Exploit: Zero Day

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The Future Proof Podcast 014

Podcast episode

Melissa Avery-Weir  0:21  
Hello, and welcome to the Future Proof Podcast. This is our monthly podcast where we chat about stuff we've been working on and anything cool we're planning. I'm Melissa Avery-Weir.

Gregory Avery-Weir  0:31  
And I'm Gregory Avery-Weir.

Melissa Avery-Weir  0:33  
And... by monthly...

Gregory Avery-Weir  0:36  
You know, it's a flexible term.

Melissa Avery-Weir  0:38  
It's a flexible term. Life happens. Like buying a home.

Gregory Avery-Weir  0:43  
Yeah. I had an emergency room visit recently.

Melissa Avery-Weir  0:46  
Yeah. So it's, it's been a bit.

Gregory Avery-Weir  0:48  
Everything's fine. We're housed and relatively healthy. So we've had a long running project lately that is finally coming to fruition.

Melissa Avery-Weir  0:58  
Yes. We have I think we've talked about it a little bit before.

Gregory Avery-Weir  1:02  
I think so.

Melissa Avery-Weir  1:02  
At least on some channels. But we have been working on a survey. What we want to kind of do is figure out where our community is, and how people hear about news from us, what games they know about. Just sort of taking the pulse.

Gregory Avery-Weir  1:20  
We know people that we know, people are interested in what we're doing. But we often hear like, "Oh, I didn't know you were doing this." Or, you know, like, we want to make sure that we're having a relationship with folks that means that they know the stuff we're working on. And we know, sort of the feedback that they have on our stuff.

Melissa Avery-Weir  1:38  
Exactly. It's a survey that we're--we'll be distributing a bunch of different ways. Every way we can because the whole point is to find where people are.

Gregory Avery-Weir  1:47  
Yeah, mailing lists, Twitter, Facebook, other secondary social media places.

Melissa Avery-Weir  1:52  
Other tertiary social media places.

Gregory Avery-Weir  1:55  
Yeah.

Melissa Avery-Weir  1:57  
And really eager to hear people's responses. Even if the responses are "Nope, never heard of it."

Gregory Avery-Weir  2:03  
Yes. If all your responses are "no, no, no, no, no, never, no," that's useful information.

Melissa Avery-Weir  2:09  
It really is. And we don't know what, what kind of space--forum quote unquote--we want to provide down the road. But it's really dependent on what people say. Like, if the majority of people are like "Twitter all day!" then we'll be like, "Oh, well, Twitter all day." So that's exciting. We're excited for that to come out within the next... week? Well.

Gregory Avery-Weir  2:33  
Yeah, we're not quite sure. It might be that when you listen to this podcast, it will already be out. It might be that it's that it's going to come out a few days later. But if you follow us on Twitter at @playfutureproof, or you just check out our website at FutureProofGames.com or you sign up for the Exploit: Zero Day newsletter--

Melissa Avery-Weir  2:54  
Right.

Gregory Avery-Weir  2:54  
Those are definitely three places that we will prioritize having links to that survey out. And it'll be--we'll be posting links periodically for a month or so. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  3:05  
Right.

Gregory Avery-Weir  3:06  
At least.

Melissa Avery-Weir  3:06  
And if it is out by the time this episode is out, then it's in the show notes.

Gregory Avery-Weir  3:10  
Yes. So you can check those otherwise, you know. Follow us. It'll be out soon.

Melissa Avery-Weir  3:17  
speaking of slightly running long running projects.

Gregory Avery-Weir  3:20  
Yeah. So we've definitely mentioned this on the podcast before. We worked on a game for the LOWREZJAM2019, which is a game jam for games that are 64 by 64 pixels or less.

Melissa Avery-Weir  3:35  
Which is incredibly small.

Gregory Avery-Weir  3:36  
Very tiny. You're allowed to, like, scale it up on the screen, so that it's playable, but very small. We didn't end up getting it out in time for the jam deadline, but we have finished it up and Cultivating Insurgency is now available on itch.io. Links to it are various places, but if you go to futureproofgames.itch.io, you'll be able to download it for free or pay what you want. 

And it's currently sort of a minimum viable product like, initial prototype stage. It's got a couple different unit types that you'll be using as a guerilla gardening activist group in a near future food desert. It'll--it plays like a turn based strategy game where you're fighting cops in order to reclaim unused land and create gardening and food and it's sort of run-based. So when you first play, you won't have very many units available at all, and you'll very quickly just run out of units and have to start over. But if you plow land and plant seeds over time, you'll gain the ability to have more and more units that you can use to clear out more and more levels and have more and more territory that you're getting units from.

Melissa Avery-Weir  4:56  
Right. So it's a fun little thing a short game. We have a small set of things we want to add, like more kinds of units. A little more--

Gregory Avery-Weir  5:06  
A few more, a few more kind of loops of mechanics, stuff that happens when you start a, start a run over.

Melissa Avery-Weir  5:12  
Right.

Gregory Avery-Weir  5:13  
Ways that the environment can change.

Melissa Avery-Weir  5:16  
Yeah. And so, once we wrap up something we're talking about next, then we'll probably get back to that. And, especially if we get response where people are like, "Oh, this is cool," or "this is fascinating," or anything like that.

Gregory Avery-Weir  5:30  
This is definitely a thing we're like, if no one seems interested, we're probably not going to spend a whole lot of resources on continuing it. So if you check out the game and you like it, then just let us know. And just the fact of you going, "Hey, this is cool" will be enough to be like, okay, so, so people are interested in this. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  5:47  
Yeah. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  5:47  
And we're we're definitely interested in concepts of like citizen activism and you know, doing things in order to reclaim spaces that are yours to begin with. And don't don't actually belong to the government as much as--

Melissa Avery-Weir  6:02  
Or corporations. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  6:03  
Yeah, as much as landowners would, would like you to think that common land is is just theirs.

Melissa Avery-Weir  6:10  
And I know we talked about the technicalities a little bit before, but this is our first time working in the Godot engine. Which proved interesting.

Gregory Avery-Weir  6:20  
Yeah, we definitely had difficulties. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  6:21  
Yeah. Especially getting started.

Gregory Avery-Weir  6:22  
Yeah, we both come to a point where we're like, okay, it's, it's fine. It's in the same tier as Unity, I think in terms of like, really rough to get into at the start, but do you eventually kind of figure it out? 

Melissa Avery-Weir  6:36  
Yeah.

Gregory Avery-Weir  6:37  
I'd say I'm definitely more comfortable in Unity now than I am in Godot even still, but.

Melissa Avery-Weir  6:42  
Yeah.

Gregory Avery-Weir  6:43  
But it's a cool project. And I'm really interested to see how it evolves because Godot is totally like, open source and free as opposed to Unity and other development platforms which are which are owned by someone else. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  6:57  
Right.

Gregory Avery-Weir  6:57  
And you're sort of licensing it from them.

Melissa Avery-Weir  7:00  
Above a certain amount, you have to pay and all that sort of stuff.

Gregory Avery-Weir  7:02  
Whereas Godot is not that case. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  7:04  
Yeah. So that has proved interesting. And there'll be links to Cultivating in the show notes, of course. 

Now that that's released and kind of sitting on hold, we're getting back to Exploit: Zero Day. So we've had a couple things going on with Exploit: Zero Day. One of them is finishing up general development on our next round of alpha related changes. So this is you know, we've we've talked about this before, but it's user interface enhancements, it's some features, bug fixes, things like that before we feel comfortable kind of taking our hands off it for a little while.

Gregory Avery-Weir  7:38  
Yeah, it's it's open right now, free for everyone to join in, in alpha, but, but we still know that we have stuff that we want to do before we're ready to just sort of have other things be our focus.

Melissa Avery-Weir  7:50  
Right. Like we did not intend Cultivating Insurgency to take as long as it did.

Unknown Speaker  7:54  
Right, exactly. It was supposed to be a shorter development cycle than it ended up being.

Melissa Avery-Weir  7:58  
Yeah, so generally speaking, like, we aren't even prototyping other games really. So the big thing that we're working on that will that also may be released by the time I edit this--.

Gregory Avery-Weir  8:08  
It'll either be out when you listen to this or about to be out.

Melissa Avery-Weir  8:12  
This is a very busy week.

It's the fifth job in Headless Swarm. The fifth main path job, I guess I should say, because we have some some side jobs in there. And this one's called "burn, burn burn." And we've talked talked about it a little bit before this one is featuring--primarily featuring our favorite character Kernel Pop, spoke like the popcorn. User avatar: like the popcorn.

Gregory Avery-Weir  8:37  
I feel like my favorite character is Chamunda, but Kernel Pop is pretty, pretty far up there.

Melissa Avery-Weir  8:42  
Kernel Pop's one of my faves. And short summary is that Kernel Pop (KP) is at a convention--security convention--sneaking in to do something.

Gregory Avery-Weir  8:54  
Yeah. Getting, getting some dirt on like, like cryptowarfare  companies and the sort of people who make military drones or make software that you use to, like, attack foreign governments, that sort of thing.

Melissa Avery-Weir  9:10  
And so he gets himself in a bit of a pickle, pretty much... caught, nearly caught. And so the player is helping him out to varying degrees of success, depending on some choices that they make. And there's sort of a meta puzzle, in there. There's definitely a meta puzzle in there. So if you piece together some stuff from some extra systems, you'll get a pass phrase that unlocks a little bit of something extra. And so we try to do that in every few system or every few jobs. I think we've had a couple of those in this.

Gregory Avery-Weir  9:38  
Where--this, this is definitely one that has a larger, we're hoping that we'll have a little bit larger consequence than a lot of the choices you make. Whereas you'll totally be fine if you don't manage to solve this extra puzzle, like you'll be able to complete and everything. But the, the tenor and the tone, and the range of things that are possible will be broader if you are able to figure this side.

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:01  
Yeah. So there, there's at least one job later that's pretty, pretty significantly impacted by, by how you treat this one. It's exciting to get that out. It's been in progress for a long time. Well, it's anyway, we've talked about how we wanted to kind of bank a few jobs up before we start releasing stuff.

Gregory Avery-Weir  10:19  
Yeah, we want to have stuff in the pipeline to make sure that we can at least consistently put stuff out really regularly once we start releasing jobs again.

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:27  
Yeah. So that's exciting. Keep your ears open for that one.

Gregory Avery-Weir  10:32  
And if you want to play the jobs that have shown up so far in Headless Swarm, you can buy it for $4.99 on exploitzeroday.com. For, for less, maybe entertaining news--unless you're a real DevOps geek.

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:47  
That's me. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  10:48  
We've been working on some sort of backend stuff for the, for the company. We end up managing a lot of servers.

Melissa Avery-Weir  10:59  
Yeah. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  10:59  
That that we have to just keep running for, for Future Proof Games in addition to just like websites, their ad sites for games, you know, like--

Melissa Avery-Weir  11:10  
Right.

Gregory Avery-Weir  11:10  
--majestyofcolors.com or rosetterpg.com. We also have some some backend stuff that's like our JIRA server where we track what tickets, you know, like what tasks we have to do. Or, you know, our Jenkins server that mea--that manages building various games into a into a playable product or various sites into a deployable product. 

All of those things require maintenance. And we've had different approaches to that. And one of the things that's been a constant, sort of just an amount of overhead that we've had to deal with is just... let's do backups. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  11:50  
Yeah. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  11:50  
Let's make sure all our software is up to date. And that's stuff that you just have to do when you manage servers or machines.

Melissa Avery-Weir  11:57  
Or you don't and are very sorry when something goes bad. 

Gregory Avery-Weir  11:59  
Yeah. Definitely something you should do that has consequences if you don't. One project that we've got ongoing is automating a lot of that maintenance work. So we've been working on using Ansible as a tool, which it's, it's a tool that lets you... It's essentially designed for managing a bunch of different servers, a bunch of different remote boxes. And it just lets you write what's called a playbook. That's just "Hey, for this category of of servers, do these three tasks. For this category of servers do these eight tasks." 

And so we're slowly building up our playbook on that. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  12:38  
Yeah.

Gregory Avery-Weir  12:38  
One of the big things we're doing is backups. It's just if anything goes wrong, this will--this bit of--this task that's setup in Jenkins will use Ansible to contact the servers and just--it does it every so often. And if anything goes wrong, we can just pull up those backups and restore right from, from where we left off.

Melissa Avery-Weir  12:58  
Yeah, and I think I've written in sort of that DevOps series I was doing, like, there's always a question of "how quickly do you automate?" And it is a delightfully privileged position to say always automate immediately from the get go.

Gregory Avery-Weir  13:10  
Yeah, like, that would be great. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  13:12  
That would be great.

Gregory Avery-Weir  13:13  
If you've got the resources to set that up.

Melissa Avery-Weir  13:15  
Right. And so when we started, look, when we started facing this problem a few years ago, we were like: well, that feels like we would spend hours and hours trying to build out something with an unfamiliar system of Chef or Ansible or one of these. And we--because we weren't quite sure how to do it. So if it's only a few things, let's just do it by hand for now. See how it goes. 

And so this is kind of our latest iteration on that, which is that it's not sustainable for us to do it. Even on a monthly cadence by ourselves. There will still be things we have to do manually, but we can progressively automate some things and we're treating that as a little project, kind of a long running ongoing thing. So that's excellent. It's been--I sleep better at night already.

Gregory Avery-Weir  13:54  
Yeah. And we're at the point right now where we can just kind of say we know that these things are getting backed up, stuff's getting uploaded to Amazon s3, which is a file storage system. And we don't have to worry about those because we know it's there.

Melissa Avery-Weir  14:07  
So I think that covers us for this few months worth of updates.

Unknown Speaker  14:12  
Yeah, definitely. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  14:13  
Not that we haven't done other stuff. 

Unknown Speaker  14:14  
But yeah, so so check out Cultivating Insurgency at futureproofgames.itch.io.

Melissa Avery-Weir  14:20  
Keep an ear peeled for the survey and the new Headless Swarm update, or see all of these things in the show notes. And I'll add some links to the techie aspects of Ansible. The DevOps series, I think, at least the intro and a link to Ansible because it's a cool concept if you aren't so familiar with configuration management.

Gregory Avery-Weir  14:40  
Definitely. 

Melissa Avery-Weir  14:40  
Yeah, so you can find all of our stuff over at FutureProofGames.com We're over on twitter at @playfutureproof and on Facebook as Future Proof Games. Hit us up with questions or comments over on our blog or anywhere on social media. Our theme music is "Juparo" by Broke for Free, which is available under a Creative Commons attribution 3.0 license.