|Hundreds of dead botters outside Halls of Lightning|
I have been a World of Warcraft player since early 06 and have seen the highs and lows of what a game of this scale and popularity has offered. The following post is what I have noticed over the last few expansions and what is becoming unavoidable for the legit playerbase.
Following the recent posts about Halls of Lightning featuring literally hundreds of bots running the instance and seemingly 50% of "players" in battlegrounds being bots, is there a botting epidemic in WoW?
"Botting" in vanilla WoW was nothing out of the ordinary, but back then it took a very different form. Addons frequently automated tasks for players early on in the games life - such as the self-raid healing addon "Healbot" and others which would effectively queue for battlegrounds and run the character into the portal (vanilla WoW had an awkward system of having to queue for battlegrounds outside their instance portal, later fixed towards the end of vanilla). Once Blizzard started clamping down on this level of addon interference some players started looking elsewhere for ways to complete tasks with minimal input or through entire automation - this was the birth of botting for farming.
With the release of The Burning Crusade botting took a much more prominent role. Everyone knew there was botters and for the most part the bots were easily spotted and easily foiled, a hunter could dismount next to the botters intended destination (herb or mining node) which would essentially stop the bot dead in most cases. More often than not bots would get stuck running into wall or fly into a mountain which would stop the bot from running all day however there was a major change looming.
|The Bot program that started an avalanche|
Glider (later WoWGlider, later the bankrupt company sued by Blizzard) changed botting forever by overhauling the process that bots looked at the game. At a glance and on massively simplified terms, old bots used to view the terrain as a 2D plain which would often cause problems as there were mountains, fences, rocks etc that would make the bot get stuck for all eternity unless the bot could someone jump over the obstruction; new bots however viewed WoW in 3D and could map out the terrain in front of them thereby stopping the old problem or running simple paths and allowed for more advanced commands.
The amount of bots exploded since the release of Wrath of the Lich King (due in part to Glider offering farming, leveling, honor grinding at a low price). Sholozar Basin and Icecrown was botted 24/7 by many bots during this period; it was easy to go to these zones and watch the bots flying the same path over and over for herbs and ore. Once Glider died it many other large bots (Honorbuddy etc) had integrated the advanced structure that Glider had featured and now every bot could automate the entire process without a hitch.
WoTLK also introduced the ability to solo farm old instances and this quickly became evident when doing a /who of people in The Botanic. There would literally be scores of level 80 paladins with nonsensical gibberish names running it over and over again. With stat inflation spiraling out of control in WoTLK and later pushed further in Cataclysm it became a very lucrative business having bots running these instances over and over.
It hasn't gotten better since this time, if anything it has gotten worse. Halls of Lightning has hundreds of bots doing it and farming anything has becoming a challenge. I have characters spread across 2 realms - one on a high pop PvP realm (#2 pop on EU with massive Cross realm zones) and a few on an RPPvP (only paired with one other server) no matter what realm I am on there seems to be many bots farming everything from copper ore to ghost iron and everything in-between.
Now, bots farming materials seems to have players in two minds. On the one hand it lowers prices effectively allowing players to raise professions quickly and cheaply without the need for tedious amounts of farming, on the other hand however it effectively means that no player can farm materials anymore and place them on the auction house - bots quickly cancel auctions to undercut their nearest rival while maintaining a cut off point so that the bots cannot be exploited.
Bots in battlegrounds again annoy players but it seems that if both teams have bots then it gives no side an advantage but players ignore the fact that it destroys the game for PvPers and people wanting to exclusively level by spamming battleground games.
At this point banning all bots would crash the economy, there is no doubt about this at all. Players are becoming used to running to the auction house and just buying materials and removing 80%+ of the stock in one go would see prices skyrocket for weeks to come.
Is this such a bad thing though, really? Look at games that have had/have terrible botting problems - Runescape, Everquest, Lineage etc. none of these games have made efforts to kill off bots and it ruined the games for good. If we want WoW to become fair for everyone Blizzard needs to actively work towards removing bots whether it is a huge ban wave or progressive banning of the major botting programs, we can all agree something needs to be done.