A New Game Model: Bots, Nurturance and Solving the Grind
Now here’s the feature of the game I found most fascinating. RO has incredibly poor network security, which makes it very easy for players to download and use bots (AI scripts that pretend to be the game client and literally do the work for the player). Botting is actually a well-known problem in the game, with several maps known to be infested with bots. Bot scripts are fairly sophisticated. Users can control:
- which map the bot should travel to and stay on (given any starting location in the world)
- what monsters on the map should be attacked
- what loot should be picked up (to save encumbrance)
- switching to different weapons when fighting different monsters
- resting when HP/SP is low
- using certain spells, abilities or items given a complex set of conditions
- teleporting to a random spot when a crisis occurs (ie. mobbed)
- heading back to town to store loot when encumbrance max is reached
- avoid kill-stealing or loot-stealing from other players
- auto-responding to chat and PM’s based on key words (ie. They can pass the Turing Test sometimes)
- disconnecting if a GM is spotted
Botting is perceived as a bad thing by Gravity (who owns the game) and by most players (because bad bots will kill-steal you), but in a weird way, bots fulfill a critical function in RO’s twisted rare-item economy. Many highly-demanded items (ores, cards, slotted items) have very low drop rates to the point where if bots were not around to harvest them, many of these items would be several times more costly and difficult to buy.
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