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[Column] General: Botting is a Weird Word

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,633MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

Botting is one of the dirty words in MMOs today. In our latest Devil's Advocate, botting is the subject du jour. See why we think "botting" is a weird word and then tell us what you think of the subject in the comments.

For those of you who don’t know what botting is, it’s the practice of using a third-party program or some assemblage of commands or code to repeatedly automate gameplay actions. By “repeatedly,” we’re talking about the “running around a predetermined path killing things and looting them and selling the goods for gold for hours on end” sort of automated gameplay. 

Read more of Victor Barreiro Jr.'s The Devil's Advocate: Botting is a Weird Word.

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Comments

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,281Member Uncommon

    I've never used a bot, and never will. It's just not my thing, on a number of levels. I particularly hate battle ground botters. Every single mmorpg ever made has had botters though. From WoW, to GW2, to Age of Wushu, they all have bots.

     

    Bots can be damaging to in game economies to varying degrees. In WoW I believe the battle grounds were far more disruptive than mining bots. On the other end, I believe mining/farming bots destroyed GW2 economy. When Vendoring mob drops nets more than placing on the market there, are serious issues.

     

    Now, in Wushu there are farming bots, as in mining, wood cutting etc. Strangely I'm kinda glad they're there. It takes a lot of material to craft what you want in Wushu. The botters along with normal player competition keeps raw material prices relatively low. I know what some are thinking, "what about the people mining." I know, they make less. The first manufacturing tier that uses those materials makes roughly 60% profit  though, and that tier is open to everyone one within the first hour of the game. It's about as close to a win/win as it gets. 

     

    As far as the botter risk reward mindset, the concept is new to me. As scary as i am when it comes to that type of thing, the risk is too high. I can see some feel differently though, especially those in it to make real money. 

     

    I still against botting. In a perfect world there would be no cash shops, bots, hackers, or team practice breakers. Sadly that world has not been built. I'm still holding on to the dream though.

     
  • e4foxtrote4foxtrot anytown, PAPosts: 6Member
    Anyone remember Ultima Online's way of handling unattended game play? The player would be sent to jail and he would have to interact with a live GM. You would be stuck in jail until explained what you were doing and why. It was up to the GM to release you from jail.
  • drowelfdrowelf phenix city, ALPosts: 104Member

    yes Botting is just thieving form a different point of view. Like a shoplifter once said to me when we caught him red handed. "It's not hearting any one". Shure and where does the store get the money to buy what you stole, not from a money tree for sure.  

    Botting hurts the game, the players who are not botting, the whole community by direct and in direct ways it is a form of cheating if you will.  

  • MumboJumboMumboJumbo LondonPosts: 3,221Member
    Very interesting article. You've shared your findings on the mindset of the botter and how it's a sort of gamification gamble activity  itself, what sort of "best practices" or textbook egs did you dig up??
  • ZagavaVonnZagavaVonn Akron, OHPosts: 251Member Uncommon

    SWG had a fairly detailed macro scripting language, allowing you to automate a lot of the more tedious tasks fairly easily. It also allowed people to bot fairly easily, and it was a fairly lucrative business at times. For example using a Doctor, you could load him up with medic packs, charge people an entrance fee to your house, then sit there unattended while the doc buffed people. It was a great money earner, my Doc was sitting by the Mining Outpost on Dantooine which used to be a big grinding spot back long ago. So yes people hate bots, but they also hate having to wait for buffs and many other inconveniences that lead to botting in the first place....

    Moreover why is botting 'bad', but setting up harvestors instead of mining by hand is not? And why is botting for items / resources bad, but using pets / sidekicks / henchmen to auto-attack and auto-heal you is not bad? It's a bit blurry at times....

  • Four0SixFour0Six Missoula, MTPosts: 1,181Member Uncommon

    Weird exactly. Semantics.

    1 persons bot is another's "game-breaking-theft".

    FFA PvP deals with bots BTW. Kills them dead.

    Also this: I could site several actions that many many many players do on a everyday basis, that are just as damaging.

    For one: Freakshow farming in CoX. (Loved that btw)

     

  • vesuviasvesuvias No Where, WAPosts: 147Member
    Originally posted by Four0Six

    Weird exactly. Semantics.

    1 persons bot is another's "game-breaking-theft".

    FFA PvP deals with bots BTW. Kills them dead.

    Also this: I could site several actions that many many many players do on a everyday basis, that are just as damaging.

    For one: Freakshow farming in CoX. (Loved that btw)

     

    This is the elephant in the room for this discussion. If farming 24/7 in some way presents a danger to the environment. Then the hardcore 80+ hour gamers also present the same danger. While they may not go 24 hours straight they are far more efficent in gathering resources than a bot.  The impact on an individual basis would be the same.

    The practical problem with that thinking is that no reasonable person would ever engage in such behavior for that long a period of time (clearly I under estimate the will and tolerance for monotony of our hardcore gamers though). Because of this the amount who do this should be rare enough for the economy to absorb their aborations of normal expected play. Bots cause problems not because of what they do, but because they raise the occurance of this over-consumption of resources. They make what is normally rare a common occurance esspecially if the bot can be easilly setup by everyone that plays. 

    It's this communistic like equalising that breaks the economy. Either you bot or you are left behind economically. But if that is the case, then why is powergaming any more acceptable. Either you Powergame and invest 80+ hours a week or you are left behind economically.

    Now clearly the developers have set rules where they authorize powergaming and not botting. One way of "breaking the economy" is considered correct while the other is "cheating" but that distinction is subjective. It's all simply because the developers declared it so, not inherant to the rules or mechanics of game itself. Accordingly, this style of design is completely dependent on the concept that everyone can't "powergame" only a small percentage can. If large percentage of the playerbase could powergame wouldn't that also ruin the economy in the same way a huge percentage of bots would?

     

  • AnirethAnireth Posts: 599Member Uncommon

    The thing is, 99.99% of the playerbase does not ppowergame. It's never a large percentage. And even the most arduous powergamer can not farm as much as a boat. You can farm for 24 hours straight, maybe 48. But 80 not. In a week yes, but thats over 50% of the time "wasted". Also don't forget that you can have more then one bot running, and that nothing keeps powergamers from using bots. If you say powergaming is okay, botting is okay, why would powergaming and botting not be okay? Now people have to do both to keep up.

    It's just that botting is far easier to regulate then powergaming. Either you are moving your character, or nobody does. This also does apply to people sharing accounts. You or nobody.

    Whereas powergaming..where does it start? 4 hours a day? 6? 8? 10? 20? What if i play 10 hours one day, but only 1 the next? What if i play 4 hours the next day?

    Like in the real world, the arms race will not end if you start it. You will not create balance by allowing botting, it will only limit the amount of people being able to enjoy the game to even less people, as you have to play a lot and use bots, which means you have to have multiple accounts, multiple computers probably, all have to run 24/7, which means noise, lots of heat, often light, and of course the power..which costs, too. So you managed to start another arms race, that of who has more money for computers and power etc. You happy? ;)

    I'll wait to the day's end when the moon is high
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  • MondoA2JMondoA2J Henderson, NVPosts: 258Member

     

    Mmm botting is bad.....mkay?

    Jokes aside.

    Under any circumstance I feel botting is a terrible practice.

    Its basically cheating. I stopped cheating at board games when I was like 7.

    Ya know why? Cause it was stupid. Now making money and cheating?

    Kudos....but still really really frakked up.

    MMORPG Gamers/Developers need a reality check!

  • OutllawOutllaw StrasbourgPosts: 3Member
    Botting makes for a fantastic secondary income irl as well. I've been automating and selling Eve Online accounts for years. The nice part is the way CCP "polices" the game is it is extremely secure for the buyer. All they do is ban the account that sold the character (was extensively tested by informing them of transactions after they were done and reviewing the results)

    Sure people cry about it breaking stuff and being unfair, but it isn't the case if you don't even play the game. The only "edge" it gives me over another player is that I turn a real life profit off of a $0 investment. People who buy accounts and resources from me never complain, in fact they are grateful someone has been doing the work for them for years.
  • AlumicardAlumicard wea, ALPosts: 292Member Uncommon

    QUESTION TO EVERYONE

    Why are bots at the stock market ok but when it comes to games they destroy the economy?

  • PurutzilPurutzil East Stroudsburg, PAPosts: 2,925Member Uncommon
    I prefer the term 'Using a script'. Longer but botting or hacking just gives people false credit like the people doing them actually have the smarts to do things themselves. Don't want to give false credit now. :)
  • rojoArcueidrojoArcueid hell, NJPosts: 6,779Member Uncommon

    when talking about bots the first game to come to my mind is Silkroad online. A bunch of server with 24/7 full population.... more than half are bots. According to their own forums (i read it a couple years ago) you had to pay real money to be granted priority log in and if the servers were full they would force log out a free player to give you the spot.

     

    Silkbot Online.... a bot nest.

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  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member
    Originally posted by Alumicard

    Why are bots at the stock market ok but when it comes to games they destroy the economy?

    They do destroy the economy.  Most of the population of the world eeks out an existance of being constantly being pushed from one career to another escaping waves of automation and machinery, trying to find roles in society which are difficult to script.  It is only the ever-increasing complexity of our technology creating new roles servicing the bots that prevents the entire game of reality from collapsing.

  • victorbjrvictorbjr Quezon CityPosts: 185Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by maplestone
    Originally posted by Alumicard

    Why are bots at the stock market ok but when it comes to games they destroy the economy?

    They do destroy the economy.  Most of the population of the world eeks out an existance of being constantly being pushed from one career to another escaping waves of automation and machinery, trying to find roles in society which are difficult to script.  It is only the ever-increasing complexity of our technology creating new roles servicing the bots that prevents the entire game of reality from collapsing.

     

    Well said. Maplestone! Note also that bots cannot compensate for human idiocies like lying, so stock market disasters can happen if you always let automated process override human thinking. 

     

    Case in point: I wrote an article in April about a potential stocks disaster that was caused by a tweet that bots thought was legit, but that humans could see was a fabrication. Quick checking averted a potential issue in the US stock exchange: http://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/technology/27339-human-factor-averts-stocks-disaster

    A writer and gamer from the Philippines. Loves his mom dearly. :)

    Can also be found on http://www.gamesandgeekery.com

  • PhaserlightPhaserlight Boca Raton, FLPosts: 867Member Uncommon

    That's funny; in my game of choice, we use the word 'Botting' to mean 'Killing bots' (NPCs).  Game mechanics are such that botting (as the term implies in this article) for gain is practically impossible.  I say 'practically' because someone could potentially run a script to set up a virtual vendor selling goods.  Collecting loot?  Not so much.

    The comment about the stock market made me smile.

    "To be what you are not, experience what you are not." -Saint John of the Cross
    Authored 110 missions in Vendetta Online
    Check it out on Steam

  • ZephlosZephlos nine, GAPosts: 35Member

    I remember full on botting to supply my guild with potions and food in WoW as well as the personal goodies one can bot for.

    Funny thing is as much as i bottted, (usually several hours a day) I was never able to amass as much wealth or impact the servers Eco as much as our guilds AH camper.  He had over 500k in gold just from sitting at the AH buying low and selling high, and that was only from a few days of work.  Me I would bot for over a  week and only manage around 200k.


     

    I really do question this whole "it damages the economy" line.

    1 has anyone proven that it does in fact damage a servers Eco?

    2 if so, is its impact and damage comparable to other "game breaking" tactics?

    3 Money is built into these games as a grind mechanic so, those who choose to automate the most boring "time sink" aspects of the game would obviously piss off the devs. If only because they have circumvented a built in time sink that would normally only benefit the devs pocket books.
    Remember every minute,hour,day you spend grinding is a day the devs get payed for. “If you ant grinding, we ant getting payed”


     

    By botting one is effectively cutting out the fat of the game, the pointless crap that is designed purely for the purpose of eating away at time one could spend...i dunno actually playing the game.

    After a while with botting in WoW I realized that WoW had almost nothing to it that was not just a mind numbing grind anyway.  In the case of games like wow, (IMHO) they really are designed for bots more than for humans anyway.

     

    I could have automated my entire "WoW life" if i had wanted to, and never logged back into the game. What does that say for the depth and complexity of the game in general?

  • donpopukidonpopuki Dearborn, MIPosts: 591Member

    I used to bot in EQ2. Problem with holy trinity games is that sometimes it's very hard to find groups that have the right composotion. I had my main/tank which I controled manualy and a healer and dps which were controled by the bot program. Actually programming the bots was quite fun and a good intro into basic scripting.

    A friend of mine also ran a 3 man bot team and we would team up to do group content such as dungeons. We weren't trying to make loads of money and we never used the bots offline. We just wanted to experiance the game's content. Another guy in our guild had a 6 bot team and we would team up with him to do easy raid content, 3 from me, 3 from friend one and 6 from the last guy which made a 12 man raid team made up of just 3 people!

    We did't make a nuisance of ourselves and camp contested mobs. Like I said before it was due to wanting to play the content of the gam but the game mechincs of grouping made that difficult.

  • scrittyscritty WorcesterPosts: 89Member
    Don't confuse botting with multi boxing. Multi boxing requires that the account holder control every action of all the characters he plays. Follow nad assist are normally transmitted - but they are wheter one person is playing several accounts or several people are.
  • victorbjrvictorbjr Quezon CityPosts: 185Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by donpopuki

    I used to bot in EQ2. Problem with holy trinity games is that sometimes it's very hard to find groups that have the right composotion. I had my main/tank which I controled manualy and a healer and dps which were controled by the bot program. Actually programming the bots was quite fun and a good intro into basic scripting.

    A friend of mine also ran a 3 man bot team and we would team up to do group content such as dungeons. We weren't trying to make loads of money and we never used the bots offline. We just wanted to experiance the game's content. Another guy in our guild had a 6 bot team and we would team up with him to do easy raid content, 3 from me, 3 from friend one and 6 from the last guy which made a 12 man raid team made up of just 3 people!

    We did't make a nuisance of ourselves and camp contested mobs. Like I said before it was due to wanting to play the content of the gam but the game mechincs of grouping made that difficult.

     

    I think you're referring to multiboxing. Different aspect of gaming, with (depending on the game) a lot more legitimacy as a tactic since you're playing ALL those characters at once.

    A writer and gamer from the Philippines. Loves his mom dearly. :)

    Can also be found on http://www.gamesandgeekery.com

  • donpopukidonpopuki Dearborn, MIPosts: 591Member
    Originally posted by victorbjr
    Originally posted by donpopuki

    I used to bot in EQ2. Problem with holy trinity games is that sometimes it's very hard to find groups that have the right composotion. I had my main/tank which I controled manualy and a healer and dps which were controled by the bot program. Actually programming the bots was quite fun and a good intro into basic scripting.

    A friend of mine also ran a 3 man bot team and we would team up to do group content such as dungeons. We weren't trying to make loads of money and we never used the bots offline. We just wanted to experiance the game's content. Another guy in our guild had a 6 bot team and we would team up with him to do easy raid content, 3 from me, 3 from friend one and 6 from the last guy which made a 12 man raid team made up of just 3 people!

    We did't make a nuisance of ourselves and camp contested mobs. Like I said before it was due to wanting to play the content of the gam but the game mechincs of grouping made that difficult.

     

    I think you're referring to multiboxing. Different aspect of gaming, with (depending on the game) a lot more legitimacy as a tactic since you're playing ALL those characters at once.

    Well yes it is multi boxing but my other toons were controlled by macro scripts so in a way it was multiboxing botting. I was using  third party software that technically could get me banned. I guess if you really wanted to split hairs a true "bot" would operate without human supervision.

  • VolgoreVolgore Posts: 2,209Member Uncommon

    I've been botting in WoW for a very long time and in and around the botting "scene" incl. writing tutorials, doing translations etc. It was a great time.

    I never intended to make a fortune on gold or matsm or put 50 stacks of some weave on the AH, i rather did it for the fun of it. So you probably never run into me, as unlike the pro-farmers i prefered rather unpopular spots in the game. Setting up the bot to make it look as human as possible or route through a difficult terrain and then watch it doing it's thing was fun and interesting. I'm not talking about these cheap scripts you saw running characters into a tree or another obstacle for 12 hours or that get your toon stuck in a die, rezz, drink, rebuff, die loop to no end. Mine was set up to idle when another player was near, to not interrupt someone's questing or farming. I also did not run the bot in PvP.

    In the end, i lost my account in a huge banwave, but at that time i was already so tired of WoW that i didn't mind so much.

    I leveled fishing in Rift by a simple fishbot that i wrote, it brought back a little of the old thrill.

    If a game is fun, i'd always play and enjoy it myself. But setting up automated playing, fiddling around to get it working is also an interesting thing, as i imagine multiboxing is in it's own way.

     

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  • LeGrosGamerLeGrosGamer Canada, QCPosts: 210Member
    I'll never understand how people can buy in game currency for real life money , just look how messed up Diablo 3's auction house is today, if you haven't played for 6~12 months, you will get a heart attack when you open the AH and view the prices.   Botters screw any economy and players buying off botters are simply shooting themselves in the foot.  D3 is just one easy example but almost all F2P titles if not ALL have a screwed up economy.  And it's funny how it's always the F2P titles that have the WORST botting problems and the WORST economy.   Ok in EVE-Online you do have botters, but at least in EVE-Online we can shoot the living hell out of them since the game is a open FFA PVP concept. :)
  • krazeekkrazeek Beckley, WVPosts: 11Member

    I'm starting to get into the whole economic scene of MMOs and trying my hand at writing one with a bunch of friends. After reading scores of pages about Bartle Gamer Types and Sinks vs Faucets, I've come to the conclusion that bots (no matter how hated they are) are essential for the developers of games.

     

    When an element of a game is botted more often than not, it tells the devs of an area of the game that needs attention and improvement. In this mindset, if resource harvesting in a game such as Wushu or ATITD is botted, it says that those aspects need to be revised to improve interest in the core mechanics of the game.

     

    I've witnessed first-hand the effect bots have in a game. In ATITD, bots are not only allowed, but almost encouraged. Due to this, the resources to build stuff goes up, and the vicious cycle just repeats itself.

     

    I'm not trying to justify botting or anything like that - I think it's the sleazy form of income gain that hurts the game as a whole. I just believe that there is potential gain from the developers looking at the aspects of the game that are botted.

     
  • Eir_SEir_S Argyle, NYPosts: 4,623Member
    I've never been too bothered by what they did in game to slow my own progress.  I could usually avoid them, it was just their presence in games like WoW that irked me, it was the principle of the thing.  Thankfully, ANet pretty much eliminated them from GW2.  It's an amazing difference from earlier this year.
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