Tobold's Blog
Friday, January 11, 2013
 
The problem with botting

The Nosy Gamer has a list of recent botting and exploiting issues of various MMORPGs. He hope we can all agree that botting and exploiting are bad things for MMORPGs. I fully support appropriate bans for players doing this. But the very fact that bots exist is telling me something about MMORPGs in general, and the frequency of their use about some MMORPGs in particular:
  1. At least some players are more interested in the rewards for certain activities than they are interested in actually performing that activity.
  2. The game activities that are botted are mindless enough to be bottable.
I consider both of these points to be rather serious problems of the MMORPG genre, especially for certain games in which botting is most frequent. Ideally a MMORPG should be fun to play, the activities in the game should be fun by itself, with any rewards just being the cherry on top. But over the years that somehow has degraded in certain cases to the gameplay becoming the obstacle in front of the reward. Which is even more curious if you consider that the reward is an in-game reward, which only serves to unlock more of the game. If you don't like to play the game, what interest do you have in a rewards that enables you to reach more of the game?

Apart from players *wanting* to bot a game activity, which shows that the activity isn't all that interesting, the second problem is bots being so perfectly able at performing those activities, showing how repetitive and simple the things we are supposed to do in a MMORPG are in the first place. Douglas Adams' book "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" contains a paragraph about the electric monk, "a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Dishwashers washed tedious dishes for you, thus saving you the bother of washing them yourself, video recorders watched tedious television for you, thus saving you the bother of looking at it yourself". Bots play tedious games for you, thus saving you the bother of playing the games yourself. What does it say about our games if we need labour-saving devices to do those tedious, repetitive, and trivial game activities for us?

Bots can be seen as "proof" that MMORPGs more and more resemble a Skinner Box: Push button, get cookie. Pushing the button is neither fun, nor is it challenging. You only do it for the cookie. And the game is usually set up in a way that you need to push the same button in the same way repeatedly, which is even more boring. So if you can have a bot pushing the button for you and still get the cookie, that is a clear advantage for the player. But at that point the MMORPG has stopped being a game, which is defined as structured play undertaken for enjoyment or education. The decade-old Progress Quest was supposed to be a parody of the MMORPG genre, not a model for future development.

Banning the botters is a first step, but it only treats the symptom, and not the underlying cause. Where we want to arrive at is games that are A) so interesting that we want to play them ourselves instead of letting the bots do it, and that are B) complex and challenging enough that they can't be performed by a simple script anyway. Unfortunately it appears we are rather moving away from that ideal, thus the increase in problems with botting and exploiting.

Comments:
You missed one aspect of the "grind": death cost or in other words, punishment for failure.

Unless the game has some official ELO system, in order to make victory and defeat have a meaning, there must be some punishment for defeat and it can be grinding.

You lost a ship in EVE: you must mine an hour. You lost a BG in WoW? You must queue up for another one to get the reward.

Without these, defeat has no meaning, everyone wins regardless he kills or get killed.
 
Agreed.

Which is why I don't understand why developers ban bots: bot activity is the overall best "gameplay debugging information" you can get. As you correctly say, it perfectly identifies activities which are required/needed and so braindead that even a bot can do it.
MMO developers should welcome bots!
....and then proceed to change the gameplay so that it's simply not bottable. (note: the GAMEPLAY, not the interface/interaction or other cheap techical detail).
 
Unless the game has some official ELO system, in order to make victory and defeat have a meaning, there must be some punishment for defeat and it can be grinding.

Utter crap. Games are played to *have fun*. It's competitions and tournaments which are played for victory and defeat.
When you play Magic at a tournament, you get winners and losers. Are you saying that when you play Magic for fun with your friends (= a game), you go wash dishes or clean the apartment after every game you lose so that "defeat has meaning"?
 
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Hard/serious botting aims to making money. Yes, some hardcore people could choose the bot way to get some kind of status (ingame) but I bet they're a minotity.

That said, no matter how interesting, fun or clever the game is... there will always be a company interested in making money from repetitive/automated actions. Selling gold, selling goods, whatever. If there is a way to convert the ingame time into money you will always see bots.

Will we ever see a bot-free game? I doubt it. Even the strongest and safest systems have been already hacked, so...
 
Hard/serious botting aims to making money.

Isn't that the same problem? The player doesn't want to play the game, but is willing to buy the final reward. If the game was fun to play, the problem wouldn't exist. People don't buy highscores in games like Tetris.
 
I absolutely agree!
 
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Are you saying that games should not have worthwhile rewards?

Good luck so, with the recent trend towards PtW games (as most FtP games are more correctly called). Those games intrinsically have in-game rewards in the form of real money saved.

Expect more and more of these issues, as well as situations in which companies impose bans on good players based on nebulous 'exploitation' rationales. Of course the fact is that FtP/PtW games must be designed as boring grinds to generate revenue, and anyone who finds a way that anyone cahn use to escape them without paying is a threat to the company profits.

 
> The player doesn't want to play the game,
> but is willing to buy the final reward.

If a game is very popular (WoW, on top of others) there will always be players interested in spending some real money to get something hard to achieve ingame (a rare mount, a lot of gold that would take months, a super weapon, an impossible achievement...).

The game can be super-fun but you can't get/win "rare" stuff easily in any case. That's what people want: things that need a lot of time. They want the best... as fast as they can. So they pay real money to those who spend 10 hours a day on the game.

Example: would you farm a rare mount for 10 hours a day, for a month... or pay 20$ and get the same mount from a Chinese botter (or right from the Blizz store)? I would farm and get bored in 12 hours. Others would simply pull the Visa and cash out the money.

All of them (players who spend real money) represent a real and profitable market for farmers (note: professional farmers will probably get few dollars per day, leaving the rest to their chief).
 
Example: would you farm a rare mount for 10 hours a day, for a month... or pay 20$ and get the same mount from a Chinese botter

If the 10 hours a day activity for a month is a boring grind, why would I want to play this game in the first place? The choice isn't limited to either grind or bot/pay, I also get the choice to quit the game. What good is a fancy mount in a game I don't like to play, and why would I want to pay for it or grind for it?
 
LoL has bots, and that game is miles above the typical MMO in terms of thinking/strategy and non-repetitive gameplay.

You can also buy account boosting on the black market, just to have a gold skin or fancy border.

If Tetris had an online leaderboard, someone would be selling account boosting, and someone would be buying. People would create complex win-trading schemes.

Just like hacking or gun violence, you can't stop it. You can take steps to reduce it, or make it more difficult, but at the end of the day if someone wants to bot/hack/kill, they will, and you have to deal with the aftermath.
 
It is not as simple as botting because you don't want to play. A huge amount of botting is people running bots while they play, or while they can't play! I might love WOW but when I go to work I get my bot to run BGs to get me more stuff. Then I play WOW when I get home. Many people also run multiple accounts and bot in the background while playing.

I agree that MMOs have developed a slew of activities that people do for rewards but which aren't much fun (dailies, for me, but ymmv) but botting doesn't prove that at all. All we know for sure from botting is that people are willing to break the rules to get rewards, like the game or dislike.
 
I recently mentioned (in an article about reputation) that my local primary school no longer encourages readathons, because it seems to encourage kids only to read when there is an external reward dangled in front of them, rather than for the love of reading, itself. This is the same problem that we see in MMORPGs. Players start playing for the love of the milieu and for the love of adventuring, and end up doing these only for the loot.

 
LoL has bots, and that game is miles above the typical MMO in terms of thinking/strategy and non-repetitive gameplay.

Well, quite clearly it's not "miles above" if a bot can play it well enough..... or maybe it's that playing the part of the game which gets you the rewards does not require all that smart gameplay that you think it takes. You know, a bit like farming in MMOs.... :)

(side note, of course it could be that it's super-sophisticated bots, a bit like the ones who beat world chess champions, but I somehow doubt that it's the case...)

The moment you think about using a bot to play in your place, then you already lost. Or, more precisely, the GAME already lost at being a good game. Alt-F4, uninstall is the way to go.

When I meet with friends we play tabletop games. Could a bot play them? Probably, they can thrash anyone except a world champion at chess, so a good one could probably do the same with other tabletop games. Do I *want* to use a bot? Nope, because I play to have fun, and having a bot play for me adds nothing to the fun.

(of course, it can be extremely fun and instructive to code a bot, but that's not "playing the game" anymore).

If Tetris had an online leaderboard, [...]

Then it would be a competition and not a game anymore.
 
Consider this scenario instead.

Janice has a reasonably taxing job, where she works 8 hours a day. She also wants to sleep for 8 hours a day, and has meals with friends and family and such. She plays an MMOG where items and money are useful to her, and she enjoys playing the game.

What if she uses a bot to earn her more gold and items during her sleeping and working hours? When she gets home, she plays the game herself because she enjoys it. But she cannot play at work, nor can she play while sleeping. Why not use a bot to make more efficient use of the time she literally cannot play? Does that somehow detract from the enjoyment she gets while she does?

Tobold's premise is that the only reason to bot is to skip over the boring parts of the game. I would argue that, for a sizable number of people, it is just making use of time they cannot spend on the game.
 
@J Chen

You basically just proved Tobold's point. Why even create a boring portion of the game that bots need to perform to begin with? In other words, if everyone needs a bot to farm mats for them while they are sleeping, then why even bother putting that activity in game? Essentially you are just waking up and reaping the rewards of your bot. Why don't you just log in and have a message come up that says "You collected x materials since you were gone" as if a bot had collected them for you? Then you wouldn't need bots and you wouldn't need to perform boring activities that are not fun just so you can gain access to an activity that IS fun.
 
I have mixed feelings.

Some activities (gathering, fishing etc) are indeed ridiculously simple and I'd question even whether they qualify as a "game".

Then again I sometimes choose to participate in these activities whilst watching TV because I find them relaxing. They keep a certain portion of my brain occupied that needs to be constantly occupied, even whilst indulging in more passive forms of entertainment.

I don't play them to be entertained and if you made them entertaining they would require too much attention to do whilst watching TV and I'd stop doing them.

That even applies to daily quests as well. That is why I so dislike the current system in WoW where players tag mobs as it suddenly becomes a free for all death match where one must focus instead and can't watch TV.

I am not sure making the activities more complex and unbottable is the solution.
 
"You lost a ship in EVE: you must mine an hour. You lost a BG in WoW? You must queue up for another one to get the reward."
You lost the BG and thereby lost the reward that you would have otherwise gotten. You lost the time spent in the BG. It's not free; it's time.
 
Why people bots ?
- beacause they want the carrot - as you described
- because they want the eReputation
- because they want to avoid 'grind'

The first point seems a bit stupid : why want a virtual item for a game you do not like ? But people are not rational.
The second reason is the reason why there is cheates in all non-computer games : they want to beat others.
The third reason is the same why you want to cheat in single-player game : you like some parts of the game, and not others. You are ready to pay to have access to the fun part without the boring part. Why do it when you can not play it ? Because you may really enjoy the fun part !

I am personally for the (reasonable) pay2win, to avoid the boring part. But I refuse the gold-sellers because they steal players account for their business - one of my guildy has his account terminated 3 times because of that !
 
Sky Roy--- you should be banned. Putting bots in BG's is about the most dickish thing you can do in an MMO. The real people in the game don't appreciate having some useless bot screwing up the game. There might be some defense for botting to grind gold in some obscure corner of the world, but actively hurting other's people fun is in excusable.

Obviously you guy have covered many of the points I've been harping about in the comments for years, so I won't reiterate them.

But--- we also have to look at the players for screwing the game up on this point. It is the players who make keeping up with the Joneses so damn time consuming. They create the competitive environment where people want to buy gold or grind honor through bots, because it's impractical and unfun to keep up at the pace these lunatics set. It's also why everyone complains about expansions running out of content so fast--- all these dudes are basically working full time jobs and burning through the content. If everyone played 10 hours a week at most, the content would easily last until the next expansion!

I'd suggest that MMO's should have servers where each account is limited to 10 hours a week in playtime per server. 10 hours for all characters. If you want to play more you go to another server. I would be interested to see what problems would be solved and which ones created by this system. Of course you'd have the jerks who would run five accounts so they could get a leg up, but perhaps something could be done about that.
 
> If the 10 hours a day activity for a month is a
> boring grind, why would I want to play this game
> in the first place

I was pointing out that a succesful game will always have bots, no matter how fun, interesting, innovative or anything else is. As long as it features a lot of subscribers, bots (and bots-based companies) will be there too, to get advantage from those players who spend real money to acquire ingame benefits.

It's not about the quality of the game itself, in my opinion: it's more about the human nature.
 
"I might love WOW but when I go to work I get my bot to run BGs to get me more stuff."

And then we wonder why we're faced with so much so much god damn grind and padded content in these games. The fact that you feel compelled to even do this shows the devs just balance around it. Frustrating, as in the case of WoW most of the good "game" content has typically been locked behind hours and hours of bot worthy content. And often the people using bots (farmers aside) are ones who already have the edge on time invested.

Remove this content and the guy who plays 10 hours a day and uses a bot cries "welfare epix". Leave it in and people with less time cry "grind". No matter how you fall in the middle of this you are stuck with a game that even if you like the gameplay of has skinnerbox content in your way one way or the other.
 
I just realized that I have a unique viewpoint -- I enjoy the little mindless things. I'll fly around WoW for a couple of hours just mining, herbing, fishing, doing archaeology etc. basically sightseeing and gathering. There's a rhythm to it that's relaxing after a crazy day in the real world. Of course I also enjoy story quests, raids and bgs, but when I've done those, I'll go back to the mindless stuff.

It reminds me of a news report I saw back in the eighties about urban people who went to a monastery and tilled and planted and found that comforting compared to corporate work. If I remember right, the monastery also had a computer centre where the monks did programming or some such work, which showed they weren't that far removed from the modern world...
 
Agree with you when you say that simply banning the botters (and also the hackers) is not enough because the causes of botting may still continue there.
Some causes for players to play with bot:
1) repetitive tasks with click-click-click
2) players who make money with the game
3) to get the rewards faster or to reach the finnal level without much efforts
 
Tobold: "Isn't that the same problem? The player doesn't want to play the game, but is willing to buy the final reward. If the game was fun to play, the problem wouldn't exist. People don't buy highscores in games like Tetris."

If a tetris highscore were the requirement to enter the game hall with the rest of the games, people would buy it.

"If the 10 hours a day activity for a month is a boring grind, why would I want to play this game in the first place? The choice isn't limited to either grind or bot/pay, I also get the choice to quit the game. What good is a fancy mount in a game I don't like to play, and why would I want to pay for it or grind for it?"

What if the boring part is just a gate? Imagine if the mentioned tetris highscore were a requirement for you to play D&D and you could "bot" a highscore.
Would you drop D&D because it suddenly sucks?

Woody: "That is why I so dislike the current system in WoW where players tag mobs as it suddenly becomes a free for all death match where one must focus instead and can't watch TV."

OHNOES! You have to actually focus on what you do and can't just brainless zerg them down?! THE HORROR!
Some people... seriously.

Klepsacovic: "You lost the BG and thereby lost the reward that you would have otherwise gotten. You lost the time spent in the BG. It's not free; it's time."

That isn't how it works in WoW.
You lose a BG you get a reward, you win you get a bigger reward.
You will never walk away with nothing or worse, a punishment.

Ettesiun: "But I refuse the gold-sellers because they steal players account for their business - one of my guildy has his account terminated 3 times because of that !"

Three times? Your guildy needs to have his head examined. How hard is it to not use the same email and password on game related fan sites? Their data bases are a major culprit as they are way easier to steal and test for matches.
4c22cb52-3723-11e0-95c0-000bcdcb2996: " The real people in the game don't appreciate having some useless bot screwing up the game."

A good portion of the real people are not any smarter than a bad bot and you don't know if his bot is useless.

"But--- we also have to look at the players for screwing the game up on this point. It is the players who make keeping up with the Joneses so damn time consuming. They create the competitive environment where people want to buy gold or grind honor through bots, because it's impractical and unfun to keep up at the pace these lunatics set. It's also why everyone complains about expansions running out of content so fast--- all these dudes are basically working full time jobs and burning through the content. If everyone played 10 hours a week at most, the content would easily last until the next expansion!"

Okay, I have my meds now.
WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!
Who says you have to keep up with them?
Yes they create a competitive environment - for those that want to be competitive!
Would you demand every olympian to tone down their training because you can't keep up?

"I'd suggest that MMO's should have servers where each account is limited to 10 hours a week in playtime per server. 10 hours for all characters."

I can only dedicate one hour per week! I suggest the limit to be one hour so that I can keep up with everyone else.
 
Raph Koster said that bots are a sign that the game mechanic is boring.

In China they officially implement bots into their f2p games and sell it per hour. That works.
 
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Well, Camo--- it's peer pressure. Your right in the sense that you don't have to do it, but if your friends or guild are raiding X times per week, you may be required to participate if you want to stay, and even if you aren't required there is pressure to attend. The guild officers will remember that you don't show up. Your friends won't spend time with you because they are in a raid. That's the reality of it.

And of course there's the competitive element of wanting to outperform other guilds, or keeping your gearscore up. The game is based on getting rewards that enhance your power (and hence status) in the game. The "it's all optional" defense doesn't really change that reality, anymore than "just don't smoke it" means that crack isn't addictive.

So while it is optional to get caught up in the rat race, that's what happens to a lot of people who are a bit too into the game to have the rational perspective that you do.

Also, no, bots in BG's are essentially useless. They cannot grasp the strategic element of the game. When I've encountered botters in BG's they are not helpful players. The fact that many people aren't really good at PVP doesn't excuse actively ruining other people's time with that kind of crap.
 
Well, Camo--- it's peer pressure. Your right in the sense that you don't have to do it, but if your friends or guild are raiding X times per week, you may be required to participate if you want to stay, and even if you aren't required there is pressure to attend. The guild officers will remember that you don't show up. Your friends won't spend time with you because they are in a raid. That's the reality of it.

And of course there's the competitive element of wanting to outperform other guilds, or keeping your gearscore up. The game is based on getting rewards that enhance your power (and hence status) in the game. The "it's all optional" defense doesn't really change that reality, anymore than "just don't smoke it" means that crack isn't addictive.

So while it is optional to get caught up in the rat race, that's what happens to a lot of people who are a bit too into the game to have the rational perspective that you do.

Also, no, bots in BG's are essentially useless. They cannot grasp the strategic element of the game. When I've encountered botters in BG's they are not helpful players. The fact that many people aren't really good at PVP doesn't excuse actively ruining other people's time with that kind of crap.
 
4c22cb52-3723-11e0-95c0-000bcdcb2996: "but if your friends or guild are raiding X times per week, you may be required to participate if you want to stay, and even if you aren't required there is pressure to attend. The guild officers will remember that you don't show up. Your friends won't spend time with you because they are in a raid. That's the reality of it."

True that there is the element of peer pressure, but if your friends would remove you from the guild because you are unable to commit more time, I question what kind of friends they are. If the guild has a strict attendace rule without a more casual rank it might it's probably not the right guild or you need to establish such rank.
 
You clearly underestimate the power of today's bots.

You cannot imagine the complexity they can perform.
We are waaaaaaaaaaaay beyond simple scripts.

MMO games in general are competitive by nature.
Mostly pve ones that rewards are what make the difference. (Since that is all you have to show for...)
Plus i seriously believe that the percentage of people preferring co-op play to pvp is enormous ( and that is not limited to games only ).
 
2.The game activities that are botted are mindless enough to be bottable.

You do realize that ALL game activities everywhere are "bottable," right? That by definition, every single-player game you ever pick up is a game against bots? What do you imagine happens when you, say, play Chess against the computer? Or an RTS game against the AI? This point of contention is entirely irrelevant.

Intrinsic versus Extrinsic rewards is another matter... but not really. In most single-player games you have a story you are progressing forward, content is gated by earlier content (i.e. level 2 --> level 3), abilities are slowly accumulated, and so on. All of these things act, in part, as extrinsic rewards. There may be a few exceptions here and there - Skyrim, sandbox games, etc - but most of everything else has an extrinsic undercurrent. The only difference is that the designers of single-player games do not have to build systems that keep you entertained (or at least busy) for weeks/months/years at a time.

So, essentially, botting is not at all an indictment on MMO gameplay. The only reason why botting is not a problem for single-player games is because most aren't designed to be played for 40 or more hours. If XCom required you to defeat daily missions for 17 straight days before getting to the last boss, you can be sure there would be bots designed to do that for you.

Why even create a boring portion of the game that bots need to perform to begin with?

I cannot believe this is a serious question; it is essentially asking why journeys exist when we can simply have instant destinations. These games are RPGs, with progression. It is an essential feature of the genre, and arguably of all games.

Besides, the question rests on the false premise that what is considered boring is objective and universal. Just because you find the activity boring, doesn't mean someone else does. It logically follows then why some people bot or otherwise try to remove the boring (to them) bits: the content was not designed to amuse them anyway, so it is in their interests to move towards the content that was. I would like to play a druid in level-capped BGs because I find that fun; the whole leveling process is exceedingly less fun, especially the 10th time around. Other people love the leveling and think it too fast. You cannot please everyone, so we have the present middle ground where (presumably) the most people are entertained.
 
J Chen describes in an example how the difference in income in countries like China makes running bots (and selling gold) worthwhile for people there & here. If you can skip mindless grinds by outsourcing it while your minimum wage in your country is say 5x as much as that who in their right mind would play that content instead of skipping it?

Botting is simply a logic response to the automatisation of repeating content. It is an insult to the ability of mankind (in creativity, emotion, intelligence) but easily competes with endurance, physical strength, and response time. Botting is a means to an end. It is a tool to skip mindless repetitive work (such as grinding) but devalues the work all others do manually (which is why bots are banned).

You know what happens when this works outside the field of gaming: those who used to do the labour manually are fired, or are forced to reinvent themselves in areas which are not yet automated (e.g. a niche in the same field).

Botting is however the wrong response! Instead, do not play the game. Don't pay for the sub. Vote with your wallet instead. Buy the competitor who doesn't include repetitive content. In WoW's context if you disagree with the mindless grinds, the valid response is to leave the game stating your reason while you unsubscribe.

"Are you saying that games should not have worthwhile rewards?"

No, the game itself should be worthwhile enough so that programming a bot ruins the core part of the game, the fun. Case in point: in GW2 its completely pointless to have a bot. The PvE experience is long but rich and diverse enough to be of value. 1,5 hour per level (barring the first few levels it is linear progression) with 80 levels with a cost of 55 EUR for the game means approx 2,18 EUR per hour per character of value. On top of that, you have the PvP which is completely grind-free. People say "but without the grind the BGs would be empty in WoW". Good PvP gameplay is played because it is high quality, not because people have to grind that content.
 
@ Azuriel "So, essentially, botting is not at all an indictment on MMO gameplay. The only reason why botting is not a problem for single-player games is because most aren't designed to be played for 40 or more hours"

The reason why nobody cares about botting in single player games is because there isn't a competing factor like in multiplayer PvP. If you go play Wolfenstein 3D and bot your way to complete the game there's only 1 person who is winning and losing: you. You're not affecting anyone else. Nobody else gives a rat that you deprived yourself from actually playing the game. Hence also why cheat codes were OK in single player games. In a PvP game players are OK playing against a bot if they know it beforehand (knowing you play against a chess AI instead of your real-life friend) instead of afterwards ("After a few turns I figured you're so good I enabled my bot" or "I used anagram finders to win Scrabble").

"These games are RPGs, with progression. It is an essential feature of the genre, and arguably of all games."

RPGs don't necessarily have grinds. Traditionally you were able to skip RPG elements if you dislike them but generally they were rich and not repetitive in content. Who in their right mind would play the very same campaign in D&D exactly the same over and over again? Nobody. Key point here is lack of variation. Case in point: Diablo 3 maps which were basically only slight variations.
 
it is essentially asking why journeys exist when we can simply have instant destinations. These games are RPGs, with progression. It is an essential feature of the genre, and arguably of all games.

RPG's aren't journeys. They are not meaningful accomplishments. They are precisely the same thing as watching TV. They are an entertainment product, and when you want to skip the entertainment for whatever reason, it leads to legitimate questions like--- what is wrong with this genre that people think spending a significant portion of their waking hours pushing boulders uphill is a good way to spend their time?

If you want a journey, get out of the house. A video game is not where you find a journey.

 
RPGs don't necessarily have grinds. Traditionally you were able to skip RPG elements if you dislike them but generally they were rich and not repetitive in content.

How many random encounters have you had in, say, the average Final Fantasy game? Have you ever been doing a dungeon and started counting the steps inbetween the next random encounter? If so, congratulations, you found a grind!

Repetition is not a distinguishing characteristic of a grind because what is being discussed is whether the repetition is boring or not. Tobold himself mentioned in his XCOM post that he'd love to play random battles instead of the story missions. What is the difference between those random missions and an MMO grind? His mood. That's it. As a conversation over game design, it's hopelessly subjective.

RPG's aren't journeys. They are not meaningful accomplishments.

Oh, please. If you want to deconstruct the entire conversation, then let's go all the way: is anything ever a meaningful accomplishment?
 
Well, I guess in the sense that we'll all die anyway and then the universe will suffer heat death in a few billion years, no.


But in the context of a human life, yes, there most certainly are.

Graduating college. Running a marathon. Starting a business. Having a kid. Writing a novel. Even a bad one. Just a few examples.

I mean honestly, I deeply regret the portion of my life where I thought I was 'taking a journey' or doing something that was even half-way a big deal when I played video games. If I had taken half the time I spent on video games on anything else, I'd be a substantially more well rounded person while losing very little except trivia.

It's entertainment. Putting up with grinding reputation to get shoulder enchants or parts for a weapon or just to have the money to do something else is ridiculous. There is a level of insanity to it, and I think the reason I fell for it was because I didn't have anything better to do. Get a mountain bike, go hiking, start orienteering if you enjoy challenging journeys. It's way better.
 
It's entertainment.

Exactly that! Games are entertainment, so the least we should be able to demand of them is that they are entertaining.

What we get instead is the equivalent of an extremely boring and repetitive police TV show, where we all end up hitting the fast forward button to see the end and know who the killer was, without having to bother watching the actual TV show. Don't tell me that is good entertainment!
 
> What we get instead is the
> equivalent of an extremely boring
> and repetitive police TV show

To be fair, I guess it looks extremely boring to OUR eyes. We're a kind of "niche", beacuse we are grown adults who have already seen (almos) everything in the gaming industry.

But if you offer a fres WoW experience to any young player, who still has to go through the entire mmo process (that will take some years) I am sure he/she will have a blast and will get involved as we did in the beginning.

Two years ago I quit WoW forever. Few weeks later a friend (he's over 40, by the way) told me he wanted to have a look at "that game I was always talking about and suddenly quit". Well, he's still playing on a daily basis and questing is the thing he likes most (he rarely raids).
 
4c22cb52-3723-11e0-95c0-000bcdcb2996: "Graduating college. Running a marathon. Starting a business. Having a kid. Writing a novel. Even a bad one. Just a few examples [of activities more worthwhile than entertainment]."

I disagree. At least two of the activities suggested (running a marathon and writing a bad novel) are certainly no more intrinsically worthwhile than killing a raid boss.

Having a kid can be put in the opposite camp, I guess, in that it contributes to the survival of our species. The worth of the other two depend on circumstances. If their worth is only in experience, then in-game experiences might well be comparable in value in some circumstances.

Do you despise competitive chessplayers?

 
Quinn--- at least with chess you're developing your mind's ability to organize and react to a complex situation and see multiple moves into the future. In WoW raiding is about listening to Deadly Boss mod and executing a relatively simple dance. It can be fun, but it shouldn't be a source of very much pride.


And no, completing a marathon or doing a 100 miles on a bicycle are far harder than killing any raid boss. It's almost infinitely harder to do those things than it is properly execute your role in killing a raid boss. It also improves your health, which has benefits for the rest of your life, while playing WoW for 30 hours a week destroys your health. A novel, however bad, is an act of creativity that will allow you to hopefully write a good novel at some point. Even if not, it's still a creative artist expression. Both of those things are significantly more impressive than learning the correct dance for a raid boss. MMO's underlying design principle is to create easy achievement and feelings of status to be the driver that keeps people in the game. I fell for it for a while, a lot of people do. But it is a trick.

I'm not saying don't play video games; I do it all the time. What I am saying is convincing yourself that killing raid bosses is a real achievement along the lines of running a marathon or being a writer is a really really bad idea. At best it's like training for years to be the best kazoo player in the world. Even if you accomplish your goal, you're the best at a useless instrument.

Even professional e-sport people don't mess with MMO, because honestly WoW destroys your ability to play the video games that are actually competitive. When I quit WoW my once reasonably good FPS skills had turned to crap. MMO's even destroy your ability to play the video games that are truly competitive enough for the best gamers in the world to play, so even if we accept the premise that video games are the equivalent to marathons, you're playing the wrong ones.
 
Disagree that the presence of bots demonstrates that a game (or entire genre of games) is dull or poorly designed. The purpose of bottling is to supply, and is a reflection of demand. Bottling suggests a high demand for the game.

And yes, they are excellent entertainment. Just not the intellectual pursuit you may be pining for.

If you're fast forwarding to the end of the show because you're bored, change the channel.
 
Camo said:

"OHNOES! You have to actually focus on what you do and can't just brainless zerg them down?! THE HORROR!
Some people... seriously."

You realise we all play different games for different reasons and that we are all not the same right?

You also realise that within an MMORPG there are different activities that again appeal to different tastes?

If I want to focus on a game intently I won't play a 10 year old tab target hot key MMORPG... If I were going to focus on such a game intently then I'd be doing a HC raid. I wouldn't be doing daily quests or mining which for me are a relaxing experience.

Also what does it say about the content when the only interest you gain from it is overcoming the negative impact of other players?!

In a game that is supposed to be about cooperative play the part that makes it interesting to you is overcoming the negative impact that other players have on the game - i.e. racing them to mob taps.

Something is seriously broken with the game (a cooperative PVE game) if it has come to that...

Pray tell us what is brainy about running around dotting up every mob in sight? I find it odd that you consider my approach of using dailies as a form of relaxation as being invalid where as you use the mob-tapping game as a form of engaging entertainment.

My point stands that the game needs some simplistic activities to appeal to those times when players want to do something simplistic. If you make those activities more complex then I will no longer consider them for my chill out time but instead will only play them in my serious gaming time.

That would bring them into competition for my precious free time with a large number of more modern games in my Steam Library. That would be game over for WoW and all the other MMORPG's I've played.
 
Marathon and Chess are individual sports; raiding is a team effort. The compare ends there.

Marathon is difficult and requires a lot of training. Chess competitively same. One is physical/endurance sport, one is a brain/tactical sport. Neither of these sports can be nerfed (yes there's an elder version for marathon but it still require extensive training).

Raiding is somewhere inbetween (requires quick reflexes but also requires brain for theorycrafting and requires something all team sports require: social skills.

However Blizzard themselves don't even consider WoW (raiding, arena, rated BG) to be an eSport. The compare ends once again; WoW isn't a sport.
 
I don't think this is a good analysis of why people bot. If you don't like playing a game, you don't play it and you don't make a bot to play it for you.

If you like WoW, there is a good chance you'd like to log in every day with 200g more than you had the last day. I'd also like to come home and find a $50 bill in my mailbox every day, and if I could write a simple computer script that did that without harming anyone else or breaking any laws, I certainly would.

Of course most of us don't bot because of that "harming anyone else or breaking any laws" bit (and some others presumably don't do it because of a lack of technical expertise or knowledge). We think cheating is bad and we think breaking the terms of service and getting banned is bad.

But the flip side is true as well: If you don't like WoW and don't care about your WoW character, then why would you care about that 200g extra? I reject the idea that the majority of people playing games secretly hate themselves or have a serious compulsive disorder.

It was Tobold who, quite some time ago, provided me with the insight that people who complain about games on forums are the people who are most dedicated to the games and are among the most likely to spend money on the game - even as they say they'll quit. I think it is probably safe to say that people who are botting for their own benefit (not to run a website where they try to turn real world profit from their botting) are among the people who like the game the most. You need to be very invested to go to that length to get an advantage.
 
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