I make apps for other people

Posts made on Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

It’s probably what you wanted

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 18th, 2005 at 12:55

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Posted in Design Journal

This idea is still coalescing…

From Joel on Software:

A very senior Microsoft developer who moved to Google told me that Google works and thinks at a higher level of abstraction than Microsoft. “Google uses Bayesian filtering the way Microsoft uses the if statement,” he said. That’s true. Google also uses full-text-search-of-the-entire-Internet the way Microsoft uses little tables that list what error IDs correspond to which help text. Look at how Google does spell checking: it’s not based on dictionaries; it’s based on word usage statistics of the entire Internet, which is why Google knows how to correct my name, misspelled, and Microsoft Word doesn’t.

From TerraNova:

The comparison of the game engine to an ‘operating system’ is interesting because of its possible long-term implications. It suggests a process and a path based on *letting go.* It is saying that there are some parts of the game presentation (where we’re at now) and the game world (where it may end-up) that I cannot directly control (except under great pain and a chance of dire mishap). Just as you now care very little how or where your documents on your computer are actually physically stored, so too might game developers come to care less about the actual motion, pathing, and ultimately perhaps behavioral detail about their characters. It would be as if to create one virtual world that you as a consumer play in the developers will negotiate with another virtual world inside… Pull apart a Matryoshka doll and find another.


Blizzard’s security email a noble effort, but receives a failing grade

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 18th, 2005 at 08:33

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Posted in Games, Java

Another email I received today, from Blizzard, is probably in response to the Allakhazam ad server keylogger attack. (Note: I use Allakhazam with Firefox, and have been an Alla subscriber for three years because I find the service useful.)

Blizzard’s support teams have seen a recent surge in account theft and password recovery incidents, and we have decided it will be useful to get some more detailed information out to our customer base about account theft and account security. That is the purpose of this email.

The vast majority of account compromises originate from one of three sources:
1. “Spoof” websites and emails
2. Downloading hacks, cheats, or other executable content
3. Sharing account information and/or using power-leveling services

This email contains more information on these and other increasingly common scams, as well as some useful links (near the bottom) for recovering your account and keeping yourself safe. We strongly recommend you familiarize yourself with this information and keep it on file.


NCSoft will take away your superhero’s identity

Posted by Chris Jones
On October 18th, 2005 at 08:12

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Posted in Games

In my email this morning:

Starting 10/24/2005 the City of Heroes® and City of Villains™ character name policy will change. Names for characters under level 35 on game accounts that have been inactive for over 90 days will be changed to unreserved status. This means that those names will become available for new character names if picked by an active player. This policy is being enacted in order to free up character names based on player feedback.

If your game account is inactive for over 90 days and you reactivate your account you will need to log back in to any characters affected by this policy to move them out of unreserved name status. If your old character name has been taken by an active player, the game will prompt you to rename your character. You will be given only one opportunity to rename your character. It is possible that your character name may still be the same if an active player has not chosen to use that character name. Your global handle will not be affected.

All characters in an unreserved name status will be shown in your character selection screen; however, their photo will not be shown, indicating that they are in unreserved name status.

If you do not log into the game with a character in unreserved name status, the character’s name will remain available to any active player until you log that character into the game. Logging into the game with the affected character will change the character’s name status back to reserved.

Cynically, I wonder if this is an attempt to get cash-flush.

Character names are identities, and losing a character’s name makes me unlikely to ever want to play the character again. (And I’ve got what I consider decent names on lower level characters in CoH.) Sure, they’re expecting many new players this month, so new and current customers should get dibs on the best names, but I can tell you that I’m highly unlikely to return or to purchase the CoV expansion because of this policy. At the least, it hurts old customers who may (or, like me, did) return for a few months after half a year away. More importantly, it hurts customers who through no fault of their own can’t log in for three months–I’m pointing at military personnel, players who have lost everything to natural disasters, the ill, etc. Imagine going to Iraq, secure in the knowledge than when you’re done with your deployment, “Patriotic Citizen” will be waiting for you–and coming back to discover that your in-game identity has been appropriated because you didn’t meet the cut-off level or log-in frequency.

Finally, Cryptic/NCsoft has set a standard by which characters, and players, are measured. If you’re not level 35, you’re not a serious player. It doesn’t matter that if you find the game too “grindy” past 20 or 30, or that you like the low-level game, or to socialize. If you’re not 35+, you’re not serious enough about the game to merit consideration. Coupled with recent bad decisions, this paints a portrait of a game less interested in developing a strong future, and more interested in fulfilling a single designer’s vision–neither players with low nor high level characters are being rewarded for this game, and now there’s no positive reason for low levels to return, or for high levels to stay.