THE WIZARDING WORLD IS AT RISK OF EXPOSURE – WE NEED YOUR HELP – WIZARD
November 14, 2018 1:11 PM   Subscribe

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite [YouTube] Here's Your First Look At Pokémon GO Dev Niantic’s Upcoming Harry Potter AR Game.
“Please resist the urge to panic. Traces of magic are appearing across the Muggle world without warning and in a rather chaotic manner. We worry it is only a matter of time before even the most incurious Muggles catch wind of it. We call on all witches and wizards to help contain the Calamity or risk the worst of times since You Know Who. Brush up on your spells, get your wand ready, and enlist immediately.”
[Official Website]
posted by Fizz (42 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Expecto to drop my phone o
posted by ShakeyJake at 1:41 PM on November 14, 2018 [16 favorites]


For a number of reasons I will definitely be playing this. As far as I know this is the first public acknowledgment that it won't be released this year.
posted by potrzebie at 1:47 PM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Expecto to drop my phone o

Wingardium flung-my-phone aaaaah!

seriously though the mechanics of this are probably going to combine the oops I got so absorbed I fell into a lake aspects of Pokemon GO with the oops I got so absorbed I flung my controller and broke something aspects of untethered Wiimotes and i expect hilarity and an awful lot of screen repairs to ensue
posted by halation at 1:48 PM on November 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


well I'm just looking forward to the Star Wars AR game that gets people stopping dead on the sidewalk to do a full-on lightsaber kata
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:04 PM on November 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


Great, now I will have to dodge this guy on the morning commute.
posted by rokusan at 2:05 PM on November 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


I suppose it’s too much to expect that this will also be about unionizing and the working wizard’s struggle....
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:33 PM on November 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


I was into shadow cities when that was around, so I'll prolly get sucked into this as well...
posted by monocultured at 2:37 PM on November 14, 2018


WTF was the snitch doing in an alley? I call BS.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:52 PM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


I mean this conceit, that there are hidden things everywhere that you can only find and capture (or destroy, or fix, or whatever) with a magic doohicky, is pretty much what AR was made for.

But the fact that it's gonna have kids going around everywhere "casting spells" is gonna cause some epic fundamentalist freakouts.
posted by straight at 2:55 PM on November 14, 2018 [9 favorites]


"Wingardium flung-my-phone aaaaah" should be added to the tags.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:59 PM on November 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


Huh. I wonder if they will recapitulate the "two opposing sides of a conspiracy" theme from their first game; the narrative of the web page just seems to beg for a group of Muggles who are Learning Magic and want to spread it.
posted by egypturnash at 3:04 PM on November 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


ARE YOU A BAD ENOUGH DUDE TO RESCUE THE HEADMASTER?
posted by delfin at 3:08 PM on November 14, 2018 [14 favorites]


expect me to start shouting YOU'RE A WIZARD, HARRY in the most obnoxious possible voice at people in my way on the sidewalk staring at their phones

unless they are wearing actual wizard robes because if you're that into it you deserve a pass
posted by phooky at 3:14 PM on November 14, 2018 [17 favorites]


unless they are wearing actual wizard robes because if you're that into it you deserve a pass

THEY LITERALLY CANNOT PASS.
posted by Fizz at 3:15 PM on November 14, 2018 [14 favorites]


no, i can not pass, that's the fucking problem
posted by phooky at 3:16 PM on November 14, 2018 [10 favorites]


Huh. I wonder if they will recapitulate the "two opposing sides of a conspiracy" theme from their first game

Niantic aren't particularly adventurous game designers, so I'd imagine there'll be two or more factions vying for control of certain landmarks

no, i can not pass, that's the fucking problem

then try actually studying your spell books instead of wandering the streets, the exam's not that hard
posted by Merus at 3:17 PM on November 14, 2018 [10 favorites]


(for all my old man grumpiness i loved seeing random groups of strangers spontaneously team up to catch pokemon and while i won't have time to play this i hope this has a similar dynamic)
posted by phooky at 3:17 PM on November 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


What this calls for is one grand and ridiculous crossover app.

Select your faction:
* Team Instinct
* Team Hufflepuff
* Team Bavarian Illuminati
* Team Venture
* Team America: World Police
* Team Jedward
* Team Spongebob
* Team Alton Brown
posted by delfin at 3:26 PM on November 14, 2018 [19 favorites]


Butterbeer Blue?
posted by Guy Smiley at 3:28 PM on November 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm looking forward to robbing SO many kids dressed as wizards
posted by naju at 3:39 PM on November 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


> Fizz:
"unless they are wearing actual wizard robes because if you're that into it you deserve a pass

THEY LITERALLY CANNOT PASS."


Unless they RUN, FOOLS!
posted by Samizdata at 3:42 PM on November 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also, I hope this avoids all the login problems I had with Go (which led to me no longer playing it).
posted by Samizdata at 3:43 PM on November 14, 2018


I'm with Team The Hell I'm Too Old For This Shit Where Was My Magic Slab Back Then Huh Huh
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:55 PM on November 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


I managed to avoid Pokémon GO because there was a lot going on in my life at that point, but now I am so ready to catch little Harry Potters and make them fight each other.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:01 PM on November 14, 2018 [16 favorites]


Has Niantic gotten good at actual game design? I fell out of touch with Pokémon Go before any of the major updates, when I was left with the impression that their main selling point was a location database.
posted by lucidium at 4:10 PM on November 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm still playing Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery despite the fact that it's an objectively horrible game, so I will be trying to play this the first chance I get.

(Hogwarts Mystery got slightly better since launch, but not enough for it to actually be worth recommending)
posted by dinty_moore at 4:18 PM on November 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:30 PM on November 14, 2018 [24 favorites]


AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:30 PM on November 14, 2018 [38 favorites]


CAN YOU BECOME THE HEAD BOY?
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:43 PM on November 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


WTF was the snitch doing in an alley? I call BS.

That’s a Diagon shame.
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:14 PM on November 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


I do not have time for this. Seriously, can we delay this 2 more years so I have time for this?
posted by greermahoney at 6:20 PM on November 14, 2018


AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
posted by Hermione Granger


Actually, it’s pronounced “Wingardium LeviosAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH“
posted by dr_dank at 7:22 PM on November 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


Re: phone busting concerns, when I was more into Pokemon Go, I actually attached a wiimote wrist strap to my phone and it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. I highly recommend it.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 7:53 PM on November 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


I suppose it’s too much to expect that this will also be about unionizing and the working wizard’s struggle....
Defense Against the Dark Arts - Curriculum:
...

Lesson 5: Preventing or Reversing Ionization

....
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:52 PM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


i have a full Hufflepuff house set of clothes, robes, cardigan, scarf, etc. I'm totally wearing that on launch day as i wander around town
posted by numaner at 10:12 PM on November 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


But the fact that it's gonna have kids going around everywhere "casting spells" is gonna cause some epic fundamentalist freakouts.

Thank you for showing me the bright side of this.
posted by rokusan at 6:10 AM on November 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


I've heard conflicting reports that alternate between Niantic being the developer on this, and Warner Brothers just licensing Niantic's Point of Interest location database to let another game developer actually build the game. If it's the latter, I'm probably going to check this out, but if it's the former, I think I'm going to pass. And that's coming from the guy who brought you the MeFi FPPs on both the iOS release of Niantic's Ingress, as well as the Pokemon Go announcement.

Over the years, Niantic has shown little if any understanding on what it takes to develop and officiate over a multi-player video game. They inherited much of Google's mentality and standard operating practices when they spun off, and they've never grown away from that. When your main attraction is search engine results, it makes sense not to tell everyone all the details of what your rules are to get a high ranked page, because spammers will run through it with a fine tooth comb to find any loophole. But when you're in charge of a competitive game, dealing with rule violations with a form letter that says "we're suspending you for a month/banning your account for breaking the rules" without even specifying which general part of the Community Guidelines and Terms of Service for their games was not met makes it hard for the playerbase to learn what the correct behavior is. Especially when at the same time they turn a blind eye to major rules violations that unbalance the game or to groups of players violating the privacy of other players on a large scale.

Even worse, there are some rules that can lock you out of the game that aren't even disclosed. Niantic games have always checked for Jailbroken iOS devices to try to block them, and early after Pokemon GO's release, they started checking for Rooted Android devices. Back in October, they released a general Terms of Service meant to cover all of their products, to include the rules of their games. In that new ToS, they state that rooted and jailbroken devices "aren't supported", language that in a software context is often more of a technical advisory, than the game rule that this actually is.

However, what that ToS doesn't even mention is that for Android devices, their games will scan your device's file system for filenames that Niantic thinks are associated with the Android rooting process, and lock you out with an error message on game start. There's no official list of what filenames, but there are reports from players that they've tripped the root detection by having apps installed that work fine without being rooted, but have improved features if you do, like the popular battery saving app, Greenify. Niantic doesn't mention this filename scan anywhere in its ToS, only making the bare minimum legally required reference to it in their Privacy Policy.

Secret rules like "Don't even have any apps that have optional root features." would be enough to have me start questioning their competence of being in charge of competitive multiplayer video games, but wait, there's more. That file system scan their games do to go looking for those forbidden filenames? It happens even if you go into Android's settings and deny the app permission to access the file system outside of its own directory. Turns out there's a security hole in Android where the error messages it passes when an app has been denied file system access still leak information about whether or not the files are there. That's some spyware level shit right there, and for what? Why are they being so rabid against rooted Android devices?

They claim that these measures are to combat cheating by location spoofing, which is actually one of their most game breaking forms of cheating they have to deal with. However, they proved with Pokemon Go that a root ban is only a minor speedbump in keeping cheaters from telling the game that they're somewhere they're not, as most spoofing methods don't require root at all. It's a hard problem for Niantic, and instead of lobbying manufacturers to provide some sort of secure method of validating that the device's reported location is coming directly from the GPS hardware and not some uncontrolled source in software, they opted instead for ineffective security theater.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:26 AM on November 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


I already play The Magicians AR game, where you wander around town being Wasted and Fabulous.

Too much augmentation, though, and you get Mopey and Punchable
posted by Sparx at 5:24 PM on November 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


instead of lobbying manufacturers to provide some sort of secure method of validating that the device's reported location is coming directly from the GPS hardware and not some uncontrolled source in software

Ugh. You sound like you think it is a bad thing for me to be able to tell my own phone what to say when a third party asks it where I am.

I mean I know it's only a question of how many third parties have foolproof ways of finding out where I am by using my phone against me, but still I don't think we should be finding fault with a company for not having that access.
posted by straight at 6:28 PM on November 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ugh. You sound like you think it is a bad thing for me to be able to tell my own phone what to say when a third party asks it where I am.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm saying that Niantic thinks this is a bad thing. The only time I think it's a bad thing is when the third party who is doing the asking is running a location-aware game that you and I are playing. Because if either of us can just say "Yeah, I'm totally at location X", without actually being there, it takes away the point of the whole gaming category, that you have to go places to do things in the game.

Why spend the gas money to drive to the park all the way across town that's got game related activities from it, when some kid from some other country can come along and undo whatever game related advantages you got, just by punching in a set of Lat/Long numbers while sitting at his computer? And then that kid decides "hey I've got a computer, I could automate this to play several game accounts at once, so I can hit hundreds of town parks at the same time!"

Niantic's problem is that they have to trust information from a source they can't possibly hope to control. Trying to enforce a root ban is attacking the problem at the wrong level (and their methods of doing so bring them dangerously close to being spyware). Trying to get manufacturers to make a hardware solution like I suggested in the earlier comment would be more effective, but Niantic doesn't have enough clout to do that alone, even after partnering with a second insanely huge media franchise. They might have a chance at getting phone designs changed if they got together a coalition with marketers who would also be interested in a reliable way to measure the conversion rate of their advertising to deliver visits to stores, but then more people would see them as an advertising company trying to mask itself as a game developer.

Even then, it's still coming at it from the wrong end of the problem. Instead of trying to control the endpoints, they should just assume that all incoming information is suspect, and come up with a way to analyze that data to spot falsification. Sort of like how CAPTCHAs work, but for finding legitimate reports of location data instead of trying to tell if it's a human at the other end. The latest versions of CAPTCHA do things like watch the patterns of mouse movements and webpage scrolling and don't bother with asking you to retype some of Inglip's holy texts from an image.

Of course, if they did come up with a way to screen spoofed locations server-side, you know they'd be licensing that tech to those marketers I mentioned earlier, so ultimately, it's probably a good thing that they're so bad at this.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:21 AM on November 16, 2018


Radwolf just did a pretty good job of covering the technical end of how spoofing breaks these games, and I'll leave the problem of multi-acounting as an exercvise for the reader.

I am seriously hoping they go with the four houses or some such. One of the non-technical things that went wrong with Ingress was the same thing that goes wrong with a lot of MMoRPGs --- people are tribal assholes. Give people two sides, no matter how arbitrary (e.g. Alliance vs. Horde) and some percentage will become irrationally chauvanistic about whichever side they are on. The other side are all cheaters, so it's ok to cheat as well to balance things out. The other side is made up of bad people which makes it ok to harass them. Pokemon Go inherited the three teams from Pokemon, which helped a little with the us vs. them. Also there are some game activities (raids) that benefit from as many warm bodies as possible, regardless of team, diffusing the factionalism even more. If there are factions or teams or schools/houses, they need to be more color than game mechanic, and there must be more than two.
posted by Karmakaze at 5:53 AM on November 16, 2018


Because if you have just two, it looks just like this instructional video for Ingress that was somehow snuck into the show Babylon 5 years before Ingress even released. Except by the time the game did release, it was Green & Blue, and not Green & Purple, they dropped the leader sashes, ... and honestly, Ingress turned out to be never this tame and well behaved in practice.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:57 AM on November 16, 2018


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