January 3, 2005 at 3:54 pm #29324
Just wanted to let others here know how discussed I am with Half-Life2.
I installed it in great antisapaction of starting the game only to find that I had to jump thru a thousand hoops just to get to try to spend a little down time.
This Steam thing probably installed a ton of spyware on top of forcing me to give all type of info.
Finally they ask for sometype of CD code —- don’t tell you where to find it and won’t let you at the game till you give these nonexsisting numbers.
So my answer was to uninstall the game put it back in the box and return it to the store.
I will no longer buy any games that have the “Sierra” or Especillaly the “Valve” Trade mark on them.
Bill from Elma
January 4, 2005 at 1:10 pm #29325
first of all the steam registration is very anoying but it is the only solution against piracy.
Because it is also anoying when you buy you copy of half life 2 for 50 euros and your friends buy it with 5.
as for the code ,in the standard edition of half life 2 it is in the dvd case just above the dvd
January 4, 2005 at 2:03 pm #29326
“the steam registration is very anoying but it is the only solution against piracy”
Hmm, I don’t know anything about Steam, but I am continually surprised at the things companies do to try to prevent piracy (not just video games, also videos, music CDs, etc). It takes weeks or months for the company to devise a new system against piracy, and it takes a day for a hacker to crack it and spread it around. Anti-piracy schemes only make it more annoying for the legitimate user to use the product, and the cost of developing such schemes is of course passed onto the market price as well. In today’s saavy-technology world, anti-piracy schemes stop very few people who have the intent to pirate something.
I don’t mean to go off-topic, but I am intersted in the subject because of what some major labels are doing to music CDs these days. They use a scheme called “copy control” to prevent ordinary ripping software from making MP3s of the CDs. Not only that, but you have to install software on your computer to play them in your computer CD drive. Well I use my iRiver MP3 player as my main listening device and I copy my legitimately-bought CDs onto my computer, then to the player, so I can listen to them. I don’t share these MP3s after I’ve copied them. Well, it took me a couple hours but soon I found software and certain settings to be able to copy these CDs just so that I can listen to them. I don’t have a regular stereo, and I’m not about to install more junk software onto my computer. Philips told these labels they cannot display the CD logo on these CDs or the cases they come in, because these CDs do not meet Philips’ specs, and I think that’s pretty cool that Philips is standing up to this ridiculous stuff. If you have one of these CDs, look inside the case on the part that holds the CD, where there are usually two CD logos, and there won’t be any!
Here’s another interesting one. I saw in a Gameboy Advance cartridge manual the other day a copyright notice that said, you may not make a copy of this product for any reason, including for backup purposes, basically, it is not legitimate to make a copy for backup purposes and it said something to the effect of “there is no reason to make a backup copy.” Presumably if my cartridge fails, they will replace it. I don’t know what the legal on this is, but what if my game fails in 10 years. Nintendo is not going to replace it then.
Well, rant over. By the way, I in no way condone piracy. As a legitimate user I am just disgusted, like you, at this kind of stuff.
January 5, 2005 at 10:46 am #29327
i have a cool nintendo story about this from back in the good old days of the super nintendo. i think it was about 95, right before the nintendo 64 came out. anyway, i was playing my copy of zelda for the snes and got a little NEStalgic, so i decided to break out the old nes and play zelda 1. it took me some time to find everything, and when i finally hooked it up, zelda didnt work. every other game i had worked, so it was obviously just the zelda game pak. i was not happy to say the least, one of my favorite games of all time and its also not being sold anymore. this was before ebay, or at least before i had the internet and knew about ebay. i was talking about it to everyone and my grandpa finally recommended that i write nintendo about it and see what they would do. so i did. i wish i would have kept the letter i got back, but it has gotten lost over time. basically it said that they were sorry about the problem and instructed me to send it to them and they would see what they could do. so i did, and in about a month i got a box back from nintendo with my same copy of zelda in it, but now it worked. im not sure what they did, but im pretty sure they just replaced the battery in it. back then i didnt know they had batteries in the paks. but anyway, thats pretty good customer service considering that my copy of zelda was from the first year it came out, which i think was 86. so that was close to ten years later. i can only hope that they still are that good to their customers. i dont know if they would have replaced it though if it couldnt be repaired. who knows.
im with you about the lengths that companies are going to stop piracy. with all that extra dev time it just jacks up the cost, and the good pirates are just going to crack it by the end of the week it was released anyway. i dont know of any major release that hasnt been cracked. i guess it does stop the consumers from just giving each other disks and intstalling them freely (like everyone used to do with windows!). the average consumer probably doesnt know that there is an entire legion of underground programmers working on cracks for software. also, that is really cool about philips and the cd logo thing. im glad they are stepping up.
January 7, 2005 at 4:02 am #29328
There seems to be quite a bit of dissappointment going around regarding Half-life 2. Among the gamers I know, people are definitely growing more and more despondent with the state of computer gaming in general. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing – the sooner people refuse to put up with the crap that gets published nowadays, the better. (I spent hours last night playing Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition on my DOS PC and had a lot more fun than I’ve had in years with a FPS.)
Regarding piracy (and the general rise in acceptance of corrupt and/or unethical/immoral lifestyles), I do believe it’s a problem with mindset. And not just the mindset of a single person or group of people. It’s a societal problem. Ethics and morals just aren’t as highly prized as they once were. And (forgive me for saying this) I reckon this is an American cultural thing. The ruling American value of “win at any cost” (regardless of the context in which you’re competing) really isn’t working. And couple this with the focus and promotion of so-called “individualism” (really just a “me first” attitude) and you’re pretty much on a path of self-destruction. And the sad thing is, thanks to globalisation were all being subjected to (and influenced by) the same.
January 9, 2005 at 9:47 pm #29329
I have to say that Half-Life 2 is a great game. Unless you have an illegal copy of course…
The graphics engine is amazing, the story has me interested, the puzzles are fun, and there is plenty of action to satisfy anyone who enjoys first person shooters.
That said, you have to consider the brief annoyance of installing another software program (Steam) in order to play the game. For me and most of the people who purchased a legitimate copy, that is fine. Steam does not “download tons of spyware to your computer” and it is actually a pretty cool device for downloading additional content such as the Source SDK. It is also a clever way for Valve to circumvent Vivendi in getting the game to their customers. I bought a boxed copy of the game for nostalgia’s sake. I like to have the physical product in my hands, plus it might be one of the few games left to have the Sierra brand on it. If it weren’t for that I would have downloaded it from Steam.
Half-Life 2 is a great game in the same vein as the original Half-Life. I don’t understand the “disappointment” that is being discussed here. The only thing I was disgusted with was the incredibly drawn out release that this game had. Let me also say that I enjoy computer games and video games. I am not devoted to a particular genre. I’m sure many people equate the rise of shooting games with the death of adventure games. This has created a bias and resentment that is sometimes evident on these forums. Since I can not agree with hating a type of game for its perceived effect on other types of games, and since I have a legitimate copy of this great game I will continue to play through Half-Life 2 and enjoy every minute of it (and download more mods from Steam).
January 10, 2005 at 12:12 pm #29330
I concur with Danny’s assesment of Half-Life 2. He hit the nail on the head. Like Sierra games of the past, which we celebrate here, this is a landmark acheivment in gaming technology and story-telling. The graphics far surpass any other engine out today, including anything from id or Activision. Most importantly, it displays the Sierra name quite prominently, I might add. Yes, the Steam issue can be annoying, but I can live with it.
Yes, yes, I know it is not a Kings’ Quest or Leisure Suit Larry, etc, I love those games as much as the next person hear, but we need to realize gaming genre’s change from time to time. Remember Half-Life 1 was an important part of the “Good ‘Ol Sierra” history and I for one am glad to see its name contune on a very important impact game of today.
January 10, 2005 at 12:35 pm #29331
“but we need to realize gaming genre’s change from time to time.”
I disagree. There have always been action games, strategy games, RPG games, adventure games, etc. Now there aren’t adventure games, but still every other type of game.
January 11, 2005 at 4:35 am #29332
All I’m saying is that the general feeling about Half-life 2 (outside of the dedicated gaming press) is one of dissappointment. Sure, the game may have been upgraded in the areas of graphics and sound, but it’s still the same stilted gameplay.
As with Half-life 1, the player is still following an ultra-linear thread, leading him/her from one big scene to the next. It even has the same “cheesy late night sci-fi movie” atmosphere of the first one.
The problem, in my opinion, started when the games industry somehow added the word “cinematic” to its vocabulary. Since then we’ve been seeing more and more games trying to be more movie-like and less worrying about the actual gameplay (or level of involvement).
Adventure games are in their very essence NOT cinematic, and rather more novel-like. And you’ll notice that the decline of the adventure game coincided with the games industry striving to produce more cinematic gameplay.
But anyway, to each his own. I would simply suggest that people do not relegate past games to history so easily. Many (most?) classic games were released years before Half-life 1, and I would love for people to go back and rediscover them. Which I guess is what this site is all about (at least to a large extent).
January 12, 2005 at 11:40 pm #29333
Agreed. Real, quality adventure games are simply not being made right now. Anyone who says the genre just evolved into something slightly different is trying to sell you… something VERY different. The genre may get jump started again sometime in the future when the average intelligence of the gaming community rises back to where it once was, but until then be very wary of anyone trying to sell an adventure, action-adventure, adventure-action, etc. game.
As for DRM (Digital Rights Managment) and Steam, this is absolutely terrible. I cannot play my legit copy of Half-Life 2 because I do not have an internet connection at home. I pre-ordered the game before they announced that an internet connection would be required for a single player game. I will NEVER EVER buy a game/movie/music that uses a DRM scheme ever again. The only way to stop this nonsense is to completely boycott any product that attempts to use such a scheme. DVDs, games, anything. How would you like it if you wanted to take a stroll down memory lane in ten years and show your kid Half-Life 2 only to find out that the company went out of business and the servers for product validation no longer exist? If I purchase software, I want to be able to use it on my terms, not someone elses.
As to what Nintendo says about the legality of backups. I would guarantee that if you sent NOA an email stating: “hey, yeah , I just wanted to let you guys know that I ripped one of your carts for backup purposes in case my cart is destroyed at some point in the future” and attached your name, address, phone number, social security number, and every other piece of unique information that should lead them straight to your door that they would do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. You would never ever in a million years get a response. Do you know why? Because the legality of backups is completely questionable. In fact, everything to date would suggest that they are completely within our rights. (VHS VCR Battles) The last thing any media company wants is to go into a trial that might define some more rigid and recent consumer rights. What if the courts decided in our favor and even decided that efforts to prevent backups were infringing on the consumers’ rights? I can tell you that would absolutely devastate current piracy deterrants with game companies. Safedisc, the prominent copy protection scheme and pretty much the only thing stopping simple duplication, would likely be stopped and piracy would become much more prevalent.
January 19, 2005 at 12:27 am #29334
I guess I’ll weigh in.
Ah, Steam. There are things to both like and hate about it. What makes me like it is that it gives a small publisher like Valve the ability to go right over the head of the nefarious Vivendi and bring their games straight to the end user. No box, no media, no middleman, no problem. I have a strong feeling that this is the future of how not just games, but all media, will be distributed. Using delivery methods like this makes it possible to break the monotonous grip that EA, Vivendi, the RIAA, and the MPAA has on their respective industries.
There are a couple of caveats, however. Let’s talk about Steam, first. Steam activation works by registering an account and then inputting the serial numbers of products you have purchased. The two options for purchasing Half Life 2 was either getting it directly through Steam, or buying the CDs retail and installing them. Both items need the serials put into Steam to unlock them. If you bought through Steam, the software would be downloaded to your hard disk. But what got me is that even though I bought the CDs, not only did the game require me to have CD1 in my drive AND Steam in order to play, but after the initial installation it also spent about 30 mins downloaded 250MB of god-knows-what from Steam even though I had done a full install off of the discs!
Needless to say I found this quite annoying, and it leads into the first caveat. Steam basically wrests control that historically belonged to the end user and gives it to the publisher. Shortly after Half-Life 2 was released, many people bought it for the $50 or so they were asking. There was a group of Steam users, numbering about 20,000 IIRC, who purchased HL2 legitimately but attempted to input serial keys they found on the Internet to gain access to products that didn’t belong to them. Valve went through their system and deleted all of their accounts one day. You know what Valve told them? “Guess what, guys, you have to buy the game again”. I’m sure even those with legitimate appeals were lost in the noise from that action. All of this got me thinking about a hypothetical scenario: Let’s say you buy $150 worth of software from Valve, and your little brother puts in a stolen key and the result is that your account gets nuked. What happens is ALL OF YOUR PURCHASES ARE INVALIDATED. And then Valve tell you to buy the game again, even though they have your money from your previous purchases? Now, I hate having to lug around my original discs with me, so I will install a nocd crack on the game so my system doesn’t bother me asking for for the disc. Needless to say, I did not dare try to put a nocd crack on HL2 for fear that the same thing would happen to me, and that’s total BS.
And what about 10 years from now when I want to give Half Life 2 another spin? Hey I still play KQ1 through now and again and that game is more than 20 years old. Somehow I doubt it will be very easy to get HL2 working again after the same amount of time has passed.
There is of course the argument that the software companies are forced into this position because of widespread piracy. Maybe so, but I heard that Half-Life 2 made it into piracy circles within 2 weeks. So, DRM fails again, and the users are treated like criminals while the pirates play without restriction.
Now for the second caveat, and that’s the price point. What sucked is that I paid less for my copy of HL2 ($42 on price match from Best Buy) than anyone who bought the game through Steam. Now come on, you get no media, Valve doesn’t have to pay a distributor their cut, and they’re still charging full pop? For online distribution to be successful, content creators have to be more fair with pricing. Fair pricing is what will limit piracy, NOT DRM. I wish everyone would get that through their heads.
One last point, which relates to some of the contents of the posts in this thread. Half Life 2 is not a Sierra release. Valve is the game creator. Sierra (which is owned by Vivendi and has since been disolved) is merely the label HL2 was distributed under.
January 19, 2005 at 2:05 pm #29335
Great post, Chris!
What I find most confounding is how in the world Valve figured their system of forced registration would deter piracy? Especially coupled with the numbing download. The very idea of having to register software Microsoft-style before I can use it just makes me feel so powerless and alienated.
I’ve stated before that in my opinion software piracy (like many other illegal activities) ties into a lack of ethics, which is in turn directly related to the “lawlessness is cool” line of thinking being propagated through the media including many games like the NFS: Underground and GTA franchises. (You reap what you sow, eh game makers?)
I don’t believe in piracy, and I’d rather wait till a game is available on discount or I’ll buy it second-hand. However, I don’t plan on buying Half-life 2 (have played it on someone else’s pc however).
And yeah, post-Williams Sierra is dead. Luckily classic Sierra has managed to survive and lives on in the hearts and minds of all of us.
And now 3DRealms, the time is right, release Duke Nukem Forever! (And without any anti-piracy measures. Show us legitimate users that you respect us!)
January 19, 2005 at 3:58 pm #29336
“And now 3DRealms, the time is right, release Duke Nukem Forever!”
i wish they finally would too, but sadly i am one of the non-believers that thinks DNF is never going to happen, and if by some chance it does, how could it even come close to living up to what people expect of it. almost a decade now of developement time? i think that shows right there that 3d realms doesnt have much respect for the fans at all. its kind of sad too, because if it does get released, it will sell, and it will give 3d realms the idea that a new duke pc game per decade is ok, and its not. could you imagine waiting that long for a sierra sequel back when sierra was owned by ken? i know we are all waiting for new ones now :). im not trying to start a duke war or anything, i was just so supprised to see anyone mention DNF. its been so long since i had thought about it.
i totally agree with you about piracy and a lack of ethics. ethics seem to be something that is quickly fading away in todays society. im only 25 years old and i can already complain about the younger peoples ethical problems, thats pretty sad. the internet has brought piracy to such an acceptable status for so many people. i wonder if people sit back and think of the time and energy it takes developers and musicians to get new product out to the people. or is it more of an impulse? do they just see the link for a free song or program and say “wow, its free” and click it without thinking it through? piracy bother me so much. i think i am the only person i know who actually convinced his parents to BUY the new versions of DOS back in the day instead of just copying them. and the thought of copying sierra games was insane since you would miss out on the really cool packaging and extras. sorry for babbling about this, it is just one of things that annoy me the most.
i am also one who almost always waits until software is bargain priced to play it. the only pc game i have purchased full priced in the last 2 years was the new remake of Sid Meyers Pirates! and only because i already knew it would be a great game.
as for half life 2, i dont like what i hear, so i wont even get it later on when its cheap. im glad that you all have been discussing it, because i was thinking of purchasing it. i had no idea the downloadable copy is full price, that is insane. it should be at least 39.99, if not 29.99. the game industry has become just another business to make money. there are only a few people in it now that care about the gamers. thats too bad.
January 19, 2005 at 10:16 pm #29337
I think we can all pretty much forget about Duke Nukem Forever. The demos may have looked impressive at the time, but the rest of the industry has been there and done that a dozen times over. Half-Life 2 has the most impressive engine I’ve ever seen. The game was technically superior but IMHO it was just a fun tech demo. What will be really impressive are the games that will come out running on its engine.
I forgot to mention one other thing about Steam: Accounts or games within accounts are _NOT_ transferrable. That means if I’m done with HL2 and I want to sell it, I can forget it. So much for the right of first sale.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine) Isn’t it interesting how content providers only follow copyright laws when it’s convenient for them? That leads us to the subject of piracy.
I’m not completely sure piracy has everything to do with ethics. As everyone knows, lately it has been more rampant than ever because broadband is widely avalable. Before, casual piracy was kept mostly in check by the lack of a distribution system that anyone could use. But now, with broadband and p2p programs everywhere, that has changed. The problem now is that content providers are refusing to change with the times, and instead of adopting new and innovative ways to get payment for their creations, they attempt to change the laws and criminalize casual piracy to the point where actual prison time is involved while clinging to the old ways. There is an old Chinese saying that goes “The more laws and regulations there are, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”
The reality is that people are no longer interested in paying $20 for an audio CD with 14 fluff songs and the one good one they want to hear. Instead they hit Kazaa, or what have you. They are not interested in buying a $50 game that sucks or can’t even play and then having the software vendor refuse to refund their money because of the practically universal open-box policies they have. They are tired of being told they are not allowed to make backups, that they are not allowed to play their music or DVDs off of a duplicate in order to protect their originals. Jack Valenti, the head of the MPAA, insists that when you buy media you get a license to the content and are not buying the media itself. However, in the same breath he also says that if the media is damaged or destroyed you have to buy a new copy. Software is no different. Read your EULA sometime. It says the same thing, but have you ever tried to get replacement media when your originals have been damaged? Software companies are exactly the same way, and it perfectly illustates the duplicity of content providers.
The end of the story is that the only people nowadays who have the control granted to them under US copyright law over media they have legitimatly purchased are those who the industry considers “pirates”, or violators of the DMCA.
In light of all of this, the reason casual piracy exists the way it does today goes far beyond simple ethics:
1) It’s more convenient than buying the product legitimately
2) Content is bundled with other things end users don’t wish to pay for (audio CDs)
3) An act of rebellion against a power grab by content providers
4) Seeking replacement of damaged originals
5) Content is overpriced
IMHO, Combating piracy can be done in the following ways
1) Set reasonable prices for content
2) If content is damaged or destroyed, allow easy and hassle-free replacement
3) Allow the user to make backups
4) Ensure content will continue to be accessible in the event provider goes out of business
5) Allow content to be transferrable.
Obviously, in order to allow these things, and in fairness to the content providers, a form of DRM would have to be implemented, but not the sort that would allow the provider to arbitrarily yank your access from the content you paid for, as is possible with Steam. Put simply, a balance must be struck between the interests of the end user and those of the content provider. I think Apple’s iTunes service is a step in the right direction. It’s not perfect, of course, but with time it will be far more acceptable than current methods of content distribition.
January 21, 2005 at 5:44 pm #29338
Just a bit on the copyright laws:
“Multipurpose devices, such as a general computer or a CD-ROM drive, are not covered by the AHRA. This means that they are not required to pay royalties or incorporate SCMS protections. It also means, however, that neither manufacturers of the devices, nor the consumers who use them, receive immunity from suit for copyright infringement.”
Straight from the copyright laws section. In short, any non-computer related item must have built in criteria to prevent copying from a copy. Any other item, such as a pc cd-r doesn’t. But if a cd is copied using a pc, then not only is the consumer liable, but so is the manufacturer of the device which did the copying. IE. If they want to limit illegal copying, all they need to do is start going to the true source, the devices they sell cheap enough to make copying valid, and make those devices unable to copy more than the original, as any other commerical copying device is required to be. In a very abstract sense, it could be deemed that not only the cd-r is responsible, but the entire computer system as well as the drives copied from and to are equally liable for any copying performed if it is found to be illegal, and are able to be held accountable in a court of law. (It specifically states computers or devices).
The moral? If you are illegally copying stuff (Which I don’t, so please don’t read more into it than is meant) and are arrested, you can take (compaq, hp, so on, so forth for your computer), amd/intel (processor for the computer), sony/plextor (or whatever drives you have) all to court as part of the settlement cost. So the final moral? The law should be addendumed to remove the capability of generating “said illegal copies” from pc’s as well as from all those other fun devices. Although I agree that there should be “free replacements” for defective material after such. Back in the c64 days, I copied everything and played off the copies, disks just didn’t last long enough. Copy dies (not uncommon) make another copy and continue, keeping the orignal stored savely away.
PS: I wonder if I am violating copyright infringement by copying this from the copyright laws page?