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Vista To Be An Indie Games Killer? 113

Posted by Zonk
from the argh-my-toblo dept.
Via GigaGamez (which has a breakdown of the problem), a GameDaily article about the unfriendliness of Vista towards Indie games. The problem is this: Vista has a setting which allows parents to restrict user profiles from accessing ESRB games 'above' a certain rating. IE: Timmy can't play F.E.A.R., or any other 'M' rated game. The problem is that getting ESRB rated is expensive: '$2000-3000 for the privilege', according to GigaGamez. Shoestring budget Indie games just may not have the money for that kind of expenditure. From the GameDaily article: "'It's unfortunately a mercenary way of doing things,' [GFW Group Manager Chris Donahue] explains, 'but, even though we're Microsoft, we do have limited resources. And we do look at the sales charts to determine where our help will have the most impact. Certainly we want Blizzard's 'World Of Warcraft' [currently the most popular massive multiplayer online game] to work flawlessly on day one of Vista because 8 million tech support calls would be a very bad thing. The casual developers don't sell quite as many.'"
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Vista To Be An Indie Games Killer?

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  • Wait a minute... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by revlayle (964221) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:35PM (#17667196) Homepage
    I thought any game could be installed on the system, just the ones that do not implement Vista's programming interface for their "game browser thingy" just gets installed like a normal app? Still can run it like a regular program, and play it like any other game.
    • by tha_mink (518151)
      Yeah...plus, from what I understand, you could still install the game into the game explorer, and the parent would have to tell the game explorer to "ignore unrated titles" in which case the game would only disappear from the game explorer. You could still access the game though. To me, it's no big deal and only another way to point out another useless "feature" of Vista and shoot it down as being unfair to the little guy.
    • Re:Wait a minute... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Babillon (928171) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:43PM (#17667392)
      This is absolutely true. Currently I have FlyFF, and Ragnarok Online both installed on my Vista system and there's no problem running them whatsoever. In fact, you don't even need to use the Games Explorer (I can't even find it in my start menu currently, or where it's located in Windows Explorer).

      Vista is supposed to be the most indie developer friendly Windows yet, what with the new free tools Microsoft is providing (Visual Studio Express, XNA, DirectX, all of those free). And with XNA game development is supposed to be a good deal easier*.

      Also... Isn't this story a dupe anyway? Weren't the guys at WildTangent whining about how their launcher wouldn't work in Vista because of this?

      *I can't vouch for this, as I haven't used XNA, but Managed DirectX9 with C# wasn't particularly difficult to get the hang of, so here's hoping XNA is even easier.
      • Thanks for clearing that up - I was almost ready to switch to linux there. I agree that MS have provided some fantastic tools for development, currently I am developing with VS Express, it's very very good.
        • by Ucklak (755284)
          Then why don't you code games for linux then??? There is an untapped market there.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anpheus (908711)
            There is _no_ market there. Games for linux would have to be free in order to achieve any popularity, and free just doesn't work as a good business model for games.
            • by ak_hepcat (468765)
              I guess I'll ask for my money back from Id Software.
              Oh, and those guys that made Tux Racer.
              And those folks that did the Sims port.

              Oh, and all my money over the past few years that's gone
              to TransGaming.

              But i'm probably not your typical gamer, since I don't play that often.
          • There is an untapped market there.

            Not really, since most linux users also run windows. This is just from my experience, but I think I am correct, there are very few pure linux users and they probably don't play games. So the untapped market you speak of is tiny and the windows market is huge, so there is little incentive.
    • just the ones that do not implement Vista's programming interface for their "game browser thingy" just gets installed like a normal app?

      Or it could recognize the presence of "game engine" libraries, such as SDL, Allegro, ClanLib, and the DirectX import libraries, and use heuristics to mark some executables as "games".

      • by revlayle (964221)
        that's kinda iffy, at best, indie developers could easily spoof certain aspects of the libraries to make it NOT show up that way, without ever really hiding the fact the software is INDEED using such libs.
      • by WWWWolf (2428)

        Or it could recognize the presence of "game engine" libraries, such as SDL, Allegro, ClanLib, and the DirectX import libraries, and use heuristics to mark some executables as "games".

        Sounds extremely far-fetched to me.

        Besides, just because it uses SDL or DirectX doesn't mean an application is automatically a game. 3DMark [futuremark.com] uses the very latest in game development technologies, yet it's not interactive. Or how about all apps that use OpenGL? Yes, used by quite a few games, but it's mostly used by just ab

        • by tepples (727027)

          Besides, just because it uses SDL or DirectX doesn't mean an application is automatically a game. 3DMark uses the very latest in game development technologies, yet it's not interactive.

          And thus does not use DirectInput, and thus does not trigger the heuristic. Besides, Microsoft could toss in another heuristic ("executable named 3dmark.exe").

          Or how about all apps that use OpenGL? Yes, used by quite a few games, but it's mostly used by just about all serious 3D modelling apps

          Do they also use DirectSound and DirectInput?

  • On the other hand... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by duplicate-nickname (87112) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:35PM (#17667208) Homepage
    Developing games for Vista/Xbox is considerably easier than any other platform in history. And honestly, how many parents are actually going to use this feature to restrict content based on ESRB rating? Probably close to zero.

    More content, less whining please.
    • by ggambett (611421)
      Developing games for Vista/Xbox is considerably easier than any other platform in history

      Nice blanket statement. Can you elaborate?
      • XNA is considered by many to be a very powerful and versatile tool set. Ease of use is a relative term however.It give the dev a lot to work with. Its been discussed on slashdot many times.
    • by giafly (926567) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:04PM (#17667828)
      Developing games for Vista/Xbox is considerably easier than any other platform in history.
      Back in the day, I developed state-of-the-art games for the Nascom Computer [wikipedia.org] in under a week. You would need a team of a hundred to do that on Vista/Xbox. Developing games gets harder with every new platform.
      • by MSZ (26307)
        Back then "state of the art" was much less demanding. You didn't need CD quality music (anyway, there was no CD yet ;-)), hundreds of textures, 10000-poly models, etc etc.

        Nowadays, try releasing without that...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        Developing games for Vista/Xbox is considerably easier than any other platform in history.

        Back in the day, I developed state-of-the-art games for the Nascom Computer in under a week. You would need a team of a hundred to do that on Vista/Xbox. Developing games gets harder with every new platform.

        Of course the fact that the bar is steadily being raised in terms of graphics, physics, sounds, artwork, etc... has nothing to with development getting harder?

      • by merreborn (853723)

        Developing games for Vista/Xbox is considerably easier than any other platform in history.

        Back in the day, I developed state-of-the-art games for the Nascom Computer in under a week. You would need a team of a hundred to do that on Vista/Xbox. Developing games gets harder with every new platform.

        And today, you can develop a game that would have been state of the art for the Nascom in a day (Flash is an amazing tool for writing applications of that level of complexity). Development has gotten easier. It's

      • Please do also mention what was "state of the art" back then. You could actually land a success with a text based game in those days. Text adventures (I've written quite a few of them) are rather easy to do, from a code level, the "work" is to create the game world. Zork was a huge hit, and it had zero graphics.

        Today, you couldn't even create a web game with that content that interests more than a few die-hard text adventure devotees. No matter how good the story or how tough the puzzles.

        That's what you nee
    • by lewp (95638)
      I don't necessarily agree with you about the "ease" of developing for Vista. I do, however, agree that this is a stupid argument against Vista. The whole system of the ESRB might be flawed, sure. Parents really should be the ones to determine whether a game is appropriate for their children or not. That's not reality. People want "parental controls" that don't require them to actually pay attention to their kids. There's a demand for that feature, even if most parents won't actually use it. Microsoft gives
      • Microsoft gives it to them, because it actually is a potentially useful new feature that they can tack onto their aging and unexciting product. There's no other way to accomplish the same thing without setting up a pseudo-ESRB of their own, which is equally pointless.

        Microsoft could have built in functionality for parents to allow use of TIGRS self-certification [tigrs.org], just as it built support for PICS labels [w3.org] generated by ICRA's form [icra.org] into IE.

    • by rtb61 (674572)
      And you don't smell the stink of licence fees for software to be able to run under windows. The thin edge of the wedge, and with each windows upgrade/patch disc, the wedge will be driven deeper.

      Game companies will find themselves competing with microsoft games with out licence fees, whilst they are paying xbox styled licence fees. Not that this will be retricted to games, any software will end up having to pay M$ to access what originally was designed to be an open format computer design.

  • Does It Matter? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by p0tat03 (985078) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:35PM (#17667222)

    Last time I checked, not all executables in Vista need to have an age-appropriateness rating. This means that participation in this whole ESRB-rating-encoded-thing is entirely voluntary, which I expect all the big players to follow. How does this impact Indies, who still don't need ESRB ratings and can still run fine on Vista?

    If you're large enough that you're selling from the shelves of Wal Mart, then perhaps you *should* invest in an ESRB rating so you can be mainstreamed.

    • Last time I checked, not all executables in Vista need to have an age-appropriateness rating.

      Unless Windows Vista uses some sort of heuristic to determine what is a game and what is not. If a program calls Direct3D, DirectSound, and DirectInput, then it's probably a game.

      • autocad and other non game apps use 3d also there are alot of non 3d games out there.
        • by tepples (727027)

          autocad and other non game apps use 3d
          But they probably don't use DirectSound and DirectInput.

          also there are alot of non 3d games out there.
          Which would just call DirectDraw instead of Direct3D. There are other heuristics; I just wrote the first one that came to mind.
          • autocad may use DirectInput for drawing pads and all windows apps now days have some sounds in them.
            • by tepples (727027)

              autocad may use DirectInput for drawing pads
              Heuristic #29: Do not put autocad.exe into the Game Explorer.

              and all windows apps now days have some sounds in them.
              Most Windows apps that are not games play sounds through waveOut, not DirectSound.
  • by HappySqurriel (1010623) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:36PM (#17667250)
    Personally, I suspect that 8 Million users will upgrade to Burning Crusade within weeks/months whereas few will move towards Windows Vista because Burning Crusade has added value.

    In my personal experience, it seems like Windows lack of focus on gaming is largely in response to the videogame industry reducing emphasis on PC gaming; there are very few games that are released for the PC in a given year that will not find their way to a console. The (interesting) thing is that this could kill Windows as being the dominant platform (or at least being as dominant of a platform) as Vista is adopted because the main reason people choose Windows over Mac OSX or Linux is that Windows has way more games available.
    • by AuMatar (183847)
      I don't think that true. I can't think of a single game I've played on my PC in the past 5 years that ever had a console release.
      • what were the last 10 games you've played?

        My guess is you either:
        A. play a lot of MMOs
        B. play a lot of less popular/indy titles or
        C. haven't been paying enough attention to the console market to notice all the ports.
        • by jfodale (1032534)
          I dunno... The only PC game I've played in the last couple of years with a console port was Oblivion. There's still a very considerable amount of games that aren't ported.

          Most of the porting I see is between different consoles, not between consoles and PCs. To port from the PC to a console, you basically need to originally design the game to go on a console - to be played with a controller... usually only the real big names do that, and when they do, the results usually suck (see atrocious Oblivion men
        • by AuMatar (183847)
          MMO, RTSes, strategy (think Rome:Total War or Civ). Not many FPSes or platformers. While I have seen a few strategy games for consoles (even good ones) they're far rarer.
    • by bcmm (768152)
      I wonder how easy installing Linux on the PS3 is going to get?

      I could see kids getting a console which also does web browsing and IM (because that's what computers are for), and not wanting a Windows box.
      • Isn't it already pretty easy?

        I don't know about kids using their console for web browsing and IM though - it's kind of hard to hide your pr0n from mom and dad on the TV in the living room (this being the "HD Generation", I imagine most consoles will be in the living room/family room, and not in bedrooms).

        Likewise, it'd also be difficult to chat with your friends with mom and dad reading over your shoulder.
    • by westlake (615356)
      Personally, I suspect that 8 Million users will upgrade to Burning Crusade within weeks/months whereas few will move towards Windows Vista because Burning Crusade has added value.

      In two weeks, Windows Vista will become the default OEM install on about 95% of the PCs sold in the English-speaking world.

      The Vista Ultimate Upgrade, retail boxed, is $250 at Amazon.com and #13 in software sales.

      Microsoft will throw in two licenses for Vista Premium for another $100.

      In September, we should be seeing the first p

    • by rtechie (244489)
      On the PC, there are 3 core genres that don't sem to be going away:

      First Person Shooters
      Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs
      Strategy games of all kinds

      PCs remain at the cutting edge of graphics and these are the genres of games most dependant on that. Innovations in PC graphics, primarly because of games of these genres, essentially "trickle down" to the consoles and that dynamic seems unlikely to change anytime soon. Also, the keyboard and mouse control scheme is widely considered superior to console controll

  • The solution is easy: Make options available to choose alternate rating systems and/or hand pick games.

    With the (pending) inclusion XBox Live Marketplace to Vista, parental controls could be accepted as a necessary features (at least for those who want to control their children). Yet I'm not sure Microsoft will include those flexibility options.
    • The solution is easy: Make options available to choose alternate rating systems and/or hand pick games.

      Trouble is that if some alternate rating system isn't turned on at installation time, too many parents will just boycott games not rated by ESRB because they believe that any publisher that does not use the ESRB process has something to hide.

    • by necro2607 (771790)
      "Make it costumizable"

      Little sweaters and shoes and clothing accessories for your PC?? Or maybe we're talking about Hallowe'en costumes here? That brings a real fresh perspective on the idea of case modding... I think you're on to something here!
  • by dhalsim2 (626618) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:44PM (#17667432)
    I just hope developers quit requiring admin access for games to run properly. I have admin access, but I don't want to give it to my wife and kids. It's always a hassle to configure a game so that it works for my wife and kids. The edutainment games are the worst!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Not just for games, but for all applications. I can't believe how many poorly coded applications I have come across that require Admin access to run properly but have absolutely no need for administrative rights.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      In order to qualify for the Windows logo [microsoft.com], games need to allow being run from a limited user. It's 3.4 on that list.

      So when buying games, CHECK FOR THE WINDOWS LOGO! It means that the game has to properly support limited user accounts, and generally has to meet certain quality requirements.

      Developers have been required not to require admin rights at least since Windows XP came out. There's no excuse for any developer not to run without admin rights.

      The only thing that might break with that is games that a
    • by sqlrob (173498) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @03:12PM (#17667984)
      It's not just devs requiring the access, it's publishers. Copy protection is one of those that requires the access.
      • Games that use Steam (such as half-life 2) dont require any funky CD based copy protections (I havent seen it myself but I would imagine that the retail boxed HL2 is just an offline copy of the protected data files steam would download to your local disk and then install)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ruiner13 (527499)
      Good point, but to play devil's advocate, more or less, take this situation. Since Vista requires authentication to even view network/firewall properties, what is a limited user going to do when the game needs to open a port to play online? There needs to be a good way to handle this, better than the current approach. In XP, you get a dialog that something is trying to open a port, and asks if it should be opened. The problem is that most of the time, the game is full-screen and you don't see the messag
    • Every copy protection system these days requires a kernel driver - otherwise Daemon Tools would win every time. Installing a kernel driver requires administrator privileges for obvious reasons. Some retailers refuse to put unprotected games on the shelves.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Yes, installing requires admin rights. But why should running a game require admin rights? Games don't install kernal drivers every time they run.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jonwil (467024)
          Terchnically yes they do. The copy protection drivers are loaded every time the game starts up and loading a kernel driver is one thing that (IIRC) requires administrator access.

          Maybe microsoft can work with the copy protection companies and the games companies to come up with an answer so that copy proetction can continue to be secure but can function correctly in vista limited user mode without needing administrator access after the software has been installed.
    • games could reasonably require admin if they need direct access to the hardware, but most games use some api wrapper now like DirectX, opengl. I wonder if raw sockets are usable in vista at all...
  • by CompSci101 (706779) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:47PM (#17667466)

    I can't see that as a bad thing, frankly. If indie games start showing up natively in Linux out of necessity, it might create an atmosphere where:

    1. The community puts more effort into supporting game developers on Linux (tools, APIs, etc.)
    2. Linux begins to gain a reputation as a viable target for games (which it currently lacks)
    3. Innovative games show up on Linux rather than Windows, possibly convincing people to convert

    Granted, this doesn't mean that AAA titles will show up right away, but, given point #2, it might convince some developers apart from id and Epic to hit Linux with a native client for their games.

    Plus, does anybody remember when Doom was an indie game and sold PCs? The bar has been raised, of course, but our tools have also become much more sophisticated in the interim.

    C

    • I can't see that as a bad thing, frankly. If indie games start showing up natively in Linux out of necessity, it might create an atmosphere where:

      The community puts more effort into supporting game developers on Linux (tools, APIs, etc.)
      Linux begins to gain a reputation as a viable target for games (which it currently lacks)
      Innovative games show up on Linux rather than Windows, possibly convincing people to convert
      Granted, this doesn't mean that AAA titles will show up right away, but, given point #2, it mi

      • That is one side of indie game development, but there are hundreds of real, innovative indie games out there, that are just as valid as Doom or any other big budget game out there. Look around for them. You will suprised.
        • by jchenx (267053)
          Oh, I'm not doubting the fact that there are a lot of non-casual indie games and developers. But I don't think that's what the original article was referring to. It mentions "casual games" several times.
      • 30+ years old women need ESRB approved games? WTF?
        • by tepples (727027)

          30+ years old women need ESRB approved games?

          A 60-year-old woman in my family won't go to movies that have been rated R by MPAA because she does not prefer to watch gratuitous sex and violence on the big screen.

        • by jchenx (267053)
          ESRB rating is used in the Games Browser, which is expected to be your "one stop shop" for games on Vista. True, most casual games are going to be "E for Everyone", but as you know, there are plenty of Mature hardcore titles, which could be on the same machine.

          Here's a good example: Dad likes having FPS games on the computer, so he has a couple of them installed (rated M). Mom likes her Bejeweled games (rated E). Since they have children, they've setup age restriction. That way, their 10-year old son, when
    • I notice that your item 1. "The community puts more effort into supporting game developers on Linux (tools, API, etc)", mentions nothing about actually *buying* the games! Your "support" goes for tools, but not buying games. The notion of paying for software is anathema to Linux users. Why in the hell would a game developer target a community that not only refuses to pay for software, but also condones piracy (see the constant rants against any and all attempts at copy protection of software), and demand
      • Well, for starters, point #1 was really aimed at the lack of an analog to DirectX on the Linux front. Yes, there's OpenGL and OpenML and OpenAL, but they're not a combined effort the way DirectX has Direct3D and DirectSound (and DirectInput and DirectNetwork and DirectEtc, Etc). The lack of truly portable APIs that are easy to work with and that work well together is a big problem for games development under Linux. It doesn't look like a solution has even been started, or that the community believes that

        • by Mr. Hankey (95668)
          Well, for starters, point #1 was really aimed at the lack of an analog to DirectX on the Linux front. Yes, there's OpenGL and OpenML and OpenAL, but they're not a combined effort the way DirectX has Direct3D and DirectSound (and DirectInput and DirectNetwork and DirectEtc, Etc).

          There is SDL, which is what most Linux games seem to get created under these days and is quite portable. It should be possible to create abstraction interfaces for OpenGL and the other libraries mentioned to avoid having to code dir
          • Ignorance comes through pretty loud, doesn't it :( I've been programming on Windows for most of my professional work, and the stuff that I do on Linux is all Java.

            Thanks very much for this information. I had no idea about this library nor that it had been around for almost 10 years already.

            C

            • by Mr. Hankey (95668)
              *shrug* Everyone has their areas of familiarity, I just happened to have worked on various projects using both frameworks. Often in conjunction with Windows developers. They work on several platforms one might not suspect, SDL works with BeOS and Allegro will even do DOS (well, it did when I last used it anyway.)
  • Little Johnny will just have to have his parent 'green-light' the game for his user account. No big deal.

    Yeah, huge constitutional crisis and massive civil rights violation akin to asking Rosa Parks to go to the back of the bus. Whatever. Oh, and M$ is evil, etc. etc.

    • Little Johnny will just have to have his parent 'green-light' the game for his user account. No big deal.

      Unless a significant fraction of parents look at the lack of an ESRB rating and imagine that the publisher has something to hide.

      • by Sigma 7 (266129)

        Unless a significant fraction of parents look at the lack of an ESRB rating and imagine that the publisher has something to hide.

        Not really - unrated means unrated.

        Games such as Minesweeper (and it's infinite clones) will be unrated as there's no point in rating such games. All pre-ESRB games are unrated since they either use another official rating system, an "ad-hoc" rating system, or didn't bother with one.

        The small shareware games that are unrated don't bother with ratings, since the demo is usually r

        • by tepples (727027)

          Not really - unrated means unrated.

          In Wal-Mart or Best Buy, an "unrated" movie is the DVD release of a movie that restores scenes that were deleted because of objections from the rating board. Therefore, parents will think an "unrated" work is necessarily more explicit than a rated work.

          All pre-ESRB games are unrated

          But the official re-releases of these games are ESRB-rated. Only the last NES game published in the USA (Wario's Woods) carried an ESRB rating, yet all Classic NES Series games for GBA and all games in Wii's Virtual Console have one.

          The small shareware games that are unrated don't bother with ratings, since the demo is usually representative of the game itself. Likewise, demos of such games can easily be downloaded and examined.

          But how is th

          • by MBraynard (653724)
            Perhaps this child should go outside and get some fresh air and excercise so he doesn't look like you [ssqq.com] when he is your age?
            • by tepples (727027)

              Perhaps this child should go outside and get some fresh air and excercise

              If only the parents would let him. Too many parents have been drawing the wrong conclusion from mainstream TV news media's overcoverage of child abductions and not letting their child outside.

  • Does anyone really believe that Vista will be so secure that this "feature" cannot be circumvented by kids? Kids often figure out how to defeat most of these applications including things like Deep Freeze, let alone crap like Net Nanny.
  • "...because 8 million tech support calls would be a very bad thing. " Only because over 80% of initial support calls are handled by Offshore Outsourcing partners, who rely on pre-scripted soutions on flashcards. Prior to 2001, the outsourcers were dilligently trained and were able to troubleshoot in a linear and logical fashion. Although not a perfect system (to misquote Orwell, "All techs are created equal, however some techs are more equal than others..."), this at least allowed Launch Day to proceed at
  • This is just Microsoft's way of making sure there will be enough desktop support people available to support it's OSes in the furture. Could there be a better training ground for our future IT professionals than having to tweak Vista and work around its restrictions so they can make the games they want to play work?
  • If Timmy's mommy knows how to turn the parental thing on, she knows how to turn it back off. If Timmy notices he can't play games he should well be able to play, he will bitch and complain as only children can, and this will get it turned off.
  • Indie game designers, here's an idea: Write that hot new game for Linux and release it as a bootable LiveCD using the Linux distro of your choice. Runs on allkinda hardware (even that crufty old pre-Vista stuff still choking the basements and game rooms of the world), avoids the performance penalty of running Vista (Hoo-boy! More system resources for the game to use!), and allows you to know EXACTLY what the operating system is and what video drivers and other critical system resources are running, so you c
    • Not a good idea, a live CD uses a fairly high amount of ram. Even if we somehow got around that somehow, many computers aren't set to boot from the CD drive, so what is joe sixpack going to think when he needs to go to BIOS to play a game?
      • by Nappa48 (1041188)
        Just what i was going to bring up there.
        Biggest problem is simply not knowing how a persons computer will work at boot
        The driver problems will be big as well, i've certainly seen some problems with people getting networking working well with some routers and modems, modems especially, i mean there must be well over a 1000 modems (models included) all around the world.
        Drivers are probably one of the biggest problems with this idea. If a GROUP of people were to get together to make pre-formatted images, t
    • Write that hot new game for Linux and release it as a bootable LiveCD using the Linux distro of your choice.

      This worked back in the early PC days when everyone had a CGA, but nowadays, everyone has a different 3D video card and a different wireless network card. Including the drivers on the disc has a problem: a lot of the peripheral makers aren't very conducive to including the drivers on the setup disc without a hefty royalty. Requiring the user to reboot has a problem: many gamers have developed the expectation that they can play in a window and run things in the background such as instant messaging softwar

    • Indie game designers, here's an idea: Write that hot new game for Linux and release it as a bootable LiveCD

      tell me why as a gamer I want to turn my dual core PC into an XBox Live arcade console.

      tell me why as an indie developer I shouldn't be programming in XNA for both the XBox 360 and Windows platforms.

      tell me why I want to spend my hard earned money stamping out disks, programming flash ROM and packaging a product that will be buried at retail beneath Madden and The Sims.

      tell me how I sell the LiveC

    • Write that hot new game for Linux and release it as a bootable LiveCD using the Linux distro of your choice.

      Great idea. Except that distributing binary-only drivers along with the kernel may be a violation of the kernel author's copyright, so the entire scheme is probably illegal. Unlike just filling in the ESRB rating field in your game's info structure with incorrect information, which would be perfectly legal (as long as you include text along with it to point out that the rating is unofficial).
  • "Certainly we want Blizzard's 'World Of Warcraft' [currently the most popular massive multiplayer online game] to work flawlessly on day one of Vista because 8 million tech support calls would be a very bad thing. The casual developers don't sell quite as many.'"
    Did he just say that?
    Oh wow... new low, thats like a big "SCREW YOU INDIE!" in the face of every indie developer.

    Anyway, i'm sure this won't be a problem anyway, unless they HAVE to be rated (and its turned on by default), yeh that'll mean even
    • by cliffski (65094)
      I like the way they equate 'indie' with 'casual'. In what way is my political simulation game 'casual'? but it's still a popular indie game. No suprise to see that misconception, but it still bugs me.
  • As an independant games developer, I'm honestly not all that concerned. Here are a few reasons why:

    1) Most people probably won't even turn the protection system on.
    2) You can make specified games exempt, or enable them per user.
    3) If it becomes that big of an issue, the system is able to support other ratings boards. An Indie-focused organization could be set up to rate games using volunteers and accept donations from indie devs and individuals.

    Yes, its a minor hassle. So is the migration to the LUA model.
  • According to the article summary the cost of ESRB certification is three thousand dollars. If you can't come up with three grand are you really all that serious about making money developing computer games?
    • Thats $2000-3000 on top of your other costs
      • by dave562 (969951)
        Again I say, so what. If your game has any chance of success, you should be able to attract venture capital. A client of mine has a fund that invests in Korea game companies that turn out some pretty serious crap. If those guys can get funding, any "indie" game targetted at a viable market should be able to come up with $3000. Hell, if $3000 is the only thing standing in the way of the "next great thing" in "indie" video games, I'll give them the freakin three grand in exchange for ten percent of the pr
        • I guess my idea of "indie" developer isn't yours. Most of the indie developers I deal with are either self-supported or have very limited funding (hard to negotiate a big budget for your first title).

          Depending on the scope of the game, team size, and location (Los Angles vs. China), $3000 can fund an extra week of development or the entire project. I have one developer who produces 3-7 games a year, almost all of them under $3,000.

          • by dave562 (969951)
            Having read your comment I agree that we are talking about different scopes here. When you talk about someone turning out 3-7 games a year I picture someone writing Flash games for websites. When I think of "Indie" developer, I think of the guys at www.shadowrun-online.com.
            • Yes, the Shadowrun-Online team is a different creature entirely. They are the "indie dreamers". As far as I can tell they've got no budget, no publishing experience, and big dreams. They don't have the same worries as the "indie worker".

              I love the "indie dreamers", and I wish these guys the very best (it would be nice to see a "Real" Shadowrun game), but you're right in thinking that $3000 for an ESRB rating is probably the least of their worries.

  • Too bad Vista doesn't offer other built-in features: Web-filtering for always-on internet connections, the porn collection on the hard drive, R rated movies going in the DVD drive, etc. etc.

    Then finally parents will have a computerized baby sitter to replace the TV.
  • by Rethcir (680121)
    I did a quick google and it looks like nobody has tried to play Doom 1 or 2 on Vista yet. Kinda depressing from a "state of kids today" standpoint. Hopefully the newer source ports with opengl work fine.
  • Certainly we want Blizzard's 'World Of Warcraft' [currently the most popular massive multiplayer online game] to work flawlessly on day one of Vista because 8 million tech support calls would be a very bad thing.

    You'd only have at the most, 7,999,999 tech support calls. I'll never upgrade to Vista, and I'm a WoW player. I don't see the need to upgrade something when it's finally relatively stable, especially when it comes with a hefty pricetag. "New features and security" doesn't interest me at all when it
  • First, the restriction system is opt in.

    Second, I'm pretty sure that if little Timmy is bought FEAR by his parents (after all, he won't be able to buy it himself), then all mom and pop have to do is either approve the game (probably enter their user name + password), or set the bar a little lower. And how hard is it going to be to have a note in with the game that details for people intalling it what to do if windows complains about running an unrated game.

    Hell, the game browser system is opt in anyway, if
  • Does this feature need to be turned on in Vista? Maybe all of my friends with kids are bad parents or something, but most prefer to be involved with their childs playing rather than relying on some kind of restrictive mechanism such as this to stop them playing certain games. Nor would many kids that age go out of their way to find Indie games. This is all a bit overrated I feel.
  • In other news, PICS support in Internet Explorer has killed the online pornography industry, and DRM has succeeded in eradicating piracy.
  • The whole concept of "ratings" is basically an anti-competitive move against "independents" in any industry. This is merely an extension of that problem. Fees have always been used to lockout shoestring independent films (for example) from MPAA ratings. This is no different. The fees are meant to help alleviate the cost of the ESRB, which is presumably funded by other means. The fees should be waived for "small" games (games that sell less thatn 50,000 copies). As for free games the ESRB should, on it's own
  • By all accounts this is an "opt-in" feature in MS Windows, which means that a very low number of parents will actually know about the feature and an even lower number will use it. Also, Windows must obviously have a way of setting which executables can be run, regular applications which presumably do not have any rating, won't be able to run. Thus parents can enable indie games on an individual basis in the few cases where this affects them.

    I predict that the impact on indie games will be minimal.

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