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Nato101

Very easy anti-botting measures

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EDIT: This is NOT a 'captcha-for-everyone'!

 

TLDR: Scan player data, find obvious botters, apply this feature to their accounts. No replays needed. All of it happens without human intervention. Initially, a mass-exodus of botting results.

FYI, I looked into it really quickly and a 'smart' bot costs $80 USD per month apparently. Most people won't be paying that. This approach targets the dumber bots which plague the game.

A course of action, which would avoid striking real people in a sweep of the data:


1: Implement a hidden feature in a future patch. The playing area turns black at the start of the match. A random key is assigned to make it go away. Text is displayed, reading "Press key X to restore the screen". People will press the key and the black overlay will disappear. Next to no impact on their gaming experience. Bots won't be impacted at all. They rely on data, not visual analysis. Bots will continue playing without pressing the button. The overlay will remain. Impossible to play without seeing what you're doing. But bots will continue playing. Extremely easy to detect bots this way.
2: Flag accounts in a data sweep and apply this hidden feature to their accounts.
3: The feature should trigger after 30 continuous games have been played in a row, so as to avoid having the human see this and unflag their accounts. It should happen multiple times to the same account.

1 needs more thought out. Bots can spam all keys at the start of every match as a countermeasure. It could be a combination of keys. Or random circles of random sizes, asking the player to count how many circles of a particular colour there are. etc etc. Anything that makes it hard to do OCR or optical analysis in general.

2 can happen in increments with decreasing levels of tolerance. Once you've gone through the most obvious botters, such as 24/7 accounts, people who never fire guns, people who only reverse and don't move/fire guns until a ship is in range, etc.

The required data should be sent back to the server. Bots won't respond but will continue playing with a black screen. Bam, detected and verified without human intervention.

 

  • Creating an SQL query to identify accounts is easy. Even end-users can do it with the API on wows-numbers.
  • Programming an overlay and button-press requirement is also extremely easy and would take minimal time.
  • No human intervention is needed after a botter has been identified using the above method. It's 100% not a human if they 'play' the game with a black screen, especially multiple rounds.


This approach would eliminate a very large portion of botters initially, until they adapt. By that point you will have deterred many botters from future cheating. As the bot apps adapt, you can add more complex methods of human-verification.

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Is botting really that big of a deal? Have you seen dozens of bots in the last week? What exactly are you trying to eliminate?

 

Frankly, I'm not a fan of adding a Captcha in order to play a game. The game's started, I'm not going to count circles, hit any key, etc. I want to play my ship. Personally, I haven't noticed a botting issue at all.

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What makes you think WG doesn't already do all of those and more?

With the exception of the ghetto captcha part. Nobody likes those, and no modern website uses them in that form anymore.

Edited by Edgecase

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Beta Testers, In AlfaTesters
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This is the dumbest thing i've ever heard of. Name one game ever that does this kind of captcha checking in their matchmaker. Don't bother, because you can't. It's stupid, nobody is going to want to do it, and it will annoy the entire active player base to a one, whereas any bots that come up impact very small amounts of players in comparison.

And after your initial 'wave' of captcha [edited], you want wg to implement even MORE comlplicated methods of verification. WG knows how to not care about sections of their players and ruin their games with mechanics, but even they are not this blatantly inept. 

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27 minutes ago, TheOmegaDuck said:

Is botting really that big of a deal? Have you seen dozens of bots in the last week? What exactly are you trying to eliminate?

 

Frankly, I'm not a fan of adding a Captcha in order to play a game. The game's started, I'm not going to count circles, hit any key, etc. I want to play my ship. Personally, I haven't noticed a botting issue at all.

Yes, I've had my games impacted by bots.

Only flagged accounts of obvious botters would have this feature trigger.

 

18 minutes ago, Kapitan_Wuff said:

Why are you spamming bot threads? Maybe you're a bot.

Because there's botting clans these days. And this is an idea as to how to prevent them from doing their thing.

 

14 minutes ago, Edgecase said:

What makes you think WG doesn't already do all of those and more?

 With the exception of the ghetto captcha part. Nobody likes those, and no modern website uses them in that form anymore.

Because I've seen zero evidence of bots being banned. And because there are accounts which play 24/7, ships that never fire guns and such.

The ghetto captcha would only apply to the flagged accounts. Namely the aforementioned obvious botters. As a method of verification that that they are botting, without requiring player-submitted replays.

 

14 minutes ago, FallenZulu said:

This is the dumbest thing i've ever heard of. Name one game ever that does this kind of captcha checking in their matchmaker. Don't bother, because you can't. It's stupid, nobody is going to want to do it, and it will annoy the entire active player base to a one, whereas any bots that come up impact very small amounts of players in comparison.

And after your initial 'wave' of captcha [edited], you want wg to implement even MORE comlplicated methods of verification. WG knows how to not care about sections of their players and ruin their games with mechanics, but even they are not this blatantly inept. 

Again, only flagged accounts would have this feature trigger, not the entire playerbase.

Read posts before replying to them.

And yes, if after the initial wave of bots if caught, if further action is required, they can upgrade the system to something more complex.

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@Femennenly Can you take a look at this idea? Extremely easy to program, would take next to no time.

It would affect only a portion of the playerbase (24/7 accounts, ships which never fire, etc). It's not a 'captcha for everyone' as people understand it to be.

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There is a bot in at least half the games I play at tier 3...and not 'bad player', but obvious script.

I see a bot in tiers 6-8 about once a week...and I only play a dozen games per week.

I dont report them, because that WORK is WGs responsibility, not mine. I dont get paid to use my bandwidth performing game moderation. 

Edited by Daniel_Allan_Clark

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2 minutes ago, Daniel_Allan_Clark said:

There is a bot in at least half the games I play at tier 3...and not 'bad player', but obvious script.

I see a bot in tiers 6-8 about once a week...and I only play a dozen games per week.

I dont report them, because that WORK is WGs responsibility, not mine. I dont get paid to use my bandwidth performing game moderation. 

I fully agree that it's their responsibility to keep the game bot free. Especially when you put money into the game.

Chances are that the botter is paying for premium to bot their way to the top tier faster, and WG don't want to confront paying customers for fear of losing revenue, hence the laid back approach to the whole situation.

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So if bots were not able to be tracked down before, what makes you think they can be tracked now to be "flagged". Is there some revolutionary tracking system you know of that WG doesn't have already?

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5 minutes ago, Vader_Sama said:

So if bots were not able to be tracked down before, what makes you think they can be tracked now to be "flagged". Is there some revolutionary tracking system you know of that WG doesn't have already?

Bots have always been able to be tracked. No effort has been put into doing that.

Revolutionary? No. Extremely simple, yes.

I've already outlined it in the OP.

You scan the data for:

  • 24/7 accounts (humanly impossible)
  • Accounts which play games without firing guns (Who plays the game to not fire a shot for many rounds)
  • Accounts which have games with very low travel-distance (Bots which reverse to the edge and wait for targets to come within range)

That would cover the majority of current bots.


 

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If WG know where all the botting are and doesn't want to do a thing with them now, this idea won't even faze them today or tomorrow.

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9 minutes ago, Vader_Sama said:

If WG know where all the botting are and doesn't want to do a thing with them now, this idea won't even faze them today or tomorrow.

Well, being silent about the issue isn't going to achieve much.

Notice that when people complain about CVs being hard to master, or that flooding causes too much damage, that they take action and now we have spammy CVs combined with weak AA, and a very hard liquidator achievement for DDs?

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49 minutes ago, Vader_Sama said:

So if bots were not able to be tracked down before, what makes you think they can be tracked now to be "flagged". Is there some revolutionary tracking system you know of that WG doesn't have already?

 

Bots can be tracked, they just aren't.

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1 hour ago, Nato101 said:

Because I've seen zero evidence of bots being banned.

Consider this: If they're running a much more sophisticated filter that already catches 99.99% of bots (1 out of 10,000 gets through), what "evidence" would you see as a player? Nothing. So your observation is consistent with EITHER the idea that there's one bot every few games and zero enforcement, or thousands of attempted bots that get caught before you're even aware of them, and a few that get through.

Anybody who has ever played a game that actually did have poor bot protection will tell you, it's the latter. Weak bot protection means a huge fraction of the "players" are bots, not one every couple of games. MMOs are particularly infamous for this -- ask anyone about XP/gold/honor/mineral farming bots that have overrun game after game.

If WG wants, they can explain some of the methods they use to weed out bots. Or maybe they won't. Most of what is known or has been suggested is light years ahead of what you suggested. For example, your method requires interaction by players. A smarter way of checking for, e.g. aimbots, is by having the server intentionally inject momentary bad data into the client stream that tells it a fake, invisible ship is in some location. If the ship turns guns toward that location, the account gets banned. A real player is totally unaffected.

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Did we need a second thread about the same thing we are discussing in the first one you started?  WG has already responded in that one.

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I have over 7K games and don't know if I even played against any 'bots'.  I have been in games were people claimed players were AFK when they really were not.  I have seen players accused of being bots - that were not.  I have seen players that might have acted like bots - but no way to confirm in any way.  I think there are far less 'bots' than people believe.

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48 minutes ago, Edgecase said:

Consider this: If they're running a much more sophisticated filter that already catches 99.99% of bots (1 out of 10,000 gets through), what "evidence" would you see as a player? Nothing. So your observation is consistent with EITHER the idea that there's one bot every few games and zero enforcement, or thousands of attempted bots that get caught before you're even aware of them, and a few that get through.

 Anybody who has ever played a game that actually did have poor bot protection will tell you, it's the latter. Weak bot protection means a huge fraction of the "players" are bots, not one every couple of games. MMOs are particularly infamous for this -- ask anyone about XP/gold/honor/mineral farming bots that have overrun game after game.

 If WG wants, they can explain some of the methods they use to weed out bots. Or maybe they won't. Most of what is known or has been suggested is light years ahead of what you suggested. For example, your method requires interaction by players. A smarter way of checking for, e.g. aimbots, is by having the server intentionally inject momentary bad data into the client stream that tells it a fake, invisible ship is in some location. If the ship turns guns toward that location, the account gets banned. A real player is totally unaffected.

There don't appear to be any methods nor enforcement from my perspective, as it is absolutely obvious that certain accounts are botting. And WG has stated that they require user-submitted replays to ban botters. They won't do it on data alone.

Bots in MMOs aren't nearly as obvious as bots in a shooting game which requires tactics to outsmart the enemy. The smarter bots are out of reach for most due to expense.

What I suggested has nothing to do with aimbots. Data injection and such requires time and programming, which they don't seem to be willing to do as they're busy making balance changes and changing game mechanics. It's resource-heavy and complex. It requires significant changes to both the server and client. What determines that the ship is invisible? That method wouldn't detect bots which don't shoot either.

What I suggested is a cost-effective, easy to implement method, targeting dumb bots, which would rapidly determine who is using them and who is not.

As for player interaction, again, this would only target flagged accounts and would take all of 2 seconds to get rid of should a genuine person be flagged.
 

46 minutes ago, Burnsy said:

Did we need a second thread about the same thing we are discussing in the first one you started?  WG has already responded in that one.

No, WG has not responded to that part of the thread. This is also an expanded version of that reply.

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1 hour ago, Nato101 said:

And WG has stated that they require user-submitted replays to ban botters. They won't do it on data alone.

...and also state not to send them replays.

It's a bureaucratic circle that leads nowhere.

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3 hours ago, Nato101 said:

I fully agree that it's their responsibility to keep the game bot free. Especially when you put money into the game.

Chances are that the botter is paying for premium to bot their way to the top tier faster, and WG don't want to confront paying customers for fear of losing revenue, hence the laid back approach to the whole situation.

Probably. 

WG is a Russian casino...I dont give them money out of principle...and I dont expect them to be anything but scummy when it comes to money.

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6 minutes ago, Daniel_Allan_Clark said:

Probably. 

WG is a Russian casino...I dont give them money out of principle...and I dont expect them to be anything but scummy when it comes to money.

That's the only way to make a company understand something. Hurt them in their money hole.

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Ok, what about players that intentionally play the game different>?  Their concept of "fun" isn't part of a meritocracy or anything related to tactics or gain.....they just like to goof around.......

An example: say I want to just "grind" for a couple of days and I charge the cap, fight as best I can, get killed and go back to port....  And, repeat that hundreds of times a day>?  It isn't breaking any rules.........so, if that isn't an offense, because you engaged the enemy and simply die and returned to port, what really is the difference?  I see suicide (grinding) games every day !  Some player screams "I'm BACK....." and at warp 6 get wiped out at the Cap....!  Every day or every week......doesn't that "affect" the overall game?

How about the players that "buy into" the game and get massacred every match because they have no clue how to play..........dozens of times a day??

I've seen good players lose their mouse control and sail in a straight line with only their secondaries firing !  Heck, my mouse UN-programmed today and I had to try and use the keyboard........

 

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50 minutes ago, Asym_KS said:

Ok, what about players that intentionally play the game different>?  Their concept of "fun" isn't part of a meritocracy or anything related to tactics or gain.....they just like to goof around.......

An example: say I want to just "grind" for a couple of days and I charge the cap, fight as best I can, get killed and go back to port....  And, repeat that hundreds of times a day>?  It isn't breaking any rules.........so, if that isn't an offense, because you engaged the enemy and simply die and returned to port, what really is the difference?  I see suicide (grinding) games every day !  Some player screams "I'm BACK....." and at warp 6 get wiped out at the Cap....!  Every day or every week......doesn't that "affect" the overall game?

How about the players that "buy into" the game and get massacred every match because they have no clue how to play..........dozens of times a day??

I've seen good players lose their mouse control and sail in a straight line with only their secondaries firing !  Heck, my mouse UN-programmed today and I had to try and use the keyboard........

 

You play 24 hours a day?

You follow a preprogrammed sailing direction (sail to spot, stop...fire guns not aimed at anything. Then move to another location, stop...fire guns not aimed at anything...then move to corner of the map...ignoring all context) over and over again?

You can tell a script is running.

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6 hours ago, Asym_KS said:

Ok, what about players that intentionally play the game different>?  Their concept of "fun" isn't part of a meritocracy or anything related to tactics or gain.....they just like to goof around.......

An example: say I want to just "grind" for a couple of days and I charge the cap, fight as best I can, get killed and go back to port....  And, repeat that hundreds of times a day>?  It isn't breaking any rules.........so, if that isn't an offense, because you engaged the enemy and simply die and returned to port, what really is the difference?  I see suicide (grinding) games every day !  Some player screams "I'm BACK....." and at warp 6 get wiped out at the Cap....!  Every day or every week......doesn't that "affect" the overall game?

How about the players that "buy into" the game and get massacred every match because they have no clue how to play..........dozens of times a day??

I've seen good players lose their mouse control and sail in a straight line with only their secondaries firing !  Heck, my mouse UN-programmed today and I had to try and use the keyboard........

 

The dumber bots use the autopilot feature to navigate. It's easy to detect them like this on the client side, should they choose to do that.

They do the same things over and over. They are easy to distinguish from human players.

A YOLOing player will do better than a YOLOing bot. And they won't have straight-line gains or losses in statistics.

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4 hours ago, Nato101 said:

The dumber bots use the autopilot feature to navigate. It's easy to detect them like this on the client side, should they choose to do that.

They do the same things over and over. They are easy to distinguish from human players.

A YOLOing player will do better than a YOLOing bot. And they won't have straight-line gains or losses in statistics.

Really, ah, I've been at 47% since I joined this game well over a year ago.  My clan mates have the same W/L percentages they did when they started well before I did.  And, when you open the door to ban anything in a MMOA, you end up banning a lot more than the targets you think you are hitting....   Food for thought ......because games that start using "statistics to determine worth", become toxic meritocracies pretty darn quick and that, implodes them because. little do they know, a lot of players use "grind exploits" to advance faster....  Again, just something to consider.

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