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Role Playing (Games) Government The Courts News

Blizzard Sues Creator of WoW Bot 701

Posted by Zonk
from the kind-of-defeating-the-point-of-an-mmo dept.
Ponca City, We Love You writes "Blizzard, the makers of World of Warcraft, are suing Michael Donnelly, the creator of the MMO Glider program, which performs key tasks in the game automatically. Blizzard says the software bot infringes the company's copyright and potentially damages the game. 'Blizzard's designs expectations are frustrated, and resources are allocated unevenly, when bots are introduced into the WoW universe, because bots spend far more time in-game than an ordinary player would and consume resources the entire time,' Blizzard wrote in its legal submission to the court. More than 100,000 copies of the tool have been sold while more than 10 million people around the world play Warcraft. Donnelly says his tool does not infringe Blizzard's copyright because no 'copy' of the Warcraft game client software is ever made. The two parties are now awaiting a summary judgment in the case."
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Blizzard Sues Creator of WoW Bot

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  • by Keen Anthony (762006) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:45PM (#22875222)
    Don't really see how it infringes on the Warcraft copyright; but maybe it infringes on the trademark somehow if it's being marketed as something official to Blizzard and WoW, and giving customers the perception that this is an extension of the WoW service. As for damaging WoW by taking up more resources than the normal player would; what if I were an abnormal player who is on nearly 24/7; is there some provision in the agreement where I am charged more for the subscription or something?
    • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:49PM (#22875280)
      If you're creating some legitimate program that requires WoW, you think you should have to request Blizzard's permission just to say on the packaging that you require World of Warcraft? Definitely not.
      • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:01PM (#22875428) Journal

        Agreed. From the sounds of it, this bot tool may impair the game, and they may have some moral or legal cause to try and stop it, but copyright and trademark infringment it is not.I think they need to find some other charge.
        • by Naughty Bob (1004174) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:26PM (#22875762)
          At most it might infringe upon the terms and conditions of WoW. But that would need to be taken up with the users, not the author.

          Just another example of a company aiming its litigation at the wrong target.
          • by revery (456516) <charles@cac 2 . n et> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:41PM (#22877448) Homepage
            But you have to ask how he developed the bot without using a client and violating the terms of Blizzard's license? If he doesn't abide by the terms, he doesn't have a right to have a copy and if he doesn't have a right to a copy, he's infringing...

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by scragz (654271)
              They should terminate his subscription post haste. I don't have the terms handy but that would be pretty crappy if they stated that Blizzard could sue you for playing a game in a way they didn't like.
              • by revery (456516) <charles@cac 2 . n et> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:19PM (#22877814) Homepage
                I think it's always been technically true that a company can sue you for violating a license agreement. The issue is that penalty for infringement is always based on damages, and in most cases, the amount of financial damage done is insufficient to warrant a lawsuit (or for a court to award anything). In this case though, the bot maker is violating Blizzard's license in order to make money for himself. He is also encouraging others to violate their license. Blizzard may not win, but they have a better case than if they sued someone who just wrote a bot for their own amusement.

          • by Z34107 (925136) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @12:21AM (#22878242)

            Just another example of a company aiming its litigation at the wrong target.

            Or... the right target. They could cut off every individual botting user... and they've tried that. But, these users are impossible to find because of this one individual millionaire who managed to make his program (currently) undetectable.

            So... they could sue every individual user. But, we run into the "finding them" problem again.

            So... they could sue the one person making it all possible, and profiting handsomely for it. This is the logical target - go for the one person responsible rather than lots of individuals - but also, apparently, the most difficult. Going for WoW Glider's maker solves the problem; going for his customers doesn't. So, you can't fault them for trying.

            • by Walkingshark (711886) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @02:57AM (#22879004) Homepage
              I wonder if they'll try and force him to give up his source during discovery. That might very well be the angle they're looking at in this whole thing.
          • by Sapphon (214287) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:16AM (#22879724) Journal
            The article says that 100'000 copies of this tool have been sold, which implies ~100'000 users. While it is strictly speaking the fault of the user that Blizzard is suffering damage, the root cause is the creator and vendor of the tool.

            As such it certainly makes sense for the Blizzard to go after Donnelly, since
            a) if they stop him, they stop further sales of the bot
            b) it's lot easier to litigate against one person than 100'000
            c) you get much less bad press for litigating against one person than 100'000
            d) the 100'000 are still bringing in income (as paying customers), just less of it. Blizzard probably doesn't want to scare them off with litigation. Donnelly, on the other hand, just costs them money.

            Blizzard's in a lose-lose situation: litigation against Donnelly is legally unclear, but litigation against 100'000 users would cause an uproar.

            The choice of target is in fact quite rational from a game-theoretic perspective. And from an emotive perspective, you could always compare it to going after the crack dealer rather than the addict :-)
        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:41PM (#22875918)
          Blizzard is in over its head if they lose the suit; their employees admitted in sworn statements that Glider cannot be detected by any anti-cheat methods they use. There's a lot of little easter eggs hidden away in the legal filings, for example:
          • Donnelly made more than $2.8 million in revenue from Glider
          • Blizzard spends $970K fighting bots each year
          • Blizzard claims Glider costs them $18 million in lost revenue per year
          Some of the legal filings have been uploaded here, they make for an interesting read: http://gameactivist.blogspot.com/2008/03/update-blizzard-vs-mdy.html [blogspot.com]
        • by poetmatt (793785) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:44PM (#22875952) Journal
          For once, Blizzard has definitely done something wrong...sued for the wrong things all the way around here. Sue for damages? Sure. Copyright? No. Trademark? No.

          The guy has disclaimers on his site about using MMOglider that pretty much state "Blizzard doesn't like this", so no, Blizzard can't really do a lot about it.

          Unless the guy doesn't have the resources to pay for the lawyer, I would suspect that the odds are in the mmoglider guy's favor.
          • by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo@nOspam.gmail.com> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:02PM (#22876138) Homepage Journal
            "For once?" "For once?" You've got to be kidding. Blizzard litigates all the time. They successfully used the DMCA to stop bnetd [wikipedia.org], a reverse engineering of the protocol. This was the first real test of the DMCA in court on many of the provisions and gave the law so many real teeth that it became the terror it is today. There was even a huge boycott of Blizzard for a short while.

            Sheez! Young'uns.
            • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:52PM (#22876534) Journal
              Some of us are still boycotting Blizzard ...
            • by rossz (67331) <ogre&geekbiker,net> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:33PM (#22876890) Homepage Journal
              I still won't buy a Blizzard product. We ran a bnetd server because we got sick of the cheating on their servers. Every single person who was allowed on our server was legitimate because we verified them by going onto the blizzard servers. A quick chat to make sure the person logged in and all was cool. The bnetd people would have liked to have verified CD keys, but Blizzard refused to cooperate.

              We weren't hurting anyone. We weren't stealing from Blizzard. In fact, we _reduced_ blizzard's costs because they had a lower load on their servers. They are just assholes. I chatted with one of the VPs at blizzard, and the way he spoke at me and my friends verified he was a complete and total asshole.

              I was a big buyer of Blizzard products up to that point. I haven't bought a single thing from them since.
    • by Itninja (937614) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:59PM (#22875406) Homepage
      From TFA:

      Blizzard has said the tool infringes copyright because it copies the game into RAM in order to avoid detection by anti-cheat software.
      That's pretty freakin' weak. Are they gonna sue me because I remembered stuff about the game and told it to a friend? Am I then using my brain to illegally copy game data?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KevMar (471257)
        It may be a weak argument but it will require the wow Glider to hire a legal team to fight it. Its just another way them to attack.

        I dont know if this is just another attack or Blizzard claiming defeat. Blizzard has been in a hacking war with bots for a long time. Blizzard was winning for a long time but wow glider is on top of the game now.

        Just how do you hide from a program that is looking for you when they have access to your binaries? I don't want to say I support botting, but I have to give that de
    • by qoncept (599709) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:18PM (#22875658) Homepage
      what if I were an abnormal player who is on nearly 24/7;

      I don't think that's so abnormal..
    • by Akaihiryuu (786040) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:42PM (#22876462)
      Blizzard DOES need to do something about WOW glider, it's very disruptive to the game environment, but they are arguing the wrong legal angle entirely. They SHOULD be using an argument that the program in question is disruptive to the game environment (and "encouraging" players to violate the contract that lets them use the online service) rather than trying to claim some sort of copyright violation. The legal angle they are using in this case is extremely lame, and they definitely need better laywers. Surely the fact that this product is sold promoting and encouraging people to disrupt the game environment would be enough for a court without having to drag some crazy half brained copyright argument into it.
  • Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hubbell (850646) <brianhubbellii.live@com> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:45PM (#22875224)
    This is only a problem in a game like WoW where you can't lose items on death (specifically to other players) and are built around a constant grind to get that next tier of armor or those next few points in the battlegrounds to get that next tier of weapons. Darkfall [darkfallonline.com], while long in development, is a game that offers complete freedom to the players to run their world as they see fit. If they wish to just be in chaos all the time and killing each other willy nilly, then so be it! If they wish to form a world full with alliances throwing blows at each other here and there to capture more resources (which is the hope/intent of the game) and build more cities, then they can! You can be a roving assassin picking off lone targets who venture too far from a town by themselves, or you can join a massive player army to raid enemy towns and fortresses.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by h4rm0ny (722443)

      This is only a problem in a game like WoW where you can't lose items on death

      Now I've never played WoW, but I understand that it is very, very popular. So when you say "Who cares?" I think the answer is likely to be a lot. You may not personally care for the set up of the game, but I think we can all agree that when the structure of a game is dictated by what is and isn't easy for bots to cheat at, that's an overall negative thing. Reducing options and choice = bad.

    • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lgw (121541) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:09PM (#22875540) Journal
      No free-for-all PvP RPG server or game has ever been successfuly long term (compared to other MMOs or servers in the same year/game).

      Griefers always dominate - it's John Gabriel's Greater Internet Dickwad Theory proven every day. Griefers are far worse than any amount of bots.

      Eve Online is the first potential counter-example, and they've been very careful about the rules.
      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:43PM (#22875942)
        To see that this is what is always likely to happen. Looking at human history, it has historically been the strong dominating the weak, the few privileged exploiting the poor many. You come to realise that the relative stability and equality we enjoy in some nations is an anomaly of history, and took some incredible circumstances and efforts to create. For all that, they still aren't perfect.

        So it should be ho surprise at all that is what happens in unrestricted games. Perhaps if some great leaders played the game they could inspire the masses to band together and overthrow the griefers. A George Washington of the gaming world. However, that isn't real likely since the masses can simply take their money to another game. There's no reason to put up with crap and try to make it better, there's other companies who'll be happy to do that.

        My response to all the people who claim what a "problem" the design of WoW is and how much better their pet game is is the same one another poster made in this thread: 10 million users. They are doing something right.

        As a long time gamer, I have to say WoW is the first MMORPG that has held my attention for more than about 6 months. Everquest was just awful, I quit that one after a month. DAoC was fun for awhile, I played for a few months, quit for a year, came back for a few months, quit again. Eve Online was... Well... Really boring. Tried it in beta, never signed up. Starwars Galaxies had a lot of promise, but it seemed as though Sony had a team dedicated to tracking down and eliminating anything fun. Lasted about 4 months.

        WoW, however, I've been playing since a month after it came out, and I still play to this day. Is it perfect? No, of course not. However it seems to be able to keep things fun. I continue to be amused by it, and find that it is enough amusement to justify $15/month.

        It seems to me that the people who primarily have a problem with WoW are the asshole griefers, who are mad that they can't become infinitely more powerful than everyone else, that they can't totally dominate. Well, I'm ok with that. If that segment has to be excluded, that's fine, because a whole lot of the rest of us find it fun.

        And that is really what matters. Games are not about some magical standard of purity, they are not about perfect realism, they are not about testing you as a person. They are entertainment, pure and simple. So if they are good amusement for the money to you, then your money is well spent on them. If they are not, then your money is better spent elsewhere.

        So a good game is quite simply one that people find fun. If people find it fun, they'll buy it and play it, and that is success.
        • by JSBiff (87824) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:08PM (#22876178) Journal
          "Perhaps if some great leaders played the game they could inspire the masses to band together and overthrow the griefers. A George Washington of the gaming world."

          You know, I've thought about that before. The problem is, I've never seen a game where the game mechanics lend themselves to player-policing. I mean, what are you gonna do to the griefers? Hunt them down and kill them? Ok, so they respawn in a couple seconds and start all over. Throw them in jail? What jail? In games, where death is usually meaningless, and even what you can lose is rather limited, there can really be no 'punishment'. At the same time, if a game developer *did* put something like that in, it would just be a tool for griefers to make your life even more miserable.

          Ultimately, there is nothing you can do to griefers. They might log out for a little while if they are getting ganked non-stop. Then log back in after a while, when the angry mob has moved and, and start griefing weaker players again.

          Most game developers, instead of trying to rely on player-policing, just design the games to limit how much one player can grief another. One one end of the spectrum, you have games like City of Heroes / Villains where you have nothing to lose when dieing from enemy players, and PvP is completely concensual (you have to either go to special zones, or else to an 'arena'). On the other end of the spectrum, with something like, say Eve Online, PvP is still, at least, partially consensual (different zones are ranked differently, and if you are going to a zone where you think you might be griefed because of low security rating, you can at least prepare for it by maybe taking a ship you don't care about losing, and storing all your valuables in vaults in secure space stations).

          Honestly, I don't mind that. The truth is, it's just a game and, just like I can't ultimately do anything to the griefer, griefers, ultimately, can't do anything to me. Of course, if you can potentially lose stuff that someone else can sell for real cash (like Entropia Universe), it becomes a little bit more worrisome.
        • by statemachine (840641) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:18PM (#22876266)

          So it should be ho surprise at all that is what happens in unrestricted games. Perhaps if some great leaders played the game they could inspire the masses to band together and overthrow the griefers. A George Washington of the gaming world. However, that isn't real likely since the masses can simply take their money to another game. There's no reason to put up with crap and try to make it better, there's other companies who'll be happy to do that.

          With unrestricted games, it's the "griefers" who suffer no consequence for their actions. The original MUDs used to have a little bit of built-in protection for this that dynamically rated players at good and evil, and this was used to keep players out of certain areas. However, most of the areas had no restrictions, which frustrated those who didn't like PvP. A long-term casual player wants to be Good, spends a lot of time, then gets offed by a griefer or a band of griefers, and is thus reset at a great loss to that player. A griefer doesn't care about the game, but about causing misery to other people, so getting killed and reset every now and then doesn't matter. They're sociopaths. Having "leaders" won't matter without some type of justice system and enforcement.

          If there were a game that allowed PvP but also allowed players to jail and execute the in-game characters, that might be better, assuming you could actually ban the real person. But, disallowing PvP is just so much simpler.

          People don't like real life. That's why there are games. And if the games start emulating the harshness of real life, people will stop playing those games.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by los furtive (232491)

          I've been playing since a month after it came out, and I still play to this day...[I] find that it is enough amusement to justify $15/month.
          So you started playing in December of 2004? Why that's a total of $600 in monthly fees plus the cost of the software and expansion packs. Was Blizzard nice enough to throw in a free month after the first $500?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KiloByte (825081)
      And MUDs have solved the issue so many years ago...

      On a vast majority, death means you lose your set unless you manage to do a corpse retrieval. On for example the Two Towers [t2tmud.org], you don't even get to keep eq over logins; they can be stored in some ways but even that gets purged every (scheduled) reboot of the game.

      If you don't get that attached to your set, there is a limit how far you go to improve it. A good player will have constantly decent one, a grinder rarely will.
    • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nuzak (959558) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:15PM (#22875624) Journal
      The winding road up the mountain of money that Blizzard sits atop of is littered with the corpses of games that "will be" X or Y while WoW delivers a game experience that people want. Not some grand artistic or social vision, a game with just enough (and I would even say only enough) depth to keep you coming back. Hell, they're down every tuesday morning and they're still regarded as the smoothest MMO experience around.

      Darkfall wants to make your items lootable, they're welcome to try it. Whether people actually enjoy this level of realism is a reality they're going to face on their balance sheet.

      Me, I'm looking forward to Warhammer Online, but I don't hold any illusions that it will radically change the mechanics or culture of the MMO genre. I will throw my money at what's fun.

  • by The Analog Kid (565327) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:46PM (#22875234)
    How? Unless he stole source code and used it in his program, I don't see how. Maybe I'm just missing something, but I don't think this program infringes on their copyrights, it may violate other things like their TOS, but this seems to be merely and intimidation act to make him shut down.
    • by clampolo (1159617) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:50PM (#22875290)

      How? Unless he stole source code and used it in his program, I don't see how.

      They are claiming that the tool makes a copy of the game and stores it to ram to avoid their anti-cheating checks. Interesting to see if it is illegal to make a temporary copy (for your own personal use) of a program you legally purchased.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by QuantumG (50515) *
        Yes indeed, it's the old "copy into ram" bullshit.

        For an overview of the legal situation see:

        http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/law/st_org/iptf/articles/content/1997041501.html [bc.edu]

        It'll never work.

      • by Digital Vomit (891734) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:57PM (#22876088) Homepage Journal

        They are claiming that the tool makes a copy of the game and stores it to ram...

        It should be illegal for computers to be able do that.

  • Sweet (Score:5, Funny)

    by InlawBiker (1124825) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:46PM (#22875236)
    A program that plays the boring parts of the game. Can he come up with a program that does the boring parts of my life while I'm out having fun?
  • Bots are overrated (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garylian (870843) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:49PM (#22875282)
    Bots are grossly overrated for MMOs for the most part. Sure, there are some few players that will use them in WoW and other games, but for the most part, people want to experience the game. And many bot users are very easy to spot, as their users don't put in enough to make it believable.

    I am kind of surprised that Blizzard is doing this, but I think it's just a publicity thing, and they don't really care if they make any cash off of it. They are just trying to placate the masses on the forums that worry about every single little thing they can.

    The reality is, bots make money for Blizzard. Once an account is banned, the player has to purchase a new box of the game to start playing again. And with the expansion, that's 2 boxes. So, Blizzard makes money off of the players that register new accounts/CDs every time they get banned.

    Besides, most gold farmers are played by humans, not bots.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ATMAvatar (648864)

      You're overlooking something - trial accounts. Someone could set up multiple trial accounts and run bots on them, then funnel all the money to a main account. That's how it generally works on some of the more heavily-botted MMOs.

      If I recall, a trial account cannot trade with a full account. However, it may be possible for a trial account to access the auction house. If that is so, the main account would merely have to put some trash items up for large sums of money and have the trial accounts purchase

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dAzED1 (33635)
      you're ignoring Blizzard's business model, and their argument. The money from the box/cd that you buy in the store is negligible compared to the monthly fees that are paid.

      Blizzard has the highest profits by having a large subscriber base that doesn't play often. BOTs use much more resources on the servers at Blizzard; they use up more bandwidth, more computational and data resources, etc, than the normal user.

      There is also the extraordinary dissatisfaction the non-bot players have with the experience whe
  • Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FST (766202) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:52PM (#22875310) Journal
    Maybe instead of suing people who run bots to avoid grinding, they should make grinding less boring/time-consuming? Grinding is really the only reason they aren't getting $15/mo from me.
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:28PM (#22875782)
      WoW doesn't mandate it. You can never spend a single day grinding and have plenty of things to do. The problem comes from people who get in to this pissing match of having to have something just because others have it. So they want to automate it.

      If people would just play the game to have fun, it wouldn't be a problem. It is a game, you don't "need" anything in it. Just do whatever it is you like to do. If you like to grind (surprisingly some people do) then grind. If you don't, don't. However don't get mad and say that you should get reward X that the grinders get.

      More or less, Blizzard has a bunch of different kinds of rewards for different things. You can't get any reward doing any thing. However whatever it is you like doing, there are rewards for it.

      The problem is when people aren't playing it to have fun, but playing it because they want to have all the best of everything. Well, that's pretty hard, since you have to do a whole bunch of different things. So they'll get bots to grind and such. That is just stupid. If all you care about is having the best, what's the point? The point should be to do whatever is fun. It is all just a game, none of it matters, other than to have fun.
      • by Cederic (9623) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:34PM (#22876412) Journal

        WoW does mandate it.

        The 25 man content in TBC was balanced around having 25 people turn up wearing the best available equipment, using every flask/potion/food buff/weapon buff available to them and also happening to play well.

        While learning how to do those encounters it is inevitable that death will occur.

        This means that for a group of people to progress through the game and see more of the content within the game, they have to generate substantial income across the group and use it on repairs and consumables.

        The introduction of ZA and the new tokens have to an extent reduced the dependency on consumables, as you can now out-gear the content instead of having to use consumable items to boost you. However acquiring the new equipment still requires repetitive activities such as going through the same few instances day after day to 'earn' tokens.

        So there is considerable pressure on people to grind in order to ensure that when they turn up on a 25 man raid they are able to contribute fully. If half the raid don't grind, and thus don't turn up fully equipped with potions, flasks, oils, food and the like, the raid will not progress through new content.

        This isn't people playing to get the best of everything. It's people playing to have fun: The raiding and teamwork and social elements of the game are significant factors in its success and longevity.

        Sadly the game design mandates grinding to participate in these aspects of the game. I know a lot of people that want to take part in raids, and enjoy the social side of the game, and explore new content, but lack the time or inclination to spend tedious hours grinding for the resources to do so.

        This is why there is a market for people selling in-game gold for real-life money, and one reason automated bots such as Glider are attractive.

  • by Gideon Fubar (833343) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:52PM (#22875318) Journal
    so i can pay $10/month to have a bot do the boring grinding for me.

    Oh wait.. that's why i don't play in the first place. Why the hell would you play an rpg that can be played more effectively by a bot than a human?

    </flamebait>
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:10PM (#22875560)
      Why the hell would you play Chess, Checkers, pretty much any card game, Scrabble, Monopoly,....

      It turns out that computers are better than humans at just about any game. Does this mean that we can no longer entertain ourselves?
      • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:37PM (#22875882) Homepage Journal

        It turns out that computers are better than humans at just about any game. Does this mean that we can no longer entertain ourselves?

        Of course we can, but wouldn't it be more efficient to have a computer entertain itself, on our behalf? Your recreation could be taken care of, for you by proxy, freeing you to pursue other more fulfilling endeavors, such as laboring.

        This is just a step toward the ideals mankind has dreamt of for ages. Someday, computers will be able to drink beer for us, have sex for us, and enjoy books,music, and movies for us. Perhaps they could even sleep for us. This would make us free to perform menial tasks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Actually the game of Go [wikipedia.org] has yet to be mastered by a computer [wikipedia.org].
  • by Jimmy_B (129296) <slashdot AT jimrandomh DOT org> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:53PM (#22875324) Homepage
    This program almost certainly does not infringe on Blizzard's copyright. However, (1) this program exists for the sole purpose of cheating, and (2) cheating is a violation of Blizzard's terms of service. In other words, they're encouraging people to violate their contract with Blizzard, which could be considered tortious interference [wikipedia.org].

    (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and I don't know whether Blizzard is actually arguing this angle.)
  • Com-zard (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:54PM (#22875338)
    I like Blizzard, but this argument smells of Comcast logic.
    "We sold you X access, but you are using X access. Even though we promised you X access, we really don't want you using X access, and we don't even want you using almost X access that much. So we're taking action."
    -Comcast starts forging packets to kill bittorrent transfers, even though they advertise/sell that bandwidth, they don't want you using it all the time.
    -Blizzard starts suing to kill automated clients that are in the game, even though they advertise/sell you that access, they don't want you using it all the time.

    I understand there's more lying underneath, but this reasoning doesn't win them any sympathy from me.
  • by Sciros (986030) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:03PM (#22875460) Journal
    In Guild Wars (another MMORPG), those using bots are discouraged from doing so by a method different from suing those that write the macros -- ArenaNet (the devs) simply sniff out (using various AI mechanics) those that use bots and ban them from the game. This action is covered by the EULA that users accept before playing.

    Whether EULAs hold up in court, etc. is another issue entirely, but in cases such as banning for using bots I'm fairly certain ArenaNet wouldn't have problems defending themselves.

    People don't want to use bots in GW because they'll get banned. It takes tweaking the AI bot-sniffing to keep up with macros, but the system works well enough that high-profile lawsuits are unnecessary.
  • glider (Score:4, Informative)

    by ZenDragon (1205104) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:05PM (#22875484)
    The program does not make a copy of any of the game files, it simply reads the memory space that wow.exe loads into and responds to certain procedure calls and what not in the memory. For example, a monster is on the map and the client loads it in memory to prepare it for rendering. Even if the player cant see it, the program can because wow.exe loaded it into memory. The program can see and interact with the wow.exe executable by reading what wow puts in the memory.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by j00r0m4nc3r (959816)
      Yeah, by their logic if I hibernate my computer with WoW running I would be violating their copyright.
  • by Bryansix (761547) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:09PM (#22875548) Homepage
    All Blizzard needs to do is put it in the Terms of Service that USERS cannot use bots. Then they can suspend all users using bots on their system. Blizzard is just down the street from me. Maybe I should drive down there and tell them this.
  • Sue sue (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sosarian (39969) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:15PM (#22875622) Homepage
    Wow, this reminds me of 2006.

    http://www.joystiq.com/2006/11/20/blizzard-sued-by-wow-glider-creator/ [joystiq.com]

    Except in 2006, he was suing them.
  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:22PM (#22875712) Homepage Journal
    On some MUDs, if a player was suspected of botting, other players would give them an on-the-spot Turing test. Those who failed would be attacked.
  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:15PM (#22876238)
    Every MMORPG suffers the same problem. How do you keep a game interesting and maintain incentive for people to keep playing the more they play? Every Single MMORPG, that I'm aware of, going all the way back to the very first network MUD's solved the problem with grindage. Grindage is play where all you do is hack and slash for experience/equipment. That the new generation of graphical MMORPG players is becoming aware of this and using the same techniques the text based predecessors used (scripting or bots) is absolutely not unexpected.

    If every level is as easy to reach as the last then no one would play because there is no challenge in it. The grindage is a simple function of the game to make the higher levels and stuff more valuable as the time commitment goes up dramatically the higher you go. There are only a couple other tools you can use to keep things interesting and neither are perfect. Quests require massive continuing development of unique entertaining single player experiences (on MUD's this was handled by the volunteer development community of former players), the second solution is forcing everyone above a certain level to automatically accept Player killer status such that moving about in the world is much more dangerous. The only other option is to bring in elements of non killing group interactivity (true role playing), which graphical MMORPG's seem to be unusable for.

    Don't blame Blizzard for the game being about grindage, it's a fact of the genre that you would know if you had been around long enough to have played MUD's back in their heyday. As a for profit company Blizzard has a goal of preventing people from cheating at the grindage because it can get people to stop playing because the achievement of working through the grindage means a lot less.
  • Mixed opinions... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Myrcutio (1006333) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:05PM (#22876664)
    The bot writer might actually be entitled to write his program without regards to how it is used.

    It is certainly not illegal for someone to cheat at a video game, even though it violates the EULA. Blizzard would have to prove that this man selling a cheat program causes them damage, and that he is liable for that damage. Currently, cheat programs do not fall under the spam or malware category, they are not malicious code. It will be hard for Blizzard to convince a judge that a paying customer running a bot is costing them money.

    On the one hand I root for blizzard to weed out griefers and farmers, they can hurt the gameplay experience. On the other hand though i'm not sure that what this man is selling is actually criminal. It's not very sportsmanlike, but i don't think it's illegal.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:39PM (#22876948)
    Blizzard is full of crap in claiming that this programmer has violated their TOS with Glider. Maybe an end-user might violate the TOS for WoW, but not the software programmer who simply sells the program. Blizzard is being heavy-handed in exactly the same way the RIAA has been for years now.

    I would like to know how Glider has evaded the Warden.

  • How it all works (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tburnelis (1263000) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:06PM (#22877706)
    As an Ex-Programmer and user of Macroquest (Glider for Everquest essentially) the act of using active memory to alter game play has been around for a long time.
    The automation of simple tasks does not need this memory hacking to work. In my days pre-macroquest, I used to take a nostromo speedpad, or other USB joystick of sorts, and program mini-macro's into them. Just a recorded set of keystrokes to do thing like autofire and such.

    The use of Memory alteration, does a lot more then press the same button over and over. It can intercept, and redirect information being sent to and from the server changing what will happen. It can tell the server a new location for your character (warping) it can tell the server your default speed should be "x" so you can run as fast as you want. the list goes on and on.

    In the Macroquest world, there are a few levels of "hacking", you have your non invasive macro's, which automate keystrokes, mouse movements, and clicks. Next are plugins, which are a little more difficult, it requires actually writing a program extension (.DLL file) to perform things, some are passive, utilizing the information recieved from the server, but not normally available to the player. Although not available, it's still being sent, so not really against the rules to use it. Lastly using plugins to access your memory, and "hook" game memory addresses, to alter the information and changed it to what you want.

    All in all, cheating like this is not a simple task, it requires reverse engineering the programs exe, figuring out memory offsets for each thing you want to change, writing a programs to find and latch onto the memory offset to change it, and then figuring out the value to change it to to get the desired effect. Doing this is what we call an active hack, these are the ones that places like Sony and Blizzard can find using there tracking programs. These are what hurts them, using more resources then a normal player.

    The simple automation of button pressing can (and has) be argued to be allowed based on most games EULA, which prohibits the use of 3rd party applications to alter game play. Automating keystroke/mouse click tasks does not alter game play, or change the way the program they wrote works in any way, if anything it may prevent carpal tunnel.

    What I'm trying to say is: The user is chosing to use a program to violate the EULA, they should be punished. It's like sueing a company that makes bolt cutters because a customer of theirs bought some bolt cutters and broke into your house, or shed. The person performing the breaking and entering is at fault, not the manufacturer of the tool used to break and enter.

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