Judging from past efforts to ban similar programs, it is likely that Blizzard Entertainment will take a dim view of the duo’s activities.
In February, Blizzard successfully argued in court that a company called MDY Industries, which created a similar in-game helper program to automate a user’s character for short periods of time, had circumvented the game maker’s protections and violated copyright. The bot, called MMO Glider, allowed users to automate the sometimes-onerous task of killing and collecting loot.
“They are saying that we own the license and, if you don’t follow the license terms, we are taking away your license and you are a copyright infringer,” says Jef Pearlman, fellow and staff attorney at Public Knowledge, a Washington, DC-based digital-rights group. “It’s a very worrisome model.”
Blizzard Entertainment did not immediately comment on the DEFCON presentation.
Rather than eliminate bot programs, Mooney argues that Blizzard should start a handful of separate servers as a playground for developers and players who want to experiment by automating their characters. Aside from helping eliminate boring quests in which characters have to kill an onerous number of monsters–an activity referred to as “grinding”–the separate environment could be good place to test new approaches to automation and machine intelligence, he says.
“There is a community of developers that enjoy this type of game experience,” Mooney says. “I think that would go a long way toward preventing the bitter back and forth between Blizzard and their developers.”