I must confess I am not a nullsec pilot, rather, I am a lowsec pilot and have rarely ventured into null over all the years I have played. The only knowledge I have historically had of null is that big alliances live there, the pvp can be good if different from FW, and that there is some kind of botter problem there.
Well this week I have started to run filaments into null almost every night with a friend, and lo and behold, not only has the bit about botters stood out to me, but it is a problem of absolutely epic proportions. I believe that null is completely and utterly jam packed with botters. Automated drone boats that are connected to automated intel services and that pull in drones and warp to a tether whenever local changes.
- Jibberish pilot names…
They often look as if button bashed. This indicates the pilots are not real pilots earning isk but rather part of some large multi boxed system as you would expect from someone that abuses scripts. More worryingly this indicates a history of having bot accounts banned, only to be replaced with new accounts.
- Very young pilots…
This, similarly to the above, is indicative of what you would expect from an automation business being run by an unscrupulous pilot. Again as per the above, this is a sinister indicator that automaters just make new accounts after CCP bans them. So the current methods are not working.
- Instant drone recall and tethering…
Based on the timing of them leaving the anoms they are running, it is quite clear to me that their ships recalled drones and then warped the very instant (probably + random number generator time frame) local changed. While small numbers of people doing this would be in keeping with simply very situationally aware ratters manually controlling their ships and achieving safety as a result, the fact that this happens every time and with almost perfect consistency instead supports the idea that it is being driven by scripts and widespread bot abuse. It is not possible it can be this machine like absent bot scripts.
- All of the above, in groups…
Often they are moving in groups. So after the interval mentioned above, not just one ratter ship will return to tether but multiple, often with a theme to their button bashed names. This is consistent with a scaled up automation racket, and consistant with the contention that the anoms are too easy, or to be more precise, completely AFK farming compatible.
- CCP has admitted there is a problem, I just think it is far worse than admitted, to the extent of being completely rampant…
CCP have already stated that botting is a problem and seems to ban botters at a very large rate. So the problem does exist. On one hand a lot of people are reporting a lot of bots (see below image for an example), but on the other hand null is still jam packed with bots. The existing methods do not seem to be eradicating the problem. observation 1. and 2. indicate that after having bot accounts banned, botters just make new accounts somehow and continue with it where they left off.
- The ratting style is using AFK compatible drone boats…
These ratters exclusively use AFK style drone boats that are able to run the anoms essentially without any input at all from the players computer which is ideal for bots.
- Stop drones auto agroing.
This will mean the ratters must input commands to complete the anoms, and if they chose to use a bot it will cause the bot to have to be more complex and input more commands. This will stop people botting because of the bot being more expensive to produce, and furthermore, easier to detect as it is now entering a constant stream of commands rather than just screen scraping local and then using the warp hotkey when it changes.
- Make the rat fleets subtly more difficult to defeat.
I am proposing that the rats are made more difficult to beat in such a way as to stop automated scripts from easily being able to deal with them. This does not mean that they need to be transformed into diamond rats. Of course determined programmers will still be able to solve the scripting problem, but not without creating a more complex bot that may deter players from using them, and one that must enter more commands per time period into the game (that should give CCP’s sentinel software a better chance to score a detection). For example, having tackle rats, neuting rats, etc, would all cause a ratter to have to kill based on a priority system rather than letting AFK drones auto egress.
Feedback and counters
- But you are only saying this because you want to catch more ratters while hunting!
False. Overall I think that ‘at keyboard’ ratters should be able to achieve a perfectly safe state by having situational awareness and the necessary skills and techniques. This is fair in my mind. Furthermore, if botters are eliminated, then the eve market will no longer be flooded with risklessly acquired assets that are of mitigated value. This therefore means that the ‘at keyboard’ ratters should get better rewards from their investment of time.
- But the legacy spaghetti code stops any further changes!
This argument seems to roll out almost every time, against all topics. The fact is the CCP dev team has a history of recoding, adapting, and fixing areas of the game, so there is no actual reason to think it cannot be iterated again.
- But if you make some missions harder, people will just use their bot scripts on other missions instead!
This is easily countered with an iterating approach, where CCP reviews repeatedly where the automated bots are being used and adapts the rat AI (etc) in that area to lock it down.
- But if you make all missions harder, you are hurting real players too and they may stop running them as it is no longer relaxing and or is too stressful!
I am willing to stand by the statement that any hard activity in eve can be made significantly easier by learning the appropriate techniques and gaining experience. Essentially EVE is a learning curve game. Expecting PVE pilots to have a learning curve is fair. It is not a reasonable argument to say that ratters are only accomodated for properly if their ratting function is made not only ‘easy’ but actually literally so easy as to not even require them at their keyboards.
- But CCP are already fixing this issue with monitoring, it is not right for them to change the game just to disable bots!
I acknowledge that CCP is putting in much effort to fix the issue, and no doubt it is being kept under a degree of control as a result. Notwithstanding this, unfortunately the disease of botting is still completely infesting nullsec and has not been eradicated. I believe that the policy of banning reported bots is just fighting symptoms, the underlying issue is that all the null anoms are perfectly automation friendly as they can be run with nil engagement by a player. Completely AFK. And that is the perfect breeding ground for bots. The problem needs to be addressed and snuffed out at the source. The truth is, currently all an automation has to do is do a screen scrape of local (completely undetectable) and when it changes sound of an audible alarm and enter two hotkey commands (recall drones, warp to structure). You could not set these anoms up better for automation if you set yourself out to do it!