TPG Cast Episode 6: Linux Gaming and DRM

Ethan Lee from flibitijibibo (The Big Steam List of 3rd Party DRM and Steam on Linux) takes both Phil Cordaro and Adam Ames to school on all things Linux.  Ethan starts by talking about the origins behind his site and motivation in porting games to Linux.  In the end, Ethan tells his harrowing tale of losing 100GB of data thanks to SecuRom.  Finally, the most important aspect to this show was the realization that we call could use more downloadable RAM.  Ethan would also like to thank Josh Bush for his contributions in designing and maintenance of flibitijibibo.

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Running Time: 1 hour, 19 minutes.

DRM: Why Can’t We Be Friends?

DRM. No three letters in the English language strike more fear into the heart of PC gamers.  It should not be this way, but with constant fighting between publishers, developers, pirate groups and paying customers, DRM has become a necessary evil.

OLD SCHOOL

Back in the 80s and 90s, DRM consisted, for the most part, of a multi-layered code wheel and a series of questions answered by that code wheel.  If you played Earl Weaver Baseball in 1987, you remember this very well.  The code wheel was a piece of lightweight cardboard with three circular moveable layers each with a tiny window.  The first layer listed years ranging from 1920 to 1939.  The second layer had player names, and the last, was a stat associated with the listed players.  Before you were allowed to begin the game, you were prompted with a baseball related question: “In 1929, Babe Ruth walked a total of how many times?”  To answer this question, you would have taken the code wheel and adjusted the first layer to show 1929.  From there, you would move the second layer to Babe Ruth, and lastly, find walks.  If you lost your code wheel, other than writing the publisher or developer for a replacement, you were pretty much out of luck.  This was an age where you could not simply execute a Google search for the needed answer.  You had to know what the answer was or have a baseball encyclopedia handy.  In some cases, game companies would ask questions that you could only find in the game manual such as: “What is the last word located on page 11?”  This form of DRM lasted quite a while until publishers started using key codes which they printed on the back of game manuals.

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