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First Person Shooters (Games) Entertainment Games

The Making of Bioshock 281

Gamasutra is running a feature from Game Developer magazine in which Bioshock's project leader writes about what went right and what went wrong making last year's award-winning shooter, Bioshock. He talks about what the developers learned from fans and focus groups, how long it took them to firmly define what the game was supposed to be, and how they tried to reconcile their ideas with their capabilities. Quoting: "...just after the first beta, the entire design team plus a contingent of 2K producers headed off to see how a group that knew nothing about our company or BioShock would react to the first level. It was brutal. The first level, they said, was overly dense, confusing, and not particularly engaging. Players would acquire new powers but not know how to use them, so they stuck to using more traditional weapons and became frustrated. They didn't interact with the Big Daddies, and they didn't understand (or care) how to modify their characters. They were so overwhelmed by dialogue and backstory that they missed key information. A few of the players did start to see the possible depth of the game, but even they were frustrated by the difficulty of actually using the systems we had created."
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The Making of Bioshock

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  • Market research!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teh moges ( 875080 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @06:45PM (#24851757) Homepage
    Here I thought market research died with the invention of mass-advertising.

    Great to see them actually test out a product, and further, fix their product before launching it.
  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @06:57PM (#24851887) Journal


    I really want this game. I've wanted it since before release, I've played the demo on an old machine, and it reminds me enough of System Shock (I and II both) that I really really want it!

    However, it uses SecureROM. I contacted the company to see if this bug had been fixed yet, and they confirmed that no, it hadn't. As such, they're not getting my money. I can live without this game, if they're going to infect my computer in order to let me play it.

    It's very simple:
    If you're going to harm my computer, you don't get my money.
    If you're going to require internet access/activation for a standalone game, you don't get my money.
    If you're going to treat me like a criminal, you don't get my money.

    Developers, it really is that simple.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:00PM (#24851943)

    They forgot the ending! Whoopsie doopsie!

  • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:02PM (#24851981)
    I thought the horror stories about SecuROM were overblown, like most things online are. Now that I've actually been through them myself (see my post above), I'm sad to say that they're not. I'm fully joining the boycott of any game or game company that utilizes this "protection scheme". The only thing it's protecting them from is my money. Sorry game developers and publishers, but it's the truth.
  • Re:that's nice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by philspear ( 1142299 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:07PM (#24852027)

    I think DRM has been covered extensively enough about this game, and has little to do with the topic at hand. There's a lot more lessons here for game developers than DRM issues. Sure that seems to have killed it for this crowd, but there's no arguing that the game had a significant impact seperately from that.

    So can we get a little less whining about a well-whined about topic and focus on what they did RIGHT?

  • by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:08PM (#24852045)
    I think the DRM is the major factor that is killing PC gaming. I know, PC gaming has been predicted to die every year for the last ten; but the difference now is that it really seems to be happening.

    On my pc now I play emulators, old games (thank you dosbox) and small, independent games. It's sad, but I'm probably going to play only the console version of Fallout III.
  • by saleenS281 ( 859657 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:20PM (#24852205) Homepage
    Some middle manager finally figured out it might net them a bit more money than "blaming it on piracy". EUREKA!
  • Re:that's nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:31PM (#24852345) Journal

    I think DRM has been covered extensively enough about this game,

    Has it been removed?

    No? Then it hasn't been covered extensively enough.

    focus on what they did RIGHT?

    Unfortunately, because of the DRM, at least one customer won't be able to see what they did right. I know I would have loved to play the game, but I flat refuse to buy it because of that DRM -- so that's another potential customer, ready to pay full price ($60 even), but I don't know what they did right, because of the DRM.

    Hear that, developers? It doesn't matter how hard you work, or how many long hours and weekends you put in. It doesn't matter how much you love your project, or how much of a piece of art it is. None of that matters if people actually avoid playing your game because of the DRM on it.

    Life is too short, and there are too many games that don't treat me like a criminal for me to waste my time on yours.

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:31PM (#24852349) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, where the DRM is built into the HARDWARE.

    Talk about boiling the frog slowly.

  • by Lead Butthead ( 321013 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:52PM (#24852557) Journal

    If they're actually paying attention to market research, they would've known that DRM completely kills it for a lot of (otherwise) PAYING customers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @07:57PM (#24852609)

    They didn't have the testers install or activate it.

  • by c0d3g33k ( 102699 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @08:11PM (#24852721)

    It's not about whether cracks are available. It's about whether cracks are necessary at all. I will not buy a game with draconian DRM, period. Purchasing the game then applying the crack to make the game playable just validates the habit of releasing defective products. Don't give them money for defective products.

  • Re:that's nice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by philspear ( 1142299 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @08:11PM (#24852729)

    Predition: jesterboy is going to be modded down for a post that PC gamer fanboys and anti-MS uh... whatever you would call them, dislike. If "-1: advocates use of MS products" were an option, that would be the one.

    I sympathize with PC gamers to some degree. I don't think you should have to choose a gaming platform based on what's available or technical problems faced. It should be about the balance of features, power, and price. I realize that's the description for an ideal world of consoles that will never come to pass.

    On the other hand, PC gamers are so arrogant about their graphics on the handful of games and get violent if you suggest that mouse and keyboard is not the solution to the world's problems.

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @08:44PM (#24853079)

    My qualification to have an opinion: I paid good money for this and played it to the end.

    My opinion: from all the hype I was expecting something much much more and was very dissapointed.

    I found Bioshock to be a fairly dull semi-on-rails shooter with an unimaginative, awkward and badly scripted plot. There were so many great possibilities plot-wise that they completely missed out on. There were parts of the plot that just made no sense and many annoying and stupidly unrealistic holes in the gameplay like when you kill a big daddy (Which was ludicrously tedious as it took so long and all your ammo but otherwise was easy) then you could walk away and turn around and the same one would be right back. Very cheap and cheesy.

    The majority of reviews were ranting about the fantastic graphics but I was suprised at how obviously low-res and fake the views out of the windows were (I mean REALLY blocky scaled up 2D bitmaps instead of 3D rendered objects even though I was playing on highest poss. graphics settings). The developers have no excuse for adopting the same cpu-cheap approach to doing background scenery that they had to do for comupters like the amiga back in the 80's. The interiors were nicely 50's retro-styled, but the graphics themselves were very average and repetetive. Its like they had a library of about 50 objects that they just kept re-using. They certainly did that with the characters. The worst thing is that given the large amount of graphics re-use you could at least expect there to be a lot of levels/playing time, but it was all over after only a few hours of playing.

    I guess I must seriously missing something but IMHO this is a really budget-quality game that has nothing at all going for it gameplay-wise, massively too much hype and no repeat playability.

    I was amazed at the sheer number of supposedly unbiased games reviewers that gave it top scores. I didn't realise how open to bribery from games producers those guys must be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @08:45PM (#24853089)

    The DRM is the reason I didn't buy it.

  • Re:that's nice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Adambomb ( 118938 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @08:46PM (#24853095) Journal

    What everyone seems to forget is that consoles are the ultimate in DRM. In fact, controlling both the hardware AND the software is the only time that one can actually consider it to be doing the job DRM is claimed to do.

    Sell the hardware for the games, sometimes at a loss,instead of selling the games for the hardware. Getting a console may not be a bad thing in and of itself, but keep in mind that thats where the games publishers want you. Less possible spec differences, less piracy, less risk of some draconian control feature screwing up something third party (IE: the OS or some other applications you're running).

    Sure that can be a solution, but in the end who is that a solution for? Granted this isn't saying owning a console is horrible and evil, it's just a good point to keep in mind if you're purchasing a console to play a game that is already available for a platform you have.

  • by Spatial ( 1235392 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @09:01PM (#24853239)
    It's really evident if you've played System Shock 2 beforehand. Bioshock is basically SS2: Simple Underwater Edition With Shit-Hot Graphics.

    Every feature they didn't remove is taken straight from it, except easier and with more limited options. The hacking, research, vending machines, character customisation, one-time upgrade points, upgradeable weapons, psychic powers, the ghosts, the logs, the plot... It's all basically the same, but simpler. Even the big plot revelation is the same.

    The whole thing stood to gain a lot from a little more sophistication in the gameplay; I think SS2 is the better game despite its dated graphics. I know what you're thinking - I'm some old fogey gamer with rose-tinted glasses - but I only got SS2 about six months before Bioshock.
  • The Tommy Gun (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mike610544 ( 578872 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:10PM (#24853875)
    It's pedantic, but their labeling this [] as "Machine Gun" kind of bummed me out. It gave me the Hollywood vibe of "any fully automatic weapon is a machine gun."

    Machine Gun []
    Assault Rifle []
    Submachine Gun []
  • Re:The Tommy Gun (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kozz ( 7764 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:24PM (#24854009)

    eh? wtf? Yeah, the name is "Thompson Submachine Gun". And if you look at your own link, submachine guns (full auto, pistol cartridge ammo) are a subset of all machine guns (fully automatic). What are you complaining about?

    If you were carping about the differences between "Assault Rifle" and "Assault Weapon", I could have backed you. But you're not makin' sense, boy.

  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:58PM (#24854313)

    I think it was overrated. I *liked* it and the drm didn't cause me any problems, althought I oppose it in principle. The problem was just what you said - the same game mechanic over and over. I had NO desire to replay. Don't think I ever got to the end - it just wasn't interesting enough. Shame because it really was a game with a lot of promise.

    I'll avoid DRM for this post (seeing as I bought the game in a Bangkok market and avoided DRM completely) and just focus on the game.

    Yes Bioshock was overrated, seriously overrated. It was extremely linear and scripted compared to its "spiritual predecessor" System Shock. Bioshock made Half-life look like an open world. Playing Bioshock was like walking through a movie, albeit a very well directed movie with excellent sets and a great story but there was absoluely no deviation from the path set by the developers. They may as well have made a rail shooter.

    Also my favourite parts of System Shock were removed, Inventory management. The game didn't force you to make choices about what weapons and equipment you were going to keep and what to leave behind because you didn't have room for it. This add's an imperial buttload of variety and re-playability into the game. Even the acute linear-ness of the game would have been offset if you needed to make a choice about how you were going to play, so the number of weapons and inventory items was limited, ammo was plentiful, all weapons were available all the time, plasmids were useless (you would either use lightning or freeze unless the story required telekinesis or fire) and above all else you couldn't die. What were they thinking when they made it impossible to die (I know that System Shock had a reincarnation system too but it needed to be activated before use meaning that you had that window of complete vulnerability).

    The "choice" to kill or save the little sisters that the game was based around was no real choice what so ever and contributed nothing to the story except for a different cut scene at the end. SPOILERS FOLLOW but if you're worried about that get over it, the game has been out for a almost year now. Even if you brutally murdered every little girl you came across "Tennenbaum" would still help you even if you kept on killing them. The much vaunted "choice" did not contribute to the gameplay one iota as every 3 little sisters you saved you would get 200 extra Adam anyway plus an item (which you couldn't sell/recycle if you didn't want it).

    Why did all of this happen, for 1 reason gentlemen, Consolization. Typically First Person Shooters have been limited to Half Life style romps and rainbow 6 style tactical shooters that have been made a bit easier and have a generous aim bot. Most of the advanced features from System Shock like inventory management would be frustrating to use with a consoles controller. Also to ensure that it was never too difficult to beat the game they completely removed the previous SS1 and 2 reincarnation system and replaced it with the "you will never die no matter how stupid or crap you are" chambers. The point of consolization is to make the game available to the widest possible audience, the method of consolization is to dumb down the game to its lowest common denominators so that every single console will have no trouble using it. Consolization not only kills the potential for new and interesting ideas in games it also kills the existing features that PC gamers have been enjoying since 1992 (SS1's release). Now some games are born to be consolized, precisely because they are not new or inventive and dont require complex control scheemes, these games are not inherently bad but they are never revolutionary and that is the impression I received from Bioshock which left me somewhat disappointed as I had expected, from various reviews and interviews with Ken Levine that bioshock would be at the least, a worthy successor to System Shock.

    Finally I'll say what I did like about it. Artistry, the game was very

  • by tylernt ( 581794 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:06PM (#24854373)

    It's creepy, weird and under the ocean, so I've gotta give 2K some props for the concept. Those Big Daddies are horrifying tankers, loved'em to bits!

    Indeed. The first time I had a Big Daddy come after me, something happened that I had never before experienced by playing a mere computer game: I ran and hid (in the game) not to avoid the annoyance of having my character get killed and having to respawn or reload, but just out of simple raw terror.

    I also found it pretty difficult to "game" the AI. You know how you can exploit the computer's tendency to do dumb things so you can wipe out your enemies effortlessly? I didn't find many weaknesses in this game's AI. About the best I could do was set them on fire from afar and then hide until the fire went out, then repeat or do a normal frontal assault after they were weakened enough. Any other cheap tactics were pretty much intended by the game designers, like zap'n'whack or hacking security systems. And the Big Daddy AI was pretty tenacious; even if you ran through multiple doors, no matter where you tried to hide, they would pursue you relentlessly. This actually worked to your advantage if you set traps for them, but otherwise made them pretty tough to beat without lots of med kits and big weapons.

    I should also mention that I appreciated the fact that the beginning weapon, the pipe wrench, remained a viable weapon (with upgrades) right up to the final boss.

    Exploring was fun too. If you went through each level completing only the necessary objectives, you'd miss about half of the map. Lots of hidey holes with powerups, and many of them nonobvious. I liked the subtlety -- it was refreshing not to have the game designers hit me over the head to show off everything they did, instead I had to go looking.

    Aside from the DRM, it's hard to point out where Bioshock went wrong. Yes, the supposed "choices" (rescue or harvest the Little Sisters) were somewhat limited, but the other complexities like gathering scrap for the U-Invent, the variety of widely disparate Plasmids, and the variety of methods for dispatching enemies (brute force, hacking, or sneaky tactics) still made it interesting.

  • by laparel ( 930257 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:59PM (#24854745)

    But which would have netted them more - losing customers who are turned off by their DRM schemes or losing customers who was able to get a copy off a torrent and never bothered to buy it even though she/he thoroughly enjoyed it?

    Has anyone ever studied that trade-off/relationship? (Oh and not those who claim that every copy of piracy is a lost sale.)

  • THANK YOU (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RyoShin ( 610051 ) <(tukaro) (at) (> on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @12:13AM (#24854861) Homepage Journal

    This is probably what went wrong with it. The fact that they went to a group with 0 knowledge about them probably meant they also had 0 interest in games. They didn't even develop for LCD, they made up a whole new denomination to develop for!

    This is becoming an increasing problem for games and movies. Early 90s when it just cost a few hundred grand to put out a game (if that), you could stick to how you liked it, shoot it through Q&A, and have at it. They didn't put games in front of large groups and ask "How would you make this?" (At least, to my knowledge.) That's exactly why the company is making the game--because these other guys aren't. So you get these awesome games that were awesome because it was just the company, not the masses, making the decision.

    I'm not familiar with the authoring process, but if someone writes a book I don't think they send it to some "random" group (and by random, we mean people walking by who were willing to spend 15 minutes in exchange for ten bucks). They'll send it to a few trusted friends, people who's opinion they trust. They'll send it to their publisher, who will ship it between a few people, also in the know. They, people who have a trusted opinion or experience, will help make decisions.

    Who here has played Portal? And have you played through in Commentary mode? If not, I highly recommend it. You get a lot of insight as to the development and planning phases. What you also get is a lot of comments about how they took this puzzle or that puzzle to a group and made changes based on that group. Most of these pieces of commentary talk about how they dumbed down the game because of feedback. Now, Portal was an amazing game. I also enjoyed Bioshock, though it had no replayability. But I often wonder how much more fun I would have had in Portal, had I been given the harder challenges.

    Rather than ask "What can we cut from this", it should be "How can we better explain/show this". Other Portal comments talked about how the puzzles were changed to draw the player's focus to certain portions in order to make them more aware of how to complete a puzzle. This is what focus groups should be about. They should be with gamers of all ranges (yes, even some without experience), but responses shouldn't cut anything, just change the length, instructions, or other things to make it work.

    I remember this big story about how you would physically change depending on choices, plasmids used, and more.

    I hope the "hacking" portion was based off of focus groups, at least. Some idiot says "You know, this technobutt stuff is confusing. Can't it be something similar, like plumbing?" Letting focus groups make your decisions can only make a game worse, not better.

  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @12:15AM (#24854881)

    When you have a ton of money to spend on making a piece of media which needs to sell a lot of copies in a very short time to break even, then you spend a portion of that ton of money making sure everybody is jumping up and down with anticipation about it.

    It's not always strictly true, but in general you won't go too far wrong following this rule of thumb: The bigger the hype, the more middling the game/movie/whatever will be, because BIG money doesn't like to take BIG risks, and so it doesn't. It's that simple. And the hype for Bioshock was VERY bought and paid for. You could see that from a mile away. It's too bad, because, as you say, there were some really excellent ideas bubbling in the stew of the marketing which could have been exploited but apparently, from what I've read about it, (I'm not a gamer anymore), were simply not and the few ideas which were followed were nothing particularly special. A middling, safe, high eye-candy game.

    The best games I ever played, (back when I still played games), were sleeper hits or Part II's riding on the coat tails of previous sleeper hits. --Or they were not even hits at all, but just games I personally enjoyed. And such is life, and no complaints. People worked and learned and played and another day went by with something interesting to do. Not every experience is going to be stand-out amazing, otherwise nothing would stand out or amaze. Still, it's nice to know that around some future corner, right when you think you've seen it all, there will be another mind-blowing surprise you completely failed to anticipate. Life is infinitely complex and wonderful this way. It's why I love being alive so much!


  • Re:that's nice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:47AM (#24855369) Journal

    Thought experiment: What if the DRM was "perfect?" That is, somehow, through magic, completely unobtrusive. The only thing it did (again, through magic) was keep you from installing the game on computers you didn't own.

    ...and thus, not completely unobtrusive.

    You see, growing up, I shared a computer with my brother. I would think "perfect" DRM would allow him to buy his own games, and install them on this computer, even though the computer was actually mine. Why shouldn't that be allowed?

    And, while using this computer, we only ever bought one copy of any given game, since, after all, only one of us could play it at a time. If the "perfect" DRM were able to magically distinguish which user was using the game, whoever bought the game would own it, and the other couldn't ever play it. Why shouldn't sharing be allowed?

    For that matter, we'd often have LAN parties. Some of us would go in the other room and play Halo. We'd hook up four controllers to the Xbox and all play, using the same copy of the game, on the same console. At these same parties, we generally used a legit, Internet-facing Counter-Strike server, which meant that everyone needed to buy Counter-Strike, though it was only some $10 or $20. Why shouldn't partying with a small group of friends be allowed, without buying a copy for each of them?

    My point is, unobtrusive DRM is an oxymoron -- not only because it's technically impossible, but because it's philosophically impossible to agree on a set of "perfect" criteria.

    We all know that if I was to "share" the game with a thousand of my closest friends from all over the world, that would be piracy. And we all know that if I bought my own copy, for myself, and only ever played it myself, on my own laptop, that would be legit. But between those extremes, there's a lot of gray.

    But I get it. You're wondering if there are any objections other than that it's obtrusive:

    Would the situation be the same? That is, if this (non-existing), magic type of DRM existed that hindered only pirates and torrent leeches, would people still be against it?

    Very likely, yes, unless you add one more component to your magical DRM: There must be no central point of control.

    You see, right now, Valve can pretty much remotely disable any of my Steam games. And I'm sure one of those licenses I clicked through gives them the right to do that, and I'm not allowed to complain (or ask for my money back).

    Even if there's no malevolence, what if Valve goes out of business? Where's the guarantee that the DRM will still work? Look at recent examples -- one of the music rental/subscription services went tits-up, and there was no way to get your music out of it -- the best they could do is give you some credits with another service. What if this new service doesn't have the same music?

    So, let's take an example where perfect DRM exists: World of Warcraft. Or any MMO.

    No disk-based protection needed -- in fact, download as many copies as you want, straight from their website. In fact, you can probably borrow a friend's computer, no problem.

    But you're still going to pay the $15/mo (or whatever it is now), and you still have to be online, and you still have to connect to their servers.

    Turns out, people don't really complain about the copy protection. And while there are a few pirate servers out there, Blizzard generally doesn't complain about them -- people will pay for the privilege to play on the actual Blizzard servers, where all their friends are.

    But that's a special case, because all of the benefits of obtrusive (but not sloppy and dangerous) DRM are inherent in the current MMO model. If WoW goes out of business, you stop playing the game, full stop.

    it could be argued that developers should work on perfecting DRM. Making it infallible stops piracy, and making it completely unobtrusive maximizes the number willing to pay and able to enjoy it.

  • Re:that's nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @01:54AM (#24855395) Journal

    I said it many times. I boycotted this game due to drm, same with orange box and the like.

    I bought Orange Box, mostly because Steam is a known animal, and I know it doesn't fuck up my computer. The only thing it requires from me is an Internet connection, and not even all the time. And on top of that, it provides a feature rare (especially among DRM-free games) -- I can download the game and install it as many times as I want, on as many computers as I want.

    SecuROM, on the other hand, has a very good chance of fucking up your computer, and it's even being done on top of Steam (meaning no physical disc), which is already plenty of DRM. When there is a physical disc, it requires that disc to be present -- or so I assume, given the ROM in its name. And it limits the total number of installs to some ridiculously small number.

    I can understand why people don't like Steam and its DRM, though, and that's just as sad -- Portal is the best game I've played in years.

  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @04:18AM (#24856049)

    In short, it's a good movie with some audience participation?

    Pretty much.

    Most FPSes are like that though.

    I disagree, most FPS's require input from the player and on occasion require choices to be made by the player that affect the outcome. Deus Ex is a prime example of this; no movie could effectively portray the games story as it changes based on what the player does.

    In Crysis - I've found you can't jump on to certain rocks (invisible barrier) just to take a different way, and some doors open and close "just because".

    Games need to have barriers and how they display these barriers is very important. Crysis had few invisible walls (quiet a few visible ones though) and did not contain many unopenable doors. Crysis did pretty well compared to may FPS, it gave you a large open space to play in as opposed to something like Half Life which leads you down a set path. My main problem with Bioshock is not that it was partially scripted to progress the story; my issue was that it was entirely scripted to prevent you from leaving the story, this isn't just a few invisible walls or painted doors.

    I can understand why choice is limited in some cases - it keeps the amount of content required to be created from growing exponentially. But in the other cases I find it annoying.

    The difference between a good FPS and a bad FPS, in a good FPS you only notice the limitations if you go looking for them; a bad FPS and the limitations are obvious and/or the game couldn't hold your interest long enough that you had to notice them

  • by walshy007 ( 906710 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @06:33AM (#24856681)

    or losing customers who was able to get a copy off a torrent and never bothered to buy it even though she/he thoroughly enjoyed it?

    It's not to stop the torrents, there will always be torrents as it only takes one skilled person to crack it, it only stops people copying a cd and handing it to a friend really, which in todays land is a lot less common than torrenting.

  • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @07:28AM (#24856953) Homepage

    Even if a DRM was magically unobtrusive, you'll still have lots of complex corner cases.

    What if two different persons own the same computer (the family's computer) should they both be allowed to play (DRM restricts per computer) or should only the owner of the game ? But then how should it function for people with several computers (laptops on the move, desktop at home) ? And what about two kids who pool money to be able to buy together an otherwise too expensive game ? (I've actually done it when I was younger) etc...
    And none of the above examples involved someone selling copies burned on DVD in some street black-market (which arguably is a more definite example of pirating).

    You see, the question of who is an "evil pirate" and who is not isn't straigh-forward. Once you go in detail you either have to put arbitrary limitations and/or use a byzantine complex licensing scheme.

    So even with a magic DRM, the DRM won't satisfy everybody.
    And currently we don't have "magic" technology so good DRM are even more difficult to achieve.

    Whereas, *not* using DRM doesn't require any skill that we don't posses already.

    No, as I've often said before, DRM isn't the magic bullet that solve everything from piracy specially when getting the pirated software is only a torrent away.

    Other models have to be found.
    - If you manage to create enough dedicated fans some of them will be willing to pay for the game just because they like it.
    - If you manage to create an incentive to buy the game maybe more people will do it (with proper packaging for exemple. The games I remember from when I was a kid always came with lots of things like maps, useful books, etc... - currently a game is just a CD/DVD slapped inside a soft plastic case along with a leaflet telling you to read or print the PDF on the disc if you really want some documentation - no added value between a bought game and a CD-R one burns oneself)

    Or maybe some other means to get the revenue to the game maker have to be found.
    - Ad-sponsored game may indeed have some future-
    - Or donation supported development could maybe be feasible for some indie developper.
    - Or resurect the shareware model like used by ID software back in the days (episode 1 of the game is free for everyone to share. Only pay it if you like it. And then you can buy the commercial episode 2 and 3 if the game is good and you're hooked to it). ... there's much success to be made if people would start thinking about better scheme to finance development.
    Sadly, there are much more ressources dedicated to finding "better" DRMs (and often buying more "snake oil" in fact) than trying to find more efficient ways to get the money to the developers.

  • by thepotoo ( 829391 ) <> on Wednesday September 03, 2008 @08:17AM (#24857227)

    Hit the nail on the head with that post. Bioshock came across (to me) as a simplified version of SS2. If you wanted a real spiritual successor to SS2, try Vampire The Masquerade - Bloodlines. Once you've fought the werewolf (almost final boss), nothing in computer games will ever scare you again.

    Bioshock had an incredibly cool opening movie, but if choosing whether or not to kill someone makes a game "art", RPGs were art more than a decade ago.

"In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be saved." -- Butler