World of Warcraft Classic

Former World of Warcraft dev explains how Blizzard dealt with bots in the early days

Dealing with bots in World of Warcraft has been a headache from the game’s start. At first, a straightforward solution involved spotting them and manually banning them, as explained by former developer Jason “Thor” Hall.

In the past, a simple tactic to eliminate bots involved obstructing their path with an object. This method worked because bots tended to follow a predictable route. In the case of World of Warcraft, former developer Jason “Thor” Hall disclosed that using a rock served this purpose. Developers would then teleport to the specific rock location and manually ban characters ensnared in this “trap.”

Cat-and-mouse game

“In the beginning, WoW Bots moved from Point A to Point B, and you’re like, ‘Okay.’ Well, they moved from Point A to Point B in a straight line. How do we stop this?”

During his live stream, Hall disclosed that the solution appeared quite straightforward.

“The initial attempts to address this issue in World of Warcraft were in its very early days. You would place a rock in their path. All the bots would get stuck on the rock, and then a GM would literally teleport there to see all the players running in place and manually ban them all. That was the first detection method.”

Bot creators are getting smarter every week, and they figured out a solution quickly: “Several months later, the bot creators figured out how to implement dynamic pathing, and now the bots maneuver around the rocks. That marked the beginning of the cat-and-mouse game for all of this.”

World of Warcraft

Ongoing battle against bots

Ensuring the security of MMORPG games is vital for both game studios and players. However, major MMORPGs like World of Warcraft still struggle with the invasion of bots and exploits. To succeed in creating and maintaining the next generation of MMORPGs, developers need a solid grasp of software security.

Some game studios use anti-cheat programs and strict measures to fight bots, handing out automatic permanent bans. Sadly, the cleverness of bot creators allows them to find ways around these measures, leading to an ongoing game of catch-me-if-you-can likely to continue in the future.

Recently, Blizzard has provided an update on their ongoing battle against bots and disruptive players in World of Warcraft. In the past month alone, they have taken action against nearly 270,970 accounts.

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