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Reader Comments (39)

Posted: Nov 6th 2011 8:11AM EuchridEucrow said

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I think in the past not near enough was done but the tide is starting to turn against bots with more modern mutiplayer online role-playing game. What I mean is that developers are more invested in fighting them than in the past.

Posted: Nov 6th 2011 8:26AM DemonXaphan said

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Depends on the company, but small ones don't have the resources to fight them while some of the bigger companies don't do enough.
Bot makers are ever changing their code to foil the detection software and/or GM's all the time and mmo devs and QA are forever behind in their acknowledgement of whats happening in their games time to time.
Bots don't care about grind since they operate 24/7 and are only to make gold for trade.
The problem the GM's find is watching and tracking what the bots do and who they interact with when their bags are full. That's why bots are not dealt with so severely at first and depending on the policies of the company if they give players simple punishments at first to harsher penalties later.

Posted: Nov 6th 2011 8:50AM FrostPaw said

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I think companies are starting to design their games aware of how they will be exploited. I don't really think any company ever does enough as no matter what they do the spammers and the bots will find ways to get around the changes.

It's an ongoing battle that will never really be fixed until there is no in game trading or it is actively policed by law enforcement due to fraud or money laundering.

There is always more they could and should be doing to protect legitimate customers from the harrassment and game damaging effects. Free account whispers, ignore by account even if character has logged off etc.

Posted: Nov 6th 2011 9:14AM Dumac said

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I remember many years back some f2p games had items that you could deploy when you spot a bot. The item will appear to be a regular mob and the bot would thus attack it, but he would get instantly killed. An alternate use was to troll regular players with it and trick them into dieing and incurring death penalty. Huh, i wonder why it was dropped from newer games ...

I don't really have an opinion about it with more modern games. Seems like they've solved it by lessening grind and bombarding the player with gear with quests. Haven't played Runescape in years so i can't comment on that.

Posted: Nov 6th 2011 9:46AM (Unverified) said

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I think many games do while many others don't.

I know that when I was still playing WoW it was a constant struggle for them to battle the bots obviously. You'd see names disappear and you'd know the reason for it. Then though you'd report somebody for being a bot and you'd still see them weeks later with Blizzard stating that they couldn't divulge how a investigation went. All the while, that character is in the same place that it always was doing a near 24/7 harvesting grind.

I can't say that they aren't doing enough as I don't know what they are doing, but it leaves questions as this isn't limited to just Blizzard obviously.

Posted: Nov 6th 2011 3:12PM xBludx said

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@(Unverified)

Yes, I remember this from WotLK, with bots farming elementals, the same toons, for weeks on end after reporting them numerous times.

Was it a part of their investigation? Where they trying to break up a ring? Or was it something else?
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Posted: Nov 6th 2011 9:57AM dudes said

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If bots get more advanced and can actually converse and avoid detection as an application then it will be down to the conscience of the player not to do it. Unfortunately there's always a creep who will take advantage.

Posted: Nov 6th 2011 4:52PM Rhazes said

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@dudes

Sadly, there are bots now that can make replys to GMs and play an Alarm to warn the person watching 40 computers or even wake the user up so they can talk to the GM.

Now you have China using prison inmates to farm gold.
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Posted: Nov 6th 2011 7:09PM DarkWalker said

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@dudes
It's not that difficult to:

- hook one of the various available conversation engines to the bot in order to have it respond to questions and "chat" to the GMs.

- Hook the in-game chat to some instant messaging software. The bot "owner" might be able to command the bot, and chat through it, from any computer or smartphone connected to the internet.

- Use passive methods to acquire information. There are some reasonably "safe" methods of extracting information from a running program, and no sure way of preventing them. Plus, 3D video capture together with better computer vision algorithms might enable completely passive bots that don't invade the game in any way and might not even need to be running on the same computer, making detection that much harder.

If someone that is actually a good programmer makes a bot, and don't try to market it, detecting the bot is going to be almost impossible.
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Posted: Nov 6th 2011 10:06AM Knoxrun said

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Guild wars has that awesome ban reaper scythe animation whenever they ban someone. Its pretty cool, and I never see to many bots in GW.

Posted: Nov 7th 2011 1:05AM TheClaw said

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@Knoxrun : given that all the action in GW takes place in private instances of zones, how would you ever expect to see a bot?
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Posted: Nov 6th 2011 10:25AM real65rcncom said

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It varies by company.

Regardless of what they claim, botted accounts do one thing none of them will deny; pad their numbers that they can claim as "subscribers".

Even if it's a stolen account, you can bet it will be counted in some tally to announce "1 million accounts" or something so it's not all bad.

Bots also do keep economies flowing in many games. If the botters didn't mine all that cheap wood and ore, people would craft at a much slower rate or not have mats available because they themselves don't have time to farm. Botters almost always sell mats and gear far cheaper than any real players do.

Last but not least is income. Bot accounts DO bring in revenue despite claims. Sure some accounts are 'stolen' but the botter is still paying for the account after they've shifted the payment info. Then the theft is reported and the company gives back pixels that didn't cost them anything to make unlike ACTUAL theft in the real world where someone steals a television and it's gone for good.

Posted: Nov 6th 2011 11:41AM Vanir said

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@real65rcncom

Actually, as I do work in the gaming industry this comment is false.

The accounts that bot are not able to be counted towards concurring subscriptions. The reason is that almost 100 percent of the time, the account is being funded by a stolen credit card or a game time card purchased with a stolen credit card.

The end result is a charge back where the company actually loses money. These "botting" or "Farmer" accounts (aside from the actual players who use botting software) are not counted in the total subscriptions due to never receiving money for the targeted account.
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Posted: Nov 6th 2011 12:37PM real65rcncom said

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@Vanir
Sorry, didn't realize you worked for EVERY gaming company in the industry.

My mistake.
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Posted: Nov 6th 2011 6:42PM Mcsniper said

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@real65rcncom

You seem to know a lot about it?

Do you work in the gaming industry?

Where did you pull your information from?

Are there official documents that state this is the case?

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Posted: Nov 6th 2011 8:23PM real65rcncom said

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@Mcsniper

I'm sorry. I think you have this confused with a debate forum or a class on Gaming Statistics. That is -------> way.

This is an opinion forum.
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Posted: Nov 6th 2011 8:59PM Utakata said

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@real65rcncom

So you are saying you are allowed to claim bunk here and get away with it? That's funny coming from someone who kept badgering me to name those "unamed" devs that left ArenaNet at one time. Just saying.
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Posted: Nov 6th 2011 9:18PM real65rcncom said

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@Utakata
Badgering you? I don't know what you're referring too, sorry. :(

I wish our conversation (whatever that may have been) could have made more of an impression on me as it apparently did to you.

Honestly don't know what you mean.
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Posted: Nov 6th 2011 10:47AM Wisdomandlore said

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If game companies want to fight bots, stop using the same MMO design we've used for the past two decades. How much harder will it be for bots to operate in GW2 versus, say, SWTOR?

Posted: Nov 6th 2011 12:46PM CZL said

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@Wisdomandlore

You mean the game where there are no quests per se and there is no penalty for merely taking part in zone-wide events? Versus the more traditional game with tagging and crafting/gathering done by companion NPCs rather than the player character?

I just don't see the impetus for botting in either game. A "bot" that sits and gives out crew commands would be indistinguishable from a player sitting there and doing the same thing, and wouldn't be stealing resources from actual players or wrecking the economy. BioWare could even build that functionality into the game and advertise it as a perk: your companions level up their crafting while they're offline, as long as you find a "skill book" or whatever.

And in GW2, the bot would simply take part in the dynamic events throughout a zone, maybe killing smaller mobs, etc. It would never fully participate in the event, but it doesn't need to in order to get a chance at rewards. But that would be horribly inefficient as a way of getting something that GW2 isn't going to require you to need.

Bots exist for the same reason gold farmers and item sellers do: people do not want to farm, grind, etc., to get cool stuff, and are willing to take shortcuts. If you remove those boring parts of the game (like SWTOR and GW2 are doing) and focus more on fun, engaging, story-based activities, then there's little reason for people to bot.

Now, this will not stop gold-selling and power-leveling done by less-than-scrupulous companies. Nothing will, not until people change and stop looking for shortcuts.
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