Anti-Piracy Gone Wrong

While I am against piracy in all forms of media I am just as much against most organizations that fight piracy. Most of the companies that fight piracy do not do it for the right reason and/or could handle how they fight it much more effectively.

A great example of how this is done incorrectly would be how there are several games that require uninterrupted internet access so they can connect to a server as a form of fighting piracy. This is an issue when you have a situation, such as the Playstation Network outage, where the user has no way of connecting to the server and therefore cannot play the game.

Another example would be how the RIAA filed a lawsuit against the creators of the Limewire client and settled outside of court for $105 million. This would be a great success if the creators of the content that was pirated would see any of the funds but they will none of it ( source at bottom). The RIAA plans to use all of the money won in the settlement to fund future anti-piracy campaigns.

One of the biggest problems with anti-piracy is the fact that fighting piracy sometimes breeds the piracy. While this sounds counterproductive it has been stated by many crackers, what most people consider hackers to be ( link at bottom explaining difference), they only try to break through anti-piracy software just to prove that making the software to fight piracy is pointless and ineffective. The Playstation Network outage is a great example of this as well. While it has not been stated as a reason it is possible that the purpose of the cracker's infiltration of the Playstation Network was to prove a point to Sony that it needed to protect the personal information of users more efficiently. Even if that reason is a long shot Sony having no firewall in place to protect their server was reason enough for any cracker to prove a point to Sony that it needed to do more than simply encrypt information ( source at bottom about the lack of a firewall).

Good Old Games (gog.com) is a company who has proven that fighting piracy is not the answer. Good Old Games is a website that takes old computer games that are out of print, updates them so they run on current computers and releases them at a low price for consumers with one noticeable different than most other direct download services. None of the games on the Good Old Games website have DRM software (digital rights management). While this may seem like a bad business decision it is easily one of important reason why Good Old Games is so successful. Rather than wasting time on developing DRM to protect their games from piracy once they finish one project they go right to the next. Even though this may mean that their games do get distributed on torrents and fileshare sites it is still a benefit as they are saving time and money that can be used to keep their release cycle steady rather than having to come up with new software once a cracker gets through their current DRM.

Not only does Good Old Games proved that the currently way of fighting piracy is unnecessary and ineffective it has also proven that by funding the fight against piracy, in the current manner that it is handled, is a waste of resources. That being said, something does need to be done to stop piracy however no current method, nor any past methods, of fighting piracy has been affective at doing more than alienating the people who are only trying to enjoy some form of entertainment.

RIAA lawsuit: http://torrentfreak.com/limewire-pays-riaa-105-million-artists-get-nothing-110513/
Cracker vs. hacker: http://www.redefineweird.com/articles/hacker-vs-cracker
Sony’s lack of firewall: http://www.businessinsider.com/playstation-network-disaster-key-parts-had-no-firewall-installed-2011-5

 (Edited due to advice given by user benjaebe. Thanks for the information)

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How to Make Multiplayer More Enjoyable for First Person Shooters

 

Nothing feels better in a first person shooter than getting online and having a great match. It is one of the most intense feelings to have 10 seconds left on the clock and be tied for kills with another person in a deathmatch. That sadly doesn't happen very often. More often than not when getting online in a first person shooter the skill variance between all the players in a single match can be vast. This degrades greatly from the overall enjoyment and can turn many players away from game.  Whether it is a player who logs in and easily defeats all of the other competitors without much hassle or a player who joins from the beginning and can never score a kill no one likes playing a multiplayer game where the other players are of a vastly different skill level. To remedy these issues I have several suggestions that could help alleviate some this issue.


Put a Ladders System in Place (Similar to Starcraft II)

With an accurate ladder system in place players would be to play against other players of a similar skill level. This is one idea that it surprising to not have been done yet. A ladder system alone would completely resolve the issue if implemented correctly. The ladder system could easily replace or work along with the standard leveling system to increase the enjoyment of a game. The most important aspect would be that all ranked matches would require all players in the match to be within the same ladder. Without that in place the ladder system would be irrelevant to the issue at hand. The developers would also need to create an unranked match setup where players from any ladder could play together so friends that may be in different ladders can still play with one another.


Implement Spectator Mode in More Games

It is a surprise here as well that this has not been adopted by more games. Even the games that do utilize it do not utilize it to its full potential. Along with adding the mode to more games there should also be a way to locate skilled players to watch, maybe in combination with the ladder system. It would be especially valuable if it was implemented with the ability to see multiple views at once via split screen as well as not having to view the match through same first person view as when playing. Another inclusion should be having the ability for the spectator to rewind mid-match so someone could watch how a player set up a kill shot. A rather important inclusion would be a more accurate mini-map that shows the precise location of all players or even a large map that can be pulled up to show where everyone is so finding players to watch would be easier. With a precise map in place a spectator could see where the best choke points are or know which players to study more closely.


Have a Mode Specifically for Beginners

One of the reasons there is such a vast difference in the skill level of players is that it is hard for a beginner to get acclimated to a game when the game has been out for a while. By the point a first person shooter has been out for 3 months more of the players online have had time to perfect their play style and any newcomers at that point will have a difficult time catching up. By having a mode specifically for beginners any game that has been out for duration of time can still be easy to pick up and play without feeling frustrated that everyone is on a completely different skill level. Beginners should not be forced to play beginner matches but players that have played more than a certain number of matches should not be allowed to play these matches in order for this to work.


Create Better Tutorials for Online Multiplayer

Games have tried but never succeeded in creating tutorials to help players get accustomed to online multiplayer. Many times a tutorial will cover useless knowledge or will only make the learning curve even steeper in some cases rather than giving information that will benefit the player. Maybe developers need to meet with pro gamers or watch more online gameplay in order to better understand what tutorials should cover to help players improve their skill but whatever it is they have been utilizing to build the current tutorials is not enough.


Better AI in Practice Matches

While it has been said before and will most likely be said again, we need better AI to practice against. The difference between a human player and AI is so drastically different that on most first person shooters all of the skills that are picked up on the single player campaign need to be quickly forgotten in order to succeed online. Maybe complex strategies cannot be programmed into AI or maybe developers need to learn more about human tendencies while online but what is currently available is insufficient. One way to possibly fix this would be to program AI to have a combination of a set of AI types rather than just each AI bot being one AI type. A good example of this would be that rather than an AI bot being an aggressive type or cautious type have the bot change between the AI types according to player interaction. If implemented correctly the AI should retreat while being attacked and attack while the opposition is retreat, and with a strategy AI type added into the mix it should work on flanking the player as well. While this would not perfectly match how a human would play combining three AI types or more would come closer than what is available now.


Make the Game More Beneficial to be Helpful (akin to the Half-Life 1 mod Natural Selection)

Another issue that makes it hard to learn to be good at online multiplayer after a game has been out for a while is that no one wants a new person on their team and usually will not try to assist someone who is less experienced.   Often if a new person joins an online match and is put on a team with more skilled the players that team will chastise , to put it lightly, the new player either until he leaves or until they leave. By having this type of gameplay where helping yourself is all you need to do in order to advance not only is it making for a more frustrating experience for new players but it is also creating a community that pushes even more people away. A way of fixing this is to make the gameplay require the experienced players to help the new players out. By giving the experienced players some sort of benefit for helping the new players or by making each player as beneficial to the team’s survival as possible or maybe even by adding something that no one has thought of yet adding an incentive to help new players could vastly change one of the worst aspects of multiplayer in first person shooters.


Any of these ideas could help online multiplayer on their own and combining them would greatly increase the enjoyment of a first person shooter. First person shooters with online multiplayer have become increasingly popular over the last several years and it is surprising that developers have not worked to make these games more approachable to news players over that time. Hopefully in the future they will utilize at least one of these ideas, or any others that will help, to make the multiplayer aspect first person shooters more approachable to players of different skill levels.

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Negative aspect of a one console world

 

While develops and some fans talk about how nice a one console world would be there are not enough people talking about the major negative impacts that would have on the video game industry. This will be about the largest negative impact, which would be removing the need for innovation.   There are various reasons a one console world would impact innovation and the following will show a few of them.

To begin with it would impact innovation due to the lack of competition. Why innovate if you don’t have competition? The main reason for innovation is to have a leg up on competition. Without someone to compete with there would be no reason to innovate. Sure making the console even closer to the performance of a computer would be something to work towards but that’s not innovation just evolution.   Another problem with the lack of competition would be the fact that if the manufacture of the one console did in fact innovate the consumer would not see that innovation until it was necessary for the manufacture to show it, such as another console coming into the market.

The second reason is actually more a part of the first reason as it still has to do with competition but on a different note. Without competition there would be a lack of direction in which to innovate. A good example of this would be like comparing the Xbox’s online functionality to what the Dreamcast offered. Sure the Dreamcast was innovative for having internet but the Xbox’s functionality and Xbox Live were really the innovative force that pushed consoles having online connectivity into the norm.   Maybe the Dreamcast having internet had no influence on the Xbox’s design but one could argue that if Microsoft had decided to leave out internet from the Xbox that the consoles we play today would be very different in their online experience. Peripherals would be another aspect that would suffer.   Imagine if Nintendo’s Gunpei Yokoi had not altered the original D-pad and shaped it into the cross appearance it has today. We might still be playing with joysticks or a D-pad that was far less functional than the ones we have currently.

Peripherals are also tied into the third reason as to why having only one console would impact innovation. What if the one console that did become the only console had a ground breaking technology that got non-gamers involved in games but also had the side effect of making certain games less fun. The Nintendo Wii’s controller is a good example of this because while the controller does add a new level of interactivity to games it also makes certain other games tedious and no longer fun to play. It will be a long time before motion controllers are able to handle a first person shoot well and even when that does happen it is unlikely the controller will be able to be used successfully for a fighting game that has any amount of depth. The manufacture of that console would keep the controls the same since it was the reason it did so well. Why change a peripheral that gets people who usually avoid video games to purchase your console?

All of the statements above, such as talking about motion controls, were not meant to say that some of the currently innovations are bad but if it was the only choice a large portion of gamers would be unhappy. In order for gamers of all types to be pleased we need multiple consoles to be on the market so we can get what we want from our gaming experience. If tomorrow two out of the three current home consoles stopped being manufactured and supported almost no one would be happy, even among fans of the remaining console. There is more than enough room for multiple consoles on the market and it will almost definitely stay that way. The point of this was not to state what will possibly happen in the future, as the console manufactures know most of this as well, but to show a side to the subject that some may overlooked in the past. Hopefully this was insightful and informative and if not at least it was entertaining to write.

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