My definition of botting is using a computer program to do boring, mechanical tasks for you.
The advantages of bots are:
- a bot can do boring things so a human doesn’t have to
- a bot can do things for longer hours than a human can
- a bot may be better than a human at a task
- a bot can be run by more clients compared to a human.
The reasons people bot are many, but a short list of the major ones is:
- for convenience
- for advantage
- for smugness
Eve has a lot of good game mechanics that avoid or lessen the need to grind mindlessly, but bots still proliferate despite the best efforts of CCP Sreegs. Sreegs concentrates on the supply side, banning botters and detecting the programs they use. However, the war on drugs has shown that this approach expends a lot of effort for proportionally less gain.
A different approach would be to reduce the incentive to bot by adjusting game mechanics.
game mechanics that turn people into bots
It has been said that a human trader in Jita, playing perfectly, acts just like a bot. The bot rules are pretty simple: -0.01 isk your sell order until you’re the cheapest (down to a threshold), and +0.01 isk your buy order to a threshold.
The human decisions are much rarer in comparison, and are accepted as playing the game rather than botting: should I crash this market? Should I adjust my minimum and buy out all the supply here? Should I get out of this market now or manipulate the input materials and force others out?
Similarly for industry. Deciding what to build or invent is a legitimate decision. The mechanical process of clicking furiously to invent hobgoblin II blueprints every hour, on the hour increases bot demand.
Similarly for mining. Warp to belt, turn on lasers. The only non-lizard-brain decisions you make are deciding which rock to mine, and whether the intel you have (dscan or local chat) presents a threat to your operation.
Similarly for combat. Generally, PvE in Eve is fairly boring but lucrative, and scales well based on the time put in, so botters who seek to gain the isk advantage will take this option, whether it means a botting fleet, or just logging on a bot on an existing character for a few more hours each day.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Planetary management used to be a massive bot-fest. It was basically all about clicking a bunch of stuff every 30 minutes, 23/7, so it’s no surprise.
Then CCP changed the rules. They added adjustable extraction lengths, so players would never feel like they were missing out on extraction while they were asleep or at work. They added depletion, so real human decisions would need to be made about whether to keep extracting, relocate heads, or even tear down the entire structure and relocate.
Yes, the planetary management feature still needs a lot of enhancements, but the game mechanics are considerably more bot-resistant.
Other examples of adding bot-hardening game mechanics are the recent changes to faction warfare complexes. CCP does have the tools and expertise; they just need a bit of prioritisation.
If CCP wants to reduce botting and bot-like behaviour, some fairly straightforward changes can be done.
- Add an autoadjust feature to orders. Ebay has had a ‘bid up to x amount’ feature for years; it’s not rocket science
- Add the capability to submit industry jobs from a queue, so a human can compete with a bot submitting ten x 1-hour jobs every hour
- Add a deployable mining hub that will mine automatically for as long as you specify. You can’t choose what it mines, and it won’t mine much, and if hostiles come in, it’s probably toast, but it lessens the gap between mining bots and humans. However, a mining revamp to force humans to make more actual decisions would be needed too, or you’ve just killed mining :)
- I have no idea what to do about ratting bots, but everyone acknowledges that belt ratting is boring, so making it less so would be a good start.