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Are developers powerless to truly stop bots?

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

    Since people want to believe that botting can be fully stopped

    You are trolling now since there were multiple posts stating something totally opposite.

     

    @FrodoFragins

    Seems you're right.

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

    Same reason they keep flushing away billions of dollars trying to win the drug war. You have to LOOK like you're doing something and you care, otherwise everyone gets mad at you.

     

    It's been a long time since anyone claimed we could WIN a war on drugs.  We will never legalize Crystal Meth or hard drugs that ruin lives and families.  It's our duty to do our best to keep them off the street.

     

    It's in developers best interest to try and keep bots under control.  Otherwise the game economy tanks and people leave in droves.  There is zero reason why devs can't run software on the client that checks other running processes and at least prevent the public bots from running.  There's zero reason why ANET can't prevent teleport or speed hacks.

    Let's say you do fully stop teleporting and speed hacks. Great you still haven't stopped botting.

     

    Ok you check for certain running processes. The botters just change the processes constantly to beat your detection methods. You haven't stopped botting.

     

    You can police it, you can ban some, but..... you will NEVER stop botting.

    I think you miss the point.  It is NOT about getting rid of the botting totally. It is about making it less common and minimizing it's effect.

    You may not know but it is same principle that lies under fundament of law and law enforcement.   You will NEVER be able to stop crimes or mistakes but that does not mean that there should be no police or that there should be no auditing.

    Read the title of the thread. "Are developers powerless to trult stop bots" the answer is YES, it cannot be stopped.

     

    You can lessen it and take a few botters out here and there, but the point of the thread actually IS to have botting be 100% stopped, which is impossible.

     

    If people think they will log into an MMO where no one will ever try to sell them gold or they will never run across people botting, they're crazy. They might as well start a thread on why spam mail hasn't been erased from the world yet.

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

    Read the title of the thread. "Are developers powerless to trult stop bots" the answer is YES, it cannot be stopped.

     

    You can lessen it and take a few botters out here and there, but the point of the thread actually IS to have botting be 100% stopped, which is impossible.

     

    If people think they will log into an MMO where no one will ever try to sell them gold or they will never run across people botting, they're crazy. They might as well start a thread on why spam mail hasn't been erased from the world yet.

    You're arguing semantics in topic title instead of discussing actual thing?

    That's really low what you're doing.

  • AeliousAelious Portland, ORPosts: 2,850Member Uncommon
    To answer the OP:

    Not completely without some effect on the players. You could take away macros and bindings, that would solve things short term if the UI can be static. Maybe a fluid reactionary combat system where you have to click?

    Aion tried at first to have a hold on bots but the players threw a fit about Gamguard. In hindsight it may have been better to ignore fans on that one since bot infestation kept the game from being as big as it could have been right out of the gate IMO.

    At this point easy tools for reporting and quick reactions on the part of a developer will be your best bet past filters and monitoring tools. F2P/B2P makes things a bit worse. Botting and spamming (mail and chat) are part of the reason I agree with SoE's method of locking out mail and broker to free players. It's been complained about plenty but you can't deny the results.
  • SnarlingWolfSnarlingWolf Thereiam, ARPosts: 2,697Member
    Originally posted by fenistil
    Originally posted by SnarlingWolf
    Originally posted by fenistil
     

    Read the title of the thread. "Are developers powerless to trult stop bots" the answer is YES, it cannot be stopped.

     

    You can lessen it and take a few botters out here and there, but the point of the thread actually IS to have botting be 100% stopped, which is impossible.

     

    If people think they will log into an MMO where no one will ever try to sell them gold or they will never run across people botting, they're crazy. They might as well start a thread on why spam mail hasn't been erased from the world yet.

    You're arguing semantics in topic title instead of discussing actual thing?

    That's really low what you're doing.

    It is low because I am destroying the fantasy that botting will disappear, or to put it in words you prefer almost disappear?

     

    I'll change the phrase to this then. Botting will NEVER be cut down to a minimal level that will have no impact on the community of a game.

     

    I've held the same stance the entire thread. Because it is correct you and Frodo have resorted to arguing semantics instead of coming up with a way that it is wrong. Yet I am the one arguing semantics.

     

    You and Frodo can go on believing that 5-10 years from now botting will be so well controlled it will be so minimal people won't even know it exists and then be completely shocked when it is still rampant. I will understand it will not be defeated or minimized and will not be the least bit shocked when I see it.

     

    There have been realistic people in this thread. Saying for example "You can't do anything but whack a mole them as they pop up" which is correct. But you seem to think otherwise with no real solid reasoning to why.

     

    You mention real life law enforcement. Well you'd probably be interested to see that murder rates, theft, etc. rise and fall constantly over time. The biggest factor in the rising and falling isn't the enforcement, it is the community. When the community is stronger, when economies are better/unemployment lower, the crime rates go down. The same would be true for botting, as less and less people buy the goods, the rate of botting will go down. As more buy it the rate will go up, regardless of the enforcement.

     

    Law is really there to stop only those who fear the consequences by showing a presence. There will always be plenty who don't fear the consequences and that is why crime will always exist no matter how much enforcement you throw at the problem.

     

    That goes all the way back to the original point I made, and the still only truthful way to stop (or minimalize) botting. The community has to stop buying from them. That isn't going to happen, botting will always be a significant factor.

     

    Now you can go back to debating without focusing on the fact I said fully stop and can now argue the words mostly stop.

     

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,765Member Uncommon

    If a game has warping hacks, it's due to a very badly designed game engine.  The cardinal rule of fighting cheats is, as a game developer put it about a decade ago:  "Don't trust the client.  The client is in the hands of the enemy."

    Most of the computational work has to be done on the client.  But that's okay, as most of the computational work can't be used to cheat.  If someone manages to hack the client to make a character invisible, or make a texture look different, so what?

    The fundamental rule is that anything that can be used to cheat must be done server-side.  In some cases, such as the loot that mobs drop or the damage that attacks do, the original computations should be done server side, and then the server can inform the client of the results.

    Some things such as movement must be done both server-side and client-side.  The game initially does the computations client-side, so that when you say to move forward, your character appears to move forward immediately.  If the way movement worked was that you pressed a button to move, and then the client told the server you were trying to move, and waited for the server to tell the client that it's okay to move, and only then showed you actually moving, then the game would feel horribly laggy.

    But movement must be rigorously checked server-side, too.  The client tells the server that it moved in such and such a manner, and then the server has to check to see whether that is possible.  To some degree, the server has to trust the client on saying when it moved, as if you don't officially move until the server finds out about it, controls will feel very laggy.

    The key is that how much the server trusts the client must be strictly limited to what is necessary to cover up Internet latency.  For example, a client can say that you started moving at such and such a time, and if the server sees it within 200 ms (or some other arbitrary figure), it accepts it.  And if not, then it says, no, you didn't start moving until 200 ms before I found out about it--and then tells the client to rubber-band the player back to where the player "really" is.

    So if a player hacks the client to be able to teleport around, it's necessary for it to initially appear on the client that the teleport hack has worked.  But then the client tells the server where he is, and the server must quickly check it and say, no, it's not possible for you to have moved from here to there that quickly.  And then the server must tell the client that he is actually over there instead, and the player rubber-bands back.  And the server must check before it broadcasts the cheater's new location to other players.

    Guild Wars 1 notably wasn't very good about this, either.  Remember how you'd be running along, then start taking damage from nothing in particular, and then finally rubber-band back to where you were 10 seconds ago?  Checks should be more frequent, so that you rubber-band back within a fraction of a second.

    That Guild Wars 2 apparently hasn't gotten the rubber-banding right either makes me wonder if Guild Wars 1 had lots of bots teleporting around, too, but we just never saw it because they were off in their own instances.

    In ArenaNet's defense, covering up Internet latency in online games is very, very hard to do.  For many games, it's probably the single hardest to program thing in the entire game.  For a game to be played over a LAN or to be turn-based (like Wizard 101 or Atlantica, not the "auto-attack every 2.2 seconds" that some people mistakenly call turn-based) makes this much easier, but that's not an option for many online games.  This is wandering off on a tangent, but I'm going to copy and paste from another thread just to make a point of how nasty to deal with Internet latency is:

    -----

    If you're 1000 miles away from the server, then it would take light a little more than 5 ms to travel that distance in a vacuum. That means that if there's one event that occurs on your computer, and another event that occurs on the server, observers at different points in the universe wouldn't necessarily agree on the time gap between them. If the events occurred at close enough times, there might be disagreement as to which happened "first". Even if they agree on which event came first, they could disagree with as to the time gap between them by as much as a little over 10 ms. This isn't a measurement error or because the observers are stupid, either; it's the nature of the universe.

    So now, a player sitting in his house playing your game presses a button to attack. At what time should the attack officially take place? The time at which the event "occurs" in his house doesn't match your server, let alone any other players connected to your server. And then actually transmitting it from the client to the server takes longer yet.

    The naive answer is, the attack occurs when the server finds out about it. But that's the wrong answer. That will make the game feel horribly laggy and players will complain. You have to accept that attacks started before the server finds out about them. But how long before? Surely to a player, it shouldn't look on his own computer like the attack started before he pressed a button. And what about other players that don't find out about it until later?

    And how do you synchronize the time between the server and the various players, anyway? If it's 3:48 pm on the server and 3:47 pm on a player's computer because one of the clocks is slightly off, attacks that register on the server shouldn't take a full minute to appear on a player's computer. But you can't perfectly synchronize time because, not merely does it take varying amounts of time to transmit data, but saying two events in different places happened "at the same time" is scientific nonsense, as discussed above.

    And yet, every event in the game world needs to appear to a player as though it happened at some exact time. And it has to seem like it happened at a logical time, so that it doesn't look to the player like things are rubber-banding or it's taking a long time for the game to accept anything he tells it to do.

    There isn't a perfect solution to this. But if you can't come up with a passable solution, you can't make a real-time MMORPG, whether seamless, heavily-zoned, or anything else. You could still make something that is completely turn-based--not the real-time attack every 2.2 seconds that players sometimes call "turn-based", but really turn-based along the lines of Civilization.

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

    Read the title of the thread. "Are developers powerless to trult stop bots" the answer is YES, it cannot be stopped.

     

    You can lessen it and take a few botters out here and there, but the point of the thread actually IS to have botting be 100% stopped, which is impossible.

     

    If people think they will log into an MMO where no one will ever try to sell them gold or they will never run across people botting, they're crazy. They might as well start a thread on why spam mail hasn't been erased from the world yet.

    You're arguing semantics in topic title instead of discussing actual thing?

    That's really low what you're doing.

    It is low because I am destroying the fantasy that botting will disappear, or to put it in words you prefer almost disappear?

     

    [...]

     

    There have been realistic people in this thread. Saying for example "You can't do anything but whack a mole them as they pop up" which is correct. But you seem to think otherwise with no real solid reasoning to why.

     

    [...]

     

    That goes all the way back to the original point I made, and the still only truthful way to stop (or minimalize) botting. The community has to stop buying from them. That isn't going to happen, botting will always be a significant factor.

    Think you either missed or ignored some possible solutions.

    In example running aimbots or cheats on PS3 is very hard.   Most of times it will require jailbreak which is pain in butt to do and if you play online you end up get banned from PSN and online gaming sooner or later.

    What's an effect?   There is very few cheaters on PS3 online fps than on same games on PC.

    Sure they still are but diffrence is collosal.

     

    For real life crime thingie - most places in the world with low crime rate was achieved as a combination fighting with extreme poverty and high success rate of police investigations in small cases (small thievery,  destruction of property, etc).

    This is true for Scandivian countries in example.

    If you have wealthy society but shit police it does not work (Mediolan, Rome) as good.

    If you have big difftences in wealth in society and relatively high poverty (some places in US) this does not work as well.

     

    Changes in community / society have to be supported or sometimes even triggered (either by some high authority or as an community response to some big event or big pain in butt for a long time) they don't magically appear out of blue.

  • JaedorJaedor Denver, COPosts: 1,140Member Uncommon

    Not sure how LOTRO does it but I've never seen a bot, gold spammer or goldseller in that mmo. Someone told me ages ago that it had to do with chat channels having boundaries to the local zone but I have no idea if that's still relevant.


    Whatever it is, it's a great system that works.

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

    Think you either missed or ignored some possible solutions.

    In example running aimbots or cheats on PS3 is very hard.   Most of times it will require jailbreak which is pain in butt to do and if you play online you end up get banned from PSN and online gaming sooner or later.

    What's an effect?   There is very few cheaters on PS3 online fps than on same games on PC.

    Sure they still are but diffrence is collosal.

    I didn't miss or ignore that case because that is CHEATING not BOTTING. And no this isn't a semantics point, those are two very different topics.

     

    Cheating is breaking the systems to get an advantage, aim hacks is a good example.

    Botting is having the computer run your character for you.

     

    Botting isn't common in the FPS genre to begin with because there isn't much to gain with it, especially in all of the non progression ones.

    I will give you, even though it isn't really on topic, that cheating in FPS games has gone down from when the genre was young. I remember characters flying up into the air and teleporting around in Delta Force and the early instant aim hacks in Counter Strike (although it was fun to watch how many people say it was impossible to create a program that would auto head shot for so long before finally getting proof that it was possible). Even leagues like the ESEA still ban people for cheating on a regular basis and they have their own cheat software on top of the valve anti-cheat software. You just don't run into it in every single match your in which is further helped by the vote to kick player option. If your cheating is obvious you'll be kicked quickly making it not as worth it.

     

    However, it isn't a reasonable comparison. Outside of cheating in a tournament, there is no financial gain in cheating in FPS gains. So if it is a pain to keep trying to get around the system to embarass people for a little bit, the amount that it is done goes down. With MMO botting there are significant gains to be made so the effort will always be there.

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

    Think you either missed or ignored some possible solutions.

    In example running aimbots or cheats on PS3 is very hard.   Most of times it will require jailbreak which is pain in butt to do and if you play online you end up get banned from PSN and online gaming sooner or later.

    What's an effect?   There is very few cheaters on PS3 online fps than on same games on PC.

    Sure they still are but diffrence is collosal.

    I didn't miss or ignore that case because that is CHEATING not BOTTING. And no this isn't a semantics point, those are two very different topics.

     

    Cheating is breaking the systems to get an advantage, aim hacks is a good example.

    Botting is having the computer run your character for you.

     

    Botting isn't common in the FPS genre to begin with because there isn't much to gain with it, especially in all of the non progression ones.

    I will give you, even though it isn't really on topic, that cheating in FPS games has gone down from when the genre was young. I remember characters flying up into the air and teleporting around in Delta Force and the early instant aim hacks in Counter Strike (although it was fun to watch how many people say it was impossible to create a program that would auto head shot for so long before finally getting proof that it was possible). Even leagues like the ESEA still ban people for cheating on a regular basis and they have their own cheat software on top of the valve anti-cheat software. You just don't run into it in every single match your in which is further helped by the vote to kick player option. If your cheating is obvious you'll be kicked quickly making it not as worth it.

     

    However, it isn't a reasonable comparison. Outside of cheating in a tournament, there is no financial gain in cheating in FPS gains. So if it is a pain to keep trying to get around the system to embarass people for a little bit, the amount that it is done goes down. With MMO botting there are significant gains to be made so the effort will always be there.

    Think you miss the point. 

    In order to run a bot on PS3 you would have to run a unauthorized code on PS3. Same as aimbots.  That's why I used it as example and it would be as hard.   (till last year it would be practically impossible because there were no jailbreak at all)

  • Miner-2049erMiner-2049er PortsmouthPosts: 435Member

    Even if companies cannot entirely stop botters they can certainly prevent a large number; here's some in-game methods that would help to cull the herd.

    1)            GM BOT Hunters. (one every few servers)

    Have a GM ready to warp to possible Bots when they are identified by other players. After watching for a while the GM will have the power to 'poke' the player with a pop-up message requiring an intelligent response. If the player fails to answer he will return to town and be labelled as a possible Bot. After 5 or so such events the player will be permanently banned.

    Check out all active players in the same guild, and repeat the process. Possibly disbanding the guild if a good number of senior members are Botting.

    Check out all players who have traded gold with the identified Bots and repeat.

    Encourage players to identify Bots by giving them in-game bounty rewards whenever a BOT is located.

    2)            Difficult Mobs

    Actually have mobs that the players needs to watch in order to defeat them. This really is not that hard to do and designers should be ashamed that any mob can be killed by someone who is not even looking at the screen. Give the mobs a simple shield / defence stance that will block an attack that is initiated at that time. Some form of active targetting would also make it much more difficult to write a Bot if the mobs are moving laterally in combat.

    3)            Roaming Mobs

    Have more mobs in regions walking around that would kill a Bot. For example have a few 40+ mobs in a level 25 area. Why on Earth do we have to have every mob in a given area so restricted. I'm sure it is also more fun for the players if some of the mobs are dangerous.

    4)            Open world PvP

    One of the best things about the rifts in Aion was that it helped to clear out the Bots in any region. After a while the Botters found corners to hide but in a decent world PvP setting it would be difficult for Botters to flourish.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,765Member Uncommon

    The way to eliminate bots is to make them pointless.  This takes several forms, as the different types of botting need to be combatted in different ways.

    One is gold sellers.  Here, you have to target the demand.  A game has to be designed from the start so that there isn't much point to buying gold from gold sellers.  It helps if your normal players don't have any real need to farm for gold.  It also helps if there are legitimate ways of buying gold, such as EVE's PLEX, TERA's Chronoscrolls, or the more complicated microtransactions systems of Puzzle Pirates and Spiral Knights.

    The other target is ordinary players who will use bots to farm or grind.  Here, the basic principle is that if something takes a long time, but players hate it so much that they're willing to risk a ban to use bots to get around it, then it's not interesting gameplay.  At minimum, players shouldn't be forced to do it to access later content.  In some cases, it should be removed from the game entirely.

    That's right:  I just said your game needs to be less grindy.  If it's so grindy that you chase away most of the players who are are unwilling or unable to bot the game, then you've got bigger problems than the inevitable prevalence of bots.  Sooner or later, players will figure out that if they dislike a game enough that they want a bot to play it so they don't have to, it's simpler to just quit the game entirely.

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

    Think you either missed or ignored some possible solutions.

    In example running aimbots or cheats on PS3 is very hard.   Most of times it will require jailbreak which is pain in butt to do and if you play online you end up get banned from PSN and online gaming sooner or later.

    What's an effect?   There is very few cheaters on PS3 online fps than on same games on PC.

    Sure they still are but diffrence is collosal.

    I didn't miss or ignore that case because that is CHEATING not BOTTING. And no this isn't a semantics point, those are two very different topics.

     

    Cheating is breaking the systems to get an advantage, aim hacks is a good example.

    Botting is having the computer run your character for you.

     

    Botting isn't common in the FPS genre to begin with because there isn't much to gain with it, especially in all of the non progression ones.

    I will give you, even though it isn't really on topic, that cheating in FPS games has gone down from when the genre was young. I remember characters flying up into the air and teleporting around in Delta Force and the early instant aim hacks in Counter Strike (although it was fun to watch how many people say it was impossible to create a program that would auto head shot for so long before finally getting proof that it was possible). Even leagues like the ESEA still ban people for cheating on a regular basis and they have their own cheat software on top of the valve anti-cheat software. You just don't run into it in every single match your in which is further helped by the vote to kick player option. If your cheating is obvious you'll be kicked quickly making it not as worth it.

     

    However, it isn't a reasonable comparison. Outside of cheating in a tournament, there is no financial gain in cheating in FPS gains. So if it is a pain to keep trying to get around the system to embarass people for a little bit, the amount that it is done goes down. With MMO botting there are significant gains to be made so the effort will always be there.

    Think you miss the point. 

    In order to run a bot on PS3 you would have to run a unauthorized code on PS3. Same as aimbots.  That's why I used it as example and it would be as hard.   (till last year it would be practically impossible because there were no jailbreak at all)

    Still have not missed the point.

     

    Let me put it far simpler:

     

    There is far less to gain from cheating in an FPS game vs botting in an MMO. Therefore less energy is put into bypassing the cheating.

     

    Secondly you are now comparing a closed system of a console vs the open system on a PC which is far different circumstances.

     

    But I get it, you truly believe that with just a little bit of effort companies could shut down 95% of botting in MMOs. They can't.

  • YakkinYakkin irvine, CAPosts: 919Member

    Okay, I joined in at the back end of this conversation, and I'm confused.

    Is botting and goldselling directly linked to one another? And we are asking if it's possible to keep the bots under control?

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

    Think you either missed or ignored some possible solutions.

    In example running aimbots or cheats on PS3 is very hard.   Most of times it will require jailbreak which is pain in butt to do and if you play online you end up get banned from PSN and online gaming sooner or later.

    What's an effect?   There is very few cheaters on PS3 online fps than on same games on PC.

    Sure they still are but diffrence is collosal.

    I didn't miss or ignore that case because that is CHEATING not BOTTING. And no this isn't a semantics point, those are two very different topics.

     

    Cheating is breaking the systems to get an advantage, aim hacks is a good example.

    Botting is having the computer run your character for you.

     

    Botting isn't common in the FPS genre to begin with because there isn't much to gain with it, especially in all of the non progression ones.

    I will give you, even though it isn't really on topic, that cheating in FPS games has gone down from when the genre was young. I remember characters flying up into the air and teleporting around in Delta Force and the early instant aim hacks in Counter Strike (although it was fun to watch how many people say it was impossible to create a program that would auto head shot for so long before finally getting proof that it was possible). Even leagues like the ESEA still ban people for cheating on a regular basis and they have their own cheat software on top of the valve anti-cheat software. You just don't run into it in every single match your in which is further helped by the vote to kick player option. If your cheating is obvious you'll be kicked quickly making it not as worth it.

     

    However, it isn't a reasonable comparison. Outside of cheating in a tournament, there is no financial gain in cheating in FPS gains. So if it is a pain to keep trying to get around the system to embarass people for a little bit, the amount that it is done goes down. With MMO botting there are significant gains to be made so the effort will always be there.

    Think you miss the point. 

    In order to run a bot on PS3 you would have to run a unauthorized code on PS3. Same as aimbots.  That's why I used it as example and it would be as hard.   (till last year it would be practically impossible because there were no jailbreak at all)

    Still have not missed the point.

     

    Let me put it far simpler:

     

    There is far less to gain from cheating in an FPS game vs botting in an MMO. Therefore less energy is put into bypassing the cheating.

     

    Secondly you are now comparing a closed system of a console vs the open system on a PC which is far different circumstances.

     

    But I get it, you truly believe that with just a little bit of effort companies could shut down 95% of botting in MMOs. They can't.

    Don't put words in my mouth - I never said with little effort.  It would have to be collosal effort with massive changes in OS and server's tools.  No idea where you got 95% as well. I won't speculate.

     

    There was MASSIVE energy put into bypassing console safety systems - because it was about running pirated games on it and after PS3 released - digital market for it did not exist and pirating market in PS2 was multi-million business especially in Asia.

  • DisdenaDisdena Troy, NYPosts: 1,093Member

    You know, I would actually like to see someone take the Riot Games approach to detecting bots: heavy-duty data mining. Riot's done a lot to identify certain types of behavior in League of Legends, and for the most part they identify the worst troublemakers by just analyzing the data across all the millions of games that are constantly being played.

    They found (and temp banned) the people who were abusing the reporting tool to bully other players with false reports; all they had to do was check out what group of people were filing the most reports against players who had never been punished, and then narrow it down based on other similar data. They found (and temp banned) the people who were abusing the queue system by trolling their teammates into leaving the game before it started; all they had to do was check out how which players had the most games fail to start due to a teammate queue dodging, and then narrow it down based on other similar data. The data generated by these players made them a dead giveaway because of how different they act compared to a normal player. They were significant statistical outliers, and that made them easy to spot.

    Bots would be several orders of magnitude easier to spot. While troublesome players act in a way that's somewhat different than other players, bots act with a predictability that no human being could possibly match. Given enough data, it wouldn't take more than a few minutes to sort out the players from the bots with a shocking amount of accuracy.

    Let me give you an example. When you're moving in an MMO, about how far do you run in a straight line before changing directions? After defeating and looting an enemy, about how long do you wait before moving again? How often do you jump? These numbers vary from player to player and from session to session. If there are 5000 accounts running bots, all of them should have virtually identical values for all of these because their movement is governed by the same set of instructions. On a bell curve showing the mean, median, or mode for all players for any one of these statistics, the 5000 bots would appear as a glaringly obvious spike.

    Even if the bot makers knew that you were specifically watching for this, they would be hardpressed to come up with a way around it. Since all of the bots are moving according to the same instructions, they're always going to be the same and thus appear abnormal. Even putting in deliberate randomness (wait for a random period of 1-20 seconds after looking a mob before moving again) wouldn't help because such regular randomness still doesn't look human. As long as the heuristic you're using to sniff out these bots is smart enough, you'll always find them.

    But the even better part is that bot makers DON'T know specifically what you're watching for. If they don't know you're tracking straight-line distance and post-looting behavior, they don't even know that's where they'd need to add randomness. And that's far from the only option available... that's just movement alone. Trying to nail harvest bots? Track how long a node was spawned before the player harvested it. Track how often the player visits a node that wasn't the closest to him. Track how full his inventory is before he leaves the zone or logs out, or track how long he remains in the zone once his inventory is full. Combat: How often does his HP go below 1/2? How about his MP/energy? How full is his HP when he engages an enemy? How often does he rest? How long did it take him to hit level 20, how many items did he vendor in that time, how many quests has he done, how much damage has he dealt? All of these things expose bots as outliers, and you can even have a detection system that flags or bans as soon as it notices a player with values equal to those of previously confirmed bots.

    You can't ensure that no one can ever bot in your game, but you can make it so that it's impossible to have a bot empire or a popular bot program. Heuristically identify behavior that doesn't match how human beings are playing your game.

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  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,765Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Disdena

    Let me give you an example. When you're moving in an MMO, about how far do you run in a straight line before changing directions? After defeating and looting an enemy, about how long do you wait before moving again? How often do you jump? These numbers vary from player to player and from session to session. If there are 5000 accounts running bots, all of them should have virtually identical values for all of these because their movement is governed by the same set of instructions. On a bell curve showing the mean, median, or mode for all players for any one of these statistics, the 5000 bots would appear as a glaringly obvious spike.

    Even if the bot makers knew that you were specifically watching for this, they would be hardpressed to come up with a way around it. Since all of the bots are moving according to the same instructions, they're always going to be the same and thus appear abnormal. Even putting in deliberate randomness (wait for a random period of 1-20 seconds after looking a mob before moving again) wouldn't help because such regular randomness still doesn't look human. As long as the heuristic you're using to sniff out these bots is smart enough, you'll always find them.

    But the even better part is that bot makers DON'T know specifically what you're watching for. If they don't know you're tracking straight-line distance and post-looting behavior, they don't even know that's where they'd need to add randomness. And that's far from the only option available... that's just movement alone. Trying to nail harvest bots? Track how long a node was spawned before the player harvested it. Track how often the player visits a node that wasn't the closest to him. Track how full his inventory is before he leaves the zone or logs out, or track how long he remains in the zone once his inventory is full. Combat: How often does his HP go below 1/2? How about his MP/energy? How full is his HP when he engages an enemy? How often does he rest? How long did it take him to hit level 20, how many items did he vendor in that time, how many quests has he done, how much damage has he dealt? All of these things expose bots as outliers, and you can even have a detection system that flags or bans as soon as it notices a player with values equal to those of previously confirmed bots.

    You can't ensure that no one can ever bot in your game, but you can make it so that it's impossible to have a bot empire or a popular bot program. Heuristically identify behavior that doesn't match how human beings are playing your game.

    There are some problems with that.  One is that if the bot-makers know what stats you're looking for, it's pretty easy to show up as not a bot on those stats.  Suppose that you're looking for straight line running distance.  Throwing some randomness into that is completely trivial.  Suppose that you look for a given distribution of straight line running distance.  It's easy to dodge that, as well:  give the randomness a component that varies by session.  And then another component that varies by bot ID.

    For example, the first time a bot is initalized, it could roll a random number and store that number forever.  (I.e., check to see if there's a saved random number, and if not, then roll one and save it in a file where it will be found in the future.)  Each time the bot program is loaded, it rolls a random number and then stores that one for the duration of the session, but a new random number the next time the program is loaded.  And then each time the character has to move, it rolls a third random number.  And then any time the bot has to move, the distance it moves is the "ideal" distance (what it would be with no randomness) plus the sum of the three random numbers.

    Compared to the difficultly of making a working bot program in the first place, that mild bit of randomness would be completely trivial to program.  The data analytics that you'd need to detect that bot from straight-line running distance would be prohibitively expensive.  Meanwhile, it's not only trivial to code, but you could easily do the same thing for anything else that you think the server might possibly check for bot detection.

    Game companies might hope to get some edge from the bots not knowing what they're going to check.  But a bot programmer can just throw a bit of randomness onto everything.  There doesn't have to be a data spike anywhere for what bots do.  The only bots that you'd catch are the ones whose programmers are stupid.  But catching and banning some bot programs and not others isn't enough.  If it becomes widely known that this bot program will get you banned and that one won't, then guess which one the botters will use.

  • stratasaurusstratasaurus Seattle, WAPosts: 220Member
    As annoying as bots are, and I don't support them nor do i buy gold or anything else, I really cannot say in any MMO I have ever played I really felt bots had a siginificant impact on my playing of the game.  I would love to see bots gone but if it had to come down to me not being able to run say a music program in the background or not being able to switch over to look something up online without completely exiting the game...I'd rather just live with and ignore the bots.
  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 5,608Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Enigmatus

    Okay, I joined in at the back end of this conversation, and I'm confused.

    Is botting and goldselling directly linked to one another? And we are asking if it's possible to keep the bots under control?

    Gold farmers (not necessarily the same as "seller" which is typically a broker or middle man) and power-leveling services are by far the majority of botters. There are also individuals with the skill to write their own scripts (or those who obtain those keyboard simulation scripts written by someone else) for their own purposes be it ammassing wealth or grinding levels.

     

    But yeah, when people talk about botting they're usually talking about gold farmer bots.

  • itgrowlsitgrowls newport news, VAPosts: 2,951Member

    I don't like bots as much as you do in fact i hate gold farmers because of their constant need to steal peoples accounts (which happened to me on two occassions) but i think they really have more important things to work on right now. They put a bandaid on farming for loot and for stealing accounts. I think they are focused on removing those last few bugs before busting those botters and gold farmers right out of the game forever.

    Interesting how they can have a system of being able to buy gold and yet farmers are still there. Weird.

    I think they'll implement the code to prevent teleportation hacks like blizz did when they added teleportations, and I think they'll improve the DR to prevent gold farmers from going nuts in the dungeons for gold.

    DR definitely needs an overhaul starting with showing as a debuff with a timer so that real players can see how long it will be. 

    It's barely been a month, we need to just be patient.

  • stratasaurusstratasaurus Seattle, WAPosts: 220Member

    This isn't really on topic but has to do with bot control and was something I was thinking about way back during I believe BC on Wow.  At that time if I remember correctly Wow come out with a fairly aggressive attack on both sellers and buyers of gold.  I even knew a guy that got his account banned for buying gold from a site.  I thought it would be interesting if pepole used that against their enemies.  Say for example somebody camps you over and over again and you get pissed, just hop online and buy a fairly large amount of gold and have it sent to their character, they get banned.  Some games like GW2 you wouldn't really see this since you can't tell who you are fighting against in WvW and there really is no "camping" in pvp.

     

    Not that I would ever do this I just often wondering what would stop someone with less morals and some free money from taking this approach.  Sometimes being too strict in your fight against bots/gold sellers/gold buyers can open up exploits for your faithful playerbase.

  • stratasaurusstratasaurus Seattle, WAPosts: 220Member
    Originally posted by itgrowls

    I don't like bots as much as you do in fact i hate gold farmers because of their constant need to steal peoples accounts (which happened to me on two occassions) but i think they really have more important things to work on right now. They put a bandaid on farming for loot and for stealing accounts. I think they are focused on removing those last few bugs before busting those botters and gold farmers right out of the game forever.

    Interesting how they can have a system of being able to buy gold and yet farmers are still there. Weird.

    I think they'll implement the code to prevent teleportation hacks like blizz did when they added teleportations, and I think they'll improve the DR to prevent gold farmers from going nuts in the dungeons for gold.

    DR definitely needs an overhaul starting with showing as a debuff with a timer so that real players can see how long it will be. 

    It's barely been a month, we need to just be patient.

    You do realize this is a general thread about bots in all MMORPGs and not a GW2 thread right.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,765Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by itgrowls

    I think they'll implement the code to prevent teleportation hacks like blizz did when they added teleportations, and I think they'll improve the DR to prevent gold farmers from going nuts in the dungeons for gold.

    The mysterious thing is why code to prevent teleportation hacks wasn't in place years ago.  They should have known the day they decided that they would make Guild Wars 2 in the first place that this was nearly guaranteed to be a problem if there wasn't server-side code to catch and stop it.  That there wouldn't be server-side code in place by time the game had its first playable demo at a trade show is mystifying.

  • FrodoFraginsFrodoFragins Manchester, NHPosts: 2,926Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Enigmatus

    Okay, I joined in at the back end of this conversation, and I'm confused.

    Is botting and goldselling directly linked to one another? And we are asking if it's possible to keep the bots under control?

    Yes and no.

     

    Yes bots grind away 24/7 finding items and gold.  Some bot runners sell their gold to goldsellers rather than sell directly themselves.  A lot of gold is stolen from hacked accounts as well which is a separate issue.  Although many hacked accounts then have bots running them until the account is recovered.

     

    And yes, the gist of the question was can they be under control.  Not whether they can be eliminated.

     

    It just seems that most devs now resort to reporting, rather than analyzing player behavior and/or detecting bots through a separate program like Warden.

     

     

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