Bots on Neverwinter

What does not belong in any other section does probably belong here.
User avatar
Shava
Posts: 85
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2016 19:29
Favorite Class: Hunter Ranger
Preferred Gametype: PVE

Bots on Neverwinter

Post by Shava »

I haven't been on the official forums for a long time and was reading them this week about the new mod being released. Recently the moderators have been "cracking down" on the bot topics on the Neverwinter forums. No room for serious discussion there. I wanted to get this out to players and it seems like this is the place. I haven't stopped playing Neverwinter altogether, but I am less active, as I have started playing other online games elsewhere.

We all should know by now, bots are real and present in all online games. However I did run into a player who actually denied the existence of bots in dungeons. I was reading on the forums what some players recently wrote about; "how to stop botters" and "how botters are ruining the game". I couldn't post, since the threads were already closed down by Zebular. I can't blame him, he is doing his job albeit a volunteer position.

I am going to tell you what I know about bots, also what I suspect about Neverwinter bots and botters. First allow me to state the obvious so no one jumps in calling me a liar or ignorant about the facts. All the information I give to you here, could just be "legal heresay", gossip, or lies. Which means you have to decide, how much you want to believe, and if you can trust an unknown individual, on their words alone. I encourage people to investigate everything I tell you. I investigate everything.

Over nine months ago, I was in Protector's Enclave chatting and the spam was thick in the zone chat. I decided (on a whim) to find out who was running the RMT sites by tracking their IP address. For those of you who never did this, it is not rocket science. First I took out pen and paper and wrote down the offender's web sites they were spamming. Then I opened a browser window and I typed into the whois search; <name here>.com to get the owners and where they reside. Many were in New Jersey, some in Los Angeles, but most in China. But one DNS name caught my eye; WANMEI.COM. Wanmei is the Chinese word for Perfect. Yes, the spambot was selling AD in the game, for a webstore on a server owned by the publisher. I wrote tech support a ticket and the entire site vanished in less than 36 hours.

What I highly suspect about this incident, either one or more employees was running their own black market RMT in China on the company servers or the publisher (PWE) is using some of these sites to sell to players. Players who would otherwise not buy Zen at all. If this is the case, the bots are not an real issue at least not to the publisher. The only bots being banned are ones not owned by PWE.

Cryptic Studios could be ignorant to the fact their publisher is "double dipping". I find it highly dubious that any group of well educated programmers, hasn't been able to crack down on the botters. Which makes me ask why it doesn't seem to be a priority? After all, they tell players they need to make changes to stop the bots. You can never eliminate 100% of the botting in any online game. But with the correct security protocols in place you can reduce the effect greatly.

One method for reduced botters and spambots that works the best is the botters dungeon or bot jail. If a bot gets kicked, they just reset and start over. If a bot account gets banned, the botter has another account to replace it. People have suggested IP bans, but the botter counters this with IP spoofing. The way the botters dungeon works, it fools the bot into thinking it is still actively playing the game, but is not making any real profit running an empty dungeon. The spambot is stuck in a non-player instance where it can talk to itself all month long. To detect the bots from the players some games, that utilize these botter jails, also use GMs (game masters) to send the suspect there. Other games use a simple automated Turing Test (human intelligent task) to detect the bots. If a player is sent there they won't stay long, since most humans are not stupid.

One player on the forum suggested shutting down the dungeons to solve the problem and was very serious about it. The dungeons just got back from being offline for about year and they want to shut them off again. This is as bad as shooting dog because it has fleas. Looking at the recent "bot changes" AD can still be produced by running the bots through dungeons like lemmings. In fact, the new system improves upon mass botting. Solitary bots are easy to detect but a parties of 3 to 5 good bots in the ques will flow through like water. Bots will be with online games and won't go away. In most cases, it is just a matter of the method used to thwart their profits without taking away from the game.

Please share your experience. If you have any questions about what I have posted here tonight, I will try to elaborate on the topic. Just don't expect a quick reply as I work over 40 hours a week. Some days I can and do get online at work but don't tell the boss. :D

User avatar
etelgrin
Posts: 214
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2015 07:56
Gender: male
Favorite Class: Scourge Warlock
Preferred Gametype: PVP

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by etelgrin »

Yeah I was the guy who suggested removal of "leveling" dungeons cause to my eyes its nothing more than artifically created AD generator and a bots den.

Remember when Cryptic wrote that they are going to re-release some of the dungeons they have taken away, spite so much time passed most of the dungeons did not made their return, maybe they await better days to have less trouble releasing something in future when WotC force them to do another quickly written module, maybe its their own tardiness I don't know and don't care. There was so much hype, then they released it as "leveling dungeons" people started to riot.

Are these leveling dungeons bringing anything to casual player? No they are not giving him much experience if any, most zones still do not have their respective dungeons (dread vault anyone?) so its not that they can burn through low level zones and look for some funny dungeon while doing so. Also nearly any player and any group in game is able to do or carry person or even a whole party through dungeons like lostmauth or epic temple of spider, which are at the same time hard enough to make it impossible for bots to run through.

On the same hand we have dungeon which a player can most likely clear solo even if he is doing as much as following the bis player who dictates the flow of dungeon and clears everything ahead of him. This dungeon grants same amount of AD that an epic does minus salvagable drop or chest rewards which isn't much rewarding sine multiple nerfs to salvage orrucing in the past year.

There are and were players who had accounts with 50 slots filled, these players did "Destroy Enemy Camp" and Co to gain huge wealth of which some still have unclaimed AD in mails while having capped 100 milions AD on character (even seen people vendoring multiple legendary companions for example). For some time these people didn't really even had to log to game to make a profit earning AD only using gateway and redoing leadership professions, most used a macro for it. Same players who did this then, same botters now do regular temple of spider.

If we take that a month has 30 days and that I only run it 1 time on an alt and that I have 50 of them and that I get averagely 7k AD for such run, it gives me 10.500.000 milions AD monthly. This is only a bit amount said players previously were able to gain when they ONLY did Destroy Enemy Camp in 3 proffesion slots ( it was more AD ). They had taken it out because it artifically pumps in AD pool making everything on market more expensive, example - enchantments, and weapon / armor enhancements, were far cheaper than they are now (2-3 mils on weapon armor, around 700k AD on rank 12 enchantment). But its not everything I can obviously do another shot of said dungeon which will help me produce even more AD.

These dungeons are very simple, they only require you to follow the right path and you will eventually succeed, thats why they are so easily bottable thats from where all this inflation is coming from, thats why I suggested that best way would be to delete them, or if they purpose served for leveling reasons, give a huge XP reward in the end, it would give players chance to earn a power point but wouldn't inflate whole market.

Is it all bullshit? its not, just go and check press "o" go to search player and type temple of spider or clock tower (people do notice this check this thread on arc forums for example.) just look on the number of open instances, on peak hour new zone and well of dragons right before DR don't have as much instances combined. Same story is with CTA (example link to thread to arcforums) but its only time framed grind for them, an event for botters to make them richer, cause you casual player who plays normally with your toons, how much will you run it? On 6 alts ok but not on 50, no I dont think. Its an extra AD injection for them a good way to get rid of "ad boost" they recently implemented from prayers.

Im aware its great way to utilize your alt but its not hard to get alt to 2k and put something on it and get carried through lostmauth or skirmish. Removing said dungeons would be far more beneficial for players (or removal of AD gratification but it would basically mean same as removal) than keeping these dungeons or its AD reward. Every month passed increase this inflated AD pool by this I mean things gots more expensive over time, you dont earn enough AD to be in the race to be able to buy items you desire because they are overpriced because there is so much AD generation, it was already explained by someone once when they took out Destroy Enemy Camp and other AD generating tasks from leadership over a year ago.

I know people rage on me due to this, I stopped commenting on this thread as well cause I do not want to get banned for saying something explictly which is unpleasant to their ears but this is reality.

Silverkelt
Posts: 149
Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2015 16:04
Gender: male
Favorite Class: Devoted Cleric
Preferred Gametype: PVE

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by Silverkelt »

I am not opposed to them removing them, I am however concerned about progression.

If you are a actual new player.. not a bot, how do you go from lvl 70.. to doing t1 content without them?

User avatar
Bert
Posts: 430
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2015 03:01
Gender: male
Favorite Class: Hunter Ranger
Preferred Gametype: PVP

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by Bert »

I ask myself if it's an employee who secretly runs the shady business with PWE servers or if it's a wide-spread and commonly accepted practice in their offices. I doubt it's someone doing that without PWE superiors knowing it, how can he when the internal networks are most likely under close supervision? But I don't know much at all about PCs and networks/servers to think clearly about this issue... I'm literally very noob and ignorant about computers in detail.
Last edited by Bert on Tue Nov 08, 2016 13:59, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Bert
Posts: 430
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2015 03:01
Gender: male
Favorite Class: Hunter Ranger
Preferred Gametype: PVP

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by Bert »

About etelgrin suggestion, that's like removing the game to fix the botting problem. Players are there to play the game first and foremost, not to make ADs obcessively and dungeons are a very important part of MMOs gameplay. The gateway however and for example, can be seen as an extra to the game and even though practical for normal casual players, can be ditched out.

rapo973
Posts: 261
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2016 12:14
Gender: male
Favorite Class: Devoted Cleric
Preferred Gametype: PVE

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by rapo973 »

I'm confused.
Let's assume that PWE has a hidden corner where they sell AD looking like a 3rd party-chinese website.
If it's true, they don't need any bot to farm AD: all they need is an email to Cryptic asking to create a toon with a lot of AD. It's easier and faster than farming dungeons 24/7.
The fact that a whois query reports an IP hosted by PWE doesn't mean that they have bots to collect AD. In few words the two things may not be linked.

Janne
Posts: 254
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2016 05:28
Favorite Class: Trickster Rogue
Preferred Gametype: PVE

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by Janne »

Shava wrote: Over nine months ago, I was in Protector's Enclave chatting and the spam was thick in the zone chat. I decided (on a whim) to find out who was running the RMT sites by tracking their IP address. For those of you who never did this, it is not rocket science. First I took out pen and paper and wrote down the offender's web sites they were spamming. Then I opened a browser window and I typed into the whois search; <name here>.com to get the owners and where they reside. Many were in New Jersey, some in Los Angeles, but most in China. But one DNS name caught my eye; WANMEI.COM. Wanmei is the Chinese word for Perfect. Yes, the spambot was selling AD in the game, for a webstore on a server owned by the publisher. I wrote tech support a ticket and the entire site vanished in less than 36 hours.

What I highly suspect about this incident, either one or more employees was running their own black market RMT in China on the company servers or the publisher (PWE) is using some of these sites to sell to players. Players who would otherwise not buy Zen at all. If this is the case, the bots are not an real issue at least not to the publisher. The only bots being banned are ones not owned by PWE.
This entire part is based on a bit of a jump in logic, mainly "PWE Servers", quick check of the "WANMEI.COM" domain shows it is hosted by a generic ISP chinanetcenter.com, that manages both the hosting and the domain. The reverse DNS shows "203.130.61.92-BJ-CNC", ISPs / Hosts allocation and not PWE domain. The same IP hosted over 1,324 domains & 5 email servers.
This indicates it's a standard shared host, and not a dedicated server/s, not VPS, nor owned by PWE.

So if indeed the RMT DNS resolve pointed to that IP/ Host, all we know it shared the same server with PWE site, and hosted by chinanetcenter.com, which provides hosting (very very slow one) to anyone / everyone.
So owned by the publisher and all the conclusions that come from this are not backed by the DNS record. And with that the double dipping, selective banning and so on.
Shava wrote: Cryptic Studios could be ignorant to the fact their publisher is "double dipping". I find it highly dubious that any group of well educated programmers, hasn't been able to crack down on the botters. Which makes me ask why it doesn't seem to be a priority? After all, they tell players they need to make changes to stop the bots.
You have small team with specific specializations / assignments, graphics, modelling, terrain, story, animations, engine, UI, classes, encounters, etc.. (with people having multiple 'duties'). I don't see someone sitting whole day and "Who is" ing every spam in PE. It's futile and gives nothing, lets say they found the above and 100 more like that, now what ?

Shava wrote: You can never eliminate 100% of the botting in any online game. But with the correct security protocols in place you can reduce the effect greatly.
Like what ? In a place where it doesn't cost to make accounts, and players willing to farm and sell items and AD to those traders, what security measures you suggest?


Though one security measure I am willing to suggest it to make a honey-pot and unlike you suggested a double dip it's, a seller site owned by the developers / publisher, and for each player that tries to buy from there -> ban. But even this is not that practical because you can only have your own game/s and this will be suspicious.

User avatar
Bert
Posts: 430
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2015 03:01
Gender: male
Favorite Class: Hunter Ranger
Preferred Gametype: PVP

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by Bert »

Have you tried going to the website wanmei.com ? It's looks like an official PWE page for China. If the DNS from a bot-seller site returned that domain, doesn't it mean it is linked to it? I'm very noob with that sort of things but if explained thoroughly I can get a grasp of how it works. But I did understand that page is hosted by a center that has thousands of domains, one of which is the gold-seller site.

User avatar
Nippers Meowington
Posts: 194
Joined: Fri May 27, 2016 18:26
Gender: male
Favorite Class: Devoted Cleric
Preferred Gametype: PVP

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by Nippers Meowington »

Bert wrote:But I did understand that page is hosted by a center that has thousands of domains, one of which is the gold-seller site.
Also, hosted by the the same IP as ~1,000 other domains. Which brings me to this:
Janne wrote:The same IP hosted over 1,324 domains & 5 email servers.
Well then this was all just a big misunderstanding! It makes sense that a Chinese web hosting company would assign IP's based on alphabetical order of the English translation. Hence WanMai and PWE belong in the same range of addresses shared with 1,322 other domains out of a total 3,000 chinese sites.

PHEW!

Janne
Posts: 254
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2016 05:28
Favorite Class: Trickster Rogue
Preferred Gametype: PVE

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by Janne »

Bert wrote:Have you tried going to the website wanmei.com ? It's looks like an official PWE page for China. If the DNS from a bot-seller site returned that domain, doesn't it mean it is linked to it? I'm very noob with that sort of things but if explained thoroughly I can get a grasp of how it works. But I did understand that page is hosted by a center that has thousands of domains, one of which is the gold-seller site.
Wenmai.com is the PWE Chinese site (at least from the pictures). You mistake the DNSs and IPs. DNS, or more correctly the domain name, is the name we humans use, each name is translated to at least one address. The point is multiple names can be translated to single address. IPv4 (the still most address format common today) are limited and more or less used up. Each IP address costs money, using a single IP for each site name is not viable, so multiple sites / names share IP address. Unless a special proxy or load-balancer is used, usually this will mean it's the same physical or virtual server.

So to simplify 1k names -> single address. Like people sharing a rented apartment. With the analogy here, all those residents (PWE, and the bot site) shared an apartment owned by an owner named chinanetcenter.com
It's a very common practice to shove as many sites as possible to single IP and server, to maximize profit. The downside for people who buy this type of hosting is that it's the slowest and it's the most influenced by other people. If another site on the same server has heavy DB usage, your site DB requests will crawl (CPU, and IO usage) or if there is another site with heavy traffic, you will also get less because the same physical server has limited bandwidth to the back-end.

The OP checked what the RMT IP address is and found that the same address hosted among other things the PWE site. The point is, that it doesn't signify PWE ownership of anything, nor that they know each other. If now you will sign a hosting plan at any hosting company (blue host, or whatever) your site will sit with several thousand others on the same address, but this wont mean you own them or have anything to do with them.

It can be by an employee it can be by someone else, no way to know, but same address doesn't prove anything, especially owned by a host.
If indeed it was address owned by PWE it would have been undisputed proof.

Janne
Posts: 254
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2016 05:28
Favorite Class: Trickster Rogue
Preferred Gametype: PVE

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by Janne »

Nippers Meowington wrote:
Bert wrote:But I did understand that page is hosted by a center that has thousands of domains, one of which is the gold-seller site.
Also, hosted by the the same IP as ~1,000 other domains. Which brings me to this:
Janne wrote:The same IP hosted over 1,324 domains & 5 email servers.
Well then this was all just a big misunderstanding! It makes sense that a Chinese web hosting company would assign IP's based on alphabetical order of the English translation. Hence WanMai and PWE belong in the same range of addresses shared with 1,322 other domains out of a total 3,000 chinese sites.

PHEW!
What ?! If your are trying to be sarcastic, at least make it somewhat to the point or make some sense. What the hell English translation or alphabetical order has anything to do with anything here. Wenmai.com IS PWE. The RMT name was not mentioned at all.

User avatar
beckylunatic
Posts: 2025
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2015 17:30
Favorite Class: Devoted Cleric
Preferred Gametype: PVE

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by beckylunatic »

So... uhh... wanmei.com actually is PW's official domain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_World_(company)

As for it showing up in spam, unless I actually read the spam myself, I wouldn't attribute anything to it. I can type a domain into chat and spam with it too, and it doesn't mean I am affiliated with the website.

At any rate, a link to an official domain isn't a third-party site at all. Strange as it would be to spam your own chat, there's nothing... underhanded... about it.
"no logs, only fix"

User avatar
beckylunatic
Posts: 2025
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2015 17:30
Favorite Class: Devoted Cleric
Preferred Gametype: PVE

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by beckylunatic »

I was thinking the OP indicated that the domain wanmei.com actually showed up in chat spam, but I see I was misunderstanding that.
"no logs, only fix"

User avatar
beckylunatic
Posts: 2025
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2015 17:30
Favorite Class: Devoted Cleric
Preferred Gametype: PVE

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by beckylunatic »

Here's what I would normally say about goldseller sites. If you actually go look at them, they are not exclusive to games by any particular publisher. They offer product for many games... like, all the games (except the rare ones with nothing to sell). It's fairly ridiculous to point fingers at a single publisher and say that this particular one out of all the affected companies is corrupt and ringleading the whole thing.
"no logs, only fix"

Janne
Posts: 254
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2016 05:28
Favorite Class: Trickster Rogue
Preferred Gametype: PVE

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by Janne »

beckylunatic wrote:I was thinking the OP indicated that the domain wanmei.com actually showed up in chat spam, but I see I was misunderstanding that.
I don't know, I understood that the wanmei.com domain was part of the whois return of the RMT domain query (who is returns also the hosted websites on the same IP)

But I guess the OP should clarify.

User avatar
Nippers Meowington
Posts: 194
Joined: Fri May 27, 2016 18:26
Gender: male
Favorite Class: Devoted Cleric
Preferred Gametype: PVP

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by Nippers Meowington »

Janne wrote:What ?! If your are trying to be sarcastic, at least make it somewhat to the point or make some sense. What the hell English translation or alphabetical order has anything to do with anything here.
:lol:

rapo973
Posts: 261
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2016 12:14
Gender: male
Favorite Class: Devoted Cleric
Preferred Gametype: PVE

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by rapo973 »

I think the main point is pwe selling AD using a 3rd party (affiliate) website. This assumption implies that they use bots to farm AD (see the title of the post).
While the assumption can be correct or not (don't know), it's not necessarely related to the bot issue. Pwe doesn't need bots to sell AD by definition. Why do they have to farm AD with a bot army when they can have a huge amount of AD in seconds?

User avatar
Nippers Meowington
Posts: 194
Joined: Fri May 27, 2016 18:26
Gender: male
Favorite Class: Devoted Cleric
Preferred Gametype: PVP

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by Nippers Meowington »

Depends on whether Cryptic is in on it. Which they might not be, if the site OP mentioned was taken down within 36 hours of filing the tech support ticket. Let's hope the tech ticket filtered through Cryptic and they documented it...

And perhaps PWE is doing more to combat bots than we give them credit for. WanMai and PWE bots may be part of production testing anti-botting measures.

Either way, kudos to Shava for digging deeper into this and posting about it here.

PutzBoy78
Posts: 1329
Joined: Wed Apr 01, 2015 16:41
Gender: male
Favorite Class: Devoted Cleric
Preferred Gametype: PVE

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by PutzBoy78 »

I to have thought that the sellers are in league with the publisher. However, if that was the case their would always be a surcharge for the sellers to get the resources from the publishers. If the seller feels they can manually obtain AD and bypass that surcharge they would. Which would create an endless loop where you would have a grey market (seller in league with publisher) and a black market (seller generating their own AD to sell). At which point there is a direct correlation between publisher increasing the difficulty to generate AD. All of this would have to happen behind the scenes to maintain some form of publisher integrity (consumer confidence). Which could be very difficult from a business operations stand point ("hey dev go do this and don't ask why"). At which point it could be simpler (given Chinese labor costs) to stick with the black market approach, even if the owners could have ties into both for personal profit. The truth we will never know

User avatar
beckylunatic
Posts: 2025
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2015 17:30
Favorite Class: Devoted Cleric
Preferred Gametype: PVE

Re: Bots on Neverwinter

Post by beckylunatic »

Chemtrails are also very real and very dangerous.
"no logs, only fix"