KC LC on Topic Closing

KC LC, a global moderator of the Game Maker Community forums has expressed her opinion on users who request that their topics be closed.

As she rightfully points out, closing a legitimate topic serves little to no purpose. There is every chance another user will come a long in the future and have a similar question or problem. It makes much more sense for such a user to refer to the original topic and post a follow-up question if necessary than to post an entirely new topic and have two separate discussions on the same subject.

What has become even more of a problem in recent months is the number of users who completely erase their topic post and replace it with something to the effect of ‘solved, please close’ when they feel the discussion has come to an end or a solution has been brought to the table. This is worst thing a topic poster can do because it makes it nearly impossible for anyone else to refer back to the topic to solve a similar problem or for users to contribute more ideas or better solutions to the problem at hand.

So why do people erase their topics and replace it with ‘please close’? Some may feel it is simply a need to have closure, a need to feel that your topic has reached its goal and accomplished something. Personally, I think it may also have to do with being self-conscious. This is only speculative, but perhaps some users feel embarrassed about asking questions with simple or obvious answers, or somehow feel responsible for the discussion in the topic if it suddenly goes awry.

In any case this is a request to all GMC users out there: please stop requesting that your topics be closed, and do not post in another topic to say it should be closed (especially if it is an old topic). The moderators can decide on their own if a topic has run its course or if there is room for more discussion. You should only need to report topics which clearly do not follow the forum rules.

Thoughts?

GMC Malware Attack

It’s not often that there is headline news for GM, but this story is unlikely to go down unnoticed.

According to several users on the GMC (which we will not link to for reasons explained below), a malicious piece of code has been embedded in the forum software code. The code, which allegedly creates an iframe that secretly loads a malicious website and downloads a virus is said to be found in every forum topic.

Until there are further developments on this story, we recommend that you DO NOT visit the GMC.

According to one user, Google Chrome warns users prior to visiting any GMC page to say that the site contains malicious code with a recommendation of not continuing. Internet Explorer on the other hand seems to be most affected by the attack (not surprisingly).

According to Phil Gamble on the Game Maker Blog, it may be possible that the forum code was altered by the use of a technique called ‘MySQL injection’ whereby a hacker finds a vulnerability in the website which allows him or her to modify or add new code directly into the forum’s database without needing Administration access to the whole forum itself.

KC, a moderator of the GMC, was quick to say users shouldn’t be too worried despite all the virus warning pop-ups users have reported. “yourtraff.biz [the malicious website] has been listed as a malware site before. It’s probably being generated by one of the advertisers on YYG. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.” Nevertheless, we recommend taking all pre-cautions necessary to ensure your computer’s safety.

Update: Thanks to NakedPaulToast, it appears the security flaw in the forum software that may have allowed this attack to occur has been identified, click here for more details. According to the website, a patch has been available

Update: One user warns that the virus is also affecting Firefox users, and that he/she received a warning from their anti-virus software to say a virus named “HTML:IFrame-BL [Trj]” had been detected.

Update: Screenshots from users:
Using Google Chrome from Jangos_Legacy
Using Internet Explorer & AVG from Jangos_Legacyo
Using Firefox & Google Toolbar from Revel

Update: For those who want to keep up to date with what’s happening, click here for the GMC virus topic in low-fi mode, this will allow you to view the topic without putting your computer at risk (at least for now).

Update: Internet Explorer users are reporting that the GMC is now asking to install an ActiveX control called “Microsoft works imaging server” from an unverified publisher. There is also a report that the website is automatically running Microsoft Outlook

Update: The Game Maker blog has been updated to confirm that the security vulnerability on the GMC still exists and the iframe is now loading different malicious websites to those from before. Until now, there hasn’t been any signs of major virus damage as the result of visiting the website, however if the URL continues to change, it’s probably only a matter of time before it forces dangerous executables to run on the end-users computer.

Update: Mark overmars is now reading the Virus and Malware releated topics on the GMC forum. As an administrator he has more control over the forum than other users and can choose to close the forum until it is safe for users to come back. It is unknown however if he has the server-side access required to patch the forum software to fix the security vulnerability.

Update: The GMC is reportedly now asking users to run and download various Java applets and Active-X controls which are damaging to your computer. Most of them say they are from “Microsoft” but the source is in fact from an unverified/unsigned publisher trying to mask itself under the company’s name.

Update: It appears things are just getting worse. As the end of the day closes (in North America), any attempt to access the GMC in Firefox is denied with a “Reported Attack Site!” message. Previously, this only happened to users who also had Google’s Firefox toolbar extension installed.

Update: The GMC has now been given the all clear by forum administrator chronic. It’s expected to take a couple of days before the google/firefox warnings clear – From my iPhone.

YYG Help Desk

On the 20th of June this year, I sent a support ticket into the YoYo Games help desk. I labelled it URGENT priority. The ‘support’ ticket was actually concerning the Firefox Instant Play plug-in and its incompatibility with version 3 of the browser. Included in the support tick I attached a modified version of the plug-in that was compatible with the browser.

Until today I have not heard a word from the support staff, and figured my support to them was falling on deaf ears. But surprisingly I got an e-mail today from the support desk, almost two months later to say this:

Hi Benjamin

Apologies for not contacting you sooner – there i now an official fix as you are already probably aware of.

Regards,
YoYo Admin

So while I am disappointed with the service I received and the ridiculous response time (especially for something marked URGENT); I will give them credit for eventually reading and responding to my support ticket. At least this is a step in the right direction, until now I had no hope for ever getting a response from the desk, no matter how large or important the problem was.

In other news, the GMC staff have announced that the Tutorials & Examples forum will be closed down for an undetermined period of time for reorganization purposes. It is expected to be back up ‘soon’, users are being told to hold their submissions until the forum re-opens.

GMTech Update

GMTech sent out an e-mail update to its subscribers today to give updates on Issue 13 of the popular Game Maker magazine. The next issue is due to be released shortly and will include articles on a variety of topics such as casual game development, website design, comics and interviews.

The team has also announced that they will be doing a special on YoYo Games in issue 14 which will include an exclusive interview with a YYG spokesperson. GMTech is encouraging users to submit questions that they would like answered on their forum.

Lastly, the GMTech website has had some recent updates and now features a blue design.

iPlay & GMC get updates

YoYo Games just announced the final release of the Firefox 3 Instant Play add-on that many users have being eagerly anticipating for the past few weeks. It is expected to be available for download tomorrow (July 15th) at around lunch time – GMT.

Although not indicated by the staff, this sudden news on the plug-in is likely the result of recent criticisms that started over an open letter to the Yo Yo Games staff that appeared on Connor Wilkins’ blog yesterday. One of the points brought up in the letter was a distinct lack of progress updates on the Firefox 3 compatible Instant Play plug-in. Until now, Firefox 3 users have been unable to play or download games from the YoYo Games website. This problem has also deterred new visitors from the site who are also unfortunate to be using the browser.

The GMC forum also got an update today. The forum now supports RSS feeds of the five most recent topics in the Announcements and Examples/Tutorials forums.

Also regarding the GMC – anyone who is using the GMC Extension (karma) plug-in, we are currently testing the skinning feature that enables users to choose their own theme/look for the forum. This feature should be available to the public sometime in the near future.

Forum & Glog Changes

According to YoYoJim (an administator on the GMC forums), a forum upgrade was put in place this morning upgrading it to version 2.3.5 from 2.3.4. This upgrade caused a short down time for the forums earlier today, but everything appears to be in working order now.

On a separate note, Mark Overmars has announced that his personal ‘glog’ at yoyogames.com will now be merged with the more official Yoyo Games glog used to provide important announcements to users. This does not seem necessary, although maintaining two seldom used blogs could also be seen as unecessary. At the moment the YYG team is working on merging both the posts and user database.

That’s all for now, remember to keep posting. Winner of the contribution prize will be announced on the 30th of June GMT-