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Fishing bots have been an issue in Rift since the fishing system was originally implemented. Much like leveling bots, these also have a toll on the game's economy, as well as other effects. How have Trion's attempts fared in regards to ridding the game of them?

It is worth starting out by saying that back in January these bots were much more out of control. As of recently, while there are still bots in the game, the number of them has gone down a bit. The things to keep in mind here are:

  • Fighting bots is an on going process. It is a battle of cat and mouse, where one will get ahead of the other and then the roles swap again
  • It is hard to tell how many bots there really are, as you can not be in all places at once. Furthermore, the zones can be quite large
  • Sometimes the bots are banned in “waves,” so as to keep the creators from being able to tell what it is that flagged them

As of right now there are still some bots, but it does not appear nearly as bad as it was before. Even so, players can reasonably expect it to be like a roller coaster, where there will be a temporary jump in the number of botters, followed by a big dip. Only time will tell for certain, but the hope is that Trion takes a proactive approach in stopping these (which will diminish the rollercoaster, to a point), so as to stop them even quicker. To assist with the process, you can also report suspected bots.

Update: with the move to a free to play model instead of subscriptions, the fishing bots are more than likely going to return in great numbers. It is not known what steps Trion has made so far to stop this from happening, or what methods were used to take down the bots that are already gone, but it is safe to assume that major changes will be necessary once again. We will see soon after the new change occurs, but my prediction is that the flood will cause even more problems because it will be attached to a massive influx of legitimate players as well. As more players join the game, especially over a small period of time, that means more support tickets will be put in. As more support tickets are put in, the support staff becomes more and more overwhelmed with trying to keep up with helping everyone. This will more than likely end up putting situations like bots on the back burner, as they are often seen as being less of a problem than, for example, errors on accounts. To get past this hurdle may take quite a while.

In fact, we already saw a support problem in the past. Soon after Rift's release, someone (or some people) managed to find a way to log in to different accounts. As they did, they were taking everyone's gear away, as well as anything else they had of value. This situation was not one we could defend against, either, as it was not a breach due to having someone's username and password. Instead, it was caused by a major flaw in the servers that allowed the users to get in to accounts that they did not own. As a result, we could not defend ourselves, regardless as to how protected your computer was or how much thought you had put in to passwords.

This problem was big enough that it ended up overflowing Trion's support system with tons of requests for help. Many of us had to get our accounts rolled back to before the attacks took place. With thousands of us having these problems, and each one being slightly different in how it had to be handled, this created a massive back log of support inquiries. Tack on the normal support tickets that would have been sent in anyways, and you can see how a snowball effect starts to happen. To further make the issue worse, people started sending in multiple tickets over the course of a few days for the same problems in the hopes that they would be answered faster. This ended up doing nothing but creating new problems for us, as support then had to not only help people with their legitimate problems, but also figure out which ones were duplicates and try to get rid of those as well.

The reason I am bringing all of this up is because it is something that we are likely going to end up seeing again once Rift goes free to play. With a great influx of new players, support is going to end up having problems keeping up. Over time this will start to stagnate, but in the beginning it is going to be a massive problem. The situation of taking down bots will be slow as well, because of all the other people Trion's support is going to be dealing with. Depending on how well they are able to deal with all the problems players have will directly influence both wait times and how much other stuff they are capable of taking care of.

The bots are going to have a huge role in this because they are going to take up enough of the accounts to start creating a hazard. The bots we saw in the past were bad enough, and those were paid for. Each account that was banned back then was more income loss for the farmers, meaning that they had to be at least somewhat careful when purchasing more new accounts. When you take away this loss, there is no reason not to flood the game with bots. Even if they are banned over time, any income that is made prior can often be considered as free money. Therefore being proactive with stopping the bots before they become a nuisance is important.

A game we saw this hit pretty hard in was Lineage II. This is partly because NC Soft had been notorious for allowing people to bot their game for years prior to going free to play, but once it did go free the problem became even worse. With nothing to risk and everything to gain, there was no reason not to join in on the bandwagon. Because of this, players that were once legitimate even started running their own bot trains, because the worst thing that could happen is they lose the illegitimate accounts, which they would otherwise not have to begin with. This is pretty much the risk Rift is going to see, although not as bad (or so I hope). Rift does not have a strong emphasis on gold, so the hope is that it will hold people back at least a little bit, but it does have an emphasis on raids and dungeons. Because of this, I think something we should look forward to is a lot of raid gear being sold for cash, in the sense that you join the party for the drop, they bot the boss down, and then if the item drops you pay and receive it. To make matters worse, the dungeons and raids are all instanced, so while this is going on nobody will really know except the people who are in on it.

Of course, all of this could be wrong. Only time will tell. I am just hopeful that Trion is aware of the possible problems and is doing everything in their power to keep it from happening. Otherwise it will become yet another subscription game that has gone free to play and has been killed by the bots and farmers.

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