Archive for the Developers! Developers! Developers! Category

Finding stations with multiple locator agents

Posted in Developers! Developers! Developers! on March 12, 2013 by paul

So uh, been a while, eh? I’m back and stirring up trouble, but the details on that are for another post.

While engaging in wardec shenanigans with Skunkworks (whose Fearless Leader, Psychotic Monk, should totally get your CSM vote, despite him being Canadian and terrible), I had need of locator agents. Not having used them before, I was pointed to Zedrik Cayne’s excellent locator finder. This was very handy, but not quite what I needed for just posting an alt on a station to run locates. What I wanted was a pointer toward a station that had multiple agents, so I could take a look at those agents and direct any standings-grinding or character-buying most efficiently. The advice I was given was to go to the locator tool, enter 6.0 for all factions, and scroll. This is doable, but since there are 500+ L3 and L4 locators in New Eden, my attention was going to be strained to find just ONE such locator-rich station, much less ALL of them.

(Skip to the next paragraph if you aren’t interested in the technical details.) So I brushed off my Python not-skills and wrote a quick script which you can find on Pastebin. It’s designed to be used with this CSV list of all L3 and L4 agents, shamelessly lifted from Zedrik’s site. It spits out a list of every station containing more than one locator.

There’s 46 stations in New Eden with two locators inside. Sadly, I wasn’t able to find any stations that have more than two locators. This list doesn’t tell you the names of agents or their faction, but it should get you started, and maybe someone else will do a little more work. For me, this is just enough to be useful with only a small amount of effort.

I make no claims to competence or correctness. If I somehow didn’t start with the right data, it’s possible that this may be incorrect. If that’s the case, I hope that someone else will correct my shoddy work and post their results. There’s definitely room for improving the file by adding factions or levels in each station. Maybe there’s systems with more than two locators, but no more than one locator per station?

CCP Layoffs: Do players share responsibility?

Posted in CCP, Developers! Developers! Developers! on October 19, 2011 by khalia

Fellow blogger Jester wrote an article earlier today about the CCP layoffs. However, he indicated some EVE players might be included in the responsibility for 114 people losing jobs:

One last thing: in a very real sense, EVE’s players have to accept a measure of responsibility for this as well. Back in June, when unsubs were at their peak, I wrote:

In context, we know that over the weekend, some 4500 EVE subscriptions have been cancelled and the number is still climbing. That’s $67,500 U.S. per month, or enough money to imperil the jobs of 15 or more CCP developers. There’s no question that CCP has to respond to “what their players are doing.”

Now, this does not not not mean that I’m laying today’s actions at the feet of EVE unsubscribers. As I said, today’s announcement was caused by CCP management biting off more than they could chew. Simple as that. Still… the choices you make in EVE always have a consequence. I think I heard that somewhere.

I took some exception to this, and wrote back the following:

You should have just left the comments about players out of this; otherwise a well-written and informative article.

Players having any ‘responsibility’ on the employment of the developer is about as accurate as saying drivers who switch from Ford to Dodge are responsible for lost jobs at Ford.

Jester then published a follow up article, quoting me and another commenter:

I tried twice in the comments to make it clear that I didn’t mean everyone that unsubbed or was vocal about CCP’s mistakes this year. Just the small majority that was turning CCP’s actions into a personal affront against them. I guess I wasn’t being clear. Stabs did a great job of responding to Khalia, making it clear what I meant:

In this case though the customers stood outside the Ford showrooms telling people Ford were evil and they shouldn’t buy.

It only applies to a small (but vocal) minority but the people who unsubbed and screamed all over the internet about how terrible Eve was and how everyone should unsub as a point of principle DID contribute to this crisis.

Yup, better than I put it myself. Those were the people I meant. Thanks, Stabs!

Now, to be clear, I think Jester is a great writer and don’t have anything against him, I just disagree with this point of view. Here is my response, in case he chooses not to publish my follow-up comment (his blog comments are moderated – MLYT doesn’t moderate comments),

Honestly, I don’t think the “CCP are evil” folks are don’t anything wrong either. It is a customer’s right to complain about a company, and a freedom of speech right (in countries sane enough to have that right) for them to do so.

Put it another way: If you stand outside Walmart with a sign and protest the company, are you responsible when Walmart closes a store or lays people off?

Stabs said: ” … people who unsubbed and screamed all over the internet about how terrible Eve was and how everyone should unsub as a point of principle … ”

Exactly. As a point of principle. What better way to send a message to CCP then to encourage other people not to play? Players wanted EVE better. CCP hired people that didn’t achieve this goal. They got dropped. CCP’s fault, no one else’s.

What do you think, readers?

CCP To Lay Off 20% Of Staff

Posted in CCP, Developers! Developers! Developers! on October 19, 2011 by khalia

In completely expected news, CCP today announced they are laying off around 20% of staff mainly from the World of Darkness project.

The key point in this press release is below:

For the immediate future, our mission is to enrich the vast EVE Universe by strengthening the continuous development of EVE Online while preparing to bring DUST 514 to market on the PS3. We do this in order to realize our ambitious and challenging plan of joining the two in a cross-platform, truly massive online world.

World of Darkness will continue development with a significantly reduced team. This team will continue to iterate and expand on the gameplay and systems they have designed. We will also redeploy creative teams in Atlanta to support the launch of DUST 514.

I can only hope CCP’s senior management will take the hint from the flat-lined player count and drop the WoD and DUST514 projects entirely.

CSM/CCP Emergency Summit Results

Posted in Developers! Developers! Developers! on July 2, 2011 by khalia

Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
– Macbeth

You can read the CCP and CSM statements here and see the video chat between The Mittani and Arnar here.


CCP Statement

* CCP didn’t mention Hilmar’s email at all. I expected at least a statement from him, acknowledging that he was aware players were unhappy and was commited to fixing things. I would have been really impressed by an apology. CCP: -10 points

* “CCP acknowledges that the reaction following the leaked internal communication could have been handled better. Good communication and trust between CCP and the EVE community has always been a fundamental priority for CCP and will continue to be so.”

Is it that hard to write “we apologize”? I expected more humility. CCP: -5 points

* “It is CCP‘s plan that the Noble Exchange (NeX store) will be used for the sale of vanity items only. There are no plans, and have been no plans, as per previous communication and CSM meetings, to introduce the sale of game breaking items or enhancements in the NeX store.”

I’m sorry guys, but after we hammered and hammered and hammered on this issue, “no plans and have no plans” is just not good enough. We expected “will never be”. CCP: -50 points

* “CCP acknowledges that communication surrounding the launch of the virtual goods store should have been better. To address that, we will write up dev blogs that explain the pricing strategy of the NeX store and the price tiering system. We will also communicate that we intend to put the focus on further fleshing out the lower price range and give visual examples of upcoming items.”

Stop acknowledging, and start apologizing. No statement that $70 monocles and $30 pants are not micro-transactions, they are stupid. CCP: -5 points

* “The CSM raised concerns with performance running multiple clients after the Incarna launch where the minimum hardware spec will only support one client logged in when in a station environment. CCP will work on creating a minimum hardware spec that supports multiple clients, but wants it to be clear that the current minimum specification aims at single client with low settings.”

What about “acknowledging” the heat issues created? Also, “wants it to be clear” translates as “multiboxing clients are low on our priority list”. CCP: -10 points

* The CSM helped CCP understand the emotional connection players had with „ship spinning”. They vehemently demanded the return of the feature, which CCP committed to introduce in some form at a future date. Until that functionality is added back in, the option to load station environments will remain in the Settings menu.

“Committed to introduce in some form at a future date”. My head just exploded from vagueness overload. So we might get a low-res, bad copy of the original in 2014? That would be accurate according to the above. Expected: “Will be returning in a patch in the next 3 months.” CCP: -10 points

* No mention of CCP about the $99 Eve license issue. Yes, this should have been included, as it was a serious issue of discussion in the last week. CCP: -5 points.

* No mention of the Fearless/Greed newsletter issue. CCP: -2 points

CSM Statement

* “Captain’s Quarters: We discussed the hardware and lighting issues within the CQ and we were satisfied that they were being addressed. We were pleased when Torfi announced that the current “Disabled Incarna Door” will be replaced with an environment that will provide similar functionality and performance to the pre-Incarna Hangar, and this environment will be available until Incarna performance is similar to pre-Incarna performance. While the final details and timelines have not been worked out, ships will once again spin all over New Eden.”

CSM gets points for going into more detail that CCP, but loses them by only getting “will be replaced with an environment that will provide similar functionality”. We want the original ship spinning back. CSM: -5 points

* “Noble Exchange Rollout Debacle: We were shocked and appalled to discover how badly the planning and implementation of the Noble Exchange was executed. Despite the fact that they did not have enough assets of the right types to do a proper rollout, they launched anyway. The CSM believes that if CCP had properly communicated the details of their vanity goods pricing strategy and had sufficient low-tier items available at launch, the controversy would have been greatly reduced. CCP will issue a dev blog in the near future explaining their vanity goods strategy and how it will be implemented in the Noble Exchange.”

We know all this; where’s the meat? That CCP will give us a dev blog? CSM: -10 points

* “Game-affecting Virtual Goods: We are convinced that CCP has no plans to introduce any game-affecting virtual goods, only pure vanity items such as clothing and ship skins. We have been repeatedly assured that there are no plans for ‘gold ammo’, ships which have different statistics from existing common hulls, or any other feared ‘game destroying’ virtual goods or services. We have expressed our deep concern about potential grey areas that the introduction of virtual goods permits, and CCP has made a commitment to discuss any proposals that might fall into these grey areas in detail with CSM at the earliest possible stage.”

I’m glad you’re convinced, but players want a concrete statement that game-mechanic virtual goods will NEVER be introduced. This was THE KEY ISSUE and you missed getting the commitment from CCP that players wanted. Close enough is not good enough. CSM: -50 points

* “The Fearless “Greed is Good?” Leak: We accept CCP’s position that Fearless is a deliberately controversial internal publication and does not represent the policy of CCP Management or of CCP Zulu, the Senior Producer of EVE Online, nor the direction of game design. ”

No problems here, I think only the most crazy conspiracy theory guys disbelieve this.

* “The Leaked Hilmar Global Email: We were appalled by the leaked Hilmar email and the atrocious and out-of-touch messaging it contained. We sympathize and agree with those players offended and disgusted by it.”

Nice language. I notice that Hilmar never shows up anywhere, and that you haven’t called on him to apologize or make a statement. CSM: -2 points

* “Arnar (CCP Zulu)’s Angry Friday Blog: We were disappointed by the tone taken in Arnar’s Blog, but we understand that he was in a state of extreme agitation and reacting to the leaks coming from within his company, which he saw as a breach of trust. While we may disagree with some of his decisions, we are united in our support of Arnar as the Senior Producer, and were pleased with his followup Apology Blog. We hope that his statement today will begin to restore your trust in his leadership and vision.”

No content here.

* “We believe that the situation that has unfolded in the past week has been a perfect storm of CCP communication failures, poor planning and sheer bad luck. Most of these issues, when dealt with in isolation, were reasonably simple to discuss and resolve, but combined they transformed a series of errors into the most significant crisis the EVE community has yet experienced.”

I believe part of this, but I also believe that CCP hasn’t come clean with enough humility, nor have they made statements strongly enough for me. I was hoping the CSM would get this out of them.

CCP score: -97 points
CSM score: -67 points

Losers: Players.

Macro Miners and Some Ideas

Posted in Developers! Developers! Developers!, The More You Know on June 18, 2011 by khalia

If you haven’t already, go have a listen to the most recent Fly Reckless, where our very own Paul is a featured guest. It’s pretty funny (shout out to drunk Angus!), but they do cover some serious topics, including macro miners.

As mentioned in the podcast, Eve’s in-house economist, Dr. Eyjólfur “Eyjo” Guðmundsson (good luck pronouncing that), recently made a statement that banning all macro miners would crash the EVE economy. I’d like to be able to provide the source for this, but I couldn’t find it on the Google. Any reader who wants to take up this challenge will get some sort of bonus from me.

The idea of a “market crash” is that without the large supply of minerals supplied by macro miners, prices on everything would rise sharply. This would cause players to leave the game, is the theory, because they wouldn’t be able to buy things. I’m not sure this is actually the result. As supply drops, demand rises, driving costs of minerals up – and suddenly mining becomes more profitable. More players move into mining, and the prices stabilize. They just never return to the same prices as possible by large number of botters running 23/7.

I don’t think this is a bad thing. Mining is the redheaded stepchild of careers in EVE. Nothing is more boring than mining. It currently returns barely enough ISK to self-support an account by buying PLEX. A solid L4 missioner can pull in 50m or more an hour once they get some experience. Boosting the value of mining is to be considered a good thing, even if causes short-term havoc on the market. It also acts to drive up costs of everything – which in my mind is good. Make losing that T2 ship more painful. Better game play, more stress, more emotional investment.

My opinion on macro mining is slightly different than most. I do not think all macroers can ever be detected and eliminated. In order to determine the difference between a bot and a real person, you need a real person; computer’s can’t do it. The next smarter bot will just break the existing computer solution. Killing bots doesn’t scale well – it takes too many people and man hours.

The better solution is to make macro mining unprofitable – in real life. We know that macros are used to generate ISK which is then sold in RMT (real money transactions) to make real cash. If we can drop the value returned by macros below the point where it’s worthwhile for people to run the bots (and pay PLEX for accounts) then they’ll stop doing this and start doing something else.

My proposed solution has two components: It uses a method that penalizes macros more than regular players, and doesn’t break immersion. A key attribute of macros is that they can run non-stop; a lot of macros will run for 23 hours a day, 7 days a week. Slightly more clever ones will run for 18 hours and then take 6 hours off, and start again. At the same time, we know that very, very few real players actually mine non-stop for these volumes of time. They might do it once in a while, but for a month on end? No way. (If you do, I am so so sorry for you. Seriously.) We can’t just say anyone mining more than 18 hours a day is a bot, because we may actually catch a person actually doing this. The more hours you accumulate mining per month, however, the more likely you look like a bot.

We start by adding a new counter to every account (not just player, to prevent player switching on an account), and this is amount of time mining laser has been activated in the past 30 days. This value is incremented while the player has any mining laser active (but only once, no matter how many lasers active), which won’t be hard to program. This gives us an idea of how much this account mines.

Let’s take an average player miner, and say he mines for 2 to 4 hours a day, five days a week. Over a month this gives us 40 to 80 hours a month (or less, as mining lasers aren’t always active, but you get the idea). These guys shouldn’t get any penalty. Now go up to the really hardcore player miners, a very small bunch. Say they mine for 6 to 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. That’s 144 to 192 hours a month. Some of these guys might actually be bots, so we want to penalize them, but not much. Again, this is going to be a very small group. Who do you know that mines 8 hours a day 6 days a week? Above 192 hours a month we become increasingly sure that the account is a bot. A full-on, 23/7 account is 690 hours a month, and we’re 100% these guys are bots. They are harshly penalized.

Our penalty for being a botter – or at least seeming like one – will not be to outright ban, but to cut into the return. If you’re out mining for a really long time, it’s kind of reasonable that you might attract attention, of the bad type. So here’s what we do: Every hour, each miner has a certain percentage chance, increasing with number of hours mined, that dangerous pirates will spawn and attack. Our pirates will be four cruiser or battlecruiser class ships, and they all warp scramble. Furthermore, they scram as rapidly as CONCORD does. We do not want our botters to be aligned and just warp off when these guys spawn. These spawns have low bounty value and low or no drops, to prevent farming. If you’re a real player who plays an insane amount, bring a defense ship or corpmate. You should be able to afford it.

What percentages are we talking about? Up to 144 hours/month, 0%. From 144 to 200 hours/month, very slowly rising, say max of 5% at 200. The percentage then sharply rises after 200, hitting 100% around 300. 300 hours a month means this account is mining 10 hours a day, every single day of a month, without stop.


Q: Doesn’t this unfairly impact people who mine all the time?
A: If you mine 7 hours a day, every single day, without rest, it might. This is a tiny, tiny, tiny number of people. And a lot of bots.

Q: Won’t bots just limit themselves to mining only enough not to trigger the spawn?
A: If they do, that’s great. They’ve just limited their own income, putting them on the same level as regular human miners. They may stop entirely because the value isn’t worth it.

Q: Won’t macros start using cheap ships?
A: If they do, so much the better. It will again cap some of their income.

Q: Won’t macros start running missions?
A: I haven’t seen a successful mission macro yet; the complexity is large. It won’t be such a problem, as the effect on the mineral market from mining is smaller.

What do you say, readers?

EveGossip: Intel and Tear Sharing Tool

Posted in Developers! Developers! Developers!, Incredible Offers! on August 7, 2010 by paul

This isn’t going to be the kind of post you’re used to seeing here at MLYT. This is a software release.

The Jerks do a lot of chatting with people who don’t like us. Whether it’s a gank target, a war target, or the corp chat of a corporation we’ve infiltrated, sometimes we want to share with our friends what we’re hearing. Copying and pasting is how we’ve always done it before, and that works OK for a highlight reel, but for real-time lulz and intel, we needed something that would spit out every line from the chat as it happened.

Enter EveGossip, a short Python script I cooked up one afternoon. Here’s how it works: drag and drop the active chat log onto the file. The window that pops up will ask what server, channel, and nickname you want to use. The script will connect to the channel and start spitting out the tail end of your log in real time. You don’t have to do anything, just keep playing as usual. Your friends can connect to the same channel using the IRC client of their choice and watch the chat in real time. Nifty, huh?

We’ve already used it to great success during a war against a corp with whom we had a spy. It made fleet fights against them hilarious, to say the least. Not only did we have the intel advantage of a spy, but in a sense we were ALL spies, and could react much faster than a corp being fed intel in bits and pieces by a spy that was multitasking.

It requires Python 2.x to work.

I’m posting the script itself to pastebin. This is something of a competency test for running what could be a fairly harmful (to IRC servers, not to you) script. If you can’t manage to get the text into a file named on your computer and run it, then you probably don’t have any business using a tool this unpolished.

Nonstandard disclaimers:

First off, this tool should be completely legal according to CCP. I remember reading that they don’t care what you do with log files. That being said, what you do with it and how CCP looks at your use is your problem, not mine.

This script is rightly considered to be an IRC bot by every IRC network I’ve ever seen. Some networks require that you get permission before using a bot on their network. Some will ban your entire IP range for using this script. I avoided all such problems by administering a private IRC server behind a firewall accessible by a VPN. How you connect to other people’s networks is your responsibility. In other words: Python scripts don’t get people banned…People with python scripts get people banned.

This script is hilariously bad. I stole lots of code from various tutorials and patched them together to do my bidding. There is no error handling. If you give it the wrong kind of file, it will crash. It will crash if you make a typo in one of the prompts or leave it blank. It will crash if the nick you choose is already taken. It will crash if you connect to certain servers that don’t format their requests the way I expect them to. I don’t want to hear in the comments about how poorly it functions, or how it violates some rule of programming that I couldn’t be bothered to learn. I don’t work with computers for a living, and I’m not a professional programmer, but odds are I have created exactly ONE more intel-sharing tool for the Eve community than you have. Don’t bitch about the free thing I’m making available. It works for Jerks, and that is exactly as much effort as I’m willing to put into it at this point.

There is no support unless you can get some poor sap in the comments section to help you.

If you have an idea that will make it better, then implement the idea, post it to pastebin, and link it in the comments. No, I won’t handle changes from multiple contributors. You kids will have to figure that one out on your own while Daddy has a drink in the study.

If you DO like it, then I will accept your accolades in the comments section and your ISK in my wallet. kthx.