Fight Against The Machine
If you aren't playing Splinterlands click here to sign up. This week I was using electric eel and encountered a rather obvious bot on the battlefield (link here ). In my battle I was aiming to surprise the opponenet by using melee in a ruleset favoriting range, potentially throwing them off. Much to my surprise it was I who was thrown off. Obviously not a real player as even the worst player would not use one card well under the cap in ANY ruleset. Upon inspection of the profile's battle history indeed this was in fact a bot. Replicating the same behavior over and over again. No doubt if you have been playing you have already encountered bots (The infamous Neminers and RUBOTS come to mind). But what exactly do bots so and what does this all mean? Are they good or are they bad? a really accurate answer is sadly much more complicated.
Bots, Player Base, Market Effects :Public Forum
In this post I want to know your experiences as players against bots, or if you are one of this machinists. It would be interesting to know your take. Without further or do, lets get down to it. This is my opinion and that of others with various other viewpoints with solutions to the "bot problem"
So sadly, not every player you encounter in splinterlands is an actual player. Often enough its a robot set to crank out it's fights with the predetermined best cards in it's collection for any give scenario (sometimes to horrendously tenderize you). There are some bots meant to give players a chance like the one I encountered, but most of the time the encounter is a very high lvled deck running on autopilot in the bronze and silver ranks. With ranking working the way it does, these bots are reducing the elo of REAL players considerable degrees. As any new player that isn't planning on #playing2earn will be having to do it against various vastly superiorly equipped robots. NEMINERS and RUBOTS have guild of DOZENS UPON DOZENS of bots. And these are just the ones with incredibly obvious names in the open, there are likely others hiding in plain sight on your guild list. Yes, some bots giveaway all of there stuff are help new players. However here is the issue with this and bots in general. There is NO TRANSPARENCY, no way to know whom is a bot or not, or how much these bots are harvesting off of unsuspecting new players. Let alone where it is all really going. Plus these bots earn reward cards increasing the overall pool of cards but giving all that delegation to it's master. Now you might say, "But how does this effect me? I don't see many bots in my league and I do good with the reward draws. What's the problem?"
The issue is that all of this draws from a limited pool of DEC and cards, effecting who holds market power for EVERYONE. And it also takes pieces of the DEC pool from EVERYONE.
Potential Market Side Effects
As some of you no doubt know, Splinterlands deals in NFTs. Or limited tokens (cards) that have a limited availability. When there are no new cards being "printed" whoever holds a portion of these cards has one of a now limited supply of cards. But no what if I was a botter and had thousands of these cards? With that amount of cards and market power this effects the rest of you, the player base. Instead of those cards being evenly distrusted amongst real players (as intended), giving free to players a hard earned boost in power level. Botters are funneling reward cards into their network of accounts to continue botting and effect the market by having a potentially large share of the limited pool of cards. The fact that more cards are generated than naturally would have been also means there is an overall decrease in the value of the card for all invloved. With card rentals, the potential for botting can lead to real havoc as botters no longer need to invest in cards to delegate. They can just "rent to bot" with the in game menu.
The Pros of Botting
They are players to play against, that's it. That's the pro that most people gave me for botting. And if you are a botter you get a passive income stream at the expense of those in lower leagues of course. Not a lot to jot down as far as what I've heard people say about the positives of botting. Keeping in mind that most veterans are not talking very often of bots as it is rare for them to get past gold etc. I mostly experienced people in Silver and Bronze leagues lamenting about bots. With good reason.
Who IS a Bot? And My Experience Introducing New Players
Out of the 12 real life players I have tried to get to try splinterlands (a small but not too small statistic), 0 are playing now. They didn't even play for one season of gameplay (2 weeks). They enjoyed the gameplay, are card aficionados and like other CCGS (hearthstone, Magic, you name it), so what was it? The short answer is , they wanted to know they were playing against real people. To be able to work strategically instead of against a robot putting forth all the numerically best moves. Every friend had a similar experience of being online at a certain time of day and being assailed by numerous bots only to lose over and over again. Even in the novice leagues. Many of them started to question even less notorious bot names, and essentially the bottom line ended up being time and again "I like playing cards, and the gameplay is awesome. But unregulated botting makes me doubt if I'm playing ANY real people and I'm not able to earn enough starting out due to this to progress without paying so I stopped".
This is my experience recommending it to passionate gamers who are free-to-players in whatever it is they do, so naturally there is a bias towards investing. This demographic of real people is going to be one of the largest in the incoming player boon, but will we have a boon of player retention? hard to say. I hope so. The dark side of the player boon is that any number of them could just be fabricated bots for botters to double down on their "crypto investment". Which in a way it is, but in video games this sort of unregulated behavior rarely ends well. Eventually something will give one way or another. Don't get me wrong not all people running bots are hoarding misers, giving some or all of it all away. However, much like in real life a lot of people are stricken with too much avarice to do this to cause the game to grow and not just their holdings. Even though it hinders novice player base growth. While not strictly prohibited by Splinterlands, they havn't particularly shown an opinion either way about this. Something needs to happen before it becomes a really exploitable issue. This game is still blossoming, and it needs to consider a solution that anticipates a rapid growth in people exploiting the game aswell. Please let me know your opinions and what you think in the comments below. Keeping in mind that I am not a cryptocurrency expert, and this is not financial advice. This is moreso a game player perspective, as someone who has played through the rise and fall of many other cards games.
The Bot Coliseum
People have talked about all bots needing to register to fight in a league exclusively against other bots, I imagine unregistered bots would therefore be at least frowned upon if not banned? I am certainly not the first to mention this idea, and I'm resurfacing it in the spirit of having a well rounded community discussion within this post. Covering all little murmurs I have happened to hear. My thoughts on this idea are as follows, in theory it is a nice idea. However, it's going to difficult to get all bots on this platform. Additionally what penalties would there be for having bots upon your marionettes in the normal ranked leaderboards? etc. etc. It's a nice idealistic idea, but difficult to effectively implement. Otherwise it will just result in NEW bots in a new coliseum for fighting bots. While the older bots still churn churn churn in the general public ranked matchmaking. Not solving the inherent issue.
The Air was Electric... A More in Depth Look at Electric Eel
If you were looking for more of a strategic discussion of the card and gameplay (plus ANOTHER giveaway) check out my other post here.
Why not rent your cards for income instead of Botting them?
I think that it is in fact less profitable and that is why people usually don't do this instead, but why is that? Think about the players that need cards and the DEC per day they are able to get. This pool is already reduced by the current botting infrastructure, and heaven forbid you are inexperienced at card games. Your starting DEC income may not be high enough to pay a price that botters see as worthy to rent their cards instead, BUT if there were no bots those same players would have the necessary DEC to then rent the cards at a higher rate. They would also be the holders and renters of the cards that the bots would have acquired, and these new player would then have a DEC income stream to rent the older (now out of print) cards etc. The cards should be played by real people, or well regulated bots with complete transparency in some weird league (see above). However, there is no easy solution with this already open Pandora's box.
Do Robots Dream of Electric Eels? Giveaway and Conclusion
This one is pretty simple this week. Simply like and comment for a chance at being delegated your very own Electric Eel for 15 days. Overall it wasn't much of a battle, but leads one to think. My personal thoughts are mixed, I don't lose to them enough for it to hurt me enough to cry from the rooftops. But I can imagine where a new player might feel a bit overwhelmed. I dislike that this gives a lot of potential power to the bot lords too (depending on the future), and power eventually corrupts even the best of us. What do YOU think about bots? Let me know. You can even share your own bot battle in the comments. If you guys think I should do a much more in depth bot talk (capturing statistics etc) tell me so and I just might do so.
Keep Summoning and See you in the #Splinterlands