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The Unknown Ghosts

Death of the dedicated server


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Hey you Tuggers,


I see many of you are pretty annoyed regards dedicated servers. Sad to say that rather than an oversight or it'll be added later it seems this is the way of things for the foreseeable future for PC gamers. Alarmed about this myself, since I'm obviously still stuck in the 90's, I've done a bit of research and spoken to a few of my own contacts and I'm afraid the news isnt good.


Spotted here on your forums 'Should we keep our dedicated server??' poll, so I decided to share my thoughts.


We all know the growing list of great FPS's that are being affected by the... dedicated servers/game browsers as long as they are totaly controlled by the publisher, you can host from your own PC but we all know that it isn't very desirable or practical!


This frustrating policy from publishers and developers isn't as widely discussed as you would hope, forum rants and petitions have been ignored or not even mentioned by the main stream gaming websites. Without sounding cyinical a quick bit of thought makes it obvious why, most of these sites also promote/review console games from the usual you know whos.


With PC gamers like ourselves accounting for less than 15% of the gaming market, the original GRAW aka cancellation of GR2 for the PC should have given us apt warning, I think like me we all hoped that it was a silly blip, it wasn't.


We all know the details about the PC/Console 'War', I'm not going to mention it just to say that I think we must face facts and admit that this battle was lost a long time ago, just some of us still don't want to accept it (me neither).


Like our views we count for shit (oops!) but why has it happened and what are the implications?


As we know most dedicated servers put the players in control either because they supported a provider or directly paid for it themselves, they could use the vanilla version of the original game and then add mods depending on how much their members enjoyed them, other business's sprung up supporting the demand and profitted from it, some modders became game producers or atleast showed companies just how good a product they could have made, at the time we all thought we were adding value. Every publisher has enviously watched companies like Blizzard, CPP etc make fortunes with non-modable, rigid, developer owned server game systems with no options, fee based take it or leave it, updating things only when subscriptions start to drop or the content starts to look blatantly tired.


The key is money, that's obvious, but the brutal truth is that we are all suppose to accept the way things are and spend all of our gaming money on them, even indie developers blindly still reliant on the big boys tools to produce games will soon have to toe the line and either go bust, get taken over or somehow be granted a license by the big boys club to produce anything that we will ever be allowed to see. It is hard enough already for anything original to be published by anybody new in the business and without a platform other than a PC even doing a demo is dead in the water. If the Evil Empire had got away with it even the PC would have been off limits unless they were 'approved'. Player control (dedicated servers) and community enterprise (modding) is now silenced, dedicated player owned servers (The birth places of creative game development) are no longer the wombs of democractic originality and creativity.


What publisher wouldn't want control over every aspect of what we play and what we spent our time looking at? Extending a games life through modding doesn't profit them, there isn't enough control in that, they'd rather you went out and bought a new full priced game, even an expansion doesn't usually interest their shareholders. The coven that is made up of the main corporations have closed ranks, any developer that produces a PC only game is left facing oblivion and can only hope to survive outside the gang and has to be content with niche markets and even more niche sales figures, but once they sucum and agree to produce their title for console they are instantly 'redirected' away from the PC communities.


A few years ago I wrote a 17,000 word thesis entitled 'Controlling Creaitivity in the N+ Age' for Psych and his University, N+ meaning after the Net not the grade it recieved (though that would have been something!), what I wrote then spelt out what has since happened to creativity in gaming. I primarily used Amazon.com's control over what authors write as my main example to illustrate what will and has now become of gaming.


The sad facts are that we are no longer allowed to tinker with a product we are expected to pay and accept it as it is, this means that soon everything will be produced for the lowest (most popular and so profitable) denominator i.e. an instant gratification geared 14 year old spoilt brat with the mind and inventiveness of an 8 year old.


As a modder and a gamer I'm finding it really hard to attach myself to any great game, simply because for a while now there hasn't been one, certainly not anything comparable with GR or Op Flash with their openness and longetivity.


The Wii, DSlite etc has broken down the reistance to mindless computer gaming for the rest of society, I now find it strange that the original supporters of gaming (PC Users) remain the last (and individually more profitable) target that they are now aiming to breakdown. Cutting out our game choices on dedicated servers is part of a thorough plan to strangle the market and our options, forcing us to accept what is ported or conform and meekly go console.


So let's say everybody went console, imagine a clan website like this one where if the strangulation continues you would have to seek approval to discuss their game on your forums, post something bad or upload an unapproved screen shot and be banned from every game server? It's all quite possible and where would that leave gaming communities like this one?


In my original thesis I suggested ways around this crisis for those of us who like to think a bit for ourselves. As a gamer, artist and historian I have my own views but this post is long enough already (typical me long windy posting, I know), but I would be fascinated by what you guys think (especially you older ones) and what you think can be done about it? What about any further impacts on PC communities, modding, tournaments or even your interest now in playing games at all?


Article of interest


All the best,


Note: Sorry for length and any typos, my spell checker doesnt work for some reason.

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I know I don't count as one of the 'older ones' and probably don't have as much input as most will on this particular topic, but yeah I have to agree that the PC community has gone severely downhill in the last year. I think the biggest blow was the fact that MW2 wasn't getting any dedicated servers. And I suppose many other games have followed suit. Also the fact that MW2 is just a crappy port from the 360 makes it slightly more depressing (Microsoft dominated much?) As basically all FPS games started from computers, and should continue that way, as I remember reading somewhere that in reality, consoles won't be as powerful as computers, and if they try to be, they'll be endlessly too expensive. It's funny how 2 years ago PC's were the future, now it's all left down to consoles. I think the quote from the guy heading Battlefield was pretty hopeful, "Dedicated servers ftw" I think that alone pretty much redeemed him from the console exclusive Bad Company 1. It's good to know there's at least one developer that hasn't gone completely console mental.


But yeah, it'll be pretty interesting to see how the future goes in terms of computer gaming.

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Interesting post biffa.


This is going to take some thinking about but one point sprung to mind...


One thing to consider is the fact that if less and less games get dedicated servers there will theoretically be more and more demand for the games that focus on PC multiplayer.


I know there are many effecting elements to the theory but lets put it into totally theoretical terms. If all but one major game manufacturers focused totally on consoles and only ported games to pc offering no support of dedicated files and the one manufacturer (lets say EA/Dice for example ) put time and money into PC development they would have the entire PC gaming community buying there game (if they made it right) instead of some people buying arma, some buying flashpoint, some buying battle field, and some buying COD.


if this was the case i would like to be in EA's shoes as they would have cornered a niche market.


if i had to give my current feeling on fps games then, battlefield is where its at for PC gaming as far as i am conserned. there is nothing else showing any potencial at all as far as i can see.

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Speaking of no potential James, think we all sort of forgot about Call of Duty 7?


I know it's Treyarch, and that in its own definition is crap, but I've read somewhere that it won't be set in WWII. I personally found World at War to be a good game anyway, and there was no getting buggered over with the Dedicated servers and patches/new maps were released regularly. So apart from the bad setting, Treyarch actually seemed to pay attention to the PC community. (There's even another map pack on the way in Spring 2010).


But it's been confirmed to be released in 2010. I wouldn't mind a setting in Vietnam/mid cold war or something. The scenery has potential to be very good too, but I suppose yes, it's bound to be another rather annoying setting.

I'm happy as long as they don't bring aliens into it. (I get the feeling we'll be seeing Vietnamese zombies however, which to be fair, Nazi Zombies is the thing that makes me play that game every now and again)

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  • 5 weeks later...

Yea we've reached the end of an era. An important era where pc games dying. Only a few select companies can stand up to the console market a little bit such as ccp and blizzard. It's a shame about the dedicated servers on MW2 amongst other things. I think however, that pc gaming will never completely die because theres some companies/games that are just too passionate and have too much support to stop doing what they are doing. I think that yes money is the main reason why console games are taking over, however there are a few other reasons that I think people often overlook. I think that some are obvious when just playing both consoles and pcs. Firstly, when you are playing a 360, how many 9 year old americans do you hear over voice comms? I think the reason why such young gamers tend to prefer consoles is because it is simple. Not much can go wrong in comparison to computers. Secondly, its the way that consoles and pc's are marketed. When you look at a games console, thats pretty much what it's useful for (bar blu-ray player, etc.) When you look at the marketing of a pc, even a pre-built gaming one, it will give specs and say its a beast gaming rig. But how often do people actually believe that crap? A lot of these "amazing" pcs will have a low end phenom processor and probably a low end 9 series geforce card. With a gaming console you know they are all the same and that they can play the games (even though they lie about things like playing some games in hd, like cod4 at 600p)think that it boils down to console game producers having too much money, children becoming less intelligent and not bothering to take initiative and think for themselves.

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