Duke Nukem and Piracy

After the lovely comments received last week – thanks aureole and Richard! – this week feels like a bit of a let-down. No real progress in Texas Hold’Em, a couple of failed attempts at the multiplayer aspects of Mutant Storm Empire, and a couple of purchases isn’t going to result in a monster post similar to last weeks. But still, I’ve thought of a fragment of a thread of a theme that I’ll try running with.

But first, a little word on Mercenaries 2: World In Flames. For some reason this caught my eye late in the development cycle, and I anxiously awaited the demo to hit Live Marketplace. I duly downloaded all 1.2GB of it, and was frankly unimpressed. But the need for retail therapy after a shitty week at work was strong, and so another purchase was made – forcing my GamerScore percentage to plummet back into the 80s. Luckily, the game dishes the first 300-odd points of GS out like candy early on.

Merccenaries 2 really feels like the bastard child of Crackdown and Just Cause. It’s got about 80% of the fun of the former, and the expansive backdrops & OCD of the latter. It’s not going to trouble my Game-of-the-Year thoughts, but it’s entertaining and mindless enough to distract – and, right now, that’s all I’m looking for in a game. More on Mercs 2 later.

My other recent purchase was the re-release of Duke Nukem 3D on XBLA. Now I’m not a massive fan of Duke by any means – this purchase was solely driven by guilt. Allow me to meander in my explanation…

Back in my formative years, growing up in country South Australia, there wasn’t really the opportunity to pop down the shop to buy some new games for the fledgling technology that was the C64. In fact, I’d had my C64 for several years before a small computer shop opened in a town ten kilometres from home. Thus, in between family trips to The Big Smoke of Adelaide, the only opportunity to try some new software was via the area’s high school. We all know the drill; tape (and later disk) trading was rife, and the more enterprising amongst us learnt to diddle the $01 register with machine code so we could copy Mr Ridge’s treasured Choplifter cartridge.

And that pretty much set the tone, set the foundation for how I thought about software for a long while. Yes, I still used to get original copies of games for birthdays & Christmas, but they were gladly shared around the schoolyard. When I got to Uni, and opted to swim against the tide and invest in a Mac Plus, I paid for my copy of Word 4 only because I didn’t have any Mac friends to nick it off. Eventually I graduated and, once I started contracting, I took the rough “tools of the trade” rules seriously and – through gritted teeth – started purchasing all my software legit. The last thing I wanted was a software audit on my pokey business.

But it wasn’t until I joined YakYak that I started thinking about piracy seriously. On that forum, and eventually in real life, I met childhood heroes – people I’d read (and read of) in awe in Zzap, Commodore Format, and all the other UK gaming magazines that took way too long to reach our shores (unless I wanted to shell our $8 for an import copy). These people wrote and produced and created games I loved.

And some of them painted a very bleak picture of the movement of money in the games industry, even when considering “hit” titles. Surely these people are living fat off the massive profits from these successes?

No, apparently.

The responsible part of my brain started tweeting away. “Support those that do the things you love,” or somesuch.

Eleven years ago I’d acquired a dodgy copy of Duke Nukem 3D from a chap in my office, and I’d played it a bit before storing it in my dodgy disc drawer. Recently, all the dodgy discs got chucked, but I still felt a twinge of guilt for all those hours I obtained from them.

So I bought Nukem 3D on XBLA. My guilt for that title has gone. And I’m looking down the barrel of a bunch of shitty ranked multiplayer Achievements and another game that’ll stay on The List for ages.

…This seemed like a much more coherent idea when I originally thought of it. I’ve got to stop trying to write these posts last thing on a Sunday night :}

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