Eight Supercarriers Lost Overnight by Suspected Bot-User

Submission 2018-01-11

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

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Comments

  • RaiderStu

    Players getting away with cheating in a game are just as likely to turn me off a game as an overly greedy publisher will. The majority of gamers play games within the rules and yet all too often a minority of cheaters are allowed to negatively impact on the majority. Even more frustrating is the fact that some of the non-cheaters would actively help and even enjoy tracking down and reporting (but this has to be acted on quickly) or destroying the cheats. The possibilities in Eve that already has a bounty system in place that could be rewarding players for killing bots are being sadly overlooked.

    January 11, 2018 at 10:15 am
    • Alaric Faelen RaiderStu

      Good point. I’d love it if hunting bots became a ‘career’ in Eve.

      CCP should issue a Bot Hunter skin for any player that destroys and reports a ship that is later proven by CCP (an acct ban) to be a bot.
      Everyone wins (well except the botter). CCP gets rid of a bot acct, players get content and a kill, and a shiny reward they can strut around in or sell for what would be a good price I imagine.

      January 11, 2018 at 4:35 pm
      • Arrendis Alaric Faelen

        This is a very interesting idea.

        Or persistent ‘Bot-killmarks’ that show up on every single ship you fly.

        January 12, 2018 at 2:09 am
        • Now this is a productive discussion. CCP should do lots of things they don’t or won’t. This is both. Maybe at Fanfest, CCP releases the in game names of all the bots they banned and retroactively gives rewards to those who kill them, like SKINS, permanent killmarks, exclusive portrait backgrounds, maybe special bot hunter edition black ops/ covert ops/ faction t3 subsystems or some such. Give us an incentive to police the game. Name and shame goes a long way. It helps alliance rental leaders decide who to kick and who to keep, it gives hunters names to actively hunt for, etc

          January 12, 2018 at 3:33 pm
  • Come on Asher. You and I both know that CCPardon will never do anything serious about botting. Especially with guys like this. It’s good for business because it keeps the subscription rate up. One person with 10 accounts? Fantastic! One person botting with one account? Oh he gets a cursory slap on the wrist because Team Security has to at least look like they earn their paychecks.

    January 11, 2018 at 12:29 pm
    • But do ccp really earn money from those bot accounts. They probably plex their accounts by the isks they make from botting. Ccp earn nothing from that kind of players. The accounts ccp earn thejr money from, are from those who are not fortune enough and need to buy plex with money instead

      January 11, 2018 at 3:39 pm
      • Arrendis Wessex Lighthelm

        Even if they PLEX their account, someone has to buy those PLEX in the first place. That means they’re keeping demand high.

        January 11, 2018 at 4:17 pm
        • My point is, the demand will only be among thos who are not gaining enough isk to be able buy a plex. Botters do not need to buy plex with real money since they got an abundance of isk to buy them with. Instead they get an unhealthy advantage to manipulate the market with, wich in the end, will hurt those players that does have a demand for buying plex eith money.

          January 11, 2018 at 4:33 pm
          • the more botters who buy plex with an ever increasing amount of isk make people who want to buy with real dollars buy more because they get more for their money. Remember when a plex was 300m? I do. CCP had to put sales up every 5 minutes to make people buy more plex. When was the last time CCP had a REAL sale on plex? Now that it’s at 1.7b ish for a month sub, People have no problem dropping $500 at a time for those big plex packages.
            In short your assumption is wrong. Botters are 100% good for CCPs bottom line.

            January 11, 2018 at 5:48 pm
          • grisix Panther X

            If they are such a good thing for CCPs bottom line, how come that botting tools are not included in the game for all players to bot?

            January 11, 2018 at 7:41 pm
          • You would have to ask them. We don’t have to ask how botters keep the economy active, nor do we have to ask about their economic impact; the subscription numbers speak for themselves. With all the bitter vets aging and leaving the game, and a minimal impact of Alphas, the there should be no question that CCP deliberately looks the other way on these big botters. Like I said, Team Sleeping at the wheel …I mean Security… only gives out bans (temporary ones would be my guess) to show the investors they are “being proactive” but how can they be? When was the last time a Capsuleer was “caught Live Streaming and banned while online” like in other games a la CSGO or LOL? Never happens.

            January 12, 2018 at 3:23 pm
          • Doughlas MacAlister Panther X

            Gigx was banned live if I recall.

            January 13, 2018 at 8:10 am
          • Gigx was also a special case. Most people don’t get caught on-stream.

            January 15, 2018 at 1:43 pm
          • Droidmarquee Marquee Panther X

            These botters are just selling the isk for real life money. So no.. they are not good for the bottomline. Someone else is getting paid when CCP should be.

            January 11, 2018 at 11:54 pm
          • so how do they keep their accounts active? If they sell 100%of their isk thru RMT, how do they keep the account open to bot?

            January 12, 2018 at 3:16 pm
          • The PLEX they buy with ISK has to come from somewhere. Someone had to pay CCP. That’s what Panther’s saying.

            January 12, 2018 at 3:35 pm
          • That is true, that calls inflation. In the end, you need to buy plex to afford anything, wich will gain CCP yes, but how long do you think players will continue to play Eve, if you must buy a plex to afford anything in the game?

            January 12, 2018 at 5:29 am
          • This. The more inflation there is in the EVE economy, the greater the temptation for a TOS-abider to say, “fuck ratting” and go drop realbux on a PLEX instead. The time required to obtain the amount of isk required for an in-game item goes up and up, while $15 is still $15. You might not pay $15 to avoid two hours’ work, but you’d probably spend $15 to avoid a hundred hours’ work.

            January 12, 2018 at 6:46 am
  • highonpop

    something something death to all supers

    January 11, 2018 at 2:33 pm
  • Alaric Faelen

    Once again the players are doing CCP’s job for them. Sort of like Karma and Horde basically being the new player experience CCP has failed to deliver for 13 years.
    It’s a good thing that Eve has such an amazing community of players behind it, because left to their own devices CCP would have run itself into the ground long ago.

    But hey, we got new chat bubbles on our screen. Glad to see where the devs put their time and effort……

    January 11, 2018 at 4:25 pm
    • BuckStrider Alaric Faelen

      But are we doing CCP’s job for them? I mean congrats to Hotline, but CCP isn’t serious or blatant shit like this wouldn’t exist. I’m really surprised that someone hasn’t stood up during the part of Fanfest where CCP is patting itself on the back on how many ‘botters’ or ‘RMTers’ they banned in the last year and scream ‘YOU LIE!’

      January 11, 2018 at 6:32 pm
      • Carvj94 BuckStrider

        They do actually ban a lot of accounts every year :p it’s just so easy to make new accounts/characters and their GM team is fairly small.

        January 12, 2018 at 9:13 am
  • Mindrago

    Well done guys.

    January 11, 2018 at 6:54 pm
  • DickDastardly

    CCP don’t care about botting or they could easily stop it.

    They have a record that you’re logged in and they have a record of your ip address.

    So all they need to do is collect all the logins coming from the same ip address and look at them. Clearly some will be legit where it’s a school/workplace or person with multiple accounts who is actually multiboxing so the next thing is to look at activity.

    If the accounts coming from the same ip address are mining and/or ratting 23.5 hours a day for more than one day it’s a BOT, ban them.

    Doing this would be trivial from a dev point of view as it’s just querying data that CCP already collect and store.

    January 11, 2018 at 11:29 pm
    • Carvj94 DickDastardly

      Sure but some people just have no life and just grind out isk with multiple accounts at once for 20 hours a day. Plus I’m guessing most bots don’t run more than 3/4 of a day so they don’t draw suspicion like that as stuff like that probably auto submits them for GM review. And even if your bots get ip banned you just need a VPN and some new accounts.

      January 12, 2018 at 9:25 am
  • This really infuriates me, actually. A long time ago I participated in a big wave of botting. This was during the beginning of the Great Supercap Proliferation that has now come to define nullsec play (end of 2011, I think). I ran one Tengu bot in the north for a couple of months when Fanfest time came around and CCP performed another one of their stat-inflating ban-waves so they could boast about how many botters they’d killed in their security powerpoint. This was at a time when a huge number of nullsec residents were botting for supers, including a lot of FCs and other prominent community members.

    Why do CCP consistently seem to enforce their TOS at random, spastic intervals like this? How can one person running a single Tengu bot be deemed offensive, while other people are allowed to bot for years at a time with double-digit numbers of supercapitals 23.75 hrs / day? How can their security team possibly be this inept? Why should I (or any other player) feel bad about cheating when CCP allow people to cheat to the tune of multiple billions per day?

    The only reasonable answer is that botting is simply good for CCP’s business. Have they simply identified a sweet-spot banning interval that maximizes botters’ spending on in-game items (either directly or through a proxy by using isk)?

    January 12, 2018 at 6:41 am
    • Carvj94 Ganthrithor

      Hard to ban everyone bro. I’m sure there’s a couple hundred new accounts made each day specifically to bot with. Then the creators just inject their way into a good ratting ship and send their bot to print isk. Of course they’d like to ban all bots as they pop up but it’s just not realistic.

      January 12, 2018 at 9:18 am
      • They have literally all of the data. How could identifying bots possibly be difficult for them?

        January 12, 2018 at 9:55 pm
        • TyroneCashmoney Ganthrithor

          Maybe having a huge amount of data to sift through is not the advantage you seem to think it is.

          January 13, 2018 at 10:58 pm
          • If it’s such a fucking technical hurdle, how come they can find an OCR bot that’s configured to only run a fraction of the day and uses randomized input delays to mimic human interaction, but they apparently can’t identify a fleet of Nyx alts that run 24/7 for years?

            January 15, 2018 at 6:08 am
          • Carvj94 Ganthrithor

            Many ways. Could be that your program was hooked right into the game window which is easy to detect as it pulls data from the client and acts as a special input device. Also maybe your randomized input delays were not as random as you think. Lots of “random” stuff in botting clients is actually just numbers generated based on the system clock which is SO common it’s easy for a auto ban program to see. While this Nyx dudes program could be scanning the image seen from game window (as in not directly using the output from the game client to make it’s decisions) and doing it’s inputs through mouse and keyboard manipulation. When it comes to botting there’s at least 3 completely different ways (input output wise) I know of that programs use to bot. Some can be detected by reading client logs and some need to be looked into quite a bit before they can be declared bots cause there’s no evidence.

            January 17, 2018 at 2:48 am
          • As I said, it was an OCR bot (Hbot)– it read the screen and performed mouse / keyboard inputs. It did not hook into the client in any way.

            Personally I think they just ran a script that looked at people’s hardware configuration, and banned anyone running EVE on a VM, probably by looking at the video driver in use.

            January 17, 2018 at 7:35 am
        • Carvj94 Ganthrithor

          It’s not a problem of data. It’s manpower. That data needs to be reviewed before a ban can happen. When it comes to bots they need to loot for patterns meaning it can take 10-20 minutes of looking at logs before they ban one account. Also with bots there’s a certain “equilibrium” a bottling player tries to keep a number of bots running at once regardless of ban. So if you ban all of someone’s bots they’ll more than likely have a fresh set of accounts to bot with literally the next day. Essentially the more they ban the more are created.

          January 16, 2018 at 6:10 pm
    • YOU are the problem and you have the bloody cheek to be infuriated because you got caught botting and this Nyx botter didn’t? How can one murder be considered bad when some other guy murdered several people and was never caught … that’s your logic? Jesus H Christ.

      January 12, 2018 at 10:38 am
      • RMT (both within and outside the scope of the TOS) is the problem, but CCP will refuse to do anything about it because it makes them a lot of money.

        If CCP cared about their customers’ experience, they’d operate exclusively on a subscription model and would aggressively identify and ban botters. Instead, they operate on a pay-to-win model and allow botters to drive inflation, which in turn results in more PLEX sales.

        I really don’t give a shit about whether botting is allowed or not allowed in the game. What pisses me off is CCP’s lackadaisical enforcement of their own policies when it suits their interests: I can’t run a bot around Fanfest time on my own account that I’ve paid sub fees on for ten years because I’ll get banned. But if I want to go out and buy a load of PLEX and skill injectors and make a slew of new accounts to bot with, that’s just fine and they’ll leave me alone for years.

        It’s bullshit.

        January 12, 2018 at 10:17 pm
  • ArtyD

    Maybe we should just end isk sales for plex in places like Jita and such…

    January 12, 2018 at 11:23 pm
  • FUCK YOU ASSHOLES!!! HE IS clearly not a bot, so please stop forcing this!!!!

    January 13, 2018 at 9:07 pm