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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:35 pm 
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I saw the announcement that Account creation is back online, and I have an objection to the new verification method: people do still exist in the world who can't text. Some of them are kids, like my little sister, whose parents have just started letting her use the Internet and still don't allow her a phone; others are older people who don't see the need for a cell phone and can count on one hand the number of things they use the Internet for (this game being on the list only because of fond old memories of the CD-based Myst installments); still others are college students and new members of the work force who are sufficiently financially-challenged that they have to live off of the free Internet at the public library and still pay for their cell phone usage in minutes, where texting can cost an exorbitant number of minutes per message.

The rest of the Internet may consider such people primitive and behind the times, but the fact is, a game that has as comparatively-small of a fanbase as this one does can't afford to be choosy about which humans are allowed to play (apart, of course, from the requisite weeding-out of trolls). The cell-phone requirement automatically excludes both my aforementioned sister, who begs often to have an account of her own (our parents were going to let her use their email address, since they'd be easily able to keep an eye on things, but refuse to budge on the no-cell-phone-until-you're-older rule) so she won't have to keep borrowing mine, as well as one of my best friends, who I recently converted to loving Myst but who falls into the category of financially-challenged.

I understand that it's important to verify that the "new players" are actually people, but why couldn't that be done by sending a verification code, perhaps in the form of a CAPTCHA-type image, to the email address that the prospective player is already required to provide? Wouldn't that be easier than adding more steps and requirements and points of failure and outside databases (which can and do get hacked by the same sort of malicious types who perpetrate spam attacks on other types of servers; EDIT: especially since the database that would be storing the phone numbers is Facebook-affiliated, and we all know how "secure" Facebook really is, plus we all also know that nothing you "delete" from an Internet database, as they promise you'd be able to do, is ever really gone) to the process?

I wanted to post this in direct reply to the announcement, but that thread is locked, and this is the closest related topic, so that's why I said it here; since it's an issue to do with account creation I didn't think it merited a new thread.

I'm not looking for a fight, argument, bash-fest, or flame war; I just wanted to voice the annoyance I feel at being unable to share something I love with people I love, no longer because of technical difficulties relating to the game itself, but now because of a seemingly-arbitrary complication of the account-creation process.

If there is in fact some really-important reason why things absolutely have to be done this way from now on or horrible things will happen, will someone please explain it to me so the sudden change will at least not seem so capricious? Do bots and spammers really find non-cell-phone-related verification methods so easy to defeat? I genuinely want to understand.


Last edited by Mechanical Dragoness on Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:38 pm 
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You're not alone, I don't have a cellphone either.

Fortunately the Gehn Shard doesn't require authentication via cellphone so I can still play online over there.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:43 pm 
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Tweek: My family/friends and I may just have to see about accounts over there then! :)


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:11 am 
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Shorah Mechanical Dragoness. I watched this process take place from relatively close proximity, so I can tell you that all the things you mentioned were brought up in discussions and considered. This was not an easy decision for Cyan to make - as you can see, it took more than a year as they weighed all the possibilities.

It's not bots and spammers at issue (they tend to focus on the forums and Cyan has had to deal with that, too); it's live human beings with too much time on their hands who think it's fun to grief people in the game. Cyan would ban them and then they would just get a new free e-mail address and get a new account. It was taking up time and resources Cyan didn't have to spare and eating up the donations that the fans had made to CAVCON.

Some suggested that they start charging for new accounts, but they still want to keep the game free for the real fans. Tying the accounts to something that cost money is the only way to keep the griefers from coming back. It's easy to get a new free e-mail, but not cheap to get a new cell phone number. And, because the majority of fans do have a cell phone, this seemed to be the best alternative.

If your sister doesn't care about meeting other players (and I'm guessing your parents would probably prefer it that way), then one of the other shards is a good alternative. They don't have the same issues with griefers for the simple reason that they are less populated, so they're no fun for griefers.

The OpenUru.org Minkata Testing Shard is the closest to Cyan's MOULa shard, but the Guild of Writers' Gehn Shard has some very nice additional fan content.

I hope your sister and friends find their way into the cavern one way or another. Good luck.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 3:56 am 
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Could one not borrow someone else's phone?

This may not work for childern but I have to question the wisdom of them playing any online games, even ones with more friendly people. (the internet can be a strange and cruel place)


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:42 pm 
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Mechanical Dragoness wrote:
If there is in fact some really-important reason why things absolutely have to be done this way from now on or horrible things will happen, will someone please explain it to me so the sudden change will at least not seem so capricious? Do bots and spammers really find non-cell-phone-related verification methods so easy to defeat? I genuinely want to understand.

Tai'lahr really covered most of it. The question here wasn't about verifying that it was a real person making the request but about trying to regulate the ability of a very small number of maliciously minded people from creating new accounts at will every time they were banned - for that reason, the more accessible CAPTCHAs simply don't work.

Believe me, Cyan are aware that this method is not going to work for a number of people, but it is a way to overcome the condition that has persisted for several months whereby no-one could create an account. Crucially, it also costs Cyan (therefore the CAVCON fund) nothing to use this method (that may seem surprising to some but it is a fact). It is hoped that this is simply the first in a number of methods to verify the requestor, so don't treat this as the final destination but rather a stepping stone along the way. The ending has not yet been written ;)

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:37 pm 
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Tweek wrote:
You're not alone, I don't have a cellphone either.

Fortunately the Gehn Shard doesn't require authentication via cellphone so I can still play online over there.


Umm...Tweek...Isn't your account already active anyway?

Unrelated, you don't have a cellphone...Crazy! I've used wireless internet for years.

Anys, sorry to everyone for the thread derail.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:04 pm 
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Not actually sure, I think my account might inactive.. I haven't played online in a looooong time.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:14 pm 
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As Tai’lahr and Mac_Fife have pointed out, it is not a matter of bots but griefers who’s only intent is to give everyone a miserable time and cyberstalkers who at times were crossing over into committing criminal activity As quickly as Cyan could ban these accounts, they would create another account from their infinite supply of email addresses. Not only was this a futile battle but it was consuming Cyan resources that needed to work on the Obduction release.
Since the time we had closed account creation, MOULa has become a (mostly) safe environment again.

But we had to find a way for explorers to create accounts that was based on something each explorer had limited supply of. This is the first stepping stone of using a cell phone text message for verification. We realize that not all people would have cell phones or would be willing to use their cell phones or would like using anything to do with Facebook. We understand that, it’s not for everyone.
We hope to find other methods we can implement in the future that would provide the same affect (limited supply) but provide more accessibility to more explorers.

So, please, if anyone has any ideas, please post them here or send them to me privately.


Thanks,
Chogon


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:24 pm 
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Old(ish) person here. I'm not sure I understand how the authentication works. Is it just that a text is received (verifying the existance of a working phone number), or does the new player need to also text a reply back? Could an automated voice system do that (somehow) for people with landlines?

I could speculate on ways to throw technology at the problem, but it would always boil down to how much money and time can (or should) be spent. As soon as exceptions creep in, the ease of automation breaks down. Robots can now call my landline and hold a conversation with me -- and could exchange verification info -- but how much would it cost to program that response system?

BTW, I hate the term "cell phone" when people talk about SMS texting and apps. I do have a *mobile* or cell phone, but I do not have a *smart*phone. Until a few years ago, it couldn't even accept incoming text messages. For those interested: mine is an old flip-style phone, which is sufficient for voice calls, and recently upgraded to a display screen for messages. It is a royal pain to type out a sentence in the old 2=ABC method. I am on a cheap pre-paid plan, too, which charges me per call and/or text. (The plan is as little as $25 for 90 days; the device itself is cheap, available for less than $40 in some forms.)

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:07 pm 
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UK phrasing tends to talk about "mobile phones" rather than "cell phones" but the cell term comes from the fact that they're based on "cellular radio", i.e. there's a 'cell' of operation around each mast.

For catherwood's benefit, and anyone else that is similarly unsure of the process, what happens is this (for creating a new account):
  • From the Play page you follow the link for creating a new account.
  • A form asks for your account name (email address) and password for the new account (you also need to tick a box as a simple CAPTCHA test).
  • When you submit the form you'll get a pop-up window where you enter your cell/mobile number and then click Next.
  • Another pop-up asks you to enter the code that is sent via the SMS message. Note that it can take a few minutes for this message to arrive (maybe up to five minutes in my experience) so don't be too hasty to hit the "Resend code" link. You enter the code in the box and click Next (there's no need to message anything back via your phone - the fact that you have the six-digit code is enough proof that you have the phone).
  • After that, if everything is OK you should get a screen confirming that your account is set up and shortly afterwards a further confirmation by email.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:09 pm 
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Additionally, once the account is set up, you can ask to have the phone number removed from Facebook’s database.

I suppose a voice system would cost more, maybe need to be custom made and possibly not work outside the U.S.


Smartphones are generally understood as the combination of traditional cell/mobile phones and Personal Digital Assistants. If I remember correctly, the SMS service came out with the GSM standard in the ’90s, in any case it’s still considered part of traditional phone capabilities; emails, GPS and media players are typical of smartphones.
I would’ve said games, but non-smart Nokia phones had Snake :) .

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:14 pm 
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catherwood wrote:
Old(ish) person here.
Hey! Who you calling old! There is a lot of us oldies around here. ;-)

Thanks Mac for explaining what happens when you create an account. I can see I need to add some more text to the first page of the creation page.

catherwood wrote:
I could speculate on ways to throw technology at the problem, but it would always boil down to how much money and time can (or should) be spent.
I'm not looking for creating new technologies but leveraging existing ones that are free or mostly free like the SMS kits available. Maybe something like social media accounts or something else that is unique and limited.

Thanks,
Chogon


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:21 am 
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All this time spent on getting what we wanted and you are are all fricking debating it... I just want the cavern open to everyone....And I'm proud to enjoy all that choose to partake in the wonders that abound......

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:07 am 
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I don't think debating the method is harmful in any way: For one thing, I think it's understood that some people will have questions about it or even concerns, and in many respects it's perhaps healthy to be cautious, given that there are legitimate concerns over privacy on the wider Internet. Aside from that, discussions like this are how other ideas might come about.

In any case, the aim is to try to keep MO:ULa as accessible as possible (within the constraints of making it less accessible to persistent mis-users), so if explaining things here helps people to get in then that's all good :)

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