Starbot was one of the oldest chat bots on Blizzard Entertainment’s battle.net multi-player platform. It was first online on Sep. 21st 1998, and throughout its lifetime had always been different from most other chat bots in the following ways:
- Starbot was a network, which means that all data was shared between different Starbot instances.
- Starbot supported both battle.net and the alternative FSGS server software.
- Starbot was a service for everyone. Unlike other chat bots which had strict notions of authority and hierarchy, Starbot was provided only in public battle.net channels and could be equally accessed by every user.
Over time, it became not only a useful tool but also an icon of popular culture in a wide gaming community, involving Starbot t-shirts, mousepads and even a physical Starbot smart card that could be used for identifying at LAN-Parties.
Here is an overview of the functionality provided by Starbot:
- mail commands (leave messages for friends)
- alias command (other accounts of people)
- user information command (when was someone last online?)
- bot status query (network status, update, version…)
- user statistics query, calculation of possible ladder game results
- watch command (get notified when a friend enters the channel)
- news command
- query and communicate with users in other channels (even across different servers)
- clan database (about 700 clans registered)
- server and channel statistics
- chat AI (talk with Starbot)
- web gateway
- icq gateway
- client gateway for chat software or other bots
Starbot was hosted in a lot of battle.net channels, its best known account names were: _STARBOT_, _STARBOT_BW, _STARBOT_D2, _STARBOT_DEU, _STARBOT_DEUBW, _STARBOT_DEUD2, _STARBOT_GBR, _STARBOT_FRA, _STARBOT_USA, _STARBOT_SWE, _STARBOT_SWEBW.
Starbot was also present on multiple FSGS servers, where it had its own, dedicated icon.
All software components were written in plain C and made up about 14.000 lines source code. The operating system was Linux, and the database server was mySQL. The web tools and interfaces were made using CGI and PHP. Starbot could be run in 5 different languages, which (apart from the fact that the services were completely public and free) were one of the reasons why it had become so popular in its home channels. Since its launch, an estimated number of 1.200.000 commands were executed, about 600.000 users were recorded by the database server, and about 60 botmail messages were sent every day. According to sclegacy.com, Starbot had been on battle.net for a total time of 39.000 hours.
An online survey on Starbot showed that about 80% of the users appreciated its services as an extension to battle.net.