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Phantasy Star Online
Archive for 2014
Wednesday, December 31st, 2014
Well, even if it is a few hours early for me, officially by the server’s time (UTC), it’s the new year. So, it’s time to unveil a new feature of the server that hopefully some people will find enjoyable. 🙂
Last year, I started accepting donations in Dogecoins that would be put toward server events and whatnot. Today begins the first of these events! As of the time of the writing of this post, the donations wallet has just under 14,000 Dogecoins in it, so I’ll put 7,000 coins up for grabs in the event that starts today.
How the event will work is as follows, anyone who wishes to participate in this event (as well as any future events) must be logged into his or her account on the server (i.e, you have to have used the /login command in-game), and then must use the new /trackkills command. Once you do so, the server will keep track of the enemies you kill in-game and will automatically record them when you leave the team you’re in. Note: the new /trackkills command and enemy tracking now works on Iselia, Vega, Altimira, and Palmacosta.
For the current event running, your kill counts of certain Episode 1 enemies (no, I’m not telling you which ones, but feel free to try to figure it out 😉 ) will be totaled up across all free-play (non quest, non challenge, non battle) teams that you participate in for the next month. At the end of the month, the top three players by that count will receive a prize. It’s as simple as that. First place will take home 4,000 DOGE, second place will take home 2,000 DOGE, and third place will take home 1,000 DOGE. Winners will be contacted by me after the end of the month to figure out where to send their winnings (and if any winners wish to reinvest their winnings in the donations pool, they are more than welcome to do so).
Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys our first server-wide event and I hope everyone has a great new year.
PS: Continue reading for answers to a few questions you might have…
Friday, September 19th, 2014
Everyone probably knows by now that PSO itself doesn’t support voice chat (except for the Xbox version, which isn’t supported by any server anyway), which can get pretty annoying when you’re trying to discuss things with other people while you play, especially if you’re playing on the Dreamcast or Gamecube and don’t have a keyboard handy for the console. To this end, I’ve set up a Mumble server for anyone who wishes to use it to use while playing.
Mumble is an open-source, multi-platform Voice-over-IP (VoIP) client and server, designed for low-latency voice communications, such as would be useful for online gaming. You can get a Mumble client for pretty much any OS out there (OS X, Linux, Windows — even for iOS or Android too) for free and use it to connect to a variety of Mumble servers. For more information on how to connect to the server that I’ve set up, continue reading…
Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
It is also the 15th anniversary of the release of the Dreamcast in the US.
I’d like to thank everyone who plays PSO on Sylverant for making my work on it worthwhile. It always makes me smile to see people use the software that I write. 🙂
Over the past year, I’ve been pretty busy with real life. I earned a Master of Science in Computer Science degree in December of last year, and begun work toward a PhD in the same subject in January. Sylverant has seen a few bits and pieces of improvement over that time, however. Work has continued (albeit slowly) on server-side drops for all versions of the game, and has recently reached the point where server-side drops work even during quests. Ship administrators can specify whether quests allow drops of rare and semi-rare items on an enemy-by-enemy (or type of enemy by type of enemy) basis, overriding the game’s restriction that no rares ever drop in quests (only while server-side drops are on, of course). I also released the source code of a new DNS server for use with PSO, designed to prevent DNS amplification attacks from affecting the server in the future. Other than that, things have been relatively quiet, other than the small trickle of other bug fixes.
Anyway, thanks to everyone for playing here, and hopefully I will be able to continue to post these kinds of posts for many years to come.
Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
… since the last time I posted, so I figured I’d make a post.
Not much has changed around here in the past few months, at least not until the other day when someone started trying to use the Sylverant DNS server (along with a few other PSO-related DNS servers out there) in another DNS amplification attack. If you were following along on my Twitter (or on Facebook), you might have noticed a few messages to that effect about a week ago. You also might have noticed that I’ve written a new DNS server to use here that should be a bit more resistant to such attacks in the future. I guess we shall see.
One nice thing about this new DNS server is that I designed it to be possible to use for pretty much anyone hosting a DNS server for PSO. It’s easily configurable, and should run just fine on pretty much anything (*BSD, Linux, OS X, Solaris, … and Windows without needing anything like Cygwin). You could probably run it just fine on a Dreamcast, if you really wanted to. 😛 Hopefully some of the other servers out there might be able to make use of it in preventing attacks in the future. 🙂
EDIT: Just because I can, I just confirmed that the DNS server does actually run properly on a Dreamcast. 😛
Saturday, March 1st, 2014
I’ve been asked many times since I started Sylverant how to donate to support Sylverant or to show appreciation to me for writing/maintaining it. My answer has always been the same: I don’t want donations that aren’t actually needed for keeping things going. As Sylverant has been graciously hosted for free since I first set up the server back in 2009, there has never been any point to me accepting donations. That still hasn’t changed to this day, and hopefully won’t change any time soon.
That said, I thought it might be fun to allow people to donate with the idea that donations would go into a pool that would be used on the server in some way. I’ve toyed with a few ideas in my head such as special events rewarding hunters for killing certain enemies in-game (yes, Sylverant can actually track and store that data, although it doesn’t at this time). So, I think I’ve come up with a good way to make that happen in the future without having to deal with any real money.
Starting today (well, last night really, but I doubt anyone noticed it), I’m accepting donations in the form of Dogecoins. Dogecoins are a crypto-currency, much like Bitcoin or Litecoin (it is actually derived from Litecoin). They are commonly used for tipping people on Reddit these days, so this seemed like a logical choice. It doesn’t cost anything to get started with Dogecoin other than potentially a bit of your time (you can even find sites that give away free Dogecoins), and it is all open-source too. So, to that end, there’s a new donation button on the site underneath the .beat time widget. Once we get a bit of a stash built up, I’ll start thinking of how to actually put them to use — after all, it doesn’t do me much good to spend time working on a feature that people aren’t going to use. 😉
Saturday, February 1st, 2014
So, some of you might know how much I’ve complained in the past about PHP and the account management (key registration, etc) stuff that I wrote in it for the Sylverant website. A while back, you might remember that I switched the ship status display over to being done in Python rather than in PHP. Well, when I started that little project, I also decided to rewrite all the rest of the account management stuff in Python as well. Now, several months later, I’ve finally gotten around to finishing all that up and pushing it out live to the website.
The new URL for the account management stuff is https://wsgi.sylverant.net/account.py, rather than the old http://sylverant.net/account/ . For the time being, both will be available, but at some point in the fairly near future, the old account management page will be taken down entirely. If you have any links/bookmarks on websites pointing to the old pages, please update them (I think I got all the links on this site, so if you see one that’s still pointing to the old stuff, let me know). Also, if you find any problems in the new account system, let me know.
Monday, January 20th, 2014
So, to those who didn’t see it on the Twitter feed, I’m doing a bunch of updates to the OS on the server right now and the server will be down for a bit while I get things going.
EDIT: I’ve been at this for over 4 hours now, and I still don’t have everything back up yet. I’ll continue working on it when I get up in the morning.
EDIT 2: There’s still a lot of work for me to do, but I think that I can safely bring back up the PSO server. So, I’ve done that. I’ll still have to do a number of reboots along the way, probably, but I’ll time them when nobody’s online.
EDIT 3: So, I think the update is completely done now, save for rebooting one last time. So, once the server clears out, I’ll do that.
EDIT 4: Something screwed up… I’m working on resolving it now.
EDIT 5: Well, it’s still not quite right, but I suppose it’ll do until I figure out what’s actually wrong. At least everything is back up for now.
EDIT 6 (and hopefully the last one): I think I fixed the issue now. Weird voodoo bugs with files not being updated properly during the kernel upgrade are not cool.
Saturday, January 18th, 2014
To the idiots who thought it would be cute to use the Sylverant DNS resolver to launch DNS-related attacks, you really are not amusing. Thanks to you idiots, the DNS server I host is now locked to only provide the addresses for PSO-related hostnames. I’m also reconsidering whether I should host said DNS or not at this point, since it is obviously more trouble than it is worth. Not that I expect said idiots to ever read this post or anything else anyway.
To those who aren’t amongst the idiots, I guess this needs a bit of explaining… One of the options for connecting to Sylverant with certain versions of PSO for the Dreamcast (Network Trial Edition, USv1, EUv1, EUv2) and all versions of PSO for Gamecube was to use the Sylverant server as your DNS in your network configuration. This works because I host a DNS server that provides the IP addresses for certain PSO-related hostnames that the game uses to try to connect to a server. All of these addresses resolve to the same IP address as the Sylverant server itself. For convenience, the DNS server could also be used for general day-to-day use and with other online games, as it would recursively look up any hostnames it did not know about, and return the correct IP address for said servers by way of (primarily) Google’s Public DNS server. However, someone recently decided it would be a good idea to use this service that I provide (the DNS server) to launch a DNS query amplification attack (see here for more info on what that is). Thus I have had to stop allowing recursive lookups to prevent someone from performing such an attack. What that means is that the Sylverant DNS is now not usable for general day-to-day lookups (not that I expect many people were using their Dreamcasts for web browsing), nor can you use it in your network configuration for playing games like Quake 3 Arena on the Dreamcast any more (which was probably more commonly done).
I highly suggest that anyone playing PSO on the Dreamcast that does not already use the Sylverant PSO Patcher disc consider doing so in the near future. I may end up having to discontinue the DNS service if people continue to abuse it, so I’d like it if everyone was prepared for that possibility.
Wednesday, January 1st, 2014
Well, another year has gone by, and Sylverant is still around. That’s good news, I suppose. 🙂
I don’t really have anything Sylverant-related to post about, but I wanted to ensure that everyone knew I was actually still around. Follow along below the fold if you care to know why things have been so quiet around here lately…