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Thread: [disc] leeching, deeplinking, traffic and a highscore board

  1. #1
    383,890,620 polygons nGFX's Avatar
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    [disc] leeching, deeplinking, traffic and a highscore board

    hi there,

    it seems that somehow DynaMiner is a quite popular game (some 60.000 hits in 4 days). i know this for sure 'cause i write each access to a database (ok, there is also a server log, but i can collect some data this way, that the server log does not)

    anyway, one of the main problems with a game like dynaminer is that it is large (in terms of the internet), to be exact 984k compressed flash data.

    knowing this, one can calculate quite easy that there must have been traffic worth 60GB(+/-) which will have to be paid ...

    i decided to put the game up for free atm and found it only fair to say that if i do not make money with it no one else should. so i put this little piece of text bleow the game:

    "Linking only allowed with written permission of the author."

    ok.

    so why is this ignored?
    why are sites like pumbo.com linking DIRECTLY to the swf? (openening it withing a framest with ads, thus making money with it)
    why are linking sites line backtothefuture.nl to the game's html page? (deep linking) and not to my homepage ? (and after i emailed the little b*, he said "linking is ALWAYS allowed ...")

    why only the owner of minijuegos.com has asked for permission? (and i granted it, makint it a condition that the game will be opened in a seperate window, with no frames and ads. which he agreed to.)

    so i had to take some steps to ensure my rights as author:
    1. the main swf will be renamed on a dayly base.
    2. the game's html page contains a frame-buster script
    3. the aspx page, the game is on, write every access to a DB and checks for the referer of the page, if the preferer is not allowed redirecting to a page that states this (along withe the message to visit ngfx.de instead)

    same amount of work seem to be the highscore table ... i learned my lesson here.
    i forgot the check for 0 (zero) scores, so some 10.000 dumb rats just opened the game entered their name to the board with a score of 0 ...
    not to mention the checks for bad words ...

    anyone else has this problems ???

    nGFX
    Last edited by nGFX; 06-27-2004 at 02:27 PM.

  2. #2
    Hype over content... Squize's Avatar
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    Nature of the beast mate.

    Our games have only really been pimped here ( And of course versions sold to clients ) and you know that I've had to shut the sites down because of the leeching.

    No value is given to Flash games, partly because their's some moron always willing to work for $50, and partly because there's just so many ( And for the most part really dire ) games out there.
    They're just seen as a totally disposable product, and as such the majority of shovelware sites treat them as such, disregarding the little things such as copyright.
    I mean a shovelware site owner visits here about once a month asking for free content with no regard to the time and effort ( And yeah, skill and talent ) that goes into making a good game.

    I really can't see anyway around it. Who wants to get bogged down screwing around with security all the time, and the number of shovelware sites that have miniclip games on there without a functioning hi-score cause they're too lame to rip the scripts as well is unreal. These people don't care if a game doesn't function a 100% like it should, they just want the content to be the biggest to get more ad revenue.

    I was even thinking about having a list of blacklisted leech sites at the start of the games, but as a games player on a valid site, who wants to sit through that ? More work for me, gets in the way of the game and these people couldn't care less either.

    Big rant I know, but when people are not just taking money out of my pocket by spreading my games so they are no longer sellable, but then making a profit on my work, it kinda pisses me off big time.

    Squize.

  3. #3
    Half Empty happinessSam's Avatar
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    How does pnflashgames protect the games (i assume it must, since you're selling them), and does that work?

  4. #4
    Hype over content... Squize's Avatar
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    pnF is pretty much built around Leasons hi-score component, which uses a couple of quite clever tricks for security.

    The whole premise of pnF is that hi-score is king, and although you could rip the games themselves fairly easily, you'd have a bitc'h of a job linking that with the hi-scores, which would reduce the games "value" quite a lot.
    I know that on the first day someone tried ripping the JBJ Sisters

    But again going back to my earlier point, a lot of these webmasters couldn't care less about a game only being half ripped, so I imagine there are quite a few pnF branded copies of my games floating around.

    Squize.

  5. #5
    383,890,620 polygons nGFX's Avatar
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    i don't know about apache, but i have the power of asp.net at my hands ...

    (same things could be with php as well, i think)

    i could turn up the degree of control a bit more if needed. atm i "only" check for the site that links the game, if it is in my database, allow access, if not redirect.

    if i really want to make it foolproof, i could generate random links to the games. or use timestamps, which will allow a link to work for only a few seconds seconds.

    if that all fails, i can always put the games behind a registration form and a login. (ok, this will happen anyway sooner or later (ok, there will be always a guest login for free content)
    using a login and requiring a cookie should really stop deep linking. (along with a frame buster and dynamic generated javascript functions on the html page)

    still one of the main problems we (as game-creators) have is that 98% of the world is thinking that the web is for free, always and everywhere.


    sincrely <olli/> aka nGFX

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    Re: [disc] leeching, deeplinking, traffic and a highscore board

    Originally posted by nGFX
    i decided to put the game up for free atm and found it only fair to say that if i do not make money with it no one else should. so i put this little peace of text bleow the game:

    "Linking only allowed with written permission of the author."

    ok.

    so why is this ignored?
    Because that is exactly how the internet works? Because that is exactly how the internet was designed? Putting something on the net and then complaining about deep-linking is rather like complaining that whenever you open a tin of beans you find that there are beans inside.

    People who really don't like deep-linking should really evaluate why they've put anything on the net in the first place. If you don't want people to link directly to your SWF files, don't put them on your site.

    As for why people ignore your message, it's rather like putting a sign up on the street that says, "Talking only allowed with the permission of the guy who lives at number 15". It is a nonsensical request within the conventions of the internet.

  7. #7
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    Re: Re: [disc] leeching, deeplinking, traffic and a highscore board

    Originally posted by ant512
    Because that is exactly how the internet works? Because that is exactly how the internet was designed? Putting something on the net and then complaining about deep-linking is rather like complaining that whenever you open a tin of beans you find that there are beans inside.

    People who really don't like deep-linking should really evaluate why they've put anything on the net in the first place. If you don't want people to link directly to your SWF files, don't put them on your site.

    As for why people ignore your message, it's rather like putting a sign up on the street that says, "Talking only allowed with the permission of the guy who lives at number 15". It is a nonsensical request within the conventions of the internet.
    I disagree... deep-linking is theft. Would you complain if someone came in your house and stole your money? Why should this be any different on the internet?

    Also, there are considerate people on the earth, so the message isn't nonsensical. If people would just ask, I'm sure game developers would be happy to have more exposure.

    Just ask your self, how would you feel if someone was making more money than you from something you made. Especially if you put months into it, and they only put an hour.

    jtnw

  8. #8
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    Because that is exactly how the internet works? Because that is exactly how the internet was designed? Putting something on the net and then complaining about deep-linking is rather like complaining that whenever you open a tin of beans you find that there are beans inside.
    So, if somebody stopped you in the street, proceeded to without your permission, take your pants off and deep-inserted his penis into your rectum, that would be OK according to your logic. That is after all exactly how penises work.

    People who really don't like deep-linking should really evaluate why they've put anything on the net in the first place. If you don't want people to link directly to your SWF files, don't put them on your site.
    If you don't like the above scenario of deep-penetration, don't go out and show off your a$$, stay at home.

  9. #9
    Senior Member UnknownGuy's Avatar
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    Is there some way to check where the .swf is being displayed, not where it is from?

  10. #10
    383,890,620 polygons nGFX's Avatar
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    yep, take a look at this thread:

    leecher thread

    you can do some preety usefull stuff with javascript functions, too.

    nGFX

    ps:
    I disagree... deep-linking is theft. Would you complain if someone came in your house and stole your money? Why should this be any different on the internet?
    true ...
    the idea behind my little piece of text was to get people asking. i don't mind if someone links to a html page with a free tutorial on it (not that i have), i don't mind if some links to any of the smaller games i have online, but i do mind if someone produces 20gb of unpaid traffic!

    i do mind if someone KNOWINGLY steals a game to put it in his frameset with HIS ads around MY game.
    this means that i have to pay for MY work (traffic), in order to see someone else making money with it (ads). (would be a good thing to go to the movies and get paid instead of having to pay)

    btw. ant512, i would like you to put my name in all of your pages, the ik+ game would look nicer if there would be an nGFX logo in it. i guess you don't mind that i copy everything from your page and change just the names? i could sell ik+ for some bucks ... great idea! oh, and i would like to put some ads around your page, too. YES, even better: you could do my work and i sell it! yeah, that's how the internet works!

  11. #11
    Filthy Gorgeous DancingOctopus's Avatar
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    Originally posted by nGFX
    (would be a good thing to go to the movies and get paid instead of having to pay)
    I would liken it more to stealing a movie reel then charging people to watch it in your own private theatre.

  12. #12
    Senior Member lapo73's Avatar
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    i do mind if someone KNOWINGLY steals a game to put it in his frameset with HIS ads around MY game.
    Very nice discussion here.
    I totally agree. Basically they're making money using your paid bandwidth ...

    We had the same problem with DickDynamite and some other games on our site. They were so heavily linked that for a bunch of days we were having all the available Apache concurrent connections filled, making the site very slow and straining the webserver.
    We had to remove some of those games for some days, investigate the referrals and work on a bunch of countermeasures.

    If you're lucky enough to own a webserver and you can configure it, I would definetely suggest to use some some referer techniques like those provided by the Apache Rewrite Module (I am not sure if MS IIS 5 does have this feature, maybe version 6 ?). This way you can survive the hordes of traffic generated by linkers
    Or at least use some javascript to detect the frames-trick and bring the user to a custom page

    Lapo
    www.gotoandplay.it
    Flash game developers community
    www.smartfoxserver.com
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  13. #13
    comedy code cobbler
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    This IS a big issue, and anyone who suggests that it is just something we should put up with because it is "the nature of the internet" is frankly being incredibly naive.

    Many of us here are making a living from (or aspiring to) developing Flash games, or sites showcasing Flash games, so this is our livelihood we're talking about.

    Make no mistake, these sites make a LOT of money from this through carrying advertising, simply by stealing other people's work.

    I'm not sure everyone here is really aware of this - a high traffic games site with a publishing deal with one of the better ad houses can generate SERIOUS money. These sites DO NOT do it for love or to share games that they like.

    At Mousebreaker we've had these problems for a while, and it is on the increase due to the prevalence of i-frames and the sheer number of sites like Pumbo.

    One approach - as nGFX says - is to rename the swf they are linking to on a regular basis, perhaps even daily. We do this, and despite having a high number of games on our site, it doesn't take long to do. Then we replace the swf they are calling with a simple redirection to our site. This results in a substantial increase of visitors to our site, many of who are new to it and will play not only that particular game but many others.

    Admittedly you'll need to be ready for that extra traffic, but play them at their own game - instead of them leeching your bandwidth, leech their visitors.

    Rich

    Mousebreaker.com

  14. #14
    Ihoss
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    Here is a good comparison ant: If you take a walk in the park you will see a bench. Anyone can sit on that bench for free and any one can use it. Same with your game on your website. But what if you picked up that bench and put it somewhere else? Is that ok? No

    The best way to solve the deep lining problem is to have a log in. It is very difficult for the stealing site to log you in without the player realising this is someone else's site. But make sure you have a very easy to use guest sign in, so first time visitors don't have to register a lot of data to try a game they might not like.

  15. #15
    Feeling adventurous? T1ger's Avatar
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    I just came up with a genious idea!

    I know a bit C++ and its not difficult to make a application that edits your html files and renames the swf's... I'll think I'll do that..

  16. #16
    Hype over content... Squize's Avatar
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    It's easy enough to just write a php script to rename your file every time a page requests it.
    It stops bloggers linking directly to the swf if nothing else.

    Squize.

  17. #17
    Optimist Prime StenFLASH's Avatar
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    A good way of protecting against this is to have an .swf that loads the main movie only if top.window.url == the url of your site (or wherever on your site you have the page for your game). The 'top' makes it check the very root of the browser (not just the frameset) and if it's right: load the movie, otherwise stop.

    This way you only have a small 1-5kb .swf load to check whether the main movie should load. That cuts down on stolen bandwidth BIG time. Of course, you'll want a similar check within the main movie itself so if they try to hotlink directly to that, it wont play.

  18. #18
    Feeling adventurous? T1ger's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Squize
    It's easy enough to just write a php script to rename your file every time a page requests it.
    It stops bloggers linking directly to the swf if nothing else.

    Squize.
    Yeah, but you would have to edit the .html file that shows the swf too, but that can also be done in php ofcourse.

    I think the best thing to do, is to name a file "game.sfw.php" and "make" it a swf-file (load the swf-data from another swf-file, which nobody knows the name of) after certain conditions are ok.

    BUT, I can disable hotlinking on my ISP so that's no trouble for me

  19. #19
    383,890,620 polygons nGFX's Avatar
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    just to have it here for people who have a "frame" problem:

    here's a frame-buster script:
    Code:
    <script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">
    <!--
    setTimeout ("changePage()", 3000);
    
    function changePage() {
    
    	if (self.parent.frames.length != 0) {
    		self.parent.location=document.location;
    	}
    }
    
    //-->
    </script>
    this thing is copied from the other leech thread (code by murraymint):
    offline / frame stop:
    Code:
    <-- add to the html page -->
    <param name="movie" value="game.swf?check=online">
    <param name="quality" value="high">
    <param name="SCALE" value="exactfit">
    <embed src="game.swf?check=online"
    Code:
    // add to 1. frame in your flash:
    if (check == "" || check eq undefined || Stage.scaleMode eq "showAll"){
            getURL("http://www.mysite.com","_self");
    }
    fscommand("quit",true);
    ... and finally a shortend version of the asp.net page i use (without the dynamic renaming and dynamic generated javascript methods (which are called from the swf depending on the ?check parameter)):

    Code:
    Private Sub Page_Load(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles MyBase.Load
    
    	Dim accessAllowed as Boolean = False 'by default access is not granted
    	Dim URLreferer As String = ""
    
    	If (Not context.Request.UrlReferrer Is Nothing) Then
    		URLreferer = context.Request.UrlReferrer.AbsoluteUri
    		' only accept connections from "ngfx.de"
    		If (URLreferer.ToLower.LastIndexOf("ngfx.de") <> -1) Then 'i do use a db query here
    			accessAllowed = True
    		End If
    	End If
    
    	' fancy database code here
    	' [...]
    	' info:
    	' context.Request.UserHostAddress returns the current user's ip ...
    	' i store this in a database along with the referer and some more infos,
    	' so i can generate a report for each user (ie which Highscore is from which
    	' ip and how long did this player stay (or how often did the player play ...)
    
    	' back to business if access is not granted, redirect the current visitor to a
    	' a page which tells him the bad news and allows him to open the game from there.
    	If (Not accessAllowed) Then
    		Response.Redirect("illegal.htm")
    	End If
    
    End Sub
    have a nice day, nGFX
    Last edited by nGFX; 06-28-2004 at 03:21 AM.

  20. #20
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    Originally posted by nGFX
    btw. ant512, i would like you to put my name in all of your pages, the ik+ game would look nicer if there would be an nGFX logo in it. i guess you don't mind that i copy everything from your page and change just the names? i could sell ik+ for some bucks ... great idea! oh, and i would like to put some ads around your page, too. YES, even better: you could do my work and i sell it! yeah, that's how the internet works!
    If you look through my site, you'll notice that everything is open source, including the site itself. There is even a news item about IK++ on the index page from when the game went open source that reads:

    "Change the copyright notice and pretend you made it yourself! Impress your friends!"

    So yes, anyone can copy anything they like from my page, edit it and redistribute it.

    Meanwhile, I suggest that you do some research about the origins of the internet and the design decisions that were made.

    First off, Vannevar Bush, who came up with the idea for deep-linking between pages in separate documents in the 1930s:

    http://www.iath.virginia.edu/elab/hfl0051.html

    Full text of "As We May Think" here:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/f...uter/bushf.htm

    Next, Ted Nelson's Xanadu system, which is basically a hypertext system (he invented the word) founded on the principle that large documents can be created by deep-linking into other documents:

    http://www.iath.virginia.edu/elab/hfl0155.html

    Finally, Douglas Englebart, who worked on ARPANET, which eventually became the internet:

    http://www.ibiblio.org/pioneers/englebart.html

    However, if you are really opposed to deep-linking, I suggest you follow these alternative, trunkated URLs instead:

    http://www.iath.virginia.edu/
    http://www.theatlantic.com/
    http://www.ibiblio.org/

    Deep-linking is bad, remember? You enjoy searching through websites for deeply-embedded information, don't you? You don't want the internet to be useful or anything, do you?

    I have absolutely no problem with people protecting their work, by adding in referer detection routines, file detection, URL detection, etc, to prevent the SWF being copied to a new server. However, if people start insisting that no-one can link to their site without permission, what will become of the net? What will happen to Google if people (and particularly companies) demand that their pages be removed from the search engine because they don't like deep-linking? How will you find solutions to your Flash problems if Google contains nothing but links to splash pages? How will anyone find out about your games if no-one can link to them?

    Insisting that deep-linking is bad ignores the entire point of the internet, which was to make it easy to link between related documents. Take that away and the internet becomes an utterly pointless mix of spam, viruses, links to splash pages and banner adverts, in which it is impossible to find anything because linking to relevant information is not permitted.
    Last edited by ant512; 06-28-2004 at 04:27 AM.

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