Anti-Botting Ideas [Anomalies]

Hi -

Prefacing this with some context:
I’m a long time player (2006>>), and am based in AU. Mainly do solo/small gang pvp, and am null-space centric.
Given my timezone, there’s less player activity in null, so I’m more doggard in trying to catch and fight anyone I come across in space. Usually this ends up being ratters in anomalies; unfortunately these also appear to be botters. This has been an ongoing problem for years.

That said, from 2012 when I was killing tengus in Deklein, through to today where VNIs, carriers and such are rampant; I have some pain points and ideas I wanted to share! These focus around helping players to also clean up botting problem / reduce ROI of running botnets to farm isk from ratting in anoms with the usual mix of ships.

Anomalies can help players fight botters


  • It takes time to scope d-scan and hone in on which anomaly a ratter is in.
  • By the time you get to anom, bots have usually warped.
  • POS or Citadel both ensure immediate safety once in warp.
  • Exception is when they’re scrambled by NPC’s.


  • More scrambling NPCs in 0.0 anomalies


  • Introduces more risk to ratting in 0.0 – the anoms themselves are too easy to farm today.
  • Players are already out hunting; gives players higher chance to find & catch farmers in anoms.

What about honest players?

  • Real players have intel channels, friends and alts they socialise with to create awareness networks – and to defend themselves.
  • On the other hand, bots only react when player enters system. They don’t seem to socialise or network currently.
  • EVE, and 0.0 should not be risk free. Today anoms are stupidly easy to farm for isk, asleep.

Other improvements

NPC’s should not change primary target when PVPer lands in anom to catch botter.

  • The farmer/botter is already fighting the NPC and trying to kill them from role-playing perspective.
  • They should welcome the arrival of a new player, not refocus to kill that player.
  • This is challenging in small, nimble ships required to catch or kill botters. Doubly so when you’re solo.
  • To put it another way: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” should be logic for NPCs.

Suggested Change:

  • NPCs continue to focus on ratter/botter, when PVPer enters anom and comes in to catch that ratter. They do not change target.

I had other ideas which are more DEV intense.

  • One is creating ‘fake’ players in local that are not rendered in EVE client UI (players don’t see, but a scripted bot would react to). Or potentially other random events or pushes that normally causes bots to freak and run, but aren’t rendered to real players, to help identify bots vs real players. (>>> banhammer).

  • Another was potentially highlighting anoms which are in-use in 0.0 on player UI, to help distinguish which of the dozens are in null are in use, to help PVPer find ratters. Problem is that this wouldn’t solve problem as bots would still be in-warp by time player lands. They need to be slowed down/held more frequently.

Anyway, these are just some thoughts. I think players like me are out there, hunting, and are getting let down. Giving us more ‘opportunities’ to help fight the scourge would both create more content for PVPers, but also reward socialising and networking to leverage null resources; rather than being fastest to hit warp. Ultimately EVE is about socialising.



Remove local. Problem solved.


Not really - here’s why:

I am PVPer hunting. I enter system. I need to either
a) throw probes out and scan for ship signatures.
b) fly around whole system to scan for ships
After resolving if there is/is not ships. I then need to (laboriously) validate if there’s a REAL player in that ship, and that it’s not in a forcefield/tethered.

Guess what. You’ve actually taken roamer cohort of engaged players and made the game worse for them. Problem you thought you were solving (botters can’t react to new players & hide), is not solved. Sure may be easier to catch them if you can get the drop or starburst with a gang on all havens/rallys but you’d see a big drop in # of players actually hunting. Net impact would be safer bots, less real players, worse game.

tl;dr removing local won’t solve this problem at all.

Covert ops ships and combat recons exist. Removing local absolutely fixes the problem of bots reacting to incoming threats because they now have no way to detect a threat until it appears next to them and activates a warp disruptor.

Also, the “pilots in space” statistic still tells you roughly where activity is, and with no local finding a target ASAP is much less important. You have time to search for one because they don’t know you’re there and aren’t running away within 30 seconds of you entering the system.


You are absolutely wrong about that, I’m afraid.

It would only take a relatively small change to the botting networks to counter the removal of local. For example, simply adding a fresh alpha with cloaking 1 trained for each gate in their ratting area would allow them to build their own local lists and warp to safety just as they do now, countering non-WH roams just as effectively as local does. - Similar tactics would work for WHs, albeit slightly more complex due to WH mechanics. However by no means difficult to get around.

They don’t currently do this because there is no need for it, but if you create a need for it they would do it in no time. A week of coding (if that) and the bots would be back to business as usual.

I think this is going a bit off-topic. Local removal is not a small change, it’s seismic and has been discussed for a decade and hasn’t been implemented. There are probably reasons for that.

I am trying to propose smaller, nuanced change that:

  • Creates more risk for ratters/botters, to hopefully reduce their ROI
  • Gives real players more content, via higher risk for anom farming activities
  • Puts power in players hands, to fight botters themselves with greater effectiveness
  • Takes load off CCP devs from creating ML/expensive pattern recognition

Maybe create separate thread for Local removal, as idea to improve whatever you think it’ll change.
I feel you’re not really discussing merits/challenges of original idea, just hijacking thread to propose your own idea. Not very useful.

Removing local would make it much easier to hunt ratters bot or non-bot, I don’t think that’s really up for debate. The main driver of the problem here is that anomaly ratting is essentially risk free when you don’t have a constant hostile presence in system.

The sites themselves are solved in terms of the ship you use and how to run them. If you take the correct actions to avoid pvp, the only real risk you suffer is in the unlikely event that a hostile warps to an anomaly while you are in warp to it yourself. Most ships, once set up, can leave an anomaly in ten to fifteen seconds in an absolute worst case scenario. This is not enough time for a hostile entering local to identify a site and land in it. Currently, most hunters rely on players being inexperienced, bored, or afk to catch ratters.

Now, I’m not actually sure how hard ratters should be to catch to achieve design objectives. Obviously they do die, and in enormous numbers for various reasons. I can think of a couple of suggestions that would make them easier to catch.

1) Increase the “Stickiness” of sites. This is Proxay’s main suggestion. Be it through more scrambling ships, a local effect, etc. The idea is there is some reason the player can’t leave the site once they’ve committed to running it. The new abyssal sites are an example of total stickiness. Right now an anom ratter spends probably less than 1% of their time running the site “stuck”. Increase this percentage, and you get more dead ratters.

2) Make it easier to identify sites that are being actively run. A flag/beacon/change to the anom name if it is actively being run would make it possible for fast tackle to get to a site in time to catch a significant fraction of human players, at least with current patterns of behavior. This would probably make it too easy. Perhaps a more granular way to filter anomalies when entering local to see the ones you want. Perhaps removal in general of underused site types (that would deserve a lengthy post of it’s own). There are many options for this general concept.

There are certainly current workarounds that hunters use to achieve a lot of the above: cloaky camping to saturate prey response, login traps to shorten response time, and blue scouts to pre-identify targets before sending in tackle all yield results. However, these are all degenerate forms of gameplay, players patching a hole in the current mechanics with unfun activities to achieve a desired effect. I’d prefer if they were mitigated (particularly cloaky camping) and the underlying system elements were modified to encourage actually flying around space to get pvp.

I do agree we don’t want this to turn into a “remove local” thread. That’s been discussed ad nauseam.

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That’s always the real problem.

Most of the suggestions on how to “fix ratting” tend to overcompensate in favor of the hunter to a point where I would personally just stop ratting and change to another source of income.

There has to be a balance, and if they take it too far like that they’d be killing ratting not done by supers under an umbrella.

Alpha accounts can’t cloak. The botter would have to pay for a full account for each gate and wouldn’t be able to keep track of when a player leaves the system. The bot would have to dock as soon as a gate activates and would never be able to undock. And their expensive warning network still wouldn’t be able to identify a player arriving via wormhole or login.

I am trying to propose smaller, nuanced change that:

But it isn’t really a small change. You’re essentially making PvE a fight to the death once you enter a site, with no ability to warp out if you get overwhelmed or have to go AFK or whatever.

Not really a problem. The amount of ISK they make, PLEXing a few extra accounts is a drop in the ocean.

Of course they can. You can just as easily spot a player leaving via a gate as you can spot them entering via a gate. There are plenty of behaviors that can be used as indicator as to whether players are entering or exiting a gate. (Velocity incrase vs decrease, distance, etc… Not to mention deducing it based on their prior know locations.)

Like I say, there are ways to track WHs as well. Slightly more complex due to their mechanics, but in no way impossible.

If a player enters a system and doesn’t leave (due to logout or whatever) they would have to consider the system camped and act accordingly.

Nah, not what I’m advocating for at all.
David actually summed it up really well - focus on this:

As David surmises, my point is there is no ‘commitment’ from a player entering an anomaly. Increasing towards averaged 5% stickiness would be big change, and hypothetically could improve positive impact without root and branch rebuild of anomalies. I’m not prescriptive as to design implementation.

Bots favour anomalies over other PVE experiences due to high reward, very low risk. It’s why null is rampant with Carriers, Supers floating around. Even those ‘behemoth’ ships by lore are nimble enough to be safe before any incoming player can find and engage. This is definition of 0 risk. It is not balanced.

My other big point is around EVE being a social game.
All groups ‘living’ in null communicate. If people like me come through local, they share news with alliance, or intel channels. The intent is to advise friends to “get safe” proactively. This is forewarning to those ratting or committed to activities to wind up and prepare for movement to safety.

Bots do not do this. Bots only react when player enters proximity (local, dscan, probe range). It’s easy for them to program reaction to change in environment based on proximity. By creating more commitment in how ISK is created in-game, it gives players opportunities to close proximity before target can break free and escape.

  • More content for PVP / solo players & roaming gangs.
  • Moves needle in better direction on ‘balance’ for risk-free PVE today.
  • Hurts botters.
  • Puts power with players to impact botters – which is awesome.

The change IS small, since it’s about changing the frig rat mix in sites, to spawn ‘more’ scramblers with each wave. Whether is 1 more, or 50 more, I don’t care. CCP devs know where they want the game to go.

I want CCP to understand opportunity where players are out there right now, trying to kill bots and getting disappointed. If we could move needle on helping players catch bots via creating more commitment for null anomalies, they’ll hit 2 birds with 1 stone. Bots lose, players win, ccp wins.

At 5% you aren’t “stuck” enough for it to be a PvE fight to the death every time, but you also aren’t doing much to bots. For that 5% to matter it has to align with the moment a threat appears, and odds are it won’t. To be a meaningful risk it needs to be much higher than 5%, at which point PvE starts to become a 'win or die" commitment. Those same tackle frigates that can stop a botter from warping out can also stop a player from warping out if they need to go AFK or whatever.

Removing local, on the other hand, shuts down bots without changing the PvE experience itself. Human players can still warp out when necessary, and can play smarter than the threat to defend themselves. Bots lose the ability to be aware of incoming threats, and either dock up 23/7 or are sitting there obliviously as free kills for anyone with a covert ops cloak and a warp disruptor.

Spotting a player via behavior depends on having a human actively watching the gate. Those gate alts aren’t actively watching the gate and making intelligent evaluations of what they see, they’re just sitting idle with the volume turned up and waiting for the gate activation sound. Leaving a system and entering it make the same gate noise, so without local you have no idea if the gate activation you just heard is a new threat entering the system or the old threat leaving.

Like I say, there are ways to track WHs as well. Slightly more complex due to their mechanics, but in no way impossible.

That depends on spotting the WH and getting an alt onto it before a threat comes through. If they beat you to it you have no idea if/when they arrived in system.

If a player enters a system and doesn’t leave (due to logout or whatever) they would have to consider the system camped and act accordingly.

The point is that without local you don’t know if a threat left. You don’t know if they logged out, you don’t know if they left via WH, etc. That covert ops frigate could have logged off for the night, or it could have bridged in a whole fleet that is waiting to attack. When you saw the gate activate maybe it was the frigate departing, but did it leave before or after it bridged in another cloaked ship to replace itself? Did someone arrive in the system while you were logged off or AFK? Who knows. So sure, consider the system camped, but that’s the new permanent state of things in that system forever and you will never be able to undock.

I think the problem with your perspective is that you are vastly underestimating what a bot can do, and how much effort botters are willing to do to get their paycheck.

That’s simply not true. There may not be any bots capable of doing this now, but that’s just because there is no need for them now.

I’m a developer, and even though I’ve never actually written a bot for games, I know enough about the mechanics behind them that I would have no trouble writing this myself. I doubt very much that experienced bot makers would even need more than a few days to do this.

The bot could always force you to either reveal yourself or get stuck.

  1. Get ratters/miners safe when a sig is detected.
  2. Re-purpose a relic bot to scan down and identify the sig.
  3. If it’s a WH, make a bot to roll the thing.
  4. If the WH rolls without incident, and without noticeable discrepancy in the WH mass, resume ratting/mining.
  5. If the WH was reduced noticeably, assume hostiles got through and enter a “camped” state.

You would essentially be forced to kill the rolling bot and confirm your presence to stop the hole being rolled, and at that point the bots would simply stay safe. You’d be no better off than you are now.

It wouldn’t really matter. If you don’t see them leave through a gate or a WH (and as per the above, you would know) whether or not a player is logged in in system or not is of little consequence. You would stay safe until that player leaves.

Cloaky camping is common enough that bots already have procedures when they are detected. The bot would simply have to assume all players that don’t leave are camping and act accordingly. - In fact this would eliminate logout traps as a tactic, as the bot would simply assume you are still logged in and not warp anywhere until it can determine otherwise.

They’d have to be cautious, but eventually the cost of staying docked will outweigh the cost of the ratting ship. It’s all a matter of numbers for botters. System isn’t safe to super rat anymore? Put a few VNIs in system and see if that shakes something loose. Maybe a carrier or two.

At the end of the day they’ll still be botting, and unless you’re willing to spend forever camping them in, these changes won’t stop them. - We could very well perma-camp all botting systems right now and effectively stop botting completely. But we won’t. And this won’t be any different. You’d just be presenting botters with different challenges.

Changing game mechanics is simply not the way to go for dealing with botters.

This is the key point: removing local removes the ability to know when a threat has left. A player enters the system, the bot docks up for the rest of eternity because even a year later it has no idea if that player is in the system or not. At some point they have to take a risk without knowing if the threat is still there, unlike the current situation where the bot (or player with the skill ceiling of a bot) can just look at local and get instant notification when the threat leaves.

And yes, the botting group can counter with bait ships and stuff, if they’re smart enough. But at least now you’re forcing active play and risk vs. reward trades, not 100% accurate intel from local. And maybe, with at least the hope of sacrificial VNIs to gank, more people are willing to camp those systems.

Changing game mechanics is simply not the way to go for dealing with botters.

Then why are you posting in a thread about game mechanics to make life more difficult for botters?

Of course they won’t just dock up for eternity. They will assess the problems and create ways to minimize them. Bots and bot creators (in fact, developers in general) are great at stuff like that. Solving complex logic puzzles, finding patterns in data sets and teaching computers how to work off that is basically what developers do. And that is precisely what is needed to fix all the issues you keep throwing at me.

You need to stop underestimating how clever the bots and their makers can be. They are scum, but they aren’t drooling idiots. They will find ways to get around whatever mechanical change you believe will break them.

Because people keep using botting as a reason why removing local is a good idea, and anybody who really understands how bots works can see that this will not be the case. - All I’m trying to do is convey that to people.

It would be far better for discussions about mechanics changes if people would stop trying to involve botting in them. It’s definitely not helping those arguments.

The way to deal with bots is to improve detection, and finding reliable ways to prevent them from resurfacing after bans. Screwing up the game in hopeless attempts to make things more difficult for them is just a waste of time, and is likely to make the game worse for actual players.

So you think anomalies today represent a good balance of risk v reward? That they require sufficient commitment from players?

I wouldn’t say that, no. There is definite room for improvement there.

However those improvements should be done with honest players in mind, not in some doomed attempt to screw with botting. The bots won’t care; they’ll just keep chugging along regardless.

Who cares if people bot, at this point in the game. It’s easy to find them and gank them in space. The report them or botting. TBH it bring more fun into the game knowing you can gank them.

I guess we fundamentally agree.

I came to the observation anomalies are imbalanced in risk/reward from the lens of being frustrated that you can just warp out at any moment. This is exacerbated and highlighted by the veracity at which they’re abused by bots for isk.

I guess my idea can be repositioned to say simply: anomalies need more commitment.