Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Hi there. I am a bot. Last night, as I slept in my bed, an alt of mine was busily queuing up and running Alterac Valley over and over. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this, but the more it goes on, the more I realize I’m pretty much okay with it. Since the merger of RedGuides and NotAddicted, I’ve been exposed to a somewhat darker underside of the game that I wasn’t really aware of before. I knew things like exploits and bots existed, but never really paid them much attention.

There were “casual exploits” that I would engage in. Things that were obvious loopholes in the game, but didn’t really feel like exploits, the same way downloading ripped music doesn’t really feel the same as walking into a store in the mall and stuffing a CD down your pants. It doesn’t feel like much of anything, actually. It feels kinda like how breathing does at this point; you just do it.

An example of this would be how you used to be able to pull The Black Stalker without all the drama involved in running the entire Underbog. After zoning in, you could kill one mob, then have a warlock /target The Black Stalker. He patted around a bit up in his room, but if you timed it right, you could catch him on the 'near side' of his pat, have the warlock send his imp to attack, and the imp would bug out and pop thru the wall into the bosses chamber. Warriors would pop commanding shout, and healers would be spamming rank one heals on the warlock. The lock would be pulled into combat thru his imp, and everyone else pulled into combat by assisting the lock (thru heals or buffs) would be ported up to the boss, where they could run out of his room, reset the encounter, and proceed to summon the remaining party members up to where they were. Bing Bang Boom, kill the last boss of the instance for (basically) free loots, and a chance to roll on a Primal Nether.

Heroics can only be run once per day, but this was something I pretty much did every day until it was (ridiculously slowly) patched out. One of my alts was an enchanter (needing the primal), and another could use the DPS ring that he dropped. It was never hard to find people to engage in this “exploit”, and we didn’t even really hide the fact that we were doing it. We’d openly advertise “LF1M Warlock Heroic UB Bug, kill 1 pat and then warp to last boss” in trade, and get lots of responses. It got to the point that anyone in the LFG tool for Heroic UB was doing it. If you needed loot off the first boss, good luck with that, because nobody actually ran the instance the intended way anymore.

Botting in AV is a whole other can of worms, or is it? Is it really any different than reading a webpage on the other monitor while reaching over to jump once every three minutes while running in a random direction in Alterac Valley? I mean, yeah, I guess so... but the principle is the same. I’m basically not “there”, or really participating in the game either way. Having it remain plugging away while I sleep is different, but it’s not like I sit there and watch the progress bar in uTorrent as I download episodes of Lost each week. I set it up, go to bed, and reap the benefits the following morning.

Why bother at all? Because I’m getting tired of raiding, and there’s a big cockblock bouncer standing behind the arena NPC named Three Hundred Plus Resilience holding the 'invite list' in his hands. Joining a 1500 rating arena team used to mean you’d be fighting equally geared scrubs, but that doesn’t really work anymore. People in full Season 3 gear are now running their trash buddies up to 1850, and pretty much crapping on everyone along the way. To last even 20 seconds in arena as a healer with low resilience requires me burning all my cooldowns on myself, god forbid I want to help a teammate. I can’t even get into premade BG pugs without armory checks beforehand. It’s silly.

To think that all my hard earned PVE gear is pretty much useless inside of the arena is laughable. I mean, I know WHY they do it (resilience nullifies streaky crit chains), but it doesn’t make me feel any better to know I’ll need to run AV over and over and over again to even get entry level PVP gear, when I’ve already burned so many hours of my life sitting in raids. It’s cute that I can trade Tier 4 tokens for Season 2 gear now, but we don’t run Gruul so we can give loot tokens to people already wearing Tier 5. If we run it at all, it's to gear out new recruits in Tier 4 PVE gear, because other people have burned out and left for another guild or to start PVPing. It’s almost like they should just give you two pieces of gear each time you redeem a token. Just give you the PVE gear you’re after, and throw in the PVP gear as a bonus. If you earn 2000 arena points, and go buy Arena shoulders, they should just throw in the PVE shoulders too. Either way you’ve earned it. You did the time, downed the content (be it PVP or PVE), your tier level of gear should be raised across the board.

Look at the new tournament test realm. For 20 dollars, you can upgrade your account to allow entry to this exclusive realm where (surprise, surprise) all the gear, gems, and enchants you could ever possibly desire are yours for the taking. Free. Okay, well, 20 dollars, but you need to spend zero hours accumulating it. Never rolled a mage before? No sweat, just hit the character creation button. Bling! Level 70 mage in full epics. Yeah, that makes sense…

So I downloaded Glider.

I originally got it with the sole intent to level fishing, another complete and utterly ridiculous time sink. There is ZERO skill involved in fishing. It doesn’t even require walking to anywhere besides the pool of water in Ogrimmar. You can get skillups standing in Ogrimmar just as easily as you can anywhere in the Outlands. I wanted access to the fishing daily quests, but refused to sit at my monitor right-clicking the fucking bobber for 8 hours straight to “unlock” this exclusive content. I’ve got over 8 zillion hours of my life sunk into the game already. You’d think maxing the fishing skill would be like a quest. Not some punishing bullshit exercise in masochism. So I set up Glider to click the bobber for me, and woke up the next morning at 354 fishing. I slept for 6 or 7 hours, and it didn’t even reach the max rank. This wasn't even starting from scratch, this was like "the final push to 375" I was going for. Yeah, awesome.

Taking 'gliding' to the next level of auto queuing BGs seemed like it would be a pretty daunting task, but using the same fishing principles, it actually wasn’t that hard. I just downloaded a pack of AV profiles, and some Glider addon thing that auto queues ("Spartacus"). I don’t even know how they work, I just followed a set up guide, and huzzah, here I go. I basically walk up to the battle master, click GO, and it handles the rest. The cursor paws around on the screen looking for the battle master, finds it and queues up, enters the battle, and then executes a chain of auto-walks based on where in the instance you are. If I get attacked, my character just waits to die, rezzes, and picks up a path from there to … wherever. I really don’t even know. It kind of just marches to the Alliance base and then dies there over and over amid the chaos. When I watch it do its thing, it all looks pretty silly. If I bump into a wall, Glider tries to strafe around it. If that doesn’t work, it walks backward about five feet, rotates a bit (lol keyboard turner), then tries to walk forward again. Assuming it gets around the obstacle, it goes back along its merry way. Sometimes it just does this randomly without any obstacle in my path. I can watch the Log window, it's got funny little messages it spits out... "Oops! Looks like we're stuck, trying something fancy", etc...

The best part about this is that now that I know how it reacts, it’s fun to watch the screen and see other people bumping into things, strafing around, and walking backwards five feet. Half the people in the battleground are gliding as well, and the other half are the retards I really don't have any interest playing with anyway; the guys who shout orders in capslock like they’re Genghis Fucking Kahn, or read some quote on a CoD4 loading screen and suddenly think they're Sun Tzu.

Eventually I’ll have the honor needed to purchase enough resilience gear to actually stand a chance in the 1500s bracket of arena, and then I’ll need to actually play this toon again. That’s fine! That’s all I wanted in the first place! I have three 70s, and I raid on my two mains enough that it already makes my wife crazy. As it stands, I feel like I’m not logged in farming something, I’m not being productive. The whole "Evercrack" thing comes full circle, but that's the point. It's obviously in Blizzard's best interest to have you spend twice the amount of time logged in to be viable in two different aspects of the same game. The only serious asset the game revolves around is how much time you can afford to spend logged in. Gold farmers don't sell gold, this is nothing new. They sell TIME. With Glider, I can just set the bot up and actually sit down and enjoy dinner with my wife, or go watch a movie, content knowing that my toon is busily doing its own thing, hard at work for me. Isn’t that what computers were supposed to do in the first place? To take care of the menial tasks for humanity? Remove the drudgery from our lives, so we can bask in the finer parts of life?

I envision a perfect future where 40 Alliance and 40 Horde just auto-walk past each other in a battleground that never ends… no towers are captured, no generals defeated, our computers just bumping into walls over and over, backing up 5 feet, turning and pushing ever forward towards the ideal tomorrow where honor ticks away in an AV match that will never end...

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