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Blizzard Awarded $6M Damages From MMOGlider

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  • Finances & Conflict (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:08AM (#25218065) Journal

    Mostly I'm amazed that MMOGlider had that kind of cash.

    MMOGlider is the application, MDY would be the holder of the finances. After scanning the article, it seems that he is estimated to have sold 100,000 copies at $25 a pop resulting in $2.5 million ... then you have all the costs of hosting and developing and lawyering and all that.

    And as the bottom of the article says:

    The case is due to go to court again in January 2009 when the remaining issues in the legal conflict look likely to be settled.

    At issue will be whether MDY broke the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act and whether Mr Donnelly will have to pay the damages from his own pocket.

    And there you have it, in all likelihood they are not sitting on $6 million. As the article says, it's a good thing MDY won its arguments about the 'damages' their program caused to Blizzard otherwise they would be looking at $12 or $18 million settlements.

    And there's your sticky issue, what exactly are the damages. I hate this because if I know it's happening, it ruins WoW for me. But on the other hand, does it really ruin the game if someone magically goes from 1 to 70 in two weeks without working for it? I might be jaded that I had to put in hours of muscle distrophying arthritis inducing clicking to get there ... but what's different now? So another player has more gold or resources, it's a tiny leg up in that game as the best items are won in PVP or require meticulous PVE to acquire.

    The stickiest issue is that a lot of us are conflicted. It pisses us off that WoW is a little less fair but on the surface this was a guy who avoided all technical attempts Blizzard tried to thwart him in a great game of cat & mouse. In the end, he could claim he was just selling software that users happened to use to violate Blizzard's TOS and EULA with. I've heard the same arguments about BitTorrent and would probably side with the software makers in this case ...

    I guess for me 'sticky' isn't a good description of it. No, there are two core ideologies which are conflicting here. The gamer in me says that games should be as fair as possible. WoW is already naturally flawed to some degree in this way and it is Blizzard's responsibility to keep the playing field level. MMOGlider upsets this 'fairness' and destroys the inherent fun in the game. On the other side of the issue he was just a guy writing software and selling it. I could throw him in with the likes of spammers and botnet masters but it was just a legitimate client program running on a paying user's machine.

    Add to this what we've suffered through from Blizzard including rootkits [slashdot.org] and unfounded bans [slashdot.org] and it's an issue that strikes very close to home.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Why are players bothering with online games that can be manipulated by manipulating the local client's RAM? Isn't the whole point of "Online" supposed to make client side vulnerabilities moot?

      • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:21AM (#25218255) Journal

        You know that, even though the game is online, there has to be a player right? Glider is a computerized "player" that plays the game for you, doing mindless killing to level the character up.

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:34AM (#25218467) Journal
          I still don't really see the motivation. That a computer can play the game better than a human is a good sign of a bad game. That people actually want a computer to play for them is a sign of a really badly designed game.
          • by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:41AM (#25218575)

            That a computer can play the game better than a human is a good sign of a bad game.

            Computers can (and have) beat the best chess players in the world. Chess is not a bad game, even though I can never beat the computer on the hardest levels. I'm not defending WOW, since I've never played it - but I disagree with your premise.

          • by Duffy13 (1135411) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:42AM (#25218593)
            Actually, bots usually play much much worse then real players. However, they have the benefit of being able to run all the time. The trade off is it may take longer to accomplish a level, but you don't actually have to sit there for it.
            • by Jim_Maryland (718224) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:09AM (#25219053)
              Actually, bots usually play much much worse then real players.

              While leveling my priest alt, I ran several instances with players (amazingly mostly hunters...guess the "huntard" term is more appropriate than I had expected) that I would argue are worse than bots.

              I think the damage to the game is that by allowing the economies to be influenced by bots and players to gain a high level character without actually learning to play it, real players become disappointed with the game. While playing a character doesn't necessarily make you a good player when you hit level 70, it certainly helps. I could sell my mage (wearing a lot of T6 gear) to a new player to the game and I'm sure people could easily tell that they have no clue how to play. If the server were heavily populated by "bad" players, I'd either transfer to another realm or quit playing the game. This is one of the forms of damage that Blizzard can claim (not sure if they can back it up, but at least they can claim it).
              • by Gr8Apes (679165)

                If the game is so heavily skewed by stats, perhaps the game itself is flawed?

                A bad 70th level player is a bad 70th level player, regardless of whether they used a bot or mindlessly wandered through the same tasks themselves. Going through the same motions as the bot will not necessarily make them a better player.

                The entire concept of realms as blizzard and most others have implemented is flawed at its core. It's the divide via partitioning mechanism to deal with scaling, the simplest solution to that proble

                • by Jim_Maryland (718224) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:48AM (#25219817)
                  A bad 70th level player is a bad 70th level player, regardless of whether they used a bot or mindlessly wandered through the same tasks themselves. Going through the same motions as the bot will not necessarily make them a better player.

                  The general grinding task will to some extent make you better. If you think about it, why do students do repetitive math problems? Doing it once does not reinforce the skills. Now I won't argue that excessive grinding can also turn people from the game, but they do make people "work" to level. If you could get to level 70 quickly, you would still find bad players since it would be easy to find "guides" to help you. Maybe the grinding also discourages being "power leveled" since a level 70 would find it boring to easily kill the 30 murlocs for some quest when the player should be able to do it on their own.
              • by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:36AM (#25219603)

                While leveling my priest alt, I ran several instances with players (amazingly mostly hunters...guess the "huntard" term is more appropriate than I had expected) that I would argue are worse than bots.

                I think it's mostly just a matter of frequency. Hunters, for various reasons, are EXTREMELY common. For one, it's a very easy class to solo level with (I mean you've got ranged DPS, a personal tank, and your own healing spell to cast on that tank - you're basically a 3 man group rolled into a single player :)). Second, there was a certain movie that came out a few years ago that featured a really badass elf with a bow, so a lot of adolescents want to play the badass elf with the bow . . . (I wonder if the Horde are now getting more of these now since a Blood Elf looks a lot more Tolkein than a Night Elf :)).

                So, lots of players, plus lots of ADOLESCENT players, means that the number of bad attitudes and inept players is going to be very high. Just let me assure you that a hunter, even the night elf ones (I promise ;)), when played right is a tremendously valuable class. Workable CC through traps, some of the best DPS in game (I do BT weekly and the top DPS spots are always occupied by a mixture of Hunters and Warlocks), and with their armor and often high health, they tend to be pretty durable in a raid. We just get a bad rep due to a very bad minority (or hell they might even be a majority, but in any case the problem is with the players and not the class itself :)).

          • by jayhawk88 (160512)

            That a computer can play the game better than a human is a good sign of a bad game

            It's not that the computer can play WoW better, it's that it can play it continuously for hours on end. Glider is a farming program primarily. You set it up, go to work or school or whatever, and when you come home you're 2000g richer.

            • by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:56AM (#25218837)

              is that WoW killed this for the wrong reasons.

              The ability to set this to run completely unattended? BAD. I totally agree that botting is no good, it's killed a lot of MMO's.

              However, the ability to set this up to do ordinary tasks for users who have disabilities would be GOOD. It would enlarge the potential WoW audience. I'm not saying make it fine as-is, I'm saying that a "semi-unattended" setup where people playing the game just set up and monitor their macros isn't any worse than the normal mode of play (hell, wasn't that the entire control system of Final Fantasy 12?).

              A lot of potential WoW players (potential gamers in general, actually) have problems. Someone who has partial paralysis or has had a hand/arm amputated has trouble using the standard game controllers. Now think about the game systems that get around this. If you've got two good legs, you can do DDR or Wii Fit without arms. If you only have one good arm, you can use the Wiimote and at least 50% of the Wii's games (though you still can't play Zelda). On the other hand, if you go near the Xbox360 or PS3, you're pretty much fucked.

              Older titles didn't have this problem. If you have one hand, or even one of those face-stick setups with a single button, you can play Space Quest, King's Quest, and probably map the joystick to play single-button arcade games. If you have a working thumb and two fingers, you can get a two-button joystick and play NES titles.

              Do I really care if someone who has disability problems, or even carpal tunnel, is able to set off macros to do the same thing I would do in multiple steps? Not really. I can still group with them, or play the game without them.

              For some reason, however, the WoW designers don't want disabled gamers playing their game. They have ignored REPEATED entreaties from the disabled community to program in ways to make it feasible for disabled gamers to play. For quite a few, programs like WoW Glider were the fix. This is just one more symptom of the gaming industry not getting it when it comes to making their titles and systems accessible.

              • Nicely written, and a completely different take on "helper" apps.

              • by Fross (83754) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @03:08PM (#25223061) Homepage

                I hope you don't take it as offensive that I consider this the inverse of Godwin's Law - mentioning that something (MMOGlider in this case) helps disabled people in such a way that any attack on the program is seen as an attack on disabled people. Actually, I'm not overly bothered if you are offended by it, as it's a rather underhanded argument you're making there.

                Your research is also poor, as MMOGlider does not make playing for disabled people easier - the point is that IT PLAYS THE GAME FOR YOU. Anyone can sit there and watch the bot play the game. Running MMOGlider, you're not playing the game, whether you're disabled or not.

                The primary audience for MMOGlider is people levelling alts in WoW. When you've seen the content 2, 3 times or more, but you want a 70 of another class, it's a grind. I have 5 70s, I know what I'm talking about ;) (And no, I didn't use any bots). To just grind the levels with a bot makes it less painful than trying to do the now boring 30-58 level span.

                That is the badly designed part of the game, that you have to play the low level content of the game again whether you want to or not, if you want an alt. They have tacitly agreed with this, given the next expansion gives you a new class... that you can start at level 55. Arguments above the parent post of "That a computer can play the game better than a human is a good sign of a bad game" and the like are particularly ill-informed.

                Back to the matter of disabled users and WoW. There are many, many ways to set up the game so those who can only (or even, only want to) mash one button and play the game can do so. It is not the default setting, of course, because most able-bodied people want more of a challenge of coordination. Balancing the requirements of those who want their abilities challenged, versus the requirements of those with challenged abilities, is essentially impossible for most computer games where the interface is so central.

                Phrases like "For some reason, however, the WoW designers don't want disabled gamers playing their game" are distasteful, you know fully well the implied discrimination is indefensible. Factually it is inaccurate (hell, I was able to set up one of my characters to be playable only with a 3-button mouse, for instance, including macros to cast spells in sequence using the scroll wheel), both on the customisability of WoW and MMOGlider's suitability to replace the interface. The tone implying that it is an insult to disabled people because it doesn't do what you or someone else wants it to do, is a distortion of political correctness for your own ends, and is foul.

                Ultimately, Blizzard is under no legal or other requirement to make the interface to their game function in any particular way. Disabled people should vote with their dollars to buy games that they are able to play. Trying to insist that every single game cater exclusively to their needs is on a par with idiot parents trying to censor the world so their children don't have to deal with any of it.

          • by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:29AM (#25219429)

            The computer doesn't play the game "better". If you've ever encountered one out in the wild you'd notice that they're truly idiotic little critters that play terribly. It's just that they AUTOMATE the process. This allows to things: easy powerleveling or easy gold farming.

            Regarding powerleveling, the real crux of the issue is that WoW, like many RPG's, really begins at max level. Sure some people enjoy the lower level stuff, but most people, particularly after they've been through all that stuff once already, just want another alt at high levels so they can raid/do dailies with etc.

            In effect, the grind from 1 to 70 (soon 80) just becomes a very, very long tutorial portion of the game that you can't skip. Blizzard has somewhat acknowedged this themselves - Death Knights will start at level 55 instead of level 1. They've made leveling under 60 (and to be under 70 post-WoTLK) faster and faster. They've made harder areas of the old world easy to solo.

            Personally, I'd like to just see a system that says that for any new character you create, you can either choose to start at level 1 if you like, OR, you have the option of starting them at 85% of the level of your highest level character. So if I have a level 80 mage, I can start a priest at level 68. That would give people enough time to learn the class, but wouldn't put them through so much repetitive content to try a new class or role.

            The second issue mentioned was gold farming, and that is obvious. Gold is the money of the game, and even grossly inefficient bots can beat a human when comparing raw time input. For example, when I farm I can get around 100 to 150G per hour. However, given my schedule restrictions, I might get to farm in game for 1 hour, maybe 2, per week. So my farming income is 300G per week tops. Lets say the computer can do 20G per hour. This is often run on a second account with the gold later mailed to the main, so it's running pretty much 24x7. At 20G per hour on average this person has a weekly income of 3360G - over 10x as much as me.

            Not sure about a solution there (other than ban the bots when they find them), but just saying that the computer is not "better at the time", it just has no time constraints and on games with heavy-time investment, it's tempting to let the computer grind out the boring parts.

            Mike

            • by karmatic (776420) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:15PM (#25222257)

              The computer doesn't play the game "better". If you've ever encountered one out in the wild you'd notice that they're truly idiotic little critters that play terribly. It's just that they AUTOMATE the process. This allows to things: easy powerleveling or easy gold farming.

              There's a slight flaw with your argument. You only know you've encountered one in the wild if it's so mind-numbingly stupid that you can tell. The ones that play _better_ don't get noticed.

              Some of them do play better than humans. Genetic algorithms work wonderfully when constrained to as few options as WoW gives you. In fact, it's even possible to train by observing the in-game data (player health, # of mobs, mob health %, player/mob mana, class types, cooldown times, etc.), and using that to build a genetic algorithm that plays like a player.

              This gives you a bot that plays like a player.

              You can extract terrain data directly from the .mpqs, use it to build a map. When going from point A to point B, assign a higher weight to points within a road, with points in the "middle" of a road higher than those on the edges.

              Data-mining (or crawling thottbot) allows you to determine the average levels for mobs in an area, this also gets factored into the cost for the pathing algorithm.

              To save space, the entire world is mapped at a very low resolution. There are then several intermediate resolutions used for more fine-grained navigation. Once you get close, MOBs are within the Potentially Viewable Set, and are sent to the client, allowing for detailed pathing to be done by the client.

              So, to get from point A to point B, one loads the world map (with it's associated costs), loads the source and destination areas from the medium-res map, then paths the client area using live data. As you approach the next area in the path, the medium-level maps are loaded in order.

              This gives you a bot that knows how to get somewhere.

              Data-mining quests, combined with location data (start location, etc.), quest type (acquisition vs kill X vs escort) allows one to determine relatively quickly what quests can be stacked together easily to minimize grinding. Using the navigation system, one can determine the most efficient way to get to quests, and which ones will be fastest.

              The only real issue with this approach is that you have to keep track of the XP the client has - if the XP goes up when the bot is not playing, you have to exclude all quests that _could_ have been completed, unless you want to run the risk of wasted time.

              Yes, I wrote a WoW bot, and it plays almost exactly like I do. It won't get on more than 8-10 hours a day, and the start times and play times vary. I always supervise my bots - they check in, and alert me when people talk to them, try to group, etc. You would never know it's a bot.

              My bot even automates Auctioneer, and is smart enough to know whether something is worth more by itself, as a stack, or disenchanted. It will mail things to alts, shove stuff in guild vaults (good if you end up banned), snipe auctions when the server is less busy. It uses neural networking to determine whether or not an action is likely to turn a profit, helping avoid issues where things get dumped on the market and there's a glut. It plays the odds and determines how likely I am to get burned on the deal.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Uniquitous (1037394)
          Why the flaming fugg would I pay for software to play a game for me, while also paying a subscription fee for access to the game itself? Man, I'm not saying all MMO'ers are retards, but sometimes it seems that way.
          • by Zironic (1112127)

            It's exactly the same kind of people that cheat in other games, they want the reward but they don't want to put in the effort so they cheat.

            Having a program grind for you in an MMO is no different from typing in a money cheat in an rts.

            • by Nursie (632944)

              Except that in an RTS the struggle to gain money is part of the game that makes the rest a struggle and rewarding, whereas in WoW it seems like it's the whole game, and you're gonna get beaten by people who can dedicate more hours to it than is sane.

          • by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:07AM (#25219023) Homepage Journal

            Why the flaming fugg would I pay for software to play a game for me, while also paying a subscription fee for access to the game itself?

            Perhaps you're a sociocyberpath. You see, normal people empathize with their computer, and feel bad at what all they put the poor machine through. So they give it the enjoyment of mindless repetitive tasks in a virtual environment with others of its kind, all without some stupid and demanding user sitting there at the keyboard. It's "computer time." How sad that you can't imagine this simple kindness.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Why are players bothering with online games that can be manipulated by manipulating the local client's RAM? Isn't the whole point of "Online" supposed to make client side vulnerabilities moot?

        That would work for most online games where the character interaction is limited to 10-30 people at once. However with a MMORPG like WoW that, while partially instanced, definately places the emphasis on 'massive-multiplayer'. The computing power required to perform all of the positioning, calculation, and then the bandwidth to report that information to several thousand clients at once would be astronomical.

        In the end, especially with PC and not console based gaming, there will always be a security gap

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Why are players bothering with online games that can be manipulated by manipulating the local client's RAM? Isn't the whole point of "Online" supposed to make client side vulnerabilities moot?

        Except it's not using a client-side vulnerability to achieve its goals. It's not modifying the client to say to the server "the player just earned 1000 gold". Instead, it's manipulating the client to perform actions that the server will award the player stuff. At worse, it would peek inside the RAM to find out where mo

    • by mollymoo (202721) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:21AM (#25218263) Journal

      In the end, he could claim he was just selling software that users happened to use to violate Blizzard's TOS and EULA with. I've heard the same arguments about BitTorrent and would probably side with the software makers in this case ...

      It's not the same as BitTorrent at all. BitTorrent has legitimate, legal uses. Glider can only be used, and can only have been developed, in violation of The WoW licence. People don't just happen to use it to violate the licence, the very thing Glider is designed to do is in violation of the WoW license.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by autocracy (192714)

        Mostly, I think, "So what?" Glider has no reason to be bound to the agreement, and I still can't see a basis for the damages. Violate the agreement, get kicked off their server.

        This comment [slashdot.org] does a good job of quantifying Blizzard's argument... but this is still much more a user problem. Don't I wish I could sue anybody who ever pissed me off in a game and made me not want to play.

        Maybe open a restaurant, and sue anybody who revs their engine on a motorcycle for causing a loss of profit and damaging th

        • by Wildclaw (15718) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:12AM (#25219085)

          Mostly, I think, "So what?" Glider has no reason to be bound to the agreement, and I still can't see a basis for the damages. Violate the agreement, get kicked off their server.

          Read up on tortious interference.

          Willfully helping someone to violate a contract is often illegal. And that is where the fact that the functionality sold that people use to violate the contract doesn't have any secondary legal functionality, making the intention clear.

      • The licensee is you, or the player of the game, not Glider.

        They are just making software. If you USE it then YOU are violating the license, not them.

        It is not like they signed a development license with Blizzard.

        • by Tridus (79566)

          Read the comment directly above yours about tortious interference. Here, I'll quote it:

          "Read up on tortious interference.

          Willfully helping someone to violate a contract is often illegal. And that is where the fact that the functionality sold that people use to violate the contract doesn't have any secondary legal functionality, making the intention clear."

    • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:22AM (#25218275) Journal

      I'd support glider if it meant automated farmers were pushing more high need items like primals onto the market and pushing down their price and increasing availability in the process.

      • Primals are more constrained by the scarcity of mobs that drop them, and the relative abundance of items that need them...If you can only obtain n primals through farming the mobs that drop them at 100% efficiency, and the demand would stablize at 2n primals, you're basically screwed, and the price is going to remain high, and the supply low.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by StoatBringer (552938)

        The problem is that if you can't afford to buy primals, you have to farm them up yourself. Which takes a lot longer than it should if a couple of bots are farming them 24/7.

        It's also very annoying when you realise that you have to spend several boring hours grinding mobs but the bot-user just fires it up, goes out for the day, and comes back to several bags full of precious primals (and no doubt the odd blue or purple item as well).

    • by The Empiricist (854346) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:32AM (#25218433)

      And there's your sticky issue, what exactly are the damages.

      From the court order [uscourts.gov] itself (which you can download for about $0.40) there were a set of undisputed facts:

      1. MDY began selling Glider on June 14, 2005. Through September 10, 2008, MDY has sold approximately 120,000 licenses for Glider. The amount of gross revenues received by MDY from the sale of Glider from June 14, 2005 through September 10, 2008 is approximately $3.5 million dollars.
      2. Blizzard spends at least $942,614.57 per year responding to customer complaints as to bots generally and implementing a bot enforcement program to decrease the number of bots in the game. Glider represents the large majority of bots used in connection with World of Warcraft.
      3. Between December 22, 2004 and March 18, 2008, Blizzard received more than 465,000 in-game petitions from users complaining about bots. Several thousand of these petitions mention Glider by name. Blizzard has continued to receive complaints about bots generally, and Glider specifically, after March 18, 2008.

      There were also a set of disputed facts and legal conclusions:

      1. That MDY and/or Donnelly's conduct caused harm to Blizzard both in the form of the direct expenses used to combat Glider use and infringement, as well as in the form of lost subscription revenue, lost profits, and harm to Blizzard's goodwill and reputation.
      2. That Blizzard's damages expert would testify that the lost subscription revenue and harm to Blizzard's goodwill and reputation can be quantified to exceed $20 million dollars.
      3. That MDY and/or Donnelly's conduct was willful and wanton and an award of the highest amount of statutory damages--$2,500 per sale of the Glider software--would be appropriate.
      4. That Blizzard is entitled to an award of punitive damages against MDY and Donnelly for their intent to cause injury to Blizzard or because they were motivated by spite or ill will or because MDY and Donnelly acted to serve their own interests, having reason to know and consciously disregarding a substantial risk that their conduct might significantly injure Blizzard.

      It looks like the $6M are actually stipulated damages. That is, both parties have agreed that if there are to be any damages, they will be $6M exactly. Issues of liability can still be appealed. But, issues of what the damages should be are no longer in dispute. This means that Blizzard and MDY can both keep their legal costs down. Instead of sniping about damages (spending $10 to prove $1 in damages), they can keep their lawyers arguing a handful of core legal issues.

      • by Sloppy (14984)

        1. MDY began selling Glider on June 14, 2005. Through September 10, 2008, MDY has sold approximately 120,000 licenses for Glider.

        No wonder MDY lost. They should have disputed that point. They should have said they sold 120,000 copies of their software. Not licenses. Copies.

        They played right into Blizzard's hand with that, and helped the judge to adopt the twisted view that copyright applies to software in a fundamentally different way than it applies to every other type of copyrightable product. Nobo

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by QuoteMstr (55051)

        Why the fuck shouldn't it be free to see the court order?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Dachannien (617929)

          The court order is not protected by copyright or anything, so anyone is free to download it and make it publicly available. However, there is a nominal fee to cover the access costs to obtain a copy of the court order from PACER.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Wooky_linuxer (685371)

      I don't see the conflict. In fact, I think this case is ridiculous. A game should be fair? Ok, I am all for that. But simply building a tool that allows people to play unfairly does not constitute a crime or a civil offense. It might be immoral, but then my moral may be different of yours. Perhaps if you were in a tournament and someone uses a cheat, you could sue the cheater (and not the developer of the cheat, unless he happens to be the same person) for damages. But Blizzard? What damages did they had?

      B

      • by The Only Druid (587299) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:52AM (#25218775)

        I don't see the conflict. In fact, I think this case is ridiculous. A game should be fair? Ok, I am all for that. But simply building a tool that allows people to play unfairly does not constitute a crime or a civil offense. It might be immoral, but then my moral may be different of yours. Perhaps if you were in a tournament and someone uses a cheat, you could sue the cheater (and not the developer of the cheat, unless he happens to be the same person) for damages. But Blizzard? What damages did they had?

        Besides, I don't see how he could have infringed their copyright since he doesn't distribute the game. If people cannot meddle with their own RAM because what's in there is protected by IP laws, we live in a very fucked world already.

        I don't think you read the documents involved (including the stipulated damages issues already posted here).

        Basically, Blizzard isn't just selling the software to users, but also the ongoing experience of the MMO which involves not only operating the servers and updating software, but also ensuring that the use of the software by legitimate customers isn't interrupted by illegitimate users.

        A tremendous number of players find themselves disrupted by these Glider bots, and that's the damage.

      • by Tridus (79566) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:29AM (#25219427) Homepage

        Actually, it does constitute a civil offense. Thats how Blizzard won the case.

        Look up here for the details on what damages Blizzard suffered [slashdot.org]. They get a lot of complaints about bots. They have a lot of customers who have problems because of bots. They incur a lot of expense paying GMs to deal with bots. These are all quantifiable losses due to Glider.

        The bottom line is that Glider's only purpose is to allow people to break Blizzard's terms of service. The courts got this case right.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tom (822)

      But on the other hand, does it really ruin the game if someone magically goes from 1 to 70 in two weeks without working for it?

      If the in-game economy depends on players, then yes it does potentially damage you. MMORPGs have economic systems built into them which usually work like real-world systems - prices depend on scarcity of items, among other things. So if automated playing makes rare items readily available, the economy changes.

      For a normal player, this might result in the game "not working" anymore. If game progress requires gold, and most of the ways to gain gold depend on the economy being intact, e.g. you being able to lo

      • by dnoyeb (547705)

        I have not seen an athelete sued for damages over using performance enhancing drugs. This appears the same to me. Yet blizzard is suing for damages.

    • And there's your sticky issue, what exactly are the damages. I hate this because if I know it's happening, it ruins WoW for me. But on the other hand, does it really ruin the game if someone magically goes from 1 to 70 in two weeks without working for it? I might be jaded that I had to put in hours of muscle distrophying arthritis inducing clicking to get there ... but what's different now? So another player has more gold or resources, it's a tiny leg up in that game as the best items are won in PVP or require meticulous PVE to acquire.

      As a player, I want Blizzard to combat this crap at every step. If something is allowed to become too popular it becomes more-or-less necessary in order to play the game.

      A good example is the CT Raid Assist mod. Makes raiding much, much easier. It's legal, doesn't break any of Blizzard's rules. And it has become insanely popular over the years. These days it is generally considered necessary for raiding. Any guild I've raided with recently actually requires you to have CT Raid Assist (or a similar/com

    • by SL Baur (19540)

      But on the other hand, does it really ruin the game if someone magically goes from 1 to 70 in two weeks without working for it?

      "Players" who do that will quickly find no one to play with as they have never learned to play the game.

      But as to farming, yes it spoils the game. On the server I play on, raw mats tend to cost more than the finished crafted goods I produce out of them. Not to mention general inflation in the AH.

    • "The stickiest issue is that a lot of us are conflicted. It pisses us off that WoW is a little less fair but on the surface this was a guy who avoided all technical attempts Blizzard tried to thwart him in a great game of cat & mouse. In the end, he could claim he was just selling software that users happened to use to violate Blizzard's TOS and EULA with. I've heard the same arguments about BitTorrent and would probably side with the software makers in this case ... "

      Personally I think liberty takes pr

  • Desperation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by suso (153703) * on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:08AM (#25218071) Homepage Journal

    Actually, from playing WoW for 2 months now (through Wine no less), I'm not too surprised that MMOGlider made a good deal of money. Seeing the desperation of a
    lot of players, I wouldn't be surprised people would pay $25 for this thing. I probably would too if it was allowed by Blizzard.

    • Re:Desperation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@gm a i l . c om> on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:12AM (#25218123) Homepage Journal

      World of Warcraft - A game so fun that people pay for programs to play it for them.

      • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:16AM (#25218173) Journal

        World of Warcraft - A game so fun that people pay for programs to play it for them.

        You're telling me! I can't wait for World of World of Warcraft [theonion.com] to come out! I'm going to roll a 90 lb famished Chinese man working for pennies an hour!

      • World of Warcraft - A game so fun that people pay for programs to play it for them.

        Or a game with a company behind it that prefers players to actually play, rather than automate and sell gold.

        But hey! maybe it's all down to interpretation.

        • by arth1 (260657)

          Or a game with a company behind it that prefers players to actually play, rather than automate and sell gold.

          One could argue that if that was the purpose of the game, they should have made it more fun and profitable to play than to automate and sell gold.

          Stopping bots is easy enough, e.g. by adding forced NPC conversations with an ever-changing phrase list.

          • Great. I can have an NPC ask me to spell the word in the picture. Sounds like a great addition to the game. Now if only I could buy a program that sent those off to someone else to answer so I wouldn't have to...
      • I played WoW for a long time (by my standards). It's not too bad to level your character up to 70, and the raid game is entertaining; requires a lot of strategy and some decent skills.

        The problem for me is that the game only really rewards time committed. Nothing else. If you put in a ton of time, you get all the rewards.

        Glider really exposes that. It is a program that doesn't have any particular skills beyond the ability to spend 24/7 playing the game.

        • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

          I played WoW for a long time (by my standards). It's not too bad to level your character up to 70, and the raid game is entertaining; requires a lot of strategy and some decent skills.

          The problem for me is that the game only really rewards time committed. Nothing else. If you put in a ton of time, you get all the rewards.

          Glider really exposes that. It is a program that doesn't have any particular skills beyond the ability to spend 24/7 playing the game.

          Note that Glider won't get you that raiding play that requires strategy and skill (not to mention gear). And that's really where the big rewards are to be had.

          But it will enable you to grind on auto-pilot. The rewards aren't as big. But there are more than a few grinds that will lead to pretty decent rewards. These grinds will also produce items and various tokens other players will gladly buy in WoW's in-game market. Which produces the most versatile in-game token of all: gold. Enter gold sellers.

      • Re:Desperation (Score:4, Insightful)

        by arth1 (260657) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:32AM (#25218443) Homepage Journal

        World of Warcraft - A game so fun that people pay for programs to play it for them.

        Indeed. It's not like the game becomes more fun after leveling up -- the satisfaction you get each time you level up and each time you find new loot that's better than what you have is the fun. Each time you are being conditioned with a reward, and move into unknown territory. Many gamers even start a new character once they get to a high level because such a large part of the fun is in advancement.

        I think a large part of the griefers are people who have power-levelled, and are really bored when they find out that the game isn't fundamentally different at a higher level -- you are stronger, but so is the enemy. Only other players who haven't advanced yet are weaker.

        That said, I don't think a tool like this should be illegal. Not any more than a car that can drive at 180 mph should be illegal. But using it on a road with a speed limit is another issue. It's easier for Blizzard to go after one guy than a hundred thousand, but it's still the hundred thousand who willingly broke the "speed limit" and should get the fine. If this program is unavailable, they'll find another. Perhaps one made by someone anonymous and outside Blizzard's jurisdiction. Will that be any better?

        My suggestion to Blizzard: Set up a server where bots and similar are allowed, and police better against them on the main servers. Even work with the developers of such programs so you can identify them if used on the main servers. Lend them insight into the code if they sign an NDA and contract stating that Blizzard will be given means to identify the software when (and only when) used on the main servers against the TOS.

        But going after the guy with a lawsuit like this isn't going to stop the phenomenon. It's going to ruin one person's life completely, and create a fair bit of animosity.
        Plus, it's a misuse of the court system, which has too much to do already.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Phrogman (80473)

          Setting up a separate server would do nothing. The people who use this sort of software seem to be using it:

          * To save time, they are too busy to level up a character and just want to get to top level so they can "play the game". These people miss the point that the game *IS* the leveling up and any end game is a bonus.
          * They want to get to top level and get whatever advantage they can so they can be dominant over other people - suggesting they all play on a server where they all do that is counterproductive

        • Interesting ideas. More eyes might improve things. And having a place where you can play with your bot friends really reduces the people using bots on the "no-bot" servers to just cheaters.

          I think a large part of the griefers are people who have power-levelled

          I think that's just a reflection of a desire to vilify the 70 jackass that keeps ganking your level 34 toon in STV. Just as likely that 70 is the main of the 34 toon you killed 20 minutes ago. Or his buddy.

      • by Shivetya (243324)

        Well there is always Eve, which has character progression while your offline.

        So while you might need other programs to play WOW for you you don't need one for Eve, in fact it seems they don't want you to actually play it.

        • by Tom (822)

          As a matter of fact, Eve's concept has always struck me as an excellent choice for more casual players (like me).

          I've got a life, you know? The one that includes a job, a girl, and activities that don't involve computers. There's no way I can compete with school kids who start playing at 2pm and stop playing when mommy shuts down power at 1am - every day. That's fine with me, I don't have to proof I'm cool in a fantasy world. But it does kind of bug me that I can't play with many others who fall in that cat

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      I agree. I played briefly on a 40x experience pirate server and found the leveling to be a tad slow. Playing on the live servers was horrifyingly slow.

      But all this program did was run you from place to place, no? (At faster speed, I think, too.) If running from place to place is such a tedious and repetitive task, Blizzard should have implemented changes that drove these people out of business and pleased their customers, rather than sueing and pissing everyone off.

      Then again, they're still the King of

      • by Zironic (1112127)

        How it worked was that you told it to go a certain path and it would kill everything it saw, skin everything it could and gather anything it happened to cross. Basically it was able to play the entire game for you lvl 1-70 and at 70 it could make you gold.

    • Re:Desperation (Score:4, Insightful)

      by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:21AM (#25218241)

      It isn't so much desperation, but rather the annoyance that the longer this game goes on, the more you are pigeon-holed into your first character choice.

      Lets say you want to try a new character now, you better hope that you have the support of your guildmates/friends because it will take a good player 5-6 days to level that character to 70. And that is if you do nothing but grind the character up. So you don't build any of the relationships that you normally would when leveling a character normally and at a reasonable pace. You are banking on using that character with your already established guild relations.

      I can't imagine what it will be like when the level cap is raised to 80. The old content is barren enough as it is, now we will have a fairly empty outlands as well. That is unfortunate because a good many of the later quests are group quests which even now are hard as hell to gather a group for. So the game will soon be a 70 level pure grindfest for anyone interested in trying something new or joining the game. Then, add on the rep/gear grinds once you catch up to your friends again.

      To paraphrase Chris Rock, I'm not saying I agree with people who use MMOGlider, but I understand.

      • I noticed that when I was grinding my second lvl 70; it was about a zillion times harder to get a group for a group quest than it had been for the first character...We're talking the 60->70 grind here, not the 1->70.

        I can't frankly imagine what it must be like in the 1-60 right now, even with the massive boost to gained XP. Just skip the instances and the group quests, because there is just no point.

        • I noticed that when I was grinding my second lvl 70; it was about a zillion times harder to get a group for a group quest than it had been for the first character...We're talking the 60->70 grind here, not the 1->70. I can't frankly imagine what it must be like in the 1-60 right now, even with the massive boost to gained XP. Just skip the instances and the group quests, because there is just no point.

          Level to 15, do the deadmines. (chances are, someone will be running through it with a 70 friend)
          Level to 30-35, do the scarlet monestary. That place is always busy.
          Level 40-45, Zul Farrak
          Level 50-52, BRD, Sunken temple.

          Then grind to 58, go to outlands and experience real XP.

          Thankfully outlands has enough group quests to push you to 70, because there are very few people that even bother with the level 60-65 instances anymore.

          As I said in my previous post, I'm loving Warhammer Online right now because the

      • I just want to point out that I used refer a friend to get my second character up to level 60 in about 30 hours of game play playing with my brother and his first character. I'm very very new to the game. /just sayin'

  • by gmezero (4448) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:10AM (#25218093) Homepage

    They might not have a penny to them. That has no relation to the award made by the court.

  • Quick math using numbers from TFA:

    $25 * 100,000 = $2.5 million

    Seems they've been ordered to pay more than twice the revenue they've ever taken in. Unless the company has some other product to prop this judgment up... well, oopsie.

  • by mrroot (543673) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:14AM (#25218137)

    Mostly I'm amazed that MMOGlider had that kind of cash.

    Maybe they just used their own application to farm some more gold. Just a thought.

  • Correction: (Score:4, Funny)

    by geminidomino (614729) * on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:15AM (#25218153) Journal

    $5.99994 Million.

    Their pissing on everyone's right and the concept of computer ownership to punish one douchebag means they'll be selling one less copy of D3.

  • by GaryPatterson (852699) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:18AM (#25218193)

    Surely the damages are more about stopping future Glider-type automators. Along the way, they'll bankrupt the company behind Glider, but that's less important than stopping game-automators.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      except the next one will be distributed from overseas, along with the source code.
      Pretty much SOL at that point.

  • by Digitus1337 (671442) <lk_digitus@NoSPaM.hotmail.com> on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:23AM (#25218301) Homepage
    US$6 million? How much is that in gold?
  • Oh man, they should do this more often. Bring everyone who names their character something obscene to court too.
  • WoW has so much grinding (and so much of it is required to advance) that players need an automaton program just to advance without being bored out of their skulls.
    • I do enough grinding IRL to earn money as it is... Why would anyone want spend money to do grinding in a game is beyond my understanding.

    • by djh101010 (656795)
      Sorry, but if you're that bored with it, just give up - or consider that maybe you're doing it wrong.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      There are guilds online that if you follow you can level every hour.

  • I've read comments here and seen comments from others that play WoW, and their comments share a common idea, "mindless" this or that. This mindless whatever is the exact reason I've never played the game. My question to those that play and feel that way, is if it's so tedious and so mindless why play in the first place?

    If it's some sort of camaraderie you could get that from other games, flight sims, FPS, hell Second Life even.

    Why waste the money monthly in support of a product you think is mindless?
    • by swordgeek (112599)

      "If it's some sort of camaraderie you could get that from other games, flight sims, FPS, hell Second Life even. "

      Or even, in fact, from...REAL LIFE!

      (I know, I'm talking crazy again. Forgot my meds this morning.)

      However, your point is well taken.
      "Why waste the money monthly in support of a product you think is mindless?"

      I've never understood that either. I ground my way to the highest tier of armourcrafter in Dark Age of Camelot, the hard way. I didn't mind, although it was very slow. A coworker bought a che

    • by iceperson (582205)
      WoW's not much different than everything else in life. I remember running wind sprints in football practice. Hated doing them, but I loved playing the game enough that I put up with the hours of work for the opportunity to play on Friday night. If I could have payed someone else to do the 2 a days and still had the same results in the end then you bet your ass I would have.
  • by mseeger (40923)
    Hi,

    "The makers of MMOGlider have been found in breach of the World of Warcraft terms of service and are forced to pay Blizzard $6M in damages."

    Now surely Blizzard with come up with some payment for my frustration and lost fun due to the gold farmers. I already sent Blizzard my bank account details. I'm waiting guys.....

    CU, Martin

  • appeal pending (Score:3, Informative)

    by janopdm (1292860) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:17AM (#25219179)

    virtuallyblind [virtuallyblind.com] does the best coverage of the case. MDY itself keeps virtuallyblind up to date on their case.

    There will be an appeal that MDY has to win on all counts to negate the damage judgement.

    2. Blizzard shall not be entitled to double or triple recovery for counts I, II and III. That is, Blizzard shall be entitled to receive a total of $6,000,000 in damages for counts I, II and III. However, should liability on any one or two of the counts be reversed on appeal, any one of these counts independently supports the $6,000,000 award.

  • hypotethically .. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by savuporo (658486) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:21AM (#25219251)

    I i had a real robot ( no i dont mean biped humanoid ) that would be able to play for me using a mouse, screen and a keyboard .. they would sue the company that made the robot ?

    And its not that far fetched, as a hardware you need just a camera watching the TV, and two inputs to PS2 and USB ports on my puter ..

    So where do they draw the line ?

    • by yenne (1366903) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @01:12PM (#25221221)

      [If] i had a real robot ( no i dont mean biped humanoid ) that would be able to play for me using a mouse, screen and a keyboard ..

      This is what children are for.

      "Suzy, it's your night to do the dishes. Johnny, gather and take out the trash. Joey, we need four primal fires."

  • When creating something like this, don't actually use the program you writing your tool for.
    If I was to write this, and never have installed WoW, I don't see how they could sue me.

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