Wednesday, February 2, 2011

RE: Bot farmers, a necessary evil

Yesterday was a guest post by Chunes from maintankadin on the subject of bots being a necessary evil. If you skipped over it please go back and read it as it is good writing and he brings up a few interesting points. And of course you won't have much of an idea of what I'm talking about today.

Before I go on I'm going to state a fact about anybody that plays the AH. You all buy or have bought from bots. It might have been once or twice or it might be daily. You might know it and buy anyways or you could just look at the price tag, hit the buy out button and don't give a damn about where it's coming from. Regardless you have bought from bots plain and simple. If you deny that then you are just not wanting to admit it. All I'm saying is that if you scorn all who buys from them you have to yell at yourself first.

However I do not in any way advocate buying from bots, creating or exploiting them. Never have nor will I ever. I know from personal experience that you can be suspended from buying from them whether you knew you were or not.

Here's my cliff notes comments on Chunes' guest post yesterday.

Just saying this plainly I do believe that bots are a necessary evil. Do I like that idea or agree with it? No of course not, but I accept it for what it is. It really just comes down to numbers in my opinion. On each server there are X players with Y alts with N off specs that have Z gem sockets. A stack of elementium ore only has about a 5% chance of giving you a rare gem. And an even smaller chance of giving you the color that is desired. Therefore a lot of ore is needed to be prospected in order to supply the server with the gems for their gear. But I'll go more in depth with that later on.

While I do agree that a monopoly only benefits the one that runs it, you already know that there is no such thing in the wow AH. There is always somebody else posting and somebody else capable of crafting. Fact. So bots helping me or any other AH player run a monopoly is a bag argument. If for no other reason than Regular Joe Nobody out there can do exactly what I am doing. They can buy stuff, they can craft stuff. They don't have the capital to buy 500 stacks of ore? Well that doesn't matter in the slightest bit, I proved that you don't need to be rich in order to get rich.

However having a direct connection to a botting supplier is an entirely different can of worms. That is something that I feel should be immediately punished because you're using an out of game resource that 99% of the player base does not have access to. Simply put it takes the fair playing field of an mmo and turns it upside down. This is entirely different than complaining that you can't do well on the AH because you're not using any addOns. That's just your fault and not Blizzards. I'm talking about equal opportunity and some random bot listing stuff on the AH cheap gives everyone the same chance to buy it. Owning a bot and running it to fuel your personal AH game is not equal.

Perhaps blizzard can spawn NPC's that throw a bunch of cheap trade goods onto the AH at random intervals throughout the month as a relief to the intense material demand and as another gold sink. Regardless, when I speak of bots I speak of the ones that work for gold selling companies that sell in /2 or on the AH and not to specific players individually. If you buy gold and get hacked or suspended, well that's your problem and your mistake and is not the problem of the rest of the player base. I knew better when I first started playing just by simply thinking "hey that's probably not a good idea."

So who does a bot benefit aside from the person running it? Well the answer is obvious; whoever can buy their mats first. It might be a goblin or it might be somebody leveling up or it might be a guild supplying their raiders with gems. It could be a progression guild giving all raiders free flasks on progression nights. Or it can be a cool casual guild that provides free gems to gear you get from raiding with them. It could be anybody at all and it is first come first serve. I have just as much of a chance to buy it as anybody else in town.

What of the effect that bots have on material prices? Well that should be obvious if you know what supply and demand is. High demand + high supply = stable prices. High demand + low supply = 400g per stack of ore. The more bots there are the more materials will pour onto the AH which reduces the price of them. That is just a fact. So when thinking of keeping prices from spiking to 50g per single herb bots are a wonderful thing to have around.

Now on the relationship of live human farmers and bots. If a person enjoys farming, they go farm. The fun is the reward and the gold you get is a nice bonus. If farming is your only source of income, well, this is my care face. Too bad so sad. Dailys make good money these days, I mean like really good. So much so that I'm considering doing them now. I have as much of an interest in cheap materials as anybody else on game. I want them and don't want to spend an arm and a leg but I don't have the time/desire to farm.

However most of the "fun" from farming comes from giving your brain a very simple monotonous task to focus on. It is basically in the same ball park as meditation. Focus on something small and simple then just go with it. However that small thing with farming is collecting nodes. A bot is just nigh impossible to compete with if you're just a human. You're a flawed being, you miss a node here and there, don't have 100% perfect routes etc. Oh yeah, AND YOU CAN'T FUCKING WALK UNDER THE GROUND! God that pisses me off anytime I see that crap. srsly!

This is where I rally to the cause of the farmers. No it's not that strange if you think about it even as much against farming as I am. Farming is their choice, it is how they enjoy the game. It isn't my thing so I don't care if they want to farm. Go for it like I always say. I want you to enjoy the game and not mess up my play time. A bot does just that to a player. Not because they're better though. Because they're perfect, they're against the rules, and they're capable of things that humans simply cannot do. And that is simply not cool with me. But that isn't a far cry different than the other 15 people farming in the same zone as you. So in actuality a bot isn't a so much different than the other people getting in the way of your fun by doing the exact same thing as you are. In fact if I was farming for 5 hours a day every day you wouldn't know the difference between me and a bot until you tried to talk to me.

However the whole bots walking and farming underground is a serious game flaw in my opinion that needs to be addressed pronto. The fact is that a bot going at normal flying speed on the same route as you are may as well be another person that happens to have their route perfect. Hell there's addOns that you can use or ways that you can basically draw a path for yourself to follow while farming. I've done it before using carbonite when I was farming.

But when you do have a large army of bots on your server this is when things get hairy. If there are a dozen bots per area, which I'm sure is the case on some servers, that becomes a real problem for the people who want to farm and is the place that Blizz really needs to focus their attention. A small amount of botters is like corruption in the government, a little bit is expected and will just never go away because people are people. Unfortunately the solution is not a simple one as the problem itself is far more complex than a lawsuit against some dude over in China running a bot.

Continuing tomorrow with what I feel possible solutions could be.


  1. Like you said, I've probably profited from bots indirectly when snatching cheap mats from AH or tradechat.
    On the other hand I've been gathering myself and have felt the impact of botters - when you fly around endlessy with minimal results.

    One time I was farming some specific item from spiders in a certain cave. No matter which time of the day, there was this feral cat running around and killing them endlessly. As it didn't mind me skinning the mobs it just killed nor replied to any form of communication it was fairly easy to prove that it was a bot. I reported it to Blizz and never saw that bot again.
    So in this case they reacted because of a specific complaint. It's probably a little harder for them to generally track down botting, as this problem has been around for many months.

  2. Good point on the NPC supplying the AH with cheap mats but leave this to Blizzard to decide if it's necessary. Not a cheating robot player that essentially is doing the same thing and at the same time eliminating the ability for a casual player to get good value for their time. Farmers should be allowed to make the same gold/hr as the crafter. This only really applies to the high volume products, not the niche markets that a bright crafter may be able to exploit.
    If there really is a problem with supply of mats without bots then it would be addressed by Blizzard, may take a while knowing blizz.. but it would be addressed.

  3. @ Sarge
    It's definitely good to know that Blizz actually looks into player reports of botting. I can only hope that they don't shoot first and ask questions later.

    @ Anon
    I disagree that farming should be as profitable as crafting. With mining all you need to do is skill up, you don't have to learn any purchased recipes or do daily quests or discover/research them You just go to the trainer and you can do it. And as any AH player can tell you, there's a lot more that goes into working your professions than there is gathering.

  4. Agreed that the AH is tricky, hence the reason for your ever evolving and very informative blog.
    I don't think it's fair to say that a farmer should make less than a crafter just because all they do is train. They are not supposed to be grunt employees of white collar crafters. It's the bots that have made it this way!
    The open market will decide material cost based on the demand from crafters to aquire the raw mats to create their wares and supply the consumer like the rich farmer!
    There would be more farmers if they got good value for their time. It's a cycle, and crafting vs. farming for gold/hr should work like a yo-yo... I want to keep going but it's not my blog, lol. Great topic! Keep it up!

  5. @ Sarge: cat in cave does not equal bot in this article. You could see it. Ore and herb bots are below the surface (literally) and the nodes just **poof** disappear from you as soon as you land. Very different.

    @ Stokpile: as long as the sell in the AH I really have no issue with bots. But I don't rely on farming for my income. I craft and flip. If I did rely on farming I would be fucking pissed that my 20 stacks of ore at 80g is undercut by 150 stacks at 50g.

    For the simple reason that bots are not sanctioned and "legal" according to ToU and EULA you can bet Blizz will do what it can to eliminate them. The recent Warden updates were a big step and I'm sure more are coming.

    What that means to you and me is simply a brief hiccup in supply. The huge supply of cheap mats from bots means fewer players who would otherwise farm have to do something else--dailies, or more likely, branch into other areas of AH play.

    Once the bots are gone and supply goes away, prices spike. The farming inclined (I hope) will say "wow, I can make gold farming at those prices" and leave my crafting and flipping markets in favor of what I want them to do: supply me with cheap ass mats.

    There may be blips in the market but over time it will even out. Or new opportunities will emerge. But as a goblin I find bots selling in the AH a good resource. I find bots selling in /trade a nuisance. Bots farming for their own crafting and gold making? That's just pure bullshit.

  6. @ Kammler
    You're right in that I mostly refer to bots that are literally underground as they have a -very- noticeable advantage over players. But a bot that just flys and mines like everyone else isn't too too big of a deal until there's like 50 of them per zone. Screw that.

    TBH I'd still much rather have an easier method of acquiring the ass tons of mats that people buy up on the AH. Not saying cut out farming from the game, but add in another way to get them. Like literal farming.

  7. @Kammler

    Yeah, you're right that underground bots are a bigger problem.
    But both are an annoyance to players, who gather themselves.