Zero Impact Botting in WoW
If you have played World of Warcraft for any length of time, there is a good chance you have either heard of or encountered a bot. Bots are third party programs which, in essence, play the game for the person using the bot. For the most part, bots tend to be clunky and are typically used by players seeking to gain an advantage over others in the game.
As I looked into this segment of players using bots, I asked myself this question: Is it possible for a person to bot in World of Warcraft while having little to no impact on the game play of others?
To research this, I would have to look into the various bots on the market and determine their impact on the game software. I would also have to evaluate what, if any, advantages a bot has over a human player and how exactly those possible advantages end up effecting the gaming environment.
Bots come in various shapes and sizes. This includes the simple path walking bots to the more advanced PvP battleground and leveling bots. Some bots will actively insert code into the game program to get the job done. While other bots are 100% passive, meaning they take control of your mouse and point and click like a human would instead of inserting code or hacking it's way into the game.
For this experiment, I chose to use a passive bot; as my goal, if possible, is to have zero impact on the game. I also don't like the idea of hacking programs.
Once I established which bot I would be using, I needed to determine if a bot has any measurable advantage over human controlled players.
The first thing I observed, after starting up the bot, is that there are some distinct disadvantages to using a bot.
Disadvantage #1: Bots take time to program.
Unless the bot comes with some pre-programmed routes, you have to take time to tell the bot where to go. Not only this, but you have to make sure the bot won't get stuck. A stuck bot not only will get you reported, but it will also not do the task you want it to do; it's stuck.
Disadvantage #2: Bots don't quest.
World of Warcraft is designed so that the majority of the experience points you earn to level up your character comes from turning in quests, not killing NPC's. While you can program many bots to run around in an area and kill all the NPC's in that area, this method of leveling is perhaps the most inefficient.
Disadvantage #3: Most bots cost extra money.
Not only do you pay the monthly WoW subscription, you typically pay a monthly fee to the bot programmers as well. With every new release or patch to the game, the bot has to be updated so as to be compatible with the new patch.
Another area in which you will spend money is in a second gaming license. Because bots regularly get suspended, you don't want to risk your main account. This means paying $80 for the full game and a second WoW monthly subscription.
After seeing these disadvantages, I was beginning to wonder what the appeal of using bots is. Why do, presumably, thousands of players invest in an activity with which Blizzard has a Zero Tolerance policy?
After all, in World of Warcraft, you can't buy the best gear in the game; you have to earn it by playing raids or by participating in planed pvp events. Simply showing up doesn't cut it. And you also can't use the bot to gain large amounts of reputation with factions as that requires you to run quests on a daily basis and bot's don't quest. a bot is also terrible at fighting against humans in PvP battles. It just so happens that by playing PvP battle grounds, you can very quickly level up your low level character. And leveling 20 characters to the highest level can certainly become a repetitive task.
This leaves us with just one area in which a bot / computer has an advantage over human players;
It's ability to perform repetitive tasks unmonitored .
Now you may say that bots are good at making gold or leveling that 9th character up to the highest level, however, these are the product of repetitive actions. Actions like standing in one place and waiting to click on a fishing bobber to see if you've caught any fish. Or how about flying around in aimless circles looking for mining or herbalism nodes to spawn, fly down to the node, click on the node, get on your mount again, and start the whole process over.
Thankfully these types of repetitive tasks are limited in World of Warcraft. The items which these tasks provide, however, are necessary for creating products to sell or for leveling up certain skills.
So if a bot's only true advantage in the game is that of taking over repetitive tasks, why is there such acrimony towards bots?
It is the poor practices of the players who use bots which cause acrimony in other players.
There are three major complaints players have against the usage of bots. These are perceived stolen resources, the value of resources diminished on the auction house through heavy undercutting, and the advancement of characters while being away from the keyboard.
Gripe #1: "Stolen" Resource Nodes
I use the word "perceived" because resources can't be stolen when each resource node re-spawns an infinite number of times. What really bothers people is when another player beats them to the resource node and is able to mine it before they can. This forces the player to go to another node and the mining of the resource from said node has been deferred. Players often say that the resource node was "stolen" from them because this is how it feels. The actual ability to farm resource nodes is not taken away from a player, it is simply deferred.
So my solution to this problem is to gather resources while others are not playing. This way other players have fewer "deferred" instances. I can't stop other players from doing the same thing. However, I can make a point of not adding to the frustration of resource gathering.
Gripe #2: Messing up the Auction House
The second hot spot of contention is the auction house. More specifically it's the practice of some players to dump large quantities of resources in to the auction house at a large discounted prices to make a quick profit. This drives the value of that item down. Those who are selling normal quantities of the product can no longer get a price which accurately reflects the time spent to acquire said items.
The solution for this? Quit looking for the quick money and stop being an auction house ass. There are no long term "get rich quick" schemes. You either try and make big money fast before you get your account suspended or you take long view. You watch the market for voids and be ready to fill those voids.
Gripe #3: Character Advancement
The third of the three biggest complaints has to do with player advancement. Bots allow you to advance your character, either in level or financial gain, without you having to be present to do so. As it so happens, I believe this is the only area of botting in which can not be addressed; for this is the nature of botting. Because of this last issue, I have found that you can't have a complete Zero Impact experience. You can, however, greatly reduce your impact on others in the game. Let's face it; you are cheating after all.
Whether you bot to make gold, level a character or profession, or you just want to automate some of the boring parts of World of Warcraft, a certain stigma comes with the territory of botting. And I understand that, as someone who bots, I will incur the wrath of many in the gaming community. I, however, personally strive to make my botting foot print as small as possible.
My goal in botting is not to gain huge advantages over my fellow players but to remove the repetitiveness from a very small, but necessary, portion of a game I love. I do my very best not to blatantly intrude on the game experience of others. I strive to be invisible in my botting; both in the auction house and on the resource node battle ground. I strive for Zero Impact Botting.