THE CRESCENT HAWK RETURNS [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

To: BattleTech Fans

From: EA.com Headquarters

Subject: EA.com is Recruiting Beta Testers for Multiplayer BattleTech: 3025

Message: EA.com is proud to announce that Multiplayer BattleTech: 3025 (MPBT: 3025) has begun its Beta testing phase. Based on the official BattleTech\’c2\’ae universe, MPBT: 3025 is a massive multiplayer 3D game that combines first-person combat with a persistent online universe. Strap into a 25-ton BattleMech\’c2\’ae and engage in head-to-head combat for control of the Inner Sphere. EA.com is looking for a few good warriors to help participate in the Beta testing phase of MPBT: 3025.

Logistics: Think you’ve got what it takes to be a MPBT: 3025 beta tester? Here’s what you need to do to participate:

Step #1 You can join for free at EA.com to participate in the Beta testing phase of MPBT: 3025. There is no cost to play MPBT: 3025 during the Beta test. If you haven’t already done so, please click here to join.

Step #2 Once you have an EA.com member name and password, visit the MPBT: 3025 game page and login. By choosing to participate in the Beta test, you agree to keep all information about MPBT: 3025 confidential. Read the Beta Test Agreement.

Step #3 Your mission is to explore all elements of the game. During the testing period, please use the Game Support link (located in the left column of the game launch page) to send any feedback. Due to development needs, we may install new versions of the game and/or reset the game universe periodically during the test.

Step #4 A week or two before the end of the Beta testing period, we will send you a survey form. Fill it out to express your thoughts about game play, desired features, and anything else we should know in order to create the best BattleTech online game experience.

Step #5 Once Beta test cycle ends,MPBT: 3025 will open its doors to the entire galaxy. Sign-up for the EA PLATINUM Service to lead your House to conquest and glory and learn more about the cool games and features of the EA PLATINUM Service.

Thanks go out to Dark Dryad for the info.

I’ll see you there.

WHEN DEVELOPERS ATTACK [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

John Smedley, Chief Operating Officer of “We Can Cut It, dude.” Incorporated, dusted off his keyboard and set aside his COO hat to get nasty with the boys. His warning to Hackerquest was simple. You come around my house with that crap, and I’ll drop you like a bad habit. Or, in his own words,

This message is addressed to those of you that are attempting to hack EverQuest:

Read other messages on this board VERY carefully. You will find that a large number of people are being banned today.

We have been logging things on the server for some time and will continue to do so in the future. If you hack, you will be caught, and you will be banned. It’s that simple.

Regards,

John Smedley

Chief Operating Officer

Sony Online Entertainment

I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t Smed. It serves no purpose, and Smed is not prone to drive-by threatenings. A few who pointed this out were invited to email him at his Verant address. According to those few, he responded and confirmed that this message was indeed posted by John “The Real McCoy” Smedley.

I’m not sure what kind of a response or reaction he expected from the denizens of Hackerquest, but those of us who have braved these waters before will find the responses familiar.

you fucking cock sucker, go to hell you fucking evil verant taking out money with mind control, ok had to let that out, YES we used hacks YES you suck at keeping them from working.

I suggest you leave here Hitler, and take your Verant bullshit with you, there are other ways to deal with this, then banning people, then making the tech support number A TOLL CHARGE, and you cannot cancel your account using eq.exe because when you try it just says your account has been banned, go to hell you bastard and get a life, THANK GOD my eq addiction is over!

I’m not sure what addiction this poster is referring to, but he really needs to see someone about this EQ obsession of his. Bear witness to the work of idle hands, True Believers. Summer Vacation was invented by Satan, the Lord of Perdition. Can I get an amen?

John,

Log all the hacks you want, ban people all you want, I don’t care. Just make EQ work in a window, I’m tired of this lame interface taking over my desktop completely.

-Phantal

This being my personal #1 reason to not ever play EverQuest. If I’m online, and I cant task to find out who is instant messaging me, or what great earn-thousands-from-home email offers just arrived in my inbox, then something is very wrong. The defense for this desktop capture by developers like Verant (and Mythic. Don’t expect the interface at DAoC to be any better), is that this has to be done to ensure that nobody cheats.

Attention K-Mart shoppers: The only foolproof method of cheat prevention is abstinence. Simply put, if you boot your servers up and wire them to the internet, you will have cheaters in your product. Whether or not you want to inconvenience the entire customer base in order to make it seem like there is no cheating going on – well that’s a call you have to make. Not going to allow me to Alt-Tab to my email? Then guess what call I have to make: “Hello, Electronics Botique? Yeah, that reserved copy of Game X I requested? Yeah uhm, you can go ahead and take my name off that list. Right, okay. Thanks. Bye.”

The difference being, I’m not compelled to go out to EB, purchase EQ, and then attempt to hack it to iddy biddy chunks as a means of protesting an interface that I don’t like. Big gigantic DUH to that guy.

Do you even play your game? Do you know how frustrating it is? Do you know how much time it takes to get a stupid item? Do you know how many people you drive literally insane? Frustration? Divorces? Lighten up on us. Its a game pal. Sorry that you are taking as much advantage of it as you can to get many millions, but to us you are just a fuckwad.

I’m sure Smed plays EverQuest. In between sessions of bulletin board chest pounding. Don’t get me wrong, people. I don’t support hackers and I fully support the aggressive tracking and banning of these skateboard commuters. I’m just not sure of the COO of Corporation X should be playing the role of warden (no pun intended) by dropping by various bulletin boards with a shotgun over his shoulder, uttering variations on the “What we have here…. is a failure…to communicate” monologue.

Yes, it is your game, and you make your rules. But in the future, Verant is going to have to put out a FAR superior game to everything else on the market (read: Star Wars liscense alone wont do it) in order for me to buy it, now that I know how much they value their loyal customers.

You know, you really really want this guy to be right, deep down in your heart. But the reality is that you can ship an empty box with a wookie on the cover and picture of a cablemodem, and it will sell faster than hookers at a convention. But his basic premise is accurate. There are all kinds of EQ clones coming soon. Developers are so eager to clone EQ, that they have, according to at least one former programmer, fired entire development teams when they refused to turn their project into EQjr. I just dont think EverQuest is going to see any large scale emmigration. For what it is, people seem to enjoy it.

And anytime people enjoy something, there will be those who seek to destroy it, in order to have something in their life that makes them feel powerful. Designing fubar interfaces only frustrates your customers. It is obvious by now that it does little to curb hacking or cheating in online games. Take note, Mythic. I want to check my email when I’m online. Hacking and cheating will happen. Next time you are in a bank, take note of how secure it is. Look at all the cameras on the walls. Look at the door that is about as heavy as your standard SUV, with a lock as big as a manhole cover. Hell, most banks even put chains on their ballpoint pens so you can’t even steal those!

Then consider how many banks are successfully robbed every month. All the cameras and vaults and chains on pens serve one purpose, and that purpose is NOT to prevent bank robberies. It is to catch bank robbers. Doors that are too long to open, cameras that record your every move, entrances that can contain you in a bulletproof chamber – all these improvements in bank security serve to remove criminals from society and lock them in prisons.

The same reasoning needs to be brought to the MMOG. You will not prevent cheating and hacking. So stop wasting time making your game painfully inconvenient to play. Am I suggesting you not patch bugs? Of course not. Am I suggesting that gimping your game experience in order to curb exploits is a bad idea? Yes. Yes I am.

‘CAUSE I WANNA BE IN ANARCHY (ONLINE)….. [Author: niobe]

Insert disk, begin installation. 1%…2%….crash.

Reboot, rinse and repeat. 3%…crash. Over and over and over and over.

Now in all fairness, my computer was in bad shape and this was not Funcom’s fault. It has been needing a format for weeks and I’ve been too lazy to do it. What a great time to install a new hard drive with
a nice, fresh OS install. So instead of playing anything I sat on the floor mucking with wires and jumpers, flashing the BIOS (first time in years I’ve been afraid to do something to the computer),
reconfiguring the CMOS and loading the OS. At one point I had wires connected between two computers and two kittens trying to jump into the open cases. In the end the kittens did not get electrocuted and
everything was running smoooooooooth. I even took a little notebook to write down each hardware/software item that was installed or deleted. Anal retentiveness at its finest! Now to install Anarchy Online so I can play..

..Or so I thought.

Insert disk…zip zip zippy! Ya baby! Gotta love a clean computer! Oooh look! A patch screen.

Start patching..zip zip zip..crash.

Great. Reboot, patch again, except I’m being told that Anarchy Online needs to be reinstalled due to a corrupted database. FINE.

Uninstall, remove extra lingering files. Insert disk, begin installation…24%…85%..crash.

At this point I decided to defragment the clean hard drive and go to bed while the system tools do their magic.

Next morning. Insert disk, begin installation…24%..36%..crash. Repeat several times. Dammit. Finally get it to the patch screen only to have it crash again. Reboot, rinse, repeat.

FINE, this is war now. I WILL beat the computer.

Reboot, insert disk, load game…100%. Yay! Reboot, go through first patch successfully. REBOOT AGAIN. Finish the second patch. REBOOT! A perfect install. Only thing left to do is load the game and make a character..

..Or so I thought.

YOUVE GOT STOOL [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

Sample Analysis for Mr. Del Sol: Not Pregnant. Please flush to submit new sample. Would you like to check for new mail?

From the land of all things boiled comes the next breakthrough in medicine, the last one being the cure for the Black Death. Twyford Bathrooms of Cheshire England has developed an “e-toilet” that can offer you an instant evacuation evaluation, checking for things such as diabetes and pregnancy. The e-toilet uses voice technology, and can send email your doctor.

And you thought your keyboard was grungy NOW.

DESTINATION FOR TWO [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

In today’s “Where are they now” segment, we update you on two members of the Origin University class of ’01.

From the Lineage website,

Additionally, we would like to officially introduce two members of the NCInteractive staff who will be making regular visits to the Lineage message boards. Leilo and Melantus are members of the Lineage community team, and will be tracking your suggestions and concerns on behalf of the Lineage US team. Leilo and Melantus will always appear using the “Community” nickname on the boards.

I’ll bring you more Lineage: The Blood Pledge news just as soon as I can figure out how to spell ‘conichiwa’.

YOU LOGGA MY BOARD I BREAKA YOU ACCOUNT [Author: Arcadian Del Sol]

While there is little in the way of confirmation from the hallowed halls of Verant Interactive, it would appear that “Italian d00d” has just joined the ranks of the DUH squad, Tallon Zek Division.

Summary:

If you log into Verant’s guide boards and you aren’t a guide, you will be banned. This statement sounds like fifty pounds of common sense in a 5 pound sack, but believe it or not, people are honestly shocked, surprised, and dismayed to discover that it is, in fact, true. People’s Exhibit A:

“…ok well heres the whole story. I am musskik but i gave that account to a friend but I still know ezboard code. Just wanted to clear that up. I also know his password and station name.

Ok I am searching Aimster for everquest for some odd reason and this guy saved his mail from verant containing the password and login, sooooo i tried loggin on because well i didn’t think it was gonna work, it did. SOOOO being the total moron i am i posted it on tzt. Then later on i went to check my account and his account to see if there still up. And they were and now i went to try both and now there down, My friend is gonna be pissed.”

UNIVERSAL TRANSLATOR RESULTS:

I found this password that is supposed to give me access to the Guide boards. So I logged into it. I was very surprised to find that it actually worked. So I did what anybody in my place would have done – I logged into a popular bulletin board and posted the password. And you know what Verant did? They actually BLOCKED my accounts and probably those of others who did the same. Where do they get off, huh? My friend will shortly be envigored with fomented ire.

For new Verant Customers about to board the short-bus to online gaming, please note the following addition to the Grand List of Things Patently Obvious But Somehow Beyond the Grasp of our Clients FAQ:

(5.a) Logging into the Guide boards is bannable.

***addendum***

Please note the following addition to the addition mentioned above:

(5.a.1) Guides will not be banned for this.

KNOW YOUR ENEMY [Author: Eldin]

Yesterday, near the conclusion of my Asheron’s Call update, I mentioned that even KoC/Blood are starting to complain about rampant cheating on the Darktide server (mainly because someone has better cheats than they do). Soon after publishing the update, I received the following e-mail:

The issue with those core gens (the dagashi, blattos, deliquent, etc.) is that they have hex edited the godmode fix out. Basically, the mechanism that catches if you have jumped too recently is placed client side, and therefore can be hexed out without the server detecting it. It’s the same kind of error catching mechanism that prevents you from logging into 2 separate accounts at the same time, but obviously Turbine doesn’t care about that(READ: public support of acdev.org).

(Editor’s Note: I have spoken with a Turbine Dev, and they support programs such as AC Explorer and Decal, beneficial programs that do not unbalance the game or give players an undue advantage.)

Furthermore, because the GEAR fix was placed in the client also, you already have some of the core’s from gen working on a way to hex the fix out when it is finished. I’m not sure if I understood the conversation completely, but the gist of the thing was that GEN plans on patching the GEAR fix out when they turn it on, and they have several good ideas about how to do it.

After further inquiries about hacking the GEAR fix, I received this reply:

As far as hexing the GEAR code out I had about a 20 min
conversation with [a player] about it after the screenshot (forgot to take more)
and he was saying that the code was in, it just wasn’t turned on. There was
some kind of variable they had found that was stored that told the server
how many times you had de-synched from the server in suspicious manner. What
he was saying was that sometimes when you lag out on the server, it’ll look
like gear use so they can’t ban you on the first suspicious incidence. But,
what they were looking at is either writing a patch to reset the variable
every time they logged off, or figure out how to disable the detection all
together.

Do the devs know about this?

The devs know that hex editing is done to allow for dual logging. As far as knowing about hex editing for different purposes, I doubt that VERY seriously. The core GENS are keeping this under wraps. They are pretty
arrogant about the whole thing. They think they are the ones who introduced
GEAR to the server, and now it’s a complete mess, so they are trying to keep
this hex edited client on the dl.

(Note: During my conversation with a Turbine dev, the dev informed me they were well aware of the hex editing).

Do you know for certain the GEAR fixes are being placed client side?

According to the guy I was talking to, part of the mechanism for detection is client side. That’s as certain as I can be without opening the client in a hex editor myself and finding it. I need to reemphasize that they do not yet know how to disable the GEAR fix, but they have disabled the godmode fix. Hexing the GEAR fix out, from what I understand, was very complicated.

I received a screen shot of parts of the conversation between the source and a GEN player, however, I’m withholding it to protect the source’s anonymity.

The Turbine dev informed me the variable mentioned in the above mails is in fact server-side. The dev had this to say:

The fellow that’s worked on the gear detection is a smart cookie (one of the original people that decrypted our net protocols/data formats). He’s pretty sure that they won’t get around it client side (unlike the jump-casting “fix”, which we knew was client-side and thus hackable).

In Asheron’s Call, a small measure of a character’s movement is placed client-side in order to reduce the overall lag on the server. This allows hacks to be made on many game mechanics involving character animation. One of the latest hacks involves hexing out the spell-casting animations, resulting in instant spell-casting. According to one source, only five or so core members of GEN have knowledge of this hack.

I’m disturbed. These guilds are no longer playing Asheron’s Call. They are involving themselves in hacker wars. The in-game battle is secondary to battle occurring outside Dereth. The fact the integrity of the very game they fight over is a possible casualty of their damaging behavior seems immaterial to them. They do not love the game, and they care nothing for it. They exist merely to indulge their own egos. If sacrificing the game and the integrity of the virtual world on the altar of smug, self-satisfaction is what needs to happen to sate their lust for grief and “ownage,” then so be it.

These players are not only the enemies of dev teams everywhere. They are our enemies. They threaten our virtual worlds. They threaten our gaming experience. We must remain vigilant against them.

When the GEAR fix goes in, I have been told the bannings will begin. I feel for Turbine, here. Microsoft controls player discipline. Turbine cannot ban. They must wait for Microsoft to take action. They must clear bringing the servers down for a hot fix with Microsoft.

Aside from the obvious questions addressing player punishment, there are others involving game mechanics. How much of the code should be placed on the client for the sake of lag reduction? Is there a way to reduce lag without sacrificing code to the client?

With a new generation of games now on the near horizon, devs and players alike will have to face those questions and seek out some tough answers.

Good luck, Turbine. Score one for the good guys . . . for the children.

AC GOES THE WAY OF THE FABULOUS [Author: Eldin]

Level 7 Life Magic is in.

For the wildly overpowered among you. Now you can drain through walls like you\’e2\’80\’99ve never drained before.

Advanced titles for Guild of Bestowers are in. Bestowers also give hats for advanced titles in Alchemy, Cooking and Fletching. Really, we mean it this time.

“Arc, no, you still don’t want to play this game even though they have great hats. Arc? Arc????”

. . .

“Will someone get the cattle prod?”

When you die outdoors, the location of your death is now stored and can be displayed with the command @corpse. This way, if you get disconnected and subsequently die, you can still retrieve that location next time you log on. Note that this only works for outdoor locations.

Now this is highly useful. Trying to find your corpse in the wide-open, zoneless world that is Dereth can be a severe pain in the ass. This is long overdue.

New summer dye colors available. Winter (!) dye plants removed from landscape.

The AC fashion show continues. Remember, kids, no white after Labor Day. That would make you less than fabulous.

Ayan Baqur is now (mostly) back to normal.

Well now, that is entirely subjective, especially if you play on Darktide.

There were some bug fixes. If you wish to see them, you can go here.

One notable absence to this month’s patch is a fix for GEAR. Apparently, the devs are having a hard time implementing code that will eliminate the usability of this horribly damaging third party program.

And you know it’s bad when KoC/Blood is whining about people out-cheating them:

I don’t know about you all but I am quite sick of running into AB seeing a Ice skating match by Qlop, Addiction the Dagashi and the group of Mid Evils. After running for some time last night just testing seeing these so called cheats saying they don’t cheat cast 4 debuffs in 2 secs while I am 3 clicks ahead of them I have to say I had enough…

So I have going with Rojan on this one, everyone give a friendly letter to the AC Devs/Microsoft at this address:

Poor guys. I feel their pain. Do you?

I do so enjoy some irony during my Thursday afternoons.