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Gregory Avery-Weir
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Barring unexpected hiccups, tomorrow is the day. It's not a major Zero Day version release, but it feels like a huge turning point in the project.
Yesterday we talked about our development and testing process. That process was put to the test today as we put the finishing touches on our "jobs" feature for Exploit: Zero Day.

Jobs let us give players missions and dispense story, but they are a pretty complicated system that is totally new functionality, as opposed to being an enhancement of existing code.

We use "git," a versioning system, for development, which lets us do this work separate from the known working code and keeps it all organized. However, when a titanic feature like the jobs system is ready to go, merging it into the rest of the code is still a major endeavor.

We've spent the evening finding and fixing issues in our private development version of the game, and each of us has come to at least one point where we were mystified by some arcane problem or another. Maybe one of us forgot to upload the code for a feature, or some stuff was written expecting the database to look one way but the data schema had changed by the time it was ready for merging.

But now we've smoothed out all the major roadbumps, and we're hopefully ready to do a release tomorrow with the biggest chunk of programming since we first opened the site up to select players.
Wish us luck!
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So ready for jobs to be done! Here comes the story!
Back into the groove! We're doing final testing and bugfixing on the job system for Exploit: Zero Day.

In Zero Day, you'll get jobs from the game's characters. Usually, these will revolve around hacking into some computer system. Maybe the hacktivist Sk3tch will ask you to set up a communications back door for a group of African freedom fighters, or the Samsara Digital employee Mahodara will ask you to search the files of a contractor who's using company data to cyberstalk someone.

You'll solve puzzles to hack into the systems, but you'll also make choices; do you want to let the freedom fighters have the ability to shut down government calls, too? Do you hand Mahodara the credentials to the files, or give him just the relevant evidence? Or do you refuse altogether?

The choices you make will earn you badges, which other players can see and use to judge you. These badges also track those choices, and may shape future jobs you receive. In this way the story can branch and change depending on your approach.

Jobs are preauthored, written ahead of time, but at any time you can also talk to the game's characters on the forums. Their responses will be written in real time by us, and the conversations they have with player characters will shape future content.

We're so excited about finally releasing jobs as part of the run up to the "Alpha One" phase of development. If you want to check the game out, visit the site and sign up for the mailing list: http://fpgam.es/1NQXF3g
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Some information about EZD's Virgil: Sk3tch.
If the hacker collective ZeroDay has a founder, it's Sk3tch. Sk3tch is a gifted sysadmin and coder who secretly helped thwart the 2010 attempted terrorist attack in Charlotte, NC.

Sk3tch wasn't the genius who cracked the networks of the nation of Locha, the US military, and a major bank in the same week, but she is the one who did the research, coordination, and organization for the operation.

Since then she's met hundreds of hackers online, earning a name for herself by making contributions to open-source anonymization and darknet projects.

In the wake of Edward Snowden's exile, the chaos of Anonymous, and the growing power of corporations like Samsara Digital, Sk3tch recruited a number of cybersecurity experts and formed ZeroDay.

To learn more about Sk3tch and ZeroDay, keep watching the progress of our game Exploit: Zero Day: http://fpgam.es/18nxKjC
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This might be the longest bit of prose I've written for EZD so far.
Despite constant complaints by watchdog groups, anti-capitalist activists, and Amnesty International, Samsara Digital is a company that has faced very few legal crises. One exception is the case of Laurie Wu.

Laurie Wu was a forensic accountant working for Samsara. On a consulting assignment to a cellphone faceplate manufacturer, she discovered that the client was being used to launder money for a Philippine terrorist group. As regulations required, she reported this to her manager in the US. A month later, when no action had been taken, she notified a newspaper.

Samsara higher-ups immediately apologized for the delay in reporting, claiming institutional inefficiency. Wu was then reassigned to a position in Peru and, a week later, fired for making a statement to the press without consulting the PR department. She was not given a ticket home, her company phone (the only one she had with her) was disconnected, and $48,000 in "unvested bonuses" was deducted from her checking account through the automatic payroll system, leaving her effectively penniless. Wu was last seen entering a jeep that was supposed to take her to Lima, which she had paid for with all of her remaining cash.

Unbeknownst to Samsara, Wu had also spoken to the US State Department. They subpoenaed Samsara's entire board of directors to a hearing, but only the Vice President of Compliance appeared. He made excuses, apologies, and promises, but Samsara seemed on the brink of debilitating fines and sanctions for the entire affair.

One month later, the charges were dropped without comment from the State Department. Samsara created the Laurie Wu Scholarship Fund, which operated for six years before being eliminated in corporate restructuring that reduced the role of the Compliance Department. Laurie Wu was never found.

Investigate Samsara Digital in Exploit: Zero Day. Visit http://fpgam.es/1MO2hXl
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My first time posting audio in quite a while!
Our tabletop roleplaying game is now called Rosette, and we've been doing playtesting. We just put up a recording of part of our first playtest event, where we ran through "Oracle," one of the example adventures from the core book.

Rosette had a working title of LORE, and this playtest actually happened before we settled on a final name, so you'll still hear us using the old name. :)

The first hour or so of the Rosette playtest is on our blog at: http://fpgam.es/1AVyGIn
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Today was the day for me (Gregory) to do a piece of work I knew would be a pain. Due to some subtle but totally valid security reasons, the forum software we've been using for Exploit: Zero Day recently made a change that broke the way we were having players sign on to accounts. As a result, we've been using an old version of the software for a couple of weeks.

The short version: you used to be able to tell the forum "sign in this player, then tell them to go to a different page." After their change, the forum won't tell the player to go just anywhere after signing in; it is only willing to tell them to go somewhere on the forum. It assumes any other destination is unsafe.

In order to fix our system, I needed to go into the bowels of the forum system and add a backstage page on the forums that has a "whitelist," or approved list of destinations. Think of it like giving the school a list of people who can pick up your child. It's a hassle, but providing a whitelist means that your players stay safe and don't get picked up by strangers.

Now, the system signs on the player and sends them to that whitelist page, which lives on the forums. That page checks its list, makes sure the destination is somewhere we trust (like exploitzeroday.com) and sends the player on their way.

In order to do all that, I had to learn a bit of Ruby on Rails. It's an interesting language and framework, and I'm glad I had a chance to dip into it. Still, I barely understood what I was doing, and being finished feels like emerging into the world after being lost in the woods.

If you want to check out the game, which features only fictional computer security, you can go tohttp://fpgam.es/1E0ggWr. We're currently in closed alpha, but you can sign up to the mailing list to get on the waiting list for access.
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We have a great bunch of alpha testers on Exploit: Zero Day! Check out some of the stuff they've done on our blog.
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We try to release an update to Exploit: Zero Day every week. This week's update is especially exciting: it adds messages associated with puzzle systems.

One of the best parts of the original Exploit is the story and how it ties in to the puzzle solving. By including an introductory message to the puzzles and another message as a reward for solving them, we can give puzzle context. They're not just a bunch of colorful nodes: they're the security system for a corporate lobbying headquarters or the communication network for a PMC.

We've already had some frankly mindbending puzzles created by our alpha testers, and it will be really interesting to see what they do with more tools for providing narrative.

To see the full changelog for this update, check it out on our forums: 
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No one invented the Internet, but Vannevar Bush invented hypertext. In July 1945 he published "As We May Think," an essay in which he describes the memex, a machine that presents a cross-referenced database of all human knowledge. At the end, he writes:

"Presumably man's spirit should be elevated if he can better review his shady past and analyze more completely and objectively his present problems. He has built a civilization so complex that he needs to mechanize his records more fully if he is to push his experiment to its logical conclusion and not merely become bogged down part way there by overtaxing his limited memory....

"The applications of science... have enabled him to throw masses of people against one another with cruel weapons. They may yet allow him truly to encompass the great record and to grow in the wisdom of race experience. He may perish in conflict before he learns to wield that record for his true good."

The second publication of this essay was in September 1945, in the same issue of Life magazine that printed aerial photos of the recent Hiroshima bombing. Bush also ran the OSRD, which was responsible for the Manhattan Project.

Exploit: Zero Day explores the intersection of information and conflict, where complexity leads to cruelty. Game info and newsletter signup at http://fpgam.es/1D0Hvza
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