Are there still bots and scripters on Drugwars?

in #utopian-io3 years ago

Iage: modified Drugwars Logo



This is a follow-up to my post from early March 2019, that found that more than half of all invest-to-heist ops were done from scripts and that a fourth of all players used some kind of scripts or bots in the game:

How much automation is on Drugwars with scripts and bots?

Drugwars changed considerably since then, taking a lot of efforts to fight bots while trying to attract human players.

This contribution, like the previous one, looks into the transaction signatures of drugwars' custom-JSON blockchain ops as sent to the blockchain on each game action. All game actions done from the frontend create blockchain transactions that are signed by the steemconnect key. The public key corresponding to the private used to sign a transaction can be reconstructed from the public signature of each transaction. Checking if a drugwars operation/transaction was signed from a key other than the steemconnect key is a clear indication that this action was not done from the drugwars interface but created otherwise.

However, a few aspects have to be kept in mind:

  • a transaction or game action signed by the steemconnect key is not necessarily coming from the drugwars interface. There are still ways to send transactions to the chain that are signed by the steemconnect key but not generated from the drugwars interface
  • transactions, especially if scripted, are not necessarily picked up and treated as valid by the drugwars backend. The backend may silently ignore invalid transactions, independent of their signer.
    Both aspects can slightly dilute the results.

The data used here is from arbitrarily selected days between March 5th (data from the last analysis) until May 4th. Fetching and reconstructing signature information is a quite slow process. The transaction signatures are not part of SteemSQL and the reconstruction of the signer is quite CPU intensive. Fetching and processing one day of blockchain data takes more than an hour for me, which is why I "only" chose a couple of random blockchain days. Data gathering and signature processing was done with beem, data processing and plotting with python and matplotlib.

Drugwars changed

The drugwars team spent a lot of effort to make it harder to play with scripts or bots. Since my last post on this topic in early March, the team has implemented several measures to achieve this. This includes (out of my head, not necessarily complete):

  • rate limits on the API servers
  • authentication with SC tokens when connecting to the API
  • encryption of blockchain ops, at first with a static key, then with per-user keys
  • authentication with username and token for each API call

Changes affecting the analysis of the blockchain data were the switch from individual custom-JSON IDs (dw-heist, dw-unit, dw-upgrade, ...) to later on using the same id ("drugwars") for all ops. The encryption makes it impossible for me to find the drugwars operation type for accounts other than my own. This is why I cannot distinguish between different op types anymore like I did in the previous analysis.

Number of drugwars blockchain operations


This graph shows the number of drugwars blockchain operations per day. The blue line is the overall number of drugwars ops per day. This number varies roughly between 60,000 and 80,000 per day. That's in average more than 2 ops per block, which is already pretty impressive on its own! In orange is the number of those ops that were not signed by the Steemconnect key and therefore were not created with the drugwars interface, e.g. from a bot or a script. This number significantly decreased from around 20,000 per day in March to around 170 in May.

Number of drugwars players


This graph shows the number of drugwars players. In blue is the overall number of distinct players per day. In orange is the number of players that had at least one op that was not signed with the SteemConnect key on that day. Also this number decreased significantly from around 1000 in early March to 14 in May. Additionally, it has to be noted that some of these players still send "dw-heist" ops in the "old" format, which isn't accepted from the drugwars backend since weeks.


Drugwars had a good number of bots and scripted accounts playing, especially in the beginning. Human players had hard times to compete against those, obviously limiting the fun. The drugwars team spend a lot of effort in making it hard to play with bots or scripts.

The numbers shown here confirm that this worked remarkably well! The fraction of blockchain ops not coming from the drugwars UI decreased significantly in the last two months. There are only a handful of accounts left that can be identified as bots/scripts by the signatures of their ops, and some of these are clearly left-overs from previous bots that don't work anymore with the current drugwars backend. While, the signature approach may not catch all cases, I believe that bots could mostly be removed from the game.

Tools and Scripts

All scripts to obtain the blockchain data, reconstruct the signers and finally create the above plots are in my GitHub:


Hi @crokkon

Thank you for this follow up contribution regarding @drugwars to @utopian-io.

Well, what an excellent result for the @drugwars team!

As presented, the bots have seemingly been almost silenced which is a great result for 'players' - and looking at the data, the number of players has not fallen off drastically. There are likely other reasons for the player declines (eg. no STEEM payouts) and it could be that players are now finding their way into the game because the playing field has been leveled.

A really nice and clear follow-up analysis, thank you!

Asher [CM - Analysis]

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Thank you for your review, @abh12345! Keep up the good work!

can you help me in the following issue with @drugwars:

i have made at 3:08 am on today 04/06/2019 an exchange of 112 future tokens into my steem account, but i di not recieve the value of steem till this moment while before it was matter of seconds,,,, can you please check my account of @red-rose
thank you

I am not related to @drugwars, head to the discord help centre:

Hi @crokkon,

First of all thanks for your time and for bringing those important informations to the DrugWars & Steem community.
After your first analysis, we decided to take "the bull by the horns" and to improve the security of the game against all automated actions. As you described we implemented different checks at different levels without breaking the user experience.

Beside that we have also improved the playability and the performance which result in a better experience for everyone and that may also give less will to own and use bots.

As we were impressed to see the first analysis I and the team are also impressed to see this one. It clearly shows that the effort of our team made possible to stop the biggest majority of bots and to play drugwars without facing the same automated accounts.

Of course there are still few bots and we prefer to assume that we may be never able to stop all of them, so instead on focusing on some botters which doesnt represent even 1% of our players we will continue to improve the fun of our game and provide the best experience to all DrugLords.

Best regards,

thanks @hightouch, highly appreciated!

can you help me in the following issue with @drugwars:

i have made at 3:08 am on today 04/06/2019 an exchange of 112 future tokens into my steem account, but i did not recieve the value of steem till this moment while before it was matter of seconds,,,, can you please check my account of @red-rose
thank you

Sorry, I'm not part of the durgwars team, so I can't help you. It's probably best to join the drugwars discord and ask there.

Such a great post!

DrugWars is an excellent game that is constantly evolving.
It can become only beter

thanks @alexs1320! Yes, the game changed quite a bit in the last couple of months, with a lot of features and changes still to come! :)

what a fine analysis there mate. They have made great progress. And they have great plans for the future as well...both the coin and the time :)

thanks @mindtrap, there were indeed some substantial changes in the last couple of weeks!

I like how the operations in the first graph showed, meaning, a lot of still active players spend a lot of time for this game. By the way, congratulations to the devs of the game for rooting out those bot players, it means a lot to all the human players in the game.

What I really notice with the second graph, on the other hand, was the decline in the number of players playing the drug wars and I think you also saw that and it is very observable in-game. Nevertheless, I am still playing the game. I just hope that soon, when changes will be applied, players will be able to return again in-game and who knows, maybe new players will also play this.

More power to all the dedicated staff of @drugwars especially to @hightouch who works tirelessly to improve the game. Cheers man.

Thanks, @crokkon for this wonderful share. Kudos!

Hi @edencourage, thanks for your comment! Yes, I also realized the decreasing trend in the number of players in the second graph. However, I'm not sure if the data as shown is really objective on that conclusion. There were around 6k players per day when the game was still dominated by bots and we're at 5-6k now - after around 1k accounts stopped their scripted/bot activities. This on its own doesn't look too bad. We don't know how many stopped playing the game or continued playing manually. On the other hand, there were days in the beginning of April with more than 7k daily players and the numbers (at least for the days I had in the data here) are decreasing since then. So, yes, it looks and feels like a decrease. But for a clearer picture on number of players, one should probably look into a larger continuous time range instead of selected days as I did here.

Yeah. Let's just observe for the coming days. I do believe there still a lot of people spending their time in drugwars and we will see the effects of the upgrades to be implemented in-game. I think they are nice and exciting. Over-all, bots are indeed annoying especially when you know you are playing and devoting your time to have better gameplay, unlike these folks. It is a form of cheating. I just hope that soon it will be all good, and many players will become more competitive. Hoping for the overall success of @drugwars. :-)

I'm still optimistic on Drugwars.
This post has been resteemed!

Thanks for your resteem, @ronel!

You're welcome!

What good is a game where robots play against themselves?? Might as well play the stock market!


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haha, well, it depends on what you want from a game. It can be pretty funny as well to develop bots to play against other bots. Only bots vs. humans is a game where human players usually have a hard time to win.

Here's your DRAMA. Don't spend it all in one place!

To view or trade DRAMA go to

I'm waiting for DW to be open to social media platforms other than steem. That's when the real fun will begin. Till then stacking up the FUTURE tokens for the future.

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True, opening the game to platforms beyond Steem can make a huge difference here!

Just imagine the inflow of Facebook users. It will bring in so much fun and money. Building to welcome them. Lol

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Too bad the bots robbed it while the steem divs were best. Now who really cares if they are taking some future away.

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Current value of FutureToken by Future Shock: 1,000,000,000,000,000 Future = $0.00

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I am detected as a robot, :joy: even i never do that, or i only play like robot :D and BOOM they ban my account, reset from zero. Maybe become too great in the game with manual and high effort only bring ban. But it's okay now since i dont play regularly again.

Now i only login once per day to heist and to buy some armies. Not like before, enjoying war like crazy, and BOOM detected as a bot.

Good bye @drugwars upvotes

Posted using Partiko Android

If you are playing this game to earn Steem and are upset that it's future tokens now instead, you need to get a job. (This is not financial advice) :()

i have made at 3:08 am on today 04/06/2019 an exchange of 112 future tokens into my steem account, but i di not recieve the value of steem till this moment while before it was matter of seconds,,,, can you please check my account of @red-rose
thank you

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