Would this work? (copy protection idea)

Discussion in 'Game Development (Technical)' started by Davaris, Jan 17, 2008.

  1. Davaris

    Original Member

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    I had an idea for a game that is randomly generated each time it is played and it can only be played while the player is online.

    The way it works is the player pays a small amount for the rights to play a single game and then their game connects to a server and receives game data that is randomly generated for each session.

    The idea is the game does not save the information on the hard drive and when the game ends all of the data is lost, so there is nothing to share.


    The only thing I can think of is someone could create a program that intercepts the data and stores it so they can feed it into the game any time they want. If this is possible, is there a way to make it difficult to do?
     
  2. Jamie W

    Original Member Indie Author

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    For me, I'd be more concerned with how feasable it is to monetize (i.e. will the game be good enough, to make people wanna part with their cash). That's always a prior concern to any copy protection issues.
     
  3. papillon

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    And many people will be cranky at the notion of not being able to play their game if they can't reach your server (server down, internet connection on the fritz) unless you manage to make the online-only aspect a strong positive feature as opposed to an annoyance.
     
  4. OremLK

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    I agree with this completely. I think the best way to monetize this sort of thing would be to let players pay for quality developer-created content instead of random levels, which is already how some online RPGs work.
     
  5. Desktop Gaming

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    This is a classic case of inconveniencing genuine customers to try to ward off pirates.

    People won't want to download the entire thing every time they play it.
     
  6. Jack Norton

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    I think depends how you structure it... if you download for example a compressed dungeon data could be 500kb, easy download even for a 56k (takes less than 1 minute).

    There are the downside mentioned here - but as I posted in another thread, you know someone that buys games online and doesn't have a permanent internet connection? I really doubt it, if exist is a very small percentage.

    Of course you should have a backup server and be sure that users can always use the program without problems!

    But "not being able to play the game if not online" seems really not a big downside...otherwise I can't explain the success of all those free MMORPG popping out like crazy in the last months...:confused:
     
  7. Cygon

    Cygon New Member

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    For me personally, that would be completely unacceptable. I've cancelled pre-orders of AAA games when I learned that they require online activation and I would certainly refrain from buying a game if its CD was essentially incomplete and needed to download additional content from the internet to work.

    Others may be less drastic, but that's my standpoint on online activation, online-anything in general.

    -Markus-
     
  8. papillon

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    I know *lots* of them. They're a combination of kids, who aren't allowed to be online all the time, people with laptops that like to wander around, and people who are only online at work, not at home. (And I know plenty of other people whose connections are *flaky* but that's a different story)

    It's not that it can't be done, just that you need to promote why being online is a plus, not a restriction. There are plenty of not just mmorpgs but 'browser games' that are obviously played online. If you set up the game so that the player downloads 'nothing at all'* and can play entirely from the browser with their account info, then this becomes a cool positive - people who travel to different computers a lot can play wherever they are, not having to worry about using up limited activations!

    ... There is the word 'free' in there :)

    * - obviously, you ARE downloading, but you're not having to go through a separate download-and-install process and leave stuff cluttering up your hard drive. :)
     
  9. KNau

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    So I guess the question for the original poster is, are you planning to charge for this game?

    Athough, don't Real Arcade and Big Fish's "game center" crapware require you to be online?
     
  10. Nexic

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    A better way to do it would be to give them a reasonable sized (a couple of hours) game stored on their hard disk. But then offer an extra 300% content for legit users only.

    Most pirates will just crack the main game and won't even know about the extras. If you make it that all the content needs to be downloaded then pirates will then just make a cracked version with ALL the levels.

    That way pirates will be less likely to crack the entire system, pirate players might end up buying just to get the extra content, and legit users wont be pissed off since they get the main portion of the game without complicated DRM.
     
    #10 Nexic, Jan 18, 2008
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2008
  11. RoadMaster

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    If something can be done offline (eg, randomly generated levels) then there is no reason to need to connect to your server. It adds extra time to let the player's play their game, causes valid users inconvenience (as others have said, especially if they don't have a consistent/wired connection) and may even cost you MORE money if you need a special server to make such services available to players reiably.

    If you want to use "onlineness" as a deterrent to piracy, give the players a REASON to be online. An integrated social network for users to share custom content, or, heavens forbid, ONLINE PLAY will encourage players to want a copy of the game that would work online. This is not to say that connecting to a server will guarantee that those connecting have a legal copy of the game, since that still requires some "fancy coding" to reliably accomplish, but it turns connectivity into an advantage for valid users, as opposed to a disadvantage for everyone.

    Yes pirates might play your game offline, or make some third-party servers, but there is still the appeal of your official online service which may push them into purchasing, whereas forcing connectivity will likely end up being side-stepped by pirates, and instead end up only punishing the valid users.
     
  12. Jack Norton

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    That's what I would do. A normal dowload, but you store saved data on server and you can play from anywhere as long as you have user/pass. In this case the only difference would be that you download the game to get better experience (fullscreen, music etc, not using flash).
     
  13. Pyabo

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    To answer the original question: No.
     
  14. Davaris

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    Care to expand on that?

    I had another idea where the data for each map is served up only when the player enters it and is not saved. This means the player's save game (if I bothered to give them that ability) would be server side.

    Also if I updated the executable regularly, even if they did manage to save the data somehow, it wouldn't work with the latest version of the engine.
     
  15. RoadMaster

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    I don't think it's much of a question as CAN you do it, but more of a question of SHOULD you do it? Will your players get mad when they can't play a single-player game they bought on their laptops on the subway (no net connection there).

    There are lots of schemes which can utilize a user connecting to the internet to be able to play games (you could encrypt the game and have to get a time and machine-based key from the net to decrypt it theoretically). No one has said outright (okay maybe Pyabo did) that any of your methods won't work since its heavily dependent on how strongly it is implemented (in other words, do you consider yourself a security expert). I think the issue most have brought up are about the justification of how it effects your end users.

    And from that standpoint, there are currently large debates happening on this forum at http://forums.indiegamer.com/showthread.php?t=12576

    It's up to you WHAT you do and up to your implementation how well it works and how much it inconveniences others. But in MY opinion if you are making a single-player game that does not use the internet for anything other than copy protection, I would try to avoid forcing players to be connected to the internet to play my game. Make the internet a value-add instead of deterrent.
     
  16. Pyabo

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    Well, RoadMaster explains it perfectly when he says "should you do it?"

    But to elaborate on why it won't work... first is the issue of just tricking the game into using data already downloaded. Second, a resonably popular game will just encourage someone to reverse engineer the server needs and create their own server... this has happened for many MMOs.

    So, to be more specific: Yes, it will work if you want to annoy your paying customers and you have a very small user base. If that's what you're after, go for it!
     
  17. Sectarian

    Sectarian New Member

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    I know of a online browser based game that requires no downloadng and has a worldwide trademark. I've been a member of this gamesite since october 2003, Although its not a video game it is turn based. And to get a good idea of the game itself you shoould take the time to really look at it. www.ferion.com
     
  18. Game Producer

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    Sounds like a pain in the (bottom) for the customer if he gets internet connection hiccups or ... doesn't have one. :)

    Plus: somebody always gets a way to hack this stuff... like preventing server connection, or makes a thing that saves the information on hard drive.

    Plus: depends on your audience... regarding who is willing to "pay per play" (in some cases it's fine... for downloadable casual games audition it might be bit tricky)
     
  19. Davaris

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    Sectarian:

    Thanks for the link. I'll check them out and ask a them a few questions.

    >Plus: depends on your audience... regarding who is willing to "pay per play" (in some cases it's fine... for downloadable casual games audition it might be bit tricky)

    Its going to be tough breaking the established mind set, but I'm determined to give it a try.


    Pyabo:

    >Second, a resonably popular game will just encourage someone to reverse engineer the server needs and create their own server... this has happened for many MMOs.

    This is a good point and is something I'll consider when I decide what is generated on the client side.

    One of the game's features is its logic is very complicated and randomizes each game. So all they'll be able to do is write a game server of their own and use my client to run a pale comparison.

    So in short I don't think they'll be able to copy the way my game thinks, if I send them one map at a time, generate each game randomly and keep all of the game building code server side.
     

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