Monday, June 8, 2009

A break...

I've been posting every day for a month or so and I've decided to take a bit of a break. I've got an anniversary coming up this weekend and priorities are shifting into the Domestic area of life. I'll be back in a week.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Macro Hauler experiment continues...

I’m using autopilot to move between systems. I know, it’s not really efficient but it is effective. Today or soon (haven’t decided which) I’m going to implement the “sniff a bunch of points” concept and once I do I should be able to set a destination, and then intelligently warp to zero all the way there. That will significantly increase the speed of my agent.

But speed doesn’t matter yet; I’m still in the “Prove this will work” phase. After adding some more code so that I don’t deny courier missions (any of them, this time) the agent seems to be working like a champ.

I need a task list.
* Create a Warp To Zero function, and put it in your master class, which will replace your autopilot code
* Test the Hauler Agent on level 2 courier missions
* Eventually you’re going to have to test a missions not only for “Is it a courier mission” but also “Does it go through low-sec.” Don’t forget this – it could be embarrassing!
Yeah, there’s probably more I’m missing but I’m tired and I’ve been staring at the computer for too long.

I’m up to about 500 million ISK now, a new high-water mark for me. The courier missions have slowed my income a lot…I make a pittance on them, and for ISK they’re a real waste of time. At least, the level 1’s are.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hauler works for a while, then breaks...

So I ran my Hauler Agent last night and got about 40 missions done before it crashed out. Well, it didn’t technically crash out; technically it right clicked in the wrong place and then crapped out. I’m beginning to think that the “sniff a single point and then react” process isn’t the ideal solution for EVE and perhaps a “sniff a bunch of points, and wherever it equals X, that’s the point you want” process will work better. The location of data is, generally, always in the same place with EVE, but it’s often a few pixels different between one iteration and another. This is because a mission’s title is two or three lines long, instead of one. Or a system’s name is so long it causes the click point to wrap around three lines instead of two like you coded for.

So I think I’m going to write a function that has an upper left bound, a lower right bound, and a “test color” variable. Then I can basically say “If you see this color inside this rectangle, then give me the point that equals that color.” Easy as EVE!

So how much corporation faction did I gain after 40 missions? I lost about .2! Why? Because of a glitch, which only occurred on missions whose names are longer than two lines long. The extra line caused my test points to be pushed too far down, and so the agent didn’t recognize it as a courier mission. Still, I managed to get 2 empire faction missions and after I completed them I gained about .2 empire faction. Slow, I know, but it’s the beginning. Things are always slow in the beginning!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm not really a coder, I'm just a quirky MMO player...

I ran into several technical difficulties last night while I was debugging my Hauler Agent. I know that most people think that EVE’s an easy game to write programs for, but it really isn’t. There’s a million different ways the developers twist up the user interface to prevent it from looking the same way over and over again. You don’t notice it as a player, but when you start NEEDING the interface to be consistent it becomes an issue. For instance, it took me three different if/then statements just to determine if I had just been offered a courier mission. And then, for some odd reason, sometimes an agent will leave up the missions window and you can just read it without having to reopen it. Then, other times, they close the window and you have to click “View Mission” every time you dock. Why? Probably just to give me a headache.

So these difficulties have slowed down my development. I can complete a courier mission, start to finish, right now if all the stars align (puns make me smile) but that’s pretty rare. The agent usually breaks about halfway through, either deleting a bookmark (instead of warping) or failing to warp to the correct location.

But it’s not a total loss so far. This was the first time I’ve written a new agent from scratch and I was able to make huge structural improvements to the program. Instead of having all the code in one long function, I created several small functions. This made it a lot cleaner and easier to write, and has lead me to think that I should create a sort of “master” class. But that’s an issue for another day.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Macro Hauler is....what...exactly?

I’m disappointed with EVE Wiki. Why? Because I expected it to be able to tell me what a Macro Hauler was. Instead I had to go and figure it out for myself and, frankly, I’m not 100% sure I understand what it is.

Best I can tell, a macro hauler is an application that automates courier missions in EVE Online. And, I’m about a day away from completing mine.

I didn’t even realize what I was doing, which is a pretty common thing for me. The way my mind works, I envision what I’d like to do and start figuring out the best way to do it. The only reason I even bothered looking at what a Macro Hauler was, was because I was (jesus, how many times can I use “was” in a sentence?!) researching courier missions in general. I was looking for a way to quickly increase my faction standing with an empire, and it seems the only way to do that was to do a LOOOOOT of missions. Well, then I was thinking “How can I do a lot of missions, without having to work on it? Oh, right, duh, I’ll make another agent!”

Turns out that that’s what a Macro Hauler is.

So I spent several hours yesterday coding it up and testing it out. I’ve got it to the point where it will accept a mission, check to see if it’s a courier mission (if not it declines it and asks for another) undock and start flying to the correct stargate. Just a few more steps, a lot of which are simply the reverse of what I’ve already coded in this agent, and I’m done. Yay me!

Once I get my faction up to 5.0 I’ll find a nice little spot in .5 space and set up my first POS. Hmm….I should start planning that out too so I have the resources on hand. See you next post!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A new agents was born...

A little while back, I defined what some of my short, medium, and long term goals were. Well, with well over 500 million ISK, I think it’s time to start planning on completing those medium term goals.

Sadly, in order to do so I must raise my empire faction to, at least, 5.0. And, being the lazy fuck that I am, there’s NO WAY I’m going to do that by hand…so it sounds like it’s time for a new agent! Hmm…I wonder what I’m going to call it…

Tonight I’ll be running a few missions by hand in order to work out a process for this new agent. I’m fairly confident that I can code this solution in about a week, but I’m a little lost on what kinds of missions I should code for. I know that I want to use an agent who only has 2 types of missions because that will reduce the variability (decreasing the amount of code I have to write) so Astrosurveying, Mining (I know, ironic, right?!) and security are off the table immediately.

That leaves only Kill and Courier mission types and I don’t know which I would prefer to do. Courier missions are very straight forward so I think I’ll lean towards them for now and see how it goes. It kind of sucks that I can’t JUST do courier missions, because that would make life a lot easier.

Hmm…I COULD code it to just keep denying missions that are not couriers. With an agent type that gives me a 95% chance to get courier it’s going to be highly unlikely that I’ll have to decline many missions. But, I don’t like the thought of declining missions just on principal, ya know?

Welcome to the joys of coding AFK Agents – lots more questions and doubts than answers at the beginning.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Answering CrazyKinux's

Today’s post comes to you via the blog challenge posted over at CrazyKinux's Musing. This is an answer to his #7 - "What 3 things haven't you done in EVE and why? Would you be willing to try one day? Why so? Why not?"

Thing 1 – Pirating. Up until recently I really haven't had the resources to effectively enter low sec space, let alone pirate there. Now that I do, I still see no reason to go there and pirate - why would I want to grief random people who did nothing to me? /shrug

Also, since I'm a loner, it doesn't seem like pirating would be particularly effective. I MAY decide to level up my stealth skills eventually and grief a miner in order to influence low sec mineral prices, but that's not really likely.

Thing 2 – Enjoyed a fan-made video. Now, I do NOT want to be insulting here – I appreciate all the time and effort that goes into making a video and I realize it is not easy work. I just don’t enjoy them. At all. Not even a little bit. To me they all look exactly alike and I can rarely understand what’s going on in them. Again, this is probably a “me” problem but, well, I guess that means I just can’t or don’t enjoy them, ya know? There is ONE video I found interesting, now that I write about it some – Bumpageddon. But even that video was only exciting because it involved miners, griefing, and bouncing ships. Outside of that, as my wife says, “EVE always looks exactly the same. It’s a ship, on a black background, over and over again.” That does not make for entertaining videos.

That said, I may actually make an EVE video one day, but only to show off the awesome that is my Agent. Of course I won't be expecting anyone to be impressed with the cinematography or anything like that; it would only be to show what the Agent is capable of, how quickly he works, and how he can recover from bumps/losing targets etc.

Thing 3 – Corporation management. I’ve never run a corporation because that would require working with other people, and frankly, I don’t like other people. Still, I may do it one day - if I become a paraplegic.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Continuing my posts from the debate at Fly Reckless, here's - Moderator’s question 1

You have indicated that you have set up a whole corp of individuals who use macro or at the very least are macro friendly. It is entirely within CCP’s right to find and ban those accounts that you use to macro, so what my question centers around is the unknowing or possibly knowing individuals who are buying the bulk of your minerals. It’s entirely possible, as is evidence by the latest ferogel pos exploit, that they may also be hit by the CCP banstick, and your actions could get a well-meaning builder banned. Are you informing the people who are buying large amounts of ore from you that their accounts may be in danger because of your actions that are against the EULA.

I certainly do not, and would not warn anyone that I was AFK Gaming before I sold him or her things. I think that’s a fast and cheap way to be banned.

That said, if CCP did take the drastic, draconian, and “OMGWTF?!?!” step of banning people for, knowingly or ignorantly, buying ore from an AFK player I would stop selling things to players immediately. I have NO RIGHT to cause harm to other people and if CCP started acting like madmen I would take a step back and find a way to play the game that would not harm anyone else.

Now, I’m sure the rebuttal argument to this is that I am causing SOME harm to other players by AFK Gaming. I think that’s a pretty weak argument. By that logic anyone playing the game is causing harm to other players – anyone who makes more than anyone else is crowding them out of the game, essentially. Any arguments you make that says I’m hurting other players fits them as well; being at the keyboard in no way diffuses the harm. You may think that At Keyboard (AK) Gamers have more of a right to “harm” others by playing the game, but that’s irrelevant – harm is harm and if you quantify it for AFK Miners as being harmful then, by the same logic, AK Gamers are harmful.

Few actions are ONLY destructive. By focusing solely on the harmful aspects of AFK Gaming I think we omit its positives. And the most positive trait I can think of is that we add to the economy. We make the economy larger than it would have otherwise been. More POS’s stay fueled because of us. More ships get built because of us. The overall learning curve of this game, which is epic, is lessened because of us. We may cheat, but we still play, and since we are all connected, all play is valid and beneficial to EVE Online.

Still, I think anyone who is intellectually honest can see that getting someone banned is about the worst thing you can do to someone in EVE Online. It's a risk I'm willing to take, personally, but putting it onto someone else is just too immoral for even me.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I sat down to play Call of Duty 4 once, while a friend watched over my shoulder. He noticed I wasn’t having a hard time with it and he asked, jokingly, “What, is this on Easy mode or something.” I confirmed that yes, actually, I was playing on Easy Mode. He laughed for awhile and when he was done he had some negative things to say about playing on Easy Mode. His primary complaint was that challenge is what makes a video game interesting and that since Easy Mode isn’t challenging my abilities, I wasn’t getting anything out of the experience. I looked at him funny, asked him to stop talking (or he could leave), and went back to my game.

MMOs don’t have difficulty selectors. The closest they get are usually the “solo” classes, like the warlock in WoW, but really in MMO's gamers have had to give up something that we've had since before the days of "Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, A, B, A, B, Start" - the cheat code.

MMO’s try to focus gameplay on what developers must think is the most compelling part of MMO’s; the massive amount of people playing. As if since 40,000 people are all playing the same game they should all be doing it together. What a crock of shit! I’d much rather have a solid single-player experience which I can compare with other player’s experience. I'd rather socialize when I want to and be excused from it when the people around me are not worth socializing with ("Wanna go harrass some noobs, ha ha? Want to help the Corp with a CTA? Wanna get on Vent and make funny nosies?!")

We, the cheaters, have decided to hell with your lack of vision, developers. I compeltely understand why cheats are not in multiplayer games like Call of Duty or Planetside - it would dramatically change the expierence if someone couldn't be killed, or couldn't miss. But what cost is associated with a cheat in an RPG? If you could hit a button and not die (to an NPC) what would the harm be? If you could buy anything you wanted, but didn't have to pay for it, why would that be a problem?

We already have players who are leveling FAR outside the expectations of developers. In WoW, there were level 80 players mere days, if not hours, after it was possible to be that level. Did that player understand the game better than anyone else? No; he just had time to devote to the game and a friend to help him.

The existance of cheats for games doesn't seem to have stopped people from playing Oblivion, or Fable 2. Somehow these games survive and even thrive, despite the ability for some people to play them in a way that the developer never intended.

Isn't that interesting?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Other Account...

I spent this weekend mining my ass off, but somehow I have LESS money on my toon now then when I started. I think it’s because I spent a lot of it on skills. I have a training build I call “A million little skills.” I use EVEMon to find out all the skills I COULD train but haven’t, then I put them all in the plan and go buy books. I que up the skills as I buy them. I’ve managed to get myself up to 150 total skills, but there’s about 9 skills that cost about 30 million isk each and I haven’t bothered to buy those yet because, enh, that’s a lot of money!

I also gave 20 million to my alt toon, who also spent about 16 million on skills. He needed to get his “extra” learning skills and I think I’m going to use him as a second miner (read: more income!)

I’ve floundered back and forth on what I wanted that second account to be responsible for an I THINK I’ve decided to make him my Corporation Management character. I’d like to setup a new corporation so that I can hold a POS in .7 space. Of course, that means I have to get his status up to 7.01 and…ugh! So much work. But, whatever, that’s what it takes.

So, why do I want my own POS? Well, mostly because I want to have someplace to research blueprints. Right now BPO research in public facilities has about a 2 week wait and that’s just not acceptable. So I think setting up a POS will allow me to research BPO’s better and will also show me a part of the game I’ve never seen before. Hopefully I’ll be able to manufacture from that location as well and all that will supplement my mining income.

We’ll see, and I’ll post about :-)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Best Laid Plans

I wrote a blog posting a while back which distressed me. In it I talked about how I really didn’t know why I was playing EVE. Well, I’ve decided to correct this. Despite my inability to define why I played I found myself compelled to play, interested in playing, and enjoying myself. So, when I caught myself developing a long-term goal (manage a POS) I forced myself to sit down and describe some other short, medium, and long term goals:

Short Term – Procure more money, procure more skills, level up current skills to support medium and long term goals, increase standing with NPC race so I can put a POS into their space

Medium Term – Establishment of a more “permanent” presence in game through the establishment of a POS and the creation of various platforms to fill needs in the game (a ship to haul in, contacts who buy minerals, etc.)

Long Term – Securing a presence in 0.0 or low sec using ISK to purchase a “safe” area or piggybacking into a weak corporation, etc. I’m still a little fuzzy on the details but ideally I’d like to join a corporation who is ok with EVE Agent (I’m sure they exist, EVE player comes to mind).

So, as you can see my plan goes something like this – get rich mining, develop a relationship with an NPC corp so I can put up a POS, use the POS to make more money, move into low-sec to make even more money.

Yeah…I’m into money. Sue me!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An out of cycle post...

So as you may, or may not, have noticed I tend to post only at midnight. This is because all my posts are pre-written and scheduled (that's how I'm able to post every day.) But, today I had to break the pattern because an Event happened - I was linked to from the official forums!!!

I'm pretty excited about this and I wanted to say thanks to Kance Tzu for the blast. I, of course, wish he'd been a bit more flattering but hey, free press is free press, ya know? I certainly don't think that I HAVE to AFK Mine - I can, so, I will, ya know? If you can do something, and not get caught, and pay no real penalty, then...why not do it?

"But the morals of it!!!" Right right...I start crying every time I go above the speed limit in my car, too :eyeroll:

April 16, 2009

Oh ladies and gentlemen, today is a patch day that changed the UI! It will be VERY interesting what happens to the price of minerals. I'm glad I have 8 million Titanium saved up. With the UI change I bet the macroers are going to produce less, and the price of Tritanium goes up!

Today they moved the cargo hold indicator, and changed it's color. It's now much simpler to determine when the hold is full. I don't know why it was so hard before but the solid color is simple to key on.

This change caused the items list to move down a bit as well.

Tritanium has been added into my dictionary now. No more red squiggly lines.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Eternal Thread, and a Destroyed Covetor...

The EVE Online Forums have a policy – any thread which is not posted to for 45 days is locked. This is to prevent what’s known as “necro posting.” So I consider it nothing short of a MIRACLE that this post, created in 2006, is STILL active. It is the post that was created by Wrangler and it was intended to be a “One thread to rule them all” sort of thing.

In 2006 the forums exploded with posts about macroers and what to do about them. Before then they’d been problematic, but for some reason it came to a head in 2006. So Wrangler made this post and said that any new threads talking about macro mining would be closed. I don’t know what the intended or anticipated affect was, aside from having only one place to discuss macroers was.

It seems that the post’s entire point was to reduce the “spam” and give people a place to vent, but, nothing more seems to have come out of it. None of the dozens of changes have been implemented. No one seems to have noticed a decrease in macroers. It was just a post to get everyone to STFU about people who macro I think.

Anyway, my covetor got blown up last night. It was my own damned fault, of course – I thought I’d be cute and run in a .6 system. The rats there are too tough, and I knew it, but I wanted to try anyway. So tonight when I get home I’ll be spending that insurance money, and then some, on a fully equipped Hulk. Hey, I’ve got the cash and nothing else to spend it on right now, I might as well mine in style. And the extra slots should help me bolster defense. Oh, and my agent makes about another 1 million ISK per hour in a hulk (thanks to the larger holds) so I should be able to make up the cost in about a week’s worth of mining.

Assuming I don't get shot down again!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The wife, and our life…

At the moment, I’m saving for a freighter. A freighter cost about 900 million ISK and I’m at about 300 million now. I’ve been talking (whining?) to my wife about how long this is taking and she said it reminds her of saving for a horse in WoW. We both played WoW for about a year or so before we quit because life was just too busy to compete or even enjoy it. We would get the game loaded up, leave town, figure out what we wanted to do for 20 minutes, and then realize all we wanted to do after 20 minutes of trying to figure out what to do, was to go watch TV.

WoW is the one game I never used an agent in because I really didn’t want to get that character banned and I wasn’t absolutely certain of my ability. There are just SO many WoW players that it's hard to not get seen in that game a lot. I was stuck in an asteroid field last night, unable to warp out because an asteroid was in my way, for the better part of 2 hours last night. In WoW I would have been banned for that; in EVE, I get a funny tell from someone in local but nothing more.

I wish I really did have the time to honestly play EVE but, I simply don’t. I have a wife, a kid, a middle-management job that expects me to work weekends (without pay, of course) a mortgage, a second job I work nights sometimes. It’s just exhausting and the last thing I could possibly do is come home and grind ISK in EVE. It’s nice to have this agent doing the work for me so that when I do have an hour to play I also have enough cash to make the play enjoyable.

My alt finally finished Miner 5 and I’ve got him training up learning skills now. I think I’m going to write a program for him to mine next so that I can have two incomes; that should help the ISK rise faster.

I’ve gotten a lot of new ideas about new features for my EVE Agent. I think I can determine whether an asteroid field is empty now, and if I’m close enough to an asteroid mine. I’ve also figured out how to determine if I’m warping or not so I can take that off of a timer.

Right now I’m staring at my ship. It’s sitting outside of a starbase after warping in. It’s asked to dock once, but for some reason it’s just sitting there. I found this problem a LONG time ago – sometimes you’ll tell your ship to dock and it will warp there just fine, but it won’t dock. A smile spreads over my face as I watch my agent realize what’s occurred and take an action to solve it – it asks to dock again. This is no macro; this is damned near an intelligent agent.

I’ve come a long way and even though I have a longer way to go, sometimes, it’s nice to stop and smell the roses. Or, in this case, millions of tons of Tritanium.

Friday, May 22, 2009

About Bumping…

Today, for the first time, I watch myself get bumped. It broke my agent.

I was wandering past my computer when I noticed that I was about 40k away from the nearest asteroid, and there was this guy charging at me moving very fast. The nose of his ship almost collided with mine but at the last moment my ship veered away, sending me still further away from the asteroid field. I sighed, set his standing to -10, and locked onto him hoping he’d be dumb enough to attack me. He wasn’t, so I just warped away.

I then opened up Agent EVE and added a few more lines of code that would make me approach the asteroid I was mining. I went back and the bumper was still there, bumping other people. I resumed my agent and sure enough he came charging back at me, only this time he had a much harder time keeping me away from the ore. He did, eventually, get me a good distance away, so I fitted an afterburner in my mid and modified the agent to use it. After that bumping was no longer a problem.

Another day, some more progress!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Online Debat Post 1

Recently I stumbled upon a debate hosted at Fly Reckless. Linky. I've decided to spend some posts dedicated to answering the questions there for myself. I figure it'll be interesting and, if not, at least fill my writing quota for a week or so!

Question 1, from Finnegan

What level of economic damage would you and other cheaters have to do to non-cheating miners before you agreed that it was too much? If you devalued their mining efforts by five percent, 25%, 50%, 90%, at any point would you stop cheating or does the state of the profession not bother you? Likewise, how much damage to your chosen macroing profession would it take before you chose another aspect of EVE to macro?

There are three things that converge to make mining the AFK Gamers’ choice activity. The first is the ease with which it can be done, on a technical level. Technically speaking, AFK Mining is a simple problem with a simple solution. That’s kind of why it is so boring for humans to do – there’s not much to think about.

The second factor is how difficult it is to be caught, either by another player or CCP, and again this is related to just how simple the activity is – because it is SO simple, there is little to no variety in how it is done. Thus, how do you differentiate between an At Keyboard (AK) miner and an AFK miner? The easier it is to hide, the more AFK Gamers will be there.

The last factor is profitability and, as The Evil Macroer stated, AFK Mining brings in between two and three million ISK per hour. That’s really not that much, in the grand scheme of things, but it’s sufficient reward for me to bother writing and maintaining my application. I can say that if it dropped to 1 million ISK per hour I would stop doing it and would focus my attention elsewhere, but before I did I’d have to take a look at what else I could do. If nothing else presented itself, 1 million ISK an hour would be what I did until another avenue opened up.

For a comparison lets look at ratting in high-sec. It would be facile to create a program that was capable of ratting in high security systems, and the likelihood of being caught is slightly less than that with mining. However, the profitability is damn near zero, so I wouldn’t even consider it an option.

However, profitability isn’t EVERYTHING. I did tinker with the idea of writing an AFK Pirating program but only saw a reason to do so if the Security Status reward was useful. For me, now, it’s just not.

So, I want to caution the reader away from seeing the AFK Gaming motivation as being about mining, per se – there’s a reason why AFK Gaming in EVE is connected with mining and not, for example, exploring wormholes.

So, this was a longwinded way of saying that the state of the mining economy does bother me, but not from a moral standpoint. It’s far more calculated and pragmatic because I am part of the same community that AK Miners are, and thus I’m impacted by their actions, as well as my own.

Further, as evidenced by the fact that The Evil Macroer does not still macro, it’s a means to an end, not an end unto itself. Having a lot of money is great, and all, but at some point you really do have enough. There’s only so much you need before the motivation to continue playing the AFK Mining game reaches zero. When that happens I personally will begin looking at other things to AFK with. Probably low-sec ratting.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ice Ice baby

Ever since I found out that an Iteron Mark V can be fit to hold over 39 thousand cubic meters of items I decided I simply MUST have one. So far I’m about 17 days away from completion (JESUS that’s a long time!) It’ll be nice to be able to haul over 4 million tritanium in one shot.

I spent most of yesterday flying back and forth, mining Veldspar in a system that only had three asteroid belts. I’m finding these systems are better for mining for two reasons. First, they tend to have a lot of Veldspar which means a lot of Tritanium. Since Trit is so valuable, this means a lot of ISK profit. Second, people tend to not “clear” these belts, leaving them open for people like me.

I tried mining (harvesting?) Ice the other day and I was impressed with how much I could get for it. And I was also impressed with how much easier it would be to macro. Being killed is a lot less likely because there are usually a lot of other people mining the Ice as well. Further, it’s fairly profitable. I figure I can sell the harvestable for about 100k ISK each, and I can fit 6 in my holds per trip, meaning a profit of 600k per round trip. I can do about 6 trips per hour, meaning a net profit of 3.6 million ISK per hour.

Finally, it’s almost impossible to “dry up” a piece of Ice. They contain thousands of pieces, each of which is 1000 cubic meters, so you only get a few pieces per trip. This means that my faulty (but effective) “Am I mining?” check isn’t necessary – all I have to do is start up the lasers and wait for a certain amount of time.

Still, I’m hesistant to move into a high-sec system with Ice and just grind out Ice all night – I’m paranoid like that. Usually when things are too good to be true, they are, ya know? Maybe I'll train to fit Ice Harvestor 2's after I can fly my Iteron.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Irony Took My Hulk

Want to know what irony is? Irony is being killed by an NPC rat when you just quit your Corporation because you didn’t want to be killed by someone in High-Security space. Yup, I lost my Hulk at some point yesterday. Christ, it wasn’t even overnight! I have no idea what could have packed that kind of firepower in High-Sec, but what’s done is done. I’ve still got my Retriever and Covetor, so I’ll be using them until I get enough cash for another Hulk. And this time, I’m going to actually armor the damned thing, and maybe not AFK in .6 space again.

I might actually have enough to buy a replacement Hulk right now though. I spent about 70 million on implants and riggings (lost the one in the Hulk) but I’d made about 40 million in minerals I haven’t sold yet. In addition, I’ve got about another 20 or 30 sitting somewhere in empire. You know you’re making a lot of money when you can’t be bothered to go GET it all.

After thinking about it for a while I decided to NOT get a replacement Hulk. The extra 4k worth of cargo space would be nice, and it's tougher than a Covetor, but until 100 million is "nothing" money I'm not going to risk it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I'm Valid, Damnit!

When I quit the Corporation and discussed the reasoning with its leader he made a comment which really set me off. I didn’t yell at him, but I did mention that he had a dismissive attitude about the validity of other people and their perspectives.

Here’s how the discussion went:

Him: You know you don’t have to come to each and every CTA, but we do require you to attend some.

Me: But, I’m an industrial character. What part does an Industrial character play in PvP?

Him: Well you can train up non-industrial skills…

Me: But then I wouldn’t be an industrial character anymore, do you see how that works? Once I get enough skills to PvP, I become a PvP character not an industrial character, because all you'll want me to do is PvP (since I now can.) It’s not like I am short of things to skill up in the Industrial line. I’ve only got 8 million SP.

Him: But, industrial is not really playing the game.

Me: Ah, thanks for making this easy! Your attitude of “Only PVP counts” is common in 0.0 space, it seems, and I dislike it. I find it insulting to those of us who do not fit neatly into your definition of reality. It reminds me of how society, in general, creates “norms” and utilizes those norms to marginalize anyone who doesn’t conform.

We’ve seen this belittling of culture throughout American history and, I suspect, throughout human history. Whether it’s “Gay people are bad” or “Blacks aren’t our equals” Americans have repeatedly drawn an artificial line in the sand and said “If you’re not on this side of the line, you don’t count.”

What I believe is that we all count – we’re all valid. The person who spends his day scamming noobs is just as valid as the person who PvP’s. The person who AFK Games is just as valid as the person who never undocks because all he does is play the market. Hell, there are some players who don’t even log into the game anymore. The Mittani is a well know spy and he rarely logs into the game, yet he still exerts a huge amount of pressure thanks to his in and out of game spy network. I dare a corporation to say that Mittens isn’t playing the game, loud enough (and offensively enough) for him to hear and to exert his power on you.

EVE is sandbox and, like any schoolyard sandbox, it is filled with a lot of different personalities. Some have built sandcastles and declared that the way to play in the sandbox is to build sandboxes of your own, or to knock down the sandboxes of others. It’s not that these people are wrong; it’s that they’re myopic, simple, and confused about how important they are, in the grand scheme of things.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Corp Life, Last Day!

I decided that I needed to get back into High-Security space in order to make a few more ISK. Only, once I got there I had a terrible memory come back to me – the Corporation I was in was at war with a small High-Security Corporation. That meant that when I was in Empire space (.5 to 1.0 security space) I could be attacked. It’s awfully hard to AFK Game when you can be attacked!

So, of course, I promptly quit my Corporation! I mean, really, what’s the point of playing if anyone can take a pot-shot at me anywhere?

I was immediately contacted by the guy who chatted me up and he gave me the whole “You’re making a big mistake!” speech. I told him that I didn’t appreciate the constant CTA’s (call to action) and the fact that there was nothing else to do in 0.0 but PvP since we were at war. I’d try to mine but the first time I did I lost my Covetor because no one would help me and they were all on CTA’s.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Corp Life, Day 2

Well after losing about 40 million ISK worth of ships/fitting, it’s time to limp back to high-sec (using a jump clone) and macro some more money into my holds. Macroing when someone has declared war on your corporation is dangerous, but I need money!

Let me tell you why Corporations suck for AFK Gamers and, in general, people who aren’t PvP whores:

1 – Call To Actions (CTA). Basically, when you join a Corporation you give up the right to freedom. Perhaps you come from a country where freedom isn’t very valuable, but I’m from the United States of America – I’ll kill you before I let you have my freedom. Well, in Corporation whenever there is a CTA you are expected to be involved, with limited exception. No, you’re not going to get cussed out for not being at one or two of them. “I’m only on for 30 minutes” will get you out of one and “Oh, sorry, wife agro!” might get you out of another. But, eventually you’re going to have to help them and what does that mean? At least 2 hours of being on Ventrillo, hearing people with funny accents tell you what to do. I swear, I had thought there was nothing worse than having an 11 year old tell me what do with my WoW time. But, at least that 11 year old in WoW spoke English well, and without an accent! Try replacing an American teen with one from Ireland and the annoyance factor increases exponentially.

2 – You’re never safe! Like, EVER! I know a lot of people think that you can be blown up no matter what, no matter where you are in EVE. That’s only technically accurate. In reality, High-Security space is about as safe as you can be in reality. Did you know that in reality you can be shot at any time, for any reason? Same in EVE, and you’re about as likely to be attacked for no reason in Empire as you are in real life.

3 – Whatever goals you had in game, just forget about them. You’re now a corporate entity. You’ll do what they say, you’ll like what they like, and you’ll agree with corporate management, even when they don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.

4 – Taxes, AND dues?! I had monthly dues in the corporation (10 million ISK is about 5 hours of AFK Gaming, but it’s the principal of the thing!), as well as a 7.5% income tax. Fuck you, very much!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Corp Life, Day 1

I made a mad-dash down to 0.0 today to meet up with my new Corpmates. Someone in alliance asked if anyone was in High-Sec space. He needed some blueprints. So, I said what the fuck and bought a few and headed down in my Caracal. EVERY jump was a stressful one, but I managed to make it all the way down with about 5 million worth of blueprints in my hold. Can’t complain!

This was the first time I’d ever been in 0.0 before, so I took a few moments to look around.

One of the first things I noticed, and I noticed this on the way down, was that I suddenly had a new icon showing up in my overview and that there were now blue backgrounds to some ships. The blue backgrounds are people allied or in good standing with me. The new icon was a sort of minus sign that I found out meant that these people didn’t like me.

We got wardecced by a high-sec corp, so now I have to be careful in High-sec as well.

But it also means I can kill people in high sec!

So I went to Battle-clinc and looked up this corp that had declared war on us. They’ve got a 2-1 kill/death ratio which is pretty good. I pulled up their records for the past week and I found that they’d killed people in about 5 unique systems. So I then looked up each system in the game’s map in order to determine where they were hunting. Turns out there’s one main area they hang out in, and then there are two outlaying areas they harass. Each outlaying area borders our space. Interesting…

So my plan now is to cruise the belts in areas I suspect them of being in, using an alt on a second account.

Then jump in and pound some miners into dust with my Caracal or my Drake.

We’ll see how it goes!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I Joined A 0.0 Corporation!

I know, I know, I’m a AFK Gamer, why join a corp? Well, because why write a simple agent that can mine in High-Sec when you can write a complicated agent that mines in low-sec? :-D

But beyond that, there’s a lot to EVE and players tend to focus on one, two or maybe a handful of sub-systems through the game. I’m not that player. I’m someone who likes to see how all the pieces fit together. I’ve always tended to explore all areas of a game and after over a year of playing EVE off and on, I never once got to see the 0.0 side of it.

After joining a Corporation I have one immediate observation – these are some needy mother fuckers! One of our systems was being attacked and the amount of vitriol generated about people being online but not defending the station was intense. This one player kept comparing the number of people online in the Alliance to the number of people in the group and saying “Where are the rest of you?!”

Hey, buddy, save it for the fleet chat, k? Thanks!

It’s not that I refuse to help; it’s that I’m about 40 jumps away and I’m not spending 2 hours jumping “home” only to have to log out halfway through. Sometimes I only get an hour to play, and I’m not logging out just because there’s a fight I can’t get to.

But, that’s EXACTLY what this player was asking people to do – if you’re not going to help, then log out now!

What an asshole!

Not that it really influenced me. I just turned blink off on alliance and focused on local instead.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

But I Won't Do That...

I’ve been reading up on the dust-up between Goonswarm (fuck you, Monsters and Sociopaths!) and BoB (You’re just as bad as Goonswarm, you elitist fucks). It’s been interesting, but it brought up a point of contention with me and an online bud. See, he thinks that “cheating” is wrong but sees nothing wrong with running scams on people. I think that “cheating” is fine, but I think that scamming people is immoral and sociopathic.

It came up because my bud wanted to join Goonswarm. He applied to Merch Industrial (Penny Arcade's corporation) and got in and afterwards he started telling me about the little games that the Goonies play. For instance, they’ll invite someone to join, but tell them there’s a 500 million ISK application fee. There isn’t, my bud got in for free, but they’ll lie if they think the mark is rich enough. Then, once the mark has paid the fee, they blow him up, laugh, and move onto the next one.

See, to me that is in an entirely differently league, compared to AFK Gaming. Yeah, sure, I have some impact when I use Agent EVE to mine for me. I won’t argue. But, I have an impact no matter what I do in game and since I don’t use Agent EVE 23/7 (more like 4 hours a day) my individual impact on the game is small, if not entirely diluted. Find me one person in EVE who can tell me exactly how I’ve wrong him or her personally and I’ll quit.

But this…this is monstrously immoral. I mean how sick, how sociopathic, how deranged must you be to lure someone to 0.0 (causing them to risk being blown up and taking time from their life) with a false promise, and then take their money and destroy their ship? What possible excuse could there be for that?

I will do anything for ISK, but I just won’t do that!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Struggles of a Cheater...

AFK gamers are often accused of things that go far beyond AFK gaming. For instance if you read Telbrah’s comments on this site you’ll see:

“Why do the MMORPG Publishers not like Gold Farmers? Because hacking and then stealing accounts is where they get the most bread and butter for their online merchandise and its ILLEGAL. Why is it ILLEGAL because whether you say Blizzard owns the merchandise or the Player owns the merchandise someone owns it and it was TAKEN and then RESOLD. Its not a worthy part of anyones pie to make a buck. If so, go buy yourself a kilo of illegal drugs and start selling that to children and see if you dont end up in prison.”

His comments are similar to those you will find from most gamers when discussing AFK gaming. To them, we are “evil” and we “ruin” things like economies and games. We’re hackers who are out to steal whatever we can and we only care about money. We’re scofflaws, at best, and criminal masterminds at worst.

This sort of response is common in history when dealing with cheaters. And, make no mistake about it, we AFK gamers are cheating. It’s just, that’s ALL we’re doing –cheating. I don’t own a website where I get you to give me your login name and password. I don’t make my money by ripping people off or sharding their purples. I’m just a regular guy who likes to program and sees MMO’s as the ultimate venue to cheat for fun and virtual profit. So while I’m nothing less than a cheater, I’m also nothing more.

One place that has a lot of information about cheating is These guys have been in this business for awhile and they’ve created several applications which work similar to the ones I create – only they’re professionals and in this with the goal of creating more profit for themselves than I am interested in creating for myself. They sell subscriptions to their website, applications, and forums and they’ve created a sort of bazaar for how to cheat in online games. Their cheats are also not limited to simply AFK gaming but include exploits and outright hacks.

That’s not my style, but more power to them. For me, the creation of an agent (that’s what I call my “macro”) which can play the game is the entire point. And to be honest I get a little bored with the game if I’m not upgrading the agent or making a new one. Out of the past two weeks I’ve probably only AFK Gamed three or four days because of a general lack of motivation and uncertainty about what I want to accomplish in the game.

Don’t think I’m trying to excuse anything by saying that; I’m not. Quite the contrary, I know I SHOULD be AFK Gaming more and I dislike that I get bored with it when I’m not messing with the agent’s code. It’s like “Why can’t you just be happy with this AWESOME thing you’ve created? Why are you only interested in upgrading it? Fucking ENJOY it, you’ve earned it!” I’m getting better about it, but we all have our struggles.

Even cheaters.

Monday, May 11, 2009


EVE is a game of decisions and Opportunity Costs.

That’s part of the draw, for me. “What’s the most efficient and effective method?” is a question I am always asking myself while playing this “game.”

For instance, right now I’m wondering “Should I add more cargohold room to my Hulk, or should I increase its yield?” My gut tells me that I should increase its carghold capacity to the largest I can get in order to reduce the wasted time spent moving back and forth between field and refinery. This is the least profitable time in mining and you should reduce it whenever possible. This is part of the reason that “jetcan mining” is so efficient – you have two ships, each focused on its role and tailored for it. Your mining ship doesn’t have enough cargospace to haul a large amount of ore, but it can mine very quickly. Your hauler can’t mine for shit, but its huge cargohold lets you move a lot of ore in one trip.

So where does that leave the intrepid AFK Gamer? Well, our mining vessel must serve two purposes as efficiently as possible. It must mine quickly, but also be able to store a large amount of ore in order to make the trip back and forth efficient. This is why the Hulk is SUCH a good ship for mining in – you can get its hold up to more than 10k really easily, and that translates into more ISK per hour.

Right now Agent EVE earns a profit of 2 million per hour in a Covetor and 3 million per hour in a Hulk.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cheaters in our Online World

A friend of mine got hooked on Battlefield 2142. No, I mean HOOKED. He’d talk about it every day. He’d devise strategy. He bought a server. He organized a guild. He bought a website. In all, he dove in headfirst.

And after awhile he was up at the top of the ladder. He was high rank and high rated. And then he told me something that has stuck with me.

“You know what I’ve learned? It’s that at the top of every single game, no matter who makes it or what it is, there is a group of cheaters.”

He lamented this fact. He hated it. He wanted all his effort to earn him the highest rating but, regardless of how hard he tried, he could never outdo the cheaters.

I think a lot of people respond in a very bitter fashion to this sort of news/fact. They seem to seek validation from a ranking and knowing that they’ll never be at the top causes them grief. We all grow up being told “You can be whatever you want if you work at it” but in reality that’s not the case. It’s really “You can be whatever you want, if you’re willing to do what it takes to get there.”

And if you ever want to see your name up in lights, when it comes to internet gaming, you’re probably going to need to cheat to get there.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Sky is STILL fallling...

Oh man, I am going to get several days worth of posts about that article!

“NotImportant” at

So in-fact, the macro miners most likely stand for 50% of all ore being mined. Couple this with the fact that macro miners only “effort” is having to wait for the ore to roll in while a hard working miner has to WORK for it. The effort value for a macro miner is way less…

Ya know what, I’m going to go ahead and disagree with that. I was up until 11:30 and worked on my program for about 6 hours the night before last because the code on Agent EVE wasn’t working right. He was unlocking targets, double mining asteroids, and failing to warp back to a station. It was awful! Then last night I got it all fixed after about three more hours, only to wake up and AE is trying to mine despite his cargo hold being completely full. Ooops! There’s a bug somewhere but, of course, when I dock and restart the app everything works fine. Weird!

How much “effort” does a straight miner put in? “Well I click this button, then I click that button…and then I wait until I have to click this button over here!”

That’s not work; it’s “play”. I have to WORK to create my agent. I have put in literally hundreds of hours trying to figure out how to write this thing (almost all of it spent NOT playing EVE), and then you have the audacity to come along and ignore all that and say that the MINERS are the ones working? No…I made a program that plays the game for me; trust me, that’s a LOT more work than mining in EVE.

“Edcognito” at

IS what he does illegal? Yes? Then its wrong. Whether or not it hurts the in-game experience is irrelevant. Clearly what the author is describing is cheating, cheating is wrong, and he clearly tries to rationalize it.

Oh, and about this “illegal” word. AFK Gaming is not against any law in the United States Code. In fact, a lawsuit that Nintendo brought against Galoob (makers of the game genie) ended thus:

"Having paid Nintendo a fair return, the consumer may experiment with the product and create new variations of play, for personal enjoyment, without creating a derivative work."

We have the right to AFK Game because of the Fair Use clause in the United States Code. Now, sure, the EULA tries to strip us of this right; but that still means we have the right, and are not breaking any laws.

Edcognito, since we're not breaking the law, and our impact is irrlevant, you must be ok with AFK Gaming :-)

Friday, May 8, 2009

If the Sky is Falling then I am in Trouble...Because I'm IN the Sky!

Today as I continued looking for information about macro mining when I found “EVE Player’s” article titled “The Sky is Falling”

Wow!!! I could have written this article, it is SO MUCH like what I do.

To the first point, I play the game using macros because it is a fantastic challenge. I hit a Zen like state when I program them. There is a positive and tangible reward for doing it as well.

Keep in mind that macros are not magical. My macro cannot read words on a screen. My macro cannot intercept, decode, decipher nor even invite to tea the packets that are sent out and received by the Eve servers. That’s the secret though. That is flying under the radar. I’m not hacking anything. My macro can only do what my eyes and my hands can do. Its brain is only as good as the cross between my programming skills, understanding of the game and the amount of garbage I can put into it.

Oh man, that is SO on point! I do the same thing with DB – I don’t get into the IO stream or even hack into the executable to sniff out memory offsets or watch for certain function calls. ALL my agent does is stare at the screen and respond to what it sees. Just like you. That’s how you stay under the radar.

Is it unethical to AFK Game, since I agreed to an EULA saying I wouldn’t? Well, maybe. Sure. Why not? Whatever. And?

This is a game. This is not real life. This is not important. It is not valid. It is not a good reason to miss work. It is not a good reason to fight with your family. It is nothing more than a pastime and I will be damned before I care what society thinks about how I play a game. Further, I am grateful to any fool who thinks that because I AFK Game I am unethical in general; I’m grateful because it is rare that someone will walk up to you and say “I’m stupid” so when it happens I am really and truly grateful. If you earnestly think that how someone plays a game indicates their ethics then congratulations; you’re ethically retarded.

And I really hope you don’t have an illegally gotten MP3 because if so, you’re not on ethically retarded, you’re a hypocrite too.

You don’t have to follow some rules. No, no, REALLY. You’re allowed to break some rules. It’s ok. Society won’t eat your soul because of it and you aren’t a terrible awful human being because of it. You’re just someone who doesn’t follow every single rule, just like every other person in history.

So yeah, great read and I’m really glad this guy wrote in to (

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Still Writing...

Last night I finished my rewrite of EVE Agent’s code. Well, mostly. There’s still one small bug in it that I can’t quite figure out, but I think one or two lines of extra coding will catch that exception.

My Agent used to warp out to an asteroid field, lock three targets and mine for about 6 minutes. It was all done on timer and if the agent's lock on an asteroid was broken it would not try to acquire a new target. And, as it turned out, the agent's targets were being broken a lot. Pirates would do it sometimes. Other times he’d be mining a rock when it would unlock because it had run out of ore. Well, the old agent would simply wait until it was time to warp home and do so, regardless of how full his holds were.

Not the new the agent! This guy has achieved what I call “Target Continuity”. He maintains three locks on asteroids (the three nearest ones) and whenever one of them fails he reacquires a lock. This agent can even tell when a mining laser is firing and so he can literally mine until his cargo hold is full. I’ve also got a trigger to tell me when the cargo hold is full so I know when to warp home and empty my load.

This last bit (the cargo hold trigger) is what failed last night, leaving me in space trying to mine with a full cargo hold for some amount of time. I’m thinking about putting a failsafe into the code so that it’s “when your cargo hold is full, or when 20 minutes have passed, whichever comes first.”

But, even with that bug I managed to make something like 30 million ISK last night, I think. I can’t recall if I left old ore sitting in my inventory and, if so, that’ll taint the average. I’m hoping to get more accurate numbers tonight.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Best Mining Ship?

I was talking about EVE yesterday when a friend said he was pretty sure that the Hulk wasn’t the biggest/baddest mining ship in the game. There simply MUST be a capital ship which was bigger/better at mining. So, we looked in EVEMon and, it would seem, he’s wrong – the Hulk really is the best ship for mining for a single person. Now if you want to expand the question to include gang mining then there are better ships than the Hulk, but for a single player the Hulk is the shit.

But that got me to wondering – once I have riches untold from all my AFK Gaming, then what? What do I want to spend my money on? What are my goals? What the fuck am I doing here?!

I looked up some of the more expensive things in the game and to be honest they are truly and amazingly expensive. They cost far more than I have and more than I’m likely to ever have (ISK tends to burn a hole in my pocket.) So, what I’m left with is that I’m going to make a lot of money for a single person, but not enough to be a Corporation unto myself. And, really, being a one-man Corporation is dangerous. Other Corporations can declare war on you and you’ve only got yourself to rely on. Not worth it!

So, again, what the fuck am I doing here?

I don’t know!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Who else is blogging about this?

I decided to go looking for other people blogging about AFK gaming.

I’m still looking!

What I have found is that AFK gaming goes by many different names. Bots, Macros, and Farmers are the most common, but each describes a different thing despite the fact that the ignorant use them interchangeably.

So in this post I’d like to differentiate between Bots, Macros, Farmers, and other terms applied to AFK Gamers.


A “Bot” is an application that can play a character in an MMO with the goal of completing some objective. Common Bot objectives are level-grinding and resource harvesting. Personally, I find the term “Bot” to be outdated and I think the word “Agent” better describes what is occurring – an agent is controlling a player’s character. An Agent differs from a simple macro application in that an Agent is capable of simulating human behavior based on the input it receives. For examples, my EQ2 Agent was able to determine when a spell needed to be cast. This ability is beyond the scope of a simple macro application.


A macro is a set of keyboard and mouse commands issued to the game client in a precise order with precise timing. The difference between a macro and an Agent(or Bot) is large. Agents are capable of responding to changes in the environment. For example, my Agent can tell if his cargo hold is full, how long he’s been in space, and whether or not he’s docked. A macro cannot do any of these things. Macros are dumb scripts, sort of like a dumbfire missle. Once they are started they can be easily broken by common MMO actions such as lag, “bumping” or even by sending a message to the player. Agents are aware of their purpose and thus are akin to smart bombs or tracking missiles, though they are limited by the ability of their programmer and their code.


A farmer, in the MMO vernacular, is a play-style consisting almost entirely of collecting an in-game resource. This resource may be currency, items, or anything else that is in limited quantity or that has value. A farmer is someone who does not interact with much, if any, of the game beyond whatever resource they are “cultivating.”

Most Farmers use an agent, some use a macro. But this fact does not mean that every agent or macro is a farmer (or that every farmer uses an agent or macro.) There are a many players (such as myself) who have no interest in farming but who still use agents to work for us.

Now, that isn’t saying I don’t occasionally farm using my agent. In fact, that’s about all my agent CAN do. But, since my playstyle isn’t all about collecting ISK (I do missions, train skills, sell stuff on the market, buy stuff on the market, etc.) I’m not a Farmer.

ISK/Gold Sellers:

These are accounts played by employees of a business. The business engages in the activity of selling in-game resources for out of game resources. This usually takes the shape of selling gold for cash. Normal Players tend to dislike ISK/Gold sellers because of their methods of advertising and because they’ve been convinced that ISK/Gold Sellers harm the game’s economy.

So as you can see, Agents (bots) and Macros are tools used by players while Farmers and Gold Sellers are kinds of players. Please don’t confuse the tool used with the purpose it is being used for.

One last thing I wanted to mention in this post. AFK Mining is not AFK Gaming, Botting or anything like that. AFK Mining is when someone puts a mining laser on a ship with a large cargohold. Then they start mining and walk away. They might pop back every now and then to see how the mining laser is doing. This is popular for noobs because it’s easy to do but not popular with non-noobs because it’s like mining an asteroid with a spoon. It take a long time and gives a lot less profit compared to other activities in the game.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Target Coninuity!

I worked on the next version of my EVE Agent last night until about 11:15. At that point I realized that I wouldn’t be able to finish it before bedtime so I just threw in the towel. Although I didn’t finish it, I did manage to make some serious headway.

I managed to address target continuity.

In the previous version of EVE Agent the targeting routine only activated once. This meant that if the target lock was lost the agent would not select a new one. This becomes a problem when there is a pirate in the system jamming your locks or (and more frequently) the asteroid you’re mining vanishes. I’ve created a loop where the agent constantly checks to see if all three asteroids are locked and if they are not it can detect it, find another asteroid, and lock onto it.

I can tell if a laser is firing or not.

This was a tough nut to crack and I spent a solid 30 minutes staring angrily at my computer about it. The problem is that there is no where on the EVE client that clearly indicates whether or not a laser is firing. There’s just a green glow that envelopes the laser. I used an array to gather pixel colors of the green glow over time and used that as an indicator of the laser’s status. It isn't perfect, or even close, but it's functional.

I can tell if the mining hold is full

At least in theory. This was the last bit that I didn’t get to test out last night because it was so late, and it will be the first thing I try when I get home. For this I’m simply looking for a “1” where there’s only blank space normally. Not too difficult and the tests I did try (just using point sniffing and time) seemed to indicate that I could tell when the hold was full

And that’s it! I believe that the agent is now fully functional and capable of endless mining. Well, sort of! There are new problems to solve with this design but it’s a huge improvement over the last one. And that’s kind of how programming works – baby steps until the end.

I’ve got an idea for my next EVE Agent. Instead of macro mining I will tackle pirate hunting. The code’s mostly written in the other Agent, I just need to port it over. But that's a job for another day.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Witch Hunters

In every MMO there is a group of players I call "Witch Hunters.” A Witch Hunter is someone who investigates other player’s activities with the goal of determining if they are cheating. These players are not sanctioned by the developers and have developed a playstyle which makes them act like online vigilantes. Similar to real-life vigilantes, these Witch Hunters lack any authority to accuse other players of transgressions. They also lack the tools to validate or investigate the accusation, but that does not stop the online Witch Hunter from harassing other players.

And, essentially, that is what Witch Hunters do – they harass other players. Now some are better than others. Some simply submit a report to the GM and move on with their activities. I’m fine with that because I have faith that the GM’s will either ignore the request or check me out and decide I’m not cheating. But it seems a rare breed of Witch Hunter who is satisfied with simply reporting someone and moving on. Most, it seems, would rather create a confrontation with the person they believe is cheating and use this confrontation as an excuse for online harassment.

As an example I give you this article from Eve-pirate.

This is a stunningly craptacular article on how to detect player that are macroing or farming. Why is it stunningly craptacular? Because it focuses on what the author assumes a macroer is. That’s fine, if you actually know. But, to me, it seems obvious that Aceoil has no idea what a macro player is, and is also happy to impinge upon the rights of others in order to chase her witch.

To briefly sum up her “Identifying the Farmers” section, Aceoil thinks the following indicates a Macro user, or a farmer:

If “they” (because all macro users do it in groups) are in a newbie corp for longer than six months

They share a creation date with someone else in the system (and you have to check everyone in the system, or at least everyone at the belts, if you’re going to be a good Witch Hunter)

They log on or off at the same time every day

They have a weird name

They stay in the same system all the time

They don’t react to chat requests or mild harassment (like bumping)

They speak English poorly

They use a retriever or covetor instead of a hulk

They have their own corporation

And what does Aceoil think you should do about this person you’ve decided is a macroer?

Wardec him if he’s in a non-NPC corporation

Try to trick him into using your can instead of his

Steal his ore

Chase them if they change systems

Suicide on them in Kestrels or Caracals

Bump them more

Make sure to join #macrointel in order to track who is macroing

So as you can see, the Witch Hunter does two things – she uses a poorly defined set of criteria to identify someone on the fringe of the group, and then uses harassment to harm his gaming experience. Not exactly a sympathetic character, is she?

More links to MacroMiner Haters:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

AFK Gaming...

“AFK (Away From Keyboard) gaming is a technique used typically by multiplayer online role-playing gamers, but also can be theoretically used by any other game genre. AFK gamers use software, either in the form of a bot or a game's built-in macro system, to continuously do a repetitive task for them, over and over. It also gives the player a significant competitive edge against other players.”

I am an AFK gamer.

I started cheating (yes, it’s cheating) in online games way back in Ultima Online. I had two cheats I would use; one was for mining and the other was, I think, for leveling up my spell crafting. Forgive me, Ultima Online was, for me, far more years ago than I care to remember. The program I used was something simple, I don’t even remember it’s name. Essentially it allowed me to record a combination of keystrokes and then play them back. It even recorded how long the pause between each stroke was so that I could replay the strokes in real time! It wasn’t efficient, nor really effective, but it was better than nothing and certainly better than sitting there being bored all night.

My next cheat was for EQ2. EQ2 had a crafting system which would popup a little icon that you needed to match up with a spell. At random intervals this icon would appear and you’d have about 5 seconds to respond to the popup. I guess the game developers thought this would curb cheating, because if you didn’t answer the popup correctly you took physical damage and, yes, you could even die from crafting. EQ2 came out a long time after Ultima Online and I had grown as a programmer since then, so instead of just using a ghetto macro program I actually wrote my own. I wrote a program that looks at the computer screen and makes deductions about what is going on. Using this tool, I was able to answer every pop up that EQ2 generated at me and so I never took damage when I crafted using this agent. This was a big deal, at the time, because it essentially made me “invisible” to the Witch Hunters. These are the people who would send you a tell to make sure you were at the keyboard. They’d send me a tell and when I wouldn’t answer they’d stare at me for awhile. But while they did they’d notice that I was actually answering the popups and so they’d leave me alone.

Well, most of them anyway. I still got a few tells. Angry tells from people saying they’d reported me and cursing at me (I assume) in some language other than English. I never once received a tell from a GM, and I never once got banned for any length of time.

Just to give you an idea of how prolific my cheating in EQ2 was – they had a website which tracked how many items you’d made. When I quit that game my toon had the highest number of items created, not by 1,000, or even 10,000. I had over 2 million more items created than the second placed person. How did I not get banned?! I KNOW people reported me as a cheater – I got numerous tells about it. But still I was not, nor have I ever been in any game I’ve cheated in, banned.

And I guess that’s how I justify it to myself; if I get caught then all my effort is for nothing. The way I play is not for everyone, because few people have the skill I have and few people are willing to take the risk I do. But MMO’s have a saying – without risk, there is no reward. AFK Gaming offers the highest risk and the greatest rewards.

Friday, May 1, 2009

This Blog...

This is a blog dedicated to the online game EVE Online, and one of its players (me!) I play EVE Online using a program (agent) to help me accumulate money while I’m not physically at the keyboard. This is known by many names (Macroing, Botting, Cheating, amongst others).

In this blog I will discuss a lot of topics but I wanted to lay a few ground rules down first.

1. No, I won’t help you write a bot, macro, agent etc.

2. No, I won’t help you do your programming homework. Look, I’m barely a programmer myself. If I helped you I’m sure you’d fail.

3. I’ll post every day, but that doesn’t mean that the post was actually written that day. I’m starting off with a backlog of 100 entries and posting them daily, so if/when I talk about “yesterday” I may mean yesterday, or I may mean three posts ago. Sorry about that.

I welcome discourse, but I’m not interested in judgments.

Also, it goes without saying that my online identity will remain veiled. I’m no one of consequence, it’s not like I run a corporation or anything, but if someone were to find out that I’m using an agent to help me play the game the amount of grief would probably cause me to quit this game.

That about sums it up. I look forward to sharing my EVE Online life with you, it’s been a real fun time so far and I look forward to more of it in the future!