The following went down during this release cycle (some of the more urgent items were deployed as hotfixes):
- Enhancement You can now customize the names of the access levels (Public, Associate, Member, Council, Officer, SuperAdmin). They appear in the forums and other places. From any guild page, click the Admin item on the Guild Bar, hover over Member Management, and then select Custom Level Names. You can also get there from Member Management in the Control Panel.
- Enhancement The paging while reading posts has been enhanced a little.
- Css A div has been added that wraps around quotes (previously, the quote titles and bodies were all on their own). The class name is quoteWrapper.
- Css Widget and forum category headers now stretch their background images vertically to match the height of the container. This was done to remove the need to regenerate your images/gradients whenever you changed the font size or the padding.
- Css The ForumCategoryHeader class had rules with !important in them, making it difficult for those who dig into CSS to customize it. The !important directives have been removed.
- Bug When mod authors update their mods, the "details" will now save properly.
- Bug The edit dialog for voice server status widgets has been set back to the correct one.
- Bug For IE users, the voting poll results were sometimes not displaying. Fixed.
- Enhancement Auto-suggest has been added to the public GuildPortal page search (along the top). It'll make it easier for people to find your guild more quickly -- it displays things like your game, server, and even more detail if they hover over / select it via arrow keys.
- Enhancement Tooltips from GuildHead have been incorporated and will now automatically work on any GuildWars2 site.
- Bug The new, less-intrusive widget admin "thingy" (technical term) was sometimes making IE go into convulsive fits, playing with its mind, attempting to get it to give up the location of the rebel bases. I told it that IE does not know the location of the rebel bases, so now it's all better.
- Enhancement Member admin tools have been added to the Guild Bar.
- Enhancement The shout box was displaying uglier than a dirty monkey at a fancy dinner party. Well, I've never been to a fancy dinner party, but I imagine a dirty monkey would look pretty ugly at one. Anyway, it's been cleaned up (pretty much to spec with what Pinstripesc suggested). Thanks!
- Bug The ability to disable paging, and to select page size when it's enabled, has been restored to the admin member editor grid. Now if too many of you guilds with over 1000 members disable paging and refresh the grid a whole bunch, I'm going to know about it and I'm going to do something really mean. I'm not sure what yet, but you're not going to like it one bit!
- Maint Some enhanced debugging tools have been added, so it'll make problem resolution faster and all that.
Thanks for choosing GuildPortal! We am u!
Instant Messaging goes live with tonight's code push! Wherever user links are seen (with the icons for sending a private message and viewing their blog), a new icon will appear for starting a chat session. Especially useful when used in combination with the "Who's Online" widget, the Instant Messaging functionality is, of course, fully integrated with your site and requires no configuration on your part. It requires no java or other plug-ins, and will not require any special firewall tweaks.
The chat icon is, of course, customizable to guild admin tastes in the Control Panel, under Style Tools, General Style Settings, under the "User Links" tab.
A small disclaimer: I'm speaking solely from the perspective of the early levels, with no knowledge of the end game content. There are people, I hear, who have reached the latter levels of the game, but I'm nowhere near that. Now let me say, this game is amazing. In my personal opinion, it is what every RPG MMO that has been released since WoW (and one released slightly before WoW) should have been. No further details on that, since I'd have to list specific titles in doing any type of compare/contrast.
However, the biggest problem to me as a player is the inordinate amount of Kinah seller spam I see immediately upon logging into the game. It's unbelievable. The general channel, the LFG channel, and private whispers immediately fill up your screen with garbage ads, some of which lead to key logger sites.
I won't pretend to know how difficult (or trivial) it might be for the developers to implement an on-the-fly, configurable, timed-cache string pattern matching system to detect the spam -- perhaps based on the sites they're telling people to visit -- in order to auto-ban accounts (or at least mute for, say, an hour). Instead, I'll just tell you what I did to cut down on the mass of garbage for myself. Many will say you should just block the spammers individually, but that only works for about a day. Next day you login, there will be a host of new spammer accounts at it, all over again.
- Open the Chat Preferences menu to the left of the chat window by clicking on the little sun-looking icon.
- Click Add Tab.
- Call it something like "No Spam" or whatever. An options window for the new tab pops up, where you can check the channels you want visible in the new tab.
- Check the root Chat box. Then check group, alliance, legion and alert. Optionally, expand the Combat - Self node and select things like My Critical Hit and Critical Hit against. Finally, check the root node for System Information.
- Click Change.
If the new chat tab isn't selected for you, hover over the chat area and select it (along the top).
Three things to note: Under the root Chat tree, there is a Shout option. I haven't seen the spammers use shout yet, but they might, and if they do you may want to disable it. Also, they do use whisper, but not nearly as frequently as General and Trade. But if you un-check whisper, you'll miss tells. Finally, the "Find Group" channel is useful for group quests. If you need to find a group, just pop into the "All" channel, do a /3 LFG [quest name/link/whatever], then pop back into the "No Spam" tab. Odds are good you'll get picked up if others need to do the same quest.
I hope this helps!
Dear Game Company,
Thanks for the great game! As you know from your numbers, people are, in great numbers, choosing interactive, virtual worlds like yours over static forms of entertainment like television. As you also know, as the customer's computing power increases, so will your budgets for creating even more compelling, interactive, immersive and content-rich worlds to pull them (and their friends!) even more deeply in.
This is a good thing. As is plastered all over research sites like this one (though it's not the only one; a person only need Google to find a plethora of research on the topic), the brain may actually be more active while sleeping than while watching TV.
However, there's a problem. Your game runs on an operating system (or systems, huzzah Blizzard!) that is also used to download keyloggers, which, in turn, can send a player's login name and password to a database on the other side of the globe, which can then be used to login to the game in order to steal the player's virtual currency, items, and above all else -- the time spent working for it.
Now, keyloggers such as these do not appear on CNN or MSNBC. They show up in "comments" areas of sites that provide anybody the ability to post their opinion on a quest, item, or something else pertaining to your game.
Some sites take action to prevent this kind of thing (like GP does, after having been burned once a couple years ago), but as everybody knows, your general channels in-game are filled with people asking questions and being answered with "look it up at ..." followed by the latest info site. These sites are popping up all the time.
Some of them, if you take a look at the juggernaut of RMT (real money transactions for virtual items/characters/etc., which is against the EULA in the vast majority of games), IGE and their Zam/Wowhead/who-knows-who-else networks, are merely different skins wrapped around the same core engine.
Some however, are start-up sites with little to no experience in the security realm, using open-source or other software with frequently exploited vulnerabilities, unable to protect their users.
Which of those two is a bigger threat is up for debate. Some of them might even be in place solely to gather game logins and passwords, even though the percentage of people using the same login and password on a web site that they do to login to their game may be quite small (as was the case for a specific forum site that was just for players on a single server in a single game).
By the way: if you're one of the game companies that has your users login to your official web site using the same credentials they use to login to the game with, you might be contributing to the problem. Just an FYI!
Now, let's consider possible reasons why people go to these 3rd-party database sites:
- The official game web site you provide does not have the data they're looking for.
- The official game web site is too hard to use.
- The official game web site is too slow.
Any one -- or a combination of -- the above would be enough to provide a niche market for these sites to exist.
Providing data on items, quests, etc. Open it up! Either you will provide the data, or someone else will. If you don't want to write an interface for all this, that's fine; provide it via an API and license sites you approve to use it. Require that they only send a certain number of requests to your servers over a given time period, so that you don't get hammered, and the licensed sites will then only need to build a responsible request/caching system. The licensing is there to ensure that sites you don't approve of, such as RMT sites, don't have the data.
The licensing is particularly important. Demand full disclosure of company ownership, including parent companies, and parents of parent companies, until you know who's really running things, at the highest level, for your licensees.
If the data comes from you, then third-party sites can only provide value-added features or integration with what they provide, that you do not. Using GuildPortal as an example, the biggest overhead outside of the hardware and people required to make it run, is the amount of support required for a relatively complex web application with lots of customizable options. Add on top of that the expectation that more features be added and the interfaces both for the administrators (guild/clan leaders) and members be updated to Web #.# standards as they emerge, and the additional support incurred by doing that, and you have something that goes well beyond the scope of what a gaming company's web presence department would want to -- or should have to -- support. After all, do you make a game and have a web site that provides info/support for it, or are you in the business of making games and also in the business of hosting web sites?
Our members are constantly asking us to integrate with 3rd-party sites to provide game-specific data. Usually, we can't, because we have a policy against any kind of integration or partnership with sites that are owned by or even advertise for (even through multiple levels of parent companies) RMT companies, since the very existence of their business is unethical -- they sell products and services that require the customer to break an agreement they've made, every time they login to the game.
So then, providing the data you have openly (with the only option being users needing to go elsewhere for it), with an API for sites you license (can we be one, pretty please?) to provide value-added content/functionality (again, using GP as an example, having an active guild web site that people can visit outside of the game does keep them engaged in the people they play with and the game they play), is the best option.
Mythic did it for Dark Age of Camelot, Blizzard did it for World of Warcraft, and Mythic is at it again with Warhammer Online.
Maybe they're on to something!