Rift and hacked accounts

Disclaimer: I am not a security expert.

I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about folks getting their Rift accounts hacked. Most often the #1 question is “How did this happen?” People go crazy examining their systems for key loggers or other malware that might be delivering their credentials to some hacker.

I have my own theory on what’s going on. Part of it is Trion’s fault, part of it is the internet’s fault. I don’t think we’re seeing a massive key logger issue here; at least not one on our home computers. That’s assuming the problem is as extensive as the community seems to think it is.

I think we’re seeing an organized, brute force hacking attempt across a multitude of accounts. If you’ve never read about rainbow hash cracking, now might be a good time to do so. Note the first line in that post: The multi-platform password cracker Ophcrack is incredibly fast. How fast? It can crack the password “Fgpyyih804423” in 160 seconds. and the post is from 2007; you can imagine how much faster these cracking software packages work today.

[Update] Glad I put the disclaimer about not being a security expert in there. According to a friend on Twitter (who I won’t credit just so as not to put him in the spotlight) in order to use these rainbow tables, the hackers would first need to have access to Trion’s database of hashed (encrypted) passwords. Or, of course, a dump of any other database of passwords where you used the same password. So I may be off-base in my whole theory. [End Update]

So what can you do? Honestly, not very much. I think Trion stumbled when they limited password length to 16 characters. Coding Horror’s Jeff Atwood promotes the idea of pass phrases. So instead of “!ah84&nah3” as a password (which can be cracked pretty quickly using rainbow tables) your password might be “IreallyLove_Rift_(because)all(!)myhawtfriendsplay!” My understanding is (again, not a security expert) that a password that long is going to be hard to crack even with rainbow tables, because the size of the table it would require would be so freaking huge. There’s a little bit of “When a bear is chasing you, you only need to be faster than your friends” thing going on. A lengthy password takes you out of the “low hanging fruit” demographic.

For me, that long passphrase is also easier to remember and faster to type than !ah84&nah3, but maybe I’m just weird.

Anyway the point is moot since Trion limits us to 16 character passwords.

I’m also not sure about having to use your game login credentials to log into the forums and website. How many people log into the forums from public Wifi at a coffee shop or something? Since the site and forums use https:// to log in, they *should* be secure but I still feel uneasy about that.

Anyway, the good news is… well, there isn’t really any good news, except that if you get hacked don’t pull your hair out examining and re-examining your system looking for key loggers.

The best you can do at this point is using all 16 characters of your password and definitely mix in punctuation. But I suspect that the gold farming companies that are doing all this hacking are using rainbow tables that cover punctuation. Also make sure you’re using a unique password for Rift, not one you use on other sites.

Hopefully the Coin Lock feature will be the first step in putting an end to this outbreak of hacking (but I suspect the hackers will quickly start spoofing IP addresses to get around it), and I’m looking forward to Trion’s future anti-hacking techniques like authorization via emails/sms or smartphone authenticators.

Last thought: If you’re buying gold, you’re part of the problem. Remember that the gold you’re buying most likely originated from a hacked account. By creating demand, you’re encouraging hacking.

Rift: Relax people, they don’t stay dead

Just a quickie before I hit the sack before PAX.

So some Defiant ?? types were in Argent Glade tonight, nuking the NPCs. The locals (myself included) were spread too thin and too low level to do too much about that. So I just ignored them. Yeah, it was slightly annoying when they killed the tradeskill vendor that I need to buy supplies from, I’ll admit.

But a few people *seemed* to be really upset (and full disclosure they may have been RPing but if they were I can’t use my catchy title so I’ll assume they were genuinely mad). Like I said, they killed the tradeskill guy I needed to talk to but by the time I’d typed a scathing remark into chat, and before I could hit Return, he popped back into being. So I sheepishly erased my scathe and went back to tradeskilling.

So things I learned:

  • Townie NPCs repop really quickly.
  • You can chat between factions. I assumed that would be impossible based on games like DAoC and WoW. My bad.
  • If these guys had wanted to, they could’ve made a real nuisance of themselves by standing there and chain killing NPCs

I think they were just gathering up server firsts… they got one for each NPC they killed. Which tells me Trion approves of their behavior. And I do too. I’m looking forward to more open world PvP as I ‘grow up’ in Rift.

And I’m hoping Trion was clever enough to put in balance systems. Like if these guys had chain-killed NPCs and never were attacked by players, I’d love to see some high level guards spawn to run them off eventually. (I just worry about days when low level zones are pretty deserted and some player is trying to work on tradeskills and enemy players chain kill the only vendor that low level player can utilize, and he can’t find high level player characters to help.)

For the record I did try to spawn a Flare but I guess you can only do those on enemy wardstones. Damn!

Rift: Zone-wide invasions and rewards

So back in beta (I know, bring on the hate) those zone-wide invasions — y’know, the ones that pop a quest into your log — used to give quest rewards. Then they were taken out because, really, the system was kind of borked. You had to do very little to ‘complete’ the quest and you’d get the same rewards as someone who’d fought constantly to drive back the Rifties.

I was working up a good rant about these invasions… how winning them got you nothing and losing them cost you nothing and so they seemed pretty pointless to worry about unless you were in an RP mood. (Hold your hate and corrections for just another moment, please.)

Then the other day I was bashing around with a new character; a cleric. I fly in the face of logic with my characters…this dude is (for now) Shaman/Cabalist/Warden and at low levels he’s a total hoot to play. So I’d just gotten into the real world (Guardian side) and was doing that first quest hub (putting out fires, fighting wanton destroyers and those ember dudes). I was level 7 or 8. And one of those zone-wide events started up.

Then I heard Rudi’s Wagon was under attack. “Poor old Rudi!” I says to myself, “He needs help!” So I jumped on my turtle and took my lowbie self into the fray.

And OMG what a fun fight that was! We had 3 invasions hit at once. I was healing (OMG #2….me healing. I’ve been playing MMOs since there’ve been MMOs and I never heal) which worked pretty well considering both our raid and all the invasions were level 8 or so. And we prevailed! Rudi’s Wagon was saved, and my Rift goody bag was overflowing with knick knacks and planerite. I collected it all, disbanded and went back to questing (at my level there was no sense trying to help the rest of the zone). Just a few minutes later the call went out that the Guardians had prevailed. Huzzah!

And I noticed my Rift goody bag was lit up again. I opened it to find a blue sourcestone item; a reward for taking part in the event.

Call me a nub, but I’d never put 2+2 together like this before, because generally when one of these events happens I either jump in for the duration or ignore it completely, so I’d thought whatever rewards I was getting was for the “local action” that I was taking part in, not the greater event (since I’d be fighting when the event completed). This is the first time I’d seriously fought through part of the event and then disengaged and been able to notice the reward for completing the event. I don’t know what the threshold is for you to get it, but (for my level) I was chain-healing (plus tossing out the odd nuke) for probably a solid 5 minutes of chaos. It felt more like an hour. So (again for my level) I’d contributed a significant amount to that particular battle.

Anyway this was news to me and I figure somewhere out there is someone else who didn’t realize there were zone-quest rewards. So I figured I’d share.

While I have your attention, I also wanted to belated point out a good Rift post at Massively. Karen Bryan offers some good tips on buffing Wardstones and public groups. I always buff Wardstones…I think there should be an achievement with a title for doing it enough times.

Anyway one tip I wanted to add, sort of related to public groups. People talk about forming groups to take on a named mob so that players don’t have to queue up to wait for respawns. I’ve found that as often as not you can get credit even if you don’t form a group. Just attacking the mob during the fight is often enough. Also lots of times the quest isn’t to kill the mob but to do something heinous to its still-warm corpse, and again you seem to be able to do that even if you weren’t the one to kill the mob. So check it out. It doesn’t always work, but it often seems to, at least at low levels.

Rift: Enter the Alt

Last night I decided to roll an alt on Faeblight, mostly for crafting. But of course he had to get to Argent Glade before he’d be any use as a crafter, which meant running through the tutorial again.

I thought that would suck, but actually it didn’t, and it went by pretty quickly. This guy (Meglivorn) is a Rogue, like my Defiant character Past on Estrael, but I decided to try some souls I’ve never played with. So far he’s a Nightblade/Bard and y’know, I’ve already forgotten his 3rd soul. Riftstalker, maybe? I don’t plan my characters out really. Eventually I’ll have to in order to be accepted into groups and guilds and things, but it’s nice knowing I can worry about that later.

What’s also nice is how different he feels from my ranged Rogue or my DPS warrior even though he has aspects of both. And of course he can become a ranged Rogue later. At the end of the day it doesn’t make much sense to have more than 1 character of each archetype, but I still want more than one.

I guess this is role-playing to me. Two characters, same archetype, but in my mind they’re very different people with different motivations.

Also, the new rogue is a High Elf and that changed the tutorial slightly and gave me a little bit more story. I’ll have to make a dwarf I guess, to see what else I can learn. (My ‘main’ on Faeblight, Aethelred, is Mathosian.)

The fact that Rift is here to stay (and I’m back to thinking I’ll do that 6-month sub) is sinking in and I’m feeling less frantic about *must play* *must level* *GOGOGO!* and understanding that it’s going to be there for a long time to come. Faeblight really feels like home, even with the queue. I’m sorry @BlamefulGecko but your guildmate Past isn’t going to be around much.

During the beta process we saw lots of changes to the game, some of which I really didn’t like. I still wish some of those changes hadn’t been made, but they were, and what we have is what we have and it’s still very, very enjoyable to me.

I’m feeling a Stargrace vibe these days. Real life has enough bad shit going on to fret over. I think I’m just going to enjoy playing Rift (and I want to get back to STO too) and not fret about details that might have been different, y’know?

So last night found me swimming to the bottom of the sea to explore debris left from the bridge collapse (there’s a fatigue system so I couldn’t swim over to the Defiant end of the bridge!) and poking around mining tin. The low-end tip of Silverwood was actually quite busy last night and I wasn’t so interested in competing over mobs to rush on to the next quest hub.

Trion passes one of my MMO tests: is there interesting stuff to look at in places you don’t need to go? So yeah, there’s a sunken ship under that bridge that I’m sure very few people see. I love details like that. The waters off Sanctum are deep and dark (be careful, there’s a spot where you’ll start ‘falling’ through the water and might end up so deep you can’t get to the surface before you run out of breath). There’re little details all over the place for explorer types.

Meh, I’m rambling. Sorry. Just really enjoying the game and wanted to talk about it but not having anything “significant” to say about it today. 🙂

Rift launch!

So of course yesterday was the official launch of Rift.

I have to start by eating crow. When Trion added a bunch of servers and none of them were PvE-RP I fussed about it. After all in headstart, of the 3 PvE-RP servers two of them always had a queue (and in the case of Faeblight, a big queue) in prime time and one of them teetered on the edge of having a queue (Estrael was either HIGH population or had a small queue). I assumed with the retail launch these three server populations would swell further as retail-buying role-players sought a new home.

But last night, the queue on Faeblight, at least, was smaller than it had been. It was about an hour for me at about 9 pm ET. I queued up, finished writing an ITworld post I was working on, walked the dog, fed the guinea pigs and got done just in time to log a character in.

Oh, glorious Silverwood, how I have missed you!!! I played Defiant in alpha (guess I can say I was in alpha now, eh?) and in head start but my heart belongs to the Guardians). I had such a blast romping back and forth across the zone, using the portals to insta-travel back and forth when needed. I’d intended to do a lot of questing but rifts kept popping up, luring me into their not-so-tender embraces. I used that opportunity to earn some more souls as well as complete my crafting daily.

I’m not sure if I was lucky, or if they’ve changed things, but the Public Group mechanism seems to be a lot better about sticking you in groups that have nearby members. When they first put those in I’d hit the button and find the raid I was in was spread across the zone, but that didn’t really happen last night.

Nothing super-special happened in my play session — nothing you haven’t done a dozen times already — but it was just good solid fun. My only complaint is that Rift can be so intense that when I finally got up, every bone and joint in my body (aside from my hands) had gone stiff from sitting so still and intently staring at the action on-screen. 🙂 I guess that’s the kind of problems games ought to have!

Honestly it was the most fun I’ve had in Rift since beta 3 or 4, which prior to now have been my ‘sweet spots.’ I’m not sure how to quantify why it was more fun than later betas. Maybe just because I’ve so missed playing in Silverwood, or maybe the server had just the right number of players on it (I spend some time feeling like I was alone in the zone, and some time being in full raids of combat madness). Whatever it was, it was pure awesome!

I hope you’re all having as much fun playing as I had last night!

Rift factions as sports franchises

As you know, I prefer playing Guardians in Rift. Mostly it’s because of the first zone, and a little bit because of character models, but I do read the lore. Quest text, but also all the flavor-lore that is sprinkled throughout the game.

Most people I know on Twitter have embraced the Defiant faction.

So I hear a lot about how much the Guardians suck while reading my Twitter feed. And I find myself getting pretty annoyed by that.

At first I found it really silly…why should I care what someone says about a fictitious faction in a video game?

And then I started thinking about sports. People can and do get into arguments over sports teams, with everyone having their favorites. And granted sports teams are real whereas Rift factions are entirely imaginary, but in practical terms neither has any profound impact on our lives. Unless your livelihood is tied into the success of a sports franchise it really doesn’t matter if your team wins or loses.

So really it’s just as illogical to get bent out of shape over someone talking trash about a sports team as it is to get bent out of shape over someone talking trash about a Rift faction, but it’s accepted among sports fans that yeah, you can get at the fan of another team by going after that team.

And there’s some logic there, too. If your team gets known as being a bunch of thugs, it can start to reflect badly on you… why are you fans of such an immoral bunch of people? If the Guardians are such reprehensible people, why am I a fan of them? Maybe I’m reprehensible, too?

I’ve sided with the Guardians. Over and over I read on Twitter about what jerks “we” are. And it starts to wear on me. I find myself drawing away from people who’re constantly running down the Guardians, just like I find myself drawing away from people who’re constantly running down the New England Patriots (“my” current football team) or the New York Giants (the team my father and brother and I rooted for growing up). I just don’t want to hear “my” guys being shat upon constantly, and I don’t agree with much of what is said.

Granted Trion has been careful to make both sides have their dark moments and bad habits. Neither side is pure good or pure evil.

When you play as the Guardians all the lore makes the Defiant seem vile. And vice versa…I’ve been playing as the Defiant and all the lore makes the Guardians seem vile. But I’ve already been “impressed” with the Guardian vibe, like a duckling first seeing a chicken and deciding that must be its mother.

So even though I’m playing a lot of Defiant now, they aren’t “my” faction… I’m just visiting there.

Now let’s talk religion. I’m totally non-religious. I won’t even say I’m an atheist because that would mean I spent time even considering whether or not there’s a god. I’ve never gone to church, never encounter the clergy. And seeing the reaction to the Guardian’s theological leaning makes me think I did it right. Where did so many gamers develop such hatred for institutional religion, I wonder? That seems to be one of the big sore points among the pro-Defiant sect: that the Guardians have gods that they worship and fear. Of course in the world of Telara gods are very real…they aren’t just a concept. Anyway I must be missing something, having never really been exposed to organized religion, but that aspect of the Guardians really seems to annoy some folk.

I actually see Guardian vs Defiant as more of a Green Energy vs Big Oil battle. The Guardians use the renewable magic in sourcestone to power their world. The Defiants burn the sourcestone (which is holy among the Guardians, giving us a good reason for war). They perform genetic experiments on animals to try to squeeze more production out of an acre of land (with disastrous results). They built the machines that weakened the wards and let Regulus in! Or that’s what I learned playing as a Guardian, anyway. 🙂

Guardians, once you get past the sanctimonious generals, are like a bunch of tree-hugging hippies. That’s a role I can wear very comfortably. If you want to keep on running down the Guardians, go ahead. And if you want to talk shit about the New England Patriots, you can do that to. But just remember words have power and influence over people, for good or ill.

Rift: My story so far…

Well headstart weekend has come and gone. One final evening of play before the masses descend on our poor, overtaxed servers.

I’ve had a real love/hate relationship with Rift during the head start. I had planned to play on Faeblight with a group of very good friends I played Ultima Online, Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot with. I haven’t managed to play a game with “the old gang” since DAoC, really, so I was super excited to find they were all going to play Rift.

The problem is, of course, crowding. My friends either took days off from work or live in Australia. Either way they were able to log in during off-peak times and get down to serious leveling. I haven’t been able to get in much and now I’m already hopelessly behind. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. One time I got into Faeblight after waiting two hours only to hit a server reboot after about 15 minutes of playing. /grrrr Another time I did actually get to play and got to level 12 or so before..yup, another server reboot.

Same crew was also going to play Defiant on Shadefallen. I’ve had some luck getting in there. Queues are much much shorter.

Then on Estrael I’m playing with Twitter friends like @BlamefulGecko (Defiant side). So far I haven’t seen queues there, but I worry about what it’ll look like tomorrow once head start ends and the masses descend.

So I’ve got 3 low-level characters on 3 different servers: not an ideal situation, particularly as two of them are Defiant and the more I run around Freemarch the more it confirms how much I prefer Silverwood.

My time actually playing on Faeblight has been *awesome* though. It’s a great community there, from what little I’ve seen of it. Guardian-side just seems to encourage big rift battles in the 1-20 (ok I guess they’re really 5-20) zone somehow (being able to teleport across the zone helps, I think) – I’m just not seeing battles on the same scale in Freemarch on Estrael (and haven’t gotten out of the tutorial zones on Shadefallen).

Soon enough the queues will be gone and I’ll focus on Faeblight, but that means right now playing these Defiant characters still has a whiff of “beta” to them, in the sense that I know I’ll be leaving the characters behind before too long. I try not to get too attached, y’know? 🙂

The good news is that, aside from the nightly server reboots, the game has been really stable for me (and from what I hear, from everyone). My friends who’ve leveled beyond the starter zones tell me that the rifting is much more like it was in earlier betas; not the watered down level 5-20 rifting that we lowbies have to contend with. So I’m jazzed to get up into my 20s, and if I could just decide what Defiant character/server to play on maybe I could get there.

All this chaos around servers and factions has me thinking longingly about the solo player lifestyle, let me tell ya!

So how was your first weekend in Rift?

Quick Rift Tip – Ability names in the HUD

I’m probably late to the party on this, but considering how many characters I’ve started, and the fact that we can have several roles per character, I find it can be challenging to remember the nuances of each combination of skills that my characters have.

Then I was looking through all the settings, if you go into Interface->Screen Messages you can turn on all kinds of damage numbers, and at the bottom of that pane you can turn on Show Ability Names.

It’s probably not something you’ll want to have on all the time but it’s good for reacquainting yourself with a character.

So now as damage numbers float up from a battle, they’ll be tagged with exactly what skill is causing the damage. I find this pretty helpful for skills with a DoT effective and things of that nature.

Check it out!

Rift: List of servers added so far

Update: Trion has put together a great Server Status Page that can help you find a shard with some room.

I went to the Rift forums. It’s a dark, frightening place full of frustration over server queues.

But I did get a list of servers added since launch that I wanted to share, so you don’t have to go there. If you’re just starting out, these are your best bets to avoid long queue times, which aren’t expected to get better any time soon (ie, existing servers won’t magically be getting more capacity, so until people leave them, the queues will remain).

Rocklift- US-EN PvE
Dimroot- US-EN PvE
Shivermere UK PvP
Dayblind US PvP
Harrow — US PVP-RP
Immerwacht DE PvE
Rhazade DE PvP
Grimnir – FR PvP-RP
Sagespire – En EU PvP
Deepwood US PVP
Feenring PvP-RP
Stonecrest US PvP
Faemist US EN PVP (added at 12 pm PST)

Alsbeth US PvE (Added 1 pm PST)
Regulos US PvP (Added 1 pm PST)

Estrael US RP (Added 1:50 pm PST)
Tearfall US PvP (Added 1:50 pm PST)

Aedraxis US PvE (Added 3:30 pm PST)
Freeholme US PvP (Added 3:30 pm PST)
Emberlord US PvP (Added 3:30 pm PST)

Silkweb US PvE (added 4:15 pm PST)

Corthana US PvE (added 5:00 pm PST)
Laethys US PvE (added 5:00 pm PST)

Friday 2/25/2011 Updates

Brutmutter DE PvE (added 9:50 am PST)
Felsspitze DE PvP (added 9:50 am PST)

Queuing up for Rift

I have breaking news! Rift’s Headstart Program began yesterday.


What? You mean you’ve already heard this?? 🙂

I didn’t have such a good day yesterday so wasn’t able to sit down for gaming until around 10 PM local (Eastern) time. I’d been keeping an eye on Twitter all day and knew there were some massive queues, so I almost didn’t even bother trying to play. I did though, and thanks to a tip from a friend, wound up on Estrael (spelling?) a PvE-RP server that had, when I logged in, a queue of 7 people. Faeblight, meanwhile, had queue numbers reaching 1000+.

Trion has done an awful lot right during this launch, but I think one thing they did wrong is not coming up with fresh names for the headstart servers. Clearly the Headstart population is not evenly spread around thanks to everyone playing on the servers they were on during beta, or that their friends were on during beta. I mean, that’s where I intended to go.

With perfect 20-20 hindsight, I think Trion should’ve a) used new server names and b) released them at least a week before headstart. With everyone semi-randomly picking a name from this pool of “new” servers the population should’ve been distributed more evenly.

But we have what we have, and what we have is still some pretty huge queues for a lot of servers. And it’s pretty clear Trion will need to roll out more servers for March 1st, so I’m curious why they’re not rolling out more now. I’m fully aware of the danger of having too many servers and then having to close/combine them later, but when we know they’re going to need more next week anyway, why not open them now and take some of the strain off the servers we have?

What’s going to happen when folks who didn’t pre-order get the game next week and want to join their head-starting friends on servers like Faeblight? They aren’t going to be able to get in; that’s my prediction. Better to have “Medium” load servers now, and then have them all fill up to “High” on launch day, rather than have “Full” servers on launch day that new players can’t get onto.

Meh, this is just my opinion and I’m sure Trion has played out all these scenarios.

My friends generally seem to be showing huge amounts of patience with the current queues. I can’t say I’m a person who is going to happily wait 4-5 hours to log into a game, and as someone who pre-ordered I do expect to be able to play during this head start period. Hopefully my new home of Estrael will continue to have reasonable queue times (to me, reasonable = 30 minutes or less). I should be able to carve 60-90 minutes of gaming time out of my day and actually be able to game. 🙂

I guess we’ll see!