Cache Scraping – Worrying your Players and Third Party Developers

First off, I’ll reference this post which removes a lot of the concerns which this raised. If you’re fully up on what’s going on, skip ahead to the suggestions I have made below. This means you, CCP <insert name here>.

The short version is: If you’re not doing anything else that’s banned, cache scraping will not have any action taken against it. This does a lot to relieve my concerns, but doesn’t entirely remove them.

For a little background information (skip ahead if you know what cache scraping is and what does it): Cache scraping is what software does, to get data from the eve client’s local cache, to do something with. It doesn’t alter any of the Eve files, but it does read them. This is commonly used to extract market data, which is then often uploaded to sites like Eve-Central, and the EMDR service. The cache scraper that’s probably the most used, is Evemon. It has a market cache uploader built into it, and has done for a fair time. This feeds to EMDR, eve central, and a couple of other end points, giving those sites a holistic view of Eve’s market, albeit one which can have a fair time lag on items which are less commonly traded. It’s commonly accepted as a valuable thing, powering such things as Eve-Kill’s ISK values for kills, my own blueprint calculator’s pricing, Eveopoly’s trade finder and so on.

The rules now state, explicitly, that this is a breach of the EULA. It’s been clarified that it’s one they won’t take action on, but still, there are at least some similarities between this and the cops not prosecuting people who go a few miles over the speed limit. Both are against the rules, and in an idea world, wouldn’t happen.

So what can be done about it. I have a few suggestions, ranging from the short-term fix, to a long-term solution.

Suggestions for CCP:

Short Term Fixes:

Take a market uploader that’s been open sourced, such as EMDU, Have a developer look over it for time bombs, and release it, without warranty, as an approved uploader. While this would cut down the volume of market data, due to a smaller number of people being willing to download/run it (Evemon users, in general, don’t know/care) it would allow for market data to flow.

Have a number of clients running at CCP, feeding EMDR with data via an uploader. Manually intensive, due to the need to restart them all each day. What gets uploaded can be controlled by the eve central request page. Then just request everyone stops.

Add an option to automatically export the market data to a directory when you look at it. At that point, the community can put together a new uploader to read that. Much like what happened before the cache reading, without all the RSI induced clicking on the export button.

Long term fixes

Introduce your own Market API. Possibly using Crest.

Feed EMDR with data yourselves, without running it through a client.

If CCP can do this, then we can do away with market uploaders, no longer skating in the grey area of cache scraping. While it’s said it won’t be enforced, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth to do so when it’s explicitly against the rules.

The /main/ thing that CCP should take away from this is: be careful how you tell us things. Because the way it was initially written was:

Cache scraping is now a bannable offence. But we might not ban you for it.

That’s a hideous mixed message to give your customers. Especially as many of the ones it affects the most are your community of third party developers. We love this game. We put time in to make it better for everyone. Please don’t tell us that what we’re doing is wrong.