Meet The Dedicated Fan Who Makes Your Broken PC Games Work

from the fan-friendly dept

We've made the argument for some time that a product, service, or company's fans and community are an asset not to be trifled with. If a community is embraced and the company is awesome, the results can be so beneficial as to be downright heartwarming (hattip to our own community, for always impressing me). This can manifest in a multitude of ways, from free and massive promotion to the community actually helping to make the end-product better.

It's that second example that is most apropros for this story. Let me introduce Peter Thorman, who also goes by the handle Durante on the interwebz. Who is he? Well, he's the fan who fixes crappy console-to-PC ports, improving the fan experience. And he does it for free, because he's a fan.

When Rising Star Games released Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut for the PC last month, the port of the Twin Peaks-esque cult favorite horror game had some serious issues. Chief among them was the fact that the game's resolution was, highly atypically for a PC game, locked to 720p. The outcry was immediate and vocal.

But in spite of their outrage, many users expressed hope for a savior to come to their aid. "You on it, Durante?" asked one user. Like a Batsignal, the call was out.

The answer came less than an hour later. "I should be able to fix this."
And he did, in a way that would be impressive in general but is all the more so considering he had to reverse engineer everything without access to the source code.


The original port on the left, with Durante's patch applied on the right


As it turns out, Thornton has done this for many PC ports and has become something of a legend to gamers. As I mentioned before, this isn't something Thorman is paid to do. He does it because he's a fan of the game, interested in coding and computer science, and generally seems like an awesome guy. But if you're looking for his prime motivating factor for putting in what amounted to 70 hours worth of work:

"My primary motivation," Thoman said, "is because I don't like playing games at low resolution."
You're welcome, everyone else that wants to play the PC version of the game. Here's where this gets really fun: how many people kept the game instead of returning it, or decided to buy the game after finding out the now-famous Durante had released a patch for the game that made it better? It's impossible to know the answer to those questions, but surely there was some impact. The developers of the game had said they'd release a patch as a fix as well, but that the resolution of the game was way down the priority list, leaving fans for whom that was a major factor out in the cold. Until Durante stepped in. They probably owe him a big fat thank you, at the very least. In fact, some fans of Thorman's have suggested he offer his work to companies as a paid service, but he insists it's just a hobby.
"I do this for fun," he said. "The more you do it as work, the less it will seem like fun."
And the game companies benefit. Who says free never did anyone any good? Meanwhile, this ought to be a lesson to every producer out there on just how big an asset their fans and communities can be.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 4:13pm

    i'm now wondering how long it will be before he gets threatened by a game company. they hate the thought that, after paying out $1000s over a considerable length of time, someone who does it for free comes along and within a very short space of time makes a game unimaginably better and does so just because a) he enjoys tinkering with stuff, and b) because he has the knowledge and brains to do so. and all this for free!
    we all know the rules! do not make anything better than the original producers/releasers. make them look stupid and the world collapses around your ears! Hollywood and the entertainment industries would do well to take a leaf out of this book. the reason there are so many sites on the net offering downloads of movies is because those available via the industries themselves are total, complete and utter fucking shite!!

     

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  2.  
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    S. T. Stone, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 4:20pm

    ButÖbutÖ(code) piracy!

     

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  3.  
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    Crashoverride (profile), Dec 11th, 2013 @ 4:29pm

    I kept reading thinking any second the part where he got sued or in trouble for doing the fix would be part of the story

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    RD, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 4:40pm

    Re:

    "I kept reading thinking any second the part where he got sued or in trouble for doing the fix would be part of the story"

    That will be on Monday, after the Big Media Company sees what has been done with their supposed "Copyright Restricted" creation at the hands of someone who gives a shit about the customer's wants (hint: its not the Big Media/*IAA Corps)

     

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  5.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Dec 11th, 2013 @ 4:44pm

    Re:

    The chain reaction from something like that could be quite entertaining.

    1) Company A threatens him for 'hacking' their games or some equally ridiculous reason.

    2) He then tells everyone that due to the threat he will no longer make patches for games from Company A.

    3) Due to his popularity, lots of PC gamers hear about the threat from Company A, react with boycott, angry posting/commenting, spreading the news of the threat.

    4) Profit!(For everyone but Company A)

    Conversely, if a company wanted to generate a lot of goodwill, they could offer him a 'bounty' or reward, like their next PC port/release, for free every time he released a patch for one of their games.

    Worst case scenario? He isn't interested in the game offered enough to play it or patch it, and they 'lose' a single purchase that they might have otherwise had. This however is offset by gamers hearing about a company being awesome to a fan that made their games better, making them more likely to buy from them.

    Best case scenario? He not only patches the game, making it even better, for free, and gamers hear about the company being awesome to a fan like that, he likes the game enough to tell other people to check it out, significantly increasing sales at the 'cost' of a single copy of the game.

     

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  6.  
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    Shmerl, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 5:22pm

    Re:

    There is no infringement in this. Reverse engineering though is often banned by DMCA even without any infringement. That's the idiocy of it.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 5:57pm

    Being threatened by the company would be typical of new powerhouse gaming corps. EA would be a prime example. They would threaten him, he would get upset, community backlash, they still don't care. Look at Creative Arts and their latest release Rome 2...Famous Modder for the series which has been around over 10 years Darth Vader. He fixed so many serious issues to previous games and was a hero in the community, became jaded by the way he was being treated by company officials and their attempts to restrict games from modding. For example they did not like he would modify game code to make all factions playable, instead they wanted to lock those factions up and sell them as DLC later on, all about money. More games more examples, smaller nimble companies embrace their fans, big companies exploit this by buying a small nimble companies game and exploiting the customers deserved fan-dom.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Re:

    Perheps the most simple thing the game company should do is to offer hosting / linking to the patch Thoman creates.

    By doing this, it'll give Thoman the credit he deserves, and in general do favour to the gamers by allow them to find where to download the patch easily.

     

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  9.  
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    Pegr, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 7:02pm

    Re: Re:

    Nah, he's got all the cards. Anyone who can patch in game resolution could certainly patch out copy protection. The publishers won't say a word.

     

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  10.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 11th, 2013 @ 7:06pm

    Re: Re:

    Reverse engineering isn't banned by the DMCA and remains perfectly legal. The DMCA bans breaking copy protection measures, regardless of the legality of the purpose, though. This can result in the inability to legally reverse engineer as a side-effect.

     

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  11.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Dec 11th, 2013 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You severely underestimate the stupidity of some game publishers.

    Even with him actively making games better, it's just a matter of time until one of the companies fails to restrain their lawyers enough and they send off a nasty-gram threatening him with all sorts of things for 'violating their copyright over their game' or some such rot.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 11:38pm

    Hat = Off
    Well played sir.
    Hat = On "sorry it was getting cold up there"

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 11:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    He bypassed the resolution control block there, I am sure a good lawyer can work with that to make it infringement by saying the low resolution was part of the company's scheme to combat piracy.

    But is interesting not because is for games but because it has repercussions for hardware as well, anyone really believe that companies make dozens of versions for their products and manufacture those in different assembly lines? stop believing that they don't they make one product and use simple schemes to make them different in most cases is a lose wire or the software that is different.

    Youtube: FLIR E4 Thermal Imaging Camera teardown
    The circuits of the Flir E4($1000, RES 80x40) are exactly the same as the Flir E8($6000, RES 320x240)

    Patch discussion
    http://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/flir-e4-thermal-imaging-camera-teardown/msg321956/#m sg321956

    Lenses to increase the image quality.
    Youtube: Flir E4 Thermal imaging camera follow-up


    Zina Nicole Lahr sufferer of CCD(Creative Compulsive Disorder) words.
    I suppose you could say I have a self-diagnosed condition called CCD, itís Creative Compulsive Disorder where I have to make stuff all the time, and with whatever I have around me, so if itís trash, or junk, or things that people would normally throw away, I try to find new ways to re-fabricate them into something useful and beautiful.


    http://normallyodd.com/

     

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  14.  
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    Ninja (profile), Dec 12th, 2013 @ 3:20am

    He's a filthy pirate! Grifting on the hard work of others.

    *whisperwhisper*hey, he does for free*whisperwhisper*

    He does for free? He works... FOR FREE?

    *Head explodes*

    And thus another copyright maximalist bites the dust.

     

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  15.  
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    KoD, Dec 12th, 2013 @ 6:24am

    I know it is here somewhere...

    I am not quite sure why yet, but I KNOW that this guy needs to patent something. That is the only way people can innovate. If he does not file for a patent soon, he will likely just fade from existence. Maybe he can patent a way of adjusting screen resolutions without prompting the user? It sounds like he could corner the market. Then he could just ride the licensing revenue and he wouldn't have to fix ported games anymore :)

     

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  16.  
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    Rekrul, Dec 12th, 2013 @ 7:21am

    It's too bad that there isn't someone like this fixing the many old Windows games that don't work at all on modern hardware and current versions of Windows.

     

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  17.  
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    KoD, Dec 12th, 2013 @ 7:32am

    Re:

    I setup a Windows XP VM in order to play C&C: Yuri's Revenge, because W7 wouldn't wun it anywhere near right. C&C is definitely worth it though.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    DCL, Dec 12th, 2013 @ 9:15am

    Re:

    There is a line between making a game play and look better and breaking the controls for their business model (not getting in to the morality of selling DLC here).

    That said there it is not a smart move by a company to resist and reject help in making their game better and spurn the community as a result.

    Companies can't always just 'accept and redistribute' 3rd party game patches since there may be malicious code in it and then that company would be opened up to liability if they 'officially supported it" (or so the lawyers would say).

     

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  19.  
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    DCL, Dec 12th, 2013 @ 9:18am

    Re:

    I didn't notice any sarcasm marks on your comment so I will just leave this here for you:

    Good Old Games
    http://www.gog.com/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GOG.com

     

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  20.  
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    btrussell (profile), Dec 12th, 2013 @ 10:02am

    "I do this for fun," he said. "The more you do it as work, the less it will seem like fun."

    I guess he has never heard of copyright. It is supposed to make people like him want to do this work.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Dec 17th, 2013 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re:

    I didn't notice any sarcasm marks on your comment so I will just leave this here for you:

    Good Old Games
    http://www.gog.com/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GOG.com


    GOG is nice, but they don't have every old game that no longer works. For example, they don't have Requiem: Avenging Angel or P.O.D. Planet of Death, or Need for Speed II: Special Edition (which refuses to work properly on my Dual Core, XP system, no matter what tricks I use)

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 5:44am

    The best example of a game that's in good eyes of the community is Doom and its sequels/spin-offs.

    It's 10 years old and a lot of people still play it (myself included), and there's some really cool mods that enhance or even totally change the gameplay (Brutal Doom comes to mind. Lots of gore, headshots, executions).

    Anyways, the doom community is really into the game and the developer (Id Software) supported them along the way, even releasing the source code some time ago. I wonder why the big companies don't take this lesson at hand and stop treating costumers like crap.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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