Author: Quinn

Recent Hacking Attempt

Hello everyone, Quinn here.

Quick Reminder!

We will NOT request any passwords, emails addresses, or other personal information via PM. If any information is requested via PM, please report it and do not respond. With that out of the way, on to the meat of the post:

Hacking Round 1

Sometime yesterday, some of the arcengames.com accounts of Chris Park (company founder/owner) were compromised. The person who compromised the accounts attempted to get sensitive data from Keith and myself.  However, database searches do do not show record of him (or her) trying to get data from anyone else.

It was quite clever social engineering, but fortunately there were enough red flags that Keith and I were each able to pick up on the phishing attempt, and contacted Chris via external means to check if it was really him. Once we had confirmation it was not, we locked down the accounts. Chris was able to reset his passwords, we did a variety of security sweeps, and (after a few issues), Chris has full control of his accounts again.

Nothing seems to have been damaged in this — it was mainly a prelude to a second goal.

Hacking Round 2

Mid-morning today, Chris’ Steam account was abruptly compromised. It’s safe to say that this was the same individual as the first attempt, because it fits with the goals they originally had, and they again leaned heavily on particular infiltration tactics.

Today’s attack was much more concerning for a variety of reasons, including what they targeted and how they did it.  We’re omitting that second part for hopefully obvious reasons.  Valve worked with us to piece together what happened, and there’s pretty good odds that exact approach won’t work again.

As part of gaining access to his Steam account, the attacker triggered an instant notification to Chris, which led to a quick shutdown of his Steam account.  After thorough review, we believe the attacker didn’t actually do anything once logged on as Chris.   Build data and similar have detailed logs that show no activity, and the cosmetic areas that are not logged as stringently seem untouched.

We don’t know if the attacker made any posts on Steam as Chris, or if he sent any chat messages. If you did get a message, post, or anything else from Chris’ Steam account today, please do not hesitate to contact us to verify the identity of who sent it.

Methodology

Mostly this was a case of very clever social engineering.  There was a second prong that involved actual hacking, which enabled that to be particularly convincing.  Chris does of course use 2 Factor Authentication, but that was circumvented via a particular obscure method.  Fortunately, the fact that multiple accounts have 2FA on them enabled us to catch and correct it particularly quickly.  The vagueness here is to not encourage copycats; it was not a case of password reuse between Arcen and Steam or something embarrassing like that.

At any rate, the initial method through which we believe the attacker got the password for Chris’s arcengames.com services was by exploiting a weakness in Mantis, which has now been patched to prevent further exploits.

Followup

We have not gotten reports of any other arcengames.com accounts being compromised. However, if any staff member sends you a PM and it seems out of place, please report it and do not answer it.

When in doubt, please send Arcen Games (arcengames AT gmail DOT com), the staff member who sent the PM, Chris Park (chrispark7 AT gmail DOT com), and myself (quinnbeltramo AT yahoo DOT com) an email regarding the matter. The reason behind sending everyone an email about it is to reduce the likelihood that the person will get away with the attempt. We can get in touch with each other by phone for any suspicious requests, as we did here.

We’ve spent most of the rest of the day combing through our databases and services, and Chris has spent that time scanning and examining his computers.  We’ve found no other evidence of anything unusual.

We would like to remind everyone to stay safe on the Internet, and use different, strong passwords for each site you visit. That will reduce the damage that can occur should an account be compromised — although in cases such as this, that’s more of a helpful measure than an absolute barrier.

I was able to verify that there was no unauthorized access to the web server or the database, so any information that was contained there is still secure.  Passwords on our site are hashed and salted, and are not stored in plain text for obvious security reasons.  We do not keep any credit card, paypal, address, or other such information on our own servers.

TLDR

Everything is fine, but if Chris or someone else from the staff said anything strange to you today or yesterday, please report it to us.  We had a very clever individual spending a lot of time trying to gain access to our steam partner site for some reason, so we’ve circled the wagons quite a bit.  The biggest negative result of this has been lost productivity today, near as we can tell.

Starward Rogue Update 1.506 “The Perk Overhaul”

Hey everyone, Quinn here.

Since about August, we’ve been pretty quiet. We’ve pushed several betas in the past few weeks, and with the help of the beta testers, we’ve decided that it is now time to push the update to the main branch. The entire team has been working really hard on making this game even better and trying to make it a more enjoyable experience that matches with the vision we have in our minds.

Why The Perks Overhaul?
The main focus of this update has been the perks and very late game balance (floors 6 and 7). For a long while, the perks have been a bit lacklustre, and so with help and ideas from the community (a huge thank you to everyone who gave us feedback) this part of the game has now been overhauled.

In terms of the late game balance, the game is now going to be harder than it was before. Previously, damage ups were way too strong, so by the time you  got to floors 6 and 7 you would probably be super overpowered.

This balance has been changed significantly, so no more murdering enemies before they can respond. Enemies can now take a good bit of damage, without feeling too bullet spongy, and get off their patterns. Basically, those evil Rusted Lumiflares, which are the embodiment of the bullet hell side of the game, can actually get their pattern off before they die. Damage perks have certainly been hit by the nerfbat, but not so hard that they aren’t still a good choice. In fact, they are now a hard choice to make. Do I want the extra damage or do I want some other cool perk?

Speaking of cool perks, we’ve added a ton of those! We tried to come up with a bunch of interesting ideas, then put the interesting ideas together and let you choose only one. We’re mean like that. ;) Get ready for perks such as Savings Interest, An Eye For an Eye, Bloody Rage, Big Game Hunter, and many more.

Changes To Higher Floors

Despite loving to murder… er, I mean help players, we did make some really nice changes to make the game more fair. No more lower level enemies doing more damage on later floors for no reason! We also made the floors shorter, since we don’t want to make Running Mech Simulator 2017 ™. That also helps with the attrition that is now going on.

But Wait!  We’re Fair!

Wait a minute! You just said you were making the game more fair! Well, I also said we are mean. Now, most things do 2 points of damage, but you can only heal for one point. This means that you’re less likely to steamroll your way to the end of the game leaving behind piles of health pickups, and much more likely to have to fight your way there, and actually pay attention to the pretty shapes the bullets make.

Side Effects Lead To Other Cool Things
The attrition does have a plus side though! The consumables in the game are REALLY nice. It used to be “Oh, I don’t need consumables, I can steamroll my way through the floor”, now it is “Ooh, this consumable will save my life more than likely on this floor. If not, I’m almost certainly going to be using it on the next. Unless you’re Misery. Then you just ignore logic and win regardless.

Energy weapons are also more valuable now, since every enemy doesn’t drop dead in a matter of nanoseconds, so the damage you deal actually, you know, matters. So the more energy you have, the more damage you can do, which means the faster you can kill things, so you take less damage. Its a great cycle!

Now, About Those New Items…
You remember the XP bubble things right? There are more types of them, that give more XP, so you’ll enjoy those.

There are some new modules now too. Personally, I like the one that causes a giant ring of ice around you. It helps increase the amount of damage you do to most enemies and limits the danger of things like bulldogs. NB. Bulldogs and chargers are still going to mess you up even with this module. You still have to shoot them and play smart.

And New Enemies…
We’ve also added some new enemies! There are little popcorn enemies, that aren’t really dangerous unless there are a lot of them, then there are defensive enemies, which block your shots (But they’re rare, so you’re relatively safe), and then there are maze types, which work well in complicated corridors.

Horrible news time: Misery got his hands on the dev tools. He made a super Blaze Cannon called an Inferno Cannon. In his words: “You’ll die to these. A lot. You thought Blaze Cannons were bad? Haha. They’re nothing compared to these nightmares. Fortunately for you, they only appear on later floors and they’re somewhat rare. Unfortunately for you, it only takes one of these to make a room extremely dangerous in a way that no other enemy can. Like Blaze Cannons these guys fire sparking missiles that go through walls. It’s what those missiles DO that makes them so very deadly.” In conclusion, run. Run fast and far to escape the Inferno Cannons.

New Boss!?
He may have, uh, also gotten his hands on the tools for creating a new boss. So you might notice that there is a new boss that is going to make your life suck. That’s all his fault.

This has been a pretty huge update, there have been a ton of improvements, changes, bugfixes, and additions, most of which we probably can’t even remember — it’s a good job we have a changelog then! Thanks everyone! We hope you enjoy the new build. :) Relevant release notes are versions 1.502 to 1.506 if you haven’t been playing the beta.

Ship Design Progress, AMA Wrap-Up & AIW2 in the Media

Greetings Commanders!

Wow, what a week! We’re hugely grateful for everyone’s attention and interest in our game, and we’re looking forward to bringing it to you!

With everything that’s been going on you might assume we’re focusing on the Kickstarter to the exclusion of all else. Nah, not our style. Work is underway on AI War 2 right this minute! Here’s a sneak peak at where we’re at right now.

Ship Design Progress

Every unit in AI War Classic looks the same no matter who controls it. Your fighters look just like the AI’s fighters, and your capital ships look like AI capital ships. We’ve done a lot to make the player and the AI distinct in Classic, but fleets still look awfully similar.

We want to hammer home the alien-ness of of the AI in AI War 2. It has its own personality, why not its own visual design? With the AI taking over the galaxy and turning what it takes against you, you could say it’s a corrupting force. “Corruption” is the AI’s theme in AIW2. Let’s compare the human and AI ships:

The light trails alone make the jump to 3D worthwhile.

The light trails alone make the jump to 3D worthwhile.

These are bombers which are good for blowing up structures and not the greatest in a stand up fight. Bombers in AI War 2 look different than their Classic counterparts; Blue based these Mark I bombers on the much more formidable looking Mk. IV and V bombers from that game. Chalk it up to 353 years of technological development. When the AI starts fielding bombers of their own…

Though still a work in progress, AI ships are dark and oppressive, like proper galactic conquerors ought to be.

Though still a work in progress, AI ships are dark and oppressive, like proper galactic conquerors ought to be.

…they’re quite different, despite sharing a silhouette. Though these aren’t the final colors, AI ships are darker than their originals, have a darker light trail, and host moving corruption effects in place of highlights.

Now, all together and in motion:

Again, WIP, but notice how the human bombers behave vs. their AI counterparts.

Again, WIP, but notice how the human bombers behave vs. their AI counterparts.

Very nice.

I’ll let Chris talk about the how our ship designs have evolved over the last few weeks. Starting from the left and going right:

Not every ship will be in the game, but they're all gorgeous.

Not every ship will be in the game, but they’re all gorgeous.

  • Human fighter. I did some cool stuff with the shaders and materials to make it a lot more awesome-looking and also a lot more visible, which people had complained about. Blue modeled it and it’s just fantastic.
  • Old AI fighter. I created this. It’s really kinda awful.
  • Old human fighter. I also created this. It’s too dark, and just not cool enough. The shape is the biggest thing, but the textures also make a big difference. Blue deciding where the sleeves go on the new one makes it a lot better.
  • New AI fighter. Better, but the coloring needs work. It will need a lot of work on the shader/material side before I’m completely happy. It’s good in motion, but the more I see it still, the more I think about what could be improved.
  • Old human bomber. I made this to look like Classic’s lower-mark ships. I think it looks pretty darn neat in the main, but it’s a bit on the cartoony side, and also too dark.
    New human bomber. Blue designed this and I used the same shaders and materials on this that I used on the fighter. The effect is almost even better here. Not that all human ships will share these shaders/materials — not remotely — but these are two very basic ships and it seems fitting.
  • AI bomber. I see the same materials issue on this that I do the current AI fighter. I have to figure out a better way of representing corruption textures that doesn’t kill the framerate with particles or clash with the base colors. This may require some extra geometry from Blue in order to represent the AI’s forces but we’re still figuring that out.

Ask Arcen Anything A Success!

Tuesday’s Reddit AMA went so well we kept taking and answering questions until late last night! Check it out — we answered questions about everything from our intentions for AI War 2, system specs, Arcen’s website, and the questions we won’t answer.

Still have a burning question or just curious? We make a point of answering every question we get in as much detail as we have time for. Ask away here or on our forums, and you’ll get a response!

AI War 2 in the Media

We’ve been fantastically lucky with our media coverage. Rock Paper Shotgun’s Adam Smith reminded us why he loves AI War Classic, and highlighted three of the big features we’ve got planned for 2. He missed a few (dozen) others, but hopefully his planned reading of the design document gives him a chance to fix that. PCGamer, Gameranx, PC Invasion & DarkZero gave us a shout out as well! Explorminate, who interviewed Chris in April of last year, had some nice words about AIW2. And a number of our fans in the indie scene, most notably Wrathkal & Vegard, also took the time to talk about us.

To my personal delight, Dad’s Gaming Addiction took another whack at AI War Classic three years on. This time Vince takes on a pair of level 2 AIs… on a 10-planet map. Juuuuuust a bit of an uphill battle.

Capping things off, Chris will be on Three Moves Ahead next week! Look for that show to drop Wednesday the 19th.

That’s all for now, but we’ll have more AI War 2 news for you very soon. Please help us get the word out about AI War 2 on social media and on your favorite websites and forums! Thank you all for your support!

Arcen Games, signing off.