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r1ft Gaming Blog

A mirror of my gaming blog at r1ft.com. The jaded game designer turned corporate lackey. Feedback is always welcome.

Author: Daedren

Confessions of a WoW Botter

Posted by Daedren Wednesday February 11 2009 at 5:03AM
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Ni hao, bitches. Now now, don't get all hasty - it's not quite that bad. I'm not here to bring you tales of epic gold farming or "Adventures in Azshara: 200 days of Genocide". Everyone has their own opinion of those kind folk who's trade involves them creating a level 1 character named "Xkabwqleoiyx" and running to a capital city - and most of these opinions fall into the region of "Wish you could stab someone through the Internet". Rest easy, I'm not one of those people. In fact, I'm a pretty normal guy - a casual gamer of such. This is my story - the story of a casual botter in World of Warcraft.

I suppose it's pantomime to account suicide writing something as open and honest as this. Honestly, that's one of the biggest motivators for me, actually - no, not the danger of it, but the apathetical sense of someone else taking care of one of my own, personal problems. My own personal problem is that when I'm so inclined, I tend to play WoW a bit too much, botting or not. *If* I did get banned for my "tales of a botter" then I'd be disinclined to ever play again - for the betterment of myself and probably everyone else around me. In any case, this is a problem of the past as I've already canceled and purified my hard drive of anything WoW related until at least the next expansion pack or in the unlikely case Blizzard ever implements a logical and *gasp* fun PVP system. I digress.

So there it is. I bot in WoW. Some will say "Who the hell cares?"; others with be confused, not really knowing what "botting" means. Yes, there are many people (made evident from the recent MMO Glider legal cases) that don't really understand what's going on. So, it'll help to clarify exactly what botting is in the grand world of Azeroth:

Botting is: A character in WoW that is controlled by a third party program. From a third party perspective, the character behaves somewhat normally (runs around, kills things, loots things, etc).

Botting is not: Paying someone else (like a company) to level, farm gold/honor or play a character for whatever reason. The company might (and probably will) *bot* your character, but purchasing levels / gold is different than botting and should not be confused.

So, how do people bot?

There are a few ways to do it, but the main way people bot is using a program called "MMO Glider" (formerly WoW Glider).  This program was created a long time ago to help alleviate some of the more tedious tasks in WoW at the time; from there, it evolved into a fully functional bot program that was capable of controlling a character in nearly every way, shape or form. Paying customers, using a monthly fee, can subscribe to the "Elite" service which allows highly modified custom classes and a lot of advanced features for the program.

Is botting detectable?

Until a few months ago, it was pretty easy to spot a bot. A trained eye could easily tell if a character is behaving normally or controlled by a program. Tell tale signs are fixed paths, jerky movements, identical attack orders, running into objects, huge stocks of "grindable" items on the AH -- all of these things are easy ways to identify a bot.

Things have changed, though. The botting community has created "smart pathing" code which basically analyzes the texture files in WoW to see where obstacles are and best pathing information. Using these advanced features along with highly modified custom classes, I've done test runs where my character actually plays *better* than me. He jumps over fences, pulls 2-3 MOBS at once, kills them, and then moves on. He does quests. He stacks his Eternal's like a good boy and heals and buffs other players when they are near by. He talks back to his friends and guildmates, politely ignores people he doesn't know, and when his bags fill up with stuff to sell, he mounts up to the nearest vendor, sells the vendor trash, mails the better stuff to a bank alt, and heads back for more tedious killing.

On a technical level, Blizzard has a little anti-third party feature of their client called "Warden". These botting programs are specifically designed to circumvent any detection like this. For the most part, if you stay up to date and follow the instructions, there is virtually no chance of being detected. Really, the only way to get caught is being reported by other players or selling gold.

Example of non-AFK Botting
An example of non-AFK botting
Two Types of Botting

Mainly, there are two different types of botting: AFK Botting and Non-AFK Botting. AFK Botting is usually ran for long periods of time in secluded areas, mainly by unguilded or "private" characters. An example of a good AFK Bot task would be to grind the Captured Firely in Zangarmarsh or one of the whelp pets in Azshara. These little pets have a .01%-.1% drop rate, meaning it can be 1-2 thousand kills before one drops. An example of a non-AFK Bot task would be killing Fire Elementals in Storm Peaks at 6 PM server time. Chances are you'll get attacked if you're on a PVP server or lots of /whispers on a PVE server. Lots of people will be around to observe your "bot like" habits, increasing the chance you'll be reported and having your account banned.

Non-AFK botting involves you usually doing something else on or near your computer, to be able to respond to /whispers or take manual control over your character in the likely event something will happen. So, you can non-AFK bot at work, or watching a movie, looking at your favorite midget porn - whatever. It allows you to do normal, non-WoW things and still do something in WoW, albeit less efficiently. AFK botting is the sort of thing you put on before you go to bed, or going to Iraq for 3 months - fire and forget. If you set up cautious anti-detection settings, the worst thing that can happen is that your character logs out.

So, why bot?

I want to say a short disclaimer to say that I'm not here as an apologist. In the WoW community, talking about botting is kind of like discussion religion or politics in the real world - you're apt to piss people off no matter where you stand. A lot of people don't care if you bot. A good portion also think it's unfair or would think negatively towards you if they did find out, perhaps even reporting you in game. That's why it's safe to stay secret squirrel about the subject to avoid any unnecessary risks as a botter. I'm not ashamed of it, and most of my good in-game friends knew I was capable of doing it, but it still wasn't a well known fact.

There are many reasons to bot in WoW; monetary reasons (selling Gold on various sites) - advancing other characters, making money for a mount / expensive item, whatever. I only did it for one reason, though: time. WoW is a time consuming game. It's really the only real currency in the game: he with the most time, wins. 98% of the items, titles or achievements in game basically come down to a time investment, where throwing sheer amounts of time at them is really the only requirement. I never sold gold to a website or leveled a character to sell it.

It's because of this I've always been defensive of MMO Glider and the botting community. I know everyone has their own reasons, but I see this little bot program as something that saved me hundreds of hours of time and allowed me to enjoy the game to its full potential. I admit that with the recent Wrath expansion, the need for money and grinding has been dramatically reduced, but the sheer amount of time I saved in TBC was well worth the $20 I spent a few years ago.

For example, some of the things I've used botting for:

  • Obtaining Aldor/Scryer reputation
  • Getting the hard, grind only vanity pets (Firefly, Whelplings, etc)
  • General kill farming: Killings tons of skinnable creatures to sell the leather on the AH - to be able to buy gems, enchants and flasks/potions for raiding. Killing humanoid creatures to get cloth to level up tailoring or sell the cloth.
  • Leveling alts.
  • Obtaining enough money for epic flying / mounts.
  • Fishing (No, it's not fun)

Of course, some of this stuff wasn't necessary. My character can perform fine in a raid without a Captured Firefly. However, things like enchants, gems and gear can make or break a raid, especially when you're in a critical role. As a healer in TBC (when raiding was actually challenging), not having the right stuff could cost the group an encounter, especially when learning the encounters and still gearing up as a raid. Black Temple and Sunwell might have been "ezmode" for hardcore raiding guilds, but as a casual player in a casual raiding guild, they were challenging and extremely time consuming. Not having the proper gear and gems/enchants just made it that much harder.

That might be a fine excuse on the cover - and honestly, it's enought to justify my reason for botting. I didn't have a lot of time to play WoW - 4-5 nights a week and 3-4 hours on average per night. Maybe sneak in during the afternoon on a weekend or something when the kids are asleep. So, with raiding 2-3 nights as week left 1-2 nights maximum where I could play without raiding, and these always went to PVP / Arena. I was left with a choice of either giving up PVE Raiding or PVP if I wanted to get everything the "legit" way. Hell, and that's only playing one character.

All that aside, though, there is another big reason to bot in WoW:

Botting is fun!

Yes, it is. Some might even argue that it's funner than actually playing the game. It's like having personal minions that can go out and do tedious tasks for you. You can see how many level 70/80's you can get (one of each class, why not?). You can see how much gold you can farm or how many vanity pets you can get. It becomes a game in itself - seeing your profiles and tasks at work, constantly improving and tweaking your classes - it's like a mini-game. If you're brave you can even tweak it enough to perform well in PVP (BG's only, of course - don't think anyone could do an Arena Bot). All in all, it's fun to advance or do things when you're asleep or at the office.

The Legal Issues with Botting

Recently there has been a lot of talk around the MMO-sphere about MMO Glider and the lawsuit with Blizzard. All in all, it's not looking good for the future of MMO Glider. I'm confident, though, that even if it does go "tits up" - another person or team will step in to fill the hole. In fact, if the MMO Glider code was distributed to the right persons (living in a galaxy far, far away) they could basically continue the legacy where the MMO Glider guys left off. There is a huge community behind them and the idea will live on. How, exactly, is what we'll find out in the next couple weeks.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Deviant Fish

In conclusion, I want to say I'm not ashamed to have botted in WoW. It allowed me to enjoy the game more without sacrificing my personal and family life. For that, I want to say thanks to the Glider guys and the community as a whole. To all the non-botters out there: next time, before you pass judgment on someone, keep in mind they might be someone like me: just a lonely gnome with not enough time on his hands.

References:

MMO Glider - Official Site

PPather (A Newb's Guide to PPather)

MMO Glider + PPather Setup Guide

PS: WALL-E is great.

Original article is here.

jindra81 writes:

LMAO at that picture in the bathroom.

Nice read... I've never been anti-bot, but I can't find it in my heart to like the guys spamming in Trade.

Wed Feb 11 2009 5:19AM Report
sfraden writes:

Yes, nicely put together, a good read.  And totally reported, I hope your banned from mmorpg.com and WoW.  Sorry, but I 100% completely loathe cheaters, and you just admited to being one.  The game was designed to be played, not botted.  If Blizzard wanted you to gain things without being there, they would just sell them to you in the first place.

I now put you in the same league as farmers, gold sellers/spammers, hackers and griefers.  Sorry to see yougo, your previous blogs were pretty good.

Wed Feb 11 2009 7:27AM Report
Quizzical writes:

Here's what I don't get.  You complain that the game has too many time sinks that require you to do stupid things.  I'd agree with that.  So why not just quit the game and go play one that doesn't have those stupid time sinks?  That's both more effective and more ethical.

Wed Feb 11 2009 8:26AM Report
DiTH writes:

Maybe blizzard should make a new server.For all the botters like you who "Claim" that do it because they want to save some time.Im kind sure though that they will not go there to play even if its safe for them and will not get them banned.You should have added the point where you want to showoff with this time-consuming-to-get items to other people that havent had the time to get them.Does WoW need lots of time to play?Hell yea it does.Do you have to waste all your day to get your 25th small pet and complete the 4/4 dragon pets from farming?Dont think so.

Wed Feb 11 2009 8:49AM Report
Fr0z1nDuDe writes:

 
Don't listen to these "omg you're reported" guys...

I had a friend who botted from 1-70 and botted tons of honor in AV... I had no problems with it or him... I already knew he was a hardcore gamer or *WAS* a hardcore gamer... I generally have no problem with botting to save time to enjoy the game...

 

BUT i do hate and am againist golder farmers / sellers... (get a real profession in life PHKing worthless piece of shiets) 

 

Botting to save time is NOT that wrong... the botters who save time are 50% right... WoW honor grind? (OMMMFFFGGGGG) I legitimately farmed all the honors in TBC for S1 / S2 / S3 and by S4 I was DONE... and now in WotlK I have quit pvp / arena... Another is fishing... I mean... at the beginning it was kool like OMG VIRTUAL FISHING!!! but after awhile... its.... /stabself... Fishing should be ALLOW to bot... in fact blizzard should ADD a bot form of fishing... 

 

I don't bot because I have spend too much time into my account and character and the risk of getting my account banned is just NOT worth it...

 

but truthfully... a lot of the grind in most games is just NOT necessary... 

Wed Feb 11 2009 9:10AM Report
qombi writes:

To me the this blog read like a confession. I feel you wrote this because you feel guilty deep down as a cheater.

Wed Feb 11 2009 9:15AM Report
fansede writes:

 I want you to say three Hail Marys and one Our Father. Now go in Peace and serve the Lord.

Until MMOs figure how to make a game rewarding for people to actively engage in them then bots will be among us.

Wed Feb 11 2009 9:47AM Report
pvthudson01 writes:

This post is full douche baggery. I hope you die in a fire

Wed Feb 11 2009 11:16AM Report
Daedren writes:

I love you all. ;) 

PS: For the record, I quit WoW a while ago, as I mentioned in the post. Literacy, we wants it.

Bring on the open hostility. It feeds me.

Wed Feb 11 2009 4:53PM Report
sfraden writes:

*smiles* you reap what you sow.  Possibly you should have kept this to yourself, and now your branded a filthy cheater in the MMO world.

Wed Feb 11 2009 6:54PM Report
Daedren writes:

I reap what I sow? I wasn't being sarcastic. Really -  ignorant, passion fueled comments of hate really do feed me. They serve as a constant reminder of why to live in the real world and not a virtual one.

Yet again, you imply a self-righteous moral or ethical dilemma to the matter, as if your point of view is the ultimate good. This coming from someone who made an agry "retort" blog on MMORPG.com just to vent your supposed frustration. Oh, what's that in your title? "The real world sucks" -- you sound like a barrel of fun. Expose your skin to sunlight, step away from the computer and unfuck yourself before you start passing judgment on me, son.

 

 

Thu Feb 12 2009 2:35AM Report
daltanious writes:

I have not read but start of post ... I just really hope all boters, gold sellers ... will be one day eliminated in seconds after logging in game ... even before they get chance to put their dirty hands in use to ruin the game.

Thu Feb 12 2009 2:45AM Report
triste writes:

"Yet again, you imply a self-righteous moral or ethical dilemma to the matter, as if your point of view is the ultimate good. This coming from someone who made an agry "retort" blog on MMORPG.com just to vent your supposed frustration. Oh, what's that in your title? "The real world sucks" -- you sound like a barrel of fun. Expose your skin to sunlight, step away from the computer and unfuck yourself before you start passing judgment on me, son." 

That guy just got owned.

 

 

Thu Feb 12 2009 2:54AM Report
sfraden writes:

I'll pass judgement on you any time I like. Like right now for example.  The simple fact that your overlooking is that you admit to being a MMO Cheater.  On many levels this is wrong.  Your hurting other players with your bot and you have no regard for a TOS or EULA, which clearly state its not allowed.  This means you dont have any ethics nor morals.  Like I said, if you did it once, you will do it again.  No matter how you slice it, your a filthy cheat.  Spin my blog however you like, I dont care.

Judgement passed.  You Failed.

Thu Feb 12 2009 8:07AM Report
Daedren writes:

This just in! Apparently, if you *bot*, you have no ethics, nor morals!

Your basic lack of understanding even simple terms outside of your "Awesome MMO Worlds" is staggering. I'm torn. On one hand, you write somewhat coherent sentences, and on the other hand, you dispense judgment like so many nickels and dimes in your pockets.

Perhaps - you are the good man, and I am the evil man, and your judgments here are indeed the shepherd protecting you in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Or, perhaps, it's you the righteous man, and I'm the shepard - and it's the world that is evil and selfish. I'd like that.

But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is, you're the weak. And I am tyranny of evil men: the fucking guy who does whatever I want without worrying about bitches like you passing judgment on me.

But I'm trying, kid. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.

Thu Feb 12 2009 9:18AM Report
Daedren writes:

By the way, all comments here on MMORPG.com are mirrored on my personal site. The discussion is continuing there.

http://www.r1ft.com/wow/confessions-of-a-wow-botter/

Thu Feb 12 2009 9:21AM Report
sfraden writes:

:)  Just keep babbling, friend.  Im weak because I actually play the game and obey the EULA.  Im weak because I dont cheat and bother other players.  mmm, ok then, I dont see your point about weak....

Sorry to shatter your 'little world' you live in, but YOU are the weak one, not being able to even play a simple game like WoW without cheating your way through it.  Regardless, I will have nothing more to do with you any longer, as it is quite apparent you lack the morals to even understand what cheating is and why what your doing is wrong.  You are no longer worth my time.

Thu Feb 12 2009 12:57PM Report
Daedren writes:

You'll be missed.

 

Thu Feb 12 2009 1:22PM Report
Silax writes:

I actually really liked your post.  I don't bot, and never plan to, but I think that you do have a good argument there concerning the time sinks.  I stopped playing WoW a long time ago (less than a year after it started) just because I got tired of farming just so that I could play raids with my friends.  I couldn't waste the time anymore - work, real life, etc.  Something is really wrong about that considering I pay THEM money to make the game fun for me.

I was just thinking about what aspects I like from MMOs that are out there.  While I find the game mind-numbing, Eve is on to something with their passive "skill" system.  That, along with drone harvesters, automatic factories (like SWG), etc....  I could see that in the end game, you could really focus on the fun aspects (now if I just liked flying around by point-clicking all day, I'd be set).

I suppose I would still be playing WoW if it just didn't feel like I was a hampster in a wheel.  80% waste of time, 20% enjoyment - and I am probably being overly generous giving it that.

Fri Feb 13 2009 8:41AM Report
sfraden writes:

Just wanted to add real fast, that finally the courts decided that glider was illegal, therefore officially marking daedren as an offical cheater in MMO's.  If they had allowed it to continue, I would apologise, but now I dont have to.  Your justified as a verifiable cheat. 

Tue Feb 17 2009 7:29AM Report
Daedren writes:

sfraden: "You are no longer worth my time".

.... 3 days later.

sfraden: "Just wanted to add, I'm still nerdraging about you."

Aww, how sweet.

The courts haven't decided anything. An appeal was just filed.

Wed Feb 18 2009 3:53AM Report
slask777 writes:

A cheater is, and always will be a cheater. Botting is cheating the game. If you cheat in an online game, you rob the enjoyment other people get out of it and by that become the epitome of selfishness. If you find the grind too time-consuming, it's time to find yourself another hobby, or another game. Or maybe, as you suggested to another poster here, step away from the computer and smell the air outside. You know, there is a reason there exists anticheat measures in online games. No offense, but I really don't want to meet you, or any of your likeminded individuals in the games I play. You are the only reason online games go under, or become umpopular, like that hellhole Warrock as one example. I would go so far to say that some 70-80% of the players over there cheat in one way or another.

Sun Mar 01 2009 8:40AM Report
NotArkard writes:

I never tried the glider, only because it costs money and I'm a cheap bastard. I tried a free alternative when I was botting AV for honor. Honestly, the game is easy enough that I've never had to bot levels. I even did the tedious grind to Timbermaw Exalted WAYYYYYYYYY back in the day before they patched it up. There weren't that many bots around back then, though.

Truth is, if I was still playing WoW, I'd probably be botting, too. The game just isn't fun enough to just sit there and do these tasks yourself. Up until recently(recently is more like a year and a half ago), I found myself only playing WoW because of the people I played with. I started botting AV around that time so I could get some decent gear for arenas/BGs and that's what most of my friends were into. They mostly didn't mind(although some didn't know), since they knew I had a couple of R10 characters from the old honor system, and had done enough battlegrounds to make my eye-sockets bleed.

Now I'm just rambling. In short, I think people get too worked up about bots, or "cheating" in general. We need to start PETB: People for the Ethical Treatment of Bots. Bots are people, too. At least they're programmed and run by people.

 

Tue Mar 03 2009 7:24AM Report
_Seeker writes:

Time sinks. Im totally with you. I wish I had botted when I played WoW for the 4 or so months I played it. Rather than being the honest shmuck.

Fishing is totally deserving of botting. Instead of prettier rods/lures you should get a net!!! I never got how all the crafting skills were auto and you could switch it on and walk away. But the gathering was so click intensive.

Don't take criticism so hard. No need to get all Jules on his ass. ;D

Sat Mar 28 2009 7:13AM Report
jdm12983 writes:

I think the people that are dumb enough to say botting is good so that u can further enjoy the game are complete idiots.

If you are botting - how the hell are you enjoying the game - you aren't playing the game!!!!

TO me: botting is cheating. Plain and simple. No if ands or buts about it. If you are too loazy to actualy play the game - then cnacle your subscription and leave everyone else alone.

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