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General Category => The Last Federation => Topic started by: Chthon on April 18, 2014, 11:12:11 AM

Title: Question about GoG
Post by: Chthon on April 18, 2014, 11:12:11 AM
If I buy the game on GoG to get it a little early, does it:

1) Come with a steam code, and
2) let me transfer my save files over to steam.

Honestly I try to keep my games all on the same platform, since Steam has been so reliable for me in the past in combat zones and areas where there isn't much in the way of internet.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 18, 2014, 11:14:25 AM
I don't think GoG copies come with a steam key, no.  I'm not sure they'd go for that in general.

But you can copy the saves from whatever version to whatever version.  It's all filesystem stuff, and none of the distribution options will interfere with that.  You would have to move the files yourself, though.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: cupogoodness on April 18, 2014, 11:54:50 AM
If I buy the game on GoG to get it a little early, does it:

1) Come with a steam code, and
2) let me transfer my save files over to steam.

Honestly I try to keep my games all on the same platform, since Steam has been so reliable for me in the past in combat zones and areas where there isn't much in the way of internet.

No Steam key with GOG. If you want one, and don't want to wait for the actual Steam release (~5 hours), Humble Store provides both a Steam key and the DRM-free version. TLF is scheduled to launch there in just over an hour.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Chthon on April 18, 2014, 12:18:17 PM
If I buy the game on GoG to get it a little early, does it:

1) Come with a steam code, and
2) let me transfer my save files over to steam.

Honestly I try to keep my games all on the same platform, since Steam has been so reliable for me in the past in combat zones and areas where there isn't much in the way of internet.
Awesome!  Thanks :D


No Steam key with GOG. If you want one, and don't want to wait for the actual Steam release (~5 hours), Humble Store provides both a Steam key and the DRM-free version. TLF is scheduled to launch there in just over an hour.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Chthon on April 18, 2014, 01:03:41 PM
Humble store just updated... I don't see The Last Federation on there.  Is this a mistake?  Or am I just not patient enough?
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: cupogoodness on April 18, 2014, 01:22:02 PM
Not a mistake. Well, only on my end for telling you the wrong info. We contractually can't release on Humble Store until Steam launches as well. I forgot about that, and so we had to push it back to 5 PM EST to match Steam's release time. Very sorry for misleading you, I was misleading myself as well.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Chthon on April 18, 2014, 01:27:00 PM
Not a mistake. Well, only on my end for telling you the wrong info. We contractually can't release on Humble Store until Steam launches as well. I forgot about that, and so we had to push it back to 5 PM EST to match Steam's release time. Very sorry for misleading you, I was misleading myself as well.
*dies of boredom*
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 18, 2014, 01:27:41 PM
*dies of boredom*
See, all you had to do was wait long enough and the problem solved itself!

;)
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Professor Paul1290 on April 18, 2014, 01:39:32 PM
GOG is a rather different service that caters to a different crowd than Steam.

GOG is not going to do Steam keys because both GOG and their users are extremely anti-DRM, and that includes Steam.

If GOG were to suddenly start giving out Steam keys they would literally lose a large portion of their users for indirectly supporting Steam (and by extension DRM).

I remember a while back they were going to implement regional pricing to make it easier to get publishers to put their games on GOG, which is something else GOG users are very much against. To say GOG's users were furious about this this would be an understatement. They eventually backed off from doing it as they realized they were going to lose a large portion of their users if they went through with it.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Chthon on April 18, 2014, 01:43:57 PM
GOG is a rather different service that caters to a different crowd than Steam.

GOG is not going to do Steam keys because both GOG and their users are extremely anti-DRM, and that includes Steam.

If GOG were to suddenly start giving out Steam keys they would literally lose a large portion of their users for indirectly supporting Steam (and by extension DRM).

I remember a while back they were going to implement regional pricing to make it easier to get publishers to put their games on GOG, which is something else GOG users are very much against. To say GOG's users were furious about this this would be an understatement. They eventually backed off from doing it as they realized they were going to lose a large portion of their users if they went through with it.
Well then, I suppose I will continue to use other services then.  Steam provides a convenience that other retailers do not.  When you have an unreliable connection, you need a service that can manage that and still get the game to you without corruption.  That's something I couldn't find with any other provider while over seas.  Sure it required DRM, but the DRM actually made the playing possible.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 18, 2014, 01:45:53 PM
Yea.  There's a lot of strong idealism (that often takes a very uncompromising view of nuances like "we think this change actually provides better customer service") going on in that audience.  It gives GoG a niche market but they have to be really careful to remember their constituency.  Though I wonder if sometimes they intentionally try things they think may stir the pot, as a sort of PR boon.  Remember when they suddenly "shut down" a while ago, as a joke?
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Mick on April 18, 2014, 01:51:46 PM
I like GoG-the-service for packaging together old classics in ways that run on modern machines while giving you a way to legitimately access them. I find the GoG-the-religion kinda weird and Luddite-ish though, and if a game I want is on both it and Steam, I prefer Steam every time. Steam's "DRM" is less onerous than requiring you to dig out a CD and put it in the drive. I don't want to go back to the "old ways" when it comes to buying and patching games, they were the gaming Dark Ages.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Professor Paul1290 on April 18, 2014, 01:52:43 PM
Well then, I suppose I will continue to use other services then.  Steam provides a convenience that other retailers do not.  When you have an unreliable connection, you need a service that can manage that and still get the game to you without corruption.  That's something I couldn't find with any other provider while over seas.  Sure it required DRM, but the DRM actually made the playing possible.

GOG games are completely DRM-less and except for multiplayer and other services built into the games themselves they are completely independent of outside services. The only time you ever need a connection to use them is when you initially download them, after that you can pretty much do whatever the heck you want with them.

I guess with that in mind the "GOG solution" to this problem would be to download all the installers for games you might want to play offline then put them an external drive or burn them into some disks so you can install them later.
The other solution if you had to download the game through an unreliable connection would be to get them via GOG's downloader.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 18, 2014, 01:59:41 PM
GoG-the-service
(...)
GoG-the-religion
That's a good way of putting it, actually :)  I love the service and they're definitely my favorite place to get games that aren't on steam.  And I'll almost always prefer GoG to steam if it's an old game I expect to have compatibility problems with newer platforms.

But from dealing with some of the community "adherents", so to speak... it is very wearying to be trying very hard to provide the best customer service I can but be accused of burdening the product with unnecessary DRM/whatever and then of lying about motivations.

Actually, just occurred to me, but it's kind of the flipside of the whole "DRM is treating legitimate customers like criminals" thing.  It results in treating legitimately customer-service-oriented developers like they were Activision or something ;)
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Riabi on April 18, 2014, 01:59:46 PM
Well then, I suppose I will continue to use other services then.  Steam provides a convenience that other retailers do not.  When you have an unreliable connection, you need a service that can manage that and still get the game to you without corruption.  That's something I couldn't find with any other provider while over seas.  Sure it required DRM, but the DRM actually made the playing possible.

GOG games are completely DRM-less and except for multiplayer and other services built into the games themselves they are completely independent of outside services. The only time you ever need a connection to use them is when you initially download them, after that you can pretty much do whatever the heck you want with them.

I guess with that in mind the "GOG solution" to this problem would be to download all the installers for games you might want to play offline then put them an external drive or burn them into some disks so you can install them later.
The other solution if you had to download the game through an unreliable connection would be to get them via GOG's downloader.

Yeah, GOG is actually a pretty good service. Personally, I like having all my games in one spot, and lately that spot has become Steam, so I've not bought any GOG games in a while, but, I think I have 70 or 80 in my library there.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Chthon on April 18, 2014, 02:07:50 PM
Well then, I suppose I will continue to use other services then.  Steam provides a convenience that other retailers do not.  When you have an unreliable connection, you need a service that can manage that and still get the game to you without corruption.  That's something I couldn't find with any other provider while over seas.  Sure it required DRM, but the DRM actually made the playing possible.

GOG games are completely DRM-less and except for multiplayer and other services built into the games themselves they are completely independent of outside services. The only time you ever need a connection to use them is when you initially download them, after that you can pretty much do whatever the heck you want with them.

I guess with that in mind the "GOG solution" to this problem would be to download all the installers for games you might want to play offline then put them an external drive or burn them into some disks so you can install them later.
The other solution if you had to download the game through an unreliable connection would be to get them via GOG's downloader.
CDs were what I used prior to Steam.  The problem is both Iraq and Afghanistan have enough micro-fine particulate matter in the air that it will ruin both your cd/dvd rom drive and your discs.  That was the original problem, and thus not a solution.

As for GoG's downloader, it isn't as good as you might think in dealing with packet loss and packet corruption on a poor connection.  You would likely have to download a 3-5 GB game 5-8 times in full before you got an uncorrupted version.

Steam instead checks individual files and just downloads them if necessary, which results in far less time downloading the game for the first time.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Professor Paul1290 on April 18, 2014, 02:13:58 PM
To be clear, it's worth saying that the majority of GOG users are not directly anti-Steam. A lot of them do use Steam, buy Steam games on sale, and givaway Steam games on the forums.

What most GOG users are strongly against is the idea of all digital distribution services being connected to Steam. With Humble Bundle, GamersGate, and Desura selling Steam keys as a large portion of their sales, GOG is the the few major digital distribution services left that has no ties to Steam.

So I think it's more accurate to say that most GOG users are more against the idea of "Steam the monopoly" than the idea of Steam itself.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 18, 2014, 02:16:05 PM
So I think it's more accurate to say that most GOG users are more against the idea of "Steam the monopoly" than the idea of Steam itself.
Sure, and I actually agree with that.  We went steam-only with Bionic only because that was the only viable way to do a linux version of the game at the time.  Now that we have the ability to correct that, we will get around to doing so.

My weariness is with the subset of GOG users who hold (and forcefully argue) a far more extreme position than the one you just articulated.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: doctorfrog on April 18, 2014, 03:00:58 PM
I think the best of both worlds would be a Steam-like client that you just don't have to use if you don't want to. I feel like GOG does a pretty good job of what they do, and Steam does also, and so does Arcen.

I avoid Steam if I can, probably because I'm a weird hoarder from the days where you sometimes had to get a crack just to get a game to run properly, CDs could potentially wear out, and you would rip them to your hard drive and feel like a wizard when you mounted ISOs and games loaded hella fast. And you went out and bought DVDs of movies you liked so you could watch them over and over again, and ripping MP3's was both a dark art and an act against the MAN.

But also I just don't like stuff checking to see if it's ok for me to play this content, and having "storefronts" built into every last thing that I interact with. It's tiresome.

I may not agree with every last thing that Arcen does, but at least they make their Steam releases DRM-free. It's abundantly clear that they're trying to meet the minor expectations of every one of their fans, but someone is always going to find something to gripe about.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: doctorfrog on April 18, 2014, 03:08:06 PM
As for GoG's downloader, it isn't as good as you might think in dealing with packet loss and packet corruption on a poor connection.  You would likely have to download a 3-5 GB game 5-8 times in full before you got an uncorrupted version.

Steam instead checks individual files and just downloads them if necessary, which results in far less time downloading the game for the first time.

That's kind of surprising, given how long the thing has been around. I haven't looked in a while, but I think GOG's downloader did (at least once?) download their games in smaller chunks, presumably did a verification on those chunks, before combining them into install files.

It seems like you prefer Steam and are probably well situated there, but you can always complain to GOG and see if they meet you halfway on such a thing. They're a smaller house and maybe more likely to help. Even if not, PM me if you need help downloading a game that you've bought, maybe I can assist.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Chthon on April 18, 2014, 03:14:28 PM
So I think it's more accurate to say that most GOG users are more against the idea of "Steam the monopoly" than the idea of Steam itself.
Sure, and I actually agree with that.  We went steam-only with Bionic only because that was the only viable way to do a linux version of the game at the time.  Now that we have the ability to correct that, we will get around to doing so.

My weariness is with the subset of GOG users who hold (and forcefully argue) a far more extreme position than the one you just articulated.
Yeah, I think it goes something like:  Steam had a good idea, and followed through well with it, as a result they've become a monopoly and bad.  I may be paraphrasing a bit.

I get tired of being treated as a ignorant buffoon by those same people just because I use Steam.  I use it because there was a point where I could not play any of my games.  I bought disc copies of X3:TC on 3 separate occasions through my Iraq tour because of the damage that occurred with them and patching problems (corrupted patch from download).

Once someone suggested Steam, my problems vanished.  Sure I had to wait 3 days to get it downloaded, but I had no trouble setting up an offline connection, and only connected to patch.  All errors were fixed by verifying files.

As for checksums and other file verification proceedures that other services use, it's great if only the occasional bit gets corrupted.  If large portions get corrupted, it can fool the downloader into thinking it's fine.  You might not even notice a problem till you hit a certain point in the game and it became obvious.  Even Steam can be fooled, but with the help of developers I have been able to track down the offending file and delete it prompting steam to download just that file again.  Pretty good when you have a bandwidth limit of 3-5 GB a month.

As for monopolies are concerned, I think Steam should be the least of anyone's concerns.  Steam is by far the most accessible and user friendly DRM around, and has a track record of never stopping support for a game.  Any problem I've heard about steam, whether or not it works offline, can't stop updates, or the like, is usually user error.  If not it's a bug that will be patched soon.  Other issues with games not working, if the files are all correct, is on the game developer, not steam.  If the files are not correct, there usually is an easy way to correct it.

Finally, Steam does give refunds, it takes a little work, but if a game is truly not what it was advertised, or completely broken, you can get a refund.  Sword of the Stars II they openly offered refunds during the first month after the release hell.  X: Rebirth saw some refunds too, but you had to fight a little more with them as the game wasn't as completely broken.  In general it's still better though than buying a PC game at a store and finding out you can't return it at all due to the fact that you opened the box.

@DoctorFrog  As I stated in my post above, the file verification process they use is only good if a small portion of the file is corrupted, like a few bits here and there.  A massive scrambling can fool it into thinking the chunk is good, and thus corrupting the assembled file.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 18, 2014, 03:18:42 PM
Yea, there's a difference between the error-correction needed for the usual "a little packet loss, a few latency spikes" and that needed for "the place where electrons fear to tread" :)
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Chthon on April 18, 2014, 03:23:43 PM
Yea, there's a difference between the error-correction needed for the usual "a little packet loss, a few latency spikes" and that needed for "the place where electrons fear to tread" :)
Most of our problems were Satalite transmissions through almost constant atmospheric disturbance, and jamming used on bases when transmitting signals wirelessly point to point.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 18, 2014, 03:26:09 PM
Most of our problems were Satalite transmissions through almost constant atmospheric disturbance, and jamming used on bases when transmitting signals wirelessly point to point.
"We sorry for the inconvenience, but it appears the carrier pigeon delivering your download of X3:TC was... well, shot down."
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Chthon on April 18, 2014, 03:35:57 PM
Most of our problems were Satalite transmissions through almost constant atmospheric disturbance, and jamming used on bases when transmitting signals wirelessly point to point.
"We sorry for the inconvenience, but it appears the carrier pigeon delivering your download of X3:TC was... well, shot down."
The best was when one company who had been providing internet for us suddenly stopped service.  It was found out that they lied about having an official government authorization to do so, they were going to have to shut down when an official service came on base, and then they were told they couldn't use their microwave point to point wireless system anymore as it violated base safety protocols.  They said, "We have to leave anyways, and we're not going to bother burying cable for such a short time.  See you suckers."

True story.  This isn't even your government tax dollars at work.  This could have easily been someone infiltrating our base hoping to sniff packets of conversations where soldiers told their spouses operational information back home.  (Something that shouldn't happen anyways)  Also at the time this was officially a Canadian base that housed many NATO nations.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Tridus on April 18, 2014, 05:33:34 PM
GOG's zealots are kind of funny in that they have a tendancy to praise GOG as the greatest thing ever, and really react badly when people do something for Steam users that GOG doesn't support.

Age of Wonders 3 learned that when they did a beta for the new patch on Steam, using a beta branch. Steam makes that easy. GOG offers no practical way to do it whatsoever. The GOG zealots thought that actually using Steam's extra features was unfair to them.

I find it pretty ridiculous. Steam's featureset is so far ahead of GOG's that they are not playing in the same league. GOG does a niche thing and does that thing well, but Steam is the market leader for a reason.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Ucchedavada on April 19, 2014, 06:40:05 AM

As for monopolies are concerned, I think Steam should be the least of anyone's concerns.
I think anyone should be concerned about Steam being a monopoly, simply because we cannot predict what will happen with the company and/or service in the future, especially not when Gabe Newell is no longer able or willing to lead the company. Preferably, there should be a number of good services that compete with each other in order to prevent vendor lock-in and stagnation (see e.g. Internet Explorer!).


Steam is by far the most accessible and user friendly DRM around, and has a track record of never stopping support for a game.
Strictly speaking the latter part of this is not true any longer; at least one game that I was aware of (Order of War) has been permanently removed from Steam, including from users' libraries. This was a multiplayer game for which the official servers were taken down, so I'll leave it to you to decide whether or not that matters to you. More commonly, games are just removed from the store itself (e.g. due to licensing issues, as with Deadpoll), but that is to be expected, and the same has happened with GOG (e.g. Fallout 1&2).


Any problem I've heard about steam, whether or not it works offline, can't stop updates, or the like, is usually user error.  If not it's a bug that will be patched soon.  Other issues with games not working, if the files are all correct, is on the game developer, not steam.  If the files are not correct, there usually is an easy way to correct it.
IMO, the Steam client is not a very nice piece of software, and troubleshooting it usually boils down to re-installing the client from scratch. The basic Steam client has had a rather slow development cycle, and it is for example only within the last few years that offline mode has started to work reliably. Similarly, something as basic as choosing where to install games was only added within the last few years. Syncing of categories across different systems still tends to result in Steam dropping everything on the floor, and pinning of specific versions (often needed for specific mods) is very unreliable. The interface itself could use a good overhaul (especially the library section!), but Valve seems more focused on the "big screen" UI, instead of the normal UI.

Not the mention the Android client, which has not seen an update in over two years (since March 1, 2012), and which drains battery like crazy among many other issues.


Finally, Steam does give refunds, it takes a little work, but if a game is truly not what it was advertised, or completely broken, you can get a refund.  Sword of the Stars II they openly offered refunds during the first month after the release hell.  X: Rebirth saw some refunds too, but you had to fight a little more with them as the game wasn't as completely broken.  In general it's still better though than buying a PC game at a store and finding out you can't return it at all due to the fact that you opened the box.
It is notoriously difficult to get a refund from Valve, which is why the examples you mention are pretty exceptional. As a consumer, there is simply no argument to be made that their refund service is anything near to that offered by GOG.


If you have a lot of games tied up in Steam (and I certainly do!), then you should be encouraging Valve to improve their service / the client, not excuse their faults.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: doctorfrog on April 20, 2014, 02:56:21 AM
Some GOG folks looking for an answer on game updates: http://www.gog.com/forum/the_last_federation/updates

I kind of doubt that either have purchased the game, and depending on their disposition, might just be "policing" rather than expressing a genuine interest, but hey, it's a question that's going to come up.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: jorden on April 20, 2014, 04:02:40 AM
Some GOG folks looking for an answer on game updates: http://www.gog.com/forum/the_last_federation/updates

I kind of doubt that either have purchased the game, and depending on their disposition, might just be "policing" rather than expressing a genuine interest, but hey, it's a question that's going to come up.

Or then they simply want a DRM-free update file.

I have the original retail version of Rise of Legends (2006). The only (official) way to update that game to its latest known version is to use the ingame auto-update feature when you run the game. There is no official offline updater to the latest version that you could download somewhere or keep it on your hard drive for future use.

The problem for several years now has been that those update servers are offline, as the game developer went bankrupt, and the publisher (Microsoft) doesn't seem to care enough anymore. So now I can't officially update my fully legit game anymore, just because the developer never released a standalone offline patch for the game, but kept only the "auto-update" as the way to update it.

Does it make me a pirate that I would have very much wanted to have a standalone offline updater for my legit game?
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Tridus on April 20, 2014, 06:28:38 AM
The zip file that it's downloading to do the update is here: http://lastfed.s3.amazonaws.com/TLF_1001.zip

I don't know if that's enough to update it or if the updater itself is doing something else, but it would be fairly easy for someone with a GoG version to test.

Once the game is updated, you could also just make a zip of its folder. Boom, fully updated copy for offline archiving.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: keith.lamothe on April 20, 2014, 10:17:09 AM
Does it make me a pirate that I would have very much wanted to have a standalone offline updater for my legit game?
We certainly never called you, or anyone wanting a different updating process, a pirate :)  When dealing with us, please assume we mean well toward you, rather than that we mean ill toward you.  I think things will be more pleasant that way.

Anyway, the reason we do the in-game updater is that we tend to do lots of "beta" patches inbetween each "official" patch.  The official patches generally get standalone installer updates (iirc, I don't know if that policy has changed recently, though we can certainly bear in mind the wishes of the GOG audience in that regard), and generally takes 2+ hours for us to arrange.  The beta patches are all delivered through the in-game updater.  Which just downloads zip file(s) from our amazon s3 drop.  It takes us 5 minutes (sometimes less) to arrange one of those.

We're a small team and have to work very efficiently to stay afloat.  I'm sure you can see why we therefore prefer the 5 minute process to the 2 hour one for the more-frequent beta updates :)
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Riabi on April 20, 2014, 10:42:09 AM
And bear in mind, when he says "more frequent" that can sometimes mean multiple updates a day.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Magnitus on June 25, 2014, 08:29:35 AM
My weariness is with the subset of GOG users who hold (and forcefully argue) a far more extreme position than the one you just articulated.

I don't have a strong brand attachment (GOG just happens to be the main provider of DRM-free games atm) and I sort of ressent your implication that my point of view is "extreme". No matter how you feel about this, I think you should be careful about how you express yourself from a PR perspective. I bought 3 of your games on GOG and I'm sure many of my fellow "extremists" did the same.

I like to think I have a pretty balanced stance between the needs to customers and the needs of content providers.

One on hand, I do strongly believe in the need for content providers to get paid for their labor (yes, I subscribe to the whole open-source movement especially for system-level/middleware software, but I don't think it applies unconditionally well to everything).

However, I also strongly believe that unless unless the content needs to be provided as a service (ex: WoW), payment should be done only once and content should be accessible in a standalone manner.

Let's take the movie industry as an example of what not to do: First there was the VHS tape, then the DVD, then the blue-ray and now the upcoming 4k format. How often are we expected to pay full price for the same product?

Similarly, closer to home in the game industry: there are games I got on DVD where the DVD broke and I had to buy the game again from digital distributors... most annoying.

And the above is not even the worst case scenario. There might be situations where content is not accessible at all when it is designed to poll a server that is no longer there.

Take Gamespy as an example: I'm sure they had the best intentions in mind, but at some point, they went down and the end result was that games that were dependent on their servers to play in multiplayer where no longer multiplayer playable. In their case, it was hard to avoid, because of the nature of matchmaking with strangers across the internet (although I do appreciate LAN support to fall back on to play with my friends when multiplayer servers for a game go down).

That brings me to the topic of game updates and "convenience": it's a lot less hard to make it server-free (or provide a server free alternatives). I appreciate that your company is doing well right now and I'm sure you have the best of intents with this, but if your company goes under 10 years from now, I still expect to have access to the game I paid for with the latest patch. Fair is fair.

I guess this is where I differ from some gamers. Many gamers play a game, finish it and never revisit it again, but I do enjoy revisiting some games down the years.

I certainly hope that you view your games as good enough that they should be included in the list of games I'll replay 10-20 years from now so why package them as a throwaway product?
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: keith.lamothe on June 25, 2014, 10:40:46 AM
My weariness is with the subset of GOG users who hold (and forcefully argue) a far more extreme position than the one you just articulated.

I don't have a strong brand attachment (GOG just happens to be the main provider of DRM-free games atm) and I sort of ressent your implication that my point of view is "extreme".
To clarify, did anything I say indicate that I considered your particular position extreme?  Possibly my use of the term "subset" was too vague, but I was trying to avoid rehashing the details of what I objected to at that particular moment.

The sort of thing I was referring to is along the lines of "the only reason any developer ever uses any form of DRM is because they want to make it harder to pirate".  Which is not true in our case (we did license keys to make keeping an updated demo feasible; we did Bionic initially as steam-distribution-only so we could have a linux version that could be kept updated).  But I've found that attempting to present facts, reasons, and arguments in such a case is often futile: often what the person making such a claim wants is not to understand our situation, but for us to submit to their demands, regardless of the details of what we're currently doing or why we did it.  Their liberty to use a game however they please is important to them (and I sympathize with that), but our liberty to make our development choices according to what we think is best overall is not important to many of the folks I've seen advancing that kind of "extreme" argument, and I object to that.

That said, I'm not objecting to the core desires behind such a position.  Even if they want all software to always be completely free and without restriction, etc (and I know most of them are quite happy to pay for good games, so long as they get the game rather than some kind of revocable permission to play it).  My objection is when they seek to impose their desires on us in a coercive manner (rather than a persuasive one).


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No matter how you feel about this, I think you should be careful about how you express yourself from a PR perspective. I bought 3 of your games on GOG and I'm sure many of my fellow "extremists" did the same.
I am careful to speak politely, and reasonably precisely, in the sense of "how" I express this.  Though I appreciate the reminder.  But if the situation is such that voicing objections to coercion is itself met with fallout, then in many ways that is simply an extension of the coercion.  It tells me "don't reason, don't argue, just submit".

That said, I do understand that most players out there are used to being hit with the "just submit" stick by developers/publishers, so I understand if tensions are high and the players trying to fight for better treatment aren't particularly gentle about doing so.  But when a developer is fundamentally on the same side of "customer service", as we are, it really helps if we can address concerns via rational discussion, rather than being treated as an enemy.  Otherwise time and resources are wasted on defensive measures on both sides.


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I like to think I have a pretty balanced stance between the needs to customers and the needs of content providers.

One on hand, I do strongly believe in the need for content providers to get paid for their labor (yes, I subscribe to the whole open-source movement especially for system-level/middleware software, but I don't think it applies unconditionally well to everything).

However, I also strongly believe that unless unless the content needs to be provided as a service (ex: WoW), payment should be done only once and content should be accessible in a standalone manner.

Let's take the movie industry as an example of what not to do: First there was the VHS tape, then the DVD, then the blue-ray and now the upcoming 4k format. How often are we expected to pay full price for the same product?

Similarly, closer to home in the game industry: there are games I got on DVD where the DVD broke and I had to buy the game again from digital distributors... most annoying.

And the above is not even the worst case scenario. There might be situations where content is not accessible at all when it is designed to poll a server that is no longer there.

Take Gamespy as an example: I'm sure they had the best intentions in mind, but at some point, they went down and the end result was that games that were dependent on their servers to play in multiplayer where no longer multiplayer playable. In their case, it was hard to avoid, because of the nature of matchmaking with strangers across the internet (although I do appreciate LAN support to fall back on to play with my friends when multiplayer servers for a game go down).

That brings me to the topic of game updates and "convenience": it's a lot less hard to make it server-free (or provide a server free alternatives). I appreciate that your company is doing well right now and I'm sure you have the best of intents with this, but if your company goes under 10 years from now, I still expect to have access to the game I paid for with the latest patch. Fair is fair.

I guess this is where I differ from some gamers. Many gamers play a game, finish it and never revisit it again, but I do enjoy revisiting some games down the years.

I certainly hope that you view your games as good enough that they should be included in the list of games I'll replay 10-20 years from now so why package them as a throwaway product?
I think that's basically my own position as well.  It's not something I even disagree with, let alone something I would consider extreme.  If I may ask, what gave you the impression that my statement about a subset of extremism applied to that?  I haven't gone back and checked, but does your position differ fundamentally from the one preceding my earlier-quoted comment ("the one you just articulated")?


Anyway, on the topic of game updates and convenience, are you saying that our approach runs counter to what you're asking for there?  Perhaps it would help if I recapped the details of our updating process:

1) When the game runs, if you have auto-updates enabled (it is by default, but can be disabled), it will retrieve an xml file on our server.  For AIW that's http://arcengames.com/dl/AIWarBetaUpdates2.xml .  Note: if it fails in this retrieval for whatever reason, the game will still run fine.  Though we have had problems with firewalls killing the program when it tries to check, in which case disabling the auto-check is necessary.

2) It checks the entries in that xml file against the version number of the install, and if the xml file mentions a later version it downloads the zip file from the url included in that entry.  The latest one as of this writing is http://arcengames.com/dl/AIWar7042.zip (which may be replaced later, not all versions are kept up there due to a later one containing everything from the previous, but all the ones still in the xml file are kept up there).

3) The game then runs the updater itself, and closes the game.  The updater just unzips the zip file into the install directory, and then re-runs the game, and closes itself.
- Note: we've recently written our own updater for TLF that will be also be used to replace the AIW updater (already has been for Bionic) that can run natively on linux (thus allowing Bionic to become not-steam-distributed-only, which is why it's on GOG now).  That updater is slightly more complex in that it's not a straight unzip operation: there's now a "dl" folder (that's the name, iirc) in the zip file that the updater then copies the contents of to 3 locations: one for windows, one for mac, one for linux.  Since those platform-specific executable files are almost always the largest part of an update this really helps keep the size down.

And done.

And on our side, to do an update, all we have to do is:
1) copy the changed files to a staging location
2) zip them up
3) upload the zip
4) update the xml file to reference the new zip

Which can be done in less than 5 minutes.  Actually we spend more time typing up the release-related announcements, etc.

If it took an hour to build an installer and distribute it to a bunch of different places, that would significantly cut down on our ability to quickly change things, etc.  So our process significantly improves the service that players get from us.


So, what's your recourse if the server with the xml file and zip files vanishes into the warp?  Basically, right now: find someone who has an updated copy of the game, and copy that (replace the settings.dat, inputbindings.dat, and Save directory with your own).  The installs all work wherever they're put, and make no effort to defend themselves.

If you want a more robust solution, then what would it be?  Someone could archive an updated copy of the game, or the updater zip files (you can run the updater manually, no internet connection necessary), somewhere.  But wouldn't that archive be subject to the same vulnerability?  The only true "server free" method I can think of is for each of you to keep your own backups locally (which is easy, just copy the game directory to a jumpdrive, and then copy it to whatever you want to run it on; or even just run it from the jumpdrive).  For that matter, all those games you bought on GOG, what happens if their servers vanish?  Or, since GOG is presumably more likely to stick around than an individual developer, is that an acceptable level of risk?


Best,
Keith
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Magnitus on June 26, 2014, 01:43:34 AM
To clarify, did anything I say indicate that I considered your particular position extreme?  Possibly my use of the term "subset" was too vague, but I was trying to avoid rehashing the details of what I objected to at that particular moment.

I probably over-reacted. I interpreted your comment in the context of the post you were replying to where using GOG to prevent Steam monopoly was ok, but going beyond that (ie, GOG's catalog being DRM-free while most of Steam's catalog isn't) was extreme.

I usually let it slide when some random bloke posts something like this, but when it comes from someone who officially represents a gaming studio, it hits closer to home, especially when I like their games.

The sort of thing I was referring to is along the lines of "the only reason any developer ever uses any form of DRM is because they want to make it harder to pirate".  Which is not true in our case (we did license keys to make keeping an updated demo feasible; we did Bionic initially as steam-distribution-only so we could have a linux version that could be kept updated).  But I've found that attempting to present facts, reasons, and arguments in such a case is often futile: often what the person making such a claim wants is not to understand our situation, but for us to submit to their demands, regardless of the details of what we're currently doing or why we did it.  Their liberty to use a game however they please is important to them (and I sympathize with that), but our liberty to make our development choices according to what we think is best overall is not important to many of the folks I've seen advancing that kind of "extreme" argument, and I object to that.

I fully respect your freedom to release games in whatever format you find most convenient (my understanding is that Steam provides good support to developers), but it is also my freedom not to financially support such a release format because the alternatives were too much trouble.

Granted, I'm probably part of 5% or less of the gaming populace so it's not a market that will make or break the financially viability of a game, but it is an additional source of revenue for those who bother, just like supporting Linux is :).

That said, I'm not objecting to the core desires behind such a position.  Even if they want all software to always be completely free and without restriction, etc (and I know most of them are quite happy to pay for good games, so long as they get the game rather than some kind of revocable permission to play it).  My objection is when they seek to impose their desires on us in a coercive manner (rather than a persuasive one).

Well, obviously, we live is (relatively) free countries so any reasonable folks will realize that outside of debates such as this one (to win over minds), the only impositions we can reasonably make here are financial ones (with the games we decide to purchase).

Of course, that never stopped me from trying to win over fellow gamers (and more generally, consumers of intellectual property) to my point of view in order to increase it's financial impact and generally bring to the consciousness of those around me the services that do release intellectual property in a DRM-free format whenever the structure of the work being sold allows for it.


I am careful to speak politely, and reasonably precisely, in the sense of "how" I express this.  Though I appreciate the reminder.  But if the situation is such that voicing objections to coercion is itself met with fallout, then in many ways that is simply an extension of the coercion.  It tells me "don't reason, don't argue, just submit".

I think it's one thing to argue your disapproval of the point of view that is expressed by the DRM-free crowd. It's quite another to label them as extreme, though my interpretation of the later is obviously a misunderstanding.

To my sensibilities, my point of view is not extreme and rather quite reasonable. Obviously, it doesn't stop me from realizing that most consumers of intellectual property have more of a "throwaway" mentality concerning the intellectual property they consume and perhaps long time access to their purchase doesn't matter as much to them (and hence, neither does the DRM-free aspect). This is a perfectly valid point of view given their priorities and it's not my place to tell them they should watch the same movie or play the same game more than once.

That said, I do understand that most players out there are used to being hit with the "just submit" stick by developers/publishers, so I understand if tensions are high and the players trying to fight for better treatment aren't particularly gentle about doing so.  But when a developer is fundamentally on the same side of "customer service", as we are, it really helps if we can address concerns via rational discussion, rather than being treated as an enemy.  Otherwise time and resources are wasted on defensive measures on both sides.

I don't think of it as a battlefield, but rather, simply whether particular developpers share my values or not (or at least, act in a way that further those values). I tend to be more supportive of the continued success of those who do.

It's not a hateful "let the rest rot in hell" kind of thing just as natural selection is not an hateful "you are evil and need to die" kind of force, but I do have a vision of how I want the industry to be and as little impact as it has, I'm willing to use my purchasing power to further that vision.



Anyway, on the topic of game updates and convenience, are you saying that our approach runs counter to what you're asking for there?  Perhaps it would help if I recapped the details of our updating process:
...

My main worry, as you have articulated, is that I don't have access to the latest update if/when your company vanishes.

The solution you outlined work to manually back up updates from the server, though perhaps it should be better advertissed to gamers who care about such things. Alternatively, you could release an official patch or simply an updated installer on the GOG website once your release version is pretty stable (ie, one update every 6 months or less).

Concerning my GOG collection if GOG vanishes, I always keep 2 copies of my collection. Atm, I got one copie on a 3 TB external hard drive and GOG keeps my redundant copy on their servers. If GOG vanishes, then I'll quickly get another external hard drive and keep my redundant copy on that drive, keeping my drives phased out by about 2 years (one newer and one older). I regularly store the hash value of all game files to detect and restore corrupted files. I realize that this is probably more "hardcore" than what most gamers would go through to preserve their collection, but it's actually pretty important to me.

btw, I also do the same thing for my music collection and my collection of IT ebooks (though technically, the later will probably be obsolete in 20 years anyways :P).

Theoretically, I could also do the same with my movie collection using tool that bypass the DRM of DVDs, though I would totally not do that because it's illegal and I totally respect the right of the movie industry to keep my movie collection stuck on their original DVDs ;).
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: keith.lamothe on June 26, 2014, 10:05:14 AM
I fully respect your freedom to release games in whatever format you find most convenient (my understanding is that Steam provides good support to developers), but it is also my freedom not to financially support such a release format because the alternatives were too much trouble.
And that's perfectly fine with me.  We knew when we made Bionic initially steam-distributed-only (though it had no DRM on it per-se, it could run without steam) that it was a compromise and that it excluded part of the audience.  But we considered that an acceptable tradeoff for adding linux support (which we couldn't do outside steam because our updater didn't work on linux).  Happily, we later had time to develop our own updater, and so Bionic is now available on a user-liberty-oriented distribution platform (GOG) as well as a user-liberty-oriented operating system.  Neither linux nor GOG distribution bring in a significant part of the bottom line at this time, but even if it were a net-zero proposition those are still things we want to support.

But, back when Bionic's distribution was steam-only, if you had said that you weren't willing to buy it under those terms, then I have absolutely no problem with that.

My problem was with those who (actually, not hypothetically) told us that adding linux support was easy and that the only reason we would use DRM was because we wanted DRM.  They were not interested in the facts we presented to the contrary.  That's what I mean by "extreme".  Perhaps a more accurate phrase would be "fanatical" or "imperialistic", in that my problem isn't so much with the degree of how much they want games without DRM, but rather in how they treat those whose beliefs or practices differ with their ideals.  But I don't think either of those descriptors sounds much nicer :)


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Well, obviously, we live is (relatively) free countries so any reasonable folks will realize that outside of debates such as this one (to win over minds), the only impositions we can reasonably make here are financial ones (with the games we decide to purchase).
It can and does go beyond that.  You mentioned being careful for PR purposes; perhaps this isn't what you had in mind, but, there can be (and have been, for some) serious PR consequences for appearing as a Reactionary versus the DRM-Free Revolution ;)


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Alternatively, you could release an official patch or simply an updated installer on the GOG website once your release version is pretty stable (ie, one update every 6 months or less).
Yea, something like that works if you have a set of servers you trust (GOG's, in this case).  Building installers is a big pain, but we're transitioning to a setup where it's basically just a zip file to unzip and it runs as-is.  Looks less professional, but removes potential barriers between the customer and their ability to use the thing.


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Theoretically, I could also do the same with my movie collection using tool that bypass the DRM of DVDs, though I would totally not do that because it's illegal and I totally respect the right of the movie industry to keep my movie collection stuck on their original DVDs ;).
Ugh, yea.  And their DRM totally works in preventing the ubiquitous availability of illegal copies ;)

In case it's not clear, I think DRM per se (measures used to prevent people who didn't pay for a product from using it) is simply irrational because it simply does not accomplish the stated purpose (outside of something like WoW, but you get the idea).  But the practice isn't susceptible to rational discussion (at most of the big publishers, anyway) because they're still in a fear/defense reaction against a perceived enemy.

What I want to avoid is something like that continuing on the consumer side.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: Riabi on June 27, 2014, 06:43:35 AM
...outside of something like WoW...

For the record, even WOW has been pirated, and people have pirated the server side stuff too. The only think lacking is the large numbers of people around (usually the pirate servers have just a handful.) But, I think this just proves your point more... DRM to prevent piracy is pretty silly.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: keith.lamothe on June 27, 2014, 10:55:35 AM
...outside of something like WoW...

For the record, even WOW has been pirated, and people have pirated the server side stuff too. The only think lacking is the large numbers of people around (usually the pirate servers have just a handful.) But, I think this just proves your point more... DRM to prevent piracy is pretty silly.
Yea, I'm aware of the "private" servers, etc.  But it still seemed that those delivered a substantially less interesting experience than the "real" servers.  Because if the experience is based on the involvement of all those other players, etc.  As opposed to games where a pirated version gives you an equal experience to the normal ones, and in some cases a better one (due to not wrestling with some insane DRM).

Perhaps a better example would be EVE.  There's server emulators for that too, but it's just not the same game with a small population.  For better or worse.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: spelk on June 29, 2014, 05:27:17 PM
So theres absolutely no way for a person who has bought the game through GOG to get a Steam key, without buying the game again?
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: keith.lamothe on June 29, 2014, 05:36:55 PM
So theres absolutely no way for a person who has bought the game through GOG to get a Steam key, without buying the game again?
To my knowledge GOG has never sold steam keys, and at least in this case they did not ask us for steam keys to bundle with the product they're selling to their customers.

I don't know if we have any way of knowing who's bought the game on GOG, but either way I don't think we said we'd give steam keys to people who bought it elsewhere for this game (possibly I missed where that was said, or forgot).

If you want to ask for a steam key, sending a PM to x4000 (Chris) is probably the way.

Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: spelk on June 29, 2014, 05:46:16 PM
Ok, thanks for the advice. I'll ask Chris.

I've bought the game a couple of times now, but I foolishly jumped at the chance to download it as soon as I could when I saw it was available at GOG before Steam or even direct from Arcen. I'm obviously regretting that purchase now - not for any of the DRM/Anti-DRM reasons discussed here - but more for the fact that my purchase there can't be transferred over to something like Steam. And I'd like to have all my Arcen Games in one spot (all the other ones are on Steam). With every new release I usually end up buying multiples, but mainly for friends/family. I guess, my impatience got the better of me in this instance, and I jumped on the GOG copy without thinking about the long term consequences. Next game, I'll try and temper my enthusiasm a little and wait for a better (more inclusive) distribution option.
Title: Re: Question about GoG
Post by: keith.lamothe on June 29, 2014, 07:16:02 PM
Ok, thanks for the advice. I'll ask Chris.

I've bought the game a couple of times now, but I foolishly jumped at the chance to download it as soon as I could when I saw it was available at GOG before Steam or even direct from Arcen. I'm obviously regretting that purchase now - not for any of the DRM/Anti-DRM reasons discussed here - but more for the fact that my purchase there can't be transferred over to something like Steam. And I'd like to have all my Arcen Games in one spot (all the other ones are on Steam). With every new release I usually end up buying multiples, but mainly for friends/family. I guess, my impatience got the better of me in this instance, and I jumped on the GOG copy without thinking about the long term consequences. Next game, I'll try and temper my enthusiasm a little and wait for a better (more inclusive) distribution option.
Thank you for your support, we appreciate it.  If you have multiple copies of the game and you have a friend who wants it, I don't see any problem with you giving them a copy (in the literal sense; the distribution platforms obviously don't take notice of this), since if we got paid twice there's presumably no problem with two people having it, etc.