Posts Tagged Opinion

On piracy and excellence

Note: Like the one before it this post was originally submitted to Destructoid. It was the second and last of my entries to that website. Next week we resume the new and fresh blog posts.

CBlog:

Recently, I’ve been reading up on piracy, due to a sudden realization that I don’t seem to enjoy new games as much as I used to. Upon thinking on it, the most logical conclusion I came to was that, due to the fact that I used to pay for the games I play, I’d value them more thus play them more and take more enjoyment from them.

But was it really?

Looking back at the games I bought and played, I can see marks of GREAT games, even if not the entirety of the game is good (I’m looking at you Oblivion). Today, I’m not seeing that same thing in new games. Games that do have them, have other very WRONG things making them essentially bad (Assassin’s Creed 2 DRM, the Witcher over the shoulder camera). Then, there are the big company, big hype games that end up being a colossal let down (The Sims 3).

This makes me wonder: Are there any good PC games still out there that I enjoy?

One answer to this question is my monthly bill of World of Warcraft, a game that 5 years after release still holds strong, still holds entertainment.

“But”, you say, “WoW is an MMO, it’s constantly evolving and thus constantly fresh”. Well, that’s true. Ok then, another example, Sims 2. A game still going strong even after the release of its lackluster successor, The Sims 3.

But this blog isn’t to talk about what games are good and what games are not, though it is an essential part of the topic, piracy.

I do occasionally download games, I admit, but I do know that companies put a lot of work into them and great games deserve to be rewarded. That is why I bought Sims 2 and Oblivion and TRIED to buy AC2, the result of which was a very angry blog.

You see, for me, who am a college student with little to no income, shelling out hard saved 60€ for a game wasn’t easy. Not easy at all. But I was happy. I knew AC2 would be a great game, even if it was just copy + pasted from AC. I felt cheated when, coming home, it didn’t even work.

Then, of course, there are the games that are expensive and not even worth it. Price IS a huge factor in the illegalities here. I remember a time when games were 20€ to 40€, more easily affordable, and I used to buy them, even if they turned out not to be good. Now I can’t even afford the good games.

Many other people are in the same situation as me, if forums and articles are any indication, and developers keep asking themselves why, thinking that shiny new computer blowing graphics is all we want, no matter the price. Well, I’d much rather have games with lower graphics and tons of content than shiny eye-candy my computer can’t even run properly. It’s something to consider.

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How DRM kept money on my side.

Note: This blog post was originally written for and posted at Destructoid. Since then, I’ve stopped caring about that websit, and since I still have two entries there, I’m bringing them over to here.

C-Blog post:

Finally, Ubisoft decided to release Assassin’s Creed 2 for the PC, a game that I had been waiting for ever since I finished the first title. The first game was truly awesome, getting everything almost perfect, in my opinion, with the exception of some technical problems and the repetitive secondary mission gameplay.

The second installment of the series promised tons of gameplay improvement and a new, impressive story of corruption and conspiracy. I was stoked. This was a game that I HAD to buy, there was no question about it!

Fast-forward to 8th March, I go down to my local “tech” store, money stuffed snugly in my wallet, ready to buy the game I had waited so long for! The purchase went smoothly enough and I came home itching to get this baby on my laptop and jump into the immersive gameplay.

But Ubisoft had other plans.

The installation itself went smoothly, not even a hiccup, but as soon as it was done I was prompted to log-in or create a new Ubisoft account. …what? No, I just wanted to play my game but there was no way to skip this step so, annoyed, I went on to create an Ubisoft account. Chosen data typed, I clicked forward and…cannot connect to log-in servers. WHAT?! Because some servers god knows where weren’t online I couldn’t play my SINGLE PLAYER game? A game I gave 60€ for?! Unacceptable!

Naturally, I went immediately to the internet, thinking, hoping, this was some mistake on my part. After all, EA games also prompt users to register their game but allow for easy, no one’s forcing anyone. But not Ubisoft.

A quick search soon revealed the monster that was Ubisoft’s DRM. Long story short, the system requires you to have a CONSTANT internet connection to their servers (which are down by the way) so the program can constantly validate the authenticity of your game. If your internet connection fails even for a few minutes, it will boot you out of your game session. Hope you’ve been saving every five minutes!

So, Ubisoft dictates when you play and guarantees that your game copy is legal. Constant internet connection is just a requirement, and you even have benefits through the Uplay platform. At least pirates won’t get to enjoy the game, hahahaha, right?

WRONG!

Not 24 hours after the game was out the DRM was bypassed by a talented group of pirates.

Worse yet, the pirated version is working better than the legal one (or, at least, you can play whenever you want. Yay…I thought that was a single-player given), proving once more that piracy does have its benefits.

So, what is the effect of this DRM? Well, considering people like me (criminals which once in a while feel like a game deserves a small fortune shelled out), it encourages piracy instead of legal purchase. On account of my bad experience, I’ll be telling as many people as I can about it and advising them not to buy the game, just out of spite. Three of my friends are already not buying.

I’m returning the game today and uninstalling it from my hard-drive. I’ll get my money back and swear to never, ever again buy something from Ubisoft. It isn’t just the screw up with the servers, it is mostly the dictatorship they implemented in their effort to stop (read: encourage) piracy. I bought the game. It’s a single-player game, not online multiplayer. Why should I have to be dependent on Ubisoft’s servers to play it? It doesn’t make sense and it’s just wrong! I miss the days when games only required you to insert the serial key during installation…Come to think about it, I bought a lot more games back then.

 

 

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If you like it, try to buy it.

I consider myself a pirate. The kind of person who, instead of waiting in line to buy the latest release, is at home, comfortably downloading it. There is a reason why I do this though, instead of shelling out cold, hard cash. It’s not laziness, or lack of appreciation for the developers. In fact, I think it’s far less of a hassle to go to the store and pick up the DVD. Less of a hassle and more of a pleasure, even. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the game companies that create all my favourite games, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t want to play their games anyway. No, I do it for monetary reasons, as my family doesn’t have an entertainment budget. At most, we SOMETIMES go to the cinema and watch a film, but that’s about it.

As a college student who is unemployed, I don’t have much revenue except for birthday/Christmas/Misc gifts given mostly by my grandmother. Therefore, dropping 60€ on any given month is a little too much.

I know I shouldn’t play the games if I don’t have the funds to buy them, but I do believe that my download doesn’t rob any company of money. Due to the lack of funds, I wouldn’t, regrettably, be able to buy the game anyway, and I often try to spread the word about games I enjoyed, to encourage other people to buy them (if they, themselves, download, that’s out of my control).

My limited budget though, goes to games I’ve played illegally but thought were awesome enough to sacrifice my money to. Such was the case with the first Assassin’s Creed, which I recently purchased, despite having already completed the game and having to run it with shitty graphics.

There are a lot of arguments pro and against piracy in the gaming community. There are those who think that all pirated games hurt the industry. There are those who feel they have the right to play the games for free, despite having the money to buy them, those who say “I do it because I CAN”. And this last one actually saddens me. I love owning original copies, I love the boxes and the handbooks, and the little extras (like the Cyrodiil map in the Oblivion box)[link pic]. I love opening my games drawer and seeing the DVD boxes all lined up. I love looking under my desk and seeing my collector’s editions (Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm and The Witcher in case anyone was wondering, mostly Christmas gifts except for Cata, which I spent nearly a year saving for). This love for all things original is what keeps me away from services such as Steam, as a digital download just feels just like the illegally downloaded game. Box, do want.

A while back, a group of Indie producers released a bundle of indie games for nearly free: the costumer could pay them whatever they wanted, even 1 cent if they chose to. But no, for some people even that was too much. One quarter of the bundles were pirated. I do, however, keep in mind that for some people it was impossible or extremely difficult to pay for the product, since many of the payment methods would not apply to them.

I guess I’d like to make people think about the reasons that lead them to pirate any software, not just games. To think if there’s any measure of plausibility to those reasons, or if they’re just being dicks. Pirating software just because you can isn’t right. I know, personally, a guy who is like this: he’s rich, but most games on his hard-drive weren’t paid for. He has no need to do this, but he does it. Though I never asked him, I have to assume it’s just because he simply can.

To fellow broke pirates: Spread the word about the games you play. Tell people why/if you enjoyed them. Make your free publicity your (albeit meager) contribute to the developers. Who knows, maybe someone who didn’t know about the game will hear about it from you and buy a copy.

I’ll leave you all with this video from Extra Credits on piracy:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/extra-credits/2653-Piracy

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Opinion: Magic in RPGs.

A little background: I love RPG games. But there’s a thing about me: I hate guns. I mean, I think handguns are sexy in a hot character’s hands but unless I can dual wield two beautiful, sleek handguns, no thank you. So, fantasy and medieval games and especially RPGs are the tall order for me. Some titles, as reference: The Elder Scrolls (III and IV), World of Warcraft, Fable I, Dragon Age: Origins. You get a pretty good idea this way, I think.

Smexy!

A common theme in these is magic. Magic is present in almost any medieval style RPG, usually following the main elements: Fire, Water, Earth and Air. Sure, sometimes there’s Electricity and such but usually you’ll find those four main elements. Personally, I’m more of a Rogue and occasionally Warrior archetype, but I can see the lure of the mage. Changing the world with a thought, a word, is very, very appealing.

 

Fire

Fire is a destructive magic, used to kill, destroy, break, eliminate. Only in WoW I did see fire as being something else, with the red Dragonflight using it not only as a weapon, but also for creation. Indeed, whenever their fire touches the ground, grass and flowers grow. Life through death. Kinda poetic. General rule, though, fire magic never strays much from its destructive power, with mages specializing in this type of magic being rude, arrogant, brash, hot-headed (no pun intended) and reckless.

 

Water

Well…is there anything you can call “water magic”? Not really, from what I recall. This element of magic is usually referred to as a state of water: Ice. Ice magic is pretty much a defensive magic, used to freeze enemies in place, create defences, stop floods and such. It can also be an utility school, creating bridges and objects. Occasionally, it is offensive with things such as ice shards that make a pin cushion out of any enemy. Ice mages are usually calm, collected, a bit emotionless, calculating.

 

Earth

Earth or Nature magic is usually associated with the arts of healing, druids and shamans. Restoring forests as well as flesh, it is both a healing school as well as defensive one, calling on the power of nature and plants to confuse, slow or even kill enemies. Users of Earth magic are usually kind, calm, quiet, fun and perhaps a bit childish, philosophical and non-violent. This school is also associated with a more feral variety of users, the Shapeshifters, especially those that turn into animals, their minds gaining a bit of the animal instincts.

 

Air

Air magic is virtually unheard of, at least I can’t find any example of humanoid mages. Only recently I have found, in WoW, creatures using air magic, though most of it is still Electricity. Still, the wind can be used to kill opponents, creating sandstorms for example, or hurricanes. Or tornadoes. Seriously, there’s destructive potential here. I’d imagine a user of air magic to be at least prone to sudden mood swings.

 

All the kinds of magic users I described above are pretty standard fantasy fodder and usually don’t make for very interesting characters. This is where more complex magic starts kicking in, such as the multiple schools of Elder Scrolls, or Arcane of WoW or even the nameless magic practised in Fable (the Will). Truth is, magic has so much potential it should be tapped more in games. And I’m not talking about more “Dark arts” such as Blood magic and Necromancy either. This is a short post where I’d like comments and other gamers’ opinion on magic in RPGs.

 

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