A rant about DRM services

Let me start this post by saying that I love steam, I’ve got most of my entire game collection on steam and I buy most of them through it! I’ve been using it for the past 3 years and I had little to no problem with it! It’s a great platform, but, mix it up with something else… let’s say Games for Windows life and you have a recipe from disaster!

Note that some of my opinions from this post are largely influenced by a bit of anger that, right now, keeps boiling and boiling! I’ve bought Red Faction Guerrilla a few months ago, but didn’t get to play it much till now (played it a few minutes from work one weekend) ! So, while browsing, looking up some new projects on scriptlance, I decided I needed to play something instead of hitting the F5 key, waiting for something interesting to appear on that site! So I opened up Steam and decided to download RF:G! The entire process went smooth, and it about 40 minutes I had the game installed, just waiting for me to push the “Play” button. Before the game started, steam informed me that I “might need” to use the game’s key somewhere, so it should be a good idea to write it down, which I did! What came next, brought me two steps closer to that mind stated know by some of us as: “The baby puncher mode”!

Now, I rarely get to that state where I’m so frustrated that I feel the need to actually place holes into the wall! Usually only one person can get me to that point, and that only happens after she tries really hard. But I have to hand it to “Games for Windows Live”, it got me there faster then my room mate can say “Get out of that damn shower”! So, the game booted up, and Main Menu was within reach! I decided to load my previous save, which I made while at work, in order to skip the opening sequence! Once the “Load” option was chosen, I got prompted by a GFWL screen, saying that I needed to be signed into an account in order to use that feature! Ok, it’s understandable, let me add my account details! It proceeded to download my profile information, but after 10 minutes of watching the windows 7 loading cursors, I thought there might be a problem with my internet connection! I ALT-Tabbed and checked up ol’ google, and saw that my internet connection is a-ok! Hm, network hang maybe? Let’s click on cancel and login again!

I canceled the entire process, clicked on load again, and noticed my profile was available! I clicked on it only to notice an error screen saying that it hasn’t fully downloaded and that I needed to delete it, and proceed again with the download! Fine, what the heck, let’s do this! 10-15 minutes later, my profile was downloaded! Perfect, let’s play! But, even though I previously logged in, I had to do it again! So, once again, I’m adding my account details, only to receive another error, saying that there is an update available for GFWL! Thought that I could cancel it, since well, I don’t need to see the new features, I just want to spend 40-50 minutes destroying buildings and nailing people to the floor! Canceling the update was a bad idea, as I could not use the Load feature yet-again! So, I installed the update (from within the game)! This of course meant another 10 minutes for the download to work properly, and once on my HDD, the game exited and proceeded to the install sequence! 5 minutes later I was facing the Main Menu again, not sure what to expect! I highlighted the “Load” option and, not to my surprise, the login screen was staring me back! For the third time I insert my account details (toggling the “Keep me signed in, damn it” option) and clicked Log in!

I got to play the game, but only after being warned that the “Terms of service” for using GFWL had been changed and I needed to “Accept” them if I wanted to use this lovely little bloated feature! To be honest, I never knew it would take 3 minutes in order to download the entire TOS, but once I could click Accept, I did! Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I got to enter the game! Well, my save files weren’t there (guess Red Faction doesn’t use the steam cloud feature), so I clicked on “New Game”! Heyy, it’s working, yiipiii! 10 minutes in the starting area, after bashing to peaces every soulless peace of architecture, a friend sent me a message via Yahoo Messenger! Now, I don’t know if this is GFWL’s fault or a problem with the window-handling manager of RF, but the game entered Window Mode! I could not switch it off through the In-game menu, so I closed the game, and started it up again… Only to be prompted to log into GFWL! Really? I know that last time I MADE SURE the “keep me signed in” option was toggled!

I’m sure that I wouldn’t have gone through the entire process described above, but I decided to quit the game for now! All I wanted was to play for a while, without interruptions! Comes to show you that to-much DRM can only hurt the game! Why on earth would the guys from “Volition” want to have GFWL even thought they distributed the game through STEAM is beyond me! But I learned a precious lesson from this! If I will ever fund a game by myself or get into a position in which I’ll be able to make a blockbuster PC game (hey, valve/bioware/egosoft, are you reading this? Feel free to contact me! please :D) and I would have the final word when it comes to adding DRM to my game, I would say no! Really, I’d rather have people pirating and playing my game, then teenagers running through the city, hammering people and punching little kids!

/Rant off!


p.s. seriously if anyone is reading this and happens to work for the HR department of Bioware, Egosoft or Valve, do feel free to contact me for a Game designer/Level designer position!

p.s.s if any-one in the upper management of Gameloft is reading this, then I’m sorry, but Dragon Age, Portal and X3 are awesome! I promise to bake cookies and bring them to work on monday!





3 thoughts on “A rant about DRM services

  1. Ah, Games for Windows Live, the bane of my existence. I love the Red Faction Guerrilla multiplayer to death, but that bloated bag of mismatched matchmaking system made every session a pain to get into, and nearly impossible to enjoy.
    They used GFWL because they get the netcode for free. There aren’t really many alternatives in that department. Steamworks was in it’s infancy back then if I remember, and since they already had it running on Xbox Live, which is the same thing, it made sense to not rebuild the infrastructure.
    But in the name of the almighty ostrich-hammer, they should have shoved that piece of gangrene where not even the deep ones dare go.

    • Hm, didn’t try the multiplayer, think I’ll give it a shoot later on! +1 for the opening paragraph, especially the word play! Pretty much summed up my entire post 😀

      • I encourage you to give it a go (if there are still people brave enough to play it now, there weren’t many 2-3 months after release).
        Running people over, trough walls and buildings, with the Rhino backpack, or bringing down the house with the one that caused earthquakes was amazingly fun.

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