Archive for the ‘Steam’ Category
DistroCast Episode 14.0 featuring where we’ve been, our FreeBSD review, and Steamy goodness.
The Internet is facing its greatest challenge yet, we explain why the fight against online piracy has taken a turn towards Internet censorship.
PLUS – Steam and NASA were hacked this week, find out how bad the fallout is, and why Private browsing mode, might not be that private!
All that and more, on this week’s episode of TechSNAP!
New special offer: techsnap11 $1.99 per month Economy Hosting for 3 months! – Expires Dec 31st 2011.
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- Authorities of the Romania Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) have arrested a 26 year old who is accused to breaking in to multiple servers at NASA
- The authorities claim that the attacker destroyed protected data and restricted access to it, resulting in a loss of over $500,000
- Charges against Robert Butyka include:
- obtaining unauthorized access and causing severe disruptions to a computer system
- modifying, damaging and restricting access to data without authorization
- possession of hacking programs
- “Through criminal activity, the accused severely affected the operation of computer servers by introducing, modifying and damaging electronic data and restricting access to it,” DIICOT said in a statement.
- He is to be tried in Romania, as there has been no extradition request.
- Attackers managed to gain access to the user database
- The database contained: username, email address, hashed and salted password, game purchase history, billing address, and encrypted credit card data.
- Valve had not yet determined if the database had been copied or viewed
- Valve originally believed that only the user forums had been compromised, but during the investigation it was determined that the compromised extended to all user data
- Valve reports that they have not noticed an increase in login attempts and have not received any reports of misused credit cards. This suggests that the data was either not taken, or is sufficiently protected to delay its use.
- If the database was taken, I would expect to see a spear phishing attack, using the name, username and email address of the users to ask them to ‘reset’ their steam password.
- All forum accounts will require a password reset, however valve is not forcing a password reset on all steam accounts.
- Private Browsing mode stops the browser from recording history, and isolates your cookies, not sending cookies from regular browsing mode, and removing the new cookies when you leave private mode.
- Research has found that many plugins do not respect private mode, especially Adobe Flash, which has its own separate cookie system. This means a site that you visited in private mode, could read those cookies even in regular mode, and vice versa . Flash has since been fixed, make sure you upgrade.
- Chrome and Internet Explorer have taken to automatically disabling plugins in private mode
- Roger Writes… 3 Questions for you guys…
- Allan does use windows, for gaming, and for doing the podcast
- For a list of the advantages of ZFS, you should watch the ZFS episode of TechSNAP. For the other file systems, really you can only compare them against another file system. UFS has advantages over ext2/3, specifically with its ability to store millions of files in a single directory.
- For checking your email over 3G/4G, you should still use SSL in your phone’s mail client.
- Arturo writes… Degree or Certs?
- We already have dns level blocking of websites in Belgium. This is what you get when going to the piratebay…
- Facebook confirms images of porn and violence, is investigating UPDATE: Facebook identifies those behind coordinated spam attack
- [Duqu computer virus Detected by Iran civil defense organization (http://thehackernews.com/2011/11/duqu-computer-virus-detected-by-iran.html)
- Researchers are fairly confident that Duqu was written by the same group as Stuxnet, and that is has more capabilities than we know about
- Ebury, a new SSH trojan
- Microsoft spends $7.5m on IP addresses
- Bind 9 has a potential 0 day exploit
- Chris watched the hearing, you can replay the train wreck here.
- Hacker News thread on the stream is eye opening!
- SOPA Sponsors: Pass SOPA To Protect The Troops; Everyone Else: WTF?
- A Handy SOPA Infographic
- House Judiciary Committee Denies That Its SOPA Hearing Is Stacked In Any Way
- Internet Community Shut Out of Stop Online Piracy Act Hearing – Again – EFF
- American Censorship Day November 16 – Join the fight to stop SOPA
Since the beginning of the year, nearly a dozen different subscription-driven titles have announced their intention to switch to various versions of Free-to-Play subscription models, across the MMO landscape. In today’s episode we’ll look at a few of the most recent additions to this playing field, and discuss the ins-and-outs of their particular takes on the F2P concept. How are they moving from premium subscriptions without alienating existing consumers? How will they market themselves to new gamers? Find out on this week’s MMOrgue!
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Being republished by GamersFirst, who also recently resurrected APB
Corrections about GamersFirst — Ep. 2 of MMOrgue
Response from GamersFirst
- I incorrectly stated that they are an Asian company. This is just flat-out incorrect, and I’d like to apologize to the crew over there for getting my wires crossed during my research phase.
- To be frank, I got their acquisition and relaunch of APB mixed up with Hanbitsoft and the relaunch of Hellgate. Embarassing!
- GamersFirst is actually a California-based company, and entirely stationed here in the Western market. And while they have a world-wide presence, they don’t consider themselves to be marketing to an “eastern” market by any means.
- That being said, I believe my criticisms about their “Pay To Win” cash shop still stand, including the fact that this type of F2P model is more common, and more accepted, in the East.
Now… moving on to CURRENT news, GamersFirst announced about a week ago that they were partnering up with the makers of Fallen Earth. Shortly after that announcement, the info surfaced that Fallen Earth would soon be relaunched under a new F2P subscription model.
Since I have never gotten my hands on Fallen Earth, the best thing I can say about this move is that I will soon be able to do so. Without it costing me a cent.
- This, I think, is a very important statement to nail home, about the concept of F2P in general…
- MMOs are seen as long-term investments, by the typical MMO gamers. We’re not generally looking for a game that will keep us entertained for a weekend, or a summer. We want longevity, community, commitment, and enough content to satisfy the cost of investing in a title.
- This attitude was ingrained in us from the standard Premium Subscription model, where a box costs as much as a standalone game, but then you also have to pay monthly to continue to play.
- Under a F2P model, the client is generally given away free, and a huge portion of the gameplay is available without spending one red cent.
- By eliminating this barrier of entry, you can accomplish two separate financial goals:
- 1) MMO gamers accustomed to monthly subscriptions are now more willing to “try out” your title without having to drink your kool-aid.
- 2) Gamers that are unwilling to pay monthly subscription fees are introduced to a whole new style of gameplay.
- Even if only a small % of either type of gamer stick around, it’s still an improvement.
The core Fallen Earth team of devs will be staying in their current location, and remain employed as a separate game studio under Reloaded Productions (GamersFirst’s dev wing).
According to their dev blog, they hope that an influx of new players, and possibly more funding, will allow them to follow up on features and content that they’ve had plans for, but no resources to follow up on.
- Free: Unlimited free trial. No reward points. Similar restrictions on trade & crafting to current “Trial” accounts.
- Low Premium: Costs less than current sub. No reward points.
- Mid Premium: Same as current sub ($15/mo). Monthly reward points. XP bonus.
- High Premium: More than current sub. Monthly reward points. Bigger XP bonus. “Premium Aura” which allows many bonuses to be shared with their teammates. This aura stacks.
All tiers enjoy unlimited content. FE devs want you to play in their world with your friends, regardless of how much money either of you decide to spend on the product.
I’ll also say this: I’m not a fan of many of the design choices made in APB, but there appear to be different minds behind Fallen Earth’s transition. If they can steer away from the money-grubbing attitude present in APB – which they SEEM to be doing, based no their dev blog and community posts – then I could definitely see this breathing new life back into this rather unique, but barely alive, title.
These changes are supposed to take place in Q4 of 2011. Vague!
Raise your hand if you didn’t see this coming. *raise*
Why didn’t I see it coming? I mean, it was already cheap, and only a moderate success in the online space. Gazillion Entertainment already sold it back to LEGO Corp a few months back. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, so why does it?
Because it’s aimed at KIDS.
Cash Shops are a necessity of F2P models – it’s how you make money. LEGO U would need to make its shop easily accessible, without putting Daddy’s credit card in the hands of a spendy 10 year old with a passion for fashion.
So what is LEGO doing? NO CASH SHOP! Problem solved… kinda…
This is not a truly free-to-play version of LEGO Universe, as the headlines indicate. This free TRIAL version of LEGO U will only include 2 adventuring zones and one personal property area, whereas the full game features almost a dozen of each.
This is insidious!
The adventuring side of LEGO is not its true selling point. If you want a good LEGO-themed adventure game, you’re far better-off playing one of their standalone console or PC titles, like LEGO Star Wars, etc. The mini-games, like racing and a shooting gallery, are the only bits that stand out.
So what does that leave you with? Building things! This is the core joy of LEGO to begin with, and they’re allowing you access to it in the Free Trial version… kinda…
With only one property to build on, the canvas for your bricky masterpieces is limited. Furthermore, with only 2 adventuring zones available where you can collect bricks, the amount of models you can effectively construct will be massively limited. Anyone hoping to build a truly epic construction of their own will likely be FORCED to subscribe to the full game, simply to gain access to the full range of Brick and Model vendors available in zones that will otherwise be beyond their reach as Trial Accounts.
In summary, I’d like to say “Shame On You” to LEGO Corp for their misleading Press Release and disingenuous use of the phrase “Free to Play.” And a secondary “check your info” to every MMO news site out there that ran with the headline before reading the fine print.
The FREE TRIAL of LEGO U will become available in August of this year.
City of Heroes
Renaming the project, City of Heroes Freedom.
No colon? No apostrophe? That’s terrible grammar! ARRGH.
I don’t have much to say about this, except that this swap was simultaneously, inevitable and a surprise to me.
- Inevitable: The superhero market is reaching saturation, between COH, CO, DCUO and the upcoming Marvel MMO. With CO being a primary player in that subcategory, and offering its content under a F2P subscription model.
- Surprise: NCSoft has never shown itself to be a proponent of this model. 4 out of their 5 big titles are currently subscription-driven, with the remaining title still charging a box fee.
Details of subscription model: http://www.cityofheroes.com/news/freedom/player_choices.html
Current subscriptions = VIP access. Full content + 400 Paragon Points per month
Prior subscription = Premium access. Free + Anything you previously purchased or earned with Reward Points (expansion packs, etc)
No subscription = Free. Limited content. Buy Paragon Points with cash.
VIPs will also have access to an exclusive server (no F2P allowed!)
Free players will not have access to Mission Architect.
Unsurprising, but kind of a let-down. UGC is a big draw for this game. But I suppose you have to convince new players to pay for SOMEthing.
On a completely different topic, I’d like to drop this week’s big speculation on you: Pottermore
By the time this episode airs, we may already know the answer as JK Rowling’s YouTube page says that a big announcement will be forthcoming on June 23rd. I won’t lie – I’m a Harry Potter fan, and firmly believe that an MMO in that universe could potentially be a BLAST to play. Or could fail so hard it would make the entire island of Great Britain sink into the ocean. Either way, I’m keeping an eye on this one.
Some of the best examples, and the worst, and perhaps even get to the bottom of why this particular feature has such a spotty implementation history throughout MMOs.
- Best current example, EQ2
- Worst, STO
- CO getting “Hideouts” soon
- Gods & Heroes will have “Estate System” (releasing today)
So until then… play smart, and target their healers first!
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We have to do a show? Can’t I just keep playing?! Ugh, fine.
Here’s a show about Portal 2. We review it, tell you why it’s incredible and addictive and completely adorable, then show you a little why others think the same. Oh and there’s a couple newsy bits, too. And swag to buy.
Fascinating, I’m sure, but can I go play some more now? There’s science to be done!
Techland(TIME) Gives it a Perfect 10
PC Gamer Scores at 94/100
The Early Launch Project — Potato Sack
- Players that purchased and played indie games on Steam fueled a launch ahead of schedule.
- Served to promote indie gaming, Steam, and PC gaming in general.
- Also probably made Valve a few hundred thousand dollars. And I have no problem with that.
Review Points (SINGLE PLAYER)
- ENVIRONMENT ART / ANIMATION
The intro is breath-taking. The environments built to re-introduce you are magnificent. And the way they grow and change throughout the game is brilliant. The environment IS a character, or at the very least a bodily extension of one (or … two …)
Being a test subject “again” was fun because of how it was introduced. Also good for brand new players that didn’t play the first, or have taken a long break. A nice easy way to get you back into the swing of things.
- OLD FRIENDS
I’ve been worried for months now that the “soul” of Portal 2 would end up feeling bland and overworked, because Valve might put too much effort into making another landmark game, where the first felt like sort of an accident. Those fears have been put to rest.
- NEW FRIENDS
* Cave Johnson, the voice in many of the trailers released so far, is a ridiculous fossil of manliness from the 50s/60s. And he lampoons it with such efficiency that it becomes AWESOME. (think, “Mad Men”)
- “When life gives you lemons, invent combustible lemons and burn life’s house down with them. You don’t deserve lemons!”
* Getting to know GladOS on a more personal basis was worth the price of the game.
Whereas Portal1 felt like nothing more than a clever puzzle game that could be beaten in a single sitting, Portal2 is an awesome ride through an incredible story, as it tells you the history of Aperture Labs without actually having to TELL you anything. Incredible storytelling.
- NO ENEMIES
I like having a sense of danger without actually having to kill anything. Too many puzzle games introduce enemies, when their gameplay could be designed in a way to do without it. (e.g., “The Ball”)
* Some of the more complicated puzzles give you a subtle musical cue when you’re on the right track to solving it.
* Top notch ambient audio all over. Distant explosions, whirring machinery, etc.
- Some REALLY tough puzzles, involving extremely fast hand-eye coordination. I may not be able to beat this game because of it.
- Did not like Wheatley. I know a lot of people did, but it’s tough to sympathize or enjoy interacting with him. I can’t put my finger on it.
- A few (VERY few) cut corners, it feels like. With so much attention given to the atmosphere, it was a minor moment of disappointment to see some missed opportunities (eg. the ‘intro movies’ playing near each lift, many were repeated dozens of times.)
- No explanation given (as far as I know) for your character’s reintroduction to the Labs. At the end of Portal1, you seem to escape to the surface. So why are you back inside at the start of Portal2?
- Few achievements. Or maybe I suck. Either way, it comes across as a negative to me. I’d like more badges for my efforts, even if they’re not uber leet..
- Very easy to start up, well integrated into Steam network (obviously…)
- Communication is excellent, over Steam. Also with press F to point, use timers, etc.
- Incredible variation of maps. Some were just STUPIDLY awesome to complete. Aiming lasers using your partner’s mini-viewscreen, etc.
- GladOS’ commentary keeps it light hearted, even when you die repeatedly. Especially when you die repeatedly.
- Fully featured, completely time consuming. We finished the first 6 maps, thought that was it, and were still satisfied. Then found a dozen more, and there are probably even more after that.
- No chatting during load screens.
- Complicated. Requires a teammate with lots of patience. Not recommended for strangers.
- It can, at times, feel like playing pool with a friend. But both of you can only use one hand each, and you’re both using the same cue. At the same time.