The Weeks Geek - Death of Social Gaming by Social Gaming

Most people that don't actually understand gamers tend to think we are social outcasts. We sit inside all the time with little to no human contact playing our games. But they are wrong. Games, even single player ones, are a social experience. But while newer games have more social aspects to them via XBL, PSN, or Steam, it feels like they are losing their social connection.
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Quantum Conundrum - E3 Preview

Making a good puzzle game can be difficult. First you have to figure out a good mechanic for solving the puzzles. Then you have to design puzzles that can be solved with the mechanic, offers a challenge, but does not frustrate players. Quantum Conundrum, developed by Airtight Games and published by Square Enix, has done a good job in puzzling this together. In Quantum Conundrum you have been dropped off to visit uncle, only to find him missing. He is somewhere in his house as he helps you through the game, with varying degrees of usefulness, but does not know where in his house that he actually is (it is pretty big). Well, time to save the crazy scientist.
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A Long Road comes on an End

This has been a long road for Sony.  As many of you know, the PSN was shut down worldwide in April.  LulzSec took responsibility for the intrusion and the system stayed down for about a month ... for most the world.  Now as of 07/06/2011 the PSN will be coming home.  Japan was not included in the reactivation of the PSN in May as was Europe and the US. The business heads in Japan wanted to be absolutely sure that everything would be secure when they returned access to their country, mostly due to demands placed on them by the government and credit card regulators.  These requirements included preventative measures (even though what that actually meant was not disclosed) to ensure the security of the new Sony PSN system.  They also wanted to know how Sony plans to get their way back into our hearts after having our trust shattered so brutally.

But now the PSN will be back to full strength.  Too bad for Sony though.  Between the breach and the shutdown of the PSN Sony lost an estimated $170 Million dollars.  I have a hard time even imagining that number let alone losing it. One good thing might come from this, until we all turn into lazy bastards again brick and mortar stores might see some additional traffic for people to buy game cards instead of using their Credit Cards on game systems.

The Gameslave Podcast - Episode 73

So, for the first time in a few weeks all three of us were in one spot. We sat down, we recorded an episode, everything was great, until the saving was needed. First Audacity would not save the file, so I exported it as an MP3. Close audacity, open the MP3 and find out that everything before the 35 minute mark was lost. Dammit, so I give you what was left, and the notes of what we had talked about. Fail on my part.

Download Link

Podcast Notes

Sony Customer Appreciation Program (Bribe)

Sony North America has come up with what amounts to a bribe for the massive failure of their online service, and it is not too bad. For those that are fast enough Sony is offereing ALL Playstation Network customers 2 of 5 games.  You have 30 days to get those game and once you grab them they are yours forever.  Your choices are:

This deal is great, unless you are a very avid fan boy and you already have all 5 games. I guess you can at least get two of them to live on your hard drive then. PSP owners are getting a similar deal from the following list:

This is the permanent stuff you get to keep as a "my bad" gift.  And hey, if you have both a PS3 and a PSP that is 4 free games. They also have some things that are going to be nice, but seem more like a marketing gimick, which I guess it really needed at this point given all the not so great press they got the past few weeks.

  • A selection of “On Them” rental movie titles will be available to PlayStation Network customers over one weekend, where Video Service is available. Those titles will be announced soon.
  • 30 days free PlayStation Plus membership for non PlayStation Plus subscribers.
  • Existing PlayStation Plus subscribers will receive an additional 60 days of free subscription.
  • Existing Music Unlimited Premium Trial subscription members will receive an additional 30 days of free premium subscription.
  • Additional 30 days + time lost for existing members of Music Unlimited Premium/Basic subscription free of charge for existing Premium/Basic members.
  • To welcome users Home, PlayStation Home will be offering 100 free virtual items. Additional free content will be released soon, including the next addition to the Home Mansion personal space, and Ooblag’s Alien Casino, an exclusive game.

I do like how they are giving people that were already paying for some of the services such as Qriocity and Playstation Plus an additional 30 days over everyone else.  Makes you seems a little more special.  So does this bribe work for you guys?

PSN - Its On (Mostly) (EDIT)

Kazua Hiraj has announced that Sony has begun a region by region activation of the PSN today.  It is suggested that after you turn on your PS3 and update your firmware you immediately change your password for the PSN (like they have to tell you that).  They are slowly getting to each city and state and are saying it will be "several hours to restore PSN throughout the entire country".  As of this writing at 8:53 PM MST only 7 Northeast states had their service restored and given their estimate, we should be seeing a nation wide return to coverage by Sunday morning.  This is assuming they work on it all night.  If you would like to see the status on the return coverage check on the source link.  Good news is now you can start get Portal 2 on your PC for those that have it on PS3 and Mortal Kombat can start to see the online play it deserves.

EDIT: We now have a full return of the PSN.

PSN Back by 05/31/2011

Sony has been out of the online gaming for almost 3 weeks now, and it will not be back fully for a few weeks more.  They plan to have the system back online in all its (hopefully) unbroken glory by the end of the month.  They plan to slowly bring things back up, including functionality such as home (really?) and chat. No word on the store and Qriocity but we should hear more soon. Most likely we will see a firmware update with the return of the PSN.  Until then you can go ahead and turn your 360 back on and play games on its fully functional network.

SOE - No Breaks for You

Man, Sony cannot seem to catch a break.  Sure you know that the PSN was broken into user information was stolen.  Sure you know that you may have lost your credit card that was used to buy games on the PSN to hackers.  But did you know that the same thing happened to all of the Sony Online Entertainment services?  This includes games such as Everquest 2, Free Realms, DC Online, and Clone Wars Adventures.  They found out May 2 (in Tokyo time) that the information was stolen around April 16th while doing a security audit in response to the PSN outage. And if you are out of the country things can be worse.  In addition to:

  • name
  • address
  • e-mail address
  • birthdate
  • gender
  • phone number
  • login name
  • hashed password

10,700 users in Austria, Germany, Netherlands and Spain may have had their dreict debt accounts breached.  This would give the hacker access to:

  • bank account number
  • customer name
  • account name
  • customer address

Not a good week for Sony.  So now SOE is down in addition to PSN (which should be up later this week) is down.  Sony is working on a "make good" plan for its users and at a local level will work with their users to get them in identify theft programs.  Hit the link for the full press release and check then check with your bank to make sure you don't have any unwanted charges on your accounts.

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PSN Breached

So it has been made officially official that any PII that the PSN may have been keeping for you has been breached.  Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but seeing how it has been down since what, Wednesday of last week, can you blame me?  And now they have come out to say how big the breach actually was.  Sony has engaged a private security firm to examine what they might have been taken in the attack and it was a decent amount of information:

  • Name
  • Address (City, State and ZIP)
  • Country
  • Email Address
  • Birth Date
  • Playstation / Qriocity Login
  • Playstation / Qriocity Password
  • PSN Handle / Online ID

On top of that profile data such as purchase history, billing address, and security answers could have been taken as well.  And while they have no proof that credit card numbers and expiration dates have been collected they are still advising people to check their credit reports if they kept that information on their PSN account.

So what does this mean for PSN? It is getting a strip down and rebuild.  Sony has decided instead of just patching the hole and risking something of this magnitude happening again that they are going to rebuild the system to have stronger security from the ground up.  Unfortunately this means that we are going to be out of the PSN and Qriocity services a bit longer (read: a long time).