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The bots in EL

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For a long time, in fact since almost the beginning, we allowed bots in Eternal Lands.
In the last few months, the number of bots greately increased, sometimes there is one bot for every 4 players (especially at night, when the players sleep but the bots don't).
I don't really mind the bots, as long as they follow some rules designed especially for them. However, the annoying thing was that they made it harder to accurately count the number of humans playing the game at any given instance.
For example, this Monday we had 515 connected clients to the server, but we had no idea how many of them are human.
Over time, we discussed about various ways to tag the bots, and today it was finally implemented. There is an admin command, #add_bot, wich lets an admin tag characters as bots. This way, they appear in a different section on the Players Online page. In game, the bots have a purple name, which is very useful for the players (this way they know if some character is a bot, and can try to see if it's a merchant bot or not).
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Don't you still have to observe though to make sure it is a bot, or do you have a way to automaticly detect it somehow?

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The players have to declare their bots, it's in the rules. If they don't, and they get caught, they can get banned.

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It's a player bot (paid bot) with a LOT of cary weight (can carry like 100 time more stuff than a player) which is used usually by a guild to sell/buy stuff from other players and make a proffit out of it.
It cost 100 USD to get such a bot.

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Speaking of that.. how much do you earn a month, now ? ( if it's not indiscreet ? )

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And what are bots generaly used for in EL? I mean, why would anybody want to buy a bot character? Does it gain any exp such as regular player? Or is it used only as a Merchant character?
Can a bot character be played as normal character (when the owner is online)?

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Played as a normal character: In some cases, with specific approval.
What they can do: It's in the rules. There are a few gambling bots, some merchant bots (both of which can make a lot of money), chat bots, which tell stories, converse with the play, etc., and one pk-bot, which guards one guild's private cave (both the bot and cave were bought for USD... the bot makes a lot of money too).
Generally, if it's not trying to gain exp without permission, or macro, or break the rules in any other way, it's allowed.

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What crusadingknight said.

@Ysaneya: Since we don't have a subscription model, all the income is fluctuating. Usually it's less than 500 usd/month (some money goes for web hosting, some for hardware, advertsing, volunteers, etc.)

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But can the bot be somehow programed by its owner? Or this is up to EL developers to make it work the way its user wants? Say if I want a bot that would atack any player whose name starts with, say, "Rad" ? [grin]
But seriously, how is this done?

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The bots are not allowed to attack anyone, not even animals (there are some case by case exceptions).
And the player has full control over the bot, it resides on their computer, and they can program to do it whatever they want, as long as it's within the rules.

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