Archive for May, 2008

Richard Garriott heads for space!

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

I was just reading this article about Richard Garriott, a well-known game developer, who is soon going to be a “private” astronaut (in that he has paid for his own ticket).

This story is inspiring to me in a few ways. 1) he has amassed enough cash through making games to be able to pay $30,000,000 for a ticket! 2) he always wanted to go into space and he is about to achieve that aim, nice one! 3) his family thought that game development was a temporary windfall and that it would dry up, but he sure made it work big time.

Actually, like most kids, I wanted to go into space and build rockets as well and I thought that working at NASA might be a good way to get that done, but perhaps it could be done privately. So lets see what the future holds… ;-)

Oh and I loved the Ultima serious of games, they are brilliant.

My blog was hacked (bastards)

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

My blog was hacked (“haxx0red”) and bang goes a LONG day of coding as I try to fix it with my lackluster web programming “skillz”.

I first realised something was wrong this morning when I tried to post a comment and realised that the post had no comments box (which I hadn’t switched off). So I went to edit the post to enable comments but it wouldn’t save the edits! (It just showed a blank page with wp-admin/post.php as the URL) Lots of googling proved fruitless and frustrating.

Then I got an email from a reader (you know who you are, thanks!) who said that my last couple of posts were full of spam and it was coming out in the RSS feed. I checked them out and they had tons of hidden spam links which didn’t show up online! This is presumably to boost the Google ranking of some other site. Problem was that I couldn’t edit the posts to remove the spam links!

I re-uploaded my WordPress backup and still no change. So I upgraded WordPress to 2.5 and still no change. I discovered that I could manually edit the two posts with spam links with phpMyAdmin so I removed the links and enabled comments, but still my wordpress was seriously broken. Plus I proceeded to mess it up more with the sort of dumbass mistakes that you make because you’ve sat in your chair for 6 hours without moving and your brain and body is shutting down (plus I’m a neophyte at this sort of stuff). Later on I discovered that I couldn’t save WordPress options either, (same blank page thing), but I could edit comments. Crazy!

Finally tonight I examined the wp_options table and found two suspicious entries. With a path that looked like ../../../../../../../../tmp/ and a file called ro8kbsmag.txt. A quick Google was very revealing with this page. Anyway, I removed the suspect plug-in and TADA I can edit and save posts again and my options works, woo.

Well that was a pain in the arse but I knew somehow I’d prevail – the Universe likes to send me these unasked for challenges ;-) Hopefully this post will be useful to other people Googling the same problem. Now to make another backup…

P.S. Sorry to any of you that received the spam links via RSS.

Who am I?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

I was just writing some background on myself for another game developer that I’ll be working with so that they can build up a picture of who I am, and I thought it would be interesting to post it on my blog (I can look back on it in years to come and see how it’s changed). So here’s who I am:

Me, My Family and Location

- I’m 32 (33 in June)
- I’ve got a partner (for nearly 10 years) called Helen who writes science articles at home.
- I’ve got two boys called Conan and Callum aged 7 and 4
- We have a cat called Suki.
- I live in Bridport, Dorset, England. This is on the south coast very near to the beach.
- I’ve got a house and car (Impreza Turbo 2000, it rocks!) and bills which is why I need my games to make money ;-)
- I’m 5’6″ (that’s like 166cm) tall, medium build and have long black hair in a ponytail.

Computing

- I’ve been programming since I was 8. I had a Spectrum a C64 and Amiga 500, an Amiga1200 then finally PC (and later on Macbook Pro).
- I’ve been making games all that time in Basic and Assembly and C++ and Blitz Basic 2 on the Amiga (this was the most fun).
- I made business software in Delphi and SQL for 9 years and it made millions of pounds BUT that money was not mine it belonged to someone else. Now I want to make millions in games ;-)
- I started programming Blitz Plus in Nov 2004 and quit my job in Summer 2005 to release XMas Bonus in December 2005.
- I also released Easter Bonus, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Holiday Bonus and Fairway Solitiare (which was a big hit). I’m working on my 6th commercial game now (for BFG), and I’m contracted to make a 7th for them too.

Hobbies

- I teach Aikido (I’ve been practising it for nearly 11 years) and I’m going for my 2nd Dan in September. It keeps me healthy (and is a contrast to sitting in my computer chair), and is very good for the mind and spirit.
- I love Sci-Fi and Fantasy books and movies, oh and Stephen King books.
- I love all sorts of music from Heavy Metal, to Trance and Chip music, to Classical Music.
- I play the guitar (classical, blues, heavy metal) and have been in a couple of metal bands. I’ve got a massive Marshall valve amp+cabinet and a USA Fender Stratocaster guitar (+ some others).
- I like making trance music with Fruity Loops (I used to use Trackers on the Amiga and in DOS on the PC)
- I love playing games (but seem to be too busy these days!) and have played countless games over the years including tons of FPS games since Doom. I’ve played lots of casual games too for research (and fun). I love RPGs but they take up too much of my time so I’m careful to avoid them in case I get hooked. I’ve never played an MMORPG (from fear of addiction) although I did some online Quake 3 and other deathmatch once (way too addictive).
- I have a Mega Drive, Playstation 1 and 2, Game Cube and Wii, oh and a Nintendo DS.
- I write game news and reviews for www.binaryjoy.co.uk
- I used to be good at art when I was at school, but I don’t do the art for my games. However, I’ve got good graphic design skills regarding layout and how things look etc that I can put to good use for game programming.
- I like gardening. I grow some veg, not on a big scale, but it’s fun. Also I’m meticulous (fanatical) about keeping my lawn smart and tidy.

Self-Improvement

- I’m really into self-improvement (have been since I started Aikido, in fact before that). I read and implement lots of self-help stuff because it helps me, my family and my business, oh and my friends (when they ask me for advice).
- I’m vegan (although occasionally I have dairy products e.g. ice cream!). I went Vegetarian when I was 14 in a pact with two girls who were already vegetarian but who smoked – they gave up smoking and I went vegetarian. At first it was hard but it’s easy now and I wouldn’t go back to eating meat or fish. People wonder if I can be healthy, and the reality is that I’m more healthy than most people – I wouldn’t have got a black belt in Aikido if I was unfit.
- I’m a perfectionist but I try to control it and balance it against getting stuff done. I’ve probably annoyed quite a few people in the past with my perfectionism ;-) but it helps to make good games.
- I’ve got tons of ambitions ranging from self-improvement, through what I want to own and where I want to live, to how I can help people for the greater good. I’m a determined person and I’m sure that I’ll meet lots of my goals.

There’s probably tons more but you may have fallen asleep already ;-)