Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal was an online title that shipped without the ability to patch either code or data. Which was unfortunate.
The game downloads and displays an End User License Agreement each time it’s launched. This is an ascii string stored in a static buffer. This buffer is filled from the server without checking that the size is within the buffer’s capacity.
We exploited this fact to cause the EULA download to overflow the static buffer far enough to also overwrite a known global variable. This variable happened to be the function callback handler for a specific network packet. Once this handler was installed, we could send the network packet to cause a jump to the address in the overwritten global. The address was a pointer to some payload code that was stored earlier in the EULA data.
Valuable data existed between the real end of the EULA buffer and the overwritten global, so the first job of the payload code was to restore this trashed data. Once that was done things were back to normal and the actual patching work could be done.
Let’s imagine someone, we’ll call them Bertha, deciding they want to get into gaming, so they buy an Xbox One, and play Assassin’s Creed 4. She likes it, and wants to play Assassin’s Creed 1-3 as well. What do we say to her? “You can’t. All the previous installments of the story that provide the necessary background, all the experiences and highs and lows of the series thus far, none of that matters. Nothing that was made before this console matters, because we found a way to make games slightly prettier. And that alone, sight unseen, makes our paltry handful of bland launch titles worth more than the entire history of gaming put together. You should have played them in the last generation.” And then Bertha explains she wasn’t into gaming around the time of the last generation, and everyone laughs at her for being a noob
At one point we were experimenting with architectural glitches, with repeating sections of test chambers, misaligned sections and three-dimensional compression artefacts. Unfortunately, bugs in transcription by self-replicating robots looked just like bugs in the game.
It absolutely does make it “gamey,” which is actually kind of
brilliant. It plays very well to some of the game’s core conceits
regarding augmentation in that, if you “upgrade” yourself in this way,
you’re no longer connecting with other human beings; you’re looking at
readouts and emitting pheromones like some sort of malicious robot air
freshener. The readouts distract you and you may even become dependent
on them, losing all interest in actually engaging with the NPCs you’re
verbally sparring with and what motivates them. The augmentation
tricks you into behaving as a machine rather than as a human being. I
watched my roommate fall into exactly this on his first playthrough,
while I didn’t take it (I didn’t “fail” any conversations, and only
came across one instance where it was clear the aug would’ve opened up
unavailable avenues of discussion), and it even came back to bite him
(in a way that was, for me as an observer, highly satisfying).
In this respect, the CASIE aug is a surprisingly subversive piece
of game design, and arguably the most convincing piece of in-game
evidence that Humanity Front might be right about a few things.
This is what a riot looks like in Eve Online, apparently. It’s a picture of a thing in space with lines coming off it, next to a spreadsheet.
There is no secret conspiracy to use variable-ratio reinforcement to literally addict people to MMOs. Not only is that really ethically sketchy, it involves a level of advance planning which doesn’t really exist in the production environment of an in-development MMO, where planning usually revolves around DEAR GOD THE SERVERS HAVE LITERALLY CAUGHT ON FIRE.
I think it’s interesting to compare the anger and fury vented over the App Store, and consider that almost nobody is railing against these stores, even though they’re much more closed than Apple’s platform, and may collectively reach more users.
That’s it in a nutshell, right? Granting another person, or entity, or coven veto power over your business, which is veto power over your creative destiny. You only make that choice when it’s not actually a choice. Xbox Live Arcade, that larval contraption on the original Xbox, is now a billion dollar business because people use it. They like universal demos and apparently their token currency isn’t a BFD. Its success means that Microsoft’s stewardship of the platform has gone from entrepreneurial to sadomasochistic in the space of about three years.
– Penny Arcade on XBox live. Though of course, it might have been about the iTunes App Store.
Roger Ebert I already said I like, and I always put Mark Kermode’s radio show on when I’m working on ZP. And both those critics have expressed dismay for the rise of stereoscopic 3D in films. I’m beginning to see that motion controls are to me what 3D is to Ebert and Kermode. A desperate gimmick being overplayed in lieu of any lasting innovation, which sufficiently impresses Joe Tosspot but leaves the critics – the actual thinkers and philosophers of the industry, the ones concerned with the cultural substance of it all – waving their arms trying to get everyone to see just how shallow it really is.