On DRM And The Future of PC Games

Much has been made in the last couple of days of the fact that warez scene group Skidrow have “cracked” Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed 2, however, this isn’t really a crack of the DRM at all, it simply internalises the server emulation that non-scene groups had already put together so it’s not as much hassle to play.

That said, ultimately you can’t crack Ubisoft’s new DRM any more than you can “crack” World of Warcraft; they are serving parts of the game from their servers and unless you either obtain a copy of that data and emulate the server (which isn’t really a crack) you can’t get around it. It’s not as simple as just bypassing a CD check or setting a function to always return true, they’re actually shipping a partial game and as long as their customers will bear it (although given their awful server uptime they’re not helping themselves out) they’ll keep doing it and probably push it even further.

Once games move into the SAAS realm you can say goodbye to owning *any* part of a game you “buy” as all you’ll have is the MMO-esque client application and everything else will be delivered over the wire, doubtless with “Premium” subscriptions available if you want priority access to the game servers to minimize lag & waiting time before you can play.

I think we can all agree that this is a really bad place for PC games to be headed.

Get with the program, Adobe

Almost 2 months after Adobe released a patch for Acrobat Reader 9.3.0 to resolve the highly critical remote execution vulnerability, they’re still offering 9.3.0 as the only option for download:

So unless you run the Adobe Updater immediately after install (Which seems to have issues with UAC on my Windows 7 machine unless you explicitly launch Reader as an Administrator), or make the effort to find the patch to 9.3.1, your machine is going to be at risk every time you open a PDF.

It’s not the first time they’ve done it, either.

On IT and Friday Afternooons

It’s a curious feature of “Nine to Five” IT departments that Friday afternoons are always a write-off; not because of laziness or the typical end-of-week malaise, but because nobody is willing to risk making a change that could break something and leave them with Friday night overtime or even a full weekend of work.

As a result of this, a full 10% of the working week is wasted (well, 10% more than would be otherwise) playing flash games and messing around with remote controlled helicopters…for example. The problem is that there’s no easy solution, if you send everyone home on a Friday lunchtime, then it just means Friday morning is wasted – and the same obviously applies to having Friday off entirely or working Saturday mornings.

Clearly what’s needed is some kind of useful, read-only task that takes about 4 hours and can be done weekly without being too soul-destroying (I’m not spending every Friday afternoon writing documentation, that’s for sure). When I discover something I’ll let you know.

Blog 2.0

Welcome to phase 2 of my attempt to maintain an up-to-date blog with useful stuff on it; phase 1 is still available via the link on your right, however, thanks to Google ending support for FTP publishing it’s back on Blogger and thus looks a bit rubbish(er).