What are bots and why do we need to fight them? Why is botting not welcomed by players and prohibited by the Game Rules?
In this article, we'll tell you about botting software and practices. First things first, botting is not welcome in World of Tanks and is prohibited by the Game Rules. So, why does it exist on our servers nevertheless, and how does the administration deal with it? Read on to find out more.
Definition of Botting
Let's start with the definition of bots and botting. A bot is a special program that imitates the actions of human players and plays instead of them in battles. That means it automatically follows a set of steps (an algorithm) that attempts to replicate the behavior of a human in a battle. Botting is any intentional or unintentional violation of the Game Rules using such botting software.
People use bots to speed up their progress in the game while putting as little effort into it as possible (for example, to quickly get in-game resources such as currency or experience points). Usually, bot users do not care about studying tactics or the mechanics of the game to play better and progress in the game fairly.
By using a computer algorithm instead of playing the game as it was meant to be played, bot users destroy the game experience for other players. Players join our online game expecting to enjoy playing, communicating, and collaborating with real humans while achieving the game’s objectives. However, bots take this enjoyment away from our players because a bot program can neither collaborate, nor communicate with human players.
The most popular forms of botting are:
- "Smart" bot software. The actions of such bots are very similar to the actions of real humans. A "smart" bot imitates pretty accurately the movements of a player. A vehicle controlled by such bot can move around the map, auto-aim, and shoot at a tracked target, switch between several targets, and sometimes even hide from the enemy.
- "Silly" bot software. Such bots also try to mimic the actions of real players by staying at the base and shooting at enemy tanks that are within their view range. In some cases, "silly" bots can move around, but only following a specified route.
- Clickers are macros controlling the keyboard and mouse. Unlike "silly" bots, clickers are inactive during battle—all they can do is launch the client, enter a battle, and sit there.
Besides special software, there are techniques to accumulate credits and experience that are considered botting as well. These techniques include activity of players who enter into a battle, but don't take any actions in it, or quit a recently started battle immediately to enter into another one.
This way, a player earns credits and experience at the expense of their teammates. Such sessions are called AFK—away from keyboard. But bear in mind that there are situations when a player leaves the battle unintentionally—for example, due to power outage, hardware failure, or other personal circumstances that might cause a player to be inactive in battle.
What’s Wrong With Botting?
Unfortunately, there are players in World of Tanks who use bots. The reason for using bots is the desire to quickly upgrade one's own account (earn credits and gain experience) without investing time and effort in it. Players who use bots are usually not interested in learning techniques and mastering gaming skills, or researching vehicles. Meanwhile, such unsportsmanlike conduct has an adverse effect on honest players and impacts their motivation to continue playing the game. In other words, players who run bots deprive themselves and other players alike from fun on the battlefield.
Besides being demotivating, bots can cause more serious damage, this time to the players who use them. First of all, users run the risk of such software getting access to their personal data and hacking their accounts, with little to no chance of recovery. And obviously, sooner or later, the violator will be detected by our automated bot detection system and penalized according to the Game Rules.
Detection of Botting Software and Practices
We have the following bot detection (and elimination) tools and systems at our disposal:
- To detect "silly" bots, clickers, keyboard and mouse recorders, and macros, a semi-automated Anti-Bot Reporting System is used. This software actively scans session logs from all accounts on the server. If suspicious activity is detected, the user’s account is thoroughly analyzed—the coordinates and movement time, the distance covered by a vehicle, the number of detected enemies, the usage of hot keys, activity in the battle chat, and the usage of equipment are all taken into consideration. As a result, each battle gets a percentage value which indicates the probability of usage of bot software or any unfair experience accumulation technique. The number of such battles (bot sessions) is compared to the overall number of battles on the account. Accounts with a high ratio of bot sessions to the overall number of sessions are identified as violators. The system also tracks AFK sessions and any other battles where the player remains inactive.
Another measure that helps us prevent unfair experience gaining techniques, including AFK, is an automated system that identifies and fines violators. The system was introduced with update 9.3 to detect two types of unsportsmanlike behaviour:
- leaving the battle early
- in-game inactivity
The system allows for the fact that a user may be inactive due to reasons that are beyond their control. Players who are caught inactive in battle for the first time are not penalized, but receive a warning message. In cases of repeated inactive battles, players are fined the amount of income from the battle that was abandoned. However, the fine doesn't prevent the player from taking part in upcoming battles and receiving any duly deserved rewards, thus, leaving space for rehabilitation. Still, once detected, violators receive an invisible "Under suspicion" tag, which is removed only after a specified period of flawless playing activity. Accounts marked with such a status are the first candidates for analysis for our bot detection software. The goal is not to fine users, but to prevent violations, so the player will always be warned first, and punished only in the case of repeated violations.
Another core tool is a complicated automated piece of software—the upgraded Anti-Bot Reporting System with analytical features. It detects the so-called "smart" bots that mimic the actions of human players. Bot software can never act exactly like a human, and the system can detect the weak points by processing huge data sets that cover all aspects of a player’s actions in a battle, should an account fall under suspicion.
Complaint system. Every user can help us detect violators by reporting them via the complaint system. We are very grateful to all honest and watchful users. However, not all players who get reported are deliberate violators—some just fall victim to household or technical hiccups. We take into account the whole playing history to determine whether the user is playing fairly.
Penalty for Breaking the Rules
The punishment for use of botting software is more serious than the punishment for other violations of the Game Rules, so our Game Mastering team vigorously check all detected botting cases. Every player who is caught using any bot software is banned from the game. The ban period depends on the severity of the violation.
Although sometimes a user can get away with a temporary suspension, there are cases where even a first-time violation of the rules can result in a permanent ban, which means that the player will never again be able to use their account. Dedicated users who have invested much time and effort in the game, but were caught using bots, can be forgiven if the Administration deems so, but only once and with withdrawal of all unfairly accumulated gains.
Ultimately, the unfair accumulation of achievements turns out to be not only fruitless, but outright disadvantageous. We use every possible means to inform players of the dangers and consequences of using bots, including this article and regular news and updates, but we can't guarantee that this information will find every person concerned, so we ask for your help with disseminating it among your friends. If you know that someone uses, or intends to use, botting software, please share this article with them or at least warn them of the unfavorable consequences this may have.
Thank you for helping us make the game better!