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How can we discourage botting?

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Silba

Silba

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Hello. @Silba asked me to come and share my views. I've been out of Tibia for quite a long time, and recently returned; I was a GM on the original Real Tibia OT (before the map was released/leaked), Goobers OT, Green Zebra Hosting OTs etc etc., and have also since then run other game servers. My role usually revolves around community and game management, but I also enjoy mapping (I like to build worlds, it's fun for me).

People bot for all sorts of reasons. I've botted before. No matter the specifics, people do it to gain an advantage. The aim shouldn't be to 'ban all botters', it should be to 'minimise the deficit in player experience by refusing to use third party software', and this is an ethos CIP themselves have taken up, but I think there are better ways to do it than CIP has (although, this has only become evident because of their trialling).

Let's clear up some misconceptions I've seen here:
  • People will always use cheats. It doesn't matter what game it is, they will cheat. I've seen cheaters on WoW, Tibia, TF2, Minecraft... people cheat everywhere. They do it for advantage.
  • You can't just say 'this high level has hunted for 10 hours, therefore they're a bot', no matter the mob, because you don't know why they're hunting. This should be a cause for investigation.
  • There are few ways to tell someone is using a bot if they're at their keyboard. Unless they are doing something improbable or impossible, such as the old rainbow outfit bots, you just can't tell.
  • A deletion warning does not deter a botter on a free and open game. All it does, is encourage that player to diversify their portfolio of cheating to minimise their own losses.

From the perspective of a developer:
1) Anyone using the real Tibia map should move the entire map by a few hundred squares, and adjust functions accordingly. Cavebots function by using waypoints, and if you're using the standard real Tibia map, there are already a lot of pre-made scripts.
2) In the same vein of thinking, in common, known botting spots, it would be ideal to have a 'pool' of maps with holes, rope spots, and stairs, altered appropriately. The objective here being to disrupt the ability to produce scripts, such that it makes doing so less convenient than just playing.
3) Make an appropriate alternative to using the bot; the current discussion is so polarised "do we add hotkeys or not?", when you haven't looked at the grey area. Make hotkeys with a cost. A very simple implementation of this: make a spell that costs 10 mana to cast, but fires an SD at your current target, consuming an SD rune within your bags.
4) In a similar vein, for issues such as training, you should make trainers with a sufficient cost. For instance, you might make trainers that only increase your skill by 25% of the normal rate, and cannot be done for more than x hours. I think CIP made a mistake in making the skill rate the same; players should be rewarded for taking the time to do it manually.

The penalty can't be too harsh. You need to strike a balance between players getting the features they crave with convenience, whilst also making using a bot look unappealing.

Again, for something like fishing, maybe it would be worth significantly increasing the fish catch rate, or even increasing the duration for which a fish lasts, to ultimately require less effort to get the resources needed. Make using the bot feel like more labour than just doing it normally.
5) As other people have proposed, continue to develop new and engaging content. The content you make might also include changes to the map; for instance, you might have days where some of the Darashia rotworms are blocked off due to a 'cave-in', and maybe, sometimes, a wizard's tower appears near the Orc Fortress. Making the game dynamic is a healthy way to keep players wanting to look into how it works. It keeps them alert.

From the perspective of a community manager:
1) Bans are not a point of pride. I see many very new, amateur GMs, striving to ban as many players as possible. I have joined games/communities that would permanently ban for offensive behaviour, and I changed that significantly when it become my role to manage them. The problem was with the behaviour of the player, not that the player is in your community. Sometimes, this strive to get a ban can result in GMs acting hastily; this can come with the idea of role biases, as when a GM is newly appointed, their duty is to 'uphold rules and ban the baddies', and therefore if they don't, they feel inadequate in that role. You, as an owner, or community manager, need to change that mindset and ensure the people you take on are looking at this as a system of 'how do these rules make the game a better place to play?' Diffuse the prestige and necessity of bans, and look to create a cohesive environment of happy players.
2) GMs need multiple tool characters. As pointed out, players can easily identify GMs, their active times, and their own play habits. I used to make secret accounts to monitor not only what the players were doing, but also what my staff were doing (and have, on several occasions, removed staff from my rosters for their inept or intolerable behaviour that they wouldn't have otherwise done if they had known I was present).

GMs should have the tools to make characters sufficient to investigate issues. As we know, many bots will detect the GM outfit and stop/alert the player. This might mean being able to make characters with a higher level/skills, unmarked GM characters etc.
3) Ban broadcasts are stupid. They tell everyone using a bot, to stop for now, because a GM is patrolling. Again, bans are not a point of pride. Should you wish to broadcast that you have banned a player, you should do so manually.
4) Don't be afraid to check in on players with notoriety. You can perform innocuous checks just by running past them; if they ask, tell them you're just taking a look at who's in the cave, or that you're looking at making some changes and ask for their suggestions. Make it casual.
5) When you make and enforce rules, it is easy to sit there and copy CIP's rules. There are some good ideas within them to form a basis, but ask yourself why those rules exist, and consider if they're draconian. For instance, why is multi-clienting banned? The issue with multi-clienting is seldom the advantage players get from having two characters, but rather, that one of those characters is likely to be using bot software, or being used in a destructive way; there are however, very valid uses for them, such as training. Ask yourself: does this rule benefit the fabric of the game?

When I lost my position on real Tibia to an error made by one of their CMs (to which, they refused to rectify), I went and posted an enormous series of loop-holes in their rules on their forums. Their rules were rewritten two weeks later. Their rules are not iron-clad.

--
I might think of more. I hope this has been insightful. I still have to think about rules a lot these days, although not so much in games, but in managing the behaviour of teenagers. :)

- Cupcake
Wow, what an insightful post. Some really valuable points you made here and I completely agree. Thank you for taking your time :)

I think a dynamic world is the ace in the hole here. I just need to make sure it isn't too dynamic as to where it interferes with playing the game normally.


tibia is an old game was released 1997 before Nokia 6600 people who used to play are getting old and there is no time for me to kill 20 rotworms to get a level or 1 dragon to get a level. I rather let it bot and do my thing then come back and play.
This is definitely a problem, tibia is designed to be botted.


This argument is one of the worst. If you dont have time to play the game, play something else that requires less time, like a mobile game that plays while you dont have the game open. Dont cheat and ruin the game for those that actually play it.
What if we made games that allowed people to play instead of mindlessly grind? We're all aware by now that excessive 'grinding' is just a way to make people attached to the game due to time investment and potentially spend money to lessen the grind. Not everyone has time to grind, and they know that, hence ways to pay to lessen the grind. As a 'gamer dad' of 3 i couldn't feel more ashamed of the gaming industry for trying to take advantage of me and my kids like this. Games that try to take advantage like this don't deserve a healthy game without botters, they are encouraging botting by being scummy.


this argument is in fact what many people inconsciently think when considering a bot.

As I told in page 2, people bot simply because the grinding part of the game isn't fun. You can close the thread, your answer is already there.
You can circle around 500x times and give other reasons but in fact this is all directly related to this.

You have a game in which vast majority of players are only looking to level up fast and go to PVP with their friends to establish dominance in the server. Make them grinding is a way to hold back their progress and make the game last longer. But in counterpart, this is all repetitive work and makes people want to skip/automatize this boring part.

How to discourage botting? Make the game fun. If you need to grind, make it random, turn it all in a discovery. Make people play together and interact. Put more exp for people playing together, invest in a task system.
Make good maps, with surprises and traps. Put monsters with random tiers, chances to spawn bosses upon XXXX monsters killed.
Make the client have a better layout, make changes in the way you play so you don't constantly need to take your hand out of the mouse and press F1-F8. There's plenty "small details" on the interface and the way we interact with the game that could be improved, but everyone simply overlook them.

If your game is just like 42368528532 other servers out there, people will simply have one goal: grow as fast as they can, establish dominance and them quit. You can't blame them for automatizing this.
These are solid points again thank you, unfortunately I'm no good with modifying otclient or even design in the first place so i don't think modifying the layout is within scope for me and a lot of people. Maybe in the future we could push for otclient or whatever client comes out on top to have a more easily modifiable layout or even come standard with a better one.


I agree to what you have said, but then again, play a server that fulfill your needs. Adapt to the game or choose a different one.
Servers that encourage botting by design, but claim to be "anti-bot" should not exist in the first place.


Botting isn't carried out for one reason, or even a handful of reasons. People have plenty of reasons for botting.

I botted from the simple light hack in 7.1 to when CipSoft introduced BattlEye. I've used Tibiaauto, BlackD, NG, Elfbot, NeoBot, Xenobot, Windbot, Magebot, plenty of others too.

I didn't care about power, levels, money, it was the addiction of waking up in the morning and looking at 40 characters grinding away, backpacks upon backpacks of loot. It was making scripts that I found the most enjoyable, finding new places to bot, unknown places, botting to a certain level to bot somewhere else, looking through your inventory to see how many rares you had looted, then scripting your highest level to grab items from depot and sell them all. It was the thrill of automation, testing the automation and limits of the game.

I had bots in spawns from swamp trolls, up to navigation setup at Draken Walls with EK/ED healing and team hunting.

Sure - I could do this on a private server but why? You have the capability of spawning everything you want anyway, the thrill of the chance of getting deleted, finding ways around deletion, troubleshooting those problems and coming back better.

In my peak, I had anywhere between 40-50 clients running at a single time, 24/7 with 4 characters per account. The majority of those were deleted, but I botted up to the day they switched BattlEye on.

Some people love Tibia, but don't have the time to spend 12 hours a day, grinding mobs, but they enjoy bosses, to get to a level to fight bosses would take them years playing a couple of hours a week or 30 days of botting.

Tibia is the only game I've ever botted. I've tested out bots on other games, but they don't give me what Tibia did when botting was at it's peak. I miss the bot days.

What I'm trying to get to here, is that people are saying botters will bot for X reason and that just isn't the truth. Some people will bot for money, some for power, some for grinding 5000 kills on a boss for rares or achievements. There is and always will be bots on games. No matter what you change on your server, it just simply doesn't matter. Someone will find a way to get an advantage and use a bot to give them the advantage. It's human nature.

For those that say if you don't have the time, don't play. That's a cynical way of looking at it and I don't agree at all.
I thought i was the only one here... Nothing felt better back in the day than waking up to dozens of bots still running. The automation(have you checked out Factorio?), you mentioned everything i love about botting. I think the most i've ever personally had online on rl is 30 24/7 on the same machine or over 100 spread over me and friends machines.

About wanting to enjoy bosses, one of my plans is to make bossing a legitimate way to exp right from the start. If bossing is all you want to do then that's all you'll ever need to do. If you cant get something from bossing you will be able to buy it from someone. I want 2 hours per day to be the most efficient way to play my server. Whether that's 2 hours of bossing, 2 hours of tasking or 2 hours of exploring etc

I know i'll never get rid of botting, for many of the points you mentioned, but at least i can minimise the destruction of the economy and not let it negatively affect the power of players on the server. If people want to bot casually i wouldn't mind, but when it gets destructive i'd like to fix that instead of outright banning them.
 

Nemphis

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Im not sure you understood what I said.

If a server allows botting, be my guest and bot! i dont give a shit.

Encourage botting by design?
You mean making a server that's supposed to stay healthy in the long run? Ahh.. you mean low exp servers. Dont play it then, JHESUESS.

What the other guy said about the thrill of getting caught by cheating I could understand. But adding manure as a reason to bot i dont like.
 

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Do what People Can Fly did, and what we're going to do with our game but even harsher:

BRAND THEM!!! 😈☠️
 

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This argument is one of the worst. If you dont have time to play the game, play something else that requires less time, like a mobile game that plays while you dont have the game open. Dont cheat and ruin the game for those that actually play it.
Well lets be honest if its a real tibia then yeah but a server that wont last long why waste time if its gonna shut down then you wasted your time and you will waste your time more looking for other servers. Dont get me wrong I used to hate botters and botting too but I realized Im wasting time doing all of that.

Lets be Honest here like most people use bot yeah maybe few wont but a lot even if its cheating people still will cheat using bot in any server. if we talk about old days then yeah I wouldnt mind but now it became a huge interest for many players. Even the Non botters will want to bot later on it just drags on.

the point is if u play a server and hunt in a cave there will be a botter there looting leveling getting stronger than you.
 

Maps

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Well, an ot i used to play sometimes didn't give exp for killing monsters at all, only from quests. And the monsters from the quests for your level were too hard to kill blindly. They all had special moves. I don't play with bots. But come to think about it, there was 0 point to use 1
 
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Silba

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Im not sure you understood what I said.

If a server allows botting, be my guest and bot! i dont give a shit.

Encourage botting by design?
You mean making a server that's supposed to stay healthy in the long run? Ahh.. you mean low exp servers. Dont play it then, JHESUESS.

What the other guy said about the thrill of getting caught by cheating I could understand. But adding manure as a reason to bot i dont like.
No, i think i understood perfectly especially now since you clarified.

No i do not mean low exp. I mean exactly what i said, encouraging botting. Read the thread if you don't understand it.

Do what People Can Fly did, and what we're going to do with our game but even harsher:

BRAND THEM!!! 😈☠️

I like these kinds of outlaw systems, especially as the outlaw. I usually use them to bait people and profit from it, although toxic retards like me aren't too common so no problem :)

I love the idea though, some people couldn't bare to login and have their friends see them as cheaters, instead they would much rather lie about false bans etc.

I don't get the community at all
Do you guys really think peoples are motivated to exp for hours?????
Yes, i've been playing tibia for over 15 years and somehow a 3-hour hunt at cyclopolis on a paladin 7.x still satisfies me. The community is huge and we're all a bunch of nostalgic saddos at the end of the day. Playing tibia is what we want.

Well, an ot i used to play sometimes didn't give exp for killing monsters at all, only from quests. And the monsters from the quests for your level were too hard to kill blindly. They all had special moves. I don't play with bots. But come to think about it, there was 0 point to use 1
That's interesting, not quite the same but similar idea i have for making bossing a very good way to exp. Bosses could reward exp boosters, large exp themselves etc and have the boss mechanics unfriendly towards botters.
 

Nemphis

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I didn't read everything that has been said. That's very true.

But why not have a discussion on why players bot instead of how to prevent it. Its hard to fix something if you dont know why its happening.

Like some people here say that they dont like exping. Why wont developers make a story/lore that no1 cares about and then you start at level 250 instead of level 1 or 8 with appropriate items.
Put them in action right away and change the focus to exploring a beautiful map, killing bosses, dungeons or pvp in order to get better items instead of tedious grinding to even be able to make a hit above 100 dmg.
 

gloriouscupcake

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But why not have a discussion on why players bot instead of how to prevent it. Its hard to fix something if you dont know why its happening.
It really doesn't matter how low you set the bar, people will cheat in a game, ESPECIALLY if it's online. People will literally bot cookie clicker. In the times where I ran TF2 servers, I saw people cheat in prop hunt (a community mod that is literally hide and seek TF2 edition).

It's just the nature of the beast. That said, a free online game will definitely bring in more cheaters than a game that's paid to access, but who is going to make a pay to play Tibia server in this day and age? Even then, you don't eliminate the problem, you simply deter them from doing it by making the loss higher.

When you look at what a botter has to gain and lose, if somebody bots (especially from the outset), the likelihood is they have more to gain than lose. You have to put up barriers that make it inconvenient to bot (CIPs ideas included soul and stamina) that won't impact the play of what you might predict a regular player would undergo.

tl;dr Asking people why they bot is like asking why they want free money.
 

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unfortunately all successful servers today accept bot and mcs, and I like it a lot, because it is more fun.
 

Itutorial

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You can set the client and server up to send specific packets. With an auto updater on the client that is required to open the actual game you can change the values daily pretty easily. Anyone that tries to use a bot will send old packet codes and you can just insta ban them if they send that packet. That's the easiest way to do it, Runescape picked this up over the last few years.

I haven't seen anyone get around that kind of set up. Not that its not possible but someone would have to write a program that can sniff out all the packets for the bot to work again everyday. Not impossible but pretty complicated and your average player wouldn't have the ability to do it.
 
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Silba

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I didn't read everything that has been said. That's very true.

But why not have a discussion on why players bot instead of how to prevent it. Its hard to fix something if you dont know why its happening.

Like some people here say that they dont like exping. Why wont developers make a story/lore that no1 cares about and then you start at level 250 instead of level 1 or 8 with appropriate items.
Put them in action right away and change the focus to exploring a beautiful map, killing bosses, dungeons or pvp in order to get better items instead of tedious grinding to even be able to make a hit above 100 dmg.
I want the discussion to be about why, so we can all learn how to discourage it, not prevent it or 'fight' it. Many replies miss that fact probably because they don't want to read everything and maybe i could have made a better opening post.
unfortunately all successful servers today accept bot and mcs, and I like it a lot, because it is more fun.
Yet many claim not to with "anti-bot" clients. Really alienates those who don't like botting. There is for sure fun to be had with bot servers however i think a proper server that doesn't rely on bots would be way more fun. Out of control botting devalues any and all achievement by regular players. I would like these 'bot-war-bot-war-semiretire-bot-war' servers to let players do that without botting the exp. But that wouldn't be anywhere near as profitable so whatever.
You can set the client and server up to send specific packets. With an auto updater on the client that is required to open the actual game you can change the values daily pretty easily. Anyone that tries to use a bot will send old packet codes and you can just insta ban them if they send that packet. That's the easiest way to do it, Runescape picked this up over the last few years.

I haven't seen anyone get around that kind of set up. Not that its not possible but someone would have to write a program that can sniff out all the packets for the bot to work again everyday. Not impossible but pretty complicated and your average player wouldn't have the ability to do it.
There's plenty of runescape bots and general purpose 'bot' software that don't rely on packets at all and use pixel detection or other types of non invasive detection.

The most popular being AHK probably, however i haven't seen anything compare with how powerful Simba is. With Simba and a good script you would never know it wasn't an injected bot. They're almost flawless.

This is why (probably) jagex mostly relies on other types of detection. They used to be quite open about it and the most insane thing i ever learned from it was that they can detect a human player (and thus any bot script) regardless of what account/ip/machine he uses to log in with just based on how he plays the game.
 

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Nostalrius had big problem with botters, there was even a guy creating and selling bot for his server, called kazebot, he still has a website kazebot.com.
He asked me to develop tools to detect botters, so I did, created a tool to record all ingame mouse/keyboard actions and later analyze them to find potential botters.
Here's an example of it (it's a server-side record):
After few days and many bans, we got rid of almost all botters. The creator of kazebot stopped releasing new updates because it was meaningless.

I know it's almost impossible to stop botters, if someone is skilled enough he can always bypass it. But there's no need for that, the server must do only one thing - make it an expensive thing to create a bot. There's huge difference between creating simple dll injection based bot and mouse/keyboard mimicking bot. No One will spend hundreds of hours creating such but, it just won't be worth it.
 

hotdog1337

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Nostalrius had big problem with botters, there was even a guy creating and selling bot for his server, called kazebot, he still has a website kazebot.com.
He asked me to develop tools to detect botters, so I did, created a tool to record all ingame mouse/keyboard actions and later analyze them to find potential botters.
Here's an example of it (it's a server-side record):
After few days and many bans, we got rid of almost all botters. The creator of kazebot stopped releasing new updates because it was meaningless.

I know it's almost impossible to stop botters, if someone is skilled enough he can always bypass it. But there's no need for that, the server must do only one thing - make it an expensive thing to create a bot. There's huge difference between creating simple dll injection based bot and mouse/keyboard mimicking bot. No One will spend hundreds of hours creating such but, it just won't be worth it.
does the keylogger stop when window is not focused?
 
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Silba

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Nostalrius had big problem with botters, there was even a guy creating and selling bot for his server, called kazebot, he still has a website kazebot.com.
He asked me to develop tools to detect botters, so I did, created a tool to record all ingame mouse/keyboard actions and later analyze them to find potential botters.
Here's an example of it (it's a server-side record):
After few days and many bans, we got rid of almost all botters. The creator of kazebot stopped releasing new updates because it was meaningless.

I know it's almost impossible to stop botters, if someone is skilled enough he can always bypass it. But there's no need for that, the server must do only one thing - make it an expensive thing to create a bot. There's huge difference between creating simple dll injection based bot and mouse/keyboard mimicking bot. No One will spend hundreds of hours creating such but, it just won't be worth it.
that's really cool, and while i wouldn't go so far, the underlying point of making it expensive to bot is an excellent one and what everyone needs to remember and work towards when considering "anti-bot" imo.
 
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