Korean court jails distributors of MMO bot program

From The Korea Times, May 9, 2006:

"A Seoul court took sides with NCSoft, Korea's biggest game company in a battle against makers of game cheating programs, but the accused remain skeptical whether NC really wants to fight with them.

"The Seoul Central District Court last week sentenced two distributors of 'LinMate' computer program to suspended jail terms of two years and a 10-million won penalty on the charge of obstructing NCSoft's operation of its 'Lineage' game.

Original Comment by: Timje
This reminds me rather strongly of a similar game, Dark Ages of Camelot. (DAoC)

One of the greatest successes of DAoC was designing RvR warfare that requires a second account.

In RvR, DAoC all but requires a user to get a priest to buff the attributes of the player's character. Each priest can only buff a couple of characters, because each buff is a constant upkeep with unlimited duration. The priest just has to be in the same zone as the buffed characters (there is no maximum range on the buffs). This meant that quite soon everyone's home keeps were full of priests mysteriously standing round, doing nothing but maintaining their buffs..

It became a trend that everyone who could afford two machines had two accounts, one main and one buffbot. This also meant twice the monthly fees.

Mythic (the creator of DAoC) noticed the trend with buffbots, and did they do anything to stop it? No, they introduced a genius patch... they allowed efficient multi-windowed use of multiple clients on one machine, letting people without the hardware, but with multiple accounts, to have buffbots as well. Hurrah!

Original Comment by: Luddie
I wanted to augment some of what was noted above about Dark Age of Camelot.

I don't think any MMO company, Lineage or DAoC, has had a problem with the idea of buffbots. They sit, unplayed, providing passive benefits to players. This is not against the EULA of either game and so I can completely understand Mythic's decision to allow multiple clients on people with limited hardware. Who doesn't want more money?

What both companies *are* against is the use of bot *programs*, which is what these Lineage players were sacked for. Re-read the post. They made a program called LinMate. Mythic and NCSoft have repeatedly banned accounts for using similar programs, because they, unlike the buffbots mentioned in the comment, are programs playing the game illegally.

In addition, the only new server types Mythic has made ever since the complaints about buffbots, have been servers that specifically make buffbots obsolete.

I am not a Mythic employee; just an ex-player who wants to set the record straight.

Original Comment by: Timje
"Many gamers have blamed game companies like NCSoft, saying that they have been deliberately overlooking the use of bots, because they are worried that they may lose profit if bots are banned."

This situation is heavily remeniscient of my experiences of DAOC's buffbots, and thats why I shared it.

The new server types were damage control after so many players left for WoW. The new server types (which do make buffbots obsolete) were rolled out on July 14th, 2005. The game was released October 10th, 2001.

Buffbots were allowed for 4 years because they gained Mythic more money despite angering many players. Very similar to how NCSoft "..have been deliberately overlooking the use of bots, because they are worried that they may lose profit if bots are banned."

Original Comment by: Cody K.

Luddie wrote: "...because they, unlike the buffbots mentioned in the comment, are programs playing the game illegally."

I didn't know people could "play" a computer game illegally (aside from pirating, of course). Is this one of those "victimless" crimes? Who's hurting from someone using a bot? Who's hurting from someone buying an in-game item farmed from an army of bots? Why are bots illegal, again? If someone could explain that to me, I'd be grateful.

Original Comment by: Claritin

The people who are hurt are the people who get in the way of the bot army.... or instance someone who wants to get an item off a rare spawn mob that a bot has been programmed to watch 24x7 and kill instantly... then at the end of the day that item is sold on ebay to the guy who would have camped it if the bot hadn't been there killing it.

If you allow bots it means you want a game that allows you to trade RL cash for in game cash... because in the long run that is exactly what bots do.

Now since most of us don't want to play a game where the main way to get loot is by swiping your credit card to pay some dude in China via ebay... well... we quit playing. If we quit playing there is no one to sell to and the botters move to the next game... leaving NCsoft to declare bankruptcy.

So "why are bots illegal?" Well... because it would take a complete retard to not ban something from existing in your game that will cause you to declare bankruptcy...

Original Comment by: Tom Edwards
The situation is worse still in games where the exchnage of in-game money for real is encouraged. I'm pretty sure that Escapist has done something on this facet before.

Above that there's always the enjoyment of others, too. Some people play MMOs because they enjoy riding the virtual markets and trading and selling in ways or at a scale that they could never risk doing outside the game, and all of us will engage in the virtual market at some time. Robots grinding away every hour of every day on the same task that the human traders are doing really takes the enjoyment out of it. Why pay an MMO subscription if you are merely competing with AI?

Original Comment by: Cody K.

Tom Edwards wrote: "Why pay an MMO subscription if you are merely competing with AI?"

Why pay a subscription if you are merely competing with children who don't have responsibilities beyond themselves and can spend 12 hours or more each and every day to the game?

I still don't see the problem with bots, but then again, I think any "problems" created from bots are largely due to poor game design.

If bots create an unfair (illegal) advantage... so does availability of time. People with responsibilities beyond the game will constantly be at a disadvantage to those who can devote their "lives" to the game. Not everybody has equal time to compete in these games, yet the game rewards those who spend the most time. The game design encourages people to use bots in order to compete.

It's not that a bot breaks any in-game rules while it is active. It merely spends more time doing whatever it is doing. Thus, time is the precious commodity of these typical MMOs and that is the determining factor for competition (unfortunately). Sounds like a broken game design that encourages the usage of bots for everybody to compete equally, if you ask me.

Regarding using real money to purchase virtual property, people will always buy their way to advance in games (and in life). It's the way the world works so why fight it? Other MMO designs have already embraced this understanding.

I don't know what NCSoft is trying to accomplish.

I'm all for fairness in games and competition, but typical MMORPGS are not designed to be fair so I only treat them as interesting social environments and try to refrain from competing because... I simply cannot compete in a game that requires insane amounts of time to progress.

Original Comment by: Davinc

This post is directly aimed at my expiriences in Lineage 2.

This might have been mentioned before, but most players do not have any trouble with an active player using a second (or third or fourth) account to have own support characters available. Whether they are semi-actively played or actually "botted". (I play all my chars myself, and I have 2 accounts with support and a main account with my main DD. I use an SE, BD and SH to form an own party.)

What a lot of players do have a problem with is the, sometimes agressive, bot trains. They run fully without any human imput and run for weeks at a time. This makes afk plvling possible for those seeking in the right spots. Also this unbalances the prices on materials and other items. (The fluctuation of the amounts of mats on the market would be easely countered with an increase in the drop rate, so players are able to get their own mats.)

The other problem there is with bot trains is that there are now so many of them (on my home server of gustin.) that ussually players have to compete for hunting rooms with the bot trains and other players.

I really hope NCsoft will at least look at these problems and take serious actions against them. Eventhough it might loose them a lil profit. On the other hand, there are a lot of high lvl players that are close to quitting because of various related problems. (Like the farmers that kill every single raidboss above lvl 65 the minute it spawns. Raiding is one of the best ways to bond an alliance, as you are doing something as an alliance, and not as an individual.)

So once again, as a plea to NCsoft, look into these problems and have some heart for the active players that love the game you make, but have a few big problems with these specific program using people.

Original Comment by: Luddie
In addition to being bad for the game, programs that play a bot are against the EULA of most games. Which makes them illegal, even though most developers don't prosecute based on these violations.

Original Comment by: Capo Taco

A bot with good AI isn't that easy to build. But since most of these games are so dreadfully unchallenging, bots do a better job than humans. Because bots have infinite time and we don't.


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