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    SimCity Developers' Reddit AMA Swiftly Turns Into WTF With The Online-Only DRM?


    Freddyeddy

    The developers of the latest SimCity learned a valuable lesson Friday during a Reddit AMA, one that will hopefully be passed on to other developers: people -- you know, the downstream consumers you're hoping will purchase your software? They hatehatehatehatehatehatehateHATE DRM.

    The first answer back, from Kip Katsarelis (Senior Producer) was far from comforting:

    Sorry, I replied to it below. Not avoiding. Here was the reply...

    "I actually just ran over to our online engineering team to get the latest info. We do handle "short" internet outages gracefully. Meaning, if your internet goes out while you're logged in and playing the game, we can can recover gracefully. You shouldn't notice a thing. "Short" is still being defined."

    At least Katsarelis somewhat acknowledges that the term "short" is woefully undefined. And whether or not players "notice a thing" isn't really the sort of issue that should be getting sorted during an informal Q&A. While that answer was less than satisfactory, Kip's followup was downright laughable.

    We will allow you to play for as long as we can preserve your game state. This will most likely be minutes.

    The response to that bit of "online imagineering" was full of win, however.

    My computer happens to have a hard drive that's suitable for preserving game state. Should I consider buying your game, or is it crippled to online-only?

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    Waterclaw

    Posted

    Well you need to be online to load your game, but after that you can go offline.

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    FireSka

    Posted

    Sim City's current developers are extremely stubborn. Many don't want to play a city simulator game with others online. Requiring an internet connection to play the game is basically saying the game is "multiplayer only". They also don't listen to us about making a legitimate city builder with awesome graphics and all things you'd find in a city such as freeways, overpasses, etc... This game's graphics look extremely poor and cartoony... having endless transit network options is part of a typical city. They are definitely catering to the very young audiences with this one.

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    Dirktator

    Posted

    Well you need to be online to load your game, but after that you can go offline.

    Nope.

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    cirugo

    Posted

    Waterclaw, on , said:

    Well you need to be online to load your game, but after that you can go offline.

    Nope.

    thank you for setting the record straight on that. People wonder why I keep harping about this? That's one reason...there are still a lot of people out there who don't even realize this about the game.

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    Tonraq

    Posted

    ^Hmmm, I would think Dirk would have removed it when he saw this, but since this is an news article (It looks like an article, it's purpose is similar to articles, as well as its context, audience and its central idea) and it came from a reliable source (techdirt), this stays as a news item.

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    JoshuaGellock

    Posted

    You have to tip your hat though. This is a pretty clever way of avoiding piracy...I think.

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    Azurespecter

    Posted

    You have to tip your hat though. This is a pretty clever way of avoiding piracy...I think.

    Did you even read the article? DRM only prevents piracy if the game is a fantastic, multiplayer focused game... like Starcraft 2. In a game like Simcity, it encourages piracy.

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    Haljackey

    Posted

    Even in SCII you don't have to be online. The solo campaign can be played but you don't get any achievements until you reconnect. Multiplayer against the comps can be done too.

    Always online is not the way of the future, but EA sure thinks it is.

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    Vampirovibrio

    Posted

    What bothers me most is the fact that even at this stage, there is no confirmed statement about how long can one continue playing the game if the connection drops off. I don't care about the online component per say but what concerns me is the fact that if the connection drops off for whatever reason, we can no longer play the game.

    While EA seems to be extremely confident that their servers will be accessible, technology being technology is not infallible. What if there is a major breakdown of their server which has happen to other games which also require a constant component (eg. anon 2070) where the server was off for at least 6 hours. What then? Also, EA also presumes that the entire world has stable Internet connection, that is far from true.

    Frankly, I do not see why EA could not have chosen to do the authentication once during each login. That is to say that every time when a player wants to start the game, then the Internet connection will be required. Also, if the argument is that due to the world economy component a constant connection is required so that prices can be updated, then might it not be possible that only when a player wishes to buy/sell/ browse the world market then the connection can be mad and hence at that point, the players current game state can be uploaded and the prices adjusted accordingly.

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    OldTurtle

    Posted

    I'd hazard a guess that EA would make more sales by removing DRM than by having it. By adding DRM, they're basically losing customers who:

    a) against DRM,

    b) don't have a permanent internet connection at home, or

    c) prefer to play Simcity in places with no connection (eg outside, flights/long trips.

    Instead these people would either not buy the game, or pirate the game.

    Now I'm no expert, but I don't see what EA wish to achieve exactly with the DRM. Does it really prevent pirates from cracking the game? All I see is it hurting your paying customer while pirates enjoy the game the way it should be.. : /

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    lew1984

    Posted

    Yes I live in that fantasy world where my internet is the most reliable and never fails... Thanks EA you are so wonderful to provide this fantastic service that is origin... Oh wait a minute what was I saying?

    Living in the country our internet is wireless dongle and is far from reliable so this article is BAD news though its nothing we didn't know already. Thanks EA for ruining a good game by trying to control what your customers can and cannot do, a dictator ship company excellent.

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    Mithrik

    Posted

    Off-topic: I would like to say that this news article looks like it was done by a 12 year old, with the word hate being overused.

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    Bookitty

    Posted

    DRM… Never encountered a problem; never had a problem.

    Security protection software was in the industry years before it ever came to the game market. Now that developers are using it now, the little kiddys are whining about how they can’t pirate junk anymore.

    Hey, once you GET A JOB, then you can afford to buy software.

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    A Nonny Moose

    Posted

    Well, I have enough experience in the industry with big transaction processing systems to know that what EA is proposing is simply that. One thing they don't seem to be willing to guarantee is uptime.

    First, the Internet is not really all that stable except, perhaps, in large urban centres.

    Next, I doubt the bean counters at EA would give the company operations group enough capital to invest in the necessary computer system that could stay up 24/7 with shadowing and auto switch over. I don't care if you can do it with micro-computers, all that extra hardware is very expensive and specialized. Most transaction processors around have to be customized by the vendor to achieve this kind of thing.

    Next, they need absolutely guaranteed power supply. One client I had, an international airline, provided power from three static jet engines on the roof of the data centre. One on-line, one on standby and one down for maintenance. If they didn't understand jet engine maintenance, they couldn't stay flying. The city mains power was the ultimate backup.

    Now, as to what will go back and forth is pretty simple. An XML conversation can take place between the client machine and the servers, and I see no reason why this cannot be journalized as long as the client has the disk space in an outage situation. (My machine has around a terabyte of free space at the moment).

    So, I fail to see what all the fuss is about other than the ethics of the situation and the thread from Origin to snoop in the client stations. This invasion of privacy is my main objection. My machine is on-line all the time, but only authorized sources get through my firewall. I object to marketeers knocking on my wall.

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    Morrinkt

    Posted

    It's Spore all over again. Simcity will go down to being the #1 pirated game of the year (or decade, at this rate). If there's one thing I was sure EA was good at, it's pissing customers off.

    We were all ready to throw our money at this game. EA has some really, REALLY incompetant marketing/management.

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    lew1984

    Posted

    DRM… Never encountered a problem; never had a problem.

    Security protection software was in the industry years before it ever came to the game market. Now that developers are using it now, the little kiddys are whining about how they can’t pirate junk anymore.

    Hey, once you GET A JOB, then you can afford to buy software.

    I'm sorry but I do take offense to this... Firstly I have a Job and I buy all my games legit. But there are examples where DRM is not acceptable for example the PC edition of Mass Effect 1 has DRM that only allows the game to be installed so many times. What happens when I buy a new PC? What happens if I want to sell the game on?

    Also I'm with Nonny and object to things like origin invading your privacy.

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    _marsh_

    Posted

    DRM… Never encountered a problem; never had a problem.

    Security protection software was in the industry years before it ever came to the game market. Now that developers are using it now, the little kiddys are whining about how they can’t pirate junk anymore.

    Hey, once you GET A JOB, then you can afford to buy software.

    It's not the pirates complaining about drm. It's the honest people who DO buy the game but get punished for it because of the pirates. And just because you, a single individual, hasn't encountered a problem doesn't mean no other person on the planet hasn't.

    Even aside from that DRM just doesn't work. There will always be someone who knows to find a way around it to throw it up on the Pirate Bay.

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    Bookitty

    Posted

    I'm sorry but I do take offense to this... Firstly I have a Job and I buy all my games legit. But there are examples where DRM is not acceptable for example the PC edition of Mass Effect 1 has DRM that only allows the game to be installed so many times. What happens when I buy a new PC? What happens if I want to sell the game on?

    Also I'm with Nonny and object to things like origin invading your privacy.

    I’ll clarify just a little…

    It doesn’t matter what your financial, well-being, or any other sort of position you have. It’s people who want to steal, doesn’t matter what your position is; anybody can steal!

    But lately, it seems everyone is talking about money, not wasting money, spend money here! Lose some of it here; people are OBSESSED with money. No matter if it’s the gain side, or the losing side, it’s coming from all parties.

    Also, related to privacy, if you’re not like a Facebook user who tells their whole life story, businesses will have a hard time tracking you; even Google spams advertisements based on what you have searched!

    I’ll clarify just a little…

    It doesn’t matter what your financial, well-being, or any other sort of position you have. It’s people who want to steal, doesn’t matter what your position is; anybody can steal!

    But lately, it seems everyone is talking about money, not wasting money, spend money here! Lose some of it here; people are OBSESSED with money.

    No matter if it’s the gain side, or the losing side, it’s coming from all parties.

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    alexbill

    Posted

    Bookitty, on , said:

    I’ll clarify just a little…

    It doesn’t matter what your financial, well-being, or any other sort of position you have. It’s people who want to steal, doesn’t matter what your position is; anybody can steal!

    But lately, it seems everyone is talking about money, not wasting money, spend money here! Lose some of it here; people are OBSESSED with money. No matter if it’s the gain side, or the losing side, it’s coming from all parties.

    Also, related to privacy, if you’re not like a Facebook user who tells their whole life story, businesses will have a hard time tracking you; even Google spams advertisements based on what you have searched!

    Why did my post duplicate itself in one post???

    HOW!?!?

    "Aliens"

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