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Garry's Mod Catches Pirates the Fun Way

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the discrimination-against-peglegs dept.

First Person Shooters (Games) 365

UgLyPuNk writes "A few hours ago, Garry Newman – the creator of Garry's Mod – asked, quite innocently, whether anyone was unable to shade polygon normals. He received a few comments, mostly jokes, but a quick look at Google suggests that there are indeed a few people who are experiencing problems with their game. You can hear Newman's chuckling from here — not the normal response to a wide-spread bug report, but this is no normal bug. It seems that the developer has deliberately enabled an error in GMod, which will only affect people who have pirated the game."

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Not a new idea (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804512)

Back in the 80's, the developers of a submarine game called Silent Service built in a piracy check that would cause the sailor guy's pants to fly up over his head if your game failed the copy protection. They got quite a few phone calls from baffled pirates.

Re:Not a new idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804564)

Wasn't there a racing game in the last few years which had the tyres fall off your car at the start of the race if the DRM check failed at startup?

Re:Not a new idea (1)

lazybeam (162300) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804904)

Stunts (AKA 4D Sports Driving, a DOS game) had that: if you failed the question check enough times it would let you on the track but crash (the car) after a few seconds.

Re:Not a new idea (1)

Durzel (137902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805356)

I remember Megalomania on the Atari ST would let you play and then just nuke your settlement and loop the endgame "It's All Over!" sound effect over and over.

Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker, again on the ST, would get as far as the title screen and then squiggles would appear everywhere (as if someone was drawing on the screen) before finally going straight to black.

Anyone got a compilation of these kinds of anti-piracy tricks?

Re:Not a new idea (1)

noname444 (1182107) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804958)

In the DOS game stunts the car breaks down with the message "You forgot to disable the security system" if the copy protection check fails.

One of my favorites though is the game Operation Flashpoint where, if the copy protection fails, the game starts slowly fading to black. Eventually, when the screen is almost dark, the message "Real games don't fade" appears on the screen.

Re:Not a new idea (1)

craznar (710808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804892)

Kabul Spy for the Apple ][ which at a certain point leaves you in a jail cell with no escape (in the pirated version), but allowed escape if you actually bought it.

Re:Not a new idea (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805006)

[citation needed]
as far as I recall from all those years ago, there was no sailor. You spent the game staring out the scope
I also had a pirated copy of it that worked fine at the time.

Re:Not a new idea (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805022)

Settlers II in the late 90s subtly broke the game economy if it detected it had been copied, making iron foundries turn iron-ore into pigs instead of pig iron, which were then taken to the butcher and turned into ham. You couldn't make metals so you couldn't raise an army, but everyone was very well fed....

Took me ages to figure out what was going on, and I LOL'd.

Re:Not a new idea (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805120)

Sounds more like something they would've done on Leisure Suit Larry...

Uh, wait, is it Opposite Day?

except.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804534)

except that they're catching legitimate customers with the shitty DRM system.

Re:except.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804744)

Actually I can attest to this, I have a copy bought through steam and I'm having this issue... I don't usually play GMOD but it's annoying non the less. I'll have to wait till the end of the month to re-download the game cause I've just about used up my bandwidth for the month... Like I said at least I rarely play it.

I can listen to you... (3, Funny)

poptones (653660) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804536)

Here in my car
Where the image breaks down
Will you visit me please?
If I open my door
In cars

Re:I can listen to you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804716)

Now the light fades out
And I'm wondering what I'm doing in a room like this
There's a knock on the door
And just for a second I thought I remembered you

Re:I can listen to you... (1)

aiht (1017790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805284)

Bahahahahaha nice one!
That took me a while...

What's the point? (1)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804540)

Seriously what is the point of this? To flush out pirates on forums? Because if it is to be a sneaky anti-piracy system it is pointless. I have heard about games that detect pirated copies and corrupt saves or don't let you finish the game etc, but what is the point of giving pirates a bizarre error message? Wouldn't "Stop being a douche and support indie developers!" be a better message to display?

Not that I would ever actually pay for Garry's Mod as it is just a "dev tool" type mod. I don't see any creativity in it besides what the Half-Life 2 developers put in. I looked it up years ago and when I saw it cost money I laughed and spent the money on better games.

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804612)

Would you argue the popular/successful "dev tool" Minecraft is also void of creativity? Sandbox games aren't for everyone, but there's no need to knock them.

Re:What's the point? (2)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804620)

You could do something like post on the forum "This problem is fixed in version 1.2.3.2. Registered users can download this update for free.". The real version is, and always was, 1.2.3.2, but when pirated it reports 1.2.3.1 instead. If it's easier to pay your $10 for a genuinely useful product than to try and find someone with a pirated copy of 1.2.3.2 then at least a few people might be more likely to register.

Re:What's the point? (3, Interesting)

yeshuawatso (1774190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804656)

Well, would you prefer a more intrusive form of DRM? Removing the shading from a game isn't as bad as some of the DRM schemes that we've seen before by the bigger publishers. The authors aren't looking out to catch the pirates, they're not looking to sue anyone, they're just comically (inside joke, of course) telling the people that they've received an inferior product instead of the normal way of big titles where the pirated versions are superior to the retail version.

I for one welcome this. It's so small that it doesn't cause too much harm to the pirates in terms of game play, yet big enough that the pirates know they can receive the feature for just $10-$15 depending on prior Steam purchases. It reminds me of when I downloaded the X-Men Wolverine production rip. The CGI was incomplete and it was a nice reminder that I should just wait and rent the DVD (a very effective piracy deterrent, if you ask me). Unfortunately for Fox, I was bored well before the missing CGI came into play (it really was a terrible movie), and fortunately for them, I'm interested in seeing the new X-Men First Class when it comes to theaters in June (let's hope it's not terrible).

Re:What's the point? (4, Informative)

AAWood (918613) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804698)

It doesn't actually just stop shading, it makes the game crash out whilst giving a fake error message stating which says something about shading.

Re:What's the point? (2, Insightful)

yeshuawatso (1774190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804772)

Well, I stand corrected. +1 informative

Re:What's the point? (1)

Jamu (852752) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805322)

The problem with introducing fake error messages, is that they cause confusion with real error messages. Now you'll potentially have legitimate customers wondering what's wrong with their graphics card or drivers, when it's the DRM that's at fault. And DRM is often not reliable, and will typically assume a copy is invalid, if it fails to validate a game.

Re:What's the point? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804822)

Well, would you prefer a more intrusive form of DRM?

I'd prefer none. It's a waste of effort on the part of the developers (usually, it is cracked), and it typically affects actual customers as well.

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804938)

Removing the shading from a game isn't as bad as some of the DRM schemes that we've seen

Yup. Not nearly as bad as, say, removing the reading comprehension of slashdot posters.

Re:What's the point? (5, Insightful)

AAWood (918613) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804722)

If a pirate saw a "stop being a douche" message, their first reaction wouldn't be to go and buy the game, it would be to find an updated pirate version that got around that anti-piracy system. By using something that masquerades as an error, their first stop is much more likely to be to go to the forums to try and fix the "error"... thus outing themselves publically.

Re:What's the point? (5, Insightful)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805424)

But some people won't try to fix the error - and that's actually a much bigger problem.

We tried something similar in one of our software products. If the software detected modifications to the binary, it would run, but some features would perform 'erratically', and periodically we'd slow the execution down to a crawl. We thought we were being clever until we started seeing a few reviews appearing that panned the software as slow / buggy / unreliable. If you add a scheme of this sorts, you're potentially sacrificing the reputation of your product, and of your company / development team. For every person stupid enough to seek support for a product they don't own, there are another 5 or 6 who aren't that dumb (and will forever remember your company as the one who makes buggy software)

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35805482)

Point well taken, but remember to keep it in context.

This is Garry's Mod. Bugs abound. Because much of the content is player created/scripted, there is no real expectation of bug-free reliability. There is even an achievement for "Experience 500 Lua programming errors".

 

Re:What's the point? (2, Interesting)

Simon Donkers (950228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804762)

It turns out that the people who like to hack the copy protection and share the game aren't the real gamers.
I've read a success story about a game in which the finish of the first level wasn't there when the DRM check failed. It was cracked multiple times & uploaded but none of the pirates notices the game could not be finished. It took 2+ months for a real crack to be made while lots of gamers got frustrated with the cracked version and the game had higher sales then normal in the first 2 months.

So making sure that an illegal version has a worse game experience then the genuine article will make people pay for it. If the copy protection is totally obvious then crackers won't upload buggy cracks and thus the illegal version will have a better game experience.

Re:What's the point? (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804834)

and the game had higher sales then normal in the first 2 months.

Compared to what? How did they know how many sales there would've been if it hadn't been for that? I admit it's kind of a clever tactic, but I'm interested in how they know this.

Re:What's the point? (2)

crossmr (957846) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805020)

They don't. Some bean counter somewhere estimated sales and then sales may have been higher than what was expected and they attributed it to the copy protection.
The logic failure of these companies is beyond absurd.

Re:What's the point? (1)

Stupendoussteve (891822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805050)

That was Spyro: Year of the Dragon for the Playstation. They did a lot of sneaky stuff to make pirated copies not fun, but randomly, so you would think it worked fine until it triggered somewhere else.

You can read about it here [gamasutra.com] .

Note that since it was a console game there was a very low chance of false positives compared to a PC release.

You know why this is not used more often ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35805154)

It could be used on PC (and i think i remember an old game doing it, just like ultima 7 a/b "oink oink oink" if you answered wrongly within the game) Bad PR. Plain and simple, and cost. 2% can ammount to a LOT for big budget.

Re:What's the point? (1)

geekprime (969454) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804816)

Garry's mod has spawned at least three different games with very different gameplay from regular HL/CS, a find the spy before he kills you type game, racing games some where you build the track first Co-op building is fun too.

The article site sucks (4, Informative)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804548)

It takes a couple minutes just to load the page banner, then once it does, it redirects to an advertisement page.

I like to RTFA, but you can be sure that I won't be visiting that site ever again.

Re:The article site sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804604)

When you refactor your sig, it should be while((People++)->Color && People::COLOR_BROWN) actions::attack(People);
Shiatty coding leads to shiatty thought, but that's just my opinion.

Re:The article site sucks (1)

aiht (1017790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805304)

When you refactor your sig, it should be while((People++)->Color && People::COLOR_BROWN) actions::attack(People);
Shiatty coding leads to shiatty thought, but that's just my opinion.

Why on earth would you include a test for an enum/constant being non-zero in a loop?
Also your naming scheme is inconsistent. What is 'actions'? Come to think of it, what is 'People'? A pointer variable or a class name?
I do believe your joke is a failure, sir.

Re:The article site sucks (2)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805476)

Keep it simple.

>10 KILL KILL KILL
>20 GOTO 10

Dummies (3, Interesting)

Scorch_Mechanic (1879132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804576)

Pirating GMod 10 is like visiting five ice cream shops in a row and getting enough "tastes" to fill a quart. Simply not worth the effort, considering that GMod10 is, was, and will remain ONLY. TEN. DOLLARS. If you own any of Valve's excellent recent games, you've fulfilled the only other requirement (a Source engine game). Chances are high that if you're interested in GMod10, you've already got one or more of those.

I can understand pirating a $50 game because you want to stick it to the publisher or you want to try it out before shelling out, but pirating something that costs $10 strikes me as a remarkably pointless gesture.

Re:Dummies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804622)

Yeah, I got news for you. People don't pirate to make gestures.

Re:Dummies (0)

Scorch_Mechanic (1879132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804706)

They certainly do.

Three major reasons for pirating:
1. Money (either try before you buy, or sheer ludicrous pricing schemes).
Really not an acceptable excuse in this case. It's $10.

2. DRM bullshit.
I'm not gonna argue for or against this one. GMod10 and all of its required games all use STEAM, which is either the best split between DRM and customer friendliness possible or just another demonic DRM scheme (depending on who you ask). Personally, I find the advantages of STEAM manifestly outweigh the disadvantages.

3. Sticking it to the game developer/publisher/related company.
This is Valve we're talking about. I don't think any major game developer is friendlier to the gamers than Valve.

Re:Dummies (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804754)

Without condoning or condemning piracy in any general or specific terms, cost is relative. $10 isn't a lot to most people, but if you don't have it it may as well be a million. Maybe you're only just making enough to pay the rent and get food on the table, maybe you're putting every spare penny into saving for something important or to clear debts, or maybe (and I suspect this probably accounts for the majority of piracy) you're too young to get your own income.

Of course, the customary reply here is "if you can't get that much money, your time would be better spent making more". I dare say there are circumstantial counter-responses to that too.

Re:Dummies (4, Insightful)

Sparrow1492 (1962256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805148)

4. "I think I should not have to pay for anything"

I would argue that number 4 is still at the top of the stack for why people pirate.

Re:Dummies (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804652)

I think most of the people who pirate GMod do it because of the shit they pulled on people who tried to distribute the free version after they switched to pay. $10 to selfish idiots is still $10 to selfish idiots.

Re:Dummies (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35805238)

People pirate $0.59 iPhone games.

Re:Dummies (1)

mrcvp (1130257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805512)

Well I didn't pirate GMod and it was still a waste of my 10$ so I kinda wish I had. I love creating stuff and that's why I thought I would like GMod as well, but it didn't appeal to me at all.

Re:Dummies (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35805530)

I can understand pirating a $50 game...

Churchill: Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?

Socialite: My goodness, Mr. Churchill Well, I suppose we would have to discuss terms, of course

Churchill: Would you sleep with me for five pounds?

Socialite: Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!

Churchill: Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.

Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (-1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804582)

Calling your customer a pirate on a public forum without very solid proof , even jovially is not smart (and may even be legally actionable).

1. How does he know there's no bug in his copy protection code that does not inadvertently trigger for legitimate users under ANY circumstance

2. How does he know the people "pirating" haven't paid for a legit copy and decided to get around all the BS restrictions by using a crack anyway.

I have personally encountered situation 1 before in freeware of all things. The Vista Australis freeware mod developers accused people who were seeing a particular bug in their of being pirates, because pirating MS Flight Sim 2004 could cause the information about the install directory in the registry to be missing. It turned out there was a particular circumstance, which happened to me, under which the bug was triggered even without any kind of piracy. I had never pirated the game. I didn't take kindly to being called a pirate, and was labelled a trouble maker on the forum for pointing out that accusing people of piracy without proof wasn't right even if the software they developed was fantastic and free (which it was), and even if the accusation was jovial.

This is not an example of a fun way of catching pirates. It's an example of a software developer over-estimating his cleverness and acting like an ass.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804634)

From TFA:
"Making the situation even sweeter, the number which appears in brackets after the error statement is in fact the gamer’s 64-bit steamid.

Y’see, Steam keeps a list of which accounts have actually forked over the $9.99 for a legit copy of GMod – so it’s a simple matter of checking ids and turfing out the pirates."

As such, only people who reported the problem AND whose Steam accounts lacked a proper purchase of Garry's Mod were banned.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (2)

AAWood (918613) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804674)

Mod parent up. To the GP; there is a subtle irony in your post, when you think about it. In the same way the Vista Australis devs were accusing people of being pirates without properly investigating and getting the full story, so you've accused the dev of GMod of "over-estimating his cleverness and acting like an ass" without getting the full story. And now someone can explain to me about the incorrect assumption I've made about your post, and so the cycle wil continue.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804986)

As such, only people who reported the problem AND whose Steam accounts lacked a proper purchase of Garry's Mod were banned.

Of course now they can no longer ban people, as no doubt posts will begin appearing with other people's account IDs.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (1)

Therilith (1306561) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805376)

As such, only people who reported the problem AND whose Steam accounts lacked a proper purchase of Garry's Mod were banned.

They banned people based on this?!

Unfortunately I already own GMod, but I sure as hell wouldn't have bought it after they pulled something like this.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804676)

what restrictions exactly? it's a steam only game so it's not a no-cd crack. Furthermore, attached to the error message is a guid, which I believe is the steam id for the account. The games that the account owns is publically available on their profile page.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35805272)

what restrictions exactly?

The game requiring Steam for example? That's a fairly heavy restriction and one I would like to circumvent.

I'm fed up trying to troubleshoot Steam everytime I reinstall it to play a game on it. It's a buggy annoyance, not to mention a risk for customers who can lose all their games due to no fault of their own.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35805396)

News flash: Steam games can be cracked just like any other. Steam itself can be cracked.

There used to be a time when you could hack the Steam client to download any and all games.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (1)

jhantin (252660) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804710)

1. How does he know there's no bug in his copy protection code that does not inadvertently trigger for legitimate users under ANY circumstance

According to the article, the error message includes the user's Steam account number, which can be used to distinguish any cases in which the user actually paid for a license but is still getting rejected by the copy-protection check.

2. How does he know the people "pirating" haven't paid for a legit copy and decided to get around all the BS restrictions by using a crack anyway.

If all the serial numbers have been metaphorically filed off, then the Steam account number referenced is probably nonexistent anyway, so who are they really accusing of piracy? If someone's using a crack to work around restrictions, then this is just one more restriction to work around.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804718)

Is it wrong for a bank to shut down your credit card temporarily because they detect 'fraud like' behavior? You're not defrauding the bank but for your account and the systems integrity they essentially accuse you of fraud if something goes wrong.

In example 1 there is an exteremely unlikely possibility that someone will be inadvertantly accused, through a bug, of illigitamate use of the software.
Example 2 violates the licensed use of the code anyway and is essentially pirating.

Now I completely agree that we should be free to use the data we license the way we want to and should not be hassled. But overall I would rather see a developer laugh at a pirate then start clogging courts with law suits for copyright violations...

Oh and if the error does exist in example 1 I would rather someone make fun of me on the internet then explain it to a judge.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (0)

Zemran (3101) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804746)

Lots of people will try a cracked game in order to see if the game is worth buying. If those people get this problem without understanding why, they will decide that the game is a cheap piece of rubbish. I would not buy a game that I cannot get a good crack for to get rid of any need to insert the CD or play while on-line, so I would not buy this one.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804792)

Steam games don't need the CD in the drive, and Steam has an "offline mode" so you don't need a net connection once it's installed and played. As such there's no need for a crack, good or otherwise.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804984)

What if you don't have an internet connection or want a game that you can still install when steam goes out of business in 5-10 years.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (1)

billsayswow (1681722) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805170)

If you don't have an internet connection, I doubt you use Steam.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (1)

Therilith (1306561) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805392)

If you don't have an internet connection, I doubt you use Steam.

(Yet another reason to pirate it)

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35805412)

I think you could just copy the cracked retail exe over and play it outside of Steam.

If Steam did go out of business then all Steam DRM would be retroactively cracked regardless.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805274)

Lots of people will try a cracked game in order to see if the game is worth buying.

And then blame M$ for their malware infested windows box.

Re:Bugs in code, and people who pay then "pirate" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35805222)

1. How does he know there's no bug in his copy protection code that does not inadvertently trigger for legitimate users under ANY circumstance

Unfortunately that happens all too often (not only with DRM bugs but also patches, installation, etc). I can't even count the number of times I happened to stumble over "you're a fucking pirate" accusations while trying to find a solution for a game's bug; a game which I bought legitimately no less.

It's come to a point where people start yelling "pirate" as soon as somebody has a problem they didn't have. I'm sure that's very encouraging for paying customers.

WARNING - DON'T CLICK THE LINK (5, Informative)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804614)

There's an incredibly loud auto-playing advert. Thanks for the warning, guys.

More advert submissions from the slashdot janitors...

Re:WARNING - DON'T CLICK THE LINK (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804836)

Learn to Adblock

Re:WARNING - DON'T CLICK THE LINK (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35805088)

Why, when a warning would suffice?

Is it so easy to detect a pirated game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804650)

If it is this easy to detect a pirated copy of the game, why not all the game developers are doing it to prevent privacy? What am I missing here?

they checked to see if they owned the game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804684)

for those that didnt RTFA the error number was their steam ID, so when said could be pirate posted on the steam forums about it with the full error message valve could then check the steam ID to see if they owned the game, anyone who owned the game and got hit by this "bug" (could happen) would be found to have G mod in their steam account and no ban hammer would be applied (since G mod is only available via steam this is a good way to catch people with pretty much 0 margin of error) so the dev was infact not being an ass and legitimate consumers were not harmed :)

Actually... (1)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805042)

so the dev was infact not being an ass and legitimate consumers were not harmed :)

...they were harmed by the developer intentionally introducing a "bug" that rendered them unable to use software that they paid for.

Mind you, this "harm" is very much temporary, and nothing remotely near critical (considering the software in question), but still, they do have grounds to be annoyed, if not upset.

And considering that he either knew or should have known that this "bug" would in fact affect some percentage of legitimate users, one could make the case that he was being an "ass".

Not that I would say as such; it sucks that they can't play with the sandbox they bought for a few hours/days, but there are worse things than being unable to play a specific game at a specific time...

Blacklisting other people's SteamIDs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804720)

The bug report contains the steam id of the accused pirate.
Checking was only done by Garry -> replacing said SteamID is therefore easy to do.

At the moment they only got a Ban on the forums and nothing else, but if this has more severe consequences one could plugin the SteamID of another person without problems and therefore get them banned.

Re:Blacklisting other people's SteamIDs (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804728)

I read the article for you, the id is bounced against a purchased list before banning.

Re:Blacklisting other people's SteamIDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804820)

Good that you read the article. Now also read the post you're replying to.

Re:Blacklisting other people's SteamIDs (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804838)

Right, but I own Garry's Mod. This means I can check against my friends list who doesn't own Garry's Mod, copy their steamID from the CSS games we play together, and start posting up "error messages" - this is what the person you're replying to is trying to point out.

However, presumably it only "counts" on the official forums, and only if the Steam account posting matches the SteamID in the error message.

Re:Blacklisting other people's SteamIDs (1)

Kireas (1784888) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804782)

Hopefully they'd pick the ID of someone who actually owns GMod - nothing at all would happen then.

Re:Blacklisting other people's SteamIDs (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805172)

Sounds like a classic protection racket to me ....

"Buy GMod .. or your account might get banned."

Has this been done before? (1)

dohzer (867770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804726)

I've always wondered why developers didn't do this.

The music was especially cruel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804760)

Switching the soundtrack to Justin Bieber music was enough to scare most players off.

Re:The music was especially cruel (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805470)

Or a business move to get a shitload of masochists to buy the game.

Settlers 3 did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804768)

Settlers 3 did something similar, if you had pirated the game the blacksmith would make pigs instead of iron, thus you could never produce any weapons.

So what if a legitimate customer gets hit? (3, Interesting)

anomnomnomymous (1321267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804770)

I'm not too sure if I condone this behaviour, nor do I think this is a 'fun' way to catch pirates: A fun way was how the Nintendo DS version of Michael Jackson: The Experience made copied versions of the game unplayable and taunts gamers with the blaring sound of vuvuzelas: See here [wired.com]

The problem I have with these kinds of protections is that they also might affect paid customers; Same as with strict DRM.

I already bought Garry's Mod after having played it for free (as the HL2 mod).
It was less than 10 dollars, so a real bargain. But I would have reconsidered it if I heard of this beforehand.
Nonetheless, all power to the developer to protect their property.

Re:So what if a legitimate customer gets hit? (4, Insightful)

ericvids (227598) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804968)

RTFA:

"Making the situation even sweeter, the number which appears in brackets after the error statement is in fact the gamer’s 64-bit steamid.

Y’see, Steam keeps a list of which accounts have actually forked over the $9.99 for a legit copy of GMod – so it’s a simple matter of checking ids and turfing out the pirates."

1. There's no way a legitimate customer will get banned. They don't ban you outright for reporting the error message, only when they have proven that you indeed did NOT buy it.

2. There's probably a (very unlikely) chance for a legitimate customer to be affected with the error message due to an actual bug in the copy protection code, but in that case how is that different from the Michael Jackson game? At least with the error message, Valve can help you fix it (e.g., if their records show that you didn't pirate the game, Valve tech support can ask you to reinstall the game, etc.) No such reprieve for the MJ game -- if the copy protection triggered on a legitimate copy, well, it's definitely no fun anymore is it?

The only hole now is that the steam ID is probably unencrypted, so malicious users can probably troll others by posting the error message on Steam tech support with their victim's steam ID. But since Valve has the balls to release this info, they probably already have some mechanism in place to prevent these trollers from doing so.

Re:So what if a legitimate customer gets hit? (2)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805090)

If I RTFA correctly, the only "bans" being handed out are on the official GMod forums, which are entirely separate from Steam, so there's little room for trolling.

READ: Valve has nothing to do with this. This is the GMod dev banning people from his own forums, and nothing more.

Re:So what if a legitimate customer gets hit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35805438)

The article doesn't go into any detail whatsoever regarding its detection for piracy. I've had steam hiccup on me before regarding my purchases, especially with gifts. If the author uses Steam as part of its piracy detection in the first place, then that's a potential single point of failure.

Google kills DRM. (2)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804852)

A few hours ago, Garry Newman – the creator of Garry's Mod – asked, quite innocently, whether anyone was unable to shade polygon normals.

A few moments ago, Googlebot visited the sites.

A hour from now, a puzzled evil pirate gamer types "Unable to shade polygon normals" in Google, and guess what pops up? They're going to think "oops, I'd better not report that issue. In fact, it's better not to report any issues in any of my pirated games! Glad this issue has already been documented!"

This is the information age. People document things openly. Don't build DRM that is built on top of ignorance and secrets. It only works for a while and you wasted time.

Re:Google kills DRM. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35804886)

Are you honestly dumb enough to think they banned the first batch of players to report the problem? No, they let the idiots report their piracy over and over, then once it looked like the jig was up and the secret was going to come out, banned the lot of them. It probably took all of an hour for one person to put the code in for that trick and they banned dozens and dozens of pirates. If they get five sales out of this effort, they've made $50 less Steam's cut (which is likely 30% like other digital distributors), a very good return for very little effort.

Re:Google kills DRM. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35805072)

Doesn't really matter, people will see it and gradually get an idea that pirating isn't worth it with all kinds of problems like this.
Obviously if it affects legitimate consumers, then it would be a problem, but that seems pretty much impossible in this case.
You can't really blame the developer for having a sense of humor.

Re:Google kills DRM. (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805366)

At least it'll keep pirates from wasting tech support time as much.

Gary Newman (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35804950)

Isn't that the name of a band from the 80s?

Re:Gary Newman (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805062)

Nice catch. Gary Numan did a new wave punkish synthpop song called "cars" that I liked back in 1980 when it made the top 40 charts in the US. Apparently it had hit #1 in the pop charts in the UK the year before. A true one hit wonder. So maybe he switched from writing music to writing code.

Re:Gary Newman (2)

Shimbo (100005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805194)

Apparently it had hit #1 in the pop charts in the UK the year before. A true one hit wonder..

Maybe he's viewed the way in the states. However he had a previous number 1 single and album in the UK.

Re:Gary Newman (2)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805214)

Gary Numan is not a one hit wonder, he created alot of very nice music.

One of my favorites.

Re:Gary Newman (2)

aiht (1017790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805368)

Nice catch. Gary Numan did a new wave punkish synthpop song called "cars" that I liked back in 1980 when it made the top 40 charts in the US. Apparently it had hit #1 in the pop charts in the UK the year before. A true one hit wonder. So maybe he switched from writing music to writing code.

He is also known for 'Down in the Park' which was covered by The Foo Fighters (on the X-Files soundtrack, no less) and Marilyn Manson in the '90's.
I believe he toured internationally sometime in the last few years - he's still going strong.

Banned from Steam (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805018)

In response to the several comments re: "it's all in good fun, just a joke, not trying to catch pirates" -- note that what's happening is tricking people with a fake error message that includes their Steam ID, so when they report it can get their account banned.

FTA: "Not long after posting the request, the user found themselves permabanned from the forums for using pirated software."

Re:Banned from Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35805500)

FTA: "Not long after posting the request, the user found themselves permabanned from the forums for using pirated software."

It is impressive that you managed to quote the fine article without reading it. Getting banned from a forum not run by Valve does not equal getting banned from Steam...

So someone just have to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35805040)

...get hold of a persons 64bit steamid.. and post a thread in a forum with the following error to get a person banned from steam as long as the steamid have no registered transaction for GMod?

Engine Error:Unable to shade polygon normals()

Gunship 2000 (1)

mistralol (987952) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805288)

I remember something like this in gunship 2000 where it would do a piracy check by entering a code from the book. I was about 10-12 at the time but didn't understand what it was really asking I just wanted to fly. MY dad figured it out after phoning their support line ... First time you blow something up it would crash out with a meaningless error message!

Ugh (1)

uxbn_kuribo (1146975) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805372)

The comments on that GamePron link make me want to gouge my eyes out. They're worse than the Official WoW forums! The argument where people claim to pirate games because they're "poor" and it's justified in that not everyone can get decent jobs? It makes the mind boggle.

Not a new idea, and not a good idea. (1)

andi75 (84413) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805430)

The piracy detection fails occassionally, and a honest paying customer gets hurt (and probably buys less in the future, because he feels (and rightly so) that he got cheated).

Surprised more games don't do this (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#35805448)

There are so many ways to fuck up the experience for pirates that you could keep them busy for weeks. The game could slap in the usual coarse copy protection / DRM routines but then do inline checks that only trigger in esoteric ways and exhibit faults seemingly unrelated to the trigger. So some guy switching from a 800x600 to 1024x768 screen triggers a check which causes a specific glitch 35 minutes later. Another guy walks over a hidden trigger on level 4 which disables the free() routine and causes memory leaks. Someone else runs on XP and triggers a check which causes saves past level 10 to be corrupted.

Obviously you'd have to extensively QA test any potential checks and the consequences and prevent false positives but the intention would be to pepper the code with these things. Just when the cracker thinks they've fixed the game, another one turns up. Confound and annoy the crackers and pirates and just generally waste their time. And when a patch comes out, introduce a few more. And rebase the code so everything moves around. And of course shame anyone stupid enough to complain on official boards.

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