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Tuesday, October 17 2017 @ 07:34 PM PST

Gaming news update

Nintendo can't make their retro gaming consoles fast enough to meet demand, thereby disproving (unintentionally of course) the myth that people pirate games simply because they 'want stuff for free'. All of those old console games are widely available as ROM downloads that run in console emulation software on PCs. If playing for free was the issue, surely those consoles wouldn't be flying off the shelves.

Game developers are slowly but surely coming to understand that having their games available for free is not the disaster anti-piracy crusaders would have us believe. Jacob Janerka discovered his game Paradigm on torrent sites, but instead of going legal and trying to get the torrents removed or hosting sites shut down, he decided to embrace what is essentially free promotion and distribution for the game. He reached out to thousands of potential customers in the comments for the game's torrent on The Pirate Bay, saying:

"Hey everyone, Iím Jacob the creator of Paradigm. I know some of you legitimately canít afford the game and Iím glad you get to still play it :D If you like the game, please tell your friends and maybe even consider buying it later."

Some developers are even making free torrents of their games available themselves. Acid Wizard Studio recently did this for their popular horror title Darkwood. From the notes accompanying the torrent:

This is the latest version of Darkwood... Completely DRM-free. There's no catch, no added pirate hats for characters or anything like that. We have just one request: if you like Darkwood and want us to continue making games, consider buying it in the future, maybe on a sale, through Steam, GOG or Humble Store. But please, please, don't buy it through any key reselling site. By doing that, you're just feeding the cancer that is leeching off this industry.

Other game developers are rediscovering one of the earliest computer game sales strategies: give away the first few hours of gameplay. A related strategy is to make early versions of a game available for free, and that's what Indiegala has done with their new game Die Young.

Of course it's the bigger studios -- the ones with high-paid executives and teams of lawyers eager to prove their worth -- who insist on direct compensation for their productions. Studios like Capcom, which recently issued a takedown request for a series of playthrough videos for the Capcom game Dai Gyakuten Saiban. The game is a spinoff of Ace Attorney, and only released in Japan. All language in the game is Japanese, but English subtitles were added to the posted videos. It's difficult to imagine how something like this could be a threat to Capcom, and yet they insisted the videos be removed from Youtube.

Copy protection (aka DRM) software Denuvo suffered perhaps its most devastating setback when the game Total War: Warhammer 2, 'protected' by Denuvo, was recently cracked within hours of its release. When Resident Evil 7 was cracked earlier this year, Denuvo Marketing Director Thomas Goebl stated that "some protection was better than nothing." I wonder what he'll say now. And I wonder why anyone still bothers to waste money on copy protection, especially Denuvo.

JDRGaming site and TPU stats now on Cloudflare

The Internet caching service Cloudflare allows web sites to remain accessible even when the servers hosting those sites are down. It also provides protection against DDoS and related attacks. Cloudflare's basic web site protection service is free. In September, Cloudflare announced that DDoS protection would be extended to free accounts.

The jdrgaming.com web site, TPU stats, BF1942 server, BF2 server, and numerous other sites and services are all hosted on a single server. Clearly, it would be helpful to users if the jdrgaming.com site remained accessible during server outages, and had some protection against DDoS attacks. As of September 26, jdrgaming.com and tpu.jdrgaming.com are protected by Cloudflare.

If you notice any problems with the site or TPU stats, please let me know (About/Contact in the top menu).

JDRGaming site and game servers: planned outage Aug 30

Due to circumstances beyond my control, all of the JDRGaming game servers will be unavailable on August 30.

A planned local power outage is expected to last from 8:30am to 6:30 pm on August 30. The outage will also affect this web site (jdrgaming.com).

I will post updates on the @JDRGamingStatus Twitter account as events unfold tomorrow.

UPDATE: As of 12:50pm PST, power has been restored and the server is back up. All game servers are back online.

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.