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First Person Shooters (Games) XBox (Games) Games

Dedicated Halo 2 Fans Keep Multiplayer Alive 239

Posted by Soulskill
from the never-surrender dept.
On April 15th, Microsoft terminated Xbox Live support for the original Xbox console, marking the end of online multiplayer for many older games. However, a group of Halo 2 players have refused to give up online play by leaving their consoles on and connected since then. Overheating consoles and dropped connections have taken their toll, but at present, 13 players are still going strong.
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Dedicated Halo 2 Fans Keep Multiplayer Alive

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  • MS should... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blahplusplus (757119) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @06:46AM (#32011970)

    really be required to legally release server side software for the PC to enable people to play their Xbox games. Quite frankly I really hate this bullshit service where companies have control over games people paid for in a "forced obsolescence" model of attempting to control the lifespan of a product and when to torch it to force people to upgrade.

    It's unfortunate that the copyright and software licensing nazi's got control of the law due to the ignorance of the people.

    • Re:MS should... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:12AM (#32012122) Journal

      No, what CONSUMERS "should" do is to QUIT buying software that's subject to such prone-obsolescence systems. If consumers are too stupid or unable to resist buying the latest and greatest despite such issues, then companies will continue to find it in their financial best interests to do so.

      At least with a PC, there are methods to hack around this (even WoW has private servers, illegal but they're there), but now you see part of the actual total-cost-of-ownership for that console.

      • Re:MS should... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by blahplusplus (757119) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:27AM (#32012226)

        "No, what CONSUMERS "should" do is to QUIT buying software that's subject to such prone-obsolescence systems"

        Reality is people are too stupid to do this because the do not understand their rights, the informed minority is outnumbered by the ignorant majority. In theory the free market is supposed to work this way, in practice it absolutely does not as we've seen again and again.

        • by Anpheus (908711)

          The same tired argument comes up every time the government adds a new safety standard because X number of preventable deaths occurred. Free market advocates say, "Well the market should sort out whether a safety feature is added!" And sometimes they even rehash the tired, "But people will drive safer if they know they could die at any moment!" argument. The former never happens, it just never does. You can wait until the end of time, the only people who choose to pay for safety, even if ends up reducing cos

          • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

            I agree, the market doesn't work. The games should have a clear "ends by" date on the label, with the publisher allowed to extend past but not prematurely terminate the server.

            It would cost lots of server-side intellectual property to release the source code, especially if it's a licensed server engine. I don't think the appropriate response is to release the code anyway. If not one programmer type is interested in the game it still dies in that case.

            If the consumers cannot inform themselves then we must

            • I like this idea...

              It is misguided to suggest that MS should be forced to release the server source or anything like that, but in exchange for not doing so, would it be so hard to put a label promising XX years of service? It would force them to carry a liability on their balance sheet though--could be bad if the game is a total flop--so I could see them offering relatively short guarantee periods with extension being the status quo on any popular game.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hansamurai (907719)

          Not sure how this is a failure of the free market, there are plenty of other choices out there besides Xbox Live and lots of people select them. Heck, Halo 2 is available on Windows if you want to play multiplayer, or you can even use third-party online services to still play on the Xbox. There are solutions out there to those who still want to play.

        • Re:MS should... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @10:16AM (#32014066) Homepage Journal

          Reality is people are too stupid to do this because the do not understand their rights, the informed minority is outnumbered by the ignorant majority. In theory the free market is supposed to work this way, in practice it absolutely does not as we've seen again and again.

          You call them too stupid. I call them people who do not care if they can play these games on Xbox Live six years later. The game still has LAN support. The fact that only a couple dozen people cared enough to try to do something about it is proof that nobody really cares. I just bought Halo 3 ODST because it finally had a major price drop at Costco ($25.) I don't care that one day, the only way I'll be able to do multiplayer is on a LAN. I'm sure I'll get $25 of enjoyment out of it, and I don't even have Live Gold. To some people it was worth $60 to get it when everyone else got it so they could play online, I'm not that guy.

        • "people are too stupid to do [stop buying this type of software] because they do not understand their rights"

          What 'rights' are you talking about? The customer bought a license to a software game, that included online play as long as the vendor hosted servers, which they never contracted to do forever The vendor no longer hosts servers. They haven't repossessed the game. Have they breached the license, or any other legally implied duties?

          Then what 'rights' are you referring to with your aggrieved pop

        • by LordMyren (15499)
          Not sure how consumers are supposed to understand the dangers. Halo 1 was released November 2001... gamers were supposed to avoid buying Halo 1 and every intervening xbox game for nine years because Microsoft may potentially be royal jerkoffs and decide for absolutely no good reason to shut down the old servers? That seems like a potentially large self sacrifice, considering how improbable it is Microsoft would be such absolute turd-sandwiches. The reality is, its incredible Microsoft pursued such a very
      • by ShecoDu (447850)

        I hate having to be the one going against slashdot's popular opinion, but not everybody is interested in playing the same game for several years.

        The common gamer just wants new games with better graphics every once in a while.

      • by Narcogen (666692)

        No, what CONSUMERS "should" do is to QUIT buying software that's subject to such prone-obsolescence systems. If consumers are too stupid or unable to resist buying the latest and greatest despite such issues, then companies will continue to find it in their financial best interests to do so.

        At least with a PC, there are methods to hack around this (even WoW has private servers, illegal but they're there), but now you see part of the actual total-cost-of-ownership for that console.

        The total cost was never hidden. Halo 2 cost $50, and if you wanted to play online, you needed XBL Gold, which cost $50/yr. They aren't just seeing the TCO now, it was always immediately obvious. If you were paying that just to get Halo 2 online, then now it is not worth it to you-- so stop paying it. You're no longer getting the service, but you're no longer paying for it. There is no loss there. If you own a 360 and you have other games you can play online (like Halo 3) you can decide if that is worth $50

        • I'll also point out that if MS isn't allowed to say 'we're no longer offering the service, so feel free to stop giving us $50/year,' you're not allowed to say 'I'm no longer offering you $50/year, so feel free to stop giving me the service.'

      • How exactly are they supposed to know before-hand that the system will no longer be supported in the future?
      • At least with a PC, there are methods to hack around this (even WoW has private servers, illegal but they're there), but now you see part of the actual total-cost-of-ownership for that console.

        They have that for Xbox as well; it's called xbconnect.

    • Re:MS should... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tophermeyer (1573841) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:39AM (#32012288)

      Not trying to be a douche here, but the game is almost 6 years old and runs on an outdated service that was generally limited to an outdated console. The last original Xbox's were sold in 2006, and have not been supported by Microsoft for almost a year (seriously any original Xboxes that need service and are somehow still under warranty are simply replaced by an Xbox 360). People that buy multiplayer intensive video games have to enter into that knowing that the game will not be supported indefinitely. I can understand your criticism if it were directed at the mass of sports games that are re-released every year, but not this.

      Plus, the game still runs fine in single player and over system link. The only thing that is being discontinued is XBLive support, which Microsoft never promised would be maintained in perpetuity. Its not like MS is sending people out to repossess the disks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The point is that if the server was freely available (like the vast majority of PC games until fairly recently) no-one would give a damn whether Microsoft was still supporting it, they'd just keep on playing anyway.
      • Re:MS should... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by peragrin (659227) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @08:13AM (#32012582)

        Every once in a while I pull out my diablo ii cd's and play

        certian movies put me in mood to play a turn based strategy game that came out in 1997 to the point I will install windows to play it.

        Good games hold their replay value. Companies that limit that value undermine future game sales.

      • But the only financial incentive to keep the server software private is to force these people to buy the Xbox 360 and Halo 3 if they want to keep playing online.

        The Xbox is dead, so stop supporting the servers, but give away the software for fans to continue using it.

      • And the incremental cost to continue providing the service is what? I'd like to think it's very small, especially if no one is playing the game anymore. What, you just have to keep a VM running? Big deal.

        But, OK, let's pretend it is a big deal and look at this another way. Why not create and release (even sell) a server version that allows others to connect? The community will find a way to post these private servers in a list so that others can connect. Of course the nicest solution is to release the sour
      • by ukyoCE (106879)

        WOW is 6 or more years old, Counter-strike is going on 10+ years old. Both are still hugely popular multiplayer games.

        WOW has continued being updated so thats a bit less of a fair comparison, but I think the point remains. Multiplayer games have a lot more longevity than single player games.

        The market started with PC online play where anyone can run a server. I don't think anyone really expected to have the primary gameplay of their console games to be turned off indefinitely.

        Look at Diablo, Diablo2, and

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vahokif (1292866)
      The solution is simply to not buy consoles.
    • by Narcogen (666692)

      really be required to legally release server side software for the PC to enable people to play their Xbox games. Quite frankly I really hate this bullshit service where companies have control over games people paid for in a "forced obsolescence" model of attempting to control the lifespan of a product and when to torch it to force people to upgrade.

      It's unfortunate that the copyright and software licensing nazi's got control of the law due to the ignorance of the people.

      This is bogus. Online multiplayer is NOT included in Halo 2. It is a separate subscription fee (Xbox Live Gold). There is absolutely no legal basis whatsoever to justify forcing MS to release this functionality, because it was never included in the price you paid for Halo 2; it was always separate.

      If you weren't an Xbox Live Gold subscriber, then you're not missing out on anything now that you had before, because online play was never available to you anyway. If you're paying the XBL Gold fee to play Halo 2

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tlhIngan (30335)

        This is bogus. Online multiplayer is NOT included in Halo 2. It is a separate subscription fee (Xbox Live Gold). There is absolutely no legal basis whatsoever to justify forcing MS to release this functionality, because it was never included in the price you paid for Halo 2; it was always separate.

        If you weren't an Xbox Live Gold subscriber, then you're not missing out on anything now that you had before, because online play was never available to you anyway. If you're paying the XBL Gold fee to play Halo 2

    • by dskzero (960168)
      Welcome to the world of consoles.

      You play as long as they want you to, the shove the next thing they want you to play down your throat. As much as people hate to admit it, consoles are for the ADD generation. Would they be able to set up private servers?
    • by uncledrax (112438)

      This is just a good reason to dislike the Match Making type concept instead of a proper mechanism that can permit you to 'Connect via Direct IP'.

      Forcing either Match Making or Server-Browser only it just abusive.

      That said, I wouldn't be surprised if someone comes out with a Xbox1 compatible server emu.

    • Re:MS should... (Score:4, Informative)

      by cgenman (325138) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @11:18AM (#32015364) Homepage

      Please investigate the situations of individual titles before suggesting blanket solutions.

      Halo 2 is being end-of-lifed in no small part because it relies on an outmoded Xbox 1 Live server ecosystem. This has limited the Xbox 360 to a specific number of friends on their friends list, older types of interactions with people online, etc. There are a lot of people asking for upgrades to the Xbox that have been blocked for this one particular game, which Microsoft has kept alive for 4 years after the original console (that didn't sell that well anyway) went away.

      All of this relies upon Xbox Live. The game expects friend requests, chat requests, server pings, score update connections, DLC purchases, etc. All of these things are signed and protected to prevent A: online cheating, B: griefers, C: penis spam. Further, they have legal commitments to their partners to keep Xbox Live a secure system. This doesn't apply to most individual PC titles, as they are essentially standalone.

      For Microsoft to release official software that allowed people to play Xbox 1 games like Halo 2 online, they'd have to release large chunks of Xbox Live. Then they'd need to do things like strip out any dedicated IP's, Oracle database calls, other copyrighted code, etc that might be floating around in there. What would people get? An impenetrable mess that, at best, would still require a fake NAT and a server farm to work.

      Halo 2 fans, currently by comparison, can use SSH tunneling to create a fake LAN, and enjoy the game that way. This is a much more sane solution.

  • Unofficial route.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @06:57AM (#32012046) Homepage

    Or you could go the unofficial route and play these games online using xlink kai (http://www.teamxlink.co.uk/)...

    Pity they clamped down on this with the 360, so once support for the 360 is turned off users will be screwed.

  • One commenter got close when they mentioned there should be a requirement by Microsoft to provide something that enables full play access to these older consoles and their games. I agree that they should. I doubt they ever will.

    Instead what I would hope to see is a more industrious effort to implement some sort of gateway device with tunnel or some such thing where xboxes are tunnelled into VPN in the cloud where people can host their own games and the like. I know there are some "LAN game play over inte

    • by Bakkster (1529253)

      One commenter got close when they mentioned there should be a requirement by Microsoft to provide something that enables full play access to these older consoles and their games. I agree that they should.

      What is your opinion of MMOs who shutter their servers? What if they don't have money to continue running them? What if they are simply unprofitable?

  • ...and the bandwidth required to keep Xbox (1) Live going would have been what? $5-10k a year? That's not even the pocket change that falls out of Microsoft's free soda machines.
    • by JackieBrown (987087) <dbroome@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:21AM (#32012186)

      They need that 5-10k for Bing :)

    • Probably, maybe less. The reality of a virtualized world means that there's no need for excessive amounts of extra storage due to deduolication, servers only need to start on demand to fulfill user expectancy,

      Maintenance is a joke, once a system is up and running in a virtual environment it can run anywhere in your enterprise.

      The likely reason is that there were actually too many people still using the service and not generating new revenue for MS. Good luck getting them to admit it though.

    • by LordMyren (15499)
      The hard part was continuing backwards compatibility for the XBox Live service. It would've been maybe couple hundred man hours of devel/test costs a year just to make sure XBox1 was still working as they continue to roll out enhanced Xbox360 software.

      That said, they're definitely a bunch of penny pinching scrooges. I've been businesses make similar heavyhanded "profit saving" measures w/r/t what they will and will not support, and lets just say the customers ended up not being very understanding or pl
    • by cgenman (325138)

      According to MS, the reason why certain upgrades to Xbox Live have not been possible was the continued support for Xbox 1 online titles, as they all live within the same server system. They learned a lot about flexible implementations after the original xbox, and put most of the live features within the console's system HUD. But Xbox 1 titles all have the code within the game itself, that limits their options.

      Walling off a separate Xbox 1 doesn't seem like a viable solution if everything is hardwired (and

  • by mikael_j (106439) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:13AM (#32012130)

    I seem to recall that in pretty much every discussion about "rented" software, software that doesn't work without the developer's servers or online authentication there have been cadres of fanboys who have claimed that obviously the developers (including MS) would nevar!!1 just shut down their servers without first "opening" the game so that full functionality can be retained.

    So how's that trust in corporations working out for you?

    • by brkello (642429)
      Uh, no. That's a load of crap. The only time people say anything like that is in regards to Steam. I have never seen the opinion that when MS took down its live service on the original xbox that they were going to open things up.

      So stop making stuff up so that you could feel smug.
  • Go ahead and drop support. I'll build a server, host the game and anyone can play...FOREVER!
  • by Liambp (1565081) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @08:03AM (#32012476)

    Forget about the politics for a moment. What these guys are doing is an awesome tale of human perseverance in the face of adversity. As a fellow gamer I salute them

    • I agree. I salute them for their courage and I applaud their perseverance and I embrace them for their faith in the face of adversarial forces.

  • I think what these guys are doing is cool. But is there something in the ToS which says they can continue to play as long as they don't disconnect? I would imagine that Microsoft could shut this down at any time. Quite how long they'll leave it before they do, with the bad press that would come with it, I don't know.
    • by flink (18449)

      I believe the game itself is not hosted on the XBox Live servers. Live acts as a matchmaking service, but the person who starts the game is hosting it on their box. As long as all the players stay connected, the game will continue indefinitely.

  • Was on there as well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fyrewulff (702920) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @08:17AM (#32012622)

    I was on Halo 2 aswell until a couple of days ago. Actually got recorded in the last ranked game of Halo 2.

    It's kind of neat how fast the community got friendly with each other. I actually saw teabagging completely stop once it dropped down to about 30-40 people left.

  • I could be confusing it with the original Halo, but doesn't Halo 2 support LAN play? I recall a piece of software titled GameSpy Arcade that allows XBox LAN play to be tunneled over the internet. They even provide matchmaking servers where you can meet people online, chat with them and then fire up a game. Is there any reason why this doesn't work with Halo 2?
    • by LordMyren (15499)
      I too am rather surprised VPN isnt the main story here. Interesting to hear of a matchmaking service up to aid and assist, but I would've assumed the forums and anyone who gave a shit would have rallied together and carved out a niche in whatever VPN system needed. Honestly I was really hoping it'd prompt that kind of hacker spirit in gamers, that the closure would be a net good thing by getting people involved with their infrastructure and technology again. Who knows, maybe they are doing cool things, i
    • by MeanMF (631837) *
      You're correct - you can use Xlink Kai [teamxlink.co.uk] to play with other people over the Internet for free. It works fine and there are typically hundreds of Halo 2 players online at any given moment. It's also popular in countries where Xbox Live isn't available.
  • There are other options than Xbox Live for Halo 2 multiplayer, like XBConnect [xbconnect.com]. I haven't tried using it for Halo 2, but back in the day I used it a good bit for playing some online Halo 1 multiplayer (there was no Xbox Live for Halo 1) and it was pretty sweet. Maybe not as good as Live, but still, it's something.

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