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Are developers powerless to truly stop bots?

FrodoFraginsFrodoFragins Manchester, NHPosts: 2,932Member Uncommon

My hatred of bots began in the ARPG genre with Diablo 2.  They were extremely primitive and spurred Blizzard to create Warden for checking running programs that were looking at D2 data in memory.  For whatever reason, Warden isn't always running and the bot makers quickly learned to simply shut off the bot as soon as Warden was activated.  Those are just the public bots.  Rumors of private bots and dupe hacks that Warden couldn't detect have been around for a long time.

 

Today we have an epidemic of bots in both GW2 and D3.  Reporting botters is a simplistic whack a mole strategy that may make the reporter feel good, if those bots disappear, but only hit the tip of the iceberg.  Teleport hacks should be detectable on the server side and ANET really messed up in not looking for them on the server side.

 

Is the main issue the fact that everything in program memory is readable by other programs?  Would hardware or OS changes designed to protect memory from being accessed by other programs get rid of bots for a while?  I say for a while, because in certain games such as ARPGs, bots could be written to recognize patterns on display buffers and not require access to memory at all.

 

 

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Comments

  • XzenXzen Los Alamos, NMPosts: 2,607Member Common
    The real trick is not even dealing with the bots it's removing all the gold they farmed from the system.
  • FrodoFraginsFrodoFragins Manchester, NHPosts: 2,932Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Xzen
    The real trick is not even dealing with the bots it's removing all the gold they farmed from the system.

    By then it's too late.

  • MukeMuke BredaPosts: 2,172Member Uncommon

    devs have some issues:

    1) they lose sub money with a ban. although bot susually open up a new account.

    2) how to remove illegally earned money?  trade etc

    3) they have to retrieve solid evidence......in case it would end up in a legal battle.

    "going into arguments with idiots is a lost cause, it requires you to stoop down to their level and you can't win"

  • SnarlingWolfSnarlingWolf Thereiam, ARPosts: 2,697Member
    Originally posted by FrodoFragins

    My hatred of bots began in the ARPG genre with Diablo 2.  They were extremely primitive and spurred Blizzard to create Warden for checking running programs that were looking at D2 data in memory.  For whatever reason, Warden isn't always running and the bot makers quickly learned to simply shut off the bot as soon as Warden was activated.  Those are just the public bots.  Rumors of private bots and dupe hacks that Warden couldn't detect have been around for a long time.

     

    Today we have an epidemic of bots in both GW2 and D3.  Reporting botters is a simplistic whack a mole strategy that may make the reporter feel good, if those bots disappear, but only hit the tip of the iceberg.  Teleport hacks should be detectable on the server side and ANET really messed up in not looking for them on the server side.

     

    Is the main issue the fact that everything in program memory is readable by other programs?  Would hardware or OS changes designed to protect memory from being accessed by other programs get rid of bots for a while?  I say for a while, because in certain games such as ARPGs, bots could be written to recognize patterns on display buffers and not require access to memory at all.

     

     

    How is the U.S. war on drugs working out?

     

    If there are enough customers willing to pay good money for the gold (or services) provided by the botters then no amount of effort will ever fully get rid of them.

     

    The real solution has always been for people to stop buying gold/items/services from the botters. Since some people don't care what happens to any game and would rather get ahead right then, this will never ever happen. So botting will always exist and will ruin it for the rest of us.

  • worldalphaworldalpha Milton, ONPosts: 403Member
    Botting is an issue almost all MMOs have to be concerned about.  There is no easy solution for it.  Unfortunately.

    Thanks,
    Mike
    Working on Social Strategy MMORTS (now Launched!) http://www.worldalpha.com

  • XzenXzen Los Alamos, NMPosts: 2,607Member Common
    Originally posted by FrodoFragins
    Originally posted by Xzen
    The real trick is not even dealing with the bots it's removing all the gold they farmed from the system.

    By then it's too late.

    No that's how Blizzard does it. Following the gold is also how you find all the gold seller accounts because they usually always send the gold to a few different accounts before they sell it.

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    Whats the "teleport hack" OP is referring to?

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • FrodoFraginsFrodoFragins Manchester, NHPosts: 2,932Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quirhid
    Whats the "teleport hack" OP is referring to?

    Most MMO's check player movement on the server side.  GW2 trusts the client and thus botters can write client side code that sends packets to the server saying they are now instantly in a new position where a mob spawned.  It allows bots to port all over the place.  It's an easy hack to catch but GW2 isn't even catching those.

  • FrodoFraginsFrodoFragins Manchester, NHPosts: 2,932Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Xzen
    Originally posted by FrodoFragins
    Originally posted by Xzen
    The real trick is not even dealing with the bots it's removing all the gold they farmed from the system.

    By then it's too late.

    No that's how Blizzard does it. Following the gold is also how you find all the gold seller accounts because they usually always send the gold to a few different accounts before they sell it.

    You realize that gold sellers are still quite successful in WOW?  The thing with WOW is that most of the best gear is BoP and so gold only goes so far in that game.

  • fenistilfenistil GliwicePosts: 3,005Member

    1.  Getting rid of bots is expensive.  It needs people that would work only or mostly on bot hunting semi-manually and on changing game API constantly, etc     That's why most companies don't want to put more resources to fight it.   Currently it is only way to deal with them though.

    2. I think some kind of a way to make "console in PC" - way to fire up games that would totally cut of them from rest of OS could definately help.  Something like "multiplayer Operating System mode" and "work / internet mode" that you switch between if playing / not playing. Of course it would not be needed for single player games.

     

    Hacks and bots are really get a bigger and bigger problem and they have to be dealt with.  (btw. cash shops, selling gold by devs, etc - does NOT work.  Just see all games that have those systems and they are still filled with 3rd party gold selling, hacking, cheating and so on).

    ======================

     

    Teleporting hack

  • FrodoFraginsFrodoFragins Manchester, NHPosts: 2,932Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by fenistil

    Hacks and bots are really get a bigger and bigger problem and they have to be dealt with.  (btw. cash shops, selling gold by devs, etc - does NOT work.  Just see all games that have those systems and they are still filled with 3rd party gold selling, hacking, cheating and so on).

    I pretty much lsot faith in developers catching bots once D3 failed so miserably.  I kept hearing that they couldn't really stop the ahcks/bots in D2 because of how BNET was written then.  D3 comes out and they appear to be better at catching dupes/hacks but made zero progress on the the bot front.  They don't even catch the publicly available ones in a game where found loot is sold for cash and can push away people that would keep playing if bots couldn't flood the market with their loot. 

     

    It probably is just a question of it not being cost effective right now.  And it's not a big enough issue to warrant OS changes.

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    Originally posted by FrodoFragins
    Originally posted by Quirhid
    Whats the "teleport hack" OP is referring to?

    Most MMO's check player movement on the server side.  GW2 trusts the client and thus botters can write client side code that sends packets to the server saying they are now instantly in a new position where a mob spawned.  It allows bots to port all over the place.  It's an easy hack to catch but GW2 isn't even catching those.

    I know my account was hacked and banned all within a day for "manipulating the game client". So its not like they're sitting on their hands. Got my account back in a day too.

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • SnarlingWolfSnarlingWolf Thereiam, ARPosts: 2,697Member
    Originally posted by fenistil

    1.  Getting rid of bots is expensive.  It needs people that would work only or mostly on bot hunting semi-manually and on changing game API constantly, etc     That's why most companies don't want to put more resources to fight it.   Currently it is only way to deal with them though.

    2. I think some kind of a way to make "console in PC" - way to fire up games that would totally cut of them from rest of OS could definately help.  Something like "multiplayer Operating System mode" and "work / internet mode" that you switch between if playing / not playing. Of course it would not be needed for single player games.

     

    Hacks and bots are really get a bigger and bigger problem and they have to be dealt with.  (btw. cash shops, selling gold by devs, etc - does NOT work.  Just see all games that have those systems and they are still filled with 3rd party gold selling, hacking, cheating and so on).

    ======================

     

    Teleporting hack

    Didn't FF try something like that where you couldn't go back to the desktop or start any other programs while FF was running in an attempt to stop any kind of botting/cheating programs (the game wouldn't launch with them already running) and people hated it because it was annoying to play with?

     

    If you put in such severe restrictions to try and stop botters, they'll just get around it. Then regular players are worse off for no good reason.

  • fenistilfenistil GliwicePosts: 3,005Member
    Originally posted by FrodoFragins

    It probably is just a question of it not being cost effective right now.  And it's not a big enough issue to warrant OS changes.

    That's only way I can see that can help though.    Drastic increases in anti-bot fighting (inluding more boots fighting with them) and without OS changes (that propably would have to be either co-financed by game devs or being sold by MS to game devs to allow their games be runnable on "separate gaming OS mode". 

    Low-cost solutions will not help.  Especially that most of those that are being tried (scripts finding bots and devs competing with gold sellers by selling gold / items themself) are old and used by many games for LONG YEARS and they don't work.

  • XzenXzen Los Alamos, NMPosts: 2,607Member Common
    Originally posted by FrodoFragins
    Originally posted by Xzen
    Originally posted by FrodoFragins
    Originally posted by Xzen
    The real trick is not even dealing with the bots it's removing all the gold they farmed from the system.

    By then it's too late.

    No that's how Blizzard does it. Following the gold is also how you find all the gold seller accounts because they usually always send the gold to a few different accounts before they sell it.

    You realize that gold sellers are still quite successful in WOW?  The thing with WOW is that most of the best gear is BoP and so gold only goes so far in that game.

    Yes I know gold sellers are successful in WoW. They are successful in all mmorpgs. All they can do is ban bots as quickly as possible and remove the gold they farmed from the system.

  • smh_alotsmh_alot Area 51Posts: 976Member
    Problem is, bot mechanics seem to become better as well. I don't know if anything definitive can be done about them, it seems to me more like an arms race. But I agree that they can be heavily annoying sometimes.
  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 5,622Member Uncommon
    Botting will stop the day after software, music and video piracy stops... or was it the day before? One of those.
  • fenistilfenistil GliwicePosts: 3,005Member
    Originally posted by SnarlingWolf
     

    Didn't FF try something like that where you couldn't go back to the desktop or start any other programs while FF was running in an attempt to stop any kind of botting/cheating programs (the game wouldn't launch with them already running) and people hated it because it was annoying to play with?

     

    If you put in such severe restrictions to try and stop botters, they'll just get around it. Then regular players are worse off for no good reason.

    Yeah but that was because that was not explained and because it was SE solo effort.   If that would be supported by OS and biggest players it would be adopted. 

    If you don't do nothing about it - it will make mmos die on PC.   Not because consoles are cheaper or simplier but because botting and in-game hacks are growing pain on legit players and game devs.  In 5 years most of biggest mmorpg's will be released on consoles as well and rebirth of PC was in BIG WAY because of mmos and non-mmo multilayer games.

  • PivotelitePivotelite Hamilton, ONPosts: 2,167Member

    I don't know how EME did it, but TERA NA was the most bot-free MMO I ever played, I saw maybe 3 total in the whole time I played.

     

    1 cash spammer in global and 2 bots farming mobs in three towers spires over the 5 months I played. Sure, there was probably more but honestly, If I only saw 3 there weren't that many, I remember playing so many games in the past that were just flooded with bots, Aion, Runescape, even GW2 seems to be absolutely jam packed with them.

    image

  • FrodoFraginsFrodoFragins Manchester, NHPosts: 2,932Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Pivotelite

    I don't know how EME did it, but TERA NA was the most bot-free MMO I ever played, I saw maybe 3 total in the whole time I played.

     

    1 cash spammer in global and 2 bots farming mobs in three towers spires over the 5 months I played. Sure, there was probably more but honestly, If I only saw 3 there weren't that many, I remember playing so many games in the past that were just flooded with bots, Aion, Runescape, even GW2 seems to be absolutely jam packed with them.

    Just as virus/trojan developers tend to target the most successful OS, bot writers and gold sellers tend to focus on the most successful games.  It's hard to know if TERA isn't overrun with bots/gold sellers because of the developers or because it's just not successful enough to encourage cheaters.  I also don't now how the economy works in TERA.

  • SnarlingWolfSnarlingWolf Thereiam, ARPosts: 2,697Member
    Originally posted by fenistil
    Originally posted by SnarlingWolf
     

    Didn't FF try something like that where you couldn't go back to the desktop or start any other programs while FF was running in an attempt to stop any kind of botting/cheating programs (the game wouldn't launch with them already running) and people hated it because it was annoying to play with?

     

    If you put in such severe restrictions to try and stop botters, they'll just get around it. Then regular players are worse off for no good reason.

    Yeah but that was because that was not explained and because it was SE solo effort.   If that would be supported by OS and biggest players it would be adopted. 

    If you don't do nothing about it - it will make mmos die on PC.   Not because consoles are cheaper or simplier but because botting and in-game hacks are growing pain on legit players and game devs.  In 5 years most of biggest mmorpg's will be released on consoles as well and rebirth of PC was in BIG WAY because of mmos and non-mmo multilayer games.

    Botters will in fact find a way around any of those security measures. The same way that despite safeguards people hack government agencies, companies and banks.

     

    The only way it would ever stop is for gamers to stop buying the gold/services. Nothing else will stop it.

  • FrodoFraginsFrodoFragins Manchester, NHPosts: 2,932Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Xzen

    Yes I know gold sellers are successful in WoW. They are successful in all mmorpgs. All they can do is ban bots as quickly as possible and remove the gold they farmed from the system.

    My point is that you don't want a system that catches bots after the fact.  You want to catch them as soon as they start.  Otherwise it's whack a mole with new accounts being hacked daily.

     

    Ideally you would detect that another process is accessing your memory and shut them down.

     

     

  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 5,622Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Pivotelite

    I don't know how EME did it, but TERA NA was the most bot-free MMO I ever played, I saw maybe 3 total in the whole time I played.

     

    1 cash spammer in global and 2 bots farming mobs in three towers spires over the 5 months I played. Sure, there was probably more but honestly, If I only saw 3 there weren't that many, I remember playing so many games in the past that were just flooded with bots, Aion, Runescape, even GW2 seems to be absolutely jam packed with them.

    Popularity + difficulty obtaining gold = lots of botting... WOW and GW2 are probably the worst at the moment. I played Tera a bit and never found a reason to want more gold than what I could get through normal play...and its player base was and is also much smaller than WOW or GW2.

  • MuntzMuntz Minneapolis, MNPosts: 332Member Uncommon

    I content with a client side interface there is always the potential to exploit it. I recently read an article on how Blizzard over time had implemented server side checks for teleport hacks. The check are not even close to 100%. I think if they were it would drag the system to it's knees, there is not even close to enough processing bandwidth to individually check each client for shenanigans. Doesn't mean developers shouldn't try or that they are powerless but you have to be realisitic in what can and cant be done. 

    If we eliminate the client side I think they have a great shot but who is going to buy that game? It's like building a town but not allowing any people in it, it certainly wont have crime. 

  • fenistilfenistil GliwicePosts: 3,005Member
    Originally posted by SnarlingWolf
    Originally posted by fenistil
    Originally posted by SnarlingWolf
     

    Didn't FF try something like that where you couldn't go back to the desktop or start any other programs while FF was running in an attempt to stop any kind of botting/cheating programs (the game wouldn't launch with them already running) and people hated it because it was annoying to play with?

     

    If you put in such severe restrictions to try and stop botters, they'll just get around it. Then regular players are worse off for no good reason.

    Yeah but that was because that was not explained and because it was SE solo effort.   If that would be supported by OS and biggest players it would be adopted. 

    If you don't do nothing about it - it will make mmos die on PC.   Not because consoles are cheaper or simplier but because botting and in-game hacks are growing pain on legit players and game devs.  In 5 years most of biggest mmorpg's will be released on consoles as well and rebirth of PC was in BIG WAY because of mmos and non-mmo multilayer games.

    Botters will in fact find a way around any of those security measures. The same way that despite safeguards people hack government agencies, companies and banks.

     

    The only way it would ever stop is for gamers to stop buying the gold/services. Nothing else will stop it.

    Stop it?  Sure it won't - it will minimize it though.   That's why goverment and companies still spend lot of cash on their defense systems even though they still get hacked.

     

    If bots / hacks problems will be present but small on new gen consoles in mmos and in same mmos on pc this problem will be big - then pc mmos and gaming will take huge hit in groin.

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