August 2004 Archives

WTF!?!?!? My ICQ Stolen!!

About Ruslan Meet People - I get into work today after staying up until 2am trying to get my work laptop backed up so that they can image it today, due to some fucked up issue with Outlook 2003 not connecting to the server anymore, and as soon as I get in and fire up Trillian, I get an error - Cannot log in to ICQ. Failed Password.

No biggie, I think - maybe AOL did some toying with the backend code, as they're want to do on occasion. So I fire up my copy of ICQ Lite. Again - "Failed Password".

Since I can't really remember which of the 8-10 passwords that I use commonly is associated with my ICQ account, I go to their password recovery site. Type in a few email addresses that it might like, and get nothing in return. Hrmmm...that's strange.

So...I click on the "view your details" link to find out what's up. Sure enough, as soon as it opens up, there's a new name on the account, "Ruslan". Nothing else has changed - s/he's still associated with the U of WA and Alpha Phi Omega, but the name's completely changed, as I would assume are the password and email addresses associated with the account.

So, I put in a ticket with little expectation that anyone will ACTUALLY be able to do anything (it is a free service, after all, and you get what you pay for) there goes my six-digit number, that I've had since 1994 or so.

So if you see someone on ICQ signed in under UIN #897161, feel free to fuck with them something furious.


EFF wins Grokster case @ 9th Circuit

Boing Boing: EFF wins Grokster! Software doesn't have to be easy for Hollywood to wiretap!

Looks like the EFF has struck a strong blow against the RIAA and their ham-handed tactics against file-sharing networks and their users. In upholding the summary judgment ordered in favor of the EFF at the District Court level, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stated:

"The Copyright Owners urge a re-examination of the law in the light of what they believe to be proper public policy, expanding exponentially the reach of the doctrines of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Not only would such a renovation conflict with binding precedent, it would be unwise. Doubtless, taking that step would satisfy the Copyright Owners’ immediate economic aims. However, it would also alter general copyright law in profound ways with unknown ultimate consequences outside the present context."

Assuming that the 9th Circuit doesn't bat its usual percentage at the Supreme Court on appeal, this ruling appears to make decentralized file-sharing systems immune from vicarious liability. Should be interesting if this gets picked up for certiorari.

Check out the opinion...

MMORPG Thoughts

I've been pondering some of the discussions that I've browsed on the City of Heroes message boards, and it seems like the exact same issues keep coming up here that I've seen in every single other MMORPG game that I've played. So...I've decided to write an opinion piece about why MMORPGs are stuck in a rut, and why barring any serious re-thinking from many of those developing the games, we're going to see people stop flocking mindlessly to the Next Big Thing, and see MMORPGs go the way of The Bard's Tale...

Stay tuned for more...

Moving Sucks...

'nuff said. At least we're a week ahead of schedule - I guess that counts for something, but I'm tired of boxes.

More CoH Characters...

Another couple of my characters from City of Heroes, while I'm busy moving.

When Will They Learn?

Another MMORPG that hasn't learned a valuable market lesson: City of Heroes. Don't get me wrong, I love the game so far, but a recent announcement on their message boards that they will be cancelling any accounts made with "illegally obtained" activation codes points out a huge failing on the MMORPG front.

First, I won't get into too much detail about what they mean by "illegally obtained", but their stated intent there is to stop people from selling stolen or generated account codes on eBay or other online auction/sale sites. However, from some key language in their Terms of Service would apparently allow them to cancel any account that has been sold or transferred by its original owner.

But back to the lesson at hand. For years, people have been crying for the ability to buy activation codes for multiplayer games, without paying full price for the retail package of the software. This was the case with Neverwinter Nights, WarCraft III, Star Wars Galaxies, and many others too numerous to list here. The logic goes as follows: I payed $50 for the game, including the packaging, manual, and CDs. I'm okay with that...but if I want to install the game on another computer and play with friends or family, why should I have to buy new media and packaging? I already have the CDs and manual. I don't want another set of these, just the ability to legally install the software on another computer and, in the case of an MMORPG, create a new account, which I'm also willing to pay for.

Given that piracy is of such high concern to the game-makers out there, you'd think they'd have figured out that charging someone $50 to go buy a second copy of the game is not an incentive. In fact, many people I know who have used pirated copies or cracks of games in fact own one copy of the game...but to play with family or friends, they weren't willing to spend another $50.

So what's the solution? Simple - sell CD Keys (or account activation codes) separately. Sell them over the web - for $15-20 each. Give people some incentive to use their software legally. Unfortunately, this seems to be a concept lost on all publishers, but it particularly hurts those running MMORPGs, since those who are disinclined to spend $50 for the software again are generally willing to spend the extra $15/month to play a second account in-game. Assuming that the publisher sees $30 of the $50 retail price (probably a high assumption), if they were to sell the keys online, they'd recoup this within two months on each additional account created. This is money that they are not getting right now. If that doesn't appeal to profit motive, I don't know what will.

We Can Be Heroes...

Just thought I'd share a couple of my characters from City of Heroes