The dark underbelly of Diablo III botting

The dark underbelly of Diablo III botting

After meeting an interesting person in the "DIablo 3 botting discussion", we managed to track Tonto down and ask him some questions about botting.


It's not every day you meet a "real" botter on the interwebs, sure, you meet some people who have used WoW Glider at some stage in their WoW addiction, or someone who's fired up an automated fishing tool because really, why the hell would you fish in WoW?

We were lucky enough however to meet a botter who's willing to invest his own hard earned into the industry, in the hopes that he will receive a modest return for not only his cash investment, but also his time.

We first met Tonto in the discussion from the "Diablo 3 Bot Crackdown" story published last week. He seemed to have a genuine and interesting insight into the world of botting, and in particular with Diablo 3. Luckily for us he was kind enough to respond to our request for an email discussion, and even kinder to provide us with answers to our many questions.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to Tonto (screen name), and the world of botting:

Do you use bots in any other games or Just Diablo?
I have previously spent 6 years or so botting World of Warcraft. I have used all of the big name bots for WoW including: Get A Life Bot, Glider, Pirox and Honorbuddy along with at least half a dozen small, often Chinese bots.

The main reason that I abandoned WoW is due to market saturation. When you have an ongoing cost associated with botting (monthly subscriptions) it becomes harder and harder to compete with the larger botting companies that often run in excess of two to three hundred bots at a time and also often have consistent buyers locked in at a specific rate per thousand gold.

What was the first game you ever "botted"?
The first game I botted was World of Warcraft prior to the release of Burning Crusade.

How did you first get involved in the botting community?
I remember hearing about “Chinese Gold Farmers” back in my first few months of playing WoW. I was curious about how their operation worked so I befriended some people on a “gold farming” website called THSale. The sales girls were really great and after talking about how I was curious about their operation they explained how gold is made and the market behind it.

Now I’ll go a little off-topic to explain how the market works…

You have a few groups of people that contribute to the gold market in just about any game.

  1. The buyers – these are typical gamers, often with money they are willing to burn rather than farming in-game items.
  2. The “gold farming” websites (EG: Thsale.com, IGX, etc…) – these guys do not farm or buy gold directly. These guys are pretty much a shop front that buy from suppliers/wholesalers.

  3. The wholesalers – these are the people botters and hackers sell to. They buy gold at a lower then market rate and network with the websites that actually sell the gold to clients. These are the guys you meet in-game to deliver your gold, not the websites themselves. These guys are often Chinese.
  4. The botters – people like me who run small (1-10 clients) to large (200+ clients) botting operations. These people more often than not are not Chinese.

  5. The hackers – the worst enemy of anyone who plays games. These guys use lists of usernames and passwords from dodgy forums, gold and power levelling websites to log into your account and steal your items/gold. The addition of authenticators and account login pattern analysis have effectively killed off the hackers.

Hopefully that will help you better understand some of the answers I give later on.

Do you write your own software?
Nope, I specialise in Network Engineering. I leave this part to the code monkeys ;)

What do you need to consider before starting up a bot(s) in D3?
The first thing you need to consider is if you’re willing to be banned. You need to acknowledge that this could include accounts that you own that are not associated with the botting accounts you’re using.

You need to be prepared to sink some capital into the project. This needs to include game licenses, bot licenses, hardware to run it on and time to learn how the bot functions and how to maximise your yield.

Most importantly you need to learn how the anti-botting software that Blizzard use (codenamed “Warden”) works.

Warden works primarily by scanning your system’s memory for known markers that bots leave accessible in memory. This easily detects bots that are written by people with low-medium skills in memory hooking. The second way Warden works is through a set of queries sent to the specific areas in memory that the bot hooks into. If an invalid response is received then it flags your account for investigation.

The decent D3 bots (Immortal and DemonBuddy) get around this by either emulating the default responses the game would normally use or if it doesn’t know the response to give it triggers a protocol called “Tripwire” that immediately shuts down all bots using its early-warning system world-wide and transmits the query warden made back to the developer. Once Tripwire has been triggered it prevents anyone from using the bot until an update is made or the “all clear” is given.

 

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