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  1. This isn't so much a question as a suggestion. Maybe it's not worth addressing, rather than just thinking about it, but: Have you considered that doing lots of modding and map modification and such in Freeman's Mind is a bad idea? I believe you said once that you started doing Freeman's Mind because it was something you could do more quickly than Civil Protection. In my opinion, that was a really good idea, and something you should stick with, at least more often than not. I don't primarily watch Freeman's Mind because of the weird modifications to Half-Life. In many cases, I probably don't notice them. I primarily like it because it's funny. What makes it funny is the writing. I think you said in one of the videochats that you were blocked on Freeman's Mind due to availability of your modding collaborator, or something like that. If so, that means you're reducing output in order to provide something that I, and any other viewers like me, don't really care about that much. By that I mean, when I notice it, it's kind of neat, but I wouldn't watch a series like Freeman's Mind with similar (or even substantially better) modding where the narrator wasn't funny. I suspect that a lot of your viewers agree with me on this. My suggestion is basically: stop doing nontrivial mods to HL2, or only do them occasionally, and concentrate on writing that works within the base game. Save your modding effort for The Movie or other projects. Freeman's Mind works fine without modding. And if not modding means you're putting out 2 episodes a month, your fans will be substantially happier. In any case, please don't read this like I'm telling you what to do. Obviously, it's your call. I'm giving you my perspective in the hope that it'll make you able to achieve more goals with less effort. EDIT: Should I have put this on reddit and NOT here?
  2. Another possibility I considered was not necessarily actually releasing the server binary, but just making it available for use. This theoretically might be easier for issues like 3rd-party libs. Consider something like the AWS marketplace. Basically, you pay them money, and they start up a server running certain code in their datacenter. Or perhaps a whole network of servers, because more than once machine is required to do some job. As the customer, you don't (I think) have access to the executables or the underlying virtual machine the way you would if you just purchased virtual server time via EC2. You can probably configure it to some extent (like setting a password so only you can use it), but that's it. For a gamer, that's exactly what you want. Ross isn't primarily concerned with the ability to mod The Secret World. He wants to be able to play it after EA shuts down, even if he has to pay for it. So if EA were compelled to make the machine images to available to AWS, Ross could pay AWS to run some Secret World servers and connect to them. For the single-player experience Ross was describing in his video, I suspect this could easily cost $0.10/hour or less. And that's on AWS, which is notoriously more expensive than its competitors. No doubt any real rule of this kind would require EA to provide these images to all the major cloud providers, and perhaps any cloud provider who had been certified as meeting some level of security for customer data (various standards exist). Moving on, considering the big question that Ross is asking, it seems to me that a class action lawsuit on behalf of all of the gamers who've had their games shut down is totally feasible. It would be extremely difficult, but good class action lawyers thrive on that sort of difficulty. The main issue for them is usually: is there a huge pile of money in it for me (and also the class I'm suing on behalf of, but mainly me)? It sure seems like there is. This is where the sort of research that Ross & others did for the video is useful, and can be usefully expanded upon. To start with, you have a list of ~100 games where the buyers presumably had a perpetual license, the game was disabled, and no compensation was provided. For each one of those games, can you determine: 0. How many copies were sold? 1. What channels were used to sell these games? For example, what percentage was sold on Steam, or the Xbox store, or UPlay? 2. Of the sales, what percentage are identifiable? For example, in the event that Valve's lawyer decides that EA owes Ross $30 for the Secret World, he can probably just refund him $30. 3. At what price were the copies sold? Were there different prices? Is there a mean price? 4. What microtransaction content was sold along with the game, and for how much? 5. Are the microtransaction sales identifiable? And so on. If you know these numbers, you can start adding and multiplying until the quantifiable total-financial-harm-to-consumers becomes, when added to potential penalties for bad conduct (your "treble damages" and the like), irresistible to a sufficiently money-hungry class action lawyer. You also want to roll them up by potential targets. You can't sue "The Games Industry," but you can sue EA or Valve. So you get a figure of total games-related and microtransaction-related harm to consumers inflicted by just EA. Or the total amount from GAAS games sold on Steam. I'm guessing that you'd be suing EA (and the other publishers with large dollar values associated with them), rather than Steam, but who knows? Anyway, once you have all the numbers by game, it's easy enough to aggregate it different ways. The downside of this is that a good lawyer understands that the legal system does not exist to right wrongs so much as make people pay for their wrongs. He will see the virtue of settling 3 years in for 20% of the total quantifiable harm rather than spending another 7 years to probably get 85% of it. Now being forced to pay 20% plus penalties might be enough for publishers of the world to say to themselves "Shit, let's not try that again," but it might not. At 5%, with minor penalties, it might start to look like the cost of doing business.
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