Posts Tagged: ‘Random Battles’

Random Battles Free On Smashwords

July 2, 2012 Posted by zachary

Random Battles: A Gamer’s Guide to What the Crap is Happening in the Games IndustryFor a while now, I have offered the ability to read my first book Random Battles: A Gamer’s Guide to What the Crap is Happening in the Games Industry for free here on my web site. The book was fun to write and I learned a lot about what I was interested in and what I wanted to express in it. I still have more that I want to say and probably in a better format in the future. I really like the idea of ebooks and what they have to offer young aspiring writers such as myself. Yet, there comes a time when somethings just need to be set free. Starting now (or rather a week or so ago), the book is available for Free on Smashwords.

This book is my first foray into writing about games as a money making enterprise. It admittedly has a number of weaknesses (not least of these is the lack of citations). So we will consider it as a first draft of a more in depth look at the world of gaming from the perspective of a gaming consumer. So let me tell you now, I will be back.

Now, if you want to support me in my endeavor to write more and bring a bigger and better reading experience, please feel free to buy it from Amazon. I decided to leave that pay option for those who would like to support me.

But buying this book is not the only way to support me in writing (and even game development). I also run a very nice little CafePress store in which you can buy t-shirts with various game related slogans on them. I will be adding more as time moves forward.

So there you have it. If I make enough money, I will be able to focus more of my time on writing as well as game development. This is something I have wanted for a long time and I am really working hard towards that goal at this point. Thank you for your time and support.

Changes To Random Battle’s Copyright Notice

December 16, 2011 Posted by zachary

I made a HUGE mistake when I published my book on Smashwords. I was reading the preview of another book, Digilife written by a friend Timothy Geigner, and his copyright notice got me thinking about mine.  I put in no thought into the copyright notice that Smashwords requires in all books it publishes. I thought the requirement was a little annoying and so I just copy/pasted one of the example copyright notices. Then I got to thinking about it and how much it disagreed with my overall philosophy with copyright.

Here is the original copyright notice:

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

I think this is very bad for many reasons. Chief amongst these is the first sentence. I hate the idea of things we buy only being “licenses”. That is so limiting and frustrating for many reasons. I hate it. Too many businesses are moving in the direction of wanting to remove any kind of fair use and first sale rights that we still enjoy. I don’t want to be a part of that.

Second, I don’t mind you giving this book to other people. That is how word spreads. In fact, I feel so strongly about this that I made the whole book freely available on my website. So why would I care that you let your friend or family member borrow it.

Third, The idea that I am upset with the idea that you didn’t pay for it prior to reading it as implied in the second to last sentence is absolutely absurd. I am not upset in any way. I am happy that people have read my book.

With these thoughts in mind, I wrote a new copyright notice that reflects my thoughts on this matter, and even references the book itself. So here is the new copyright notice:

My thoughts on copyright are very flexible as can be seen when reading Chapters 2, 3 and 7 of this book. While I would love for you to pay for this book, I can understand why you might be reluctant to do so. If you do find that you like it and want me to write more, feel free to drop a buck on it.

So there you have it. Enjoy the book.

Announcing: Random Battles Book 1

November 11, 2011 Posted by zachary

Today is the official announcement for the first in a 3 part series of books on my observations and outlook on the games industry and how it effects the lives of gamers. The book is Random Battles: A Gamer’s Guide to What the Crap is Happening in the Games Industry and can be purchased at Amazon for the Kindle. In keeping with my philosophy on the issues, the book is available worldwide without DRM or installation restrictions.

For a sample of what the book is about, I am including the introduction and a snippet of one of the chapters.

Introduction: The Games We Love

Ever since my mom brought home the TI-99, I have been a gamer. I have played games on that, the Atari 2600, the Apple IIe, the NES, SNES, Genesis, Atari Jaguar, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, DS, PS1, PS2, GameCube, Wii, PS3 and various forms of the PC. I have gamed all my life. Ever since playing my first game, I knew I wanted to work in the industry as well. Gaming has changed my life.

Ever since the introduction of the internet I have immersed myself in gaming culture. I follow the changes in the industry, follow trends in game design, distribution and monetization. These changes have fascinated me on several levels. However, throughout the whole of it, I have retained what I think is a unique mindset. I still consider myself a gamer first and a game developer second. This means that any decision I make or position I take is most often leans on the side of the gamer.

This mindset has often put me at heads with those in the games industry. Many of them have forgotten what it means to be a gamer and make many decisions that negatively impact gamers world wide. Luckily, not everyone in the industry is like that and these people are working to change gaming for the better.

Within these pages, you will find many of my observations, thoughts, opinions and predictions regarding many issues with gaming. While it is not a comprehensive look at gaming, It covers many of the broader and more pertinent topics I have observed. Within these pages you will read about Piracy, Used Game Sales, DRM, Accessibility and many other issues.

I hope that those who read this book will look at the topics with an open mind and try to understand just what makes a gamer tick when it comes to these issues. I would also hope that those gamers who read this will take the advice I give in these chapters to better influence gaming for everyone in the world. That is my goal at least.

Chapter 3: Digital Rights Management

No discussion about piracy can be complete without bringing up Digital Rights Management or DRM. DRM is a tool used to prevent the widespread pirating of digital goods such as games.

It has a long and sordid history and has had varying levels of non-success and failure. It has taken such forms as the disk check, dongles, codes from manuals and even online verification. The worst offenses have caused damage to gamers’ computers and have caused all kinds of ill will amongst gamers.

Let’s take a bit of look at various forms of DRM.

Dread Forms of DRM

Like any good Mimic, DRM takes the form of a “benefit” to the gamer, and like all Mimics, ends with the player barely surviving the encounter.

In the early days of gaming, DRM was often found as secret codes that one had to enter into the game at various intervals. For instance, in the original Warcraft the player had to enter a seemingly random word from the game’s manual in order to play the game for the first time. This is fine for the original owners of the game, but as manuals became lost or damaged, it would cause all kinds of problems.

Other games relied on dongles that needed to be plugged into certain ports on the gamer’s PC. Again, these were okay until the dongle became lost or broken. This isn’t widely used any more due to its impracticality.

The next evolution of the dongle is the modern video game console. Proprietary hardware that is required for a game to run. This has allowed game developers many protections as it is often more difficult, though not impossible, to stop piracy when the hardware is locked down.

We also have the disk check. Most older PC games will install everything except a few bits of executable code, or assets and such onto the hard drive. This leaves a few things for the game that need to be pulled off the disk. However, as hard drive space grew it became more practical for everything to be stored on the faster hard drive. So the only thing left on the disk was a signature for the game to check against. If the game couldn’t detect the disk, it wouldn’t run.

With the internet age, developers were able to create a new kind of DRM. This one uses a process to ping a server and validate the game with the mother server. There have been varying levels of this starting with a simple one time registration to an “always on” connection.

Those are just a few kinds of DRM that gamers have encountered over the years. Some of it was okay and others were far more horrible.

The Purpose of DRM

So what is the purpose of DRM? Well, if you ask most any publisher, they will tell you that it is to protect their investment from theft through piracy. If you ask any gamer though you get a different story. They will tell you the purpose of DRM is to annoy us into ever more complicated hoop jumps, or to fight the used games market.

From my observation, DRM is nothing more than a way to avoid blame when a game is a failure. They claim it is to stop piracy, but when a game fails they can point to piracy and declare, “No matter how hard we try we just can’t win.” Then they stop making games for PCs and move to consoles.

So if DRM is not effective, why do they continue to use it? For the most part, it is because of investor pressure. Most DRM advocates are from publicly traded game companies such as EA, Activision or Ubisoft. They are pressured by their shareholders and investors to protect their investments from loss. With this pressure they have to put out measures that make it look like they are trying to stop piracy of their games. In reality, these moves are fruitless and the people being forced to implement them, the developers, know it. They recognize that trying to stop piracy is like trying to stop the tide from rolling in.