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 Access-limited games 
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Unread post Access-limited games
I had an idea today. Would it be interesting to provide an option to link game access to this forum community? I've been talking to Micro about ways to limit duping, and we talked about providing an email validation option for closed games, but as I was considering that, I started thinking about having TW validate users with the forum user database so that players in a limited-access game would be linked to their accounts on this forum.

When joining such a game, you'd provide your user name and password for the forum, and TW would verify that the account exists, then pull the forum user name to be used as the game name. This way, if I see Thrawn in a game, I know it's Thrawn. And if you suspect a player is a dupe, you can come to the forum and search for activity to see if, in fact, they appear to be a real person, and if not, report them to the gameop. If a new player wants to join such a game, that player needs to join the forum and join the conversations, becoming part of the community so people know who they are.

I think this would go a long way toward bringing accountability to games and encourage players to play by the rules, because people will know who they are. And it would allow the community to moderate the player base in one place so that gameops don't have to do so on their own isolated servers.

Any thoughts? Crazy idea? Lame? Implementation-wise, I think it would be fairly easy.

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:09 pm
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Unread post Re: Access-limited games
Actually it is a very good idea, and it also has another possibility, maybe in another version of TWGS, and that is actually ranking players in some manner.

One question is would the person show up as the alias here, or would they be able to play in stealth under a different alias while using the forum alias/pw to gain access? The Op would know who they were, but the other player would not.

[edit] clarity [/edit]

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:21 pm
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Unread post Re: Access-limited games
I like it

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:04 pm
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Unread post Re: Access-limited games
I think that would be a gameop setting, whether to use the forum alias or allow a different alias.

I was thinking that there could be some kind of group in the forum that grants rights to join these games, allowing the community to ban a player from the group without banning them from the forum. Maybe also have some way to see how active a player is on the forum as a measurement of how established the player is.

In a way, this would be like a player whitelist for private games.

There are some interesting possibilities. Right now I'm researching how I can access the db to verify accounts and gather info. So far the tricky part is working with the password field. Just gotta find where logins are processed in the php code and work from that, I think.

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:21 pm
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Unread post Re: Access-limited games
Might be worth doing, at the very least to bring people to the forums for any questions they have. You probably don't need a group tho, you could just build a quick API in PHP to query the DB for user info. That way the game only needs to send a request to that API, and doesn't have to micromanage code issues that might change in future versions of phpBB.

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:53 pm
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Unread post Re: Access-limited games
Sound like a good idea.

Now why would someone dupe me and pretend to be a solo running casual TW player is beyond me however :)

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 2:05 pm
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Unread post Re: Access-limited games
What's to stop the players from having dupe forum accounts?

We've seen just over this past year some individuals "recreate" themselves here with a new login.

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 2:51 pm
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Unread post Re: Access-limited games
Cruncher wrote:
What's to stop the players from having dupe forum accounts?

We've seen just over this past year some individuals "recreate" themselves here with a new login.


The API could send the last known IP address back too. Or, if that's a privacy problem, a SHA512 hash of the IP address. TWGS could then hash the IP it knows about and compare them. As long as the values aren't salted, you could even compare hashes across accounts to eliminate most dupes.

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:06 pm
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Unread post Re: Access-limited games
It's a lot easier to have throw-away game accounts than it is to have a presence on this forum. Sure, you could create an alter-ego, but it's a lot of work to pretend to be more than one person and fully support both aliases on the forum so that you don't get flagged as a fake. I think it will be easy for the community to recognize an account created just for playing a game vs an actual account where someone is interacting as part of the community. This is the point of having a group. If you create an account just for access, you won't become a member of that group. But if players accept you as a legitimate member of the forum, you'll be promoted to that group. It's similar to the process of becoming a member of this forum. Signing up doesn't get you there. You need to post something so we know you're legit.

Not every player is going to make the effort to be a member of this group, but that just means they'll be locked out of those games with limited access. There will be plenty of games open to the general public.

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:09 pm
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Unread post Re: Access-limited games
Ok, make a group and we'll open a requests area then. Might take a few days to answer requests, tho, and that could affect play.

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 4:29 pm
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Unread post Re: Access-limited games
I like it.

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:16 pm
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Unread post Re: Access-limited games
I think the fact that this isn't required to join EVERY game should allow for the community to take their time vetting the members of this players group. If I'm new to the game and I can't get access to these exclusive games right away, I don't think that's a major problem. I can play other games as I prove myself and gain access. That's how I see this working.

I'm going to take a good look at this. Just need to work out the pbpbb db interface details. A php code snippet showing how phpbb handles login validation is all I need to get rolling with this. I could take the route you suggest, Sing, with an API, and I'm sure that's best practice, but probably not as quick and dirty since I don't have experience with phpbb api dev. If this was mediawiki, I'd be up for just about anything.

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:41 pm
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Unread post Re: Access-limited games
John Pritchett wrote:
I'm going to take a good look at this. Just need to work out the pbpbb db interface details. A php code snippet showing how phpbb handles login validation is all I need to get rolling with this. I could take the route you suggest, Sing, with an API, and I'm sure that's best practice, but probably not as quick and dirty since I don't have experience with phpbb api dev. If this was mediawiki, I'd be up for just about anything.


The problem you're going to have is that phpBB changes frequently, login handling and database credentials change frequently, and we have to stay relatively up-to-date or we risk getting hacked and spammed. Additionally, allowing each TWGS to access the database directly is a security disaster waiting to happen. What would stop me from running a sniffer, getting the login info, and running a password cracker on the dump?

So how do we keep some abstraction between TWGS and the forum DB, while allowing TWGS to authenticate users in the group in a secure fashion? It's not a good idea to use the forum's password as the authentication key, since that would give sysops a core password... breaking one of the cardinal rules of passwords. There's no way I could trust this account password to just any sysop.

Ideally, users would have a place to manage site tokens, and would use those as passwords on sites. The user's ID would be encrypted with the site token and passed to a forum API that would check it and respond with pass/fail. That way each site could have a unique token. But that would require phpBB development.

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:55 pm
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Unread post Re: Access-limited games
I've been learning alot over the last week or so about networking from gurus ..
Now am I wrong .. a Mac number is better then an IP .. as a IP number can be changed but the mac can not ?

why not trigger on that instead on this forum and subsequently on the server
side check ?

my 2¢

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:44 pm
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Unread post Re: Access-limited games
Vid Kid wrote:
I've been learning alot over the last week or so about networking from gurus .. Now am I wrong .. a Mac number is better then an IP .. as a IP number can be changed but the mac can not ? why not trigger on that instead on this forum and subsequently on the server side check ?


Because it's not possible. MAC addresses are layer 2, and are not forwarded by routers. So while your LAN may know your mac address (all switches build port-mac tables), nobody outside of your router will. If you're using a cable ISP, your forward facing mac address is passed on thru the cable modem to the cable provider (and is used to register and grant access), but it is never passed on past the first hop.

Additionally, mac addresses are completely changeable. Anyone with windows XP or greater can edit their mac address from within their network adapter properties.

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May the unholy fires of corbomite ignite deep within the depths of your soul...

1. TWGS server @ twgs.navhaz.com
2. The NavHaz Junction - Tradewars 2002 Scripts, Resources and Downloads
3. Open IRC chat @ irc.freenode.net:6667 #twchan
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