It's been three months. I'm still here. I didn't disappear off the face of the Internet. I just didn't have anything to report. WoW got really boring for me really fast. I wasn't raiding with the raiding guild I'd joined on Loihi, and my attempts to resurrect my horde guild failed. Hard. My subscription ended March 13, and I was content not to spend any more of my hard-earned money on a Garrison Subscription. Then came the token. I had just enough gold to buy one, and I figured, "Why not?" I figured if I leveled up at least one more character and got a level 3 garrison and then stayed on top of my garrisons, I could accumulate enough gold to keep my subscription going. And I was right. A few days before my month was up, I purchased another token and watched my pile of gold drop to practically nothing.
And then last Wednesday I got banned.
I've hinted at it here, but now that everything is out in the open, I'm making a confession: I was one of those hundreds of thousands of botters.
There seems to be a huge misconception about who botters are and what exactly bots do, and I would like to attempt to clear some of that up.
I want to preface this by saying that I understand that what I did was wrong. I was aware of that from day one, and I was always aware of the risk that I was taking. I absolutely deserved my ban, and I am in no way trying to justify my actions. When I explain why I did certain things, it's not because I think my excuse makes them okay. There's no excuse that makes them okay. I'm just telling you exactly what I did.
So let's start with some terminology.
Bot Base: The bot base is the type of bot you're using. All of the bots are in one bot program called Honorbuddy, but different bots do different things. I can't open HB anymore, but off the top of my head the bot bases that I can think of are: Questing, Dungeonbuddy, Battlegrounds, Garrisonbuddy, Combat Bot, and Gatherer.
Profile: The profile is the code that tells your bot where to go and what to do. Of the bot bases that I listed, the only ones that used custom profiles were Questing and Gatherer. There was a really great questing profile pack that would level you straight from 1 to 100. There were also questing profiles for dailies or other questing objectives. The gathering profiles determined where and what you were gathering.
Combat Routine: This is exactly what it sounds like - it's how your bot plays in combat. A rotation. Honorbuddy comes with a default combat routine for each class, but there are lots of user developed routines that tend to be much better. The default one tends to go with the most basic rotation, while the custom ones are generally developed by people who really know how to play their class and some of them are really good. The really good ones also cost money - sometimes a lot of money. I had honestly never heard the term "kickbotter" until after the ban, but they are most certainly using paid routines. I never had a routine anywhere near that good.
Honorbuddy isn't the first bot I've used, but this has already gotten long, and I haven't even started yet. If you're curious about how I got into botting, I'll be happy to tell you. But for now, I'm going to leave my botting background out. I will say that when Josh started messing around with his first bot, I was vehemently opposed to it.
Now the first question is: why? I've seen a lot of people say, "If you're so bored with the game that you have to bot, maybe you should find a new game." Have I ever used the bot to combat boredom? Absolutely. But when I started botting, I was not bored with the game. I just wanted to try something new. Botting adds a whole new aspect to the game that you can't understand unless you've done it. I honestly can't even begin to try to explain it, but I will tell you that I probably spent more hours tweaking my bot and/or watching it play than I would have spent playing. I know how ridiculous it sounds to watch a bot, but I have yet to meet a person who couldn't get sucked into watching it. We had our bots running during a party once, and all of the guests, at some point or another, sat there watching with fascination.
How much gold did you make? Honestly, not much. People have this idea in their heads that all botters are gold sellers and we're all sitting on goldcapped accounts. Do those people exist? Yes, of course. But they are the small minority. The majority of botters are casuals like me. When my account got banned on Wednesday, I had 50k gold on my horde server and 25k on my alliance server. I think 60k is the most I ever had one one server at one time. I know lots of non-botters who have way more gold than that.
What was your arena rating? I don't have one. I haven't used the bot for arenas since Cataclysm, and even then, our rating was shit. Our win:loss ratio was probably about 50:50. We never paid for combat routines, and the free ones weren't going to get you far in an arena.
Didn't you feel bad about ruining BGs for everyone? Okay, yes. I used the pvp bot for maybe an hour per month, and I almost always monitored it. If I saw that I was in a bg that had a lot of bots, I would stop the bot and take over. But what people don't seem to understand is that for all those bots that you see who are running the same path, sitting in the same places, etc, there are just as many people who are using bots for combat but controlling where they go and what they do. Much like the gold sellers, the people who let their bots sit in BGs completely unmonitored all day are in the small minority.
So what did you use it for? I would say I probably used quest bot the most. In each expansion, I leveled at least one horde and one alliance character by hand, and then I let the bot handle the rest. In WoD, I did a lot of back-and-forth between hand leveling and bot leveling.
Prior to WoD, I used dungeon buddy quite a bit to get alts geared up. I geared up my mains by hand, but I just didn't have the time or the patience to gear up my alts. Dungeon buddy is hit or miss, though. Sometimes it's awesome, and sometimes it runs your character into a wall. Or leaves a fresh instance, giving you deserter. Or pulls mobs when it's not tanking. (Yes, it can tank a dungeon surprisingly well.)
I also used combat bot (or variations of it - LazyRaider, Enyo) a lot. We all have off days where we just aren't performing the way we should be, and in those cases, it was always best to let the bot play for me in a raid. I will say that all of the raiding I did in WoD was 100% me. There was no good warlock routine, and even though my numbers were low, I could play way better than the bot could. It was always changing when they made changes to classes. Sometimes the bot could play better than I could, and sometimes it couldn't. Sometimes I was just feeling lazy and I would let it play for me, while still controlling movement myself.
Prior to WoD, I used it to gather. There were gathering profiles for the entirety of EK and Kalimdor where your bot would just fly all over the continent gathering everything it saw. I used a lot of what I gathered, but I also sold a lot. So you could say I had an effect on the economy, I guess, but like I said - I never even had 100k gold. Not even close.
Garrisons. Garrisonbuddy was released shortly after the token was, and it was an absolute Godsend. I spent the last month exclusively using Garrisonbuddy. I would get up in the morning and turn it on. It would do all of my garrison chores - gathering, missions, work orders. And in the afternoon I would come home and collect my missions and send new ones (by hand). I wasn't selling anything that my garrison produced.
I was just living in my own little world when I got banned.
I say that, again, not to justify it. No matter how I was using it, it was cheating. I say it to show you that for every person you could identify as a bot, there were countless others that you couldn't. They may have been living in their garrisons. They may have been questing. They may have been using combat bot and controlling their character's movement. The zombies in the BGs, the kickbotters, and the people running the AH are not the majority of botters.
Do I regret what I did? Not for a second. Like I said, I was fully aware of the risks from day one. I was cautious in the beginning - everyone thought it we monitored our bots all the time, we'd be fine. We thought we just needed to be there if a GM talked to us. In many cases, that was true. But not anymore. I wasn't even online when I got banned. Many botters chose to bot on a second account. I used my main account. I thought I would be sad if it got banned since I've had it forever, but since it isn't a permaban, I'm really not. I lost a bunch of pixels that I never owned in the first place. That's how I look at it. I freed up 26 gigs on my SSD. I suddenly found myself with a whole lot more free time. If anything, Blizz did me a favor.
I've had a lot of people tell me that I disgust them, that if I'm willing to do this, who knows what kinds of horrible things I do in real life. I'm probably a liar, a cheat, and a thief.
You're certainly entitled to your opinion. Everyone I know and care about - both in-game and in real life - knows I bot. No one has disowned me over it, or even told me I should stop. So if strangers want to pass judgment because I cheated in a video game, by all means. But like I tell people who rage in LFG or LFR, it's just a game.
Will I be back when my ban is up? Who knows. Would I bot again if the opportunity presented itself? Absolutely.
(After the banwave, Honorbuddy was taken offline. So even if I had an active account, I could not bot.)
If you have any questions, I will be happy to answer them. If you want to express your contempt for me and the rest of the bot community, I certainly can't stop you, but I won't engage.