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The big thread of tinfoil

Discussion in 'Discussions (no Ban Reports here)' started by pushedx, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. pushedx

    pushedx Moderator Moderator Buddy Core Dev

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    [Part 1]

    As of the past month or so, it's come to my attention GGG has been stepping up bans and a lot of people are getting destroyed. This thread is for all your theories so you can achieve a piece of mind in knowing we do care, and we're always looking out for things to improve. However, before you post, please read the entire thread.

    First, to date, there's no known client side software detection of EB specifically that I am aware of. I have never seen a cheat detection scan run trying to identify EB directly. That doesn't mean it hasn't ever happened, but if that was what was going on, it should be arbitrarily catchable. We don't talk about a game's cheat detection systems, but the client sided system in Path of Exile has been the same for quite some time now, and we believe was originally meant to deter people from using various client hacks (presumably to gain an advantage in races).

    The reason why client side detection is almost certainly not the issue, is because GGG has invested over 5 years of server side detection and heuristics for their game. Unlike client sided detection, these systems cannot be bypassed because no one has access to them, so as they grow and improve, no one knows what to change to counter them.

    Let me remind users we have been around this game since 2012, quite literally from the beginning of when there was public access to the game past Alpha testing. People, especially botters, have continuously underestimated GGG and their anti-bot/rmt/cheating efforts from the start. We don't. Each client update is checked against the last before pushing the next update, which is why there is always a minimal downtime on any client updates. To date, we have literally processed close to 400 clients (https://gyazo.com/03b436aa6b77a5154341d50200c0fc53)

    Getting back to server sided detection, it has been publicly stated many times by GGG they do this. There are many posts over the years of the tracking GGG does to catch people crashing instances (all the rollback crafting exploits), spamming instances (looking for corrupted areas based on loading time), performing the same repeated action over and over again (why item vendor recipes don't show sockets), and participating in RMT (even supports who have spend a lot of money on the game).

    Each of the recent leagues, you can find official posts about statistics in the leagues and races themselves. In these posts you can find data on skills used, items used, challenges completed, and other various data over time. GGG isn't making this stuff up, they have been investing into server sided metrics for quite some time, and you can see some basic capabilities from these posts. From other replies on reddit, you can surly find more relevant posts hinting about various server sided tracking going on.

    Furthermore, since this is a F2P game, new accounts are under more scrutiny because GGG knows after botters get banned, they just make new accounts to start up again. This is nothing new, it's been this way for a long time. It was several years ago when there was a level 25 restriction added to prevent currency trades to combat RMTers. It's been confirmed by many people who have been caught that the IP addresses you use matter, and e-mails are checked as well. While VPNs are not against the ToS of the game (they are not allowed to be talked about on our forums) it's not rocket science to imagine certain accounts being checked more often than others based on simple account creation metrics.

    Anyways, none of this should be new or revelational information. Nothing has really changed since the start of Legacy league. If EB itself was detected, or was doing something absurdly wrong, people would have been getting wiped left and right at the start of the league rather than far past the end (it's currently extended).

    So, what's going on now? It's not exactly rocket science, and it's nothing new that hasn't already happened time and time again over the past several years before big expansions. The playerbase drops significantly in size, but botters keep botting at the same rate they were at the beginning, and they get caught. As time goes on, GGG will have more resources available for detecting bots, coupled with more experience.

    This Legacy league period marked an unprecedented amount of players (peak of 120K concurrent) as well as botting interest that wasn't marred with any significant amount of bans. While we don't talk about user numbers, we did see a noticeable growth increase for the first month, and that month was not marred with bans, nor the next month. We also had an unprecedented amount of up-time as well, as there weren't many significant client changes that we're typically used to. If something was fundamentally wrong with EB, it's logical to think that it'd not magically start appearing now at the very end of the league, after people have made insane profits the past few month, and moved on for the most part waiting for 3.0.

    PoE 3.0 is going to be massive. It's going to totally blow 2.6.0 out of the water in terms of new players and game interest. As such, GGG knows they will have to step up their server sided detection if they want to combat the influx of cheaters. While they aren't "starting now", they are certainly in a position to be able to start stepping things up as there's a lot less noise from new players now. As a botter, it's your responsibility to understand the environment you are botting in, and now is not the time to bot the same way you would at the start of the league.

    Just think common sense for a second. If a "new player" joins the game now, maybe to take a look before the new expansion comes out, how are they going to play the game? Are they magically going to be end-game in a day or two? No. Are they going to efficiently be farming a ton of currency and not using it? No. Are they going to play one character 6+ hours a day with solid progression, repeatedly? No.

    I think a lot of people are under the impression they should be able to freely bot in this game up until whatever level, and get away with it, but that has never been the case with this game. Path of Exile is still a small game, it doesn't have hundreds of 1000s of concurrent players like MMOs do. It just so happened botters were given a gift of infrequent bans this past league, and people have gotten reckless with their botting habits thinking they are safe and sound.

    This is further compounded by people's desire to "optimize" EB by increasing efficiency by removing or reducing various slowdowns in place on EB to keep things more realistic. "EB stashes too slow", "EB performs actions too slow", "Why can't EB work better on 10 FPS so I can run more bots", "Why can't EB support modified GGPK files to make the client perform better", etc... All these things have an effect, and whether or not they result in increased bans or not, we take the position of not wanting to take that chance.

    Exilebuddy has always been a niche bot that required more advanced user interaction and a hands-on approach compared to the other bigger bots we have (or as some like to say, it's not user friendly). This has been because Path of Exile has always been a complex indie game that required a lot of user involvement and in the same terms, it's not user friendly.

    Path of Exile is not for everyone. Exilebuddy is not for everyone. Botting in Path of Exile has always been, and always will be a struggle. A lot of people give up after not finding success, or find the effort required to be successful to be much more work than it's worth. There's nothing unreasonable about this, there are far easier games to bot and profit off of, but everything has its risks.

    Our job is to make sure we minimize risks created from using the software, but only to the extent of your ability to use it, not how you use it. That is, if you have had a long term account, attach EB and don't run it, you should never be banned. If you were, that would be a software detection, which to date, we have never had and take great care to try and avoid. If you run the bot, you assume certain risks, not from just botting, but from doing things that you didn't do before.

    For example, while play time seems to be a common metric to detect bots, there's no proof it actually is, as some people claim to bot almost 24/7 and get away with it, while others claim they bot a few hours and get caught. One thing should be clear though, there's a lot of other factors that go in to your account being banned, and no one really knows what they all are. We do not recommend people bot a lot each day, but we understand since people are paying monthly, they need to keep up profits to keep going. It's an unfortunate situation, but also just the way things are.

    If the model is not sustainable, then eventually people will stop botting and move on, and we would have to move on as well. Things aren't to that point anymore, but keep in mind one of the best benefits of the direction GGG takes with combating bots, is to reduce effectiveness, eliminating the benefits of botting in the first place. If it was only safe to bot 1 hour a day, and to limit progression during that 1 hour, then it'd just not be worth botting because you can't do much. EB could be 100% safe in that case (nothing is ever 100% safe, but as an example) and it'd not even matter.

    But once again, this has always been the case with this game, so it's nothing new. Perhaps a lot of newer users did not think of it this way or weren't aware, but nothing is a given in the botting world. You have your ups and downs, and sometimes things are just more work than they are worth. Either way, we'll always try our best to provide users with the safest product possible.
     
  2. pushedx

    pushedx Moderator Moderator Buddy Core Dev

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    [Part 2]

    In this thread, I'm going to talk about various bot patterns and why or why not they'll change.

    One of the long time concerns was the need of "Move only" on the skill bar. It's required, and anyone who actually plays the game will make use of it. LMB is a dual functionality slot, handling interaction as well as action use, so EB cannot rely on it to use move only because of various client issues (the client doesn't know if you intended to interact with something or move near it). As a result, "Move only" will always have to take up a skill slot on the bar, but it's not exactly a bot specific thing.

    Predictive is always advocated for botting rather than lockstep. Lockstep results in weird client behaviors at times, and the bot is less smooth because the client has to wait for the game to update before being able to continue. There's nothing to change in EB to make it work better in lockstep, because lockstep by design works a specific way that is not ideal for botting. Coupled with the game's performance issues, things really start to break down with more and more objects on the screen.

    We don't support 64-bit/DX11 and most likely never will. This isn't really an issue because the game is still more stable on DX9 and if you read bug reports and user feedback, while DX11 looks nicer and can be smoother, it's just not stable enough still. While 3.0 brings about a lot of improvements in this regard, a new Exilebuddy project would be needed to support 64-bit.

    EXE file name or "file description" isn't an issue. EXE renaming was done as a precaution, and left in after it was no longer needed. People in general feel better if they rename their bot executables, so we left it in.

    Exilebuddy tries to avoid any invasive client interactions where possible due to our past experience with breaking the client, which led to some currency flagging issues. A lot of the complaints about EB being so clunky results from Path of Exile being clunky, and us needing to do things an imprecise way to be able to bot. That's why Exilebuddy has random issues with movement or skill using, because those are the client issues EB is encountering. Anyone that has played the game by hand for any period of time will be aware of this.

    There's only a few places where EB relies on client functions, and they are checked often to ensure they won't cause any issues. I hear tinfoil theories about things that have been in place for years, and all of a sudden they are magically responsible for bans or detection when there's been no changes to the underlying systems. If there's aspects of the EB API you aren't comfortable using, then don't use them, nothing is forced on you and users have all the runtime code to the bot bases and plugins!

    The client does its own pathfinding, so while Exilebuddy directs the player, the client is actually controlling the movement. In the past people complain about town movements, but fail to understand realistically, you stand out more if you try to get crazy with roundabout paths taken in town and instead need to focus on reducing town trips or stash runs each time you're in town (which OGB has long supported, it's not an issue for QB really).

    Behavior patterns will always exist. Trying to do random things creates a pattern. There's no feasible way to create a unique behavior pattern for everyone using the same logic. This is where being able to customize various aspects of the product you're using comes in, and Exilebuddy strives to offer this. Arbitrarily customization is no easy thing though, so it does require some work and effort on the user side.

    Bot effectiveness can only be sacrificed so much for attempted safety before no one would use the bot anymore. If we made significant changes to the bot bases provided to limit progression significantly, slow down all actions, and enforce botting time limits, would users want to use that? Of course not. It's up to users to responsibly bot, and right now I think most people getting banned are not doing so. Any argument made for trying to simulate a legit new player boils down to whether or not the lack of bot productivity is worth it (e.g., sitting through all chat dialogs, talking to all NPCs and randomly conversing with them, longer delays after loot drops, and more full exploration) All of these things are possible with the EB API, but I find it hard to believe people will be happy that they are paying for that.

    Bot flavor builds of the month are certainly a thing, and based on user feedback, those builds are more likely to get banned due to being investigated than other off bot-meta builds. Remember all the server sided tracking. We provide a generic routine to try and handle as many skills as necessary, but if we ever provided build specific ones, that would be a major concern. Once again, it doesn't matter how safe EB is if GGG thinks you are botting or participating in RMT, it's their game, they can get rid of you. They can afford to be wrong as it's highly ill-advised to bot and try to fight bans if you were caught, just to go back to botting again.

    There might be a few things I've missed, but the main takeaway is that we've been doing this a while now. There's always improvements to be made, but there's nothing that we feel poses an immediate risk to our users with what we provide. Nonetheless, we'll remain vigilant in doing everything we can to help users safely bot.
     
  3. pushedx

    pushedx Moderator Moderator Buddy Core Dev

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    [Part 3]

    I'm going to open this thread for any public discussions. Just keep in mind, they are public.

    If you feel you're botting smart, being really cautious, and certain you're doing everything possible to avoid bans and are not having any luck at all, send me a PM and I can see if I have any advice for you.

    Just keep in mind that not all times are opportune times to bot, and this might certainly be one of them, but at this point after double checking over everything on our side, I'm still confident we have not missed anything in Exilebuddy itself that is causing any new issues that would not have already presented themselves as problems the entire year.
     
    JUSTAPLAYER123 likes this.
  4. darkbluefirefly

    darkbluefirefly Community Developer

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    I've never been banned with EB, idk what you ppl are complaining about.
     
  5. Netherweller

    Netherweller New Member

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    No bot, no ban Kappa
     
  6. JUSTAPLAYER123

    JUSTAPLAYER123 New Member

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    i send u a PM in your Conversations pushedx
     
  7. avgjoe

    avgjoe Member

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    I joined exile buddy discord chat implying it was server side heuristics and got called a noob and several other delightful terms. I mentioned a possible flag might be /age and /played ratio, only to hear from the "pro's" that I didn't know what I was talking about. Glad to see pushedx agrees, it's nothing on the client side. Keep up the good work. So many players on beta and turmoil race it's getting easy to tag botters, that's all it is.
     
  8. havoc

    havoc Member

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    Most ppl on discord are trolls, u need to learn how to ignore then when they are trolling, witch is not 100% of the time. Once u do that, u can learn a lot from the random things they occasionally say about the bot.
     
  9. avgjoe

    avgjoe Member

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    I did end up meeting a guy I have been working with trying to discover more about the server side metrics that could be using. To be fair, it was really only one troll, and I started ignoring him pretty fast. Most of the people were saying the guy knew what he was talking about and he was trying to convince me that the increase in bans had nothing to do with heuristics. Thanks for letting me know the atmosphere, I'll try and spend more free time there.

    Staying on topic, everything pushedx says is on point. There would be no reason to have a detection method and not ban every single bot.
     

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