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November 2021
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Take-Two, Rockstar Continue DMCA Blitzing Mods And Save Games For GTA

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Usually when a company does something that results in a public backlash, that company will stop digging holes. Over the summer, we wrote about Rockstar Games and its parent company, Take-Two Interactive, starting a war on modding communities for the Grand Theft Auto series. After years of largely leaving the modding community alone, these companies suddenly started targeting mods that were chiefly designed to put content or locations for older GTA games into GTA5. While the public was left to speculate as to why Take-Two and Rockstar were doing this, the theory that perhaps it meant they were planning to release remastered versions of older games eventually turned out to be true when GTA Trilogy was announced. In other words, these companies were happy to reap all the benefits of an active modding community right up to the point where they thought they could make more money through a re-release, at which point the war began.And, as we also covered recently, the PC release for GTA Trilogy went roughly as horribly you can imagine. While the game was released and purchased by many, mere days afterwards Take-Two not only delisted those games from marketplaces, but also experienced "unscheduled maintenance" on Rockstar's game launcher, meaning owners of that game and several other Rockstar games couldn't play the games they'd bought. That eventually got corrected several days later, but it was a terrible look, especially when combined with how little information Rockstar provided the public as it was going on. Many paying customers were very, very angry.So, did Take-Two and Rockstar reverse course? Nope! Instead, it seems that the war on the modding community is only accelerating.

On November 11, according to the folks over at the GTA modding site LibertyCity, Take-Two contacted them and used DMCA strikes to remove three different GTA-related mods. The three removed mods are listed below:-GTA Advance PC Port Beta 2-The Lost and Damned Unlocked for GTA 4-GTA IV EFLC The Lost And Damned (65%)
So, what are those mods? Well, the first is a fan project to take the contents and storyline of GTA Advance, a Gameboy Advance game, and porting them into the GTA3 engine. So, again, a retro game port. The second is a simple mod that allows a player to play GTA4 as a different protagonist character from some DLC. Why Rockstar felt this mod is a threat is beyond me. And the third, GTA IV EFLC The Lost And Damned, is simply a save file for that DLC with 65% of the game completed. It's not a mod at all and so it is completely unclear why this would have been targeted for a DMCA takedown, unless Rockstar wants to argue that publishing a save file is somehow copyright infringement.But since it is happening and, just like like last time, Take-Two and Rockstar aren't bothering to communicate about any of this, it's all left to speculation.
Because of what happened last time, some are speculating that these takedowns are evidence that a GTA IV remaster might be coming sometime in the future. According to sources who have spoken to Kotaku in the past about Rockstar’s future remasters, GTA IV as well as Red Dead Redemption remasters are possible. Though plans can and do change and with the recent backlash facing the GTA remasters, Rockstar might be more hesitant to greenlight future re-releases.Regardless of if these takedowns are evidence of a future GTA IV remaster or not, it still is a frustrating situation for modders and community devs who have spent decades improving, porting, and maintaining the classic GTA games, allowing fans to play them years after Rockstar had moved on. Kotaku spoke to some modders who seemed fed up with Rockstar and many more have moved on to other games from other companies, worried about the potential legal pitfalls for continuing to mod Grand Theft Auto titles.
And so the modding community for Rockstar games gets at least a little less vibrant. Maybe the company is fine with that, but they damned well shouldn't be. As we've discussed for years, modding communities are great for game companies. They keep old games fresh, keep up interest in older games, make old and new games more interesting and appealing by inputting new content, and basically work almost solely to provide free content to game companies as labors of love.Why Rockstar and Take-Two would want to bite this hand that very much feeds them is a mystery to me.

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posted at: 12:00am on 18-Nov-2021
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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Content Moderation Case Study: Game Developer Deals With Sexual Content Generated By Users And Its Own AI (2021)

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Summary: Dealing with content moderation involving user generated content from humans is already quite tricky — but those challenges can reach a different level when artificial intelligence is generating content as well. While the cautionary tale of Microsoft’s AI chatbot Tay may be well known, other developers are still grappling with the challenges of moderating AI-generated content.AI Dungeon wasn't the first online text game to leverage the power of artificial intelligence. For nearly as long as gaming has been around, attempts have been made to pair players with algorithmically-generated content to create unique experiences.AI Dungeon has proven incredibly popular with players, thanks to its use of powerful machine learning algorithms created by Open AI, the latest version of which substantially expands the input data and is capable of generating text that, in many cases, is indistinguishable from content created by humans.For its first few months of existence, AI Dungeon used an older version of Open AI's machine learning algorithm. It wasn't until Open AI granted access to the most powerful version of this software (Generative Pre-Trained Transformer 3 [GPT-3]) that content problems began to develop.As Tom Simonite reported for Wired, Open AI's moderation of AI Dungeon input and interaction uncovered some disturbing content being crafted by players as well as its own AI.

A new monitoring system revealed that some players were typing words that caused the game to generate stories depicting sexual encounters involving children. OpenAI asked Latitude to take immediate action. "Content moderation decisions are difficult in some cases, but not this one,” OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said in a statement. “This is not the future for AI that any of us want."
While Latitude (AI Dungeons' developer) had limited moderation methods during its first few iterations, its new partnership with Open AI and the subsequent inappropriate content, made it impossible for Latitude to continue its limited moderation and allow this content to remain unmoderated. It was clear that the inappropriate content wasn't always a case of users feeding input to the AI to lead it towards generating sexually abusive content. Some users reported seeing the AI generate sexual content on its own without any prompts from players. What may have been originally limited to a few users specifically seeking to push the AI towards creating questionable content had expanded due to the AI's own behavior, which assumed all input sources were valid and usable when generating its own text.Company Considerations:
  • How can content created by a tool specifically designed to iteratively generate content be effectively moderated to limit the generation of impermissible or unwanted content?
  • What should companies do to stave off the inevitability that their powerful algorithms will be used (and abused) in unexpected (or expected) ways? 
  • How should companies apply moderation standards to published content? How should these standards be applied to content that remains private and solely in the possession of the user?
  • How effective are blocklists when dealing with a program capable of generating an infinite amount of content in response to user interaction?
Issue Considerations:
  • What steps can be taken to ensure a powerful AI algorithm doesn't become weaponized by users seeking to generate abusive content?
Resolution: AI Dungeon's first response to Open AI's concerns was to implement a blocklist that would prevent users from nudging the AI towards generating questionable content, as well as prevent the AI from creating this content in response to user interactions.Unfortunately, this initial response generated a number of false positives and many users became angry once it was apparent that their private content was being subjected to keyword searches and read by moderators.AI Dungeon's creator made tweaks to filters in hopes of mitigating collateral damage. Finally, Latitude arrived at a solution that addressed over-blocking but still allowed it access to Open AI's algorithm. This is from the developer's latest update on AI Dungeon's moderation efforts, published in mid-August 2021:
We’ve agreed upon a new approach with OpenAI that will allow us to shift AI Dungeon’s filtering to have fewer incorrect flags and allow users more freedom in their experience. The biggest change is that instead of being blocked from playing when input triggers OpenAI’s filter, those requests will be handled by our own AI models. This will allow users to continue playing without broader filters that go beyond Latitude’s content policies.
While the fix addressed the overblocking problem, it did create other issues for players, as AI Dungeon's developer acknowledged in the same post. Users who were shunted to AI Dungeon's AI would suffer lower performance due to slower processing. On the other hand, routing around Open AI's filtering system would allow AI Dungeon users more flexibility when crafting stories and limit false flags and account suspensions.Originally posted to the Trust & Safety Foundation website.

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posted at: 12:00am on 18-Nov-2021
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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