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5:44 PM on 11.28.2007

PS3: Console of choice for Hackers on Steroids

An Australian security consultant has apparently managed to turn the PS3 into the ultimate password cracking tool, through some miracle of wasted engineering.

The project, dubbed Crackstation is not, as you might think, a way to use Sony's uber powerful home entertainment system to dispense drugs to the masses but is, infact, an experiment into utilising the power of the Cell processor to drastically speed up the time taken to crack complex passwords.

The strength of cryptography implementations is usually based on its cracking time -- how long it would take for someone to sit down and crack it, says Breese. His discovery has demonstrated that the capability of cracking encryption algorithms has multiplied by 100.

Breese's discovery "will unfortunately make cryptography cracking faster", he says. However, he hopes that his research will help drive the need for stronger cryptography to be used, and push for better implementations of cryptography.

There's all kinds of technical info at the souce, Australian site GamePro, that I don't understand but I'm sure is very interesting.

Of most interest to me is that the guy started this project as an excuse to get his company to buy him a PS3. Just exactly how much do they cost in Australia to make a man go to THIS much effort?   read

4:46 PM on 11.28.2007

Bah, Humbug. Sodding Christmas.

Maybe it's because it's not even December yet and the shop I work in is already looping "Hammond Organs Of The World Go Christmas Vol 4". Maybe it's because I have to deal with everyone else's screaming brats who are in that festive 'WANTWANTWANT' mood and absolutely MUST HAVE the biscuits on the top shelf that their pregnant teen mother can't possibly reach up to grab in her condition. Maybe it's because I have to spend what little money I GET this month on other people, for no reason other than they've bought me some more sodding aftershave/deodorant/boxer shorts/socks (Delete as appropriate). Maybe it's because I have to yet again wrestle with an anaconda-like coil of potentially dangerous christmas lights from the sixties. Or, maybe it's that having a 4 month old sister has finally made me realise that my Christmases as I knew them are over ("Only child" syndrome at 20. Christ.).

Whatever it is, I'm suddenly harbouring a great dislike for Christmas this year. And, since the main purpose of this blog so far seems to be a rant, I might as well get festive.

...Christmas Cards
Nothing says "I can't be arsed" like a christmas card with a picture of a fucking candle on it. Which I always get, because everyone uses up the 'nice ones' (Read: Penguins) on cutesy girls who love 'that sort of thing'. There's also the massive hassle of feeling obliged to send out the exact same shitty 400-for-a-pound cards, if solely for the redemption factor of sending them the ones with a picture of the three wise men and a camel. Camels aren't festive. So hah.

...Christmas Music
EVERY year, without fail, there's some kind of desperate assault of the pop charts by another talentless, wank one-hit-then-fuck-off-and-die pop 'sensation' that the media raves 'really captures the spirit of christmas'. Ironically, they're right. Manufactured, soulless, and shit. Well done, you.

...The GAMES
So, I watched with some envy as the D-toid Christmas List got posted on the front page. I, as you might've guessed by now, live in England. Here's some highlights of what I've got to look forward to, between now and Christmas:

-- Harvest Moon Magical Melody (Wii)
-- Ultimate Mortal Kombat (DS)
-- Wii Zapper with Link's Crossbow Training (Wii)
-- Pokemon Battle Revolution (Wii)

That's... it. And the Wii Zapper, I'll be buying myself. Sigh.

So there's a few reasons for me to hate the festive period. That said, here's my christmas list (Please note. With the exception of Pokemon, the games on it are already released.):

Wharfedale 9mm In Ear Headphones
Pokemon Battle Revolution
Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles
GAMEware Nintendo Wii Remote Rechargable Battery and Charging Station
Heroes – Complete Season 1 Box Set DVD
Transformers DVD
300 DVD

So yeah, overall, for a 20 year old who's supposed to be 'too old for that, now', I probably won't do too badly.

It might just be my job making me feel so damned unfestive, and when the decorations go up and, more importantly, I'm drinking myself merry, I might feel differently.

Till then, bah, humbug, bah, bah, another humbug, one last bah, and a Merry Fuckin' Christmas.   read

5:24 PM on 11.23.2007

British Prime Minister makes decisions based on a game.

Gordon Brown, possibly one of the most boring men alive today and current Prime Minister for Great Britain (sigh) has admitted to being 'inspired' by possibly one of the most boring games due out next year.

Developed by Ascaron Entertainment, 'Politics' (Due out for PC, Feb 2008) lets the player take control of a real world country and make the real, cutting-edge decisions that shape the future of said nation. Sounds quite exciting, doesn't it? Just to piss on your cornflakes, here's a quote which I presume to be from the game itself (BBCode's stopped working, so here's some hyphens):

With mounting pressure from the back benchers to review unpopular policy, the PM needs to carefully assess political strategy to gain the largest share of the vote to stay in power. But you won’t be able to keep everyone happy all of the time, so tread cautiously as popular policy may not be in the best interests of the country.

With an unpopular war being waged in the East and financial meltdown coming from the sub prime markets in the West, the UK government needs to take a firm and steady stance to appeal to the mass vote and win through. Tough political decisions lie ahead…

Do you withdraw British troops from Iraq to gain approval from the masses back home but expose the world to the increasing threat of terrorism? Do you maintain the unpopular increase in interest rates to safe guard from recession or opt for the more popular cut in interest rates and risk increasing the level of consumer debt in the UK? Winter bird flu is back on the agenda - do health services need a boost?


Anyway, all the original article (Via DigitalBattle)
states is that Gordon Brown, after consulting with an ally in the US (Think Georgey-boy, as he's now going to be affectionatley known, got tired of Brain Training?) was 'inspired' by this game. That's it.

Now if only he'd play Doom, or GTA, or Animal Crossing, or Pokemon instead, then this country might not be so bloody dull.   read

4:29 PM on 11.23.2007

People. The NPCs of real life.

So, I work in a small local supermarket, doing the general shelf-stacking/stock rotation/other boring monotonous wank that only a student can really lower himself to. I've been there for about a month and in that short time, I've already come across a fair few strange instances of real people. Tonight, as I was facing up (The process of turning every single item in the shop around to face the front of the shelf. It really is as fun as it sounds), my mind wandered to a point that often gets raised about games, but never really expanded on, or looked at in any real detail: The AI of random NPCs.

Sometimes, A-rated titles (usually sandbox games) get marked down by some people for the random NPCs (Townsfolk, crowd, background characters etc) having little to no 'believable' behavioural patterns. For instance, in San Andreas, the NPCs inside shops will simply stand for eternity, staring at the same beige sweater. As a result of this, there's often a call to ramp up the behaviour of said peripheral characters.

Until tonight, I never understood why.

One of the biggest arguments is that it "Breaks the sense of immersion into the game". Does it? Really? Were you any less immersed into Ocarina of Time because people in towns and villages were content to stand on the spot, spinning with all the grace of a legless ballerina with leprosy whenever you ran rings around them? Or in a more realistic game like Shenmue, did it really bother you that the people you'd see milling around Mr Tomato weren't bundling packets of rice and noodles (Because obviously this is all anyone eats in Shenmue-land... Obviously...) into a shopping basket, then bitching at you for taking too long picking up your Outrun soundtrack? If a highly atmospheric game like Bioshock had some random, non-splicer scientists staring through a microscope at samples of the creepy little sister you just callously harvested for your own material gain, but he then did nothing else, would it genuinely bother you that much?

I don't think so.

Infact, if anything, I'd say the current level of AI is more realistic than people give it credit for. Working in said supermarket, I have actually witnessed a woman spend HALF AN HOUR staring at a wine rack. She didn't pick up a bottle for closer inspection. She didn't seem to be moving her head around to actually look at anything. For all I know she could've been contemplating how to shove the damn thing up her rectum. She just stood. Standing. Staring. Doing nothing. A real life NPC.

I think some of us overestimate the intelligence level of most of the real life equivalent of NPCs. Take, for example, this story that happened tonight, which sparked this whole train of thought in my head.

Having just taken the main grocery delivery of the night, I was out on the shop floor, filling up the crisp (chips, to our American friends) aisle. Next to me, I had a trolley with half a dozen boxes of crisps on, next to a large, wall-mounted rack of said potato snacks. I'd been doing this for about ten minutes, when a woman, about middle-aged but obviously still with most of her mental faculties, approached me with that sort of confused, bewildered look that people get when they want help. The conversation that followed went like this.

Her: "Scuse me, can you tell me where your crisps are?"
--Awkward silence--
Me: --Smiling politely-- "Yeah, they're... here."
--I point at the rack I'm now pressed against, since she'd moved my trolley. Which was full of crisps.--
Her: "Ah, thanks."
--A few seconds pass--
Her: "Is this all you do?"
Me: "Yeah, this is our crisp section."
Her: "Ah"
--Few more seconds--
Her: "So you don't do anymore then?"
Me: --keeping polite smile-- "...No. No we don't. This is it. This is our crisp section."
Her: "Oh, ok. Thanks."
--She walks away--

Now this, coupled with the wine lady and various other small instances I've ALREADY picked up on in a month, have made me realise that the AI some of you think would make games more realistic would actually vastly detract from them.

So no, based on this, I think the case for stronger NPC AI is a bit moot. Well, I did, until tonight. Now, I know exactly why some of you want it.

You want to kill them.

I know this because I agree, now. I want to merrily hack my way (Dead Rising meets Postal style) through a varied mix of loitering chavs, neglectful parents and their screaming, demanding brats, the guy who, try as he might, just can't remember his pin number, unforgivably thick people and yes, even those sweet old grannies who smell of urine and try to buy a pack of mints with postage stamps. I want to destroy them all.

And since the law here prohibits me from doing so in real life, I'm now joining the camp of people who demand higher AI in NPCs, so I can fulfill my bloodlust and feel damn good about it.

But until I develop my Checkout Jockey Supermarket Simulator, it's unlikely to happen, I suppose. I guess I'll just have to stick to putting their eggs on the bottom of the bag, under a big fat slab of meat. HA! Vengeance.   read

6:48 PM on 11.22.2007

Couple of Fragile scans hit the net, and hello, I'm new.


My first C-Blog, now that I can login. Could someone possibly be so kind as to tell me the formatting stuff for those oh-so-funny captioned pics people have at the top of their blogs? Y'know, just to fit in. Feel free to accompany it with "OMG U SUX!", or something, by way of welcome.

So yes. Fragile. A game we know very little about, but it's an RPG, it's made by Namco Bandai, and it's on the Wii. From these scans, it also looks quite pretty.

Check out Dale North's original article on it, if you don't know what Fragile is, then wait around for a couple of days until the official site goes live.

From NintendoWiiFanboy   read

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