Published on March 25, 2009 By Island Dog In Personal Computing

Stardock announced today that the forthcoming update to its digital distribution platform, Impulse, will include a new technology aimed to pave the way to solving some of the common complaints of digital distribution.

The new technology, known as Game Object Obfuscation (Goo), is a tool that allows developers to encapsulate their game executable into a container that includes the original executable plus Impulse Reactor, Stardock’s virtual platform, into a single encrypted file.

When a player runs the game for the first time, the Goo’d program lets the user enter in their email address and serial number which associates their game to that person as opposed to a piece of hardware like most activation systems do. Once validated, the game never needs to connect to the Internet again.

Goo has a number of unique advantages that developer Stardock believes both gamers and developers will appreciate:

  1. There is no third-party client required. This means a developer can use this as a universal solution since it is not tied to any particular digital distributor.

  2. It paves the way to letting users validate their game on any digital distribution service that supports that game. One common concern of gamers is if the company they purchased a game from exits the market, their game library may disappear too.  Games that use Goo would be able to be validated anywhere.

  3. It opens the door to gamers being able to resell their games because users can voluntarily disable their game access and transfer their license ownership to another user.

“One of our primary goals for Impulse Reactor is to create a solution that will appeal to game developers while adhering to the Gamers Bill of Rights,” said Brad Wardell, president & CEO of Stardock. “Publishers want to be able to sell their games in as many channels as possible but don’t want to have to implement a half-dozen ‘copy protection’ schemes. Game Object Obfuscation lets the developer have a single game build that can be distributed everywhere while letting gamers potentially be able to re-download their game later from any digital service. Plus, it finally makes possible a way for gamers and publishers to transfer game licenses to players in a secure and reliable fashion.”

Because Goo ties the game to a user’s account instead of the hardware, gamers can install their game to multiple computers without hassle.

Goo will be released on April 7 as part of the upcoming Impulse: Phase 3 release. Stardock also expects to be able to announce multiple major publishers making use of Goo in April as well as adding their libraries to Impulse.

Impulse is poised to exceed one million customers in the next week despite only being launched nine months ago.

To learn more about Impulse, visit www.impulsedriven.com .


Comments (Page 3)
on Mar 27, 2009

Why do you think Stardock will release Impulse Anywhere, allowing to download the game on one computer with High speed in order to install the game on a gaming rig that isn't connected to Internet?

That's still an incredible minority of the gaming populace to have no connection to the Internet at their primary gaming machine. Even a simple dialup connection would suffice.

Developers who want to use GOO or whatever Valve released will simply accept that this minority will not be able to play their games.

on Mar 27, 2009

Even a simple dialup connection would suffice.

For activating, yes. But for downloading 2 Gigas of data, this is another thing.

on Mar 27, 2009

For activating, yes. But for downloading 2 Gigas of data, this is another thing.

Again, if you're making your game available for download only, you're accepting that only people with internet connections that can download your game will be able to play it.

For store-bought games, GOO/Valve equivalent only need a one-time activation. A dialup connection is all they need, and they only need it once. From there, you can just copy the game from place to place.

Compare this to, for example, SecureROM. Not only do you need an internet connection anytime you want to run the game, but you're limited in the number of activations you get too.

on Mar 27, 2009

Again, if you're making your game available for download only, you're accepting that only people with internet connections that can download your game will be able to play it.

It depends about the delivery method. It could be a downloadable installer than can be copied to an USB drive.

on Mar 27, 2009

Alfonse
That's still an incredible minority of the gaming populace to have no connection to the Internet at their primary gaming machine. Even a simple dialup connection would suffice.

 

Most of the game run good when you dissable the heuristic anti virus... more, windows have so much security hole that before Stardock use Impulse, i was always upgrading my games via  Linux ( Stardock central waqs working on Linux )...

 

Before Sins, my windows OS was never allowed to connect to the internet... 20 years of computer knowledge and monthly reinstall of windows was the lesson... on my work, computer are using windows but the server who connect to the externe world are using Linux for security reason... ( Linux is not the best, Unix is better )...

 

Don't read me wrong... i like windows ( Vista is better and i have a lot of hope in Windows 7 )... but it is a good system that I don't trust when internet connection is needed... to much risk...

 

About people not having a internet connection, they are not a minority but a majority... almost all people from Africa, almost all people of China, the majority of Russian ( unless you life in a big city )... this together is already more that the half of the world population !!!

 

In the Linux world, Ubuntu/Kubuntu are one of the top distro... Do you know why ? Not because they are beter that other distro but because they have the ship-it thing... not internet connection, you receive the CD via post !!!

 

I know... African, Chinesse, and Russian people are poor... but what is the best business solution : earn 100 time 10$ or earn 10000 time 1$ ?

 

The real thing is to see if Stardock target the short term ( a lot of money now ) or the long term ( 100 time a lot of money in a periode of 10 year )... i understand ( but not accept ) the actual strategy of Stardock... they are a minor player in the business now, they need all money now for survive tomorrow... it is not really a Stardock problem but more a problem of rich people who invest in Stardock who wish a fast return... long term investering is really what hurt the quality game distributor now... Stardock is not really responsible because they don't control everything... but being a usual user, i complain against them ( because i cannot complain against people who have invest in Stardock )

on Mar 28, 2009

The real thing is to see if Stardock target the short term ( a lot of money now ) or the long term ( 100 time a lot of money in a periode of 10 year )... i understand ( but not accept ) the actual strategy of Stardock... they are a minor player in the business now, they need all money now for survive tomorrow... it is not really a Stardock problem but more a problem of rich people who invest in Stardock who wish a fast return... long term investering is really what hurt the quality game distributor now... Stardock is not really responsible because they don't control everything... but being a usual user, i complain against them ( because i cannot complain against people who have invest in Stardock )

Stardock has no outside investors. Only current for former employees have any stock or stock options in the company.

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make actually.

A person who buys GalCiv or Sins or Demigod at the store doesn't need an Internet connection at all to play the game. There's no copy protection, no DRM, no disk check.

However, if they want to get updates, they obviously have to get them off the Internet and all our games have always required a user to create some sort of account with us with their serial # so that we can verify that they're a customer before providing them updates.  The creation of that account, known as activation, has worked pretty extremely well.

 

 

on Mar 29, 2009

I have a GOO question that deals with multi-platform games.

 

I'm sitting here with a PC copy of Call of Duty 4. If I wanted to play CoD4 with my friends on Xbox Live; I'd have to fork over another 60$ for the Xbox 360 version.

 

Could GOO alleviate this issue in the future by allowing me to buy one game license I can transfer between platforms?

on Mar 29, 2009

This is impressive, of cousre I'm sure it'll be cracked quickly like all other modes of DRM, but the time, effort and risk to your hardware wouldn't be worth it.

 

Overall, this seems like a great help to Developers while greatly limiting the burden to players, of course I'd have to get my hands on a GOO protected game first to make the call at how friendly it is, but seriously there is nowhere to go but forward with current DRM protection on games.  And sadly it is a nescessity for the developers to protect their hard work since less reputable characters have no qualms about stealing software.  I guess since you don't have to walk out of a store with it? (in most cases, lol)

on Mar 29, 2009

Deflagratio
This is impressive, of cousre I'm sure it'll be cracked quickly like all other modes of DRM, but the time, effort and risk to your hardware wouldn't be worth it.

Risk to my HARDWARE? How?

on Mar 29, 2009
it's still a problem if you want to install a game on a isolated PC(as is, a PC not connected nor able be connected to any kind of network with internet access), isn't it? And besides, honestly, it's not like a system like this is that difficult to crack anyway. Sticking to the current Stardock policy(the game is not protected, but to get patches you need validation) would be the best thing IMHO.
on Mar 29, 2009

Kyle Lionheart
it's still a problem if you want to install a game on a isolated PC(as is, a PC not connected nor able be connected to any kind of network with internet access), isn't it?
And besides, honestly, it's not like a system like this is that difficult to crack anyway.

Sticking to the current Stardock policy(the game is not protected, but to get patches you need validation) would be the best thing IMHO.

Well, putting small items in bigger packaging DOES avert shoplifters (because it's trickier to hide it). It's the same with piracy. If it's TOO easy, more people will do it. The trick is to make any DRM as transparent to honest customers as possible. I like the "fire and forget" feel of this scheme.

on Mar 30, 2009

Sticking to the current Stardock policy(the game is not protected, but to get patches you need validation) would be the best thing IMHO.

But very few publishers are convinced of that. It is for them that GOO has been made.

on Mar 30, 2009

Exactly.

On Stardock games you buy at retail, we put nothing on it.  There's no copy protection. No DRM, nothing.  The idea there is that there are plenty of people who don't have Internet connections.  

People should be able to go to the store, buy their game, take it home, install it and not have to worry.

But...

If they want to get updates, well obviously we need to make sure the person actually bought the game. Otherwise, we have to jump through all kinds of hoops to make sure (for one example) that the "patch" doesn't turn a demo version into a full game (there have been plenty of debacles in gaming history like that).

Now, what Goo does is take what we've been doing for years and let third parties use it.  In Demigod or GalCiv or WindowBlinds, we had to insert code into the source of the program to support this. Obviously, third parties aren't going to want to do that.  So instead, we automate this with Goo. (i.e. run Goo.exe on the game).

Will it get cracked? Certainly. Everything can be cracked. The difference here is that what we do is invisible. I doubt the average Demigod beta tester even knew their game was "Goo'd" for the past 6 months. It's basically invisible.  Same for GalCiv users.

 

on Apr 15, 2009
DRM implemented through an obfuscator is still DRM; Impulse is much more sinister; Stardock owns and operates the datacenters, and openly admits to logging IPs and associating everything they can with it, mining data for gawd knows who, and no one polices the bytecode. You can't deliver the content fast enough to make JIT worth anyone's while, it's just a scheme to obfuscate code and go further towards establishing software as a totally untouchable, alien entity that does what it wants to rather than being an actual product.
on Apr 15, 2009

BedOverPictures
DRM implemented through an obfuscator is still DRM; Impulse is much more sinister; Stardock owns and operates the datacenters, and openly admits to logging IPs and associating everything they can with it, mining data for gawd knows who, and no one polices the bytecode. You can't deliver the content fast enough to make JIT worth anyone's while, it's just a scheme to obfuscate code and go further towards establishing software as a totally untouchable, alien entity that does what it wants to rather than being an actual product.

 

Err, nearly every major company keeps internet records of everything that happens.  Steam, Games For Windows and many other programs are very likely doing the exact same, if not more.

 

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