Categories
Games

My Steam Account Was Hacked

Late on Thursday evening I received an email from an ex-Automattic friend who asked if my Steam account was compromised because he received a message from me saying,

[8:34 PM]
DOC: What’s up mate

[8:45 PM]
DOC: may i ask u favor?sorry for disturbing u btw

I don’t call anyone “mate”, I don’t use “u”, I use punctuation. It didn’t sound like me so it raised red flags immediately for him.

In a panic I checked my Steam account and I still had access to it. Steam Guard was still active and I hadn’t received any emails about changes to my account. Nevertheless I went through the process of changing my password.

A series of emails followed. I thought someone was impersonating my account but a screenshot showed the age of my account and account XP which is impossible (I presume) to fake.

Eventually I found out through a Reddit post that my account had been compromised.

There is a new scam going around where a friend will ask you to vote for a team to get the team into a competition for me it was Intel Extreme Masters they may use different names, but that is all I have encountered.

Posted by u/Accurate_Heart

That rung a bell for me. About two weeks ago someone messaged me on Steam and asked me to vote in a team logo competition on a website called roplautstar .com. I’m not hyperlinking that website because it has since changed how it works and simply shows a “Sign in through Steam” dialogue box.

roplaustar

Clicking on that button shows a fake “Login through Steam” popup.

roplauster fake login

At the time I was first asked I didn’t fill in the form. I was tired after a long day at work. I worried about linking my Steam account to this random website just to vote in some silly competition. So I forgot about it. Unfortunately they got back to me a few days later and asked again. I reasoned that if my Steam friend’s account had been compromised they would have noticed in that time and it must be legit so off I went and happily entered my login details and Steam Guard code and thought nothing more about it.

Until Thursday night.

Those emails and the revelation my Steam account was hacked is very upsetting. I pride myself on being very paranoid about logins. Especially on Steam where there are all sorts of scams to steal tradable goods, buy giftable games or launder money and more. I’ve been online for more than twenty years. How the hell could I have been hacked?

You should be asking yourself that too. You couldn’t possibly be hacked.

This fake login was very good, but there were signs I ignored because I saw the familiar “Valve Corp” in the address bar. Turns out it’s just an image you can download.

I should have been wary of a popup asking me for my Steam login, but half the time I use Steam in my browser I’m logged out due to inactivity so that didn’t raise alarm bells. I should have opened Steam in a new window to check if I was logged in.

If I had clicked on any of the links in that popup I would have been alerted to the scam. Firefox wouldn’t load the page in an iframe and gave an error.

But I didn’t. Why would I?

The popup is very believable. It features the window decoration of Windows 10 (close/minimize/maximize button) which should have tipped me off as I’m using a Mac. If I had tried moving the popup I would have discovered that it can only move in the bounds of the “parent” window. Hovering over the drag bar at the top changes the mouse pointer or an icon showing horizontal bars I’m not familiar with.

They had access to my account for about two weeks. They messaged four Steam friends with the same message. Luckily nobody clicked the link and two people ignored the initial “What’s up mate” greeting. I wish they had warned me via other means. One person was messaged on October 2nd and she could have contacted me on Facebook.

I went through the messages of all my friends checking who it was sent me the original message but I couldn’t find it. Maybe I’m blocked from seeing their messages.

What do you do if this happens to you?

  1. Change your password immediately.
  2. Check this Steam API key page and make sure it’s blank.
  3. Check your Steam Friend Chat Log. You’ll see who you talked to recently but it only goes back 7 days from what I can see.
  4. Go through your friend list in the chat and see who is blocked.
  5. Unblock any you find and check that they did not get a suspicious link and tell them you were hacked. Tell them to change their password if they had entered their Steam credentials in that site.
  6. Check your Steam Login History. All my most recent logins are in Ireland except for about six that are all in Russia. Why doesn’t Steam alert me when I login from a different country?
  7. The Steam Account Data page is very useful. Thanks GDPR.

If you receive an unusual message from a friend try to contact them through some other means. Do you know them on Facebook or Twitter? There’s no harm, and they will be very relieved to find out there was a problem.

Be careful online. You will be hacked eventually.

Categories
Games

Dyson Sphere Program

Looking back toward my “home” moon and the gas giant around which both moons orbit. Part of my main bus visible in the foreground.

Build machines to automate building more machines to automate researching new technologies to build more machines and eventually build a Dyson Sphere around the local sun. Rinse and repeat in a new solar system.

There’s so much in this early access game but even at this early stage I can easily recommend Dyson Sphere Program if you are a fan of Factorio or Satisfactory. I got bored of the former and never played the latter. DSP hits the spot for me.

For help check out the related Steam community, the DSP subreddit or any of the numerous Youtube videos on the game.

Categories
Games

The Bohemian Rhapsody Roller Coaster

Just last week I installed OpenRCT2 so I’m glad Youtube showed me this fabulous roller coaster synchronised with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody!

Categories
C64

Retrograde Music

This tweet reminded me that Retrograde had great loading music.

I don’t think I’ve ever listened to the whole tune and the odd stops are jarring but it’s worth it. Steve Rowlands was a master on the C64.

Categories
Games

Did E.T. come to Ireland?

I don’t remember E.T. making a big impression on my life in 1982. I never saw the movie back then, and a couple of years ago watched half of it before falling asleep in front of the telly. I guess you had to be there when it was first released?

Ireland in the 1980s was a country in recession. I certainly knew nobody with a 2600 console so we were spared the abomination that was the official game of the movie. While we had some sort of Pong clone in the early ’80s we moved away to “proper” computers like the Speccy and C64 after that.

Nonetheless, it was an important game. It helped bring about the collapse of Atari and the video game market in the US!

99% Invisible just featured an episode by podcast Sidedoor about E.T. The Videogame and it’s enthralling. You can hear all about how bad it was, the story of it’s development from game developer Howard Scott Warshaw, and finally to his reaction that people are still obsessed with the game all these years later.

Categories
Games

Creeper World 3 – Fortress Siege

This game is ridiculous. I love it. If you’re a fan of tower defense games you’ll love this real time strategy game. Wikipedia describes it as a,

mix of real-time strategy and tower defense, where there is only one enemy and it can only be repelled rather than destroyed. The player must hold back a purple mass called the “Creeper”, which has already destroyed most of humanity and is now attacking Odin City, humanity’s last bastion. This is done by placing towers onto the battlefield which shoot at the Creeper. The main goal of the game is to connect the player’s base to energy totems through the use of energy collectors and relays; doing so opens a jump gate which allows Odin City to teleport to a new planet and attempt to escape the Creeper again.

Steam says I’ve played close to 100 hours in the game, many of those hours in frustration or getting overwhelmed before figuring out how to defeat a level.

It’s like tower defense except that the enemy is a liquid that comes at you from all directions so you have to build towers to protect your assets everywhere. I find most levels have an initial “OMG Moment” at the start where it all seems too much, but by building up your batteries, and your towers you’ll soon be fighting back.

Sometimes it’s a slog, and the last level I just played is one such map. Fortress Siege by Blaze in the Alpha Sector is one to leave until you’ve had plenty of practice. 4 emitters spew out vast amounts of creeper. It’s hard enough just keeping it back but advancing is on another level of difficulty altogether!

I did eventually defeat the map and once one of the emitters fell it was plain sailing. I earned two achievements playing this one:

  • Build 25 shields in a mission.
  • Build 25 Berthas in a mission.

Maybe a little excessive, but I swear they were needed! For a taste of what it’s like have a look at this video.

Disappointingly only one of my friends on Steam has the game. Check out the reviews on Steam. Recent reviews are “very positive” while all reviews are “overwhelmingly positive”.

Creeper World 4 is on the way too, but there’s no release date for it. It’ll be done when it’s done to paraphrase the developer but I’m looking forward to it already. It looks great!

Categories
Games

Retro Asylum on Stunt Car Racer

The guys on the Retro Asylum podcast played Stunt Car Racer this month. That game is one of my favourites. A wild roller coaster of a game where you literally drive a car around a roller coaster.

I played the C64 version for hours on end and listening to them prompted me to set up FS-UAE again as I wanted to try out the Amiga version once more. I think I’ve only ever played that version in emulation as I didn’t have the game when I had an Amiga 500.

Anyway, FS-UAE is a great emulator based on the Winuae Amiga emulator. It uses openretro.org for database files including graphics and game information which is really helpful. It’s sort of an Amiga version of Gamebase64! Here’s a video describing how to set it up. I’ll leave it up to you to find the games and everything else but it’s not hard to find them.

Stunt Car Racer is an amazing game, and in my opinion still holds up today as a decent game. Sure, the graphics are simplistic, sound is limited but what is there is superbly polished.

The Amiga and Atari ST versions even had simultaneous multiplayer which I sadly never experienced but I’d love to know if FS-UAE could handle using some sort of virtual null modem cable to connect emulators on two machines together. It does emulate the Amiga serial port so there might be hope for the future. I found this thread about Winuae but people there didn’t have much luck.

So, what does Stunt Car Racer look like? Here’s someone who doesn’t know how to play it but he’s very entertaining and he learns as he goes..

The game is set on a roller coaster. Timing and speed are everything. You have to hit ramps at the right speed to jump gaps, and failing to line up a turn or a jump in time would result in a crash.

Here’s a much better driver, including the TNT version which I haven’t played yet but looks hard as nails!

[1] This game was created by AmiGer/CARE (http://www.discreetfx.com/care/) by modifying the original game Stunt Car Racer. The TNT of the title stands for “The New Tracks”. A track designer was written in Delphi and used to create 8 new tracks to race. The title screen and menu screen have been modified, as well as the colour palette. [2] The disk version has the track colours incorrect in the track preview window – they retain the reds from the original. The WHDLoad version fixes this problem. [3] 2-player mode via null-modem connection.

This is one of the few games I play exclusively with the keyboard. Start a race and press “p” to pause, then f1 to redefine the keys. I usually use , . t g [space] and then press o to unpause.

Stunt Car Racer appeared on multiple platforms: Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Speccy, and Amstrad machines all had versions. Here’s a video comparing them. It’s amazing what Geoff Crammond and porting teams did back then!

Earlier this year, (2019 for those coming across this post in the future), the game was ported to the BBC Master and it flies along!

That looks way smoother and faster than the C64 version!

There is a sort-of modern remake. The game Assetto Corsa features the first track!

Stunt Car Racer is an amazing racing game. Track down the Amiga version, fire up Winuae or FS-UAE and give it a whirl. You’ll love it!

Categories
C64

Solar Jetman on the C64

This is a game I’d forgotten about until recently when I saw someone playing it on Twitch. Solar Jetman came out on the NES in 1991, and conversions were made for the C64, Speccy, Amiga and Atari ST. Unfortunately due to poor sales of the NES original the conversions were never released.

Luckily the team at Games That Weren’t were contacted by Martin Holland, someone who knew about the game’s development.

GTW got to work and began to search for this elusive conversion, and started with Haydn Dalton, who sadly could not find anything of the game after some searching. Two years later, and a month or two after the site relaunch, efforts were made to find the game’s programmer, John Buckley as a last ditch effort. After tracing John down to PlaypoolUK, GTW got the news it dreaded.. John hadn’t got any of his old disks no longer…
But a week or two after almost giving up hope of finding the game, Haydn Dalton was one day searching through some things at home, when he stumbled upon a disk with the label missing. The label was in there too, and stated “Solar Jetman Disk 1”, and after a bit more digging, Haydn found the second disk.

GTW

It’s a fascinating story of digital archaeology and the game now be found in various places including the Solar Jetman page on GTW! You can play the original version on archive.org, but Triad released an excellent version that packed the game into one disk side, and trained it too.

The game itself is like Thrust or Lunar Lander, but it came later and is much better than both! Controls are easier and enemies are more varied so if you liked those games you need to try Solar Jetman.

The conversion is missing a few things present in the NES version, and apparently the maps are a little cut down from the original. I need to download the NES version and give it a spin too!

Blow the Cartridge

What do you see when the game ends? Vinny has the answer and posted it on the (old) C64 Game Endings site here.

I discovered an interview with John Buckley, the developer who worked on the C64 version.

What were your first and last ever productions on the C64?
The first thing I did on the C64 was called Jeep Command. I did this in my spare time including the graphics and sound FX. If you have seen it, you will know I ain’t no artist! I sent it off to Bug Byte I think, and they put some music on it and shipped it out. The last thing I did was Solar Jetman, which never got released… until now.

Out of all the games you have worked on, which were you most proud and disappointed with?
I can’t say I am disappointed with anything I worked on. Most of them were conversions, some I wish I hadn’t of worked on but such is life. I liked working on Solar Jetman on the C64 but overall I am most proud of PLOK on the SNES.

Interview with John Buckley on C64.com
Categories
Games

Dune Legacy: a modern Dune II game

Dune II, a real-time strategy game released in 1992, was as you may guess based on Frank Herbert’s second book in the Dune series. I didn’t play it at the time as I still owned a C64 at the time but I did play it before the decade was out.

In the game the player must harvest spice, return it to a refinery to convert to credits which are then used to build more harvesters or military units. Your military units are used to defend your harvesters and buildings and also attack your opponents. You control one of three opposing houses with the ultimate aim of conquering the other two.

Dune Legacy is a modern Dune engine that will allow you to play the original game with modern controls and higher resolution graphics. As well as Dune Legacy there’s also Dune Dynasty based on OpenDUNE.

They all require the original game to run but if you search carefully you’ll be able to find it online.

I haven’t played much of the game yet but it plays much the same way I remember in the past. Go get it if you’re a fan of RTS games. When you’re finished with that have a look at OpenRA, an open source implementation of Command and Conquer: Red Alert.

Categories
C64

Sam’s Journey with two fire buttons

I figured out how to play Sam’s Journey on the Commodore 64 using two fire buttons! One as a normal fire button and another for jumping.

C64 joysticks only have one fire button so jumping up in platform games requires you press up on the joystick. Back in the day we knew no better and did our best using the directional movements. It’s not very precise as it’s easy to slip into left and right too. Pressing a second button to jump was a luxury NES owners had! C64GS owners had a joystick with 2 separate fire buttons but I think there was only ever one game that took advantage of that feature.

Unfortunately you’ll have to use the Vice C64 emulator, Virtual C64, or another C64 emulator that allows you to map keys to joystick actions.

First of all, open the joystick settings in Vice. Here’s the one from version 3.1.

Assign a keyset to joystick 2. I used the keys T, G, “,” and “.” and the right CTRL to fire. Sam’s Journey actually plays reasonably well using those keys if you don’t want to go any further.

However, if you want to use a controller you’ll need another program to map those keys to controller actions. On MacOS I found Enjoyable, a free application that allows you to map controller buttons and other inputs to keyboard keys or mouse movements.

I simply assigned left, right and down on the d-pad to the correct keys, and then two fire buttons to CTRL (fire) and T (up) respectively and it worked!

The game is definitely more enjoyable but it’s just as hard as before. I could have sworn I ran out of lives in the past to be thrown back to the start of the level. Now I kept getting put back at the last checkpoint, which is an improvement I have to admit as I died quite often. 🙂