Tag Archives: Clue

Clouds with a change for gaming

Yup, I started it yesterday, and part 2 is today as I had a few ideas on the subject. These ideas can be used as public domain by Amazon (Luna), but Microsoft will have to pay big time (if they can hand over $7,500,000,000 to Bethesda, they can pay me at least 1%).

Changes (by David Bowie)
The first thing I will do is to introduce Milestones, it is for the most part merely a name change to ‘Achievements’, yet over time it will be a little more. The second is to add a second tier to this, I will add ‘Discovery’ to this, yet all you Susie Dent boffins can clearly see it is a Synonym, yet the function of Discovery is different. As you discover something in one game, it gives you a token that can be spent as YOU see fit. For example if you find a ‘golden chess piece’ in a game like Clue, or a ‘Golden Revolver’ they will become Discoveries that wield the token of a revolver, or a Chess set. In a game like Battle Chess (in normal or battle mode), the Chess token will unlock a Greek Chess set, The golden revolver could unlock a weapon in another game and so on. This is one of the nice parts of the Cloud, we can add a lot more over time and give the people a reason. David Bowie sang:

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
So the days float through my eyes

I think it is time to take a page from that, we see gaming chances in perspective, but never remove you from where you are. I am setting a stage where that is possible, where games have a longer lasting appeal and I am offering the stage where the player tries something else as well. Most gaming options outside of the console and singular streams do not offer you this, merely an optional DLC and an optional skin, I want the token to take on new life and a much larger stage. This is about gaming and this is about making gamers happy. The nice part is that there is no guarantee that the token is there at game 1, I thought it through, yes there are some internet driven completionists, yet it is time for them to smell the reality of gaming.

We have largely ignored the masters of yesterday because they were 8 bit, yet some of them with today’s graphics and better intelligent response mappings could become the heroes of tomorrow and the nice part is that the groundwork is already done. Consider Millennium 2.2 with an upgraded map of this solar system, with additional information, more options and a larger stage, can we truly think it will not matter? I wrote about Murder on the Zinderneuf, Seven cities of gold and a few more in the past, close to a dozen games ready to be ‘captured’ (if the IP was abandoned), and the early bird that hesitates grows its own worms, so let’s get cracking. 

Microsoft throws money at everything, wouldn’t it be nice for players like Amazon (optionally Netflix too) to show them how silly that idea was? You see, I love Bethesda products, I really do, yet I also believe that gamers like the next fresh (and original) game. Consider that the top 100 of all time (by Metacritic) has a top 10 with 3 games older than 20 years and an additional 4 games that are between 10 and 19 years old, giving us that the 70% of the top 10 is 10 years or older, these numbers are in front of everyone and as far as I can tell, none of them are Electronic Arts or Ubisoft and 30% of the top 10 is Nintendo. So I have a clear case here, so why are the different board of directors pushing for some game every year, cool graphics will do the trick or perhaps having the most powerful console is the solution. As I see it, without a really good game they will not continue and that evidence is all over the place. 

So where to go after this? Well that is up to I reckon the Indie developers, they will need to choose an optional winner and in that platform create their original or remastered and revamped game. Consider that Elite was released in 1985, now the revamp called Elite Dangerous has 500,000 active monthly players. Ubisoft has plenty of successful games not being that busy, as such we can see that the old games still have appeal. OK the difference between Elite and Elite dangerous is larger than the Grand Canyon, but the foundation remained the same and that is the pull we need to consider that close to a dozen games released in the last decade could have a great revamped and remastered life on streaming even if they were not that successful in an earlier life. The difference is to truly look into a game and see what is possible. Like a sculptor to take that block of marble and chip away what is not needed and reveal the Torlonia statue and yes, it is not merely about chipping away, in some cases it is about polishing, upgrading and adding which we cannot do in a statue, but the statue could be given a shield, a sword (or trident). All options and streaming will give us a larger and adjustable stage as well. A stage where your game will be in the streaming stores for close to a decade. There are clearly options for streaming and it will not hinder consoles, the console gamers will most likely choose an additional streaming solution on the side.

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Shadows are Us

It is almost 20 years ago that me, myself, I, my playstation and controller took a gander into the world of Tenchu. Even as I now shiver on the graphics that were then amazing, the gameplay is something I missed. This came to light when I got a dose of Aragami 2 on YouTube. Proper sneak games are a rare commodity, and as we look for the next sneaker (Splinter cell, Metal gear solid, etc.) those who love stealth games, we all have a fondness for Tenchu, 

I personally do not think that there is an exception to that rule. And for some reason, even as we all love Thief and its versions, it feels a little more amazing in Japan around the 1600’s. Japan in that era was a fun place (a little superstitious), but fun none the less. So Tenchu was a lovely step into the past. 10 years after that, when Microsoft still knew what it was doing, Tenchu Z was launched and the thump in my heart was as happy as it could be. 

Even as we saw some repetition in the levels, the levels themselves were amazing. And there was the second setting where you wanted to live in the levels you were mastering, the house, the inn, they were all amazing. There were off course issues, there always are for those who do some of the levels again and again, some of the parts that Tenchu 1 offered did not happen in Tenchu Z, yet I was not upset, after 10 years I got to tenchu again. 

So what happened? Why did the PS4 not have its own Tenchu, or whatever it would be called. A Japanese set stealth game, I know there is a sizeable population that wants one. Even if we see an upgraded remastered Tenchu Z, it is a stage that could propel the cloud consoles (Google Stadia, Amazon Luna and whatever Microsoft has) forward and yes, Microsoft does have the advantage, but only if they act, if not it is up for grabs. Microsoft does not have IP on Japan or stealth gaming. I wonder why I had not missed it sooner. Perhaps I had hoped that Ubisoft got its act together. Perhaps I hoped that some would remember the great games. 

Yet if Aragami 2 (due out in September 2021) delivers, we will feel happy and after such a long silence it should optionally receive a large following. Yes, the first Aragami had flaws (a few) but it felt much closer to the original Tenchu than many other stealth games. Styx and Thief are good games, they have their own niche and they are quite good, yet it is not sneaking in 1600 Japan. The era speaks to our imagination, it has pretty much since a man named James Clavell wrote Shogun in 1975. The age of Blackthorn and Toranaga. It spoke to most people and the image continued in gaming. So now, when we see the Sony PS5 and Microsoft alternative, we see a system that can render an entire village, one would hope that Tenchu gets a new lease on life in gaming, optionally in a much larger setting. We learned so much over 20 years that this is all possible and cloud gaming might actually end up with a larger advantage.

Options
Cloud gaming has its own stage and its stage is a lot larger than any game. I staged that play in a previous blog when I coined the return of Murder on the Zinderneuf. The cloud consoles will have an option what I call ‘cross gaming tokens’ Something found in one game can be used in another game, or better stated becomes an unlocked item in another game. Consider that you find a house ceramic in Murder on the Zinderneuf, that could unlock the steampunk version of Monopoly, When you play Tenchu, you can unlock a weapon that is an additional weapon in Clue, and so on. It is a stage never contemplated before , or never acted on, but in cloud gaming it becomes real, as we embrace subscriptions and therefor we need long term gaming. As such long term gaming is found in adding to games, but what makes the addition? By adding games, other games will optionally be enhanced, or even added to, all because you played Murder on the Zinderneuf and you examined the chess set in a room, a new chess set is added to chess. And there is no end to the options you can unlock making a long term connection. Now consider that setting in a game like Tenchu. As the enemy is there, it is also possible that a game like Anno 1600 will unlock more powerful enemies in Tenchu. 

Remember that evil Dutch Merchant? Well, if you played Anno 1600, he will become a VOC representative, complete with two bodyguards yielding a ‘Donderbus’ (the Dutch invention that would later become the shotgun). When the stage is adjusted the game becomes again enticing and rewarding. A simple stage of adjusting, and players like Ubisoft never went there, why is that (equally other players did not go there either). 

So whilst we can argue that we must move forward, we have a ton of options that have not been acted on, as such there are years of exploration in sight and there Cloud gaming has the option to offer more, not merely another version of a game, but a much larger game, if only the developers had that in sight when they thought that one platform is merely a port of another platform. 

In all this we can lie in the shadows awaiting what comes next, or we can adjust the lights and create alternative paths. So whilst we all await a new game, what is wrong with replaying a game we forgot about, only to see that it has been enhanced by other games we have played in the meantime. I believe that there are a lot of developers and they do not realise the impact of long term gaming yet, they seemingly forget that soon we get to a point (in 6 months) when some people will have played the same game for 10 years. There are not many games that are worthy of that but Skyrim pulled it off, so what happens when on 11.11.21 the game offers the players something new in the same game they played? In opposition, what happens when the ‘patch’ will unlock a whalebone dagger in Dishonored 2? These are options that cloud gaming can offer, or perhaps a Skyrim board in Monopoly, an Axe in Clue or a Skyrim style chess set? It is not merely cosmetic, consider that over time you get additional rooms, people and items in Clue. The standard formula you had in your mind will no longer work, it needs adjusting for the different items optionally altered items. The game suddenly becomes more fun to play again. A stage many forgot about but Cloud gaming enables it and suddenly the stealth games all get an upgrade and that is what we like a challenging game that offers more over time. So whilst we see Aragami 2 coming in September, what happens when some of the guards have crossbows? Do not laugh, the Japanese had crossbows as early as 230 AD, they called them Shudo, they also had something not unlike a ballista, but that came 400 years later, still ahead of Europe though. History provides a whole range of options and opportunities. And the coming of Argami 2 made me consider that. I wonder what Google and Amazon are doing. Most likely relying on a deal with Ubisoft, I wonder how that goes over time. 

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Software as a salad

Yup, we all have our moments of creation, although this is a redesign, the idea is out there and it is set to be an open invitation to the owners of the game Clue, to take it to a next level. What happens when we change the tally? It dawned on me when I was walking in a mall and I laid eyes on the Harry Potter edition of Clue, it looked nice, it looked revamped to be as close to the Harry Potter world as possible, but it was still the classical game of Clue. It was funny, because around an hour earlier I was sitting down sipping on a coffee and try to wake up (well a fair attempt anyway), I noticed two tables over a gorgeous young lady (19-21) and she was talking to her friend (no idea what about) and she was getting slightly over enthusiastic over pictures of Professor Snape (Alan Rickman is cool). I had to giggle internally and I would have given anything for Alan Rickman to be blushing one table over, but that was not the case, yet it started a thought and after the coffee when I noticed the HP Board game, when a thought started to take hold, what if one game could lead to another? What if we take the EA original Murder on the Zinderneuf (yes, it was original in 1983), make it a first person adjustable mystery, yet every game unlocks specific randomised new options. What if the game unlocks the game clue, but what happens when the game, a game that is different every time (apart from the stage). The game offers a challenge already, but when you get a different murder mystery every time you play it, in addition, you get the board game Clue to play at home or online with opt in players or a computer character, as well as a stage where you could optionally unlock the HP edition, the Downton Abbey edition, the Walking dead edition, the Asterix edition, a Scooby Doo edition and so on. The idea of opening a game an unlocking the other skins one at a time sets a larger premise, sets a drive to play the game, especially for those who love the game. The game would not alter too much, but the location, people and object skins do and that are cosmetic items. The option to seed the game like a minefield with other cards (like the ones in the game), but with different outfits, so the game keeps on looking fresh. Then there are the stage where the initial game when replayed will offer a person to find objects, like a Golden Snitch, the Resurrection stone, An Asterix flask, Scooby Do’s bone and so on. A game with a long lasting half life, because there will be options to unlock for a long time to come, yet who took on considering that approach in gaming until the Google Stadia became a fact? Let’s face it, I never saw this for the years that Steam was out. 

There is no end towards what is possible, but what should concern you is why the makers of current games aren’t thinking the far ahead, or that much out of the box. This is my 7th game IP concept in under a year, and in the gaming industry, these so called captains of industry haven’t come up with 50% of that amount of IP. So I leave you with that thought, will you buy software, or will you mix it up like a salad, it might not taste the way you think it does, but it is more likely then not an original taste and that counts in gaming. The stage of ‘I never had that before’ and it remains true, it is not for everyone, but when you set the goal to make a game for everyone, you merely make a game that pleases no one. 

 

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Evidence? Why?

I ignored the news initially, as I saw it, it was nothing more than some bash piece on Saudi Arabia. Yet something hot me, it was just a thought and it was: ‘What if I illuminate parts and let common sense people decide‘ (which takes out many journalists and mostly all politicians). As for me? The issue is that the media is all about bashing any royal part of Saudi Arabia, all whilst ignoring evidence (and debatable evidence to a much greater degree, their pursuit of circulation and agreeing to the beat of shareholders and stakeholders has gone to the heads of too many editors and I get a real rush to illuminate this part.

I have never ignored evidence, yet just like with Huawei, it is seemingly all about the big bully shouting, whilst the deciding world for the most ignores evidence and I think that it is a weird situation. Not merely in this blog, but on a few matters, we will get to hold them to account in a few years, at that point these people will make hastily formulated excuses whilst running to their mummies to get breastfeeding (I reckon).

So, lets begin. In the first we have ‘How the UN unearthed a possible Saudi Arabian link to Jeff Bezos hack‘ (the Guardian at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/jan/22/how-the-un-unearthed-a-possible-saudi-arabian-link-to-jeff-bezos-hack) as well as ‘Did Saudi Arabia’s crown prince hack the Amazon king?’ (the Economist at https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2020/01/25/did-saudi-arabias-crown-prince-hack-the-amazon-king), a nice side effect is that the Economist, is viewed and acted on on the 24th of January, whilst the article states that it is the Jan 25th 2020 edition, but enough about that. Let’s start with the Guardian who tells us “The UN’s demand for law enforcement authorities to conduct a proper investigation into the alleged hacking of Jeff Bezos’s mobile phone came after it reviewed the findings of a cybersecurity firm, FTI“, we might not see anything here, yet the UN, who is underfunded and strained has time for this? Is this another US Essay like the one by some French girl on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi? And what about ‘after it reviewed the findings of a cybersecurity firm, FTI‘? This implies that the United Nations called for the inspection, notified a cyber security firm (FTI) and investigated the phone of some so called billionaire (postage and shipping required). So why exactly is this not with the police or an official investigative body like the FBI Cyber division?

Following this we get the real beef with “concluded with “medium to high confidence” that it had been compromised because of actions attributable to a WhatsApp account used by the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman“, first of all, if I want to investigate the corruption at an army base, I will not go in as the lawlordtobe, I would enter the situation as some poor schmuck who is from the city of Noonecares. It is almost like an assasination and the official in question uses his own service revolver instead of someone else’s. And what goes with ‘medium to high confidence‘, what evidence was uncovered? Then we get the part where is all falls to shambles. With “The UN was careful not to be definitive. Instead of pointing the finger, its statement said the apparent hack had been achieved using software “such as NSO Group’s Pegasus or, less likely, Hacking Team’s Galileo, that can hook into legitimate applications to bypass detection and obfuscate activity”“, just like the Khashoggi essay fiasco, the UN is all about being not definitive, as such we want to know how accusations can be made when you are not definitive. As such I would like to point the UN troll to a kids game called Clue, there in that games (for ages 8+) we are introduced to the concept of evidence, where you need to collect facts and state “I am accusing Colonel Mustard who killed Dr. Black (aka Mr. Boddy) in the Kitchen using the lead pipe” and then we look at the evidence and see if the claimant had his or her facts straight. None of that CIA BS where we see ‘medium to high confidence‘, I would offer that if the confidence is already medium, what was not looked at and what was discarded. The statement comes directly before “The NSO Group, an Israeli cyber-surveillance firm, strongly denied that its surveillance tools were responsible“, as such we are left with ‘less likely, Hacking Team’s Galileo‘. so there is a mountain of doubt on an article that throws the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia in a bad light and there is seemingly an increasing lack of evidence. As we go on, we see the NSO giving the statement that offers direct opposition to some firm called FTI with “These types of abuses of surveillance systems blacken the eye of the cyber-intelligence community and put a strain on the ability to use legitimate tools to fight serious crime and terror. We expect that all actors in this arena put in place stringent procedures and technological controls, such as those that we have put in place, to assure that their systems are not used in an abusive manner“, as such there are larger questions not merely on the UN for setting the stage of something that is not on their plate, they apparently went to another small operation (who knows) and let them set up the stage of doubtful and debatable documentation, doubtful as we get one of the implied companies go directly into denial and setting a document based on evidence that is regarded as ‘medium to high confidence‘.

And then something beautiful happens. We see “The FTI report cited by the UN special rapporteurs, Agnes Callamard and David Kaye, noted that both NSO and Hacking Team, an Italian company, offered tools that could theoretically have performed the attack” where we are (again) introduced to that UN essay writer, the one that had given us the joke called some Khashoggi report (Agnes Callamard), as well hiding behind ‘tools that could theoretically have performed the attack‘, the idea that this joke from a building based at 760 United Nations Plaza, Manhattan, New York City, New York 10017 and hide behind the word ‘theoretically‘, as such pardon my French (oh, that was funny!) but how the fuck does she still have a job?

For several reasons I will not use the Economist (as I am not a subscriber), but the quotes in their magazine “which was soon used to steal large amounts of data—though the un did not say exactly what, or how it was used” as well as “It called for an “immediate investigation”. The Saudi embassy in Washington, dc, said the accusations were “absurd”.

As I see it, the UN is nothing more than an advertising paper tiger, adhering to the commands of some stakeholder (identity unknown), if this was a direct action by the UN, those people need to be investigated immediately, I feel decently certain I will get both China and Russia to sign off on this, as this has the distinct smell that comes from neither region, so they would score a win, in addition to that, the UN would have to submit data as to what exactly was taken and how it could be identified, which is also an issue that is unclear and optionally unclear to the UN people involved. 

The Verge had a lot more, they had (at https://www.theverge.com/2020/1/23/21078828/report-saudi-arabia-hack-jeff-bezos-phone-fti-consulting) the actual report, and there we see on page one we see the person we need to hackle for information, it is Anthony J. Ferrante who needs to give us the names of who this so called ‘Confidential Report’ was given to, because it seems that it was leaked. And there we see the originator (vice.com) giving us “The report, obtained by Motherboard, indicates that investigators set up a secure lab to examine the phone and its artifacts and spent two days poring over the device but were unable to find any malware on it. Instead, they only found a suspicious video file sent to Bezos on May 1, 2018 that “appears to be an Arabic language promotional film about telecommunications.”“, however, this is not the end. They also give us “Investigators determined the video or downloader were suspicious only because Bezos’ phone subsequently began transmitting large amounts of data. “[W]ithin hours of the encrypted downloader being received, a massive and unauthorized exfiltration of data from Bezos’ phone began, continuing and escalating for months thereafter,” the report states“. In this I state OK, let’s take an actual look.

And they do give us more, quotes like “The digital forensic results, combined with a larger investigation, interviews, research, and expert intelligence information, led the investigators “to assess Bezos’ phone was compromised via tools procured by Saud al Qahtani,” the report states“, as well as “A mobile forensic expert told Motherboard that the investigation as depicted in the report is significantly incomplete and would only have provided the investigators with about 50 percent of what they needed, especially if this is a nation-state attack“, ““They would need to use a tool like Graykey or Cellebrite Premium or do a jailbreak to get a look at the full file system. That’s where that state-sponsored malware is going to be found. Good state-sponsored malware should never show up in a backup,” said Sarah Edwards, an author and teacher of mobile forensics for the SANS Institute“, and “The investigators do note on the last page of their report that they need to jailbreak Bezos’s phone to examine the root file system. Edwards said this would indeed get them everything they would need to search for persistent spyware like the kind created and sold by the NSO Group. But the report doesn’t indicate if that did get done.“, which is as I personally see it the shallow political BS that some people go for. As such we see in the report “The following investigative steps are currently pending“, and more profound, on page 4 we see: “On May 1st, 2018, Bezos received a text from the WhatsApp account used by MBS“, my issue here is that this might have been the infected one, yet if I did that, I would use an originator that was real. And there we have it, the Dailymail gave us ‘New bug allows hackers to send fake messages pretending to be you – and there’s nothing you can do to stop them‘ (at https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6039533/WhatsApp-users-beware-Hackers-send-fake-messages-pretending-you.html) with the additional text: “First discovered by Israeli cybersecurity group CheckPoint Research, the flaw is incredibly complex and involves a gap within the app’s encryption algorithms. Writing on their website, the team said the vulnerability could make it possible for a hacker ‘to intercept and manipulate messages sent by those in a group or private conversation’ as well as ‘create and spread misinformation’. Hackers could use the bug to alter the text sent in someone else’s reply to a group chat, essentially ‘putting words in their mouth’, the group said.

It took me 5 minutes and Google search to find this. I am not stating that this is true and that the Daily Mail is the source to use (they often are not), yet this is a larger failing, I expected this from the very beginning, the origins of the setting was not properly investigated. Then Vice.com gave us “the report is significantly incomplete and would only have provided the investigators with about 50 percent of what they needed“, which is what I expected before I read one word of the accusation, and with US Essay writer Callamard involved (yes again it is her) we see what this is, another mindless attack on a nation and one person. They did not even bother getting him properly smeared, and no one is asking questions, I reckon that the involved stakeholders are likely to go for the, if we create enough barbeques, someone will shout fire: ‘I ran’ for office! Anyone?

what is the most irritating part is that the UN is again used as the cheap tool that they are. In this there is also the involvement of the FTI and more interesting that a Cyber Security firm did not look past the simplest trappings, as as we consider the optional involvement of Anthony J. Ferrante we need to consider sending quota to all 49 of the Global 100 companies that are FTI clients. Even if it was merely to make a few people sweat. When a non Cyber adapt like me can see through this part they have a clear problem and whether Anony Mouse Bezos was part of this or not will not matter. There is one other part in the report that should be considered. On page 2 we see “More significantly. al Qahtani is known to have played a key and senior role in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.” In the first, he was acquitted (in a Saudi trial) and there has been no other trials, as such the statement should be read as false, no clear evidence was ever presented. In the second, as this is part of the executive summary, it seems that this was a way to blatantly strike out against one individual and the evidence is not corroborating any of this, too many questions are left unanswered and the media is not asking them either, as such I wonder what is to be believed, especially in light of the Daily Mail ‘revelation’ last August, which implies long in advance of this report. The fact that this (optional) fact is ignored gives out a much larger issue, the work in incomplete, debatable and political, not factual, as such sending serious cyber letters to the 49 of the Global 100 companies that are FTI clients, as I personally see it, these players are all about facts and when their provider and be painted as open for considerations, we should entertain all kinds of questions. 

I would also look at the footnotes and take a larger look at that descriptive part, I wonder what is left once I have had the chance to take a red pencil through this report. Now, I am not stating that Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud is innocent, I am merely considering that his evidence is so shallow, that I would never accuse him of anything, not before a lot more work was done (and a lot more footnotes were properly weighed), in this consider on page 3 footnote 8. When we go there, we see that the article is Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai a member of Motherboard (so why is there no Motherboard article that is the source), we see “An investor from Saudi  Arabia is apparently behind a company that bought a stake in the controversial spyware vendor” where ‘apparently‘ is the operative word. It is also where we see: “Hacking Team was thoroughly owned, with its once-secret list of customers, internal emails, and spyware source code leaked online for anyone to see“, were all these customers on a secret list investigated? There is also ‘spyware source code leaked online for anyone to see‘, a small fact that is apparently not investigated, additional players all optionally ready to give someone called Bezos the time of his on-line life. Then we get “this apparent recovery is in part thanks to the new investor, who appears to be from Saudi Arabia“, a line ruled by, you guessed it ‘apparent‘ and ‘who appears‘, so much filtering and doubt, and in this FTI used that as a footnote source? A program co-owned for 80% by none other then David Vincenzetti. That does NOT make HIM a guilty party and neither is there any convincing evidence of any kind towards the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud.

When I see all this I wonder if the UN (or FTI) has any clue how much we should regard them as tools. I cannot tell at present what kind of tools they are, but my personal view is that if this is the debatable level of evidence that some employ, we all are in so much more trouble then we ever thought.

 

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