[Classic] Addons still able to execute remote /follow commands?

So, Blizzard has recently issued heavy-handed anti-boosting measures. However, addons are still able to accept a remote /follow command from another player. This makes boosting services more attractive as boostees can then be fully AFK for a very long time. This is (or was) a common practice for boosting on Faerlina.

How this looks in practice: A booster advertises that they are doing slave pens boosts, and that they have the auto-follow weakaura. 1-4 boostees join, and then the booster shares a weakaura with them that will accept a remote /follow command. Now after they pay the booster they can just go AFK for 30 minutes, since the booster can just type a command in party chat and the boostee characters will automatically follow the booster out of an old instance ID and into a fresh one without them even being at the keyboard.

If the above doesn’t give you an idea of what this would look like, just look at the first 10 seconds of this video:

I don’t see how the ability to remotely issue a /follow command meaningfully benefits anyone except multiboxers and people selling a service that allows someone to AFK for exp/gear, and Blizzard have now shown that they don’t really appreciate either of these gameplay styles, so I’m wondering why it’s still in the game. While boosting has taken a heavy hit, there do appear to be some boosting options still available albeit not as accessible as before, so in my mind it makes sense to make whatever’s left as inconvenient as possible.

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Removing following would be make the game pretty much unplayable for people who rely on this feature for accessibility reasons.

Lets find a way to get rid of these things without hurting accessibility.

This is specifically referring to the ability to start and stop someone from /following without them being at the keyboard, which is only possible with addons. Being able to /follow is okay by itself. Edited the post to make it a bit more clear.

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My point still stands. It’s much easier for a guide to instruct someone to start following automatically, rather than having to do this manually.

The follow feature isn’t the cause, it’s just a tool. Don’t ban legitimate uses of the tool and get rid of the ToS breakers through other means.

I’m really struggling to understand this type of player you’re advocating for. They are playing Classic WoW, but pressing a /follow macro is just too bothersome for them? I understand that some people legitimately have a hard time moving their fingers/limbs, but what exactly is it that a person does in Classic WoW to enjoy their time if pressing buttons is so bothersome? I don’t understand, because it is virtually impossible to progress your character in Classic WoW without doing combat, which entails MANY button presses. And what percentage of the Classic playerbase do you guess significantly benefits from this feature from an accessibility standpoint?

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Accessibility is for everyone, not just those you deem worthy.

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Now you’re just putting words in my mouth. I’m all for accommodating people with accessibility issues, however, we run into issues when adding certain accessibility features makes the game experience worse for everyone else. Therefore, it’s valid to assess how many people would realistically benefit from those accessibility features being present.

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Your problem is with boosting, and you want to get rid of an accessibility feature while it won’t even solve the boosting problem.

Every single person who has their accessibility negatively impact by this, is one too many. You mention the problem is boosting, so why take other people’s accessibility?

I’m not sure how they are supposed to prevent an add-on from sending the /follow command without disabling the /follow command entirely or by rendering add-ons blind to the chat box.

And I don’t really like the idea of restricting add-ons development with specific rules like blacklisting “/follow” on the chat API for add-ons.
That just makes add-ons development unnecessarily more complex and cheapens them.

The issue here is either the boosting itself or the AFK automation.

If AFK is the problem, then just make it so that you can only get credit for a kill if you are not AFK and make the afk timer shorter. Add-ons can’t use abilities or manually move for you, so you’d require manual input.

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Addons don’t actually type “/follow” for you. I just wrote that so it would be easier to understand. They use the FollowUnit API. Run this script in game and you’ll follow your target (can replace “target” with any player name as well):
/script FollowUnit("target")

So they could just disable addons from using the FollowUnit API. Or make it have to be attached to a hardware event (mouse click, button press) like some other APIs already are. I feel pretty confident that Blizzard could find a simple solution to break FollowUnit as a tool to help enable boosting without either hurting chat parsing or disabling following via other traditional methods.

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I reached out to our UI and accessibility teams and we’re investigating this.

In general, we agree that accessibility is important, but that doesn’t mean that every effort to stop automation or botting is an attack on accessibility. There are lots of game functions that the game requires a hardware event for, and it makes sense for /follow to be added to that list, based on the behavior Kruffzz suggested. We’re targeting that change for both Wrath of the Lich King Classic, and Dragonflight releases.

Before making decisions like this, we reach out to gamers with disabilities. To be clear, the change we’re planning will still allow a disabled player to follow a guide, including through the use of a Macro or UI Mod to issue the follow command. The behavior it prevents is for UI Mods to initiate a follow on their own based on receiving a message from another source, such as a message from another player.

Thanks for the suggestion, Kruffzz!

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This is somewhat out of my depth as a non-addon author, but seeing it is an important topic I wanted to call attention to the following thread by an author for an addon that supports blind/visually impaired players, saying the FollowUnit API call being bound to a hardware event would still impact accessibility negatively:

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So basically the decision is to make a pointless change that only hurts accessibility?

Here you can verify the Hardware Protected function SetCurrentTitle:
/run C_Timer.After(0.1, function () SetCurrentTitle(0) end)

[ADDON_ACTION_BLOCKED] AddOn '*** ForceTaint_Strong ***' tried to call the protected function 'SetCurrentTitle()'.

This code inside any addon will nullify the hardware protection as all it requires is a random key press to use the hardware protected function. If there’s anything that can be automated by multiboxers or bots, it’s sending key presses to the client.

How to use this script: have someone say title in /say and then press a random key on your keyboard.

local titles = {}
for title = 1, GetNumTitles() -1, 1 do
    if IsTitleKnown(title) then table.insert(titles, title) end
end;

local receivedTitleCommand = false
local listener = CreateFrame('Frame', nil, UIParent)
listener:SetPropagateKeyboardInput(true)
listener:HookScript('OnKeyDown', function ()
    if not receivedTitleCommand then return end
    SetCurrentTitle(titles[random(1, #titles)])
    receivedTitleCommand = false
end)

listener:RegisterEvent('CHAT_MSG_SAY')
listener:SetScript('OnEvent', function (_, event, text)
    if event ~= 'CHAT_MSG_SAY' or text ~= 'title' then return end
    receivedTitleCommand = true
end)

This change is pointless and should not be made.

5 Likes

Thanks for continuing to discuss this.
We’re monitoring the thread here, and one from the author of Sku that’s linked here.