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SNK Execs On Game Piracy, Sony Approval Issues

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the aruze-aruuuuze dept.

PlayStation (Games) 48

Thanks to SPOnG.com for its interview with SNK's Yoshihito Koyama and Shinya Morishita about the veteran developer/publisher, with topics including the death of the classic Neo Geo MVS cartridge system ("There is no reason why the system could not be used now and in the future... we have not been held back by the hardware platform we use. The main problem is the pirates"), and the scale of the piracy that prompted it ("We released King of Fighters 2003 in Japan. Within two days we were seeing copied versions of our [cartridge] from China hitting the open market across Asia... Our game [ROMs] have also been spread across the Internet, another reason why enhanced hardware technology will help us.") Eurogamer also has another SNK interview, similarly conducted on the occasion of SNK's European publishing deal with Ignition, which talks PlayStation 2 game approval issues, mentioning: "With Sony you have to think about SCEA [Sony America] approval because they don't like 2D games, but SCEE [Sony Europe], they accept 2D games for release, but SCEA say 'no, they must be 2 in 1', or something like this."

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Pride and Prejudice (0)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9650323)

But with Sony you have to think about SCEA approval because they don't like 2D games, but SCEE, they accept 2D games for release, but SCEA say 'no, they must be 2 in 1', or something like this, so we must follow for the European release as well, you know, two in a package

Doesn't this just confirm what many of us already knew. The industry has a congenital hatred towards 2D games, despite the fact that a good 2D romp like metal slug has no counterpart in the 3D world. So this means that SCEA think of only one thing first, graphics. Forget about gameplay, innovation, longevity. If it's not pretty we don't want it. Consquently we're all stuck with lovely looking, 'high concept' games which are all bubble and no squeak.

However I suspect SCEE are just as guilty of promoting only soccer and racing games.

If they just allowed everyone to publish every game going, there would be a lot of crap, but you'd get a lot more diamonds in the rough. Increase would not be linear of course! :E

Re:Pride and Prejudice (5, Insightful)

bear pimp (695195) | more than 10 years ago | (#9650349)

Of course 3D games are better! they have an extra D! I'm not going to pay the same price for a game that has one less D in it!!!

This mentality amongst (particularly young) gamers drives me nuts. I have nephews who won't even play a game if it was released last year. If a game is good, it doesn't stop being good over time.

Re:Pride and Prejudice (1)

incubusnb (621572) | more than 10 years ago | (#9650550)

my only limit is that i refuse to play any games that aren't released yet... but theres a good reason for that, its more like the Vendor refuses to give the game to me before its released

Re:Pride and Prejudice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9651184)

>my only limit is that i refuse to play any games that aren't released yet... but theres a good reason for that, its more like the Vendor refuses to give the game to me before its released

You're waiting for Pikmin 2, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and the next Zelda too?

Re:Pride and Prejudice (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 10 years ago | (#9656017)

If they are your nephews then it is your moral duty to pimp-slap them and their parents (your siblings).

Me, I've got my trusty old Dreamcast patched into my 20" SVGA, with Ikaruga superglued to the drive spindle. Whenever the little inlaws waltz over to point and laugh, I just smack them in the teeth with the controller, all without breaking my 40-chain combo.

Only shitty games come branded with an expiration date.

Re:Pride and Prejudice (1)

jerkface (177812) | more than 10 years ago | (#9660142)

<spam>

If you're interested in Ikaruga, you might like this ikaruga fansite [ikaruga.co.uk] , where there are scoreboards, discussion forums, and replay videos of experts playing each level.

There are also some Radiant Silvergun videos [ikaruga.co.uk] .

</spam>

Re:Pride and Prejudice (1)

dammitallgoodnamesgo (631946) | more than 10 years ago | (#9650406)

However I suspect SCEE are just as guilty of promoting only soccer and racing games. With the sparcity of game releases in Europe (well, Japanese imports at the very least) I only wish SCEE were guilty of promoting
games full stop.

Re:Pride and Prejudice (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 10 years ago | (#9650676)

I think it shows that Sony is already comfortable in its position as a quasi-monopolist. People complained about Nintendo's tight regulations, now Nintendo has fallen and Sony has taken its place, inluding the iron fist rule. It might cost them a lot of third party support when the next generation rolls around and devs like SNK decide they don't want Sony on top again. Capcom had similar problems getting some games (Viewtiful Joe, Killer 7, both GC exclusive in North America but not other territories) approved.
I just HOPE this bites Sony in the ass so we can see one of the other manufacturers rise to the top (or an equal distribution of power or something) and quirky games can get released in the west again.

Re:Pride and Prejudice (1)

AliasTheRoot (171859) | more than 10 years ago | (#9650746)

I have a library full of quirky PS2 games, stuff like Ico and Rez for instance.

Unless you are asking for quirky games that aren't very good?

Re:Pride and Prejudice (2, Insightful)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 10 years ago | (#9651469)

I am impressed by your high game quality standards. Viewtiful Joe has to be a pretty bad game to get a weak 92% in Gamerankings [gamerankings.com] .This clearly indicates that the game is no good.Sony's US refusal to distribute VJ had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the game is a 2D side scroller, as TFA says.

I guess somebody will have to tell the guys at Capcom that if they want to be able to sell their PS2 games in NA they better start learning from the companies that made Big Motha Truckers [gamerankings.com] and Army Men:Green Rogue [gamerankings.com]

Re:Pride and Prejudice (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 10 years ago | (#9653727)

Vietiful Joe is a 2d side scroller with 3d cell shaded graphics. Sorta like Street fighter EX is a 2d fighter with 3d graphics and thus gets the go ahead by SCEA.

Re:Pride and Prejudice (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 10 years ago | (#9653783)

What cost them some developers is the difficulty of their system. Their licencing and aproval isn't any different from MS or Nintendo.

SCEA (2, Informative)

metamatic (202216) | more than 10 years ago | (#9651117)

It confirms what many gamers already know, which is that SCEA are a bunch of mindless jerks who will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

I mean, SCEA declined to distribute Vib Ribbon, Wipeout Fusion, Dropship... It's not just 2D games they reject, it's just about anything that isn't a FPS or movie tie-in.

Maybe they're right from a commercial standpoint; maybe Joe Sixpack is only interested in playing Unreal Syphon Quakesplitters 3. But it's pretty sad for gamers.

Re:SCEA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9652643)

people playing FPS games or games based on movies aren't gamers? that's funny.

here's a hint - don't turn on people just because they like games that sell well.

Re:SCEA (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 10 years ago | (#9656113)

To tie in with SNK's thoughtless piracy claims (like so many other "misunderstood" game houses), notice than whenever SCEA refuses to publish something, that title immediately gains cult status and gets FTP'd to every dump site this side of the Great Firewall. Yes, I have Vib Ribbon, and Wipeout Fusion, and Thrill Kill, and all those other good/bad rejects, ON CDR. I could have gladly paid for many of them, but I couldn't, so I obtained them by whatever means I had available and threw down for a modchip.

I must admit though, than whenever I play Vib Ribbon with death metal, people accuse me of lying about quitting crack. So then I grab the nearest Dreamcast controller and smack them in the teeth.

Re:Pride and Prejudice (1)

ronfar (52216) | more than 10 years ago | (#9652162)

Well, someone modded your post as underrated, I think I'll quote it:
Doesn't this just confirm what many of us already knew. The industry has a congenital hatred towards 2D games, despite the fact that a good 2D romp like metal slug has no counterpart in the 3D world. So this means that SCEA think of only one thing first, graphics. Forget about gameplay, innovation, longevity. If it's not pretty we don't want it. Consquently we're all stuck with lovely looking, 'high concept' games which are all bubble and no squeak.

However I suspect SCEE are just as guilty of promoting only soccer and racing games.

If they just allowed everyone to publish every game going, there would be a lot of crap, but you'd get a lot more diamonds in the rough. Increase would not be linear of course! :E

Hmm... it's a very good post, that mod must be on crack!

Re:Pride and Prejudice (1)

Mike Hawk (687615) | more than 10 years ago | (#9653331)

Technically, its only SCEA in the whole world that is against 2D games. There is no industry wide feeling, its just that when the console with the largest installed base says 3D only, you tend to get 3D only.

Of course, every previous time Mike Hawk has said its a problem with SCEA some jerk comes along and tries to dispute it. Once again, Mike Hawk is right and you all are idiots.

Re:Pride and Prejudice (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 10 years ago | (#9654551)

The industry has a congenital hatred towards 2D games, despite the fact that a good 2D romp like metal slug has no counterpart in the 3D world.

Besides Serious Sam, the new Ninja Gaiden, most of the Dynasty Warriors series, etc., etc.

Rob

Re:Pride and Prejudice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9655095)

SCEA's stance makes perfect sense, considering that, as we all know, one of the best selling series for PS2 and incredibly popular across all demographics is Dance Dance Revolution, a 2D game (a 1D game if you think about it, since the progress only goes one way in it). I mean, why release that in America since it's not 3D? I guess we'd have to be stomping on the walls and the ceiling to play it in 3D and satisfy SCEA...

Piracy really did kill the Neo Geo (3, Informative)

chrispyman (710460) | more than 10 years ago | (#9650433)

Personally I agree entirely that as of late piracy has been the number one problem plaguing the Neo Geo. To be honest, there's so many pirated MVS games and especially when you get one off eBay, you just don't know what you're gonna get.

Re:Piracy really did kill the Neo Geo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9650446)

there's so many pirated MVS games and especially when you get one off eBay, you just don't know what you're gonna get.
...so buy through trusted retailers. </duh>

Re:Piracy really did kill the Neo Geo (4, Insightful)

Lonesmurf (88531) | more than 10 years ago | (#9650612)

When a game (JUST THE GAME) costs $200, you can bet that people will pirate them. Nevermind the hardware. If there is demand for something, there will always be a % that will pay for it, a % that will not and a % that will steal it. Price point is all about making sure those %'s are reasonable.

$50 a game is expensive, but reasonable. No?

-rami

Re:Piracy really did kill the Neo Geo (2, Insightful)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 10 years ago | (#9653653)

I agree wholeheartedly! I have purchased plenty of SNK games for non-SNK systems where the cost was reasonable, but at ~$500 for the Neo Geo system and $150-$250 for each game, I have never been in a position to afford SNK's native stuff. Anyone at SNK who thinks that piracy, and not price, is the problem is an idiot-which explains why they went under and had to be bought out by Sammy.

Re:Piracy really did kill the Neo Geo (1)

chrispyman (710460) | more than 10 years ago | (#9655772)

Yeah, price is most definately the main reason pirating Neo Geo games is so common. It's probably costing them no more than $50 for a new MVS kit but with such extreme markups, it gets the pirates interested. If you could pirate a game that costs less than $50 to make and sell it to the vast majority of Neo Geo owners who don't know or care about pirated games for $200 then you got yourself a profitable situation for the pirate.

Re:Piracy really did kill the Neo Geo (1)

DeadScreenSky (666442) | more than 10 years ago | (#9660085)

$50 a game is expensive, but reasonable. No?

New arcade games (whether they go into an existing hardware system like Neogeo or Naomi, or not) simply have never cost $50, and they never will. To expect otherwise is ridiculous.

American frugality (1)

News for nerds (448130) | more than 10 years ago | (#9650635)

"but SCEA say 'no, they must be 2 in 1', or something like this."

Amusingly enough, it sounds awfully similar to the /. reaction in the recent games.slashdot article about Famicom Mini GBA releases with not so cheap price tags... but what is funny here is, even the marketing people, not customers, at SCEA understand the American way perfectly and try to exploit on it just like pirates in China demand 10-in-1 cart :)

Re:American frugality (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#9650722)

The difference, though, is that SNK is dealing with fairly new games, whereas Nintendo is porting 20-year-old games to a handheld.

So, when you want the latest King of Fighters, you either import it and mod your console, or you have to wait for SCEA to approve it, and you end up with a 2-in-1 pack that's been censored.

SNK Piracy and Piracy in General (1)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 10 years ago | (#9650794)

SNK's decision makes sense as their ROMS are being dumped way to quickly and it doesn't give them any time to make money from their real customer base (high end gamers and arcade machine operators). It's a good decision, but unless the new format is compatible with the old hardware, they may simply not make it.

I do wonder though, how many people download their roms and play via emulator who would simply never buy their games because of the cost.

Re:SNK Piracy and Piracy in General (1)

CarrionBird (589738) | more than 10 years ago | (#9651229)

Well they're kind of an odd case given the high cost of the games. When they had the distinction of being the only home system in it's class, a $200 price tag for a game could be workable. Nowadays it makes no sense.

Of course, none of that excuses all the piracy.

Re:SNK Piracy and Piracy in General (1)

DeadScreenSky (666442) | more than 10 years ago | (#9660071)

Emulator users aren't the real problem for SNK - as they themselves state, it is the actual real 'pirates' that are causing the problem. Bootleg arcade machine showing up a few days after the game's release is insane.

Naomi-based AtomisWave is a ROM based Dreamcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9651684)

The AtomisWave is nothing more than a ROM based Dreamcast. Thank you SNK, I'll get a few more years usage out of my DC once pirates figure out how to get your new games to work on a CD-R on a DC.

Re:Naomi-based AtomisWave is a ROM based Dreamcast (2, Informative)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 10 years ago | (#9658995)

The Dreamcast has...
RAM: 16MB
video RAM: 8MB
sound RAM: 2MB.

[source: GameFAQs]

The Atomiswave has...
Main RAM : 32 MB
Main Memory : 16 MB
Graphic Memory : 16 MB
Sound Memory : 8 MB

And the NAOMI has...
Main Ram : 32 megs
Main Memory : 32 MByte
Graphic Memory : 16 MByte
Sound Memory : 8 MByte

[source: System16.com]

Now, I don't know what's the difference between "Main RAM" and "Main Memory", that's just what the site says... can anyone clarify?

Well, anyway. It is clear that the hardware is very similar, but not the same. Of course, a good developer come with arcade-perfect ports in a very short time - as Sega, Capcom, Treasure, Sammy, GRev, and Success have done; but I don't believe it is as easy as you make it sound.

Re:Naomi-based AtomisWave is a ROM based Dreamcast (1)

DeadScreenSky (666442) | more than 10 years ago | (#9660124)

Ignore the "Main Ram" number. Check out the official flyer for the Atomiswave at System16 - it clearly states it has 16 megs RAM, just like the DC. It also wouldn't surprise me if the rest of those numbers were wrong, too, though I imagine at least the sound one is correct.

I personally don't think the problem for porting the games to the Dreamcast comes from RAM size differences - going from the fast loading speed of a cartridge to a suboptimal CD-R speed would be the real issue that would require software reengineering.

A bigger deal is the 'couple more years to flawless' DC emulators out right now, as they could be quickly modified to run Atomiswave. I assume Sammy has created some pretty impressive copy-protection on these cartridges, which will theoretically protect them. Still seems silly to me, since I assume they plan to use this hardware for quite a few years - amateur ROM hackers are getting pretty damn good nowadays, and the pros are even better. And the working emulators will just make their job even easier. The best existing arcade board protection systems mostly rely on stuff like custom CPUs holding encrypted ROMs, which is just not something you can do with a cartridge system like this, IMO.

Nintendo Seal of Approval, All Over Again (3, Interesting)

Visigothe (3176) | more than 10 years ago | (#9651777)

Remember back in the NES days when (I think it was) Tengen came out with several games that Nintendo didn't like, and so did not receive the Nintendo Seal of Approval? Games like Gauntlet, Tetris (a Tetris that more closely resembled the arcade version than Nintendo's own) and others were available on the shelves. Nintendo tried to get them removed through the court system, and lost.

The SCEA is clearly doing the same thing, "if we don't like your game, you can't distribute it". How about letting *THE PUBLIC* decide if they like a game by purchasing it (or not). I prefer 2D games over 3D games, as the game-play tends to be better. Consequently I sold my PS2 a long time ago, and purchased a GBA SP.

Quit telling me what I want, let me decide for myself.

The funny thing about all of this is that the game makers are putting up all the risk, and they *still* have to pay Sony for each game sold. Why does Sony *not* want additional income?

Perhaps the SNK people should release an "un-approved" disc. If the SCEA takes them to the courts, SNK may have legal precedent on their side.

Re:Nintendo Seal of Approval, All Over Again (1)

CarrionBird (589738) | more than 10 years ago | (#9651834)

They could, but I don't think they could use any of the tools/dev kit that they got in the licensing deal with sony. The DMCA would come into play possibly.

Re:Nintendo Seal of Approval, All Over Again (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 10 years ago | (#9651965)

With the PS1 Sony tried to keep the number of 2d games on the system low to emphasize its advantage over the Saturn: 3D. The Saturn was better when it came to 2d graphics, but pretty bad at 3d. That way there weren't many games to compare between the two systems and Sony could always say "See, our 3d is prettier, buy us!".

Re:Nintendo Seal of Approval, All Over Again (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#9652150)

Remember back in the NES days when (I think it was) Tengen came out with several games that Nintendo didn't like, and so did not receive the Nintendo Seal of Approval? Games like Gauntlet, Tetris (a Tetris that more closely resembled the arcade version than Nintendo's own) and others were available on the shelves. Nintendo tried to get them removed through the court system, and lost.

I think you need to look that case history up. Tengen lost, for not having a valid license to release Tetris in the US (the license being from the Russian creator of Tetris), and all copies of Tengen Tetris were removed from the shelves and destroyed. Tengen didn't suffer monetary damages simply because they had licensed Tetris from Mirrorsoft. Therefore Mirrorsoft, who did not have the license to sell to Tengen in the first place, had to pay the fines.

Furthermore, to get to a case more along the lines of what could happen when trying to ship an "un-approved" disc, you could look up Atari vs. Nintendo. In that case, Atari lost the right to distribute Nintendo-compatible cartridges because they had reverse-engineered a system used on Nintendo cartridges to authenticate the games before the console would launch the program. Another case, against a company called Color Dreams, went against Nintendo because the company did not use Nintendo's copyrighted material to get their unlicensed games to run on the system.

Therefore, if SNK were to release an "un-approved" disc, it would pretty much have to have been developed without a Sony dev kit, which means none of their Japanese-released PS1 or PS2 titles would be applicable.

Re:Nintendo Seal of Approval, All Over Again (1)

hambonewilkins (739531) | more than 10 years ago | (#9653095)

I think he might have meant that Tengen games in general were found to be fine (the Tetris issue is a whole 'nother ballgame). But in general, I believe Game Over shows that Tengen games were legit and Nintendo wasn't able to stop them.

Re:Nintendo Seal of Approval, All Over Again (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#9654342)

I think he might have meant that Tengen games in general were found to be fine (the Tetris issue is a whole 'nother ballgame). But in general, I believe Game Over shows that Tengen games were legit and Nintendo wasn't able to stop them.

After looking around a bit longer, and some refreshment of my memory, this link:
http://www.nesplayer.com/features/lawsuits/ tengen. htm

pointed out that Tengen was a spin-off of Atari, and directly related to the Atari lawsuit I mentioned previously. Additionally, many articles referencing Tengen titles other than Tetris refer to their rarity, due to the titles being removed after losing the lawsuit (Atari vs. Nintendo).

Tengen had a handful of officially licensed games, but their unlicensed titles were pulled and destroyed. All simply because a group at Tengen had reverse-engineered the chip normally used to authenticate the cartridges (supposedly they had a functional cartridge at the same time, but were 'tainted' by the work to reverse engineer the chip). In the end Tengen folded primarily due to legal costs and the unwillingness of their parents companies to continue funding them.

Re:Nintendo Seal of Approval, All Over Again (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 10 years ago | (#9653608)

See the game industry in the late 80's. You'll see why. Poor quality games dilute the perception of your system. While a merely unispired game like chaos legion or the lattest harry potter crap is one thing, having ET on your system is something else. It killed the game industry, and it killed many of the potential systems liek the jaguar and the 3do.

Piracy, or economics? (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9652914)

I really hate when companies ignore the realities of what they're saying when they blame piracy for their ills. Did people pirate Neo Geo games because they're scum sucking asses, or because the games cost >$200 a piece? If piracy suddenly became impossible, they would have been lucky to see a few more bucks land their way.

Re:Piracy, or economics? (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 10 years ago | (#9653694)

I really hate when companies ignore the realities of what they're saying when they blame piracy for their ills. Did people pirate Neo Geo games because they're scum sucking asses, or because the games cost >$200 a piece? If piracy suddenly became impossible, they would have been lucky to see a few more bucks land their way.

The piracy their speaking of is not like here in North America. Down in asia the pirate "Sell" the pirated goods. Copies of the roms and the hardware sell for some none zero sum in asia. Those buyers may never have paid full price for SNK's work but someone is profiting off of SNK's backs. The cost of $200 a peice is the American price. The price in japan would be similiar but they would have reduced it for other markets. You also have to remember that an average arcade board will run you $600 + so $200 isn't tht unreasonable for an arcade machine, even though it's old. Have you ever shopped around for an arcade cabinent? Games like 1942 and double dragon and so on will still go for $800+ for the cabinent and the board. (all totals in CND).

Re:Piracy, or economics? (1)

Leynos (172919) | more than 10 years ago | (#9655421)

SNK don't give a flying fuck about the Neo Geo home system. The piracy they're talking about is in the arcade. Arcade owners are their customers. Arcade (MVS) Neo Geo games sell for a lot more than $200 new. That is where SNK make their money. When unscrupulous or unwitting arcade owners buy pirated games instead of the originals, it does hurt SNK. These aren't children downloading ROMs. These are people in business buying from pirates to save a hundred dollars or so. They would have bought the game regardless, because owning the latest King of Fighters is essential to the arcade operator's business. Therefore, SNK lose a sale.

I think SNK have every right to feel pissed off when some lowlife gangster is making serious money off of their work.

Later.

Piracy Isn't the Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9654495)

The problem is that they've released the exact same game for over 10 years. And that game wasn't very good in its prime. It's no wonder that Sony doesn't want to approve King of Fighters 50.

Choices... (1)

Phil Wilkins (5921) | more than 10 years ago | (#9655040)

Let me see, $50 for the legit copy of Metal Slug 3 with a broken continue system, OR $0 for a rom that I can play on pretty much any platform, with as many continues as I like.

$30 and more than one credit, would have sold me.

Re:Choices... (1)

Leynos (172919) | more than 10 years ago | (#9655752)

Is that the Xbox version? My Japanese PS2 Metal Slug 3 lets you continue as many times as you want. Then it tells you how many times once you complete the game. Does the Xbox version really only give you one continue?

Re:Choices... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9660400)

No it doesn't but the continiue sends you back to the beginning of the level. The price point of $39.99 was way too much for Metal Slug 3.

Re:Choices... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9682973)

Hate to say it but I agree. MS3 is fantastic and the best in the series, but $40 for a 4-year-old game with no improvements (oh wait, they got rid of the slowdown, WOW!!!!!) and no 480p support (the Xbox defaults to 480p, so this means the programmers actually had to do some extra work to get the game to output at the lower 480i resolution) is completely ridiculous. Frankly I think the altered continue system was implemented simply to make the game seem longer than it really is and thus more worthy of a $40 MSRP. No wonder Sony rejected it.
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