Powerplay Action against bots and cheats

Hello fellow Powerplayers,

I think that, meanwhile we wait for news of improvements about Powerplay like we'd wait for some kind of modern day Godot, we should at least ask the developers for a regular monitoring about some sensitive systems.

Bots have always been a real problem to Powerplay and I really do not want to talk about who's botting right now or who botted whom in the past, but I just want to find a solution about this phenomenon which, I remember you all, is esplicitally forbidden by the EULA of the game.

So I suggest to make a reasonable list of sensitive systems to propose to FDev for continuous monitoring.

HQ Systems
Reason? You can inbound or outbound fortify, but you'll end up in your Headquarters and bots will have to do the same. Same goes for 5C-bots, that keep fortifying bad systems, especially during massive turmoil attempts (as we saw recently). I don't want to talk about 5C in particular, any kind of bot-hauling is bad, even bot-fortifying. The systems are the following:
  • Clayakarma
  • Cubeo
  • Eotienses
  • Gateway
  • Harma
  • Kamadhenu
  • Lembava
  • Nanomam
  • Polevnic
  • Rhea
  • Synteini
If you think about it it's just 11 systems and this would probably solve a lot by itself, but we can do more, much more.

Expansions
Any kind of expansion: both good and "bad" expansions, for hauling and combat Powers too. We've got combat bots too, you know.

Preparations
Not every single preparation of course, I'd say we can consider every preparation that reach a 30,000 merits quota suspicious.

Why should Frontier Developments listen to this request (and how should they treat irregular accounts)
I am for a zero tolerance way of dealing with irregular accounts: perma-ban and let's forget about them. Did they pay? Well, so did I and all the honest players, was my money less valuable? I don't think so.
Bots and cheats are strictly forbidden by the EULA, the fact that Frontier Developments tolerate this kind of behaviour is an insult to all the other honest players.
This is something worth to invest in, considering that in time people will stop using bots because the risk is too high, even if the game is in sale very often money is money, especially wasted money (yeah, I'm talking about secondary accounts, a lot of them).

If you have got in mind any other sensitive target please share, and most importantly let's try to find a way to let our voice listened, we can improve this game together, and the Developers obviously need us players to understand where this kind of behaviour can be most frequently found.
 
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I fully support this as former very active PowerPlay player. The problem is that it is very difficult task for computer program to detect bot using modern robotic process automation software. There are tons of such software now from specialized Python frameworks to Blue Prism - I see some of this in action at work and it does really amazing job. So I think if we really want stop these bots then we need see them first. I mean we need restrict PowerPlay to Open only as soon as possible and the similar way restrict any impact to minor factions in BGS in future. There is almost zero danger of bots on consoles so it is all about Open mode instances on PC platform. It is not only about restriction but this support so great way teamwork too. Both patrols of defense forces and wolf packs of attackers make much more sense then. Defense patrols can organize check points - scan and ask questions (this is where bots will fail). Do not try ignore patrol ships - it is the same as in real life. I trust we can turn current bad situation with bots to fun when we get chance to hunt such bots :)
 
More than likely bots pledged to Aisling would be pushing the preparation of HIP 1572 each cycle. Whenever there is a UI change that impacts the way one navigates from point A to Point B we see a significant drop in activity in that system. On a normal week, HIP 1572 is pushed at a very consistent velocity. They wouldn't need to visit Cubeo ever, but it's possible that they utilize a triangle route such as Cubeo (HQ) > Lambda-1 Tucanae (CTRL) > HIP 1572 (PREP) > Cubeo (HQ).
 
More than likely bots pledged to Aisling would be pushing HIP 1572 each cycle. Whenever there is a UI change that impacts the way one navigates from point A to Point B we see a significant drop in activity in that system. On a normal week, HIP 1572 is pushed at a very consistent velocity. They wouldn't need to visit Cubeo ever, but it's possible that they utilize a triangle route such as Cubeo > Lambda-1 Tucanae > HIP 1572 > Cubeo.
That's the reason why I'd include in the monitoring every system prepared over 30,000 merits. Everybody hates bots, at least they claim to. So let's try to ask, all together, to FDev to check those systems and perma-ban those accounts.
 
So I think if we really want stop these bots then we need see them first. I mean we need restrict PowerPlay to Open only as soon as possible and the similar way restrict any impact to minor factions in BGS in future.
Anyone able to configure a workable bot should easily be up to the task of blocking access to other clients while still having theirs in Open. Simply refuse connections to anything that's not Frontier's servers and then use the bandwidth limiter and block features to catch anyone still running 'RelayViaServer' or who somehow gets instanced through TURN.

The solution to botting is the same as to other forms of cheating. Collect a lot of telemetry and once a repeat offender is confirmed, ban/delete the account.
 
I understand. If it is really possible control from the client who is in the instance such system is designed to be exploited. I thought there is still some server-side matchmaker procedure behind that AWS relay service (not only to add the same wing members to the same instance but to add all powerplay pledged players to the same instance too).

I don't know if telemetry can be enough to recognize bots. I expect bots are using docking computer so the most difficult part is controlled by the game client. If current bot can select target system, read "compass", do some ship control and jump between systems then it is easy to use random behaviour strategy (it is already using in automated testing tools and I have surmise such Python based tool is exactly how that bot software for ED is done). I really don't know how to recognize such bot from human player. I see many others games have problems with bots too (farming/exping in F2P games) and software as PunkBuster or Battleye are losing this war too. These games has complete story on the servers and game masters are able to "replay it". But in ED servers don't know much what happened on clients. Adding online recording of such replay to servers can help but it can still be not enough. That is why I think we need see such bots in action and allow us to recognize and destroy them.

P.S. I don't want disable players using Voice Attack or custom control panels. The problem is there are automated procedures too. But they can still communicate some way with human patrol.
 
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As I understand it from a number of older threads concerning this 5C/bots issue, once they were "caught" on video, they moved to Solo (never understand why they would do this in Open anyway). I'm no expert at scripting (I have zero experience in that regard) but I have to assume this is something that can only be done on PC, right? There have been at least two (or more) threads suggesting that PP be "Open Only" so other players can see the activity and create counter-measures for it. Of course, there's the time difference and instancing issue to complicate things.

But yes, I agree, FD needs to really put the hammer down on this one. I think just about every power has had this problem crop up, some more than others. If it's a "player" thing, then "players" need to be able to do something about bots.

Or, as I have sarcastically suggested, BOTS for everyone, which will at least make it a level playing field again. :p
 
I understand. If it is really possible control from the client who is in the instance such system is designed to be exploited. I thought there is still some server-side matchmaker procedure behind that AWS relay service (not only to add the same wing members to the same instance but to add all powerplay pledged players to the same instance too).

I don't know if telemetry can be enough to recognize bots. I expect bots are using docking computer so the most difficult part is controlled by the game client. If current bot can select target system, read "compass", do some ship control and jump between systems then it is easy to use random behaviour strategy (it is already using in automated testing tools and I have surmise such Python based tool is exactly how that bot software for ED is done). I really don't know how to recognize such bot from human player. I see many others games have problems with bots too (farming/exping in F2P games) and software as PunkBuster or Battleye are losing this war too. These games has complete story on the servers and game masters are able to "replay it". But in ED servers don't know much what happened on clients. Adding online recording of such replay to servers can help but it can still be not enough. That is why I think we need see such bots in action and allow us to recognize and destroy them.

P.S. I don't want disable players using Voice Attack or custom control panels. The problem is there are automated procedures too. But they can still communicate some way with human patrol.
I'm guessing bots would follow patterns. A long play session doing the exact same thing over and over without deviation. When a real human plays, there is some level of deviation even if we're repeating a task. We get distracted, take breaks, whatever. We won't fly the exact same way each and every time when we come and go from a destination. Though we're following the same general path, there's a little random "noise" to our journey. Bots would have less "noise" in their routine.
 
Yes exactly that: patterns, like hauling 24/7.

But if you think about it, it's unthinkable to control every single system, all the time.

But you can control a limited number of systems and this is the point of my thread: to give the Developers some indications about the systems to check as their top priority, those systems (HQs, Expansions and Preparations over 30,000 merits) are the systems where there's the biggest possibility to find some bots (or cheaters).
 
If FDev did start cracking down harder on bots, the determined bot runners would work to find a way to emulate human behavior to make their bots harder to detect.
 
So... Let's them having their way? No thanks. I'm for striking them hard. Hit them where it hurts: money.
Not what I was implying. Don't project that viewpoint onto me. I just sometimes think of what people can do to still exploit the system despite efforts to hinder them. I also like to play devil's advocate from time to to get people think more about what they are proposing. Anyway, It'll be an "arms race". The casual guy that's just using a bot program for personal progression will get weeded out. The people invested in running bots will persist until it's not worth the trouble to continue (if it gets to that point).
 
If it is really possible control from the client who is in the instance such system is designed to be exploited.
I don't think it was designed to be exploited, but Frontier's network model seems to do things that everyone else learned not to do in an MMO twenty years ago.

I'm no expert at scripting (I have zero experience in that regard) but I have to assume this is something that can only be done on PC, right?
Progress is well underway on emulators/virtualizers for current generation consoles, so I don't expect bots on consoles to be too far away.

Can it be so easy to ban usage of docking computer when hauling PowerPlay commodities?
Docking computer never should have existed.

They should replace them all with a two ton steam and vacuum tube powered eight-track/player piano combo that has no function other than to loop Blue Danube.
 
PowerPlay haulers will hate me but I will add another precaution to prohibiting docking computer. That precaution is something what always happen me when I accept some very well paid Elite rank requiring mission - interdiction. So I recommend one time (it is enough) spawn hostile power fighter when hauler is traveling in supercruise and interdict him - always. It is similar to docking without docking computer - do it much more difficult for bots.
 
PowerPlay haulers will hate me but I will add another precaution to prohibiting docking computer. That precaution is something what always happen me when I accept some very well paid Elite rank requiring mission - interdiction. So I recommend one time (it is enough) spawn hostile power fighter when hauler is traveling in supercruise and interdict him - always. It is similar to docking without docking computer - do it much more difficult for bots.
I'm gonna +1 this as a common-sense way to weed out unsophisticated bots, while also maybe spicing up powerplay. The issue would probably be making sure it doesn't just spam-murder anyone doing PP runs, thus ruining the experience.
 
PowerPlay haulers will hate me but I will add another precaution to prohibiting docking computer. That precaution is something what always happen me when I accept some very well paid Elite rank requiring mission - interdiction. So I recommend one time (it is enough) spawn hostile power fighter when hauler is traveling in supercruise and interdict him - always. It is similar to docking without docking computer - do it much more difficult for bots.
I happen to have the DC on only one ship of mine and that's the anaconda. That's also the one I use for hauling PP stuff. None-the-less your idea had merit. It DOES mean that a BOT wouldn't always have the sophistication needed for an unexpected battle while heading to the target destination. It would certainly mess up a few scripts. (y)
 
Anyway, It'll be an "arms race". The casual guy that's just using a bot program for personal progression will get weeded out. The people invested in running bots will persist until it's not worth the trouble to continue (if it gets to that point).
Exactly what I am proposing, and I can't see nothing wrong in it. Bots, even used for personal progression, should cause a perma-ban.
So... what do you propose instead? Because I'm asking for control and radical actions against them, apparently you do not agree. Just asking of course. Your solution? Even if it's a "there's no solution, let's keep things the way they are because it's not worth it to invest resources".
 
Your offer is the best first step I see and it must be done. This is game for humans so we need ban usage of any gameplay automation where the ship is fully controlled by bot. It is about setting rules.

All other discussion here is just about how technically detect such bots or how to do it for bots more difficult.
 
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