June 19, 2001

Microsoft's stats.zone.com running on Linux/Apache

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
The Zone is a popular gaming spot that is part of Microsoft's MSN cadre of sites. Most of the pages within run on IIS servers -- nothing surprising here. But one area of The Zone is churning away on Linux with Apache/1.3.9 (Unix) mod_fastcgi/2.2.2, according to Netcraft.com.The "zonestats" feature allows gamers to self-track their gaming abilities in several different categories. A year ago, Microsoft bought the company that created the software, called ngstats, and the domains ngworldstats.com, and netgamesusa.com, and both sites now redirect to stats.zone.com -- but they're still running Linux. Microsoft also hired four of the core developers of the ngstats project.

An old "about" page for NetGamesUSA states:

"NetGames USA is quickly becoming the trusted name in game 
play statistics, tournaments, rankings and ladder systems for today's
hottest PC gaming titles. It was founded in 1998 by a 
dedicated group of computer gaming enthusiasts who also
happened to be very capable professional network, computer, and 
software design engineers. NetGames USA was created to augment the 
capabilities of PC computer games by providing the community and game
developers alike with software and systems that make playing games
that much more fun.

"Our roots are well grounded in the gaming industry as two of 
NetGames USA's participants are founding and active members in the PC
Game mod group Orange Smoothie Productions. We understand what gamers
want and need because we are gamers ourselves.

"NetGames USA is experiencing rapid growth and excited
interest by teaming up with today's top developers and freely
providing them and their game players with the best gameplay scoring
and statistics tracking software and systems available anywhere for
both off and online game play through its ngStats and ngWorldStats
software and systems. Additionally, our ngTCS[tm] - Tourney Control
System continues to provide professional PC gaming leagues and events
with the most powerful automated control software available for
operating competitive gaming tournaments."

At the bottom of the page is a link to www.netgamesusa.com. Before the page is redirected to stats.zone.com, a bit of text flashes and then disappears as the redirection is executed. That text reads:

"This page should vanish now.

"Wi not trei a holiday in Sweden this yer?
See the loveli lakes
The wonderful telephone system
And mani interesting furry animals
Including the majestik moose
A moose once bit my sister
No realli! She was karving her initials on the moose
with the sharpened end of an interspace toothbrush
given her by Svenge - her brother-in-law - an oslo dentist
and star of many Norwegian movies: 'The Hot Hands of an Oslo Dentist',
'Fillings of Passion', 'The Huge Molars of Horst Nordfink' ...

"The creators of this stats software have now been sacked."

NewsForge is still attempting to contact the creators of the software, but in the meantime, an IRC interview log from January 2001, at shackes.com gives some background. One of the creators, Jason Keimig, who also created the Linux IP Spoofer, talked enthusiastically about Microsoft's acquisition of NetGamesUSA in June 2000, and about his role in the new direction for the software he helped create. Keimig said that he was "responsible for pushing ZoneStats to new levels, for tighter integration with a broad range of gaming titles, and a tight integration with additional technologies we are currently developing."

Later in the interview, Keimig said, "As an outsider coming into Microsoft, I myself was a bit leery of what 'the borg's' plans were for us."

Keimig also runs Orange Smoothie Productions, a Quake team that has its roots in the University of Kansas.

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