I can't login to the official forums. That annoys the hell out of me. I read posts that I want to reply to, but I can't. I feel like a mute at a party... I can hear what's going on, but noone can hear my opinions. Ugh.
There is a particular thread about Spyware being contained within the WoW client that I wanted to reply to, but I can't. C'est la vie, I guess.
I personally don't like it because in all honesty, it shows ineptitude on Blizzard's part, it also shows them to be even more greedy than I'd dreaded. There are quite a few games out there in which attended macroing (not unattended, please note that) is allowed and I support those companies with all my might. If a player pays a monthly fee for a game, they should be allowed to play it in whichever capacity they like. That's just my opinion however and that's not what's actually somewhat irked me about the discovery of Warden.
What bothers me the most though is that they're so lazy (and they are, there can't be any kidding or beating around the bush with this) that they consider a client-end solution (with all the people that'll annoy) to be the best solution. Now a good solution would've taken them more work and testing to figure out but could've been done easily nonetheless, they could've figured out a server-side solution and used hidden GMs to confirm their suspicions. This would've been an acceptable recourse considering what they're trying to do.
This is just my opinion, mind you. I just think that using any kind of monitoring program is going to raise ire from certain factions no matter what it does. Please take that view from an impartial standpoint, I'm not trying to create an argument I'm just pointing out that if a program monitors anything on a person's computer without actually reporting to the person what they're monitoring and what they've found then it's going to make a lot of people angry regardless of what it's scanning. I'm not saying it makes me angry so don't twist it that way, I'm saying that I can see why large groups of people would pick up pitchforks and torches over it.
If we're speaking from my personal view, that's complettely different. My personal view is that they shouldn't be monitoring at all, they should develop a close rapport with their players and try to watch for unattended macroing the old fashioned way. Yet that's just my view, I wanted to separate my view from the opinion I'm offering here regarding the Warden software.
In my opinion, then ... the Warden software is a bad thing because it's obviously doing something that security wary people are going to consider 'bad'. It doesn't matter why it's monitoring but the simple fact of the matter is, Warden does not tell the user what it's doing. It might even be acceptable to some if Warden was something that sat in their system tray and told the users exactly what it was doing. "I'm scanning window X. I've found illegal title Y! Reporting to Blizzard, if you have any questions, please mail blah." Now that might even be a more acceptable solution.
The fact is though this software is acting all Ninja by hiding in the shadows and shooting off its information shurikens without even letting the users know. So not only is it a bad implementation because this could've been (and in my opinion, should have been) handled by the server, it's also the worst implementation by not actually keeping the users apprised of what it's doing. What harm would it do to Blizzard to be completely public about this and to turn Warden into something that's very obvious and tangible?
From this standpoint, I think it was a little dirty of Blizzard to implement this quietly and I think that it's insulting to a large base of users because from this perception; sure it's to protect us but we all must be hackers, it's to protect us from ourselves. In other words, it's a system of guilty until proven innocent. The PC of the user is treated as though the user is guilty of a crime and the software is trying to track down exactly what crime they're guilty of.
In fact, I could've been happy even if they just took the PunkBuster approach; on the update Warden was included with they could've had a big screen, with Warden logo and a few paragraphs on what Warden does. Then they could've had the option to accept and continue playing or for the user to cancel their account if they didn't wish to be held a party to this. They could've listed every action that their Warden software performed and exactly what is transmitted back to the system rather than speculation and hearsay (which is all there's been so far, as far as I know there's no official Blizzard response on the exact transmissions ... if it was only transmitting when a hack was found, why is it transmitting every 15 seconds?).
If they'd even done that then I could've been satisfied and my opinion would've been different but to be honest, I think what Blizzard has done falls within the grey area of legal thinking and it's shady at best. These are just my personal views mind you. I'm not sure whether they'll get picked apart or whether anyone will try to pick them apart before they actually reach the end of what I've written (yes, right down here!) but from an unobjective standpoint, I think that Blizzard could've found numerous better ways to handle this, I think the way in which they did handle it was just placing a time-bomb under their own seats.
I just want to apologize if I was a little too forward and impassioned in the above, I just think it might be fun to bring the semantics of uninformed scanning (which is what this is) to the wowace.com forums to debate because golly, I believe we actually have some smart people here. We might have some Curse-heads hanging around ... I'm not sure but I know that Trimble himself is an intelligent fellow and even if he disagrees, it'll be intelligently.
Basically what I was getting at was what MoonWolf said so succinctly, I don't really have any kind of bias on this anymore because I'm not playing the game but I just think that uninformed client-side scanning is a bad idea. What I set out to do was to present all the possible alternatives going from the best (old-fashioned allowance of attended macroing and watching for anyone who abuses the system), to the most feasible in a corporate environment (server-side flagging system), to the decent (full disclosure from the program as it operates), to the acceptable (publicization of the program as it installs and as it runs) to the bad (only showing when it runs so players are forced to use it at least once) to the worst (not informing the players at all of its presence).
That's all I set out to do and I don't want it to be misinterpreted so I've come back to iterate a bit. I think Blizzard (as an opinion) are taking the cheap approach by not hiring developers to create a better server-side solution. I think that they could've done a lot of things differently. I've presented the options above so which would you opt for and why and which would you say should be the absolute minimum that Blizzard implements?
< Edit >
Reading on, heh ... if I could, I'd hug Gunter. He's about the only fellow on the forums who gets my point of view. That if they'd at least given some form of very visible warning to the user, at least a startup screen, at most exactly what it's doing, with the middle ground being just telling the user what it is transmitting when it transmits it in the form of a console -- then this would be a no-issue. He's said it so much better than I did. Envy.
That's what makes the difference between a bad guy and a good guy in my books (with all the levels filtered between). Whether you actually tell your users up-front precisely what you're doing or whether you choose to treat them all like criminals and perform these actions in the shadows without any form of in-game or on-load/on-install heads up.
I doubt Blizzard will do anything suggested here but like I said, they're only forcing people to see them negatively by not treating people with the dignity they deserve. As with PunkBuster, such a thing should at least be publicized and frequently warned about but likewise, I doubt they'll listen.
Perhaps slouken (since he does seem to be more of a good guy lately) or one of the others will actually notice the more reasonable comments regarding this and implement a more publicized approach. At the moment it just strikes me as a little too cloak and dagger.
Speaking of the TOS / EULA. Have they ever been tried in a court? And does a EULA/TOC written by a US Company hold sway for an European customer etc etc...
Anything that monitors the user without informing him what, why and when is spyware.
And i'm basically against Punkbuster as well - since it has ruined any game that used it with its added lag and issues.
oh whell.. cant do anything about it except cancel.. :) Warden is'nt the worst thing though. The discussion on the blizzard forum was... "I have not done anything wrong so you can monitor me 24/7".. Scary.