Introducing the Reapers

So I just read a very interesting article, and it got the ol’ brain working. Maybe that’s a bad thing… you decide. This is not something I’m set on, it’s just a brain dump.

The article was on the potential for bots to benefit games. Not player bots, official bots.

I know that it has always been the stance that players should provide everything (it’s a sandbox afterall) but if we ever fall below that critical level of active players, the whole thing will crumble. Which is where bots come in, providing content. They don’t do what NPCs do, they do what players do. They artificially spice up the player count, making the game feel alive.

I’m talking about an AI expert (or group of experts) producing 10-15 different adaptive AIs (ANNs for example, recording everything and attempting to adapt to tactics used against them), running 1000 bots. Not just NPCs. These would be capsuleers in AI form.

They’d engage in SOV war, they’d engage in FW, they’d engage in hotdrops, they’d rat and they’d mine (isk getting evaporated, with the minerals producing the very ships that the AIs use to shoot you with and the structures they stage from). They’d have subcap doctrines, they’d have capital doctrines. They’d go exploring in wormholes, they’d camp gates. They’d do all the things that players do.

Their overall strategic objectives would be decided by CCP. For example, take sov. They engage in a sov campaign against a semi-randomly selected chunk of sov that would fit 1000 players.

Or FW… they’d go in solo, small gang, and run FW sites. Real ships, real modules. Literally identical to players as far as the game server is concerned (ie the AIs would be controlling game clients, not living on the server).


  • Increased pvp (AI pvp ofc but never the less, if the AI is done right, it should be good enough to provide a stand-in)
  • Increased industrial demand. AIs flying around blowing up players, and structures will create increased demand on the markets.
  • Counter-bot activities (player bots). They will be able to tirelessly hunt for bots.
  • Other stuff?

Another possibly interesting thing is giving each Dev group a few hundred AIs, with license to use them as they see fit. Maybe they attack other Dev groups. Maybe some of them choose to live in Null, others choose to live in LS/WH.

The AIs do their own thing, with top-level guidance from the dev group as to what they’re to accomplish. For example, should they decide to take SOV, the dev decides to start toasting W-XYZ, drop a fort, and establish a foothold. Then they target other systems, using whichever strategies their bots can support (via mining/ratting, etc). In terms of moon goo, PI, and the like, they’d just pretend they have enough to do what they need to do, with the balancing matter being their mining. The dev groups can choose to blue and unblue in which ever manner best suits their interests in creating a dynamic game environment.

These sound like expensive ai that do pretty much the same things as the new npc’s that ccp are trying to build. Only the npc’s will be far more manageable to run.


In concept, sure… but these would be a MUUUUCH larger scale. They’d be a persistent entity, meant to resemble a group of players as closely as possible.

NPCs don’t use cap, they have an infinite locking range, there are a tonne of other rules that the NPCs can break. Because they’re NPCs.

These would be actual pilots as far as the server is concerned. They’d have the same restrictions that players have. An NPC for example, you can’t RSD them… you can’t neut them, they are retardedly easy to kill because their battleships have cruiser-level tanks and enormous sigs.

These are a breed apart.

Oh this is very wrong. All new NPCs have cap and you can neut and nos them.

Only our beloved Guristas (Pith-), Serpentis (Core-), angel (Gist-), Rogue Drones (-alvus), Blood Raider (Corp-) and Sansha (Cent-) have 1 capacitor. Officer may vary.

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I’m pretty sure I heard angels singing from above. I really need to go onto sisi and check out these new NPCs.

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This is what I find disturbing. You cannot smack-talk NPCs in local and if those super advanced AI “enemies” blobb and gank you, you have content but maybe not the content you wanted, when you wanted it.

I’d argue that getting blobbed and ganked is never the kind of content you want. But it gets rammed down your throat because the people on the other side decided to ram it down your throat. In this case, you’d have the same opportunities, risks, and rewards of blobbing them when they roam your space.

In order to make the game feel more alive than it is (increasing the number of pilots in space) they’d be doing the same things that all the cool kids do. The salt has always been funny, but about as interesting as corpse collecting… it really doesn’t serve any purpose.

Now… if the Dev teams all had their own AI armies, you could talk ■■■■ to a dev at a fanfest and find yourself in a war with (one of) them.

Nah, I wouldn’t want to “compete” with someone whom does know best and you are talking to a wall.
And I wish I could go to Island in the first place.

Let me put it this way, if you are observant of your environment, the chance someone ganks you in highsec is not as high as in low-, dull-sec or w-space.

With this ai, the chances maybe increased to 99%, at which point you have to ask yourself, why do you undock?

Going to my first fanfest this year, I figured a 15 year anniverary was as good a reason as any. And I hear Iceland is an excellent place to go hiking.

Nothing says a Dev couldn’t say “that dude on the forums is an asshole… fine, ■■■■ him, I’ma go camp the space he lives in for a week until I feel better”. Ultimately, more interaction and more of CCP “playing” their own game… which most of the time I’m pretty sure they stopped playing Eve a long time ago.

The goal would be to emulate a player group, not create a hivemind of interconnected pilots. That was why I suggested a number of different AIs, each with their own behaviours. It may well be that they learned the hard way that baits are a thing, and they’re not immediately ready to commit to a full-scale superblob. I’d expect there to be timezones that they’re likely to be on, and that they’re likely to be “in bed”.

Regarding highsec ganking specifically, I think I’d avoid that for the simple fact that it’s not engaging gameplay. I’d see them doing things like event baiting, sure, but sitting on a gate with catalysts and scanners, nah. That’s already being beaten to death by players.

Then again… if said AI corp got ganked, they may wardec the ganking group(s) and try to bring the pain. That would add tremendous “life” to highsec, without making ganking even worse than it is now.

Edit: To expand on that last bit, new player in their first week, they are flying through highsec and they see a big fight happening on the gate. That will definitely peak their interest, at least enough to show them that “■■■■’s going down in Eve”. Almost an… exciting ambience, with players and AIs both being involved (say for example Code. and an AI corp).

Do we need them to be persistent? Won’t they be infinitely farmable? Is it not easier and less strenuous to have them spawn when and where we want?

Why would them being persistent make them better?

This does not have to be the case. We could have npc’s that have all the properties you desire, and they’d still be simpler to run than a bot playing as a capsuleer.

Making their AI will be no small task. I can’t think of an AI in any game (aside from board games like chess) that is remotely challenging. These will be just as dumb and easy to kill as npc’s (which are already getting tougher, faster and smarter).

Whatever you want these bots to do, could in theory be done by npc’s but in an easier way. The only difference would be kill mails.

I like that idea a lot.

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Of course this would never lead to another BoB.

The idea would be they’d do mining and ratting. If a roam were to go into their space and for example shotgun the belts, if there were miners out you’d find one just like a player (assuming they don’t warp out in time, some form of artificial handicap would need to be implemented there). Or ratters, same deal. Maybe with an ESS.

This is true.

Hence why I said an outright AI expert or group of experts. I’ve done basic ANN and genetic AI development (purely recreational, they sucked balls) so I know full well the challenges involved.

The idea hinges on a good AI being developed. I think it’s possible to mimic “average” players, with skilled developers.

I think it would be a significant endeavour, result being the shot of adrenaline needed to get Eve’s MAU pumping hard again. Not many people choose to play a game with a small playerbase. By inflating the numbers, we’ll potentially see more people staying. I recognize Eve is and always will be a niche game (sandbox isn’t for everyone) but I think it will help.

They just need to make a game where bots are the ONLY participants. Can your bot beat my bot in pvp, no then get back to coding!

Now, the really good botters have a forum to show off their botting prowess and they aren’t even bound by pretty much anything really, hack the server and delete the other guys account 1 min before the title fight for the $100,000 U.S., boom you won and he lost, suck it loser because you’re up 100g and he didnt even get to start the fight.

Nope. 1) if you win, defeating a machine isn’t particularly satisfying, not compared to a person. 2) if you lose, losing because some machine somewhere decided you were going to lose is a completely legitimate and rational reason to quit. 3) It’s unnecessary. as long as there are at least 2 players still logging in, they can create content for eachother.

The only advantage, which it only works if they DO NOT behave as players, is that they can prompt crises that destabilize things, which is something that can be accomplished with much simpler and less expensive mechanics.

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