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Comic 50 - I'm...Alexstrasza?

29th Oct 2011, 11:39 PM
I'm...Alexstrasza?
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Author Notes:

Clef 29th Oct 2011, 11:39 PM edit delete
Clef
Greetings again, all!

I still consider Warcraft 3 to be my all time favorite game, mainly because if it's incredibly versatile world editor that pretty much allows you to make any kind of game you want. I've built dozens upon dozens of maps for it and enjoyed playing them all as well as all the other creations people had made over the years. Pretty much gives the game infinite replay value. I always fantasized that WoW would not be the conclusion of the franchise and that Blizzard would someday make a "Warcraft 4" RTS so I could do more of the same, just with a better graphics engine and higher quality models. However given Blizzard's new approach to Digital Rights Management (DRM), I would guess that it would probably be either subscription based, or require a permanent internet connection just to play single player by yourself. The way things are going, I'm pretty much done with Blizzard games I think.

I happily paid my WoW subscription because I know their servers aren't cheap, and the game is not balanced for single player play as well as it's obvious and well-advertised objective of being a social activity as well as a game. (there's only so much you can do by yourself). For both SC2 and D3 that is not the case. Those both have extensive single player campaigns, yet still require internet and/or subscriptions just to play them. I find no reason for that, other then their attempt to combat piracy, but I still feel that it hurts the fans to deny LAN support or offline play.

I mean, D2 allowed players to create separate profiles, one for online (closed b.net) and one for offline (open b.net). Why can't they just re-use that same model?

The argument in defense is that when people are on their computers, are they not permanently connected to the internet all the same time anyway? So why does it matter?

It's the premise of it. If I buy a single player game, I should be allowed to play it whether I'm online or not. I don't own a PSP or anything- I use my laptop as my portable gaming device when I'm on the road or traveling. Because of that, when I shop SINGLE PLAYER (compatible) PC games, I immediately pass over anything that says "permanent internet connection required" for the simple fact that I wouldn't be able to actually PLAY them. I won't even give them consideration, as they do not give consideration to their consumers. All the court cases Blizz has fought against mod developers has pretty much spelled out "you don't own the game when you buy it, you just buy the LICENSE to play it." I feel that is just a shitty new attitude in the gaming industry.

This is why I love smaller game producers and doujin developers- people, who build and produce games more or less from their own love of gaming, and have not yet been consumed by this nonsense. Some of the funnest games I've ever played have been build by a small handful of people. Hence, why like many others, I'm awaiting titles like Torchlight 2 instead of Diablo 3.

Obviously it's not just blizz doing this. Many other companies are doing the same. Which to me feels like the downfall of PC gaming.

Currently you can go online and play Xbox360 games on Xbox Live. Will the next microsoft game system require a Live account and permanent connection just to play games single player? Would you still get the next system if that was the case?

Exit question: How do YOU feel about Blizzard's new approach to DRM? It is reasonable countermeasure against piracy? Or do you feel it shuts out too many potential customers to be worth it? Or something else?

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Comments:

nagbabato 30th Oct 2011, 12:47 AM edit delete reply
I think that while a good countermeasure against piracy, Blizz's approach does shut out players. I mean, my cousins and I enjoyed StarCraft, and we were stoked to play SC2. Unfortunately, it required a subscription, and the rest is history.
Random Lurker #42 30th Oct 2011, 12:57 AM edit delete reply
I'm biased against DRM after all the crap I've seen corporations pull to combat Piracy. SC2's DRM was some of the worst I've seen, so I refuse to buy it. If I ever play it, it'll either be as a friend's copy or a cracked ISO. It restricts the legitimate user, and really does nothing to the crowd who didn't buy it in the first place.

I make mods like crazy for games I own and this latest stuff is just really annoying. If I can't mod it, I won't buy it to begin with as I just won't get much out of it.

Off topic, but does anyone else think the Panda's are Blizzards way of saying "Can we make a different game now?"
Clef 30th Oct 2011, 1:14 AM edit delete reply
Clef
I think it was them more poking fun at China for not renewing to host official WoW servers . (Or did that ever get resolved? I know all the Chinese players had to move to Taiwan servers for a while...)

Fromm what I understand, the only reason Pandarans didn't make appearances earlier was because China had a law against killing Pandas...even in video games.
Halbor 30th Oct 2011, 2:39 PM edit delete reply
Chris Metzen apparently stated at Blizzcon this last week that they had actually wanted to have the Pandaren as the new alliance race for Burning Crusade but after some consideration that just couldn't think of how to fit them into that story lore-wise so we got Draenei instead. Now they're able to build an entire expansion around the race.
Dajakisubo 30th Oct 2011, 1:12 AM edit delete reply
Their new approach doesn't particularly bother me personally, but I completely understand why it bothers others. I have SC2, and I'm getting D3, but I do think I would prefer the option to go offline.

It's more annoying with D3 though... SC2 you could play single player offline, even if you couldn't do achievements or multiplayer, so you weren't completely shut out. D3 if you can't be online, you can't do anything... but while I find it annoying, I don't find it annoying enough to not play.
Wurgel 30th Oct 2011, 2:57 AM edit delete reply
I see 2 big problems with DRM:
1. it excludes gamer, that dont have an internetconection 24/7 wherever they are
2. It Disallows the usage on LAN-Parties. While its ture, that games are shared on them, these parties work far more as Adverticments. If the gamer like the game, they will buy it after the party to play it online/with friend at normal days.
Seph 30th Oct 2011, 3:27 AM edit delete reply
I never really gave it much thought, but now that i think about it, i don't really like the idea of requiring a permanent internet connection or a subscription for single player games. in regards to myself, i mostly play games for the campaign mode/story line.
For me and my family, when we got a strategy game (Like Age of Empires, Starcraft, etc), we only had one CD, but we shared the CD. We would create our own profiles and play the campaigns or custom games. Plus, we would link up our computers and play games with each other and computer players (we only needed 1 CD for it to work with some of the games).
Now, i understand that not everyone will follow the rules, and probably will get/use games illegally, but some of blizzards current methods do get to me. When my older brother got the SC2 game, i was surprised that it only hosts 1 user profile (the blizzard one) and 3 guest profile. I ended up using the guest profile, but i was rather bugged that i was playing as "guest 1" and that i could only get on when i logged onto his profile and we couldn't play with each other due to being on the "same account" (also, my brudda has that WoW number Lock thing, so i had to either wait for him to be around so i can log on, or pay $50 to play the exact same game he plays (kind've like buying an extra TV so that i can watch the same show he is)).
Lastly (I'll wrap this comment up), there is also the added problems that *will* come up with blizzard's methods. For example, if simple single-player games like SC2 requires us to log onto the main server to play, what happens if/when Blizzard goes out of business (for it will one day go out of business) or switches to a different connection method (like moving from dial-up to broadband or something like that)? People will end up having a game they can't log onto which will become useless due to slightly more efficient technology. Is it worth it in the end?
(Once again, sorry for wall-of-text. i know your usually lenient regarding big chunks of text, but i'll keep it shorter in the future. Also, exit question to webauthor: what your opinion regarding the pandaren Choose-your-own-faction feature?)
Seph 30th Oct 2011, 3:28 AM edit delete reply
Ack! sorry! that looks like a mess!
Thisguy 30th Oct 2011, 7:09 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, the whole compoulsary net connection thing really annoys me, MMORPGS are fine, but solo games like SC2?

Up until 3 years ago I didnt have broadband internet, and even now i'm in an area which can only get sattelite broadband, which gives me huge latency issues on wow (if i wasnt a mage who can spam 1 button, my dps would be crap).

What also annoys me is that not only do u have to connect for SC2, you have to update, whereas previously u could still play one player without updates, and since it takes about 10GB to download, (and sattelite broadband doenst really accomodate for such large downloads) I cant even play SC2 oneplayer.

Anyway, todays comic, lol, love Talia (as always) can't wait to see how this plays out. Ysera wears a thong too, though I dount Jose really cares about that. Of course, as WoW EH? once asked "why does Alextrazza wear a metal thong?" Answer, was degined by men for a teenaged male audience :P
Phboy 30th Oct 2011, 8:14 AM edit delete reply
Haha , love Kleeyos expression in the ninth panel ;D
Firemage 30th Oct 2011, 8:25 AM edit delete reply
I don't care for the "always on" part of SC2 and D3, but i find it far easier to get along with than some of the other DRM set ups. Personally my favorite DRM set up is that of Stardock, where the game lacks a check key but you need to use their Keyed client to get any sort of updates, and then they keep a nice set of update coming over the cycle of the game. Only reason i don't play Sins of a Solar empire more often is the simple time it takes to finish a game 2+ hours for a short game.

-G
Guest 30th Oct 2011, 10:20 AM edit delete reply
Ah the memories of the Warcraft 3 world editor...how much fun we had with that. Now unfortunately I've forgotten how to use it..

Needing an Internet connection to play a game is something I strongly disagree with. I even made a comic about it once:
http://usagi-zakura.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d4b3mim
TheStratovarian 30th Oct 2011, 1:10 PM edit delete reply
A great chuckle at the comic, but with the drm issues, I feel it really started about the ubisoft era of the pc creed games. Blizzard seemed to look at the drm, or activision, whichever of them, and hmm'ed. Then went about adapting what they could that monopolized the hold. With ubisofts drm, it kicked you out of the game when you lost that 100% uptime connection, blizzard can reconnect. I can hope more games if they are going to a drm, take steam, despite many naysayers voice, it isnt that bad, especially compared to other things, (Origin or blizzard) and I've heard some horror stories for sc2 that people have been locked out of the game for inactivity on it and had to re-buy the game. It is very intrusive drm, but without a means to effectively break its hold, even if you dont buy it as a boycott, others still do, because of what the franchise is attached too, so its a danged if you do, danged if you dont situation. I can hope d3 will manage other servers or even just manage item hacking duping, just because it will be a way to break the hold on that market and force blizzard to either alienate the player base, or make the drm less intrusive with rewards to show and report these hacked items as they had them in the one before this. I dont wish the items to stay, but as a statement that blizzard needs to loosen the choke hold.
Nightwill 30th Oct 2011, 10:06 PM edit delete reply
Over at the Extra Credits show where they talk about game issues they had a great line. "Pirates should never be able to provide a better version of your game than you can." What constant DRM means is pirates can break it and make the game single player and undeniably better doing so.

We still have SC2 LAN parties 1-2 times a month at a friends house. We were excited about SC3 right up to the DRM announcement (the dick move of releasing one game in 3 parts would of made up mad but I bet we would of bought it anyway without it).

As a point Blizzard is Activision and Activision is blizzard. Coporate structures being what they are you cant claim they are sepperated. You can see it in how blizzard constantly pushes shoddy products while claimign their ready.
Robert 31st Oct 2011, 3:59 AM edit delete reply
Personally, I agree with you. There are times when I just want to play a game, by myself, without all the worries about internet connection/friends/etc.
There are a number of other reasons to support those kind of games. Sometimes networks go down. Some people still can't get super great internet. Games online tend to crash a bit more (WoW is fairly DC heavy, even by MMO standards... and can't see that changing with D3). Traveling (as you mentioned).
Yeah, I think it's a pretty hardcore failure in terms of DRM. I'd rather have to use a key-code, or a one time registration on install and an account to control that, etc.
I guess that's part of why I love certain games, and even the few shareware companies around still. You don't have to be online to play the games (and you don't miss it). Online is fun sometimes... but it should never be the only option for anything other than an MMO.
George 31st Oct 2011, 5:24 AM edit delete reply
To me, there's a line between "justifiable loss prevention" and "overdone BS", and what Blizzard did for SC2 and D3 crosses it two different ways- by eliminating even single-player access in some scenarios and by requiring payment for that kind of content.
As far as modding is concerned, I feel like there is some justification for the legal principle Blizzard used because if you owned the game, I'm pretty sure Blizzard couldn't take it away from you like they basically do with account bans. However, turning it against people who don't earn a permaban and don't create a mod that does something that would earn players a permaban is really shitty behavior from a company that should be big enough to ignore them.

As for the general state of gaming, I think there will never be a "downfall" of any kind of gaming simply because that's a golden opportunity for new companies or savvier older companies to enter/reenter/regain dominance in the market, just by being the only people whose only priority is making a good game. However, a temporary dip in game quality is a sadly realistic prospect as those opportunists won't come out of a vacuum.
varsaigen 1st Nov 2011, 7:28 AM edit delete reply
Honestly, I agree with you. Constantly having the game verify whether it is a legal copy can make it time consuming for the player, and there have been cases where legit games were marked as frauds by the system.

And personally, having to log in to Battle.net, or have an internet connection just to play offline is rediculous. I think they will lose a lot of players, even potential players that way.
Voldaren 2nd Nov 2011, 11:04 AM edit delete reply
I don't know why people leave long comments, they hurt my brain, any way I just can't wait to see Kleeyo in a bikini xD and to see all this unravel for all to see!
Clef 2nd Nov 2011, 10:32 PM edit delete reply
Clef
Nothing wrong with long comments. People come here to read the comic, I come back to read the comments. Its a mutual exchange :)
Kris 4th Nov 2011, 12:14 AM edit delete reply
Since it's my first time posting here lemme start by giving kudos where it's due: This comic rocks! I've seen plenty of other wow-related comics but this is the one I keep

going back to the most to see what's next.

As for DRM, I can understand why Bliz is doing what it's doing, and I would be very surprised if it didn't get even more restrictive in time. I'll explain from two points of

view.....

From the view of the immoral gamer: when I was younger and all the way up until a few years ago I worked with scores of games, from old DOS titles like Starflight, Descent,

and the original C&C all the way up till now -- I just didn't pay for many of them. There was a group of us that played these games together; if we had to play online and

couldn't run our own server we would pay of course, but otherwise if we could make it work we were happy to go the extra steps to crack the games and make them run without a

dime spent. At first it was simply because we either did it that way or didn't play (no money), but later when DRM started getting more complicated it became more of a

challenge; I can remember learning the in's and out's of iSCSI, setting up an iSCSI server in another room via Alcohol 120, and physically disconnecting my DVD writer just to

defeat the DRM and play GRAW -- then I only played it maybe a half dozen times. I was initially turned off by MMO's like WoW because there wasn't really any way to get around

paying without changing the game experience. There were private servers, sure, but it wasn't the same. Needless to say someone eventually convinced me to check out MMO's;

first LOTRO, then over time migrating over to WoW.

Now from the prospective of a programmer and business major: now that I'm on the other side and I find myself actually coding my own stuff from time to time, I've learned the

value of what goes into one of these games, and though I will still go out and crack something from time to time in order to test it (I refuse to just up and buy something

without testing it first -- some companies still don't get that), I will most definitely pay for it if I intend to do anything other than just testing. I still softmod my

consoles, but now it's about being able to play copies of the games I have actually bought, so my kids don't destroy the original discs. In business it's no secret that it's

about the profit, and part of that is cost-benefit analysis: with conventional DRM software companies will typically (and in many cases correctly) forecast their purchase rate

at 5-8%, meaning that out of every 100 people using their product only 5-8 people actually paid for it. There are some ways to offset that, like for example selling ads to be

displayed in their product, but the most effective way to deal with it is to find a way to ensure a higher purchase rate. MMO's and other online subscription based services

showed developers a way to do just that: by requiring that gamers be online no matter what they make it harder for others to circumvent their system. Granted, methods like

those used with D3 will alienate a percentage, and obviously there are those who will still find a way and play for free, but obviously it'll make Blizzard more money that

it'll lose, otherwise they wouldn't be going ahead with it. If you make it difficult enough to raise your purchase rate to 10-16% you just doubled your revenue, on top of ads

and other methods. Bottom line: it isn't going away any time soon. In fact, expect it to get even more locked down as time progresses.

One company everyone should be keeping their eye on with regard to DRM is Onlive. Right now it may not seem like much since there isn't many games available to it's

subscribers compared to other services like Steam (their monthly subscription covers just over 90 games currently, of varied quality), but it's a proof of concept that I can

guarantee other companies are watching closely! With Onlive, none of the games offered or played ever touch your PC; the only thing your system's doing is displaying and

allowing you to interact with what is processed somewhere else for you. Translation: complete lock down. If they ever find a way to eliminate the sluggish mouse response

time you can guarantee other companies will be jumping on that bandwagon!

Imagine if WoW for example going that route: you'd be able to play it in HD with any 5-year old laptop or even a console with a keyboard/mouse attached, since your system's

just the display, but any mods or addons would have to be specifically approved by Blizzard, added to their servers by them at the times of their choosing, and then set up in a

way to give you access to them -- on their terms. Want to change a sound file in an addon to something more to your liking? Tough! Developers would bend over backward to

support this type of business model; sure you're reducing their revenue per purchasing player drastically, but it will have increased their purchase rate to near 100%! And it

wouldn't stop at PC gaming: you think console makers won't jump at the opportunity to make more money off of consoles they could make for a fraction of what it's costing them

now?

As bad as current DRM seems to be for many, it can (and more than likely will) get a lot worse!
Kris 4th Nov 2011, 12:14 AM edit delete reply
Wow; last time I cut paste from notepad sorry
Clef 4th Nov 2011, 1:29 AM edit delete reply
Clef
Oh, I am well aware that it could be worse. I remember when Starforce installed Malware on your computer during installation as part of it's DRM to prevent your CD drive from physically ripping the CD...of course, it also prevented your drive from reading everything else afterward as well. Go figure.

I don't foresee Blizz going Onlive's route, because it would mean they would have to fork over the buck for all that hardware to allow WoW/D3/Sc2 to run at good settings for all those subscribers. They would certainly have to up the subscription cost to cover that, as servers are already expensive enough as it is let alone graphics hardware to go along with it.
Mr. D 5th Nov 2011, 7:12 PM edit delete reply
Keep up the awesome work, and you'll still have(less then awesome but still great) fans! =D
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