Archive for October, 2008

DRM, or how I have to choose between something I love and my principles

I absolutely adore Fallout. This may or may not come as a surprise to you depending on how well you know me. Today, Fallout 3 is released, and I was going to go right out and buy it (or rather, get the boyfriend to). Last night, however, I had an unpleasant shock.

The PC version of Fallout 3 comes with SecuROM.

I absolutely refuse to buy anything that has SecuROM included in any of it’s versions.

Now, I’m going to hazard a guess that few of you know what SecuROM does. Let me explain.

SecuROM is DRM, obviously designed to make sure pirates can’t do what pirates do (it doesn’t work, but that’s beside the point). There are several versions of it, and the one that has me riled it the one that installs itself on your PC without telling you it’s doing so. That’s bad enough as it is. However, that’s not all it does.

If you have any number of CD burning software or “piracy” software like Nero or Daemon Tools installed on your PC, SecuROM won’t let your £40 (~$80) game run. Nero is often installed on your PC by the manufacturer so you don’t have to depend on Windows native software to burn files onto a CD. But SecuROM assumes that instead of backing up the data from your hard-drive that you need to keep but don’t have room for, you’re making copies of games and distributing them to your friends.

It’s also next-to-impossible to uninstall without expert knowledge of PCs. For the average user, the only way to get rid of it is to reformat your PC. This is because it digs itself into folders that you’re probably not even aware exist. It gives itself permissions that only your operating system should have. And more insiduously? It pretends it hasn’t. If you realise it’s been installed, it only appears to have been installed to the same level as the rest of your software. This website explains it far better than I ever could.

I am going to say at this point that at the moment, Bethesda aren’t so stupid as to use the full version of SecuROM. At the moment, they are using the CD-check version. But if I do not argue against a lesser version of SecuROM, how long is it before they start using the worse version?

I do not want them to think it’s ok to treat me like a criminal. But if I refuse to buy Fallout 3 on principle, then I will be losing out on a game I’ve wanted for years, maybe the game of the decade, and my protest will fall on deaf ears because most people will buy it anyway because it doesn’t have the version of SecuROM that invades your PC.

I have two hours to decide whether or not to stand for what I believe in regardless of what others are doing.

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Preparing for NaNo and other stories

This year marks my second attempt at NaNoWriMo. Last years was a half-hearted Pokémon fanfiction that barely got off the ground at 9000 words. This year, despite my lack of a remotely decent piece of writing equipment (electronical, that is), I am giving it a proper shot. It’s going to be an original fiction based around one of my favourite topics: zombie apocalypse.

Unfortunately, beyond that, I don’t have much of an idea beyond what my two main characters are like and what they’re going to get up to later on. I have yet to think up any other survivors, or indeed any plot other than my main female having to kill the man she loves. I am, as the saying goes, fucked.

Although the idea of NaNo is not to have a publishable novel at the end of the month, it’s probably a good idea for me to at least have a rough plan of what’s going to happen. I don’t want to give up because I’ve written myself into a corner and can’t think of how to get back out. Of course, a publishable novel (editing aside) at the end of it would be nice too.

Is there even a market for zombie stories? World War Z says yes, but my common sense says no. If I was ambitious, I’d make my novel less about the zombies and more about the people trying to survive them; fighting, loving, hating and being outright stupid; but I’m not sure I can pull off what’s basically a discussion on human nature. If nothing else, I’m not very good at dialogue right now.

In other news, I’m thinking of entering this short story competion. It costs £7.00 per entry, is in it’s second year and looks completely legitimate. If nothing else it may be enough to get my toe in the door. If I can manage to write a decent short story before March I may think about it seriously.

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