“Let’s see… I’ll take one copy of Spore – hold the SecuROM DRM, please.”
“Oh, er, sorry. Your order’s already slathered in DRM and, well, we can’t remove it. If you come back in a couple weeks, though, we might be able to scrape off a bit of it. Sound good?”
Has something like this ever happened to you? A pleasant Sunday afternoon installation spoiled by SecuROM’s goon squad? Well, no more. At least, if you ride under Steam’s banner.
“EA is one of the industry’s largest publishers,” said Gabe Newell, co-founder and president of Valve. “The EA titles coming to Steam this holiday include some this year’s top PC titles.”
He’s not kidding, either. Titles like Spore, Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, Mass Effect, Need for Speed Undercover, and FIFA Manager 2009 are already available, with Mirror’s Edge, Red Alert 3, and Dead Space moving in with the Freeman family in the “coming weeks.” And, of course, these games will conform to Steam’s standards; in other words, no SecuROM whatsoever.
So, does this mean we can all finally kiss and make up with EA, and notice that it’s released some damn good games over the past year? C’mon now; it’s Christmas.
Microsoft recently announced to its system-building partners that they would extend the pull date on Windows XP past the originally announced January 31, 2009.
These system builders are going to be allowed orders of XP all the way up until January 31, and they can ship them until May 30. “This is a good solution to support the customers that are standardized still on XP,” stated Michael Schwab, the co-president of D&H Distributing. “In this case, people contemplated buying in larger quantities [of XP licenses] and holding on to them. But that would have caused a bubble [from] people buying five months of supply in January.”
This appears to be another sign of the market’s resistance to getting Windows Vista. Despite all the clever ads, it still seems that people prefer Windows XP to the pretty new OS.
What about you? Are you still set in your XP ways or have you moved on to Vista? Let us know in the comments.
About a month ago we took a look at a disturbing new trend that was emerging in Australia involving the movie industry’s new approach to copyright enforcement. It now appears as though this heavy handed approach has indeed crossed the ocean and the RIAA is preparing to switch gears. Over the past 6 years the music industry has initiated lawsuits against over 35,000 people. Seniors, minors, or the deceased, nobody was safe from the wrath of the recording industry. This public relations nightmare was bound to end sooner or later, but their new approach could see tens of thousands of internet users booted off the web.
The Wall Street Journal has uncovered agreements made between several unnamed ISP’s and the RIAA which will make it possible for them to force internet service providers to disconnect user’s who refuse to cease and desist music sharing after being issued a written warning. Warnings will likely start with an emailed notice of violation which can then lead to restricted bandwidth, or in worst case scenarios as we mentioned before, the disconnection of internet service. Under the newly proposed system, the RIAA would forward a notice to the ISP of an offending IP address, and would leave it up to the provider to contact the individual customer. The positive change here would be that your privacy would not be compromised, and the RIAA would not require disclosure of the customer’s name.
The RIAA believes this new approach will “reach more people” and that it cannot afford to ignore piracy. The group cites NPD figures which show that the growth of illegally downloaded content has stalled in the wake of the uncertainty surrounding the lawsuits. Their new approach would be much more covert, and would likely attract less media attention.
So would you rather be sued or booted off the net? I think I’ll pay the 99 cents a track thank you very much.
Thanks to some cryptic code mixed in with bug fixes and general clean up on the Android site, there are finally some hints as to what G1 users can expect in the near future.
Among those updates that remain obvious are camera functions (video has finally been included), a browser update (which will include a find function and clever copy paste) and other general speed enhancements.
Other updates aren’t directly aimed at the G1, but are still pretty notable. There’s focus on implementing an on-screen keyboard, and basic x86 support.
While there haven’t been any exact vendor names specified on the blog, it’s difficult to say if this is directed at any specific gadget. However, it does give us reason to believe that Android will finally be making its way onto a huge assortment of gadgets.
F.E.A.R. was, without a doubt, one of 2005's best first-person shooters -- deftly mixing balls-to-the-wall, head-exploding action with pee-your-pants level horror. Even better, its sequel, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, is poised to top its award-winning older brother in every conceivable way. We were lucky enough to engage in a quick email exchange with Craig Hubbard, F.E.A.R. 2's Principal Game Designer, and we're posting it here for you today.
MPC: Is this the end of the F.E.A.R. story? Are we going for a trilogy?
Craig Hubbard, Principal Game Designer: As you’d probably expect, our immediate focus is getting the game done. Beyond that, who can say?
MPC: Was the story arc planned from the beginning, or has it evolved as it’s moved along?
CH: It evolved quite a bit, but that’s normal. What works on paper doesn’t always pan out when you implement it, so you have to make adjustments and do what’s right for the game. We also decided to take out the subplot about the unicorn who lost its horn. It was very emotionally resonant, but didn’t really fit the tone.
MPC: What’s the biggest problem you had with the original F.E.A.R.? How do you aim to correct it in the sequel?
CH: The biggest complaint people had with F.E.A.R. was that the environments were repetitive and bland. The sequel has much more varied and interesting settings.
MPC: Are you developing the game simultaneously for consoles and PC? What’s the game’s lead platform?
CH: The team knew how to make PC games but hadn’t done a console title before, so it was easier to ensure that decisions made for the consoles would work on the PC rather than the other way around. When the project started, we didn’t have our tech up and running on PS3 yet, so Xbox 360 ended up being the lead platform by default but we are still developing for all three platforms at the same time.
Continue reading for Hubbard's opinions on DRM, game engines, AI, and the British Empire.
Looking for something to do over the holiday break or need an excuse to duck away from the in laws to regain your sanity? Crytek's got your back. The developer announced it is serving up the multiplayer shooter Crysis Wars free-to-play for 10 days, starting tomorrow at 11:00 AM PT and good through December 28th until 11:59 PM PT. You can snag your holiday trial at MyCrysis.com, which the developer says includes the latest version of the game with brand new maps Savanna and Frost. You'll need to register to receive a unique key.
Also just released is a new patch for Crysis Wars, which comes less than a month after patch 1.2 was released.. Patch 1.3 includes the Holiday Map Pack (two above mentioned maps), and fixes the loading of custom assets in downloaded maps.
According to a recent report enterprise virtual worlds are much more effective than web conferencing for conducting business. The report is based on the idea that possessing the ability to expand, introduce characters and produce virtual presentations in a simulated environment will easier and more cost effective.
In fact, the technology has already been demonstrated. At Fall IDF 2007 Pat Gelsinger gave an on-stage presentation lasting nearly a half-hour entirely though Second Life. He displayed how simple it was for users to create their on avatars, and engage in virtual business. It’s even expected that shopping will take a virtual turn sometime soon, with online shoppers viewing texture maps instead of products and virtual sales assistants instead of store clerks.
While this idea is cool, it sounds shockingly familiar. Either way, the potential for twenty-something, extremely fit avatars walking into business meetings seems extremely high, and that’s an idea that I can only promote.
If ever there was a reason to consider switching IM clients to Pidgin or Trillian, it would be the concept of in-chat IM ads. That's exactly what Yahoo has been experimenting with in its Yahoo Messenger instant messaging software since last August.
"Ads in Yahoo Messenger will allow us to put even more resources behind developing and delivering valuable free features and services," Yahoo said. "Yahoo Messenger is a free service to our users, and our goal is to provide a useful and relevant experience while ensuring this is a profitable business for Yahoo. Yahoo is inherently an advertising-driven business."
The test ends this month, but Yahoo isn't offering so much as a hint as to what it will decide to do once the test is finished. However, it might not take much to convince the search company to implement in-chat IM ads. The company has been struggling financially and recently laid off over 1,500 employees. On the bright side, the ads don't appear to be terribly intrusive. Yahoo claim users will see ads at most once per day.
Earlier this year, Microsoft said it would add native support for the Open Document Format (ODF) due in part to increasing pressure from customers "and because we want to get involved in the maintenance of ODF." The decision might seem a curious one given the effort Microsoft spent on pushing its OOXML through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), but the company said the changes OOXML had gone through in the ratification process ended up making it more difficult to support than ODF.
Holding true to its word, Microsoft has published documentation detailing its implementation of ODF version 1.1 In Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 scheduled for release in 2009. Microsoft also said similar notes about its implementation of Open XML are forthcoming.
“By publishing notes on how we are implementing file format standards in Microsoft Office, we are providing detail that others can use as a reference point for their own applications,” said Doug Mahugh, senior project manager for Office interoperability. “We encourage other companies to take similar steps to help achieve greater interoperability across the industry.”
But before Microsoft and the Open Standards community gathers around the virtual campfire and sings Kumbaya, TGDaily warns that a small number of caveats leaves the door open for Microsoft to introduce Microsoft-specific variations to the ODF standard.
Prince of Persia may have missed its left turn at Albuquerque en route to the PC, but that doesn’t lessen its value as a game. Inability to die and ample backtracking, though? Those might give you second thoughts about leaving your wallet unguarded around the game’s princely thief. Luckily, Maximum PC has you covered. Prince of Persia, lose the jewel case; we’re getting all up in your space.
1. DRM-free is the way to be – Once bitten, twice shy. PC gamers can’t stop ragging on EA for its use of “draconian” DRM (Will Wright’s next game won’t be out for a few years, guys! You’re getting a little excessive), but Ubisoft is attempting to nip that mistake in the bud with its announcement that Prince of Persia: Mandatory DRM Edition won’t ever see the light of day. Kudos, guys! Now please don’t use this one gift as a measuring stick for the overall effectiveness of DRM. After all, we’re talking a single drop in a bucket big enough to build a wicked-awesome sand castle. Plus, no one likes an Indian-giver.
2. Death and taxes – In Prince of Persia, you can’t die. Ever. See, as it turns out, one only needs a magical princess in order to attain immortality. (Yeah, suddenly Mario’s never-ending quest doesn’t seem so selfless.) Miss a jump? Princess Elika’s dainty, yet freakishly durable hand lashes out and saves the prince from actually discovering what’s at the bottom of one of those bottomless pits (Hint: Grues). Same goes for your totally bitchin’ triple back-flip sword-cannon ball that looked way more like you getting stabbed in the face. Really though, the prince’s person-shaped bottle of death-repellent doesn’t turn the game into an overly easy snoozefest. Since the princess’ bulging forearm tosses you back to your last checkpoint, “death” still happens. However, you’re not forced to sit through a loading screen or anything like that. Quick and simple. But…