Linking together several bots

1. The Basics

If you want to link several bots together, there are multiple ways to achieve this, each with its benefits and drawbacks. Read the guide thouroughly and decide for yourself, which will suit your needs.

Basically, for your bots to be linked, they need a fast way to communicate with all participating bots. If you only want to link 2 bots together, you can link them via “tells”. It doesn't scale though, linking more than 2 bots together via tells is not possible. If you want to link more than two bots, or might want to do so in the future, there are 3 possibilities: Either you link them together using your bot-database (only works if all bots use the same database), using irc or you use a private channel in the game. If you use IRC, keep in mind that you should secure the channel you use with a password and that, depending on the connection to the irc-server, response-time gets up a bit. Using a private channel in the game is a good alternative, but you will need a dedicated bot (a relay bot) to keep that private channel open and invite all the org/raid bots.

2. The different setups

2.1 Using tells

PROS: easy setup, no relay-bot needed
CONS: Only works with 2 bots

Using tells as relay is discouraged nowadays, but I will describe it shortly nonetheless. Assuming you have two bots “bot1” and “bot2”, you start by making each bot member in the other bot:

/tell bot1 !member add bot2
/tell bot2 !member add bot1

Then you let bot1 relay to bot2:

/tell bot1 !set Relay StrictNameCheck On
/tell bot1 !set Relay Type tell
/tell bot1 !set Relay Relay bot2
/tell bot1 !set Relay Status On

And vice versa:

/tell bot2 !set Relay StrictNameCheck On
/tell bot2 !set Relay Type tell
/tell bot2 !set Relay Relay bot1
/tell bot2 !set Relay Status On

You might also want to change the name of your org's and private-group's messages prefix

/tell bot1 !set Relay Gcname ORG1
/tell bot1 !set Relay Pgname org1
/tell bot2 !set Relay Gcname ORG2
/tell bot2 !set Relay Pgname org2

And that should do it. If you want to link more than 2 bots, you should think about using a relay-bot.

2.2 Using IRC

PROS: scales well, no relay-bot needed, easy setup, allows linking between different game-servers and even games
CONS: increases latency, item-references will be broken, possibly insecure, doesn't look as nice as the other links

Before you start, please acknowledge that relaying via IRC is considered deprecated, yet it will still work.

Being a totally different approach, an IRC-link works by letting all participating bots join the same IRC-channel on the same IRC-server. Keep in mind that if you're not using a password-secured channel, everyone who wants to can read everything you are saying on any bot. To setup this link, you can use something like this:

/tell org1bot !set Irc Server <your irc server>
/tell org1bot !set Irc Channel #mylinkchannel
/tell org1bot !set Irc ItemRef AUNO
/tell org1bot !irc connnect

If you have an IRC-server which supports passwords on channels, you have to specify this as well:

/tell org1bot !set Irc ChannelKey mysecretpassword

Of yourse you have to do the exact same settings on all bots you want to link via IRC. The main reason you might want to consider IRC ist that you can link bots from RK1, RK2 and RK3 together with bots even from AoC and WoW, it doesn't really matter.

2.3 Using a private channel

PROS: scales up to 1000 bots, best speed, possible sharing of online-lists if all bots are using the same DB
CONS: Needs a dedicated relay-bot

The fastest and most flexible solution is relaying via a private group. All bots you want to connect have to join the same private group and exchange messages via means of !gcr. For this to work, we need a new type of bot, a relay-bot, which has the job of creating the private group and inviting all other bots into this group whenever necessary. The org/raid-bots on the other hand are configured much like a tell-relay.

CAVEAT: Before setting up everything, create all the bots you will need and make sure that some time passes so every bot has WHOIS-information on every bot involved. This will wipe out any possible problem related to people and bots not seeing each other.

2.3.1 Setting up the relay-bot

Your most important bot is the relay-bot. Its only task is to be online, create the private channel which is used for the communication between your bots and invite all bots you want to link together to this chat. Nothing more. If your relay-bot is offline, your link will be gone, though your raid/guild-bots will continue to work. Once the relay-bot comes on again and all guild/org-bots are invited, the link will work again.

The relay-bot MUST NOT BE MEMBER OF ANY GUILD. Keep that in mind. It should be a totally stripped-down bot, only there to open the private group and invite the other bots., so make sure to disable as much modules as possible, since you will most likely never use them anyway and they increase the likeliness of a break-in. Stricly speaking, you only need the follwing modules once the bot is set up and all is running well:

  • AccessControlUI.php
  • BanManagerUI.php
  • ColorConfigUI.php
  • CommandAliasUI.php
  • FlexibleSecurityUI.php
  • Logon.php
  • ModulesControlUI.php
  • Notify.php
  • PreferencesUI.php
  • Relay.php
  • Roster.php
  • SettingsUI.php
  • ShortCutsUI.php
  • Shutdown.php
  • ao/AutoInv.php
  • ao/PrivGroup.php

Those in italic can also be disabled, but will make like more comfortable.
The basic idea of the relay-bot is that the only members are the bots you want to link together. You will then need to set it up to automatically invite them all, so once the link is down it will setup again automatically. Throughout the setup, I will assume that your relay-bot's name is rbot, as will be its private group.

The first thing to do is to enable AutoInvites for all members of the bot:

/tell rbot !set Relay Autoinvite On
/tell rbot !preferences default Autoinv recieve_auto_invite On

Then you have to add all org/raid-bots as members to this bot:

/tell rbot !member add org1bot
/tell rbot !member add org2bot
/tell rbot !member add org3bot
/tell rbot !member add raidbot1
/tell rbot !member add raidbot2

To speed up reconnects, you should place all bots on notify:

/tell rbot !notify on org1bot
/tell rbot !notify on org2bot
/tell rbot !notify on org3bot
/tell rbot !notify on raidbot1
/tell rbot !notify on raidbot2

And that's about it for the relay-bot setup. Easy, huh?

2.3.2 Setting up the org/raid-bots

On your org- and raid-bots, you will need to make them use the relaybot's private group as their private group for relaying. Configure like this:

/tell org1bot !set Relay StrictNameCheck On
/tell org1bot !set Relay Type Pgroup
/tell org1bot !set Relay Relay rbot
/tell org1bot !set Relay Status On

“rbot” being the name of your relay-bot. Assuming that our Org1 is called “The proud and well-known fr00bs of Rubi Ka”, relayed messages from your guildchat would be dislayed on Org2 as [Org2] Org2Bot: [The proud and well-known fr00bs of Rubi Ka] Pigtail: Test. You might want to shorten that “The proud and well-known fr00bs of Rubi Ka” a bit:

/tell org1bot !set Relay Gcname PWF
/tell org1bot !set Relay Pgname pwf

The first is the name to displayed for messages relayed from your guildchat, the second one the name displayed for the private group (a.k.a. guest-chat).
Now that it's done, every org/raid-bot configured like this should be in the private chat of the relaybot. If they aren't there already, either wait a bit, or join the relay-bot's private group and !invite them one by one. The only thing missing is to configure those bots to allow all linked bots to send them relay-messages via !gcr. Per default (as of 0.6.2), every member with the access level MEMBER is allowed to do this. This is the most important part of your setup as with this configuration every org or raidgroup can decide for themselves from which they want to receive messages (sadly they can't decide to whom they want to SENT). Usually every org/raid-bot wants to allow every other bot to send messages.
Of course we could just add every bot with “!member add”, but that would become quite messy. To keep things a bit more organized, I advise to create a new security group with the access level MEMBER. For simplicity, we call it “relaybots” and give it a good description.

/tell org1bot addgroup relaybots All bots from which we want to receive messages
/tell org1bot admin group add relaybots

This will create the new security group “relaybots” with access level ANONYMOUS. We need to promote our new group to access level MEMBER. Sadly, the command for this depends on the internal number of the newly created security group, so here's what you need to do:

/tell org1bot !security levels

You will see that our security group has access level ANONYMOUS. Click on the [MEMBER] next to “relaybots” to promote it to MEMBER access level. Now that it's done, we just need to add all bots we want to receive messages from to our new security group. With our current example of 3 orgbots and 2 raidbots, we'd do something like this:

/tell org1bot !adduser org2bot relaybots
/tell org1bot !adduser org3bot relaybots
/tell org1bot !adduser raidbot1 relaybots
/tell org1bot !adduser raidbot2 relaybots

Of course you need to do this on all 5 bots (but NOT on the relay-bot!), so it will take some time. After every bot has access to every bot, your link should work as expected and reconfigure itself after disconnects.
Congratulations, you are done!

2.3.3 Scalability

If you understood what we've just configured, you might have noticed that you can use a single relay-bot to manage different guild-links. If, for example, you now decide that you want to seperate your org-link and your raid-link you can achive this by making all org-bots member of the relaybots security-group on all org-bots (but not on any raid-bot) and all raid-bots members of the security-group relaybots on all raid-bots (but not on any org-bot). This way, you can use a single relay for several totally different relay-groups. The only proble being that the bot-admin can only decide from which bot he/she wants to receive messages, but not to which bots messages should be relayed. So you have to trust each other if you really plan such a weird setup.

Anyway, the big advantage from this whole setup we just did is that it scales nicely. No matter how many bots you add, the delay doesn't increase. The traffic depends solely on the amount of text sent, which should be totally neglectable.

2.3.4 Sharing the online-list across several bots

If you are building a bot-network, you will most likely be interested in knowing who is online. And this includes all linked orgs, not just your own. Luckily, this is possible. There are two cases to consider:

2.3.4.1 All bots use the same DB

If you want to share the online-list of all your bots, you need all org/raid-bots to use the same database. Then you only need to tell each bot about all the other bots:

/tell org1bot !set online OtherBots org2bot,org3bot,raidbot1,raidbot2
/tell org2bot !set online OtherBots org1bot,org3bot,raidbot1,raidbot2
/tell org3bot !set online OtherBots org1bot,org2bot,raidbot1,raidbot2
/tell raidbot1 !set online OtherBots org1bot,org2bot,org3bot,raidbot2
/tell raidbot2 !set online OtherBots org1bot,org2bot,org3bot,raidbot1

Now every bot lists all the members of all bots involved. Problem solved.

2.3.4.2 At least one bot not using the same DB

Most of the time, you are linking together different organisations, each already having a fully configured bot. Trusting you or not, they will most likely not let you move their database to your server. Still, everyone wants to see who is online in the network. The solution is to install an additional bot per organisation (or, in case of raidbots, an additional bot per raidbot), let these additional bot(s) use the same database and change their prefix to something other than “!” (like “.” or “!!”). These additional bots must not use your relay-bot and be setup the same way as described in 2.3.4.1. If you already have control over one or more org-bots, you don't need to add an additional bot to these orgs, just make sure they share the same database.
Also, ensure that both org-bots are configured in conf/Conf.php ($other_bots[“botX”] = true), so joining and parting of your bots isn't announced. Also they are hidden on the online-list then.

The bots whose sole purpose is to provide the online-listing should hence only provide the !online-command (well… actually “.online” or “!!online” or something like that). You don't want to compete against the features of the “real” org-bot, do you?

2.4 Using a shared database

PROS: ok speed (2s delay max), sharing of online-lists, no relay-bot needed
CONS: All bots need to be using the same database

I haven't tried this myself yet, but here is how it should work:

Keep in mind that this setup only works if all your bots are using the same database. It's can't work elsewise.
First, make sure to grant each of the bots involved in your network access to each other (either by using “!member add botX” or creating a special security group for this as described in 2.3.2. Now do the following (assuming there are three bots, named bot1, bot2 and bot3):

/tell bot1 !set Relay StrictNameCheck On
/tell bot1 !set Relay Type db
/tell bot1 !set Online Otherbots bot2,bot3
/tell bot2 !set Relay StrictNameCheck On
/tell bot2 !set Relay Type db
/tell bot2 !set Online Otherbots bot1,bot3
/tell bot3 !set Relay StrictNameCheck On
/tell bot3 !set Relay Type db
/tell bot3 !set Online Otherbots bot1,bot2
/tell bot1 !set Relay Status On
/tell bot2 !set Relay Status On
/tell bot3 !set Relay Status On

Don't forget to set Pgname and Gcname to something reasonable

/tell bot1 !set Relay Pgname org1
/tell bot1 !set Relay Gcname ORG1
...

And that's about it. The relaying of messages is not instant though since every bot will check for new messages to relay only once every 2 seconds. But in return you will get a shared online-list and no hassle setting it up. Enjoy!

3. Conclusion

There is a solution to nearly every problem. All different approaches have pros and cons and in the end it's up to you to decide which path you chose. Linking bots is not an easy task and you should try to understand what you are doing before you actually let people use your setup. Play around a bit, experiment and only when you are happy and sure you understand what happens, let other people join your bots. Don't let people push you to do something you don't understand or even want. After all, these bots are your bots and you are to take care of them. Be proud of your work and enjoy it!

 
playground/draft.txt · Last modified: 2013/09/12 22:49 (external edit)
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