Elliot in aion, A BLog

I am so in Aion.

Bots in Aion Part 2: Into the Abyss

Today, NCsoft announced a patch for Jan 7 when they’ll add the Penalty system to the Bot Report button. As of Jan 7, characters that receive multiple (they didn’t say how many) reports will experience decreased xp/item drop rate.

The Announcement

While many welcomed this new measure against botting, most players are quite unimpressed. Why? This can be answered by asking the L2 players, as Lineage 2 has almost identical system. Did it stop botting? The answer is No.

To me, this just seems like another half-assed announcement  just to keep people from rioting. It seems like they’re just stalling for time until people just give up and accept bots as part of game — like in Lineage 2 and Lineage 1.

In order to come up with a solution, first we have to understand the issue. Before people start throwing out random opinions, let me clarify a few things. I’m going to be using WoW and Lineage 2 for comparisons, so if you’re not comfortable with WoW comparisons, then stop reading now.

Botting issues in a game have always been because of 2 reasons: faulty game management and/or high need of game currency. If a game company doesn’t care, cheaters will always cheat regardless of how easy a game is or how unnecessary it is. If a game has an extreme demand for money, like in Lineage 2, people are going to feel the need to bot and ebay. Although many L2 players complain about those things, I doubt they really want NCsoft to crack down on bots or currency trading, as it’ll make the game practically impossible to play.

Aion currently has a bit of both with slighty more emphasis on the first. NCsoft can definitely do better. There’s really no need for talk about gameguard/code or whatever. The bots Koreans use are hardware-based, meaning they are USB drives that you plug into your computer, and they basically press the keyboard/mouse for you.

Like this one

Like this one

Just 3 GMs per server specialized in bot catching will probably lead to bot-free servers in matter of days. GMs aren’t paid a lot to begin with, and if it’s really about money, I’m pretty sure a lot of people reading this blog are probably more than eager to do it for free. The problem here is that NCsoft doesn’t really know what is good for them in the long run. From a company’s point of view, legit players and botters alike are paying customers. We have to realize that by asking a company to ban bots, we are asking them to give up profit. Botters and gold farmers often hold more than one account, meaning they do pay a lot more than legit players do (comparing 1 botter to 1 legit player). In Aion’s case, botters and farmers actually pay a LOT more than legit players do (1 botter vs 1 legit player), because of the whole 1month300hrs system, meaning u can only play up to 300 hours in a month. If you want to play more, you have to pay the subscription fee again, meaning botters and farmers are not just holding multiple accounts, they are also paying double subscription. Also, someone from my L2 days once said, “Unlike players, bot don’t whine, bitch on forums. They faithfully pay the subs and play the game without complaint.” While NCsoft has to think about legit players leaving, they are also wondering if the number of legit players they gain from a bot-free game is greater than profit gained from botters. At this point, I’m wondering if NCsoft really lacks self-faith to know that their game has far more potential than they think.

While Aion doesn’t have an insane economy like Lineage 2 does, it does place some sense of need in markets. When I say need, I mean the need to go out of your way to earn money. For example, in WoW, there’s very little sense of need among the general population. You do not need to buy stuff in wow so you can play the game. Almost every gear has to be acquired through manual game play. The things you can buy with gold mostly go under the ‘want’ category. Aion PvP is similar to L2 PvP in a sense that you are going to be spamming consumables. In Lineage 2, players call it the CP-spam fights with bsoe escapes. In Aion, it’s HP pot spam fights with flight time potion escapes. The fact that Cleric’s Voice of Destruction can only be removed with a High grade HP pot makes it a crucial item for PvPers. While in the early days it might be debatable as to whether or not avoiding abyss point loss is really worth the pot money, it’ll become more and more clear at endgame when high rank players can lose thousands of points from death. Believe me, those people are definitely going to be spamming pots, and when your opponents start spamming pots, you’ll have to start spamming pots too.

While a lot of your gear will come from questing in the early days, the number of gear rewards decreases at higher levels. It comes down to the lvl 43 Unique weapon quest that takes seven days to complete. It means a lot of AH trading will take place. While it isn’t going to be as out there as Lineage 2, it won’t be like WoW where gear drops just go straight to ‘disenchanting’ (taking apart items for materials for Enchanting skill). Aion also has an enchanting system; a way of improving your gear by adding +s on it. While gear doesn’t evaporate upon failure like in Lineage 2, it does reset back to +0. Once again, when your opponents start coming to the battlefield with +10 gears, many will find themselves doing the same. Aion’s crafting is basically Lineage 2 enchanting system copy/pasted and renamed. The basic idea is this: every crafting has 10% chance to ‘crit’, meaning a chance to get to the next grade. For example, you have to make 100 regular grades in order to end up with 10 green grade items (if we’re strictly talking math). Note that you can end up with less or more. Anyhow, it actually comes down to where making a lvl 45 Unique weapon costs 100million Qinas (again, if we’re strictly going by %s, it could take more or less). That’s not even a fixed number. You could blow 100mil and not even end up with one, crafting is just rolling dice with materials. Crafted gears often come with attack speed increase stat, which was recently proved to be the best endgame setting for melees. Many endgame players will find themselves paying the big bucks for these weapons.

All that boils down to a simple question: how am I going to pay for that? which is generally where a lot of people turn to botting or ebaying rather than putting hours and hours into mindless grinding. Currently, Aion is a game with a gaming style that encourages botting and ebaying.

After looking at what I wrote, it does look rather grim. However, I still dare to have some hope. NCsoft has to have learned something from all those failures in NA/Europe. They do know what they’re doing in Korea, which is why they designed Aion like this. I’m not sure if anyone here knows but any game that opened in Korea that didn’t have L2-like design failed, including City of Heroes and Guild Wars (WoW being an exception). While Koreans complain about ebaying and bots, it seems like most of them enjoy having them(?)

I know that NCsoft knows that NA/Europe and Asian gamers have different styles. They still have few months ahead of them. I hope NCsoft will make the right choices in the future, and that NCWest will have the guts to fight the temptations of illegitimate profit.

Written by elliot

January 5, 2009 at 12:20 pm

14 Responses

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  1. I’m actually glad crafting is so well-needed in the game, even if that means you need to have lots of money do be able to craft a decent weapon (like in most games).
    I do think if they could restrict bot-farming or making it impossible, it would offer craft-lovers a game where crafting does have a point to have and does make a difference ingame.

    Lyana

    January 5, 2009 at 12:43 pm

  2. First, who write this?
    Second, as far as I can see, crafting in Aion it’s just great. What do you want NcSoft to do about this? Limiting crafting like in AoC or War? I like games where crafting matters. I don’t see something bad about crafting in Aion. About the update for bots issue I believe this is a good start, because people will realise that using bot, will end up playing for nothing.

    IceAge

    January 5, 2009 at 1:50 pm

  3. “At this point, I’m wondering if NCsoft really lacks self-faith to know that their game has far more potential than they think.”

    I totally agree with this point, and I may be wrong, but I think the recent Worlds.com lawsuit could be pressuring NCsoft to create more immediate profits rather than in-the-long-run strategies.

    I love how NCsoft is making crafting more important than other games by making end-game capable weapons and armor craftable, and I think now they just need to find a balance between crafting is useless and crafting requires too much money to get good at.

    Finally, I think NCsoft’s new approach to stopping bots could be much more successful in Aion since it seems botting is much less tolerated in Aion than L2, causing more people to actually use the system. It’s definitely not gonna fix the problem, though, I’m just hoping that it can make a dent in it.

    Oh, and great screenshot at the end of the article, it’s my new background ^^

    Random Commenter

    January 5, 2009 at 2:19 pm

  4. I would like to point out that the USB bot that only presses keys on your keyboard and mouse does not break the Eula in any way.

    As long as the program that’s on that USB does not interfere with the game code or change it is not breaking any rules. That’s why they stick characters in lower level zones. It decreases the chance of death and you still get stuff from doing it.

    It’s the same as you playing in that area and doing all the commands yourself. The only difference is you are not actually playing the game but it’s really hard to catch people doing that.

    I am not saying its right or wrong but it does make fixing the issue harder. Personally I think it comes down to game design and that’s not something they can fix at this stage of the game. If they can then I hope they do because Aion will not do well in NA if this is all they have to offer. IMO

    Iron Tiger

    January 5, 2009 at 4:00 pm

  5. Omg… after reading your explanation about how crafting works in Aion it REALLY reminds me of Ragnarok online.
    The fact that you can craft your weapons and armors just by LUCK pisses me off.
    There’s nothing about own skill or abilities. In the end, people with much money and +10 gear rock in PVP while others can watch.
    Also the fact that you can spam pots is insane… who on the long run? Not the better player. No, the one with more pots… stupid!
    I prefer the crafting system of Wow much more. There, crafting is also important but doesn’t depend on luck soo much! Also, best gears are not available in AH…

    Yeah, oh yeah

    January 5, 2009 at 6:20 pm

  6. I love ur blog… keep em coming!

    czombie

    January 5, 2009 at 11:41 pm

  7. czombie, of course you love his blogs. It’s this the place where you find your “lots of sourcers” ? I see one source, not 100.
    Hence, back on topic this is all I love about the whole post :
    “I know that NCsoft knows that NA/Europe and Asian gamers have different styles. They still have few months ahead of them. I hope NCsoft will make the right choices in the future, and that NCWest will have the guts to fight the temptations of illegitimate profit.”

    The rest it’s each by his own.

    IceAge

    January 6, 2009 at 1:40 am

  8. //lyana
    The degree of emphasis on crafting professions is really debatable. While they should make crafting worth something for the crafting lovers like you said, it also makes strong impacts on the game. Say crafting is very expensive to lvl and you can pop out endgame gear. This does several things; one being it bestows too much power on few individuals to mess with the game economy. It also allows ‘ebay to endgame’ path. For example, in WoW, regardless of how much gold you buy, you cannot ebay your way up to endgame gear. You have to run the instances and raids yourself to get them. Such game design takes out some motives to ebay, while the opposite does the opposite :P I don’t know what they should do with the crafting profession. People seem to be enjoying the gambling side of it right now. I mean I think it could be better, but not really sure how.

    //czombie
    Thanks : )

    //IceAge
    You people need to get over the fact that I’m the only person who’s doing this for you. I do understand peoples’ uncertainty as to credibility of my posts as I’m basically the only source as of today, unless you can read Korean. What can I say? Do I have to translate hundreds of posts every time I want to make a point? What do you expect? Ingame footage and a certification signed by korean players? Seriously, I’d like to remind everyone that nothing I’ve said so far was proven untrue or false. If you still feel the need to bitch at me, just don’t do it here.

    elliot

    January 6, 2009 at 3:17 am

  9. They need to change so many things of the game design if they want to get rid of bots effectively.

    For example, a targetless combat system, or varying mob spawn points.

    David

    January 6, 2009 at 8:20 am

  10. Actually, I prefer the game actually to have an economy and to actually have a need for in-game currency than to be a glorified single player MMO like WoW. There are a lot of people with a different stance on the economy to you; there are a lot of people who don’t like WoW half as much as you do, Elliot.

    Nonetheless, botting has to stop, and I still think the solution is with GM activity rather than a game design that virtually eliminates the game economy.

    Moreover, I prefer the crafting system in Aion over WoW. What is a game without chance? What is life without risk? I would’ve thought that randomness (adjustable by stats and level) is what makes crafting so exciting. There may be 11 million people playing WoW, but there are 6.7 billion who aren’t – many of whom relish the prospect of good luck.

    Anyhow, thanks for your views – though I must say I preferred your previous entries. This one was rather disappointing. Far too opinionated – you’re not the editor of the New York Times for God’s sake.

    Entice

    January 6, 2009 at 9:20 am

  11. I prefer the Wallstreet Journal, myself. The times is far too left-wing for my tastes. The Journal sticks to the facts most of the time. ;)

    Mark

    January 6, 2009 at 9:24 am

  12. The 100 million Qina reference was childish and silly. Pretty much saying you can roll a die a thousand times and never get a 6.

    Oh really? Ah – great to know ;)

    Entice

    January 6, 2009 at 9:24 am

  13. Why do you only translate the articles about the bad side of Aion? You also only write news about that.

    Chob

    January 6, 2009 at 11:04 am

  14. //Entice
    All those things above were said to explain why there’s so many bots in Aion right now. WoW comparisons were used in order to provide contrast. I never said which one was better. It’s just one style provides more motive for botting.

    As to 100m Qina statement, it is true. It came from several Grand Master Weapon crafters, and people were wondering why those were being put in AH for 100m, and they simply explained the math.

    Analysis is always an opinion. Aion could be 90% bots a person could just think ‘oh yay cheaper Qina prices’ As to whats happening, nothing I said it false. As to my analysis, I could go and get 90% approval rating from Korean players.

    I’m getting quite defensive again, but I keep getting forced to cuz of people trying to discredit the posts. To a writer/reporter, credibility means everything.

    //Chob
    Go find me good news and I’ll translate it.

    elliot

    January 6, 2009 at 1:20 pm


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