How to stop botting: remove the advantage of botting

Why bot?

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.

Bot resistance

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.

waht do

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 šŸ™‚
  • 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.

2 Responses to “How to stop botting: remove the advantage of botting”

  1. December 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    You’d like some ideas about what to do about mission/ratting bots? Definitely need to make the AI controlling the ships in missions smarter. Make’em chase after drones first. And reduce the range of heavy missiles so that Tengus aren’t so effective as ratting/mission ships. Not only would that bring the bots closer to danger but that would also mean it would take longer to train up mission/ratting bot pilots if Tengus have to be abandoned by botters. And change the aggression mechanics. Don’t allow bots to just log off when they see a neutral appear in system. Put in a timer so the player has a chance to track the bot down.

    What’s that, you say? CCP just did all this? Then based on past experience the thing to do is support CCP and not let them soften the changes and make the game more bot-friendly. It they get enough support they’ll stick by their decisions. For an example, look back to the creation of a new font. That drove botters and bot devs crazy!

    By the way, I like the way you think. Some people argue that you can’t develop a game around botting behavior. Maybe you can’t go totally overboard, but botting and illicit RMT sales is a big problem in the industry and needs to be addressed.

  2. 2 Chanina
    December 21, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    An anti-bot proposal without “add captcha” to mining is always good. Or at least not so bad. But creating mechanics that are not as easy to bot can be problematic. If you create multiple dependencies and/or information to take into account on what to do the game gets more complex and therefor harder to program bots for it.
    But it won’t make it impossible and will also make it harder for humans. If you get the same yield as before the anti-bot change for more work to do… well guess most players won’t like that.

    There is a very fine line between making a game harder to bot and keeping it interesting for humans. It would be great if I just could mark all 10 BPCs for invention and put them in those X slots I want to use for them and hit ok. That would be very good for industrials and I guess much appreciated by those but it would also be good for bots.

    All in all I appreciate the approach of ccp to NOT design the game for anti bot but for player usability and detect bots who abuse this usability.
    We players need to be sensible about botting and get rid of it in our game. In almost every alliance (with some modest size) there are rumors about “Jon Doe” using bots for his income. And most of the time it is tolerated or simply ignored. And thats where the problem lies. We all know how to earn money and how much effort it is at this or that action. We play a social game so we should know each other and how much time who has.

    In order to stop botting we don’t need a Zero Bot tolerance from CCP (they already have that) we need that thought in every single head playing eve or at least in those heads which play it for fun.
    Those “playing” eve for profit (RMT) will always be there and try there best.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: