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Lineage III Source Code Stolen?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the a-whole-world-down-the-tubes dept.

Role Playing (Games) 61

Shack News and the Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo are reporting that sourcecode for the MMOG Lineage III may have been stolen. As the third Massively Multiplayer game in a huge-selling South Korean series released by publisher NCSoft, over a billion dollars may be lost as a result of this theft. "The Seoul Metropolitan Police said Wednesday that seven former NCsoft employees are suspected of having sold the technology to a major Japanese game company. The seven left the Korean firm in February and allowed the Japanese company to review the software during a job interview. Police believe that the technology might have been copied during the demonstration."

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The Departed (2, Interesting)

biocute (936687) | more than 6 years ago | (#18933089)

How did NCSoft know about the leaks?

I don't think any company would publicize its interviews, and I doubt these former employees would sing about their code demonstration.

That means there might be a NCSoft mole inside the competitor.

Re:The Departed (3, Insightful)

fishybell (516991) | more than 6 years ago | (#18933247)

Well, without reading TFA, I would say it's pretty similar to any other data loss incident. You notice someone has the data (or the internet has it) and you investigate. Oh, some of your previous employees work for them now, that's a pretty indicator of who-done-it. A few subpoenas later you've found out the entire story.

A company I used to work for lost their customer data in a similar way. An employee quit and took the entire database with him. We noticed there was a problem when a large amount of the customers started telling us about a competitor trying to sell them their product. Well, my company looked into it, and a few subpoenas and a lawsuit later everything was fixed.

Wow. (5, Insightful)

Z0mb1eman (629653) | more than 6 years ago | (#18933171)

They lost over $1 billion because of the theft?

It's gotta suck only having one copy of the code. Now they gotta write it again from scratch, or hope the other company gives it back. They should've made backups.

Wait, what?

Re:Wow. (2, Funny)

textstring (924171) | more than 6 years ago | (#18933241)

must be that exchange rate
thanks for the laugh

Why is Parent Insightful? (2, Insightful)

rjhubs (929158) | more than 6 years ago | (#18934541)

Leaked source code hurts a company not because they no longer have a copy of the code, but because the thousands of man hours that went into writing have been partially wasted. The code now needs to be rewritten to protect it from potential hackers and cheaters who will have a much easier time now that they know the inner workings of the code (remember the hl2 source leak?) Not to mention a rival company has acquired for free all your hard work and could effectively release a game very similar to lineage iii (it'd probably have to be free to avoid legal action.. IANAL) and hurt your potential sales. But there are many other reasons as well, but it boils down to: theft of intellectual property is indeed a loss despite what whoever modded parent insightful thinks.

So please, mod parent funny.. but not insightful.

Re:Why is Parent Insightful? (3, Insightful)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 6 years ago | (#18934665)

I always find it interesting when jokes get modded horribly wrong.
However, if they need to rewrite the source code when someone malicious has seen it... well then it already needed to be rewritten, because all it had was "security through obscurity".

Re:Why is Parent Insightful? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18935189)

Now *that* is insightful. Just assuming that nobody has your code so you don't need to write secure code is bad, but sadly a common practice.

Why is Insightful being misused? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18936247)

"However, if they need to rewrite the source code when someone malicious has seen it... well then it already needed to be rewritten, because all it had was "security through obscurity"."

And in true slashdot fashion you get modded insightful. One you don't know if "security through obscurity" was the only means they had. Second "security through obscurity" is indeed a valid method. Just not all by itself.

Re:Why is Insightful being misused? (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 7 years ago | (#18936311)

Security through obscurity can work to one degree or another, but is a shoddy approach. It can be seen again and again that there is always someone who can wade through the obscurity to break through it.
Also, I would say without doubt that, if obscurity was essential enough to their security that the code would need to be rewritten to maintain that obscurity, then the non-obscured design is not secure enough itself. For examples of this, look at the plethora of closed-source games (with no source leak either) that are widely exploited by people tracing through disassembled code or reverse-engineering the game's networking.

Re:Why is Parent Insightful? (1)

Jackmn (895532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18972869)

well then it already needed to be rewritten, because all it had was "security through obscurity".
That is the only protection there is against bots (cheats that simply provide input to the game in place of the player), be it aimbots in first person shooters or farming bots in MMORPGs. If your game rewards things that can be automated then there is absolutely no secure way of protecting your client from these types of cheats - the best you can do is make it as difficult as possible.

One solution for MMORPG developers is to simply stop rewarding repetitive tasks and instead force players to actually think. You should *want* to play through all the bits in the game - it should never be a chore. There is no solution for first person shooters - even if your game requires a great deal of thought aiming will still remain a component of the game.

Re:Why is Parent Insightful? (1)

Z0mb1eman (629653) | more than 7 years ago | (#18935933)

Yeah, I was going for funny, not insightful... guess I should've put a smiley in or something.

If the competitors are smart, they obviously won't use any of the code... but they now have a handy reference guide to see how they can solve problems they're likely to run up against (while presumably writing an MMORPG). Definitely a bummer, but I still can't see the $1 billion figure - especially since, as someone already pointed out, so much of the effort in an MMORPG is spent on creating the content. I remember seeing a graph somewhere with the costs involved in a game - IIRC, programming was about 30%, art about 30%, and the remaining 40% was "overhead" like marketing, management, legal, accounting, distribution. The ratios are likely different for an MMORPG - but still, there's no way you can go from "code leaked" to "100% income loss".

From the article it sounds like they have bigger problems, anyway:

According to police and industry insiders, the game company has suffered from an internal management problem since a senior game developer was fired for poor leadership skills.
But the sacking only led to greater problems for the company, since most of developer's 90-member team quit with their chief.

Re:Why is Parent Insightful? (1)

tsdw (937315) | more than 7 years ago | (#18938089)

yeah I wouldn't even say funny ..whats going on with moderation today?

Re:Wow. (1)

azuredrake (1069906) | more than 7 years ago | (#18937731)

I'm a QA tester on a high profile upcoming PC Game, and the company for which I work has made it very clear that if we walk out of the building with a build of the code, it will cost them millions of dollars. I don't know the specifics, obviously, because I'm at the bottom of the food chain. But I'm willing to bet that they'd re-do a good portion of the source so that I (or whomever I give the build to) can't pull an Eli Whitney on them. I would never do that, and that's why I have my job. But the point still stands.

Re:Wow. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940815)

> They lost over $1 billion because of the theft?
>
> It's gotta suck only having one copy of the code. Now they gotta write it
> again from scratch, or hope the other company gives it back.

Exactly my thoughts. What do you know? Real life really is like movies!

Uh (4, Insightful)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#18933201)

The code was copied, not stolen. Talk about alarmist press. Even if one of their direct competitors got the code, what good is it going to do them? Players of lineage will continue to play lineage (cuz lineage people are obsessed, I think). It's not like someone's gonna be able to plop the code on some server farm in a couple weeks and make a competing mmo.

Re:Uh (4, Insightful)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#18933311)

The code was copied, not stolen.
Indeed, when talking about movies and music we have contingents so ready to say "copyright infringement isn't theft" but when it's unpublished source code the terms "stolen" and "theft" are used without any hesitation.

Can't we just agree to say "illegally copied" across the board?

MOD PARENT UP (1)

deftcoder (1090261) | more than 6 years ago | (#18933329)

It would definitely be less confusing for everyone involved.

The secrecy was stolen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18934535)

In general, movies and music are meant to be viewed or heard. That is, the owners or creators desire for such movies and music to be seen or heard by as many people as possible. Now, they may want to limit how such people obtain the movies or music (so as to reap financial gain), but the overall goal is for the movies or music to gain public exposure.

However, that is not the case with closed-source, proprietary software. The company developing such software does not wish for the software's source code to be viewed by, or available to, anyone besides the present employees of that company. So while the source code itself wasn't theifed, it was the secrecy that was essentially stolen. That is, it was a finite aspect of the source code that was solely limited to the developer, but due to the actions of these former employees, the developer no longer possesses that secrecy. There is an actual deprivation taking place.

Re:The secrecy was stolen. (1)

asuffield (111848) | more than 7 years ago | (#18937613)

So while the source code itself wasn't theifed, it was the secrecy that was essentially stolen. That is, it was a finite aspect of the source code that was solely limited to the developer, but due to the actions of these former employees, the developer no longer possesses that secrecy. There is an actual deprivation taking place.


So if I were to put a brick through your window, depriving you of that window, this is theft? Pretty bizarre definition...

Re:The secrecy was stolen. (1)

Jamu (852752) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939047)

Depriving people of property is the very definition of theft. In your example the owner still has the, albeit broken, window. Thinking that a window's unbroken state is property is somewhat bizarre.

Re:Uh (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 6 years ago | (#18935097)

The code was copied, not stolen.
Indeed, when talking about movies and music we have contingents so ready to say "copyright infringement isn't theft" but when it's unpublished source code the terms "stolen" and "theft" are used without any hesitation.

Can't we just agree to say "illegally copied" across the board?
Copyright infringement is not theft.
Anyway, this is not the same situation.

This is about unpublished works.
In general, movies are copied _if_, and _after_ they are published.

When you share a secret, the secret does cease to exist.
When you get a free copy of a published work, it doesn't change state.
It's not the same thing. It's another issue, and should be judged differently.

Re:Uh (2, Funny)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18939525)

Kinda hypocritical. Either you can "steal" a piece of information or you can't. Bringing in "states" and "unpublished" is needless and only serves to vilify one type of copying ("They stole teh codez!"), while condoning another ("I just got Spiderman 3 for free off Bittorrent!").

Now, I'm fairly anti-copyright myself anyways, but I say lets hold the same attitude in all cases. Information wants to be free right? Well then these guys were information rights activists. Those guys at NCSoft were probably performing all manner of crazy experiments on this code. I've heard from one person that semaphores may have even been involved. Twisted bastards.

Re:Uh (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18936463)

The difference is that confidential information derives some of its value from being confidential. So when it is released, it loses value. That would not be theft exactly, but close enough.

Re:Uh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18937039)

Can't we just agree to say "illegally copied" across the board?
How about "shared against its will"; it makes me feel better anyway.

Oh wait, let's just call it rape!

Re:Uh (1)

asuffield (111848) | more than 7 years ago | (#18937593)

Can't we just agree to say "illegally copied" across the board?


"Illegal" is a decision for a judge to make, after examining all the facts - we are neither qualified nor in possession of those facts, so we cannot say it was definitely illegal. Making a factual statement, rather than a prejudiced one, requires you say it was merely "copied" - or, if you insist on stating all the details, "copied without the explicit permission of the company".

It is important to realise that not everything is illegal just because it involves software and a company does not like it.

Re:Uh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18941747)

Dude, we're dealing with IP and trade secrets here... What on earth makes you think it isn't illegal?

Re:Uh (1)

@madeus (24818) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942499)

"Illegal" is a decision for a judge to make, after examining all the facts - we are neither qualified nor in possession of those facts, so we cannot say it was definitely illegal.
If the software was copied, the only 'qualification' needed for the observation that it was almost certainly illegally done is common sense - or at least any knowlege of the sort of contracts companies like NC Soft require employees to sign.

Do you imagine companies like NC Software allow software developers to own the IP and retain distribution rights for any software they write as employees of the company?

The previous poster wasn't making a 'prejudiced' statement, no matter what agenda you are pushing.

Re:Uh (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18938643)

How about "espionage"?

Re:Uh (4, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 6 years ago | (#18933531)

Furthermore, the competitors would be foolish to ever use the code. They'll get sued into the ground for copyright infringement.

This sounds ridiculous. It's unlikely to cost anybody anything except legal fees.

Re:Uh (1, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 6 years ago | (#18933539)

It's not like someone's gonna be able to plop the code on some server farm in a couple weeks and make a competing mmo.

Why not? If it was sold to a "large" company as the article suggests, that's entirely possible. I have no idea what "Lineage" is, but at the very least, the competition now knows exactly how "Lineage" is written, and this company has lost any competitive edge that it may have had based on technology.

Re:Uh (4, Insightful)

Miniluv (165290) | more than 6 years ago | (#18934083)

MMOGs don't compete on technology for the most part, they compete on content and aesthetic. There is one possible exception to this, that being EVE Online in that they are basically the only un-sharded MMO I can find record of. And they talk pretty openly about most of the technology "secret sauce" that goes into sustaining their simultaneity numbers.

Re:Uh (1)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 7 years ago | (#18938937)

I cannot comment on Lineage III, but at the time of Lineage II the technology innovation aspect certainly had its place.

Lineage II uses a heavily modified version of the Unreal engine, and was the first ever to include 'loading on the run' feature. That is, to load seamlessly landcape while running the game.
Tim Sweeney went to NCSoft in Korea to give his ideas on how to implement this feature, as it was not present in the actual Unreal engine at the time.

Re:Uh (1)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 7 years ago | (#18938953)

by 'first ever' I meant concerning the Unreal engines, not other game engines of course.

Re:Uh (1)

Miniluv (165290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18977969)

Sure, it was a feature folks talked about. But its lack wouldn't have seriously hindered success, nor was its inclusion terribly key to said success was my point. My own experience as a gamer and amateur industry watcher is that content is 90% of the success. Atrociously bad tech can shoot down an otherwise great game, but really great tech cannot save one that lacks substance.

Re:Uh (1, Redundant)

tzhuge (1031302) | more than 6 years ago | (#18933901)

Considering we're talking about an MMO, I think it's quite possible that someone could use the source to create malicious exploits. It may even be possible to make that MMO completely unplayable (steal player accounts?). Either way, I think the idea is that the company will have to make significant code changes or risk losing a lot of customers. Between the extra dev/QA time and the delayed time to market, making the changes doesn't come cheap either.

Re:Uh (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#18934649)

You make some interesting points, though I don't know if they would have to make "significant code changes" in order to avoid losing customers. If the code is exploitable, those changes should be made anyway, and if they don't know what could be exploited, then how would they know they had to fix it?

Re:Uh (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18938683)

If it was possible to do such things just by knowing how it works the developer is really, REALLY dumb and deserves the resulting fiasco. That's like being able to gain root on a box just because you know how the password hashing works. The mechanism isn't supposed to be the secret, the data it is fed is.

Re:Uh (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940997)

Neither of these are really major problems -- even if they were, they could be fixed fairly quickly (and usually are -- when the exploit is to the advantage of the player the servers are frequently torn down that evening and patches installed. If it's a bug to the disadavantage of players, it won't be fixed until the next release next week or month, if even then.)

Pet casters can cast multiple pets? Servers torn down immediately. Pet casters have high end pets disabled by several levels? Meh, that can wait a week.

Uh-Definition theater. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18933967)

"The code was copied, not stolen. "

Here WE go again, folks. [slashdot.org]

Yes and no (3, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#18934347)

Yes and no. Mostly I think you haven't thought about it much. There are a couple of problems I can see there right away:

1. Rampant cheating. Think WoW Glider on steroids. If you have the source code, you can write a client which looks to the server 100% like a player at the keyboard on the official client. Write a client which drives a whole group of player characters on a farming or ganking spree from a single machine. Which _will_ screw up the game, and drive people away. (Especially in a game where _all_ there is to do is farm and PvP.) That's money lost.

Or you could delay the game and invest in changing the whole protocol, so the old code doesn't even work with the server any more. Which again is money lost. Both extra development time, and time in which you're not collecting the monthly fees. A single month delay, if you had, say, 1 million players, is 10 to 15 million dollars lost in fees alone.

But even if you do, someone saw all your weak points. Yes, most games do rely on security through obscurity, because noone has the funds, computing power and bandwidth, to do everything on the server securely. There's invariably a lot of functionality in the client, and you basically keep your fingers crossed. Maybe you code some "tripwires" on the server to detect if someone did something awfully wrong, but (A) it's still keeping your fingers crossed that noone will do something that you haven't checked, and (B) more importantly, whoever saw the code now also knows exactly what to avoid.

Basically, it's pretty much _the_ cheating nightmare scenario.

2. Whoever has that code will have a trivial job of making some "emulated" servers and stealing your subscribers that way. It's one thing to have a shabby half-way there alternative server available after a year, it's entirely another thing to maybe have a 100% perfect alternative right at the start.

And yes, that _is_ money lost, and not just profits lost. Most MMOs have far more content than a single-player RPG. (Even Oblivion is a spit in the bucket compared to the sheer size of WoW.) For most, basically the boxed copy is subsidized, and they're betting you'll stay there for more than 2-3 months to break even and start making a profit. That already doesn't leave you with that much pure profit, since the average player stays about 6 months on a MMO. If half your player base buys the boxed copy and buggers off to play on someone else's servers, you'll feel it. If you also over-estimated a little what population you'll get (and hence, how much can you spend on development), it can turn a moderately survivable game into a flop right there and then.

Yes, we all can look at WoW and see one big money printing license. They actually underestimated how many players they'll get. Most MMOs aren't WoW, though. Flops are more common than successes. Even big names like EQ2 or TSO have managed to get only a fraction of the player base they counted on. They may not have seen the plug pulled outright, but then again, others did. It doesn't take much of a shove to topple a game which already missed the mark.

Re:Yes and no (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#18934821)

Yes and no. Mostly I think you haven't thought about it much. There are a couple of problems I can see there right away:

1. Rampant cheating. Think WoW Glider on steroids. If you have the source code, you can write a client which looks to the server 100% like a player at the keyboard on the official client. Write a client which drives a whole group of player characters on a farming or ganking spree from a single machine. Which _will_ screw up the game, and drive people away. (Especially in a game where _all_ there is to do is farm and PvP.) That's money lost.

I'd argue that if this was possible, the game code is already broken. In any event, there's any number of minor changes that could be made before release that can alleviate if not eliminate the problem. I don't see how any of it would require a huge investment in time.

Or you could delay the game and invest in changing the whole protocol, so the old code doesn't even work with the server any more.
Or change the protocol just enough that it doesn't work.

Which again is money lost. Both extra development time, and time in which you're not collecting the monthly fees. A single month delay, if you had, say, 1 million players, is 10 to 15 million dollars lost in fees alone.
Paper shuffling. No different than if a bug was found and the release was delayed.


But even if you do, someone saw all your weak points. Yes, most games do rely on security through obscurity, because noone has the funds, computing power and bandwidth, to do everything on the server securely. There's invariably a lot of functionality in the client, and you basically keep your fingers crossed. Maybe you code some "tripwires" on the server to detect if someone did something awfully wrong, but (A) it's still keeping your fingers crossed that noone will do something that you haven't checked, and (B) more importantly, whoever saw the code now also knows exactly what to avoid.

Basically, it's pretty much _the_ cheating nightmare scenario.

I don't agree, frankly. The very fact that one knows the source has been copied makes you able to do something about it because you know what they stole. The nightmare is that someone writes something that exploits a flaw in your release code that you can't detect, which can happen with or without the source code being copied away. No casual (or even devoted) gamer is gonna spend the time to shift through the code, but the farmers might, if they can get their hands on the source. But, farmers will farm, no matter the game.

2. Whoever has that code will have a trivial job of making some "emulated" servers and stealing your subscribers that way. It's one thing to have a shabby half-way there alternative server available after a year, it's entirely another thing to maybe have a 100% perfect alternative right at the start.

Yeah, no way there'd be lawsuits there. Besides, people play MMOs for coherent content and (supposedly) the community/social aspects. If all your friends are on Lineage II, they're gonna move to Lineage III, not some half-assed quasi-Lineagethat no one has heard of. I also think you're intentionally ignoring the infrastructure costs of running an MMO that would even start to compare with the player population of Lineage. Not to mention that the content would have to completely re-written in order to even start attracting players without attracting Lineage-Lawyers.

And yes, that _is_ money lost, and not just profits lost. Most MMOs have far more content than a single-player RPG. (Even Oblivion is a spit in the bucket compared to the sheer size of WoW.) For most, basically the boxed copy is subsidized, and they're betting you'll stay there for more than 2-3 months to break even and start making a profit. That already doesn't leave you with that much pure profit, since the average player stays about 6 months on a MMO. If half your player base buys the boxed copy and buggers off to play on someone else's servers, you'll feel it. If you also over-estimated a little what population you'll get (and hence, how much can you spend on development), it can turn a moderately survivable game into a flop right there and then.
Lineage is an established major player in the MMO market. They know what they're doing. Furthermore, the fact that content is king just backs up my assertion that no one is gonna make a knock-off emulated pseudo-Lineage that has any chance of seriously stealing Lineage's player base. That's like saying I could make a Japanese-style RPG and steal away Final Fantasy's customer base if I had FF's code.

Yes, we all can look at WoW and see one big money printing license. They actually underestimated how many players they'll get. Most MMOs aren't WoW, though. Flops are more common than successes. Even big names like EQ2 or TSO have managed to get only a fraction of the player base they counted on. They may not have seen the plug pulled outright, but then again, others did. It doesn't take much of a shove to topple a game which already missed the mark.
Lineage hit the mark a long time ago. It's not as big as WoW. MMOcharts lists them with between 1M and 1.25M current active accounts and by that metric the number 2 AND number 3 in the market. That player base isn't going anywhere because of this little flash in the pan.

Re:Yes and no (2, Interesting)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18935645)

Lineage hit the mark a long time ago. It's not as big as WoW. MMOcharts lists them with between 1M and 1.25M current active accounts and by that metric the number 2 AND number 3 in the market. That player base isn't going anywhere because of this little flash in the pan.

Now if you were to subtract all bot/raid farming accounts, and accounts in known botfarming regions(e.g. China), I'd bet that number would drop far from 1.25M.


I'd argue that if this was possible, the game code is already broken. In any event, there's any number of minor changes that could be made before release that can alleviate if not eliminate the problem. I don't see how any of it would require a huge investment in time.

Their policy enforcement and design is broken - they slap on 2 applications that behave like rootkits (Themida, Gameguard) yet L2Walker and such go right through the front door without them being broken.


Yeah, no way there'd be lawsuits there. Besides, people play MMOs for coherent content and (supposedly) the community/social aspects. If all your friends are on Lineage II, they're gonna move to Lineage III, not some half-assed quasi-Lineage that no one has heard of. I also think you're intentionally ignoring the infrastructure costs of running an MMO that would even start to compare with the player population of Lineage. Not to mention that the content would have to completely re-written in order to even start attracting players without attracting Lineage-Lawyers.

Do those costs include the cost of defending the bot/raid farmers?

Or change the protocol just enough that it doesn't work.
Lineage II has seen tons of "protocol changes" and yet third party programs still persist.

Re:Yes and no (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 7 years ago | (#18941411)

You seem to be under the mistake impression that I think all the exploits in an MMO can ever be closed. They can't, that's reality.

And do you really think there's tens of thousands of bots/farmers in Lineage? I find that a dubious assertion at best. In any even, even if there were 250,000 of them, that still puts them at 1,000,000 active subscribers, well above any of the competition.

Re:Yes and no (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18945229)


You seem to be under the mistake impression that I think all the exploits in an MMO can ever be closed. They can't, that's reality.

No. However, when almost nothing is done at all for well-known exploits (or even just the fact that the protocol itself has to transmit certain bits of information) that go on unchecked for years, there's something quite wrong. Think of it as the game where bad policy meets badly maintained code.


And do you really think there's tens of thousands of bots/farmers in Lineage? I find that a dubious assertion at best. In any event, even if there were 250,000 of them, that still puts them at 1,000,000 active subscribers, well above any of the competition.

Apparently you've not played Lineage II(US) on Kain, Bartz, Teon, or Franz. Look all over the world, and you'll see botted shops, botted farmers, and raidfarmers run by the same groups. They won't be hard to find, and until recently, could be stopped by having the mobs do the work for you(bringing them down to just wearing weapons). On the active servers, they turn the normally light servers up to medium if not heavy - something normally not done by active players alone.

As for the thousands of farmers bit, yes. There's not much one can do except scale up beyond the (intended) active player base (which outside for some groups that defend them) that would keep the bot population in check given the chance.

Re:Yes and no (2, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#18942919)

Methinks you're still underestimating it, or maybe I haven't explained it well enough:

A) Just having a number of players in Lineage 2 doesn't mean you'll have the same audience in Lineage 3. Ask Turbine about Asheron's Call 2, which flopped abysmally. Just being the sequel to AC1 didn't say much. Or ask Sony about Everquest 2. They went from EQ1 being the #1 MMO to EQ2 being a niche game. So what makes you think that Lineage III has already hit the mark, when it's not even released yet?

B) You don't seem to understand how those "emulated" servers work. We're not talking something that just looks vaguely similar, we're talking stuff that's:

- played with the official client, hence it looks exactly the same

- quite often has the exact same maps, quests, etc, since enough information usually exists in the client. E.g., don't think that when you play WoW it transfers the landscape from the server. Your client CD already has those files. You'd be surprised what else is on a client CD. For starters all the quest texts and rewards.

That's the way it worked ever since the first free servers were made for UO. The "emulated server" would be just an executable, maybe also some tools, and it would require an installed client or a client CD to get the rest of the game from. E.g., the whole Britannia map and all the creatures.

And it's pretty hard to sue them, since:

1. They're not distributing any copyrighted material. They don't distribute a copy of your map or meshes or textures, they tell people to go buy a boxed copy of the game for those. You can't easily forbid people from just making an exe that incidentally reads your files, or MS would stop OOo from working with Office files.

2. It's hard to even take the DMCA route (which I don't think Korea has anyway), since they're not gaining or providing any unauthorized access to your servers. Quite the contrary, they let your client connect to their server, if anyone wants to. It's also not circumventing any copy-protection mechanisms, since a MMO isn't copy-protected anyway, and they're not telling people to copy anything.

Now having a source theft is a different thing, but even there you'll first have to prove that they've actually used your files. It can take some time.

At any rate, we're talking about something which is an exact clone of the official game at launch. We're not talking about asking people to switch to a similar game, but about asking them to play on a free server from the start. Having something like that from the start, when people don't have social networks keeping them on the official servers, can be very damaging.

I din't know if it will actually happen to Lineage III, but it is a possibility.

Re:Uh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18955417)

Agreed. The games are as much about the content, like the hundreds of models, the landscapes, the textures, dialogue/quests/whatever. The code is certainly important, but only a portion of the final game.

hmm (2, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#18933349)

Now Japan is copying Korean technology? Talk about turnabout...

Something stinks about these accusations (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18933853)

This sounds like sour grapes because they got their team poached.

Now they're on a fishing expedition. Sorry but anyone who thinks you need to steal code to write an MMORG when you just poached a team that wrote one, or that the owner of code loase money because someone else sees it, OR that interviews are conducted by reviewing your previous employer's code, is a complete idiot.

The biggest component of an MMORPG is content and design, not actually the code. Sure there's server load ballancing and client pagine etc, but that is all tractible. Art (masses of it) and game design are king for MMORG, you don't need to steal code (and I am a programmer and have been a game programmer).

If someone showed up for an interview with code the last thing you'd do is hire them.

Re:Something stinks about these accusations (1)

obeythefist (719316) | more than 7 years ago | (#18935361)

But that makes me think, with all this closed source development, how can you tell if someone's ripping off someone else's code? Who audits the code?

Re:Something stinks about these accusations (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 7 years ago | (#18937869)

If someone showed up for an interview with code the last thing you'd do is hire them.

In the West, maybe. This is in Asia, where the culture is quite different. Stealing your old company's resources when you defect to a new company is quite common - even expected.

A billion dollars! (2, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#18934173)

They made about a billion dollars so far. So presumably they expect to make the same amount again from their existing codebase. That's about the only part that seems not entirely unreasonable.

Somehow, now that this code has been "stolen", they are unable to make another penny from it. Anything they would have made will go to the new possessor of the code.

From the other comments, I'm clearly not the only one who thinks this makes no sense. For this to be worth that much, the code, and the code alone would have to be the sole reason people were playing the game. Marketting made no difference, content made no difference, game design made no difference. People were only interested in the game engine. And now that another company has it, people are going to choose the other company in preference.

Sure, the code isn't worthless. Knowing how a successful project works can save a lot of time, but the competitive advantage this gives isn't going to be anywhere near the order of magnitude suggested. We're talkng tens of thousands of dollars. Not a billion!

Oh, the irony... (3, Interesting)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 6 years ago | (#18934881)

They protect their other product (Lineage II) with Themida and Gameguard, yet they let a little unauthorized third party program [towalker.com] walk right through, as well as not drop the botfarmers of the server(who have ruined the economy despite what some minority may say otherwise)

I have no real sympathy for NCSoft in this case. Maybe if they dropped all the bots for good, stripped out the ineffective Gameguard / Themida, and supplanted the non-automated parts of L2Walker, they'd have a leg to stand on.

Re:Oh, the irony... (1)

nastilon (525562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18973479)

There's a theory floating around the NC Soft owns some of the farming companies, and can artificially create accounts for the farmers or directly transfer in game money to them. It would count as a significant source of income, at least for Lineage 2.

Just imagine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18934967)

Just imagine being the programmer who got that one in his in-tray.

"Good morning John Doe!
Can you just review this source code and give us the low down!
Cheers!
Your boss!"

Talk about workload... I hate reviewing source code. Now imagine having to wade through the whole or parts of the source for a MMO. Brrr!

1 billion? (0, Flamebait)

TheLink (130905) | more than 7 years ago | (#18936747)

They should have written it in perl. ;).

Seriously though, what's the big deal? Even when people tried to emulate Blizzard's stuff legitimately they still got shut down.

It's an MMOG, the number of useful "gems" in the code are probably really low. You'd probably be able to come up with those "gems" independently anyway.

Also you could just get them to boast about their great new features to the media way before their release and a smart person in your company could figure out how to do it in 5 minutes. You don't have such smart people in your company? Too bad then.

If you left your company you'd probably want to be be writing the _interesting_ nonboilerplate, nonlib[1] stuff from scratch. After all you should be doing things much better plus take advantage of the latest advances in hardware and software the next time round right? Bonus if you don't have to be drop-in backward compatible with the previous crap you wrote :).

Just look at John Carmack. He gives everyone access to his old game engines. Even if someone copied his _latest_ game engine right off his PC, so what? They don't have him.

If the Lineage III source code really is worth 1 billion, then if you can "buy" John Carmack's coding+designing services for 5 years for <= 500 million you've got yourself a great deal eh? No? Why not?

Code doesn't make money just sitting there. There's a LOT of other equally important stuff required. You could have two different MMOGs with the same engines and they can be VERY VERY different with different resulting net profit. Different artwork, sound, music, story, game play, game balance, community management, availability+reliability, etc.

Anyone think millions of people play WoW because the game engine is so good? Doh.

Imagine someone stealing the windows source AND trying to use it to make money without using the windows noncode stuff. The only viable way would probably be for finding security bugs faster.

[1] While the company can have sole rights to what you make for them, I don't recommend you let companies own sole rights to your libraries - that's like a carpenter allowing a company to own his tools just because he tweaked them while making stuff for the company. They can _copy_ my libs if they want, but it is wrong for them to say it's now theirs alone to use just because I changed or even added stuff while I happened to be working for them. If they do that then that really is _theft_.

I am skeptical (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 7 years ago | (#18936953)

This is the usual Korea vs. Japan nationalist bickering I see all over the net. And the source is notorious for these stupid articles, for example, their stories about the "unfair" labeling of the Sea of Japan which according to them should be called the East Sea. I would be more surprised if there were NOT accusations against the Japanese, since the Koreans had contact with them. But there's no proof the code was stolen, just unproven accusations. If there are any economic losses, it would be more the fault of the disbanding of the coding team, not from code theft. But in Korea, the Japanese are always handy when you need to blame someone.

Oh No! (2, Funny)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18940571)

Now Slugworth will be able to produce an inferior and cheaper version of the Everlasting Gobstopper!

Was it the client or server code that was stolen? (1)

collinc (899981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18944643)

I wonder if the code that was stolen was for the client or for the server? I know with L2 the big worry (beyond farmers / botters) was all the private servers that popped up on the net that people would use for free. As it stands most MMO's you can simply download the game client and after selling your soul and letting them have your CC number get to play using their servers. Is the lost money projections of lost subscription fees on account of people playing on free public servers instead of the farmer / bot infested offical ones?

In other news.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18969627)

...Theo De Raadt announces new MMORPG called Bsdinage!

Bad karma for nc soft, but they deserve it (1)

nastilon (525562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18973429)

NC Soft (Korea, not North America) is a horrible company and their bad karma just bit them where it counts. Look at Lineage 2 - so much potential yet they cater to chinese farmers instead of their audience. You can look on the corporate web site, North America & Europe provide half the revenue for Lineage 2 that Korea does, but are given no input on fundamental game mechanics. Consequently, what could have been the best MMORPG in its niche, for pvp, has devolved into rampant corruption, botting, farming, etc. The Lineage 2 team in North America has no power because they are just puppets to NC Soft Korea. Take Guild Wars, City of Heroes, etc, those are all run wonderfully. Then again, they have community staff who have the power to make decisions and answer questions. Them having the source code stolen is just indicative of their entire mentality at NC Soft, they screw their customers and now they get screwed.
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