Today I want to talk about one of the more sensitive topics in Neverwinter Online: Botting and its impact on the game. Currently you can witness the armies outside Sharandar’s Arcane Reservoir (to farm profession nodes) and outside Well of Dragon’s Cult Prison (to farm Dragon Hoard Coffers).
This is nothing new. The popular places have changed over the past, but the problem never diminished. The first time I actively saw bots running in and out of an instance was in Chasm’s Twisted Fane during open Beta. In the lair you could quickly farm like six or even more chests and profession nodes, earning Gold and some R4s per run. Back then Gold still was a very valuable currency and Enchanted Keys were going for 100-150 Gold per, which explains why the instance was very popular among players and botters alike.
There are generally two types of botters. So called “gold sellers” that make a business out of selling ingame currency as well as items and players that want to progress faster than intended. The mentioned bots currently running the Arcane Reservoir and Cult Prison mostly belong to the first category that sell cheap stacks of enchantments and limited stacks of Dragon Hoard Coffers each day. Players normally farm the foundry for RPs or level up through botting PVP matches.
The following pictures are showing the bots outside the Arcane Reservoir:
So how does Cryptic take action against bots? Asked about the issue, Producer HeyRogers stated during the AMA Reddit in October:
We’re trying to find a good solution for combating them (bots). There are two options: try to shut down the ability to bot or try to shut down the reason for botting. Right
now, we are working towards trying to shut down the reason that the majority of them are botting, which is to make a profit off of it.
Roughly two weeks later they made drops from Dragon Hoard and Fey Blessing Enchantments BtA. That’s all you need to know. They don’t shut down or hunt down bots, they simply nerf everything the bots are after. From the top of my head, here is a, probably incomplete, list of their “anti-bot measures”:
- Nerf glory and XP earnings in PVP
- Nerf XP earnings in the foundry
- Rework the positioning of or remove profession nodes in several instances
- Opening too many profession nodes in quick succession leads to getting only junk
- Make refining points from Dragon Hoard and Fey Blessing Enchantments bind to account
- Lengthen the ICD of Dragon Hoard and Fey Blessing Enchantments inside the foundry
- Remove Imp Spawning Portals from the foundry
- Make Enchanted Keys bind to account
- Artificial UI delays
To be honest, not all changes are major. I was pretty surprised that removing the Spawning Portals drew so much negativity on the official realms. I’m sure the authors that used the Portals in a non-abusive way will find other ways to achieve whatever purpose they served. That said, the Portals might be removed as an asset, but they are not removed from published foundries, meaning the farming spot is pretty much intact.
Going back to the Beta though I remember that fixing instances likes The Night Raid or Twisted Fane hit players rather hard. It might sound funny today, but in the early days those were profitable farming spots. And this development has continued until today. Every time something is remotely viable, bots are quickly overrunning the spot until the nerf hammer hits and leaves behind abandoned space.
Most recently they once again lowered the amount of profession nodes you are allowed to open within a certain time before you get only junk out of it. The reason is simple: After the Astral Resonator exploit the gold sellers went on botting the foundry with Dragon Hoard Enchantments. Since those drops are now bound to account and cannot be sold any longer, they went back to profession nodes.
The consequence is that farming nodes even during the profession event becomes dull, at least if you don’t have a lot of ALTs to switch to once one char gets restricted. Even worse, the changes to the foundry have completely erased it as useful and cool feature from the game, although it was meant to be one of the primary selling points.
That way the devs fight the bots at the expense of the legit player. You could argue that every single change indeed did hurt bots more than others, but stuff has added up. If the devs would directly track and ban bots, ideally the economy doesn’t take a big hit and players could farm and profit legitimately. But this would require a good amount of constant effort, because the fight is endless. The nerf-game is much cheaper and we now Cryptic needs to be picky where to assign their limited resources.
Which essentially means this is likely to continue. Not only will bots heavily impact the economy, because it always takes time until the devs take action, but also players can freely farm without harm. The solution to the heavy RP grind for many is simple and although there is the occasional threat, botters understandably don’t seem to be afraid.
Even if the devs continue their current approach, there would be tons of ways to compensate for the nerfs by tweaking areas that bots can’t touch. They could have buffed profession nodes inside group content when nerfing those in the open world. Add BoE RPs to DD chests when RPs from Enchantments became BtA? Extend XP and Glory for competitive, long PVP matches?
These are just very few examples of how they could have helped the players in the wake of their countermeasures and since the game severely needs legit ways to farm, it would actually make sense beyond the matter of bots.
But nothing indicates a change right now and with plethora of new stuff to refine in Mod 6, the bots will continue to swarm certain areas and remain widely unpunished… In contrast to the legit player.
The only thing you can do is monitor what the bots are doing. Because botted stuff sells under market value, you might be able to buy something at a bargain. Also be sure to watch nerfs related to bots closely as prices can skyrocket in a very short timeframe.
Until next time fellas, stay informed and uncensored!