It is an issue like the one before us today that makes me glory in geekdom.
Bnetd, though - heard of it? They’ve got a FAQ that explains it, but as this is one of the few parts of the equation that I understand, please, allow me: Bnetd allows mortal men to host private substitutes for Blizzard’s Battle.net service. Something else that it happens to do is allow people to connect to these surrogate Battle.net’s with pirated copies of the software. This sort of thing is a veritable recipe for bunchy open source panties, igniting kuro5hin and Slashdot with “Boycott Blizzard” ballyhoo, peppered with the infrequent, heretical “Perhaps The Issue Is More Complex Than Good Versus Evil.” LawMeme, which appears to be a Slashdot for lawyers, proffered this analysis of the pertinent legal realities, which spawned a rather interesting critical view. Of course, this is all highly simplified - there is also a project called Warforge, which appears to be on even shakier legal ground - but you’ve got enough information in the links I’ve already provided to eradicate any hope of a productive Monday, if you’re so inclined. I only have three things to add.
Obviously you can use Bnetd to facilitate quote bad things, let’s say the piracy, but I hardly believe that is the focus of the project. Indeed, when discussing the issue with lawyers representing Blizzard, the Bnetd man made it clear that they would like nothing more than to roll in a function to do legitimate CD-Key checks, the way that Battle.net itself does. It’s not something they can even implement without Blizzard’s help. It goes without saying that the attorneys in question were not there to try and improve Bnetd, and as a result, they ain’t trying to hear that. The blood of any breathing geek is enticed by the prospect of running their own Battle.net. What if they could? What if a sanctioned, but not supported product were delivered - one that diligently performed the anti-piracy measures assigned to it, ran their official ads, all while removing load from their main body of equipment? I’m trying to figure out who loses here.
Though Battle.net is a matchmaking service, it’s silly to call that its only function. I’ve always thought of it as performing a sort of de facto authentication, a la Half-Life. This watchdog element is (I’m sure they believe) crucial to sustaining their business, and Blizzard has absolutely every right to try and protect their stuff via whatever methods they want to. Whatever else is going on here, I don’t think that it’s okay to make something that emasculates their security mechanism. I don’t mean that in a legal sense, this violates statutes W, A, N, and G or what have you, I mean it in a personal one.
For the sake of argument, let us say that Bnetd has some strong defenses, legally speaking, for what it is doing (or not doing, depending on who you ask). This is not inconceivable. Unfortunately, it hardly matters - and this isn’t just garden variety cynicism. This is a highly distressing state of affairs. Even if you are right, and you know it, clap your hands, actually proving that in a court can bankrupt your shit faster than you can say “I Remember When Food and Shelter Were Not Abstract Concepts.” I’m just saying. And the Bnetd guy, or one of them anyway, he owns the ISP that hosts all this stuff - and he’s aware of his rights. I have no doubt that if you were running some shit like this, after one letter your ISP would just delete your account and then send a tall man in a black coat to kill your dog. They can do that - didn’t you read your service agreement? The law represents this terrible power and mystique, this raw force that can only be bridled by the law-yer, seen here as a shaman-equivalent character of near-myth. You send somebody something from a lawyer - or even something that looks as though maybe it did - and you’ve harnessed the black remnants of forbidden magicks.
My heart thrills with delight, knowing that Gabriel’s position on all things Emu will cause him to rise up and call someone a hippy. I do hope you’ll stay tuned!
I’ve completely squandered my space on hypothetical meanderings which were likely of no interest to anyone. I liked the bit about the man and the dogs, but that probably wasn’t enough to rescue it. I wasn’t able to talk about Greg Kasavin‘s smouldering video review, which I am confident will win an award of some kind - for example, Most Hot. I didn’t talk about my grand plan to synthesize the classic, before-its-time Allegiance and the surprisingly engaging Renegade - which I’ll still do, because it needs doing. Something else I didn’t do was make a dummy sing while I drank a glass of water. I probably won’t get to that anytime soon.
Wrapping up: Scunsion requests that you check out his “friend’s” flash game, Zero Race. Please, please don’t sue him! Andy Hull is putting his formidable programming abilities on the auction block. I’m told he will make an excellent pet! Also, I couldn’t help making a post in German under the pseudonym “Snarl” at the Stealth Combat site, which is unfortunate, because although it looked very convincing to me, many of the words I employed were not, well, “words” as such. And it’s too bad, because I’ve actually grown rather fond of “hompf.”
Today’s comic touches on Knights of the Old Republic, and the recent decision to (exclusively!) release first to the Xbox while PC users grouse and sweat chicken fat. I’ve told him, Gabe, we - collectively - have an Xbox. We have one. He can play it the day it comes out, he can even keep the thing at his house if he wants to - but he says it’s the principle. And I said, “Well, you got a Genesis for Mortal Kombat, right? Isn’t this cooler than Mortal Kombat?” And then we’re back to the principle thing. I know how he feels, as I used to feel much the same way. It was only Sega’s Shenmue 2 (and the possibility of 3, etc.) that dragged me kicking onto this very large path, and that was so long ago that I hardly remember being angry. I mean, I used to think of it as the Dark Side, and sometimes it’s Darkish I suppose, but most of the time it’s a nice mauve. Join usss! Of course, we can be certain that he’ll be by later today, just in case I need him to mutilate the true facts of our conversation.
It was nearly a year ago, but you might remember my comments on the early, early KOTOR tech we saw at E3. Very few people who saw it seemed to write about it, which I thought was strange - but I now entertain the possibility that they were struck absolutely dumb.
The whole thing was fantastic, yes, but not just because we were seeing the coolest thing at a gigantic, three day “Cool Things” expo. I mean, this shit was closed door, they aren’t ordinarily going to waste their time talking to an artist and his stupid writer friend. It was BioWare’s Communications Manager, Brad Grier, who - in his unquenchable enthusiasm for the project - asked us if we wanted to see the best new game of E3. I don’t know if it’s the Canada thing, or what, but he’s this genuinely nice guy that we only see once a year, and we always look forward to it. So, he gets us in. And, like all the other times Gabe and I snuck into these press room demos, Batjew just turned his basic, non-media ID backwards, assumes an easy-going, but don’t fuck with me manner, and just walks in with the rest of the line. We actually met the Juegos Online guys at this thing, the ones who now translate PA into Spanish in exchange for, um, being able to translate PA into Spanish. This game takes place an even longer time ago than the movies, uncharted territory, and one of the Juegos guys was grilling the presenters on what seemed like fairly obscure Star Wars shit - the man didn’t miss a beat. That’s worth noting. I am eternally soothed to find a dork at the helm.
Agent Nich Maragos (of The GIA) made sure I knew about Progress Quest, and I would be remiss in my duties keeping such sparkling splendor to myself. It’s even been called the Statbuilder killer, which I think we all know is lofty praise.
I’d like to defeat Renegade before I come down one way or the other on it, but my exposure to the full version’s multiplayer has (thus far) been pretty satisfying. This must be more like what people experienced in the Beta, because the version I’m playing now is the gold version - unpatched, though I heard there is one out today - and I’ve experienced zero lag in any server I’d care to play on. What’s more, I’ve tried several servers with co-operative vehicles, i.e. gunner and pilot combinations, that no Demo server I played on had activated. I’ll tell you what, though: the map they released with the demo, C&C Under I think it’s called? Filth. If they’d included the City map I’ve been playing on - where I’m firing my tank’s cannon off of a highway overpass at Nod Stealth Tanks speeding on the streets below - they’d have a lot more takers, I think. I’m not really satisfied with the graphics, primarily the nondescript, blah interiors of buildings that should be fascinating - but it’s not a dealbreaker. Picked up Jet Set on Tuesday as well, and I think it’s luscious. We might have done a comic on it instead, but after Gabe and I argued for twenty full minutes re: the Xbox thing, that seemed the natural course. But both of these games make me want to write - a lot, as they make me think about games and their construction. I will be insufferable on Monday, just giving you a heads up.
Also, we’d like to welcome our first advertisers: the freshly allied news and editorial sites Game Partisan and VG Nation, which are seen on the strip and content pages, respectively. They’ve got a truly massive undertaking underway for April - the four, nineteen, zero two you see mysteriously suspended in binary - and they’d like to get acquainted before things get underway. Gaming news, raucous roundtable discussions, and the like - give these two a try, and see if they don’t strike your fancy.
ferris wheels of noblemen
This week is rapidly devolving into a cavalcade of Obscure PA references. We’ve got Monday’s adventure, where the watch that was stolen and then returned is once again in enemy hands. Today’s offering is perhaps less hidden than the one before it. For a couple guys who purport to loathe the undead, we can’t seem to get enough: Don’t Say It!, Z Is For Zombie, The Rain, and Auditions Of The Damned are just a sampling of our paranormal encounters.
It’s like this, though: for videogame enemies, make mine a zombie.
They’re corporeal, so you can kick them and kick them with your kung-fu. And it’s okay, because they don’t even know you’re doing it.
They aren’t smart, not like Vampires, who have to talk about how tortured their shit is before you touch up their coiffure with a shotgun, or some other type of gun.
Nobody ever gets mad when you kill zombies, you can’t - because they’re already dead. Nobody is ever, like, “Please don’t hurt him, he only burns with a gnawing, ceaseless, and immortal hunger.” No weird organization you’ve never heard of is gonna wave a sign at you for getting your kick on, unless the sign looks something like this:
The obscurity I mentioned before has apparently leapt from our own site and out into the wide world. Ever played AC? Asheron’s Call, I mean? You probably know that it’s an MMORPG, one I took intravenously for a few months. Here’s an old newspost penned in the throes of my desire, when Dalwyn Kell and his bow Rabbit’s Bane made a name for themselves among the harmless rodents of Dereth. When I figured out that there’s just a few degrees of separation between a good Archer and a good Cook, statistically speaking, I bought so many pots, pans, and cookbooks that I could no longer move. It’s a great system, and one that made a lot of natural sense in most cases - combine vegetables and pots to make soup, combine batter and baking pans to make cake, combine carrot cake cubes and milk to make carrot cake soup. It’s true - Maggie, of The Fabulous Realm Of Maggie The Jackcat fame, answered a query about it in her letters section. I thoroughly enjoyed writing about the experience - I can’t tell you how pleased this whole thing makes me, but you may assume that it is quite a lot. You know what, speaking of AC, GameSpy’s got a new interview up that covers the inevitable sequel. I hope Turbine‘s got something to show on this come May, as I’d love to talk to somebody there about it.
After Monday’s quick take on the Renegade Demo - where I may have gone overboard - we received a very nice mail from Paradox, who offered to walk me around the game a bit and show me how good it can be. I’m down with that. He offered me a spot with them last night, even, and I would have taken him up on it if AT&T Broadband could keep my Goddamn cable modem connected for more than fifteen consecutive minutes. I mean honestly, AT&T. When you guys get done downloading those barnyard fetish videos, flip the switch by my name from “broken” to “working” if you don’t think it’ll break your fucking arm. Anyhow, these guys that are going to learn me some Renegade were in on the Beta, where they had loads of other maps and (to hear them tell it) much smoother play using Westwood’s own matchmaking service. Anyhow, I also got in touch with a guy out at Westwood, and asked him a handful of questions about their demo point blank. Who knows what I’ll get back, if anything - but whatever it is, you’ll see it up here.
that’s a black lie
Last week Nintendo was kind enough to release two (2) screen shots for a few of its big titles this summer. These are some of the most highly anticipated games ever and we don’t know a damn thing about them. Meanwhile every game that falls out of the X-Box’s ass gets at least 50 shots and a two page “hands on impressions” write up. Why Nintendo? I understand that you don’t want to flood the market with screen shots, that you want to keep some surprise but there has got to be some middle ground here. I want desperately to know more about Mario Sunshine. The little bits I hear about deforming levels and giant blobs of paint intrigue the hell out of me. I want to see more of the outer space shit is Star Fox Adventures. Show me some screens of Metroid that are actually interesting to look at. Give me the scoop on Eternal Darkness, I gotta know why that dude in the trailer is such a wack-job. What are you doing Nintendo? You’ve got me chomping at the fucking bit here…oh wait…I see. Well played Nintendo…Well played indeed.
There is big news in the world of the Penny Arcade book today. We have decided to blow out the remaining hard covers at the low low price of only $19.95. Act now and receive our eternal gratitude absolutely FREE!
There are only a few days left in February and you know what that means. It means time is running out to join Club PA this month and get your two exclusive gifts. I would like to thank those of you who have already donated this month your support has really saved our ass. Being the hyper-intelligent business men that we are we decided to switch over to advertising before actually having any advertisers. The support of our Club PA members is really helping to pull our asses out of the frying pan.
Oh, and for those of you who keep asking for more GabeArt I am working on a new piece right now. I don’t want to give it away but it Starts with Over and it ends with Easy.