6 Hilarious Ways Game Designers Are Screwing Over Pirates
Since the beginning of time (or thereabouts), creative people have been at war with other, less creative people who want to enjoy the creative people's work for free. Digital media has made it easier than ever to steal something anonymously and not rot in jail, and the huge amount of pirated video games floating out there is evidence of that ... but it's also made it possible for the creators to finally get their revenge. This usually comes in the form of hidden code that cleverly tortures pirates in all sorts of creative ways, like ...
ARMA 2 Slowly Transforms Your Soldier Into A Bird
Bohemia Interactive, publishers of the war simulator ARMA and humanity-is-horrible simulator DayZ, have a reputation for creating authentic and detailed military shooters -- unless you steal their shit, that is. In that case, the simulation is only accurate if you've always assumed that soldiers are secretly high on LSD at all times.
Or maybe they're about to go into a flashback sequence.
That's what ARMA 2 looks like when it decides to turn on the underwater filter on the camera just to mess with you. This is a side effect of DEGRADE, Bohemia's appropriately named copyright protection system that makes the games slowly start falling apart when they detect they've been pirated. For instance, in the ARMA series, your guns will become increasingly inaccurate, your vehicles won't obey your orders, and your enemies will start acting like they're going through a collective brain stroke. It's like the game itself is learning to hate you and will do everything possible to get you to leave it alone.
The AI's synchronized dance moves will also get super weird.
But video game pirates are nothing if not persistent, as evidenced by the 200 viruses and Russian dating site ads masquerading as "download" buttons they had to click on before getting to install a game for free. If they insist on playing the pirated version of ARMA 2 after everything else, DEGRADE will eventually turn their soldier into a bird -- not a bird holding an AK-47 or driving a tank, just a regular ol' bird, flying high above the map. This is accompanied by a message that says: "Good birds do not fly away from this game, you have only yourself to blame."
Which is usually the case whenever you get turned into an animal.
Now, the biggest argument pirates use to justify themselves is that they're "just testing" the game to see if they like it and, if they do, they'll totally buy the thing. If that's true, then we're sure they won't mind if every game ever turns you into some manner of fowl after an hour or so of playing for free, because we're starting a petition to make that happen.
Far Cry 4 Tricks Pirates Into Outing Themselves
The sort of stuff video game fans complain about on the Internet ranges from the completely understandable to the completely nonsensical, but there's one thing both categories have in common: A whole bunch of the people doing the whining didn't actually pay for the thing they're demanding to be fixed. Exactly how many gamers do this, though? Ubisoft, as one of the most common recipients of (not totally undeserved) Internet bickering, decided to find out.
Far Cry 4, the latest entry in Ubisoft's "setting things on fire in exotic places" series, has an option called Field of View Scaling that is more essential than it sounds -- if the FOV level isn't configured properly, something as simple as taking a ride on a scooter can turn into a drug-fueled nightmare.
In case you ever thought the end of 2001 needed more disembodied arms.
However, when the game was released on PC, some players noticed that this feature was mysteriously absent from their copy: If they went into the settings menu, an empty space would mock them from the spot where the FOV option should be.
In this case, FOV stands for "Fuck Off, Vacationing."
Naturally, outraged players took to places like Reddit to lambast Ubisoft for this irresponsible oversight ... just as the company planned it (this one time, anyway). Turns out the developers intentionally left out this option from the game, adding it on release day through an update patch only lawful players could get. The result? Pirates accidentally outing themselves and getting publicly shamed by Far Cry 4's director on Twitter:
"Also, your favorite porn star just told me you have a tiny penis. Yes, you, personally."
Good one, Ubisoft! Uh, except for the part where you can pretend to release a broken game and people think it's business as usual for your company, we guess. But other than that, great!
The Talos Principle Traps Players In An Elevator
The Talos Principle is a first-person puzzle game from Croteam, a developer that might sound familiar to readers of this article series: They are behind Serious Sam 3, the game that unleashes an unkillable scorpion man on your ass if you pirate it. You'd think people would know better than to illegally download Croteam games by now, but nope, they're still doing it -- and Croteam is still messing with them in hilarious ways.
For The Talos Principle, though, the punishment was more subtle than a murderous monster chasing you around. Pirates are able to progress through the game normally up until they enter the game's first elevator:
It's almost like this elevator looks like a cage for some reason ...
Halfway to the destination, the elevator completely stops. No loading screens, no dialogue, no emergency phone to alert the super -- the thing will just sit there, suspended in the air, leaving pirates with nothing to do but look back on the mistakes that brought them to this point.
Missing the sweet irony in being trapped in a game they aren't supposed to be playing in the first place, some brave pirates tried to turn to the Internet for help with fixing the elevator, leading to the now customary widespread mockery. Even the game's publisher, Devolver Digital, jumped in to congratulate the developers for their pirate-foiling creativity:
Rowling is probably glad she didn't use her full name.
Hey, Croteam, here's an idea for the next one: trapped in an elevator and stuck with a murderous, immortal man-scorpion as the only other occupant. You're welcome.
Not all developers are out to make their game unplayable for pirates, however. Some just go for subtle but hilarious reminders ...
Alan Wake Turns The Main Character Into A Pirate
Alan Wake is a psychological horror/thriller game that's basically Twin Peaks without the pie-related digressions. It's one of those games where you get so immersed in the story and the atmosphere that you completely forget you're actually sitting in a dark room, holding a controller ... so wouldn't it be a shame if someone ruined all that by, say, adding a silly eye-patch on the main character?
Answer: No. To be honest, it would be kinda awesome. Incidentally, guess what change this game forces on you when you're playing a pirated copy.
Extra dusty car windows?
As confirmed by the game's developers, when a copy of Alan Wake detects that it has been pirated, the protagonist (an insomniac novelist with writer's block) will inexplicably cosplay as Snake Plissken for the rest of the story. His new, completely out of character fashion accessory even has a little skull and crossbones symbol on it, just to make it extra clear that you're seeing this because you're a cheap bastard -- and if you somehow still don't get the message, the loading screens will now show you a somewhat passive-aggressive tip, reading, "If you like this game, support Remedy by buying it." This was apparently still too subtle for some pirates, though, resulting in message board threads like this one:
"Also, the car I stole has a decal I don't like on the back -- how do I remove it?"
We still have to question the efficacy of this anti-piracy method, though, since people who actually bought the game started inquiring about how to get their characters to start wearing eye patches (the developers said they'd look into it). Maybe something less badass would have been more appropriate, like a full shepherdess getup, a really terrible mullet, or both.
Mirror's Edge Suddenly Becomes, Well, More Realistic
Mirror's Edge puts you on top of a big city and tasks you with parkouring the shit out of everything in sight: You can leap across rooftops, vault up walls, and slide down power lines while skipping the "every bone in your body feels like it hates you" part that would usually come after that stuff in real life. Or, you know, the "falling off a building and dying" one.
EA Games couldn't quite figure out how to take people who illegally downloaded this game and drop them from high distances, but they did the next best thing: They introduced a bug that turns the character from a superhumanly good gymnast to, well, a cowardly slob like the rest of us.
"Achievement unlocked: Pooped yourself 30 times."
When a copy of Mirror's Edge detects that it's been pirated, it will let you play the game normally for the tutorial and the first two levels -- presumably because it wants you to get invested in this shit before ruining your fun. Once you reach the third level, though, you'll notice that your perpetually fast-running character will automatically lose steam the closer she comes to any of the critical jumps between buildings that are spread throughout the game.
"Fuuuuuuuck this, I'm moving to one of those Facebook farming games."
That's right -- she basically starts acting as a normal person would, utterly ruining the fantasy. Regardless of how you approach the edge of the buildings, she'll always slow down, making it impossible to progress any further in the game. It's like she suddenly becomes aware that elevators are a thing and feels super silly for how she's been getting around so far. And if you decide to try to make a jump anyway, you'll quickly find yourself replaying Wile E. Coyote's part in a Road Runner cartoon.
Hey, at least the gravity still works fine.
We can only hope that the Mirror's Edge sequel in the works adds a feature that automatically uploads your falls to YouTube and makes you look like the shittiest player ever.
The Sims 4 Censors The Entire Screen
The Sims 4 is the latest iteration of the popular virtual life/twisted god simulator that allows players to care for or (most commonly) psychologically destroy the inhabitants of their own virtual household. Naturally, EA doesn't want to let people in on the soul-killing fun without paying the price of admission, so they found a clever method to let pirates get a first taste before completely censoring all the good content. The method: literally censoring all the good content, by blurring the shit out of everything, as if your Sims' house was plastered in dicks.
Or they lived in a LucasArts adventure game.
As you might know, whenever one of the Sims does something that would raise the game's rating to 18+ (such as using the bathroom or suggestively eating a banana, probably) the game will censor it by blurring the offending graphics. In a legal copy of The Sims 4, the censorship will go away as soon as the character is decent again ... but pirated copies will retain the blur, which will continue to grow until it eventually censors the entire screen, rendering everything outside of the menu an unwatchable mess of scrambled pixel vomit. Which is pretty unfortunate, because no one plays The Sims because they want to leave things to the imagination.
We're forced to assume there's some sort of 2 Girls 1 Cup action going on here.
Everything beneath the censor blur is still running normally, however, taunting the pirate with all the forbidden allure of a scrambled porn channel. Players will have to sit and listen to their Sims babble to each other about their awesome lives now that their invisible, omnipresent tormentor has been called out as a cheapskate. Just think of all those important Sims life moments that will be missed out on!
Truly a quandary we all face.
Alan has a blog where he drowns Sims and rambles about the vidjagames at foxtaku.wordpress.com and a Twitter he always forgets about at @Foxtaku.
For more ridiculous game behaviors, check out The 6 Most Spectacular Dick Moves in Online Gaming History and The 7 Most Impressive Dick Moves in Online Gaming History.
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