[MUD-Dev] Trusting the client, encrypting data

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Tue Dec 16 14:19:31 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

ceo <ceo at grexengine.com> writes:

> By the very nature of MOG's old data is exponentially more useless
> over time. So long as the encryption of data at time T is
> completely independent of the values of the plaintext data at time
> T - x (where x is anything greater than 0), then there's no
> particular reason why the scheme can't work.

> But, of course, there is a long way to go from a "basic scheme
> that works" to a "practical system which supports the many
> features of a real game"; I've been lurking to see if anyone had
> any bright ideas in making the transition (devil's in the detail,
> etc).

Indeed, and the game designers themselves would of course not be the
right people to judge the sanity of the game design. You would need
to have one Devil's Advocate with no invested interest in the design
and the right to veto any designs, and some external consultants to
look over the mechanics before you commit to them.

  (Of course, the current crop of game development teams would
  better spend their resources on hireing capable interface
  designers/usability testers and come up with usable interfaces and
  in-game newbie-friendlieness! That is, however, another issue. :-)

You definitively would need to design consciously for a paradigm
built on holding back information, but popular (computer) games tend
to make good use of whatever advantages (and limits) their
technology platform brings them. Usually graphics, but also internet
connections, harddrive sizes etc, and in this instance, features in
the lower level protocol.

It isn't all that difficult to come up with a potentially fun
concept based on this. For instance: a strategic wargame where the
server is in control of lots of units. These would change over
time. Move, disband, reunite, multiply etc. You could then wrap up
the configuration of the men in each combat unit in an encrypted
"context node" chunk. And put say, coordinate displacement
information for the soldiers in a spatial cell in another chunk
which index the "context node".

Whenever a client decrypts information about a unit that player
becomes an "informant" with unique information. He can then choose
to reveal that information to his allies, but he better not reveal
it to his enemies... Then you need to find the right balance between
the metamorphosis of units and the range that each player is able to
cover, in order to limit the effects of "broadcasting spies".

No, it isn't necessarily easy to do, but then again, it isn't easy
to write a 3D engine with no prior art to look at either. That
doesn't make it impossible to do or unprofitable, just difficult.

I think perhaps it would help if designers conceptualized the
properties of the underlying technology as the physics of the
virtual world that you should embrace and play up to. If you tamper
with it in order to realize a vision which is stretching the limits
of the atoms that you build upon: expect instability and nuclear

Of couse, if coul care less about having a dynamic world and
essentially want a static design where the designer is in total
control (DIKU,EQ&al) then the usefulness of this scheme becomes
somewhat limited. I believe that designers who embrace the
simulationist esthetics would really benefit from a scheme like
this. However, the simulationists seem to be an endangered species,
or are you all lurking? :)

Ola - http://folk.uio.no/olag/
MUD-Dev mailing list
MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list