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How To Ruin Your Pc Port In Four Easy Steps


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Ars Guide: How to ruin your PC port in four easy steps

By Ben Kuchera


It's hard to be a PC gamer these days. This is true even though many independent developers are cranking out great games. Success stories are common, and there are new games released almost daily that play with gaming tropes and conventions like they're toys. It's not just indies; when you look at EA's accounting on its latest earnings call, the company has the PC earning more money than the 360 or PS3, at least when looking at the non-GAAP accounting figures.

PC gaming is alive and well, but it seems as if companies almost want their PC ports to fail on the most powerful gaming platform. We've compiled a list of a bunch of ways that companies can make sure their PC games annoy gamers, and if you bundle up all these "features" you may also see a loss of sales and increased piracy! So, how do you make sure your PC game pales next to its console sibling? Let's find out.

Add customer-hostile DRM

PC gamers openly attacked Spore when it was released with activation limits, but Ubisoft has to be the king of annoying paying customers. It has recently been announced that Driver: San Francisco will require the player to be online to play the game.

Ubisoft claims this is a win for the company. It has seen "a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection, and from that point of view the requirement is a success," a company representative told PC Gamer. The always-on requirement has been dropped from other games from Ubisoft in the past after the players complained, but It looks like it may be here to stay.

It's also worth pointing out that Ubisoft's servers have been hacked in the past, making certain games unplayable. Ubisoft may claim that piracy has been diminished, and we certainly can't argue with that assertion given that the company doesn't share usage data, but this is bad news for people who just want to play the games and don't have their systems hooked up to an always-on Internet connection.

SecuROM, activation limits, and always-on Internet connection requirements—there are multiple ways companies can choose to punish customers who pay for their games. In the past we've even talked to soldiers who are kept from playing certain games by these strategies.

Diablo 3 will also require a persistent Internet connection, and Blizzard's Rob Pardo agrees that it's kind of a pain in the butt. "I want to play Diablo 3 on my laptop in a plane, but, well, there are other games to play for times like that," he told 1up.

Just so we're clear, when you're bored on a plane, and you have your laptop, and you want to play the game you bought in order to fight boredom, Blizzard's official recommendation is that you play someone else's game. That's pride, right there.

Don't let players adjust their settings

This one can drive you crazy. PC gamers like to play with their mouse settings, adjust the amount of detail in the characters or environment, and change the audio mix between the music and the sound effects. We want to adjust the resolution, the aspect ratio, and even the field of view settings. The more options given to PC gamers, the better. While some engines support more options than others, there is a minimum amount of tweaking that should be available when we jump into the game.

For an example of how badly PC gamers can get screwed on this issue, we can take a look at Bulletstorm when it was launched. Not only was mouse smoothing turned on as a default, but there was no way to turn it off. You had to find the configuration files, which were encrypted for some insane reason, and then install a third-party program to be able to turn off mouse smoothing and get the game feeling like it should on the PC.

"Possibly we should separate .ini files: some encrypted, some (visuals, mouse, etc.) open to rape. Oops, I mean edit." Adrian Chmielarz, People Can Fly's creative director, said via Twitter when we brought this up. That's an infuriating answer from someone on a team that thought it was a good idea to lock PC gamers into mouse smoothing. Aim assist was also turned on by default, because it's necessary on the console for people playing with controllers. On the PC, it's turned on because no one put any thought into the idea of optimizing the game's controls for the PC.

Release it long after the console version

Here's a good way to make sure your PC game gets the attention it deserves: launch it alongside the console version. Everyone was talking about From Dust when the Xbox Live Arcade version was released, and many people noted that they would love to play the game on PC. It would be great to take advantage of that enthusiasm, but of course Ubisoft pushed the release of the game back a month. That's annoying, but releasing PC versions some time after the console versions is unfortunately routine.

It's a pain in the butt for everyone. It's rare the news outlets re-review the PC version, and by the time the PC version is out, more games have come along to grab the attention of the gamers and the press. When you launch a game on all platforms at once, you can really grab the sales momentum and the conversations on gaming fora and boost the sales of all versions. Pushing the release of the PC version back makes it feel like an afterthought, and it's damaging to everyone involved.

If you want to be depressed, go to Google and simply type "PC version delayed," and you can see how often this happens.

Forget that most PC gamers aren't using a gamepad

We would like to use our mouse and keyboard setups to control your game, because that's what's in front of us when we're playing said game. There is no left bumper on my keyboard, nor is there one on my mouse. It doesn't take long to change the prompts in your game or to make your menus usable with a mouse. Please make the effort.

It's always a good idea to support gamepads, because many games are improved by them, but your default settings should be optimized for a mouse and keyboard. That means menus work with a mouse, and that means when I'm playing a tutorial the command prompts don't assume I'm using a gamepad. When these areas are ignored or passed over, it seems like you already think I'm playing the game on the wrong platform, and that you put zero effort and thought into the version of the game I purchased.

Ugh. That may be accurate.

This can also be a part of the section above that concerns adjusting the game's settings, especially in the case of Bulletstorm, where the game was clearly set up for a game pad and the options needed to fix that were encrypted and hidden from players. Classy.

Force players to log into yet another thing

This is something that continually drives me crazy, and it's only getting worse. You sit down at your computer, log into Steam, launch the game, and then you need to set up another account or log into another service before the game launches. You better set up a dedicated password for each service, as well, because it seems as if everyone in the world has either been hacked or is about be hacked. Everyone wants your personal information, and it seem as if no one has a good way to keep that data safe.

Even without the hacking aspect of things, I don't want to set up an EA account to play a game on Steam. Now my EA account is an Origin account, and I may or may not be able to re-download my EA games if I delete them, because EA and Valve are butting heads over this and that. I bet when you played Grand Theft Auto IV you were looking forward to creating an account on the Rockstar Games Social Club, right? I have a great time playing Section 8: Prejudice, but for some reason the game forces you to use Games for Windows Live, and when I log onto that useless service to play the game it boots my wife from the 360 if she's watching a movie on Netflix. What does Games for Windows Live get me that Steam, the service I used to buy the game, does not? Nothing. It only adds an extra layer of complexity and annoyance. It's a net loss.

I do not want to set up an account somewhere, I regret that you think I should be forced to because I made the mistake of buying your product, and in most cases you lose more than you gain by using all these goofy publisher-specific clubs or services or accounts. Please, for all that is holy... STOP IT.

Why does all this matter?

People want to play PC games. In fact, they want to love PC games. In many cases companies take a giant, virtual dump all over the PC versions of their games, and then feign innocence when they're asked about why gamers don't buy PC games in large numbers. EA is betting much of its short-term future on the success of The Old Republic and Battlefield 3, and those two games are either PC exclusives or feature the PC as the lead platform.

It only takes a little extra work to make your PC games play on the PC, and make gamers happy. It's worth doing so, if only because it gives you a way of standing out in the crowded market—indies have long crowed about their lack of DRM to great success—and it helps your chances that someone will actually pay for your product.

We want to give you our money, developers and publishers, so please stop punishing us for doing so.

@Ars Technica

Artigo muito bom

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a imagem do bulletstorm fica mesmo a matar

o jogo até é porreiro, mas a jogabilidade é mesmo feita para comando, tanto que jogava melhor com o comando da x360 do que com teclado e rato.

e tb me enervava o facto do jogo estar super mal optimizado. ainda tentei ajustar uns settings mas depois caguei no assunto

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