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Dead Game News: Legends of Norrath, Planetside shutting down!

Games covered:

Pro Evolution Soccer 2015
Legends of Norrath
Planetside

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Surprise Dead Game News update! I really wasn't planning on making another episode so soon since I'm in the middle of working on other videos, but seeing as how the Planetside 2 play session is also today, I felt like I had to get this out ASAP. Planetside is shutting down! This definitely gives me conflicted feelings about doing the play sessions in Planetside 2, I talk about it in the video and will no doubt mention it more in the livestream today.

 

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What the actual FUCK

 

I just quickly check AF site before I jump into PS2 session and I see this.

 

Straight out of fucking nowhere.

 

I'll admit, I don't usually follow gaming news in general so this is probably old news by now but still, what the hell.

 

At this point, I'm honestly thinking of doing something, anything to prevent PS2 AND future games from shutting down like that. I wasn't thinking about it, but ever since Ross started talking about this problem, shit man, games dying like that... That's just rough.

 

edit:

waaaait

 

I'm an idiot. It's PS1.

 

I saw footage of PS2 and blindly assumed Ross is talking about THAT game. Shoot me.

 

*facepalm*

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So just how likely is PS2 going wined up on the chopping block here? Is it still making Daybreak a good amount of cash? Though that still hasn't stopped game companies from killing games that were profitable. Also does this mean that Ross might stop doing PS2 play sessions if Daybreak decides they aren't going to do anything for PS2?

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As an amateur programmer and system engineer (I worked as one for a whooping 20 days :) ), I disagree on the topic of PS1 kill.

 

You think of a game as a program. As of a set of ones and zeroes that can be just stored on a hard drive and then easily launched anytime from anywhere.

 

It's not. Not in case of MMO at least. It's infrastructure. Login servers, play servers, databases, monitoring tools. A lot of people with a dayjob of keeping all this shit together. As well as support. And of course a player base, which is also important for a MMO. You can't just "release" all this. At the very least, I'm pretty sure that lots of that infrastructure is hardcoded in so many places, that it would be easier to develop a new server software, than to adapt the old one for a general use.

 

When you tell "don't kill a game" you most likely mean "preserve the game in the same state it is now". You wish to "be able to play it", but a word "play" means a little more than just "launch". You want a gameserver populated by lots of players, you want a flawless technical performance. maybe even some support.

 

Have you ever played on "pirated" MMO servers? I did. It was "Lineage 2", before it was officially localized here in russia (so it was a "fair" pirating by your terms, we couldn't play it any other way :) ). Granted that even in it's perfect condition L2 is a korean grindfest, the experience we had was... not the best. Broken geodata. malfunctioning skills, constant server reboots, occasional wipes and fallbacks (the situation when the database gets reversed by 1-2 weeks depending on when the last backup was made). And as the cherry on top - the epic items which server admins were selling for real money (they also wanted to eat occasionally). For 50-100$ you could buy yourself a "kill all" button.

 

But at least we knew it was a pirated server we were playing on. Now imagine all this labeled as "an official PS1 server". How do you think, do Daybreak want this kind of image to be associated with the "PlanetSide" brand? Especially since they still use it. "Oh, you want me to play PS? I heard PS, it's a shitty MMO shooter with laggy servers and a pay-to-win monetary policy. You say PS2, not PS1? Is there a difference? Well, it was made by the same company, so I still think it's shit".

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When you tell "don't kill a game" you most likely mean "preserve the game in the same state it is now". You wish to "be able to play it", but a word "play" means a little more than just "launch". You want a gameserver populated by lots of players, you want a flawless technical performance. maybe even some support.

Ross knows it won't be the same experience he mentions this in the RGD for BattleForge at 14:27. However the least a company can do is release the source code for a game that fans will no longer have access to. At which point the game's life and reputation will be in their hands rather than the developers. Now I do agree that it's not the most ideal experience but it's better than outright killing the game.

 

kmvcJuBOaQE

 

Have you ever played on "pirated" MMO servers? I did. It was "Lineage 2", before it was officially localized here in russia (so it was a "fair" pirating by your terms, we couldn't play it any other way :) ). Granted that even in it's perfect condition L2 is a korean grindfest, the experience we had was... not the best. Broken geodata. malfunctioning skills, constant server reboots, occasional wipes and fallbacks (the situation when the database gets reversed by 1-2 weeks depending on when the last backup was made). And as the cherry on top - the epic items which server admins were selling for real money (they also wanted to eat occasionally). For 50-100$ you could buy yourself a "kill all" button.

 

Now imagine all this labeled as "an official PS1 server". How do you think, do Daybreak want this kind of image to be associated with the "PlanetSide" brand? Especially since they still use it. "Oh, you want me to play PS? I heard PS, it's a shitty MMO shooter with laggy servers and a pay-to-win monetary policy. You say PS2, not PS1? Is there a difference? Well, it was made by the same company, so I still think it's shit".

That's specific to Russia though. I can't remember if Russia doesn't have copyright laws or has much more looser interpretations of them but I've never heard anyone say "I'm not playing this game because shitty Russian servers exist for it.". That doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

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As an amateur programmer and system engineer (I worked as one for a whooping 20 days :) ), I disagree on the topic of PS1 kill.
I think you really misunderstood my stance on this and it's not as unreasonable as you seem to think. I'll try and address it:

 

You think of a game as a program. As of a set of ones and zeroes that can be just stored on a hard drive and then easily launched anytime from anywhere.
MMOs are monstrously complex, I never stated anything along these lines. I realize in many cases it's not practical for the developer to patch it, especially dated games. I think coming up with an end-of-life plan for future games is a responsible practice, but not one that the industry is even thinking about yet. It's not AS gargantuan a task if it's included in the game design from the very beginning. For existing games, I'm advocating doing SOMETHING to assist fans who still want the game

 

At the very least, I'm pretty sure that lots of that infrastructure is hardcoded in so many places, that it would be easier to develop a new server software, than to adapt the old one for a general use.
Easier for the COMPANY you mean. The COMMUNITY only has the option of reverse engineering the code and coming up with an emulator, which is absolute hell.

 

When you tell "don't kill a game" you most likely mean "preserve the game in the same state it is now".
No. I have never said that once in any of my videos. Even being able to run around the maps by yourself would be FAR more than what we get, which is absolutely nothing. By "don't kill a game" I specifically mean "don't make it so that the game is COMPLETELY unplayable in any form with no recourse for paying customers whatsoever."

 

You want a gameserver populated by lots of players, you want a flawless technical performance. maybe even some support.
Oh sure, that would be nice, but that's usually a fantasy. I don't EXPECT that level of functionality, but again, I think it's not unreasonable to expect more than absolutely nothing for a game you've paid money for. I think in some countries this practice actually violates consumer law, it's just not being enforced. I'm currently researching that and hope to explore it further.

 

Have you ever played on "pirated" MMO servers? I did. It was "Lineage 2", before it was officially localized here in russia (so it was a "fair" pirating by your terms, we couldn't play it any other way :) ). Granted that even in it's perfect condition L2 is a korean grindfest, the experience we had was... not the best. Broken geodata. malfunctioning skills, constant server reboots, occasional wipes and fallbacks (the situation when the database gets reversed by 1-2 weeks depending on when the last backup was made). And as the cherry on top - the epic items which server admins were selling for real money (they also wanted to eat occasionally). For 50-100$ you could buy yourself a "kill all" button.

 

But at least we knew it was a pirated server we were playing on. Now imagine all this labeled as "an official PS1 server". How do you think, do Daybreak want this kind of image to be associated with the "PlanetSide" brand? Especially since they still use it. "Oh, you want me to play PS? I heard PS, it's a shitty MMO shooter with laggy servers and a pay-to-win monetary policy. You say PS2, not PS1? Is there a difference? Well, it was made by the same company, so I still think it's shit".

A couple points here:

 

1. A buggy game server is SO much better than absolutely nothing. Say it was an MMO that you just wanted to explore the world. Would you rather have it be a little buggy, or impossible, so you can never experience that world in any form? There's no comparison at all.

 

2. If the company actually cares about their perception of the game, they wouldn't make it completely unplayable. They wouldn't even have to make it the "official" version. They could simply release relevant source code to the community under a license that protects their rights and let the die-hard community sort it out. They could also have a no-monetization clause to make any profiting like the kind you mentioned illegal and enforceable for them to shut down.

 

3. The people who actually fired this game up would likely be a very dedicated crowd, not a casual person wandering in. In the event that the game became more popular to attact more casual players, it would probably be because the experience had become so good it was catching on. In other words, the risk of someone playing the old game and judging the entire company by that are almost non-existent. The risk of never wanting to support a company again because they shut down your favorite game with no recourse whatsoever is very real however.

 

Anyway, I hope that clears things up a little bit. Again, please realize you have some misconceptions on my position on this. I really don't see how this practice can be supported in its current form unless you're comfortable with never being able to play your favorite game again in any form. It's the same principle.

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1. A buggy game server is SO much better than absolutely nothing.

Is it? It's debatable. I will agree that it's at least NOT WORSE. For example, I'd prefer to not play a game at all, than to play a buggy parody (I was much younger when I played L2 :) ), but that's me. But then again, better for whom? Certainly not for the developers, who I guess want to increase the number of PS2 players.

2. If the company actually cares about their perception of the game, they wouldn't make it completely unplayable. They wouldn't even have to make it the "official" version. They could simply release relevant source code to the community under a license that protects their rights and let the die-hard community sort it out. They could also have a no-monetization clause to make any profiting like the kind you mentioned illegal and enforceable for them to shut down.

Yeah, like that's ever gonna work. NCSoft was trying for years to shut down the russian L2 servers. All they managed to do was to learn some fancy russian swear words.

 

Releasing a source code, especially the one that wasn't designed to be released, is a very complicated process. It's like opening a pandora box, who knows what kind of legal landmines are hidden there. And once found, you can't just "close" the code and politely ask everybody to unsee it for old times sake. And let's not forget that a) they are probably using a good chunk of PS1 server software for PS2, so it's not abandoned yet, and b) lots of code can be just licensed, they don't own it in the first place, so they certainly can't release it to public (one of the landmines I mentioned).

3. The people who actually fired this game up would likely be a very dedicated crowd, not a casual person wandering in. In the event that the game became more popular to attact more casual players, it would probably be because the experience had become so good it was catching on. In other words, the risk of someone playing the old game and judging the entire company by that are almost non-existent. The risk of never wanting to support a company again because they shut down your favorite game with no recourse whatsoever is very real however.

You're speaking "The people who actually fired this game up" like it's a sure-thing to happen the moment the sources are released. Suppose they release the sources. Just dumped the whole thing to public in one giant archive. It requires dozens of people working full-time and knowing what they are doing to just run this thing, what are the chances that a couple of people with no knowledge of the software sort this out at their free time? I'd say the chances are slim. The chances that the competitors will use the code to their advantage is on the other hand very real. And don't get me wrong - I'm all pro-opensource. I participate in a couple of GNU projects myself, and when any company releases some code to public, I cheer for that company, even when this company is microsoft. But here, I just don't see how this can work out.

Anyway, I hope that clears things up a little bit. Again, please realize you have some misconceptions on my position on this. I really don't see how this practice can be supported in its current form unless you're comfortable with never being able to play your favorite game again in any form. It's the same principle.

Well, maybe we have a misunderstanding on the meaning of the word "play" or "enjoy". Being able to run around the game world reminiscing about the times when there was something to actually do there isn't something I'd call "fun". While I support the idea of end-of-life plans for the games, I still think that there are games for which the end-of-life plans are simply impossible.

 

BTW, there was one item I wanted to note for some time. There is this game called "Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet". It's interesting because it was made for one purpose: to incorporate the artwork of Michel Gagne. It was sponsored by microsoft and released as an XBox exclusive, and later ported to this unholy abomination "games for windows live". It got a couple of awards and then was mostly forgotten. A couple of years later GFWL finally died, and what was my surprise, when I found out that ITSP was ported to steam. Achievments, network and all that, all now use steam. It made me to beleive in better in people, even if the small studio which was tied by microsoft contracts managed to port it's small indie game three years after it's release, then not all is lost :)

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Is it? It's debatable. I will agree that it's at least NOT WORSE. For example, I'd prefer to not play a game at all, than to play a buggy parody (I was much younger when I played L2 :) ), but that's me. But then again, better for whom? Certainly not for the developers, who I guess want to increase the number of PS2 players.
I don't think it's as debatable as you think, since one side literally has NOTHING to offer. Of course no one wants to play a buggy game, but it's obvious many players would rather have that, than nothing all. The sheer success of early access games serves as testament to that mentality. Hell, people will buy buggy games brand new for $60.

 

I think you're maybe looking at this from a pure sales perspective. There's not much of an argument to be made defending it that way. I'm looking at it from a culture preservation / consumer rights perspective. With that view, I think this practice is simply inexcusable. I think it's an absolutely terrible precedent that you can pay money for a great game, then the parent company can shut it down at any time because there was no foresight into what would happen once they didn't want to run the servers any more. In other industries, this could be considered fraud. EULA terms are not legally binding documents. They can say anything. I really do think some of these practices violate laws in some countries and I plan on investigating it further.

 

I can agree that some games have been created in such a way that it may be impossible from a legal perspective to keep them functional at all. What drives me insane is that this practice is INCREASING and we're making MORE games like this, rather than factoring in the reality that at some point the server will shut down. You say you're a developer. If you had invested 3000 hours into a major game project that you were proud of, you would still be fine with having that completely shut down in 4 years so no one could ever see your work again outside of some video? That this is somehow a reasonable practice and we shouldn't even consider the possibility of coming up with some sort of end of life plan in the design phase of things? In my eyes, this is a backwards, anti-progress view. I simply don't buy the mantra of throwing our arms up in the air and saying there's nothing we can do, then going on to design new games with EXACTLY the same vulnerabilities.

 

You're speaking "The people who actually fired this game up" like it's a sure-thing to happen the moment the sources are released. Suppose they release the sources. Just dumped the whole thing to public in one giant archive. It requires dozens of people working full-time and knowing what they are doing to just run this thing, what are the chances that a couple of people with no knowledge of the software sort this out at their free time? I'd say the chances are slim.
Your negativity on this is so strong and I'm trying to figure out why. Yes, it's not a guarantee that the community would get the game running, and yes it would take a lot of work. These games frequently have VERY dedicated fans however and giving them code would at least give them a CHANCE to keep things running. Both Planetside and Battleforge have server emulator communities, neither one actually works. If they had the right code, they could actually get that into something playable again. In the case of Battleforge, there's literally no game similar to it. Your attitude on this seems to be "No, it's a lot of work for people to make server emulators, so they should not have access to code and everyone should give up." If I'm misinterpreting that, let me know, but that's an incredibly defeatist attitude to take towards pretty much anything, especially when there have been some success stories in the past (like Warhammer Online).

 

As for other companies getting access to the code, that's not much a threat. If they were to use the code in their own project, it could be outed and they could get sued into oblivion. There are very real risks of stealing code for a commercial project.

 

Well, maybe we have a misunderstanding on the meaning of the word "play" or "enjoy". Being able to run around the game world reminiscing about the times when there was something to actually do there isn't something I'd call "fun". While I support the idea of end-of-life plans for the games, I still think that there are games for which the end-of-life plans are simply impossible.
"Best effort" plans might be a better term then. I think MOST games can have a full end of life plan to that they can be enjoyed after the parent company stops supporting it. In other cases, I think the developers can still do SOMETHING to give fans a chance of keeping a game going in some form. Is it impossible to have the game EXACTLY as it was when hosted by the parent company? In many cases, yes. Is it POSSIBLE to have something maybe 90% as good that won't require any further involvement from the developer? The answer is also yes, as has been proven by many emulated MMO games in the past. I think it's mostly sheer stubbornness and utter lack of foresight that perpetuates this practice.

 

I really suggest you watch my Battleforge video if you haven't seen it already, it explains my stance on things more thoroughly. I did have an oversight in it in that I forgot to account for middleware used in a game, which would make releasing the code thornier, but again, that's not an excuse for NO end of life plan for every NEW game being made.

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It's not negativity I'm filled with, but rather pragmatism. Chances of a source code being released are pretty much nil. ID software remains the only company in the industry who is reliably releasing the sources to it's engines. And while it brought the company the unanimous love of all the opensource community, it never gave them any commercial success. The practice of opensourcing your games is not viable in the current videogame industry. So with that in mind, I think it's not fair to call Daybreak "evil". They didn't commit any sins, they probably did what they could, keeping PS1 running even though they could probably shut it down as soon as PS2 got released. The task of committing developers to the end-of-life plans for their games is already very big. But if it includes changing the attitude of the entire industry towards opensourcing their software, then it goes from the "very hard" category right into the "nigh impossible".

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It's not negativity I'm filled with, but rather pragmatism. Chances of a source code being released are pretty much nil. ID software remains the only company in the industry who is reliably releasing the sources to it's engines. And while it brought the company the unanimous love of all the opensource community, it never gave them any commercial success. The practice of opensourcing your games is not viable in the current videogame industry. So with that in mind, I think it's not fair to call Daybreak "evil". They didn't commit any sins, they probably did what they could, keeping PS1 running even though they could probably shut it down as soon as PS2 got released. The task of committing developers to the end-of-life plans for their games is already very big. But if it includes changing the attitude of the entire industry towards opensourcing their software, then it goes from the "very hard" category right into the "nigh impossible".
Well you mention pragmatism, that's why I plan on researching consumer laws for many European countries in particular. It could be the practice of selling software that becomes unusable with no guarantee at all is actually something fine-worthy. If it is, I hope to contact the EFF, who could then contact the appropriate agencies. If companies started getting hit with significant fines from the EU every time they did this, it might actually end up being cheaper for them to have an end of life plan built into the design, then to continue making games that are designed to die like this. Either that or give up the European market, which would be far more costly.

 

The thing is, I'm not trying to demand every company release source code, server software, or patch their game, or whatever. Those are just proposed solutions. I'm saying we need to have SOME method of allowing the game to exist after the company server is shut down. I'm very open minded with how we get there. More pragmatic options are certainly welcome. Hell, part of what I'm doing is raising awareness of the issue. If I keep at this, maybe in 5 years I can influence how gamers start thinking about this topic to the point that it won't be tolerated. Hell, look at the blowback Microsoft received from the original Xbox One reveal due to how restrictive it was. I would love to see that kind of resistance take place on killing games. However, doing nothing at all is not a solution, and so far that's the only proposal I'm hearing from you.

 

Again, as a developer, pretend you put 3000 hours into an MMO project and think of how you would want to be able to allow people to experience your work in the future.

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