EVE API 6.3.1 for phpBB 3.0.12

Hereby I’m releasing version 6.3.1 of my EVE Online API for phpBB mod.
The following things have changed:

  • Fully integrated OpenFire support! Can be used on EVE entities, as well as groups. Uses the self-built PHP OpenFire UserService class, more details on this class can be found here.
  • Forum should now properly ask to be set as trusted again when using the ingame browser.
  • AccessMasks should now properly be verified if AccessMask is set higher than default.
  • Made the api key link from eveapi_update.php page listen to the AccessMask set in the ACP.
  • Updated the database to Rubicon 1.1.

Quick how-to on the updating process from 6.3.0;

  1. Uninstall EVE API 6.3.0 from the AutoMOD section of the ACP.
  2. Clear forum cache
  3. Upload and install EVE API 6.3.1 to the AutoMOD section of the ACP.
  4. Clear forum cache again
  5. Go to forum.com/install and select update
  6. Once installed, delete the install folder from your forum
  7. Use AutoMOD to make the required changes to your custom template (if required)
  8. Cycle through each of the EVE API setting pages and save them
  9. Cycle through each of the forum group setting pages and save them
  10. Clear forum cache one last time, and we should be done.

If you’d like to have a bit more insight in this process, please watch the slightly outdated 6.2.0 Installation and Configuration video on Youtube as that video should explain a very similar process. The Youtube videos can be found here.

 

EVE Online topic: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=21281
EVE Online forum post: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=4269569#post4269569

Ace of Winter

Winter Valley is one of my favorite maps. It’s small, has lots of cover and tricky sniping spots if you ever need to defend against the ever so sneaky rushers. Getting killed in this map is very costly, as you can move halfway across the map in the time it takes for your opponent to respawn. At the beginning for instance, I managed to keep the enemy confined to their spawn area, giving my teammates a free path to run back to our base with the enemy intel. To some this might be considered spawncamping, but as I’m not killing them at their exact respawn location and making them have to run towards me to kill me, I’m considering it proper defending.

Php OpenFire UserService

Php OpenFire UserService, or POFUS, is a new self-built PHP implementation for OpenFire’s UserService plugin. It’s a fast and lightweight class having support for all the UserService functionality. More information and a download link can be found on Github by clicking here. Below is an example snippit on how to use the class.

Github link: https://github.com/Cyerus/OpenFire-UserService-PHP-Class

Band of Spades

When I’m being recognised in an Ace of Spades match it’s usually in a negative way. Either some players are convinced my aiming ability can only be achieved by using a cheat, or are blaming the anti-cheat engine to not correctly identify my eye-hand co√∂rdination. Maybe it has to do with the Classic CTF gamemode itself, as everybody has the same weapons creating a very balanced experience. With peoples pride, it’s easy to blame cheats, hacks or any other excuse rather than to take a moment and look at their own gameplay.

Luckily there are some that know I’m good at this game, or at least the Classic CTF gamemode. Knowing some of my moves, they join the enemy team at times trying to counter my playstyle, or join forces to steal the enemy intel that much quicker. Below is one of those matches. Joined by MeatNTwoVeg (engineer of intel snatching), [LP] The Strange Sandvich (mindless charger) and Nodwar (deadly sniper), we were able to take on Hiesville.

Broken Spade

As explained in my previous Ace of Spades post, it takes a while to be able to record a full match. Mostly because of the current state of the kicking system, as it is unbalanced and favours griefers and other annoying people.

The video below is an example. It takes just over 5 minutes of gametime to receive a kick for “hacking”. It is initiated by the two green enemies I managed to kill first, mainly because of their inability to aim. You see them leave the match a few moments after, only to return roughly 2 minutes later, joining my team instead. They must hold a grudge, as it didn’t take long for the kickvote to be started. First one failed, and the second succeeded, quickly ending my gaming session on this map.

Weird part is that the second vote can be send seconds after the first vote towards the same person. This means that between the whole enemy team, initiating a votekick can be unending, ultimately resulting in a kick as interest in voting against the kick wears off quickly. Not to mention the weird balance between those in favor and those against it, as it seems it’s only based on the amount of votes given in favor of the kick.

I will be using this post in my feedback thread on the Ace of Spades forum aswell (haven’t created it yet), to hopefully be able to have the voting system changed or at least tweaked to create a fair balance between the ability to kick real griefers and hackers, while avoiding abuse.

Spade of glory

It took me a while to record a valid gaming session. Most of the time I’m not “allowed” to finish a round, as people are under the impression my gaming style can only be achieved by using hacks. As a result, I often get kicked from the server, which makes me unable to return to the match. But more on that topic in my next Ace of Spades post.

The following match was played on one of my favorite maps. I joined the match quickly on the blue team (go blue!) and managed to grab the intel quickly. Didn’t make it back into our base, but at least the intel was on our side of the map and very close to our base. It took a bit of convincing for our team to pick up the intel and secure it, while I sneaked towards the green base for another intel grab ‘n run attempt. Enjoy the video.

phpBB: Custom styles with AutoMOD

I’ve been receiving many questions about the possibility of using custom styles in phpBB while using my mod. The quick answer is Yes, you can use any Prosilver / Subsilver2 based style with my mod. This is explained in detail in the video (linked below) on how to set it up. Problem is however that most people for unknown reasons don’t watch the video, or if they do they tend to skip parts even though they are important. Skipping parts of the video, and in turn of the installation process, can lead to unexpected and glitchy forum behavior. Therefor I’d like to ask you to watch the full video properly (thus without skipping parts).

 

Here’s a little summary if you’ve finished watching the video.

  1. First you’ll need to know which style your style is based off. You can find this on the installation screen of the style you are trying to install. Screenshot.
  2. Once installed, go to the AutoMOD section and click on details for my mod. Screenshot.
  3. Scroll to the bottom, select the correct inheritance style on the left (as seen on step 1) and select the style on which you want to install the EVE API mod changes to on the right. Screenshot.
  4. Click submit, then install. Your changes should now be installed. Screenshot.
  5. Clear the forum cache to force the forum to use the newly installed changes.

Unfortunately there is a small chance that certain changes to the style might not install correctly. This happens because of the “freedom” certain style creators take, and sometimes by not obeying the style rules properly. If you come across an error in the installation process let me know, and I’ll let you know if it has any impact (errors because of the failing copyright line can be ignored for instance).

And yes, it is really this simple..

Jabber, the next step – OpenFire

One of the returning requests of new features for the EVE Online API for phpBB mod is the support for OpenFire. OpenFire, previously known as WildFire and Jive Messenger, is a JAVA based Jabber server. When comparing it to ejabberd, which is the only Jabber integration currently in my mod, OpenFire clearly stands out. Its ACP is easy to use, has tons of options that can be extended by plugins if needed.

An annoyance I found however is the need to maintain an administration twice. Unlike ejabberd, OpenFire doesn’t support external authentication, meaning that each forum account that requires access to its services needs to have a local OpenFire account. As a forum account already exists, creating and maintaining an OpenFire account seems unnecessary and should be avoided.

By default OpenFire doesn’t support an automated way of creating and maintaining its accounts either. Luckily there’s an official plugin that can help us out; User Service, which can be automatically installed using the built-in plugin manager. User Service is an HTTP listener that has the ability to add/update/remove accounts and set/unset groups to an user in realtime.

In the end I think OpenFire integration will be a good step forward for my mod. Not only tdealwithitbecause of its features, but also because it has been requested a couple of times already. I really thought ejabberd was a good alternative, but looking back at the feature difference it is clear I was wrong. OpenFire, if you behave, you shall be in version 6.3.1 of my mod.

A tale of spades

I’ve been playing a lot of Ace of Spades lately. A voxel based FPS with a few different game modes, and the key ability to destroy and place blocks yourself to create secret passageways into the enemy base or giant castles to defend against an enemy attack.

One of the game modes I enjoy most is Classic CTF. Each team has a suitcase they need to protect (otherwise known as ‘Intel’) with each player having the exact same gear; a rifle, a spade and multiple grenades. Restocking health, ammo and grenades can be done at your army tent (home base) in case you run out. First team to take the enemy intel and bring it back to your own base five times is declared the winner.

Below is a video of me playing on the Bridge-map with the middle (and only) bridge destroyed. I’ve cut out the boring parts (from respawn to respawn) to hopefully creatcryte a watchable video. No commentary or music, just the game itself. Quality is a bit low as I had chosen the wrong bitrate, but unfortunately I can’t re-encode it as I removed the original footage as soon as the rendering was complete. Enjoy the video, and let me know if you have any hints or tips.

My story of PHEAL

When I took over the “job” of maintaining the EVE API for phpBB mod back in 2010 there was much to be done. It only had the functionality to set a single forum group for either one corporation or one alliance. No TeamSpeak integration, no Jabber integration, and only based of a simple XML request without caching or error checking. Yes it was still working, but the increased popularity of the EVE Online API caused more strain on the API servers which became more and more unstable.

Simply put, I was in need of something that would obey the API’s rules of caching and error handling. I came up with two possibilities: Pheal and Yapeal. Pheal focussed more on grabbing the information and doing something with it straight away, while Yapeal had the ability to throw it in a database to look at it later. As I was only in need of smaller snippits of information that needed processing straight away, I ended up choosing for Pheal.

I changed the code to use Pheal where possible, increased the amount of features the mod had and added proper error checking to not spam the API servers when it’s not receiving the expected response. Pheal uses either cURL or url_fopen to request data from the EVE API servers. Where url_fopen is best used accessing local files, cURL allows for exotic options (like setting the user agent, adding timeouts, etc) which is perfect for accessing internet files and services. Not to mention that url_fopen is often blocked by hosters for security reasons. So cURL it is.

A problem with cURL however is that by default it doesn’t have any certificates installed. Without the proper certificates I would not be able to request/access secured content using cURL over SSL. As SSL was now mandatory for EVE Online API requests, this became a big problem. It wasn’t a simple fix of installing the certificate either, as it would have to be done to each webhosting server that uses my mod.

I decided on using a much simpler but more “hacky” solution; I added the required certificate to my mod and changed the cURL code within Pheal to use that certificate. Example below, where you can see I added the code just before the cURL connection was made, while I also had to add a simple path fix to be sure the certificate was properly loaded from the phpBB ACP.