conversion of ISK to game time, a titan is worth 50 months of game time. Put another way, if the owner of a titan sells the ship instead of taking it into battle and losing it (and the ship loss is permanent), the player can play EVE without spending any real money for over 4 years.

At this point, the real life price conversions begin to differ. Some people look at the 50 months of game time and simply multiple the 50 months by the cost of one month of a one month subscription ($14.95). The result is $747.50.

Most, however, will calculate how much real life money a player would spend to purchase the ship with real world currency. One can buy a titan with real life money buy purchasing PLEX from CCP, selling the PLEX for ISK on the in-game markets, and then using the ISK to purchase the ship. However, people can use three packages for performing the calculation.

The first package is the one most frequently used to estimate costs. CCP has a 500 PLEX package that sells for $19.99. Fifty packages (for 50 months of game time) comes to $999.50. Not as expensive as some of the ships in Star Citizen, but an impressive number all the same.

The second package is the one I use for determining the price of ISK when comparing the price of black market ISK to ISK bought using CCP-approved methods. CCP sells a package of 1100 PLEX for $39.99. Using that price, and not removing the extra 200 PLEX, the price of a titan is $919.77. For those who want to spend as little money as possible using different packages, the price slips down to $914.75.

The final package is the one someone wanting to purchase a titan using real world cash would use. The best value is the 2860 PLEX for $99.99 package. Buying 9 packages results in a total price of $899.91.

Typical EVE, right? Four methods, each of which can produce a defensible result. But for those who ask, I have an answer.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Latest On EVE Online RMT And Bots - January 2018

The last two years in EVE Online have seen an increase in the challenges faced by CCP's security and customer service teams in combatting real money trading (RMT) and associated ills such as botting. From the introduction of skill point trading (February 2016) to the introduction of Alpha clones (November 2016) to the expansion of the Alpha clone skill set (October 2017), EVE's black/grey markets experienced growth due to either new products to sell or the acquisition of ISK becoming easier. Throw in the development of bots from new developers using modern operating systems and CCP has its hands full.

I don't want to diminish the problem in any way. To give some sort of scale to the problem, I'll bring up some numbers I collected in 2017 from a popular site that sells virtual currencies in online games, Player Auctions. While the final numbers are not in yet, and I know I missed some transactions, the site will have done between 48-50 trillion ISK in sales and sold 22-23 billion skill points last year. Add in things too difficult to reliably track, such as PLEX, characters, and supercapital-class (titans and supercarriers) ships, and the figure might reach $500,000 USD in sales for the year. More significantly, while Player Auction is a large site, players can find many more places to buy ISK, skill points, etc, on EVE's secondary markets.

Preliminary Price Data: January 1-15, 2018

CCP appeared to want to begin 2018 with a bang on the RMT front. The security team has a history of performing crackdowns against RMT operations right before an update. Looking at the price history I compiled for Player Auctions indicates some sort of mass interruption in the supply of ISK occurred at the beginning of the month. On 5 January, the price of ISK sold exceeded $5 and has continued through yesterday. On 6 January, only 5 sellers advertised ISK for sale, another indicator of a restricted supply. Cynics may point out that 6 January was Orthodox Christmas, but the presence of the holiday has never mattered before. By 13 January, the 7-day average for the price ISK sold on PA rose to $5.94/billion ISK, a rise of 29.1% over the price at the start of the year.

The hallmark of a classic CCP anti-RMT push is to follow-up the initial crackdown before a release with new detection methods introduced during the release. According to information gathered from botting forums, such a crackdown occurred.

The following comes from the forums of a series of bots called Eve Pilot, Eve Miner, Eve Hunter, and Eve Trader. These bots once were very popular with western players but now the forums mostly see posts in Russian. I tried translating the posts as best I could. I think I came close. I will list the posts with both the original Russian and my translation.


Leokrs : 10 January 2018
Вчера волна банов прошла за макроюзинг курьеров торгашей побанили, кого нибудь еще зацепило?

Yesterday, a wave of bans went for macro-trading couriers tradesmen, who else was caught?

Zloiset: 10 January 2018
3 часа назад, -18

3 hours ago, -18

Tiknel1: 10 January 2018
да,3 бана прилетело тоже за макросы

yes, 3 bans flew too for macros


Zloiset: 12 January 2018
ееее 2-я волна, сегодня банят за продажу
Итого : - 36 акков . Кстати передача через аук маленькими партиями где то 66% живых. Но тоже банится. Чет я уже даже хз как иски продавать

Eeee 2nd wave, today banned for selling
Total:-36 accounts. By the way, I was banned even though I transfer through the auction in small batches that were 66% of the living. I now even sell claims.

Update: Here's a better translation from Sarmatiko via Twitter:


Admittedly, my translation of the last entry isn't the greatest (see the above update with a better one). But I think I made my point. The bot bans began on 9 January, patch day. According to CCP Falcon, the number of banned accounts had reached just under 1000 by the time the CSM Summit began yesterday.

CCP also added some code to make the lives of botters a bit more, shall we say, interesting? Most people assume the change that affected bots involved adding the chat bubbles to the portraits in local. If I read the botting forums correctly, however, the following UI changes are associated with a problem:
NPC Bracket Colors have been reworked.
  • The color of the NPC bracket will now reveal the hostility intent of the NPC.
  • Blue indicates a friendly NPC either by nature or due to your standings with their faction. Blue NPCs may assist or aid you in combat.
  • Note: The automatic response force from Empire/Faction Police against low Security Status players will still appear to be Blue even when they are spawned as aggressive to the player. This will be resolved in a later patch.
  • White indicates a neutral NPC. These NPCs will ignore you, but may retaliate if attacked.
  • Note: The automatic response force from Faction Navy against an enemy militia target will now appear white instead of the previous 'Blue' friendly color. In a later patch they will appear Red/White/Blue depending on the Factional Warfare status of the player.
  • Red indicates a hostile NPC. These NPCs are aggressive towards you, and will in most circumstances attack you on-sight.
  • The warning message for attacking a Peaceful entity will now appear only if the NPC is not aggressive towards you.
According to a post on the forums of another older bot (H-Bot), the bot cannot handle the change. Or perhaps the bot cannot handle the UI change plus a change in NPC behavior.


Kalitarev: 11 January 2018

Hi,

I'm loss two ships in two days...How to avoid this NPC? NPC Macharial and NPC Cynabal..... why they attack me...they even are not in my overview..I also didn't attack the mining fleet..they also not are in my overview

what is going on?

Edit: Now the problem is bigger because this NPC will attack you anyway no matter what standing you have.

Also they can come on belt when you still shooting some normal NPC. H-BOT is not making another keyword check to avoid them so basically this will be a big problem - no more belt bot :(


Normally I would try to come up with a fitting conclusion, ending with a warning not to bot or purchase dirty ISK. Instead, I'll let a botter who has made botting guides make the argument for me. From the Eve Pilot forums:


innominate: 16 January 2018

So, 8 botting Nyx... Bravo to that developer for making a carrier bot, but I hope he fixes the fact that it can't deal with bubbles. I suspect that bubbles will be used a lot more often to catch bots and as proof that they are in fact bots... (Will EP ever be able to detect bubbles?)

Everyone be more careful now. The witch hunt has already started.

Obligatory, "Don't RMT people..." Sooner or later all of your accounts will get banned, along with your computer hardware identifiers.

I wonder why those accounts haven't been banned yet... To me, the only reason that makes sense is that CCP hasn't yet figured out how that much isk is getting to the buyers without CCPs detection code flagging the event. I'll bet CCP hopes that the botter is stupid enough to sell his isk to someone like a wholesaler so that CCPs detection software can be updated to see what the blindspots are. The botter should trash his bots and start over with another group instead of giving up his methods and burning their RMT wholesaler... I hope that the wholesaler knows not to buy from this guy... This incident has put every past and future RMTer at severe risk of discovery. (Not to mention the botting witch hunt that's about to happen.)



Friday, January 12, 2018

How To Spot A Bot In EVE Online

"Also since half of you cant read, IT IS YOU FUCKING JOB TO PROVE IT IS A BOT IDGAF HOW YOU DO IT BUT IT BETTER BE FUCKING LEGIT OR IM NOT FUCKING PAYING YOU. I AM DOING YOU ALL A FAVOR BUT A BUNCH OF YOU WANT TO BE FUCKING DICK HEADS."
- H0n0ur, "CCP wont end botting, so we will (player contest)"

I won't say the cries of outrage against botting in EVE Online lately make me sad. A lot of people probably think I'm dancing around, singing "Hallelujah." I'm not quite that bad. But I do enjoy the posts on Reddit. The one I'm currently focusing on is the contest on killing bots.

A Reddit member from Triumvirate. is holding a contest with 200 billion ISK in prizes for killing bots. Great so far. But as the opening quote from H0n0ur indicates, players don't seem to know how to prove the ship they killed was actually a bot. Something tells me that H0n0ur is getting a taste of what CCP goes through when a poorly filled-out bot report enters the queue.

If players really want to see a bot banned, just hitting the "Report Bot" button and entering the suspected botters name is not enough. Just like H0n0ur won't pay out without proof, CCP requires more information to take action against the botter. I imagine (but don't know for sure) that reports with a lot of good information get moved to the head of the line. Everyone likes to pick low-hanging fruit.

Before going further, I do have to tweak CCP a little here. C'mon guys, an explanation of how to use the Report Bot feature, including the information to provide, isn't on the Help Center? Are you kidding me?!

Now that I got that out of the way, I did track down the 2011 dev blog that introduced the Report Bot feature. The dev blog contained a section on how to determine if a player is a bot, or just someone AFK watching Netflix. I include the information below in the hopes that not only does it make H0n0ur's life a little easier, but makes the process of banning some bots go faster as well.



Bots are all about rules (events, states, conditions, transitions, actions) and goals! A bot reacts to events according to a predetermined limited set of rules, triggering appropriate actions in response in order to meet its goals. In a world otherwise driven by human players, most of the times this rule based behavior can be observed under close investigation.
Therefore, before submitting a report, we encourage players to perform a brief but structured investigation.
  • Observe the behavior of the player and break it down into stages of processing (States, Conditions and Actions)
    • Break down the behaviour into states
      • What is each individual phase of the activity a subject carries on ?
      • Consider each phase a "State"
      • Example of states : "Idle, Docked, Warping, Mining, Hunting, etc"
    • Break down the behaviour into conditions
      • When does the activity of a subject change ?
      • Consider each change one or several "Conditions" that has been met and a transition to another "State" 
      • Example of conditions : "if state is mining and cargo is not empty then; if state is mining and ship is targeted and enemy is not NPC then; etc"
    • Break down the behaviour into actions
      • How does the subject carry on his activity ?
      • Consider each individual operation or group of operations carried out by a subject as an Action
      • Example of an action in a certain state when a certain condition has been met : "if state is mining and ship is targeted and enemy is not NPC then warp (to safe spot); etc"
  • Try to determine if the player you are observing seems to act repetitively according to a strict set of rules (for example, executing the same steps over and over for an extended period of time)
  • Try to determine its goals
  • Challenge the rules (try to think of possible triggers that would cause it to respond in a certain way if it is truly automated)
  • Trigger events and perceive reactions (does it respond to communication? How does it react to being locked or being warped in on? Does it react the same every time, for example by warping always in the same direction before returning to the exact same spot minutes later?)
  • Finally, use your human intelligence to determine whether it is a soulless automaton or simply a fellow, single-minded player.

* Note
There are different types of bots, each type having other rules according to which they carry on their activity. Try to adapt your investigation to the type of bot you are observing.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Sumo Digital Acquires CCP Newcastle

When CCP announced an end to developing virtual reality games in October, the statement also disclosed the Icelandic game company was engaged in negotiations to sell its Newcastle studio to a third party. Yesterday, we found out the name of the buyer: Sumo Digital.

Sumo Digital is a name introduced to EVE Online players at EVE Vegas 2017 as the studio CCP chose to develop Project Nova. Project Nova is a planned first person shooter set in the EVE Online universe that, unlike DUST 514, will not connect directly to EVE Online.

In addition to working with CCP, the UK-based game developer has worked on games for Microsoft and Sony. Some of the games Sumo Digital developed include Little Big Planet 2 & 3, Crackdown 3, several of the Forza series of racing games, as well as its own IP, Snake Pass.

The acquisition of CCP's Newcastle studio is part of an ongoing expansion of the UK developer. Sumo Digital already owned two studios in the UK, located in Sheffield and Nottingham, as well as a studio in Pune, India. In addition, the game company announced in October an expansion of its Nottingham and Sheffield studios to house new art development facilities. The company also launched an IPO in December, with shares becoming publicly traded on 20 December. At the time of the IPO, Sumo Digital was valued at £145 million ($197 million). According to Reuters, Sumo Digital planned to use of the proceeds of the offering to pay off debt and as additional working capital.

Normally I would consider a chapter closed in the history of CCP. In the case of Sumo Digital, however, we will hear a lot about the company in the future.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

What Is Project Foundation?

I ran across something interesting searching for trademarks. CCP submitted a trademark for something called "Project Foundation" on 21 December 2017.


The weird thing is the description. "G & S: Entertainment services, namely, providing online video games; Entertainment services, namely, providing an on-line computer game." The title is most likely a new video game. That description is similar to the trademark for EVE Gunjack.


The possibility exists that the trademark is for a service that would replace the late Eve Gate portal. Or perhaps CCP is developing a portal that will link all of CCP's games together, similar to Activision/Blizzard's Battle.net. Still, with the gaming press speculating about whether CCP has a new MMORPG under development, an informed bet is that Project Foundation is the name of the new game. The name does follow CCP's naming convention for games under development.

Update: Looks like I was too hasty. A second Project Foundation trademark was filed for a mobile game. My guess is the trademark is to make sure no one makes a mobile game with the same name.


Friday, December 29, 2017

The Yoiul Festival Event: A Value Proposition

On Sunday I finished scanning all of the lowsec moons in Metropolis. But I've come to a standstill due to chasing the nearest shiny. I can't blame Project Discovery, even though I'm now up to level 95. Instead, I'm running the Rogue Drone sites scooping up cerebral accelerators.

I look at special events as a way to increase the amount of skill points I have. But until I watched a YouTube video, I didn't realize how much of a value running sites and collecting the accelerators really is. The video was made by a new YouTuber named Shipwreck Jones. He did a little math and determined how many skill points a character could gain over 30 days using accelerators.

From Arms Race Event 2017
I never tried to figure out how many skill points I received from using accelerators. 777,600 for 30 days is pretty good. Then I decided to figure out how many skill injectors I would need to collect in order to get 30 days of additional benefits. Depending on the amount of skill points a character has determines the amount of points a skill injector grants the character.

  • 0 to 5 million Skill Points at time of use = 500.000 unallocated Skill Points
  • 5-50 million Skill Points at time of use = 400.000 unallocated Skill Points
  • 50-80 million Skill Points at time of use = 300.000 unallocated Skill Points
  • 80 million or more Skill Points at time of use = 150.000 unallocated Skill Points

Converting those amounts to skill injectors, using accelerators for 30 days results in the following amount of skill injectors.

  • 0 to 5 million SP = 1.56 large skill injectors
  • 5 to 50 million SP = 1.94 large skill injectors
  • 50 to 80 million SP = 2.59 large skill injectors
  • over 80 million SP = 5.18 large skill injectors

Finally, the question everyone wants to know. How big is the benefit in ISK? Instead of figuring out the sale price for each accelerator, I took the average price of a large skill injector in The Forge yesterday (809,412,999.86 ISK) to determine how much one would have to pay.

  • 0 to 5 million SP = 1,262,684,279.78 ISK
  • 5 to 50 million SP = 1,570,261,219.73 ISK
  • 50 to 80 million SP = 2,096,379,669.64 ISK
  • over 80 million SP = 4,192,759,339.27 ISK

At yesterday's prices, the skill points I would acquire by collecting 45 accelerators by running the event sites would cost approximately 12.6 trillion ISK if I wanted to use large skill injectors to get the same amount of skill points for my three characters. While the drops from the Arms Race event were abysmal, the Yoiul Festival event that runs until 9 January is much better. I completed the event (400 points) on two characters last night, one in high sec and one in low sec. I figure the average drop rate between the security bands was 50%, which means I averaged 3 accelerators per hour. So 12.6 billion ISK for 15 hours of work? Kind of hard to pass up 280 million ISK ticks.