Daniel Clough: It has been a couple of weeks now since our Bot Nuke campaign was launched, and we're happy to report that overall it has been a massive success. We managed to do significantly more damage to bots than the community expected, which has had a hugely positive effect on the gameplay experience. The core RuneScape community has responded extremely positively to the changes we have made. We've seen a number of former players who were turned off by the botting issues return to the game since the changes have been implemented. Although we have seen a good level of success from our anti-botting measures, this recent activity isn't a one-off. We are committed to ridding the game of botters, goldsellers and real-world traders and will not rest until the game is safe from these distractions.
One of the common thoughts going around right now is "the bots will be back." What steps are you taking to make sure they do not come back, and how is the bot nuking different than any previous efforts to stop botting?
"Having taken these steps, [we believe] botting will not return in its current form. We are also continuously working to improve this technology and stay several steps ahead of the bot developers."
The bot nuke has been in development for several months, incorporating patentable technologies to protect our game client from the vulnerabilities that previously existed. Having taken these steps, [we believe] botting will not return in its current form. We are also continuously working to improve this technology and stay several steps ahead of the bot developers. Since the release of the Cluster Flutterer, we have released further layers of defense so we can be extremely confident that RuneScape will remain a bot-free game.
It was obvious how much damage the bots did to the economy, but in some ways they provided a service for those players who needed large amounts of goods and items. Has the playerbase stepped up and replaced what the bots normally supplied?
Great question. Bots had previously had a massive negative impact on the community by creating false economies that unbalanced the game for the purer rule-abiding players and made it quite difficult to make money legitimately. With the bots now gone, we are starting to see some of the previous money-making methods return to the game as well as the ability to gather items and resources without the previous levels of competition experienced before.
There must be a fine line between botting and players who just play way, way too much. Do you try to discourage those players, or are they good for the game?
We certainly don't want to discourage any legitimate players. RuneScape has a huge variety of users, and there's something for everyone, no matter what type of gamer he or she is. Regardless of whether you're a more casual player who perhaps only plays a few hours a month, or a more hardcore player with the time to devote to leveling and climbing the hiscores, the sheer variety of gaming is great. But botting allowed some users to cheat and bypass some aspects of the game, which was detrimental to those who've gained their levels and achievements fairly.Speaking of bot-like behavior, I wonder how much of the bot problem can be blamed on what some might call a need for grinding. Has the bot problem changed the way you approach the game's design?