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Old 08-17-2003, 02:53 AM   #1
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With clients like Zmud, it's very easy for players running scripts to gain exp/level in a mud. Obviously as an admin I do not welcome this. I want REAL people playing my mud.

I wonder what you think of this problem, and if there is any way to discourage players running scripts.
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Old 08-17-2003, 06:54 AM   #2
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Several different methods have been discussed over the years. A quick list of those I remember:

- Make it so that killing is not the only way to gain exp. It's a lot harder to script RP.
- Don't give as much Xp to people who do the same all the time. In other words - Less exp, if you kill many of the same mob/do other stuff repeatedly. After all, the repetitiveness(long word, phew:P) is what makes it possible to script.
- Make the output from the mud more diverse. Having to alter scripts for 10-50 different trigger texts makes running scripts a more tedious process. Also, this will make scripts run slower (they hae to check the text against a lot of patterns).
- state in your rules that botting is not allowed, and punish those doing it.

This isn't in any way a full list, but it should give you some ideas.
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Old 08-17-2003, 01:19 PM   #3
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On DM, botting is punished not only by creators, but by the players themselves. If you're botting in a place where players can get to you, you'd better expect to be dead by the time you get back to look at your screen. Creators will also occasionally make strange things happen around you like falling cows and dogs peeing on your leg, to test whether you're botting or not. It seems to be a pretty good system, as far as I know we don't have very many botters because of it.

Or are you talking about using complex scripts at all, even if you're at the keyboard watching everything that's going on? A few people do that, mainly the ones who just wanna test their scripting abilities, heh. I personally don't see anything wrong with it as long as the person can respond when spoken to, although in the case of magic practice it annoys me to no end that we have a complex system and people don't seem to want the coolness of playing it out by hand. Then again maybe they aren't fit to be mages anyway.
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Old 08-17-2003, 01:41 PM   #4
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A game that is easily scriptable often betrays a mechanical game design where you have players repeating the same general formula over and over again with predictable results. As long as your mechanics are this poorly designed, you're going to have botters take advantage of it. You'll just end up in an arms race with botters, and you'll probably lose one way or another: The time you spend mucking around putting ugly patches on your game to 'break' scripts is not time you spend putting in real content that could make the game more fun.

Look at games that can't be scripted easily: Chess, Go, and a multitude of other strategic games. One of the most important aspects of these games that defy computation is the ability to recognize a pattern in advance and counter it. Even adding one 'level' of counters is enough to deter most scripters by making the task of scripting non-trivial. The trick is to design your game so that the counters and counter-counters can be applied effectively, which is no small task for the majority of muds out there.
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Old 08-17-2003, 03:08 PM   #5
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Yeh, I am talking about botting with complicated scripts.

In our mud, one major way to gain/exp is to get "quests" from certain NPCs. The quests either ask you to find something, deliver something or go kill someone. We have about 1000+ entries in the quest list. It amazes me that some diligent player can write scripts to run all 1000+ quests. Their bots use different tactics to kill different NPCs, and have very good self-recovery scripts to deal with system or net lag. The player who did this enjoys more from scripting than from playing. Normally it should have been a problem ... until such scripts are put in website for everyone to download and we begin to see bots running 24/7. This totally defeats the purpose of the mud since a normal player can not compete with such bots.

I do not want to simply punish the one who wrote the script. Such player is usually the one who loves the mud and has spent much time on it. But it's very hard to counter such scripts. After all, the mud relies on text input/output which can be triggered by contents.

A good example is a riddle that we implemented. It askes players to achieve the number "24" with four random numbers from 0-9, using +, -, x, / and parenthesis. One week
later a script was out. Oh, my.
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Old 08-17-2003, 08:05 PM   #6
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At Ages of Despair they handle this by banning anyone caught doing it (and deleting all alts for that person). The rules fairly clearly state that anything that directly interacts with the game without a user initiated command is illegal. Those of us that are good scripters end up doing a lot of behind the scenes stuff to help ourselves or modify the scripts so that they require us to specifically enter the commands needed to do something. Like at one point where I wrote a script to check my equipment condition and automatically fix it. I assumed that since I had to be 'in' the room before entering the command this was OK, but had to change it so that it merely hilighted the damaged bits and I had to use aliases to make the actually repairs.

The reality is that you can't prevent it. A dumb scripter is going to do stuff that is blatently obvious and get caught (usually by wandering off while the script runs). A smart one is going to design it so he/she can interrupt it at any time or even interact and respond to other stuff while it is running. In general the admin on AoD has made it quite clear that anything that merely tracks information, displays data only on the client side or merely informs other player (like in a party) of something is OK, since all but the party informers are invisible to them anyway. However, they can and do come down on those caught doing anything more complex. Most scripters find out how well they do pay attention the first time they create a trigger that responds to a mob death and accidently loot someone elses kill. This and other crimes that are considered minor gets you a bounty, which means that any player that want to can legally hunt you for the reward, you lose extra experience in the death, can't be resurrected by another player to decrease the amount you lose and most recently, you are fined the amount that your killer is paid as a bounty for your scalp.

This is likely to leave you with negative cash, negative experience and a black mark on the law record that makes it more likely that screwing up again will get you nuked. It has worked so far. There are only 1-2 people I know of that use any kind of script, aside from myself out of several hundred regular players and all of us skirt the edges "very" carefully. lol

If you can't prevent it, and short of using a proprietary client you can't, just make sure you are very clear about what the limits are. And as for using a proprietary client... Unless you are encrypting everything, they can still build a proxy to do anything the client won't. Personally, I think going so overboard with a script that it can do everything itself is just dumb anyway. If they want to design that sort of stuff, they would be much more helpful to go on a mud someplace that hires from the player base and code for the wizards.

Though... a number of fools have gotten themselves banned because they refused to follow the rules there either. Just goes to show that you can be briliant and bloody stupid at the same time. lol
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Old 08-18-2003, 07:19 AM   #7
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Simutronics has a policy against scripting. Sure, it's not perfect...but when they get caught they certainly do pay.

"Any method allowing a player to gain skills, experience, money, or any form of in-game advantage in any Simutronics game while being unresponsive to the game environment is prohibited."

"- First offense: Character receives a formal warning, is moved to a consultation room, loses =all= field experience (unabsorbed experience) in =all= skills, and must reread and agree to policy before being released."

"- Second offense: All characters on the account, plus potentially all other related accounts, can be locked out of the game for 30 days. In addition, substantial penalties of experience points may be subtracted from any or all characters on the account(s)."

"- Third offense: The offending account, plus all of the other related accounts, can be locked out of the game for 60 days. In addition, the offender will FORFEIT ALL CHARACTERS on the offending account. Character forfeiture means loss of all characters, and all of their inventory including vaults, bank accounts, experience, skills, stats, etc. *Everything* will be gone. There will be no exceptions made, even for your custom wedding gown or that altered broadsword o'doom you inherited from your great aunt Tilly."

It is a very difficult thing to completely stop scripting...but it's pretty easy to impliment consequences.

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