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Dead Game News: Lawbreakers, Streaming, Steam

Update:
The Steam DRM situation may not be as dire as I thought, since I’ve been told they’re generic enough that a crack for one may work on another, so that means many more games would be “safe.” All the other points still stand.
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More Dead Game News! I hold off on making these until I feel like I have to. Some more landmark events are occurring that probably won’t be widely recognized as being significant to gaming until lots of time has passed. Learn about gaming history of tomorrow, today!

 

0:40 Lawbreakers
3:19 PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds nonsense
8:33 Ubisoft streaming-only gaming
12:25 Steam dropping support for older OS’s

Link to DGN twitter (not maintained by me):
https://twitter.com/deadgamenews

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Battlefield 2, and Battlefield 2142, have been downright removed from the Origin store. EA also shutdown the revive project. No games for you I guess, fuck you.

Halo Online was revived by people who actually care about the game. So Microsoft HAD to kill it. PEOPLE WERE HAVING TOO MUCH FUN, WE CAN'T HAVE THAT, WE WANT OUR MONEY.

 

So, you're kind of right and kind of wrong. BF2 and 2142 are STILL PLAYABLE. If you have a legal disc copy there are other ways to get to servers. Revive was shut down for distribution not providing servers.

 

As for Halo Online: That was using sourcecode obtained from an entirely separate canceled project that was never released as an actual game. It wasn't people reviving a dead game, it was people building a new game off of the backs of what was, essentially, stolen code.

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In the part of the video about streaming I notice when pausing the video to read the article that the UBISoft CEO specifically says that streaming will allow them to provide a smooth experience in big cities which implies that they may not care if the rest of a countries' internet won't reliably support their product providing there's a big enough target audience in areas that do (though I presume the article was cut off so maybe they went into more depth). If they didn't go into more depth they may be relying on the fact that even remote areas with poor internet (at least where I live) often have 3G/4G signal strengths for mobile devices to stream on. I was surprised when Ross was talking about poor internet he didn't highlight that section of the text about big cities' experience since I felt it drove home the point he was making about reliable internet. I do agree that streaming as the only option is a bad idea since you're basically buying a dream and one day you'll wake up and it will just be a memory of the dream and no physical substance.

 

Ironically one of the better experiences of an online singleplayer game I've had where the connection to the central server couldn't be established (though my internet was working) was UBISofts' Black Flag where it prompted to say that online purchases wouldn't be available in game until the server connection was established and would I like to proceed to play without them? I realise this would annoy people who if the server went down forever would lose their additional purchases but at least it implied you could still play the game. Talking of online singleplayer reminds me of a big annoyance for me where I suffered greatly at the hands of GTA V a few days ago. I decided on a game of singleplayer and was met with a 5+gig patch which as far as I can tell was all new content for GTA Online, so I had to sit through a huge patch just to get to the singleplayer game. Worse was the update server was under heavy load and timing out constantly so it was a day later before things had quietened down enough to get the patch and finally make it into the single player portion of the game. I don't think singleplayer should be like that :(

 

As to Steam DRM, it isn't even in the future that problems have arisen with games being hooked into it. A few years ago now I bought the first two Hitman games. Installed them, tried to play them. Not happening, up prompts a window telling me the Steam dll could not be found. Luckily other people had worked out the problem and found a work around (copy the latest steam dll from the steam install folder and put a copy into each games folder) but we shouldn't have to do things like that. If a game is up on Steam it should really work out of the box as far as Valves' responsibility goes.

 

I have a similar gripe when it comes to GOG. I like GOG, I like that they're bringing back older games, that they won't put DRM in their games and so forth, so don't get me wrong. However I've purchased games from them that just don't work, the games aren't supported, aren't patched to run on modern systems (some wouldn't even load) correctly or at all so when it doesn't work you just can't play and again as Ross said in the video we have to rely on other people (he said pirates but I'd say there are people who aren't pirating the game since they usually only patch the exe meaning you still need to have bought the rest of the game) who are both fans of the game and know what they're doing to help patch the game so it runs. Again, if GOG is selling these games they should make sure they run because otherwise what's the point?

 

I was interested in how Ross' view that adding redundancy into a game at the start of development to allow it to be converted from a central server setup to allow for private servers in the future would actually work. If for example the game stored information to a database backend (such as say character customisation) would the only way to allow it to run on a private server be to remove such functionality from the game and have the game converted to an experience akin to say HL2-DM where you have 8? characters to choose from and that's that - because I could see people losing access to the core experiences of a game such as in this example character customisation being nearly as upset as if the whole game shut down.

 

One final point to make about Steam dropping XP/Vista is it also means that for me at any rate, my linux wine installation of steam (I dual boot due to all the past fun with Windows 10 upgrades breaking my games - some of them not that old either, which does drive home the points in the video somewhat) no longer functions correctly as originally you had to run steam as a Windows XP machine, but now with them dropping support if you change it to run as Windows 7+ you get a crash and the friends list doesn't work. Not a big deal currently since the games library works still, but how long before something breaks with that. Okay so I'm sure the people who contribute to wine will sort it out in the future but again, we're having to rely on others to help keep things running for us.

 

@RaTcHeT302 - Max Payne 1/2 - for me the only requirement to make them run was using ReShade.

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Ratchet, the original StarCraft can still be played offline. Hell, it's free to get nowadays, Brood War expansion included.

 

The only thing "online only" about it is the Remastered graphics, which is not free.

"I never cared about justice, and I don't recall ever calling myself a hero... I have always only fought for the people I believe in. I won't hesitate... If an enemy appears in front of me, I will destroy it!"

– Zero, Mega Man Zero 4

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Actually, steam DRM is also something that the game developers enable or disable in their games. Steam just provides the API, but it's the game that uses it. Steam can't just disable the DRM in some arbitrary games, because it's not steam that put it there.

 

As for "old OS support", and how gamedev should make the games playable forever, I have another one for you: how about old hardware support? Let's take "glide" for instance. To run properly the game written for glide, not only do you need the old OS, but also the old hardware. It is impossible to run such game on modern system, even if you manage to install the old OS on it. So what do you think the developers need to do in this case? Right now we have a new graphic API named vulkan. I can imagine that in 5-10 years it will replace completely both DX and OpenGL. The newer hardware won't even have the driver support for the older API, like they do not have glide support right now. ALL the games we have now will be unplayable, unless you have old OS, old drivers and old hardware to run it. So I think it's just impossible to make a game that will be runnable forever.

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As for "old OS support", and how gamedev should make the games playable forever, I have another one for you: how about old hardware support? Let's take "glide" for instance. To run properly the game written for glide, not only do you need the old OS, but also the old hardware. It is impossible to run such game on modern system, even if you manage to install the old OS on it. So what do you think the developers need to do in this case? Right now we have a new graphic API named vulkan. I can imagine that in 5-10 years it will replace completely both DX and OpenGL. The newer hardware won't even have the driver support for the older API, like they do not have glide support right now. ALL the games we have now will be unplayable, unless you have old OS, old drivers and old hardware to run it. So I think it's just impossible to make a game that will be runnable forever.

Bad example, as Glide has had an OpenGL wrapper for years...

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

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As for "old OS support", and how gamedev should make the games playable forever, I have another one for you: how about old hardware support? Let's take "glide" for instance. To run properly the game written for glide, not only do you need the old OS, but also the old hardware. It is impossible to run such game on modern system, even if you manage to install the old OS on it. So what do you think the developers need to do in this case? Right now we have a new graphic API named vulkan. I can imagine that in 5-10 years it will replace completely both DX and OpenGL. The newer hardware won't even have the driver support for the older API, like they do not have glide support right now. ALL the games we have now will be unplayable, unless you have old OS, old drivers and old hardware to run it. So I think it's just impossible to make a game that will be runnable forever.

Bad example, as Glide has had an OpenGL wrapper for years...

 

Ditto for old directX versions, Wine wraps them to OpenGL.

 

I suspect vulkan wrappers for opengl and the likes will also eventually appear. Especially fixed pipeline opengl (I'm not familiar with using the flexible pipeline, but I suspect it might require translating bytecode).

 

What about (non-graphics) hardware and APIs in general? Virtual machines seem to be the going option.

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Some interesting comments over on the lawbreakers Reddit forum: https://old.reddit.com/r/lawbreakers/comments/92oji5/dead_game_news_lawbreakers_ubisoft_amp_streaming/

 

First, this video is arm-chair development analysis.

This brings an interesting twist to the saying. Is the arm chair the correct position to review games and consumer policies?

 

Anyway, you could pretty much slot any perspective (user, developer, reviewer, armchair) into that sentence and it would still hold as showing limitations.

 

His fuel road trip analogy is really bad and doesn't apply to development at all. It's way too simplistic to compare to real-life development.

I'm not a fan of the fuel analogy either and I suspect this general response will emanate from many devs. Alas I'm disappointed that parasiteartist doesn't explain why he doesn't like this analogy, because there's some good room for fun explanations here.

 

A more accurate version of the car + fuel station story would read similarly but with the car being driven by a team of chimpanzees wearing ties.

 

If it's a small team then you can use logical arguments and get the driver to pull over to get petrol. If it's a big company then it's impossible to convince the other chimps of your worry about game death, because that's a concept that only makes sense when looking consequentially, not intentionally, and you're not wearing enough ties. You're more likely to be thrown out of the car than listened to. Too big to be true.

 

Perhaps the cause of all of this is that parasiteartists feels that Ross is calling on the devs to try and pressure this change. For small projects this works, but for larger ones most devs don't get to wear the ties.

 

I think you can see more of this later on:

 

Could LB have made it so you can do it yourself? Sure. It would have constrained the development, would have to be approved by a publisher, and would currently require refactoring how the game works

This brings up a really important point. Who best do you try and motivate to prevent games dying? Legislation would force everyone's hand, but that's hard. Videos can take the end users and some developers. Perhaps an important missing step is trying to find out how making games not die can appear more profitable to non-devs in game companies. Target the management rather than gov, devs or users.

 

What we need is a way of encourage managers to think about archivability and.... no. I don't think is going to work. Not unless I can somehow work it into the same sentence as "open plan offices" or "downsizing". I am the embodiment of defeatism, sticking to trying to convince the public might be a better idea.

 

A complex game like LB requires multiple avenues and systems running in different places to bring it all together. The crates, chat, authentication, cheat, etc all run in different places.

As a player I'd be happy with... nothing on that list other than chat. And chat does not require a separate server, program or process unless you are doing something really really whacky.

 

Anticheat always gets broken after a game reaches EOL, regardless of whether companies kill the game or not. Putting effort into porting it can delay this problem but not remove it, so it may not be worth doing.

 

Crates: What you can easily do to fix this completely depends on your exact implementation. I've not been involved in any such project so I won't comment further. FWIW I don't play crate games either, so I only have a shallow view of what's out there. Does anyone have any thoughts here?

 

It's not as easy as "in the good ol' days" when you just had a game running on a server

I'd say this is not because of anything technical, it's because of social fashion (microservices!) and social motivations.

 

I think fashions are one of the most dangerous things in the programming industry, not because of any fashion-intrinsic reason, but instead because the recent increase of popularity (~10-20 years) mixed with the general lack of acknowledgement that they are fashions. We learn about the limitations of fashion when it comes to many common areas (clothing, management styles, etc) but find it harder to do so in an industry without as long of a history to look back upon. Let's not mention my government's slow crawl of failing outsourced IT projects, they're too recent for educational comedies to be made about :P

 

I want to write a website. "Use a framework!". Why? "Because that's how you have to do it!"

 

I want to write a massive game. "Split up the tasks into different servers!". Why? "Because that's how you have to do it! It's too big, you need to scale!"

 

I've had arguments with people where I have realised the other person simply doesn't know things were ever done any other way. There's only the present and the future, not the past. *dons grumpy old man hat*

 

In the end, companies typically don't plan on a way to support the game for when it fails and everyone loses their jobs. We hope that never happens.

Some more consequential vs intentional. We hope that never happens. It always happens.

 

If a company like BKP was still around and had plenty of money to continue making things, sure, putting some time into making it supported is doable.

parasiteartist you've lost me here. This completely conflicts with the rest of your arguments :(

 

 

Anyway, some really good points :)

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Lots of comments! I was super busy when I made this, so I didn't have a chance to respond:

 

I was interested in how Ross' view that adding redundancy into a game at the start of development to allow it to be converted from a central server setup to allow for private servers in the future would actually work. If for example the game stored information to a database backend (such as say character customisation) would the only way to allow it to run on a private server be to remove such functionality from the game and have the game converted to an experience akin to say HL2-DM where you have 8? characters to choose from and that's that - because I could see people losing access to the core experiences of a game such as in this example character customisation being nearly as upset as if the whole game shut down.
I may address this in a future DGN video. The easiest answer I can think of would be to just keep a 1.0 version of the game with private servers on ice, release that + as much relevant source code as you can. Yes, it won't be AS good as the updated central server experience, but then you're at least left with SOMETHING at the end. Right now, you get absolutely nothing. I feel like this is a debate between whether you should get a baloney sandwich or a 3 course meal when the reality is you're starving in the desert.

 

This brings up a really important point. Who best do you try and motivate to prevent games dying? Legislation would force everyone's hand, but that's hard. Videos can take the end users and some developers. Perhaps an important missing step is trying to find out how making games not die can appear more profitable to non-devs in game companies. Target the management rather than gov, devs or users.

 

What we need is a way of encourage managers to think about archivability and.... no. I don't think is going to work. Not unless I can somehow work it into the same sentence as "open plan offices" or "downsizing". I am the embodiment of defeatism, sticking to trying to convince the public might be a better idea.

First, I'm not actually trying to get legislation passed. Not because I'm against it, but because I think that would be basically impossible for someone in my position. My plan is to enforce laws that are already on the books in countries where this practice counter to it, it's just no one is paying attention.

 

Second, I'm actually with you on the "find out how making games not die can appear more profitable to non-devs." I'm acting under the assumption that's impossible. Afterall, preserving a game would require at least SOME effort as opposed to NO effort, so you lose every time. The analogy I make is it's like somebody on the street running a rigged cup game so people lose every time. He said he would be happy to run it legitimately if he could make more money doing that. Well, since he's committing fraud, that's not really possible. The only real option left is to call the cops on him. That's the mentality I'm taking here.

 

If it's just Steam's DRM then it's really easy to crack with a program called Steamless https://github.com/atom0s/Steamless
Thanks, I'll have to mention that in a future video.

 

This might be of interest to you Ross: https://fckdrm.com/

 

CD Projekt (GOG) just made this site. Might be helpful for something.

I intend to reach out to them once I have something more concrete set up. I have to move first!

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The way you mentioned not filling up the car before hitting the road because it’s too much work made me think of how oil companies, when they find natural gas reserves they just burn it up because it’s too expensive to set up equipment to transport natural gas pipelines.  

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