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Bot

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For the 5-man TBC-instance abbreviated so, see Botanica. For the 10/25-man Cata-raid also abbreviated so, see Bastion of Twilight.

Also known as AFK gaming, a bot is a method of controlling an in-game character by an automated means that does not require direct interaction from a player. Sometimes known as an "autoplaying game client", this is strictly prohibited by the World of Warcraft Terms of Use Agreement. Most often, a bot uses a series of automated macros to control the character in game.

If you suspect a character is being played by a bot, you are encouraged by Blizzard to right-click the name of the suspicious character and report them for cheating. This it the most effective and helpful method for reporting one's suspicions (though it's important to remember they are merely suspicions) as it snapshots a very large amount of information about the character in question. It's also important to note that you will never know about the results of an investigation, as this information is considered, by Blizzard's privacy policy, to be strictly between themselves and the reported party.

Bot uses

Gold and material farming

Bots can be used to farm gold, either directly (from gold dropped by mobs), or by proxy (materials that sell for gold). Certain areas in WoW are explored and mapped by botting communities which yield the best rate of gold per hour. But a lot of botters also farm for rare items which have very low drop rates, such as the Hyacinth Macaw from Stranglethorn Vale. Items like these have phenomenally low drop rates (roughly 1 in 1500 for the Macaw) and would be almost impossible to farm without a bot. These methods are also used by gold farmers, professional Warcraft players who sell in-game gold, loot, or services for real-world money. This violates Blizzard's Terms of Use agreement and may get both parties banned, however this is most often not the case as Blizzard has more of an interest in stopping the sellers (not the buyers) of gold trading. These farmers automate the process with bots, either to powerlevel characters unattended or to grind mobs continuously for rare drops.

Honor farming and Leveling

Bots can also be used for farming honor at the various battlegrounds (this is especially true in the current Call to Arms battleground). Bots such as Pirox and Honorbuddy even include profiles for all the battlegrounds by default. One of the most popular uses of bots, however, is leveling. This can be done in one of three ways; Questing, PvPing, and pure grinding. Some bots support quest profiles, which automatically perform quests (including quest pickup and turn in). PvP leveling is popular during Call to Arms weekends, which provide double-experience for each battleground played. And pure grinding is simply a basic process to kill certain mobs in certain areas till the player levels. For a long time, from 2005 till 2009, pure grinding was the only method used to level with a bot, since questing profiles hadn't been developed yet, and PvP battlegrounds yielded no experience.

History

Early bots

A number of bots developed by numerous people started appearing within a year or two of World of Warcraft's release, such as Openbot. However, the most notable and famous of which was Glider, which first appeared in 2005. Developed by Michael Donnelly, Glider was noted for its particular ease of use, numerous features, and robust community. Its strong community created many profiles to use with the bot, and distributed them freely. After it's initial popularity, Glider was developed into a full featured bot in 2007 and sold for $25. The bot and its community thrived for over 4 years, and over 100,000 copies of Glider were sold (as of 2008). Glider quickly became the de-facto program of choice for most botters.

Glider lawsuit

In July of 2008, Blizzard filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona against the makers of Glider. The lawsuit alleged that MDY Industries, LLC (the company selling Glider) were liable for copyright infringement based, in part, on the premise that users of the World of Warcraft software are actually "licensees" rather than owners of their copy of software. Public Knowledge, a public interest group, publicaly criticized the decision. However, the court found that Glider infringed upon Blizzard's intellectual property and ordered the makers of Glider to pay Blizzard six million dollars. In March 2009, MDY suspended Glider sales and operations, as well as closed their online community. As of September 2009, they are appealing the court decision.

Second Generation

After Glider ceased selling and developing their bot, a number of newer bots started appearing in late 2009, as there was high demand among the botting community for a new bot similar to Glider. Dubbed the "second generation" of bots, there were quite a few bots that were developed around that time. However, two bots quickly became favorites, Pirox and Gatherbuddy (aka, Honorbuddy). Both of them are very similar to Glider and offered the same features, control and creation of profiles, and ease of use. Both currently have thriving online communities, as most of the previous members of Glider migrated over.

Spotting a bot

There are several signs that may indicate that one player in action could be a bot, but many of them have reasonable explanations.

Signs

  • Silence: Bots may not normally respond to tells or emotes. Sometimes they have automated replies when whispered. Other bots may automatically log out if players repeatedly send whispers to them.
  • Odd movement: Bots often move irregularly. They may spin around, jump, run in circles, zig-zags, and into objects, or have a recurring pattern of movement.
  • Questionable gear: Bots will almost always use BoE gear. Sometimes the gear is significantly worse than ideal gear for a character of that level.
  • Default pet names: Most bots are hunters due to the ease of use of the class. Their pets may have their default names such as "Boar", or complete gibberish names such as "argfwega".

Explanations

  • Silence: Players may not want to talk to others while they're busy playing, and may have an addon to produce automated messages for instances for when they do not want to be disturbed.
  • Odd movement: WoW can be a bandwidth-consuming and high-latency game, and sometimes players may have a sub-optimal connection, causing character movements which may seem jerky or "bot-like". Larger patterns of movement can be debatable - a player may be circling or farming an area to plan or execute a legitimate strategy.
  • Questionable gear: Players may not have the gold, time, or desire to remain as geared as possible by running instances or doing quests. Some characters may be twinks, a type of character which commonly wears BoE goods. Newer players may not always be aware of the possibility of upgrading their gear.
  • Default pet names: World of Warcraft gives freedom to players on what to name their pet, and some may choose to keep the default name. However, gibberish names are against the terms of use, regardless of whether the player is a bot.

You should always report a bot to a GM if you are bothered by one, or if one is interfering with your normal play. You should include the time you have seen them, where you have seen them, and your reasons that you believe that the player is a bot.

Effects of botting

Bots may or may not directly interfere with players' gameplay. A bot farming mobs or resource nodes in an area may reduce the supply of those things for real players. Some players may simply be bothered by the breaking of immersion in the game world when they believe they recognize a bot, or may value a sense of fairness in which gains should not be achieved without direct human effort. Bots are considered by some to be a threat to a server's virtual economy due to the excessive farming, while others believe that economy normalization is possible on servers with many gold farmers.

Blizzard actions against bots

Nevalistis answered some of the common complaints that come up every time a player complains about bots not being banned.

Mining Bots are everywhere again | 2011-12-30 12:06 | Blizzard Entertainment Nevalistis

It is a paying account, why ban them?

This is one of the biggest misconceptions we have, and I genuinely wish we could permanently clear it up. I'll provide a few hypothetical situations (mind you, these numbers are ENTIRELY made up).

Let's say 90% of botters were compromised accounts. This means that 90% of these botters aren't paying accounts; they're stolen accounts, which are generally fueled by stolen credit cards. These payments usually get disputed and taken back, which actually costs us money. If we're looking to make a purely fiscal observation, it makes no financial sense to let these continue (aside from the fact that we don't like compromised accounts to begin with - we want our players to be playing their own accounts safely and enjoyably).

Let's go on the other side of the fence and say 90% of these botters were otherwise legitimate players paying for their accounts, as you purport. When players bot, other players are inconvenienced by this behavior (and trust me, you guys outnumber the botters, even if you may feel it's the other way around). The inconveniences range from normal players having difficulty farming on their own to struggling to keep up with an economy that's being forcibly fluctuated via unfair advantage. When players are inconvenienced in this manner, they submit petitions.

Every petition submitted goes to a Game Master for review. A living, breathing person that is paid to provide customer service looks over it, does what's necessary for the situation (in botting cases, usually forwarding the info on to our exploitation/hacks team), and provides a response. Let's say 1-2 people are inconvenienced by a single botter (in all likelihood, we probably get many more petitions per botter than that). This would mean each botter is inconveniencing at least as many, and likely more, players that are positive to the community (the kinds of players we like and want to continue to play our game). For each botter we allow to continue botting, we potentially stand to lose more than we gain for a single subscription, just out of the sheer inconvenience it causes other players.

Even if you change those numbers around of legitimate players versus compromised accounts - we only stand to lose more if we don't take action on bots (which we do, regularly).

Blizzard needs to step it up. Unfortunately, the bots you see are no longer just hacked accounts...it's actual players exploiting the game by using bots to farm when they sleep or are away, therefore when blizzard sends a message investigating the matter they respond as a real player and no action is taken..at least that is my assumption since two of these jerks are still regularly botting Uldum.

This has been stated many times before, but action being taken against botters takes a long time to come about. The reason why is pretty simple, and another player in this thread has stated it quite eloquently, so I'll be highlighting it here:

Blizzard investigates every single bot report. But as they are intelligent they wait until they can patch a hotfix for the bot before they do mass ban waves. This cures the infection instead of treating the symptom.

We don't generally hit bots individually as we receive the reports because it doesn't ultimately solve the issue - they just acquire another account, either legitimately or illegitimately, and get back to botting. Instead, it's much more effective to study the bots, devise the method they are abusing, and break that method. In the process, we also construct ways of detecting the behavior, and create systems in which we can catch those bots and remove them much more quickly. It's an ever-evolving battle, however. Botters are smart too, and they figure out what it is we figured out, and develop new bots. We start the cycle over again, but it also means we've eliminated a method of exploitation and have to move on to the next. I hope that makes sense - it's a very lengthy process, and for the best intentions of that process (and preventing providing that info to those who would abuse it), I can't go into much more detail.

If they don't whisper you back its a pretty sure sign that they're botting

Not quite. I tend to get anti-social when I'm mining. It gets me in an almost hypnotic groove. >o.o< All jokes aside, not all players will respond to unsolicited whispers - after all, they know as little about your intentions (unless clearly stated) as you know about theirs. Some just feel like mining for a while, or do it while multi-tasking and reading Facebook or Reddit or something. I may or may not be speaking from experience. /coughs

How many real people, actual players do YOU KNOW personally that can fly around in the exact same pattern for 48 straight hours...and sometimes in fact weeks continuously without logging off?

And how many real people do you know who will sit at their computers and watch someone commit to these patterns for 48 hours straight? It's not an efficient manner to monitor bots, and we don't have our staff to do it any more than we expect our players to. It's also one of many factors that's considered, and unless you've been personally observing accounts for that long yourself, it's probably not quite working the way you perceive it to be. >^.~< Again, my discretion here is necessary, but suffice it to say it's taken into account. There are other, better ways to identify bots and fight them. We have a team staffed specifically for this purpose. But it is time consuming, and it regrettably needs to be to be most effective. Bots don't get removed in small numerical batches; when we strike at them, it's usually in the hundreds, if not thousands.

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