(Optionally, if you want the best website experience with music, we also recommend having installed the Adobe Flash Player.)
Direct link to this page: http://www.savetheworldornot.com/about/blog.html
Please Note: This page will likely not be updated until closer to the actual launch. For pre-order customers: For the latest updates and the current state of development, please check your user page!
December 30, 2015:
We have concluded the technical beta and all beta servers have now been switched off. It will be a while until the next beta part launches.
Have a great start into the New Year!
December 24, 2015:
We wish you guys Happy Holidays! Here is a little Christmas greeting pic from Ou:
November 6, 2015:
Lucky you! We decided to try a little video teaser format for introducing Kateřina, the first girl of the Prague Hive. Check her out in our latest newsletter! Hopefully, you like the teaser format even though YouTube is not showing the actual quality as in the game.
October 9, 2015:
We're back from cold Prague (well, at least cold if you're used to Singapore), where we attended The European Summit and in parallel, had a very cool film shoot! We have just added a newsletter with a picture of the filming team.
September 19, 2015:
Soo... instead of the film shoot in Columbia, we're doing that one in Prague now as we're anyway there for an industry event! As things over there are much more organized than in Medellin, we'll only be for 2 weeks away (and won't be able to respond to any requests until we're back).
September 4, 2015:
Our next newsletter is out, introducing the fourth of the Pussycat Sisters: Kitkat!
August 4, 2015:
We're back from Medellin, and my god, that was a trip. Imagine organizing a film shoot with multiple actors, set personnel etc., in a cultural environment where everyone is very... "relaxed"... about any commitment. People are in average 3 hours late for anything, that is, if they show up at all. Like our cameraman, who never showed up on set. Needless to say, organizational chaos ruled, the scene is not completed yet, and we'll have to get back for that another time. The scene is luckily later in the game, and this won't have a bigger impact on our content schedule.
Meanwhile, one of the server updates has been completed. Please expect some downtime during the next days while we're updating the infrastructure.
July 8, 2015:
Hi guys, just as a heads up, we will be doing some filming in Columbia for the next 3-4 weeks, so we won't be able to quickly reply to messages during this time or respond to request related to your accounts.
Columbia? Yes, you read correctly - smoking hot Latinas! This film shot is for a really juicy scene later in the game, but we will also use some as part of a marketing video for the game launch. Maybe we'll give you a preview once we're back :)
June 14, 2015:
In our newsletter of today, a screenshot of Kit and Kat, who are two sisters of Kitty that you can meet together with Kitty as well!
May 29, 2015:
The second screenshot of Kitty has gone live in the latest newsletter. Ouch... a damn fine babe!
By the way, if anyone is attending XBIZ Miami or CamCon next week, we'll be there, so hit us up there!
May 15, 2015:
As promised, the newsletter with the first look at the Pussycat Sisters, and specifically Kitty, is now available!
May 13, 2015:
Hi guys, we're back in full action! We shot some nice material for the tutorial and more, and will start introducing the related characters - the "Pussycat Sisters" - with a newsletter on Friday. We start with the youngest of them: Kitty. And if you like cute girls, then Kitty is absolutely guaranteed to melt your heart away!
April 22, 2015:
As a brief note, we decided to bundle the update of the client-server communication with an update of our server database and deployment infrastructure, such that we won't have any surprises that might lead to another required re-installation for everyone. The update will thus take a while longer.
We are by the way now off for 2-3 weeks and won't be able to read messages and the like... which is actually a good thing because the reason for this is that we are filming a cool (well, "hot" of course) tutorial for the first gameplay components!
February 9, 2015:
In short: Subtitles are in! For some more info, check out our latest newsletter.
The forthcoming update of our client-server communication is basically ready, but integration and testing of this will take a while. Parts of the servers are also fully re-worked and will then be much more robust. Coming soon!
January 4, 2014:
Happy New Year everyone!
We have just added the first scene of the villa, where you meet Ou for the first time. This will happen after the game's intro video (not yet included), and eases players into the game. By the way, in case you don't catch which book Ou is using to study English in this and other scenes: it's "The Big Black Book of Very Dirty Words"! If you don't immediately continue upstairs in the scene, you will also be treated to three great songs of Ou's theme. Two of the songs were included in some sample videos before, and many people were eager to finally listen to the full songs - just close the help dialog to get rid of the overlay and enjoy Ou's backside while listening to the songs!
Looking forward, next on our development list are the subtitles and adding the final revamp of our client-server communication infrastructure, requiring a re-installation then. Coming soon in this new year! Progress is still advancing at a slow speed because we're still searching for a client programmer (other parts of programming are going on fine, but that's not related to the client, i.e., what you actually see on screen in the game).
Christmas was already some days ago, but you can consider Ou's sweet swinging backside in the scene as your personal jingle bell :-)
November 3, 2014:
Hi guys, game updates are currently a bit delayed because we were denied a work visa for our main client programmer a month ago, and we sadly needed to let him go. Singapore is a nice place for business in general, but the government decided to restrict work visas in a major way as a reaction to anti-foreigner sentiment in the population. There are hardly local programmers available over here, and filling this position might thus take a while. If you know anyone by chance, here is the job ad! It's a bit of a disruption for our schedule, but other parts like server programming, artwork, and content work will progress as usual.
October 17, 2014:
We have now completed all webpages for potential error codes and added instructions on how to potentially deal with the situations. You hopefully won't need them though because it seems that we have resolved practically all current bugs. Keep in mind that in general, a re-installation shouldn't be your first choice in case of an error because all your local settings will be lost. The next update will however require a re-installation (as explained in the update below), but that should hopefully be the only time a re-installation will be necessary before the game launches.
October 2, 2014:
The first part of our final game engine updates is now live! As usual, you may not actually realize the update coming in, i.e., if the background updater has already done its job.
There are major changes, but hardly anything that you will notice from a user perspective. You may realize though that you will now be able to enter the game even though the updating process at the start may not have reached 100%. That's because the incremental and dynamic updating is now fully in, which means that many parts of the game can be updated while you're playing the game without a restart. If you come across a button, tab, or the like with a pulsing outline, it means that that area is currently updating and inaccessible.
We have also fixed all bugs (that we are aware of) for the installation process, fixed other things related to rare crashes and screen freezing, made some color scheme revisions, and added a new song for the pool area. For everyone who had problems with the installation, please download the new installer from your user page!
Going forward, there will be a second part of our final game engine updates, which also affects server communication. A re-installation with an updated installer will then be necessary for everyone at that point. The addition of subtitles might be bundled into that update as well, or come in a bit later. After this, it's content, content, content!
September 6, 2014:
We've just licensed the final songs to cover the launch content! Wow, that makes already 75 high-quality damn good tracks (over 4½ hours) - though how many of these will make it into the launch will depend a bit on how much content we'll get ready for the launch. And of course we'll keep on adding more music for all the stuff that we have planned for you thereafter... uhh, my head starts spinning, too much goodness :-)
August 12, 2014:
Here a brief update on what we're currently working on. In terms of what's visible to players, we will soon patch in subtitle functionality (English and German for now).
Much more, however, is going on behind the scenes. We are currently taking the final step of separating the game elements into separate pieces. The live updating functionality will then fully work, and many updates can be done without restarting the game. The servers are undergoing also a major overhaul in terms of improving security and stability. All this will be a pretty big patch coming your way in a while.
July 17, 2014:
As requested by quite a few of you, we have added an advanced installer (English and German versions), which you can now find on your user page. The advanced installer lets you select a path in case you want to install the game somewhere else than in the default directory. This comes in handy if you for example don't have enough space on your main Windows drive. Pay attention though that you choose a path/directory to which you can always read and write, which is necessary for the automated updating process.
The regular installer was also updated. For example, it's now no more necessary to make the installation using a non-administrator account.
Overall, there's no need to re-install anything if you already have the game installed.
If you want to run an installer and already have the game installed, before starting the new installer, always uninstall the game before the new installation, unless the new installer is only a language change or version upgrade. Take note that by running an installer, all your option settings, stealth mode, etc., will be reset to the defaults and all game files will be deleted and re-downloaded.
July 11, 2014:
While our newsletter sweepstakes are still going on, we now have the list of winners for the in-game sweepstakes challenge! Here they are:
Congratulations and cheers, the bottles of wine will be on their way! (In case your username is listed above and you didn't hear from us, please contact us as soon as possible.)
P.S.: Unrelated to the above, if you guys saw the patch happening some days ago, these were mainly fixes to the updating process and some very minor other things.
June 27, 2014:
Sooo... if you found our little surprise in the beta, here is what it's about: Sweepstakes where you guys can win some really great bottles of red wine!
We were filming a bit earlier some scenes at the Dominique Portet winery in Yarra Valley / Australia. They are making great wine over there, and we decided that some bottles would be a nice reward for our pre-order customers that are testing our beta elements!
Everything below applies only if you found/find our in-game beta surprise. Once you found it, a button to start the sweepstakes challenge will appear in the game next to the trailer button in the pool scene, and to qualify for the sweepstakes, you need to correctly answer a question at the end of that sweepstakes scene. There is lots of info on the winery and wine in general, so be prepared that the sweepstakes/winery scenes are certainly not for people in a rush. In case you want to later review the scenes once again, you will be able to advance some of the scenes by clicking on the background video.
Note that it was pretty loud at the winery when we were filming the discussion with Dominique for the content below. Thus, our apologies that sound quality is quite a bit below the level of our regular content.
There are lots of legal restrictions for sweepstakes, so sorry for some of the less interesting things that we had to include below:
You can choose between different wines: a Shiraz, a Pinot Noir, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. If you go through the sweepstakes scene in the game, there will be quite a bit of information on the different wines from the owner himself, Dominique Portet. Needless to say, all varieties are really great. And while the Shiraz already got a review of 96 Points from James Halliday / Wine Companion, that doesn't mean the other two are any worse! In the game's sweepstakes scene, you will already need to select the wine that you will be getting in case you are one of our winners.
User accounts with Founding Member Status (Early Beta and V.I.P. packages) will have the chance to win one of 4 bottles, and other accounts will be competing for another bottle.
We take over the shipping fees, but a winner is responsible for any taxes that might be applicable in his/her jurisdiction. We don't want to talk about the monetary value for those gifts, and it's somehow stupid, but legislation unluckily requires it. So here we go: The retail price for one of the bottles is about USD 45, and the price of the additional shipping fee depends on the location of the customer.
Prices are not transferable. We may alter the price if necessary, e.g., if one of the wines is no more available.
No further purchase is necessary.
We can only consider customers who purchased the game or redeemed a corresponding gift code before this announcement was posted. Before the deadline of Sunday, July 6, 23:59 UTC, you also need to have found the in-game beta surprise and correctly answered the question in the related in-game scene. The sweepstakes is void where prohibited by law, and we do not ship prices to Singapore. Employees and business partners of Kingdom Crafting Pte. Ltd. are not eligible to participate. You need to be over the legal age to consume/buy (whichever is higher) alcohol in your jurisdiction, and in case you win, need to provide us with a proof of your age.
In case the above renders you ineligible, we still have some nice stuff for you though. Everyone who goes through the beta surprise challenge in the game gets an in-game Champagne Order for Mary’s club. If you answer the question in the challenge correctly, you will additionally get a Flower Order to help you with your flirting in the club!
Each user account can win one prize only, no matter how many packages are attached to the account. Packages that were purchased or received via a corresponding gift code after this announcement was posted will not be considered. If your account does not include Founding Member Status (Early Beta and V.I.P. packages), your account will be considered for the draw for only one bottle, and otherwise, for the draw for each of the other 4 bottles.
The overall odds of winning are dependent on the number and timing of eligible entries received. If you are among the first 50% to correctly answer the question until the deadline, your chance of winning will be double. Each winner is entitled to one prize only.
The winners will be selected by a random draw on July 11. The list of winners (usernames) will be posted here in the beta updates, and the winners will be notified over the following weekend. To contact the winners, we will use the e-mail addresses that we have on file. If a selected winner cannot be contacted or a winner's eligibility is not established within 15 days from the time the award notification was sent, the prize may be forfeited and an alternate winner selected.
The game software used for participation in the sweepstakes is beta software and we do not guarantee that it will be possible to complete the sweepstakes challenge. If there is evidence of hacking, security breaches, or other tampering, the sweepstakes may be discontinued. We reserve the right to cancel, suspend, or modify the sweepstakes, if necessary, due to any technical problem.
Incredible - you made it through to this point! Now quickly into the beta - the earlier you complete the challenge, the higher your chances for a great bottle of wine!
June 19, 2014:
We just updated the game with the following fixes: (NO NEED TO RE-INSTALL!)
Especially for the UI responsiveness, let us know in case there are still issue (and if, in what kind of situations).
Don't worry if you don't see any updating taking place when you start the game - in this case, the background updater has already patched everything.
May 9, 2014:
Many people were testing our beta thoroughly enough to come across a little surprise message! In case you found it, check the pool area with the trailer button on/after Friday, June 27, 19:00 UTC (which means: Los Angeles: 12 noon; New York: 3pm; London 8pm; Berlin 21 Uhr; Sydney 5am/Saturday). If you found the surprise message, you will be able to click a new button that will then appear / be patched in, and the earlier you complete the small challenge, the better your chances to get something really great! Note that the button will only appear if you found the surprise, that the timer that will appear during the scene cannot be reset or stopped by exiting the game, and that your choices regarding the scene can no more be modified.
And in case you wonder, yes, the above picture (from the winery where we were recently filming) is related to this... but more on June 27! We can't live on love alone, can we?
(Note: We moved it by one week because we decided to focus on the fixes of the above post first to make sure that there is no UI unresponsiveness interfering with this surprise.)
May 1, 2014:
Wow... now that was a big code revision to get ready, but it's done and we have finally switched the current beta elements live for all customers! If you purchased any pre-order package and haven't received your beta access e-mail, please check back with our customer service.
We made big changes in the program code and things are now hopefully stable enough again. Fingers crossed and happy beta bug hunting!
April 11, 2014:
For everyone who already has access to the beta, we recommend that you check out the latest Technology Special video. It covers some aspects related to video display, and it might give you some ideas on what type of visual bugs to look for.
March 18, 2014:
Just to keep you guys up to date: Some users had bumped into more problems on low-end computers because of our massive use of videos in our user interface. We have found a solution that makes it smooth for everyone, but we need to transform all art assets, which takes a while.
As another note for users on low-end machines, Microsoft announced that they will end Windows XP support on April 8. This doesn't mean that Windows XP will stop working, but without further fixes, security will be a big problem to deal with. We thus recommend that you upgrade if you have Windows XP. From our side, however, no worries, we will continue to support the game running also on Windows XP.
February 7, 2014:
We're back and have ramped up to full action again - I hope you guys had great holidays as well!
In the coming week, we are rolling out a very cool Live Updates feature of the game. You can check it out in today's regular newsletter!
And while our engineers continue to beg to add even more features before we broaden the beta ("Just one more thing!"), I realize it's quite annoying for those who can't see the things in action. We have thus declared a temporary feature freeze and Live Updates will be the last feature to be added before we let everyone who has a non-early-beta packages into the beta. There are probably some more infrastructure-related features coming later on, but with Live Updates in, the update feature set is comprehensive enough to be well-equipped for the next phase.
January 10, 2014:
We have changed and simplified the username and password rules (for example, some users had trouble because they inadvertently had Caps Lock switched on). The updated rules are:
If you are not yet in the beta (V.I.P., Standard, and Budget package): We have adjusted all current usernames, like converting all upper case to lower case. If you don't like the outcome of the current conversion, feel free to change the username on your user page to something you prefer instead (though you won't be able to enter anything that doesn't obey the above rules).
Especially if you originally used small/large case to separate words in your username (like "MrLonghorn"), you might want to adjust the automatically converted lowercase username (from "mrlonghorn" to "mr longhorn", "mr-longhorn", or "mr_longhorn"). Similarly, if you had a very short username (like "xx7"), where some numbers were now automatically added to get to the minimum length (like "xx7-01"), you might want to adjust to something nicer (like "- xx7 -").
If you are already in the beta (Early Beta package): We have adjusted all current usernames, like converting all upper case to lower case, and gave out new temporary passwords. You should have gotten an e-mail with the update. The fields within the game for password and username entry should now be checking entries for conformance with the above rules and will play an error sound in case of an invalid entry. For the username field, any uppercase characters will automatically be converted to lowercase characters, and spaces at the start, end, and multiple directly successive spaces will automatically get deleted.
December 27, 2013:
As a brief note, we have just added the basic in-game help system, and it's going live tonight! (Of course, advanced players can easily disable the help messages.)
December 13, 2013:
|As a small surprise for Christmas, we have added a free new wallpaper with Carla! Check it out in today's regular newsletter!|
It seems like our time estimates for opening the wider beta access are never really correct. It should be only a week from now, but instead of telling you that, I think I better shouldn't. Game development is just too unpredictable, and we should really never give out concrete dates and drive some fans nuts by the following inevitable delays. Thus, better don't wait at the edge of your seat over the next days for your access to start and then be double-happy when the announcement e-mail unexpectedly arrives in your e-mail box!
On a previous discussion, given all the news this week about the NSA's spying on gamers on XBox Live and other games and platforms (external link), we are quite happy that we went the extra mile and implemented extremely secure communication protocols for our game. We didn't see the extent of the governments' surveillance activities coming, but it's always good to know we're overdoing the security things if anything!
Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
November 29, 2013:
There shall be music!
We have added the first pieces of music to the beta elements. There's a lot more to come, but so far, it's 3 full songs and 7 ambient instrumental pieces according to the current updating screens. They are great, and you might even switch on the game for some chill-out music in the background for relaxing (the pool background) or to get some drama with more intense tunes (for the cave background). Our music is generally of insane quality and it certainly pays to have great speakers connected!
We are currently ironing out a few hiccups to get things smooth also on low-end machines. Once that's done, we will send out the e-mails for the more general beta access for those with V.I.P., Standard and Budget packages. It's generally unpredictable how long it will exactly take because there might always be creeping up some additional things that we want to fix before the more general access; but in general, it should be about 1-2 weeks now.
Some of the waiting times during installation on low-end machines stem from the computation-intense generation of our extra-secure encryption keys for the communication of the game with our servers. This generation is done only once during installation, so it does not affect actual game starts. We ask for your understanding that we don't take shortcuts here, but most people will probably prefer these extra steps to ensure that the data is moved in a highly secure way over the internet.
November 15, 2013:
As you can see above, we have added some info on what we're currently testing in the beta such that everyone who currently does not have access can also see what's going on.
We are about to open up the current beta elements for everyone with beta access in approximately 2-3 weeks. Note that if you purchased the Early Beta package, you will still get earlier access to some of the upcoming additions to the beta elements.
Apart from the general things listed above, one thing we're right now revising is the game's color reproduction. We unluckily realized that a monitor's color display is much less predictable than we thought. On two different screens, colors/contrast/brightness can look vastly different, and most people don't really optimize their displays' color reproduction.
Because there is basically no general solution to this, we are now re-encoding all our current in-game visuals such that when we are looking at them at the various screens in our office (on optimized as well as unadjusted factory settings), none of them looks too bad without steering too much from our artistic direction. This obviously doesn't guarantee that it will work for all players, but then again, if things look out of place for you, you can always adjust your monitor settings. These re-encodings will take a while, but over the coming week, you will see the updater pushing in all the revised visual components.
November 1, 2013:
Here is an update on some additions that go live tonight (for our early beta participants):
German Installer (or for our German friends: Deutsches Installationsprogramm): This is a test case for our localization infrastructure. Don't take this as an official announcement that a German version of our game will be available.
Localization affects many different areas of the game. For now, only the user interface will appear in German. Other localization levels like subtitles or full voice-overs are not part of the current beta state. If you want to check out the German version, download and start the corresponding installer from your user page. If you already have the English version installed, there is no need to uninstall the English version before.
Full-Screen Mode: We have added the option to switch the game to full screen. Use Alt+Enter or F11 to enter the full-screen mode at any time, and revert back to windowed mode by Alt+Enter or F11 or Esc. The game will remember your setting for the following start, but if you enabled Stealth Mode (see newsletter 24), the game will only switch to full screen once you have passed the sign-in page.
Enjoy the big screen!
October 18, 2013:
Everyone enjoys their privacy while having a good time with their adult entertainment, and today's newsletter shows you one aspect of how we ensure a worry-free gaming experience for you. You can find it here.
For our early beta participants, the Stealth Mode that is described in the newsletter goes live on Sunday. It can be activated in the Options menu. If you want to be on the extreme safe side though, keep in mind that this is the beta and do not rely on anything including this mode to work perfectly.
October 4, 2013:
Today, we have a more regular, i.e., more sexy, newsletter for you again! You can find it here.
September 20, 2013:
The Start of the Beta is Upon Us!
Here in Singapore, the F1 night race is about to start, and we're starting in parallel with them with our "beta race"!
Depending on the package that you purchased, you can now (if you purchased the Early Beta package) or in about 1-2 months (if you purchased any other package that includes beta access / we will let you know then), apply for a password and download link to enter the beta! If you purchased the Early Beta package, please:
In case you use multiple different computers, we allow you to install our software on two different devices. The game state is saved on our servers, and you will be able to switch between the computers and still play and continue the same game.
What to Expect in the Beta
You can expect a constantly crashing application with the only content feature of displaying an "Error!" sign in varying colors! Well, not really. But please be aware that what you are seeing is not the final product. The purpose of the beta is to discover errors (so-called "bugs") and other things that don't work well, and the entertainment value is not at the center of attention.
We will be happy to hear from you how you were able to break/crash the program and found any bugs, errors, or other annoyances! To submit a bug report or other feedback:
First Beta Elements
As we mentioned before, we are adding small elements step by step into the beta, and the current beta elements are mainly about testing our server infrastructure and the game updating process. Do not expect actual game elements for a while. There won't be that much of really cool stuff to see and do for now because... well, most of the infrastructure testing is pretty boring and happens invisibly in the software and on the servers. That said, we'll do our best to throw some entertaining pieces into the beta software now and then to make it fun to check it out!
One important note: Do not download our software from any other site than www.savetheworldornot.com! The original software is only available here. Various sharing and warez sites will promise to carry our software, but they may steal your password and other private information, and you may end up with viruses, spyware, or even worse things.
September 13, 2013:
We got a few questions about encryption after last week's announcement. For our game, encryption is important for user data like e-mail addresses and the like, but in light of Snowden's revelations of the dimension of NSA's activities, it's worth discussing and understanding the role of encryption in general because it's "kind of" very important. And forget about some government agencies requesting access to your Google or Facebook information - these encryption things are a much bigger deal.
For anyone only interest in the game itself: Next week, we're ready to go ahead with what we actually wanted to do last week!
Encryption and You - or: Scary Times Are Ahead
Many people are not aware how important these developments regarding encryption are. This is not some obscure matter for some computer geeks, but how things go will fundamentally alter everyone's life in the not too distant future.
With what we hear from Snowden/NSA, unluckily, it seems like things will be getting pretty bad. The US government with organizations like the NSA has obviously decided to spend their energy not only on spying (that's not really surprising) but on strategically undermining our main protective mechanism for the future - encryption methods.
So what's all the fuss about?
Let's first touch on crime and malicious activities in general, then have a look at where we're heading with information technology, and then conclude with why encryption is one of the most important pillars to guarantee that we will still have say in any of our life matters in the future.
In general, I guess we agree that if someone is a big cheese, they can make other people do what they want by spending a small bit of their resources. You can bribe people, have them pressured by force, spend money to sway public opinion, and so on. Our society has evolved to have things like police and a legal system to keep this in check. We have thereby not eradicated these problems, but we have made it expensive for people to engage in these activities. For example, it's still possible to bribe people, but they will likely command a higher price if they potentially face bad consequences. Having high costs (not only in monetary terms) related to malicious activities is important such that the expected return of engaging in these activities is as small as possible.
The Exponential Increase in Efficiency
Some things in this equation, however, are changing rapidly. We live in exciting times where information technology makes our life increasingly easy. For example, a company maintaining traffic lights doesn't need to send a worker to check whether a traffic light is still working and to perhaps adjust its switching pattern, but can just directly contact that light unit via the internet to check its sensors and adjust its software. Or, a police officer checking for a person's criminal record does not need to call a colleague in the headquarters, who then sends someone to search the records room, but the officer can now directly check a database via the network.
This increase in efficiency is not something to be taken lightly. The efficiency increase follows an exponential curve and gets faster and faster over time. It took us thousands of years of invent the wheel but only a couple of years to get from the computer to the internet. Keep also in mind that more and more aspects of our life are involved; it's not just the traffic light, but soon all kinds of items will be connected through our data highways and remotely read and affected. If it's someone casting their election vote online, managing your banking online, accessing a property database, a pilot flying an airplane remotely, controlling the water supply, or a doctor checking and adjusting a person's pacemaker over the internet (you might have heard buzzwords like the "internet of things"). All aspects of our life will be governed by this connected IT and you won't really be able to escape it.
The Exponential Increase in Criminal Efficiency
Here's the problem. While all this automation improves our life in general, it also lowers the previously discussed "costs" of malicious activities. On the other hand, our society's control mechanisms like the legal system and police are not able to even remotely catch up. For example, if one wants a person out of the way, one does not have to spend a lot of resources and time finding out which officer maintains the person's criminal records, finding out the officer's weak spots, and then bribing/threatening the officer to make some malicious adjustments, but one can directly make the records search and adjustments with a click of a button. And remove all traces of this with another button click. Or just directly instruct the person's pacemaker to power down. Or just make that for everyone who's Facebook page says that they do not like cheese. The problem of controlling our digitally connected infrastructure has recently been a favorite theme in Hollywood movies, but we are closer to these scenarios than you think. There is no crazy AI to run out of control needed - we have enough people with malicious intentions around.
The time that we are physically dependent on internet services for basically everything in our life is approaching very quickly. Once the resources someone needs to control every aspect of our life through this by criminal activities reaches levels low enough, you can bet that this will be exploited. To make it very clear again, I'm not talking about someone reading your diaries, I'm talking about someone checking and controlling you in every possible way. With exponential efficiency.
NSA Destroying Our Encryption Protection
What holds these developments in check is encryption (it's not the only thing, but it's one of our main security ingredients). Think of encryption as our armor against anyone accessing and manipulating the information in our devices and on the data highways. Again, this all can still be manipulated with "old-school" malicious activities, but it would involve a lot of time and resources, which makes it not worth it on a larger scale. Encryption is our main mechanism to keep these activities from benefiting from the exponentially developing efficiency.
Encryption is however not a sure-fire way to protect us, but a kind of arms race. We develop new ways of encryption, and our opponents try to develop new ways to crack it. As in many other areas, the one investing the most resources has a good chance of coming out on top. That's where organizations like the NSA come in. They have a great budget to protect us and our IT infrastructure and... as reported, use this money instead to destroy protective mechanisms like encryption. Even worse, according to Snowden's documents, they do not tell us where it's destroyed but are building secret backdoors into our infrastructure that an able opponent could exploit as well.
And arguing that destroying encryption is necessary for knowing what terrorists are communicating is like poisoning all of the world's water because terrorists also have to drink. A really good job, thanks.
A Call to Action
Unless we get our governments to strengthen security mechanisms like encryption, we look forward to a bleak future with no way of protecting us, our companies, and our society's control structures. The only thing to do would be to sit back and hope that our favorite organization will be lucky in taking over first and trust that everyone in that organization will be nice when controlling our life in every aspect.
How likely is it to affect a change in governments' and organizations' policies to protect us and strengthen encryption instead of taking our defenses down? That's difficult to say, but unless we get them very soon to do so, I doubt there is not much of a chance. "Ruling the world" is obviously an ultimate jackpot, and accordingly, there will be extremely powerful interests at work to weaken protective measures like encryption in the hope to be the lucky guy coming out on top.
And don't be fooled to think this reasoning suddenly doesn't apply anymore with all the nice security toys coming out, like a fingerprint reader on your smartphone. The fingerprint information needs to be stored somewhere and the information that you successfully confirmed your identity with your fingerprint scan needs to be securely transported to a payment or authorization system without being manipulated in between. For all of this, you need to rely on... encryption.
Sorry, I didn't want to ruin your day. You asked for it - that's just my two cents. But don't say you didn't see it coming.
Some Recommendations for IT Professionals
If you are building or are responsible for IT systems, here are some thoughts to keep your systems a bit more safe:
September 6, 2013:
We are still assessing the impact of Snowden's revelations on encryption that were just released. As you can imagine, your privacy is a big deal for us, and a strong encryption of all privacy-related data is part of our security mechanisms. Our encryption mechanisms are designed to go far beyond commonly applied techniques, and a way for a third party to crack the game's communication and infiltrate your privacy would be absolutely unacceptable for us (whether this is done by a government agency or others).
We are thus delaying the beta for at least a week to fully check our security infrastructure again. It is unlikely that our computer code is affected because the N.S.A. seems to have mainly pressured companies that provide security software into collaboration, and didn't actually crack the underlying algorithms we're using. I hope you guys are OK with waiting a tiny bit longer. You don't want to play a game only to be bothered with thoughts about privacy. It's likely that everything is fine, but let's be on the safe side so everyone can access the beta without worries.
If you are interested in details on the recent revelations, check for example: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/06/us/nsa-foils-much-internet-encryption.html (External link)
August 23, 2013:
In two weeks' time, one year has passed since our initial game announcement! And as some of you have already suspected, this is exactly when we will start rolling out first beta elements!
Don't get too excited yet, however, because the first beta elements will only test systems like the game's update and server infrastructure. Again, don't expect actual gameplay for quite a while. We are going to add stepwise more entertaining content though to make it worth for you to already check the beta out!
Also be prepared that the game service is not always up and reachable. We will do a lot of testing in the beta phase, and will sometimes knock out servers and pieces of our network on purpose to test the self-healing capabilities of our systems.
More information on the beta, how to download the software etc., will follow in two weeks. Customers who bought the Early Beta package can look forward to be the first ones gaining access!
We will also change the format of the newsletter for a while to keep you up-to-date with the beta happenings, and will add "regular" newsletters only sparsely for now.