Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Who else is blogging about this?

I decided to go looking for other people blogging about AFK gaming.

I’m still looking!

What I have found is that AFK gaming goes by many different names. Bots, Macros, and Farmers are the most common, but each describes a different thing despite the fact that the ignorant use them interchangeably.

So in this post I’d like to differentiate between Bots, Macros, Farmers, and other terms applied to AFK Gamers.


A “Bot” is an application that can play a character in an MMO with the goal of completing some objective. Common Bot objectives are level-grinding and resource harvesting. Personally, I find the term “Bot” to be outdated and I think the word “Agent” better describes what is occurring – an agent is controlling a player’s character. An Agent differs from a simple macro application in that an Agent is capable of simulating human behavior based on the input it receives. For examples, my EQ2 Agent was able to determine when a spell needed to be cast. This ability is beyond the scope of a simple macro application.


A macro is a set of keyboard and mouse commands issued to the game client in a precise order with precise timing. The difference between a macro and an Agent(or Bot) is large. Agents are capable of responding to changes in the environment. For example, my Agent can tell if his cargo hold is full, how long he’s been in space, and whether or not he’s docked. A macro cannot do any of these things. Macros are dumb scripts, sort of like a dumbfire missle. Once they are started they can be easily broken by common MMO actions such as lag, “bumping” or even by sending a message to the player. Agents are aware of their purpose and thus are akin to smart bombs or tracking missiles, though they are limited by the ability of their programmer and their code.


A farmer, in the MMO vernacular, is a play-style consisting almost entirely of collecting an in-game resource. This resource may be currency, items, or anything else that is in limited quantity or that has value. A farmer is someone who does not interact with much, if any, of the game beyond whatever resource they are “cultivating.”

Most Farmers use an agent, some use a macro. But this fact does not mean that every agent or macro is a farmer (or that every farmer uses an agent or macro.) There are a many players (such as myself) who have no interest in farming but who still use agents to work for us.

Now, that isn’t saying I don’t occasionally farm using my agent. In fact, that’s about all my agent CAN do. But, since my playstyle isn’t all about collecting ISK (I do missions, train skills, sell stuff on the market, buy stuff on the market, etc.) I’m not a Farmer.

ISK/Gold Sellers:

These are accounts played by employees of a business. The business engages in the activity of selling in-game resources for out of game resources. This usually takes the shape of selling gold for cash. Normal Players tend to dislike ISK/Gold sellers because of their methods of advertising and because they’ve been convinced that ISK/Gold Sellers harm the game’s economy.

So as you can see, Agents (bots) and Macros are tools used by players while Farmers and Gold Sellers are kinds of players. Please don’t confuse the tool used with the purpose it is being used for.

One last thing I wanted to mention in this post. AFK Mining is not AFK Gaming, Botting or anything like that. AFK Mining is when someone puts a mining laser on a ship with a large cargohold. Then they start mining and walk away. They might pop back every now and then to see how the mining laser is doing. This is popular for noobs because it’s easy to do but not popular with non-noobs because it’s like mining an asteroid with a spoon. It take a long time and gives a lot less profit compared to other activities in the game.

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