Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thwarting a macro, part 1: No, CCP doesn't care. Also AFK cloaking.

For the last several months a couple of neutral macros have been hanging out in tenal, my alliance's carebear region, in the 7d- and t-k solar systems. I decided to do something about it. The players in our little drama are as follows:

1. Monki Payton. The 7d- macro. Flies a tengu, cloaks at a safe when someone enters system. Member of PROCE corp.
2. Kamem Chamem. The t-k macro. Identical to Monki Payton. Member of PROCE corp.
3. Killbill. A character in a PVP-fit tengu who is known to attack people who mess with the bots.
4. Ziystaszek. CEO of bots' corporation.
5. Enterprisse. Month-old newbie corp character, apparent logistics alt for macros. More about him in part 3.
6. CCP, who are apparently too busy releasing pve content to ban macros.
7. My carebear alts, who will be doing the thwarting.

On entering the bots' systems one can see tengus on dscan, until they safe up and cloak, and wrecks on scan show that they are belt ratters. Checking dotlan's system NPC kills graphs on several occasions revealed their usage pattern, indicating that that either they are macros or their owner has a habit of belt ratting without eating or sleeping for days at a time.

I do exploration for money, and doing this I run across hostiles quite a lot. IRC losers often rat in southern tenal, and it's not uncommon to see neutral macros in dead-end systems. Usually I just bypass them and keep going, and macros usually disappear after a few weeks.

These two, however, have been unusually persistent. I've petitioned them of course, and later learned that multiple others have done the same to no effect (which makes me feel like it was worth my time to earn all this money legitimately...). They are also more annoying than most macros, being located in a pipe which is important to my exploration circuit -- I don't really feel comfortable jumping my golem into a systems with hostiles in them.

One of my petitions

I'm okay for money right now and thought it would be interesting to thwart them. After an unproductive conversation with their CEO, in which he openly stated that they were macros (yes, I petitioned the screenshot too) I decided to start AFK cloaking. 0.0 ratting macros are programmed to safe up and cloak when another player is in the system, so all I have to do to stop their income stream is AFK cloak in the same systems.

CEO convo

Wine can be a little tricky when it comes to running multiple eve instances from the same installation, but after a little fiddling I was able to run two small clients inside a virtual desktop, on their own workspace, on my right-hand monitor, which is on a separate graphics card from my main monitor and thus does not affect performance. All I have to do is start the clients after downtime and occasionally check dotlan in case they get disconnected.

afk clients

T-K NPC kills history after 10 hours of afk cloaking

7d- NPC kills after 48 hours

That seems to work. The bots continue to be logged in 23 hours a day, but now they aren't making any money. Tomorrow in part 2 we will investigate both solar systems for hints about how the bots operate.

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