Posts Tagged personal

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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My Favourite Video-Games

While I’m on a gaming roll, I decided to write in this week about my gaming history and which titles I think are of special consideration, which I hold dear and why I do so.

 

It all started in the 90s, mid-childhood. I was about 6, second grade of primary school. The school had just got their first batch of computers, really old ones, of the Pentium variety, which one though, I’m not sure. We also got access to a variety of educational games that ranged from History to Maths and everything in between. My poison of choice for when we got gaming time was A Aventura do Corpo Humano, a game about the human body which included a sims-like mini-game in which you had to guide the main character throughout the day with a good mix of food, exercise and rest. The main character in this was a bit disturbing though: a skeleton with internal organs. Still, he was amusing and I learned much about the body thanks to this little game.

 

Fast forward a few years, my mother bought a Tetris machine, a hand held, battery operated, 8 bit, monochrome brick that merely ran Tetris. But boy, did I play it. The Tetris theme is still one of my favourite game themes of all time. Tetris even got me through theory physics class here in college!

 

A bit later, the Pokemon mania hit Portugal full force and I was hooked. It was the anime, the card game, the gameboy games. My grandparents got me a gameboy color for Christmas with Pokemon Yellow. I loved playing it, I loved trading pokemon with guys at school, I loved pwning them in battles (which most said they weren’t trying or not watching, you know, boy egos, heh). I played Silver and Crystal officially, Ruby emulated and tried SoulSilver emulated but eh, I don’t like instability. I should check to see if I can somehow play it on the Wii.

 

Once I hit high school, though, the real fun began. That’s when I started to play titles such as The Sims original (all 8 expacs too), the Elder Scrolls III, Age of Empires/Mythology, Pharaoh, Zeus, Black and White. Never was much of an FPS gal, not only because my aiming sucks but also because the FPS community gives the vibe of immature guys who still measure their dicks online.

 

I got my first taste of the consoles with the Sega Mega Drive (16 bits ZOMG), Sonic mostly, and the PSone, at a friend’s place, where I played and fell in love with Spyro the Dragon, my first “flame” with dragons. I have been pretty much of a PC gamer though, despite owning a Wii and PS2 and thinking of an Xbox360.

 

The games that marked me, though, the really addicting ones, the ones that I spent hours upon hours on, the ones I truly remember were few. Besides the pokemon ones, which I still enjoy playing when I get the chance, the great names are Sims, TES III, WoW, Age of Mythology and Black and White 2.

 

These games I’ve ran from top to bottom (except TES III, more on that ahead), explored every nook and cranny, finished the storyline 100%. These are games I will recommend to anyone at any time.

 

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. I’ve discovered recently that not many people actually know about this game, yet it was one of the best RPGs released at its time (2002). I never would have found it if it weren’t for a friend and her habit of getting her hands on every new release to see if its good.

 

The thing is…I haven’t finished this game yet, despite having installed it about four times now. The most I did, was get to the middle of the main quest! Seriously, its a miracle this game even gave Bethesda any profit! Not only does it have excellent graphics for its time, it is also HUGE. DAO? Tiny compared to this monster! The main quest is an epic storyline about your character being the reincarnation of an old Dunmer general who has come to free the Ashlanders (native Dunmer) from the Outlanders (everyone else), driving them and their “false Gods” away. The kicker: YOU are an Outlander. They do NOT trust you.

 

It is a story that starts you off rather mysteriously, quietly, no rush, and builds up as all you do culminates finally in an epic battle. I won’t get into detail; I haven’t got there myself. Besides the main quest, you can join the Fighters guild, the Mages guild, the Thieves guild, the Morag Thong, house Hlallu, house Redoran, house Telvanii, the Imperial Cult and the Imperial Legion, each of these guilds with a storyline of its own that would nowadays warrant their own game, most probably. Yet despite all this, you STILL get loose side quests, varying from fetch quests to assassination, to escort quests. And did I mention the map is HUGE and you can go ANYWHERE on it? Yes, this game is not for the faint of heart. And if somehow you manage to exhaust all there is to do in it, it has an extensive modding community, ready to provide more quests, more features, more and more and more. And yes, despite the game’s age, it is STILL going strong.

 

By now you are probably thinking “Damn this girl is going on and on and on about an old ass game, I bet she never played Final Fantasy, Zelda, Mario, <insert big title here>”. Truth is, yes, I have played them to some extent. I did not like them anywhere near as much as other sort of “underground” games. I have a very extensive Western RPG culture that Asian RPGs just don’t appeal to. Platformers, meh. FPS, no way.

 

That’s why short games sadden me a little. There is so much room to create beautiful stories and gameplays, too bad companies don’t seem to appreciate it. Kudos to Ubisoft for making a game that is relatively short but very enjoyable though: Assassin’s Creed. I did not enjoy having to return AC2 to the store due to the DRM and the very high graphics requirements. Why can’t we disable shadows Ubi, why? :'<

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