Michael VanOverbeek

An aspiring game developer.


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Revealing my name. Again.

Hey guys! Most of you know me as Alkaline Thunder. However, of course, this is not my real name. Alkaline Thunder, along with Watercolor Games, are both names I came up with for myself and my gamedev group back in 2017 due to issues back then that I will summarize soon.

I’ve decided that, since Watercolor was recently renamed to its final name of Bit Phoenix Software, I figured it’s time for me to get rid of my temporary name of Alkaline Thunder as well.

So what happened?

Back in June of 2015, I completely took over the ShiftOS project and started ShiftOS-Next. I went by “MichaelTheShifter” back then as my primary online identity. It became fully associated with ShiftOS and I was oblivious to the problem with that.

Problems didn’t start to arise until mid-2017 toward the end of the official ShiftOS project as we all know and…tolerate…it today. The reputation of the game was so horrifyingly bad that we had a troll hacker-group going after us, taking advantage of my extremely poor security habbits back then.

I was inexperienced with even the absolute basics of cyber security and only then realized the vital importance of not using the same password twice…when it was too late.

I soon had my old GitHub account taken over by the hacker group, along with my Discord account, my domain registrar account, and even a private email address that I haven’t used for anything in a decade. Some of those accounts have still not been recovered to this day.

Moreover, the hacking started to leak into my personal, real life. It was no longer just attacking ShiftOS, it was starting to affect my privacy. And it wasn’t just that hacker group.

Someone we had banned from the ShiftOS Discord server around that time was able to find my parents’ social media accounts and contact them - claiming I was a cyber terrorist. Coincidentally, that was the week ShiftOS seemingly disappeared off the face of the planet with no warning. The attack was successful. Something had to change, immediately.

What I did to recover

Recovery took a long time, and involved some sleepless nights frantically rewriting and refactoring code, but I was able to get out of the situation - at least partially - by:

It got the hacker group off my back, and while the person who broke the last straw on the camel’s back still knew who I was, we eventually made up.

So why keep the temporary name for so long?

By the time recovery was finished, Alkaline Thunder became… a part of me. Every time I sat down to record a video, I would instinctively say “Hey there everyone, I’m Alkaline Thunder.” Every time I wrote a piece of code, it’d have some form of open-source license at the top saying Copyright (c) <year> Alkaline Thunder. It became second nature to call myself that.

I also still had the fear in my mind that if I were to use my real name again, the same thing would happen. Knowing the Internet, that’s probably rightfully so. And I still have that fear, even now.

But fear can be overcome.

Mhm. Fear can be overcome with courage. And boy, do I have a lot. I’ll be honest, I’m the most stubborn person on the planet when it comes to not giving up on what I care about. Maybe that’s why I used to go around the Internet with an Ash Ketchum profile picture a while back…

Whether that’s a good quality or not is up to you. But it’s what makes me feel comfortable saying that my name is not Alkaline Thunder. My name is Michael.

My name is Michael, and I am the one who wrote ShiftOS-Next. I am the one who wrote OrcWrite, and I am the one who wrote Virus.MSIL.Trance - the virus that crashed in OSFirstTimer’s “Mum Tries to Destroy Windows 8.1” video.

I’m also the one who wrote ShiftOS 0.1.0 and the one who wrote ShiftOS 1.0. I wrote Peace Engine and The Peacenet. I wrote a Cosmos-based operating system called SharpOS and another one called Memphis.

I made my first Linux “distro” called AshOS in SUSE Studio, which was literally KDE 4 with an Ash Ketchum wallpaper and the default non-root user is ash. I am that Michael.

I’ve written a lot of objectively bad code. I’ve screwed up basic cyber security resulting in me getting hacked numerous times and coming really close to being SWATted by someone I banned. I own those mistakes as I advance through my programming and game development hobby and turn this hobby into a career.

It’s my belief that, though not everyone accidentally gets themselves SWATted, everyone makes at least some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past. Everyone stores a password in plain-text or even as a hardcoded string in their code at one point.

Everyone forgets to log out of Discord on a VPS they were using over VNC at some point - and if not Discord, it’s some other personal account they care about.

Everyone chooses to take on a project that is far bigger than they know they can chew at one point, and everyone jumps into that project at one point thinking they’ll be able to restore its stability and reputation, not make it worse.

It is those mistakes - the ones that almost ruined everything I’ve ever made before August 2017 when I became Alkaline Thunder - that offer some of the greatest lessons in security, privacy, and generally good practices you could ever learn.

You won’t learn how important it is to keep yourself safe on the Internet until you have had your identity robbed from you as a result of a large series of small mistakes.

And it is because of those mistakes that I am a better programmer. And because of that, I feel safe taking off the massk.

But I have other reasons too.

I am a dual-credit student, for C++ game development. I want to go into that program full-time after highschool. I would like to be able to say “I am Michael, and I am a professional game developer.” I want that sentence to be true and carry some weight.

But there is no way to prove that I have went through that college program and become a pro, if you do not know my name. You won’t be able to get a recommendation on a student named “Alkaline Thunder” from my professor.

And I’d rather make it easier for people who want to see what I’m all about.

So… time to come up with a new username?

No. My username will stay “alkalinethunder.” That is part of who I am and will never change. But any time there’s a “full name” field? I’m not putting “Alkaline Thunder” in there anymore.