Hacked for the lulz

Written by:
Lucie Sadler
Date Posted:
5 April 2018

How did a 10 minute indie game with so much promise, die so fast?

Viral sensation
If you’re into ‘underground’ games, then you might have heard of Moirai already. It’s been making waves for a couple of years, but last year it was taken offline after several attacks on it’s database.

Made by Australian developer Chris Johnson, Moirai is a narrative driven, lo-fi PC game that was ‘made on a whim’. Only it ended up becoming a viral sensation virtually overnight. It was the kind of game that developers talked about.

It was a game about secrecy, violence and murder. It was weird. You could mess around not just by playing it, but by helping to shape the way that the game panned out. The players’ responses to questions in the game made up the dialogue that the next player saw and you could leave messages in the game world for other people. Players got pretty creative.

Get up steam
At the time Johnson was working on a bigger project, a game called ‘Expand’, that he hoped to have commercial success with. Only it kinda flopped. And Moirai was a huge hit. He was offering the game for free, and it quickly became the number one game on Steam.

Annoyingly, due to its success on Steam and other sites, people started to pick holes in the game. Seeing as Moirai was a side-line gig, Johnson hadn’t fully committed to the game and fixing every issue. It wasn’t long before a hacker broke the game.

Johnson wasn’t having commercial success with the game, but he was fast becoming the top dawg in the indie gaming world. He was aware of the vulnerability in the game, but hadn’t had time to fix it. It’s a shame that it only took a few lines of code to mess things up.

Flooding the DB
The hacker simply found a hole and entered a script designed to flood Moirai’s database. The servers couldn’t keep up. The script made it look like thousands of players had played the game, and every time the DB was cleared, more entries appeared. The database collapsed.

There was a username that kept appearing in the attacks, one that linked Johnson to the hacker. Johnson asked ‘why didn’t you come to me privately?’ Well, for the lulz. The hacker also put script that he used to destroy the DB on Steam forums 🙁 .

[Is anyone else now desperate to play this game?]

Rating: 5.0. From 1 vote.
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