The Pains Of Being A Gamer — A 2012 Edition

We all remember that game in our childhood which stole our hearts and made us wait 12 years for its next iteration. That game which, despite its few flaws, we would play for hours and hours, again and again because it was simply the most legendary RPG of its time. Yes I’m talking about Diablo II, what else? After over a decade of waiting, lovers of RPG can now lay their hands on Diablo III, which is poised to become THE most epic game ever once players have a chance to lay their hands on it.
Barely a day after the massive worldwide launch, people are disappointed. People are upset. Blizzard’s servers are unable to handle the load of users logging on to authenticate the game, resulting in a massive outrage all over the Internet. Diablo III requires an “always-on” connection even in single player mode, irking those who have an internet connection with a download cap, those who are often on the move and thus do not have a qualifying internet connection (Blizzard requires a “Broadband Internet connection”, specified in their requirements) and those (like me) who want to play in offline or single player mode and want nothing to do with Auction House or multiplayer mode.

 

Why is it wrong?

What is upsetting is the fact that Blizzard has confirmed that there will be no offline play in future either. There will be no segregation of single player and multiplayer modes like there was in Diablo II. But the thing really upsetting me is that other companies are now slowly and steadily moving toward this trend.
There were numerous reasons for Blizzard to require an “always online” connection. Primarily, Blizzard wanted to safeguard the economy of the D3 world by preventing abuse of the system through which users could cheat and sell items privately, or hack and create duplicate items; basically, what goes on in WoW. They also wanted users to have internet connections so Blizzard can check for pirated games.

What this has resulted in is that the major gameplay mechanics are shifted server side. Enemy /map generation. Character creation and saving. Majorly, it will all happen online and will be saved on Blizzard’s servers. While this will help in using the same character that you have put so much work into, in both the single and multiplayer modes, and also reduce to quite an extent the abuse of the economy of Diablo III and help Blizzard earn a few more monies, it will also require you to sit in a place with at least 3G Internet if you want to play the game without many lags. This is a bad move for those who spend majority of their time traveling and want some monster killing on-the-go.

Another bad move by Blizzard was not ensuring proper load handling capabilities for their servers, especially on launch day. While I agree that things like these happen, this was a really bad move on their part, especially when people are paying $60 for a game they have waited for for 12 years. And Blizzard is, since a few years now, known for making bad moves. Case in point — No official LAN mode for Starcraft?! That IMO is quite idiotic.

Steam Guard by Valve–Friendly DRM or More Intel Love?

It has been a few days since Valve officially opened the valve on the new kind of identity management service for its digital distribution platform Steam. Named, very creatively, Steam Guard, the service will allow users to locktheir Steam identity semi-permanently to their main computer. More precisely, the gamers can lock their Steam ID to their Intel processors (the second generation kind with the Corebrand name with Sandy Bridge et al).

SteamGuard

This kind of two factor authentication system is akin to what Google has recently given to its users, and what the RSA keys have been to corporates with Enterprise Resource Planning servers and other systems. The Core CPUs will soon be updated with the Identity Protection Technology (IPT) that generates a key every 30 seconds according to some preordained algorithm. Once the Steam account is synced to this processor, it will not be available for use anywhere else. Valve’s CEO Gabe Newell was so confident about this new tech that he freely gave away his username and password for people to try (and fail) at hackinghis account.

However, this piece of technology is teetering towards the locked down EA-DRM kind of protection. While Steam does not allow for two computers to simultaneously login to the same account, anyone can download as many games as they want on any number of systems from the same account, go offline on their Steam client and play for as long as they want. If this kind of protection eventually becomes mandatory for systems running the Core CPUs, how many PCs can you authenticate? Will this create a problem for the folks on AMD machines and older Intel processors? (Agreed very feeble questions, but questions nevertheless!)

Either way, to hackinto Gabe Newell’s account, login with these details:
Username: [email protected]
Password: moolyftw

(Mooly refers to the nickname of Intel Corp.’s Vice President Shmuel Eden)

Apple Store Gets Take Down Notice for VLC App

ipad-image2Tuesday, Rémi Denis-Courmont, the lead developer of the open source VLC media player, sent a legal notice to the Apple Store to force the VLC app’s removal. VLC can only be modified or distributed under Gnu GPL (General Public License), and Apple’s restrictive licensing violates that. It’s expected that Apple will do so, because this situation isn’t new. Apple was previously forced to remove other open source apps.

To users of iOS devices, this means you’d better grab VLC from the Apple Store while you can.

vlc-app

The VLC app was released in September. Even then, some people speculated that it would eventually be killed. Below is a little of the letter that Rémi sent out to the public.

Espoo, Finland – Today, a formal notification of copyright infringement
was sent to Apple Inc. regarding distribution of the VLC media player for
iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. VLC media player is free software licensed
solely under the terms of the open source GNU General Public License
(a.k.a. GPL). Those terms are contradicted by the products usage rules of
the AppStore through which Apple delivers applications to users of its
mobile devices.

Rémi is also angry that he’s being blamed for depriving users of the app. He states that he must defend VLC’s unrestricted use under GPL, and those who made this app available should be getting the blame.

VLC will always be available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

The Witcher 2: DRM Free?

There are many different reasons as to why CD Projekt RED is becoming one of my favorite game development studio. For starters, they made one of the best RPGs I have ever played. Later, they even patched the copies of the game and removed DRM. Now, the developers of what is probably the most anticipated RPG, The Witcher 2 have gone all out and sent an email regarding their policy on DRM.

image

Marcin Iwiński, CEO of CD Projekt, and head of GOG.com (which notably sells DRM-free classics for dirt cheap prices) quotes:-

Being a player myself, I’m always surprised to see how many companies focus solely on preventing piracy instead of thinking about how they might encourage players to acquire original game copies.

While Adam Kiciński, CEO of CD Projekt RED, the developers of The Witcher and currently producing The Witcher 2 said- (emphasis added for effect)

Our aim is to produce games that provide the best and most satisfying playing experience. Copyright protection can’t stand in the way of that. Especially since it makes life difficult for players who acquire legal game copies, that is, those to whom we owe our greatest respect. Paradoxically, those who play pirated copies usually do not face the same impediments. In our view, aggressive attempts at stopping piracy are less important than ensuring that the relation between game price, game quality, and any additional services offered in connection with a game are favorable enough to encourage players to reach for original game copies.

This, in light of an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun where senior producer Tomasz Gop chided Ubisoft’s DRM, bodes well for a community of legal gamers who do not want to be bogged down by software that restricts their legal usage.

When they released The Witcher, CD Projekt brought back a stagnant genre to life with a beautiful and gritty world. With the release of their new game, they wish to make a statement about the old gold era of computer gaming sans restriction. If you ask me they will be as successful as they were with their first game. Kudos, CD Projekt!

Canada to Legalize Bypassing of DRM in a New Bill

Canada has planned on releasing a revised copyright modernization bill for too long and finally, the suspense is over. The bill has been passed and should get overwhelming response from software pirates and anti-DRM activists all over the world.

The new bill has legalized bypassing of DRM and has created many loopholes which can be easily exploited to create legalized copies of protected material. CD copying is now legal given you own the original source. Infringement damages have been slashed to one third. This comes as a relief against the last bill which was blamed to have been created “in the image of the US DMCA” and enforced stricter rules.

We had covered the notice and takedown policy of DMCA in the US. However, in the Canadian version, we instead have a “notice and notice” system. This move protects the ISP from being harassed by the authority issuing the takedown and getting involved in the case. The ISP only needs to forward a copy of the notice to the website and the dispute stays between the two ends without involving the ISP.

Finally, this is just a bill and there is time before it is made into a law. It is sure to undergo heavy amendments under pressure from the tech industry and it will be interesting to see what form it takes finally.

(Source)

The Pirate Bay is Back With A Bang

Just yesterday, The Pirate Bay was shut down by pulling down it’s routing server. Though today, The Pirate Bay is back and as expected, they have an awesome reply to the shutdown. This time, the hosting has been changed to the Swedish Pirate Party.

the-pirate-bay

The official Pirate Bay blog has written a post giving some hilarious update on this situation.

PLZ LEARN: TPB CANT BE SHUT DOWN

LOL!

AS U MITE HAS READ OR NOTICD, PEEPS ONCE AGAIN R TRYIN 2 SHUT US DOWN. DIS WILL NOT SUCCED, LOL. OURS RLY NICE  WEBHOST WUZ THREATEND WIF RLY HUGE FINE,  SO WE DECIDD 2 MOOV TEH SIET SO DAT THEY DIDNT GOT INTO TROUBLE, LOL. TEH DECISHUN 2 MOOV WUZ TAKEN BY US, TEH PIRATE BAY, LOL.

TEH PIRATE BAY IZ AN UNSINKABLE SHIP. IT WILL SAIL TEH INTERWEBS 4 AS LONG AS WE WANTS IT 2. REMEMBR DAT, K THX.

TPB, ONLY IN IT 4 TEH LULZ SINCE 2003

You do not even need to see closely to notice whats written in those bold in-between letters. There is a message for the The RIAA in it.

The Pirate Bay: Finally Silenced by Hollywood, But For How Long?

The Pirate Bay is suffering a temporary downtime from some time now.

the-pirate-bay-down

The Pirate Bay as we all know is the world’s largest BitTorrent  search engine. It has been the target of Hollywood studios from ages and now finally, they have found out where to hit so that it hits hard.

An injunction against The Pirate Bay Traffic provider, CyberBunker operator CB3ROB Ltd. & Co. KG from the Regional Court of Hamburg has forced the routing provider of The Pirate Bay to stop routing traffic to their website servers.

The injunction was filed by Disney Enterprises and Paramount Pictures in association with Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios and Warner Bros.

Though, this is not the end of The Pirate Bay and they have already claimed that they will be back sooner than we think. The Original news source on this, Torrentfreak, writes saying,

A Pirate Bay insider told TorrentFreak that they are not planning to wait for a decision from the Cyberbunker team, and that they’ve already set the backup process in motion which will bring the site back online. The Pirate Bay’s servers are untouched and getting the site up and running only requires the routing (IP-tunnel) to go through another provider.

The actual location of The Pirate Bay servers is still a mystery and is expected to remain so for a good long time.
(Image Via: Santuario)

Green Man Gaming Signs Deal with Sony for SecuROM DRM

The independent PC digital distributor  Green Man Gaming has signed a deal with Sony DADC to include its SecuROM DRM in the distributor’s games. For the UK-based retailer, this deal is a sweet opening ceremony gift about 19 days before their release day.

Green Man Gaming

Digital Rights Management, though shunned by many of the gaming community, is a necessary evil for the protection of intellectual and digital property and the first barrier against piracy. Capcom, Take2 Interactive, Ubisoft and EA all use SecuROM. Online retailers such as GamersGate, Steam and Impulse use (or have used) SecuROM on some of their titles although the client for most of these digital distributors acts as a sort of DRM on its own.

Paul Sulyok, CEO of Green Man Gaming, said,

This partnership dramatically accelerates our initial offer to include the majority of AAA PC titles that are currently available. We are looking forward to working with SecuROM and bringing PC gaming to a wider audience through Green Man Gaming and our retail partners.

greenman_home

While the site is not going to be up for a few more weeks, we will try to find as much info on this new digital distributor as possible. Stay tuned for more!

Foss Friday: OpenGL 4.0, BBC DRM on Broadcasts, Oracle’s Java Love And More

This week has seen a lot of activity in FOSS. In this post, I will present a weekly roundup of some key events that will determine the shape of things to come.

News

  • Oracle focuses on Java

Oracle has now become the world’s largest Open Source Company in terms of market share and enterprise solution expertise. Whatever Oracle does determines a lot of other sectors and fields. Oracle announced that Java will be focused upon by the company owing to its potential and current giant share in the development sector. Also, the JDK version 7 will sport many nifty features and easy integration with newer technologies. Read more at itWorldCanada.

  • BBC is planning on introducing DRM for its broadcast content

If this plan gets through, Open Source users of UK will not be able to watch the BBC television programs. What a shame it is to see that this feature is not present in the receivers, and this move is not made by BBC itself. BBC is being pressurized by copyright holders to do this and they threaten to withdraw the rights to air their shows. What is even more insane is that they wish to implement this throughout all devices. These devices include the Television, the Recorders, Burners, basically everything that can store the program. Follow up at OMG! UBUNTU.

  • AMD releases support for OpenGL 4.0 on Linux

AMD has released support for OpenGL 4.0, the newest Linux Graphics API. This new driver is a preview and lacks official support but promises that AMD is at least living up to the new OpenGL standards. Phoronix tells us more on this development.

Tips and Features

  • Ubiquity slideshow in Ubuntu installation

Ubuntu Linux has just released its first public beta. This beta gives a peek into the latest features and visual enhancements which will appear in the next version of Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx. One of them is the Ubiquity slideshow during the installation.

  • Install OpenOffice.org 3.2 on Ubuntu 9.10

OpenOffice.org is the best office suite in Ubuntu Linux. This is an easy guide on how to install OpenOffice.org in Ubuntu Linux 9.10 Karmic Koala.

Ubisoft’s DRM Servers Were Down Because of Hackers

It was a somebody set up us the bombmoment at Ubisoft. It could also have been an I told you so!moment from many anti-DRM factions. The diabolic DRM protection server of Ubisoft that it launched for two games (Assassin’s Creed II and Silent Hunter 5) had an outage for about six and a half hours, rendering both of them unplayable. Why? Because the games needed to be constantly authenticated via the DRM server while playing. So, denial of service from DRM server = no gameplay = sad (and eventually angered) gamers.

ubisoft

In a tweet, Ubisoft apologized for the outage, claiming that it was due to an attack by (possibly, haha) hackers.

Apologies to anyone who couldn’t play ACII or SH5 yesterday. Servers were attacked which limited service from 2:30pm to 9pm Paris time

However, this was only the beginning of their woes, as they handled yet another attack on their servers today, that affected those who were trying to log in. This just goes on to show that the hackers were definitely people against such outrageous DRM-protection on gaming.

As for me, I’ll just do a “bet t all” and not buy any games that involve such pathetic DRM protection.