Scripts and Stones

I have pushed this article back for some time—two full weeks in fact. I tossed around not writing it. I thought about blurring names, and decided against it. I have finally decided to run the piece because the problem is so widespread it is impossible one will not encounter it on some level. On countless occasions I have ran into “bot” crews in both EQII and WoW. They are typically easy to spot—the names do not follow what are typical vowel/consonant rules, one toon moves, and shortly after the other four follow together (five toons controlled by one user is typically called a hydra). Most people attribute these farmers’ activities to the gold for cash business that has been booming since EQ1 if not before.  There are, I’m sure, legitimate players controlling 5 toons at once–I am talking about farming the same named mobs over and over, for weeks and months at a time, without ever logging out of the game.

So, I am not writing this story to blacklist anyone. I am not trying to point fingers, demand retribution, or expose someone. In fact I have never encountered or talked to either of the people in my screenshots.  That being said, I have not altered the screenshots either.  I have left the decision up to the reader to draw their own conclusions.  I am sure if you have played any popular MMO for a period of time, you have had similiar experiences, and have perhaps already seen some of what I am describing.  The screenshots merely add some visual aides to my story.  If someone feels my logic or assertions are misguided, please post a comment, but do so in a mature way, or no one but me will see it. I leave it for you to decide if these are cases of a script or not, and perhaps raise the larger question—does this type of behavior hurt the average player? By the way, framing comments in a way that seeks to “flame” me or anyone else is ill-advised. You will move to the spam list.

The Obelisk of Lost Souls was a mainstay of so-called hydras for some time (it may still be for all I know). In The Feerrott, a bot team lead by a Kerra named “Chains” farmed headhunters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for over 6 straight weeks in 2005. I know because I was off from work and harvesting that zone like a farmer myself at the time.  I recall seeing harvest bots on occasion–they would scour an area like a locust, and work all day long.  Periodically, SOE would announce they had closed a large number of accounts, and these people disappeared, Chains and friends included.  We had reported him for weeks before it happened.

However, recently I have noticed what I would call mainstream players engaging in what appears to be scripted behaviors. My only indication that they are mainstream players is they belong to a guild that seems legitimate, they are wearing decent gear, and have names that make sense phonetically. Upon my return to EQII, one of the first seemingly scripted toons I observed was in Sinking Sands. He stood on a certain rock, and harvested ore nodes as they popped. Nothing special with this scenario—I have farmed for long periods of time in a limited area on many occasions. Except for three things: he never moved, only pivoting to address the node he was harvesting; the toon was there all hours, in the open, for no less than 8-10 hours at a stretch (this is as long as I spent at one time in the Sinking Sands, passing him to get quests, repair, etc); and finally, after a long period of observation, the toon always struck the node with the same delay between it spawning, and his harvesting. Here he sits, though I have not seen him there of late.

The next incident occurred in Loping Plains. I came around a corner, close by the ruined spires, and found someone pet pulling mobs. I waved, and pulled the ghouls I needed to update a quest. Shortly after my first pull, his aery pet began to assist me, and he was casting spells on my mobs. I even thanked him. It didn’t take more than 4 or 5 pulls and assists to realize something wasn’t right—every time I maneuvered a mob within a certain distance, he attacked.  For reference, and in case something similiar is happening on other servers, here is the exact location.

Pulling and slaying:

After roughly 15 minutes, I remembed a post from the WoW forums that had discussed a pattern much the same as the one I was now observing.  Apparently a player had found a toon running a program which attacked mobs, looted, and moved on to the next target.  What made that toon’s behavior suspect was the pattern of movement, and that it attempted to loot, no matter who pulled/attacked the mob first.  I decided to try the same tactic that was employed in the above scenario.  I pulled everything I could.  I pulled and pulled and pulled.  Without fail he sent his pet, then nuked.  Everytime.  Then, he came over to loot.  Everytime.  He reset, faced the same direction, and then pulled a mob (unless I had one in range).  Everytime.

Here he moves to loot my kill:

Here he is at his “reset” point:

Eventually, I took to locking the encounter to see what would happen.  The results were predictable; as soon as the encounter locked, the pet reset, the toon reset, he targeted a new mob and pulled.

After perhaps 45 minutes of this pattern, something changed.  The toon reset, but then he turned towards me (180 degrees from where he had faced every other time), and then this happened:

At the time, I was unsure why he was pulling mobs here anyway.  I am not very familiar with Loping Plains, but I’m becoming more so.  I do not spend a lot of time there, but that is changing.  Not 10 minutes after he logged out, this popped up, along with a friend:

I pulled, killed, conquered.  However, does this type of behavior hurt we players playing the game?  I found that he was a great help in getting my quest updates.  But is this behavior, outside of the tradeskill instance, widespread amongst players we typically don’t think of as “gold sellers” or “farmers?”  And if so, what action should be taken, if any?  Are you unconvinced, and perhaps there can never be any real proof a player is running a script or “botting,” as it is called?

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5 Responses to Scripts and Stones

  1. Stargrace says:

    I’m torn on this issue. Honestly, I don’t feel that bots hurt me personally, or the economy. In fact, if anything, I think they help LOWER the economy in the game. I’ve bought many masters from “bots” or “farmers” that they’ve miss-priced for 1-2p. They farm rares and raws all day long, and drives down the market as well.

    What I don’t like, is getting spammed by plat sellers, and interrupting my own personal play time. That’s what annoys me most of all. So I report and petition them in hopes that something is done.

    I craft all my own gear. I make my own spells. I harvest and make my coin my own (fair) way, and lets face it, the majority of the ‘good’ stuff out there is found in instances, and raids. Bots aren’t scripting that (yet). Though they are farming the legendary class set gloves quite frequently.

    The ones who hang out at the sandscrawler camps in PoF annoy me to no end, because those mobs are used in numerous quests and writs, and I need them. They roll through with their 1 fury 1 guardian and 4 wizards and obliterate everything in their path with their AoE’s while I scream in frustration. Obelisk of Lost Souls was the same thing, the named (that SoE broke.. and made them have little to no PH’ers, not to mention you can invis through the entire zone making it bot-friendly) that are used in the access quests were continuously camped by bots. The only solution for me was to find the small time of day when it wasn’t occupied and to obtain my quest updates that way. Petitioning because they were annoying me personally and interrupting my game play. I don’t care if they stick 100 masters for sale on the broker, it doesn’t bother me, I’ll either suck it up and buy one, or just find a way to farm it myself.

  2. Stargrace says:

    Now.. what I do find interesting.. is that I went to eq2players.com and tried to snoop on your bot. I typically do it to figure out if they’re just a player farming with alts or what not, you can check and see how long it took them to level, and if they’ve turned off the alt option on eq2players…

    Liira, is a transmuter.. they’re also an outfitter. *very* odd to see that from bots. They were also created May 10th of 2005, and they have 9 alts, which means they have station access. Whether or not they’re using a program to “play” them, instead of perhaps someone who just simply doesn’t speak a lot of english, or some other factor, is something that’s so hard to prove… Each one of their alts crafts. They belong to two different guilds. Etc. I love eq2players.com what can I say *grins*

  3. Gaff says:

    Yes, that is why I’m convinced it is a mainstream player–that data. I think it is a person using a script because they are too lazy to do the work themselves. I am not convinced this is a bot group–just after I posted this I had 5 anonymous toons zone into Kaladim, and invis. No guild, no titles, no nothing–but off they went! And in one motion…

    I did wave, but I only spoke to the person once after they, as I thought then, helped me kill a mob. I said “Thanks.” The thing that cinched it for me was the pathing–he returned to the exact same spot, turned and faced the exact same way, at least 50 times…then pulled a mob in the exact same fashion. No human can replicate that pace that many times.

    I also think you are correct about the market–it does drive prices down. I think that is the sole reason some items are as cheap as they are. I do, on occasion, buy at a slightly higher price from toon names I don’t recognize as bots. But most of the time they have a fence. In WoW many times they try to sell via /auction, because they receive credit from their bosses for what they sell during their shift. Putting it up for sale will give the next guy their item(s). I believe the same is true for EQ2. I also despise the spamming of the gold sellers.

    Just to recap, I do not think either of these two are what we think of as commercial gold farmers, I just think they are players using a script.

  4. […] quite aware all of the above is obvious, but I just want to ensure no one thinks I am an elaborate script […]

  5. Kesselia says:

    I have seen the five group hydra even in Qeynos Harbor …I’ve seen them everywhere. If they are ganking mobs and disrupting a zone by constantly stealing a named mob that is needed for a quest you can petition them. I usually try to tell them if they don’t stop a GM is gonna show up in a few seconds cause I just petitioned and reported them for zone disruption. Sometimes that is enough to get them to leave….other times I spam them with all sorts of messages…I do whatever I can to disrupt them. I especially love the duel bets…hehehe..just follow them around and keep challenging them to a duel…this especially works when they are selling masters in the high lvl chat…tell them you are interested….go meet them…duel bet them…win….free master ..gotta love that they are that stupid cause they fall for it every time.

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