Prison Bay?

Looks like Pirate Bay guys are facing rough times. The pirate bay owners “lost” the first session (this doesn’t mean they’ll go to prison… it will probably take years or something). What’s interesting thought, that technically speaking you can have pretty similar functionality as Pirate Bay (well, not so “dedicated to piracy, but still”). Should we shut down Google too…

(Net is filled with info about this news. One good place to check out is Indiegamer)

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Anti-Cheat Systems (Some Basics And Ideas…)

One guy sent me a really interesting topic for a blog post: anti cheat systems.

Anti Cheat Systems. I’ve been researching ACS and such for a while, but haven’t actually found an article on your blog about them.

1. How to create one
2. How to find a creator
3. Types of ACS to choose from
4. Why ACS are good
5. How to stop dll injections.

I must admit that I know very little about anti cheating systems, but when I was working on my multiplayer code I got some ideas about this – and here’s some basics about cheating in games in general.

Here’s some basics

  • For single-player games these aren’t needed (if somebody wants to play solo and cheat in game – let him do. Who cares? I know this was basic, but I just had to share this)
  • Multiplayer modes that use “dumb client, server handles stuff” are less likely to get cheated by the client (of course there’s still cheats available because it’s practically impossible to have server to handle 100% of the stuff in most games). So basically this means that for example, instead of letting client to say “move character X to location Y” the client should send command something like “I have character X selected and I just clicked location Y”. Now server can calculate where the character X currently is, and where it should be going. (This was very simplified example, and there’s situations where you need to consider letting client have control over their character – to get physics for example to run pretty smoothly. There’s plenty of discussion about how this should be handled, and I won’t go into this here right now. People interested can check out links in this blog post to get more info)
  • Play only with people who you can trust. This won’t always be possible, but something I’ve found very easy way to solve cheating.

Valve’s anti-cheat system
There are some anti-cheat systems, such as Valve’s anti-cheat (VAC) system (see also VAC page in wikipedia). I don’t know where to get more information about how this systems work, but there’s one thing to consider: these might get non-cheaters banned accidentally.

If anti-cheat system harms ‘fair players’, consider not using them
Just like with DRM – if the anti-cheat system can do any harm to people who don’t cheat, then I think it’s quite bad. I think that cheating & piratism are something that you kind of can’t beat in the end. I think that it can be worth investing some time to ensure that cheating does not occur.

Like said, I don’t know much about this – but I’d consider some sort of server checking what goes on. Server could see if “clients are playing by the rules” and if not, then perhaps give warnings to other players that “this guy might be cheating”. I would be hesitant to use automatic banning system, since people are pretty good in moderating things. For example, if the guy who is constantly killing everybody gets “this guy might be cheating” message from the server, then I’d be more keen to check out how the guy is playing. On the other hand, if that cheater is a friend of mine who I know is playing fair, then I could say that this was a false alarm.

Back to More Gaming Related Stuff

Okay, the PLF stuff promotion is over for me. Now back to more gaming related stuff.

Anybody wondering why I shared this info. It was:
1) Because I’ve following Jeff’s materials for ages and think that the free stuff alone is worth checking out
2) I’ve used some of the tactics (from those videos) in my own gaming stuff.

Anyway. Now affiliate selling stops, and we get back from the commercials.

Professional Game Launch Training Videos (Product Launch Formula)

Jeff Walker is a guy behind an information product Product Launch Formula. I’ve seen dozens of all sorts of funky products, and I must say that Jeff’s product is the one I’ve followed most. From that page you can subscribe to his list and get tons of free training/case study videos to help you launch your own game.

Product Launch Formula (or PLF) is used by both small and big companies all over the world. Jeff is going to put PLF on sale tomorrow. Rumor has it that it won’t be available forever (he is selling it a while and then proceeding with the training), and if you happen to think that getting some help for launching your own product is a good idea then go there and watch the videos and check out the material.

I’m a PLF affiliate (and will be offering a bonus for those who enjoy the videos enough to consider a purchase, but more on that tomorrow). Even if you don’t plan to purchase anything, I warmly recommend checking out the material on PLF website. The free stuff alone is really useful for anyone who wishes to get some more sales and make a better product launch.

I’ll put more information about PLF tomorrow. Meanwhile, click here to check out the free videos on Jeff’s website. By subscribing to his mailing list you get instant access to “Product Launch Formula Blueprint” training video plus 3 bonus training videos – all free of charge.

Good stuff.

I’m After a New Banner For My Website – Anybody Wanna Help?

I’m updating my site layout a bit and would like a totally new header banner for my site (and also to be used forums). I liked the black and dark red colors, so I’d want to see something similar in the banner. (Here’s one example that could be the style I’m after – maybe something bit more friendly though…).

If you are an artist and would have something in your portfolio, please feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to give credits and arrange something in return.

Are You a Part-Time Producer At the Moment?

At the moment I do part-time non-gaming work (kind of in a “programmer/producer” type of position) and part time gaming “work” via my own company. The exact amount of time spent working (job stuff) and “working” (game stuff) varies: sometimes I’ve done only gaming stuff, sometimes mostly work stuff.

I found a nice poll plugin (WP-polls) and thought to ask the same question from you guys. Since words are really important, and the way you label things, I’m presenting this question by using words “at the moment”. Right now. It’s very different to to say “I’m a part time game developer” (that labels you and might become your future if you are not careful) compared to say “I’m a part time game developer right now“.

But enough of words and their meanings. What’s your current status?

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From Compatibility Thoughts to Action

I wrote about my experience with Leadwerks and about certain compatibility issues I faced. During this week is has come clear to me that instead of spending too much time on trying to squeeze a square peg in a round hole (“get the new controller physics to work with my barricading as I initially thought”) I’m simply doing a small change in the feature. I spend quite a bit of time trying to deal with the new physics system, but to me it seemed to be too close to the core engine that I should just simply accept the change – and think how I can benefit from this situation.

I took a closer look to my barricade feature, and I think I got a solution that’s maybe as good as what I originally place. It’s bit different from what I originally planned, but at least it seems good enough.

I’ve also asked the players about 2D versus 3D and got some replies that evenly divided between 2D and 3D (plus one third saying “either one is fine”). Although I had spent quite a bit of time trying to “fix” my game code to work with the new engine, and while I even brought 2D option up it is now clear to me that I’ll proceed with 3D.

I’ve decided to get some of the new features done and leave some for later use. I’ll plan to release the version “as soon as possible”, and while I’m not hundred percent sure if 2 weeks is enough, I just might be able to do the release by that time.

I do realize that this new engine version was something I simply had to get to ensure better reach (the earlier version had loads of problems with ATI cards, and I hope that the new version helps to fix at least some of those problems). I think the only way to find out what the compatibility is going to be is to simply to release the game.

After the first release version, I’m quite certain that there will be a need for at least one patch – and how the audience responds depends on how I’ll proceed with the Dead Wake. Right now it seems to be that the 3D version will be out and it will get N number of patches, and after that I’m quite likely to proceed with 2D (either use the existing code for Dead Wake II or do something else).

I was pondering about this issue, and writing things out public certainly got a reaction – and this whole week has really cleared my head. I feel much more positive about this route now and it feels good to me.

Does Your Game Have Easter Eggs?

Easter eggs in games mainly go in the category of “nice little surprising (secret) details and features that you can find”. I started thinking about the games I’ve played, but I think most of those video game Easter eggs were really short lived. I remember that I’ve played games with Easter eggs, but don’t think there was anything too stunning in them. (In fact, the best Easter eggs I can remember are from Lionhead’s Black & White game where the hype said that you could zoom under a rock to see a worm… I think that feature never got in there, and not sure if that would even count as an Easter egg).

I think video game Easter eggs can be important not only for game play but also for marketing. A witty/fun Easter egg (“hidden feature”) just might go viral and catch the attention of the press. For gameplay, they can be nice fun surprises.

How’s your game – do you have Easter eggs hidden there?