The PC Weekend Warrior: great games coming our way, and even more SecuROM woes

The PC Weekend Warrior - Image 1Thanks to the recent E3 Media & Business Summit, we can already see a hailstorm of games coming down the PC gaming lane, even if some of them are shared with console gaming crowd. True to what many advocates have claimed, the cream of the PC gaming crop has yet to blossom, and big names such as Electronic Arts and Sega are at the head of the movement – with many an independent studio tiding us over with a few gems of their own. The latest edition of the PC Weekend Warrior awaits at the full story.

The PC Weekend Warrior: great games coming our way, and even more SecuROM woes - Image 1 

Though expectations were low for PC gaming this week, we still came through just fine. Of course, E3 would have been blockbuster with the participation of PC game companies such as Blizzard and Her Interactive, but so far the news that managed to trickle in was enough to justify that we weren’t left in the dust.

True enough, the news does point that this holiday season will be hectic for the PC gamer, with several must-have selections being made available months before Christmas. Even early next year, we’ve got some good games to look forward to, including the next Sims installment – The Sims 3.

We’ll be rockin’ down the mountain when we come

Raining on the E3 parade like it’s nobody’s business were the brave developer studios and publishers who revealed their Windows and Mac projects alongside the console heavy-hitters.

And most impressive yet was how the the publishers still managed to take fans’ breaths away in the same event where Microsoft’s Game for Windows initiative shied away from due to it’s console-focused nature.

Let’s break down the homeruns that E3 managed to hit to the PC bleachers within the week. First up is Electronic Arts‘ flagship game, and possibly the PC gaming crowd’s biggest game ever, Spore. Will Wright just so happened to be at EA’s press conference, which wove tightly with Maxis latest project combining science and creativity.

In the same conference, Maxis presented an updated trailer in Spore that not only sported the strategy simulation in its near-publishing-quality glory, but also a pitch that we know will win the same fans who fawned over 100-million selling The Sims.

Read: E3 2008: EA goes all out on Spore – trailers, presentation galore
Read: NPD US software sales topped by Sims 2 IKEA expansion

Along with Spore came another more detailed technology trailer of The Sims 3, a sneak peek at the new Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 alliance of Asian influence – the Empire of the Rising Sun – plus an extended gameplay trailer of Crytek’s Crysis Warhead, and a full demonstration of one level of DICE Illusion’s appetizing Mirror’s Edge. Great stuff, indeedy.

Read: E3 2008: First trailer of The Sims 3 released!
Read: E3 2008: meet Red Alert 3’s Empire of the Rising Sun
Read: E3 2008: Crysis Warhead gameplay up close
Read: E3: Mirror’s Edge gameplay trailer

Coming up close are the primers on BioWare’s latest PC-exclusive project, Dragon Age: Origins. The legendary RPG developers only managed to spill a general features list of their largest PC project to date, yet we don’t mind the skimpy info at all. Hey, we’ll get what we can grab, eh?

Read: E3 2008: BioWare reveals Dragon Age: Origins details

Sure enough, not even the independent gaming segment was dissuaded from the console-centric games media event, as GSC GameWorld, Deep Silver, and Paradox Interactive also unleashed their own set of PC-exclusive games within the four days of exhibitions.

A new space combat sim, ambitious free sandbox medieval game, and prequel to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.? Sign us up for all, please.

Read: E3 2008: Paradox Interactive presents Dark Horizon trailer
Read: Paradox Interactive introduces open sandbox RPG Mount & Blade, screenshots

Trailing the prime PC gaming revelations were the other computer games chained to their console versions, though you could say we’re not exactly excited until they can actually prove that the PC version isn’t “dumbed down” as is the case of most PC ports of console games. And yes, that includes you, Fallout.

Read: E3 2008: Silent Hill: Homecoming PC version confirmed, plus an old fiend returns
Read: E3 2008: Prince of Persia trailer
Read: E3 2008: Bethesda announces exclusive Fallout 3 DLC for PC, Xbox 360
Read: E3 2008: Ghostbusters trailer
Read: Project Origin: E3 trailer

While we were drowned by news from the Los Angeles Convention Center, our noses managed to catch a whiff of what was brewing in the hardware technology scene as well. And get this: just a couple of weeks into the launching of NVIDIA‘s top-tiered video graphics cards, the GTX 280 and GTX 260 both received price reductions at retail.

NVIDIA officially announced that they will be integrating SLI technology on the next Intel chipset-based motherboards, allowing full SLI support out of the box for the Bloomfield-supporting platform. In short, X58’s will no longer be CrossFire exclusive.

Read: NVIDIA caves in: SLI technology arriving on Intel Bloomfield CPU platforms
Read: Sweet mother: NVIDIA GTX 280, GTX 260 prices slashed

In the independent gaming and open source segment, we also eyed a potential keeper in the emulation days to come.

Thanks to the developers behind the Dolphin emulator – you know, the one that gave us the GameCube emulation capability on Linux and Windows – there could be a possibility that Nintendo Wii emulation could arrive as well. Well spank me and tell me this is no dream…

Read: Dolphin – GameCube emulator with preliminary Wii support needs new coders

Also, Valve Software was eyed to have quickly fix a hiccup in the Steam client on the lines of defragmentation efficiency and accuracy, as well as stalling issues when it comes to hibernation modes.

Read: Steam client update – defragmenter fix, fixed possible crashes during Standby

Though no longer officially part of E3, Blizzard still managed to make the news this week. In a continuation of the inquiries to Diablo III and its many altered action RPG mechanics, players questions the plans and theoretical concepts behind Blizzard’s idea of “cooperative multiplay”.

In that same vein, the company also cleared up the fact that Diablo 3 does not technically qualify as a massively multiplayer online RPG, and so it may not incur online premiums such as those in World of Warcraft. But Blizzard has other plans for that just might ask for a couple of bucks from you.

Read: Blizzard: Diablo 3 worlds lacking persistence, not MMO
Read: Diablo 3 updates: loot mechanics, party looting, few class-specific gear

And what about that little doo-doo that Ubisoft achieved by pirating a crack off a pirate? I swear, if anything so laughable came up on the topic of PC games and piracy, this would definitely be on the top ten.

But then again, there’s the another side of happiness, and it’s called SecuROM.

Read: Oh brother: SecuROM in C&C3 Kane’s Wrath patch v1.01 stalls on right-click, EA releases fix
Read: Ubisoft offered no-CD circumvention for Rainbow Six Vegas 2, taken from RELOADED

Say NO to piracy, but first say NO to SecuROM

DRM – the one thing that never amounts to good news. Not even once. Digital rights management has been the requirement of every end-user agreement and the butt of every “lamest way to combat piracy” joke you’ve heard.

The music industry has it. The video industry has it. And unfortunately for the game industry, we have it as well. SecuROM is the DRM that haunts most gamer’s and every tech enthusiast’s nightmares. It’s designed to assure developers that piracy will be averted.

But let’s face it: SecuROM does little to stop piracy, and when it can, it will cause harm to your system one way or another. Look at what happened with the patch for Kane’s Wrath, for example.

We all know that SecuROM should only trigger when the executable with SecuROM code is running. But even if the game isn’t running, SecuROM persists like a bad rash. Heck, it intruded into the Windows kernel and slapped every gamer’s right-click with a process-halting bug.

No. Just no.

Seriously, developers and publishers. Look at Stardock. They did away with StarForce, and they look to be doing just fine financially and operationally.

I can imagine that it won’t be any different if other developers picked up on that belief and put it to practice as well. Don’t make SecuROM the only way to combat piracy. Because it just won’t work.

So stop licensing SecuROM. No excuses. NO. STOP LICENSING IT FOR GAMES. JUST STOP.

More flash, fun, and family coming right up

I really can’t say what’s coming up in a few days, but I can assure you that we’ll be turning a whole new leaf for the PC blog of QJ.NET. Soon, Linux and Mac gamers will find a home of gaming news here, too, as well as those of the open-source and independent segments.

After all, we don’t just want to be Gaming for Windows. There’s strength in numbers and we’re family of PCs now 1-billion strong. That’s it for The PC Weekend Warrior for now.

Enjoy your weekend folks!

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