Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Give me an alternative!
Published on March 26, 2006 By Draginol In PC Gaming

Spent yesterday playing Oblivion. Very impressive RPG.

But today I wanted to go back to playing one of my other favorite games.  My desk is a mess and I managed to find the CD and put it in. So I try running the game and I get a "Cannot locate the CD-ROM".

Ack. So I dig up the other CD for it and try that. Same thing. I've played the game a zillion times before, never had a problem.  My Dell has two CD drives (one DVD, one CD). So I tried putting both CDs in the drive, same thing.  Then I tried disabling one of the drives and trying both CDs in turn. Same thing.

I then uninstall the game, reinstall it. Installs fine.  But I can't run it. I get that damn message every time. So what's the issue? There's only two CDs for the game in question. I've tried both. They used to work fine. They've worked fine for months. The only thing I've done new is install Oblivion which I don't see how that could affect anything.

I try logging on as another user, same problem.  I try deleting every other process I can, same problem.  Either the CD somehow got damaged in some subtle way (but had no problem doing a full reinstall of the game) or something on my system has changed that I can't figure out.

Either way, it's incredibly frustrating to be wasting hours on a Sunday trying to figure out why I can't play the game when I know, all the while, that people who warezed it had no problem. 

I've googled and the only other people who had something similar that I could find are people who put the wrong CD in the drive (due to a misprint) but that's not an issue here since I've tried both and played the game successfully for months.

Give me activation or some other mechanism. I just want to play the game without having to mess with some stupid CD ROM, especially if the checking is flakey due to whatever reason (it's probably not even the game's fault, it's probably something that's changed on my system).  All I know is that I can't play the game.

It's exactly the type of reason why I hate CD copy protection though. The game's using 1.5 gigs of hard drive space and I can't play it because the "dongle" doesn't work.  Heck, sadly, I would prefer a real life dongle. Give me a USB dongle I have to use or something. I have a zillion USB ports, I'd happily sacrifice one. I just want to play the game without inconvenience.

Comments (Page 2)
on Mar 26, 2006
You're exactly right. If you completely lost the use of your house when your key gets scratched, people would call it idiotic. Because people can absorb the cost of a new box of software, though, people overlook it.

People suffer slower games because they are tied to CDs that are no longer necessary. Companies are just too threatened by the idea of people not needing a CD. When copy protection causes more problems to the consumer than the product itself, it's time for the consumer to refuse to take part. We have to stop making it profitable for companies to do this kind of thing.
on Mar 27, 2006
Agh. I was thinking about getting Oblivion today, but in this case I probably won't. Well, I'm pretty busy playing GalCiv2 anyway.

Here in germany, the music industry, eh, of couse I mean the politicians, are about to pass a law which makes copying music CDs for your own use legal only if it has no copy protection. So, ripping a CD with copy protection so I can put it on my ipod or removing some &%$&# Sony rootkit would be ilegal.
Also, 'pirating' a music CD will make you face tougher punishment than actually stealing it.
It gets more and more stupid everyday. The only good thing is that the law is, well, quite impossible to enforce. Otherwise we'd had to put half germany in jail. And anyone with a tiny bit of technical knowledge will be able to work around this shit anyway. But I really reached the point where I'm seriously boykotting all copy protected/DRM stuff, be it software or music.
on Mar 27, 2006
Well drm was never about Piracy. It's always been about control over wallets. In the future the Riaa will run the government and give itself free access to your bank accounts...

Oblivion only does simple cd checks if you have the dvd version. The Direct2Drive version doesn't really have any protection other than intial activation.

Brad what was the game? Do you know what copy protection it was using? StarForce and Securom games can have that issue. FEAR has that issue as it fails to initialize the disc.
on Mar 27, 2006
I here that this can be blamed on stardocks minor modification of drivers in order to more fit its own games, (or that somehow stardock should infact take responsiblity) anywho, I have heard that unistalling the stardock central system, then reinstalling the game may fix this issue, (I think, I forgot but it is a post somewhere in the forums here)

Are you speaking about Stardock or Starforce?
on Mar 27, 2006
Sigh - the dreaded copy-protection monster stikes again, lol...

The problem with PC software, is that it's not really a good fit for normal 'standard' copyright protection - since the games are installed to a writable media for use - unlike music or most console games,..

With console games and music - it's the CD/DVD you are buying, with the data/music on it - not the code/music itself - similar to a book - you buy the paper - but you don't 'own' the words written on it. Technically - computer software is exactly the same - except the data needs to be copied first for it to work - not only that - but it gets copied to fixed writable media... This 'copy' is still protected by copyright law - but because it's on writable media, they feel they need to have some extra 'protection', to stop it being copied, and it's also vulnerable to being affected by other factors aswell - and if you lose the disk that it needs, then you're in trouble - which is pointless - if 'technically' it dosen't need much effort to make it not need it.

The REALLY funny thing about all of this - is that regardless of how and why all this is done, for profit/control/anti-piracy etc. - there's a BETTER system to use - one which is, and has been used for computer software for as long as it's existed - it's called LISCENSING...

Now, I know that most software comes with 'End User Liscense Agreements' etc. but the fact is, in most places - (for some reason it's not the case in California? (poor them)) - there should be no reason why they are binding - (except for a few cases - mainly MMORPG's using credit cards etc.) - for one main reason... Liscenses are not owned by computers etc. - but PEOPLE. If you don't know WHO the liscensee is, then it isn't liscensed. Likewise - if you haven't personally agreed to (signed etc.) a liscense agreement, then I don't see how it can be binding...

The only problem with a liscensing system is the infrastructure needed to support it - but if this was done as a standard, on a national level - it probably wouldn't take that long to pay for itself...

The upsides for the industry, once such as system was in place, is that piracy could be dealt with very easily - since you'd be able to trace whose copy it is which has been 'pirated' - (and therefore know who to sue) - developing download systems etc. should be pretty easy too - since the only 'anti-piracy' system needed is a way of (deep) linking that copy with the person who's bought the liscense.. Also - there would be a standard EULA, which this time WOULD be legally binding - though some companies may add a few things - (for better or worse) - to the EULA - I could imagine a 'standard' EULA sticker or something, lol.

Of course - the upsides for the consumer, is simple - no Copy Protection/DRM etc. - since it would be illegal - you've bought a liscense to use the code itself - not the media it came on/is installed to - and, at least in this country - the liscense lasts for the lifetime of the liscensee, (unless otherwise agreed), so being able to make back-ups is not just a good idea - it should be mandatory...
on Mar 27, 2006

I have seen this type of thing a couple of times. What i find is that sometimes two different copy protection systems might be conflicting with each other.

I had to remove a CD-Rom and switch it with another one to fix something like this.

What really bothers me is how these Developers can add crap like this and hose your system.

I definitely agree with your copy protection perspectives and i honestly think that the copy protection is to blame.

I currently live in the Philippines where most game are pirated because the original ones are not available. Gal Civ2 is available out here, sadly pirated as well, and i am so happy that you have a version i could download.

I am also very happy with the fact that i am not stuck having to protect so delicate CD.

Also, many of my friends out here could easily have bought a pirated copy but the paid for their copy.

Why? Because they love the game and they support Stardock because of they way you avoided the very mess you talk about in your thread. Bottom line is people have noticed what you have done here and i HOPE that the industry is listening.
on Mar 27, 2006

Drag, do you have Sony's Musicmatch installed on the machine?
I had a version on the machine that destroyed my access to the cd drive even though I had uninstalled the program

Just a thought.
on Mar 27, 2006

Drag, do you have Sony's Musicmatch installed on the machine?
I had a version on the machine that destroyed my access to the cd drive even though I had uninstalled the program

Yea, that is a known nasty!  Read the link:

on Mar 27, 2006

I had to remove the cd rom drive and install another one.
I'm sure Sony had a fix somewhere but I did not want to deal with their crapware anymore.
on Mar 28, 2006
I just want to mention that I use GameJackal as well. It requires you to have the original CD to copy the profile, I'm not sure of the legality but I've never got a game illegally in my life (in fact I've just bought GalCiv2 after ages of trying to deny myself) and I find it hugely inconvenient swapping cds all the time, especially if like me you find yourself with a short attention span and changing over to different games. Gamejackal's not perfect and doesn't work all the time for every game but it's one of the best app's for gamers to have. I personally don't see an argument for cd protection against piracy, I've never been tempted to get a warez game even if it comes with no protection at all (I'm thinking of Darwinia at the moment which doesn't require cd to play and has no activation). Of course maybe that's going too far the other way but I still don't understand why a $30 game needs more protection than a $1000 application.
on Mar 28, 2006
And people look at me funny when I tell them my main/gaming computer NEVER is connected to the internet.

I know EVERYTHING that happens on my pc. And I back it up before I install anything.

This crap is going to be the end of PC gaming.

on Mar 28, 2006
" And people look at me funny when I tell them my main/gaming computer NEVER is connected to the internet. "

Eh, that's backwards. Most copy protection junk comes in on your install CD, and worse, when it the DRM is broken the only way to fix it is to get the patches from the Internet. Anyway, missing out on online play to prevent what few copy protection features come from internet connectivity is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
on Mar 28, 2006
At least, Frogboy, it always fails. When I have problems with games, it decides to work sometimes but not others - nothing like trying to start something 15 times to get it to work because the copy protection goes "Boink!"
on Mar 29, 2006
I think CD copy protection should have went out the door when hard drives became faster than CD. (8-10 years ago... )
Back when it was popular to keep movies/media on the CD and just install core game files for speed reasons. Nowadays the game is entirely on your hard drive. After the install you don't really use it. Or wouldn't if it wasn't for that check to see if it's there. Ugh.

It just annoys gamers also. People who bought their copy. This one CIV 4 error annoyed the crap out of me. The one where you had to have your play disk in the drive you installed it on. I forgot. I had to change discs in the drives. Not a big deal I suppose but windows give you a !! mark popup and an error sound. It wasn't my fault and I didnt appeciate that.

And Starforce is the Titanic for me. If companies don't get off the sinking ship I won't be buying from them.
I will not have Starforce on my computer ever again.

on Mar 29, 2006
Back when it was popular to keep movies/media on the CD and just install core game files for speed reasons.

Harddrives have always been faster than CD drives.

What they haven't been was bigger.

Until recently (the last 5 years or so), the idea of dumping 1+GB onto a guys harddrive was unheard of. No game developer would consider it. Now, it's done as a matter of course. Indeed, they probably don't even bother with "light" installs anymore; they just dump everything into a folder. Game size has increased but never nearly as fast a harddrive size has.