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Botting vs no-life: the core problem of botting and RMT

May 12, 2014

Nosy gamer reported a funny exchange during Fanfest: “One player wondered why not just go after the people running level 5 missions and other high value content who don’t buy anything and just transfer the ISK to other characters. One of the PL guys shot back that he’s run 30 level 5 missions in a day, does that make him a bot?”

If you think about it, it’s not that funny after all, rather a design problem. Whatever way you make money, you already paid its fixed costs: you have the account(s), skills, ships, structures, group membership, capital, whatever needed to get your income running. For example the miner has mining and boost account, skilled and equipped with ships. These are upfront costs, you have to pay them before you make a single ISK. However after you have them, you have very little running costs, besides your own time. This means that the more hours you run your ISK making operation, the more efficiently you make ISK. Again the miner example: you have to pay 700M/month for the account running. If you mine with 20M/hour, than your income for the first 35 hours is zero. If you mine 70 hours a month, you get 10M/hour. If you mine 10 hours a day, you get 17.7M/hour.

The above scheme makes no-life playing the optimal way of getting ISK. Since others recognized it (like the PL guy in the example), they can easily market you out, to the point when you are better off not setting up an ISK making scheme, just convert PLEXes. With the example: a miner who doesn’t mine 35 hours a month (more than an hour/day) can’t even pay for his mining account. If your competitors are no-lifers, than your options are “go no-life”, “pay with real money” and “be irrelevant”.

Obviously mining, missioning, ratting or even updating market orders for 10 hours a day is anything but fun. But you have to do it to remain competitive. The solution? Get a bot! For the Monday post I ran a farm for lot of hours. Despite the farm was designed exactly for as little human interaction as possible, I very much wished to get a bot do it for me (I didn’t of course as I won’t lose my account for one-time farm). The mentioned farm also made it clear how repetitive and simple EVE PvE is and how horribly easy it would be to program a bot to do it.

Botting cannot be defeated as long as it’s the only way for people who don’t have 10 hours a day to farm or several hundred dollars a month to spend on a video game. My 40-50B/month translate to $1000-1200, you have to pay that to be able to do the stuff I do. Or you can rat 4-500 account-hours a month, because learning to trade is “not fun”.

The solution of the problem is that the honest answer to the question of the PL guy is “yes, you are a bot and this must stop”. Several MMOs faced the same problem and solved it with lockouts. You can’t farm the “Siege of Orgrimmar” raid in WoW all day to get the best available gear. You can run it once a week and that’s it. This places a limit on no-life farming. The same could be implemented in EVE. I suggest an account-wide pool and daily replenishment rate for the 5 forms of PvE:

  • Mining: 21 hours pool, 3 hours/day replenish. While any mining or gas harvesting module is active, your pool is depleted. When the pool is empty, you can no longer activate miners.
  • Shooting NPCs: 21 hours pool, 3 hours/day replenish. While any offensive module is cycling or drones are in combat against an NPC, you are depleting your pool. When it’s empty, killing NPCs yield no bounty, finish no mission and gives no wreck. You can manually lock your pool to prevent belt or gate rats eating it, but of course you get no rewards for killing them with pool locked. The lock-unlock has 15 minutes delay to prevent “smart” players pick battleships and then lock out low-bounty rats.
  • Exploration: 280 items pool, 40/day replenish. Whenever you start the hacking minigame on a new container, you use one item from the pool. If the pool is empty, you cannot activate relic or data analyzer.
  • Trading: 2100 orders pool, 300/day replenish. Whenever you create or or update a market order, your pool is depleting. When it’s empty, you can’t create or update orders. Buying an existing sell order or selling to a buy order does not affect the pool.
  • Courier contracts and distribution missions: 700 jumps pool, 100/day replenishment. Every session change count as one jump if you have mission or contract package in the hold. If you are autopiloting, the pool no longer decreases after the first 5 jumps, as autopiloting doesn’t need you to run a bot or be a no-lifer.

With such changes, no-life playing would become impossible. As no one else is playing no-life, you don’t have to either to remain competitive. In the absence of no-life playing, there would be no activity worth botting. Also the game would become much-more casual friendly as the profits of a normal playing session would no longer be pocket change compared to no-lifers and bots. But above all, the ISK making aspects would become a competitive game instead of a grind. Finding the best asteroids would matter for a miner, instead of just “can’t care less, I mine all day anyway”.

– Gevlon Goblin

PS: I knew it’s not a waste of time looking up smaller CFC members. Special thanks to Marlona Sky for the list!
Update: evidence that loot fairy is a CFC supporter!
Finally a small, but symbolic kill.