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MMORPG modifications copy pirated server options
August 10, 2011 12:49 PM   Subscribe

With news that Blizzard will require an internet connection to play Diablo 3 to curb piracy and prevent character-boosting cheats (previously), Wall Street Journal's China Realtime Report blog has new coverage of an old game. The article covers the actions of Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd., the Chinese distributor of the MMORPG The Legend of Mir 2, and their fight against illicit private servers that offer increased experience per task and more common rare items.
posted by filthy light thief (62 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Internet connectivity requirement doesn't bother me but there are lots of people with unreliable or nonexistent uplinks who won't be able to experience the glory that is Diablo 3. Unless they pirate the game and download the exe crack. Ops. Turns out that the gamers who get hurt by this are the honest ones.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:02 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Diablo 3: Pirates will still pirate it. Legitimate users will be concerned about losing connection or playing the game while travelling, and be more likely to pirate it. Furious gamers will savage it in Amazon reviews. So goes the prophesy of East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:04 PM on August 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


Turns out that the gamers who get hurt by this are the honest ones.

Yet again.
posted by Huck500 at 1:04 PM on August 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


I give it four hours after retail release before an easy to install single player no connection crack is available.

Unless some enterprising beta player has already done so for their own convenience.
posted by Slackermagee at 1:06 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]



They'll still buy it, and Diablo 3 will sell millions.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:06 PM on August 10, 2011


I, for one, thank the gods that Diablo III will only be online, because otherwise I would buy it there would be a repeat of the long, long non-thesis writing months that were my summer of Diablo II.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:11 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


*and there would be*
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:11 PM on August 10, 2011


remind me again why I am supposed to be against copy protection? Who the frick does not have an internet connection?

imho all the best games require internet access. As an avid Starcraft gamer, yeah it sucks when your internet flips and you lose a match, but really, who cares.
posted by H. Roark at 1:14 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


From what I've read about Diablo 3 so far, I have a feeling that this is really more about finding ways to get players to part with their real money for in-game impulse buys of virtual stuff than about seriously combating piracy.

Though 'Combating piracy' sounds better than 'making sure we are always connected to your wallet' from a PR standpoint, I'm sure.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:15 PM on August 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


It looks like there'll be no way to "crack" Diablo 3 to give the old single-player standalone computer game experience of Diablo 2. D3 is written as a client-server game like World of Warcraft, and requires a permanent connection to the server that never disconnects or goes down. The only thing Blizzard sells you as a "game" is the tool to go online to where the action is delivered, while the actual gameplay logic is on the servers. This is disappointing; I was looking forward to Diablo 3 because I loved playing its predecessor offline, as a traditional hack-and-slash graphical adventure game on my PC.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 1:17 PM on August 10, 2011


It looks like there'll be no way to "crack" Diablo 3 to give the old single-player standalone computer game experience of Diablo 2. D3 is written as a client-server game like World of Warcraft, and requires a permanent connection to the server that never disconnects or goes down. The only thing Blizzard sells you as a "game" is the tool to go online to where the action is delivered, while the actual gameplay logic is on the servers. This is disappointing; I was looking forward to Diablo 3 because I loved playing its predecessor offline, as a traditional hack-and-slash graphical adventure game on my PC.

FYI - there are cracked solo-play or private server versions of WoW floating on torrent sites constantly.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:27 PM on August 10, 2011


I'm sure that piracy is only a minor part of why Blizzard decided to do this. They're not trying to stop people from pirating the game, they know it will probably happen anyway. What they want is to have your save files stored online in a locked vault so you can't use hacks or cheats, which will protect the integrity of the virtual item marketplace they also announced.

If anyone missed that part, you'll be able to buy and sell items in Diablo III with other players using cold, hard cash. Find a really rare sword you have no use for? Hawk it for a few bucks. Stuck on a hard part? A powerful new magic wand is a few clicks and a few quarters away. Blizzard gets a sliver of the total sale and you walk away satisfied.

Blizzard want everyone who plays Diablo III -- down to the last one -- to have that carrot dangling in front of them. If they supported creating local-only characters (as they did in Diablo II), the pool of buyers/sellers would shrink to only those who chose to have their character stored on Blizzard's servers from the beginning.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 1:28 PM on August 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


FWIW they are still patching Diablo II and there is Torchlight.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:28 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's always the possibility that some people will reverse-engineer the code and allow people to set up their own private servers.

And totally, The Lurkers Support Me in Email, this is primarily about the new marketplace.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:30 PM on August 10, 2011


"Who the frick does not have an internet connection? "

People who are traveling often don't.
posted by oddman at 1:50 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


remind me again why I am supposed to be against copy protection?

Because when you spent fifty or sixty dollars on a game (more, outside the states), the requirement that you play when and how the publisher decides is ridiculous.

Who the frick does not have an internet connection?
People in:

Other countries that don't have an 24/7 connection infrastructure.

A satellite internet on a day with shitty weather.

A a financial state where affording the one internet provider in town's $40-50/month is too much.

Rural america where there are all sorts of issues regarding connectivity.

An airplane, bus, train or any other mode of transport that isn't set up with internet access.
posted by griphus at 1:51 PM on August 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Who the frick does not have an internet connection?

Or people on crappy connections that drop all the time, especially those in rural areas or those on wireless.
posted by JauntyFedora at 1:52 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Hello, connect for awhile and listen"
posted by clavdivs at 1:53 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


"A home with satellite internet on a day with shitty weather."
posted by griphus at 1:56 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a reliabish home internet connection. I do not have one when on the move, such as on holiday or staying with my folks, or away for work. The times when i am least likely to have a net connection are when I most want to play single player games. Its admittedly more a point of principle though that I object to being forced to login to a potentially flaky online server continuously to play a single player game. Just look at the fun sapping problems ubisoft have caused with assassins creed or settlers 7 for why I avoided those too.

Region tying for multiplayer, so i'll have to import a US copy to play with mefighters, and a second UK copy for irl friends is just the cherry on top.

But hey, theyll still sell millions, so who cares? The devs of torchwood 2 will probably be happy to take my money though.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:00 PM on August 10, 2011


Who the frick does not have an internet connection?

I hope you don't make websites for a living.
posted by rahnefan at 2:00 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Torchlight 2, even. With multiplayer.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:01 PM on August 10, 2011


People who are traveling often don't.

Keep your eyes on the road and off the demon.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:02 PM on August 10, 2011


I like my $20/month internet service - spotty as hell but lots of free money to buy those singleplayer games I love. No single game is worth tripling my monthly internet costs just so I have a steady enough connection to play it by myself. So disappointing.

And despite the obvious illegality of private servers (especially those run by companies for profit), I absolutely love the idea behind them and I internally cheer every time I hear about their existence. Anything that makes gamers take control of their games by modding them, experimenting with them, upsetting meticulously balanced economies, teleporting end-game bosses into main cities to wreck havok... yea, total nerd-out. But it is fascinating to see how a game like World of Warcraft holds up once you remove the artificial time/grinding constraints.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 2:04 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


If anyone missed that part, you'll be able to buy and sell items in Diablo III with other players using cold, hard cash. Find a really rare sword you have no use for? Hawk it for a few bucks. Stuck on a hard part? A powerful new magic wand is a few clicks and a few quarters away. Blizzard gets a sliver of the total sale and you walk away satisfied.

Which also means item drops are now chucking real money on the floor. Playing with random internet people is going to Really Really suck.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:06 PM on August 10, 2011


If I play Diablo 3, and that is a big if, I would consider buying massively overpowered items and just storming thought the early stages. I never liked the fact that I have to start from square one. In Diablo 1 I had GPOW (duped of course) why do I have to start subsequent games in rags? I should be able to just roll up to the big bad and smack the shit out of it with my Godly Sword of The Vampire and end the game in minutes if I want. Why do I always have to grind?

I recently played a fremium MMO where there really wasn't much to do beyond unique item collection. To keep players interested the GMs ran trivia contests, the prizes were unique items. I kinda felt bad at first, since I was playing against 12 years olds, but I won so many trivia contests I had to stop playing, I had no more storage space for massively overpowered unique items. I could tear through anything in my path, it was awesome.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:07 PM on August 10, 2011


I'm just prepared to be annoyed at online reviews of this game being useless as a lot of people who never played it give it one star reviews out of protest for policies that they object to primarily because it makes pirating significantly more of a hassle. I remember this happening with spore. Any information about whether it was a good game or not was swamped over protests of how terrible the DRM was. I can understand complaining if the DRM actually presents a problem. I can understand warning people about real potential problems that DRM might present. But for the vast majority of people even this level of DRM presents a total non issue at the practical level.
posted by I Foody at 2:08 PM on August 10, 2011


Always on internet requirements for games does cause problems, especially at launch and late in a games cycle. Ubi had problems for weeks at a time, where you literally could not login for days for ass creed 2 or settlers. Bioshock was bloody impossible to auth at launch, and that was only a one time requirement. Wow has had connectivity issues at times, so has starcraft 2, even steam sometimes buckles under heavy load so you can't auth or download (such as at summer sale clock rollovers). Ea just turns the servers off when they decide its time to switch to new shiney, witness GRID. It's not a non issue for many customers.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:20 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


remind me again why I am supposed to be against copy protection? Who the frick does not have an internet connection?

I generally lean more to your side, but it would suck if you dusted off this game a few years from now and decided to play it solo and couldn't because Blizzard had taken their servers off-line.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 2:20 PM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


ArkhanJG: "Which also means item drops are now chucking real money on the floor. Playing with random internet people is going to Really Really suck"

Yeah, this is what I'm most concerned about. Comparing the shield I just looted to the one I'm currently using and deciding which one is better is fine (and fun!), but now I have to consider their real-world value as well. Thoughts like "Ooh, this bow will be nice for that archer character I want to make" will now have "... or should I sell it?" attached. No thanks. At least we'll have Torchlight 2.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 2:21 PM on August 10, 2011


> Who the frick does not have an internet connection?

Large numbers of Americans ?
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:22 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just like saying "more common rare items."
posted by Zed at 2:23 PM on August 10, 2011


I generally lean more to your side, but it would suck if you dusted off this game a few years from now and decided to play it solo and couldn't because Blizzard had taken their servers off-line.

If Blizzard's servers go down, the apocalypse has probably happened.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:26 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Which also means item drops are now chucking real money on the floor. Playing with random internet people is going to Really Really suck"

Loot is now character-specific; so no more racing to click up loot faster, it's all for you.
posted by mek at 2:26 PM on August 10, 2011


i'm going to play Diablo 2 tonight when i get home. what do you think the chances are, under this current bullshit scheme, that 16 years from now i'll be able to say "man, i'm gonna go home and play some Diablo 3!"?

'cause i'm thinking 0% sounds like the only possible answer.

so Blizzard, a company once widely known for bucking trend and supporting gamers has been blinded, is unable to see over the giant sacks of money WoW has generated for them to know what their customers would want or why we made them the company they are today.

this is another sad example in a growing trend of consumer-hostile behavior in current software development.

i can only vote with my dollar, so i'll be enjoying many, many games in the coming years. and i will not be buying Diablo 3.
posted by radiosilents at 2:28 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


and couldn't because Blizzard had taken their servers off-line.

Diablo 1 multiplayer is still functional.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:29 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be fair, this isn't so much blizzard as activision, or more specifically, Bobby Kotick being the worst of money grabbing bottom feeding abusive scum.

Fair point tho mek, at least fighting people for real money drops will be a non-issue. Cheers for the info.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:32 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I pretty much always have excellent internet access. Except every now and then, when I don't. A hiccup, a stall, a router bork, these things happen. And they're not a big deal. They happen while I'm playing TF2 or Counter-Strike or whatever else I play online. No biggie. I get dropped from the game, I sigh, then shortly I'm back in.

But that's multi-player. For a single-player game like Assassin's Creed 2 (and probably Far Cry 3 when it comes out) or a multi-player game like Diablo 3 with a single-player mode, the idea that losing my progress and getting kicked back to the menu screen because the internet went out, even when I'm not playing online with friends, is incredibly annoying. Immersion in a single-player experience is fragile enough without having it ruined because I've lost my connection to some server that isn't doing anything useful for me but just making sure I'm playing legally.

To me, this feels like if Netflix decided that not only do I need a good internet connection to stream movies, but also to watch the DVD I got in the mail. It does nothing but hurt the single-player experience.

But, hey, Torchlight 2 will do just fine for me.
posted by notmydesk at 2:36 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


This will have about as much effect on their profits and reputation as did the dropping of PPC support. Less than 2% will get pissed off, and rest won't give a fuck.
posted by Brocktoon at 2:42 PM on August 10, 2011


2% of a gazillion dollars is still a hefty sum. They'll get my dough when I can play offline; until then, there is no Diablo III, not in my universe.
posted by rahnefan at 3:27 PM on August 10, 2011


knowing blizzard development times it won't be coming out for about another four years anyway. plenty of time to upgrade that connection
posted by moorooka at 3:41 PM on August 10, 2011


It's pretty funny considering I can play my XBLA copy of Torchlight offline. That seems strange comparatively....
posted by lumpenprole at 3:46 PM on August 10, 2011


Diablo 3: Pirates will still pirate it. Legitimate users will be concerned about losing connection or playing the game while travelling, and be more likely to pirate it. Furious gamers will savage it in Amazon reviews. So goes the prophesy of East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94.

If - and I do mean a big IF - the game comes out at a reasonable price (I've seen rumors of $70+), and the reviews on the actual gameplay are decent, I might pick it up. And then I will definitely crack or pirate so that I can play it offline. Some of us still have dialup and/or shitty ISDN.
I'm actually more interested in Torchlight II than Diablo 3 at this point.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 3:48 PM on August 10, 2011


"fans are not happy with the decision. MTV uses this posting on Reddit as an example which has more than 2,700 comments, most of which express their distaste for the always-connected requirement."

You can do this with any press release. Offer in-game items for purchase and fans will hate you. Say you will not offer in-game items for purchase and fans will hate you. Local DA just locked up a pedophile? Scan the comment section of your newspaper and there will be hate. Area kitten saves infant from fire? God damn that baby is ugly and fat, and aren't the parents stupid for living in a flammable house? The internet is an endless well of hatred for everything if you look for it.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:52 PM on August 10, 2011


To everyone claiming they're going to "crack it and play it offline", I think you are going to be disappointed. Based on what Blizzard has said of their motivations for this - they didn't want there to be a seperate "single player" experience and "multiplayer" experience, where someone could get disappointed after spending weeks on building a character and then being unable to play it online with their friends - I think it's 99% likely that there IS no standalone gameplay capability built into it.

All you will be downloading is a client that controls a character that resides on a Blizzard server, that interacts with other NPCs, mobs and players residing on a Blizzard server. Regardless of what you do to your client, if you don't have a connection to a Blizzard server, there will be no gameto speak of. All cracking your client will do is allow you to join non Blizzard pirate servers, similar to how there are WoW private servers - and they're nowhere as good as the real thing - they're never 1:1 copies, with all sorts of bugs and errors floating around, and very frequently many generations behind the current patch. Diablo2 could be played with server emulation because the game itself already had standalone play capabilities. So could Warcraft 3. But this will probably not be the case for Diablo3.
posted by xdvesper at 3:58 PM on August 10, 2011


H. Roark: "remind me again why I am supposed to be against copy protection? Who the frick does not have an internet connection?"

Not everybody lives in the big city, big shot. On my parents' road you can't even get DSL.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:59 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: an endless well of hatred for everything if you look for it
posted by AdamCSnider at 4:26 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whether or not you look for it
posted by rahnefan at 4:55 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not for pirating anything. But it surprises and impresses me how many people are dismissive or even defensive of the decision, and how typically the only thing they do is regurgitate Blizzard's own line about why they are doing it. They *have* you man, they have you. You are directing the future and you don't even know it.

But bottom line, it is their decision what products to make, they owe previous customers nothing...so like I said earlier, there is no Diablo III for me, it just won't exist...
posted by rahnefan at 4:59 PM on August 10, 2011


If I play Diablo 3, and that is a big if, I would consider buying massively overpowered items and just storming thought the early stages.

This won't be possible, or at least not to the degree you're anticipating. Gear has been announced to have level requirements.
posted by rifflesby at 5:02 PM on August 10, 2011


Who the frick does not have an internet connection?

I personally disapprove of such measures as "always-on internet" because it is an added expense for the purchaser that isn't factored into the purchase. It's not longer enough to be paying for electricity, and for computer hardware, in order to play the game. No, you also need to be spending X per month on an internet connection, which also necessitates special hardware. It's like having an internet-enabled fridge that won't chill your beers without a software update. It doesn't matter if "everyone" has an internet connection: some people don't want to have to use it to play a game they have legitimately purchased. Maybe they're on a tight cap, maybe they're up Mt. Everest. It opens up security issues because it's a new process that can be exploited. And when the Blizzard servers go down, which they inevitably will, because all servers do, or if your internet connection is borked, through no fault of your own, which is another inevitability, what then? No, no, it's all stupid.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:22 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


This seems to me to be less about avoiding piracy and more about the decade they've spent dealing with the Diablo II black market. At some point they made the decision that running a bunch of game servers that strictly control item distribution would be cheaper than the developer time chasing item duping bugs, and I don't really blame them for that.

At the same time, it would've been nice if they'd simply done both. You can play the game offline in single-player mode, and if you find an item dupe bug then more power to you. But no character you create offline can ever be played in a multiplayer environment. The downside is that people can look through the (offline) item drop logic and game the (online) drops, but that's nowhere near the developer hassle of dealing with dupe bugs.

While we're on the subject, can someone explain to me how there are custom WoW servers? Did someone at Blizzard leak the server-side code, or are people just THAT awesome at recreating the world logic?
posted by Riki tiki at 8:14 PM on August 10, 2011


Gaming conspiracy theory: This is a secret attempt to direct players to pick up WoW, instead. Since Diablo 3 is virtually a one-player MMORPG as it is.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:37 PM on August 10, 2011


It's astonishing to me that Blizzard's big talking point is that "It would suck to get a character up to level 20 or 30 in offline mode and then have to start over to join a multiplayer game."

This for a game in which randomized dungeons and endless replayability are practically the core mechanic. If starting a new character in D3 is a chore instead of a delight, then I'd say they've completely failed to deliver a game worthy of the name Diablo.
posted by straight at 9:51 PM on August 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Did someone at Blizzard leak the server-side code, or are people just THAT awesome at recreating the world logic?

The custom servers are just that, highly custom, and often have very different NPC layouts and quest arrangements. I don't think any serve as a serviceable clone of the normal WoW gameplay.
posted by mek at 10:05 PM on August 10, 2011


I think it's 99% likely that there IS no standalone gameplay capability built into it.

All you will be downloading is a client that controls a character that resides on a Blizzard server, that interacts with other NPCs, mobs and players residing on a Blizzard server.


Then I will not be getting this game. There are plenty of others that I can play without being online all the time. Not everything has to be MMO-based.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 4:31 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do believe they've said that you can play by yourself, eschewing the "multiplayer" aspect, but it still will require the persistent connection and a server-side character. This is just as many have said - an incentive for you to purchase upgrades from the auction hall.
posted by erstwhile at 11:45 AM on August 11, 2011


Which implies that they'll be balancing the game for people who buy "optimal" gear in the shops rather than for people who stick to whatever gear they get from drops.
posted by straight at 2:46 PM on August 11, 2011



> Who the frick does not have an internet connection?

After three months of frustration, I had one set up to play Starcraft 2.
I had to sign a one year contract and pay 200$ for a receiver on my roof, plus 60$ a month for a connection that reminds me of the 90s.

Is that too specific?
Let's say: rural folks.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:51 PM on August 11, 2011


Which implies that they'll be balancing the game for people who buy "optimal" gear in the shops rather than for people who stick to whatever gear they get from drops.

Well, Diablo 2 is also balanced for trading. Most builds are outright incapable of completing Hell difficulty on a solo playthrough. A couple come to mind as strong "starter characters," such as the hammerdin or the meteorb sorc, but most builds are balanced for optimal gear which is unlikely to be found on your first playthrough. The late-game content like ubers requires a great deal of trading to build a character capable of beating them.
posted by mek at 3:51 PM on August 11, 2011


If Blizzard's servers go down, the apocalypse has probably happened.

Sierra effectively died along with the adventure genre, but you can still play their games. I wonder what would happen should Steam fold.
posted by ersatz at 5:49 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


If Blizzard's servers go down, the apocalypse has probably happened.

or it's Tuesday.
posted by nomisxid at 8:57 AM on August 12, 2011


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