Tag Archives: CCP

Who Gets Banned for Botting in New Eden?

Renters?  Is the answer Renters?

CCP Peligro posted a chart to Twitter yesterday showing the top 25 alliances by amount of users banned for botting.  And the list was heavy with organizations that rent null sec space.

Click to Make Larger/Readable

There are a lot of familiar names on that list, not to mention some old one.  That data is for all time, since alliances were introduced into EVE Online.

One omission from the top 25 that no doubt will make some people upset is Goonswarm Federation, which so many angry people accuse of botting, RMT, and whatever else because that is what they want to believe as opposed to having any actual evidence.  GSF not making the list unsurprisingly made The Mittani a bit self-righteous.

CCP Peligro cautions on taking this data for more than it might mean.

BEING ON THIS LIST DOESN’T MEAN YOUR ALLIANCE IS FILLED WITH BOTS NOW – data from EVEstart. The only point I’ll make here is that 0.0 and in particular rental alliances have been disproportionately represented in bot bans for as long as I can remember.

Of course, we’ve been told this before, that rental alliances, by their very nature, attract botters.  They are not beholding to the landlord, or watched over, so long as the rent is on time.  The Team Security presentation from the 2015 EVE Fanfest had a similar chart when it came to bots.

EVE Fanfest 2015 Team Security Presentation – Page 30

No names were named back in 2015, and the data was for just a ten month period of time, but the caption to the left indicates that the the top three were well known renter alliances, and you don’t have to look very hard at the influence map to pick them out.

EVE Influence Map – March 30, 2015

I’m going to guess Northern Associates, Shadow of xXDEATHXx, and the Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere.  This was back when null sec was a trilateral mix of rental empires.  That map, at the end of the data set for the presentation, is from more than a year after I describe it in terms of the world of 1984, but many of the same players are on the map.

Which means that if you want to find bots today it seems like your best chance would be to go where there is still rental space in play.

Of course, if you look at the heat maps from that 2015 presentation that show where botters were caught, you might think high sec space would be a more fruitful location.

EVE Fanfest 2015 Team Security Presentation – Page 39

More high sec exceptionalism.  The Forge, Lonetrek, Domain, and Tash-Murkon look to the be biggest locations.  But I guess if you are botting in high sec then you are in an NPC corporation and won’t appear on the alliance chart.  So does that mean the answer isn’t “renters” but “randos” instead?

Meanwhile Reddit is alive with various tales and accusations as to who supports botting and who is responsible for policing it.  The potential for further fallout seems high.

Others on this topic:

Celebrate 16 Years of EVE Online by Logging in for 16 Days Straight

They promise it will be worth it.

Yes, that time of year has rolled around again and CCP is celebrating another EVE Online anniversary.  2019 makes it sweet 16 for the game.  That’s old enough to get a driver’s license where I live.  CCP has a dev blog up about how they will be celebrating this milestone.

Sixteen Years and I got a T-Shirt

There will be gifts.  But these gifts will be doled out as daily login rewards, so you will need to log in each account, every day, for sixteen days in order to collect them all.

I am not a fan of login rewards like this.  It strikes me as a rather transparent way to boost the monthly active user, the dreaded MAU at whose altar so many analysts worship, without necessarily doing anything to improve game play or to get a user to go beyond collecting their reward and logging off.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t log in every damn day all the same.  I’ll do that for some free stuff.  If you ring the rewards bell I do salivate.

And, as you may have noted, the event lasts for 18 days, so you can forget to login twice and still get all the goodies..  And what goodies will we get?  The dev blog says:

There’s all manner of gifts and rewards up for grabs including celebratory trinkets, faction ammunition, exclusive XVI anniversary SKINs, apparel and even a monocle, as well as Servant Sisters of EVE hulls, celebratory Permaband SKINs and clothing, along with fireworks and abyssal filaments.

That is quite a range.  I’ll go anywhere for SKINs, and SOE ship hulls are fan favorites.  I’d like another Astero or three.  I guess Permaband is featured as a ceremonial farewell and/or clearing out of virtual stock, since Permaband if effectively dead with the departure of CCP Guard.  I mean, who else is going to front for them?  CCP Falcon?

That is all cool, but I image that the real draw will be skill points.  The Dev Blog declares that this will be the largest skill point grant they have ever given away, with over a million skill points available if you log in all 16 days.

That is a lot of skill points.  Given that I used to rack up ten million skill points about every seven months, picking up a million in just 16 days is an accelerated pace.  That is about 2,600 skill points an hour.  You can optimize your attributes and plug in +5 implants to train faster than that (my skill point farming clone, back when I did that, rolled along at 2,700 sp/hr), but you have to keep to specific skill.  These skill points can be applied to any skill, plus you still have your normal, ongoing skill point accretion.

Of course, the usual caveat applies: To get all the goodies you must have an Omega level account.  Free to play Alpha accounts get some prizes, but to get the full haul you must be paying in cash or PLEX for an Omega account.

Naturally, on the events page there is a convenient link to the page that lets you upgrade to Omega.

So there it is.  If you want all your goodies make sure your launcher is up to date and ready to go so you can start logging in tomorrow.

The CSM14 Election Timeline

Now that we’ve hopefully finished up with CSM13 drama it is time to move on to CSM14.

A new CSM gets a New Logo – I hope that wrecked structure isn’t a metaphor

CCP posted a dev blog today announcing the timeline for the CSM14 elections and it starts TODAY with applications.  You have just about two weeks to apply to run for office, after which the vetting will happen, candidates will be announced, and the voting will begin.

The timeline looks like this currently:

  • 30th April – 12th May: Accepting applications
  • 13th – 17th May: Processing applications
  • 25th May: Announcing candidates at EVE Down Under
  • 25th May – 7th June: Campaign Period
  • 10th – 17th June: Voting
  • 22nd June: Announcing CSM 14 Members at EVE North

So come the first day after the summer solstice we will have a new council of stellar management.  And then we can see what shenanigans they get up to.

If you’re keen to throw your hat into the ring and travel to Iceland twice to spend long days in a conference room arguing about internet spaceships while spending the rest of your term with people angry at you no matter what you say, here are the rules for applying:

  • Your account must be older than 60 days at the time candidacy applications close.
  • Characters on both Alpha and Omega accounts are eligible to run.
  • You must have a history of honoring the EULA and the Terms of Service. We will screen every applicant thoroughly and EULA/TOS violations on your record can result in a rejected application.
  • Your account must have updated and correct information at the time of your application. This includes; your real-life name, correct date of birth and the same email you use to submit your application. To view and edit this information go to the account management website.
  • Candidates must have reached 18 years of age. If the legal adult age in your home country (the age at which you have the legal capacity to enter into a contract) is higher than 18, that number applies instead.
  • As an applicant, you must consent to provide your personal details to CCP, including your real name and a copy of your passport. CCP needs to affirm your real-life identity for NDA contract purposes and the ability to travel to summits in Iceland is a key function of the CSM.
  • If you do not currently have a valid passport, we will accept a picture/scan of a valid and approved passport application accompanied by a picture of your driver’s license.
  • You must consent to share your country of origin with the EVE Community and having it displayed on the EVE Online website. You will not be required to share any other personal information with the EVE community.
  • If you are running as an “alt” and you control a character that has a reputation in the EVE universe, CCP may require you to run under that identity at its full discretion.

At least they no longer post your real life name when you’re elected.  People should have to expend at least a few minutes of effort in order to dox you on Reddit.

The link to the application form is in the dev blog, and once you’re done you can post a campaign thread in the forums.  Some have already appeared.

And so it goes.  I expect the usual amount of complaining and cynicism around the whole process, followed by null sec candidates to take up 6-8 of the 10 seats once the ballots have been counted.  Enjoy the show.

Other, perhaps less cynical, coverage:

Brisc Rubal Exonerated

If we are radio silent [on] something you know it is quality drama.

-Aryth, CSM 13 member, announcing the CCP post

Previously on season 13 of our favorite show, CSM Drama, the real life politician Brisc Rubal had been accused by a fellow CSM member of sharing confidential information with his corp mates, allowing them to enrich themselves.  For this CCP threw Brisc off of the CSM and banned all of his EVE Online accounts for life.

Council of Silly Messaging

Brisc protested his innocence, and he had his share of supporters.  But he also faced many jeers from those who mocked his carefully worded response as something a politician would do.

That quieted down after a bit.  After all, CCP had spoken.  They certainly would not make such a public accusation with such a severe penalty if they had not done a thorough investigation and were absolutely sure of the facts.

And then, of course, we found out that they did not, in fact, do a thorough investigation and, upon further reflection, announced that they needed to review the facts.

I described this as the “nightmare scenario,” a dramatic public pronouncement that they had to walk back, a situation that would leave nobody satisfied.  An actual investigation into the events would now take place.

Naturally, this made some people happy, Brisc no doubt included.  Others complained loudly about CCP, the CSM, and the unfairness of the world, where high profile players get second chances.

Now we have the final statement… at least I hope it is the final statement, but I thought the first statement would be final as well… from CCP after having completed an actual investigation.

Final Statement On Brisc Rubal Follow Up Investigation

Dear Citizens of New Eden,

Following on from our statement on April 17, we have completed our review of the Brisc Rubal investigation and determined that our initial findings were incorrect. Neither Brisc Rubal nor the other players implicated in this incident breached CCP’s confidentiality, the terms of the Non-Disclosure Agreement, or used privileged information to obtain an in-game advantage.

We made a mistake here and we offer our formal apologies. First, to Brisc Rubal and the two other players involved, both for making the allegations and for the disturbance and stress caused by the way in which we handled this situation. Second, for not collaborating with due care with the members of CSM 13, who have acted responsibly throughout. Lastly, we owe our sincere apology to the EVE community for this error. We take full responsibility for any confusion and mistrust caused by our initial assessment of the situation.

After reviewing our assessment of the information on which these allegations were based and having spoken repeatedly with everyone involved, it’s now clear that our initial actions were based on unsubstantiated assumptions. While we were motivated by a desire to protect the working relationship between the CSM and the EVE Development Team with all due speed, had we taken the time to review the information with greater scrutiny, this incident could have been resolved without the disruption that has since occurred.

We aim to make it up to all concerned. Right now, we are in the process of restoring access to the EVE Online accounts of all three affected players, returning any confiscated assets and providing rectification as appropriate. We will work to set this right and will be making changes to our procedures and policies to ensure this kind of situation does not reoccur.

Thank you for your understanding.

Basically, CCP was wrong, know they were wrong, admits they were wrong, and has announced that they were wrong.

I think any internal review of what happened… one hopes they have some internal feedback process, since the only way you learn from mistakes is to examine how they occurred and build in checks to ensure the don’t happen again… should focus on what happened that led to this phrase:

…it’s now clear that our initial actions were based on unsubstantiated assumptions.

Holy moly, they did all of that based on what now?  It sounds like they just took somebody’s word for it, not the way to go in a game where shading the truth and presenting points of view as fact are long standing aspects of the meta.

Naturally, the forum thread to discuss this final turn has much of what you would expect.  There are people at least mildly happy that CCP ended up with at the right decision, scorn for CCP jumping to conclusions, and an array of pundits wanting to know if everybody who got banned gets a review now.  The usual suspects preside.

In the end Brisc Rubal, whom CCP called out publicly, as well as Pandoralica and Dark Shines, the two unnamed alleged co-conspirators, have been cleared.  The “INIT 3” go free.  They get their account reactivated and their stuff back and probably some sort of “we’re sorry” gift for all of the trouble.

As for what Brisc will do now, he made a short statement on Twitter:

And so it goes.

Brisc will be appearing on the Open Comms Show, which you can find on the INN Twitch channel, tomorrow night at 18:00 Pacific time, 21:00 Eastern time, or 01:00 New Eden time.  There he and Dirk MacGirk and the Open Comms Show team will no doubt have much to say on the topic and many memes to share.

Naturally, other people are covering this story as expressing their opinions, though probably not as many as covered the initial bans.  Bans are news, retractions are not, so guess which will dominate Google search results when you look up Brisc Rubal going forward?

Other coverage:

Addendum:

And you know something isn’t really a thing on the internet until there is a Downfall parody of it.

 

Quote of the Day – We are Just Alluvial Accretion

It [EVE Online] has existed for 16 years and people think it’s in stagnation. But that’s the story with a lot of these long running franchises; it’s like a river that flows through, and there’s a bottom layer of people that stick, and over time there are layers of generations of EVE players that keep on being added every single year.

-Hilmar Petursson, Gamesindustry.biz interview

I think he is saying that New Eden is a wretched hive of river bottom scum and villainy .

Anyway, Hilmar has been out again selling the strange beast that is EVE Online.  A lot of the interview focuses on challenge of updating the game to keep up with the push to support ever larger battles out in null sec, which ends up in the Aether Wars demo from GDC last month.

EVE Online Forever

But as the article goes on it starts to delve into player numbers and the ongoing survival of the game.  The numbers are a bit dubious to me.

The article states that the game has 300K monthly active users, but that isn’t in quotes so may not be represented as it came out of Hilmar’s mouth.  We do have a quote from Hilmar in a Venture Beat interview back in September, when the Pearl Abyss merger was the focus, saying “The MAU fluctuates a bit, but it’s 200,000 to 300,000 people.”  That helped narrow down the answer the the question of how many people play the game, but it is a range not just the highest number.

But then there is another number that came straight from him in a quote:

“Contrary to what some people think, a lot of new people join EVE Online every week,” he said. “Every week we have about 10,000 people that log into EVE Online for the first time.

This plays to the stagnation question that came up.  The answer was that things are not stagnate if so many new people are showing up, leading to the river metaphor that I quoted at the top.  A river isn’t stagnate with that much water flowing through it.  But EVE Online isn’t a river, and players that “flow through it” are not adding the collective story of the game or to the bottom line of the company.

At first I questioned the idea that 10K players… okay, let’s be honest, 10K new accounts… are created every week. (The 10K number also came up during his AMA earlier this month.)  On the Tranquility page over at EVE Offline the new born player graphs hardly support that notion.  Of course, with the API apocalypse of last year, one cannot be sure of external numbers.  However, over at EVE Board, the character tracking site (run by Chribba, who also does EVE Offline) the birth distribution chart down the statistics page seems to have numbers that support at 10K a week number, at least for character creation.  In fact, it seems to indicate that 10K would be a low number, as it records 74K new character creations so far this month, with a week left to run.  That would be something like 25K characters a week.

But a new character is not necessarily a new account and a new account is not necessarily a new player.  In the age of alpha clones new account creation isn’t the measure it once was.  That birth distribution chart shows a big spike with the introduction of alpha clones in November of 2016, but that settles down fairly quickly, dropping below the peak period for the game around 2011 to 2013.  So I cannot discount that 10K number, though I did choke a bit on the next one.

Last year, I think about a million people came into our systems in one way or another for the first time.

I suppose there is some ambiguity in that phrase, but even if it is true I am not sure it is a number to be proud of give the peak monthly active users quoted.  You start to wonder how many long term active players there really are.

The obvious point to all those fresh accounts flowing through the game while the MAU numbers stays the same and the peak concurrent number slowly declines is that player retention, especially new player retention, sucks.  That isn’t a new problem.  I’ve been over some of the issues I think the game has, but you can’t fix most of them.  EVE Online is a strange and complex game that no other titles really prepare you for.

Of course, just last week Hilmar was being quoted about Asia being the future for EVE Online.  But there has been a server in China, Serenity, for more than a decade and, while the company they partnered with ran it into the ground, even at its peak moment in 2012 it barely hit numbers that would mark the daily low point on Tranquility.  More recently there has been an exodus of hardcore players from China to Tranquility, a trend that continues.  While getting us all on the same server makes for a better game, these were already players, fellow members of the scum forming on the bottom of the metaphorical river.

It seems like less flow and more stagnation… player retention… might be a good thing.

And so we’re back to the same old issue.  How do you get somebody engaged with a game that seems bent on driving people away with complexity?

Brisc Ban Nightmare Scenario

Invest in space popcorn!

-Bree Royce, Massively OP comment

Last week’s announcement from CCP that Brisc Rubal had been removed from CSM13 and his accounts permanently banned from EVE Online was a bit of a bolt out of the blue.  Many people were stunned.  Some were saddened that a CSM member who spent so much time trying to reach out to the community turned out to breaking the rules.  Others were less surprised that a lawyer and lobbyist… read politician… might somehow be corrupt.  Brisc had more than his share of detractors who were unhappy with his background, style, or lack of deep knowledge when it came to the mechanics of the game.  And being yet another null sec member of the CSM made him a target of opportunity for those who remain angry at the over representation on the body of that part of the game.

Remember when CSM13 seemed kind of drama free?

There has been current in the community that feels CCP doesn’t ban enough people, botters, RMTers, cheaters, or whoever.  But at least you could assume that this was because CCP was being very careful about handing out bans.  As I have said before, banning people who do not deserve it is the worst outcome as it is a very quick way to make a happy customer unhappy with your service.

So I was a bid dismayed by the CCP announcement yesterday:

Interim Statement on Brisc Rubal Follow-up Investigation

Last week, on April 8 2019, we announced the permanent banning of Brisc Rubal and their ejection from the Council of Stellar Management. We also issued one-year bans to two other players involved in this incident and confiscated their associated in-game assets and ISK.

Following this statement, we have held further discussions with the affected parties. We have also been conducting an internal review to substantiate the evidence available to us and evaluate our handling of the situation. We intend to share a full follow-up statement next week.

Transparency, fairness and trust is of utmost importance to us, which is why we’re issuing this brief update while also taking the time to ensure that we conduct a thorough investigation. We understand that there are many questions lingering over the incident, and we want to assure you that we take this matter very seriously. Both the sanctity of the CSM and the relationship we have with our players is of paramount importance to CCP.

As should be expected, we will issue a full and frank apology for any mistakes for which we are responsible, as well as provide appropriate reparations to those affected by any erroneous actions we’ve taken.

Wait, what?

My assumption that CCP would have done a full and thorough investigation before leveling accusations and banning a member of the CSM in a very public fashion was apparently wrong.

This has, of course, opened a can of worms.  The forum thread for responses to the dev blog gives a view into the spectrum of responses to this revelation.

Some people are happy that the whole affair is getting a review, perhaps ignoring the implications the need for said review for the moment.

Others are immediately hitting on the fairness issue.  If you’re banned by CCP they tend to not be very responsive to inquiries after that.  But now Brisc is getting his case reviewed.  Is that because he is:

  • Popular?
  • A CSM member?
  • From Null Sec?
  • A Goon?
  • A Lawyer?
  • Kicking back some of that sweet, sweet RMT money?
  • The real victim here?

And then there is the question about how we got here.  This whole affair was set off, according to CCP, based on information “brought to us by the CSM themselves.”  While that sounds like an all-inclusive phrase, I suspect that 9 members of the CSM turned as one and pointed a finger at Brisc.

The CSM 13 cast of characters

The problem with the CSM being a mostly null sec entity is the real possibility of null sec politics entering into things.  We saw in the past information sufficient to have a CSM candidate remove from the ballot leaked out, allegedly because he was a proponent of shield supers and a group heavily invested in armor supers did not want that voice in the ear of CCP.

So, while we will likely never find out, one wonders if the information provided to CCP was simply incorrect, misunderstood, exaggerated, or deliberately planted.

And none of this reflects well on CCP.  If, after an investigation, CCP sticks with their initial decision, they’ve only managed to look incompetent in the eyes of the community.  And if they revoke the ban, well then they are really incompetent, showing favoritism, and whatever other conspiracy theories you care to spin.

Plus, what does Brisc do then?  Is he back on the CSM?  Does he run for CSM14?  Does he wash his hands of all of this and just remain a regular guest on the Open Comms show?

There is word that the elections for CSM14 are coming soon, and this will no doubt cast an additional pall over what some already consider a suspect organization.

Back when the ban was first announced there were jokes thrown around about wanting to see the Mueller Report on the incident.  And now there actually will be a follow up report!   And what we will end up hearing will likely be an extremely redacted version of it which will, as in real life, only lead to more questions and people jumping to conclusions.

Not a bright and shiny spring day for the team at CCP.

I stated in my own blog post that after the initial Dev Blog we would hear no more about this from CCP.  I was certainly wrong on that count.

Other coverage of this:

The MER and Too Much ISK

The EVE Online monthly economic report is out for activity in February and I am not all that excited about it.

It has been two years since I started posting regularly about the EVE Online monthly economic report, this being the 24th such post.  At the start it was about charting the growth of the economy in Delve after we fled there following the Casino War.  Then it became an attempt to watch the economy over time, to chart the course, not anomalies, and to see if changes CCP made would have any impact on things.

Over time the monthly post became formulaic.  You can look at the last few months and see that I have noted a little rise in something here, a little decline in something there, that and event or a war meant people spent less time ratting and mining and more time blowing things up, but otherwise there hasn’t been all that much dramatic.

Basically, the idea has become a bore.  Not very exciting to write and, I suspect, even less so to read.

The New Eden economy is still important and is fairly unique in its pervasiveness in an MMORPG and I still want to write about it.  So, instead of the same dozen charts every month I think I will try to focus on one of two things that are indicative of some problem or change.

This month it will be a problem, and the problem will be that most wicked of problems, money… as in there is too much of it in the New Eden economy and somebody needs to turn down the taps.  The CSM minutes section the economy brings this up, both that it encourages botting and that it is driving up the price of PLEX.

They [CCP] say that the biggest problem is botting which is an ongoing for a long time. In general, CCP wants to tune down the faucets for ISK and minerals which they think are a bit high right now.

Even Hilmar was on about ISK during his AMA on the EVE Forums earlier.

I think the situation with the ISK economy is out of control. There are too many ways to create risk free ISK income streams.

There is a lot of ISK pouring into the game every month.

February 2019 – ISK Sinks and Faucets

Of the 107 trillion ISK that entered the economy via various faucets, 65% of it was from NPC bounties.  And February was a bit of a down month for ratting.

February 2019 – Top Sinks and Faucets over time

The month before it was 130 trillion ISK coming into the economy, with NPC bounties holding the same percentage.

CCP has been taking money out of the economy by chasing botters and illicit RMT, as covered over at The Nosy Gamer.  But that is a labor intensive effort that isn’t as easy as you probably imagine it, made even harder by the fact that a false positive… banning the wrong person… is more than a minor faux pas.  Meanwhile clever botters carry on undetected.  So CCP seems to be targeting anomaly ratting again.   I recently demonstrated how that could be a pretty hands off activity, making it a ripe avenue for bots.

While the Spring Balance changes coming in on the 9th of next month are headlined by a rework of remote repairs, there are a couple items in there likely aimed at botting and ISK generation.

The Vexor Navy Issue, the most favored sub-cap hull for null sec anomalies, is having its drone velocity boost removed, so anoms will take a bit longer, and its signature radius increased, so NPCs will be more likely to hit it.  Likewise, the Gila, more of an abyssal space boat, is having its drone hit point bonus reduced from 500% to 250%.

While cast as a PvP change, the planned nerf to fighter damage application versus subcaps will also have an impact on ratting, where the super carrier money machines lurk in relative safety.  This, and the March update to anomaly respawn times could have an impact on ratting income.

Maybe.

We’ll see.  I’d have expected more for such a high priority item.

And we won’t be able to see until May, which is when we’ll get the ratting data from April, so I will have to mark this down as something to come back to.  But I guess that was the idea.

Which leaves what to say about next month’s MER.  I think I will look into mining for that, taking a final measure or the rate of rock crunching in the report on March.

Anyway, all the usual charts and data are still available in the MER dev blog if you want the bigger picture.