GWJ Conference Call Episode 196

Conference Call

Picross 3D, Pokemon SoulSilver, Starcraft 2, Puzzle Quest 2, Moonbase Alpha, Your Real Online Privacy, Your Emails and more!

This week Cory, Julian, Allen and Lara talk games, online privacy and more than I could possibly recount here. If you want to submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

Sponsor
CastMedium
Good Old Games

Eagle Transporter - What rabbit freaked out about.

GWJ Store!

  • Subscribe with iTunes
  • Subscribe with RSS
  • Subscribe with Yahoo!
Download the official apps
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android

Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Granular Extractor - Shatter the Official Video Game Soundtrack - http://sidhe.bandcamp.com/ - 0:35:29
Homelands (Credit Music) - Shatter the Official Video Game Soundtrack - http://sidhe.bandcamp.com/ - 0:56:14

Comments

That RealID conversation was painful. Nobody really knew what it was about, and the people that had spent any time looking into it seemed to have only read up on the internet hyperbole. First of all, it was never implemented on the forums. It was announced, and within a couple days, they decided not to do it based on community reaction. I'm pretty sure that would have happened with out all the e-thugs releasing employee information, but believe what you will.

Second, the querieable by mods claim is misleading. A WoW mod can look up your personal RealID if you have it enabled (there's always an option to disable it), however it can only look up your identity, and the only chance of someone else not on your friends list knowing you by name would be if you downloaded a trojan mod that broadcasted your info to other users. Given that mods can already do a sh*t ton of malicious sh*t, you'd be smart to only install trusted ones, and the community is good at vetting them. Hopefully will have a fix for that security hole soon, but really it's not that big of a problem.

Third, this wouldn't have been a retro-active implementation and would only apply to new posts on the forums, which would remain completely optional. Nobody is forcing you to go on the forums and post your name. Even if you post on the forums with your name, it doesn't (have to) link to a character name. So there are very distinct steps to revealing your identity, and linking them to in-game characters. Everyone is focusing on the nightmare scenario where you've been exposed and exploited, but the fact of the matter is nobody is going to release that information but you. The reality is, people won't post on the forums. That's sad, as it will kill large communities, but if that was Blizzards original goal how can that be really described as a failure. A blunder, but not a failure because the end result would have been a much smaller more civilized forum group probably more active in the general forums than little nooks like the realm forums. There would be edge cases, but pretending like everyone would be living in this exposed world is ridiculous as that logical conclusion is that the majority of users would refrain from posting anything.

And those rare scenarios exist today as people are tracked down on no more than a single user alias on youtube when they abuse a cat. Real information isn't required most of the time, and privacy is an illusion for most people online.

As for Battle.Net becoming a large social network, that's all paranoid speculation. I'm tired of this slippery slope nonsense Facebook name-calling. They added Facebook integration as an optional feature to help people build a list of RealID friends by using a network already in place. All it does is provide a list of people who have also opted in to add to your friends list, and to be honest that's a handy feature for someone like me. It's not posting status updates, letting my friends know how much time I've spent in World of Warcraft, but it is revealing that my friends from university are playing SC2 now and helped us reconnect over gaming. If you don't like that feature, then fine don't use it, but don't discourage people from providing something useful because of your Glenn Beck style paranoia. Blizzard doesn't need your name in a social network, they've got your name. And your credit card.

If Blizzard decides to later create a public network exposing your name and your gaming habits fight that battle when it comes, but don't argue that something is anything other than it is. Even if there is some overarching strategy here, these things all have to come on their own, and slippery slope is a fallacious argument because every step of the way there will be a point of resistance. For now they've got an optional in-game friends list that works cross-game and cross-realm, that is providing a real service for a lot of people. We still have our anonymous in-game names, and friends lists, there's just something extra that helps connect people that know each other in the meat space. And agoraphobic shut-ins shouldn't take that away from us because they fear some imaginary future.

Forbin wrote:

Second, the querieable by mods claim is misleading. A WoW mod can look up your personal RealID if you have it enabled (there's always an option to disable it), however it can only look up your identity, and the only chance of someone else not on your friends list knowing you by name would be if you downloaded a trojan mod that broadcasted your info to other users. Given that mods can already do a sh*t ton of malicious sh*t, you'd be smart to only install trusted ones, and the community is good at vetting them. Hopefully will have a fix for that security hole soon, but really it's not that big of a problem.

Before they hotfixed it, mods could get the RealID on presumably anyone you could /who or inspect in the game. See the screenshot on the other thread. It would seem Blizzard had taken an "allow by default" approach to RealID, closing holes when they're discovered, which is not the approach to take when security is involved.

That RealID conversation was painful. Nobody really knew what it was about, and the people that had spent any time looking into it seemed to have only read up on the internet hyperbole. First of all, it was never implemented on the forums. It was announced, and within a couple days, they decided not to do it based on community reaction. I'm pretty sure that would have happened with out all the e-thugs releasing employee information, but believe what you will.

I'm always amused when someone posts that the panel didn't know what they were talking about -- while completely missing the part where the panel already made the point. In this case, they clearly said it was retracted from forum use.

Your post reads like a copy-paste for some other forum. There are so many things in there that either were not said or were already addressed.

Rabbit wrote:
Shack70 wrote:

I went back recently to watch the old Space 1999 shows and now realize that they were very bad!

No no no!!! They were brilliant! Sure the pacing was slow, but they were basing the pace of 2001! It was the bomb. I will not tolerate dissent!

Well, let's be clear, the writers of the show were doing some serious drugs or something:

-"in space, planets can touch but not collide" ?
-A Nuclear explosion on the moon propels it through space fast enough to visit a new solar system each weekly episode ?
-They fall through a black hole and everyone survives (very 2001 effects on that show) ?
-they encounter a metamorphing alien, and she only changes form into EARTH animals - wouldn't she change into ALIEN animals? How does she know anything about EARTH animals? The only time she changes into an alien animal is when she looses control of her ability.

All in all, very "new age" type plots (it was the '70's i suppose).

The funny part is that the crew was so engaged in ridiculing Julian's fanboyism that they never actually got around to discussing the Moonbase Alpha NASA program, which was the original topic.

EDIT: corrected verb tense

Certis wrote:
That RealID conversation was painful. Nobody really knew what it was about, and the people that had spent any time looking into it seemed to have only read up on the internet hyperbole. First of all, it was never implemented on the forums. It was announced, and within a couple days, they decided not to do it based on community reaction. I'm pretty sure that would have happened with out all the e-thugs releasing employee information, but believe what you will.

I'm always amused when someone posts that the panel didn't know what they were talking about -- while completely missing the part where the panel already made the point. In this case, they clearly said it was retracted from forum use.

Your post reads like a copy-paste for some other forum. There are so many things in there that either were not said or were already addressed.

This. Plus this discussion is an uphill battle. People not caring about privacy will always bring the "what's the big deal?" argument, because the lack both the empathy to look at the problem from the point of view of a potential victim and the imagination to think a few steps ahead as to how the criticized mechanic could develop if being introduced unquestioned.

Yes, both side will rage across multiple forums I'm sure. Their thumbs ... not so idle.

Try it again without being insulting. - Certis

Amoebic wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:

Read this post, and I don't buy the second incorrect assumption. What would happen is you would hear about one or a few cases where people actually did get stalked in real life, and then suddenly that means it's a growing trend, even though 99.999% of the time nothing happened.

Seriously? As a woman who played wow for many years, she f*cking nailed it. Stalking, harassment, and just about everything she mentioned is common. It's not just "one or a few" It's normal. What she described was almost exactly my experience playing WoW, and I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that it is very much the same for other women who have also played an MMO where their gender has become common knowledge within a group or guild.

I hate to say it, but it's more common than most people would like to think.

Yup, this is why my wife refuses to play MMOs except with me, or as a solo experience. She just doesn't want to deal with the people involved in the process; she's had enough experience with different nutso internet communities to be gun shy about getting involved with a different one.

Amoebic wrote:

Seriously? As a woman who played wow for many years, she f*cking nailed it. Stalking, harassment, and just about everything she mentioned is common. It's not just "one or a few" It's normal.

Absolutely. And it's true of any online gaming experience, not just WoW. I long since learned to not play online games with any one I didn't know in at least some capacity, because the sort of abuse she describes isn't a possibility. It's a certainty.

Hell, this part:

The post wrote:

* Some people think anything you do or say is attention-whoring, even if you never wanted the attention. If a guy makes a joke in a forum post, he's a funny guy. If a girl makes a joke in a forum post, she's an attention whore. If a guy makes a good argument in a forum post, he's a smart guy. If a girl makes a good argument in a forum post, she's doing it for attention. She's ESPECIALLY an attention whore if people like her or agree with her.

* Similarly, people assume that the only reason anyone likes you is because they're one of your fanboys. So people don't genuinely think women or funny or make good arguments, they're just fanboys. If other girls like you, then it's because women form cliques -- even if in the previous breath they were saying that women are all catty and hate each other.

* Even if people tend to assume you're male from your writing style, once they know your gender, some people tend to read everything in the shrillest way possible. You could literally copy and paste a guy's post and get an entirely different reaction.

is just true of being a woman online in general. (Especially that last one.)

Women make up more than 40% of all gamers, according to the ESA. We adult women outnumber boys age 17 or younger, 33% to 20%. But you certainly can't tell from how we're treated, especially in online games and most online forums.

I have a relatively public persona on the Internet. It's not too hard to Google me and find out who I am and what I do for a living. But even though that information is freely available online, I still get very, very creeped out by the idea of my identifying details being associated with an in-game character. It's all about the audience who'd be looking me up: The creeps and the a-holes flock in greater numbers and with less fear in online games than elsewhere on the Internet.

And then I start thinking about what might occur -- what ALREADY occurs -- to girls (and boys, too) under 18 who give out their personal info online, and my blood boils.

Good choice to refrain on the "bitches" this time, Lara. Stay off that slippery slope to it becoming your "Whachootalkin'bout Mr. D?"

Chairman_Mao wrote:
Amoebic wrote:
Chairman_Mao wrote:

Read this post, and I don't buy the second incorrect assumption. What would happen is you would hear about one or a few cases where people actually did get stalked in real life, and then suddenly that means it's a growing trend, even though 99.999% of the time nothing happened.

Seriously? As a woman who played wow for many years, she f*cking nailed it. Stalking, harassment, and just about everything she mentioned is common. It's not just "one or a few" It's normal. What she described was almost exactly my experience playing WoW, and I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that it is very much the same for other women who have also played an MMO where their gender has become common knowledge within a group or guild.

I hate to say it, but it's more common than most people would like to think.

Fair enough, although what you say seems to prove my point that anyone determined enough will find you, anonymity or not.

Amoebic didn't specifically say the harassment occurred outside of the game, so there's no assumption that she was "found". I'm guessing most of it happens inside the game. RealID would make outside ("real world") harassment much more common (and thus harder to stop).

My personal problems with RealID aren't based on harassment. I tend to avoid most communities I've observed to be hostile to anyone on the grounds that if that can happen to anyone, then it could happen to me. I've been harassed and attacked in several forums for my views, and occasionally for being non-American.

This goes double for gaming. I don't play MMOs (not my thing), but if I did, I probably would stick only to a guild where I know the Guildmaster personally, if not most of the members.

The question then arises, if I already knew most of the people I'm likely to encounter online in real life, then what does it matter that my onscreen name is my real one?

The matter is one of security. My rotating IP arrangement protects me somewhat. For instance, it would be pointless for Certis to ban my IP, because I don't have a permanent one. If I happen to log into one that's been banned, I just request a new one. This also protects me from processor theft, since they can't use my computer for power if it's never on the same IP twice.

That said, it doesn't protect me from identity theft. I don't open strange emails as a rule, but just recently, two of my friends' emails had been hacked and used to solicit money from their mailing lists. If the attackers had known other details about me, they might have been able to send me more sinister programs - for instance, one that records keystrokes.

Regarding Rabbit's son learning to read in order to read Pokemon text: This is how my middle brother learned to read as well (on King's Quest 5 and Final Fantasy 1), because he needed to know what that text said in order to understand what he had to do next in the game. He was about 5, and I decided that it was high time he stopped being lazy and learned how to read (because I was 11 and could make such sweeping proclamations), so I refused to help him anymore.

From what I can tell, he's doing well in a tier-1 law school now.

As for the whole privacy debate:

I'm coming more and more to appreciate transparency and the ability to be real and imperfect in public. But I'd never want to see transparency be foisted on anyone without both choice and well-advanced warning.

I love you, demiurge, for providing the link to Moonbase Commander. I sort of have the game *wink wink*, I have just been wanting forever to actually buy it. Also, everyone else buy it, it's a fabulous little game.

My daughter picked up reading skills in Pokemon, but even more as we would have her read all of the text as we played through Zelda: WW. She was too young to play much of WW, but we let her play some of the fun stuff as we went through. But she loved to read and help figure out puzzles.

If I figured out a puzzle, I would usually wait and kind of do the Blue's Clue/Dora thing where I would kind of help walk her through figuring it out until she suddenly had her "Eureka!" moment.

She has since moved on to writing fan fiction for Harry Potter on Gaia and has a super healthy love of reading. Of course, as I write this, she has a friend over playing through Ocarina of Time on the Wii while she plows through the latest Pokemon game.

On keyboards for console games, I probably wouldn't be that interested. I like how some of the newer sports games have linked a web presence to the console game. So when I play the new NCAA 11, i can do the recruiting stuff online.

That is one thing that killed the NCAA games for me, as spending time doing the research on recruits and applying points or tasks to each one was not fun on a console at all. But I have loved sports games that were either text based or had deep franchise modes while playing them on the PC. So now I use the right tools to enjoy both parts of the game.

I agree that shoehorning is usually not a great idea. But I can't blame developers for trying to grab some of the console market. At some point, as they were able to do with shooters, they may hit on a control method that really appeals to console gamers.

But this blend of the PC and console for sports games is just going to get better and better. We may actually begin to approach the level of customization and depth of franchise play that we had when Sierra Sports was more important to me than EA sports. FBPro 98 and BBPro 98 were what I expected console games to strive for, and we are just now starting to scratch that surface.

Certis wrote:

Yes, both side will rage across multiple forums I'm sure. Their thumbs ... not so idle. ;)

Oh this one was just for you. You can read the thread on idle thumbs thread, there was some good discussion there. But the fact remains the panel seemed to be under the impression that real names were implemented on the forums, rather than just announced.

I give Corey credit for steering the conversation in a more general direction, but you guys seemed to lack a single person that knew the facts well enough to discuss it at length this long after the events. Get past the outrage scenarios talking about children being hunted down, and women being harassed, and you may see the more likely victims. Like role-playing realms being set back, and people exposing themselves to phishers.

But the fact remains the panel seemed to be under the impression that real names were implemented on the forums, rather than just announced.

How could something that "seemed to be" also be a fact? They specifically said that Blizzard did not implement on the forums. Weird thing to get hung up on.

Forbin wrote:

I give Corey credit for steering the conversation in a more general direction, but you guys seemed to lack a single person that knew the facts well enough to discuss it at length this long after the events. Get past the outrage scenarios talking about children being hunted down, and women being harassed, and you may see the more likely victims. Like role-playing realms being set back, and people exposing themselves to phishers.

Just thought I'd point out they record on saturday night.

I did not get the impression that the crew discussed the matter as if RealID were implemented on the forums. In fact, they discussed what happened when Blizzard tried to initiate the move and allay fears by having the mods do it first, and such a discussion hinges on the knowledge that it was not, in fact, implemented.

In a way I'm glad the CC doesn't get too hung up on facts.

It's not a news podcast but a commentary and discussion of events and themes, which as long as the broad strokes are correct (real identities, gaming and privacy) then the discussion is on the right course.

KaterinLHC wrote:
Amoebic wrote:

Seriously? As a woman who played wow for many years, she f*cking nailed it. Stalking, harassment, and just about everything she mentioned is common. It's not just "one or a few" It's normal.

Absolutely. And it's true of any online gaming experience, not just WoW. I long since learned to not play online games with any one I didn't know in at least some capacity, because the sort of abuse she describes isn't a possibility. It's a certainty.

It's a guarantee. Women get harassed solely because they're women all the time. Hell, all a woman has to do to get harassed is jump on Vent and say "Hi."

Playing online games that require voice chat is a catch-22. If a female doesn't speak, she won't be very helpful. All she's doing is blindly running and gunning. If a female does speak, it opens the floodgates of idiocy. It's no longer about the game; it's about her breast size, how awesome rape is or how vaginas somehow prevent females from being able to play video games. I only play multiplayer mode when I'm with friends or hubby.

I give Corey credit for steering the conversation in a more general direction, but you guys seemed to lack a single person that knew the facts well enough to discuss it at length this long after the events. Get past the outrage scenarios talking about children being hunted down, and women being harassed, and you may see the more likely victims. Like role-playing realms being set back, and people exposing themselves to phishers.

I am so very, very sorry that we focused on the people who had their families actually put in danger instead of the people who possibly would have been slightly inconvenienced on the role-playing server but weren't because Blizzard backed down. Again, sorry.

I also apologize on behalf of the entire podcast for daring to bring up the topic of women being harassed, because I realize this doesn't directly apply to you personally so therefore it's not a real concern and simply an "outrage scenario". In the future we will screen our commentary only to be relevant to you, as this is your personal podcast. Again, I apologize.

Get past the outrage scenarios talking about children being hunted down, and women being harassed, and you may see the more likely victims. Like role-playing realms being set back, and people exposing themselves to phishers.

Those groups would be affected too, but I really don't think you can dismiss what you call "outrage scenarios" so easily. (Although I admit I wish I too lived in a world where the harassment of women -- or any group -- could be considered some histrionic hypothetical scenario, and not just an everyday consequence of living in the digital age.)

On a serious note, the discussion about online privacy strikes a personal chord with me. When I was a kid, one of my friend's brothers was molested by a guy he met off the Internet. (Yes: He. Everyone freaks out about teaching their daughters online safety, but sons need to know it too.) He was only 9, and he met the guy in the chat rooms for an online gaming portal. So I know full well how naive children can behave online, and how easily they can be persuaded to give out their identifying info, even when you think you've put the appropriate protections in place.

And for those who'd protest that RealID would've only linked kids under their parents' names, so nobody could tell they were children, I'd say two things: 1) Very rarely is a kid posting or chatting online mistaken for an adult, even if (s)he is using an adult's name; and 2) Linking the kid's name to the parent's just makes it that much easier to find them IRL -- after all, a telephone number or house address would be in the parent's name, not their child's.

In the kindest words possible, RealID was a miscalculation of epic proportions. How the idea ever got past their PR department or legal team is beyond me.

And for those who'd protest that RealID would've only linked kids under their parents' names, so nobody could tell they were children, I'd say two things: 1) Very rarely is a kid posting or chatting online mistaken for an adult, even if (s)he is using an adult's name; and 2) Linking the kid's name to the parent's just makes it that much easier to find them IRL -- after all, a telephone number or house address would be in the parent's name, not their child's.

Actually, Blizzard has put in the ability for parents to turn off the RealID features entirely for their kids' accounts. Apparently, it's not easy to do, which is extremely stupid on Blizzard's part. It is account-wide, so it will apply to WoW, SC2 and D3.

http://www.wow.com/2010/07/08/custom...

Certis wrote:

Yes, both side will rage across multiple forums I'm sure. Their thumbs ... not so idle. ;)

Meh, blow to the groin. =/ That's what I get for finally getting my feet wet on the IT board after months of lurking and listening only. Did I really come off that rage-y? I can be pretty negative about things I loathe, but try to keep an open mind about the opposing side's point of view.

Rabbit, if you were serious about building your own pinball machine, I've found some resources

http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php?topic=23428.0

http://www.lakesidepinballparts.com/

If you're going to build from scratch and design your own table (rather than replicate an existing table), you might want to download this sim:

http://www.nanotechent.com/vpin.php

I've been kicking around the idea of building my own table as a project to work on with my kids when they get older. I don't know much about programming microcontrollers, but I don't see any reason why I couldn't use VB or even labview to control the electronics on the table with an old laptop and a quickusb module. Be easier to debug too.

Thanks for the link to moonbase commander. I found my copy of the game, but it turned out to be an empty jewel case.
Outstanding show!

Amoebic wrote:

I'm boggled that you picked up on the remaining nuances of that un-conversation, my ninja-editing skills are clearly in rapid decline.

Ah, well, timing is a funny thing. Just ask Tannhauser.

I think Lara has somewhat of a wrong impression of Picross 3D. All of the puzzles aren't 10x10x10, there are many different dimensions including some larger ones.

I do agree that its somehow it engages a different part of your mind (than Picross "2D") and some people might like it more or less because of that.