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How can we discourage botting?

Silba

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Hello everyone, I'd like to open a discussion about botting and how to discourage it. I see many servers, especially oldschool that are "anti-bot" but the reality is that these servers thrive because of bots and the relevant people are usually quite stupid in their enforcement. Yes that's a bold "stupid". I'd like this discussion to not be about stupid ways that currently exist.

What's stupid:

Banning bots - We can't enforce this, it's stupid and ineffective at best. People who want to bot will bot no matter what you do.
Making it hard to bot - Almost nothing we do will impact botters worse than it impacts a normal player. The exception to this is a custom client, but that stops almost no one these days.
Banning more than x amount of multi client - We can't enforce nor verify this, it's stupid and downright harmful to legit players, I don't need to list how many ways there are to share an IP with someone, this argument is older than me, we're all aware of it and it's something I have personally suffered from for years with stupid GMs as I regularly play with my brother on the same network.

Why do people bot?
It's boring to manually EXP - If the difficulty and exp rates aren't well balanced we end up on a server that's just a hotkey pressing simulator and exp go brrrr with mind numbing repetitiveness. This is exaggerated on bad oldschool servers where there's no hotkeys, it's either you bot so you dont get rsi or you play paladin.
Big numbers are more fun, me want big number level - Who doesn't want to brag about their level or easily kill those who are a lower level? Maybe they just want to have access to content but don't want to spend 60 hours gfbing tombs, see "It's boring to manually EXP".
No incentive to manually hunt - There's usually no meaningful reward for exping on most servers. Mostly everything is locked behind paywalls or tedious quests. You get most of your abilities before level 100 (especially on oldschool) and the game hardly changes from this point. We should level up so we can... level up? the exact same hotkey spamming just in a different area. It's much nicer to set up a bot and come back the next day to some serious progression and loot.

What's the problem with botting?
Artificial player numbers - Our servers will have many players yet the cities will be empty.
Low player interaction - They are botting for everything they need and rarely interact with anyone other than to sell/buy occasionally.
Economy is bot-based - Our economy will depend on botters to function.
Progression - Botters break the natural progression of power on servers, instead of the whole server moving towards being more powerful, only a handful of the best botters will have most of the power leading to power abuse in many cases. (see any rlmap server of any version that doesn't take care of botters)
They're a waste of resources - They provide little benefit to our servers yet they take up the most resources being online 24/7.

I know there's more points I've missed, I'm just drawing a blank right now and the thread doesn't need to be so long anyway... Feel free to reply with your own.

Some of you will be thinking, I'm just a salty botter who got banned, but, no. I'm actually a hardcore botter and rarely get banned and if I do get banned I just make more accounts. The stricter the GMs are against botters, the more accounts I make. It's kind of like a hobby, I rarely exp.

Ill give some examples of how easy it is to bot on "anti-bot" servers for those who are unaware and keep in mind this is all just google-fu I am not a programmer or master h4xx0r.

I used to bot on Medivia, I would make 100 backpacks of SDs per day and there was no shortage of buyers. I got banned on 3 accounts but I had dozens of accounts and probably over 100 characters with different houses and hiding spots all over the map. This was achieved by 2 purpose built medivia bots, my own scripts in autohotkey several VMs and VPNs. All free. I was lucky to find free medivia bots though, they're not usually free but are still cheap.

My most recent achievement is botting on Nostalrius Fearless server. The GMs here are probably the stupidest I've encountered, they are inconsistent with their bans and don't seem to communicate with each other. (yes there's a bit of salt here, they banned my friend 3x and lifted those same bans 3x, pure stupid GMs).

So on Nostalrius it's a little harder than Medivia, it has a strict MC limit and you're not allowed to logout/move and not reply to a GM on-screen plus the GMs are more active and more stupid leading to some really weird and unpredictable bans and then donate items are a must for rune farming which stops a lot of people. I'd say I'm successful still though, I received no bans on 8 accounts through my use of VMs, VPNs and I actually had to write a python discord bot for this one to set up alerts and stuff so I stopped getting pked and could reply to GM. Again though, there's no shortage of paid bots which im not willing to pay for but they are there nonetheless.

Now I'm not trying to brag here, I know there's people who bot on a larger and more sophisticated scale than me I'm just trying to point out how a normal guy like me with almost no programming experience can absolutely circumvent any attempts to stop botting. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

I'm bringing this up because I'm making my own server and am trying to figure out ways to discourage botting and I think as a hardcore botter I have some unique insight and ability to tackle this issue. I usually keep to myself about ideas I have but I think for this project I'm going to have everything on the forums, starting with how I plan to tackle botting.


Since my server will likely be one of those 0-30 players online custom ots I will have an easy time manually enforcing any botting rules since I can check each player easily. So besides that my current though process is this:

AFK Training:
I won't have trainers or offline training I am toying with the idea of having an item that is purchasable and only useable once every 30 minutes that will give the user a minimum of 30 minutes 'training' in the skill chosen. I will try to limit this somehow to make it unfriendly to botting but enjoyable for a player to get. One idea I've got to make this unfriendly to bots would be needing to 'charge' another item with monster kills then going back to town and trading this charged item for the skilling item. If I randomised the charging and/or charges and/or location of the npc to trade with each time then a bot wouldn't be able to reliably 'refill' this and I'd be sure to keep in mind how annoying this could be for the player. This should 'solve' afk training since it will always be better to manually train and if someone does afk train they will never overtake someone using this system.

Cavebotting:
This is probably one of the most harmful types of botting, my current thought process on this would be to try making stamina regain much slower and allow it to be replenished through something that is not bot friendly. Boss fights maybe. I don't expect a normal player to run in to a stamina issue though. Also the best exp/hr on my server would be some sort of regular bossing, again I'd only need some slight randomisation to avoid this being botted.

Runefarming:
My server will be oldschool inspired, so rune making will be relevant. I'm thinking of making soulpoints replenish better when killing bosses and adding an additional cost for making runes, maybe something that has to be looted from monsters. I haven't thought too much about this one yet, I want people to enjoy making runes and I want it to be just complex enough that it's not really afkable in the same way as normal runemaking.


The regen and exp will be quite slow on my server, so this will also discourage botting to a certain extent.

I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts on how to discourage botting and if you want to pass comment on my ideas go for it, I look forward to the replies.
 

FenX

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Big fat red sign in bold letters, "BOTTING = DELETED ALL ACCOUNTS FROM SAME HWID, NO WARNINGS" :)
 
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Silba

Silba

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if you can't beat them join them
That is why I started botting initially, then it became some sort of psycho hobby of mine where I take it to the extreme, i barely even play anymore, just bot. I'm going to make a legitimate effort to discourage botting on my server and was really hoping for some community discussion.
 

Recreant

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deletion on sight + deletion of all people connected to such account (that logged in on it), boom, done. the punishment is so harsh that nobody will bother botting
 
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Silba

Silba

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Yes you can enforce it and ban every single one if you only want
Players quickly learn when GMs are active and will avoid them when botting, also detection systems will allow a player to bot semi-afk easily.
So I stand by my statement, it's not enforceable and is ineffective at best.
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deletion on sight + deletion of all people connected to such account (that logged in on it), boom, done. the punishment is so harsh that nobody will bother botting
Manual enforcement doesn't work. They try that on Nostalrius and if you click my spoiler tag you'll see how easy it is to circumvent and if you only punish those that you personally catch then you are only punishing half of your botters or less.


The biggest problem with manual enforcement is the possibility of false bans which do more harm than any bot ever could.
 

Recreant

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Players quickly learn when GMs are active and will avoid them when botting, also detection systems will allow a player to bot semi-afk easily.
So I stand by my statement, it's not enforceable and is ineffective at best.
Post automatically merged:


Manual enforcement doesn't work. They try that on Nostalrius and if you click my spoiler tag you'll see how easy it is to circumvent and if you only punish those that you personally catch then you are only punishing half of your botters or less.


The biggest problem with manual enforcement is the possibility of false bans which do more harm than any bot ever could.

lord actually has the most strict rule enforcement on his server and he does it without fail for 7 months straight so idk what's ur point about it being impossible to ban botters, it's just your laziness speaking when you say that you can't ban botters.
 
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Silba

Silba

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lord actually has the most strict rule enforcement on his server and he does it without fail for 7 months straight so idk what's ur point about it being impossible to ban botters, it's just your laziness speaking when you say that you can't ban botters.
That's not what this discussion is about though, this is for discussing how to discourage botting, not trying to ban them as they pop up. If you have botting issues it means your server is bad, tibia is bad, it makes people want to bot. What can we do as server owners to change this?

You are ignorant if you think no one bots his server. Don't talk such nonsense about it being possible, only a small minority of botters get caught especially if it's manual detection. Even Jagex with one of the most sophisticated anti-bot systems in the world can't keep control of them so to think an OT hoster stands a chance is... ignorance as I said. If its some low population server then he can catch a higher percentage, but not all.
 

4Nathu4

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it makes people want to bot. What can we do as server owners to change this?
<irony>Make offline training and ponies in your in-game shop</irony>
They bot because they want to play. Don't make them quit because you cannot handle your player base.

Only a small minority of botters get caught especially if it's manual detection.
Noone told it has to be 100% manual, you are able to develop a variety of tools that will help you monitor the situation.
For example. you can log all the runes/cash traffic, then you can analyze them and check suspicious characters.

Don't talk such nonsense about it being possible
Have you heard about the Dunning-Kruger effect?

You are ignorant if you think no one bots his server.
Not being able to catch every single one is not a reason not to try at all, because being strict and consistent will get you the results in the long run.
Stop making excuses because those (and maybe laziness?) are your biggest problems.
 
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FenX

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That's not what this discussion is about though, this is for discussing how to discourage botting, not trying to ban them as they pop up. If you have botting issues it means your server is bad, tibia is bad, it makes people want to bot. What can we do as server owners to change this?

You are ignorant if you think no one bots his server. Don't talk such nonsense about it being possible, only a small minority of botters get caught especially if it's manual detection. Even Jagex with one of the most sophisticated anti-bot systems in the world can't keep control of them so to think an OT hoster stands a chance is... ignorance as I said. If its some low population server then he can catch a higher percentage, but not all.
You can't speak about Jagex having an anti-bot system since they don't make any information about it public for obvious reasons, their botting situation is so extreme they can only hope to maintain it at a level where it doesn't shut the game down but in terms of getting rid of them it's impossible because of the illegal flow of income created by their game, people will always be 1 step ahead of them because the botting industry in that game is thousands of people compared to a couple of anti-cheat devs at their office. A lot of conspiracy revolves around their game also that they're actually not enforcing their rules upon bots hard enough because bots generate revenue for them + their numbers go higher but you never know.

So...

Make the rules regarding botting and selling in-game gold/items so harsh that it will be pointless to do so.

Like the others have said, you come across as lazy when you try to find a single solution that will get rid of botting forever...no chance, make your rules strict, enforce them as much as possible, sooner or later people will realise they gain nothing because of the harsh rules.
 

Gesior.pl

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only a small minority of botters get caught especially if it's manual detection
1. 'online time per day' stats - people who bot won't do it for 2 hours a day, they spend 8+ hours every day.
+ you can add simple LUA scripts to track hourly exp progress - detect how many hours per day people exp (100+ lvl spend 10 hours on Rotworms? obvious bot)
2. Account deletion without warning - this is most important and only thing that make people stop bot.
 

LordCompi

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2. Account deletion without warning - this is most important and only thing that make people stop bot.
Yeah, lazy bans are making their job too
Post automatically merged:

Players quickly learn when GMs are active and will avoid them when botting, also detection systems will allow a player to bot semi-afk easily.
So I stand by my statement, it's not enforceable and is ineffective at best
Use the brain, think as cheater do
 
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Silba

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<irony>Make offline training and ponies in your in-game shop</irony>
They bot because they want to play. Don't make them quit because you cannot handle your player base.


Noone told it has to be 100% manual, you are able to develop a variety of tools that will help you monitor the situation.
For example. you can log all the runes/cash traffic, then you can analyze them and check suspicious characters.


Have you heard about the Dunning-Kruger effect?


Not being able to catch every single one is not a reason not to try at all, because being strict and consistent will get you the results in the long run.
Stop making excuses because those (and maybe laziness?) are your biggest problems.
You misunderstand me, I want to encourage myself and other server owners to discourage botting through gameplay, making the game fun to play where botting is not the first thing people think about when they play. Maybe if it's bold you might understand my point here.

You can't assert dunning-kruger without supporting evidence to discredit my claims, nice try though and so far there's no evidence that what i've said is untrue.


You can't speak about Jagex having an anti-bot system since they don't make any information about it public for obvious reasons, their botting situation is so extreme they can only hope to maintain it at a level where it doesn't shut the game down but in terms of getting rid of them it's impossible because of the illegal flow of income created by their game, people will always be 1 step ahead of them because the botting industry in that game is thousands of people compared to a couple of anti-cheat devs at their office. A lot of conspiracy revolves around their game also that they're actually not enforcing their rules upon bots hard enough because bots generate revenue for them + their numbers go higher but you never know.

So...

Make the rules regarding botting and selling in-game gold/items so harsh that it will be pointless to do so.

Like the others have said, you come across as lazy when you try to find a single solution that will get rid of botting forever...no chance, make your rules strict, enforce them as much as possible, sooner or later people will realise they gain nothing because of the harsh rules.
Jagex used to be quite open about some things such as being able to track a player based on the way they play with scary accuracy. Hardware and network details were not needed and this is one way they track bots, since most bots behave the same way hence the new wave of runescape bots using neural networks and 'ai' learning algorithms so they don't all look the same to this detection system and why custom own-made bot scripts have lower ban rates. They used to be much more open about their anti-botting stuff and nearly eliminated them at one point, you should go read, it's absolutely fascinating. (this is all for rs3 btw, osrs is a botfest since they can't integrate their good anti-bot stuff apparently)

Again though, you are grossly misunderstanding my intentions here along with mostly everyone replying, I don't run a server currently as im in the development phase so im not moaning about it being hard and not wanting to do it, i want my server and want to encourage others to make servers that dont make their players want to bot or at least discourage it somewhat so it's not their first thought when logging in. A better player experience leads to less botting, how can we do that?

1. 'online time per day' stats - people who bot won't do it for 2 hours a day, they spend 8+ hours every day.
+ you can add simple LUA scripts to track hourly exp progress - detect how many hours per day people exp (100+ lvl spend 10 hours on Rotworms? obvious bot)
2. Account deletion without warning - this is most important and only thing that make people stop bot.
These would be good tools to assist manual bans and while i'll likely run systems like this i'm going to try and make the gameplay better so botting is not encouraged as it is currently. Account deletions without warning definitely hinder botters for sure and make them uneasy to start botting in the first place, i think it's a good rule however it doesn't fix the issue that they felt the need to bot in the first place.

Yeah, lazy bans are making their job too
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Use the brain, think as cheater do
I am the cheater and looking at this issue from my cheating point of view is exactly why i have opened this discussion. Nothing mentioned in this thread stops cheaters it only slows us down until we get the ball rolling and figure out the anti-bot systems. I have never played a server i can't bot on no matter what the rules or how active the gms. I want people to have fun playing i don't want them to think about how they can just bot.


I know discouraging all botters is impossible, some people are just in to it, but widespread botting im confident can be abolished through changed to the way the game is played. Tibia has always encouraged botting, I'd like to change that and hear other peoples opinions on how to achieve that. (hence botting never not being an issue)

Please, no more telling me about how to ban botters. That is not the discussion. Thank you.
 

Wirox

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Please, no more telling me about how to ban botters. That is not the discussion.
Let me remind you that your thread's title is "How can we discourage botting?"
Permanently banning botters when they are caught for the first time is a very effective way to discourage botting (the stricter the punishments are, the less profitable it is to use a bot), so I don't understand why you oppose the concept.

I agree with you that it's also a good idea to modify the game's design itself so bots give players a less significant advantage, but why should it be the only line of defense against bots? It should be a strategy used together with extremely strict anti-bot rules, not instead.
 

wick3dr0se

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Treat botting as a symptom that needs attention rather than a cancer that needs to be cut out.
But it does need to be eliminated. Unfortunately no one has an ultimate anti-bot system. Track exp rates, pot usage, drop training period, interact with players and ghost around suspiciously rising skillers or exp players. Strict ban enforcement from there
 

Maps

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widespread botting im confident can be abolished through changed to the way the game is played.
I'd say put less pressure on statistics and resources. But as long as there's any kind of competition people are going to want to cheat.
 
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