Friday, 20 May 2011

The Rant - PSN Debacle

Okay guys, I think its about time to go over what has been on of the most ridiculous mess ups in recent gaming history: The supposed hacking of the Sony Playstation Network.

Let me quickly break this down and voice my opinions on the PSN debacle. In their relentless quest for a completely secure games console, Sony have hounded the Modder community into a corner and mad an enemy of a truly dangerous opponent, and they have subsequently suffered a backlash of epic proportions!

It all began when Sony removed one of the features that was originally bundled with the Playstation 3, then subsequently removed: The Other OS option. This feature allowed someone to be able to install the Linux operating system onto a PS3 in order to use it like a PC (which it kind of is).

As far as I know, there was no major issues with someone having Linux on their PS3, but then Sony suddenly decided to remove the option with a subsequent firmware update. Some were pissed by this betrayal, but it more or less flew under the radar.

Next, a couple of guys managed to create a USB stick that would allow the user to copy their PS3 games onto an external hard drive and run a game without the need for the original disk. This was known as the "Jailbreaker", and the creators were planning to sell it to anyone who would want it before Sony dropped a legal elbow on them to stop the sale of the product, and subsequently have all of their computers seized, effectively robbing them of the ability to reproduce the Jailbreak software. Unfortunately, that didn't do much since the source code was leaked onto the interwebz soon afterwards!

The straw that broke the proverbial camel's back was then the infamous hacker group "Anonymous" discovered the coding that would break the PS3's security wide open, allowing the owner to begin exploiting it's systems to create homebrew software(which might have been the same thing as Jailbreak).

As a retaliatory strike, Sony legally pimp-slapped a few members of Anonymous, including one guy called George Holtz, who was already well known for hacking the iPhone. Then the hackers launched a direct attack on the PSN network, supposedly causing hundreds of thousands of users credit card details to be leaked all over the webz. Turns out Sony's server security measures were woefully inadequate, and as a result made it easy for them to be hacked.

Effectively it was the biggest breach of customer info of all time, and certainly put the wind up me and all my online mates when the PSN network went down for over a month.

I think Anonymous more or less disbanded after that, and Sony appeased their customers with free sign ups to PSN Plus and free game demos (which later turned out to be limited to 60 days).

They did the best they could to smooth things over with their customers, but the simple fact of the matter is that Sony were caught with their pants down. They never should have gone after the hackers knowing that their server security was so weak because they pretty much invited an attack on themselves!

That being said, I lost sympathy for the hackers the moment their retaliation ended up hurting those who would've supported their cause. I have a PSN account, and I was scared shitless when I realised my personal data may have been leaked.

I trusted that Sony was a professional enough company that something like this shouldn't have happened, but I'm more angry at the hackers for what they did more. By going after Sony and the numerous other companies that have since been attacked, they have intensified the hatred against all bedroom programmers who are law-abiding and only seek to challenge their abilities and share their interest with like-minded individuals.

In the end, there were no real winners in this war against piracy. In the end, I can't help but feel that in their relentless pursuit to protect their product, Sony bit the hand that feeds them and got mauled badly. I can fully understand their position in this whole sordid affair, but couldn't Sony have just turned a blind eye to the modders like they did with the PS1 and PS2?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

May update

Just a quick one this time, letting you all know what's been happening these past couple weeks.

My birthday was yesterday, and despite my usual dour attitude towards getting older this time round I don't feel too bad. Maybe it's because for the first time in my life I have hope for the future!

My new job is going okay, with the possibility of continued employment (take THAT, Jobcentre!), and possible greater opportunities in store! My artwork is getting better, and I'm slowly gaining recognition within the community. Here's hoping I can keep up this pace!

The Sony Playstation Network is still down for the time being, and strangely I couldn't be happier! Don't get me wrong, gaming online with your buddies is cool, but it was becoming too much as it slowly took more and more of my time. When you're barely hitting deadlines and not doing what you're supposed to be doing because of gaming, something is wrong. I will have to make a concerted effort to limit my time online when the PSN eventually comes back on!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

What a month!

Two 4-day weekends in a row, the Playstation Network down, me suffering from the flu, the Royal Wedding, and now the news that Osama Bin Ladin is dead! I can barely keep up with the crazyness!

As is the nature of things, like waiting for buses in London they have a habit of arriving all at once! Ironically, its the fact that the PSN is currently down that I was finally able to reclaim some of my free time and do some artwork. Stay tuned for a few gems over the next couple of weeks!

Breaks can be good, but too much of a break is not good for someone like me, because I lose focus so easily. I'm going to have to make a concerted effort to get back on the horse and get back into the working rhythm.

An interesting realisation has come to me over the past couple of months: Professional writing.

I like to write, and have always done a couple of personal projects as a way of getting my ideas down on paper or on the screen. My current work placement has given me the chance to turn my writing skills to a more professional direction, in other words I'm getting paid to write about my interests!

Its not easy though, and I still have a lot to learn, but at least now I know that if the whole Graphics Design thing doesn't work out, I have other avenues for my creative impulses.

Here's hoping some of my outstanding stories will be completed before the end of the year!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Streets of Troll Rage!

8 years in the making, the latest version of the Streets of Rage Remake project was released a couple of weeks ago, with the supposed blessing of Sega. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards Sega ordered the makers of the game to pull all online links to the game and ensure others do the same.

Once again I find myself WTF'ing at Sega's apparent disregard for their fanbase. I was fortunate to be able to download a copy myself and play a bit of it to see what all the fuss is about. I can confidently say that the game is amazingly good, and a testament to the passion these fans have for the Streets of Rage series. The quality is easily good enough to go up on PSN and Xbox Live right now.

Now I would fully understand Sega's decision to have this game pulled if they happened to have their own SoR game already in circulation or in development, but as far as I know they DON'T.

Using the excuse of ordering a small team of dedicated fans to pull a fan-made freeware (freeware means NO PROFIT for them) game you were informed of beforehand AND well aware of afterwards, as a means of protecting your property smacks of hypocracy to your fans!

Sega need to wake up, NOW! The fact that this game even exists is evidence enough that the Bare Knuckle/Streets of Rage series is still popular even now. It's fine that they can still re-release the old games online and make their money that way, but why are are they punishing those who would see to continue the franchise because they can't be bothered to do it themselves?!

I loved Sega back in the day, but these days I have no respect for them or other games companies that pull crap like this on their fanbase. They've forgotten that it's the fans that made them successful in the first place.

Hopefully they'll come to their senses and do the right thing by either giving the go ahead for Bombergames to continue distributing SoR Remake, or start their own SoR project. Unfortunately, right now that doesn't look very likely...

Sonic sucks

Capcom Monster Hunter Rant

Capcom Monster Hunter Rant
By Royston Joseph – 13/4/11

Let me take the time to express my love of Japanese games developer and publisher, Capcom. Out of the big 4 Japanese game companies outside of Nintendo and Sega, Capcom has pretty much produced the best games for the current generation of consoles.

With such titles as Resident Evil 5, Street Fighter 4 and Lost Planet 2, Capcom has continued to make games that have made me throw money down without hesitation, confident in the knowledge that you are getting a quality product that is enjoyable to play.

Another game in Capcom’s catalogue is the Monster Hunter series, which have been a relative juggernaut in its native Japan, but has received mixed success in the west.

When it first came out on the Playstation 2, Monster Hunter was one of the first times Capcom dabbled with creating a game that used online multiplayer cooperative play at its core. I never experienced the online, but the single player experience was pretty cool to me with the whole facing off against giant dinosaurs and the like.

Later the MH series moved to the Sony PSP, and gained a huge popularity boost in Japan and good sales in the west. Nintendo wanted a piece of that cherry, so they got Capcom to make a couple for the Wii and more recently the 3DS.

Now here is where I get to my point. Capcom have made Monster Hunter Frontier for the PC and Xbox 360, but it was only released in Japan. Its mere speculation at this point, but I and a number of my online friends thought how cool it would be to have MH on Playstation 3 with up to 4 player coop. Capcom clearly have the means to do so, and Lost Planet 2 has clearly shown us that it could work for PS3 no problem.

So the question remains: Capcom, what are you waiting for?!

Update: As of June last year, Capcom had announced that they were going to do a HD upscale of Monster hunter Portable 3rd for the PS3, unfortunately only for Japan again! Damn you Capcom!

More info in Monster Hunter Frontier and Portable 3rd here:

Monday, 21 March 2011

Japan in Crisis

I'm a little late on this, but I feel I need to comment on the tragedy of the earthquakes in Japan this past week. It is always hard to feel any strong emotion for people you have never met or places you have never visited, I was genuinely worried when heard the news.

As a guy that nearly every waking hour is devoted to something Japanese on one form or another, the thought that something as terrible as the biggest earthquake in Japan's history destroying what I love deeply concerned me.

You can say what you want about me being a fool for being so infatuated with a country I have still yet to visit, but it doesn't change the fact that if it wasn't for the things that Japan has produced that I have so much passion for, I probably wouldn't be here today. I probably would have killed myself a long time ago (am I joking? I'm not so sure).

I'm still in contact with a couple of Japanese friends from back in the day that when the quake hit, I was left with a desire to send a quick email to see if they and their families were okay. As is the case with things like this connections can be made either directly or indirectly.

They were okay, and more to the point they were grateful to have people ask that they were okay. As cool as I think Japan is, the country doesn't really hit the conscious of the world as much as China, Russia or Europe. Its kinda sad though that it would take a natural disaster, thousands of deaths and potential nuclear fallout for the world to take notice of Japan again.

And despite everything, I still plan to go to Japan someday soon. My dream will not die yet!