Confessions of a Botter

I used to be one of those people who used a bot program to play World of Warcraft for me. It started when I heard about people using a bot to fish for them, and as anyone who plays WoW knows, fishing is singularly the most boring activity you can do in WoW.

Searching around on the internet I found an interview with the maker of Glider (WoWGlider as it was then) and from that interview I found the Glider site (, liked what I saw, and spent my $15 to buy the program. From there on in I learnt how to use Glider to level up characters without me having to be around to do all the legwork.

Overall I’m pretty bad at WoW, not clueless just very slow, I started playing a few months after release and I didn’t even get to level 60 until after the Burning Crusade expansion was released – in fact it was only using Joana’s Horde Leveling Guide ( that I eventually got up to 60 and then 70. Something that all the botting I did never actually managed to accomplish for me.

It turns out that I was equally as bad at botting* as I was at playing WoW, I kept starting new alts and new accounts to try out different classes, botting them up a bit and then switching to something else all while keeping a low profile to avoid getting banned. After a while I got fairly good at setting up my little botting routines (or profiles as they are known) and got a few characters up to level 60 before the BC expansion came out. I was building up a little army of botted accounts and characters.

Now in the botting world there are several sorts of botters, there are those who play WoW for fun and use Glider to level up some alts to try out different classes, there are others who like to use the bot to back them up in a party, there are also those who create accounts to sell, those who farm gold (either for themselves or to sell to others), and those who bot in battlegrounds to farm honor.

Botting is very useful, it frees up the time you would have spent grinding and lets you go out to the movies, or make beautiful love to your fiancée. All the good things in life. The careful botters, of whom I counted myself as one, keep a low profile to avoid getting banned, do not race up in levels, and do not sell countless farmed goods on the auction house.

However it seems that most botters are in it for the money, they are leveling characters to sell or are farming gold to sell, and because they are in it for the money they have a don’t care attitude that makes them stand out like sore thumbs. They bot in quest spots, waste everyone’s effort in battlegrounds, are on 24 hours a day, use the simplest routines, and are mostly hunters with a pet boar named boar… Many people call them Chinese gold farmers but in fact a lot of them are lazy teenage boys with no scruples out to make the easiest buck they can get away with.

I don’t like the botters who are careless and blatant so I report them at every opportunity, and most have been subsequently caught and banned. I know because I add them to my friends list once I’ve reported them and after a while they stop logging on, for good. The botters who are subtle and careful, I mostly don’t even see, neither will you, and they’re genuinely not doing anyone any harm, they’re just saving some time.

The blatant ones are like those terrible people who will lie to your face and not even have the grace to be subtle about it, you know, people who would be estate agents or second hand car salesmen if they weren’t so lazy.

Now on the Glider forums they have a rule that if you confess to reporting a botter then you will be banned from the forums. It’s a pretty stupid rule because only a complete idiot would be caught out by it but there you have it. There are plenty of forums with stupid rules like that and this article will get me banned from the Glider forums and incite a flame war the like of which has not been seen since Rome burned (please excuse the internet hyperbole).

However when you read between the lines of other people’s posts on the Glider forums you can see that there are tons of people there who report their ‘fellow’ botters. Not least by the way they scream and shout when someone mentions that they have thought about reporting a botter – the lady doth protest too much and all that.

So all the time I’ve been playing I’ve also been reporting my fellow botters and this makes me a very bad person in their eyes. But frankly, they’re a bunch of blatant cheaters without an ounce of morals between them, so screw ‘em, screw ‘em in the ass.

On the other hand I also contributed to the glider knowledgebase by writing some helpful guides and helping people out on the forums. None of that will matter once they see this confession though; I will be universally reviled by the Glider community.

Unfortunately my botting wasn’t really satisfying, it’s quite easy to setup and level up a bunch of characters or farm some materials for crafting or to sell for gold but it doesn’t provide any satisfaction as there’s nothing to do with those botted accounts but either sell them on or farm with them. So a while ago I stopped botting, bought Joana’s leveling guide and started playing manually, which, although slower, is far more satisfying.

Finally getting to level 70 and having done it by myself with only a written guide to show me the way was really fulfilling, WoW is a great game for leveling up on your own and with the recent changes to leveling speeds it’s got a lot better as WoW used to be very slow to level in the mid to high levels. Since the leveling speeds have improved and I got my first character to level 70 I have started grinding a few more alts up.

Since then I have come across something that suits me down to the ground: multiboxing. In case you weren’t aware, multiboxing is playing more than one copy of an MMO at once and using hardware/software tools to broadcast keystrokes from one copy to the others. It’s a decent challenge for someone like me who’s good with computers (and programming) but not so good with an MMO (my leet skills are sadly lacking). You can find out more for yourself at

I first discovered multiboxing when someone on the Glider forums posted what they thought was a massive botting setup of 40 or so PCs all running WoW at once; in fact it was a very specialized multiboxing setup to allow two people to carry out their own 40 man raid.

It was those screen shots on the Glider forum of that setup that started me off on multiboxing and it’s with multiboxing that I finally managed to make WoW really work for me.  Because all the time I was botting I was trying to build up enough accounts, characters, and computers to run them on, in order to be able to have a whole party of bots led by me.

One of the downsides of WoW and most MMOs is that they have some fairly heavy group only content. Sections of the game that you can only get into if you have a whole group of people to back you up. I’m talking about instances, dungeons, raids, and other special encounters here. The trouble with these group only sections is that you need a group to do them and getting a group together is really, really hard.

So my long term goal for botting was to be able to run those instances on my own without the headaches of leading a group of people, something which I do not excel at. Ultimately however, it wasn’t botting that got me to that position but multiboxing. Botting might be easy but it gets you even less than playing the game by hand, no real challenge, no learning, no excitement, no fun, and what’s the point of paying for something that’s not fun? It took me a while to learn but botting doesn’t do you any good.

*By botting I mean using a third party program to play WoW, not the other sort of botting:

Postscript: This article was originally written in 2008.

Multiboxing – For Guys Who Like to Play With Themselves

I’ve recently started multiboxing in WoW and it’s where I’ve finally found a comfortable experience with my favourite MMO. In case you didn’t know, multiboxing is playing more than one copy of a game at once and using hardware/software tools to broadcast keystrokes and mouse clicks from one instance of the game to the others.

One of the bad points of WoW and most MMOs is that they have a large amount of group only content. Sections of the game that you can only get into if you have a whole group of people to back you up. I’m talking about instances, dungeons, raids, and other special encounters here. The trouble with these group only sections is that you need a group to do them and getting a group together is really, really hard.

The pick up group is fraught with difficulty, there is inevitably someone who takes a 10 minute break halfway through, someone who only has 30 minutes of time for a 3 hour commitment, or worst of all someone who just wants to rush through so they can ninja loot all the goodies and foster ill will all around. Even if you have a bunch of friends who play WoW, getting them together at the same time, all ready to play, and without interruptions for the 3 or more hours required to do an instance is a very rare occurrence. For anyone with a job, family, or a sense of responsibility it’s nigh on impossible.

Until now I’ve just skipped over these sections of the game and put it down as just one of those things that I can’t do anything about. However I have come across something that allows me to get into those areas and appreciate the full spectrum of the MMO experience: multiboxing.

Multiboxing is a decent challenge for someone like me who’s good with computers and programming but not so good with an MMO. It took me a very long time to get to level 70 in WoW; I first started in 2005 and didn’t get to 70 until 2007, which in WoW terms is an eternity of crappy playing. I didn’t even get to 70 under my own steam either, I had to use a step by step guide to show me the way to go because until I got the guide I was just flailing around with my multiple alts.

Now that I’m an experienced but not good player I can look back and see what a terrible lack of direction I had in the early years of WoW. Although with the many recent changes to quests and leveling that make life much easier I could probably do better nowadays.

It’s multiboxing I want to talk about here though. There are several tasks you need to accomplish to get multiboxing and I’m not going to write a multiboxing guide here, there’s plenty of that on the forums (see link below).

The first task is to decide how you’re going to multibox, the basic decision is either hardware or software. If you choose hardware you will need multiple cheap PCs and a bunch of keyboard and mouse linking hardware. If you choose software you will need one or more powerful PCs and a software tool.

The second task is to decide how many games you will multibox at once, for WoW it’s generally 2-5 although some people manage to successfully multibox 10 at once, and there are even a couple of people who manage a whole raid of 25 or 40, which is a LOT of hardware!

The third task is to pick up a tool to let you broadcast keystrokes to all the games you’re going to multibox. You’ve got a choice of solutions depending on cost, availability, and your desire. I chose to use a software solution called Keyclone on my single powerful desktop PC.

The fourth task is to buy and install all the copies of the game you will need and create all your accounts, making sure to register them all in your name (it’s a bannable offense in WoW to multibox with differently named accounts and multiboxers get reported all the time).

The last task, and in some ways the hardest, is to set up all your macros and keystrokes for smooth play. This is where the forums really become useful, there’s a number of guides and a lot of advice on how to get started and how to optimize your play.

Once all that’s done the rest is just playing the game.

As you start playing as a multiboxer you will inevitably attract comment from other players, generally these are favourable but you also get a lot of people deriding you as incompetent, a few who report you, a number of people who will take great offense and insult you, a few who will assume you are a botter, and of course those people who view a multibox party as a juicy bit of honor to be ganked mercilessly.

Interestingly there’s quite a strong link between botters and multiboxers. Although the multiboxing community, because of the fact that there’s bunch of botters in it, really wants to keep that little fact under wraps. The multibox community is a bit worried, and rightly so, that if they’re seen to be associated with botters then multiboxing will get banned as well because multiboxing is right on the edge of what is acceptable in playing WoW.

Additionally, because a multibox party is able to act in a much more coherent and guided manner than one made of five individuals, it is very easy to overpower other players with directed fire and DPS. So potential multiboxers really need to think hard about the consequences of acting in an unsportsmanlike fashion, ganking people with a multiboxed team will get you hated on damn fast, and enough hate will eventually cause the developers to rethink their stance on multiboxing.

There are certainly a number of multiboxers who play because it gives them an advantage over the solo player, or multiboxers who use the method to farm gold or items, but then there are always low people who will use any form of advantage, tool or exploit to screw over other people, regardless of consideration for others.

To sum it up: what I’ve wanted from WoW all along is to be able to play at my own pace, see everything cool there is to see and do the things that need a party, and with multiboxing I can have a party whenever I want without the difficulty of herding cats that is the usual pick up group experience.

It’s my party, and I’ll play when I want to.

p.s. You can find out more for yourself at

p.p.s. This article was written in 2008, since then I’ve stopped playing WoW, started and stopped multiboxing EVE Online, and now wish that DDO was capable of being multiboxed properly.

Is World of Tanks Playing with Loaded Dice?

I’m getting the impression that somewhere in the guts of World of Tanks there’s some loaded dice. I’ve been in too many battles where one side or the other just disintegrates under the least amount of pressure and I think it’s down to two possibilities:

One – the random number generation for dispersion, penetration, and damage has a factor that is rolled per battle and side not per shot

I think there’s a lot of people who have experienced battles where they and their side have either blown through the opposition with little effort or been unable to dent them even with expert marksmanship.

This could be due to a factor, think of it as a bonus or penalty, which is applied randomly to each team at the beginning of the battle, which modifies the random dispersion, penetration, and damage rolls. Effectively giving one random side a massive advantage most of the time.

i.e. Team Green (TG) and Team Red (TR) both have a random factor applied to their RNG rolls at the beginning of the battle. Let’s say that the number can be either plus or minus 0, 5, or 10% and the RNG adds a further +/- 0-15% per shot.

– In the first battle Team Green gets +10% and Team Red -10% resulting in Team Green wiping out Team Red very quickly.
– In the second battle Team Green gets -5% and Team Red gets +5% resulting in a close win for team red.
– In the third battle both teams get a +0% bonus resulting in a close battle that goes down to the wire and where the skilled players actually make a difference.

I have a rule of thumb when playing arty, if the first couple of shots go wide then so will all the others. It appears that the amount you deviate by (but not the direction) is fixed for the match. Those matches where the first shot hits on the nail are going to be the ones where you rule as arty, the ones where the first shot hits the edge of the circle aren’t going to be so good…

Two – matchmaking groups stock tanks and/or 50% crews together

We’ve all seen the strange way that the matchmaking system places groups of similar tanks on one side of the battle. It isn’t properly randomised which leads to the theory that there’s other strange coding going on in the matchmaking. If one of those is to group together stock tanks (i.e. not fully upgraded) or 50% crews (i.e. any crews less than 100%) then that again gives one side an enormous advantage.

Even if the matchmaker doesn’t factor in stock tanks, crew skill, or even player ‘skill’/win rate/premium account, simply not balancing the teams evenly can result in a significant advantage for one side over the other. 3 KV-1 tanks as top tanks vs 3 Shermans is an example I’ve seen a couple of times. Allowing tier I tanks to platoon with tier X tanks screws over the side that gets the tier I.The weighting system used in the matchmaker doesn’t work to provide balanced teams in a significant number of battles. This has just the same effect and is just as bad as fixing the random rolls for the match.

Loaded Dice

Nobody wants to play a game where one side is given loaded dice. It’s obvious to many players that something strange is going on in the game, and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s up to the developers to assure us that their game design is genuinely randomised to give all players a fair chance.

Paranoid Conspiracy Theories

Please note that I don’t think there’s a conspiracy and Wargaming aren’t ‘out to get you’ by rigging your matches to lose when you creep above a 50% win rate. It’s all down to the badly coded Team Win Generator accidentally fixing 70% of matches with one sided bonuses and/or bad matchmaking. It explains absolutely why you can only have a significant effect one battle in ten despite playing the same every time. It also makes building any real skill ten times as difficult because for every time you repeat the same action you don’t get the same result. They don’t need to fix matches for individual players as fixing matches randomly accomplishes the same ends. This is Wargaming’s version of balance: If everyone gets screwed equally then the game is balanced

Testing the Hypothesis

For anyone who wants to run their own test what needs to be looked for is a correlation between winning a match and having ‘good luck’ with regards to hits/penetrations/criticals and losing a match with ‘bad luck’ on hits, penetrations, and 0 damage criticals.

i.e. record your hits and misses, your bounces, and your criticals. For arty record your deviation from the center of the circle. and record the outcome (i.e. 15-0 loss, 2-10 win, etc) and how fast it happened. Even simply recording hits/misses and wins losses would help. This is what I’ll be doing.

If the Team Win Generator is setting a single bonus/penalty at the beginning of a match then the majority of shots will perform badly in some matches, well in others, and ‘average’ in a small number.

Why I’m trying to quit World of Tanks

I realised something today: World of Tanks is a casino with nothing to win except a momentary sense of accomplishment.

I’ve loved tanks since I was a little boy making plastic models of WWII tanks. As I grew up that turned into a love of wargaming and all its associated modelling requirements. I would lovingly select, purchase, assemble, and paint all the tanks, soldiers, terrain, and other items required to field my own little army against fellow enthusiasts. If I’d never moved house there would still be a desk piled high with paints, brushes, glues, and tools but I did and so all those things had to be tidied away. A couple of moves later and with a pressing need for money it was time to sell all my wargaming collection on eBay. I thought I was done with it.

Years later my wargaming passion has turned into an online gaming passion. I’ve played World of Warcraft of course, who hasn’t, but I’ve also played sundry other games but never found something that drew me like my teenage obsession with tanks until I chanced upon World of Tanks. World of Tanks (WoT for short) is purportedly an MMO focused around WWII tank battles and so it is at first appearance.

You play the game by entering short PVP team battles, fifteen tanks to each side on a small thousand meter square map. Now that’s quite odd for tank warfare which is mostly conducted over significantly larger ranges and areas. This is explained by the designers as the game being focused on arcade action and fun. Sounds like a great idea.

However it’s not quite that simple. Each shot has a very large random outcome as the designers have applied a strong random factor to every aspect. Assuming you have aimed correctly when you press the fire button your shell will disperse randomly within the aiming circle. It’s meant to be on a bell curve but from personal observation it’s just wild, you cannot aim and expect the same result from the same gun consistently. Assuming you actually hit the enemy tank there’s then a random penetration roll that increases or decreases your shell’s penetration by twenty five percent. After that the game works out what damage you do to the enemy tank again with a twenty five percent randomisation of your standard damage. Add this all up and each shot you fire has a wildly different outcome. Multiply that out by your fifteen team members versus the fifteen members of the enemy team and the outcome is entirely unpredictable. Except that it isn’t. Somehow the random factor seems to favour you on some days and be against you on others. Almost is if the dice were loaded.

Now it’s certainly possible to overcome all this randomness, the designers of the game have given you plenty of opportunity to spend buckets of money on microtransactions to enhance your game. Premium subscriptions to let you progress faster, premium tanks to let you grind out experience and cash for new tanks, premium ammo to let you penetrate better, premium crews to utilise your tank at one hundred percent of its ability instead of the standard fifty percent. The list goes on and on. By the time you’ve got into the game and run into the point where you have to start grinding the game to progress you’ll either have given up in frustration or be very ready to start buying your way forward.

Once you’re established in WoT you’ll begin to perceive the underlying problem and eventually realise why it’s bad for you. Other players have taken the readily available statistics from the game and done some simple analysis. The average player has a win rate (games won as compared to games lost) of forty eight percent. The worst players lie around thirty percent and the best no better than seventy percent. The shape of the bell curve for this distribution of win rates has very steep sides meaning that it is very difficult to change your win rate once you have a lot of games under your belt. What this means is that each game you play has roughly a one in three chance of being lost no matter what you do, conversely another one in three will be won without you lifting a finger. It’s only the remaining one in three games where you will stand a chance of influencing the game. Provided that you are in a tank that can sufficiently influence the outcome and that the random rolls come your way. For the average player this is maybe one game in ten where they can have an effect on the outcome. What’s worse is that thanks to the pretty much guaranteed one win in three even the most useless players, AFKers, and bots will always succeed in the long run, simply by virtue of playing a large enough number of games which means that there are always thoroughly useless players on each team and it only takes having one more useless player on your side to lose the game.

So the game is pretty much a gamble, you take your tank, place your bet (in the form of the ammo and repair costs you will spend), and spin the wheel. On a good day you guess the outcome, otherwise it’s all down to the randomness in the system. But you never know which one it is. If you do well you’ll feel god about your accomplishments, do badly, or get on a losing streak and you will be upset, blaming every other player under the sun, and having a thoroughly bad day.

This is where it gets nasty. Unless you pay money to overcome the randomness in the system you will have more bad days than good days and even the good days will have plenty of bad spots in them. Unlike most quest based MMOs where you can feel as if you’ve accomplished something each time you hand in a quest, WoT is only rewarding for the one game in ten where you actually personally accomplished something.

So now it’s possible to see why quitting World of Tanks is the only sensible course. It may not cost much to play a little, a few quid here and there, but paying for World of Tanks is like pissing into the wind – you have no chance of success. Unlike a casino where the odds are regulated World of Tanks has no odds you always lose all your money and you only stand a tiny chance of gaining a small sense of accomplishment. I’ve always been against gambling, which may be a surprising attitude for a game player, but to me gambling is just handing your money over to a bunch of criminals whereas playing a game is pitting your skills against your fellow enthusiasts. World of Tanks flatlines any skill by replacing it with loaded dice and then screws you over for a shot at the little prize.

So if you see me installing the game or talking about it again just remind me gently of why World of Tanks is an unlicensed casino with loaded dice.