More Drift Stage Awesomeness Emerges

The guys behind Drift Stage have been busily in development with a whole bunch of new screen shots and game play videos available, an official Twitter account, and a new website all up and running.  Check out some of the screens below, and have a look at their official site for even more.

Four player split screen!  Squee!


 

Link

Ninja Pizza Girl has been funded!

With less than 48 hours remaining, Ninja Pizza Girl has hit it’s $35,000 Kickstarter goal. Now that the game is also Greenlit on Steam I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.

Drift Stage

Drift Stage | Awesome retro racing

I just had to make a quick post to show you a few shots from Drift Stage, a great looking retro racer currently in early development.

Check out some of the early art and a gameplay video below.  I’m definitely picking up a strong MegaRace vibe here, and that’s a very good thing.  Best bit for me?  The music!

 

I'm loving the city scapes.  Definite MegaRace vibe going on here.

I’m loving the city scapes. Definite MegaRace vibe going on here.

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this one.

You can check out their tumblr page here.

Post Steam summer sale giveaway

As I’m sure is the case with most of you, I’ve bought many more Steam games than I have ever played.  This doesn’t stop me from buying more at every Steam sale however, as was the case once again in the recent Steam Summer Sale.

Over time I’ve at least become smarter with the way I overspend on games, and now buy interesting looking sale items as gifts.  This allows me to keep them in my inventory until I want to play them, and if that day never comes, gift them on to someone else.

So what to do with these unplayed games in my inventory?  Give them away to you lucky people!

I currently have a few spare games in my inventory, and am putting the first one up for grabs – a copy of Fallout New Vegas.  If you want to be in with a chance to pick it up, just follow the steps below…

  1. Follow me on Twitter.  There’s a link to do this in the header menu above, or you can find my profile here.  If you don’t have a Twitter profile, what are you waiting for?  It’s easy to register and you get to keep up with all my meaningless tweets!  If you already follow me on Twitter then head straight to step two!
  2. Retweet my giveaway tweet and make sure you keep the mention of @thirtygamer so I can see your tweet.  I’ll try to send this out a couple of times so keep an eye out or just go through my tweet history to find it.
  3. That’s it!

After a few days I’ll pick someone randomly from the list of people who’ve followed me and retweeted my giveaway tweet.  There’s no set closing date, but get in quick to make sure your name is on the list.

You’ll obviously need a Steam account to claim the game, and I’ve put together a set of general Terms and Conditions so there’s no confusion.

Easy.  Get to it!

UPDATE: This giveaway has been drawn.  Follow me on Twitter to keep an eye out for more upcoming.

Blast off

Life Pro Tip | Anniversary Leave

Always apply for leave from work to celebrate an anniversary with your significant other.

This is a no lose situation.  Let’s think it through.

First, submit your leave application at work.  There are only two possible outcomes to this:

  1. Your leave application is approved – you get a day off from work and you score big with your significant other for being such a thoughtful and caring partner.  Win.
  2. Your leave application is rejected – you tell your significant other that you applied for the day off but your application was rejected and you still score big for being such a thoughtful and caring partner.  You work the day, but you would have anyway.

Super easy partner points, no down side.  Do it.

 

Slightly phallic featured image by Jessica F licensed under Creative Commons.

Ninja Pizza Girl

Ninja Pizza Girl is a stylish, side scrolling platformer currently in development by indie outfit Disparity Games, based in sunny Noosa, Australia.  They’ve recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to see the game through to release, and after only one week have already exceeded 50% of their funding goal, due in no small part to a rush of positive press, including major gaming website, Polygon.

As well as having a strong, female protagonist, where Ninja Pizza Girl stands out from the crowd of similar platformers is in it’s handling of issues such as bullying and self esteem, which instead of simply being alluded to in passing, are actually built into the “health” system of the game.

Just added to Kickstarter today, Disparity Games “Includification” stretch goal also promises to add accessibility for those with mobility, vision and cognitive difficulties.  This has been put together with the assistance of the AbleGamers Foundation, who provide free assistance to developers in making their games as accessible as possible to those with disabilities.

It’s refreshing to see a developer taking a sense of moral and social responsibility so seriously, while still putting up a fun and polished game.  Here’s hoping they hit their goal and Ninja Pizza Girl can start kicking arse and delivering pizzas in the not too distant future.

If you want to make a pledge head to Kickstarter, or you can even vote for the game on Steam Greenlight.


 

Hackers

The password security / convenience tradeoff

The story broke recently that a number of cloud based password managers have been found to be vulnerable to hacking, in a paper published by the University of California, Berkeley.  The password managers, including the popular LastPass, were found vulnerable to various attacks allowing, among other things, the leaking of plain text passwords or the extraction of the entire encrypted password database.  It should be noted that the vulnerabilities found in the password managers have either been, or are currently being patched, however the finding puts a spotlight on the danger of convenience when it comes to passwords and password management.

What’s a Password Manger?

We all know that a password is only as secure as it is complex, but a long and complex password is obviously hard to remember.  Because of this people tend to use shorter passwords, common words, or even familiar words and phrases like the name of their dog or a line from a song.  This is great for easy recall, but not so good for security.

We also know that you should be using a different password for every site.  The theory is that if one account is compromised and a password leaked, the damage is limited.  Change a single password and you’re back in action.

Password managers are all a little bit different, but work in much the same way.  A password manager takes away the need to remember multiple, long and complex passwords, by keeping a record of every password you use in an encrypted database, secured behind a single password which you need to remember.  When you want to login to your online bank account for example, you are prompted to enter the password for your manager, and the manager then enters your saved banking password automatically.  This allows you to use long, complex and randomly generated passwords for each of your accounts, as the responsibility for remembering each password is left to the manager.  All you need to do is remember your single manager password and all is well in the world.  Or at least that’s the theory.

One of the shortcomings of using a password manager is that the encrypted password database is stored locally, and you need to install the password manager software on every device on which you want it to function.  If you’re at a friend’s house or at work for example, and want to login to your online bank, you’re out of luck.  There are apps for a number of the big name managers which allow you to retrieve your stored passwords using your smartphone.  This partially alleviates the issue, but is not a complete solution.  If you’re overseas or otherwise without your phone, you’re once again stuck.

The password managers found lacking in the UC study were cloud based solutions, where your encrypted password database is stored on a server, somewhere in the cloud.  By using this type of solution you have access to your passwords from anywhere with an internet connection.  The cost of this convenience though, is that you are handing the key to your entire password empire over to a third party.  This introduces a single point of failure, and can make cloud based password managers attractive targets for hackers.  Certainly the convenience of a cloud based system is great, but it’s arguable that this is at the cost of security.

So what’s the solution?

Unfortunately, there’s no real way to avoid the convenience/security trade off.  You have to decide for yourself how much risk you are comfortable accepting in the name of convenience.  There are a few rules that I would try to stick by though.

  1. For security critical items like online access to your bank account, or admin access to your website I really would recommend a randomly generated password as long as possible.  You’ll never be able to remember what this is, so make sure you record it somewhere.  Write it down or use a password manager, and please don’t put it on a post it note stuck to your screen.
  2. If randomly generated passwords are too inconvenient, then at least use a randomly generated, common word password.  By this, I mean concatenate a string of random but common words.  It’s even better if you can add some characters and numbers, as well as upper and lower case.  It will be less secure than a truly random string of characters, but better than your dogs name, while still being reasonably easy to remember.  The XKCD below explains it nicely, and there are a number of online password generators inspired by this idea if you want to try it out.  Note that this won’t add any special characters or numbers though.

    XKCD password strength

    Random character passwords aren’t the only option

  3. Make sure your passwords are long.  This will be limited by the application – some sites may only allow sixteen characters, others may allow many more, but for every character you add the complexity increases exponentially.  Length is just as important as complexity.
  4. Use a different password for every site.  The main advantage of doing this is that if the worst happens and your password is leaked, only a single account is compromised.  You just change a single password and move on.  If this is too much trouble, at least use a different password for each high security application.  For example, don’t use the same password for both your bank and that online cat GIFs forum.  You could always have a throwaway password you use for low security applications and then unique passwords for each of your high security applications.  Once again we’re back to the security vs convenience playoff.

Any recommendations?

The compromise I’ve come to varies with the application.  As suggested above, I use truly random passwords for applications I don’t want to risk.  For applications I want to be able to access more easily, I use common word passwords, with the addition of numbers, special characters and upper and lower case.  I also use a different password for every application.

This might not be the most secure solution, but overall I feel it gives me a reasonable compromise between security and convenience.

Do I use a password manager?

Yes!  I write down every password I generate in a notebook and lock it away somewhere safe.  It’s not the most high tech solution, and at times, not the most convenient, but I can be sure that the vulnerabilities faced by LastPass and other cloud based managers don’t affect me.  By my reasoning, those who want to get access to my password are random online hackers, while those who may break into my house are more interested in my laptop than a scrappy looking book.  Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong and live to regret the day I filled a notebook up with the passwords to my entire life, but for now it works great.

It’s up to you

What all of this boils down to is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and that you really just need to use common sense.  There are many people who will tell you that you need to be using lengthy, randomly generated passwords for every account, but for most of us this is simply overkill.  A password manager of some sort is a great idea as it allows you to use more random passwords, and to use different passwords for each of your applications.  As proven by the vulnerabilities recently published, this is not however a perfect solution, and can even introduce it’s own risks.

Use strong passwords, mix them up by application, record them somewhere and you’re doing well.  And don’t forget, if it’s convenient, it’s probably not the most secure.

 

Featured image by Pascal licensed under Creative Commons.