(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
drm, symphonia

Companies:
bandia-namco



Bandai-Namco Blows Money On DRM Rather Than Fixing Its Terrible PC Port Of Tales Of Symphonia

from the to-nail-down-a-$20-game-that-was-cracked-within-hours dept

When console games are ported to the PC platform, the end result is often merely adequate. Some ports are amazing because the software developer actually knows and cares about the platform their game is being ported to. Others are just quick cash-ins, relying on name recognition to bring in sales the end product hasn't earned.

Some turn out well. Some turn out bad. And some are Tales of Symphonia, a twice-ported title that originally appeared on Nintendo's Gamecube back in 2004. Tales has landed on PC with all the grace of limbless cat with an inner ear disorder.

Here's a NeoGAF forum member's list of everything that's wrong with the port.

The games resolution is locked internal at 720p, no matter what resolution you choose.

The different languages are broken, since they used a wrong font and some words dont even show up. And some things havent even been translated into other languages.







The game is locked at 30fps

It has new typos

It still partially uses Ps3-Button-controls

Random crashes (including when using alt-tab to switch programs)

Only 6 save slots.

Opening the config and save menu can take 30 seconds to load.
Then there's this:
It uses a DRM thats called VMProtect, that creates a new *.exe everytime the game starts.
How cool is that. Every time the game is played, the DRM dumps another .exe on the user's hard drive. Why? Because DRM is stupid. In this case, the DRM runs the whole game in a "virtual machine with non-standard architecture." Sure, storage is cheap and no one's really in danger of filling up their drives with "fake" .exes, but is that the gold standard of DRM? One that creates its own bloatware while you play?

And why is the DRM even needed? Namco-Bandai is utilizing top-of-the-line DRM for a PC port of an eleven-year-old game that's selling for $20. Now, it has a lot of pissed off PC gamers on its hands, wondering why they were handed a fourth-rate piece of crap, rather than a port that shows the manufacturer cares for its games or its customers. A game with this many problems doesn't need DRM weighing it down (and shedding .exes every time the program is accessed).

Game modder Peter Thoman, in his review for PC Gamer, absolutely nails how effed-up Namco-Bandai's priorities are.
Namco-Bandai cannot afford even the very minimal changes required to support arbitrary resolutions or superficially QA their product, but they can afford a completely ineffective DRM system. An ineffective DRM system for a game which people, if they were so inclined, have been able to pirate freely for over a decade.

That is apparently the quality of the decision making processes within this company. Their fans—and PC gamers—deserve better


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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 8 Feb 2016 @ 11:57am

    "Bandai" is Japanese for "Fuck you and open your wallet".

    This company stopped caring about customers when it realized it could charge $19 for a half-ass painted piece of plastic.

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

  • icon
    Jeremy2020 (profile), 8 Feb 2016 @ 11:59am

    It's unfortunate. The DRM on Tales of Zestiria caused it to get picked up by security software all the time too.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Feb 2016 @ 12:25pm

    One should ask the very important question...

    Can QA be written off?
    Can DRM be written off? (at least get a handout because copyright)

    Have we created incentives to protect over produce?

    We've seen movies/tv taking all sorts of state handouts, sometimes for utter crap. Well the movie was written taking place on a beach but we changed it to take advantage of the landlocked states handouts... so what if its a surfing movie.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2016 @ 12:35pm

      Re:

      Both can be written off as business expenses. The difference is that QA is time consuming and just looked on as an expense, while DRM is easy (out source it) and considered a revenue generator. So pointy haired CFO's will always support it.

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

      • icon
        klaus (profile), 9 Feb 2016 @ 12:59am

        Re: Re:

        The smartest (and most successful) company I ever worked for took the view that fixing defects at design was cheaper than fixing them at code, fixing them at code was cheaper than fixing them at test, and fixing them at test was far, far cheaper than fixing them via customer support.

        They also took the view that happy customers were more likely to be loyal customers, and hence repeat business.

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

        • identicon
          spodula, 9 Feb 2016 @ 1:53am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "fixing defects at design was cheaper than fixing them at code, fixing them at code was cheaper than fixing them at test, and fixing them at test was far, far cheaper than fixing them via customer support."

          I'm sure i learned that in basic computer programming at Uni.
          Of course, i was doing an embedded hardware programming course rather than a PC programming course, and in embedded hardware the costs of defects is magnified.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2016 @ 7:52am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Here's why your comment is not relevant:

          The smartest (and most successful)


          Obviously neither of those things apply to this discussion.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2016 @ 12:26pm

    Dear Bandai

    I was considering purchasing this game on PC, but instead I will just stick to using emulator so I do not have to fuck around with your bullshit DRM.

    You decision to use DRM and having a shitty port means you will lose money, I wonder if your marketing dept managed to see this coming.

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

    • identicon
      anonandonandon, 8 Feb 2016 @ 1:31pm

      Re: Dear Bandai

      The emulator's have been getting pretty good too. Really sad when you can run an 11 year old game better than a 'polished' re-release.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2016 @ 12:37pm

    Curious minds want to know

    Is the DRM the reason this port sucks so bad or is it just one of many reasons this port sucks?

    I suspect that the limitations imposed by the VM DRM technology have a lot to do with why the port sucks donky balls. Buts thats just my speculation.

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

  • identicon
    Bamco, 8 Feb 2016 @ 12:42pm

    Par for the course, really.

    This is actually normal for Namco - the "Tales of" series is a woefully neglected series whose games are fun in spite of their unbelievable neglect by the company itself. Examples include basically no marketing whatsoever for North American releases, rushing out buggy, incomplete versions to one market segment only to rerelease a proper polished version in another, spotty localization (the 'skits' weren't voiced in the American versions of Symphonia and Abyss).

    The worst examples include Tales of the Abyss, which had a buggy, rushed Japanese release with the Americans getting the 'fixed' release, Tales of Vesperia for Xbox 360 which had basically a complete overhaul for the PS3 release, including additional playables who were hinted at on the initial release (so North Americans only have access to the lesser version), and Tales of Graces Wii, which was so bad that it got recalls, only to get rereleased on PS3, thereby screwing Japanese fans who bought the initial release

    The DRM is sad, but completely predictable. The series has been riddled with bizarre incompetence that reeks of executive meddling.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2016 @ 3:27am

      Re: Par for the course, really.

      Wait, the Tales skits are voiced in the Japanese versions?
      Man, fuck Namco. Those skits play at a predetermined pace that's frighteningly "I. Am. In. The. Slow. Reading. Group." slow. I despise having to watch them because they're where about 80% of the games' character development occurs and they're excruciating.
      At least having them voiced would let me close my eyes and wait for the pain to stop.

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

      • identicon
        Bamco, 9 Feb 2016 @ 7:49am

        Re: Re: Par for the course, really.

        Yes, skits are basically always voiced (except for certain older games like the handheld releases). Even earlier games such as PSX Tales of Destiny had skits (which were either removed for English release, or not voiced) at all, whereas later English releases had the skits, but no voicing (due to budget reasons). Later releases started budgeting for the English voice actors to dub the skits instead of leaving them silent, which is a very good idea as a lot of the enjoyment from the skits comes from the voice acting work.

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

  • icon
    Moby (profile), 8 Feb 2016 @ 1:11pm

    Yup

    Gave up all their games because of this.

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

  • icon
    dogwitch (profile), 8 Feb 2016 @ 1:16pm

    wow

    i was going to say its not as bad . as ea or ubisoft... but no it i worst... that i cannot believe.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2016 @ 1:24pm

    It's funny how DRM-Free has become a selling point these days.

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

    • icon
      Jeremy2020 (profile), 8 Feb 2016 @ 2:57pm

      Re:

      It's sorta hilarious when you think about it. There's companies out there that pay for DRM that does nothing and then create a marketing opportunity for their competitors who didn't pay for the DRM and now get free publicity for it.

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

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 8 Feb 2016 @ 2:27pm

    Bandai-Namco is still relevant?

    Aside from the Tales series, their games iirc include Tekken, and the countless Tekken/anime rips (Naruto, One Piece, etc.)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2016 @ 2:56pm

    The saddest part of this debacle is that if you run a pirated version of the game on an emulator, it will have a higher resolution and framerate and less bugs. So not only does the DRM do nothing to stop piracy, but the pirates also have a superior version of the game than honest paying customers.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2016 @ 6:10pm

    The golden standard is not to fix your product but fix how people view it. That's why we have publishers that spend more on advertising their games than the actual development budget.

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

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 9 Feb 2016 @ 12:07am

    "The different languages are broken, since they used a wrong font and some words dont even show up...

    Random crashes (including when using alt-tab to switch programs)...

    Opening the config and save menu can take 30 seconds to load."

    Although it's clear that the publisher didn't care about the product and did the bare minimum to get a game for sale, part of me wonders how much of the above is actually being caused by the DRM. Display glitches, crashes and performance issues are certainly things that some crappy rogue .exe running can do to a game, and things like locking the framerate and resolution could be half-assed attempts at fixing the issue for a developer with zero budget to work with. That doesn't explain things like typos and bad save design, of course, but DRM could be the root cause of the majority of complaints - if the game perhaps went through QC without DRM but then release with DRM without further testing, for example.

    When this game is pirated (and it will be, if it hasn't been already), it would be interesting to see if merely disabling the DRM improves all the issues before fans start on fixing the other issues. Pirates will, as usual, end up with a superior product to people who paid for it, but it would be a great insight to see if simply adding the DRM to "protect" it has caused a majority of the issues being described or if it was simply a bad product overall.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Cowherd, 9 Feb 2016 @ 2:46am

    DRM on PC-ToS? Why? Any smart pirate would pick up a gamecube emulator instead.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2016 @ 6:36am

    You missed the most ridiculous part of it all which was that Peter the guy who wrote the article fixed almost everything except the fps cap(he said it would take a lot of time and doesn't care about this game very much) with an hours work which he released for his program GeDoDaTo

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2016 @ 7:54am

    The PC version isn't just a Gamecube>PC port. It's a PC port of the PS3 port of the PS2 port of the Gamecube title.

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


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