Talk about anything and everything Squad-related here -- what you've been playing, what you're looking forward to, and how big your Pile of Shame has grown after that last Steam sale...
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Teryn

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A Rant on Next-Gen Consoles and Gaming

by Teryn » Tue Dec 30, 2014 7:46 pm

I'm actually not going to buy a new-gen console or handheld at all. They're awesome and look great, but I hate these draconian EULAs that pretty much say "if it gets fucked up because of something we did, we owe you nothing", and the constant updating to keep the console functioning and relatively secure in their online connections. Some games won't even work until these updates are made, sometimes even by design, which is pretty fucked up.

This bullshit has gone on for long enough. Yeah, the NES probably had similar rules in the manual, but at least they didn't constantly change, and force you to agree to something infuriating to read through to keep playing Super Mario Bros. or even make any use of the console at all. We put our systems in the corporations' hands and we're subject to whatever whims, system outages and EULA changes they want.

At least I have the option to say "no" to the worst of that on a PC, and pick DRM-free purchases. I don't want anything keeping me from backing up my digital-only purchases, lest servers go down, services end, and companies get bought out and get their policies fucked around with.

I refuse to say "that's just how gaming is now", because it wasn't always like this. We shouldn't have to bargain and renegotiate the terms to something we've already bought and own, it's treating us like we're in a messed up marriage with a constantly changing pre-nup. Why should our partner trust us after 15-25 years of loyalty when there are people who cheat out there? Would we have put up with that for watching VHS tapes or listening to LPs? Now we put up with this in Blu-ray players and digital music. Why do we put up with this in gaming now, when the vast majority of us are not stealing a thing?

Yes, some of these console EULA changes are for new services or reworded policies, but more often than not, they also include things that interfere with the way you are "allowed" to play with your device, or what right you will NOT have to sue or seek legal action for something the company has remotely done to your machine.

The sad part is, they really do have us by the balls. We're too committed. We remember what things used to be like and enjoy how those feelings still resurface in the newer games of today. They have control over us when it's like this, not the other way around.

I wish we could all be smarter consumers and insist on change, but the pull of the new is always seductive and calling. Most of us "just want to play", so that's what we get after waiting 30 minutes or more for initial updates, accepting a new EULA we didn't read that takes away our consumer rights, and getting our remote credit card records and personal information broken into over and over.

Better to at least have some control, so I'm not going to participate in buying any new consoles or handhelds. It's not easy, because I do see good games, series that I've been a devout fan of since I was very young. I watch others play them in person and online and get pretty jealous of what they enjoy.

... But what would it cost me in the long term to have that fun?

I think the gaming industry owes us some trust after making them rich beyond even Hollywood's greatest dreams (and this is even *after* their games get zero-day virus-filled releases on BitTorrent sites).
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Re: A Rant on Next-Gen Consoles and Gaming

by RedSwirl » Tue Dec 30, 2014 10:59 pm

The same crap is happening with movies and books. I think a reason people put up with it is because to them, the convenience of being able to download or stream anywhere from a cloud is more immediately valuable than the ability to back up purchases without restrictions. Content providers have already packaged DRM with just enough of the convenience most people want. Thing is, you can have both.

At least content providers reached a point where almost all digital music purchases are DRM-free. I love being able to just download or stream purchased iTunes music to a multitude of devices, but it's all DRM-free too. I have no idea if we're headed in that direction for other media, but people are at least starting a row over it when it comes to books (including comics).

There's this war going on between Kindle and iBooks and the like. I like iBooks as a piece of reading software, but I'm not 100% cool with my books being locked down to Apple devices for all time. So I buy from Kindle, crack the DRM, then read on iBooks. I still buy almost all comics in physical form, but I love Image's decision to drop DRM and just let you download their comics in whatever format you want and read them on whatever software you want. I found a really nice piece of iOS comic reading software that I'd like to use for every digital comic I buy.

I still pretty much only buy movies on Blu-Ray, partly for DRM and quality reasons. My brother has pretty much already ripped every movie disc he owns. I might think about it if I ever got a Blu-Ray ripper and a few more terabytes of storage. Maybe if there was some easy way to crack iTunes' or Amazon Prime's DRM or whatever.

I'm fine going all-digital for PC games as long as I don't have to download a 50GB game on my 15Mbps internet, mostly because Steam has proven itself easily preferable to GFWL, SecuROM, and online-only games. I'd be all over Diablo III and Elite Dangerous if they weren't online-only. I try to buy indie games through the Humble Store when I can since they're in the habit of offering both DRM-free copies and Steam keys. One thing nobody tells you is, the option to attach a Steam game to Valve's DRM is completely up to the publisher. Most simply choose to use it, a few opt for the best of both worlds where you can install your game with all the advantages Steam provides but also run it unshackled to Steam. We'll see if GOG Galaxy does anything, but GOG's game library is its own whole niche.

I don't think I can go all digital on PlayStation and Xbox though. I don't trust Sony and Microsoft that much. Mostly it's because I have no indication that digital purchases will even carry over to the next piece of hardware. Having them locked on one old machine for all time just makes them feel disposable, and what I hate is that a majority of gamers seem to think they're disposable after a while.

But, console gaming kind of already is digital and people haven't fully accepted it yet. People who grew up with consoles like to still think of the disc as the embodiment of the media, but it's really just another delivery mechanism. The only reason you put the disc in the console is to install the game and thereafter prove to the console you own the game. "You just put the game in the machine and play it," is gone outside Nintendo. Developers can't even get all the game content on the disc anymore, almost always continuing development as the discs are being printed, which is why we get day-one patches.
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Re: A Rant on Next-Gen Consoles and Gaming

by Elanzer » Wed Dec 31, 2014 2:05 am

The ownership rights of console players are only going to get worse. Look at the Xbox One's laughable attempt to introduce cloud computing in to daily gameplay. It could have applications sure, but everything they demonstrated and pushed was pointless and technically bunk, hard to see as anything other than a veiled attempt to introduce the next generational leash. We're already at the stage where we have something like Dragon Age: Inquisition requiring you to be online and connected to EA's servers to get functioning custom world states and save imports, arguably one of the main features of the series, and it's totally accepted. How long until another single-player game that requires you be connected to "the cloud" for technical reasons to even play at all, kind of like the newest Sim City except not being entirely based on lies? And after that, a game we're told is so groundbreaking in some way or another it won't feasibly run on your hardware at home and simply gets streamed from Microsoft? It would be an effective method of stopping piracy in its tracks wouldn't it? There must be a lot of temptation there. How about if while your hardware's sitting there doing nothing for that particular game it's helping power some other player's nebulous cloud-based activity? When you get to that stage, the potential applications definitely get a little more interesting, maybe even exciting... but I don't think it's something I'll be signing up for if I can help it. Just looking at the chaos a few kids managed to cause console gamers over Christmas simply by targeting regular old XBL/PSN is enough to put me off.

It's not as if Steam's increasingly sinister domination over PC gaming isn't a problem either, but at least there your hardware is always your own to load up with any DRM-free, fair-use alternative you so choose.GOG continues to excel in customer respect and satisfaction where Steam is too greedy to. Linux libraries are steadily filling out whilst Microsoft threatens yet another reconciliatory middleware intrusion. More console exclusives than ever are breaking free and making their way over thanks in part to the similarities in architecture being closer than they've ever been. It's not all doom and gloom.
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RedSwirl

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Re: A Rant on Next-Gen Consoles and Gaming

by RedSwirl » Wed Dec 31, 2014 3:31 am

Elanzer wrote:It's not as if Steam's increasingly sinister domination over PC gaming isn't a problem either, but at least there your hardware is always your own to load up with any DRM-free, fair-use alternative you so choose.GOG continues to excel in customer respect and satisfaction where Steam is too greedy to. Linux libraries are steadily filling out whilst Microsoft threatens yet another reconciliatory middleware intrusion. More console exclusives than ever are breaking free and making their way over thanks in part to the similarities in architecture being closer than they've ever been. It's not all doom and gloom.


To be fair, Steam is one of the main reasons more games are coming to Linux and possibly why more console exclusives (Japanese ones) are coming to PC at all. Valve is doing it as a possible getaway strategy in case Microsoft alienates the entire PC game development community, and what they're doing has given Linux developers and Japanese console game developers a target that looks like a more comfortable entry way to PC and Linux.
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Re: A Rant on Next-Gen Consoles and Gaming

by Teryn » Wed Dec 31, 2014 7:55 am

I *am* happy about Linux being a big priority of Steam, and it hasn't just been lip service, either, Valve has contributed back to the community as well. It probably is the biggest reason it's gotten better for gaming on Linux, and no matter if I'm still iffy about their own policies, that was always a good thing.

GOG seems to be alright at the moment, but they've run into some snags quite recently (only a day from when I finished this post, I belatedly found out about after the fact). I've also been eyeing Desura, which seems very Linux-friendly and DRM-free choice friendly. Their UI, while a bit primitive, gives you the choice of filtering by DRM-free titles.

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