This article was written by the god
and posted on Dec 28, 08.
Bots for Alter Aeon
Alter Aeon is one of the few MUDs where bots and botting are completely legal.
Part of the reason for this is that it's impossible to really tell if someone
is running a bot; also to consider is that the line between a bot and a heavily
scripted client is becoming increasingly vague, especially for blind users.
That said, running a bot isn't as useful on Alter Aeon as it is on other games;
even after reading this guide, you may still not be able to create a bot that
gains more than it loses. This is because bots must adhere
to stricter rules than normal players, and bots are also actively penalized by
the game when they are discovered.
Rules for Bots
Because bots aren't always real intelligent and because they can produce huge
amounts of spam, they are often very annoying to other players. A bot action
you might think is cute may cease being cute after another player has seen it
three hundred times in a row. This is why bots have additional rules of conduct
beyond those of regular players.
These rules are approximately:
- Your bot should never automatically relog into the game. If a
bot is causing a problem or has gotten itself seriously stuck, the administration
may choose to kick it off the game. Generally when this happens, the gods do
-not- want to see the bot return until after it has been fixed.
At the very least, it's a good idea to ensure that if your bot is booted, it does
not auto-relog: if the gods try to boot your bot and it keeps logging back in,
their only recourse is to siteban you. It can take several days to get a siteban
removed or reversed.
- Your bot shouldn't spam lots of commands. This
is just common sense: if your bot spams loads and loads of commands over and
over, it's going to be way easier for the game to find. Doing this also wastes
server processing power, which irritates the gods.
- Make your bot context and trigger sensitive. This is
directly from the rules page. Your bot should only do something if it needs to do
something. It should not just run through the same list of commands over and over,
in the hopes that something will get done.
This is similar to the restriction on spamming commands above, but it's also a good
idea. By having your bot trigger on only what it needs to trigger, ideally at
different times and in different places, your bot will be harder to detect and
will probably perform better in the long run.
- Your bot should know how to log in properly. If you must
build a bot that logs in at a particular time, or one that waits for reboots, make
sure that it knows how to log in. Make sure it dresses properly, gets started up
right, and doesn't accidentally get itself stuck in the temple donation room for
fifteen minutes before it figures out that the green dragon is not there.
- Don't bot in any mud school or newbie areas.
The real goal of this is to keep bots away from new players, so that they aren't
confused by the spam or antisocial behaviour of bots.
Note that this includes pretty much the entire island of Sloe, as well as the
Old Ralnoth mud school. Bots are allowed in the Old Ralnoth Mud University, as
it is no longer actively used by new players.
Keep in mind that this includes ALL bots, even helpful
ones. Do not run heal or refresh bots in a newbie area to 'help' the newbies. If
these are needed, they well be coded as NPCs and added to the areas where they are
- Don't bot at recall sites or waypoints. People hang out at
waypoints, often to be social and hang out with friends. Bots can be very spammy and
distracting, so they are banned from lurking at all waypoints and recall sites. Your
bot can 'pass through' a recall site on its way to somewhere else, but should never park
itself in a recall location or waypoint.
- Don't run your bot in groups. Running bots as autoclerics
or auto-assist hitters truly detracts from what grouping is about - real people
working together to do something. This is one of the only bot rules that really
separates bots from normal players. Pretty much all of the other rules are just a
good idea in general, even for real players.
If you do try to run your bot in a group, the game will automatically look for you and
remove you from the group. It will also send warnings to the admin to check into the
situation and figure out what's going on.
- Your bot should be smart. Remember that dangers occur
and unexpected events happen while playing; if something unusual happens and your bot
dies because it gets confused, it is your fault. The admin will not restore
bot-related deaths. More likely, they will laugh at you.
This takes care of most of the rules that bots should abide by. Most of these are just
common sense, and most of the remainder are common courtesy. A polite, quiet, and smart
bot will have a much more successful career than a badly programmed bot.
The Bot Thwacker
In the course of creating and running your bot, you may hear reference to the 'Bot
Thwacker', which is a mystical part of the game that hunts for bots and penalizes them.
The bot thwacker is totally automatic, and often has no interaction with the admin other
than to notify them when new bots are found or penalized.
The easiest way to see the bot thwacker in action is to create a simple bot that spam
casts a spell to try to improve it. If you run a bot like this overnight, you'll notice
that you lose experience instead of gaining it, and the spell deteriorates instead of
improving. If you turn off the bot and begin playing normally, the game will typically
reclassify you as a person within a few minutes.
The bot thwacker is pretty thorough and harsh in its operation once you get its
attention. It can affect experience and percentages of spells and skills, as well
as reduce experience for kills and a number of other things. The best way to deal with
the bot thwacker is simply to avoid it, if you can.
The exact algorithm that the thwacker uses is secret and guarded by Dentin. It is also
periodically updated to deal with newer classes of bots, in the standard cat-and-mouse
games that are played: bots become smarter, and Dentin has to work harder to find them.
In this simple statement lies the key to building a successful bot.
Your bot will never be successful forever; no matter how good it is, Dentin will always
catch up. But a smart, well coded bot stands a much better chance of being hard to
find than a simple bot. Here are a few things to consider when trying to build a bot:
- Don't do just one thing with your bot.
Doing one thing over and over is obvious.
- Don't just stay in one place.
Staying in one place is obvious.
- Don't try to do too much at once.
Spam stacking 50 commands based on one action is obvious.
- Kill more than one type of monster.
This is similar to not staying in one place.
- Go to multiple areas.
Staying in only one area can get you flagged pretty quick.
- Don't go AFK for huge periods of time.
Running 5 commands at once every 30 minutes is obvious.
As a final piece of advice, I can only offer one suggestion: if the bot thwacker has
you, have your bot log out and turn itself off until you get a chance to improve it.
If your bot keeps playing after it's been found by the thwacker, it can easily lose
more experience, gold, and practice points than it gains.
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