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Monday, March 28, 2011

Blue Response: GM's not banning botters I report.. why?

 Posted by Xaf Warcraft Forums (Source)

I have been getting sick of how the economy on my server has been going to crap and the AH is flooded with ore and herbs from Chinese farmers gather botting 24/7. Real players cannot make a living or play the game properly.

So I decided to go out on a venture and help Blizzard track down these botters and report them to hopefully have them removed from the game and improve things on ATLEAST my server. So I did some research online and started camping mineral deposits and seeing who I'd spot. You wouldn't believe what I found...

First of all, if there wasn't 3 people hitting the node at once (all flying the same path, dismounting the exact same way "just above the node a few inches in the air very botlike") it would be someone just warping straight to the node, appearing out of no where, grabbing the node and then instantly disappearing as fast as he had appeared.

So I starting making a list of all of the obvious people that were hacking / botting. When I got enough names that I was sure were bots (following them around, monitoring robot like pathing, ect, watching them take the same route over and over) I reported that list via in game ticket. Typically within a few hours I had a reply back from a GM saying thank you, blah blah blah, we'll take care of it.

Well, guess what, to this day, not one of the people I've reported have been banned. Not even the guys warping around from node to node. They're still on, gather botting 24 hours a day and exploiting this game to crap.

Why is this? I am outraged... Why won't Blizzard do anything to these game hackers and cheaters? I can't believe Blizzard is just ignoring this major issue. I spend my time helping to solve this problem and my efforts are simply brushed off and ingored. All I get for my hours of work is a crappy canned response that is complete bull.

When is Blizzard going to stand up and do something about this? What does Warden do exactly? It doesn't seem as if this game is protected at all from hacking right now with what I've seen recently.

I dare a blue response to this.... I can't imagine any explanation that would sufficiently excuse this...


Blue Poster

There is so, so, so much confused perception in this thread. I'll do my best to clarify, but this situation is one where I can't go into too much detail about the things we do - doing so only benefits those who would take advantage of it.

Why won't Blizzard do anything to these game hackers and cheaters?

The answer we give in response to this question is the same as it has always been - we gather information from those who would exploit the game so that we can hit them back on a much larger level.

There's many reasons for this, but the primary one is that those who abuse our systems usually aren't on their own accounts - they're often the compromised accounts of other players. Banning them does little because they'll just use another person's information. We'd be punishing those who don't deserve it, and not stopping the abusers because they just move on to their next target.

It's much more effective for us to study what they're doing so we can break the processes at a larger level, or detect them earlier. This is a constant, ever-evolving battle. We break a bot, they make a new one, we study that one, break it, they make a new one. So on and so forth. It's a bit endless, and it always will be so long as there is a market for the things that they do. Gold selling and trading is, most of the time, the direct source of these botters and exploiters.

This article sums it up much more succinctly - you may want to take a look at it:

Gold Buying & Power-Leveling

When is Blizzard going to stand up and do something about this?
We already do. Every day. We have a team dedicated to this and only this kind of work. They have some really exciting things coming down the line, but as I mentioned before, I cannot share those plans. It's an advantage we shouldn't lose in such a difficult war.

What does Warden do exactly?

Our systems do a lot of things. But again, that's information I'm not at liberty to discuss. The military doesn't state the intricacies of their strategies publicly for a reason.

This is because it's automated! Blizzard doesn't have the man power to look into these things on a case by case basis.

While we have some automated systems, they are overseen by the dedicated team I mentioned above. Their job is to make sure that those systems are as accurate and effective as possible - and that does involve a lot of individual comb through s of data and results, among other tasks.

When Blizzard cuts back on combating farmers and hackers it shows and the game starts going to hell in a hand basket very quickly.

These preconceived misconceptions come from not being able to see what it is that we do in these situations. It's unfortunately a byproduct of having to keep our actions veiled in mystery, to be as well armed as possible when combating these things. I'm unable to provide you hard facts about what we do - I wish I could, because it's all really cool and I'm in constant awe of the work we have going on behind the scenes. You will have to take my word for it - I can offer little more.

 They also have similar automated systems to hand out random bans to people with names that are flagged as offensive, no matter how inoffensive they might actually be. I know it's automated because I was flagged by one once. Once, just randomly out of the blue I was dc'd from the game when I was finally able to log in I had to change my name, I of course changed my name to almost the same thing with slightly different spelling and alt characters and immediately it was flagged again, this repeated several times until the system finally forced a random name on my character.

No, we don't. That was a Game Master responding to a report about your name. Our Game Masters don't always move right on to the next ticket - sometimes they hang around and make sure you abide by our rules if you're found breaking them. In all honesty, that was a kindness on their part. It prevented you from being action-ed a second time for the same offense in the future.

I kindly request that players do not make presumptions about systems that we intentionally keep secret - it doesn't help anyone to make allegations that cannot be fully supported, and is not conducive to productive conversation. 

So the take away is that as long as you're willing to download a new bot every once in a while, you're golden?

No, most of them do get caught. But on the forums especially, players tend to focus on the negative more than the positive. And those who bot support that ideal, because they want people to think they're winning. They like the community to think that we do don't do anything, because it discourages your player reports. And those reports help us immensely in our work.

Not reporting is helping the botters get their way. It doesn't look like, on the surface, it does much. But it runs a lot deeper than we're able to share.

In short... who cares HOW you are fixing the problem. We want to see MUCH faster results.

How we fix the problem matters because it's a lengthy process. We don't want to hastily put out a system that runs a 90% false positive return. Who is that helping at that point?

It's a lot like bug fixing. We have to make sure that stuff works as perfectly as possible when we implement it. We're dealing with whether or not people can access their accounts - I'm willing to bet that's a pretty important factor to you guys, and that you wouldn't much appreciate being suspended for something you didn't do because a 0 was where a 1 should have been. Stuff like that does inevitably slip through... but we work to minimize that effect as much as possible. 

They stopped making any of these details public exactly because the botters were using them to their advantage. :/


Ask the Devs - Answers #3 "UI"

Originally posted by Blizzard Entertainment

Q: Do the developers have any plans in regards to overhauling the Combat Log so that players can easier examine the results after a battle? – Jito (Europe [English])
    A: The Combat Log needs some love for sure. It was originally designed with the intent of providing players with immediate feedback, sort of like an extension to scrolling combat text and the buff / debuff panel. It turns out to be much more useful after the fact, to figure out what was that thing that hit you so hard, or what caused that proc to go off. We would like to redesign the feature with more of a post-hoc analysis in mind. It can also be a resource hog if you have it up during combat and the filtering isn’t super intuitive. One thing we have done in the meantime is made it easy for the combat logs to be analyzed by third-party sites, which makes it easier to analyze results quickly.

Q: Some Addons are so powerful they simplified the game content to a degree (e.g., boss fights). Do you think that when the majority are using these Addons, the original reasoning behind the game design is violated? And isn’t it unfair for players who don’t use Addons? - 冷影幽光 (Taiwan)
    A: This really deserves a long answer. It sounds like a good topic for a future developer blog. To tide you over until then, we can say that some addons do a great job of providing information we really should be providing (and have long-term plans to provide).This includes information like threat, the distance you are from other players , when you have a killer debuff on you and things like that. On the other hand, when addons are too helpful, they are playing the game for you and you’re just doing what the addon tells you to do. When the mod tells you so much information about the fight that you don’t even really need to pay attention to what is happening in the world at all, then we feel that crosses the line. I don’t know that we could put the djinn back in the bottle at this point though. It would feel really harsh to prevent addons from tracking some of that information, and in some cases we’re not even sure how we would prevent it. We continue to try and come up with new mechanics that ask players to pay attention to the fight itself instead of just pushing whatever button the addon tells them to push. You might be alerted to when Atramedes emits a Sonar Pulse, but you don’t know where it is going to be. Sinestra’s Twilight Slicer requires you to look at the battle field and not just your UI. To be fair, we are also trying to do a better job of telegraphing to players when bosses will use predictable abilities. The Conclave of Wind and Nefarian for example do their special abilities at predictable intervals along their resource or health bar. It is a fine line to decide when an addon becomes mandatory. Ideally you could raid without any addons, and some players do. Information is often power in complex raid encounters though, and we agree that in some cases we don’t provide enough information yet. Does that mean Blizzard needs to replicate some of the screenshots produced by players who install thirty mods and completely overhaul their UI? Probably not. Our raid UI is a good example of what we are going for. It provides enough information for many players (and we have plans to add more to it overtime). It’s not going to incorporate the favorite feature of every raider out there, and for them, a very customizable third-party addon is a perfectly reasonable solution.

Q: Will there be changes related to the bank and bags system? E.g. for set pieces (wardrobe), quest items, tabards... will the 16-slot-standard-bag be extended? - Yenaeia (Europe [German])
    A: We think bags are about as big as we can make them. Imagine if you got rid of all of the folders or directories on your computer and just stuffed everything into one big directory. That feels like the direction we’ll head if we keep down the path we’re on. Instead, we think a better solution is to make it easier to find what you’re looking for and provide alternative storage for things you don’t use often. We do have plans to convert tabards into a manager similar to our Title UI on the character page. We also are exploring some ways to let players store old set pieces and the like that they don’t use often. We debate the quest item issue a lot. Our concern is that if quest items are squirreled away in some special UI that they feel less like items at all. Why require you to collect bear asses instead of just incrementing the bear asses counter? That might help solve your storage problems, but it makes quests feel even less like you are doing something in the real world.

Q: Previously, the character was not interfered by the nameplate because there was always some space between the character and nameplates. I don’t exactly remember when but suddenly the nameplate covered the top section of the characters making it hard to identify the character/NPC’s status. I’m just wondering it was changed to be like that. – 제임스카메론 (Korea)
    A: [We’re assuming this question is referring to the V-nameplates. If not, this answer won’t make sense.] We changed the way nameplates work quite a bit in Cataclysm. One mistake we made was anchoring the nameplate to the top of the frame. This means that when you are zoomed in close to your character that the nameplate can obscure your face. In 4.1 we’re changing the anchor point to the bottom of the frame so that it will grow up as you zoom in instead of growing down.

Q: Milling and Prospecting are incredibly dull and very manual tasks at present, especially when you do them in bulk. Speaking as a scribe, the entire manufacturing process from herb to pigment to ink to glyph is both time-consuming, boring and sending me well on my way to repetitive stress wrist and index finger injuries. – Keb (North America/ANZ), googce (Taiwan)
    A: Yes, we totally understand why this is a problem. The reason we can’t make it work just like other trade skills, is that we don’t know which herbs and ore you want to use. If you have some cheap ore and some very expensive ore, we don’t want to accidentally use the expensive ore. There are a few ways to fix this. One is we just redesign Milling and Prospecting. If they were recipe-based, then we would know exactly which material to use. It would also add a huge list of repetitive recipes to your Professions pages. We could also make some kind of new UI (think of something simple, like the Reforging UI) to let you drag and drop the materials you want to use. The advantage of the “box” solution is we could also use it for Disenchanting.

Q: Would you please implement a feature that allows players to change the order of their characters on the Character select screen? – 흑풍육손 (Korea), Fanahlia (North America/ANZ), Perle (Latin America)
    A: Sure. Does 4.2 work for you? :)

Q: Are there any plans to implement further things into the standard UI that we currently rely on addons to provide? More specifically I mean things like Recount and Omen. - Bauertehpala (Europe [English]), Актинидия (Europe [Russian]), 柴德洛夫 (Taiwan), Terini (North America/ANZ)
    A: We are experimenting with adding a threat meter to our new party and raid frames. Tracking DPS is a little trickier. We feel like it’s something we should offer but we’re still debating the right way to do it. It could be something that the combat log or the achievement statistics system (neither of which are anywhere as good as they could be) morphs into.

Q: Any plans to improve the Trade channel to allow buying and trading directly from chat? – Abolita (North America/ANZ)
    A: Ultimately, if you want a centralized location where buyers and sellers could meet, we already provide that. If you’re trying to just circumvent the 10% Auction House cut, we don’t really want to encourage that. If you want to use chat channels to haggle, you can do that already. The one situation where we think the current systems don’t work well is for really expensive crafted armor and weapons. We understand that players may not want to waste the materials until they have a buyer. Nor do they want to pay the Auction House cut on a 20,000 gold item when the volume on these items moving through the market is always going to be low. We are exploring some ways to solve this problem.

Q: Internal Cooldowns are pretty hard to track currently (I'm thinking of Nature's Grace, since it's an important element of my gameplay as a Resto Druid). Do you plan to add a feature in order to make it easier to track Internal Cooldowns? - Anyä (Europe [English])
    A: This is a difficult problem to solve without a lot of additional UI bloat. We could put a debuff on the player, which is the solution we sometimes take with long cooldowns like the 60 sec one of Nature’s Grace. We could also consider something like letting players put passive abilities on their action bar, and then provide an option to view cooldowns as numbers instead of the current ‘sonar wipe’. The way some of the third-party addons handle the issue is by just throwing up more UI in between the player and the character, which is the kind of thing we are very, very cautious about adding.

Q: Are there any plans to expand on the current mail system? It's rather cumbersome to have to withdraw, one-by-one, my mail when I have pages of it. – Patrïck (Latin America)
    A: This sounds like it is really an Auction House problem. The mail system is intended to be a little throttled and slow to discourage spam and junk mail, and works just fine for “real” mail between friends, alts or guildies. The problem is the design choice we made to hitch the mail system to the Auction House. Players dealing with a high volume of commodities have no choice but to deal with tons and tons of mail (and this is particularly bad for diverse commodities with low margins, like glyphs). We are discussing different ways the Auction House can work, but we’re not convinced the right answer is just to make the mail system more automated.

Q: Before Cataclysm launch, you talked about maybe giving the chance to players of increasing their main bagpack number of slots. Are you still having that in mind or did you forget about that idea? It has been 6 long years with the same bagpack! – Proenix (Europe [Spanish])
    A: Believe it or not, it’s just technically challenging. The original backpack just wasn’t coded with expandability in mind, and bumping it up now carries the risk of losing players gear, which of course would be catastrophic. It’s still on the list, but it’s not as simple as someone changing a 16 to a 24.

Q: Will the Defualt UI ever be moveable and re-arrangeable without the use of mods? – Ruind (North America/ANZ)
    A: We are taking baby steps in that direction. We already allow you to move the focus target, and in the 4.1 patch we will let you move your player frame (your health and resource bar) and your target frame as well. We also allow quite a bit of customization of size and position with the party and raid frames. If you consider what the screen looks like with every possible UI element turned on at once (including things like the durability dummy and Arena team frames) there is almost no space left to actually see the world. If we allow players to start moving every element around, it would be very easy to stack elements on top of each other and obscure information. More hardcore players probably understand this risk and how to fix things if they break the UI for themselves. The challenge for us is making sure that players who really shouldn’t be messing with their UI don’t stumble into it. If you aren’t in the game industry (or maybe even the software industry at large) you might think it’s as simple as burying the check box deep in the options or adding a big, red “I screwed up! Please reset me!” button. But we can assure you that it’s not.

Q: What if there was a separated target system? For example, if I can set defensive and offensive target at same time then I don’t have to switch target to use heal or other emergency skills for our friend no matter what target I’m attacking. I think this feature is especially useful for some classes, such as Retribution Paladin and Shadow Priest. – Whitewnd (Korea)
    A: We understand why that might be beneficial, and some games have gone that route, but we’re not huge fans of the idea for a couple of reasons. One, it just adds more complexity to the UI, which you can see from previous questions is something we’re trying to remain vigilant against. More importantly, we like players having to make the choice of who their target is. We don’t want to make the game so smart that harmful spells always seek out enemies and helpful spells always seek out allies. We do this in a few rare cases, like Discipline’s Atonement, but in general we want players to make the second-to-second choice about whether they are playing offensively or defensively.

Ask the Devs - Answers #1
Ask the Devs - Answers #2 "PvP