May 192015

We don't serve their kind
We don’t serve their kind

According to several articles spread across mainstream news sites, Blizzard last week banned over 100,000 players for cheating.

I find this remarkable for a couple of reasons:

  • 100,000 cheaters! DDO would love to have 100,000 active players of any kind!
  • I love it when MMO gaming events hit the mainstream news

It seems that quite a few World of Warcraft players were using Bots to automate some sort of PvP grinding progression, until it reached a point where the Bots outnumbered the actual players, essentially defeating the idea behind any sort of player-vs-player combat: you need both “P”s to have PvP.

I’m not going to compete with the Washington Post in terms of writing up the details. If you are curious, here is Blizzard’s statement. And here is a screenshot of a conversation between a player and a GM that seems to set the number banned over 100K.

Turbine has an odd policy about Bots. I cannot find the reference quote, I searched to no avail (perhaps an astute reader will be able to provide the link in the comments), but I am pretty sure that Cordovan has articulated the Turbine policy as “it’s okay to use a Bot if you are actually at the keyboard while it is operating”.

Note I put quotes around that as if it were something that Cordovan actually said, rather than something I just made up, but I am confident that he really did say something like that. Which is odd too, in that if one is going to be at the keyboard, why would one need a Bot? And it becomes odder when one stops to think about how Turbine would go about detecting this. First they have to detect that a bot is operating … somehow … and then they have to determine whether or not a player is sitting nearby on a chair watching the bot.

Perhaps Update 26 will include a Human Proximity Detector? In the absence of such a device, I think this policy just means that Turbine is unlikely to ban anyone for botting in any sort of predictable and reproducible manner. They could still do so arbitrarily and capriciously, but then that is essentially their entire player discipline doctrine.

There have been bots in DDO, especially in terms of earning XP. In the past, there was a way to use the Korthos Island experience to earn 1000 XP per instance, which added up when you automated the process and let it run for a day or two. Some people earned bans for that particular episode. Of course many (most?) were not banned; then as now, discipline is applied arbitrarily and capriciously.

More recently, someone realized that one could earn XP just for talking to NPCs at the beginning of the Crucible, without fighting anything. Automation appeared, and once again it became more XP-per-minute effective to not play than it was to play. I am not aware of anyone getting banned for this exploit (maybe they were at their computers while the Bots operated?). Instead, once Turbine became aware of the exploit, they simply changed the Crucible. No longer can one earn XP just for talking.

I have personally never used a Bot in DDO. I don’t care about the XP grind enough, and nothing else about the game is readily automate-able. Maybe I am insufficiently creative. I might be willing to Bot if the right opportunity arose; I have done so in other games. Right now I am playing a lot of Landmark (watch this space for an upcoming review), and in that game you need to mine dirt. Yes, dirt. There have been few times where I carefully positioned my cursor near my feet, taped my mouse button down, and put a weight on my “A” key to cause my character to dig in a tight circle. Eventually she digs all the way to the bottom of the world, and I get a pile of dirt.

A tape Bot.

It isn’t particularly effective, in that she digs all the way to the bottom in about 40 minutes and I have to manually intervene if I want her to dig again. Also, the camera in the game is kind of weird and sometimes she digs wrong, screwing up the sequence and requiring more manual intervention. So maybe this is really an example of Turbine-approved “botting while at the keyboard”? Probably. Regardless, it is hard to feel too bad about it, the game makes you dig and accumulate dirt. Anything one can do to lessen the essential stupidity of such a thing is as understandable as it is worthwhile.

Nevertheless. In DDO, one may not call someone else names, nor duplicate items, nor cheat quests, nor discuss exploits on the forum. But one can build a Bot to earn free experience, if one is clever enough to find a good place to do so.

Happy botting, everyone!

๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ™‚

  7 Responses to “WoW Bans 100,000 Players For Botting”

Comments (7)
  1. “if one is going to be at the keyboard, why would one need a Bot”. I can answer that. I recorded a macro on my Razer keyboard, for the purpose of spell casting. Human fingers cannot move as fast as a piece of code can, and you also have to pay attention to which spell is on cool down. So, when I’m fighting a boss where I wish to keep a constant spellcasting flow going, I toggle my spellcasting macro, and then toggle it off when I wish to stop running it. So far I’ve only made one, but it’s in active use on my cleric. I meant to make one for each of my toons, but the thing is that I would either have to assign different toggle keys for them or switch macro profile depending on the toon I’m running.. and I’ve just been too lazy. One could for example use this also for melees that use a lot of cleaves and special attacks, just start the macro and you don’t have to hit the keys like crazy (which I do).

  2. Yes, that was the official answer about macros. It continued to say that if the macro was detected/suspected, a GM would send the player a /tell (or two) and as long as the player responded, then all was good.

    So, don’t go /afk while letting your bot run loose. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Ignoring games like Minecraft where mining dirt is kind of the point to the game…

    Where was I? Oh, yes, botting seems to defeat the purpose of playing a game. I had a quote floating around somewhere that went something like this “Games are for wasting time, and you’ve figured out a way to play more efficiently, so now you’re efficiently wasting time… ?”; so basically, wouldn’t it be better to spend time trying to use up more time, being inefficient?
    (Applies to bots, XP/min, etc.)

    We could also assume I’m not leet enough to use bots or zerg, I can live with that ๐Ÿ™‚
    (I do remember years ago using a weight on the enter key to automate selling product, and probably go make a sandwich in the meantime. Woo, analogue-botters unite!)

  4. That was my understanding, too. Keyboard macros that you tended are OK. Leaving them work robotically is not.

  5. Don’t get me started on macros.

  6. I understand the provision for the player having to actually be there, is that bots can be a very good tool for disabled players to be able to play without using all of the controls physically.
    As far as I know that came up when the first MMOs/online games started reacting to bots.

  7. I had something witty to say, then I realised (for today only), I’m not really that witty.

    So, have this boring line instead:
    Bots and macros in PvE, I’m with Turbine on this one.

    (I created more wit, but Bob, stop it!)

What do you think?

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