Tamriel is being invaded by Soul Shriven ghouls, soulless and mindless beings who are working the greedy will of Molag Bal. They have no thoughts, they feel no pain, and the best thing we can do is work together to eradicate them and send their broken husks back to Coldharbor.What is a bot?
A bot is an automatic 3rd party program that plays the game for you. You can program them to have simple commands like run 50 feet, click right mouse, turn right, run 50 feet, etc, to more complicated things such as ressing and x/y coordinates. They are used by goldfarmers to automate their gold production while saving them costs on employees. Bots aren't bright to any degree.What is a goldfarmer?
A goldfarmer is a person who earns gold in game to sell it for real world money on their own websites. It's against the TOS (Terms of Service) of just about all MMO's out there. Goldfarmers aren't above stealing credit card numbers or using keylogger hacks to steal your account passwords and use those accounts to run bots or spam in zone chat. Going to goldfarming sites is a good way to get hacked and your identity stolen. Generally, they are based out of China (this is based on actual studies, people, not racism. To totally prove my point here's Wikipedia.)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_farminghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_farming_in_China
Below are tips for spotting bots, and finally, the only option we have towards killing them. If you're dealing with bots, always, ALWAYS, report them first.
Even if you don't want to farm bots (because it can feel like a 2nd job that we're paying to do instead of being paid to do) you can report them. Have a copy/paste message ready for the report dialogue box and you can report a bot in less than 20 seconds. For the rest of you who are twisted like me and derive amusement and catharsis from inventive ways of destroying those who deserve at least a mote of torment, tips are given further down.Bot Signs:
Unless the name is complete garbage, I generally rely on a handful or more factors to decide whether a player is a bot. Below are the common characteristics of bots.
- Player's name is gibberish (i.e. fdgghfg, kkukk, or an fesfesfesffs) with no caps or uses Chinese Pinyin (i.e. xiao, zhong) with occasional caps.
- Player is naked or has starting gear
- Player doesn't respond to /say or /whisper
- Player is standing at a resource node (jute in particular) with other similar players
- Player is a Templar spamming the light spear attack. Apparently the only bot program these people have is for spamming that one attack
- Player is teleporting with hacks around the zone
- Player is up in the air running around
[Update 5/8] - I've seen higher level bots, 35-40 range, that are all sorcs, but they run the same route and spam pattern as other bots, generally in a line as well. They make it incredibly difficult to finish quests.
[Update 5/13] Higher level bots, mid-30's, are commonly sorcerers running together spamming AOE attacks. They run in long lines like their lesser Templar counterparts. The ones I've seen are in Eastmarch and elsewhere.
[Update 5/13] Dragonknight bots can also be found, high-30's to 40's. These in particular are camping uniquely named quest NPC's that are needed to be killed for quests. These quest mobs are designed to spawn faster if more characters are around, and there is no diminishing return on their loot. Once you complete the quest most of them (but not all) are no longer accessible, but before you turn the quest in you can kill them over and over for decent gold and items. Piles of these bots camping the quest NPC's can make it annoying to complete the quest, since these bots are spamming basic attacks repeatedly, even when no mob is there, and the quest NPC dies in a second. Reporting a mass of these bots is extremely troublesome because they pile up on each other. The ones I saw were in Eastmarch as well.
[Update 5/13] Coldharbor bots have been known for a week or more. Low level's are using a higher level ally to move to Coldharbor, where you can get a quest that awards somewhere between 200-300 gold for just talking to someone. Chains of characters are running from point A to point B, getting the gold, mailing it off, and then logging. They are deleted and a new character is made, to do it again. It's bringing in tons of gold to goldfarmers. Reporting them is difficult as well, as they are moving and stacking up in one spot.
- Jump on occasion to avoid going AFK
- Have their bot programming make them pause, turn, and jump occasionally to mimic an actual player- the only difference being that the bot will do the same thing over and over in a cycle, whereas a player is likely to be willy nilly with their jumping.
- Dig through their inventory to avoid going AFK
[Update 5/8] - Return to their node of choice after you knock them back every minutes or so. Not all bots, however, but generally at least one on a node appears to run back.
[Update 5/8] - Suddenly come alive and defend themselves. This is seen most often in jute farming, where a bot technician will use one of the characters to kill the mob harassing their bot herd. The bot of choice generally doesn't have different gear than the other bots, but I bet if we continue to harass their bots they will require more manpower to guard their bots which means less revenue for them (not that they pay their goldfarmers much anyway).
[Update 5/8] - Have names similar to normal players and higher levels. I believe these are hacked and stolen accounts. The highest level I've encountered so far farming Jute in stonefalls was level 25, the rest were level 3-9. These high level characters are being run on the same bot script as the other bots, so they are easy to distinguish.
[Update 5/13] - Sit at a quest NPC and spam basic attack unending, even when there is no enemy there.
Bots do not:
- Open chests (thanks to random number generator involved with tumblers, smart move Zenimax)
- Avoid death (they will fight til they die and have no self-preservation programing)
- Do not appear to be in Cyrodiil, yet.
- Ask you to stop or go away (at least, not yet). If a player expresses disdain at what you're doing, they're most likely an innocent player and you need to back off immediately. Always resort to caution if you try to instigate trouble with the methods further below.
- Communicate in any shape or form, unless it's to spam zone chat. I haven't even gotten them to respond to me by using pinyin (in past MMO's I could sometimes start up conversations with the poor, lonely *** running the goldfarmers. It was pretty easy to report them then because they'd often admit they were goldfarming, having no idea what a TOS was).Bot Behavior
Pretty simple: Repetitive. They sit there all day grabbing a node as it respawns, or they run the same path through an area killing the same mob over and over. When multiple bots are in one area, they're all trying to grab the node or they are all following in a line, since the 3rd party program controlling them uses the same x/y coordinates to run the bots. If a bot dies, it tends to revive immediately and resume it's farming. If it's a higher level that requires soul gems to res, it is programmed to use the wayshrines to get back to the location or will simply teleport back with hacks.
Bot Guardians: Harass and kill enough bots and an actual goldfarmer might teleport in a higher level character (I fended off a few level 11's guarding level 3's) to physically kill any mobs threatening their herd of bots. Since there are so many bots in the zone, these players cannot actually guard all of their bots at once, and won't be around for long. These bot technicians probably check every hour or so to see how their programs are doing, and to make sure everything is going smoothly.
Bot Launderers: Bots will trade and mail items automatically to laundering bots that will either sell to vendors or store for later. This is based on observed behavior of bots.
Some bots hang out at the vendor all day, others check their mail on a repeat pattern out on the field while surrounded by jute farmers.Behavioral update 5/8:
Now some bots who are farming NPC mobs will run to and hunt down any other NPC that approaches them, defending the herd. These bots ensure that mobs with AOE's do not stay alive long enough to cull the herd. It seems that only one or two bots in a bot cluster will do this. This is rather disparaging, because it means that programmers are updating and improving upon the bots scripts. If action isn't taken against them, they will eventually reach the point of World of Warcraft bots, which would respond to tells and other simple forms of communication based on how players interacted with them.Behavioral update 5/13:
If you're watching a group of bots, look for the one that checks their mail. There's usually one or two, and they're shipping off the collected loot and gold to somewhere else.How to Kill BotsWarning: Harassing and Killing bots probably walks the gray area of the TOS. Sure, they don't know English, and aren't there anyway to report you, but still, always rely on caution. Not even the Morag Tong get away with murder in plain sight.Monsters are your friends:
Monsters with AOE attacks can be dragged over to nearby bots and if you're strong enough to shed off their attacks, those monsters can kill bots within their killzones. You need mobs with AOE attacks though, as other mobs will just focus on you. Most bots are really low level, 3-9, and though they regen health comparatively fast, 4 AOE hits from a Betty Netch can knock them all back far enough from a node so that they can't farm them and kill them eventually. Since the bot's programming has no sense of self preservation, they will stand there and allow themselves to be killed. Some bots have enough programming to run back to the node on occasion, however.
Some attacks that work are archers with cone arrow and AOE circular attacks, charge attacks, fire breathing attacks, and AOE swipes such as the Betty Netch. The Bull Netch with their AOE poison is perfect for this. If you kill bots, chances are they revive right there, and you can sit there and watch them die over and over. Sometimes bots will wake up and desperately start running to safety and that is very amusing.
Bonus points are using AOE knockback attacks to send bots into the lava. Some don't have enough sense to get out again and res in the lava and die over and over.
Bot Killing Diagrams:Non-Lethal Bot Prevention Methods
- The chains of bots killing NPC's aren't smart enough to deviate far from their path. If you learn their pattern you can kill the NPC's before they get to them, or chain them to you, knock them out of the bot's path before the bot hits them, etc. The downside to this is that the lower level mobs tend to spawn really fast, and you're probably not slowing the bot farming machine very much. You're also preventing other players who might be questing in that area from getting the mobs they need, but you can help them out by being vocal about what you're doing and by inviting them into your group.
Holding Resource Nodes
- When a resource node with 3-5 bots around it spawns, you have a second to try and grab it. If you do get it, don't loot it, you can stand there and they can't loot it, since it doesn't respawn until the loot window closes. The downside to this is that it requires your own character to stand there holding the node, and the bots in low level areas are generally crowding 5-10 nodes in a single area. With so many bots in the field, the impact you're making isn't much. Doing this also prevents other, actual players from gathering that node (but honestly I have yet to see a shortage of Jute in the field, even if some players are trying to use it as an excuse to ramp up Jute prices in zone chat, the sly ***).Words and suggestions to Zenimax:
If you want to deal with these bots you need a 24/7 hour staff. There are bots all over the place at night, and if you're only working 9-5 you're missing the nightmare as they creep out at night.