Alex’s Analysis – Extermination or Entertainment?

posted by on 1st October 2012, at 3:46pm

I think it’s safe to say that at least 80% of the Runescape community know about the famous Bot Nuke day that Jagex boasted about so confidently that they released a full week of bonus features for us to celebrate an otherwise bot-free server. Less than a month later, they were back. Not in such huge quantities, but nevertheless they were back.

Gradually, they got up to a point where they unleashed another “nuke”. Not bad big or widely announced, and definitely not as celebrated, but there were 60% less annoying morons online thanks to it. We appreciated it like we appreciate there not being as many spots on our bananas. Makes them tastier and more tolerable, but it’s something the consumer tends to expect from the services they are paying money for.

Now, they are releasing something they call the Botany Bay. An island where bots go to meet their eternal demise and players possibly play a key in actually deciding it. I mean, common sense, right? The number of legitimate players outnumber the bots. Right?

Nah, I’m kidding; players don’t actually “choose” their demise. They only choose what morbidly gruesome and otherwise painless looking means the bots die. No chance for redemption once they’re on that podium. Now they become nothing more than that shrimpy half-naked gladiator with a wooden sword against that big guy who has more chain on than muscle.

Also, players are able to go onto the island to see where bots go with the promise and ability to return afterwards. Sound familiar? That’s right, for those old-timers out there (and those new-timers wondering just what’s the deal with Disks of Returning), we are witnessing the return of the Black Hole. An endless void of black that once existed in the Runescape Classic Dwarven Mines where rule-breaking players were thrown into without the means of returning. Basically, they were purposefully made stuck in the game.

But with the Black Hole, there was a chance for redemption. A player could buy a disk of returning, drop it, buy another, and pick the first one up to have two. Then they could go down there and offer it to one of these rule-breakers to grant them freedom. Sort of like having a friend pay bail or something. And back then, it was rare to see a player with any more than 100 000 coins, and the worst case of botting was probably a player trying to get his mining up to level 60 for the mining guild.

By the sounds of things now, bailing is not going to happen. You won’t be able to bust a bot out once they’re on the island. Namely because there’s no point, and if there was, what kind of bail would be accepted? Solomon RuneCoins to buy your character back with dollars? … actually, as much of a jerk move that would be, it’s got some market potential.

But that’s just stupid. Our beloved Jagex Team are not going to do that. They’ve got respect for their players. And the Runescape world would just be full of rich bullies if they let that happen. Respect.

The Botany Bay. Based off a three-strike system. Strike one, a warning. Strike two, a suspension. Strike three, you go to this island where your name is shown to all in shame while your character is forced to wear a bot head and look pitiful in front of the dominating players. Just a sense of glory and satisfaction in itself by standing there over them. Once they’re there, then by what I can tell, they stand in a queue waiting for players to tally in votes or something, and after a short time, the decision is made, and the bot gets owned in one of three ways (I heard they’ll be released more based on forum suggestions).

So what’s the consensus? Do I think it’s merely an idea for a source of glorifying entertainment? Is it going to be just another live and let live event like the bot nuke where it merely stalls the parasite while entertaining and filling us with a false hope?

No. I don’t.

In fact, I think Jagex are really going to do it with this one. For multiple reasons.

First off, the severity of the system. By the looks of things, it’s a lot nicer now. Botting was initially that if you were caught doing it, your character vanishes. Everyone knew that. Now they’re incorporating a three-strike system. This catches players ignorant of the rules and gives them a strict reminder that games have them. If a player did it out of a whim and for curiosity’s sake and lost their character mainly because “they didn’t know” or “they thought it was allowed”, then 9 times out of 10 they rage and begin to troll Runescape with several bot accounts in order to extract revenge on the company that robbed them of hours of their time (by putting more hours into it – go figure). At least this way, each dog gets entitled to one bite. A player gets a chance to make amends if they are caught botting so that the good players know to never do it again.

Secondly, the impression. There are these difficult-to-miss animations when a player gets caught. You can see it happening around you, meaning that players are shown directly that the system is in place and is doing its job. You’ll know that it’s doing its job. No more controversy about it only being a one-time event or “big words from a scared company”. You want proof it exists, you got it. … OK, I made my point.

But the biggest reason of all is that, unlike the Bot Nukes of the past, this is something that happens in real time. Rather than wipe out all the bots in one fell swoop, this program runs with every call to update the server (30FPS = 30 times a second). This means we practically get 30 bot nukes every second, and there are 86400 seconds in a day… we’re looking at 2 and a half million bot nukes each day. And if only one bot nuke once wiped out 95% of all bots…

And the best thing about it is that it’s the user’s computer that has to run and service these checks as opposed to Jagex’ systems, meaning the bot users get betrayed by their own machines. Absolutely brilliant!

For the moment, though, I’m only interpreting what I’ve seen and been promised. It could be better, or it could be worse. But the message is clear; Jagex are taking rule-breaking extremely seriously, and will go any lengths to get rid of it. Case and point; the loss of the wilderness (which I miss) and the trade-nurf (which I do not miss). Nowadays, they are taking more ethical approaches where they add instead of remove due to technological advancements. Instead of taking away prolonged resource gathering by reintroducing the Runescape Classic fatigue system (I’ll let new-timers figure that one out), they add a new island to explore. Happiness.

But while their hardware gets better, so do bots. It’s not hard for boss to add a seeded Math.random() to their auto-clicking, making it increasingly difficult to be caught in action. The war shall continue, but with this battle will come balance. If the bots reigned supreme, nobody would play the game, but if Jagex finally quelled them once and for all, the in-game economy would skyrocket.

Until next time;

Cheers, cannoneers!

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