Hearthstone “Bot” Accounts Banned Until 2015

Hearthstone logoBlizzard Entertainment, maker of Hearthstone (as well as several other well known games) has cracked down on the accounts that were using “bots”. Hearthstone is an online card game that is highly competitive. I am no longer surprised when some players feel the need to “bot” instead of actually play in an effort to do better in a competitive game. It is disappointing, though, when people cheat their way to victory.

Recently, Hearthstone did something about this problem. The Battle.net Hearthstone section has a post titled “Recent Actions Against Botting in Hearthstone”. The significant portion reads:

We’ve recently banned several thousand Hearthstone accounts that were associated with the use of third-party programs that automate gameplay, otherwise known as “bots” or “botting”. These accounts will be banned until 2015. As we’ve stated, fair play is at the core of the Hearthstone experience, and cheating and botting will not be tolerated.

It also very clearly states that: “From this point on, accounts found to be cheating will be permanently closed without warning.”

In addition, Hearthstone has banned accounts that were participating in “win-trading”. In short, “win trading” is when a player makes two accounts and queues them to play against each other over and over again. Doing that is against the Terms of Use in Hearthstone. The key portion of the announcement regarding “win trading” says:

We’ve recently banned Hearthstone accounts that were found to be participating in win trading. Win trading at any rank is something we do not take lightly, and is in violation of our Terms of Use. As we mentioned in our previous statement regarding fair play in Hearthstone, instances of cheating will not be tolerated. Accounts that were discovered participating in win trading have received permanent account closure and disqualification from events where ranking is used as a method of qualification.

It is my hope that these actions that Blizzard has taken will make Hearthstone less frustrating for the players who were playing the game without the use of “bots” or “win trading”. Personally, I’d like to see players reach a Rank via fair play instead of by cheating their way to it.

Twitch Would Like You to Wear Clothing

TwitchTwitch updated its Rules of Conduct section to make it clear that streamers are expected to wear clothing. That may seem like a “no-brainer”. In general, dress codes are not put into Rules of Conduct unless there have been problems. I’m not aware of anything specific that may have prompted this change, but it seems to me that Twitch must have had reasons for making it.

The new change to their Rules of Conduct includes a section called “Dress…appropriately”. The key portion says:

Wearing no clothing or sexually suggestive clothing – including lingerie, swimsuits, pasties, and undergarments – will most likely get you suspended, as well as any full nude torsos, which applies to both male and female broadcasters.

It goes on to says that “you may have a great six-pack” but suggests that you share that at the beach instead of on Twitch. The new rule is directed at both male and female streamers, but I kind of doubt that Twitch has had too many problems with men wearing “lingerie, swimsuits, pasties, and undergarments”.

In case that wasn’t clear enough, Twitch went ahead and offered some advice to help people to stay within the boundaries of the rules. If the lighting in the room is too hot, get fluorescent bulbs. You can crop the webcam so that it only shows your face. Move your Xbox One Kinect closer to you as a means of cropping your image. Or, you know, you could always turn it off.

World of Warcraft Servers Coming to Australia

Blizzard GoldBlizzard Entertainment has announced an upcoming deployment of infrastructure that will support World of Warcraft players in Australia and New Zealand. These new servers are going to be hosted in Australia and will support the Oceanic realms.

This is huge news for people who live in Australia or New Zealand and who play World of Warcraft (WoW). The more localized servers will reduce the latency that many have experienced when they had to play WoW on the servers that were located in North America. In other words, this change should reduce the lag. Nobody likes lag, so this change should make a lot of people happy.

The only thing that people might not be so happy about is that the maintenance period for World of Warcraft will very likely be at the same time. It takes place on Tuesday in the wee hours of the morning when most players who live in North America are asleep. That same maintenance period falls into a part of the day in which many AU players would like to be able to get into the game.

I like that Blizzard Entertainment is starting to make an effort to reach out to players who are outside of North America. This week, they did a Launch Event for their upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion in Australia. Previous to this, Blizzard had local game servers for Diablo III. They also have local game servers for the players who are in the Technical Alpha of their upcoming Heroes of the Storm game.

Rovio announces layoffs, calls it a ‘simplified organiztion’

angry birds

Rovio, a game studio based in Finland, is known best for its Angry Birds titles. The games have been a runaway success and run on multiple platforms. However the news coming out of the company isn’t all good. The latest news has nothing do with the games, but instead focuses on some bad things.

Rovio plans to streamline the company, which in effect means a dowsizing. The studio will be laying off as many as 130 employees, which it claims is about 16 percent of its workforce.

In a new statement from CEO Mike Hed, it reads that “We are an entrepreneurial company and have been exploring multiple areas. We have been building our team on assumptions of faster growth than have materialized. As a result, we announced today that we plan to simplify our organization around our three key businesses with the highest growth potential: games, media, and consumer products”.

This is never an easy decision to make, and is even worse for those affected by it. Hopefully, while it’s a shame for the folks involved, it will help the company do better.

Angry Birds Stella debuts on Android, iOS, Blackberry, Amazon and Nook

Rovio has become synonymous with mobile gaming, thanks to the wildly popular Angry Birds franchise. The Finnish company has released multiple versions of the title, covering everything from Rio to Space, and even Star Wars. Now the long-awaited new one is here, with Angry Birds Stella debuting across multiple platforms — sorry Windows Phone users, but you were left out.

The new game adds a different dimension to Angry Birds (as each has managed to do). “Angry Birds Stella offers a new take on slingshot action. There are stunning visuals and animations, as well as an all-new flock of feisty characters with amazing superpowers. And they all live a previously unseen corner of the Angry Birds universe: Golden Island”, the studio explains.

The game is free on all of platforms, including Android, iOS, Blackberry and Amazon. It’s a fun little time-waster that will likely get the company even more revenue, but time will tell on that one.

stella_Key_Art_C_landscape

 

DDoS Attacks Shut Down Online Gaming Servers

Sony Playstation LogoWas your favorite online video game difficult to access over the weekend? There is a reason for that. A group decided to use a DDoS attack against several of the big gaming companies servers. I’ve no idea what the motivation of this group was, and choose not to speculate as to what they may have been thinking. If you were on Twitter this weekend you may have seen a lot of confused and frustrated tweets from gamers who were just trying to have fun playing some online video games.

The group targeted Blizzard Entertainment’s servers. This caused difficulties for those trying to access Battle Net, World of Warcraft, Diablo III, Hearthstone and other Blizzard games. Riot Games’ League of Legends was attacked and so was Grinding Gear Game’s Path of Exile.

Blizzard was keeping people informed about the outage through their @BlizzardCS account on Twitter. They did not directly mention a DDos attack, and instead tweeted things like “We’re investigating issues where players are unable to connect or log into their characters.” Updates about the situation were provided through that Twitter account.

Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN) was attacked, too. The PlayStation Blog has a post that gives some details.

The original post started with Like other major networks around the world, the PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Network have been impacted by an attempt to overwhelm our network with artificially high traffic. The blog was later updated to say: The PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Network are back online and people can now enjoy the services on their PlayStation devices. The networks were taken offline due to a distributed denial of service attack.

Grinding Gear Games sent out a Tweet on their @PathofExile Twitter account about it.

From what I saw via Twitter, it appeared that some of these gaming companies had their servers go down more than once. I am of the impression that stability has been restored to the affected servers now. Hopefully, that is the end of the problem.

Devolo Develops for 4K

Devolo LogoDevolo today announced their new dLAN 1200+, the fastest Powerline networking adaptor in their range with Gigabit-class data transmission. The latest adaptors double the speed of the dLAN 650 by using a combination of Devolo range+ technology, the newest generation of Powerline chips and MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology, offering a maximum of 1200 Mb/s. This is ideal for anyone wanting to stream 4K video but doesn’t have a network point close to their UltraHD TV.

Devolo dLAN 1200+ Powerline Adaptors

With the Powerline adaptors on all the time, Devolo has kept the power consumption low. When in use, the dLAN 1200+ uses a maximum of 4.2 W, and if the connected device, e.g. TV, is switched off, the adapter automatically goes into standby mode, using just 0.7 W. If security is a concern, users can also activate 128-bit AES encryption to avoid any unauthorised access to the network.

As can be seen from the pictures, the dLAN 1200+ is equipped with a gigabit Ethernet connection and an integrated electrical socket with mains filter.  It’s fully compatible with all previous dLAN models, though the maximum speed will be limited by the slowest adaptor.

The adapters can be purchased as a starter kit for setting up a home network or as individual adapters to extend an existing network. The starter kit is priced at GB£119.99, while the single adapter costs GB£64.99. Devolo will be officially unveiling this new range of products at the IFA Conference in Berlin from 5th-10th September.

Hmm, these might be my next upgrade – hopefully they’ll be available before Christmas.

Game Over Foursquare

Foursquare logoIt’s game over, Foursquare. After several years of intermittent playing, I’ve decided to pack it all in and delete my account from the site. I’m no longer happy to take a service without questioning the value and cost to me and Foursquare doesn’t break even anymore.

Foursquare may have been at the forefront of gamification and I like games, honing skill and strategy to succeed, but the problem with Foursquare was that the limit of expertise was how much time you can spend in a local hostelry. Yes, there were occasional benefits of being a mayor, but most places that rewarded frequent visitors ran a loyalty programme anyway. Of course, the really good shops and restaurants knew you because they paid attention.

The reviews helped maintain interest for awhile but the puerile (“the waitress is hot”) and trivial (“the drinks were nice”) usually outweighed any valuable critical assessment of places to visit. In the end, I didn’t bother putting the app back on my smartphone after changing devices and that was the end of it all.

I’m not going to leave my personal data lying around for the next security breach, so it’s time to delete the account. To its credit, Foursquare make it easy to go.

Delete Foursquare Account

Facebook…you’re next.

Angry Birds Go gets multiplayer mode

Angry Birds, the Rovio franchise that brought mobile gaming to the forefront, has released many iterations of its titles, and all continue to be updated with new levels. One of the newest is Go, which takes a different approach to things, bringing Kart racing to the franchise, and lots of interesting features with it.

Now the game is finally receiving multiplayer mode, allowing gamers to test their skills against others. “This is the first part of Angry Birds Go! Multiplayer, and brings the quick race mode where you’re matched against the performance of three other players. Will you come out on top and leave them in your dust? For an even more personal experience connect to Facebook and you’ll be pitted against your friends to show them who’s the boss”, the official announcement states.

angry-birds-go

You can grab the update now, though if you already have the game installed, then you should get it automatically. It’s free, but there are in-game purchases that can be made.

Diablo III Auction House Closes Forever

Diablo III LogoThose of you who still have unsold items sitting in the Diablo III Auction House have a very short time in which to collect them. Back in March of 2014, Blizzard Entertainment announced hat they would be closing both the gold Auction House and the real-money Auction House. Both will be closed forever on June 24, 2014.

Players have had a lot of time to remove their items from either Auction House. Blizzard has done a very effective job of making it clear that the Auction Houses are about to close. They posted it on the log in screen for Diablo III many times. Several different Blizzard Twitter accounts have sent out Tweets about it. Even Tyrael (@AspectofWisdom) reminded players about it!

Those who had items left in either Auction House got an email a few days ago that reminded them to go get their stuff before it disappeared. The email included instructions about how to go about collecting the items.

Despite all the warnings about the impending closure of both Auction Houses (which Blizzard started sending out in March) there are going to be people will be completely shocked and surprised when they realize sometime tomorrow that can no longer retrieve the items that they left in the Auction House. The items that they ignored, and left to gather virtual dust in the Auction House, suddenly become incredibly meaningful to them. I am expecting a lot of complaining by disgruntled, procrastinating, players all over social media tomorrow.