Experienced Points: Dear Santa

By Shamus
on Dec 26, 2010
Filed under:
Column

I wrote a letter to Santa, but I don’t have his address, so I sent it in to the Escapist and pretended it was my weekly column. And they bought it! Suckers!

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  1. Mari says:

    I’m thinking Activision’s lump of coal is a lost cause. I saw Bobby kissin Santa Claus right outside of Microsoft last June.

  2. krellen says:

    Reading the Escapist comments, I get depressed. It’s very disheartening to see that people will swallow DRM and dial-in checks so long as there are “OMG AWESOME SALES”.

    Mary Poppins was right about that spoonful of sugar, and Steam’s got a whole cup.

    • Samkathran says:

      I’ve been reading the Steam forums a bit while the holiday sale is going on, and trust me, you don’t want to look there either. Basically, when Price of Persia games went on sale, everybody gave in and said, “I think Ubisoft DRM is the worst thing ever, but for $5, I’ll buy the games anyway.” I’m not sure if Ubisoft still uses the same horrible DRM, or if the Steam versions have it, but everyone seemed to be willing to put up with it regardless.

      As your fellow didn’t-have-steam-until-New-Vegasite, I have to admit it’s difficult for me to stay angry with it. I still don’t like being required to log into Steam to play anything (I concede that is very nice for people who like multiplayer gaming) or the forced updates (they really need to improve the update system), but it’s hard to hate it when it’s just a couple seconds to log in and it’s not much of a resource hog. It’s even harder to stay mad when some of the alternatives are just plain awful… but at least we all agree that DRM-free games are the best, right?

      Right…?

      What really riles me up are people who insist that their games have Steam DRM on them. Take the Humble Indie Bundle for example, they added Steam keys because that was their top request from buyers. To reiterate, the most common request to an amazing charity event with an incredible offer of no strings attached, pay what you want, DRM-free, high quality indie games was… to add DRM. I was so sad the day I got that email…

      Needless to say, I deleted it and my games remain DRM-free.

      Edit: Oh, I forgot to mention the people who refused to get the HIB before it had Steam keys. Donating to a wonderful charity wasn’t good enough, neither was paying a single penny tempting enough, IT HAD TO BE ON STEAM OR NO DEAL. I’m going to go cry now.

      • CruelCow says:

        Steam isn’t just DRM. It’s a system with many advantages and disadvantages. DRM is one of the disadvantages, but it’s not all that Steam is.

        The humble bundle is the perfect example: You don’t lose your old method of acquiring it (afaik), so you get all the upsides with pretty much no downsides. The day the added DRM gets in your way (if it does), you just go back to the official web site. Nothing lost.

        • Samkathran says:

          True, in the case of HIB, you are free to choose which provider you prefer, and nobody is worse off because of it. It just shows how people are willing to put DRM on their DRM-free games and it’s rather disappointing in my eyes, especially after we protest about every other DRM out there. What makes it worse is that the most common reason (that I’ve seen) for choosing Steam over other sites or even charity events is because they can’t keep track of where they’re buying from or what their passwords were. Basically, they’re inept. It’d be like shopping at one retail store your entire life because you’d be too confused to remember if you bought your TV from Sears or Best Buy.

          However, not all games are like HIB. Some games, like Fallout: New Vegas and Civilization V, require Steam. There’s no way around it, and it’s quite frustrating. While Steam may have its own share of advantages and disadvantages, none of the advantages appeal to me. They offer nothing that I need or want. So actually, for people like me, Steam is in fact just DRM, and I don’t like it for that reason. If I could choose when to use the Steam client, like when I want to download an update, buy a game, or hypothetically check my friends list, and just play my games client-free otherwise, then I would be very happy. I just don’t see that happening anytime soon.

          • Zukhramm says:

            It’s not at all like shopping at one store for the rest of my life. When I want to use my TV I don’t have to go to the store I bought it from, but when I want to install a game again I do need to go back to were I got it, and then I’d rather have them all from the same place.

            • krellen says:

              It’d be more ideal if you didn’t have to go call someone for permission to use the stuff you bought though, wouldn’t it?

              Anyway, I still think Impulse has all the advantages and none of the disadvantages, and really don’t see what’s so great about Steam.

              • X2-Eliah says:

                More stuff for sale. That’s it.

              • Zukhramm says:

                I never said it was perfect, only that it was not at all like shopping in only one store for the rest of your life, and that I’d rather have all my games in the same place. Since I already have games on Steam, I’d rather buy my next game from Steam. I guess that’s the point of the cheap sales.

          • evileeyore says:

            “Some games, like Fallout: New Vegas and Civilization V, require Steam.”

            I purchased Fallout: New Vegas. However as I hate Steam I also picked up the “Steam-Free” version so I could play it.

            I’m pretty sure I could find Civ 5 steam-free as well if I wanted to.

      • Primogenitor says:

        Machinarium does not appear to have steam-DRM added – it works fine with or without steam running. The others do indeed have Steam DRM added.

        And I think the request was for many reasons, such as people trust Valve to keep running for longer than a small website, or to save the small website bandwidth (though now torrents are avaliable as a download method).

        • Samkathran says:

          Hm, I suppose the longevity of the site is a legitimate concern. However, they do mention that part of the DRM-free deal is that you can back up your games as many times as you like. They also already encourage this because, as you said, it helps them save bandwidth if you reinstall from your disc rather than their site.

          But then people will tell me that they’ll lose their discs or something, and once again Steam is the ONLY way (to save them from their own ineptitude).

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        I still don’t like being required to log into Steam to play anything (I concede that is very nice for people who like multiplayer gaming) or the forced updates (they really need to improve the update system), but it’s hard to hate it when it’s just a couple seconds to log in and it’s not much of a resource hog.

        And there is still the “save password” (which removes your involvement in the logging in), and “offline mode” (which removes the checking at startup “load”) to help mitigate even the last few bits.

        • Samkathran says:

          Except you need to log in to activate offline mode (self-defeating activation FTW!) and all of your games have to be fully updated. That just adds extra steps!

          I do, however, save my password for a speedy log in. :)

          • Ringwraith says:

            You only need to log in once to make sure Steam’s satisfied that all your games are up-to date, after that, you can run it in offline indefinitely until you want to use Steam’s online features or want to install another Steamworks game, as you can make offline mode the default setting if you like.

          • Integer Man says:

            Yeah. I hate that. It’s kind of a big deal when your internet connection frequently drops to 20 kb/s.

            STEAM – fix offline mode! PLEASE!

      • PurePareidolia says:

        Registering with steam doesn’t actually prevent you from playing the DRM free versions – it just means next time you download them you can use Steam’s servers instead. It essentially just means I have a backup set of games.

        I’ve actually got a lot of games in retail and steam form simply for convenience and there’s nothing forcing me to use the steam versions instead of the DRM-free versions.

        And yes, Steam Prince of Persia uses the same DRM system as non-steam PoP. As does Assassin’s Creed 2 and Splinter Cell Conviction. All would be pretty fun but I wouldn’t buy them at any price with that DRM…

        • Samkathran says:

          Oh, I know using Steam doesn’t prevent anyone from getting the games from Wolfire, but perhaps I got a little too zealous in my first post and it sounded like that, heheh.

          I never really considered keeping both Steam and non-Steam versions of a game handy though. Certainly an understandable position to take (as long as you’re not spending $100 per game!). I guess I’m still grumpy about New Vegas and Civ 5 being steam-exclusive and got caught up in a false dichotomy.

          Still, people getting so wrapped up in Steam that they won’t even consider getting a game from anyplace else, even a charity event, saddens me. So does putting up with insane Ubisoft DRM just because of a good sale. We must remain strong!

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        You know,its stupidity like this that makes me wanna go and murder a bunch of people.It reminds me how angry I got when after all my preaching and yelling about gameplay over graphics,I went and read a user review of fallout 3 that gave it 1/10 for graphics,and that after just about 30 minutes of play time!I mean sure,its got its problems,but 1/10?!Idiots!All of them!!

    • Irridium says:

      I don’t care if Ubisoft gives the game, or any of their games away for $2 and a free piece of cake. So long as their games use their stupid DRM, I want absolutely nothing to do with their products. On any system. Ever.

      • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynicism and venting says:

        It’s “only” for the newer games that have the Ubisoft DRM. I put “only” in quotation marks, because my understanding of the implications of the word doesn’t strictly fit this situation. It would be without them, if it went “only used for MP games when playing online through the official servers”.

        That’s not to say that I support purchasing AssCreed2, since the DRM sounds torture. For me to play a game with “always online”-DRM I’d have to be paid, since getting kicked back to the latest save whenever my connection decides to get stroppy sounds like frustration galore.

        • Irridium says:

          I don’t care if its only for new games, old games, or games that give me free cake every time I start them up. So long as this DRM system is in place, I’m not buying ANY games from them from ANY time period.

    • Avilan says:

      As long as it is not overdone (Assassin’s Creed II), I have no problems with it.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      To be fair, I gave up and surrendered to Steam due to NV.. Oh well.

      It’s not too bothersome to use, if you don’t care about stuff.

      However – once you want to control your game, it becomes a nightmare – for one, mods.. Steam will auto-update the game, randomly restore game’s files, deny multiple install folders.. Just a mess – and developing a mod and then tracking all the bugreports from Steam users just on the install problems is a nightmare.

      • krellen says:

        I open Steam when I want to play New Vegas, and never otherwise. I don’t consider buying NV to have been “surrendering” to Steam. I still don’t support it, and only use it inasmuch as my support for Obsidian requires.

  3. Chuk says:

    His address? It’s Santa Claus, North Pole, postal code H0H 0H0. My five year old sent a letter to him this year less than two weeks before Christmas and he still got back to her a few days before.

    • Joel D says:

      Keep in mind this is Santa’s Canadian address – if you write him at this address, all your toys will come in both English and French, they’ll be polite about most things but scoff at your beer, and they’ll chuckle whenever you think it’s cold.

      Also they’ll all be in metric.

  4. Blurr says:

    You’re mistaken about Starcraft 2 requiring online login to play single player content. You can start the game as a guest which lets you play the campaign but doesn’t let you gain achievements or use battle.net (which, I think, is reasonable).

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Well,if you were to write to long john silver for talk like a pirate day,some of the things on your wishlist would be fulfilled.Just saying.

  6. Irridium says:

    What I want for Christmas is Timesplitters 4. I would love Timesplitters 4. So very much.

    • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynicism and venting says:

      So you want a game that is not just grey, brown, greybrown, run-of-the-mill and makes your machine cough up blood, but it has to carry the name of Timesplitters while it’s at it? Man, you must hate the series.

      No offense, but damn. Isn’t that a bit too cruel? I mean, what has the Timesplitter fandom done to you that makes them deserve it?

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Meh,its a console only game,so no one cares.

        • Ringwraith says:

          Though from little I played of it, Timesplitters was great in the way that it just got bizzare at the drop of a hat.
          Zombie monkeys? We have those.
          Nice to see a game which doesn’t take itself too seriously.

          • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of something something says:

            My, jokingly put, point, was that it would be unlikely for any publisher to allow it to retain such things without somehow giving out a soulless feeling right now. Naturally it’s a manifestation of my cynicism, not something I consider a matter of fact. I still won’t be expecting more than mediocrity until proven otherwise. No point in getting hopes up, since I won’t really gain anything from it.

            Also my only Timesplitters experience is from Timesplitters 2 for the Gamecube. The C-stick didn’t exactly enable enjoyment.

            • Ringwraith says:

              The guys who made Timesplitters are now part of Crytek, and I think I read about them getting the go-ahead for a new Timesplitters game, while still being given free reign over it.

              • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of cynical pessimism says:

                I don’t think I’m getting through. I have deep-seated cynisism in my veins. So:

                What you’re telling me just means that the makers’ names will be on the credits, because nothing prevents “help” from the Crytek’s side. Like a “push” to use the engine from Crysis. A “suggestion” to place the location to a large island or similiar. A “budget consideration” about having less time periods/locations. A “helpful nudge” that the development time could be cut if they’d just ship with the AI that’s already in place. A boost of confidence that the game doesn’t need more play- or bugtesting.

                I’m pretty sure I could go on, but I think that’s enough to show that I’m genuinely cynical (or pessimistic). It’s doubtful any of it would actually happen, but that’s besides the point for me.

  7. houser2112 says:

    Someone may have mentioned this in the Escapist comments I didn’t read, but did you mean to say “coca” in your poem?

    • wtrmute says:

      It’s probably “cola”, but in my country we do use “coca” frequently to refer to “coca-cola”, and I think that on several Spanish-language countries, as well. Maybe it’s Pennsylvania Dutch influence? :-P

      • houser2112 says:

        More likely, it’s supposed to be “cocoa”. I was just pointing out that there’s a huge difference between a hot chocolatey beverage and the plant that cocaine is made from. That’s a hell of a typo. :)

  8. SAJ says:

    I used to buy every game that I wanted from Impulse (and GOG), if it was available, to support their vision of no copy protection (I cannot accept DRM as a stupid acronym for a silly three word obscure term for what was and is still to me just copy protection).

    Then two things happened: Civilization V came out requiring Steam (although knowing what I know now, maybe I wouldn’t have bought it), and Stardock published Elemental. I was forced to get a Steam account by my love of the ghosts of Civs past. Elemental was so bad, so unfinished, so poorly documented and, sadly, so boring that it really shook my faith in Stardock (and yes, I recognize that they are making progress–I will try it again when the expansions come out). Not just for their games, but for Impulse as well.

    Now, I own a bunch of inexpensive stuff, like World of Goo and Titan Quest when it was on sale from Steam. I don’t like their copy protection system, but I figure if it dies, I am not out much.

    Now that the door is open for Steam, for me it is Impulse, GOG, and Steam: I don’t want to keep track of any other sites where games come from. I cannot remember where I bought Crayon Physics or Hinterlands for example, if I ever need to download them again. So I understand why people like everything in Steam…. if Steam didn’t include the copy protection component, it would be nearly perfect for my only need, which is to conveniently download to my current computer(s), whatever they are. I don’t care about the community stuff.

    BTW, if you have an Impulse account, check out the free Fences utility. It is great for organizing your icons–I now have a nice little launcher area for all my game icons.

    • Ringwraith says:

      I admit, I only get games that are reasonably large off Steam if they are dirt cheap, and I can’t get a retail copy cheaper or at a similar price, as it takes yonks for me to download them.

      Also, I use Fences purely so I can hide all my desktop icons with a single double-click. Nifty thing that.

      • Irridium says:

        All I’ve heard is that they’re shopping around for a publisher, but don’t have anything solid yet. Crytek did file for a trademark for Future Perfect on the PC though. Whether something ever comes from that remains to be seen.

  9. Dude says:

    Such a grumpy old man.

    I vote Shamus for Santa, as a result!

  10. Sleepless Abomination says:

    You actually can add 24 hours or more to your week with polyphasic sleep: http://everything2.com/title/Uberman%2527s+Sleep+Schedule

    I’ve been doing it for four and a half months, and I feel at least as good as I did when I was sleeping eight hours a night. You’d be an excellent candidate for it, Shamus, since you work at home and set your own hours.

  11. pkt-zer0 says:

    It’s basically the same thing EA used for Spore, and people hated that.

    People hated that for the limited activations, which SC2 doesn’t have. Also, the 30-day limit is easily bypassed simply by resetting your system clock. It’s a bit silly, but not much else.

  12. My daughter recently got Spore for her birthday and it no longer had any sort of DRM with it.

    Perhaps just waiting out the release of games until the DRM is more of a hassle for the seller than the buyer (and they start releasing the game without it) is a solution?

    She loves Spore btw, perfect for an eleven year old.

    • Irridium says:

      Spore was actually pretty fun. Even though I had to download a pirated copy to actually play the game. A pirated copy I had to download at a friends house since I had no internet at the time.

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