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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:44 pm 
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This is a perfect example of what I have noted for some time--that the whole "hacking" thing is a topic of much sensitivity within the Uru community. I have always found that conflicts are best resolved when both sides understand the position of the other side. So to be helpful, here's a brief summary of both sides based on comments I have heard and seen people make:

Gray Hats and their supporters: Uru has felt "dead" for a very long time now because nothing new was happening. The Gray Hats are people who, I believe, have a genuine love for the game and don't want to see it stagnate. Cyan has, for whatever reason, been very slow in open-sourcing the game as they have promised that they would. As a result, people are getting very antsy and want something new. Gray Hats view their hacks as largely unharmful. Their supporters (who, as far as I can tell, are a much bigger group than their detractors) are loving the "illusions" they create. Many people who have not played the game in a very long time are returning to it now because the hacks have made it more interesting for them.

Opposition to the Gray Hats: IMHO, most of the opposition stems from negative reaction to the Birthday Hacks. Many explorers felt that the display of illusions on Rand's birthday broke the setting and atmosphere. Furthermore, it was fairly clear to many people that this had not been sanctioned by Cyan, which meant that someone was taking it into their own hands to manipulate Cyan's property. Some who feel a strong loyalty to Cyan were very outspoken against this. Finally, there is a general opinion that anyone who hacks a public game to create widely visible illusions is a glutton for attention (and there is probably at least a little truth to this opinion), and as a result many people resented what appeared to be a rather immature attempt to garner attention. Although the opposition is in the minority, numbers-wise, they have been very outspoken in their opinions. Now, Cyan has provided the Hood of Illusions and the Fun House. This feels like a slap in the face to anyone who defended Cyan from the hackers by speaking out against them. Furthermore, Uru has always been a community with a philosophy that encourages equality, but with events that have encouraged the rise of various elite groups. As a result it is perfectly natural to feel resentment when any group seems to be getting special favor. It is undoubtedly especially galling for some to see a group of people they believe should be punished be rewarded instead.

I am, of course, not the ultimate authority on what both sides are saying. I'm trying to summarize what I've heard people say, usually in less polite language than what I've used here. Truthfully, both sides have made some mistakes and both sides need to make some concessions. The Gray Hats need to recognize that although the Birthday Hacks received wide popularity, they were unauthorized, they broke the atmosphere and the game for many people, and were perhaps therefore a bit ill-conceived. The opposition needs to recognize that the Gray Hats are not a malicious group, that the majority of Uru players do seem to support the new changes, that specialty groups will arise in any large community and that the Hats are not receiving any real "special treatment" here--just a couple of places to display their illusions where it won't affect those who don't want to participate.

As a final note--before anyone makes any assumptions, I am not a Gray Hat, nor am I in the opposing party. I'm just an explorer who likes peace in the Uru community.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:25 pm 
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Excellent post, Carl. I couldn't have said it better. I've been quiet about all this because, as I told OHB privately, my feelings about it are divided - in pretty much the way you described.

I believe my record shows that I've been supportive of player-created content – even if I didn’t always feel technically capable of utilizing some of it, I was supportive of the idea (or, at the very least, kept quiet when in doubt). I want to be supportive of this latest development and even participate. Although I haven’t posted until now, I’ve been reading all the posts and devouring the information. I really enjoy learning about how this stuff is done and greatly appreciate OHB’s patience in answering questions.

However, the way it came about still bothers me. It seems that Cyan is reinforcing the idea that the way to get something from them is to break the rules. And, that makes me uncomfortable. I give OHB and the team a lot of credit for imposing their own set of restrictions on this to keep things from getting out of hand. But, I can't help but wonder: what happens when they get bored with this? Will another rule be broken in order to get something more from Cyan? And, just to be clear, this is more a criticism of Cyan than of the Grey Hats.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:39 pm 
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even though the unsanctioned hack durring Rands birthday visit was exciting (albeit disruptive) and is the nave what's responsible for all this, it wasn't mallicious in nature and Cyan obviously took kindly to it and was willing to allow these developments to occur because of it...

... now that this practice of hacking/cracking is alowed (with restrictions) in URU me thinks it'll be less of a distraction for some people and an exciting adventure for others...
... it just took a little hollering to make that happen with approval... and only good has come of it (and maybe just a lil mischeif :twisted: )

although, i rly don't understand why it would take such an extravagant display to get Cyan involved in allowing this to occur?
... sure, being disruptive is an effective way to have your voice heard over a crowd but, as effective as it was i wonder if presenting to them a formal written offer would have sufficed?

i understand Cyan's reluctance to make steps towards OS; regardless, Cyan has given them the green and it's been good from there :wink:

one purpose the hack that started it all served was it generated interest far more than a simple forum post by RAWA would have following approval of a written offer... i was certainly axiously expecting word from cyan in regards to it, and what came was most surprising and reassuring 8)


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:22 pm 
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A few different thoughts here.

Main_Avvie wrote:
...now that this practice of hacking/cracking is alowed... i rly don't understand why it would take such an extravagant display to get Cyan involved in allowing this to occur?... i understand Cyan's reluctance to make steps towards OS...

Again, RAWA made the clear distinction between hacking (gray hats) and cracking (black hats). Hacking - allowed, under controlled conditions. Cracking - not allowed. The unfortunate attribution to the Ae'gura event as a "Birthday Hack" has been confusing to the purpose of RAWA's message. For one, "Birthday," sounds all too cute, and mostly two, it was considered to be cracking, not hacking. I'd prefer to see it called what it was.

It would have been better had Cyan taken an initiative first so it didn't look like negotiations with crackers. But that would have taken time they didn't necessarily have while trying to develop other projects. Besides, restraint and patience for open source will deliver all the goods anyway. And it would have appeared better had the hackers "reached out" before the cracker(s) among them made their point. But then the point was made and Cyan had to take the time. They chose to bend with the wind. But now, doubts remain about both the tactics and the response.

Cyan has not shown reluctance towards open source, but a higher priority towards projects that actually keep them around to work on open source in their spare time.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:31 pm 
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Zardoz wrote:
… I'm not sure what the fuss is all about, as fog colors, Bahro, random Arch movements and the like are pretty minor parlor tricks. This doesn't mean I'm unimpressed with the GoW, as I know this is exceptionally minor stuff from their point of view; instead, I'm underwhelmed by the fact that so many people find this exciting …

Not a direct reply to you Zardoz, but something I feel has been missing in this discussion, and your wording presents a good hook to attach it:

I’m probably not speaking for the average explorer, but what I find exciting about these recent developments is not the parlor tricks – these are neat but peanuts compared to the deep story and beauty of Uru. It’s the change in attitude on the part of both Cyan and the hackers that this marks. Both sides appear to be taking steps away from a certain traditional unapproachability, and I think that’s a very good sign for future developments, even if that situation may have been reached in questionable ways. The trust and implicit recognition put forth by Cyan is very encouraging. Witnessing the dedication and spirit of learning while listening to the Gray Hats organizing their performance on Teamspeak, that was impressive (even if I guess I could have seen more of that already before if I’d hang around in the GoW chat more often). It’s this feeling of activity and communication and progress that excites me.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:36 pm 
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Tai'lahr wrote:
It seems that Cyan is reinforcing the idea that the way to get something from them is to break the rules.

I feel that's a misinterpretation. I think what Cyan would like to do most of all, is make hacking in this form impossible, preventing these things from happening altogether. After all, it was far from intended for things like this to be possible in Uru. However, to prevent it would require a lot of work. I don't know that much about software engineering, but I imagine it would mean major changes to the networking system. As far as I know, Cyan at this point doesn't have the resources (people, time) to do things like that. However, they also don't want to allow these things to continue. So, as a temporary solution, the new hoods are created, to at least confine the events to a certain designated part of the game.

It's not that the hackers are rewarded; it's just that this is the most Cyan can do at the moment.

On the other hand, things are a bit more complicated, as (most of) the hackers are not malicious, but rather loyal fans, and I think Cyan thinks about giving them something as well. In the end though, think about it like this; if Uru ever becomes a 'real' game again (as in; story, new content...), will the hackers be able to stay in their current form? In my opinion, that would not work, and I don't think Cyan would want it (malicious hackers could enable story elements before they were supposed to, and all sorts of other stuff). So if that kind of Uru ever happens again, at some point Cyan will do the extra work, and prevent hacking - as they would like to do now, but cannot.

edit: I'd like to add that I'm not trying to speak for Cyan. This is just how I think things probably went/are,


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:51 pm 
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Zardoz wrote:
Indeed, I think this step is a good one, but I sincerely hope it is a first one and a minor one

As do we. This is just the beginning. This is by no-means an end-all. As I've said before, we weren't expecting any of this...we were surprised too. We feel like we've been given an amazing one-of-a-kind opportunity to do something meaningful with this. It will take time, but we'll get there.

JWPlatt wrote:
The unfortunate attribution to the Ae'gura event as a "Birthday Hack" has been confusing to the purpose of RAWA's message. For one, "Birthday," sounds all too cute, and mostly two, it was considered to be cracking, not hacking. I'd prefer to see it called what it was.

"Birthday Hack" is the correct term. Per both Rand and RAWA, it was a hack, not a crack. The difference between hacking and cracking is not permission.

JWPlatt wrote:
But now, doubts remain about both the tactics and the response.

As far as you're concerned, there are doubts about the entire process that brought us to this point because none of the discussions with RAWA were public. I've already done (IMHO) a good job of summarizing those discussions. But I'm certainly not authorized to just publish them. However, I'll have another look at what I've written about them and make sure they're accurate.

Zardoz wrote:
Do not be offended by whatever apparent "special status" people are granted by Cyan. Instead, judge the actions those people take by whether they (eventually) deliver a product that fits within the high standards of Uru we all expected.


That's all I ask. We WANT to "get this right". For those of you who believe that my words aren't enough - that's fine. They're not. Watch us. Closely. We will prove ourselves. I guarantee it.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:52 pm 
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ugh!! hackers, crackers, coders, programers!! so many synonyms, antonyms, and definitions oh my!! we're gonna have to be real careful how we personally define what and make those definitions very clear...

hackers (gray hats) and crackers (black hats) are both the same thing... programers and coders; the use of code and programming languages is as a development tool... crackers break and enter, so i suppose that means hackers get permission to do so? i suppose neither one *has* to use code as a development tool but, that's what the purpose of this endevor is in the long run, correct?

the efforts of the GOW has been the development of programs (OHBot, WhoM), clients (DI/Drizzle), and fan ages...
... now i'm wondering if i am approaching out of bounds territory mentioning things that were once unmentionable on these forums (any non Cyan URU program other than the use of the two new bevins for hacking purposes) i'm not sure if discussion of those are allowed on this section of the forums alone?

if not, i'm sure a modderator will respond...

suffice it to say, "what can be done on Cyan's MOUL server that cannot be done in DI?"
... from what i understand Plasma is very unique and very interesting to look into; but how does DI run if not on the plasma engine?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:07 pm 
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OHB wrote:
The difference between hacking and cracking is not permission.

I understand the point that the client was not made to perform any actions the game does not allow. But I do include things like expected game environment, permission, intention, responsibility, accountablility and the willingness to reveal oneself in the definition. That's not technical, but it is real.

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Last edited by JWPlatt on Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:07 pm 
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Main_Avvie wrote:
ugh!! hackers, crackers, coders, programers!! so many synonyms, antonyms, and definitions oh my!!...hackers (gray hats) and crackers (black hats) are both the same thing...


OK let me make this simple. In describing the Grey Hats, HACK and HACKER and HACKING are all OK. CRACK and CRACKER and CRACKING are not. It's that easy. Cracking is what you do to some form of security. That's why DRM isn't hacked, it's cracked. You're breaking security. To be honest, any MO:UL "security" (of which there is very little) was broken long long ago. Therefore, by definition, the Grey Hats aren't crackers - they're hackers.

Main_Avvie wrote:
Drizzle

You're talking about the snow, right?

Main_Avvie wrote:
"what can be done on Cyan's MOUL server that cannot be done in DI?"

This certainly used to be true. DI was used for a lot of testing of hacks...although that wasn't the primary purpose of DI. And there are still things that can ONLY be tested on DI. There are, however, things that can ONLY be tested in MO:UL. But since we've got the hoods to play with, things that could be tested in both will by-in-large be moved to MO:UL for sheer convenience and so people can watch and learn, etc.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:20 pm 
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P.S. I should probably add before I am misunderstood that I believe all of my conditions listed above have been met by the GoW's efforts in this issue, mostly visible via Branan and OHB, to improve their image and operations.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:24 pm 
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OHB wrote:
Zardoz wrote:
]Do not be offended by whatever apparent "special status" people are granted by Cyan. Instead, judge the actions those people take by whether they (eventually) deliver a product that fits within the high standards of Uru we all expected.


That's all I ask. We WANT to "get this right". For those of you who believe that my words aren't enough - that's fine. They're not. Watch us. Closely. We will prove ourselves. I guarantee it.


I do believe your good intentions and I also understand what Cyan did by giving the opportunity to you to show off in two different hoods. Allthough RAWA tried to put it into IC perspective and a lot of people find amusement in both hoods, for me it still has nothing to do with the storytelling of URU.
But what keeps me wondering is the fact that it's possible to get acces to the vault and also make use of an "adminKI". If you can do it, other people can. (grey hats versus black hats)
Having the technical knowledge to get access it would be more preferable to me to get better protection of data in the vault and get back to the game URU, what it was supposed to be.
Feeling the call and trying to comprehend the D'ni culture and to discover the cavern as allready charted in the book of Ti'ana.

Again I do believe in the good intentions, but also use it to make the game safer to unwanted access of data..

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:27 pm 
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OHB wrote:
Main_Avvie wrote:
ugh!! hackers, crackers, coders, programers!! so many synonyms, antonyms, and definitions oh my!!...hackers (gray hats) and crackers (black hats) are both the same thing...




yes they are the same thing in so much as they *both* are...

Main_Avvie wrote:
hackers (gray hats) and crackers (black hats) are both the same thing... programers and coders


meaning their use of code as a development tool... i rly shouldn't have written that, it's beside the point and confusing :oops: :roll:

i'd take it back if i could...

OHB keeps telling me that which i alrdy know... that Gray Hat Hackers are the "Good Guys" while Black Hat Crackers are the "Bad Guys" but apparently i keep confusing the issue... ugh :x


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:44 pm 
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Geert wrote:
Allthough RAWA tried to put it into IC perspective and a lot of people find amusement in both hoods, for me it still has nothing to do with the storytelling of URU.

You're right about that. It doesn't have anything to with storytelling. At most these hacks could be used as tool to further storytelling. But that isn't up to us. We hack...ya'll can tell stories. We'll help with special effects if we can.

Geert wrote:
But what keeps me wondering is the fact that it's possible to get acces to the vault and also make use of an "adminKI". If you can do it, other people can. (grey hats versus black hats) Having the technical knowledge to get access it would be more preferable to me to get better protection of data in the vault and get back to the game URU, what it was supposed to be.

Indeed. And we've tried to be open about that very issue. The list of Grey Hats is by no means a full list of people with these abilities. Anyone can learn to do it. There are tools that make hacking much easier. But, as a general rule, they're kept under lock and key where possible. To get access to one of them you have to demonstrate a prior understanding of things and have earned the trust of those who might give you a copy. We take this very seriously. Yeah, we're all about open source, but we're also about not being evil. That means being responsible...and we take that very seriously.

But back to your point: I've said before that the Grey Hats are the first people to say that we shouldn't be able to do any of the things we can do. Honestly. We shouldn't! Not in a "Cyan shouldn't have given us permission" way, but in a "It shouldn't be technically possible!" way. We are advocates for better security. Unfortunately, we're talking about fundamental design flaws (read "features") in MO:UL. There are a number of different ongoing projects that aim to address this problem. But, we are a long way away from that.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:51 pm 
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OHB wrote:
JWPlatt wrote:
The unfortunate attribution to the Ae'gura event as a "Birthday Hack" has been confusing to the purpose of RAWA's message. For one, "Birthday," sounds all too cute, and mostly two, it was considered to be cracking, not hacking. I'd prefer to see it called what it was.

"Birthday Hack" is the correct term. Per both Rand and RAWA, it was a hack, not a crack. The difference between hacking and cracking is not permission.

Hmmm. :?
In a response to my e-mail about this, RAWA pointedly used the word "crackers" where I had used the word "hackers" as if to correct any misconceptions I might have that the event was sanctioned. Perhaps the point you're making is that the person responsible had permission to access the vault for a legitimate reason, but simply overstepped their bounds with this event. Sort of like the ResEng-who-shall-remain-nameless that put avatars on rooftops and into treetops. He didn't get fired, but I'm sure he wasn't on the short list for promotion, either. :P

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