"To all those people promoting our game for free: Fuck you!"

Stardocks CEO believes all Pirates are thieves, even though they practically help him. I (not-so kindly) disagree.

Stardock Corporation, Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

This is basically what the latest post from Stardock’s CEO comes down to when he says the following:

But…but…what about those hundreds of thousands of pirates? Yep. Demigod is heavily pirated. And make no mistake, piracy pisses me off.  If you’re playing a pirated copy right now, if you’re one of those people on Hamachi or GameRanger playing a pirated copy and have been for more than a few days, then you should either buy it or accept that you’re a thief and quit rationalizing it any other way.

Emphasis mine.

So what exactly is pissing Frogboy off? That Piracy helped make his game stunningly famous even before it hit the stores? That file-sharing did free advertisement for Demigod to the scale that it catapulted it to the 3rd place in sales (possibly higher if you count online sales). That Pirates urged each other to actually support Stardock if they can, to promote this kind of initiative?

Frogboy should be on his fucking knees praising Pirates at this point for all the free publicity they gave the title, not simply by the fact that they gave the game to each other to try before it officially hit the stores, but also for the controversy this raised on popular news sources which brought further spotlight to the game.

And this is, in short, the reply: “Fuck you, you’re goddamn thieves! You piss me off!”

So how exactly are pirates thieves Frogboy? Do you subscribe that every downloaded copy is a lost sale? Do you not consider for a second that the people downloading games maybe can’t afford them (so they wouldn’t buy it anyway) but they still do free word-of-mouth publicity for you? Do you consider that perhaps for others the quality of the game does not validate the price but they may still buy it just because they are pirates?

I used to think that Stardock was enlightened enough to figure out that file-sharing is caring, that pirates are, as gamers, on their side. But this latest post makes me reconsider. I’ve become a big supporter of Stardock just because of what (I assumed) their take on Piracy was and as a result I’ve bought every game I wanted to play from them. I will reconsider that as well.

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Here's to reaching the "Games for Linux" tipping point

Why the Linux game market is underestimated and what we should do to change it. The recent World of Goo port to Linux is a perfect opportunity.

World of Goo: Fisty's Bog
Image by kartooner via Flickr

It’s been a classic argument in the GNU/Linux VS Windows debates that people don’t switch to the former because there are no games for it. And there are no games for GNU/Linux because developers don’t think there’s a market for it to justify the cost. And there’s no market to justify the cost because gamers don’t switch to it.

It’s a vicious cycle from which it’s extremely difficult to get out of. To do that, it would need one side to do the first step. Either gamers need to switch and start being vocal on wanting their games native for their OS (ie platform agnostic) or game developers need to show good faith and port or code their games for it from the get go and then see that the effort was worth it.

Well, To my delight, It seems that some developers did decide to attempt the later. The lately popular World of Goo has finally been ported to GNU/Linux. This is exciting news and the kind of thing that gamers on linux need to show support for if we want to provide incentive for this kind of thing to continue. The developers at the moment are curious about the results of this move and I’d like to think we won’t disappoint.

To tell the truth I haven’t played the game but I certainly have heard a lot about it. It seems to involve very innovative gameplay and I was tempted to purchase it through steam. One thing stopped me of course, which was the fact that I would have to boot my whole computer if I wanted to enjoy it.

This is, incidentally, something that happens quite often and affects my game purchase decisions. I’ve ended up only purchasing:

  • Games that are very cheap and I don’t feel like wasting a lot of money If I don’t play them until the next time I happen to boot into windows
  • Games that I really, really, really want to play. The ones that I’ve known for months that I would be playing when they came out. Needless to say those are few and far between.
  • Games that run natively on my OS of choice. It goes without saying that I do not get much of those but when I do, I don’t lose the chance to purchase them and thus have something to do play when bored without the annoying reboot. Case in point: I’ve already bough both the On the Rainslick Precipice of Darkness episodes and I will continue buying them in the future, because they are fun, cheap and most importantly, play natively.

The one thing that annoys me even more on this issue is how much resistance windows users display on this. It’s as if when game companies have a platform agnostic code then they are afraid that the performance on windows will drop. I honestly don’t know where this hostility comes from but it generally translates into mouthfuls of FUD and negativity on any kind of suggestion.

Incidentally very recently I had just such a discussion in a Demigod forum thread (one of the games that I really really want to play). The discussion started simply on the fact that Steam is and the Source engine are probably going to be ported to GNU/Linux and an appeal to Stardock ((One of the most progressive publishers and one that I believe can be more positive to this idea)) and Impulse to do the same. There were a lot of good suggestions and arguments on both sides and the very positive thing that Stardock devs actually took part and put forth their thoughts. For example:

As a part-time linux user myself, I’ve come to accept the fact that linux is not destined to be a gaming OS.  Until either developers abandon DirectX, or someone figures out a 100% painless DX port for linux, you won’t see a big move on linux games.  Why?  Because transitioning from a DX based engine to an OGL one is not in the least bit trivial.  iD can do it because I believe their games are done in OpenGL to begin with, so getting it to run on Linux is a much simpler task for them (by comparison).  UnrealEngine is built for both DX and OGL.

To get developers porting games to linux, there has to be a guarantee on the return on investment.  If it takes 1 full time developer a year to port some game, then that game has to at least sell enough copies to cover the cost.  To make it actually worth the time though it would have to make a lot more money than the cost to develop, otherwise it’s a better value to have that developer work on the Windows version which is a better financial bet.

The platform needs a few big-name champions to make it viable, but in a market where a big-name game can cost in the millions of dollars to develop, that’s a risk not many companies are generally willing to take.

In the end of course, Stardock wasn’t convinced. I was nevertheless surprised at the amount of negativity displayed by simple users, occasionaly without any obvious reasoning other than that they didn’t like GNU/Linux.

One of my main arguments in this thread was that the GNU/Linux gaming market is severely under-estimated at every turn. I truly believe that there are enough of us who not only are gamers but are willing to support those who extend a hand. And now is the time to put our money where our mouths are. Purchasing the World of Goo in non-trivial number will not only show its developers that it’s worth coding their future games for our OS as well, but it will certainly turn the heads of other publishers if they smell that there is a potential market once the WoG guys speak about the (hopefully positive) results.

To get Games for Linux (no TM yet) we need to reach a tipping point, either on the side of Gamers which will convince the Publishers that there is a market, or on the side of Publishers which will allow enough gamers to try the OS out without much gaming withdrawal. Lets hope that the results for the WoG experiment will be another small push towards that point.

Now go and read what Helios has to say about this. You also get a nice interview with the developers about the challenges they faced on the port (technical or not), as well as a little bonus offer 😉

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A break for gaming

Time to leave aside all the heavy socioeconomic and philosophical stuff and play some video games. I’m in the Demigod beta and Sins of a Solar empire is quite cool as well.

Announcement image
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve toned down my blogging lately because my interest in gaming has been rekindled. As some may know already, I was a huge gaming enthusiast in my earlier days and now and then, the urge takes me once more and I dive into it for a short while.

This time my interest of choice has been Demigod, a upcoming RTS/RPG hybrid following on the succesful footsteps of DotA, which is quite a smart move as they get to milk an untapped market for this type of gameplay which has an already proven popularity. In Greece for example, the DotA popularity in Netcafes is immense. Day in and day out, people will tune in for this game and Counterstrike, both of which, incidentally seem to be more popular than their original game types (Warcraft 3 and Half-Life respectively).


I always wanted to play DotA but I didn’t have a copy of Warcraft3 available and I couldn’t be bothered to buy one just for it, so it was a nice solution that Gas Powered Games came out with a commercially developed game of this type since they also created another one of my recent favourites, Supreme Commander.

The good thing is that I could go in and join the beta simply by pre-ordering the game. This is a unique take on beta testing, which I think has a lot of potential, which is to allow everyone to join in simply by promising to buy the game. That way, you don’t have to rely on random selection and you insure that satisfaction is granted to those most excited about it.

So I’ve been playing the beta recently and I like what I see, although it still has a way to go before it is balanced and keeps up the interest for more than 20 games. From what I hear the beta testers don’t really see the whole enchelada so we probably see the the worrying trends resolved in the full version. Unfortunately we’re all eagerly awaiting the much advertised patch to fix the huge network issues that mutliplayer suffers from currently which make online play an annoyance more than anything else. After playing mostly against the AI for 1.5 week, I decided to wait until the patch comes out until I attempt any more MP.

So, as I was browing what Impulse had to offer, I noticed another game called Sins of a Solar Empire which seemed interesting although the screenshots didn’t really amaze me. Nevertheless I kept hearing positive things about it so I decided togive the demo a try.


I was hooked pretty quickly from it and as soon as my playtime expired in the demo, I bought the game through Impulse to continue. I won’t go much into details as you can easily find much more complete reviews of it if you’re interested but I’ll say that if you’re a fan of both RTS games and 4X games (Masters of Orion series, Galactic Civilizations etc) then this is certainly going to appeal to you as it merges aspects from both giving it an epic scale for an RTS and a fast-pace for a 4X.

What I didn’t like about it is the lack of a campaign mode, which although something standard for 4X games, is something always available for RTS’. I will try to work around it by playing on huge maps with lots of player but unfortunately this makes it a bit lacking as you only have the choice of 3 differents races to choose from and all of them have basically the same unit types (the only difference is that they get them at different points of the research tree). This makes the whole thing look a bit bland as you’re mostly playing a rock-paper-scissors game with your fleet compositions, since each ship type is basically designed to deal explicitly with another ship type.

On the other hand, they’ve done a wonderful job of merging RPG aspects into the game as well, where your capital ships are absolutely impossing and capable of earning experience and levels, giving them more special abilities and the like. In effect, the Capital ships play the role of Heroes in Warcraft 3.

Unfortunately the graphics are not as good as I would like, but I think that may be because Hegemonia spoiled me


As it is now, I’m going to start playing with a huge map and try to act as if that is a campaign. There are expansions coming out (I already bought it with the first one) and eventually a campaign is going to be included in the first major expansion. Lets hope my interest is held until then.

Anyone up for a game?

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