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Wednesday, July 26 2017 @ 10:23 AM PST

Take-Two Interactive kills decade-old GTA4 modding tool

Some game companies understand that modding extends the life of a game, and embrace the idea. Others are somewhat less enlightened.

Take-Two Interactive, makers of the Grand Theft Auto series, recently sent a threat letter to the developers of a popular GTA4 modding tool called OpenIV. Lacking the resources to fight the threat, the OpenIV folks stopped distribution of the tool. Fans of the tool -- and the game -- are furious.

Dear idiots at Take-Two: this was a stupid move. You're going to lose far more business and consumer goodwill than you could ever hope to (somehow?) save by shutting down this tool. Here's a suggestion: stop letting your lawyers guide your business decisions.

GameTracker banners intermittently disappear

You may have noticed that the GameTracker server banners at the top of the home page are only appearing sporadically in the last few days. This is apparently happening because GameTracker is currently the subject of a DDoS attack. Hopefully this will blow over within a few days.

You can temporarily fix the problem by navigating to the GameTracker web site.

Denuvo's troubles escalate

I'm almost starting to feel sorry for the folks who make Denuvo, the widely-despised DRM (copy protection) software.

RiME developer Tequila Works said they wanted DRM because if the game was cracked it could mess up the experience, but they also said if the game was cracked they would release a version without Denuvo DRM. The game was almost immediately cracked, and Tequila Works now says they will make good on their promise, but also that the DRM was never their idea anyway.

The person largely responsible for cracking RiME described the excessive number of calls being made to the Denuvo protection just in the game's startup and loading screens. He speculates that complaints about the game's performance by paying customers were almost certainly related to these ramped up -- and, ultimately, fruitless -- efforts to prevent the game from being cracked.

Meanwhile, Denuvo itself was recently accused of using unlicensed software. In the world of DRM, this is known as 'stealing'. Denuvo's DRM uses code supposedly licensed from a company called VMProtect. But Denuvo's license was not sufficient for their use, and VMProtect went public. Denuvo must have had a little chat with VMProtect, because now the latter is saying "DENUVO GmbH had the right to use our software in the past and has the right to use it currently as well as in the future." Which is amusing, in that it allows for Denuvo having been improperly licensed for some amount of time in the past.

And finally, a hacking group known as 'SteamPunks' created a key generator that could potentially allow for very straightforward workarounds for any game protected by Denuvo. If it turns out to work as claimed, this is likely to put the final nail in Denuvo's coffin.

Minecraft 1.12 released

Minecraft 1.12 was released on June 7. The announcement on minecraftforum.net describes this update as 'World of Color' because of changes to the game's colour palette. Here are some highlights for the new version:

  • Added Glazed Terracotta blocks
  • Renamed Hardened Clay to Terracotta
  • Added Concrete Powder blocks
  • Added Concrete blocks
  • Updated base color palette
  • Added advancements
  • Added recipe book
  • Added Knowledge Book item
  • Added Parrots
  • Added functionality to save toolbars in creative mode
  • Added text-to-speech narrator
  • Added new sounds for the Note blocks
  • Added commands relating to recipes and advancements
  • Many minor fixes and changes

Minecraft 1.12 is the first version of the game to require Java 8. If you only run the game client, you don't need to worry about this, because the game includes the required version of Java. If you run a Minecraft server, however, you'll need to upgrade to Java 8 if you're not running it already.

Before I can upgrade the JDRGaming Minecraft server to version 1.12, I have to upgrade the server's Java installation. That's proving to be more complicated than it should be, so the server upgrade is likely to be delayed a few days. You can still play on the JDRGaming server, but you'll need to configure your Minecraft client to run the previous version (1.11.2) to do that. Stay tuned.

New IP address for all game servers

At about 3am PST today (2017Jun01), my Internet Service Provider (Shaw) changed my WAN IP address. Again. This happens from time to time because of the type of service I use. I'm now considering switching to a service that provides a static IP address.

The IP address for all JDRGaming game servers is now 24.80.59.72. Server lists will gradually update, but you can usually hurry things along by clicking an 'update' or 'refresh' button in game clients.

I'll update the alerts at the top of the home page to show the new IP address.

If you have any trouble connecting, please use the 'report a problem' link below the TPU Status box.

Nintendo's DMCA hammer creates a successful competitor

Nintendo just can't stop shooting itself in the foot. In 2015, the company successfully prevented a fan from distributing a game he created (originally known as Zelda Maker) in response to Nintendo ruling out creating such a game itself. Unperturbed, that fan remade the game, staying clear of Nintendo's branding, and is now successfully selling that game as Legend Maker. Of course, everyone knows it's really Zelda Maker. Congratulations, Nintendo: your clumsy efforts to crush the spirit of one of your biggest fans has backfired, as usual.

New version of Denuvo defeated

Denuvo ain't dead yet. The company keeps fighting to stay relevant in the world of software copy protection, but it's a losing battle.

A few weeks ago, a new version of Denuvo -- created to combat recent progress by DRM crackers -- was used to 'protect' the new game 2Dark. Within a month, that game's DRM was defeated. This victory was especially sweet for DRM opponents, because 2Dark's developer had earlier stated that the game would not use any form of DRM.

Keep fighting, Denuvo. This is entertaining.

New study shows video games don't cause loss of empathy

For those of you still convinced that video games somehow cause aggressive behaviour in players, here's yet another study that refutes those claims.

This particular study shows no connection between video gaming and loss of empathy.

Please stop repeating BS claims about video games causing violent behaviour in kids. It's just not true. Aggressive and violent behaviour in kids has a lot of causes, with the main one being bad parenting. Which is of course why (bad) parents are quick to blame anything other than themselves.

Troubles continue for Denuvo

It seems like only yesterday that Denuvo's DRM (copy protection) technology was unbeatable. The best software cracking teams in the world seemed ready to throw in the towel.

But Denuvo's glory didn't last long, and games 'protected' by Denuvo are being cracked increasingly quickly. Recently, Resident Evil 7 was cracked within five days of its release.

So Denuvo has joined the ranks of all other copy protection software, in that it: a) doesn't prevent 'protected' games from being copied; b) causes a lot of problems for people who purchase 'protected' games legitimately; and c) costs game developers a lot of time and money, both for the Denuvo technology and for related technical support.

Denuvo responded to the Resident Evil 7 cracking news by saying that five days of protection is better than nothing. But a simple cost-benefit analysis shows that using Denuvo (or any other DRM technology) to protect a game is always going to cost more than can possibly be saved.

Adding to Denuvo's misery is the news that their corporate servers were recently breached, and private email archives published. It must be fun to work at Denuvo these days.

Update 2017Feb22: Techdirt points out that the alternative to using annoying, counter-productive DRM is to make games that are actually good, and make them moddable, like Quake, which still earns money for ID Software, twenty years after its release.