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The Struggle For Private Game Servers 125

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-make-onyxia-fight-ragnaros dept.
A story at the BBC takes a look at the use of private game servers for games that tend not to allow them. While most gamers are happy to let companies like Blizzard and NCSoft administer the servers that host their MMORPGs, others want different rules, a cheaper way to play, or the technical challenge of setting up their own. A South African player called Hendrick put up his own WoW server because the game "wasn't available in the country at the time." A 21-year-old Swede created a server called Epilogue, which "had strict codes of conduct and rules, as well as a high degree of customized content (such as new currency, methods of earning experience, the ability to construct buildings and hire non-player characters, plus 'permanent' player death) unavailable in the retail version of the game." The game companies make an effort to quash these servers when they can, though it's frequently more trouble that it's worth. An NCSoft representative referenced the "growing menace" of IP theft, and a Blizzard spokesperson said,"We also have a responsibility to our players to ensure the integrity and reliability of their World of Warcraft gaming experience and that responsibility compels us to protect our rights."
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The Struggle For Private Game Servers

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  • WoW (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @07:52AM (#30363694) Journal

    Blizzard haven't really fight against the private servers good afaik, and why would they - anyone who has ever tried any of them knows how crappy they are.

    Sure, it was fun to set up my own WoW server and get some friends to join it. I had fun with the console commands, made everyone admins and we got the max levels and best items and flying mode. Some fun moments messing around for one night with some beers - but to actually play the game on such servers? No please.

    MMO's are in good position because the private servers can never reach the same amount and quality of quests, other players (major part in mmo!), raiding, instances, battlegrounds or in-game economy. MMO's are a lot about the community and other people you play with - they make the world.

    The sad part here is people who might for cheapness reasons to play on those servers instead and think the game is crap, while in fact the server just sucks.

    • Re:WoW (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tukz (664339) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @07:57AM (#30363712) Journal

      The best communites I have ever been a part of, was in MUD's (small communites compared to todays MMO's) and on "private" UO servers.

      • WTB better community.

      • by g4b (956118)
        I still consider UO the best thing for private servers, since the content in the client are completely changeable, and almost everything is server side, so you can modify your game experience heavily.

        origin made a good job there. and even better, they tolerated private servers, looked at the most played ones, and took over ideas from them. smaller servers/freeshards with very custom rulesets are mostly used by RP playing people, while the very big servers mostly take britannia and put some custom content ov
    • Re:WoW (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Snowtred (1334453) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:14AM (#30363790)

      I, too, messed with the private servers for awhile, with the same results. My friends and I messed around for a few hours, and then it got boring and we went back to our real characters.

      An interesting turn to this is training for raid bosses. So much time is spent clearing, ressing, gathering items, just for a wipe. You could reset to the beginning of a fight in less than a minute with teleport and item summon scripts. Get a whole raid of 25 with duplicated characters, getting 10-15 attempts on a hard boss in an hour, where it would take all day on a real server.

      Then with competitive Arena battles rising with real sponsors and cash prizes like the CAL league did for Counterstrike, it could become a big issue once people realize this advantage and get organized. Not just for WoW but the MMOs of the future, which I'm guessing will have substantial (and lucrative) competition-spectator components.

      A legit strategy, cheating, or just simply "unethical" by gaming standards?

      • by fotbr (855184)

        I had the same experience with private servers -- fun to mess around with for a while, quickly turned dull, and it was back to the official servers.

        As for using them for training -- IF (and I don't agree with video gaming being a "sport") gaming starts going the way of spectator sports, then why wouldn't private training grounds be a legit strategy? Boxers have gyms for their training, and can even set up their own if they don't like the established gyms. Runners train on their own terms. Swimming gets m

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PFactor (135319)
          It's only competitive if all players have access to such out-of-game training areas.
          • by MBGMorden (803437)

            But usually it's up to the player to establish access. Going back to the boxing example, you typically only ever hear of the guys who either have access to a training gym, are creative enough to develop an alternate training routine, or are simply naturally talented enough to not need it. The guy who isn't close to one and or can't afford a membership fee never progresses and no one cares.

          • by fotbr (855184)

            Then they can set up their own server, or have one of their friends do it, or pay someone, or just google for "World of Warcraft Private Server"

            It isn't like they're hard to find.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by runyonave (1482739)

        Competition in WOW or any other point and click mmorpg is a JOKE. There is no skill involved. You just point click and hope your damage multiplier plays in your favour. All luck.

        Now games that require actual skill and strategy like Street Fighter 4, Starcraft or DMC on DMD mode can be played competitively.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Tezcat (927703)
          There is competition in the form of skill, and there is competition in terms of strategy and concentration. With many games a peak of 'skill' is achievable; but the best competitive players will spend time developing new strategies to defeat their opponents' strategies. This is what happens in games like Street Fighter, Starcraft and Chess:
          The meta-game [tvtropes.org] BECOMES the game.
        • I humbly disagree. I know your post comes off as very whiney and potentially a troll but in the Arena competition the gear is equal. You pick the gear you want and it removes the element of randomness. So when everyone is on the same gear plateau what establishes a better player? Skill. RND only accounts for a small bit and that is no different from the majority of sports out there.

          Sure games like Starcraft (the only one I have personal experience with on your list) may require a different set of skills b
          • The winners are often not established by skill but repetition, for how long they have been playing the game and (the thing which dwarfs them all) ping. Having a 500+ ms turnaround time simply means you get your ass handed by any random guy with an under 100 ms ping reply.
          • by scot4875 (542869)

            When players' gear is equal, latency comes next in who has the advantage. When I charge an opponent and end up 10 yards away, and someone else charges me and is immediately able to start hacking away, that's all due to client side latency. When I'm tracking my opponent with mouse turning as they jump around in circles and all I ever see is "target must be in front of you" while they happily land every blow, that's client side latency. When my opponent is pinging the server with sub-50ms round trips and

        • The swedish Epilogue server sounds interesting in that sense. I bet permadeath changes the character of an mmorpg rather much.

        • by Haidon (1628521)
          I must also disagree with this. For certain, the actual battle between 2 players could be seen as taking less skill to accomplish. Certainly, a 1 on 1 PvE encounter takes little skill in general. However, the raid game in these MMO's takes a great deal of skill. A few people have to coordinate a large group of people to complete a task, and a good number of those tasks are by no means simple. I know WoW has mitigated this to some degree, but Everquest would require a couple of strategic-minded raid le
        • by wtbname (926051)

          You are completely incorrect. See the other posts.

          Take a small anecdotal sample. My girlfriend and I, entering a WoW Battleground together, have about a +200% chance of winning it compared to us entering alone. Just us two working together.

          Our RNG hasn't changed but our strategy, tactics, and focus have.

          • You are completely incorrect. See the other posts.

            Take a small anecdotal sample. My girlfriend and I, entering a WoW Battleground together, have about a +200% chance of winning it compared to us entering alone. Just us two working together.

            Our RNG hasn't changed but our strategy, tactics, and focus have.

            Emphasis added. Skill is a really silly metric when the gameplay mechanics are not balanced for competitive play. For example, there is no guarantee the other team had any healers, or as many as yours did; you may have been the only two, or two more then they had, or any other nefarious duo. Players' knowledge and abilities count the most when the game is balanced. Gameplay can still be chaotic, or entirely dependent on player skill, but balanced gameplay means both sides stand an equal chance of winnin


        • Competition in WOW or any other point and click mmorpg is a JOKE. There is no skill involved. You just point click and hope your damage multiplier plays in your favour. All luck.

          Even for classes like Rogue or Paladin where I would half agree with you, this is not true.

          3D shooters as well require more skills (real live aiming/dexterity) than just aiming with the mouse.

          Most skills in MMORPG have a) a casting time and b) a cooldown. The more powerful the spell is the longer in general is his cooldown. Using a

        • by sahonen (680948)
          PvP in MMOs isn't entirely unskillful, it's just more about what decisions you make with your character build and your choices of character skills to use during the fight than your ability to manipulate the controls. I agree with your basic point that there is a higher skill ceiling inherent in a game which requires practice to master the basic mechanics (I'm a gigantic fan of Quake and would rather watch a duel in there than WoW PvP any day), but basing the skill of a game more around decision-making than
          • If the game allowed you to try out different builds without starting over,...

            Guild Wars does this. All max weapons of the same type (swords, axes, hammers, bows,etc...) have the same damage level, as all max armor for every class all have the same armor rating. You can change your skills for free as long as you're in an outpost, you can change your secondary class at will (for PvP characters. For PvE characters, you have to pass a certain point in the story line first). You can get to max potential (max level, all attribute points) in 4 hours depending on which campaign you start i

      • "[...] and we went back to our real characters."

        Interesting choice of words.

      • by sahonen (680948)
        I honestly don't see why having to grind through 80 levels just to try out a different character build that may or may not actually work should be necessary. Giving players the ability to try out a few different builds in a private server can only increase the level of competition, it's not cheating, it's training. Real-life athletes spend countless hours off the field practicing what they do for every hour they spend actually doing it on the field. That said, I don't really see a market for mass spectator
    • *yawn* (Score:4, Funny)

      by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:14AM (#30363794)

      "amount and quality of quests, other players (major part in mmo!), raiding, instances, battlegrounds or in-game economy. MMO's are a lot about the community and other people you play with - they make the world."

      Sounds kinda like...'erm....Wall Street. Should try that other MMO called "real life." Some folks even manage to eke out a living by playing.

      • Re:*yawn* (Score:4, Funny)

        by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:16AM (#30365506) Journal

        Should try that other MMO called "real life." Some folks even manage to eke out a living by playing.

        RL has good graphics and very good immersion, but the quests suck, and the amount of grinding required to get anywhere puts Korean MMO's to shame. Besides, I'm not big on permadeath...

        • by Nadaka (224565)

          It has its perks though. If you can unlock the girlfriend achievement, it puts the "hot coffee" exploit in GTA4 to shame.

          Just be careful about upgrading to Wife 1.0, it can seg fault and an uninstall typically means you loose half your item inventory.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It seems that a public private server is contraditory by simple inspection of its name. Some friends of mine host a private server, well, for private friends. The server is used mainly at night, since we work all the day. Once I was an addicted, lost one semester of college with UO. Now I dont have more the patience to PKs, being killed unadverted of a battle between those I dont care, and that sort of crap.

      I work 9h for day, mental work. My spare time, which is short, is applied mainly to have fun, no spac

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by selven (1556643)

        Private as in "not affiliated with the government (ie. Blizzard)", not as in privacy.

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      I had a lot more fun on the 'pirate' server I played on than the real one thanks to the fact that I haven't got time to grind. I was able to bring my characters to the end game and experience the plot along the way without dozens of hours of mindless grind.

      Honestly, if Blizzard had offered a pay server like that, I'd choose that hands-down. But they don't, so I didn't have any choice. And yes, I did pay for the software.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ash Vince (602485)

      Blizzard haven't really fight against the private servers good afaik, and why would they - anyone who has ever tried any of them knows how crappy they are.

      The sad part here is people who might for cheapness reasons to play on those servers instead and think the game is crap, while in fact the server just sucks.

      This is exactly why Blizzard would try and shut them down, they reflect badly on the game as a whole. I know you could say only stupid people would think this, but stupid people can still post there opinion to the internet :)

      (See, told you so)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by geminidomino (614729) *

        This is exactly why Blizzard would try and shut them down, they reflect badly on the game as a whole.

        No, it's entirely about control. If they werre worried about things "reflecting badly on the game as a whole", they would have removed All-chat from the Barrens years ago.;)


      • This is exactly why Blizzard would try and shut them down, they reflect badly on the game as a whole. I know you could say only stupid people would think this, but stupid people can still post there opinion to the internet :)

        The interesting thing here is: most countries in the world have laws. USA is one exception (that it has a few laws mainly concerned about how to properly execute a victim) has laws also, yes, but mainly has court law.

        In other words: in europe there is no law that prevents you from runni

    • RO private servers are often better than official servers. So it can be done well, just there is a terrible signal:noise ratio.
    • by Touvan (868256)

      I've been on a few decent ones - dethpod comes to mind. Also, I have no problem at all with not paying Blizzard - I bought the game, and played for a few months (only a few hours a month, and still payed $15 a month). I don't feel like I owe them anything.

    • <quote>The sad part here is people who might for cheapness reasons to play on those servers instead and think the game is crap, while in fact the server just sucks.</quote>

      It wouldn't surprise me to learn that this is their major motivation for this type of action. Lots of people will try out the cheaper option before shelling out for the full game, and too many crap servers might just cut this section out of their bottom line.

  • Legality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Raumkraut (518382) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:15AM (#30363802)

    The article throws around "piracy", "illegal" and "copyright infringement". But what do any of these actually have to do with the servers people run?
    Surely all the "intellectual property" is encapsulated in the official client software (models, sounds, etc.), which more than likely was acquired legitimately from the developer/publisher, or is resident only on the official servers (dialogue, quest text, etc.). Third-party server developers only need reverse-engineer the communications protocol, and then implement their own quests and such.

    Is the "illegal" action involved here no more than the violation of a EULA, or am I missing something about how these servers operate?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fiftyfly (516990)
      A common method of license enforcement is a serial check upon logging onto the official server network. Hosting your own server would, of course, avoid that.

      The problem as I see it though is that many online server networks do not make it easy or enjoyable or, in cases, even possible to setup games for the enjoyment of people who already know each other - particularly if they are in the same room. Explicitly working against local lan play makes many games a poor choice for those who would wish to use them

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      Actually, that's not true. The server doesn't just let the clients community. It guides them, enforces the rules, and provides the spawns/drops. That means it needs to know everything about the maps and in-game stuff.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by daid303 (843777)

      The quests, NPCs and quite some other content is handed by the server. And might fall under intellectual property rights. As far as I know not a single MMORPG maker has gone to court with people running private servers. Usually they just send a letter threating action, and most private servers close down on that (as run by a group of friends, most of them don't have the finance or the guts to go to court over something like that)

      Some distribute full modified client versions, which is a copyright violation.

      B

      • I like that line of thinking... "since public RO servers are so bad, we made a private one which was way better, but in the end, WoW was even better that that. So it's thanks to the private RO server that we moved to WoW".
        It appears to me that you moved to WoW because RO sucked in comparison, whether public or private.
        Also, the fact that you moved to a different MMO, hosted by a different company, because of bad experience based on a private server is exactly what Blizzard is argueing here. Blizzard's fea
      • by lordkuri (514498)

        As far as I know not a single MMORPG maker has gone to court with people running private servers.

        http://www.eff.org/cases/blizzard-v-bnetd [eff.org]

    • by langelgjm (860756)

      Yeah, it just sounds like a typical corporate line about intellectual property. If the server is reimplemented (as opposed to downloaded off some warez site) by reverse engineering, seems to me the most it could be is an EULA violation. EULA probably states something like "you may only use this client to connect to authorized servers, etc."

      Depending on the particular mechanisms involved, you might be able to argue that skipping the license check is a violation of the DMCA (for example, if the private server

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dave1791 (315728)

        Why bother with reverse engineering a commercial game server and putting your work at risk in the first place? Why not instead contribute to one of the real OSS MMO projects, such as Worldforge, Open NEL or Planeshift?

        • by Shinobi (19308)

          They want something that has actually been implemented in a decently playable way in a live setting?

          Even Planeshift is a joke in comparison even to Everquest 1

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As most of you know,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Warfare_2

    For the PC version, Infinity Ward has decided to implement a new matchmaking service: IWNET working through Steam. This system is nearly identical to the console version of IWNET. Dedicated server support is removed, eliminating the ability for mods or user-created maps to be incorporated. Because the multiplayer aspect runs within Steamworks, the PunkBuster anti-cheat system utilized in previous titles has been replaced by VAC.[28] In addition, the PC version shares the same 18-player cap as the console versions (matches are a maximum of 9 vs. 9).[29] Such decisions have created some controversy amongst the PC community.

    I played it on Xbox 360. I was saying to myself: This would have been a great game if they would have had it in a version that had :

    a. A keyboard and mouse
    b. Private servers

    I could pretty much give up my Counter-Strike: Source: Gun-Game / Deathmatch addiction.

    I can understand the argument for MMOs: In order to do "massive", one needs "massive servers". I've yet to figure out the logic behind killing private servers for a first person shooter g

    • by Nursie (632944)

      Have you tried plugging a USB keyboard and a mouse into the Xbox?

      I'm not saying it'll definitely work in-game, but I've had them working on the dashboard before.

      • by sopssa (1498795) *

        Or play on PC, where there is keyboard and mouse available (plugging USB keyboard&mouse on xbox 360 wont work)

        But I guess the parent is just trolling about MW2 and all the things we've already heard and discussed before. It's offtopic too, as MMO private servers are quite a different thing than dedicated servers on FPS games.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Or play on PC, where there is keyboard and mouse available (plugging USB keyboard&mouse on xbox 360 wont work)

          You do note that the parent mentioned that one of his requirements were private servers, no? Private servers are important in first-person games. The list is too long to post here. What if valve decided to make counter-strike 1.6 a hosted solution? Just like a MMO, they could have let the servers go "dark"; people would have been forced basically throw away perfectly working software.

          It's offtopic too, as MMO private servers are quite a different thing than dedicated servers on FPS games

          I'm sure that you read the article, right? About 4 paragraphs in the BBC article has the following text:

          Games such as the hugely-popular fantasy World of Warcraft (WoW) as well as plenty of first-person shooters have spawned numerous pirated worlds.
          They are typically run by amateurs and allow gamers to assume powers unavailable in the commercial form of the game. Crucially, players rarely pay a subscription fee for the privilege of entering the world - unlike retail versions.

          As far as I can tell,

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ma8thew (861741)
        Microsoft forbids developers from supporting keyboard and mouse I believe. Besides, it would give you an unfair advantage over gamepad users.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          USB keyboards are DEFINITELY supported in some titles, for entry of text anyway. Beyond that, I know nothing. I will say that the lack of the ability to use arbitrary controllers is the only thing preventing the success of flight simulators on consoles.

          • by Ma8thew (861741)
            Yes, I know that you can use a keyboard for text entry, I was referring to using it as a game controller.
    • I've yet to figure out the logic behind killing private servers for a first person shooter game.

      Control? Instead of you making maps for it, they can sell you the same game again as a sequel where the only change is that the maps are different (and to keep people from complaining, let's throw in a few different weapons, which essentially means other skins).

  • Irony (Score:5, Informative)

    by pdusen (1146399) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:31AM (#30363872) Journal

    The fact of the matter is that, at least in the case of WoW, private servers are downright terrible. They are so incredibly bad that, after spending a few weeks trying some different ones, I was actually driven to spend money on the real deal to have a decent gameplay experience.

    Besides obvious problems like population shortage, all the servers I tried had two things in common; the first was XP scaling. In every server I tried, without fail, the exp scaling was always either too low, making it impossible to level properly through normal questing, or far, FAR too high, to the point that you'd finish a quest and have to walk a few miles to find another one you could get XP for.

    The second problem common to all of these servers is really stupid glitches, especially terrain glitches. They come in all shapes and sizes. On every private server I tried, it is basically impossible to do any quest around small houses or in a mine (unless you are part of a party or already too high of a level), because as soon as a mob notices you, ten or so mobs in other rooms notice you and charge you through the walls. On servers that already have trouble with not dealing out enough XP this is pretty damn frustrating.

    • by Aim Here (765712)

      Surprisingly it's not true of Starcraft, where the iccup server is a more pleasant place to be than battle.net. The players have more skill, newbies like me are far less likely to be stomped on by fairly good players, or worse, hackers, creating '1v1 noobs only' games, there's a ratings system which does, roughly, tell you how good your opponent is likely to be (although the lowest two rankings covers a huge skill range), and it comes with an anti-hack. I'm also led to believe that the admin does act to boo

      • by brkello (642429)
        Why is that surprising? Starcraft is a 10 year old game that is designed to be hosted on a single computer. WoW is not.
        • by Aim Here (765712)

          I don't follow you. How are either of those two factors relate to the matter of the quality of the official versus unofficial matchmaking servers for Starcraft? Was blizzard's policy 10 years ago to turn battle.net into a retard-infested shithole, but they changed policy 5 years later in time for WoW? Are the people who set up unofficial servers for RTS games somehow a nobler, gentler breed than the unofficial MMO server makers?

          The fact I can't follow your non-sequitur logic is hardly surprising, though, be

    • Re:Irony (Score:5, Informative)

      by r_naked (150044) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:23AM (#30364138) Homepage

      It must have been a very long time ago that you tried a private server, or you happened to pick a really crappy one that disabled LoS processing to save ram / cpu.

      The "terrain" issues that you speak of are a lack of 3D data in the maps (vmaps). This problem has been solved for a long time. However (at least on Trinity and MaNGOS) you can disable vmaps processing on certain maps -- this will save you some memory and cpu usage. By default only map 369 (the deeprun tram) is ignored since it has no 3D data in the maps -- we aren't sure HOW blizz handles LoS (line of sight) issues on that map.

      I would say that I am one of other scenarios ... the one that blizz doesn't like. I liked running my own server with just me and my wife playing that I quit playing on blizz's servers, and hell even started developing the database that drove the server I was using.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        problem is most people whom just want to "play" don't seem to realize that in order for private servers to work... we have to reconstruct all the server side logic that the client doesn't have access too. There are numerous projects for making private servers for pretty much every mmo and all face this issue, so unless there is an insider to dump the server side logic. Its an uphill battle to get the same playability.

        If you want your quests to happen just like in game, capture the dialog, get an idea of wha

      • by FsG (648587)

        Larger private servers (250+ simultaneous players) generally have no choice but to disable vmaps. I'm the owner of www.itrwow.com, and we have long since discovered that both trinity and mangos suffer from *serious* stability issues when vmaps are enabled. Most of the time, it's impossible to keep it running for more than a few minutes without some kind of segfault if you have hundreds of people online at once.

        And, no, this has nothing to do with hardware -- our machine has more than enough RAM and CPU capa

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe next time you should find a decent private server.
      I know a handful of them that are fantastic.

      Sounds like you had the unfortunate bad luck to play on a funserver without los support compiled.

  • by spyrochaete (707033) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:45AM (#30364372) Homepage Journal

    I wish decommissioned MMOs like Tabula Rasa and Auto Assault could be released to the public for private server admins to host. Unlikely to happen, so it remains my wish.

    • Well, if there are dedicated people to it, a resurrection could be well possible, as it's currently under way with another MMO that ceased to exist years ago. Reverse engineering MMO servers and reimplementing them without access to the original servers is anything but trivial, though, IIRC the development for the aforementioned server took nearly three years.

      I'd guess in the case of TR it would be easier to just reuse the existing models and wrap a game around them. It could result in a more useable interf

      • You're certainly correct that it's a monumental achievement to reverse-engineer a game. I kind of wish the original developers would release a server binary or some other means of allowing people to run the servers without exposing their valuable proprietary source code.

        • It's unlikely that this could ever happen in this case. In the case of Tabula Rasa, my guess is that NCsoft wanted to kill it. First, because of the fallout with Richard Garriott and wanting to wipe out any traces that they cooperated, to kill his game, if you want. And second, in a feeble attempt to get their former TR players to play Aion. Which didn't work at all, at least in my case, if I wanted a cheap WoW knockoff I'd certainly not choose an Asiagrinder out of the hundreds of WoW knockoffs that litter

          • I agree it's unlikely NCsoft will open up TR or AA, but I'm not sure I understand your comment about TR users migrating to Aion. Does Aion have anything in common with TR other than the publisher?

            • Well, early Tabula Rasa [youtube.com] looked quite a bit like Aion [youtube.com] does now. Maybe NC thought setting doesn't matter, I don't know. TR players did get a free 3 months sub of Aion, too as a "farewell" package, and the shutdown of the servers occured at the same time they planned to open up Aion for Europe/US (which was delayed, so it didn't quite work out the way it was planned), so I'd guess there is a connection, yes.

              Problem is, though, I wanted to play a Sci-Fi game with a FPS feel to it, not the 10th fantasy grinder f

      • by Jaysyn (203771)

        Are you talking about Dark Sun: Crimson Sands by any chance?

        http://indiesandsproductions.com/ [indiesands...ctions.com]

    • There is one project called SWGEmu [swgemu.com] that is based on Star Wars Galaxies PreCU [swgemu.com]. It is the old version of Star Wars Galaxies and it is an open source server replacement for the original Star Wars Galaxies server.

      It is rare to see such a project, and it is still under development, but has a lot of promises. The Star Wars Galaxies client CD-ROM costs $10 these days and one needs the original client to hook up to this new server.

      The same could be done for Tabula Rasa, Auto Assault and others but it would take a l

  • by ultral0rd (1595449) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:15AM (#30364672)
    Blizzard did in fact try to take some measures a couple of years ago regarding South Africa and our fleet of Private Servers. Because of the high volume of "private servers" in SA (hosting all of Blizzards games [starcraft, d1,d2,War3, and WoW]) Blizzard threatened not to ship WoW - The Burning Crusade to South Africa. This fell through as the game was oddly enough available in Zimbabwe, and so suppliers were just importing the game. This being said, one of the main reasons PS exist in SA is because our pings to Blizzard servers(and everywhere else in the world) usually vary between 600-1200ms. It can be lowered to 350, but this requires a purchase of an unshaped account (which sells for over R125 per gig). So instead, SA gamers choose to rather enjoy a lag free game, rather than a full feature game. And with local bandwidth costing almost 10% of our "blended" bandwidth some players are almost forced into using PS. I'm not saying that this is a valid excuse to host PS, but sometimes when you are forced into a corner, you just have to make do with what you have.
    • by natehoy (1608657)

      At the risk of sounding offensive when I honestly don't mean to... "forced into a corner" - I'm really struggling with that concept. Because it's a game. That you bought. I'm assuming not under some sort of threat of force, because with all the trouble I've read up on in South Africa over the years I've not seen a story about Blizzard sales reps being armed and forcing customers to buy expansion packs. But maybe it never made the headlines,

      Umm, if the game as shipped doesn't perform in your region, it i

      • You sound like an American. Most Americans have no concept of how annoying it is to not have servers near you for any games. It's totally baffling to a lot of you guys.

        I've seen Americans quit games like TF2 and L4D when their pings hit 60 because they're too high. My god! The lowest I've ever gotten was 65 ping - usually closer to 130, or as high as 170 - and I'm in Canada. I know people from Australia that average 240-300 ping. These are first-world countries with direct links to the US, so I imagine Sout

  • ...and that responsibility compels us to protect our rights.

    I always love it when some major corporation making billions of dollars plays themselves off as some kind of victim. They were forced into it. Right. Reminds me of the the mob. We's didn't want to whack Joey, but der was no other choice. Hey, he was gonna rat, we had to do it.

    Those poor, poor mega-billion dollar corporations. So victimized.

    • by Yosho (135835) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:53AM (#30365202) Homepage

      Those poor, poor mega-billion dollar corporations. So victimized.

      Just because a company has lots of money doesn't mean they don't have rights.

      If a company makes a game, they own it. If you want to play it, you have to agree to their terms. If you don't like their terms, ok, go away and play a different game. Sorry, you don't get to play the game and ignore the rules. Is that really so hard to accept?

      • by BobMcD (601576)

        Just because a company has lots of money doesn't mean they don't have rights.

        If a company makes a game, they own it. If you want to play it, you have to agree to their terms. If you don't like their terms, ok, go away and play a different game. Sorry, you don't get to play the game and ignore the rules. Is that really so hard to accept?

        It becomes hard to accept when paired with the concept of the game being 'sold' to me, yes. The subscription fee makes sense in that light. If I don't like your rules, I stop giving you my $15. Potentially, I take my $15 elsewhere. But to do that, I have to commit up to $50 for the core game and $50 for expansions, if only the most recent one. Remove the $50/year surcharge for the expansions and I suppose we'd be back on more equal ground. Until then I assume I was sold something and that this thing s

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          How is that an argument at all? Nowhere in their terms do they allow you to use private servers if you decide to stop paying. Who would subscribe if they did?
          If you don't like the terms presented to you, don't give them any money. It's not that hard of a concept.

      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>If a company makes a game, they own it. If you want to play it, you have to agree to their terms. If you don't like their terms, ok, go away and play a different game. Sorry, you don't get to play the game and ignore the rules. Is that really so hard to accept?

        There's two parts to buying World of Warcraft. You give them $40 or so for the game. Ok. And you give them 10 or 15 bucks a month for the subscription.

        If you don't pay the subscription, *you still own the game*. If you want to fuck around look

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by WizarDru (1695812)

      Those poor, poor mega-billion dollar corporations. So victimized.

      Mega-billion dollar corporations? I guess if 'mega' translates to 2.9 (in 2007), then yes. For ALL of Activision-Blizzard, not just Blizzard...remove console sales from their and you lose between 1-2 billion. But assuming you meant 'mega' just as a pejorative, sure. Still, I'm not sure what your point is. Are you saying that simply because they're successful, that they rescind all legal rights to protect their interests? That if someone

    • by dave1791 (315728) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:01PM (#30366142)

      The principle is simple. You pay them 50 cents a day and they let you spend as many hours on their servers as you want. It is win-win for everyone until you bring an unwarranted sense of entitlement to the table. It's not food or medicine that Blizzard sells, its freaking entertainment. You CAN go without it and going without it would probably actually be good for you. If you don't like their terms, go elsewhere.

      • by natehoy (1608657)

        I guess my only problem with the business model is that they sell the game for largely the same price as everyone else charges for their games, but to play they want to force you on to their own servers. Ideally, the servers should be good enough that I'd want to pay for them, but I should still be able to get some use out of what I paid for without a recurring monthly fee. Or the game client should be freely available for download. Either way.

        But, as you say, "if you don't like their terms, go elsewhere

        • by brkello (642429)
          Your math is completely off. You can get WoW and all it's expansions for about $35. New expansions are not $50-$100. I think they are $30 to $40 when they come out? And then they drop. They don't even come out every year. $15 is the worst case scenario. If you but multiple months, it is cheaper. On top of that, they have free 14 day trials where you can download it and try the game for free.

          I don't play the game any more, but your cost complaint is a bit ridiculous. You get a ton of content that i
          • by natehoy (1608657)

            I was referring to when it first came out. Hence my use of the term "at first". The game itself was in the $50 range, and I could buy most other games in that same price range. Other games that did not require monthly fees to play. I would have been OK with the monthly fee. I would have been OK with the cost of the game. I was not and am not OK with both.

            I'm not arguing that such a model should be illegal, or is unethical, or whatever. It's a game, and they can charge what they like for it, and model

            • by Arivia (783328)

              Cataclysm isn't out yet. Your first month (in addition to the 14 days) is free (it's included in the core game.) You don't need Wrath to start playing, either. The Battle Chest will do you fine for at least a month.

        • by Cyrus20 (1345311)
          you can download the game client for free what you pay for is the account not the software
      • by Wildclaw (15718)

        I pay, they provide a service for me. I don't pay, they don't provide a service for me. I am fine so far. It is when they want to stop me from getting a service from someone else that I have to my middle finger at them. Of course, with the locked market capitalism that is practiced in most countries around the world, it is not strange to see that kind of entitlement.

        If you don't like their terms, go elsewhere.

        But wasn't that was exactly what you argued against?

        • by brkello (642429)
          You are totally clueless. When someone says "if you don't like it, go elsewhere", they mean go to another company. If you don't like the price on a Toyota Prius, you don't have an expectation to be able to buy a Prius from Ford. Same with WoW. You don't like it, play one of the many other MMORPGs out there. The fact that you have an expectation that Blizzard should allow other people to provide service for a game that they created in its entirety just shows that you completely unreasonable you are.
          • by Whorhay (1319089)

            What is unreasonable is that Blizard will actively persecute anyone running a private server that they deem worthwhile. Selling a client that is restricted to only using their servers is sketchy but widely accepted as proven by many posts in this discussion. Frankly I don't care about EULA's, I buy a product and I'll use it however I see fit. I'm not really interested in playing WoW anymore, I quit over a year ago. But if someone set up a server allowing me to use the same client to explore a totally new ga

      • The principle is simple. You pay them 50 cents a day and they let you spend as many hours on their servers as you want. It is win-win for everyone until you bring an unwarranted sense of entitlement to the table. It's not food or medicine that Blizzard sells, its freaking entertainment. You CAN go without it and going without it would probably actually be good for you. If you don't like their terms, go elsewhere.

        Not really, no. I would agree if they only charged you for days that you logged in on, but that's not the case.

  • I wish there was an alternative platform that wasn't so damned tied into the corporate money-hungry mindset. The only reason this is an issue is because the priority is money, rather than having fun. I'll stick to ID games that can be hacked and extended without all the corporate bullsh#t.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dave1791 (315728)

      The only reason this is an issue is because the priority is money, rather than having fun.

      Company wants to make money, news at 11.

  • From the summary, emphasis mine:

    "had strict codes of conduct and rules, as well as a high degree of customized content (such as new currency, methods of earning experience, the ability to construct buildings and hire non-player characters, plus 'permanent' player death) unavailable in the retail version of the game."

    Why would anyone want to play on a server that could kill them?

    Player - the fat slob (anecdotal evidence to be sure) sitting in front of the computer.
    Character - the blob of pixels that represent the aforementioned fat slob within the game.

    (I'm shooting for Funny, but Insightful is okay, too).

  • So how do private servers get made? Are they based on leaked code, running something that ships with the game in a different way, or are they written from scratch?

  • by dave1791 (315728) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @12:34PM (#30366676)

    Seriously, for all of the "corporate bashing" in this thread; either complaining about subscription models or justifying reverse engineering, why is it that open source MMO projects don’t thrive? I remember when Ryzom was up for sale and a former community manager launched a very public campaign to raise funds to open source it. There was a lot of buzz. After it fell through, at least two OSS MMO projects sprung up from it; one game project which died within a week and another framework project which has one active developer (me) three years later. At least four other framework and game projects (Planeshift, WorldForge, Open NEL, Peragro Tempus) also tried to recruit among that populace. Of them, three are limping along with 1-3 active developers with only Planeshift having an active development community.

    So why are people not clamoring to work on OSS MMO frameworks so that communities can run OSS worlds?

    • by AntiDragon (930097) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @02:45PM (#30368478)

      Time and Effort and Expectations.

      The thing is, reverse engineering an existing game and duplicating whatever scripts or behaviours are needed on the server side to allow the commercial client to connect is far less work than doing it from scratch.

      To put it another way, for most OSS projects, you are your own master. You write the code when you feel you have the time and (unless you have some sort of mutually agreed deadline) there's no particular pressure to fix a bug other than the pressure you put upon yourself. For an MMO, there are players, live, playing on your server all the time. There's constant pressure - technical improvements and bugs to squash, desire for new content, need administration and various disputes to solve. MMOs are 24-7 and likewise so are the demands from your player base.

      When you create a server for an existing MMO, you only have to match what already exists. No one will be hounding you to add new content - the original developers will be doing that. You also have the momentum of an existing game with an existing fan base and it's own momentum and quite often a world that's been fleshed out with history, lore and so on. Create your own and you have to do that from scratch, you have to let people know you exist and you have to create both server *and* client.

      Projects like Planescape show that it can be done but ultimately it's the harder path. MMO players tend to have a reputation for whining too, so I doubt it's the most thankful development hobby you could have!

      (I have no first hand experience either way but this seems a likely explanation to my mind)

  • The reason that Blizzard et al are attempting to keep server code private is that if you only have one (or a central group of) server(s), you can tie that server into your billing / CD key verification server and make sure that people pay to play, which is not the case with private servers.

    Ongoing payment is the core business reason for MMOs. Of course they're going to use everything in their arsenal to protect it.

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin

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