Editor’s Note: this article comes to us from Asher Elias.
In one of the most remote regions of Eve Online, a suspected botter lost eight Nyxes over a period of four hours. What makes the losses extremely puzzling at first glance is the fact that these extremely strong ships were brought down by a small gang of relatively pedestrian sub-capitals. However, as the night went on, more and more Nyxes died to the same small group, in the same region, all with the same fit. What had happened became clear: a ratting bot (a program that automates the activity of making ISK) either broke, or a vulnerability was found.
The Nyxes were caught by a small wormhole group named Hotline K162, members of which live out of C2 wormhole and rolled their hole into Omist. The first Nyx was caught by Stu Miner, who saw the anomaly that the Nyx was ratting in. Since it warped out as soon as he entered the system, he anchored a small bubble, logged off, and waited. After some time had passed, he logged back in and found the Nyx ratting dutifully inside the bubble. It had returned to the same site and made no effort to destroy or leave the bubble. When Stu logged back in, the Nyx pulled in fighters, but made no other move to leave the bubble. The Hotline crew was summoned, and eleven members flying subcapitals killed the trapped supercarrier. Because its tank was so poor, it took less than ten minutes to destroy it. During this time, the Nyx did not attempt to kill them, or move.
Omist space is owned by Kids with Guns alliance, a renter group who pay whoever lives nearby a suzerain tribute to maintain control of their rental region. This differs from most rental setups where a major alliance controls the space and then personally rents it out. Omist is a region utterly lacking in strategic value, and it was almost destined to become a rental region given how extremely hard Omist is to service logistically.
Hotline celebrated its big kill and was ready to call it a night, but sometime after they noticed more and more Nyxes in Omist were ratting—and they were all in the same corporation. Now almost certain this was the same botter they had just killed, Hotline pilots began laying more traps and perfecting their method of execution. The bot would wait eight minutes, then log back in and return to the same ratting site it had left, only now it would return to their prepared bubbles. The bot never defended itself. Hotline was initially concerned after the Nyx appeared to lock them up, but they later reasoned that the owner had never turned off the auto-target feature in the client.
Over the next four hours, Hotline K162 rampaged through Omist, killing eight Nyxes. Based on the zkillboard.com ISK-to-dollar conversion ratio, roughly two thousand dollars of supercarriers went down the tube, assuming they were bought entirely from dollar-to-PLEX conversion. They found two more, but as their exploits started hitting Reddit, chatter about the bot-driven Nyxes was flying all over Eve. Perhaps the owner (who appears to be Russian or Ukranian) simply woke up at this time, or perhaps a friend saw the news and contacted them. Either way, the bot owner came back to their computer to quite a shock, but was able to save at least two more Nyxes before Hotline could secure the kills.
I spoke with O’nira from Hotline K162. He told me that he had rolled his hole into these Nyxes many times before over the last year, and had just assumed they were separate Russian players who had no life and ratted all the time because he saw them in all time zones. Instead, we found out that one player had at least 10 Nyxes botting brazenly throughout the day. When one considers that a moderately competent human in a shekel fit like this can easily get ticks of one hundred million ISK, you begin to see the staggering amount of ISK this person was harvesting; ten Nyxes could easily bring in three billion ISK an hour. This is more than many players make in an entire month.
Also what is shocking is how badly programmed a bot this player was using. Many players who have attempted to log-off trap droneland botting Gilas have seen how they won’t warp back to an anomaly if there is a warp disruption bubble on d-scan, and some bots will never warp back to the same anomaly they previously left. It’s fair to say that if this player had used even a slightly more competent bot, Hotline may have never even caught a single Nyx.
Still, at three billion ISK an hour, and at least a year of ratting, this player has paid off their investment many times over. A monumental amount of ISK has entered the EVE economy that can only hurt any player not using these methods. Every ISK created by this botter is devaluing what players already own through ISK inflation. One can see how the price of PLEX has continued to creep up, and wonder how much players like this contribute to the rise. The Monthly Economic Report shows that the amount of ISK created has gone up a staggering amount since new carrier and super-carrier mechanics were introduced.
If CCP cannot catch a blatantly incompetent botter doing an action that is impossible for one person to do (ratting in 10 Nyxes in different systems at the same time) while they do so for over a year, how many more sophisticated bots are slipping through the cracks? Especially with the recent influx of Chinese players who came from a server notorious for botting, what assurances do the long-time EVE players have that their effort put into raising ISK won’t be dwarfed by another person who is playing dirty pool? Lastly, and most worryingly, how much evidence does the average player have to see that their honest efforts are being nullified by the most inept cheaters that CCP seems resolved to ignore and take their account fees before they decide that they have to join the race to the bottom so as not to be put terribly behind the baseline of success?
Special thanks to O’nira and Diaje for providing important details to this story and who tried to bring their Imps in to kill the final two nyxes but were disappointed not get better mememails