Thursday, October 16, 2008

Third-Person, No-Save, and Consolitis 3

In addition to Bethesda, I'm happy to note that there's another developer/publisher who "gets it": Stardock.

From another story at Gamasutra today:

One thing the company doesn't plan on doing? Moving to other personal computing platforms. Stardock "does not, nor does it plan to, support the Mac or Linux markets," the report states. "Our focus is to help make the Windows platform as successful as possible. Stardock’s entertainment group may eventually make console games as well, but when it comes to application software, Windows is the platform."
Hallelujah! Apparently there are still some development houses where the Reality Distortion Field effect has not yet won the day.

Interestingly, Stardock also released its latest "Gamer's Bill of Rights." I usually think such efforts, while well-meaning, are a bit silly as they fail my test of a "right" being something which is inherent to a person and as such cannot be granted, but can only be recognized.

That said, Stardock's list of (what I would characterize as) "corporate intentions" is absolutely brilliant. It directly and specifically addresses the concerns in my "Consolitis" blog posts, and its provisions deserve to be highlighted:

1. Gamers shall have the right to return games that are incompatible or do not function at a reasonable level of performance for a full refund within a reasonable amount of time.
2. Gamers shall have the right that games they purchase shall function as designed without defects that would materially affect the player experience.
3. Gamers shall have the right that games will receive updates that address minor defects as well as improves gameplay based on player feedback within reason.
4. Gamers shall have the right to have their games not require a third-party download manager installed in order for the game to function.
5. Gamers shall have the right to have their games perform adequately if their hardware meets the posted recommended requirements.
6. Gamers shall have the right not to have any of their games install hidden drivers.
7. Gamers shall have the right to re-download the latest version of the games they purchase.
8. Gamers whose computers meet the posted minimum requirements shall have the right to use their games without being materially inconvenienced due to copy protection or digital rights management.
9. Gamers shall have the right to play single player games without having to have an Internet connection.
10. Gamers shall have the right to sell or transfer the ownership of a physical copy of a game they own to another person.
I didn't care much for Sins of a Solar Empire. (As an RTS game it's not "strategic," and even if it were the real-time aspect would kill any hope for any strategic thinking.)

That said, I bought a copy of Sins (and played it), and I'll buy pretty much anything Stardock publishes. Because I so strongly support their positions on being PC-focused, on DRM, on performing as advertised, on being able to play a single-player game without an Internet leash, and on not restricting secondary sales, I'm ready to do my small bit to support not just their individual games but Stardock as a company.

Having those rules doesn't guarantee that every game developed or published by Stardock will be a winner. It just improves the odds.

These days, that's worth supporting.

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