Ah Lulz, Ya Got Me

Those of you who read computer nerd news may have noticed a big splash lately about the hacking group LulzSec retiring after 50 days of legendary activity. "Activity" here includes penetrating epic hacker targets such as: the CIA, Sony, and random gaming websites.

Random what? Well, I guess while the A-team (topiary, haberdashery? I'm seriously jealous of their awesome hacker code names) was busy breaking into hardened government servers at Langley, the lesser-known B-level members (e.g. lordvader32, l33t_haxxor_187)  must have been breaking into ancient video game forums and stealing username data.

After they gobbled up the data, they posted it to the webs for all interested parties to download. Anarchist's dream come true or FBI honey pot? You decide.

On Friday, I got this email from BioWare (maker of fancy-in-2002 Neverwinter Nights):

Bro, you got jacked. Oddly, I have no memory of participating in this (or any other) gaming forum.

The fear with this sort of thing is that somebody will get your email (mrbigfeathers@gmail.com) and password (kakaw!!) and start seeing if that combination works on other sites. Like gmail and facebook. Since most people are like me and only use a few different passwords, that trick has a pretty high success rate. I rotated my passwords and I'll sleep soundly.

What bothered me the most was that I didn't know exactly what they got. I was really tempted to go download the data and find my name. Unfortunately, that seemed like a good way to end up participating in some sort of FBI web traffic tracking program or, at the very least, being super tempted to violate a bunch of people's privacy. So, instead, I changed my password and blogged.

Used or New: No Right Answer

While we're discussing games... I bought L.A. Noire last weekend.

You basically drive around solving mysteries. It's nice.

When you buy an xbox game at my local game shop, they often offer a used version for a few bucks less. Now, when I hear the word "used" my hippie treehugger instinct kicks in and I'm all aboard. And that's what happened here. The dude chatted me up, offered me the used version, and sent me on my merry way.

Later though, I started to feel bad. Part of the fun for me when I pay the big bucks for a game that just came out (as opposed to $15 for something five years old) is that I feel like I'm participating in something and supporting a company that made something I like. I feel like I have a happy, well functioning relationship with the makers of the game.

Unfortunately, I realized that if I buy used games, not one penny goes to the game makers. Instead of my happy relationship with the guys that brought me 20 hours of fun, I'm sending all my money to a vendor. Not the same warm fuzzy feeling at all. In fact, it makes me kinda sad.

Now I have a new rule. If I buy something that has been released for less than 1 year, I buy new. After that, the company is probably not so heavily impacted by ongoing sales and I can do whatever I want.

Beer Money? Try Gum Money.

You may have noticed that I've made a couple of flash games recently. As I was getting into this whole flash game hobby (nah) - business (nope) - habit (?), I read a lot of articles that suggested for a few hours programming you could make a junker game, upload it to a big game portal and make beer money in a weekend on ad revenue sharing.

To test this hypothesis, I decided that any junker (seriously) games I made, I would upload to a big flash game portal (in my case, Kongregate) and try to make me some beer money. Here was my result:

The numbers are more impressive if you multiply them all by 1000.

If you squint (or click) that would show you that between Bonk! and InterSeq I've got a total of 500 plays which has netted me a grand total of 86 cents. Unfortunately, Kong only sends a check after I make at least $50, so I'll need to wait a bit longer for that beer...er, gum?

Kongregate users also rated my disgusting PONG clone 2.43 (out of 5) and my totally original typing game 2.41 - successfully killing notions I had of impressing the philistines at Kongregate with my shiny new ideas.

The bright side of all this is that I can no longer think of flash game programming as a lazy way to make beer money. With that pressure gone, I can do whatever goofiness I want and I don't ever have to worry about stupid stuff like, "Should I include a mute button? Those guys at Kongrate sure seem to complain a lot if a game doesn't have a mute button..."

ASIDE: Heh, in my head this last section was about commerce, but I suppose it's about games too. Hat Trick! Woohoo!

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