Thursday, February 27, 2014

The True Meaning of Easter

A trip to the local Target made it very clear that Easter is coming.  The seasonal shelves are full of candies and chocolates shaped like bunnies, chicks, and eggs.  In a day and age where the true origin and meaning of the holiday is usually lost in a sea of consumerism I think it’s important that we take just a moment to talk about Easter.  Thankfully I found a basket at Target that helped remind me.  It was before Peter Cottontale, Jesus returning from the dead,  and ancient pagan rituals.  You see this Easter basket reminds us that a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away Han shot first.

No seriously, this is a thing you can buy; Greedo’s face with the reflection of his killer showing up in his alien eyeballs.  It stopped me in my tracks when I saw it on the shelf.  Each side of this Easter basket contains a different face but this struck me as so morbid I stood there staring at it for probably five minutes before I started taking pictures.

As I said, there are other sides to the basket.  The Vader, Stormtrooper, and Fett sides just don’t strike me as odd as Greedo though.  Still this basket of death is probably on the shelves of your local Target if you need one.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sleeping Dogs Revisited

A month ago I mentioned how I had started playing Sleeping Dogs and was really enjoying the experience.  This weekend I finished the game and the story DLC add-ons.  I honestly enjoyed the game so much I wanted to talk about it some more.  The Arkham-like combat system already had me sold, but the story really blew me away.  The story was full of loyalty and betrayal and when I finished the story I was blown away by how satisfying the ending was.  Think about that, after I finished I was so happy with how it ended I immediately started looking at the post game DLC.

Before I start that I will also say that during the game I had picked up the Wheels of Fury Pack and the Dragon Master Pack.  Wheels of Fury provided the best car in the game and a few fun driving missions.  The car in that pack made every A level race a cakewalk.  The Dragon Master pack didn’t really add much besides a few vehicles and clothes.  In retrospect I would have skipped the Dragon Master pack and kept the Wheels.

Zodiac Tournament
The Zodiac DLC is a homage to the martial arts films of the 70s.  Head to a mysterious island and fight different warriors, each with their own unique style.  The fights in the DLC are a lot of fun and the setting is perfect.  The story is where it falls apart.  The game mentions you’ll be on the island for a few days, but the DLC is so rushed it feels like you just run from one fight to the other.  The main game is so good at telling a story that I was really underwhelmed by Zodiac’s story.  If you’re just looking for some more combat, check it out.

Nightmare in North Point
Nightmare is different in tone than the others.  It’s no longer a Hong Kong action flick, it’s a horror movie.  You’re fighting ghosts and Chinese vampires.  The important thing to mention is that this DLC is not launched within the main story.  So any of the clothes or vehicles you’ve bought won’t be available.  Any of the abilities you’ve unlocked won’t be available.  It’s a pretty short DLC with a fun little story.  There are 10 shrines hidden in the game; each of them upgrades your attacks in the DLC.

Year of the Snake
Like Nightmare in North Point, Year of the Snake is launched from a separate link.  You’re still not given all of your martial arts moves.  Your clothes and vehicles aren’t carried over either; but because of the story that part actually made sense.  The story revolves around a doomsday cult and was the strongest of the DLC.  There are a number of hidden satchels in Year of the Snake that were unnecessary, they just seemed to be added as filler.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cracker: Eurotrash Girl

This week has been an extremely busy one for me at work, so I haven't had as much time as I'd like to make updates here at That F'ing Monkey.  So today we have a serving of Cracker.  My favorite song by them, "Eurotrash Girl".


Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Valve is beloved by the PC gaming community.  It was already a fan favorite for games like Half-Life but when they created the Steam platform changed the way people play PC games online.   Gabe Newell, one of the company’s co-founders is revered across the internet.  So when a user on Reddit claimed that Valve’s anti-hacking software VAC was reading every domain you visited and sending that information back to Valve.  It’s a very serious claim, serious enough that Gabe Newell posted a reply on Reddit.   It’s long, but it’s a very good read.

Trust is a critical part of a multiplayer game community - trust in the developer, trust in the system, and trust in the other players. Cheats are a negative sum game, where a minority benefits less than the majority is harmed.

There are a bunch of different ways to attack a trust-based system including writing a bunch of code (hacks), or through social engineering (for example convincing people that the system isn't as trustworthy as they thought it was).

For a game like Counter-Strike, there will be thousands of cheats created, several hundred of which will be actively in use at any given time. There will be around ten to twenty groups trying to make money selling cheats.

We don't usually talk about VAC (our counter-hacking hacks), because it creates more opportunities for cheaters to attack the system (through writing code or social engineering).

This time is going to be an exception.

There are a number of kernel-level paid cheats that relate to this Reddit thread. Cheat developers have a problem in getting cheaters to actually pay them for all the obvious reasons, so they start creating DRM and anti-cheat code for their cheats. These cheats phone home to a DRM server that confirms that a cheater has actually paid to use the cheat.

VAC checked for the presence of these cheats. If they were detected VAC then checked to see which cheat DRM server was being contacted. This second check was done by looking for a partial match to those (non-web) cheat DRM servers in the DNS cache. If found, then hashes of the matching DNS entries were sent to the VAC servers. The match was double checked on our servers and then that client was marked for a future ban. Less than a tenth of one percent of clients triggered the second check. 570 cheaters are being banned as a result.

Cheat versus trust is an ongoing cat-and-mouse game. New cheats are created all the time, detected, banned, and tweaked. This specific VAC test for this specific round of cheats was effective for 13 days, which is fairly typical. It is now no longer active as the cheat providers have worked around it by manipulating the DNS cache of their customers' client machines.

Kernel-level cheats are expensive to create, and they are expensive to detect. Our goal is to make them more expensive for cheaters and cheat creators than the economic benefits they can reasonably expect to gain.

There is also a social engineering side to cheating, which is to attack people's trust in the system. If "Valve is evil - look they are tracking all of the websites you visit" is an idea that gets traction, then that is to the benefit of cheaters and cheat creators. VAC is inherently a scary looking piece of software, because it is trying to be obscure, it is going after code that is trying to attack it, and it is sneaky. For most cheat developers, social engineering might be a cheaper way to attack the system than continuing the code arms race, which means that there will be more Reddit posts trying to cast VAC in a sinister light.

Our response is to make it clear what we were actually doing and why with enough transparency that people can make their own judgements as to whether or not we are trustworthy.


1) Do we send your browsing history to Valve? No.

2) Do we care what porn sites you visit? Oh, dear god, no. My brain just melted.

3) Is Valve using its market success to go evil? I don't think so, but you have to make the call if we are trustworthy. We try really hard to earn and keep your trust.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Batman at Toy Fair 2014

Toy Fair is this weekend and lots of pictures are spilling out onto the internet.  Yesterday a lot of DC's new products were shown.  One of those pictures were of the best Batman figure I've ever seen.  In the past 20 years of my life I can't say I've purchased a Batman figure unless he was packaged with another character that I wanted. 

This figure is the Animated Series brought to life and it is wonderful.  There is a Catwoman in the line too, but I'm just blown away by the Bat.  Hopefully it sells well and they eventually branch out into Justice League figures like this.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Clone Wars to Netflix

I have a hard time enjoying Cartoon Network.  They’ve mishandled so many amazing shows that I’m reluctant to watch any new ones from them.  Disney isn’t perfect either; I mean they fucked up Motorcity.  Before I get off topic though, we have to get back to the Clone Wars series.  Five seasons ran on Cartoon Network before the show ended without any type of closure.  There was talk about a final wrap up for the show but no real details ever emerged.

Starting March 7th the entire six seasons will be on Netflix.  That means everything we saw on Cartoon Network and 13 more episodes will finish out the show.  In addition to all of that seasons 1-5 will include what are called Director’s Cut episodes, which include more unseen footage.  I’m very excited about this because Clone Wars was a huge surprise for me.  I think everyone can agree the pilot movie was pretty lackluster, but midway through season 1 the show really hit its stride. 

The team that brought us the Clone Wars will also be do the Rebels show that will premiere on the Disney channel and then find its home on Disney XD.  I’m going to give it a shot but after they revealed the main character was a jedi on the run I’ve lost a lot of interest.  One day I hope someone in charge of Star Wars remembers that not everyone needed to use the Force to be awesome. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

X-Wing Wave 4

I’ve been playing a lot of the X-Wing miniature game.  During that time I’ve amassed a small fleet of Rebel and Imperial ships.  Fantasy Flight had already revealed that there would be an Imperial Aces box set and two larger ships with the transport and blockade runner set to come out later this year.  The entire time they were talking about these ships Fantasy Flight assured us that they were not wave 4.  Last Friday wave 4 was announced.  Consisting of two ships for each faction the newest wave pulls ships from an interesting amount of references. 

For the Rebels they’ve added the E-Wing and the Z-95 Headhunter.  The Imperials are gaining the TIE Defender and the TIE Phantom.  The Headhunter is a predecessor of the X-Wing and is going to be a cheap missile delivery ship.  The cheapest version will only be 12 points.  The E-Wing was supposed to replace the X-Wing and be able to take droid and system upgrade cards.  That makes it an expensive ship, the lowest pilot starts at 27 points.

The Imperials both pick up expensive ships.  The TIE Defender has 3s for attack, agility, hull, and shields.  Starting at 30 points it is more expensive than an Interceptor but it is also more durable.  The TIE Phantom is a big mystery.  It is going to have some kind of cloaking action, but the details on that haven’t been released yet.  It also has a 4 attack.  A fighter with 4 attack. 

I’ve never been a fan of the E-Wing so I don’t plan on picking any of them up.  They might have great stats but I can’t use a ship I don’t like.  It is the same situation with the TIE Defender.  There are a lot of people that love it, but I’ve never cared for it.  I’m very excited about the Z-95s.  They come with the Ion Pulse Missile which places two ion tokens on a ship when they hit.  I can’t say much about the Phantom until we actually see how the cloak action works.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Day We Fight Back

We don’t really spend much time talking politics here at That F’ing Monkey.  I like it that way.  Politics is like a debate you can never win.  Today I do ask that you check out

It won’t take a lot of your time.  If you’re concerned by how much of your information is being monitored by your own government go to the website.  They’ve made it super easy to call or email your legislator.  Tomorrow the site will return back to its normal level of silliness, but I feel pretty strongly about this and wanted to make sure as many people saw it as possible.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Stick of Truth...Again

We are one month away from finally seeing South Park: The Stick of Truth.  I mean it looks like we're one month away.  Something strange could still happen at this point, but it is very likely that the game is coming out.  To help promote the game Ubisoft have released three new South Park videos.  They are made up of a loot of footage we've seen before, but each one has some new portions too.  They're short videos so if you're as excited about this game as I am you'll want to take a look.

I can honestly say this is the longest I've ever had a game pre-ordered.  It looks like it's going to live up to all the hype. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pop! Vinyl Ghostbusters

I really do love it when news releases make it seem like I had a theme in mind when I started this week’s updates.  Yesterday we talked about Lego releasing a Ghostbusters set.  Lego isn’t the only company that enjoys the feeling of a good bustin’; Funko is getting in on the act and producing Ghostbusers in their Pop! Movies line. 

The initial lineup is going to consist of Peter, Ray, Egon, Slimer, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  I really like that they included Slimer and Stay Puft but there is a pretty big omission in that list.  I can only imagine that there is going to be a second wave of Ghostbusters line because the lineup doesn’t feel complete without seeing Winston in it.

The other thing to point out is that Stay Puft is six inchers rather than the normal Pop! Vinyl size.  So if you have everyone displayed together good old Stay Puft will tower over the others.  Random fact, I almost couldn’t beat the Stay Puft level in the Ghostbusters video game.  I felt bad seeing the lines of burnt marshmallow streak across his face.

The Slimer figure is my favorite of the line.  He is such a departure from their normal sculpt, but he fits in seamlessly.  I'd also like to see a slimed version of Peter, I think he and Slimer would make a good set.  Funko has recently done dire wolves for the Game of Thrones line, so I’m hoping that we’ll see Devil Dogs when Winston’s wave is released.  Who knows what could come after that; Lewis?  Janine?  Samhain? Kylie?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ghostbusters Lego

It’s happening.  Ghost Busters in Lego form.  Lego’s Cuusoo program is a site where creators can upload their Lego masterpieces and if they get enough votes, have them reviewed by Lego.  Everyone wants their creations to become official kits and there is a lot of licensed material in those submissions.  When it comes to properties like Ghostbusters just because Lego reviewed it doesn’t mean that they’d be willing to pay for the rights to make the kit.  Except in this case they did.

That’s right there is going to be a Lego 30th Anniversary Ghostbusters set.  Brent Waller originally uploaded the set with a beautiful firehouse, ECTO-1, and four Ghostbuster minfigs.  The firehouse is beautiful, giant, and not actually getting made.  What we are getting is a much more affordable ECTO-1 and four Ghostbusters.  Hopefully we'll get a Slimer to go with the guys.

There have been third party Lego proton packs and wands out on the internet for a long time, but it will be very cool to have official versions of them.  Now is the time to start looking through the clearance bins for the Monster Hunter stuff.  After you get the Ghostbusters you’re going to need some monsters for them to fight.


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