The time I got banned for “botting”

May 2008

There was a double exp event. I was soloing a high priest at anubises with TU using borrowed gear. Some details of my setup: I had my mouse’s “back” button bound to the “enter, enter, f9” key sequence and the “forward” button bound to “down, down, enter, enter.” Basically, I walked around with the teleport dialog open. If an area looked deserted, I’d press “back” to teleport randomly and have the dialog showing again. If I found an anubis, I’d press “forward” to dismiss the dialog so I could use skills. Then I’d press f9 (teleport) and repeat the process. Often I’d get a succession of bad teles–I’d just keep hitting the back button. As any experienced player can tell you, when you teleport like this there’s no “Teleport !!” above your head so you look kind of like a bot. I also carried a few fly wings for emergencies.

The exp wasn’t that good, but it was probably the best I could get soloing. Then something strange happened. I teleported randomly… but the teleport dialog didn’t pop up, and I had no recollection of consciously teleporting. I was confused for a moment and ultimately decided that I’d probably hit the enter key by accident. No big deal, right? So I continued.

A few minutes later, it happened again. “Wow, I’m really out of it today,” I thought, but it wasn’t nearly as surprising as the first time because I “knew” what had happened. So I continued.

A few minutes later, I was warped again… but this time I was on level 3, at the entrance to level 4. Okay, that was definitely odd. Had I landed on the portal? In all my years of playing, that had never happened before, but maybe I’d just been “lucky.” The only other explanation I could think of was that someone was playing tricks on me. With that in mind, and because I feel silly talking to myself, I did a “/hmm” emote and paused. Nothing happened.

I went through the portal to level 4 to see if anyone was on the other side. No one was there.

I went back to level 3 and waited for what felt like an eternity. Nothing happened. If someone had been playing tricks on me, I would have expected a response by then. Well, that was enough weirdness for the time being; I teleported back to town. First I checked the guild spot to ask if anyone had ever teleported onto a portal but, finding it deserted, I sat down and went afk to scavenge for food.

A while later I came back and…

Thank you for your Email.

The account has been permanently suspended for the illegal use of a 3rd Party Program. Please be aware that the GM Team has been extensively trained in giving the benefit of the doubt to players. Upon testing, the account was found to be using a 3rd Party Program and was suspended. If you would like to continue playing Ragnarok we suggest you register a new account and read over our Terms of Service and Rules of Conduct.

Gee, that was encouraging. They have super-secret bot detection methods that they won’t tell anyone about, and this is the result?

I wrote back and told them exactly what I had been doing and experiencing. Apparently this was enough to create reasonable doubt in their minds, but still they didn’t trust me:

Thank you for your Email.

We have released the account for play. Please be sure to stop any actions when you feel there are suspicious actions happening. We advise you do not cast teleport in the middle of teleport as it can be seen as a possible illegal program. Please be sure that the account will be checked again in the future.

If you have anymore questions, please feel free to contact us again.

I guess my deliberate /hmm, checking both sides of the portal, and going back to town hadn’t counted as “stopping.” I still don’t see what I could have been expected to do differently, knowing only what I’d known then.

If this had happened to someone incapable of immediately figuring out what had transpired and formulating a cogent and convincing reply, that person would likely have been banned for life.

Epilogue

I went back to anubises and stopped precasting teleport. Whenever I did teleport, I’d ostentatiously pause for a second so that any GMs who might be spying on me would clearly see it. However, the experience rate was now so intolerably slow that I gave up and leeched myself to 90 with a TKM at Thor’s.

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