TG Daily interview: Chat with a World of Warcraft bot programmer

Earlier this month, we ran a preview of an exclusive interview with Mercury, a developer of a World of Warcraft bot - a cheat program to accelerate the player's progress within the game. In this full interview, Mercury talks to TG Daily editor Humphrey Cheung about his motivation to create WoWglider, how it works and avoids detection, and his future plans for the bot.


TG Daily: Were you an avid World of Warcraft player before writing the program - and what inspired you to write it?

Mercury: Definitely. I'm one of the many lifelong Blizzard game owners out there. I started with Warcraft and have played all of their titles. When WoW was finally released, I got it immediately and I've been a fan since. The inspiration behind Glider was really what it's for now - to catch up to level 60 without spending so much real time. I'm in a small guild and my guildmates reached 60 while I was still in the mid-50's. I wanted to get to 60 as well to come along on the instance runs, but I had no time to grind it out between work and social life. When I did finally log in for a few hours on weekends, it was frustrating to see them orgranizing pickup groups for Scholomance and the Blackrock dungeons. I'd be off killing Shardtooth Bears and Crystal Rumblers solo. The original version was very unstable and simplistic, but it allowed me to get my warlock up to 60 pretty fast.

My Canadian guildmates knew what I was up to and they encouraged me to turn it into a more well-rounded product so I could sell it. After I showed a few friends the rough version, they all collectively badgered me into marketing it. I promised my guildies that if I sold enough copies of Glider, I'd fly up to Toronto and buy them a round of beer, which I plan to do in January.

TG Daily: Did any other programs give you inspiration or a template for developing Glider? Where did you learn the programming skills required to write the program and is Glider a full-time gig?

Mercury: None in particular. I ran across a few tools that did some game automation, but nothing struck me as very professional. This was back in April, mind you, and things have changed a bit. But even then, our idea was to use my technology and my partner's marketing/design to position it as a very professional, clean app. So avoiding links to "hax0rs!!11" sites and keeping the design clean was the closest we had to a template.

As for my own skills, I've been a full-time developer forever. I started with C, switched to C++ when it came out - that should date me - and just went from there. It doesn't take an enormous amount of talent to make something like this, but you do need to have a solid understanding of software development in general, like understanding business needs, prioritizing issues, source control, and so on.

And, no, Glider's not a full-time gig. I've lowered my contracting hours to have more time for Glider, but it's still not making that kind of money. A big part of Glider is still the fun factor of working with the game and the users on our forums.

TG Daily: How popular has Glider been? Do you have any estimates on how many times it has been downloaded?

Mercury: It's been fairly popular, but not a huge, smashing success. In other words, I've never had to get more bandwidth or upgrade my small server. Without looking at the logs, and I don't want to reveal hard numbers, I'd swag it's been downloaded for evaluation around 3000 to 5000 times since the hard launch in late July 2005.