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Why Anything but Games Matters - by Ian Bogost

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 16 October 2014 - 4:33am
On isolationism in game development; my Indiecade 2014 talk
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Murder in Corvis

New RPG Product Reviews - 16 October 2014 - 4:27am
Publisher: Privateer Press
Rating: 4
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/10/16/book-review-murder-in-corvis-iron-kingdoms/

I’ll admit something upfront. I’ve never been interested in Iron Kingdoms or Warmachine. Both feel like a steampunk version of Warhammer and I already have enough RPGs and miniature combat games to pick up what feels like a derivative of something else. I’ve got a stack of Bones, Tomb Kings, Robotech RPG Tactics and my old D and D Tactics figures from when that game existed. However, I really do like Richard Lee Byers’ stories. I’m more a non-fiction reader, but I enjoy enough of his writing to know I’ll pick up something of his (especially a review copy) if I run into it. Besides, the last time I picked up a book by him from a RPG universe I wasn’t originally interested in (The Festival at Glenelg), I ended up reviewing three adventures from that game. So who knew? Maybe Murder in Corvis would make me curious enough to try out some of Privateer Press’ games. There was only one way to find out.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Murder in Corvis. Would it read like a gritty pulp thriller? Would it be more like one of those cozy mystery series my wife enjoys? Would it simply be a fantasy novella with a murder as the crux of the story? Would it be something else? The only way was to dip into the story and find out. Unfortunately, you don’t get to find out right away. Before Byers’ novel starts you get a very dull and dry four page introduction to the Iron Kingdoms world. Personally, I would have let the author incorporate this information into the story rather than have a preamble that reads like it was written by Ben Stein, but that’s just me. Most of what is in the introduction has no bearing on the story at all and will serve to bore or confuse newcomers to the Iron Kingdoms. As well, there is a six page glossary in the back, which defines specific creatures, jargon and game terminology that the reader will encounter within the novella. I feel Byers describes all of these terms pretty well in the story itself, so a glossary of this size and the verbose descriptions provided for each one comes off with the publisher either not trusting its audience or simply being VERY condescending to them. Both the preamble and the glossary rubbed me the wrong way and definitely gave me a bad first impression of Iron Kingdoms in general. Honestly, if you had to include both of these, I’d have put a much shorter glossary in the front so that readers know it is there (most people I know don’t flip to the back of a book except for people who like endings ruined and even less read the Table of Contents in a fiction book) and I would have put the “introduction” at the end to act as a, “If you liked this story, here’s more about our world (and product line) that you can purchase,” so as not to intimidate younger/casual readers or worse, make a person think that Murder in Corvis will be as poorly written as that four page look at the world of Iron Kingdoms. I can honestly say after reading Murder in Corvis, I’d probably pick up more stories by Byers in this setting…but I’m not at all inclined to touch the game line(s).

Murder in Corvis is basically the origin story for a motley group of mercenaries that will eventually be called the Black River Irregulars. You have Milo the thief/alchemist, Gardek the Trollkin thief-taker (a trollkin feels like the defacto half-orc for this setting), Elish the arcanist (think techno-mage) forensic detective and Colbie the Mechanik, because changing c’s to k’s is somehow novel or interesting I guess. It’s the typical “one character from different classes to create a balanced party” trope that many fantasy stories have (and probably your own gaming party!), but Byers makes it work in spite of being a cliché (as always). The characters are well defined and nuanced with the cast being treated as an ensemble rather than one starring character and the rest of the team being supporting players. It’s nice to see this, because it’s rare an author treats an entire party as equals. Even in Byers’ previous novels and/or short stories with large casts, there is always a character or two that dominates the “screen time” so to speak. Aoth Fezim, Anton Marivaldi and Erik Nygaard come to mind as examples. I think all fiction authors are guilty of this because you develop a favorite (even if said favorite changes from book to book) and so they get a little more detail and word count devoted to them. Not so with Murder in Corvis. Here each chapter has a different character take center stage even when the other characters still appear in it. It’s a really nice touch that makes the piece stand out. A great example of the balance if I thought Milo was going to be the main character from Chapter One but then it ends with a twist and so I think Gardek is going to now become the main character and the first chapter was just a swerve. With each chapter unfolding though, I realized Byers’ was writing a team story rather than one focused on a single character and I loved the result.

Because Murder in Corvis is an origin story as well as a murder mystery, you get to see how the group forms. Of course, none of them really like each other at first but grow to respect and befriend each other as the story goes on and they have to work together to find the murderer. Each character gets to show off their strengths and how they can complement or protect another teammate. It probably isn’t a spoiler to say the entire team lives, but I was surprised that they lost more fights than they won and that there was a mauling or two along the way. The story flies by pretty quickly even if 126 pages is a bit long for a novella and it left me wanting more adventures with these characters. I still probably wouldn’t be interested in the Iron Kingdoms game, but I’d certainly read another story with these exact characters and author. Of course, I’m not sure if it would be interesting now that they are all chummy-chummy and the interpersonal conflict is gone, but I’d give it a try.

The actual murder mystery itself is worth noting. Apparently there is a serial killer going around. Originally just Gardek the trollkin is hired to find and subdue the killer but after he catches the wrong guy, the four protagonists are forced to team up to find the person behind the slayings. Their quest is a more cerebral one than you might expect from a story based on a fantasy RPG, but there are a few fight scenes here and there. I do like that the book really focused on solving a mystery over hack and slash, even though Byers is quite adept as long detailed fight scenes. By sticking with the detective aspects, the story felt like a murder mystery first and a licensed novelization second. I also liked that the characters didn’t solve the mystery right away, complete with the occasional dead end, false lead and accidental accusation of the wrong being thrown in for good measure. Because of the narrative style, I could give Murder in Corvis to people I know who like murder mysteries but hate gaming fiction and feel they would still enjoy this in spite of its origins.

Overall, I was glad to see that Murder in Corvis is another fine story spawned from the mind of Richard Lee Byers. Unlike some of his other releases, this novella didn’t convince me to pick up the game it was based on and I actually think the weakest points of the release are when the package tries to sell you on Iron Kingdoms instead of allowing you to just read the story, but the novella is an enjoyable murder mystery in a steampunk high fantasy setting. It’s newcomer friendly and the characters will keep you both entertained and interested from beginning to end. If you’ve got five bucks to spare and an afternoon with nothing to do, you could while away the time in worse fashions than reading Murder in Corvis.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

tanay.co.in: SA-CORE-2014-005 - All you need to know to protect your Drupal Site from the latest SQL Injection vulnerability

Planet Drupal - 16 October 2014 - 4:18am

Last night, Drupal Release a security update to its core - v7.32

 

The release addresses the SQL Injection vulnerability described at https://www.drupal.org/SA-CORE-2014-005

 

 

How serious is it?

There are many proof of concepts scripts available all over the internet now. Both python and php variants. So, anyone who is knowledgeable enough to run a php/python script can now login to your Drupal 7 Site as admin, or execute any SQL on your Drupal Database!

[I am not linking them here for the obvious reasons, if you came here searching for those scripts, you are at the wrong place]

 

So, is my site vulnerable?

Most of the Drupal-special webhosts like Acquia, Pantheon, Platform.sh have apparently patched their platforms protecting your Drupal site even if your individual site has not been patched yet. So most of you are safe. You should be worried if you are hosting on one of those generic hosts to whom Drupal is just yet another script or if you are running the site on your own stack.

 

And if you have a CDN like cloudflare infront of your website, then you are safe as well (at least for a while). As of now, I am aware of only cloudflare that has announced that they have updated their Web App Firewall rules to mitigate this vulnerability. So if you are using Cloudflare CDN like I do for this blog site, make sure you turn on this option.

 

How do I fix my Site?

Don’t worry. Fortunately it is very simple. And it would not take more than 2 minutes to fix your site (if you do it via #3 below).

 

If the words like “git”, “patch”, “upgrade” scare you and if you like the words “FTP”, “Filezilla” more then skip directly to #3 below.

 

  • OPTION #1: The first option is to update your site to the latest version of Drupal - 7.32.

  • OPTION #2:But yeah, there is considerable effort involved behind upgrading your Drupal Site. Every upgrade usually would require significant regression testing and this could take a while.

    So, as an alternative, there is a very small patch out there for  you. Apply it and you are all set.
    Patch : https://www.drupal.org/files/issues/SA-CORE-2014-005-D7.patch

    How do I apply this patch?
    Like any other patch -

  • OPTION #3: [THE SIMPLEST OF ALL] Alternatively, if you do not want to deal with patches or upgrades, or if you are are looking for a quick fix, here you go:

    • FTP to, or open your Drupal Root Directory

    • Navigate to  includes/database/ folder

    • There will be a file named database.inc . Take a backup of the file. We are going to modify the file. Store the backup somewhere safe just in case.

    • Open the file database.inc .

    • At around line 739, you will find a line of code that reads
      foreach ($data as $i => $value) {
      Replace this line with
      foreach (array_values($data) as $i => $value) {

    • Save the file and exit

    • Pat yourself on the back. You are all set now :-)

 


I have no enemies. Should I still fix my site?

Absolutely yes. With the many google dorks that could be used to find Drupal Sites, you could be the subject of random attack. - ie Some noob with the script picking up your site randomly to login as admin and defacing it or playing around with it, or stealing your userbase for spamming!

 

Who found this issue? Who reported it? When was it first reported? ……. Check out the FAQ on Drupal.org for answers - https://www.drupal.org/node/2357241

 
Categories: Drupal

A Farewell Letter to GamerGate - by James Beech

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 16 October 2014 - 3:57am
A veteran game developer weighs in on the life, and apparent death, of GamerGate
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Visitors Voice: What is a good autocomplete?

Planet Drupal - 16 October 2014 - 3:45am
Too often clients add autocomplete as an requirement without much thought. And as an result it is actually making the user experience worse. Instead of helping the users it confuses them. The first rule when designing autocomplete is: the suggestions must be relevant for many! Otherwise don’t make any suggestions at all, since it’s just […]
Categories: Drupal

Webform Salesforce Concatenate

New Drupal Modules - 16 October 2014 - 3:07am

The Webform Salesforce Concatenate module adds various features for generating a Salesforce Lead from a Drupal Webform submission.

Categories: Drupal

Open Source Training: Drupal 7.32 is an Absolutely Necessary Update

Planet Drupal - 16 October 2014 - 2:03am

We're accustomed to the Drupal security team releasing security fixes.

Fortunately, most of the fixes were relatively minor. They either impacted a small group of sites, or they were unlikely to lead to your site being hacked.

Let's take a brief look at the 4 previous Drupal security advisories in 2014:

Categories: Drupal

The RPGnet Interview: Jim Pinto, Post World Games

RPGNet - 16 October 2014 - 12:00am
About The Carcass and more.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Role of Luck: Why RNG isn't the answer - by Elyot Grant

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 15 October 2014 - 11:09pm
Hearthstone's design team told us we'd be crazy to make a game without luck. But here's the secret to why games without luck are actually more addictive, and players are far better off without it (contrary to what most AAA studios would have you believe).
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Why Gamers Love to Play Alone...Together - by Nick Halme

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 15 October 2014 - 10:32pm
Taking a look at the different sort of multiplayer experience Fuel introduces to mobile games, and some of the precedents set by "traditional" gaming which we can apply to mobile with this new environment in mind.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

VR Meetups: The Story of Haves and Have Nots - by Neil Schneider

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 15 October 2014 - 10:32pm
Popular Meetups like SVVR, VRLA, and San Francisco VR Meetup are getting kudos for inexpensively getting a lot of expertise in one room. Learn about the gaps that need to be filled to grow the industry, and an effort being done to fill them.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

What We Can Learn From Teens Making Games - by Tom Swanson

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 15 October 2014 - 10:32pm
During summer of 2014, foundry10 had 4 high school age interns pursue their goal of making a video game. With a focus on minimal structure, the program offered insight into how game creation impacts learning and how it can be used as a tool for students.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Game Categorization: Randomness - by Jesse Karoubas

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 15 October 2014 - 10:32pm
Randomness is a major part of many games, whether board games, computer/video games, or many others. In my studies, I have distilled four general categories for randomness found in games, illustrated using dice, cards, rock-paper-sissors, and tic-tac-toe.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

PreviousNext: Constructive Conflict Resolution in the Drupal Community

Planet Drupal - 15 October 2014 - 9:06pm

How can the Drupal community recognise and handle conflict more constructively? This core conversation session from DrupalCon Amsterdam aimed to start a discussion about creating an army of empowered bystanders ready, willing and able to use conflict as a positive force in the community.

Categories: Drupal

PreviousNext: Constructive Conflict Resolution in the Drupal Community

Planet Drupal - 15 October 2014 - 9:06pm

How can the Drupal community recognise and handle conflict more constructively? This core conversation session from DrupalCon Amsterdam aimed to start a discussion about creating an army of empowered bystanders ready, willing and able to use conflict as a positive force in the community.

Categories: Drupal

Midwestern Mac, LLC: Fixing Drupal Fast - Using Ansible to deploy a security update on many sites

Planet Drupal - 15 October 2014 - 9:01pm

Earlier today, the Drupal Security Team announced SA-CORE-2014-005 - Drupal core - SQL injection, a 'Highly Critical' bug in Drupal 7 core that could result in SQL injection, leading to a whole host of other problems.

While not a regular occurrence, this kind of vulnerability is disclosed from time to time—if not in Drupal core, in some popular contributed module, or in some package you have running on your Internet-connected servers. What's the best way to update your entire infrastructure (all your sites and servers) against a vulnerability like this, and fast? High profile sites could be quickly targeted by criminals, and need to be able to deploy a fix ASAP... and though lower-profile sites may not be immediately targeted, you can bet there will eventually be a malicious bot scanning for vulnerable sites, so these sites need to still apply the fix in a timely manner.

Categories: Drupal

Digital archaeology changes exploration of the past

Virtual Reality - Science Daily - 15 October 2014 - 4:06pm
New ways of documenting and sharing artifacts are being explored in recent study. Archaeologists are now using the tools of the 21st century to explore the past, researchers say, and are exploring how structured light 3D scanning can capture both the surface and geometry of artifacts. This technology will eventually help put artifacts that have been excavated in pieces back together again, they hope. The same technology can produce three-dimensional models of artifacts, allowing researchers around the world to study pieces online.
Categories: Virtual Reality

Amid GamerGate controversy, ESA speaks out against harassment in game industry

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 15 October 2014 - 3:47pm

The American trade organization for the game industry -- whose major members include companies such as EA, Epic Games, and Sony -- has spoken out against online harassment campaigns. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Zynga sheds another exec: Barry Cottle exits the building

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 15 October 2014 - 2:39pm

A huge amount of housecleaning has seen major changes in management at the embattled social games company's exec layer -- and another of its big names is now gone. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design
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