Thursday, 6 November 2014

Malma Bot - Part II

Shortly after posting my Market Bots article last week I received the following eve-mail from another player.
about your Market Bots article
From: Name withheld at sender's request
Sent: 2014.11.03 09:24
To: Moxnix Induli,
I just read your "market bots" blog entry, smiled really big, and wanted to share some private words of encouragement.
I petitioned that activity in Genesis, on 2012.08.21
It was closed with the standard "thank you - we'll investigate."
I wish you good luck with your petition.

All I do now is keep a few token buy orders active in Genesis, to cramp his profit. And watch with fading hope, for the day the next highest orders disappear.
I had too much time on my hands, and pressed hard on several orders at all hours.
In my original petition, i noted:  A real player is monitoring the activity.
Frequent buy order increases result in this player raising his usual increase amount, sometimes significantly.
This player will reduce market buy order amount if I "give up" and back down by a significant amount, and there is no other competition.

(not in the old petition, conjecture:)
One of my ship buy orders while "playing" with this... character... went over a threshold, and I was rapidly sold a ship.
I didn't name the name in my original petition, *because* it felt unprovable by me... I just listed a few orders and prices they could reference.
Then some time later, I got this, lol. Same character that sold a ship. Frequently seen in Malma ;)
Bounty placed on you
Sent: 2012.12.14 23:13
Name Withheld placed 50,000,000 ISK in bounty on your head.
I'm active nearly every day... and have lost only ONE ship since this bounty was placed ;)

That was about 2 years ago. I'm quite certain he's talking about the same bot I am since the one I ran across uses exactly the same methods described in this mail.

In other words, the Malma character has been obsessively guarding his business with near instant responses at all hours for at least 2 years. Sure sounds like a bot to me and I have a lot of experience fighting back against bots from back when I played that other game that's even more infested with auction bots than Eve is with market bots.

Though I didn't mention it in my original article (it's always a good idea to keep a few details secret in any investigation) I'm certain there's a real player monitoring the bot too. That's easy to tell when he suddenly raises his prices significantly, cutting by much larger amounts than usual, then goes right back to the usual near instant 0.01 ISK response on most items. Most items that is except the ones where I've already forced him over the bot's usual high price threshold settings.

Oddly enough (that's sarcasm btw) on those items his response is no longer near instant.

Having a few billion sitting in escrow doing basically nothing for the next 3 months (or 3 years if that's what it takes) forcing the bot to buy at, near or over Jita prices really isn't a big deal to me. Now let's see how long the bot can keep it up with his even larger buy orders. If he's bluffing, as they often are with high priced orders for large(ish) volume, it's going cost him a fair bit in lost broker fees when he finally realizes I'm not going away any time soon and cancels his orders.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The End of Skill Queue Online

Oceanus Phoebe is now live and with the patch comes something I've really been looking forward to, the changes to skills training, in particular the removal of the 24 hour limit to the skill queue.

I've been arguing for longer skill queues for some time but was only hoping for something like allowing 5 skills regardless of the time required to train them all, or maybe being able to add 1 more skill after the 24 hour limit was passed.

Needless to say I was very surprised (pleasantly so) when CCP unexpectedly announced they were removing the time limit for subscribed accounts entirely.

Finally, with a few limitations, I can set up long training queues taking weeks or months to complete without having to check and update the queue on a daily basis!

With 29 characters on 12 accounts (30 if I count a junk gathering character with almost no training) this is going to make training skills a whole lot less hassle for me. In fact it's an encouragement to start filling up the 6 empty character slots.

Trail accounts are still limited to 24 hours, subscribed accounts are not. The only limitations for subscribed accounts now are a maximum of 50 skills total allowed in the queue and the need to have any prerequisites trained before you can put a skill into the queue.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Market Bots

Something I've not mentioned much in the past because it's so hard to prove anything conclusively but Eve markets are thoroughly infested with bots. Cheaters using automated market posting software to constantly, perpetually undercut your sell orders and overcut your buy orders.

It's very difficult for us non-cheaters to prove anything especially since we don't know who's posting which orders unless we play into their hands by buying and selling to their orders just to get a name. Even then in a busy market with multiple orders around the same size it's nearly impossible to keep track of specific orders to figure out which ones are being updated too quickly/frequently and therefore must be bots.

Sometime it's a bit more obvious though. Like very large orders on the main hubs that continually get updated like clockwork all day, week, month, year long. But those are mostly big botters, the experienced "pros" who've been doing it for years. They aren't stupid enough to update too quickly, too frequently or leave any one bot logged in for too long so it's nearly impossible to prove they're bots.

Or even more obvious the obsessive cutter on some backwater station far off the beaten track in one of the less populous regions who's always there cutting your prices within seconds. You can log off for hours, days or even weeks but as soon as you log back in and modify a few prices he'll already be cutting the first ones before you finish the last ones. He'll easily go through 305 orders much faster than humanly possible.

Many of the bots are set so if they cut 3 times in row 5 minutes apart they'll take a break for 3 hours before cutting again. At least one of the Eve bot sellers mentions a feature where it "can tell when someone is screwing with it" and stop cutting for a while (default 3 hours no doubt).

Today I found a very obvious bot working out of Malma I - TransStellar Shipping Storage in Genesis region. I've been wondering for a while why I hardly get any ships from my buy orders on Apanake and Tar, especially since it's mostly just me and one other player buying them... I guess he ran all the rest of the competition off with obsessive, perpetual cuts.

I did have some minor problems with an obsessive cutter on other items in Genesis for a while until he finally realized he wasn't running me off that easy... Especially not on core items I've been working for a long time and know the markets for extremely well. Ships are a bit of a different story, my business in ships is very sporadic, so I didn't realize I was dealing with such an extremely persistent obsessive undercutter in the ship markets.

I finally got around to checking what was going on with my ship buy orders there today. I logged in and updated buy orders for 22 different ships (Mostly T2 and T3) then immediately double checked those same orders. It only took a minute or so to update them all, yet the first ones had already been cut again before I even finished. Long before the 5 minutes when I could modify my orders again was up, every single one of my orders had been cut.

I modified again as soon as possible. Once again the competition had most of them cut by the time I finished. I continued doing this 4 or 5 more times just to see if he'd stop after a few. No such luck, the cycle repeated multiple times over the rest of the day. After the first 5 or 6 times I didn't cut every 5 minutes, I mixed up my timing quite a bit, but I did cut 30 or 40 times in total throughout the day. Every single time, the bot had already cut the first orders before I finished and all of them within a minute or two.

At one point I logged out for 1.5 hours, logged back in, redid the same orders again and got the exact same too quick, too efficient response from the competition again... 3 times in a row 5 minutes apart. It's just not humanly possible to update orders as quickly as he does or to respond as consistently, efficiently and immediately as he does, especially not over long periods of time the way this guy does.

I've no doubt there's a market bot on Malma and he's so obvious about it even CCP should be able to recognize it this time. Hopefully he'll be gone shortly after CCP finally gets around to reading my ticket about it!

Monday, 27 October 2014

PLEX Report - Black Rise in October 2014

Following up on yesterday's post about PLEX breaking the 800 million ISK barrier recently here's an example of the business I've done so far this month on PLEX in just one region, Black Rise.

Business is hot and cold in Black Rise but I find it to be one of the better regions for my dabbling in the PLEX market. There isn't enough volume to attract the really obsessive bots so margins are often much better than on the main hubs.

So far in Oct I've bought 23 PLEX, sold 18 and I just put number 19 up for sale a few minutes ago. The other 4 were used to resubscribe accounts. I made good profits on all of them too with markups ranging from about 32 million up to about 74 million.

I wasn't using 0.01 ISK cuts either. Most of my cuts, especially on the higher priced sales, were in the millions of ISK. Many were cuts of 10 - 20 million and in some cases (like the ones that sold for 840 mil each) I cut by 40 or 50 million.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

PLEX Prices Break the 800 Million Barrier

I've been watching the PLEX market fairly closely since it hit about 750 million. There's plenty of speculation, hoarding and manipulation distorting the picture but the main thing I noticed was there seemed to be a point of resistance at just under 800 million. Call it a barrier, plateau or whatever, but we reached that price point around July of this year.

Speculators, hoarders and manipulators kept trying to push the price over 800 million but whenever it got much over 790 million daily volume would drop and the price would come right back down again. Then suddenly around the middle of October, some of those large blocking orders (big time manipulation) I've mentioned before got raised to 800 mil plus.

Since then the price has gone well over 800 million and so far it's stayed there, however volume has gone down too. It'll be interesting to see what happens next.

Will whoever's responsible for the blocking orders (I suspect the new Somer clone gambling/RMT sites) run out of cash to keep the price propped up?

Will real demand (consumers actually buying PLEX to use rather than for resale, hoarding or speculation) go down as long as prices remain high?

If prices remain high will demand remain down or will there be a resurgence in demand with prices continuing to rise until they hit the next point of resistance?

Edit: fixed some typos, PLEX prices are in the millions, not billions.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Emergent Gamplay - CCP's Rule of Thumb

So it was a slow night in local chat. Somehow the topic had turned to how some things were inexplicably considered "emergent gameplay" while other similar things were considered exploits.

Me, being kind of bored, I just had to throw my 2 cents into the conversation. I said
CCP has a rule of thumb for that. If doing it means you're being an asshole then it's emergent gameplay and that's ok, but if not then it's an exploit and you'll get banned for it.
The funny thing is, even though I was being sarcastic and I doubt it's intentional on CCP's part, there is a lot of truth to that statement.

Bump a miner... Emergent gameplay
Bump a hauler... Emergent gameplay


Sunday, 12 October 2014

Grinding Eve Standings - The Standing Correction Agency

I've been doing a lot of standings grinding lately to lower broker fees.

For faction standings like Caldari State I've been doing Data Center missions (mostly pirate tag turn-ins) which give some fairly substantial standings increases.

For corporation standings (Caldari Navy for example) the usual way is to do missions for the corporation in question. However, unlike with faction standings, corporation standings can be shared with anyone in the same fleet. You don't have to help them do the mission. You don't even have to be in the same system or region. You can be sitting in a station while AFK, all you have to do is be in fleet with them, which means you can hire someone else to the grinding for you.

I did some searching and quickly found a service that specializes in grinding corporation standings. TSCA (The Standing Correction Agency)  has a very good reputation so I decided to give them a try.

The Standing Correction Agency is a business which provides personal standing increases via fleet mechanics for clients. Their normal service is for standings up to 8.0 with corporations only, for example with Caldari Navy, Home Guard, or Ministry of War, but not faction standings like Caldari State or Amarr Empire.

Beyond that, if you want faction standings or corporation standings beyond 8.0 you can always try talking to them about it. They might agree to do it but only on an individually negotiated basis.

After having TSCA grind standings for me on 2 different characters, Republic Security Services 1.5 to 3.0 on one character and Caldari Navy 1.52 to 8.0 on another, I'm very pleased with the service. Everyone involved was courteous, professional and efficient, right from the initial contact with Imiarr Timshae all the way through to the end with the two pilots who did the actual grinding.

I was particularly happy with the Caldari Navy grind. I expected it to take at least a week and probably longer but it only took 3 days. It did help that they had two pilots with 2 characters each working on it for me. Many thanks to Tovar and Drake for getting that done so quickly and for being so friendly during the entire process.

I will almost certainly be using TSCA again in the future and very highly recommend them to anyone else looking for help grinding standings!

BTW, are machs FoTM now? I've been seeing them all over the place lately.