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Programming Update #2

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I feel like it is appropriate that a crowd sourced project use open source software, that is awesome!

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I don't know much about Moai, especially in regards to adaptability and flexibility using it for certain tasks, but let's say what has already been produced with it doesn't fill me with the utmost confidence as everything so far seems to be iOS/Chrome/Android games: http://getmoai.com/made-with-moai.html

Can't be quoted enough. Let's hope the budget is enough to make a difference.

I really don't know what the problem is, didn't they want their game to run on ios/android?

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They specifically say in the video that they chose Moai because it can scale up and down nicely from mobile devices to high-end desktops.

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Whenever I hear the word 'cloud' I reach for my revolver.

This talk about monitoring player behavior to modify the product makes me worried. I would be totally fine if you used analytics during beta testing to perfect the final product, but doing this after the game is released feels wrong.

I consider every program that phones home data about my behaviour to be a form of Spyware. Even if this specific program is not sending any sensitive information it will contribute to the general trend of treating users as resources to be data-mined (if the system requires the user to explicitly opt-in it would be fine).

The game design should not be changed after the game is released. I don't want to wake up one day and find the bad guys brandishing walkie-talkies instead of guns :P

I also hope the game will not be dependent on any central server somehow. I want to be able to play the game using DFA-VM in 2053.

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I don't know much about Moai, especially in regards to adaptability and flexibility using it for certain tasks, but let's say what has already been produced with it doesn't fill me with the utmost confidence as everything so far seems to be iOS/Chrome/Android games: http://getmoai.com/made-with-moai.html

Can't be quoted enough. Let's hope the budget is enough to make a difference.

I really don't know what the problem is, didn't they want their game to run on ios/android?

The problem is really just that cheap and primitive look in games done via Moai (vanilla is heavily mobile oriented?) and that the tech is kind of an early bird.

Luckily it is open-source, so that means it can be modified to better the framework for own needs, right?

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Whenever I hear the word 'cloud' I reach for my revolver.

This talk about monitoring player behavior to modify the product makes me worried. I would be totally fine if you used analytics during beta testing to perfect the final product, but doing this after the game is released feels wrong.

I consider every program that phones home data about my behaviour to be a form of Spyware. Even if this specific program is not sending any sensitive information it will contribute to the general trend of treating users as resources to be data-mined (if the system requires the user to explicitly opt-in it would be fine).

The game design should not be changed after the game is released. I don't want to wake up one day and find the bad guys brandishing walkie-talkies instead of guns :P

I also hope the game will not be dependent on any central server somehow. I want to be able to play the game using DFA-VM in 2053.

I think they mean during testing, at least that seems heavily implied. But I want to just say something about collection of data in general, not to point the finger at you, rather just to make a general point that's been bugging me.

I think being over-sensitive about data-protection is almost as big a problem as companies who want to misuse data. A certain segment of the population has some sort of unreasoned pavlovian reaction whenever they hear about something that sounds a bit like a data protection issue, even if it isn't. Example: semi-recently Notch posted a blog which said something along the lines of 'hey, we don't know how people are playing Minecraft, would it be cool to add something into our software which sends some rudimentary anonymous stats to us about session times and which client version is being used and that kind of thing, so we can use the data to know where we should focus our efforts?' And most people said yes, but some people said 'no, that sounds evil'

Those people are something of a problem. They're actively against something which couldn't be used against them even if they tried, not only because it's anonymous, but also because the data isn't even of a personal nature. Not only that, there are all sorts of ways the data can be very helpful for making the thing better. You know what... in a way, users ARE resources to be data-mined, as you put it. That's not ALL they are, but that's one of the things, and doing so ultimately makes for improvements in usability and stability that could not be achieved with a smaller testing group. I don't really see the moral quandary there.

Obviously any collection of data should be handled sensibly: exactly what is being collected should be transparent, anonymous, non-personal and in a way that doesn't interfere in any way with how the software can be used. And sure, perhaps with an opt-out, maybe, but there's no particular reason for one when the previous criteria are observed - and including it can distort the data e.g. maybe Linux users are more likely to opt out.

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Whenever I hear the word 'cloud' I reach for my revolver.

This talk about monitoring player behavior to modify the product makes me worried. I would be totally fine if you used analytics during beta testing to perfect the final product, but doing this after the game is released feels wrong.

I consider every program that phones home data about my behaviour to be a form of Spyware. Even if this specific program is not sending any sensitive information it will contribute to the general trend of treating users as resources to be data-mined (if the system requires the user to explicitly opt-in it would be fine).

The game design should not be changed after the game is released. I don't want to wake up one day and find the bad guys brandishing walkie-talkies instead of guns :P

I also hope the game will not be dependent on any central server somehow. I want to be able to play the game using DFA-VM in 2053.

I'm absolutely fine with anonymised usage data, as long as both the "anonymised" and "usage" bits are 100% respected, though yes, the responsible and considerate thing to do is make it opt-in once the game is out of beta. But then I'm biased since I find the resultant aggregate data so fascinating, and will happily give them aaaaaaaaaaaaaall the data as long as they share with the class. Especially if they can make

out of it.

A phone home requirement would be contrary to the promise of a DRM-free version, so hopefully there's no chance of that :)

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Those people are something of a problem. They're actively against something which couldn't be used against them even if they tried, not only because it's anonymous, but also because the data isn't even of a personal nature. Not only that, there are all sorts of ways the data can be very helpful for making the thing better.

I just don't want to support this kind of general thinking. Double Fine are leaders in their field and their attitude will trickle down, soon we might be reading Forbes articles about How Double Fine leveraged Big Data to increase profits or something like that. This goes against the whole screw the publishers attitude the project is built on.

I think giving people the opportunity to share data with Double Fine to help them improve the product can be a good thing, but it should be explicitly opt-in, ex:

Options > Share GamePlay Data

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Fun pills and sleds for the development team!

It was nice to read about what goes behind the the ultimate decision, and to see the video as well.

Smiles

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I think being over-sensitive about data-protection is almost as big a problem as companies who want to misuse data. A certain segment of the population has some sort of unreasoned pavlovian reaction whenever they hear about something that sounds a bit like a data protection issue, even if it isn't. Example: semi-recently Notch posted a blog which said something along the lines of 'hey, we don't know how people are playing Minecraft, would it be cool to add something into our software which sends some rudimentary anonymous stats to us about session times and which client version is being used and that kind of thing, so we can use the data to know where we should focus our efforts?' And most people said yes, but some people said 'no, that sounds evil'

Those people are something of a problem. They're actively against something which couldn't be used against them even if they tried, not only because it's anonymous, but also because the data isn't even of a personal nature. Not only that, there are all sorts of ways the data can be very helpful for making the thing better. You know what... in a way, users ARE resources to be data-mined, as you put it. That's not ALL they are, but that's one of the things, and doing so ultimately makes for improvements in usability and stability that could not be achieved with a smaller testing group. I don't really see the moral quandary there.

No, these people are not something of a problem. They are a symptom of the problem: The problem being that in many, many cases data collection mechanisms are misused. Even if it starts out as a simple anonymous usage information, a lot of times companies get hooked and increase the amount of information monitored with each release up to the point where they not only analyze what you are doing with their app/game but if you are using/playing apps or games of the competitor. And this is not paranoid at all because it has already been proven several times.

If companies would make stuff like this

- transparent (for example by adding the possibility to show what data is send in PLAIN TEXT or even better to send in the data yourself)

- technical secure (meaning no other data can or will be harvested by accident or malfunction - like memory dumps, unusual installation locations)

- opt-in (they can ask for you to opt-in - for example at first startup or after a few hours of gameplay, but this decision should be voluntarily and informed (the should tell you why they want that) and not something you have to dig thru the settings to find out aobut)

- lean as possible (meaning only data that is reasonably of worth and interest should be gathered. For example: As long as the app does not crash, there is surely no need to inspect what other software is running on a machine)

there wouldn't be such harsh reactions.

And also: What are you trying to say with "what couldn't be used against them"? Of course it can. And it's so damn easy. Once I have an accepted method of collecting user information using encrypted connections I can change the extent of gathered information with every update if i want to. Nobody questions an update today... There are no technical problems at all. Once a user has accepted, that a certain app wants to "phone home" it is near impossible for the to have any control over what's being transferred.

And even if you the user had the knowledge use system monitors to take a look at what the app is doing, it's still a really, really hard task to pinpoint what information is being collected. For example: An app could scan your complete hard drive for filenames, timestamps and check-sums and the author could just pretend it's to find any add-ons or prevent the use of cheat system (in case of an online multiplayer game) or make up other plausible stuff like that. What now? We know that the app takes a look at the filesystem, but we still don't know what exactly it is doing with this data. Only by using a really good debugger an expierenced sys programmer can make an educated guess what's really going on - and that only works if the app doesn't recognize the debugger and falls back to "harmless mode". And even IF you could proove that the app collects more data than they was stated somewhere tugged away in the deeps of the EULA, they could still argue that it's an unfortunate programming error.

And all that has already happend a lot of times. And it will continue to happen as long as people are oblivious to privacy and data protection - so for a long, long time. But of course it does not help if every developer - no matter how big or small - screams: Can we haz your data plz? Trust us.

No, trust has to be earned - not just expected - and certainly not demanded by force (that has never, ever worked).

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Those people are something of a problem. They're actively against something which couldn't be used against them even if they tried, not only because it's anonymous, but also because the data isn't even of a personal nature. Not only that, there are all sorts of ways the data can be very helpful for making the thing better.

I just don't want to support this kind of general thinking. Double Fine are leaders in their field and their attitude will trickle down, soon we might be reading Forbes articles about How Double Fine leveraged Big Data to increase profits or something like that. This goes against the whole screw the publishers attitude the project is built on.

I think giving people the opportunity to share data with Double Fine to help them improve the product can be a good thing, but it should be explicitly opt-in, ex:

Options > Share GamePlay Data

Which, as I explained, can make the data WORSE (it's not clear whether the people who would opt in/out constitute a representative sample - and if it isn't, the data isn't nearly as useful)

As for the rest of what you said, I'm afraid that the 'screw the publishers' attitude is something you're reading into the project, not something coming from Double Fine - yes, they've criticised the limitations of the publisher model, and certainly they wanted to leave out publishers for this project, but they've also gone out of their way on many, many occasions to say that they don't believe publishers are inherently evil - just inherently 'safe', which doesn't work for getting all kinds of games made. This isn't some big statement against publishers, it's just an alternative way of getting their game made.

And what if Double Fine DOES 'leverage big data to increase profits'? I'd kind of expect them to, as a business. The way I'd expect them to is by using the data to make a better game which sells more.

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Those people are something of a problem. They're actively against something which couldn't be used against them even if they tried, not only because it's anonymous, but also because the data isn't even of a personal nature. Not only that, there are all sorts of ways the data can be very helpful for making the thing better.

I just don't want to support this kind of general thinking. Double Fine are leaders in their field and their attitude will trickle down, soon we might be reading Forbes articles about How Double Fine leveraged Big Data to increase profits or something like that. This goes against the whole screw the publishers attitude the project is built on.

I think giving people the opportunity to share data with Double Fine to help them improve the product can be a good thing, but it should be explicitly opt-in, ex:

Options > Share GamePlay Data

I agree with this, it's the principle of the matter really and what it could lead to. I don't really think Double Fine is going to horribly invade my privacy and sell all my secrets to the KGB; however I still don't like information leaving my computer about what I'm doing if I haven't expressly given permission for it and a line note in a EULA that says I did if use the software doesn't count. Especially not after already having 'bought' the game.

Other companies already do this where you can opt out of sending supposedly anonymous usage data.

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Options > Share GamePlay Data

Which, as I explained, can make the data WORSE (it's not clear whether the people who would opt in/out constitute a representative sample - and if it isn't, the data isn't nearly as useful)

That is plainly wrong. Because the people concerned about the privacy (the one's that will search for and use an opt-out ption) will surely use some kind of personal firewall (or a not connected system or VM if they are really hard core) leaving the developer with even less data than when you nicely ask them to opt-in.

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And also: What are you trying to say with "what couldn't be used against them"? Of course it can. And it's so damn easy. .

Quite bleedin' obviously, I meant that data that is anonymous and non-personal in nature can't be used against someone. I mean, how could it be? If you have a bit of data that, for example, says 'Linux Client. Up time: 34 minutes' with no other details in what possible universe could that be used against me?

Now, also obviously, if companies LIE and take non-anonymous personal data without telling you, so, they could use that in a way you wouldn't like, but they'd also be breaking the law.

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And also: What are you trying to say with "what couldn't be used against them"? Of course it can. And it's so damn easy. .

Quite bleedin' obviously, I meant that data that is anonymous and non-personal in nature can't be used against someone. I mean, how could it be? If you have a bit of data that, for example, says 'Linux Client. Up time: 34 minutes' with no other details in what possible universe could that be used against me?

Now, also obviously, if companies LIE and take non-anonymous personal data without telling you, so, they could use that in a way you wouldn't like, but they'd also be breaking the law.

Wow - because you know - the law has always stopped people from doing forbidden things. That's why the crime rate has dropped to zero. And as I have explained in great detail above: It's near impossible to proove that a company collects more than they say. And if they are convicted, they will just they that it was an accident. And that has also happend a lot of times.

But If you do believe in unicorns, world peace and stuff like that - I will certainly not hinder you to give out your ATM codes, your personal data and what-not - but please don't try to justify this as good practice. Or worse: Saying that people how do not want their data to be used in some kind of obscure way (again: see above post) are a problem.

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Options > Share GamePlay Data

Which, as I explained, can make the data WORSE (it's not clear whether the people who would opt in/out constitute a representative sample - and if it isn't, the data isn't nearly as useful)

That is plainly wrong. Because the people concerned about the privacy (the one's that will search for and use an opt-out ption) will surely use some kind of personal firewall (or a not connected system or VM if they are really hard core) leaving the developer with even less data than when you nicely ask them to opt-in.

In a perfect world, yes, but in the real world things are not nearly that clear-cut. I know people who will not opt-in as a matter of course, when asked, (they see it a bit like those boxes you check to receive junk mail), but that doesn't mean they're particularly savvy about protecting their data, in fact sometimes quite the opposite.

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And also: What are you trying to say with "what couldn't be used against them"? Of course it can. And it's so damn easy. .

Quite bleedin' obviously, I meant that data that is anonymous and non-personal in nature can't be used against someone. I mean, how could it be? If you have a bit of data that, for example, says 'Linux Client. Up time: 34 minutes' with no other details in what possible universe could that be used against me?

Now, also obviously, if companies LIE and take non-anonymous personal data without telling you, so, they could use that in a way you wouldn't like, but they'd also be breaking the law.

Wow - because you know - the law has always stopped people from doing forbidden things. That's why the crime rate has dropped to zero. And as I have explained in great detail above: It's near impossible to proove that a company collects more than they say. And if they are convicted, they will just they that it was an accident. And that has also happend a lot of times.

But If you do believe in unicorns, world peace and stuff like that - I will certainly not hinder you to give out your ATM codes, your personal data and what-not - but please don't try to justify this as good practice. Or worse: Saying that people how do not want their data to be used in some kind of obscure way (again: see above post) are a problem.

Oh for goodness sake, of course I'm not saying that people won't do bad things, you know I'm not and your rhetoric is getting a little tiresome. I'm saying that if they DO, then there are already laws in place to deal with such practices. And, I guess, the other thing I'm saying is that it seems pretty clear to me that the reason that most developers might want to collect anonymous usage stats is to help make their software better, and getting in the way of that for fear of some people that sometimes misuse data collection is profoundly unhelpful approach. I'm in favour of people being sensible about data usage, not reactive to the point of actively making things worse.

And I'll agree with you that the root of the problem is the people who misuse data. But I don't think it helps to then treat all data usage like it's the same.

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In a perfect world, yes, but in the real world things are not nearly that clear-cut. I know people who will not opt-in as a matter of course, when asked, (they see it a bit like those boxes you check to receive junk mail), but that doesn't mean they're particularly savvy about protecting their data, in fact sometimes quite the opposite.

Opting out? How dare they! Don't they see the greater good! Your friends must be terrorists or something... Opting out... tss!

Perhaps if an app or game would ask you to opt-in and why it wants you to opt-in, results were a lot better.

And also I think there are a few ways to gather user data without introusive behaviour... hmmm... what could that be? (surveys) *cough* (market research) *cough* (a forum) *cough*

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In a perfect world, yes, but in the real world things are not nearly that clear-cut. I know people who will not opt-in as a matter of course, when asked, (they see it a bit like those boxes you check to receive junk mail), but that doesn't mean they're particularly savvy about protecting their data, in fact sometimes quite the opposite.

Opting out? How dare they! Don't they see the greater good! Your friends must be terrorists or something... Opting out... tss!

Perhaps if an app or game would ask you to opt-in and why it wants you to opt-in, results were a lot better.

And also I think there are a few ways to gather user data without introusive behaviour... hmmm... what could that be? (surveys) *cough* (market research) *cough* (a forum) *cough*

Again, this really is increasingly tiresome rhetoric around things I never actually said, and doesn't even slightly answer the point that I was actually making, which was that a lot of people don't really care what they're opting in/out of and will always opt out given the choice.

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And also: What are you trying to say with "what couldn't be used against them"? Of course it can. And it's so damn easy. .

Quite bleedin' obviously, I meant that data that is anonymous and non-personal in nature can't be used against someone. I mean, how could it be? If you have a bit of data that, for example, says 'Linux Client. Up time: 34 minutes' with no other details in what possible universe could that be used against me?

Now, also obviously, if companies LIE and take non-anonymous personal data without telling you, so, they could use that in a way you wouldn't like, but they'd also be breaking the law.

Anonymization is hard. You can't really draw a clear line between anonymous data and personal data, see for example:

http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~shmat/shmat_oak08netflix.pdf

As for degraded quality of the data because of opt-in requirement: I believe the degradation would be minimal and making the sharing default would definately not be worth the privacy trade-off.

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Okay.. wow. That one offhand comment about the cloud turned into a monster of a privacy issue there.

Nathan, could you provide us with specifications on what kind of data is being gathered via DFA when those specifications are set? It would put the minds of the more privacy concerned backers to rest.

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Again, this really is increasingly tiresome rhetoric around things I never actually said, and doesn't even slightly answer the point that I was actually making, which was that a lot of people don't really care what they're opting in/out of and will always opt out given the choice.

Sorry, but diminishing privacy-concerned people as problems isn't a really good entry point for a discussion.

I can see your point and also think that such information is interesting for developers, but it is and will be misused by managers and/or marketing - Near-always. I don't know HOW often I had discussions with customers about topics like that "Why can't we keep the collected personal and email addresses after use?" "But, we want to know more about the people who registered" "But we won't do anything illegal with them - just put the information in a database and use it in the future for a mailing." "What? We can't do that? It's illegal? Hm, how about we just wait a few months and mail them, when the people don't remember any more where they entered the data"

Always. The. Same.

A simple to implement good practice: Explain what you want and ask people to co-operate. It's really that simple.

Our let me put it like this: Why should the user trust the developer that they handle the gathered information responsibly if the developers don't trust the users to opt-in?

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I think the key to keep most people appeased is just to be up front that the software is collecting "anonymous usage statistics" right when you first start the game up or at least very clearly labeled and not buried ass deep in some TOS (I'm looking at you Origin!), preferably checked on by default but can be disabled if so desired. Another nice touch is if the company makes the aggregate data public (ie: Valve with HL2 Ep2 and Steam Surveys).

Now for the beta where user metrics are going to be much more important and useful, I say part of playing the beta is going to be accepting that DF is going to collect some metrics to see what could be tweaked or improved, giving the user the option to opt out of these metrics is going to kind of kill the point of running the beta.

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Whenever I hear the word 'cloud' I reach for my revolver.

This talk about monitoring player behavior to modify the product makes me worried. I would be totally fine if you used analytics during beta testing to perfect the final product, but doing this after the game is released feels wrong.

I consider every program that phones home data about my behaviour to be a form of Spyware. Even if this specific program is not sending any sensitive information it will contribute to the general trend of treating users as resources to be data-mined (if the system requires the user to explicitly opt-in it would be fine).

The game design should not be changed after the game is released. I don't want to wake up one day and find the bad guys brandishing walkie-talkies instead of guns :P

I also hope the game will not be dependent on any central server somehow. I want to be able to play the game using DFA-VM in 2053.

Tons of games you've probably already played do the same thing. Using metrics isn't really new and EA, Activision and Ubi-Soft collect metrics for pretty much every single game they release nowadays.

I really don't see what the problem with it is, though. It isn't like the data is personally identifiable or even meaningful. I don't care if DF has information about how I played or solved a puzzle. You give out more personally identifiable information just by browing the web anyway.

Again, this really is increasingly tiresome rhetoric around things I never actually said, and doesn't even slightly answer the point that I was actually making, which was that a lot of people don't really care what they're opting in/out of and will always opt out given the choice.

Sorry, but diminishing privacy-concerned people as problems isn't a really good entry point for a discussion.

I can see your point and also think that such information is interesting for developers, but it is and will be misused by managers and/or marketing - Near-always. I don't know HOW often I had discussions with customers about topics like that "Why can't we keep the collected personal and email addresses after use?" "But, we want to know more about the people who registered" "But we won't do anything illegal with them - just put the information in a database and use it in the future for a mailing." "What? We can't do that? It's illegal? Hm, how about we just wait a few months and mail them, when the people don't remember any more where they entered the data"

Always. The. Same.

A simple to implement good practice: Explain what you want and ask people to co-operate. It's really that simple.

Our let me put it like this: Why should the user trust the developer that they handle the gathered information responsibly if the developers don't trust the users to opt-in?

E-mail addresses and player behavioral metrics are kind of different beasts. DF already got everyone's e-mail addresses when we backed the project anyway.

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I have absolutely nothing to say here, other than I enjoyed the breakdown of why they felt scratch, (ags/wintermute), or Ble weren't going to work.

Although I'm not sure how difficult the licensing on AGS could be, yes, it won't allow for the options of development on platforms, but the licensing factor can't be hard at all, plenty small developers have gotten it and sold their games.

The video on the Moai website showing Tim being a really hands-on kind of guy was really sweet. Although it seemed like that wasn't filmed or edited by 2 Player Productions.

(oh wait, I had something to say after all)

I was here to shoot and edit the Moai video, so be thankful Paul and Asif handle the DFA series proper. You wouldn't want me doing it.

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Anonymization is hard. You can't really draw a clear line between anonymous data and personal data, see for example:

http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~shmat/shmat_oak08netflix.pdf

Thanks for the link - a good - albeit not easy to follow - read. But unfortunatly too many will just ignore that things like cross referencing are possible and are already widely used and just ramble on about how "nothing bad can happen, because it's just this or that bit of information".

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Wow good read, even I could understand it. Also a big thanks for including wikipedia and .. yeah :)

Offtopic:

Could you do a monthly "What you (probably) missed this Month!" Update on Kickstarter. I regularly visit the forums, but maybe not everyone. Pls don't get me wrong. Not a whole transcript, but a short description and a link (and a reminder for those not signed into the forum to do so!). The same goes for SIDEQUEST and the normal video updates (which you are presenting via update).

This is planned.

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I’m not worried about the collection of gameplay data since I assume is not going to be mandatory, people that don’t like it will opt out from it, I doubt DF would want to create an Origin type brouhaha.

As for data being used to add hints or make things easier for the more inexperienced players? Well as long as there’s a casual and old-school mode present it shouldn’t be an issue, a lot of modern adventure games basically have in-game hints that work almost like walkthroughs, others let you skip entire sections/puzzles if you fail/spend enough time(s) on them. Removing hints and even hotspot highlight for old-school mode should keep all types of player happy.

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I'm happy that an existing engine is being used for the game as that to me means that more of the development time and money can go into the actual game (story and puzzles and what not) instead of having to take time and money to make a new engine. The fact that the engine is open source and so modifiable just sweetens the deal.

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