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Operation Cerberus

First of all, thank you for performing it. However, many of us are wondering about the results from the bot sweeps.
- Numbers of people banned?
- Numbers per server?
- Were they perma-banned or simply suspended?
- How effective do you deem the sweeps to be? % of people using these programs that escaped the sweep?
- And are sweeps continuously being performed(I'm sure this answer will be yes, but it'd be reassuring to have it officially answered)?
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  • I’m anxious
    We will find out the true nature of this feedback method with this suggestion right now. I made a post about this on the Help and questions, with no feedback what-so-ever from evony. :P medic26!
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  • This reply was removed on 2010-12-01.
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  • I’m happy
    Well on the first few days we removed a couple thousand accounts. Some had a temp suspension other permanent. We are constantly working on removing accounts that break the rules. This is a continuous process being performed, that is really the only info I can give you that would not compromise the system. I expect another large sweep in the next few days.
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  • Please show no mercy towards the people who ruin the game for us. I don't care how much cash they spend... it isn't fair for honest players. out of curiosity, I did an internet search on bots for evony and found countless forums with downloads for bots that have been going on for years... unless evony really cracks down and cancels (not suspend!) the accounts of botters, they will move on to the next undetected thing... and people like me will get tired of having to share the map with cheaters and move on to another game.

    No mercy, please.
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  • I’m frustrated
    I recently made a topic on the forums asking for tactics for how to go about fighting an "on-line war" - against opponents whose accounts are permanently on-line. Unfortunately, many people were able to help me as we have all been under the circumstances I said.

    Why hasn't anything been done against the thousands of multi-accounters on each server? I know many friends who've had to opt for it as they just cannot play with only one account against those with 5.

    I don't remember, in the 10 months I have been playing, I don't remember a single one of these cheats we're playing against being caught.

    A simple plan, would be to run this sweep against multi-accounters, and then soon after, run a new set of server merges to account for the huge, huge numbers of players that would be lost. Then, letting the cheaters on in about a month or so once the advantage gained from having their accounts paused will counteract the advantage they gained from running more than one account.
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  • Cross posted from the Evony forum thread in hopes of a response or at least an update.

    http://bbs.evony.com/showthread.php?t...

    I did finally receive a reply PM from Thantium after I did link him a 2nd time to this thread, I obviously won't post it since it was a PM, but will say that it was VERY vague and generic in nature.

    "Operation Cerberus" is almost 2 weeks old at this point, where are all the threads "OMG, Evony banned my acct and I'm too much of a computer noob to even know what a bot is...". At this point Evony customer service is simply lip service, and I truly question whether bannings have taken place.

    If there ever was a time for Evony to have transparency on an issue I would think that this would be the time. Evony is a Flash based game, they cannot see other programs running or what websites you might have currently pulled up. What they do have are logfiles of player actions and movements. Detecting bots in a Flash based game is a very difficult challenge which is both time and resource consuming on their end, but I think the consensus from the players would be that we would rather they did a 24 hour maintenance, or even longer, to dedicate the resources and time to this issue to ensure game integrity, instead of vague "Operations" which have borne little results.
    • I'm pretty sure most players wouldn't want that and have resorted to botting to keep Evony worth playing. Evony's gotten so stale and has so little to do that after a certain point, you either have to bot, buy tons of cents, or you can't hold your own on the server and you either move to a new server or quit.
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  • 1
    I would be good with a 24 hour maintenance IF when the server came back up there was a visible result . . .

    Known botters and huge multi account players penalized. Or better yet, banned. That would be worth a 24 hour maintenance.

    Also a list of shame. Post the names of banned players. Seeing someone they actually know get caught and lose their accounts might be an incentive for other players to stop.
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  • I agree. A 24 hour maintenance is acceptable (With a free 24 hour 0 upkeep) if results were tangible and there is a visible result. well worth it :)
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  • I’m beyond frustrated
    Any updates at all regarding this???
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  • 2
    FYI - The following comments apply to both Age 1 and Age 2

    December-February 2009, Evony did a sweep on N1-Age1 and quite a few other servers addressing resource hacks and banning players for using hacks and for botting. Hundreds of accounts were hit overnight. It was a response to player complaints where Evony completely came through. It set up the game to be quite a bit more fair and N1 definitely flourished. I want to commend Evony/Regan for that - you responded to your customers and we rewarded you with our purchases. Since then, we understand Age 2 has been your primary focus. With that said, more bots and such have gotten entrenched without much by way of sweeps/bans. These same bots look like they work on both age 1 and age 2 with age 1 likely used as the testing grounds.

    I try not to be too critical here but it's sad to see what is happening. The autobot (no relation the popular cartoon series) has surfaced on N1 again (it's a new version of the old one where Evony did bans last December-January) allows for auto-farming, builds up heros for you, farms for medals, plays the market for you, does defenses customized to what is attacking you, will do attacks, and has audible alerts for when you are being attacked*. Pretty much, it plays most of the game for you so you just choose targets, etc. Players on N1 have come out in public confirming they use it and have a dozen "feeder" accounts they support with it or use it for overall alliance defense keeping 20-40 players logged in with it at once.

    *Note: Someone post to confirm or deny all this on the program features - I read it's wiki describing functions but I don't know if this is marketing fluff or if it is real. I can confirm that somehow the "pilot" knows when attacks are coming and that it auto-farms and auto-heals for them.

    I'm not trying to focus on any one alliance - there are a dozen alliances doing the same. As our server aged, people gave their account info to friends as they left - those accounts became the future farming accounts for the multi-accounters.

    I thought the macros bots were bad but this is infinitely worse. Combining multi-accounting with botting means whoever does it has an advantage in the game that without also using the bots cannot be overcome. It's the rationalization used for more and more people to start using bots. The people doing it with a dozen accounts have an extra 10-15B food+200-300M wood/iron/day with no risks on any city losses (or even substantial army losses.)

    I used to be the firebrand fighting in the forums against this kind of thing but I just give up - there is no point if it isn't enforced. I used to kick people from my alliance if they cheated - now we won't encourage it but until Evony demonstrates they will act again, we don't want to spend that effort (i.e. don't ask, don't tell.) I don't want to say Evony is ignoring it - it may be labor intensive where people aren't available, it may be that tracking how this is done is currently too technically difficult, I don't want to assign blame and just flame you guys.

    The bottom line is - THIS COSTS YOU MONEY EVONY. People pay to buy these bots instead of spending money with you. On new servers, rather than buy medal boxes, etc. - they uses these to auto-farm to generate the medals. The only thing players would buy anything from Evony while these exist are for teleports and hero enhancers. This is only 5%-10% of the players who would have otherwise bought. Wouldn't you like players to buy resource enhancers, on-wars, truces, speech texts, etc.?

    Think of it this way. If bots and multi-accounting weren't present - here is how Evony would be more profitable: 1 - servers with more unique players have shown they survive longer generating revenue and need to be merged less frequently. If the N-series servers and a few others were merged today and it yielded 10,000 unique players none of whom used bots or multi-accounts, you would keep them at least twice as long (based on before the bots and hacks really came into prominence.) If 5% of the players spend $30 every month, that means 500 players spending $30/month. That's $15,000/month If doing this means over six months retaining half the players that would have otherwise left, it yields $5K-$8K/month additional revenue for just one server. This doesn't take into account the big spenders (who would have to spend even more if they didn't have multi-accounts and bots.) 1 Programmer and 1 administrator in US rates would cost you about $12K-$13K/month. Conservatively, let's say they support 10 such servers. Even at the low end of the estimates, it yields a net of just short of $40K in net revenue you would have not otherwise seen. Heck - I'd pay a monthly fee to be on a server where the rules were rigorously enforced and I'm not alone in that.

    I know it's a cat and mouse game since you don't have the source code on any of these people/companies creating the software. With that said, on N1 - I know of at least 20 people using the old bot that Evony had banned people for last year. If I can identify 20, there are probably a couple hundred. It really looks like the older servers like N1 are not being swept even every six months for this.

    Suggestion 1: IP track who logs into what account, especially flagging when someone logs into an account that already had someone logged in. If the IP address changes, It's 95% chance to be a sitter or multi-accounter. Suspend everyone who does that for 3 days for first offense, then ban for second offense (all accounts where this happens - not just the account they are "defending.") This will help with multi-accounting. Use the tool from lordcraft (the other Evony company game) that catches multi-accounters. Use the same thing for penalties to botters.

    Suggestion 2: Make players reply to an email sent to their login account every month for the account to stay active. This would cut out the accounts where it was handed to a friend on the original player's way out.

    Suggestion 3: If a bot has the ability to "read" Evony - it can't be interfacing through the normal user GUI (graphic user interface) - that would almost certainly be something you can detect. I don't know the technology that well but however you caught the first generation bot might work here. Even just subscribing to it yourself for testing would give you keys. Anything outside of a normal user "interaction" should be flagged for review.

    Suggestion 4: To beat the macros bots that don't log in differently than players - log what pixels players click on. If it is exactly the same pixel 200 times in a row, it's a bot. Also - you could move things around by 3-4mm every week or two. Have pop-ups appear in-game like with the warning for reset from time to time - just do things that aren't predictable. These are the ways that World of Warcraft beats these cheats.

    Suggestion 5: Listen to your players. It's pretty obvious who the biggest botters and multi-accounters are on most servers. Re-iterate to the user-base that you pay attention to their complaints through the contact us portal (or create a new cheat reporting link or something) - right now, players feel like reports of cheating are just ignored. The support group sends a form email but nobody ever seems to get banned nor any specific feedback is ever given. Yes, quite a few people use this as a way to try and get rid of their biggest enemies so you get false complaints probably more than real ones. If the players provide specific evidence such as screen-shots, etc. - give those some credence. Investigate these first.

    Suggestion 6: Have in-game mods. Have volunteers who don't play on that server have some ability to filter complaints, review cheating allegations, look at logs such as war reports, "snoop" covertly on alliance chats and whispers, to identify possible cheaters. They will do it for free because they like the game and would like to see it cleaned up. I'll be the first to step forward as a volunteer.

    You created a game with a great social dynamic. It's being cannibalized by clones by other companies and by people using software to "aid" them in playing. You could vastly increase your revenue by enforcing these rules. The big players who are the biggest culprits that spend money and lose accounts to bans will come back. Even if they didn't, for every big player that uses these cheats to be virtually unbeatable, they drive away 50 potential paying customers. If you have to take the game down for a week to fix it, please do - whatever is necessary so the honest players will stay.

    Thanks.

    Felwred
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  • It is becoming clear that Evony doesn't care about customer satisfaction. The lack of replies to threads/issues other than vague "operations" and their constant equivocating continues to show they are simply in it for the dollar. They claim to have 18 million players and have claimed to banned a whole 2 thousand that were botting???? As I said before, Evony is an Adobe Flash based game, it is VERY difficult to detect botters, other than to dedicate serious manpower and data resources, which is clear they aren't willing to do.It is time for Evony step up and either admit that they aren't willing to do anything about the botters and that the players should simply accept them as part of the game going forward, or show us some proof that something has been done or is in the works. Operation Cerberus is all bark and no bite.
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  • This reply was removed on 2011-01-05.
    see the change log
  • This reply was removed on 2011-01-05.
    see the change log
  • This reply was removed on 2011-01-05.
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  • I’m thinking Thantium doesn't care....
    So Thantium can come in and remove replies but doesn't feel the need to comment on ideas or the continued issue of botting? Well done yet again Evony.
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  • I’m still thinking Thantium doesn't care about the extensive botting that continues
    Please show me in the Evony Terms of Service where Evony states that it will protect the names of banned users, and elaborate why you continue to have this policy.
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  • I’m frustrated
    Supposedly a new sweep just took place with massive bans. When asked if N1 had "massive bans" the answer was yes. I can identify 200 of the top 1000 players who openly admit to using evobot. Not a single one of them was banned. Going a step further, we can't find a single person anywhere on N1 that was banned. Maybe it's a language problem but "massive" generally means something one can actually notice. Not only wasn't this noticable - people are now openly mocking Evony that they will never enforce the rules and bringing even more duplicate accounts online using bots.

    It hurts Evony's credibility even further to promise "massive bans" then do nothing. For many, that was a last straw as they view this as "the best" Evony can do - their dollars will be spent elsewhere on other game.

    The only "massive" thing that happened was a "massive" shot of confidence given to those who are cheating who now see that evading bans was amazingly easy so why not go from a dozen dupe accounts all with bots to 20 or 30 - the bots run the program for you anyway. Next stop 1 billion scouts, 1 billion archers!
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  • I’m glad Thantium is really working hard on this issue
    Congrats on your continued dodging the of the questions and suggestions Thantium, you gained one Customer Service Rep Point (CSRP). With additional points, you can apply them for higher levels of "Avoidance" and "Equivocation".
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  • I’m not spending any money on a game that clearly doesn't care about their customer base.
    Direct questions/requests to Thantium

    1. Please give us players some sort of update on the progress of "Operation Cerberus" AKA "Evony's All Bark, No Bite Plan of Action"

    2. Are you allowed to talk freely on this message board regarding any possible frustrations with Evony, or is the purpose of this site merely sunshine pumping?

    3. Did Evony put any or all of your personal 5 or 6 suggestions or possible methods regarding stopping the botting issue into place?

    4. Do you personally play on Age I or II?

    5. Do you feel the botting issue is serious?

    6. Do you feel Evony is taking the botting issue seriously?

    7. Are you willing to break down the number of banned players/server? If not, why?

    8. Where in the Terms of Service does it say that Evony will not disclose player names under the guise of "Privacy"?

    9. Will all future bans be permanent, or will there continue to be temporary bans for botting?

    10. Did you even take the time to look at felwred's post above?

    11. Crunchy or Smooth Peanut Butter?
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  • I’m confident
    1. Please give us players some sort of update on the progress of "Operation Cerberus" AKA "Evony's All Bark, No Bite Plan of Action"
    We suspend hundreds of accounts daily, and are working are working with software solutions, please keep in mind that everything we do is countered fairly quickly, there is no magic bullet. Additionally when we do put things in to stop botting you all freak out. IE the login change.

    2. Are you allowed to talk freely on this message board regarding any possible frustrations with Evony, or is the purpose of this site merely sunshine pumping?
    What do you think, I and Dave allow much more open talk in the forum then is allowed on the forums. And numerous things from this forum have been fixed,put into place or are in process.

    3. Did Evony put any or all of your personal 5 or 6 suggestions or possible methods regarding stopping the botting issue into place?
    Yes and unless you are botting you most likley did not notice them, or the ones noticed got reversed since too many of you complained.

    4. Do you personally play on Age I or II?
    Yes but I am not divulging which servers or my account name.

    5. Do you feel the botting issue is serious?
    I think flatfillers, multi-accounting, and botting are serious issues in that order.

    6. Do you feel Evony is taking the botting issue seriously?
    I know we are, as I review the lists every day, and I am in talks with ways to remove them. I have also dealt with them on other games that I have run.

    7. Are you willing to break down the number of banned players/server? If not, why?
    "You want the truth? You cannot handle the truth." No matter what number I post people will complain that it is not enough. I prefer to create less drama by not posting this number, it is in the several hundreds daily.

    8. Where in the Terms of Service does it say that Evony will not disclose player names under the guise of "Privacy"?
    There is an expectation of Privacy as provided by our privacy policy. The problem is if we post names then someone that thinks they are really smart will attempt to create a Slander/libel issue and waste my time. This is the reason that all Major games do not release this info.

    9. Will all future bans be permanent, or will there continue to be temporary bans for botting?
    Out of my hands, Normally it is up to a 7 day suspension and a 50% reduction in resources and troops IMHO this is fair, and yes some accounts are suspended permanently, and I agree with this policy. In my experience the system we have makes it not worth botting.

    10. Did you even take the time to look at felwred's post above?
    #1 I have a better system that has been proposed, and we are debating the merits on a system that looks at IP addresses.
    #2 Does not work as we did not verify email addresses.
    #3 It already works like this, and we make hidden changes to game, in which players would not notice, but flags bots as they attempt to do things the old way.
    #4 Logging does not work, and I have already suggested having a box pop up randomly after a certain number of interactions which would break Macro's and Bots, but it was shot down by players.
    #5 All the reported players are looked at and recorded, but we need to verify using SW that they bot, reports for botting are not enough.
    #6 In game mods cannot catch botting. The powers suggested are too powerful for a volunteer to have access to, and it would cost way to much to hire enough employees to watch all servers, as well as the costs for managing this many employees.

    11. Crunchy or Smooth Peanut Butter?
    Smooth

    I will not be debating or arguing these points nor am I planning on commenting further in this thread.
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  • I think your confusing filling flats by making npcs with the illegal flatfillers that create noob account just to fill flats and then they can reset them when the state is full allowing them to use random ports like an advanced. someone creating a second account is against the rules therefore so is this type of flatfilling. these noob accounts you cant get rid of.
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