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Thread: MHs, NDAs, Scapegoats and Scones

  1. #1
    Tinkerballa
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    Default MHs, NDAs, Scapegoats and Scones

    One of the major difficulties of a MH, is that Travian is a browser based game. Even without knowing the methodology, it's ridiculously easy to guess. It isn't hard to write effective scripts, multi-account, or break pretty much every single rule that is in place for "fair play". Furthermore, MHs and the server admins aren't allowed to apologise when they make a mistake, or release the ways they are protecting us. This leads to a lot of distrust, a lot of anger when things go wrong, and the firm believe that some MHs mess with you for the lulz. A ban may not be a punishment, but we all know it is, even if you're released with no penalties.

    I'm not of the opinion that the staff are corrupt, that they are power hungry children looking to make people's lives a misery. My view is the system is flawed, as its the programming. The easiest solution would be to create a downloadable client that the game was played from. Not only would this allow for a richer game, it would allow for better security and a level of openness that is currently lacking. Sure things could still be "hacked", but done correctly it would be much, much harder. Moreover, by utilising local caching the bandwith would be greatly reduced, which would save Trav money.

    For those technically minded, it's all about linking to your mobo to your account, and making your own system script hunt.

    For those less technically minded, the staff could talk about things lot more, use details of their security as advertising, and things would be more secure and less KGB. In essence, the staff would be able to rebuild the trust, that has been horribly betrayed on this domain.

    tl;dr,

    A downloadable client would allow:

    - Trav to be more secure.
    - MHs to be more accountable.
    - The whole system could be more open.
    - Valued members of the community NOT to be persecuted.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerballa View Post
    Furthermore, MHs and the server admins aren't allowed to apologise when they make a mistake
    Yes they are, they are just not allowed to apologise for the mistakes that Travian Games make, the "community manager" at Travian sees as a huge slight against Travian Games and has been known to sack crew very publicly for doing so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerballa View Post
    A ban may not be a punishment, but we all know it is, even if you're released with no penalties.
    Think of a ban as being arrested by the police, the police won't arrest you unless they think you've committed an offence, but your arrest is not punishment, the courts have to look at that, but if the police release you without further charge or bail, that's an end of it, you spent a night in jail, tough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerballa View Post
    My view is the system is flawed, as its the programming. The easiest solution would be to create a downloadable client that the game was played from. Not only would this allow for a richer game, it would allow for better security and a level of openness that is currently lacking. Sure things could still be "hacked", but done correctly it would be much, much harder. Moreover, by utilising local caching the bandwith would be greatly reduced, which would save Trav money.
    I know of many online games, many with their own "client" and they all have problems with bots, hell, even PS2 and WII games that are uber controlled from back to front with proprietary everything, with court orders and laws prohibiting so much as looking at how they work, and antibot measures built into the platforms suffer from bots.

    Sorry your easy solution would be no solution at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerballa View Post
    For those less technically minded, the staff could talk about things lot more, use details of their security as advertising, and things would be more secure and less KGB. In essence, the staff would be able to rebuild the trust, that has been horribly betrayed on this domain.
    It is Travian Games paranoia that forces the crew to operate the way they do. I don't know most of the UK crew these days, but back when I did or back when I was on a different domains crew, I can attest for the vast majority of them, they are trying to provide a really good service, and they dedicate many many hours to this for no return but can receive lots of critism. However, I emphasize Travian is the way it is because it flows from the very top, and the Travian Community manager is a paranoid, self centred, self aggrandised, selfish dictator and this casts its long shadow over the whole game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerballa View Post
    A downloadable client would allow:

    - Trav to be more secure.
    - MHs to be more accountable.
    - The whole system could be more open.
    - Valued members of the community NOT to be persecuted.
    I'm afraid it wouldn't allow any of those things, it would also increase development costs (how many clients? IPad, Mac, Windows, Linux, Andriod, Blackberry, more?) and the openess is I am afriad down to personality, not technology.

  3. #3
    Feared by Chuck Norris Well-Known MemberWell-Known MemberWell-Known MemberWell-Known Member nosim's Avatar
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    Travian's success is that it can be played in a browser. There are many client based games out there that are much better than travian and travian wouldn't be able to compete with. We know and love travian so would play it either way, but what about new players? imagine what they would think downloading and seeing the graphics as they are, compared to other strategy games... Also what about those that play at work or places where they can not install the client?

    I do agree that something needs to be done but I don't think a game client would be the way forward.

  4. #4
    Tinkerballa
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    You aren't looking at good clients NosajDraw. Take windows for instance, sure there are those that can make an illegal copy work, but it is greatly reduced. A browser based game is along the lines of "duhh do you know jscript, can you flip between proxies", a client is much more secure - not impervious. If you are going to say that browser based access is as secure as client based access, please provide evidence so we can have a giggle.

    Openness comes from having a security system that a brain-damaged amoeba couldn't bypass.

    The cost of coding a client, is easily recoverable - 10k max for every eventuality, from a master. Free, if Trav does it itself

    Openness, is a company directive. For fruits sake, the forum admin can't fix problems, you think the "company line" is open to interpretation?

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerballa View Post
    You aren't looking at good clients NosajDraw. Take windows for instance, sure there are those that can make an illegal copy work, but it is greatly reduced. A browser based game is along the lines of "duhh do you know jscript, can you flip between proxies", a client is much more secure - not impervious. If you are going to say that browser based access is as secure as client based access, please provide evidence so we can have a giggle.
    Obscurity is not security. And, as I already said, bots exist on all platforms, even those that pride themselves on their security and are wall to wall proprietary, again obscurity is not security.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerballa View Post
    Openness comes from having a security system that a brain-damaged amoeba couldn't bypass.
    In terms of system security that's an oxymoron. However in terms of a philosophically open approach to game players, it has nothing at all to do with technological platform and everything to do with attitude.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerballa View Post
    The cost of coding a client, is easily recoverable - 10k max for every eventuality, from a master. Free, if Trav does it itself
    You clearly don't know how much these things cost to maintain, or the fact that Travian would need perhaps 5 or more clients, a simple website such as www.energyhelpline.com (where I used to be IT manager) has 6 full time programmers working on it, at an average cost of 60,000 per year each, add in the other costs of employment (training, providing office space, development machines, coffee etc you can make that 75,000+ per programmer per year.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerballa View Post
    Openness, is a company directive. For fruits sake, the forum admin can't fix problems, you think the "company line" is open to interpretation?
    Sorry, I have no real idea what your saying. The forum admin here is not the "community manager" I mention, the "community manager" is an employee of Travian Games and oversees all the domains. And yes, all things said are open to interpretation, that is there very nature. But beyond that sorry, I really don't know what you mean.

  6. #6
    Tinkerballa
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    Nosajdraw, you have brought me much amusement, and for that I doff my hat. You have directly avoided, the most important question posed - that of client vs browser. You then raised, bizarre costs Either, your last job paid extremely well or you're telling porkies Aside from the rubbish of your claims, why couldn't Trav afford it?

    I'm sorry, but avoiding the direct issue and just making up random things, doesn't engender trust in what you're saying. Perhaps, in a world without search engines, where the average IQ was below 50, we could look upon your words without suspicion. Until then, I shall be rolling about the floor laughing
    Last edited by ben kenobi; 14 Nov 2011 at 08:58 PM. Reason: inappropriate language

  7. #7

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    Tinkerballa, I am, properly, and fully engaging in informed debate, I have worked in IT my entire working life and have experience of a mix of industries and applications of IT in those industries, I have served time as a programmer and have worked on proprietary front ends to projects as well as web based ones, so please stop insulting me, there is no need for it, and I have not insulted you.

    The costs I speak about are real and typical for any project that requires on going support and development, and would in my professional view be exasperated by having to support multiple clients (i.e. Windows, Linux, Andriod, Mac, Ipad, Blackberry, etc).

    I do not avoid the question of proprietary vs web client I have addressed this directly, I have stated quite clearly that neither is secure in the way you imagine, and I have given examples of this.

    However you do not address how a technology solution would change attitudes towards the game players by the domain crew or by TG staff. Indeed whilst technology can influence societal and community thinking, it will never bring about transformation in that thinking, if you want to fix secrecy issues then you need to address why those secrecy issues arise, none of the reasons why they arise are technological, they are instead a mix of societal (Data Protection Act) and paranoiac thinking that emanates from the Travian Community Manager. If you wish to address the secrecy issue you must address one or both of those issues, no amount "new" technology will fix a fundamental human interaction/communication issue.

  8. #8
    Tinkerballa
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    You're still avoiding the question and you're still talking nonsense. A client interface for Trav, would at best require a junior code monkey for the bulk of it - so we're looking at 12-13k a year. Fair enough someone senior would need to look over that - 20k a year, and you may hire a penetration tester - 600 for a few hours work. We aren't talking about encoding something difficult here Also, the code knows no language boundaries so it can be spread across the world.

    Client side is more secure as it takes into account more options than browser side can. Take skype for instance, you can change the new icons back to the old ones, but you need to decompile the program. Furthermore, you need to disable skype talking to it's master servers. This isn't a case of putting stuff in the right folders, it's a case of being able to read obfuscated code, make sense of the structure based on the assumptions of how it should work, and following through with major testing to work out responses. I'm sorry, but where does that fit with writing jscript? You have to take into account nothing really, you just write the code directly. Now I'm not saying a client cannot be hacked, I'm saying it's much, much harder. By avoiding that issue, you are in disagreement - which makes you an idiot.

    Saying what you do as a living really means nothing either, it's the last call in a failing argument. "Well actually I'm the boss and know everything so you're wrong, derp". I'm a gamer, businessman and unicorn so you're wrong

    Let's get down to brass tacks - client-side is more secure.
    - the money is irrelvant, Trav must employ code monkeys
    - You're being difficult for the sake of it. There is no way you can argue that Trav is as secure as it can be, and things in the community are dealt with to a good standard. Some folks do really well, but it would be a damn sight easier if people could go "this has gone wrong because... I'm sorry. On reflection you were clearly innocent." Do you honestly believe that people wouldn't like that better? Do you honestly believe, the "we are omnipotent, we make no mistakes" line engenders support?

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerballa View Post
    Saying what you do as a living really means nothing
    Actually it means people pay me for my opinion, and that after having used my opinion they liked the result so much that they came back for more.

    Sorry, but if you really think Skype, the P2P protocol it uses, the encryption it uses etc were develop by one junior programmer with a senior looking over his shoulder and 600 spent on penetration testing, then you are sorely mistaken. Ecryption is notoriously hard to get right when done by even extremely senior programmers, one only need to look at WAP to understand that.

    Your prices and your idea of how long it would take are seriously out of whack.

    And your insults are now getting childish, I won't bother conversing with you more.

  10. #10
    Tinkerballa
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    You won't bother conversing Nosajdraw, because it is getting harder and harder to avoid the question, which you haven't answered once. If I need someone to give a "political" answer to something I know who I need to ask (rofl)

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by NosajDraw View Post
    I do not avoid the question of proprietary vs web client I have addressed this directly, I have stated quite clearly that neither is secure in the way you imagine, and I have given examples of this.
    Quote Originally Posted by NosajDraw View Post
    However you do not address how a technology solution would change attitudes towards the game players by the domain crew or by TG staff.
    Pot, Kettle, Black.

  12. #12
    Tinkerballa
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    Quote Originally Posted by NosajDraw View Post
    Pot, Kettle, Black.
    If you think so (rofl)

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerballa View Post
    One of.. utter rubbish.. he community NOT to be persecuted.
    It seems you post rubbish everywhere.

    You dont understand the simplest of concepts and why a browser game might work.

    You just look like a fool.

    Lets make it downloadable, doh!
    Last edited by ben kenobi; 19 Nov 2011 at 09:54 PM. Reason: (2.2.D) Insulted Other Member(s)

  14. #14
    Tinkerballa
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    Quote Originally Posted by pizzathehut View Post
    snip
    It seems you have no sense anywhere. Is there anything you actually know anything about?

  15. #15

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    Thank God I'm not a staff member any more.

    Tinkerbella you are acting like an idiot and clearly have no understanding of what you're suggesting.

    Nosajdraw has answered your question many times. He has pointed out that making a client can be extremely expensive, your numbers are ridiculously low. The average experienced (more than 5 years experience) programmer earns a yearly salary of something just over 60,000, like Nosajdraw has mentioned you'd need atleast 3 clients, for windows, mac and Linux, and of course there are numerous different systems within those categories, you'd have to support XP, Vista and Windows 7 for example. I'm not a programmer but I work in a company as a Senior Accountant and we had to have a client made to use some of our software and that was a very basic program but it had to be done securely because of the personal details it included. We hired 3 programmers all of them needed for 3 months, all very experienced and all very costly. You can't just have a junior programmer make a client for something on the scale of Travian, you've got to have them hired full time.

    Quality assurance would also be a massive job costing a lot of money, although I guess you could get some volunteers in but personally I think it's always better to have people who are paid to stretch thing to their limits because that's what hackers do. And actually I don't see the benefits over a browser.

    Firstly it takes up space on a users computer, the fact is Travian in a browser doesn't, any person on a netbook or an iPad can play Travian on their browser.

    You'd still need all of travian's servers and the code would be the same for the game, so exploits and cheats that exist in the code still exist in the code, to get rid of those it'd be whole different job to just making a client to play the game through.

    It'll massively increase the number of issues that support has to deal with, problems with getting it to work on different computers, where to install stuff and all the problems that occur from that. So now you've got to have more, and this time paid dedicated support staff to deal with these issues.

  16. #16
    Tinkerballa
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    A senior account, that sounds like you have lots of coding experience Firstly, there are numerous languages that are compatible cross platform - I'm sure you've heard of java? So only 1 client would need to be created.

    Secondly Steve, Travian already has programmers You probably missed the bit where the game itself has to have actually been coded. Which means it need not cost any more money. Furthermore, by local caching, money would be saved in bandwith Bandwith surprisingly costs money, and Travian will be paying a fair amount for it. So in actuality it may end up costing less money. Finally, on the money subject, who's to say Travian can't afford it anyway, even if it were to cost more?

    On to the security benefits over a browser. With a browser I can break every single rule you have in place, and never be caught. I can have unlimited accounts, bots to do everything, etc. Using Jscript and proxies isn't difficult. Do the same security exploits happen in a client? No they don't. A client can be made much more secure. For instance, proxies won't work as the client can identify itself. You would have to use different physical machines. The client could also identify if it's been altered in anyway, and collect usage stats, so scripting becomes a whole lot harder. Obfuscated code makes scripting much harder as well - you can see how everything is processed on the web browser, and even what you can't see directly, common sense will tell you how it works. Is a client impervious? No. But it is much, much more secure.

    In terms of size, Steve, we are talking about a few mbs for the client program, and max of 100mbs for the cache. In terms of tablets, netbooks, etc the game would be more responsive and faster loading. Smartphones would need an app if you wanted to go into that market.

    The only reason for it to be browser based, is a question of trust. Travian is an established brand now, it's been around for like 7 years or something? Trust is no longer an issue, I very much doubt any of the Travian community would view it as being malware.

    The other thing a client will allow, through local caching, is the potential for better graphics and gameplay additions that just aren't possible because of cost limitations.

    I'm sure you're just defending your friend Steve, but next time do a little bit of research. I'm very surprised that an accountant cannot understand costs being multi-faceted.

  17. #17

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    My point wasn't that because I'm an accountant I know about programming, my point is I know about the costs of hiring programmers.

    Yes Travian already has programmers, but they all already have jobs, this client would create more work which means either you give the programmers you already have more work (which they won't want and if you're running a company properly they'll have their schedules optimised anyway so you will need more programmers or you're going to find that things get overlooked.

    You've mentioned all these ways that the client can check on security, but what your missing is all of those things require dedicated security experts to program. Someone who works on the actual game code might not necessarily be able to do that security side of things, and frankly I wouldn't want them to. You need security experts to create systems to do that and that does require hefty investments. That hefty investment would have to come from increased revenue because as we know Travian won't just take a hit for no return, so either they charge for the client, or they increase gold costs or offer more features to Gold users. All that would do would alienate users. And frankly a lot of reasons why people play Travian is because they Don't need a client. If someone wants to play at school/work/library or whatever they won't be able to download a client and I know a few children who's parents don't allow them to download programs of any kind onto their computers and so can only play online games.

    You would alienate a whole number of people by changing to a client based system and I don't believe we would see an influx of new users, in fact I think we'd lose a number immediately and wouldn't recover them at all.

    Also I don't know nosajdraw and only came in on his side because you clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

  18. #18
    Tinkerballa
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    Where are the bandwith calculations? Very roughly a player will download about a gb over the course of their game. A good deal would be $0.80 per gb. Lets say 100k people play Travian worldwide, the figure will actually be much higher, thats a cost of roughly $80,000. So by local caching, we would reasonably expect the bandwith costs to be around 1/10th or even up to 1/20th of that. The saving being made is quite substantial.

    As for alienating people? Some may not like it, others may appreciate a more secure game. Travian may even lower it's gold costs or allow more features to be free (I highly doubt it). What you have said about alienating people is pure speculation - only decent market research would be able to confirm it. Given the number of games that have a client side application, and have done for a long time, I very much doubt people would be shocked.

    All I can say Steve, is do a bit more research, and actually have a think about how it could work. Not only have you demonstrated you don't actually know the benefits to the proposal, your thinking about costings is just short-sighted. I suspect my sweet demeanour, has made you speak without thought.

  19. #19

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    Tinkerballa There is already local caching done by your browser the main images are all saved in your browser (if you delete your cookies and cache then a new request gets sent to the server thus it takes slightly longer) things that change like the map would always have to be called from the server anyway due tothe changing nature of map especially in T4.

    Things that are dynamic get called from the server static things like buildings, village overview etc only get called when there is a change ( you upgrade or build something new) All browers do this as its one of the basic functions of a browser. The thing is client based versions would still need to do this to an extent anyway so not much bandwidth would be saved.
    Most hosting facilitys offer you different packages thatoffer differing bandwidth rates since some of the servers are now on travian owned datacenter equipment this cost is reduced further.

    Travian will have a hosting package fromt he data center that inculdes unlimited bandwidth so regardless of the ammount they use it would still cost the same. The hosting package i have has unlimited bandwidth and thats with a personal package rather than a corperate one. Travian wont be charged per GB most likely not even per Tb mostliekly they will pay a flat rate fee for unlimited bandwidth as is standard on hosting packages

    Travians main pulling power is that you dont need to download anything for it. Where as a client would have the potential to affect wether some people can play. For example I play travian at work however i cant download or install programs so making it client only would mean i couldnt play travian for over 60 hrs a week thus affecting my gameplay. Yes there are some benifits from using a clinet however security wouldnt nessisarily be one of them. If you have a client its easyer to disect the coding and make your own clients or bots etc (take Siri on your iphone its only be out a month and it has already been cracked)

    A benifit might be that the game is slightly faster but backend bandwidth wise map changes and stats etc would still need to be pulled from the server each time.

    Now you used java for an example however that wouldent nessisarily work for all OS's Linux for example doesnt ship with it as standard (on most varients) so you would need to download that plus java wouldnt work so well as a client anyway.
    But the cost of implementing a client style system would most likely still be high regardless since it would need to be coded, tested, coded some more, tested some more.

    Security tested etc your quote for 600 for "a few hours penitration testing" is way off since something like this any decent tester would want atleast 600 an hour there are many penitration testing jobs for over 1000 an hour on a short contract (which travian would want to do)

  20. #20
    Tinkerballa
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    Yes your browser will use local caching, but the download amount roughly quoted is still correct. Why? Because as you are saying Travian is a dynamic game, your buildings change, the map changes, etc. Not to mention that your browser will update itself nearly every 3 days, and refreshing the page causes an update. That's a lot of images being unneccessarily downloaded. Even gzipped we are talking about kbs rather than bytes. There is not a single image or texture that couldn't be permanently stored locally. The transfer from the server to the client becomes bytes rather than kilobytes.

    Travian will indeed have a hosting package, but bandwith is still expensive, and I've yet to find a hosting provider who doesn't cover their costs. Let's take a step back for a second and look at web best practices. Page weight is reduced as much as possible, in html, css, jscript, etc. Image numbers are reduced, images are sprited, everything is gzipped where possible. The reason for this is faster loading times, as its faster to unpack a compressed file than to download a larger uncompressed file, but more importantly it reduces cost by saving bandwith. CSS was developed with a shorthand form, to reduce bandwith. Let us now look at gameserver companies. It is more expensive to have more people on a gameserver. Ok you do need a little bit more ram for more people, but that is a separate charge. Is it because more people use more storage space? They can do, and sometimes not, generally what is added is a config that tells where the person is, what they have, etc. I know of larger servers that use significantly less storage space than smaller servers. Is it because they will need more support? Is it because the systems are under more strain? The answer to both is it's marginal. Putting in tickets and things generally won't increase if the admin has the appropriate access, tickets will go in for unavoidable hardware faults. As for more strain, some games will use more system resources, which means the ssd could be wiped more often, other games there's really no difference. So what are they charging for? They are charging for bandwith Have you never wondered why a lot of games have client-side applications? Have you ever looked what is stored there? There is an awful lot that is reducing bandwith. Now, aside from going to look at the actual costings, which was done previously. Let us look at the logic of the situation - why is it best practice to save bandwith? Why do a lot of game companies provide client side applications that have an important emphasis on saving bandwith?

    As for Travian's main pulling power, that is pure speculation. In such a way, I would say its main pulling power is the game play, and it's social aspects. I would say that a more secure system and richer content would be a bigger draw. Neither you nor I have the market research to back up it. All we can do is look for similar situations, and there are a lot of huge gaming companies out there that have no problem with a client app, and their are a lot of browser based games that fail early on. I hear what you're saying about playing at work, and I've heard it before. In the main, though, work resources are for working, being at work is for working. It is however, a moot point.

    Java is seriously not a problem on linux, and as an awful lot on the net is java based, it's kind of beneficial to have it. I know a lot of linux users, who seem to have no problems whatsoever with it. Moreover, Java has been shipped by linux distributors since 2006, only now do they want linux users to move to openJDK (open java development kit), which unsurprisingly will do the job. You are right that a user creating their own system will have to install java, but if you're creating your own system, that surely shouldn't be a problem. You buy a computer out of a shop that has linux pre-installed and I'd be very surprised if it couldn't run java applications.

    I honestly have no idea why people believe bandwith to be a non-existent cost? Or that Travian doesn't have money? Or indeed that they don't have the required skill sets to make it happen?

    So to the benefits:

    Potential money saving, with reduced bandwith.
    More secure.
    Potential for much richer content.
    More things to trade upon in an advertising sense.
    It could even give Travian a higher profile, which in turn attracts more paying customers.

    The negatives:

    It could put people off playing - maybe, but it could also attract more people.
    It would be too costly to produce - there are in fact potential savings to be made, and how much money is available for development is unknown - just because they are stingy and apparently inefficient, doesn't necessarily indicate they have no money. Furthermore, believing that investment cannot return a profit is so wrong I'm cringing.
    Travian would have to charge more - see the previous point, they may charge less.
    Bandwith is cheap/free so that breaks the money saving argument - that's just stupid.
    Change is intolerable - change is a necessary part of life.

    Edit: I nearly forgot about the sql dump If Travian doesn't care about it's bandwith costs, why provide an sql dump to stop the site being scraped? The performance savings aren't that great - but the bandwith savings are rather huge.
    Last edited by Tinkerballa; 21 Nov 2011 at 05:44 PM.

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