Saturday, 29 November 2014

CCP hits out at ISBoxer

On Tuesday a forum post by CCP Falcon outlined CCPs new stance on multiboxing.  Most of this was just a reiteration of long standing policies, multiboxing is allowed, no botting.  the interesting change however was on input broadcasting.  From January 1st 2015 input broadcasting will be considered automation and will result in bans.

Based on the discussion in this area and our will to be more clear and concise with the community regarding this part of our rules, we have decided to also apply this two-strike policy to prohibited forms of Input Broadcasting and Input Multiplexing as of January 1st 2015.
We would like to add, however, that we will not be taking action retroactively and will only be policing this policy as of January 1st, 2015.

For those that are unaware, input broadcasting is any means of making a button press or click affect multiple clients.  Unlike botting, this requires a player to be at their PC and to be controlling the client manually, but able to simultaneously click multiple clients.  The most common use of this was mining, where a player could control multiple miners all firing their lasers at the same time, stripping out belts in no time. More recently it's been used for bombing runs allowing a single player to run fleets of bombers which is probably why it's come under more fire.

But is it the right way to go about it?  Read the forums and you'll see the change has a lot of support.  There's certainly a lot of the usual morons screeching about "the tears" who can pretty much be disregarded from word one, but there's also a lot of players suggesting this will somehow benefit the game.  But will it really?  Are they fixing a problem or are they just treating a symptom?  Mining fleets exists because mining is boring and on a small scale unrewarding.  Bomber fleets exist because the mechanics around bombing make them able to crush whole subcap fleets in short order.  Whether the fleets are controlled by multiple people, a single person manually or a single person with broadcasting software is irrelevant.

And many of the multiboxers won't be stopping.  They already have to sit there working their fleet, it's not automated like a bot, and so adding in having to alt tab between clients really isn't going to have any effect on any but the largest multiboxers.  Fleet warping will still mean you can move fleets around with relative ease so from a mining point of view the only thing that has changed is that firing at the rock has to be done client by client.  The guys dreaming of all the ice that is suddenly going to be available for their single man mining operation are completely out of touch with reality.

Amusingly, it's likely that from the multiboxers up to around 20 clients, there will actually be an increase in efficiency.  The thing is, broadcasting keys is not entirely efficient.  It takes a lot of work to make sure you aren't firing 20 lasers at a rock with a single unit of ice in it meaning that at best a broadcasting miner will be getting around 85% efficiency (that is isk gained vs potential maximum yield), while a manually controlled one can generally be over 95%.  The reason people use broadcasters is because the amount of effort they have to put in to get their best efficiency is considerably less than doing the same manually.

Overall I think this is going to have minimal long term impact on that actual gameplay at the cost of a fair few subs controlled by the largest multiboxers who are understandably upset.  Nobody really would have cared at all if this was the decision made a few years ago when decisions about multiboxing were being made.  A lot of the upset over this is that it's just another example of CCP saying one thing then doing a complete 180 when enough carebears cried about it.  For years CCPs stance has been that input broadcasting is fine as long as it's not automated, so some of the larger multiboxers have gone out of their way to run these fleets on a massive scale, all within the rules.  Now they are being told that it's no longer allowed, destroying their entire playstyle.

It's not the first time this has happened and it won't be the last.  CCP need to take a serious look at their rules and actually make coherent rules that get enforced.  Take for example cache scraping.  It's actually against the EULA, yet rather than banning for it, CCP allow it, and further are looking at ways to bypass it using API.  Another prime example is EVE-radio, who run a for-profit business out of EVE, and have an official channel in game instead of just being shut down for using accounts for business purposes.  People wouldn't complain so much if the rules made sense and were actually enforced, rather than changing on the whim of a handful of CCP devs.


  1. Well, this decision does make CCP's rules more coherent. Good for them.

    Similarly, with Crest they are moving to a point where they can actually ban cache-scraping. So I think they also want to be more consistent, it's just technically a challenge.

    For a data point on the effect of ISBoxer on the game, PLEX just dropped from almost 1b to just over 800m. This may be a blip, or it may not be.

    1. Sure, this time round they've gone with a bit more coherence, but at the cost of doing a complete 180 on a rule they've explicitly stated in the past.

      Delivering market data isn't a technical issue. They already deliver the data to clients when you click in game on an item. Delivering that to a different endpoint is not issue, they are still discussing if they should. That doesn't change though that it is against the rules and yet you won't get banned for doing it. Either it's against the rules or it's not.

      Plex will drop as some multiboxers ragequit and the largest scale multiboxers size down, and through speculation. It'll bounce back once the usual panic from changes settles. Once people realise that this is a small change and that multiboxing fleets aren't going anywhere it'll all ease back to normal and the vocal minority will back back to complain about the next thing they feel hard done by. I'm guessing wardecs will be next.