Welcome to jdrgaming.com Saturday, July 13 2024 @ 09:42 PM PDT

Gaming miscellany

A Lament for the LAN Party

Multi-player gaming these days almost always involves playing against (and only occasionally with) strangers on the Internet. But there was a time, starting in the nineties, when multi-player meant getting together with friends and their computers in the same room. Like co-operative multi-player gaming, LAN parties are largely disappearing. Why bother schlepping around your PC, when you can connect with other players via the Internet? RockPaperShotgun takes a retrospective look at the LAN party phenomenon.

Changes to Minecraft.net

Given the crappy nature of the previous incarnation of minecraft.net, I was thrilled to hear that the site has just been upgraded. Sadly, while the site now works a lot better on mobile devices, the content still falls short.

There's still no obvious indication of the current version, no link to a change log, and the download links are actually buried deeper than before.

So I won't be retiring the JDRGaming Minecraft page any time soon.

Yet another example of the pointlessness of DRM

In the long, sad history of DRM (Digital Rights Management), also known as copy protection, there are countless examples that demonstrate its futility. The latest is courtesy of Bandai-Namco, producers of the console game 'Tales of Symphonia', originally released for Nintendo Gamecube in 2004.

The PC port of this old console game is a complete mess. But rather than spend some money to fix bugs, Bandai-Namco decided to waste money adding copy protection to the game. Because that's the default position of the corporate drones and lawyers who run most game companies these days. If they had stopped to consider this for a few microseconds, they would have realized that any potential profit they might lose to piracy is vastly outweighed by the bad reviews and angry customers with which they are now faced.

What's that definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome but never getting it? Bandai-Namco, you are insane.

DRM continues to plague paying customers

Microsoft has always had a great attitude about backward compatibility. They know people are more likely to upgrade to a newer version of Windows if they can still run their old software, especially games. Contrast that to Apple's attitude.

Anyway, there's bad news for anyone wants to run (or is already running) certain older games on Windows Vista, XP, 7, 8 and 10. A recent Windows security update effectively disabled the (already much-reviled) Safedisc DRM software.

Anyone who wants to run the affected games (which include Battlefield 1942) can try a clunky workaround provided by Microsoft, or they can look for a 'no-CD' patch from one of the game copying sites on the web. If you choose to do the latter, be very careful, because some of those sites and the files they host are loaded with malware.

Nintendo reminds us that it still hates its biggest fans

Nintendo continues its bullying ways. Their latest move? Taking down fan-made YouTube videos that were created using unofficial tools. Keep in mind that the only reason those unofficial tools were used in the first place was that Nintendo was slow to provide anything official. Will somone please replace the corporate drones in charge of Nintendo with someone who actually plays and enjoys computer games?

Console games moving away from split-screen multiplayer

A recent post on The Verge reports that game developers are increasingly less likely to include split-screen multiplayer in their games. According to the article, the main reason for this is that split-screen gaming doubles the hardware resource requirements of a game.

In fact, while the hardware resources required for split-screen are greater, the difference is usually not that large. That's because a lot of the work being done by the console only needs to be done once, not multiple times. Of course, this depends on the quality of the programmers and the development process used. If split-screen is added to a game as an afterthought, it's likely to be much less efficient.

But the real reason game producers are moving away from split-screen is pressure from management, which sees split-screen gaming as lost revenue. If I can go to my friend's house and play a split-screen game with him, that's one less game sold. Game producers would much rather force us to each buy a copy of the game and play on two separate consoles. The extra expense involved (multiple copies of a game, multiple consoles, multiple online gaming subscriptions) is great for game producers, but a crappy deal for people who just want to play games with their friends.

In any case, this trend is certainly sad. As noted in the Verge article, some of the best gaming experiences come from playing alongside friends in the same game, while sitting next to each other on the couch. It's a much more social experience than online gaming.

Of course, some games will always include the ability to play with and against friends on one screen. Many sports games, like EA Sports' NHL Hockey series, have always allowed this kind of play, and they typically do it without even needing a split screen. This no doubt contributes to the long-term success of such games.

Game developer CD Projekt Red shows the way

Proponents of DRM and other consumer-hostile copy protection technologies often argue that without this technology, software developers would never make any money. This is demonstrably false. In fact, DRM is - and has always been - about trying to squeeze every last penny of profit from a piece of software, regardless of the consequences. The net effects include software incompatibilities, technical support issues, angry customers, bad press, and (guess what?) lost sales.

Happily, a few game developers are starting to realize that DRM, and the attitudes associated with it, are pointless. Leading the anti-DRM charge is Witcher developer CD Projekt Red. These good people recently released Witcher 3, which has no DRM or copy protection of any kind.

And the result? Witcher 3 is setting sales records, and making a ton of money for CD Projekt Red. But why would people pay for the game when they can easily pirate it? Because most people want to support good work, and are willing to pay for it.

Another game developer screws its biggest fans

UPDATE 2015Jan31: After I originally posted this, my curiosity got the better of me and I bought the game. Wow. It's terrific. I particularly enjoy the 'solo' mode, where you're playing in the same universe as everyone else, but you never encounter other human players, only NPCs. Given the data storage requirements for a fully-populated Milky Way galaxy, the dynamic nature of the universe, and the fact that I can play without ever having to deal with griefers, I can totally live with the lack of an offline mode. It's a huge contrast with that griefer heaven, EVE Online. It's fun to see how EVE expats want desperately to play E:D, but are then turned off because they can't pick on less experienced players.

Say you're a game developer, and you need money. Step 1: promise your new game will have features people really want, like offline play. Step 2: rake in the dough via Kickstarter. Step 3: announce that the game won't have offline play after all. Step 4: refuse to give refunds to anyone who contributed money and actually played the early demo version. Step 5: face the wrath of gamers and the ridicule of the Internet.

This is exactly what David Braben did with the upcoming Elite:Dangerous. If this scenario sounds familiar, it's probably because EA did something very similar with SimCity 5. Except that EA never promised offline play or took money from people before disappointing them. They just said offline play wasn't possible, when in fact it was, and forcing online play was only done to prevent unauthorized copying (DRM).

What Braben has done is much worse. Why would anyone trust him or his projects in the future?

Nintendo bricks Wii U consoles

It looks like the geniuses at Nintendo haven't learned anything, and are continuing to act like that console you purchased isn't actually yours. Nintendo recently changed the Terms of Service on its Wii U consoles, which in itself isn't a big deal, but in this case, choosing to disagree with the new ToS will cause your console to stop working. Exactly what Nintendo hopes to accomplish with this idiotic move is a mystery.

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