Death To SecuROM!

Hah – got you! You totally thought this was going to be some 8,000 word rant against Sony’s widely-loathed DRM, didn’t you? Oh, there’s enough of them on the internet already – I’m quite happy to say limited activations are horrible and stupid and everyone involved should know better, and leave it at that. This sorta-RPG webgame game goes further, pitching the devil-DRM as the ULTIMATE EVIL in a world also populated by the villainous likes of the RIAA and Disney Corp. Or so Brain Chef pretends to be, anyway. It’s fooled a fair few sites with its devious subterfuge… Below: mild annoyance.

It’s half My Brute and half Kingdom of Loathing – turn based fights based on behind-the-scenes numbers rather than frantic button-pushing. It lures people in with its wry tutorial, in which you tackle monsterised versions of the technorati’s major foes/whipping boys. We want to play it because we want to see the ghost of Walt Disney lose his temper when you search for Little Mermaid Slashfic, or the boss of the RIAA lose hitpoints when you donate to the Pirate Bay. At the end of it all is the clockwork beast SecuROM, attempting to lay you low with rootkits and limited activations. It’s well-observed and tongue in cheek and then…

Then it collapses into a fairly dime-a-dozen PvP webgame, in which you patrol a cute pixel-art maze-world reading some hit’n’miss gags and smacking other players (half of ’em human, half of ’em zombie, and none of ’em anything to do with angry BoingBoing posts or online petitions about Spore) to level up and win stuff. It’s too crude and ordinary to be compelling, and it’s a terrible shame.

If this took its opening concept further, it could have been an ace companion piece to ForumWarz – web culture as sardonic meta-game. As it is, it just feels like it’s come up with a neat concept then mysteriously thrown it away in favour of something relatively worthless. Hopefully, the creators will realise what they’re onto and rejigger the thing to make more of the DRM-rage satire.

Oh, far too many words on that one. Spent too long playing it not to write about it, alas.

(Via BoingBoing).


  1. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    The one battle I bothered clicking through felt way too much like they copy & pasted KoL material.

    /too bad KoL doesn’t have some DRM to protect its content amirite

  2. Meat Circus says:

    I love SecuROM. I want to bum it.

  3. JonFitt says:

    You cast: Common Sense
    Common Sense has no effect!

  4. solipsistnation says:

    So I suppose that depth and complexity are too much to ask for a relatively new web RPG thing, but still, this seems a little… minimal.
    Fun fact from the FAQ: “Will I ever catch up to the highest level player? Yes! The entire game resets about every four weeks. Everyone starts over from zero.” Ugh.
    They give you 50 more turns for giving an email address, and more turns for referring friends. That implies that they’re doing something with the email addresses, or are planning to.
    PvP combat is AWFUL. Just clicking and “You hit!” and “You miss!” Not even the little HP bars you get when attacking non-player enemies.
    So, yeah, basically crude and not very interesting. And yes, the text does feel like cut-rate KoL. It has potential to be interesting, but as it stands it’s not.

  5. Robin says:

    Mmm, ripped-off artwork and poorly-informed ‘satire’. (Sony BMG != Sony DADC, for starters.)

    Kingdom of Loathing was the first web game to actually get me to voluntarily pay money. These dim bulbs aren’t even getting my email address.

  6. Rei Onryou says:

    If I wanted some maze-ish, human/zombie stuff etc, etc, I’d play Urban Dead. Heck, I might just play it anyway.

    It truly is a shame that this post wasn’t actually about the death of DRM (or SecuRom at least). Still, one can dream. Perhaps the interior Ministers in Germany could act to ban SecuRom. That’d get more votes from the gamers!

  7. solipsistnation says:

    Oh right, I forgot to say– it’s better than Legends of Zork.

  8. DDS says:

    Securom causes more trouble to legit users that it does to pirates. Because most games using Securom get cracked sooner or later and pirates just use cracked executables to play the game.

  9. mmrmrmmrmrm says:

    what’s wrong with vegetarianism :(

  10. Robin says:

    @DDS: Legit users can use no-CD executables too, o’course.

  11. Clovis says:

    @Robin: Not in the US. Circumventing an “effective” copyright protection mechanism is itself illegal per DMCA. So you suddenly become non-legit when you run the crack regardless of what you think you own.

    Oh wait, this thread isn’t about DRM, right?

  12. Cheese says:

    DDS I doubt it, Securom has been used for years on PC games going all the way back to the late 90’s if there were really a problem as you imply it would have bubbled up to the surface.

    The only time there was genuine difficulty with secruom was when it first came on the scene and certain model optical drives had difficulty reading the sectors on the CD/DVD disc to authorize running the game, eventually most were updated to read securom properly.

    The bogus complaint often leveled against Securom was that my CD/DVD drive died, of course in those cases you only have to look at the person gamer or pirate making heavy use of optical drive which is one of the lowest quality and cheapest parts in a computer and it gives out after strenuous use, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out the real cause of death. I’ve had the optical drive in my laptop die on me 3 times and its never had a securom game in it once.

    Of course the internet activation secruom is a completely different fellow & people just don’t like the idea of limited activations at all, that feeling is compounded in PC gamers who may have chaotic usage patterns switching from one PC to another or re-building their own etc so it is not a very good system (but that hasn’t stopped some trying to level bogus rootkit claims against it even the old disc drive breaking has been dug up again).

    Solutions like steam or onlive are more effective than than the securom online activation and PC retail is on deaths door so it will fade away eventually.

  13. Ravenger says:

    I’ve never really had much of an issue with the standard disc-check Securom. There was one problem where a patch for FEAR updated the Securom protection and my DVD drive wouldn’t authenticate it, but Securom support very quickly supplied me with a new executable that worked.

    The limited activation side though is the worst thing to happen to PC gaming in a long time. I’ve passed on several high-profile releases due to limited activation DRM – Far Cry 2, Dead Space, Riddick, etc. That’s around £80 (at retail price) the games industry won’t be seeing from me until the activation DRM is removed.

  14. Mentalepsy says:

    I generally don’t have trouble with the Securom disc checks, but the exception was Neverwinter Nights 2, which was really flaky. Often it wouldn’t recognize that the disc was in the drive, and would refuse to start. After reinstalling it multiple times, I finally got it to work reliably, but I’m not sure what made the difference.

    It could have just been my drive, but it never had problems with any other Securom games. Maybe there was an issue with the disc. I never did finish the game, so I’m not sure if I would face the same issues with the drive I have now.

    Having a lifetime activation limit, though, that’s garbage. We also don’t know what these companies will do when they go out of business – we might be left with games that can no longer be played without being cracked, because they can’t connect to a server that doesn’t exist anymore.

  15. Tei says:

    The doom is comming. The copyright owners of the fonts are sleeping, but one day these guys will awake, and all the web (or most of it) will be take down by copyright violations of fonts!.

    Poor Arial, Verdana and Times font creators… no one think of the fontauthors?

  16. solipsistnation says:

    Arial was a ripoff anyway, and Verdana is for jerks! Helvetica is the one true sans serif font!

  17. mister_d says:

    @Tei That would be a funny day if it were true, but it’s not the case. Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman, and other “standard” fonts are fully licensed for any use by way of being licensed for redistribution through Windows. Other OS, of course, have their own pre-installed set of fonts that are licensed and legal for any use by users of the software.

    On a side note, you can only copyright the data of a font, not the design. So, you can copy the design of a font, perfectly and exactly, and not infringe copyright. Of course, you can’t take a copyrighted font and trace it inside a font editor, but you can copy by eye, or take a rasterised version, such as would be printed on paper, and trace that instead.

    The long and short of it is the only people who have been, or will ever be, sued are software vendors who are distributing font files without licenses to do so.

    Sorry to be boring! ;-)

  18. Redford says:

    People ask me all the time, “Redford, why is it you never get any spam?” I answer that I don’t give it to people like the ones who run this game.