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The Imagined Future of PC Games

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the year-two-thousaaaand dept.

PC Games (Games) 134

PC Gamer has up a five-part series prognosticating the future of PC gaming. (part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5) Graham Smith, Kieron Gillen, and a few other PC games folks make some big-picture predictions about where console gaming's aging sibling is headed. Some of their predictions are fairly safe ("6. The mouse won't die, and graphics cards will get more powerful."), but others may be a bit contentious: "4. Steam and similar services will crush PC piracy. There's been a lot of talk from developers - old rivals id and Epic chief among them - about piracy making it harder for them to justify developing PC-only games. There's so little profit in it, apparently, that the poor fellows are left with no choice but to stray from their beloved home-platform and develop for consoles too. And yet the only games out there with a zero percent piracy ratio are all PC-only: MMOGs. They have a headstart in the anti-piracy crusade: connecting to a central server is an integral part of the game, so verifying that the user's CD key is unique can be done without much fuss. And no one's going to complain that a MMOG requires an internet connection; that's pretty obvious from the concept itself."

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Hmm, a serial and a central server . . . (5, Insightful)

Maradine (194191) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580575)

And yet the only games out there with a zero percent piracy ratio are all PC-only: MMOGs. They have a headstart in the anti-piracy crusade: connecting to a central server is an integral part of the game, so verifying that the user's CD key is unique can be done without much fuss.

Not all MMO's have been PC-only (and of those, there has been piracy, PSO anyone?). Further, I'd argue that connecting to a central server with a CD key is not proof against piracy. Finally, the primary financial outlay surrounding an MMO is purchased time, not software.

Don't get me wrong, the pressures facing the PC side of the industry are very real. But if we're talking about means-to-profit, piracy is not the main threat that the MMO's face by a long shot. As with many things, the fulcrum is much lower elsewhere . . . account phishing and gold farming are by-and-large the most profitable way to attack the system.

I'm also very curious about the implied assertion that game piracy has been licked in the console world.

M

We don't need servers, we need napkins (3, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580725)

Not all MMO's have been PC-only

Exactly. WoW is PC and Mac. Spore will run on Wii, DS, and PC - altho it's a bit of a Massively Multi-Instance Multi-Player Online-Library Game.

Re:Hmm, a serial and a central server . . . (2, Interesting)

anduz (1027854) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581065)

We just want to see another game like X-COM. And hopefully we will with http://www.ufo-extraterrestrials.com/ [ufo-extrat...trials.com] - yeah it's an add and I feel dirty, but you'd think that someone talking about wanting a spiritual sequal to the x-com series would at least bother to do a quick google search before publishing the article. :P

Re:Hmm, a serial and a central server . . . (1, Funny)

anduz (1027854) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581083)

Oops that wasn't "preview". :p Damn you karma!

Re:Hmm, a serial and a central server . . . (3, Insightful)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581141)

Further, I'd argue that connecting to a central server with a CD key is not proof against piracy.

It's not about "connecting to a central server" that fights piracy, it's changing the payment scheme to a method that gives both parties an incentive to play fair. I think a pay-to-play scheme will win in the long run on simple economic efficiency.

Option A) Player pays full fare up-front for a bug-ridden game and assumes developer will release patches in the future.
Option B) Player pirates enhanced version (no DRM) and developer holds their breath awaiting payment for inferior copy.
Option C) Player and developer engage in ongoing tit-for-tat, exchanging partial payments for patches and additional content.

The first two options both have several variants and variables, such as demos, brand reputation, extra box goodies, lawsuits, delayed purchases, etc., but all of those will either increase cost-of-entry or decrease market efficiency. In both of the first two cases, one party must pay extra to counterbalance the incentive for the other party to shirk, a perverse incentive inherent in the payment schemes.

With option C, the player provides a constant revenue stream for as long as they are interested in the game. The developer uses that revenue to maintain player interest as long as it is profitable. This has occurred historically with expansion packs to games, but it was not until widespread broadband availability that the system was sufficiently fluid to handle small incremental tits-and-tats with efficiency. XBox Live has really pushed forward in this direction with their point system.

The only thing special about MMORPGs and low piracy is that they fall more naturally into Option C, where there is less economic incentive for piracy.

Re:Hmm, a serial and a central server . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581923)

Not all MMO's have been PC-only (and of those, there has been piracy, PSO anyone?)

Name one which was a traditional subscription-based MMORPG with regular updates. Since the "next-gen" consoles have hard drives, we might see a traditional subscription-based MMORPG with continuous updates, but it's the subscription-based and the continued updates that help curb piracy.

And even those don't have 0% piracy, there are "private" servers that allow pirated clients to play.

But in any case, the "MMORPG" style games on consoles don't have the subscription and continued updates that the article is suggesting stops piracy.

Re:Hmm, a serial and a central server . . . (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582823)

Name one which was a traditional subscription-based MMORPG with regular updates. Since the "next-gen" consoles have hard drives, we might see a traditional subscription-based MMORPG with continuous updates, but it's the subscription-based and the continued updates that help curb piracy.


I'll name two PS2 games: Everquest Online Adventures and Final Fantasy XI, both with montly fees and both with regular updates. EQOA saved it's patches to the memory card, FFXI on the PS2 requires and came installed on the PS2 HD

Re:Hmm, a serial and a central server . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18582989)

Given that the PS2 memory card only holds 8MB, EQOA can't have had much added content, so it can hardly count.

As for FFXI, given that the PS2 hasn't supported a hard drive for at least the last three years, I think it's safe to ignore it too.

But we can rephrase it to be "name a popular MMORPG". Next-gen consoles might be capable of supporting a full PC-style MMORPG, but it's clear the PS2 gen wasn't.

Re:Hmm, a serial and a central server . . . (2, Informative)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583565)

Given that the PS2 memory card only holds 8MB, EQOA can't have had much added content, so it can hardly count.


Shows what you know. The DVD the game came on had tones of unused content, so all they had to do was basically turn it on. Adding new quests and NPC's was also possible. For big stuff, they just released a new DVD, that was EQOA: Frontiers. Which is the version still in use.

As for FFXI, given that the PS2 hasn't supported a hard drive for at least the last three years, I think it's safe to ignore it too.


The game came out in 2004, the full size PS2's were still available. It came out earlier in Japan where it is the preferred platform for playing it. It also can be installed on a PS3 in a partition on the HD setup for PS2 games that support the HD, that's a new feature in the PS3 firmware. Full size PS2's are still available in the used market too, anyone who wants one can get one.

But we can rephrase it to be "name a popular MMORPG". Next-gen consoles might be capable of supporting a full PC-style MMORPG, but it's clear the PS2 gen wasn't.


So, why do you get to decide what to ignore. I pointed out two full PC style MMORPG's on a past generation console (FFXI has a PC version too, all players on all versions play on the same servers) and you say they can be ignored?

the "MMORPG" style games on consoles don't have the subscription and continued updates that the article is suggesting stops piracy.


That was the original quote, and I proved it wrong, both EQOA and FFXI have updates to this day and subscription fees.

Re:Hmm, a serial and a central server . . . (1)

autocrawler (1004066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18584035)

What we really need are patches that check the validity of a given CD-key at installation. I think Stardock uses a similar model for their products and it *does* help.

Re:Hmm, a serial and a central server . . . (2, Interesting)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 7 years ago | (#18584369)

Not all MMO's have been PC-only (and of those, there has been piracy, PSO anyone?). Further, I'd argue that connecting to a central server with a CD key is not proof against piracy. Finally, the primary financial outlay surrounding an MMO is purchased time, not software.

I agree about the primary financial outlay, and I think games like EVE Online are doing the smart thing by allowing free download of the client, free trial period and eliminating box sales altogether.

This way, you can check if you like the game without much hassle, but if you want to stay you need a paid up account. Easy to get into, but not so easy to get around the payment.

ummm nah ah (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580599)

4. Steam and similar services will crush PC piracy.
oh yeah, that's gonna happen. I wouldn't waste my time, but if I did go out looking for people happy with Steam's game selling service, I wouldn't find one. They're so locked down and glitchy, it's ridiculous. I think you even need a constant internet connection to play at all. You can't use it on a new PC either. This is like saying the Zune will crush all MP3 players.

Re:ummm nah ah (1)

LoofWaffle (976969) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586713)

While Steam won't exterminate piracy (or cheaters, but that is a different topic), their method of delivery does work well for "indie" titles like defcon, darwinia or the ship. It gives companies like Introversion and Outerlight the opportunity to focus their efforts on their title without worry about production.

I don't necessarily like Steam as a means to deliver full versions of Halflife; HL2; etc, but it works reasonably well to deliver Halflife's episodic content. You do need a connection to the Internet for Steam to "check in", but they still operate in "offline" mode when one isn't present. As for using Steam or any title purchased through it on a new system, as long as you have an account in good standing, you can d/l the client to any pc and doubleclick to d/l the titles you own. It just takes forever to d/l because you have to get the data from Valve's content servers.

The only other comment I have deals with the episodic content business model that seems to be (pardon the pun) picking up steam. If you look at something like the first episode of SiN, you pay for what basically amounts to a demo. This is very poor form, especially from a company like Ritual who didn't have to worry about production or game engine development. There are also many people who enjoyed the first episode continuing HL2, but there just wasn't enough story there to make the episode replayable. I'll succumb to getting the next episode, but ironically enough, not for the episode. I'm more interested in the "indie" title, Portal, that is supposed to be packaged with it.

The Difference is... (4, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580641)

If you're playing a MMO than you're wanting to be playing online. Paying for a game that you're playing alone and it still requires a high speed internet connection is just asinine. All they'll do in the long run is push more folks to consoles where they don't have to put up with that.

Re:The Difference is... (2, Insightful)

Baldrake (776287) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581583)

I'd much prefer an online check to the current situation of having to keep track of and swap CD's all the time.

Summer break? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581787)

I'd much prefer an online check to the current situation of having to keep track of and swap CD's all the time.
Do many ISPs have a month-to-month plan, or do they all need a 12-month commitment? It would suck to be home from university for the summer, without access to high-speed Internet, and lose access to all your games for three months.

Re:Summer break? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18582763)

Airplanes
Hotel .. especially the 4-5 star ones which charge $15 per day for Internet. In Econo-Lodges it is free .. go figure.
The back of the mini-van on a family road trip (taking my In-Laws to FL from NY each winter and the reverse)

There are plenty of places where I have no Internet.
If I wanted a MMOG I'd buy one. I don't so I try not to buy one.

Plus even semi-on-line games Age of Empires, is too much for an old man like me. I don't have 15-30 minutes where I am guaranteed for my kid or wife not to require attention. I just can't pause a on-line game to deal with "Honey can you open this jar?" "He can't get the policeman out of the heating vent can you help him?" etc.

Re:Summer break? (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582893)

This is where I actually like Steam. Steam has a pretty good (not perfect) offline mode, where previously verified games can run without an active connection. This has been useful numerous times for me.

Re:Summer break? (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#18584109)

I have a problem with this in that when the server was down, I couldn't select "offline mode", you seem to have to be online to choose offline mode. So I was locked in a catch 22 situation - I couldn't connect to the server so I needed offline mode, I couldn't go into offline mode because I couldn't connect to the server.

Re:Summer break? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18586797)

How long ago was this? I have had several times in the last 2 years where my DSL signal dropped (AT&T. I never had a problem when it was SBC), and so I went to play HL2 and HL2 EP1. It went in to offline mode just fine each time.

Re:The Difference is... (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583849)

I'd much prefer an online check to the current situation of having to keep track of and swap CD's all the time.

I don't. I don't want Brutal Violence to stop working just because the company that made it goes banckrupt or decides to boost sales for Brutal Violence 2. Besides, most games have CD check removal patches available, sometimes from the manufacturer himself (Neverwinter Nights, for example).

I can say for sure that I'll never purchase a game that requires an online check unless it's either an online game or the no-check patch is available.

Re:The Difference is... (1)

Baldrake (776287) | more than 7 years ago | (#18585779)

I don't want Brutal Violence to stop working just because the company that made it goes banckrupt[sic] or decides to boost sales for Brutal Violence 2.

I think this is one of those problems that is worse in theory than in practice. I have games in my collection that I can no longer play because the CD has gotten damaged or lost. In none of those cases is the manufacturer bankrupt. And anyway, the goal would be to have everyone standardize on the same verification service (Steam or similar), not to have every little company run their own.

But you make one good point. If it is possible for people to patch out the check, then the whole mechanism becomes as pointless as the current CD check.

Re:The Difference is... (1)

wilgibson (933961) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582693)

Paying for a game that you're playing alone and it still requires a high speed internet connection is just asinine.

I totally agree. I bought Phantasy Star Universe shortly after it came out cause I wanted to play the offline story mode, I could care less about the online portion. But, it uses game gaurd. Forget that it has no CD keys... it uses game gaurd. Not just on the online portion, but on the offline portion! Ugh! So when I want to play the single-player story mode, if my connection is down I can't play. So when I'm on the road or just can't get internet access PSU is 5gigs of wasted space.

Re:The Difference is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18587407)

except consoles are going online now, and it wont be long before xbox games need cd-keys too.

I don't doubt it... (2)

Marrshu (994708) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580643)

As much as I think people will not be fond of services like Steam (Comeone, they're pissed enough when people start DRMing their music service, what happens with the games?) I think services like this will probably be the future of gaming. And look on the bright side. Such services might improve online games with otherwise few players. =P

Difference between games and music (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582069)

There is a fundamental difference between games and music: I can play an mp3 on absolutely any device that decides to support it, on any software I feel like writing for it. There is no technological reason for me not to -- ultimately, music and video is just data, so there is no reasonable reason it shouldn't work anywhere. Same with text, for that matter -- no website should be Flash, because every website should work on any browser, and there's rarely a technical reason for them not to.

Games have yet to standardize on anything, even the few standards -- how many games use Direct3D instead of OpenGL? We're certainly a long way from having a standard engine, and most people I talk to think it's ludicrously impossible for such a thing to exist and cover all the possibilities. So, it's already an expected part of a game that you have to install custom software to run the game.

Installing software is annoying. It means I need a supported platform -- probably Windows. It means I have to patch it, and it could have bugs, or be incompatible... It means all the hassle that usually comes with installing software, especially proprietary software (read: not in package management). But no one ever considers another possibility for games.

Once that software's on your machine, the main inconvenience -- for me, anyway -- is gone. My computer's online all the time anyway, and I pay for most of my games. There might be problems with the game, but there might be bugs in any game anyway. 99% of my complaints about DRM already apply to most games, DRM'd or not. And I'd MUCH rather have a call-home feature, because that's less likely to fuck up my whole system than a check-the-CD feature.

Hopefully... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18580669)

It'll die. PC gaming is terrible compared to console gaming.

Re:Hopefully... (1)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580831)

PC gaming is terrible?

Well just see about that when UT3 comes out this summer. Oh, by the way, Blizzard would like to disagree w/ you.

Re:Hopefully... (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581971)

Isn't UT3 being released for the PS3 and Xbox360 too? Why yes, yes they are.

As for Blizzard, turning their backs on the console market that gave them their start is rather short-sighted.

Think about all those Diablo clones that have been and are being sold for the PS2, PS3, and PSP. A market that Blizzard doesn't have a piece of.

Re:Hopefully... (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582029)

Not meaning to start a flame war between fanbois - but having played both FPS & MMORPG games for a _long_ time, I just cant see the value in console gaming on this level. Consoles are great, don't get me wrong, I own a few myself. I just can't see a game with as complex key sets being used on a console by hardcore gamers. I've tried my hardest to use console controllers for FPS games, but the fact it's nowhere near as fluid as a mouse makes me dispise them on consoles. Anyone who believes that PC gaming will "die" has no idea about the industry and maybe need to look at the past before predicting the future.

Re:Hopefully... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582177)

Ironically, WoW could probably be played fairly easily using a console-style control scheme. Whether it would port to a console or not is another matter, of course, but FFXI seems to have done alright.

Re:Hopefully... (2, Informative)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582583)

Which games did you try using a console controller with? Personally I find that the controller works better for those FPS's (and third person shooters) that were designed with the console in mind, and not as well with ports of PC FPS's. For example I have no problem with using a Dual Shock with say SOCOM or Star Wars Battlefront, but with the PSone port of Quake II I couldn't hit the broadside of a barn with it. So I plugged in the PSone mouse. When I play games like Deus Ex or Half-Life on the PS2, I plug in a USB optical wireless mouse. But I still move with the stick. I can't stand keyboard movement in action games, ugh I couldn't stand it back in the 80's and I can't stand it now.. I loathe WASD. Using the dual shock combined with a mouse may seem kludgy but it works well, for me anyway.

As for MMORPG's I played EQOA and FFXI on te PS2 before I quit because I couldn't justify paying the monthly fee for games I couldn't devote the necessary time to.

Serious players of EQOA and FFXI had keyboards. In EQOA the keyboard was used mostly for chat, you could control the game entirely with it but no one did because moving and camera adjusting worked better with the dual shock.

In FFXI, PS2 players mostly used their keyboards for chat and macros and again, movement was easier with the dual shock. Not even the PC players used their mice very much and most of them acknowledged that having a dual shock style controller for the game was a necessity.

Re:Hopefully... (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581983)

*sigh* kids these days... with their consoles and emo music and make out parties... *goes back to WoW*

Re:Hopefully... (2, Interesting)

autocrawler (1004066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18584017)

Sorry, but I'll take your presumed "terribleness" of PC gaming over the sterile, fully proprietary console gaming.

No Piracy on MMOs? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580673)

So, is me and a mate sharing an account considered priracy? It's not like you're restricted to one character. I know at least a few MMOs that don't even prohibit simultanious logins..

Almost all MMOs that require a boxed product don't do any "CD Key" checking.. it's all based on the account.

Re:No Piracy on MMOs? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582161)

Depending on the MMO, maybe yes, maybe no. If it does prohibit simultaneous logins, then as a developer, I wouldn't care (although I might limit you to a number of characters...) Multiple accounts means you have to pay for them, although more than one account per person can be used to evade bans, I suppose.

Now, if you're sharing a character, I'd call that cheating, because the two of you can tag team to level that char much faster than any one person. It's also annoying for others in the game, to not know who you are. It also opens up the possibility of betrayal, which happens entirely too much, but most games, accessing the account means you can access any char in the account.

Piracy Evolves as Anti-Piracy Evolves (5, Insightful)

vertigoCiel (1070374) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580683)

I am reminded of Douglas Adam's Electronic Thumb from HHTTG: half the electrical engineers in the galaxy are working on fresh ways of jamming the signals, and the other half are working on fresh ways to jam the jamming signals. There are ways to get around CD-key authorization besides using someone elses - I believe that people have already found a way to disable the Registration request in the Adobe CS3 beta, by deleting the file that reminds CS3 it still needs a registration number. Piracy is only realy a wide-spread problem after games are succesful enough to be widely pirated - otherwise it's too hard for the average user to find a pirated copy. By this point, the game has made enough revenue to be profitable. It's just the publisher's constant desire for insane profits that forces devs to move to consoles.

Re:Piracy Evolves as Anti-Piracy Evolves (5, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580801)

Piracy is only realy a wide-spread problem after games are succesful enough to be widely pirated - otherwise it's too hard for the average user to find a pirated copy. By this point, the game has made enough revenue to be profitable.

Unless you're id, Epic, or other big-name developers and publishers, in which case your reputation in the market is enough for people to pirate your game on day one (or day zero, even), robbing you of that profitable "build-up to success".

IMHO, the solution is not to keep fighting fire with fire. Instead, it's to get into a different game. MMOs are one example. Another example would be similar to what Stardock does. When you buy Galactic Civilizations 2, there is no DRM at all. Instead, you get a serial number that entitles you to game updates. This wouldn't work at all for a typical EA game ("punt it out the door and start working on next year's version"), but it works great for smaller developers with a loyal fanbase. The game of GalCiv2 as it stands today is quite a bit different from how it shipped about a year ago, but if you pirate the game you would not have access to any of those game updates. Also, I'm not talking about intentionally leaving in bugs or any of that crap. You ship as good of a game as you can, and then you support it through its lifetime with feature enhancements (GalCiv2 AI or ship builder enhancements, for example).

Re:Piracy Evolves as Anti-Piracy Evolves (1)

Clock Nova (549733) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581415)

GalCiv2 is a good example, but I must admit that it is still possible to get around the need for a CD key to get the updates. I was able to play a pirated version for quite some time before I bought the game outright. Of course, it was always my intention to buy the game, but I really wanted to play it before I had the cash to spare, and. . . well, we all know the story. Of course, the fact that I really wanted to reward Stardock for their efforts to do well by their customers may still prove your point. My point, however, is that even this "light" form of DRM (and it really is DRM, no matter how unobtrusive it might be) is not foolproof. But it does engender feelings of goodwill towards the company that uses it, thus spurring sales from people who might have happily continued playing a cracked copy indefinitely.

Re:Piracy Evolves as Anti-Piracy Evolves (1)

CryoPenguin (242131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581753)

When you buy Galactic Civilizations 2, there is no DRM at all. Instead, you get a serial number that entitles you to game updates.

How does that work? I would have thought that if you know where to acquire a pirated version of the initial game, you could also get a pirated version of the update the same way. Are you just depending on the pirates to not redistribute the update?

Re:Piracy Evolves as Anti-Piracy Evolves (1)

MaXimillion (856525) | more than 7 years ago | (#18584943)

You can download the GalCiv II updates even without a serial, but when you update the game, it changes so that the serial is required to launch the game. And there are very few games that are popular enough that the patches released to them are cracked, usually only the launch version gets a crack.

#4, um duh? (1)

Some_Llama (763766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580805)

Pretty much all online play and MMORPGs are piracy proof if they take the current model of CD key needed to access online servers, this is just as true for FPS and RTS as it is for MMORPG.

Quake3/4, battlefield, CS (steam), C&C Generals, Warcraft, etc.. all need valid CD keys to play online... the only way to pirate these games are their single player counter points.

The biggest problem I see that develops from an online model is the one of cheating.. where there ISN'T a definitive way to stop people from cheating. Compared to cheating stopping piracy (in online play) is simple.

Re:#4, um duh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18582487)

Actually, using Hamachi, Online play for popular games is possible. Ive done this first hand with supreme commander. And for the record to prevent flamage, hamachi combined with http tunneling is the only way i can play online, with my legitimately purchased game because of the nazi college proxy server.

Re:#4, um duh? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582501)

I used to think there was no way to fix cheating.. then I realised that, once again, we're trying to solve a social problem with a technical solution. So I thought about it from a social perspective.

Imagine you're playing a FPS on a commercial server. You're actually paying money for this experience. Someone keeps headshotting you. They seem to never miss. It's really pissing you off, so what do you do? For most games the answer is: go play on another server, but what if there was an alternative? What if there was a form on the web page where you could file a complaint. Enter the guy's name, the time you were playing and that he was headshotting people and never seemed to miss.

The customer support people get a bunch of these complaints.. what do they do? As we've said, it is very hard to tell if the guy is cheating or if he's just really good at head shots. So even though the customer support people can see in the logs that he got a whole shitload of head shots, they can't really say he was cheating.

Ya know what? Who cares! If there are enough complaints against a player, regardless of whether he was cheating or not, that player is having a detrimental effect on customer experience. If you let this player continue with his head shot firing spree, he will destroy your game. The customer support staff should warn the player that he is making too many head shots and this is pissing off customers. If he doesn't cut back, he will be banned. Eventually the message will get around that excessive head shots, either because you're cheating or because you're good at them, is unacceptable behaviour and they will stop.

This is similar to the /kick command that many Counterstrike servers have.. except that it demands that customers make an actual complaint and give a good reason.

Re:#4, um duh? (1)

theorangesven (1017458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583101)

So much for competitive gaming, huh? Banning players for being good. That's just stupid. If you cannot prove he is cheating, then you cannot ban him. Burden of proof lies on the accuser.

In the fighting game community, the best player is the winner. In the fps community, the best player gets kicked....

Re:#4, um duh? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583179)

"being good" or "cheating" he is ruining the game for other players. The company has a duty to provide the best experience to the majority of their customers, not find the guy with the best head shot skills. Sometimes "playing fair" means letting other people win too. It's supposed to be fun.

Re:#4, um duh? (1)

TheCrackRat (589015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583449)

How is forcing yourself to play at a sub-par level fun? If I buy the game and I'm good at it, I would be PISSED if they banned me for "cheating." If you want to play against people who aren't as good, play against bots or find some new servers.

Re:#4, um duh? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583495)

Or, ya know, you could find a server with harder players instead of just beating up on people who are not as good as you. Conceivably, the server software could detect when someone is significantly better than the other players and shuffle them off to a server with more advanced people.. but you'd probably complain about that too.

Re:#4, um duh? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18584421)

That's a pretty interesting idea actually, like an inter-server balancing, so you could keep servers for people with a low level of skills. Only problem is, how to decide which server to send the good player to? Maybe by running many instances of the same server for different levels of skills..

Re:#4, um duh? (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18584533)

I think if you are good at a game, you almost have a duty to help balance the fun. if my COD2 team is winning CTF 6-0, then I always swap teams to help out the side losing, I dont really care what the final score was, or how I do, but its just to cool to play a pitch battle right up to the last second, where it can go either way.
I never understand those kids who will pull of the same move, the same run, time and time again, to rack up points, without any regard for the fact that nobody else on that server is enjoying the game anymore.

I think you are completely off base... (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586021)

what I think would be more effective than your solution is, motivate through game mechanics...

try this.. make in game rewards reactive based on ability...

in WOW, when you are a few levels above another player, defeating them is pointless, there is no gain...

now, take your headshot kills.. give them (headshot kills) their own 'level' when you can pot 99% of the players with a headshot, you 'skill level' in headshots rises to such an excessive level, that it just doesn't give you any benefit (other than a dead opposing player) unless the other char has a uber level in headshots themselves..... you have to work on another type of kill to show any 'gain'.....

Re:#4, um duh? (1)

LoofWaffle (976969) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586961)

This was already done in South Park. Blizzard gave the boys the "Sword of Ultimate Truth" (I can't remember the exact title, but I think that's close) to beat the griefer killing everyone off in WoW. Maybe Valve should give CS players the "VestHelm of Courage" to prevent "headshotters" from having so much success?

Steam-Like Services *WILL* Save PC Gaming (5, Interesting)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580837)

I used to be a huge critic of Steam and its related services, but I've warmed up to the idea over time.

As a softdev (and a small-time indie game dev) I have a hard time justifying piracy, and since I've made the moral choice to buy the software I use, it's hit my pocketbooks pretty hard, but it's a decision I am glad to live with. Most of my colleagues are not so conscious, I'm afraid, and most would buy a PC game if it's CD-key locked and the game was all about multiplayer (CS, BF2, etc), but almost none would ever buy a singleplayer game.

In other words, the concept that developers should just intrinsically *trust* the gamer to be moral and buy the game is hogwash. There may be a number of gamers like myself who strive to pirate as little as possible (if at all), but the majority of the world isn't so dev-friendly. I welcome (legal and reasonable) ways to protect developer content.

Additionally, I'm also a huge singleplayer gamer. I loved games like Deus Ex, Half-Life, and the new C&C3, which I bought mostly for the campaign mode (and it is excellent, btw). Many developers are eschewing singleplayer games in favour of multiplayer-only games, due to the fact that the multiplayer-ness easily lends itself to better piracy protection. This leaves gamers like me out in the cold. It is also why I believe, despite the evils of the technology, we must live with it if we are to see more singleplayer content being developed in this world.

Just my 2c.

Re:Steam-Like Services *WILL* Save PC Gaming (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581009)

I just hope that Steam-like services don't have terrible interfaces.

StarDock is one such interface. It is so horribly designed. I have to update Galactic Civilizations II through it, and I loathe starting it. It takes more than a few seconds to load. All I want to do is update my game.

The nice thing is that Galactic Civilizations II has no DRM or CD verification or anything. In response to you, GC2 is mainly single player (with single player upload to the servers to have "multiplayer", e.g., your stats are updated based on your games), so not all developers are going for mutliplayer only.

Re:Steam-Like Services *WILL* Save PC Gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581389)

While I agree with everything you said, here is an additional spin on things I have been thinking about recently: There are a lot of big game development companies out there (EA comes to mind) that have no objective other than to grind out another piece of crap with minimal effort and put it on the store shelves and suck money out of the market. Piracy is going to happen. It hasn't stopped people like John Carmack from buying Ferraris in the past. The fact that store shelves are being flooded with Explosions Galore 18: Revenge of the Burning Chunks of Shrapnel spreads an otherwise healthy market thin. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The rules of economics suggest that so long as there is profit to be made in a market someone will step up to claim it. By my way of thinking, what we're seeing right now is an excess of supply. In the mean time the rest of us will be bored silly waiting for EA and its kin to collapse under their own weight. Unfortunately, I wonder if they will suck all the cash out of the market before that happens.

Re:Steam-Like Services *WILL* Save PC Gaming (1)

Agret (752467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582167)

I used to be a huge critic of Steam and its related services, but I've warmed up to the idea over time.

I think the idea of Steam is great but the execution is poor. Steam is a resource hog and takes ages to do anything. Yesterday I was playing Counter-Strike 1.6 and I was getting huge FPS drops so I opened task manager and Steam.exe was using 40% of my CPU for some reason. It's an annoying bloated background service you have to put up with to run your games.

Steam is also not cross-platform(yet? one could hope..), although they have some titles on there that could release native Linux binaries they're not able to since the Steam client platform is Windows-only. I think it'd be awesome if Steam went cross-platform but seeing as how they can't even get the Windows client right I doubt it'll happen for awhile yet.

It won't be cross-platform... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582347)

The Source engine is DirectX only. Steam uses Internet Explorer -- I believe for large chunks of the interface, and also for the MOTD on CS:Source servers.

There are titles on there that do have native Linux binaries -- Darwinia, for instance, has a Steam release, but you can also buy it from their website, which gives you 3 downloads each, completely un-DRM'd, of the Windows and Linux versions (Mac version is published by a third-party shop that did the port).

Personally, I'd like to re-implement Steam, but the way I want to do it is complete overkill, and not going to happen soon.

Re:It won't be cross-platform... (2, Interesting)

Agret (752467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582701)

The Source engine is DirectX only. Steam uses Internet Explorer -- I believe for large chunks of the interface, and also for the MOTD on CS:Source servers.

So? Valve is a publisher & Steam is a distribution network, it's got nothing to do with the Source engine being DirectX.

Valve can replace the Internet Explorer control with the Mozilla control for a linux port. CS:Source is irrelevant as it won't run on Linux natively anyway.

There are titles on there that do have native Linux binaries -- Darwinia, for instance, has a Steam release, but you can also buy it from their website, which gives you 3 downloads each, completely un-DRM'd, of the Windows and Linux versions (Mac version is published by a third-party shop that did the port).

Exactly, the Linux version could be distributed through the Linux port of Steam....

Personally, I'd like to re-implement Steam, but the way I want to do it is complete overkill, and not going to happen soon.

Care to detail that at all?

Re:It won't be cross-platform... (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582857)

And why would they make Steam cross-platform? To support the massive gaming scene that's just bursting at the seams on Mac OSX? Or even more laughably, on Linux? It's an awful lot of effort to service so few consumers.

Re:It won't be cross-platform... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583413)

Valve can replace the Internet Explorer control with the Mozilla control for a linux port. CS:Source is irrelevant as it won't run on Linux natively anyway.

This means they now have to test things against both IE and this Mozilla control. It's also likely a good deal less efficient.

Cedega has done this, but that doesn't mean it's easy.

Exactly, the Linux version could be distributed through the Linux port of Steam....

Right, assuming they ever do such a port. I'm mentioning IE not because Steam cannot go cross-platform, but because I strongly believe it will not. These are a bunch of former Microsoft devs who went and founded a game company, so they like MS -- and even if I'm wrong, I imagine they would have used something other than IE and DirectX if they had ever intended Steam or Source to go cross-platform.

And that brings up something else -- does Steam have any way of identifying which games can work on which platforms? Somehow, I doubt it -- Source has been portable to pretty much anything that can handle Steam, unless it's too slow. I wonder what they're going to do about Vista or 64-bit -- I imagine they'll ship both with the same copy of the game (like they do now with various optimized Linux server binaries).

However, if they do this properly, then it would make cross-platform a lot easier. You wouldn't want something stupid like Steam/Linux letting you download Half-Life 2, and then trying to run the .exe...

Personally, I'd like to re-implement Steam, but the way I want to do it is complete overkill, and not going to happen soon.
Care to detail that at all?

I would, but not right now. I'm thinking it's really time for me to type out something resembling a spec, so I can stop re-typing the same Slashdot comment over and over. I could also type something resembling a FAQ, so it won't get shot down the same way over and over.

Executive summary: It will be a Compile Once, Run Anywhere platform suitable to as many kinds of apps as possible -- you won't be able to write device drivers on this platform (yet), but pretty much anything else should work. It will be distributed as a web browser and package manager. Any game written for this platform will be cross-platform by default, and will be able to run pretty much instantly (streaming), with aggressive level of detail and prefetching. There will be no significant performance hit relative to any other modern platform (C/C++, etc), but the language will be as simple and powerful as any "scripting" language. A well-written app can be patched without restarting, or even significantly slowing down, depending on the nature of the patch and the app. License fees will only be required if you want my endorsement, or some sort of advertising (maybe on the default homepage/app), but there is not necessarily a single point of failure in the system.

I think that's everything. If not, anything I'm missing should be easy to build in. (A "friends list" would be a Jabber client which is allowed to know about other apps on the system, such as what game and server you're in.)

In order to accomplish this, I intend to overengineer the living hell out of it. Ultimately, I intend it to take over the world, possibly even as its own OS -- however, it should be able to function well even as a second-class citizen, much as Steam is on Windows.

The technical details of how I intend to do all of this would take quite a few pages, even considering that "technical details" can be as vague as "some sort of database" at this point. However, I'm convinced it's all very possible -- and most of it has various proof-of-concept implementations already, for instance, Erlang can replace any function at runtime, there are plenty of cross-platform libraries (wxwindows) and CORA languages (Java, python, .NET, parrot), Firefox proves that people will switch browsers to get features they want, and Flash proves that you can get a uniform development platform in every browser if it's good enough (and maybe if you have money). It's just never been put together quite how I've described before, and it would take entirely too much work to be worth it, financially -- but I'm going to do it anyway.

Re:It won't be cross-platform... (1)

Agret (752467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586031)

And that brings up something else -- does Steam have any way of identifying which games can work on which platforms? Somehow, I doubt it -- Source has been portable to pretty much anything that can handle Steam, unless it's too slow. I wonder what they're going to do about Vista or 64-bit -- I imagine they'll ship both with the same copy of the game (like they do now with various optimized Linux server binaries).

I don't know if they do but with Counter-Strike if you are using 64-bit windows it will download a 64-bit binary. Surely they can introduce that with an update if they go cross-platform.

However, if they do this properly, then it would make cross-platform a lot easier. You wouldn't want something stupid like Steam/Linux letting you download Half-Life 2, and then trying to run the .exe...

True, they could give you a warning that it's emulated and just run it through wine though. Wine can run the Source engine very well.

and to the other guy who said Steam won't go cross-platform because of the low number of people, it's a matter of "they wont release games on the platform because there aren't enough gamers" and "gamers wont adopt the platform because there aren't enough games". For games to become popular on Linux first there needs to be some commercial games released, iD release all their games cross-platform and I see Valve as one of the industry leaders, it'd be good for them to move cross-paltform. Surely they have an OpenGL version of the Source engine in some state since they've done a PS3 port and the PS3 won't run DirectX code.

Re:Steam-Like Services *WILL* Save PC Gaming (3, Informative)

yoyhed (651244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18585661)

I tend to think comments about Steam's "poor execution" reek of 2004, when it actually did suck and was in beta. I just started Steam, and it took all of 5 seconds, and now it's sitting in my tray using 3MB of RAM and 0% CPU.

All you have to do is click the arrow on the upper-right to make it use the "old" interface, which is what I prefer anyway. Then set your Favorite Window to Games in Settings. Voila, every time you start Steam, it'll only go to the old-style games window, which is fast, and as you can see above, not resource intensive.

I will admit every once in a great while it'll do an automatic update or something, which does use CPU. But I wouldn't call it a resource hog, unless you're still on a Pentium II with 256MB of RAM. I'm running an Athlon 64 4000+, which nowadays is in the $90 range on Newegg.

Re:Steam-Like Services *WILL* Save PC Gaming (1)

Agret (752467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18586087)

Interesting that you have a different Steam to me, i'm using the latest official Steam client. Takes about 10 seconds to start while uncapped, 5-10 minutes while capped (64kbps net sucks :P). It's currently using between 0% and 5% cpu & 40mb of ram. You're probably looking at the "Mem Usage" column to get your 3mb figure (mines 5mb with the main window closed, 15mb with it open), enable the "VM Size" column in task manager to get the true memory usage value.

If only games where not so expensive... (2, Insightful)

master_p (608214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18585013)

Perhaps if games were not so expensive, we wouldn't get in trouble to find, download and install pirated games.

Having to pay 60 euros for Half Life 2, for example, is unacceptable, in my opinion. If it was 20 euros, I wouldn't even consider the pirated version.

If you think that the price of 20 euros is illogical, then you should consider that Valve spent 6 years rebuilding the game twice. Why should I have to pay for Valve's engineers having fun and not doing their jobs? Half Life 1 had more content and more substance, and it was delivered in far less time. The price of 60 euros for HL2 does not reflect its real price, also considering that the gameplay is maximum 30 hours (which means that the average gamer can beat the game in a few days).

And since you are indie developer, here are some news for you: games with equal or less gameplay than Space Invaders do not worth more than 1 euro. There are 100s of indie shops out there, all producing games with gameplay seen before a 100 million times, only with a little bit more flashier graphics that do not usually fit in with the game's context. Why should we buy them, just for playing out 10 minutes?

Perhaps a better model would be to be able to rent a game for a couple of days. Movies in DVD format cost 1 euro per day, for 120 minutes of fun. Movies can be copied/downloaded just as easily as games, yet the movie industry does not say that they are about to collapse due to piracy...and that is because they have find a better market model, one that suits people better.

Unreal Tournament 200(5/6) (1)

stgben (1014931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580979)

I'm reminded of one of the Unreal games for PC that required you to submit your CD-key to a central server to be checked. Of course the scene groups decided to block access from the users computer to the Unreal server, and redirect it to the loopback address where the CD-key would be falsely verified. Like a few of the above posters mentioned, piracy evolves as the anti-piracy evolves.

M$ Games for windows forceing you to pay for mods (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581087)

will be a real bad thing

Re:M$ Games for windows forceing you to pay for mo (5, Insightful)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581443)

Not only bad, it may not be smart. Counterstrike was a fan-created mod which revolutionized the industry. Neverwinter Nights was great because so many people made modules for it. I think we'll see developers looking for ways to leverage user-created content. YouTube wouldn't be worth billions if no one uploaded anything to it.

Re:M$ Games for windows forceing you to pay for mo (1)

oneplus999 (907816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582077)

yeah i'm sure rockstar will have wide open arms to mods in gta4

Re:M$ Games for windows forceing you to pay for mo (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582123)

that mod just unlocked some thing that was left in the game next time they will likely remove all unused things in the game. Making anything like it 100% fan made.

Re:M$ Games for windows forceing you to pay for mo (1)

autocrawler (1004066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18584135)

Mods remaining free is crucial. Screw Microsoft and their business sense. Mods are about the only factor that keeps many old games alive to this day. When I beat a console game, I pretty much throw it away and forget about it. When I beat a PC game, I can always look forward to replaying it in a couple of years with all the mods installed, which grants me a completely new gameplay experience. If the mod tools really do go away, I will be very, very sorely disappointed.

Previous article related? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581145)

http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/22/ 1645252 [slashdot.org]

Real humans replacing the AI. Perhaps it's not the end of 'singe player' games as even those will actually be mulitplayer under the hood?

Unplugged (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581831)

Real humans replacing the AI. Perhaps it's not the end of 'singe player' games as even those will actually be mulitplayer under the hood?
Not if I unplug the Internet connection to play without bad language. You give the example of The Crossing. But I don't want to start Animal Crossing and have the duck who lives next door spouting M-rated potty mouth language, nor do I want the big bad wolf who lives by the museum trying to set up a sex date with me. And what about people who go three months without high-speed Internet access when they are home from university over the summer?

Re:Unplugged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18585505)

"Potty mouth"? How old are you, seven?

no linux? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581283)

thank god! those guys are such a bunch of fags.

Re:no linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18582985)

Take that dick out of your mouth while you say that.

My prediction: Enviroment (3, Interesting)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581315)

One thing they didn't mention and i think is going to be important is more malleable environments.
I think this trend was mostly started by HL2's Gravgun, and we're going to see some significant advances in physics and materials in the next few years.
The two best examples i can think of right now are the upcoming Crysis and Star Wars: Force Unleashed.
Sure, attempts like Red Faction didn't do very well, but i think it's time.

Re:My prediction: Enviroment (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581925)

>>The two best examples i can think of right now are the upcoming Crysis and Star Wars: Force Unleashed.<<

Also, don't forget Portal [wikipedia.org] . The entire point of that game is to modify your environment by opening portals (think wormholes) from point to point.

To quote "Touch of Evil"... (0, Offtopic)

7Prime (871679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581379)

To quote the fortune teller from the Orson Wells film noir, "Touch of Evil":

"You have no future; you're future is all used up."

Re:To quote "Touch of Evil"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18583277)

"You have no future; you're future is all used up."

your

If you are going to quote a movie, do not look like an idiot doing it.

They said WHAT!? (3, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581491)

Did they really say that DRM will save gaming on the PC? Are they insane?

Let's be honest, here. Steam is simply DRM with some sugar stuffed around it to make people like it. And it's even broken, already. I've seen quite a few steam-rips out there.

How in the world will an already-failed DRM save PC Gaming?

No, instead, good GAMES are needed to save PC Gaming. Assuming it needs saving at all. Maybe the reason that gaming has been steadily moving back to consoles is because it works better there. The controls and basic interface are familiar, there's no worries about your particular brand of hardware working with the game, the DRM doesn't often bite you, etc. With the exception of a few games that really do play better with mouse and keyboard, consoles have PCs beat. And they are cheaper. Even if you buy them all.

A couple years ago, I'd have laughed in your face if you said I'd prefer console gaming now. But with power of the XBox 360 (and PS3, theoretically... wish they'd go ahead and make a good game for it) and the innovative interface of the Wii, I rarely game on the PC now. Enough so that I am back using Kubuntu as my main OS because I rarely feel the need to be in Windows.

More to it than DRM (3, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581815)

Being able to impulse-buy a game and have it playable either in a few minutes or in a day or so is a huge deal. Also isn't bad getting periodic updates (HDR for Half-Life 2 and CS:S).

As for DRM biting you... I've lost, scratched, and otherwise killed game discs, and on a console, that's it, no more game for you. On Steam, just re-download and reinstall -- or burn a backup DVD, or whatever.

I don't like the DRM either, and I won't make excuses for that -- technologically, it sucks, too, as does anything that requires IE to play a game. But it is actually a good idea, and it works very well.

Re:More to it than DRM (1)

Agret (752467) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582205)

Being able to impulse-buy a game and have it playable either in a few minutes or in a day or so is a huge deal. Also isn't bad getting periodic updates (HDR for Half-Life 2 and CS:S).

I don't like how updates are forced on you though, you can't play any of your games unless they are completely up to date which is a problem for people on slower internet. Also, I don't want some updates. Just recently Valve have rolled out in-game advertising in Counter-Strike 1.6, along with the ads comes more FPS lag and the ads don't even attempt to be non-intrusive. There is a huge ad right above the scoreboard and they just stuck the in-game ads randomly on level walls, not even on a billboard. For a company that got so much right with Half-Life i'm disappointed in Valve...

Re:More to it than DRM (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582687)

I don't like how updates are forced on you though, you can't play any of your games unless they are completely up to date which is a problem for people on slower internet. Also, I don't want some updates. Just recently Valve have rolled out in-game advertising in Counter-Strike 1.6, along with the ads comes more FPS lag and the ads don't even attempt to be non-intrusive. There is a huge ad right above the scoreboard and they just stuck the in-game ads randomly on level walls, not even on a billboard. For a company that got so much right with Half-Life i'm disappointed in Valve...


Well, if you're willing to give up some CS servers, you can tell Steam not to update your software. Just go to the game, right click Properties, then uncheck the box that says "Keep this game up to date". Some servers may check software versions and not allow you to join, but I'm sure you can run your own or find one that will let you on. I would suggest backing up the game onto DVDs or CDs so you can stay at this version, since if you re-download, you'll get the latest.

Lockout chip business model (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581879)

With the exception of a few games that really do play better with mouse and keyboard, consoles have PCs beat. And they are cheaper. Even if you buy them all.
What about games by microstudios, which the console makers have historically ignored for the last couple decades? Among the current consoles (PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii), only the PLAYSTATION 3 is open enough out of the box to let a microstudio self-publish, and a self-published game runs under Linux with no access to even 2D acceleration.

Re:They said WHAT!? (2)

bigforearms (1051976) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582403)

I gotta disagree with you on a couple of points.

First, I'd say the interface is more familiar on the PC. The interface hardware pretty much never changes, and even the typical command button mapping is pretty uniform across titles in a genre (e.g., most FPS have similar WASD setups, even to the point where common weapons like shotguns are frequently mapped to the same number across titles).

Second, it's not just a few games that play better on the PC, it's several genres. Strategy games (both RTS and non) are unplayable on consoles. FPSs I'd say the same thing about, but apparently the simpler ones have made leeway into the market. Tactical FPSs like the Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon series are heavily dumbed down when they're ported to consoles. RPGs are playable on both, but the computer generally has a very strong advantage in that most RPGs for the PC nowadays are heavily moddable. I don't think they even bother trying to port decent flight sims to consoles.

Third, they're not always cheaper. Most of us need a computer for something or another, so if your main box doubles as your gaming box, the appropriate way to look at it is how much more you spent on the gaming box than what you would have needed. If all you do is word process and surf the Internet, you can get by great with a $500 computer. If you want to game, you can put together something modest for about $200 more than that, or a very good system for $600 more (the cost of a PS3).

Not saying PCs are absolutely better or that consoles don't have their upsides as well, but it's not as clear-cut an issue for everyone.

Re:They said WHAT!? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582747)

okay, but how do you "know" that RTS's and strategy titles are "unplayable" on a console. Are you absolutely 100% sure that the interfaces couldn't be changed to work on a console controller?

Third, they're not always cheaper. Most of us need a computer for something or another, so if your main box doubles as your gaming box, the appropriate way to look at it is how much more you spent on the gaming box than what you would have needed. If all you do is word process and surf the Internet, you can get by great with a $500 computer. If you want to game, you can put together something modest for about $200 more than that, or a very good system for $600 more (the cost of a PS3).


Ahh, but you forget, the PS3 can run Linux, thus replacing that $500 PC.

Re:They said WHAT!? (1)

bigforearms (1051976) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583361)

I've played the few attempts at console RTSs, and they're pretty awful for a few reasons: After the first several times you play an RTS, you learn build hotkeys. Not enough buttons on a console to pull this off (which is the same problem as a console has with Tactical FPSs). The cursors from a joystick are too inaccurate and too slow to be effective (which is the universal problem for most PC gamers who also console game). RTS games require speed in selection and moving about the battlefield. Both they and regular strategy games require accuracy so you don't botch unit orders. Linux on a PS3 has a couple of drawbacks for someone who wants an office box. First and foremost, it doesn't run Office. OO may be able to do a decent job reading Word, Powerpoint, and Excel files most of the time, but (and granted, my experience is a bit out of date on this) there's always huge file mess-ups when there's any kind of screwy formatting. If you're collaberating with anyone, that's a problem. Second, I don't know how well developed the PS3 install is, but I'm hazarding a guess that unless Ubuntu or Knoppix got ahold of it, it's harder than an ordinary user wants to deal with.

Re:They said WHAT!? (2, Interesting)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583605)

Did they really say that DRM will save gaming on the PC? Are they insane? Let's be honest, here. Steam is simply DRM with some sugar stuffed around it to make people like it.

In stores, they usually only stock a few titles, the most popular ones. Short shelf life means developers bet on safe cards, which means (in my opinion) boring games. If developers can sell online (not necessarily through Steam) they can reach a bigger market cheaper, and consumers can get games later. I personally have bough Psychonauts and Bookworm adventures online the last month, and I plan to buy many more.

Maybe the reason that gaming has been steadily moving back to consoles is because it works better there.

When gaming magazines release the latest sales figures and people go "omg pc gaming is dying!", remember none of these sales numbers (that I've seen so far) include:
1) Online sales. That's right. Steam, Popcap games, Gametap, Three Rings Net and so on, are not included. Neither is the money poured into MMO subscriptions. If you include those, I think the total amount spent on PC gaming industry is probably larger than the market for any single console.
2) International sales, where PC sales are stronger.

With the exception of a few games that really do play better with mouse and keyboard, consoles have PCs beat.

Not if you want deep strategy games or simulation games, non-linear western RPGs, or if you want to play MMOs, or if you want to add your own mods or content like in NWN/NWN2, or if you want to play decades of games from dozens of platforms through emulators...

And they are cheaper.

Most people need a PC in their homes anyway, so spending a little bit extra on a better graphics card is not that big a deal. Besides, with the costs of the latest generation, some people are questioning [blogspot.com] whether consoles are cheaper at all.

Re:They said WHAT!? (2, Interesting)

autocrawler (1004066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18584259)

The controls and basic interface are familiar, there's no worries about your particular brand of hardware working with the game, the DRM doesn't often bite you, etc. With the exception of a few games that really do play better with mouse and keyboard, consoles have PCs beat. And they are cheaper. Even if you buy them all.
Price should most definitely be NOT the only factor that determines your choice of a gaming platform, at least not if you consider gaming your hobby. As far a I am personally concerned, I won't be leaving PC gaming as long as gaming-oriented hardware continues to be released for the PC.

A couple years ago, I'd have laughed in your face if you said I'd prefer console gaming now. But with power of the XBox 360 (and PS3, theoretically... wish they'd go ahead and make a good game for it) and the innovative interface of the Wii, I rarely game on the PC now.
The previous generation, it was the "power of the PS2!". Guess what, the cycle repeats each time. PCs had to catch up to the PS2 for a few years back then, this time, PCs outperformed the 360 right off the bat. Every release simply looks prettier, and plays better on the PC, and starting with Crysis the PC will start getting unique experiences that are impossible to replicate on the current generation of consoles, simply due to their technical limitations. Myself, I've played, what, three retail titles and a couple of XBLA releases on my 360 since I bought it? I play PC games daily, and yet my 360 is just sitting there collecting dust since I got through Castlevania. My gaming rig has overtaken the console's place near the TV so that I can comfortably play PC games from a couch. Also, just to say, while I am not denying that Wii's controls are unique to the platform, PC modders have been hard at work adapting the Wiimote for use in PC games. We already can see some of the results, like the Half Life 2 Wiimote Mod which just went into public beta stage. And over time, we'll be seeing more and more exciting stuff like that which blends the two platforms' strengths together.

Re:They said WHAT!? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18585285)

For most people, money IS the biggest factor in their purchasing decisions. Hobby or not, you should have control over it, not the other way around. If you are throwing money into your gaming habit without control, you have an addiction that needs to be addressed. Don't make excuses for it.

"The previous generation, it was the "power of the PS2!". Guess what, the cycle repeats each time."

Yes, except that I felt the PS2 was just so-so when it came out, despite all the fanboy outcry. Don't get me wrong, PCs are still more powerful and they always will be, but the cost matters a lot when comparing them. The 360 is the first system that I got that 'pc gaming feel' from when playing console games.

Take Oblivion, for example. I bought it for PC and 360 both. I played it all the way through on the PC, beating the main quest and the fighters' and mages' guilds. A year later, when I bought my 360, I bought Oblivion for that as well, and I had fun doing it all over again, and beat the assassins' and thieves' guilds as well. From that point, I chose to play all the addons on the 360.

The control scheme isn't -quite- as good as the PC, I'll admit, but you aren't tied to a desk (for the keyboard/mouse) and there's no worries about graphics card updates, framerates, etc etc. After the initial couple months, I actually found the PC version to be more hassle BECAUSE of the mods. I was getting obsessed with determining which mods were the ones to play with and such. There's now about a dozen mods designed to change the leveling system. Some of them even have multiple different ways they change the system. It got to where I couldn't have fun with the game because I'd be worried there was a better mod out there.

It sounds stupid, I know. But that's the way it is. I've read so many 'best mods' lists that I'm more confused than ever. Adding more choices is not always a good thing.

As for the Wiimote... Yeah, I'm a little excited about that for the PC. The OIS input library has the ability to use the WiiMote in its latest version. Combined with the Ogre3D graphics engine, I think some serious playing around could be done. I just have to get off my lazy butt and get back into C programming. It's been so long that I need a refresher. -sigh-

I think in the end it's how you treat gaming that matters. It used to be my 'hobby', but now it's just something I do for entertainment. I don't want a lot of hassle and worry, I just want to sit down and play. Consoles are a lot better for that than PCs.

Re:They said WHAT!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18584525)

I find it amusing that you think consoles are preferable to PCs when it comes to DRM. The PS3 and XBox360 are both trojan horses designed to get two of the biggest industry giants (who push DRM the hardest) a lock on media and hardware in the living room. Once they control that, they can create protocols and distribution channels that they control.

Piracy, right... more like too many mediocre games (4, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581919)

Piracy, right... more like too many games, and too many mediocre games at that. The truth is there is simply way too many games for the market to support @ 50+ dollars a pop, then add in MMO's with their subscriptions and everything else and you have perfect storm. Next many games offer nothing new, why should gamers buy games that are simply upgraded rehashes? Game developers only have themselves to blame in their quest of chasing their expensive technolust tastes. The truth is the game industry is the cause of their lack of profit... let's see where the game industry went wrong...

1) While the game market has expanded, it hasn't expanded to keep up with development costs of high fidelity graphics that the industry is chasing.

2) Game industry did itself in, gamers do not control where money is invested, nor what it produces, gamers do not control any of the financial aspects of where money is spent in development (graphics vs. gameplay).

3) Capitalism and designing a good game do not always mix well, with it rubs up against the economic model of society. The more time you spend working on a game 99% of the time the better it will be, if you're independently wealthy or have connections like certain figures in the game industry you can take your sweet time. But the drive for short-term profit over long-term gains has been an emerging problem in the game industry since the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube.

The whole industry right now is suffering since gameplay is getting stale and more games sell based on graphics then gameplay. I was never sure that the game industries model was very stable in many respects. It's built on the whims of a customer base which is not only difficult to understand but is just too diverse to pigeonhole with terms like "hardcore gamer" vs "casual gamer", next add in the mad rush for profits and you get a glut of mediocre games. I wouldn't be surprised of gaming slows down (Tanks) for a bit in the future but as long as their are fresh bodies without gaming experience (new kids being born) they may just be able to keep getting away with rehash city.

Re:Piracy, right... more like too many mediocre ga (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18582201)

1) This is almost inevitable as you can no longer have one guy his garage make a blockbuster game. Do you know how much the operating cost a video game studio is? Do you think they use pentium 3 800 mhz machines to build their models? Or that their artists work for free?

2) Actually games DO control what games are made. If people weren't buying Madden 2001 2002 2003 2004 etc. by the truck load every year, EA wouldn't be making them. If people were willing to buy single player adventure games, those companies wouldn't be dying left and right. In the end, we're in a capitalist society and demand is what drive the supply.

3) True. However we're seeing more and more support for the next generation of independent game makers, such as Fl0w, Portal, and that thing that Xbox Live was doing where people can make and upload their own game for others to play. Obviously you will not see the next Unreal Tournament made by 3 guys from their college dorm.

Re:Piracy, right... more like too many mediocre ga (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583773)

that thing that Xbox Live was doing where people can make and upload their own game for others to play

XNA [wikipedia.org] is what you're thinking of. Good idea--except games made with XNA must be released freely, with source, because you can't distribute them. Players of the indie games have to fork over a monthly fee to boot. The only people making money are Microsoft--fl0w on the PS3 at least pays the developers, too.

XNA is not a good system, even though the technical aspects of programming with it are amazing.

so in other words in a few years I give up gaming? (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582563)

I buy a title or two every month but have no desire at all to play online, in fact my main gaming rig isnt usually connected to my network. I have tried Ultima Online, Battlefield, Star Wars galaxies, FF online and some really stupid car racing game that was completly online. In the end all of them fell short. I think the big thing im most opposed to is paying $50 for the media to install a game but then having to pay $10-$20 a month to actually play it. I tend to play a game for a few days, go to something else then come back to the other again a few weeks later. Im still playing Oblivion for instance, and I purchased it a year ago. The monthly fee just isnt condusive to my playing habits. So where does that leave me? Im sure there are others that feel the same way. So I guess the real question is do the saved sales from the clutches of piracy outnumber the lost sales from those with no desire to go online with their gaming? Oh well, at least the theoretical question of whether pirates would buy the games if they couldnt be pirated would finally be answered. My predition: A year or so after the shift to online, the new buzz phrases will be DRM free gaming and single player experiences.

Re:so in other words in a few years I give up gami (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583081)

So where does that leave me? Im sure there are others that feel the same way.

Like me. Online gaming just isn't my thing, and I won't play an offline game that requires online auth to install and/or play because I've been bitten too many times by software whose publisher dropped off the face of the planet. The games I like are the ones with stories I can get attached to, and I can't do that if I know that five or ten years down the line I won't be able to play through it again. Even if it's only once - like when I replayed Wasteland at University back in 1999 or so - the ability to do so is important to me.

Steam is not DRM (3, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582663)

To say that Steam is the future of PC gaming is fairly true. To say that Steam directly equals DRM is not.

DRM is a means to strongly limit your right to use something you purchase, to the point of suggesting that you don't really own it.

Steam will allow you to download your content to multiple computers, and freely play your content.

Most music DRM schemes limit your ability to copy your music, or play it on whatever hardware you choose.

Steam is first and foremost a means of digital distribution to skip the distribution middle-man.

Game development costs have skyrocketed, game developers are working more hours for less money, and yet while our expectations rise, our desire to pay more for games has not risen. Something has to give, and many truly great gaming companies have gone to the wayside.

If digital distribution puts more money into the hands of the developer, keeps overall costs down, allows me to purchase a game without leaving my house, install on multiple PCs without even looking for disks, etc. etc. etc., then it is certainly more of a blessing than a curse.

I'm all for digital distribution.

Is Steam perfect? No. But it was largely the first venture in the market, and it is a step in the right direction.

Guild Wars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18583671)

In discussing various systems, I'm vaguely surprised nobody mentioned Guild Wars. While not everybody's style, GW's easy to get into and offers both a single and multiplayer experience lumped together, depending on what campaigns and how you choose to play. (Myself, I spend 95% of the time alone with NPCs or only one other person.)

But it's distinguished from a considerable portion of online RPG-style games in that it has no monthly fee. You pay the price up front (~50$ per campaign, of which there's three right now) and there's no monthly fee. A few posts complained about how monthly fees aren't good for people who hop games, or might spend a few months doing other stuff and this neatly sidesteps the issue.

Piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18584191)

MMORPG's don't have a zero percent piracy rate. You can download the game off the internet and then use a private server. I know because I have done it. That makes what they said inaccurate.

The bleak future of PC gaming (0, Troll)

kornkid606 (1076023) | more than 7 years ago | (#18585493)

6. The mouse won't die, and graphics cards will get more powerful.

I pray to God the mouse does die. If, in ten years, we are still sitting in front of a 2D monitor and using a mouse and keyboard to play our games then video games are officially dead. I doubt most people would complain if the status quo kept up for the next decade, but it is my belief that the true ideal of gaming, PC included, is the holo-deck from Star Trek. Unless we keep heading toward that ideal, games are going to stagnate and if you think you are seeing the same old thing now, in a decade you will see absolutely nothing new anymore. everything will be re-hash with better graphics.

Graphics cards are not the only things that need to change. The fundamental revolution in gaming NEEDS to happen in I/O. I think The Wii is the first iteration of this, but not necessarily the be-all end-all. I/O technology needs to take the hint from the Wii and continue to push the bounds of how we interact with the game on a fundamental level. It may sound like I am talking about VR, but the peak game experience should be much more than this. It should be as though you were stepping into a whole other real world

This is not to say that we NEED the HoloDeck in the next decade, but we need to start making progress towards this or interactive media as we know it will stagnate and die. And the masses won't know that what they once loved is dead until somebody comes along and points out how things could have been and what the original goal was.

Of course, this is all my opinion and I may just be a wacked out nut-job who loves video games too much but, mark my words, if things haven't changed within the next decade then you WILL see the death of video games, no matter what platform. Nobody's immune...

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