Well, I hardly think this is good enough. I think it would be more appropriate if the box bore a great red label “Warning! Lark’s Vomit!”
Inspector Praline of the Hygiene Squad, Crunchy Frog sketch
That isn’t actually the quote of the day, which has to do with ArcheAge and the way it installs (but does not uninstall) the ineffectual HackShield anti-cheating rootkit on your system. That just sums up my reaction to the quote, which comes from a Massively exclusive… something.
I’m not sure what to call it.
It doesn’t look like an interview. Certainly nobody from Trion is mentioned. It looks more like Trion had a lawyer respond to some questions submitted by Massively. For some reason the question revolved around the legality of installing HackShield. Is the gist supposed to be that if a company can do something, they shouldn’t be called out for doing it? Anyway, this was a bit of what was said:
Yes, the program is always installed completely legally and with permission of the user as goes everything else that comes as part of the “patch” that they choose to install in order to play the game. The Hackshield logo is also prominently displayed on-screen while the program is loading and users are fully aware that the program is installed, and is running upon launching ArcheAge.
As Inspector Praline put it, I hardly think this is good enough. Telling me you’ve installed this sort of thing by prominently displaying the logo after the fact is a bullshit response. When I installed ArcheAge, I would have mostly likely cancelled the install and went off to other things. But I did not have that choice. So I am going to suggest that Trion use this logo for ArchAge going forward:
And, should the user go forward, I would then have a warning come up with the installer BEFORE the install process has taken place. Maybe something like this:
That would satisfy me, though maybe the Surgeon General isn’t the right go to person for network security. Well that, and if the ArcheAge installer would actually uninstall HackShield, rather than leaving the service behind running on my system.
I can hear somebody out there asking why they should care. Why shouldn’t Trion install this on their system?
Well, I might be more sympathetic to that point of view if they mentioned some tangible user benefit in installing HackShield. Does this, for example, enhance the security of my own account? Or is this just a blanket admission that, again, the client is in the hands of the enemy and all users are presumed to be cheats. Trion standing behind the software might buy some good will as well. But Trion telling me they don’t like it, but changing it would have pushed out the ArcheAge release by 6+ months isn’t making me feel warm and fuzzy.
My personal beef starts with the fact that I did not sign up with HackSiheld’s creator, AhnLab, Inc., and have no standing or relationship with them, but Trion seems to be declining to take responsibility for anything AhnLab does, so where does that leave the end user? SynCaine has been making SOE comparisons, but did SOE spent much time pointing fingers at the original developer when it came to games like Wizardry Online and Dragon’s Prophet?
Meanwhile ArcheAge seems to be experiencing more than its fair share of hacking these days. This sort of thing happens to a certain extent with every online game, but if you control the anti-hacking aspect of the game, you can respond to this sort of thing quickly, before it destroys your economy. That makes Trion’s statement that HackShield will stop the vast majority of hacking attempts ring a little hollow. But how does one balance those two points of view? Is Trion overselling HackShield (while still saying they don’t like it) or would ArcheAge be almost infinitely worse without it? Or both?
And the software itself… I have a long dislike of this sort of thing, going all the way back to the early days of PunkBuster. Letting a third party handle your anti-cheat protection adds up to abdicating control on that front, and while the claim is that false positives are rare, there isn’t much you can do when you are the one triggering such. You can make comparisons to Blizzard and their Warden technology, but at least Blizzard owned Warden and could change it when they so desired. (And Warden would, you know, actually uninstall with WoW.)
Finally, there is the system security front, which I am a bit more paranoid about these days after my company had me take a few classes on that front. Now I see attack vectors all over. So just color me hyper-sensitive there.
Now most of that is just my personal subjective baggage. I didn’t like HackShield after I read up on it, so I uninstalled ArcheAge and then used Google to help me figure out how to get HackShield off of my system. Job done. You are free to make your choice on that subject, balancing your own paranoia (or lack thereof) against your desire to play the game. I will admit that I might be more forgiving if I was invested in playing the game. It is easy to uninstall the game that didn’t interest you all that much in the first place. It is likewise easy to overlook the flaws of a game in which you are completely invested. (Day one EverQuest springs to mind.)
But I still feel that Trion claiming, because I agreed to something in their EULA which said they could do whatever they wanted, that they should be immune to criticism for not bothering to tell me that HackShield was being installed until after the fact, thus depriving me of the ability to make an informed choice until it was too late, is, as I noted above, a bullshit response.
Your lark’s vomit? Do not want!
(insert your favorite do not want picture from the internet here)