Response to "Regarding Bots in Lost Ark" in Official News

@Roxx posted recently about the state of bots in Lost Ark. It was four days ago. I definitely missed it. You may have missed it also. It seems that they are at least seeing and considering our game feedback. That much, at least, is heartening:

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I would like to respond to Roxx’s post. Because there are certain feedback bits that I am not sure they are necessarily hearing. Here are the quoted portions of the actions that they have taken to fight the fight against the bots:

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I think that we can all agree that this activity is not sustainable. However, I think it probably -IS- necessary at weekly intervals to keep the considerable bot army at bay. Thank you. But as I am certain you are aware - this is not the long term fix to the problem.

What this does not address is the account actions taken against those who are actively purchasing gold through these sellers. Are you going to take action against the whales who are enriching this illicit market?

The players who are actively feeding this illicit gold market are at the CORE of the problem. If this is not addressed directly, you will continue to spend time and resources fruitlessly as the botters continue to outwit you to service this whale demand for illicit gold.

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This action makes me incredibly sad. I actually saw this go into effect while I was beginning the game. I was speaking to people in /area chat in Prideholm through West Luterra to find out how to do things in the game, and to seek assistance with the low level field bosses, etc. When I got to East Luterra proper, I was suddenly hit with the “you are too low of a level to use /area chat” message. Because I had reached East Luterra at the same time as this gate was added, I thought it a feature of the first “big city” only. I didn’t realize that this was actually a global action by Smilegate / AGS to curtail botting.

-PLEASE- re-evaluate this action. I am sad to say that the bots have -EASILY- and -TOTALLY- surpassed your gating for this. All this does is prevent new real players from chatting in a brand new game where they will need the interaction and feedback most as they learn the game. This tactic, from my perspective, has been a total failure.

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While I think that this is definitely a good deterrent, it needs to be realized that this will always be a moving target. You can censor ABC, they will update their spam (in a matter of hours) to hawking DEF. You censor DEF, they will shout GHI.

While I think that ACTIVE work in this area is good and necessary, this will not be the keystone to fixing the bot problem. This is merely “wiping up” the mess that happens all around the edges.

It is important to note that there has been player feedback complaining about the chat censoring. The tighter you try to tighten the net against the spammers, the more often you will trip on false positives. Please see some recent feedback about the chat censoring:

https://forums.playlostark.com/t/for-the-love-of-god-ags-please-disable-this-useless-piece-of-garbage-chat-filtering-algorithm-new-video-attached

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I really hope that you and your team recognizing that all this does is moves the carrot. When you relocate the “cheese”, it does not take the botters long to adapt. This is not an effective, nor a sustainable, deterrent.

Botters have reached South Vern. Botters do Una’s Dailies. Botters do Chaos Dungeons. Even if you incorporate more reward gates, those gates will only hurt real players. :frowning:

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While I have very little faith in the present Easy Anti Cheat (EAC) detection capabilities, I am heartened to see that SmileGate / AGS is working to bolster this feature. While many users here will talk trash about EAC, I genuinely believe that using the already baked-in features is the right move.

I would love to hear more on this. But at the same time, I understand that details on the interworkings of an anti-cheat application are not easily shared.

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Yes please! This is the way. Tell us more! How can we help you to make this a robust feature with low/zero false positives?

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How have these been improved? Have they been improved recently? Are these improvements internal only (for the leveraging the actual reports)? Or has there been some improvement to the player’s in-game reporting UI?

I am still skeptical (as a great many other players are, also) whether my bot reporting is worth it. I have asked directly for feedback about whether or not bot reporting is helpful. I think you easily have 10s if not 100s of players that will sit in North Vern and will diligently report every single bot that walks by. But if this reporting is not useful or actionable by SmileGate / AGS - what’s the point? Right now - it very much feels like the “what’s the point.”

Please share with the community how the reporting is actually being operationally leveraged against these botters:

https://forums.playlostark.com/t/in-game-reporting-bots-how-useful-is-this-operationally-to-smilegate-ags

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This is a big “meh”, or otherwise moving target in my book. As soon as you ban IPs and block VPNs, botters will simply move to different IPs or leverage different spoofing tools. I don’t think you will win on this front. But I suppose I understand if you need to continue to fight on this front.

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We certainly appreciate your efforts. The hard work is evident. We see it most often every Thursday after the maintenance. It just feels like you are losing the overall war. And that makes me sad. :frowning:

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I would ask that you not give up on these proposed solutions, but I certainly understand platform and architectural limitations. If a game/quest/feature designer were able to come up with -ONE- solid “captcha game”, you could implement said captcha game intermittently among the early stages of the game. In my mind, surpassing the creative captcha game gate could be a significant hindrance for botters. While it might not remove botters completely, it could at least cripple or slow their quest automation process - which would allow your botter account removal methods to get ahead of them. Please keep considering this as a potential tactic.

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Thank you for your hard work, and your efforts. Following this post, I will be adding a reply with a list of other ideas that I am not sure you have given consideration to yet. Keep fighting!! :slight_smile:

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Other ideas that you did not mention that might be successful tactics against the bots:

  • Punish the use of the illicit market. Punishment needs to be sufficiently steep so that any of these consumers NEVER consider the illicit market ever again. Permanent bans? Perhaps. Negative gold value equal to what was purchased? This seems like a very decent deterrent.

  • Potentially evaluate the cost of gold on the official market. If their prices are too high, they will never eliminate (or at least reduce to a manageable level) the illicit market.

  • Periodically move script destination anchor points such as island exits, quest NPCs, and repair NPCs. If you do this randomly, and at periodic intervals, it will slow down the bot scripting as they work to update or work around the movements. If you were to move King Thirain into a side hall for a quick sandwich, you would destroy botting for at least one day. And then you could leverage in-game gamemasters to remove all of the script broken bots piling into an empty throne chamber.

  • Implement a game client delivery system that seals or encrypts the game client envelope to prevent tampering and the possibility of building “botter clients.”

  • Spring for some in-game Gamemasters or Moderators who can provide active, real-time response to large-scale botting events. We know that your team is backed by a MULTI-TRILLION DOLLAR COMPANY. It’s high time to start throwing a few dollars at the problem.

  • Consider promoting some diligent players (perhaps without their knowing) to moderator-lites. Enable diligent players’ in-game bot reporting to have an immediate impact against botters (have it stick them with a 30 minute ban, disconnect their game client, etc.).

  • Consider automating ban and removal of bots if they achieve a certain reports (3 unique reporting strikes, and you’re out).

  • Consider an action against known botters to hamper the use of pets. The pets are what pick up all the lot for Market/AH sales, and for selling honing mats. If you hamstring the botters at the bunny rabbit, you might make their lives more difficult.

  • Consider paid, in-game gamemasters to target and remove obvious AH postings that are being leveraged to transfer large sums of gold to the botters gold mules.

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Honestly and objectively, if they limit all gold exchange to just the auction house and place requirements/gates to be able to access it like clearing a difficult guardian raid boss or difficult abyss dungeon with wipe mechanics/ Argos, then it will temporarily or even permanently solve the problem until some god tier bot coder works around it, but I am assuming that’s very complex to do to enable bots to immediately have a quick reaction time and ability to consume limited hp pots that require gold to craft.

@Phoducer Regarding the limiting of gold to AH i would have to disagree. I play with irl friemds and sometimes I have more time to play sometimes they do etc. We try to help each other here and there to keep around same ilvl: ie if I am very lucky an 2 tap a +17 armor for instance i will send some gold/mats to my friends so they can get to 1415 and we can do valtan toghether.

Apart from this AMAZING POST @Cauthey !!

I would like to add from my personal experience: regarding the part with :

“Real-world account owner identification is another method used in some regions, but the global scale of the Western version of the game and varying laws in the territories where we operate Lost Ark make this a less realistic solution for us.”

So i play Dota 2 (that is how me and my friends met), a MOBA game by Valve (therefore on steam) that is played basically everywhere, hence is dealing with “varying laws”. There they require a phone number to play ranked matchmaking. So my tought process is that the phone number identification infrastructure could be implemented in a steam game that is played internationally like LA. Then again I work in healthcare not in IT so I might not be privy to all the ins and outs of programing.

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Fair point in regards to actual players relying on the mail system to send over gold/materials, but from my perspective, you will still be able to send materials over to your friends via the mail system, but trying to send your friends some gold to help cover honing costs would just be via the AH with a slight tax/gold sink implemented fee.

The developers would have a more streamline process if they targeted the way bots /RMT move around gold hence limiting to AH and disabling mailing gold/trading gold. This would impact players who want to support their friends by just making them do it via AH with a gold fee/gold sink while still retaining the ability to send over materials which is already covering a half-majority of the cost to increase ilevel imo.

I see. But currently there is a 5% fee to mailing gold. And bots still use it, so I think maybe they would use AH too.

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That’s true, but I would like to believe if we just force the bots to rely on one method, then it would hopefully be easier for the developers to deal with this issue if they would just have to read the logs of just the auction house instead of having to go through individually all the mail that gets sent around AND logs of the auction house

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Going by my original comment, if gold exchanges really is limited to the Auction House, then the developers just have to add several obstacles or challenge gates to force bots to overcome to get access to it

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