Sure, Let's Kill All the Bots

Right now the EVE playerbase is up in arms at the huge prevalence of unrestricted "botting" in the game. It's miners they are noticing most, apparently. I've seen a report of an explo bot; many folks over the years have reported station-trader bots.

To be fair, the miner-bots folks are finding are stupid and obvious, and should be easy bans for CCP. I applaud efforts to get CCP to police their game in basic ways.

That said, there's just no feasible way to get rid of bots in EVE, or even cut them down much. It's hopeless.

I suspect it would take me about three weeks of solid work to:

  • Grab one of the neural net kits off the web.
  • Grab OpenCV, or better yet just hack up the client, which I understand is written in good ol' Python.
  • Build a bot which plays better than many miners out of the gate, and learns to play better as it goes.
  • Make enough ISK over the succeeding months that I would never have to worry about paying CCP again. Heck, enough ISK that RMT might actually be worth the risk.

We're talking about a game for which literally tens of millions of lines of support code has been written by players. I am not unique.

I wish I had a solution to offer here, but anything I can think of I can pretty much shut down.

The fatal flaw in the design of EVE is "effort-based" play. I am so dang tired of pushing the "jump" button in this game that it has almost made me quit a bunch of times. It's just stupid: apparently a society with hundreds of teraflops of computing on each spaceship can't figure out how to build an autopilot that will land on gate. It's just stupid that no engineer in this vast advanced spaceship universe has figured out how to save a PI configuration for later "one-click" use. It's just stupid that 0.01-ISKing the markets is even a thing. I could keep going, but you get the point.

We just ignore it, because what can you do. You play the game as it is given, and put in the "effort" when you need to in order to have fun. If you live in a first-world country and have a life, you periodically send CCP some extra IRL cash as intended to avoid having to worry about making the ISK you need to have fun.

There are only two remedies I can think of that make any sense:

  • Give up. Provide API interfaces that allow doing all the effort things, and just make this a game played by botters with occasional human input. Completely rebuild the economy so that even bots experience risk-reward.

  • Make all the ISK-making activites AI-complete. Building truly smart bots is hard, so make it harder to make a money-making bot than to actually play.

Both are ridiculously epic undertakings at this point, so good luck with that. I for one want to be the first to welcome our new-not-new bot overlords.