Activision-Blizzard talks circles around account hacking

There’s been numerous reports of account hacking (and certainly there are a lot of bad hats out there phishing and poking at accounts and servers since Diablo 3 swept onto the scene days ago.

Lylirra, a community manager for Activision-Blizzard posted an circuitous non-acknowledgement of the account thefts:

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Life expectancy: 28 minutes. The DayZ mod

The idea of the DayZ mod is simple enough. Take Arma 2: Combined Operations (Bohemia Interactive Studio, 2009) with its open-world, ground-pounding, all-weather, military simulation chops and refit it as a persistent world multiplayer zombie survival game.

Set in the mythical Eastern European country of Chernarus (where the primary Arma 2 campaign takes place), each player begins with a water bottle, a pistol, a little ammo, a couple tins of beans, a few medical supplies, a handful of flares, no clue and an average life-expectancy of about 28 minutes.

Map? Compass? How about a wristwatch? You don’t start with them. Unless you’re already familiar with the 225 square kilometres of Chernarus, you’ll be learning as you go. Even if you are, you’ll wish you had a map and a compass. Anything and everything beyond your paltry starting equipment, you’ll have to find.

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Diablo 3 – voting with your wallet

How does a games publisher determine the success of a product or a business model? Mostly, profit. In the business world, it is the only reliable measure of whether you’re making sound business decisions or not.

Activision-Blizzard wound up with more than 50 million reasons for thinking that the online-single-player game model is a good one – and that was before they even launched it.

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The financial GAAP

Financial reporting is a part of this complete breakfast.

Financial reporting from games-publishers often makes for interesting reading. Almost always, you’ll see things quoted like “non-GAAP earnings”, and “non-GAAP net sales” and so on, accompanied by some substantially large dollar figures.

So, what actually is GAAP reporting? Well, there are two major systems of financial reporting. One is the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), and the other is Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) which is used in the USA. GAAP is a collection of rules and principles about how a company reports its income, sales, losses, assets and overall financial operations.

The principles of GAAP are: regularity, consistency, sincerity, permanence of methods, non-compensation, prudence, continuity, periodicity, Full Disclosure/Materiality, and Utmost Good Faith.

So, what’s non-GAAP reporting? Well, non-GAAP reporting pretty much means that one or more of those principles isn’t being observed.

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How to set up minecarts and cart-hauling in Dwarf Fortress

Okay, so the analytics tell me that a lot of you are coming to the site searching for some pointers or examples on how to set up minecarts and cart-hauling in the new version of Dwarf Fortress. So, let’s take a look at Dwarf Fortress’ new hauling menu, and I’ll talk about how to set up a simple hauling route. It’s pretty awesome, but it isn’t all that intuitive.

We’ll walk through a simple example which should get you enough of an idea to proceed on your own.

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New Dwarf Fortress release – Hauling update

The much-anticipated “Hauling” release of Dwarf Fortress has made it out for public consumption.

This release (0.34.08) has extensive changes hauling mechanics, stockpiles and adds minecarts (and tracks) and wheelbarrows. It takes a little bit to get your head around the new hauling menu, and how minecarts function and interact with stops and stockpiles. You’ll probably want to start an experimental fortress or two just to get to grips with them.

When you’ve got the basics down, though, it works very well indeed.

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Going boldly, together

One of the best group-gaming experiences I’ve had with a computer game was a submarine game – and I regret not being able to recall its name. One night, two friends were visiting quite late, and one had his computer in the car. Over a considerable quantity of cheap vodka, we got to talking about the particular game and a mission that he could not beat, despite numerous attempts.

A half an hour later, we had set up the computer, and sat around in the dark room, with the mission running. One of my friends handled the keyboard and all of the controls – weapons, helm and the like. I watched the informational displays, calling out sonar contacts.

My other friend sat in an armchair (mostly with his eyes closed) and listened and gave orders. Over the next three hours, we beat the mission, handily, evading the best simulated sub-hunters of the Severnyy Flot. Breaking up the workload and working as a tightly coupled team won the day.

It was glorious. You might wonder what that even has to do with the image above. I’m getting to that.

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Don’t do what I say!

So, I decided to go back and spend a bit of time with Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, because I like me a bit of squad-based first-person tactical action, where my brains count for more than my reflexes.

And the weirdest things started happening. Things go alright for a while, then my avatar starts barking all sorts of conflicting orders at my squad-mates. I get them set up for a two-pronged attack on the bad-guys, and suddenly my avatar’s ordering them to hold, or go off from weapons-free, or to run around a corner, or to go have coffee.

And this keeps happening and gets worse and worse.

“Prepare for entry,” I order, indicating the door. Which is immediately followed by my avatar ordering “Regroup!”, “Halt!”, “Go over there!”, “Regroup!”

All the while punctuated by considerable swearing from yours-truly.

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A kick in the Arx


Arx Fatalis (Arkane Studios, 2002) is among my favourite games of the last decade. There are numerous favourable comparisons to make between it and Ultima Underworld (Blue Sky Productions, 1992), mostly because it was intended to be Ultima Underworld 3, but the developers could not obtain an appropriate license for the name.

The game takes place in (or rather under) a fantasy world whose Sun has failed. As the Sun dimmed and the world got colder, various species banded together to build vast, underground complexes, to be their new homes. The truce between races didn’t really last once everyone got settled in, however.

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