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Webcomics, in many ways, are like restaurant menus. See, you've got all these big main courses. You order something and you're bound to get a LOT of it (unless it's one of those restaurants that makes you pay a little for a lot).

And then after (or before!) that, you have "appetizers" that are pretty much main courses in and of themselves.

And if you try to eat both a main course AND an appetizer, your gut will likely burst! Unless you have a stomach like— I dunno, Yoshi or something.

Well, this page of Extra Stuff could be considered the "appetizer menu" to Ragnarok Wisdom's "main course" of comics. And, hopefully, if you read both the comics as well as these, you'll bust a gut ... from laughter!

Actually, wait, don't bust a gut. I don't want to kill my readership!
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Bots and Why We Hate 'Em
November 2003

As far as I can remember, bots have been a scourge in Ragnarok Online since Beta-1, and possible back in the game's Alpha stages (but I didn't play then). The majority of users in RO (especially veterans from earlier betas) who aren't botters themselves likely hate bots. For someone new to RO, they might not understand why there's such a hatred.

I for one think that they also pose a major problem concerning the game itself.

To start off (this would be for people who don't know what a bot is, or what they do - everyone else can continue on :D ), bots are programs that automatically play one's character. The program pretends it's a Ragnarok Online client, logging in under the user's account and proceeds to control the character of choice.

These aren't like IRC bots, or AIM bots, which are there for fun and interactivity - all these bots do is walk around a map and kill everything in sight. They powerlevel for the user, so the user doesn't have to.

So if you've played RO for any length of time, you might be tempted by the idea, and you might be confused as to why people hate bots in the first place. In that case... read on.

Bots in the Beginning

I started playing Ragnarok Online during its Beta-1 phase - when the only maps that existed where the ones directly connecting all the towns. Even then, bots existed in droves, and any veteran can tell you they were downright rage inducing.

See, bot programs at this time were fairly rudimentary. All they did was target and kill till ad infinitum. That meant that they would killsteal AND loot from people who were already fighting a monster - and no one likes having someone help themselves to an enemy they're attacking, or having their hard-earned loot taken from them.

They were pretty easy to figure out - they went from one monster to another, in a perfect beeline and with no pause between monster deaths. They also did not respond to anyone who talked to them (obviously the bots were not programmed to do so), and often several bots would repeatedly gang bang a target without so much as a peep from any one of them. And yes, there was a visibly distinct difference between a group of bots and players in a share party that were using party chat!

Beta-2 was even worse about it, but bots got smarter by then, if only marginally. Nowadays, bots are far more 'adventurer friendly', with most of them programmed to avoid monsters being attacked, to not pick up loot that isn't theirs (or not even pick up loot at all), and just mind their business. With bot hunting becoming a big deal in iRO, bots also have anti-GM avoidance routines - if a GM or a known bothunter (provided on a .ini file) get within visual range of a bot, it automatically hacks a teleport to keep themselves from getting screenshotted.

(By the way, I am aware of the fact that there are malicious people who have taken advantage of the bot hunting spirit and have reported honest players, or have given some players an ultimatum to give up rares or zeny or else be reported as a bot. I condemn that stuff.)

So if bots are a lot more kind to players, why are they still a problem? Well, one obvious reason is that just because the bots are (by defualt) 'friendly' to other adventurers, that doesn't mean they can't be programmed to do otherwise. Killstealing and looting bots still exist. There's also the moral issue, however...

Morality Issue: A Game's Meant To Be Played

Ask yourself this; what point is there to have the game played for you, when all there is to the game is levelbusting anyway? There's no reward in Ragnarok Online for being level 99/50, though (if you did it yourself) it's still a great achievement game-wise.... if you did it yourself. The fun this game offers is in the actual climb to that maximum level, and not in being there. If you bot your way to the top, you've missed the point of the game, because there's nothing to do once you've hit that level!

Ragnarok Online is not Progress Quest. This is an interactive environment in which people talk and kill things. Progress Quest, on the other hand, is much like the Seti@Home program - you leave it running and the game automatically runs through an endless number of RPG-like random encounters. No interaction is required; you level up, get rare items and other things just from the game running itself. If you do enjoy botting, you're better off just playing Progress Quest instead.

On the other hand, the reason botting even exists in Ragnarok Online might be attributed to Gravity's approach on the game. As we all know, Gravity labels Ragnarok Online as an MMORPG - that is, a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. Question: where's the roleplaying? The game breaks the fourth wall (NPCs know they're just characters in a game, and there's no attempt at weaving a believable RP world), and there's little to do besides kill things. This sets the game up to be just another powergamer's paradise... but that topic is best set aside for another essay.

If one bots to catch up with his friends who are a higher level than they are, that's both a fault of the player and a problem with how Gravity has set the game up. If the player really wanted to catch up fast with his mates, he could always have one of those friends tank him through novicedom, or have an Acolyte or Priest friend keep him healed as he fights harder targets. However, Gravity could have made shared EXP parties a lot easier to form - trying to maintain a five-level limit between characters is near impossible. In my opinion, this level limit should be increased. Even better, it should not exist at all, and be weighted towards lower-level characters so that they have a chance of catching up. Hey, at least it'd eliminate tanking parties (for the people who hate them).... but I digress.

The Bot: A Tool For Denial of Service Attacks

The recent Open Beta-3 was undeniably the worst period of bottage, and the reason was precisely because many lamers from certain unsavory parts of the iRO community flooded the server with botted accounts in an attempt to lag the server down.

Friends have told me that in places like RO-World, people could be seen boasting about how many bots they had running at one time - apparently as many as ten or more, and many would rush "to make an army of bot" whenever the servers came back online from maitenence. These lamers were intentionally trying to ruin the open beta service for the rest of us, and given RO-World's track record (as well as that of other communities), I'm not surprised.

Those of who played during that time know that the servers had nearly 12,000 people playing on them each, towards the end of the open beta. Once pay to play was announced, that number sharply declined.

Although it's true a number of the people who stopped playing were people who could not/would not pay for the game as well as freeloaders and griefers out to make us all miserable, I'm almost certain a significant percentage of these 'people' were really botted accounts. During my stay at the Coal Mines during that time, there were quite a few obvious bots runing around, often with corresponding names (ones that were similar to eachother, for example) or identical in appearance.

In fact, friends of mine have also reported that soon after the servers came back up from being down, they would already see nearly 7,000 people on - in just the space of a few minutes. In my experience, by the time people started hearing about the servers being back, there would only be two hundred at first. It may very well be that several thousand "accounts" in the open beta were in fact bots.

You probably won't see bots used like that in the pay to play beta, though. After all, only someone extremely bored, malicious and with a fat paycheck would dare have multiple paying bot accounts in an attempt to DoS the servers.

However, the fact that many users bot is still grating to those who don't. Stemming from the morals thing, if someone is having the game played for them when there is no use in doing so, they are wasting bandwidth on people who are actually at their computers and playing the game (or vending, at least).

An Exploit of Ragnarok Online

And here's one of the more distasteful things about bots.

As some of you may know, people have defied Gravity's regulations and are peddling their accounts on E-Bay. (Keep in mind that selling accounts is very illegal.) Many of them are very highly leveled. Now, while I don't think they all are, some of them might very well have been botted completely. Take into account that Gravity already is against botting in their regulations, and you've got a double whammy. People exploiting the game to get money ... and that isn't right.

In Closing ...

So there you have it. If you bot, you're not only violating a Gravity regulation, you're missing the point of the game. If you "play" RO just to bot and feel proud that you have an uber character without having to actually hand-kill a poring, you're better off playing games that cater to your tastes. Ragnarok Online is not meant to be one of them.

Let the game be enjoyed by those who actually play it!

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Ragnarok Wisdom is © 2002 Irish Lightning Studios.
This notice does not imply any exclusive right to preexisting material by other authors featured in Ragnarok Wisdom.

Ragnarok Online is © 2001 Gravity Corp. All Rights Reserved.
Ragnarok: Into the Abyss is © 1995 Myung-Jin Lee. All Rights Reserved.

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