30 votes

Reverse Engineering a North Korean Sim City Game

16 comments

  1. jwong Link
    Love all the write ups on that site. I like how he starts with a problem, walks through all the issues, and goes into detail on what the problem actually is (in an approachable manner too!) I...

    Love all the write ups on that site. I like how he starts with a problem, walks through all the issues, and goes into detail on what the problem actually is (in an approachable manner too!)

    I learned a lot about scraping, NK, and good writing in general reading that.

    10 votes
  2. [12]
    ThatFanficGuy Link
    I'm shocked: North Korea has an internal software industry – and mobile device sales points – and a hacking part? So many things from the intro alone. I'd always assumed that North Korea is too...

    I'm shocked: North Korea has an internal software industry – and mobile device sales points – and a hacking part? So many things from the intro alone. I'd always assumed that North Korea is too poor to have any sort of digital profile of its own. I know there are foreign-facing espionage teams which must have access to the tools, but regular people? I thought everybody aside from the ruling elite was living in poverty.

    9 votes
    1. [6]
      drannex Link Parent
      Trying to determine what is propoganda and what is not is incredibly hard to do. I am both amazed and surprised, while at the same time not at all that they have these industry points these days....

      Trying to determine what is propoganda and what is not is incredibly hard to do. I am both amazed and surprised, while at the same time not at all that they have these industry points these days.

      The aspect of 'physical app stores' is a pretty cool and ingeniuous concept for areas without reliable internet infrastructure.

      10 votes
      1. [5]
        ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
        This reminds of how video games used to be sold in Russia when I was 7 or 8. It's a surprisingly-vivid image, considering I don't remember much of those days. There's a large store – an univermag...

        The aspect of 'physical app stores' is a pretty cool and ingeniuous concept for areas without reliable internet infrastructure.

        This reminds of how video games used to be sold in Russia when I was 7 or 8.

        It's a surprisingly-vivid image, considering I don't remember much of those days. There's a large store – an univermag – not far from where I used to live with my parents. On a winter day, as it was snowing softly, I remember a man in a warm synthetic coat standing before the univermag, his hood on as to protect him from the snow; his hands are in the pockets, and he's not moving much, and mostly to see if anyone's willing to buy what he's selling.

        In front of him was a table – the kind with crossed legs that fold underneath the tabletop, a portable kind – with its contents covered by a plastic cover (again, snow), with a stretchy string holding the cover onto the table. Underneath the covers are rows and rows of CD boxes, each with a different game. I was nothing like savvy about them at the time – I've only had a PC for a year or so, and with no Internet or the gaming magazines, it was impossible to tell which was what or whether it was good – so what my father did was pay for a game, take the CD home, let me try it, and if I didn't like it, he'd take it back to the man, say it didn't work (which was a lie), take a different CD, try that... Repeat until either the game was good, or it was getting too long so my father'd go back, give back the CD, and get back his money. (He didn't purchase anything, so he needn't pay for anything – fair is fair, right?) I think it happened once, and I can't remember which one it ended up being; I think it was the latter, but can't be sure.

        To this day, I feel so embarrassed about this whole transaction 'cause I feel like I took part in my father ripping off the man somehow – even though he didn't. I guess I felt embarrassed about lying to the man about the game "not working" (I didn't lie – my father did – but I felt complicit to it, seeing how I went along with it; I was a kid, whaddaya do?), even though no harm was done. Maybe it's because the man gave us his trust, exchanging the CDs freely, and we went behind his back anyway? I dunno, but it's a vivid image, nevertheless.

        With time, the man and his table went away. In the univermag building, in a partition aside from the main store, opened a CD booth full of games. My friends and I would often go there – wasn't far from the school, either – and just marvel at them. They were rare and, therefore, valuable to us; just having one of those for free, or as a gift, would've been a blessing.

        There was also the fact that one could ask the local PC gaming club's owners to rip a CD with a new and cool game for a price. (Wasn't cheap, but market-bought games, even pirate ones, costed more. You could provide the CD-R or add its price to get one form the club owner.) That's how I got GTA: Vice City first. Downloading games over 56.6kbps connection would've been extremely expensive back in the day (I know because I once ran up quite a bill by secretly using the modem Internet connection when my parents were away or asleep; they ripped into me for that one). How they got their hands on those new games – even pirated – is still a bit of a mystery for me. (@ainar-g, any idea?)

        There's also the Cuban HDD Internet, where a 1TB drive gets passed around the people for a small price weekly, allowing them to access the latest TV show episodes, digitalized magazine issues, films etc. The price for regular Internet access on Cuba is something ridiculous, so this is how people get by.

        So – yeah, there would be local spots. I guess people adapt the needs to the situation at hand, especially when the rest of the world is on it. (Still, though: Android devices in North Korea...)

        13 votes
        1. [4]
          ainar-g Link Parent
          The spice data must flow. A friend of a friend of a sister's husband's brother is an MNS in a NII, so he has 256 kbit/s unlimited internet and way too much free time. You know the way from there.

          How they got their hands on those new games – even pirated – is still a bit of a mystery for me.

          The spice data must flow. A friend of a friend of a sister's husband's brother is an MNS in a NII, so he has 256 kbit/s unlimited internet and way too much free time. You know the way from there.

          4 votes
          1. [3]
            ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
            Sure. I'd just assume there would be questions about how he uses the traffic.

            Sure. I'd just assume there would be questions about how he uses the traffic.

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              ainar-g Link Parent
              Choose two.

              Russia

              a government facility

              someone asking about resource usage

              Choose two.

              2 votes
              1. ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
                My mother was always worried that my downloading .MP3s on a government line (medical statistics facility) would raise questions. My concerns stem entirely from the early memories of my using an...

                My mother was always worried that my downloading .MP3s on a government line (medical statistics facility) would raise questions. My concerns stem entirely from the early memories of my using an unlimited Internet access.

                3 votes
    2. [5]
      diode Link Parent
      What goes against the narrative even more is: This is why I always disregard any reports about foreign countries. I have no baseline to conduct a smell test on anything. For all I know North Korea...

      What goes against the narrative even more is:

      it is protected by the law for the protection of software (콤퓨터쏘프트웨어보호법). The law has been in place since 2003 to regulate the sales and distribution of software in the country and guarantees software developers the private ownership of their creation.

      This is why I always disregard any reports about foreign countries. I have no baseline to conduct a smell test on anything. For all I know North Korea doesn't even exist.

      1. [4]
        ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
        By that logic, everybody else is but a projection of your consciousness. Just because you don't know much for certain about that country doesn't mean you can swipe it all off the table. Other way...

        I have no baseline to conduct a smell test on anything. For all I know North Korea doesn't even exist.

        By that logic, everybody else is but a projection of your consciousness.

        Just because you don't know much for certain about that country doesn't mean you can swipe it all off the table. Other way lies flat-earth movement and the rest of the government conspiracy nonsense.

        2 votes
        1. [3]
          diode Link Parent
          But there is no way to disprove that everybody else is a projection of my consciousness. Those things have nothing to what I claimed. You can disprove flat earth theory right now with empricial...

          But there is no way to disprove that everybody else is a projection of my consciousness.

          Other way lies flat-earth movement and the rest of the government conspiracy nonsense.

          Those things have nothing to what I claimed. You can disprove flat earth theory right now with empricial observations. Conspiracy theories are about assuming something exists without evidence, not assuming something doesn't exist until given enough evidence.

          Just because you don't know much for certain about that country doesn't mean you can swipe it all off the table.

          Why not? I have nothing to gain from reading a bunch of distorted narratives about a place I've never been to and likely never will go to.

          1. [2]
            cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
            There is no way to prove that you yourself aren't the product of a simulation either. As a thought experiment, simulation theory and solipsism can be fun to explore, but if you genuinely believe...

            There is no way to prove that you yourself aren't the product of a simulation either. As a thought experiment, simulation theory and solipsism can be fun to explore, but if you genuinely believe and/or act as if they are true (even if they ultimately are), that's where you get into very, very dangerous and dehumanizing territory, IMO.

            And completely discounting all information from other people about something or some place just because you have never and might never encounter it in person yourself, and outright dismissing everything as "distorted" or just "memes" when you fully admit you have no first hand experience regarding those things, is similarly dangerous, IMO.

            That way madness lies, literally and figuratively.

            1. diode Link Parent
              I didn't give a good justification in my previous comments, but the reason I do this is that in the few instances where I have had first hand information to corroborate foreign news, what I have...

              when you fully admit you have no first hand experience regarding those things

              I didn't give a good justification in my previous comments, but the reason I do this is that in the few instances where I have had first hand information to corroborate foreign news, what I have read was so completely wrong that no information at all would've been more truthful. Even without any first hand experience, the reports I do get are so self contradictory that at least half of them have to be wrong somehow. You guys are correct in that disregarding all reports would be dumb. If an actual resident of some foreign place talks to me in person, then I would value their word above all else, but in my experience the people involved in foreign correspondence are rarely connected to the societies they report on.

              very, very dangerous and dehumanizing territory, IMO.

              I find that the narratives perpetuated by the media that apply to me are very dehumanizing, and it is out of my desire to not perpetuate similarly dehumanizing narratives about other people that I refuse to believe their reports. If the news is right and I believe them, I gain nothing; if the news is wrong and I believe them, then I will have aided in the spread of ideas that are deeply harmful to the people for whom the situation is relevant.

              1 vote
  3. [3]
    hungariantoast Link
    The first time I posted this topic I used the wrong URL. A user let me know about the issue and, instead of bothering Deimos and waiting for it to be changed, I just went ahead and reposted it...

    The first time I posted this topic I used the wrong URL. A user let me know about the issue and, instead of bothering Deimos and waiting for it to be changed, I just went ahead and reposted it with the correct link.

    You know, in case anyone thought they were losing their mind, or something.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      CALICO Link Parent
      As a cryptography nerd, I thought your prior post was pretty interesting too.

      As a cryptography nerd, I thought your prior post was pretty interesting too.

      7 votes
      1. hungariantoast Link Parent
        Honeslty, I didn't even read it, I just noticed that it wasn't the link I meant to post and deleted it, but since you made this comment I decided to go back and read the article and yeah, you're...

        Honeslty, I didn't even read it, I just noticed that it wasn't the link I meant to post and deleted it, but since you made this comment I decided to go back and read the article and yeah, you're right, it was pretty interesting.

        Having done all that, I went ahead and made a topic about it:

        https://tild.es/cu2

        4 votes