Devblog – Ghost Training Declared an Exploit

Erick Asmock 2017-06-15

In an EVE Online News post today CCP announced that effective immediately, Ghost Training will be declared an exploit.

“Ghost Training” has been defined as using an alpha account to train skills beyond the speed and amount of a normal alpha account. Essentially using a bug to train an alpha account as if it was an omega account.

It goes on to use language that seems to indicate CCP is retroactively assessing punishments against those who knowingly used the exploit prior to the declaration. The devblog states, “Any users found to have been knowingly abusing Ghost Training will be subject to reprimand on a case by case basis as per the EVE Online EULA.”

This action was taken after an investigation and consultation with the CSM.

Although it has been around since the introduction of Alpha clones, Ghost Training has only come to wide scale attention in the past month, with multiple posts on Reddit explaining the bug use in detail, as well as laying out the profits able to be gained from it.

In addition to declaring it an exploit, CCP has also stated that Skillpoint reimbursement will be done soon for those who lost SP during the problems with skill queues recently.

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Comments

  • Dirk MacGirk

    Claiming that Ghost training, and the exploitation of it for skill injector farming, only became widespread knowledge is not only questionable, but misleading. Within that community of massive commercial farms and skillpoint plantations it was widely known. It was known to CCP no later than FanFest. It was known by enough key people that to think this is just something that was stumbled upon recently is inherently false. Not your fault Erick, but the fact that this wasn’t made a public disgrace even sooner is only because nobody but a couple of posters in Reddit opened their mouths to draw wider attention and press for action. However, CCP knew and this notice of it is an exploit as of the time stamp of the devblog is months overdue.

    June 15, 2017 at 4:15 pm
    • Rhivre Dirk MacGirk

      It does not say that it was recently stumbled upon. Widespread = “Most people become aware of it”. The “community of massive commercial farms” is a very small community, smaller than people realise. The reason it says widespread in the post and recently is because it was only a few weeks back that most people (By which I mean the wider eve community) became aware of it.

      It was on Reddit 9th March. No one cared. One or two people in the thread said it did not work, and that was it.

      June 15, 2017 at 4:31 pm
      • Interestingly our alliance got a ping saying if you are doing it, beware. That might just be a courtesy call but I guess they assume some of us are doing it.

        June 15, 2017 at 4:43 pm
    • DustVet Dirk MacGirk

      I wish our community, in general, would give the company that makes this game we all play a bit more credit. I believe the long period between when CCP first became aware, and then eventually, convinced of Ghost Training may well be contributable to their due diligence in understanding the nature, extent, and best solution for all parties involved (themselves first and foremost – understandably). Not one player has as much risk involved in these decisions as the company that owns and operates this property.

      June 16, 2017 at 12:22 am
  • CK

    Tin foil hat time: Was CCP happy to make money off skill extractors, and only took action to save face?

    June 15, 2017 at 4:48 pm
    • Dont think so. It is a just very complicated problem to fix, and even harder to know people’s intent. Their first try had skill queues stopping all over the place. Terrible

      June 15, 2017 at 4:58 pm
      • Fixing the underlying code issues are obviously complicated; declaring it an exploit isn’t. Had they declared it early they would have a leg to stand on using the banhammer while they figure out how to fix the code. After the PR fiasco that was last week, this comes across as more knee jerk reactions.

        June 15, 2017 at 10:39 pm
    • Rhivre CK

      They will continue to make ISK, there is still a requirement for 20-30k chars to be extracting per month to meet injector demand.

      June 15, 2017 at 6:08 pm
    • Dirk MacGirk CK

      They would have been happier to make money off skill extractors AND PLEX. The exploit allowed them to not use as much PLEX as they otherwise would have to fund those accounts

      June 16, 2017 at 3:14 pm
  • Lekly

    The key word to all of this is “knowingly” since it then becomes a
    question of intent. It could be very hard to prove one way or another
    and depends almost entirely on how hard CCP wants to enforce it.

    June 15, 2017 at 6:01 pm
    • Bill Bones Lekly

      Just use behavior patterns: repeated API calls on queue status of not-logged lapsed Omega = he thinks it should be training = he’s ghost training.

      June 15, 2017 at 7:53 pm
      • Axhind Bill Bones

        So if you had your account setup in EVEMON or any such service you were exploiting? Get real.

        June 15, 2017 at 8:28 pm
    • Dirk MacGirk Lekly

      There are technically two elements to this. First, accruing more skill points than you otherwise should have if your account was in Alpha status. That is a bug and could happen to some players with or without their knowledge. The second is profiting from the sale of the skill points generated by the bug. The latter is where exploitation of the bug exists and determining intent becomes quite easy. Especially for the most egregious offenders.

      June 16, 2017 at 3:21 pm
  • “Knowingly” is impossible to determine without some sort of third party policing by CCP in most cases. This puts this ruling into the realm of biased tyranny. A few notable people in the community will be crucified to establish an authoritarian position for CCP, with deterrence being the only weapon CCP seems to have in this case. They love the Skill Extractor money, so they’re not going to fix it. This is an awful stance, and a reprehensible position to take.

    June 15, 2017 at 9:00 pm
    • Dirk MacGirk Cavin DeJordy

      Knowingly accruing skill points isn’t really the issue. The bug worked whether anyone knew it was happening to them or not. Zero level of action was required by the user in that regard. Knowingly exploiting the defect to then profit, especially on some wide scale, is where it crosses the line into exploit. There is not a damn thing tyrannical about enforcing that. And while CCP may love the skill injector money, they also like PLEX money, of which they were deprived by those profiting from this exploit.

      June 16, 2017 at 3:27 pm
      • Data or it didn’t happen Dirk. Why don’t they just pull the plug? Why don’t they fix what is broken instead of ban those that take advantage of their awful programming?

        June 16, 2017 at 6:15 pm
        • Dirk MacGirk Cavin DeJordy

          Data of what? It’s existence? Like :tinfoil: this didn’t actually happen fakenews russian collusion witch hunt?

          I think they are having an issue with fixing it. I think that actually caused them to not address the issue when it was a dirty little secret because then it would shine a light on how long it was taking them to solve.

          We’ve been here before. Exploits happen and they close them down as they can. I would disagree that just because people can take advantage of something that is blatantly not intended, that they should be encouraged to do so by getting a free pass. If something becomes overly exploitative, willfully so, then they go after people. IRS style: someone gets to be Willie Nelson or Wesley Snipes to discourage others in the future.

          I highly doubt they are going after individuals who merely accrued SP at a faster rate than they should have, whether willful or not. I doubt they go after a single character that accrued and extracted using this method and profited. But for those who industrialized the exploit, which was a clear violation of the EULA even before they made an announcement, I just don’t have a lot of sympathy if they catch a sanction. This is a game where decisions have consequences. Nobody who did this at scale were ignorant of the potential consequences.

          Now to what degree will they go after them? Honestly, I wouldn’t ban over this. I’d find a penalty that suits the crime. Like burn the farm to 0 SP and then let them rebuild. No time off, don’t waste time following the money. Just burn the fields and let them replant using the appropriate mechanic.

          June 16, 2017 at 7:15 pm
  • DustVet

    I disagree with the author’s assessment of the retroactive nature of CCP’s announcement. When initially reading the text I, too, questioned whether they were going to apply impacts to players who ghost trained prior to the declaration – the language is somewhat ambivalent. But the preceding sentence,’This notification serves to inform pilots that as of the date and time stamp in its header, the use of Ghost Training is considered an exploit.’, makes the counter-argument unassailable. #yerwelcome

    June 16, 2017 at 12:16 am
  • A while ago I noticed that on some of my (subbed) accounts there were two characters training simultaneously. Was that related?

    June 16, 2017 at 2:46 am
  • Pew Pew

    What is ghost training? How did it work?

    June 16, 2017 at 9:19 am