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Old 07-28-2008, 12:19 PM   #41
KaVir
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

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Originally Posted by the_logos View Post
You're presenting a false choice. I know plenty of competitive players who have fun botting in their game of choice.
Their fun came from the botting, not from enjoying the game content - because they don't experience the content that they bot.

The assumption here is that the game content is something that the competitive player would normally enjoy (because if it isn't, then that is the problem). If they bot, they will miss out on the game content which was specifically created for their enjoyment. If they don't bot, they will fall behind those who do bot.

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If player A and player B are otherwise equal in all respects, but player A is able to put in twice the time (assuming time matters....if it doesn't then botting isn't allowing anyone to skip anything, only assist with things), there is no way for player B to be competitive with player A.
One player will always have an advantage over another, whether it's because he has more time, more money, more skill, a better connection, or whatever else. The point isn't whether the players will be on equal footing, but whether there is an incentive to skip content in order to be competitive.

After all, if one competitive player bots, then they'll all bot - it cancels out, and is no different from nobody botting. Except that nobody is enjoying all that game content you painstakingly created over the last few months/years...

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In fact, by your logic, player B cannot have fun, at all, since the only way for him to have fun is to be competitive (and he can't be due to having half the amount of time).
No, the point is that there shouldn't be an incentive to skip game content. It's like rewarding people for not killing any monsters in a HnS mud, or having magic items worse than being naked in a mud which targets powergamers, or having a roleplaying mud where the only way to progress is to participate in strictly non-RP activities. A game should cater to its audience, not work against it.

If your target audience are rewarded for skipping your game content, what's the point in having that content in the first place?
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Old 07-28-2008, 02:28 PM   #42
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

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How about "should we be designing game rulesets to cater primarily for a psychologically damaged minority which cannot think clearly?"
The question you should be asking yourself is, "As a game maintainer, is it my responsibility to tell my players that they're wrong for feeling the way they do because I think I know The One True Path?"

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While I understand that many players want to compete with their fellow players, it still seems irrational to me to single out 'botting as anti-competitive.
See, you're focusing on the wrong idea, and it demonstrates a singular lack of perspective on your part. The problem is that the players either want it or they don't. If you don't want to play with other people who are going to bot, you go to a MUD that doesn't allow botting. If you want to bot, then you go to a MUD that does allow botting.

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Consider, for example...
No. Consider, for example, that you have the option of playing human soccer or robot soccer. Maybe you enjoy building robots and want to play robot soccer. Maybe you hate robots and only want to play soccer against people. Maybe you hate robots AND you hate people who are better than you and you only want to play soccer against people in the same class. There are options for all three.

At some point the MUD administrator draws a line in the sand, and some of the potential players will walk across it.
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Old 07-28-2008, 03:55 PM   #43
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

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Originally Posted by shasarak View Post
Contrary to popular belief, it had nothing whatever to do with ensuring a "level playing field".
It is generally a good idea to avoid absolutes like this. Ensuring a level playing field was, and is, indeed part of the motivation behind the banning of performance enhancing drugs. Why? Multiple reasons. First, because some people believe in the purity of the sport and the competition, and thus the level playing field matters to them. This is particularly true for olympic sports. Second, from a purely financial standpoint the people who run sports know that their customers (viewers, fans, etc.) want to believe the sport they are watching is played fairly. That is why things like the Spygate in the NFL or the crooked ref in the NBA are so damaging. Anything that makes the public feel the outcome on the field/court/pitch is compromised unfairly hurts the sport financially, as it hurts viewer/fan interest.

Yes, the health of the athletes is also a factor (as you stated). But you cannot say the level playing field had "nothing whatsoever" to do with it. In fact, many cynical observers of pro sports believe far too little concern is put on the "health of the athletes" factor, and that owners/management only pay lip service to that when their true motivation is maintaining the level playing field they know is crucial to profitability.

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The problem is that drugs like this (anabolic steroids, for example) have some really nasty side-effects. If drug-taking were widespread then a new competitor would find himself faced with a horrible choice: take drugs that are guaranteed to have a massive, toxic, damaging effect on his body, or choose not to take them and thus guarantee that he won't be truly competitive with those athletes who do.
It is odd that you so vehemently defend botting when you just encapsulated one of the arguments for banning botting. Inspired by your own words:

People who do not want to bot are faced with a horrible choice: bot when it is guaranteed to have a massive, negative effect on their fun, or choose not to bot and thus guarantee that they won't truly be competitive with those players who do.

Furthermore, people who are competitive with their fellow gamers are not a "psychologically damaged minority" as you called them in another post. Competition is a MAJOR element and draw of RPGs, and MUDs/MMOs in particular.

Why do you think MUDS/MMOs have historically had tons of rankings lists for almost everything under the sun? Levels, points, quests completed, mobs killed, you name it and RPG players have competed with each other for rankings on it. I have seen games where people competed for most deaths, least deaths, best/worse kill/death ratio, most children rescued, most resources harvested, most badges earned, most flowers picked, most epic boss mobs killed, or even most lowly chicks killed. The list of things people will compete with each other over is endless. And obviously if you add PvP to the mix you have an additional layer of competition that makes it incredibly important that you keep the playing field as level as possible as far as leveling up.

So I would suggest you don't blow this off as simply people being irrational egomaniacs. A very large portion of the gaming populace cares about fairness, cares about the "integrity" of their accomplishments, and enjoys competing in a (mostly) fair way with their fellow players. And yes, players draw a very real distinction between the advantage someone has when they can play 20 hours a day and an advantage someone gains by running a bot while they watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the other room.
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Old 07-28-2008, 04:03 PM   #44
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

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You sound like you don't like botting, but you should recognize that's just a personal preference.
Pretty much everything related to entertainment ultimately boils down to personal preference. But in a MUD/MMO, the personal preferences of the masses are a factor as well. Nobody plays the game in a vacuum, and non-botters are affected (sometimes profoundly) by those who bot. So choosing to ban or permit botting affects more than just people who would bot - it affects the people who want a game that does not reward botting as well.

There is also a very real dynamic where the game developer has to protect the player from him/herself. There are things a player would do if they were given the option, even if that thing would reduce their enjoyment in the long term. Either Raph Koster or Richard Bartle has a whole treatise on this, and they sum it up with an axiom something like: "Players will do the most expedient thing to get from Goal A to Goal B, regardless of how fun it is." Players will frequently do things that actively reduce their own enjoyment of the game if they believe it is advantageous or expedient. Some players even realize they are doing this at the time, and that just makes it worse.

And here's a non-competitive example of the damage botting can do. I remember when my wife and I played Final Fantasy XI (whichever one is the online one), and we got into the fishing. It was pretty fun, and the fish were a pretty valuable commodity. I enjoyed chatting with the other anglers, and it was a bit of a community of its own. But then fishing bots became available, and soon enough there was no more chatter around the fishing hole. Eventually it was all bots. Botting destroyed the social aspect of fishing, which ruined a lot of the fun even for people who weren't botting.
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Old 07-28-2008, 04:04 PM   #45
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

Has anyone ever built a MUD designed to be botted? Seems like it might be fun to competitively create bots and let them loose on virtual worlds.
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Old 07-28-2008, 05:57 PM   #46
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

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Has anyone ever built a MUD designed to be botted? Seems like it might be fun to competitively create bots and let them loose on virtual worlds.
I'm not sure if you could consider it a MUD if it's designed for bots rather than human players, but C++Robots might be the sort of thing you're thinking of.
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Old 07-28-2008, 06:56 PM   #47
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

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Has anyone ever built a MUD designed to be botted? Seems like it might be fun to competitively create bots and let them loose on virtual worlds.
Eudemons Online has a new feature coming out sometime in the future where each player account can have 3 mirror accounts attached to it. I believe that the way it will work is that you can login and while your playing you can send your other 3 accounts off to do other things in the game while you play with your main.

I have not seen the full details of the system, nor any implementation data, but to me, that sounds like each account gets 3 bots to play aspects of the game for them. Which is sort of weird considering that this game has very few bots at all, having only a few players who have home cooked their own bots. The main commercial bot for TQ games, Scriptvessel, canned its planned bot for Eudemons due to lack of sales.
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Old 07-29-2008, 02:03 AM   #48
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

I really must agree with the_logos on this topic. But I would add that in many cases, the bot is its own reward. There are some of us out there that really like to tinker with things - I myself am a Civil Engineer in the real world, and I code for fun. When I'm playing a mud where it's appropriate, I -love- creating all the scripts, testing them, refining them. That's quite a lot of my fun.

The Iron Realms muds even require a certain level of "Botting" as such - in that their combat system is so complex that few (and there are a couple) are able to manually perform at peak capability without a script system behind them. But that was always fun - researching, creating, testing your system. There's even an in game economy for trading them - so people who do not want to put in the effort can acquire one in different ways. More recently, there are open source, publically available ones (I think even an official mud-endorsed and distributed one?) so that nobody even needs to expend any effort to get at least a basic one if they do not want.

Many of these systems are far more advanced than the majority of bots written for other games, yet they pull it off well in Iron Realms and it's certainly not something that detracts from the game in any way.

Quite frankly, most games content isn't all that enjoyable. Most of it is 95% similar to the next guy, with a different pair of clothes on. The kind of enjoyment I get out of MUDs is the kind that I and other players create, DESPITE the content rather than because of it. And I enjoy scripting. So I'd certainly not be robbing myself.
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Old 07-29-2008, 05:47 AM   #49
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

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It is odd that you so vehemently defend botting when you just encapsulated one of the arguments for banning botting. Inspired by your own words:

People who do not want to bot are faced with a horrible choice: bot when it is guaranteed to have a massive, negative effect on their fun, or choose not to bot and thus guarantee that they won't truly be competitive with those players who do.
That argument would hold water if 'botting were the only mechanism by which one player could gain a competitive advantage over another, but that is patently not the case. One player can have a competitive advantage over another if he has played the MUD for longer, or if he plays for more hours per day. If players are so pathologically competitive that they feel driven to 'bot in order to compete with players who would otherwise have an advantage over them then a player who plays more hours per day than they do will drive them to 'bot just as powerfully as a player who 'bots.

You can't establish a "level playing field", so why bother to try? (And yes, that is my attitude to doping in sport as well: see previous discussion of professional bodybuilding).

And, frankly, these sentiments are a bit rich coming from a person who runs a pay-for-perks MUD where players gain a massive competitive advantage over other players simply by paying money to the MUD admins. Are you trying to claim that doesn't create a pressure to 'bot among players who can't afford to pay as much as some of their wealthier colleagues? How is that a level playing field?

Edit: that last paragraph sounded a little more aggressive than I meant it to. Of course there's nothing intrinsically wrong with pay-for-perks MUDs, and if people want to play them, that's absolutely fine, more power to them; but the entire concept of pay-for-perks is founded on the idea that a "level playing field" is not merely impossible to achieve but actively undesirable: the purpose of a pay-for-perks model's existence is to make it impossible for players to compete on an equal footing by means of MUD-gameplay alone. So I am perplexed that a pay-for-perks MUD admin can (with no apparent sense of irony) argue against something else ('botting) on the grounds that it supposedly prevents players from competing on an equal footing.

Last edited by shasarak : 07-29-2008 at 08:32 AM.
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Old 07-29-2008, 10:20 AM   #50
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

What about competition for resources? I'll assume the muds you folk are talking about have unlimited numbers of npcs/resources? The mud I call home doesn't, with respawns only occuring every 40-60 minutes.

With lots of characters running around killing everything all day long with 100% effecency(being bots) this would cause heartache for the other players not being able to kill the monsters or get the equipment they want. Same goes for any other resources for crafting or whatnot.

In games like this where competition for resources plays a part, bots/fully scripted chars are incredibly unfair for those who actually play the game themselves.
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Old 07-29-2008, 10:36 AM   #51
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

Also... there can be a level of skill involved in the combat systems of some muds, I know in the one I play, your success in fighting some of the harder monsters (with the best rewards, both xp and loot), will depend on several factors, outside the stats/abilities of your char, ie your reflexes, speed in executing and reacting to different tactics both your own and the npcs.

By creating complex scripts to do all these things automatically/instantly, your directly taking out a big chunk of the risk involved, and hence taking an advantage non scripters don't have and largely affecting the ingame balance. Think auto-aimers in counterstrike as an example of this. And it doesn't need to be a PK orientated for this to still apply.

I can think of a ton of other reasons scripts suck, but I suspect they may be fairly unique to the mud I play, and as I haven't really tried very many other muds, my wider knowledge of the different types is rather poor
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Old 07-29-2008, 11:07 AM   #52
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

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With lots of characters running around killing everything all day long with 100% effecency(being bots) this would cause heartache for the other players not being able to kill the monsters or get the equipment they want. Same goes for any other resources for crafting or whatnot.
This is a point I've already addressed: in terms of the impact on other players, what is the difference between resources being depleted by 'bots and resources being depleted to the same degree by connected players?

Answer: there isn't any difference. Both are equally problematic.

I'm not saying depletion of resources isn't a problem; what I'm saying is that, when it comes to dealing with that problem, focusing on 'botting is a dangerous red herring. If depletion of resources is problematic, you need to focus on a way of preventing resources from being depleted, or on mitigating the impact when they are. It doesn't matter whether that depletion was caused by 'botting or not: it's the depletion itself that is the issue, and that is what needs to be tackled.
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Old 07-29-2008, 11:45 AM   #53
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

Of course there is a difference.

When a powerplayer causes depletion he's doing so by exerting effort, and hence deserving of the rewards gained. He has strove for as close to 100% efficiency as he can, and as a side effect other players on the mud may suffer from resource depletion. Everytime he wants to do this, he has to exert that effort all over again.

On the other hand, the player behind the bot has only had to exert effort once, in creating the bot, then being rewarded infinite times no more effort involved.

Sure the end result can be the same, but that's really where the similarities end.

I know you dont like the term 'work' and I agree, games shouldn't be work, it should be fun, but that doesn't subtract from the fact you should not be able to get something for nothing, escpecially when doing so can adversely affect other players, like it can through resource depletion.
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Old 07-29-2008, 01:04 PM   #54
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

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That argument would hold water if 'botting were the only mechanism by which one player could gain a competitive advantage over another, but that is patently not the case. One player can have a competitive advantage over another if he has played the MUD for longer, or if he plays for more hours per day. If players are so pathologically competitive that they feel driven to 'bot in order to compete with players who would otherwise have an advantage over them then a player who plays more hours per day than they do will drive them to 'bot just as powerfully as a player who 'bots.
Honestly, if you are going to be so insulting about one of the most basic game elements that people enjoy (competition), you really shouldn't be discussing game design. Calling players "pathologically competitive" or labeling them the "psychologically damaged minority" is just asinine. Competition is one of the central themes of most games of any platform (board, card, console, PC, you name it), and that includes online RPGs. What you are doing is tantamount to dismissively calling gamers "a bunch of loser nerds" and thinking that is going to get you anywhere.

The point you keep missing is that on most games players have absolutely no problem with someone having an advantage over them if it is because of greater time investment in the game, greater skill, or other such factors. Those are acceptable determinants for success. But for someone to have an advantage over them simply because they programmed a bot to play the game for them is not acceptable to most players, or more importantly it is not acceptable to the players on games that ban botting.

The main reason most games ban botting is that players do not want bot development to be a major part of the game. There are, however, games that allow or even encourage botting. Those are the proper games for people to play if they like botting. But most people dislike the thought of competing with bots, or having to make the choice between efficiency (botting) and fun (playing the game themselves).

Also, randomly putting every 20th word in bold is unnecessary. Seriously.

As for the troll portions of your post, I am going to take the high road and ignore it. As with the botting topic, you clearly do not understand it from a game design and business management standpoint. Feel free to start a new topic about it if you really think you're up to discussing it.
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Old 07-30-2008, 09:22 AM   #55
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

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Honestly, if you are going to be so insulting about one of the most basic game elements that people enjoy (competition), you really shouldn't be discussing game design. Calling players "pathologically competitive" or labeling them the "psychologically damaged minority" is just asinine.
It may not be smart to call players that, but realizing that people are "pathologically competitive" is what made several MUDs profitable enterprises.

But the ban of botting is really an egalitarian notion. Since unintelligent people are unlikely to be able to compete in a scripting environment it's easier to simply ban botting so there is an equal playing field for the players to "compete" in. It should go without saying that it doesn't require much intelligence in order to complain.

The next thing that generally goes down the drain is player killing, once again you'll see the intelligent thrive, and PK is either banned or heavily restricted to level the playing field.

Another thing that suffers heavily is complexity, MUDs are often dumbed down in an effort that is called "newbie friendlyness". Accomodating to blind people, the most honorable thing one can do, is another excellent example of egalitarianism in action.

The solution is simple, incorporate an IQ test in the character creation process, and instead of ending up with a whiny player base that detests change, you'll not only find a playerbase bubbling with enthusiasm for change and new challenges, but you'll also find you no longer have the "newbie that gets endlessly slaughtered by other players" problem. The "help I don't know what to do' problem will vanish like snow in the sun as well". If you make a really nice improvement that changes old game behavior you'll see that the "wtf why r u ruinin MY game!?!" complaints are non existent.

If you do decide to incorporate an IQ test, something along the lines of "Thanks to Scandum for his valuable insights" in the credits would be appreciated.

If you are a business owner, be aware that US supreme court has banished written IQ test from job applications. Fear not however, you can still incorporate an oral IQ tests during a job interview! And you can use someone's college degree as a proxy for intelligence as well, though it's not as accurate.
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Old 07-31-2008, 06:24 AM   #56
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

The fact you put so much faith into the results of an IQ test, makes me severely doubt your own intelligence. And then to apply those results to determine who can login to a game? Oh dear.

The idea that the intelligence of the player base either for or against botting has anything WHATSOEVER to do with the reason muds ban botting, is by far one of the most ridiculous arguments you've come up with yet.

It's got not because players aren't smart enough to compete with other botters successfully that they don't do it, its because its they dont have as much FUN having a computer play a game for them, then they do playing the game themselves.

I hate to break it to you but pure intelligence (especially the kind IQ tests supposedly measure) is certainly not the only factor that determines if people are resistant to change, likely to complain, eager for a challenge or necessarily even fast learners. Infact for the first 3, I would doubt their much of a connection at all.

Sure it's egalitarian, doesn't make it a bad thing, I guess your against the ban on slavery and against womans rights, since they egalitarian policies too!
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Old 07-31-2008, 06:25 AM   #57
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

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But the ban of botting is really an egalitarian notion. Since unintelligent people are unlikely to be able to compete in a scripting environment it's easier to simply ban botting so there is an equal playing field for the players to "compete" in.
The problem with that principle is that there are so many other factors which contribute to "unequal" competition that banning 'botting in isolation is unlikely to make any detectable difference.

It is perfectly possible to design a genuinely competitive MUD, but to do so requires that you eliminate the entire concept of character progression. There are some MUDs that operate like this: there is no concept of character levels or skills, and, while equipment does make a difference, there are several reboots a day and, after each reboot, every character loses everything he possessed and the entire game world is reset (leading a mad scramble for the best eq).

I neither advocate such a solution, nor advise against it; but if you actually want players to compete on an "equal footing", that's the sort of game you have to have - the text-only equivalent of a Quake deathmatch. Nothing else even comes close to achieving that goal, 'botting or no 'botting.

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If you are a business owner, be aware that US supreme court has banished written IQ test from job applications. Fear not however, you can still incorporate an oral IQ tests during a job interview! And you can use someone's college degree as a proxy for intelligence as well, though it's not as accurate.
Especially in the US.
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Old 07-31-2008, 12:41 PM   #58
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

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The fact you put so much faith into the results of an IQ test, makes me severely doubt your own intelligence.
Interesting how you use political correctness as a measurement of intelligence.

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It's got not because players aren't smart enough to compete with other botters successfully that they don't do it, its because its they dont have as much FUN having a computer play a game for them, then they do playing the game themselves.
But botting is playing the game, just that instead of being the peasant who does all the hard work, you are the king and puppeteer who oversees his loyal subjects. The peasants obviously don't like that.

It's only natural for an intelligent person to use a spear or a bow rather than his fists, the low brow cave inhabitant may scream 'cheater!' and demand that his fellow caveman stops his atrocious act and breaks his spear, but when faced with technological evolution you either join or go the way of the dodo. There is always the option for the socially capable to stir up trouble and have the cheater taken care off, (since it's a pain in the ass to learn to properly craft and shoot a bow), but that doesn't give them the moral high ground and goes to show that democracy is but a dictatorship of the majority.

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I hate to break it to you but pure intelligence (especially the kind IQ tests supposedly measure) is certainly not the only factor that determines if people are resistant to change, likely to complain, eager for a challenge or necessarily even fast learners. Infact for the first 3, I would doubt their much of a connection at all.
I'd educate you about the various correlates of IQ, but I can understand that the hard reality of the limitations that low intelligence places on the bulk of earth's population can be a very bitter pill for the devoted socialist, liberal, and egalitarian.

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Sure it's egalitarian, doesn't make it a bad thing, I guess your against the ban on slavery and against womans rights, since they egalitarian policies too!
I don't see why. You can't correctly assess someone's generic capabilities based on their caste, race, or sex. You do this by measuring one's physical and mental fitness.

Hardcore egalitarianism often expresses itself as the belief that physical and (primarily) mental fitness cannot be measured, or the belief that these are all biological rather than genetic variables, and that hence it should be strictly forbidden to discriminate, generalize, or criticize the grand egalitarian theory. You're entitled to your totalitarian beliefs of course.

Last edited by scandum : 07-31-2008 at 02:18 PM.
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Old 07-31-2008, 12:47 PM   #59
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

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I neither advocate such a solution, nor advise against it; but if you actually want players to compete on an "equal footing", that's the sort of game you have to have - the text-only equivalent of a Quake deathmatch. Nothing else even comes close to achieving that goal, 'botting or no 'botting.
The sense of achievement seems to be a key ingredient in the success of MUDs however.

I'm also observing that though people have all sorts of opinions about botting, they know very little about the psychology of botters. Given MMORPGS are a multi-million dollar industry I find it interesting that no scientific research has been carried out at all to try to understand this phenomenon.
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Old 08-01-2008, 12:14 AM   #60
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Re: Triggers, scripts, and bots

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Originally Posted by shasarak View Post
You can't establish a "level playing field", so why bother to try?
You still don't get it.
There is just the simple fact that many people desire a bot-free environment. Those people choose to play on MUDs that cater to those desires. Other people may choose to play on MUDs that cater to different desires. If you don't like playing Monopoly, you don't write angry letters to Milton Bradley demanding that they change the rules for you. You find a different game to play that you do like or you make up your own rules in the privacy of your own home where all parties involved can agree to the rule changes. But you don't go to the national Monopoly championships and yell at them because they're stupid idiots who obviously don't know anything about anything. Because that makes you the idiot for not understanding the simple fact that not everyone wants what you want. If Monopoly were the only board game in the world, and use of the game with different rules had an affect on the experience of other players not affiliated with you, then you might ask Milton Bradley politely to make concessions for you in the next version. But it isn't. There are thousands of board games with all sorts of different aspects, just like there are thousands of MUDs all with different aspects. You pick the one that you like and you play it.
Want to play baseball with a metal bat instead of a wooden one? Ok, go play. But you can't be part of MLB, because that's a rule that everyone in the league has agreed to. Don't like that? Go play in a different league with other like-minded individuals.
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