Politics and Multiboxing in EVE Online

Funny thing, this EVE game.

First, some politics…

EVE is one of the games friendliest to multiboxing. Multiboxing is EULA-compliant, lots of EVE players do it, it’s generally accepted, and multiboxing obviously preferred to actually hacking or botting. But, funny enough, EVE also has its fair share of haters.

I was sort of surprised to see this response from CCP Sreegs… (click for full image)

Given that this is from the CCP Security team, it is actually quite nice of them to suggest that if they do decide to ban for using ISBoxer, that they will let everyone know first. That is very courteous, and I appreciate that as I am certain all multiboxers do! But hey, CCP, we’re not in our own sandboxes here, you can communicate directly with me as well if you have a question or concern about ISBoxer! My e-mail address is public, feel free to contact me at any time. I also have at least one active EVE account with my personal information on it. (I don’t have a reciprocal method of contacting you directly.)

But mostly, I think this is a predictable response and fits in line with what is expected from CCP and other game publishers when faced with this question, especially about any particular product. Since CCP does not have control over ISBoxer, they can and should — legally — avoid recommending it (from their point of view). It’s a guarded “I’m not banning for it” response. You will get the same from Blizzard if you ask, even though Blizzard has shown no signs of wanting to ban for using ISBoxer. And Blizzard will also talk to me (if not also the community) should they change their stance in the future.

I’ll briefly respond to Allataria’s comment “I can’t see how any third party program that runs the game for you would be allowed” myself. First of all, have you heard of Steam? EVE Online is available on Steam, which is a third party program that can even run the game for you. Inner Space is a gaming platform, much like Steam, except you don’t purchase games through my platform. You just play the games you already got somewhere else. Inner Space also has in-game overlay functions, much like Steam.

You can also run EVE Online through Wine in order to play on Linux. Here’s a handy guide on eveonline.com that explains how you can do that. Here’s a news flash for you, Wine is open source and if someone wanted to hack the shit out of EVE, all they need to do is install Wine. Yet, not only is Wine allowed for use, CCP provides information on how you can use it. So why is it that my product should be any less allowed than Wine? (And, what would happen if they ban one but not the other?)

So, why is multiboxing allowed?

This has been pretty well covered and beaten into the ground by now, but … why not? I mean, multiboxing is the act of playing multiple characters together by yourself.

If you’re the one initiating the action, as opposed to your computer automatically reacting to the game environment while you stuff your face with greaseburgers from your local fat food joint (referred to as botting — not allowed) , let alone interpreting or modifying the game environment (called hacking — not allowed), then what exactly is the problem, and where should — or can — the game publisher draw the line?

Should the game publisher try to limit you to using a single account to play the game? If so, how do you propose they enforce that, and who would the rule supposedly benefit? Block by IP? Now you give the advantage to the guy who can afford to pay for multiple IPs. Only allow one instance per PC? Now the guy who can afford multiple PCs or multiple Virtual Machines has the advantage. Instead of providing any measurable benefit to the casual player — who usually only has one or a couple of accounts — now the casual player is at an explicit disadvantage.

Should the game publisher place limits on mouse/keyboard broadcasting? And again, how do you propose to enforce that? Restrict software? Now the guy who can afford to build an elaborate hardware rig (Kromtor) has the explicit advantage. There’s also hardware multicasting products that can do what Kromtor did, without the wooden dowels.

Not only that, but these restrictions would be against many of the people who are most dedicated to the game, who are in your corporation and alliance, who are also completely unwilling to lose their accounts. These people are not the problem… and if the problem is hackers, well, hackers are not the same as multiboxers. Ban all the hackers you want.

Now… granted… large-scale multiboxing can be disruptive, in EVE, in WoW, in any game. I talked to Blizzard about that briefly last year when one of the guys with his own full-scale raid was turning heads. At some point if you’re running enough characters, you’re going to bump into the other rules of the game. Like the one where you’re not supposed to place undue load on the game servers could come into play. Or multiboxers can be jerks and harass other players (against the rules of many games), they might also be hackers (against the rules), botters (against the rules), and so on. That’s got nothing to do with their act of multiboxing, though.

I also provide benefits to the game publishers

Game publishers are mostly interested in supporting one game instance. They want as little as possible to do with the technical support issues from everyone who wants to play multiple instances on the same PC. So much, in fact, that most of them will explicitly tell you that they simply don’t provide support for this situation.

That’s where I come in, and the multiboxing communities like ISBoxer.com and Dual-Boxing.com come in. I’ve been tech supporting multiboxing various games for almost 10 years! (We didn’t even have dual core CPU’s back then.</grandpa>) In many cases, I even tech support issues with single instances because if a single instance won’t work for someone, they are certain to have trouble running more than one.

Here’s a recent anecdote involving EVE Online. Lord Drokoth, as he is called, came to me with an issue where EVE Online was crashing or freezing fairly consistently (apparently for some time). He originally thought it might be ISBoxer’s fault, some possible incompatibility with EVE or his hardware, or who knows. When it’s crashing or freezing, it doesn’t really matter, we just want to stop that behavior! So, over the course of probably a week or two, he provided me details as I requested.

For game freezes, there is an easily accessible feature in ISBoxer that can generate a Minidump (Help->Diagnostics for game freezes), a sort of snapshot of what’s happening at the time in the process. In this case, the game would hang in what seemed to be the “Yaml Reader” built into the game. Between Drokoth’s prodding me daily with new (and generally identical) information, and my willingness to try to help him get the game working properly, he ended up providing useful information to CCP Snorlax to hopefully solve a bug in the game that they’ve been wanting to track down. And that’s a good thing!

This is another reason why game publishers are generally happy to have a third party doing this support. They don’t pay me a dime, but because their customers have a relationship with me, magical tech support happens. Really, magic, I promise.

So, you want to see some legit EVE multiboxing?

For the OMFG WHAT AM I LOOKING AT AND HOW DOES IT WORK moment you may be about to experience, this thread provides a crash course. If you’re not an EVE player, just smile and nod; if you are an EVE player, then the ISBoxer wiki page for EVE may also interest you.

If you’ve played EVE, it’s probably easy to see why people like this.

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