Automobilista Pulled From Steam Due To Copyright Claim

We all like community content, giving us everything from new maps and worlds to explore to little details like a new weapon or car design. Sadly when it comes to games, something inside the game can often lead to disagreements and arguments, something that seems to have resulted in Automobilista pulled from Steam.

Posting on their forum, Reiza shared the news that they were pulling their game from Steam:

“As is known, Automobilista packages a variety of officially licensed cars and brands alongside fictionalized, originally created content. The claim in question does not make any specific reference to content present in Automobilista supposedly in infringement of the party’s copyright—until it does, our belief is that it has no merit.

We have already taken the appropriate measures to resolve the issue ASAP, but in accordance to Valve’s policy, the process may take a few days to be completed.”

The takedown may be part of Steam policy, but if you won’t mention what copyright is being breached or how it’s hard to see the claim doing anything but resulting in the game being removed from Steam for a few days.With the game featuring both official content sponsored by company,

With the game featuring both official content sponsored by the companies behind the cars, to community created content it will be hard to find out what content has caused the copyright claim if any.

Pirates of Stardew Valley Getting Given Copies From Players

Typically when a game comes out there are two kinds of people who end up playing the game. Firstly you have the people who purchase the game, looking to enjoy the game in all its glory. You then have the people who will illegally download the game, looking to enjoy the fun without supporting the games creators and losing out on a little cash for the experience. Players have come up with an ingenious way to solve this problem though, with pirates of Stardew Valley getting given copies from other players.

Stardew Valley is currently one of the most played games on Steam, with people looking all over to enjoy the experience, some without paying the £10.99 the game costs on Steam. The response from the community in support of this game is unique, with a member of a Reddit forum looking to pay back the creator by forwarding a few copies of the game on to people who couldn’t afford to buy it.

The original post reads:

So today’s payday and I’ve got a bit of cash leftover after paying my bills. I’d like to use it to pay /u/ConcernedApe back for the awesome game he/se’s made and his/her absolutly stellar involvement with the community.

If any of you folks can’t play because you’re out of cash, let me play it forward for ya 🙂

P.S. That being said, I’m not exactly made of money. I probably won’t be able to buy everyone in the thread a copy of the game. So, sorry in advance if I miss you. Maybe another generous member of the community could spread the love?

EDIT: Forgot to mention, you don’t need to post your Steam name or anything. I’m sending Humble Store gift links because the Humble Store takes a smaller cut of the sticker price than Steam or GOG. That means more of my money will be going directly to ConcernedApe. The Humble Store doesn’t give you a DRM-free copy, but it DOES provide a Steam key.

This quickly became a thing, with people requesting a free copy of the game, followed by people looking to give out copies as well, with more and more people looking to both share the game and support its creator.

I don’t think this is a one off either, other threads have already appeared offering the same deal and I wouldn’t be surprised if big hit successes get threads like this more and more often in the future.

SXSW Gaming Events Cancelled After ‘Threats Of Violence’

Well this is a mess but here goes, two gaming events have been cancelled at the South-by-Southwest (SXSW) festival that is due to take place next year (March 2016), after organisers confirmed they have become victim to continuous threats of violence which includes a direct message of the potential for violent behaviour “on site”.

At first, the content of the discussion panels seem compelling and rather innocuous considering the alleged reaction, the first was coined “SavePoint: A discussion on the Gaming community” while the other was named “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games”  The former was there to primarily analyse the social and political landscape within the ever-changing and diverse gaming community as well as a closer look at the journalistic integrity of gaming journalists themselves; the latter was focussed on data around abuse in larger gaming communities as well as other related topics.

Sounds interesting right? Indeed, the reason this has somewhat blown up in the organisers faces is down to the panels referring to the madness known as “GamerGate” neither panel was officially linked to this subject but did intend to discuss issues associated with both sides of the row. SavePoint was due to feature prominent GamerGate supporters while Level up was likely to feature an argument, sorry discussion against Harassment in games and I would have thought GamerGate would have come up at some point.

So that’s it, no, supporters of the GamerGate campaign suggest that they themselves have been the victim of “abuse after they tried to highlight conflicts of interest in the video games industry. The organisers of SavePoint have announced that they will go ahead with plans to host a panel discussion themselves and will do so by other means.

To add to the complications, media organisation BuzzFeed has threatened to boycott SXSW unless the festival reinstated both parties, which looks unlikely at this time considering both panels are fearful of their safety. Buzzfeed released a statement that reads as follows,

“We will feel compelled to withdraw [our staff] if the conference can’t find a way to do what those other targets of harassment do every day – to carry on important conversations in the face of harassment. We hope you can support the principle of free speech and engage a vital issue facing us and other constituents on the event.”

I have always felt rather non plus with the ideology of threats of violence, granted, if you received one then you are well within your rights to take it with the utmost of seriousness, but, if someone intended to hit you, they probably would not warn you that they intended to do so in the first place, it rather defeats the point. It’s a tough one, free speech should be the number one focus, but, free speech itself does not mean you can say what you want if there is a chance that it could cause major offence.

It does seem silly though that two gaming events have been cancelled because it has caused this reaction, can’t people debate like adults and others listen with respect like adults without the need for threats?

Guild Wars 2 Base Game is Now Free-To-Play

Guild Wars 2’s base package is now available for free after the studio announced a revised pricing structure. However, to monetize the game’s player base, there will be a significant number of restrictions imposed on free accounts. These include limiting the character slots from 5 to 2, disabling Map chat and even prohibiting access to the forums. MMOs require micro-payments or a subscription to remain successful, but I’m quite wary that the hefty restrictions could deter new players from joining up and upgrading to premium accounts. This huge table below illustrates the differences between the main three account types:

Free Account Core Guild Wars 2 Account Heart of Thorns Account
Character Slots 2 5 5 or more*
Bag Slots 3 5 5
Revenant Profession No No Yes
Heart of Thorns Maps & Content No No Yes
Central Tyria (Core) Maps & Content Starter maps only until character reaches level 10

Lion’s Arch unlocked for each character at level 35

Yes Yes
Masteries No No Yes
In-Game Mail Can only send to mutual friends

Can’t send gold or items

Yes (accounts created after August 28, 2015 require SMS or app authentication to send gold and items) Yes (accounts created after August 28, 2015 require SMS or app authentication to send gold and items)
Guild Bank Access No Yes (accounts created after August 28, 2015 require SMS or app authentication to withdraw) Yes (accounts created after August 28, 2015 require SMS or app authentication to withdraw)
Whisper chat Except for mutual friends, can only whisper in the same map, one new person every 30 seconds Yes Yes
Map chat No Yes Yes
Squad chat Unlocked for each character at level 30 Yes Yes
Looking For Group Unlocked for each character at level 30 Yes Yes
PvP Chat Team Chat always available

Chat in PvP Lobby unlocked when the account reaches PvP rank 20

Emotes, Map and Say chat unavailable during matches

Yes Yes
WvW Unlocked account-wide when one character reaches level 60 Yes Yes
Daily Login Bonus No Yes Yes
Gem Store Items unusable by free accounts (such as glider skin) are unavailable Yes Yes
Currency Exchange Gems to gold exchange available, gold to gems exchange unavailable. Yes Yes
Trading Post Can buy and sell items from a selected list. Yes Yes
Forum Posting Access No Yes Yes

According to the developer, this new strategy is designed to create a clear and transparent model showing how varying accounts differ and allowing players to see beforehand if the premium accounts are worth the extra. It seems the majority of MMOs end up going free-to-play barring World of Warcraft, and it will be interesting to see how the community reacts. Guild Wars 2 is an outstanding MMO and its latest free model reduces the barrier to entry.

Thank you MMOs.com for providing us with this information. 

Twitch Harnessing User Comments to Play Dark Souls

“Twitch Plays” is excruciating to watch but a surprisingly captivating formula which allows user comments to act as control commands. The channel was created by an anonymous Twitch user and integrates a Python script; the script features a graphical interface to clearly display the keys for each action.

Miraculously, the Twitch community managed to work in harmony to complete Metal Gear Ghost Babel earlier this year. Not content with this achievement, Twitch Plays has set its sights on Dark Souls, one of the most punishing games in recent memory. As you might expect, it will be a miracle if the game is completed and the pace of progress is extremely slow.

Despite this, it is an interesting social experiment to gauge how online users can communicate and work as a team. Any form of online interaction is often plagued by trolling, vile comments and rude behavior. While, there are a lot of people intentionally inserting the wrong command, it’s pleasant to see people having fun towards a difficult end goal. I noticed the playtime counter includes a yearly unit which suggests the channel owner isn’t very optimistic of the game being finished anytime soon.

Do you think this is a pointless exercise or something which might pique your interest?

Thank You Ars Technica  for providing us with this information.

SSL Bug Lets People Impersonate Anyone

So you’re browsing online, through Facebook, Ebay and even your bank and you notice that padlock at the start of your address bar. You see that symbol and you think, that means I’m secure. I’m safe and I can browse and send information without a worry. Seems like that might be a mistake according to a new bug report.

SSL is the system in which websites can be verified, this means you can be certain that the website you’re sending information to is actually the website you want and not someone pretending. It also means that you have to use a standard of encryption when communicating information across the web. OpenSSL is a standard used by a variety of websites in order to offer some security and reassurance to its users, and sadly is publicly available meaning that users are free to view and edit the code as they see fit.

From the log that’s available it appears that the code responsible for the problem was added all the way back in January, however, it was only released to the publicly used version last month. With this problem, it would be possible for fake websites to change and “appear” as if they were the legitimate version and due to how the system works, fake websites would also be able to provide “certificates” for other websites.

While it was in the public version it didn’t make its way into the mainstream versions used by a lot of people, meaning that it has since been removed and the damage limited (if there is any at all). This is in contrast to the Heartbleed virus that resided in OpenSSL for almost two whole years before being discovered.

Thank you ArsTechnica for the information.

Image courtesy of the BBC.

First Witcher 3 Mods Now Available

Witcher 3 is an action role-playing video game set in an open world environment is an absolutely a great game. It provides awesome experience with stunning graphics, but it does lack something and that is why mods exist! It is nowhere close to letting you play with custom characters, but it enhances the game in different way.

The mod named CineFX graphics mod let you increase the resolution of the game. You can check out the changes here before going ahead and giving it a shot. You will need to have Reshade and Sweetfx 2.0 installed in order to get it running. The mod is action can be enjoyed in the following videos.

Next up is a weight lifting mod called Over 9000 which enabled the Geralt to carry over 9000 (9999, to be precise) Witchy Weight Units. It lifts the default weight limit load to almost a thousand Witchy Weight Units.

Next one is an interesting one and it is being called as “Wealthy Vendors” mod and it does exactly the work as it is named. It makes the vendors extremely rich.

The last one is Lower XP thresholds (easier XP curve) and it changes the XP curve (points) for first 21 levels so that you can level up bit easier but not too fast; the curve falls back to the stock one once you have reached the level 21.

Thank you Kotaku for providing us with this information.

Microsoft May Have Stopped ‘Halo Online’, but Modders Won’t

Microsoft announced the free-to-play closed-beta Halo Online title last week, having it be restricted to players in Russia. The modding community did not agree with the company’s decision to lock the title to a specific region, so they leaked a copy of Halo Online and the tool to connect was uploaded on GitHub, only to be taken down by Microsoft later on.

“Microsoft is probably quite bothered by what we’ve done already as these files were leaked. We obtained the files from a user on 4chan’s /v/ board,” modder and team member ‘Woovie’ told TorrentFreak.”From there, user Emoose proceeded to create a hack that would allow the client to load files and thus get in-game,” Woovie adds. “He has in the past done the same for Halo 2 and Halo 3 betas so he had experience with this. The files we have are definitely an early internal alpha. A lot of left over code from other Halo games.”

So it means that the modding community has no intentions to stop its own little opened-beta with the leftover code they got their hands on. The question now is whether or not it will become a copyright issue with Microsoft.

“In terms of DMCA/C&D mitigation, we have made redundant git backups on private and public git servers. This is to ensure we will always have one working copy. These are being synchronized so that data is always the same,” Woovie explains.”Further DMCAs may happen potentially, it’s not really known at the moment. Our backups will always exist though and we will continue until we’re happy.”

Also, it seems that ElDorito team is keen on working on their own version of Halo Online for pure passion and it seems they have been a bit baffled by its restriction to Russia. This could mean more action by Microsoft, but team member Neoshadow42 states that the modding of leaked files is more of a service to them.

“As someone involved in-game development, I’m sympathetic with some developers when it comes to copyright issues. This is different though, in my opinion,” the dev explains.”The game was going to be free in the first place. The PC audience has been screaming for Halo 3 for years and years, and we saw the chance with this leak. The fact that we could, in theory, bring the game that everyone wants, without the added on stuff that would ruin the game, that’s something we’d be proud of.” he added. “I don’t particularly see this as damaging, as some people have said. I don’t believe it for a moment, honestly. We’re working to improve people’s experience, bring it to those who wouldn’t have been able to play it anyway. I’d see that as a noble cause.”

This may seem as a piracy act at first, but the developer explains it is not due to the title’s nature of free-to-play and the fact that the game will not be pay-to-play, which in the team’s eyes does not make it piracy.

“This whole project would be completely different in an ethical way if we had taken a paid game and reversed it for everyone to access for free,” Neoshadow42 insists.”At the end of the day, El Dorito aims to deliver exactly what everyone wants. The closest thing to a Halo 3 experience as possible, but on PC. If we can manage that, I’ll be more than happy.”

Thank you TorrentFreak for providing us with this information

World of Warcraft Community Helps Dad Mourn his Gamer Son

Yesterday, a father who lost his son posted to reddit, asking readers to help him understand his deceased son’s favourite game, Blizzard’s MMORPG, World of Warcraft.

total noob. no clue what i’m doing.

So im older (late 50’s) and my son used to play lots of WOW while he was recovering after getting hit by a mortar in iraq. Recently he passed away and I decided that I wanted to connect with areas of my sons life I never understood. WOW is one of those areas. I am totally overwhelmed right now. I watched a youtube video and decided instances looked like a lot of fun. I “ran” 2 dungeons this weekend. Whatever druid kept resurrecting me – thanks. I had a lot of fun. I know what clicked with son and it clicked with me. I want to keep playing but right now I feel like a drain on any groups unfortunate enough to get stuck with me. Are there any guides on how not to suck? I’m playing a destruction warlock. I’ve poked around on google but ABP goes nuts whenever I click on a link so I am a bit gun shy. Where the hell do I even start?

Cue condolences, compassion, and help from an engaged WoW community:

The emotional father was understandably overwhelmed:

I got back from work last night and logged into reddit to see if any more responses had come in. I am in shock. The outpouring of support and condolences boggles my mind. I would like to thank all you individually for your support and kindness. That total strangers would extend their sympathies to me and that a game was the catalyst is something amazing. Since my son passed I have struggled tremendously coming to terms with the new reality I am part of. I am humbled at the collective love and kindness shown to me – a total stranger – by the members of this community. It’s been challenging to respond because I am overwhelmed.

The father left with a greater understanding of why his son loved World of Warcraft so much. “One of the biggest regrets I have was not doing more to meet my son in his world,” he wrote in a follow-up reddit post. “I can clearly see what was so engrossing about the game. Thank you so very much. This means so much to me I can’t accurately describe it.”

Source: Kotaku

Mental Millet: 1.62 Million Phone Orders in 72 hours

Chinese phone company and electricity provider Millet have just reported that after 72 hours of continuous operation, they’ve dispatched over 1.62 million total units of their new phone release amounting to a total sales amount of $254.5m USD. This shipping figure doesn’t include their TV orders processed in the same time frame according to technical director Wang Haizhou as announced today to the Chinese public via Weibo. He’s also stated that they will be in constant contact with the courier company, ensuring all users receive their phones as fast and efficiently as possible.

Unfortunately due to this being a Chinese-only brand, it’s quite hard to find any information about the phone, the company or release schedule/information. Comparing this to iPhone sales over the same time period which sat at 10 million devices – 1.62 million by Millet is certainly nothing shabby for a one-country project.

Many users reportedly begun receiving their brand-new Millet phones in the early hours of the 73rd hour onward as Millet’s couriers seem to have been keeping their word. If you’re capable of having a read, here’s their official Weibo release as published by Wang Haizhou.

Information and images courtesy of MyDrivers

Reddit’s Technology Community Takes A Beating

Reddit is a huge community made up of thousands upon thousands of subreddits, and given that the website often claims the (self-given) title of being “the front page of the internet”, drawing around 110 million unique visits last month alone. So when something rocks that community, it can make a pretty big wave for its users and those who rely on those communities as a source of traffic and / or as a source of entertainment.

Out of the default subreddits there are but a few dozen default subreddits, this honour is bestowed on the best and most popular sections of the site, meaning that you’re automatically subscribed when you open a new account, or that the content from that sub is shown in the front page news feed for users who are not logged in, casual visitors if you will. However, due to recent actions of the moderators, Reddit.com have stepped in and removed /r/technology from the list of default subreddits. A similar action was taken against /r/politics a while back and visitor figures plummeted and any sites linked there also saw a big reduction in traffic, so this is a pretty big deal given that /r/technology is one of the most popular subs around.

Some of the moderators of the sub were using software to filter our keywords and remove stories, a common thing on many websites and especially on Reddit, but it’s the lack of transparency on the matter that raised some eyebrows. The AutoModerator bot was culling any content that contained the words anti-piracy, SOPA, NSA, Snowden, Bitcoin, CEO and more, meaning huge amounts of content were being filtered away, despite the obvious technology related nature of the topics.

“The mods directly responsible for this system are no longer part of the team and the new team is committed to maintaining a transparent style of moderation.” said Pharnaces_II, one of the subs community moderators.

“If you (/r/technology) can manage to look past your petty squabbles, add new moderators (there needs to be a significant increase in active mods), and function as a team we might consider adding you back.” added Reddit in relation to the banning.

The tool has been tweaked, the configuration page has been made publicly viewable and most of the moderators have been given the boot, with the ones remaining posting “We messed up, and we are sorry”. Unfortunately the whole situation seems too little too late and the community has been dealt a massive blow by the owners of Reddit. It’s going to take a lot of effort to repair.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Steam To Add Trading & Gifting To Client

If you use Steam as your primary gaming client it might be interesting to know that they have planned some major updates, at least according to Gamersbook.com.

For a while there I ran the beta client of Steam, unfortunately there are so many updates, sometimes multiple updates in one day. When you’re busy doing something and steam wants to update, it doesn’t just update, and there doesn’t seem to be an option to just have it update. So once I was done with a fresh install, I decided it was probably best if I do not continue with the beta.

Valve Corporation, is an American Video Game Developer as well as Digital Distributor. Valve hosts their games on their game client called Steam, in which they also sell games from many other developers. Steam has become an integrated part of most gamers lives as many gamers look to steam for awesome deals, as well as for a way to play their games with their friends. At the same time Valve thrives to make the user experience better and better.

Steam has been placing updates in their system to make the gamers experience even better, unfortunately they have not released these new features just yet. They will be bringing two new and major features to the users.

Trade Offers: Which will give you the ability to send a trade offer to other steam users to trade from your inventory, people will then be able to accept, decline or counter your offer. Unfortunately this will only be limited to your friends at first, but hopefully they will soon let us send out offers to the entire Steam Community.

Item Gifting, currently you are able to give friends games, if you have an item in your inventory you can’t just give it away, you must open a trade. As well as give you the ability to gift an item to someone even if you are not friends with them! Item Gifting will allow you to send your in-game items and cosmetics as Gifts. The system will work the same as it currently works with the Games on Steam. So, the next time we are going to organize a giveaway, you probably won’t have to add them to your friends list and trade them but in fact, you will just send the reward as a gift!

Now as we have seen with recent news about Xbox and Playstation, it seems that Playstation is on board with letting friends trade and borrow games, while Xbox has decided to make trading games, and borrowing difficult. Steam does not offer to let you trade a game, and you certainly are not able to borrow a game from your friends. Though, Steam does offer many sales on games, which gives everyone the opportunity to purchase many newly released titles with a great discount.

Image from pensivenonsen

Thank you to Gamersbook.com for bringing us this great news about Steams upcoming features of trading and gifting.