So last night I was cleaning up…

…and I came across a boxed copy of the D&D 3 Starter Set, which I bought a couple years ago.

While it sat on my desk, my son David walked into the room.

“Dungeons…Dragons Basic Game”, he read.

“Dungeons AND Dragons. That symbol means ‘and’,” I said.

“Can I play Dungeons & Dragons?” he asked.

Well. Under normal circumstances, the answer would have been a quick yes. The Basic Game was fun, but Megan and I have moved on to Fourth Edition, and the rules in the Basic Game go up to – get this – level 2.

But at this point it was almost his bedtime.

“I’m sorry, boy. You can play it in the morning.”

“Okay, Daddy.”

At six AM I awoke to find my son David standing over me.

“Good morning, Daddy,” he said, to his credit.

“Good morning!” I replied.

“Can I play Dungeons & Dragons?”

What the…?

Google “iPhone RPG” and this is the first link you get.

Take a look at this screenshot:

Do those tiles look…familiar to you?

Now, I’m not saying he stole them from me. He obviously got them from the same site I did. And the tiles are listed as being in the public domain.

But it does chafe a bit seeing someone charge $4.99 for a game that, in all my horribly egotistical honesty, probably isn’t as good as mine.

I really need to start making some games I can sell.

Being a GameDevDad means…

…discovering that your four-year-old is an excellent beta tester.

Jewel loves my current game-in-progress Planitia. It’s her favorite game. But she doesn’t call it Planitia, she calls it “Volcano”. “Daddy, I want to play Volcano!” And of course, if she ever sees me working on it, I lose 15 minutes while she piddles with the latest build.

She loves watching the little people run around and she loves flattening the terrain out (which she calls “cleaning up”). But she really, really loves throwing volcanoes around. And then cleaning up after them. And then throwing down another one.

Needless to say, since she has no idea how the game is supposed to be played, she’s constantly finding bugs I’d have never thought to look for.

The development of Planitia has been fraught with frustration and delays, but it really makes her happy, so I guess I can consider it a success!

Charity

“We are all charity cases now”, says Jeff Vogel in this IGN post.

The only disagreement I have with him is the word “now”. We’ve been charity cases pretty much since the industry started.

Everyone’s oohing and aahing over Demigod‘s phenomenal piracy rate. Long story short: Gamestop broke Demigod’s street date, releasing the game around April 11 when the game wasn’t supposed to be out until April 14. Since Stardock is famous for not using any DRM on their games, torrents for the game were immediately available.

Demigod is a lot like Left4Dead, in that there is a single-player component, but it’s really just there to get you ready to play multiplayer. Thus, a whole lot of pirates were logging into Stardock’s servers…three days before Stardock was ready for the game to go live. The official tally that Brad Wardell gave was that on day one, out of 120,000 concurrent connections to the servers, only 18,000 were from legitimate users. Now, this doesn’t mean that those who pirated the game got to play it; Stardock’s servers were capable of detecting and booting pirated copies. But legitimate users simply could not play the multiplayer game because the servers were so busy dealing with pirated copies.

Brad and his IT guys finally had to set up another server and tell any legitimate user who logged in, “Um…log in to this server instead.” That finally got the legitimate users up and running, but a lot of damage had been done.

Most notably, Gamespot’s review. Gamespot reviewed the game on day one during the pirate crush and finally ended up giving the game a 6.5, with the two most noted problems being connections and a dearth of single-player content. It’s entirely possible that without the pirate crush that score could have been much higher – and now that the pirate crush is over players are scoring the game much higher.

So in the end, this was a very different way that piracy harmed a game. Piracy in this case wasn’t about sales. It wasn’t about pirates getting to play a game they didn’t pay for – they didn’t. It was about pirates ruining the online experience for everyone else and hurting Demigod’s review scores. It’s possible Brad would have been better served putting up an message after Gamestop’s betrayal telling users who logged in, “The street date on this game is April 14. You’ll be able to play it then.”

Holy Doublecrap!

What the…you can’t…why didn’t…OH CHIEF, YOU’VE MADE ME THE HAPPIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD!

And the crazy thing is, I wasn’t even looking for Starcraft vids when I found this channel. I searched for Nethack, found a couple cool vids by this guy DiggitySC, checked out his channel, and discovered that he has over seven hundred videos of professional Starcraft matches that he’s done commentaries on. Squee!

You know, at some point I should start a category for all these Game Voyeur posts. I think I’ll do that right now!