Revenge of the Titans 1.52, and Very Cool DRM

I’ve just uploaded the latest and greatest Revenge of the Titans, version 1.52, which is a mostly hidden-behind-the-scenes sort of update, and lots of little bugfixes. As per usual point your browsers at the following links, and if it doesn’t say 1.52 on the title screen or the installer, that means you’re still getting the cached version from our content delivery network provider (simplecdn.net), which is annoying, because I especially purge the caches every time I do a new upload!

Windows
Mac OS X
Linux

Linux users – we are aware that Java Webstart is completely rubbish and we’d like to give you a completely standalone application with an embedded JVM in it and so on – we just have no idea how to actually do it yet :)

Also, we have finally finished implementing the coolest DRM ever invented.

Bugs Fixed

  • Fixed: At certain resolutions the map’s allowed to scroll past the edges
  • Fixed: Map too narrow for my fullscreen display and the scrolling breaks
  • Fixed: if a turret or capacitor fires a shot it can’t be sold in the Undo period
  • Fixed: if a factory or collector collects it can’t be sold in the Undo period
  • Fixed: if a droid factory creates a droid it can’t be sold in the Undo period
  • Fixed: awesome medal awarded whilst still in build mode
  • Fixed: more save/load restore game problems
  • Fixed: factory mining effects were missing after restoring a game
  • Fixed: gidrahs squashing trees cancelled your Pristine medal
  • Fixed: laser not firing at anything
  • Fixed: weren’t being awarded Efficiency award when all crystals mined

New Features and Enhancements

  • Ranks now have graphics insignia
  • Security enhancement: maximum 1 registration by default; send link by email to unlock next one
  • Security enhancement: store “all-time” registration count and enforce absolute maximum
  • The Coolest DRM Ever
  • Unlock-next-registration page

Balance

  • Scanners now cost $7500 to research
  • Cooling towers now cost $2500 to research
  • Nerfed hitpoints of Moon and Mars bosses
  • Slightly more crystals as time progresses
  • Difficulty tuning more closely related to research progress
  • Adjusted points required to attain various ranks
  • Adjusted points gained from certain achievements

Internal

  • Increased streaming sound buffer size and thread priority to fix stuttering on the odd machine
  • Don’t render frames that haven’t changed
  • When a restore game fails we now keep the broken save file for later examination
  • Optimised rocks and scree sprites
  • Endless mode fully underway
  • Logging now begins much earlier in application initialisation process

What’s all this about DRM?

Since the year 350BC, Puppygames have all had DRM. Oh noes!!11!! Shock! Horror! Puppygames have DRM! Boycott all their shitty games! Find inferior open source / Flash alternatives and say you’d rather play them all day than give evil Puppygames a single cent of your filthy lucre! Use DRM as an excuse to install Trojan riddled spyware installs of Puppygames!

Well, except Puppygames DRM is a bit different to other flavours of DRM.

Nasty Big Corporation Ltd’s idea of DRM is that you are all thieving piratey scum who shouldn’t be trusted alone in a shop without being closely monitored by a big hairy security guard. Nasty Big Corporation Ltd likes to install rootkits on your PC. They like to insist on always-online validation to a server that sometimes goes titsup and stops you from playing. They’re pretty insistent that if you install the game on a couple of PCs that you’re probably just a filthy pirate, and that if you want to install it on your kid’s computer upstairs as well that you owe them another $59. Certain ones also reckon if you’re dissatisfied with a game in any way and want your money back you damned well can’t have it, and if you then go to the trouble of extracting the money back out of your credit card company, they erase all your games without any comeback, because unfortunately the small print dialog box you clicked through to get to your game said you agreed to this.

Puppygames does it completely the opposite way around!

Firstly and foremostly: if you don’t like our games, or they don’t work, we always refund you. Although we say no questions asked, we do like to ask anyway :) But we’ll never say no. Though we’d like to point out a couple of things: if the demo works, so does the full game, so you’d be kinda daft to buy the game without trying the demo first; and if you honestly didn’t think the full game was worth the cash, don’t be expecting to play it after asking for a refund, because it will mysteriously turn back into a demo again. What! You have a back door! I hear you cry. No, it’s a front door, and here’s me telling you about it. If your game is refunded because it doesn’t work or you don’t like it, it’ll connect to Puppygames, and find out, and turn back into a demo. Which of course should be just fine with you. Can you ever imagine a position where we’ll abuse this ability? No, because we’d look like total dicks.

To date, only 18 customers have ever asked for a refund in 7 years. Because we use BMTMicro as our payment provider we’ve never had a single chargeback issued to us either, because we always refund.

Secondly, we want you to share the full game with your friends and family. Yes, that’s right. We encourage you to spread the love to the people you care about. A Puppygames registration has your full name and email address encoded into it from your order (we’ve got your full postal address too, but that doesn’t get sent to the client any more). We think that anyone you care to share this information with, you probably trust enough to share your CDs and books with too, and so we also think you’d share your games with them. Your name flickers up on the title screen for a few seconds when the game starts just to remind everyone whose game it is, and then it fades away.

Thirdly, we think codes and keys are crap. They’re easily forgotten, lost, whatever. This is why we only need your email address to register your game and nothing else. You never forget your email address! (Although, ahem, it still seems a few people manage to…) But wait! Some scrote who knows your email address could potentially just grab a Puppygames game they think you might have bought, and whack in your email address, and bingo, they’ve registered it! Without you knowing! Without us caring! And what’s worse, they’ve even found out where you live and what you had for tea last night! Fear not. Our erstwhile friend Jeffrey Rosen from Wolfire pointed out this rather glaring security flaw to us. Fortunately, it is now nice and fixed. The email address only works once (which would be the use case of 90% of our customers or thereabouts). The next time it sends you an email with a link in it that unlocks the registration process again, which means you know that someone’s trying it on. It also means that your name is safe and sound, unless the extremely unlikely event occurs where someone manages to snipe your email address in between you buying the game and registering it. We believe that the tradeoff between simplicity and the likelihood of this security breach are perfectly favourable. And if you disagree, well, we’ll fix it for you, just ask. Your name doesn’t have to be encoded if you don’t want it to be. If you’re a super famous dude who announces to the world that you’re buying Revenge of the Titans, get in touch, and we’ll make sure that in the unlikely event someone snipes your email address and we don’t disable it after a few fails that your name is safe with us.

Fourthly, we do have a limit on the number of times the unlock link works. It’s 10 registrations. After that, it stops working, and instead it emails both you and us, and that email says, contact Puppygames and we’ll give you more registrations. All you have to do is reply to that email and ask, and we always reset your registration count, no questions asked. We trust you guys not to put that link in your email up on a warez site somewhere (and we know you don’t want your name and email address shared with the whole of teh internets do you?) You trust us to always reset your registration count when you want it.

Fifthly, our DRM is totally failsafe. What the hell does that mean? I hear you mutter. It means if our DRM system breaks, like for example our server melts down with the floods of sales we unfortunately aren’t getting, or Puppygames goes completely bust because you buggers aren’t buying nearly enough games for us to survive*, or there’s some sort of crazy internet glitch, if you’ve paid for the full version of any of our games they will still work and work forever more! Whoa! How have you clever geniuses done that you cry. Well, rather than wait for some bright spark to reverse engineer our painfully transparent and badly written Java code, I’ll just tell you. Firstly, if you’ve ever registered a game, it stays registered forever and doesn’t ever need to contact Puppygames again. It will do, if it can, because that’s how we deactivate refunded games. But it doesn’t have to in order to continue working. Hell, you could even firewall it after registering, get a refund, and keep your full game, smug in the knowledge you’ve fleeced me & Chaz out of $13.37, which amounts to about 5% of our monthly income. Yes, really. Well done you. Secondly, if the game can’t contact the Puppygames installation server when it’s first run, it actually becomes a full version automatically until such time as it does contact Puppygames. WTF! Yes, our demos are actually full versions. Install them on the kids’ PC upstairs that doesn’t have a network connection. Firewall Revenge of the Titans so it can’t ever contact Puppygames and get your totally free full game, and again feel smug that my little 2yr old girl won’t get any Christmas presents this year.

But we know you won’t do that, because we trust you. We depend on you. So go out there and spread the Werd. Puppygames DRM is about your rights as much as ours.

In the meantime, I’ve just got to make builds of the other three games tomorrow that feature the final bit of DRM failsafe cleverness in them, and hopefully fix that pesky crash on some Macs in Titan Attacks when the first mothership appears.

* Hint: you’re not :(

35 thoughts on 'Revenge of the Titans 1.52, and Very Cool DRM'

  1. Not everyone thinks that java webstart is completely rubbish. In fact I think it is a way better way than having to download a full jvm with every update.

  2. Oh boy, $7500 for Scanners!?! And I can’t cheat with multi-blasters any more!! I thought 1.51 was difficult, but it looks like I’m going to be in big trouble now :).

    I must admit; your DRM sounds fantastic, but you really REALLY shouldn’t have told everyone about “Fifthly”….lol!

      1. I hate to be the bringer of bad news but….. I’m at level 3 and the game has been stuttering every few seconds from the main menu to being in-game.

        Now I wasn’t too worried when it started because it did the same thing for first few seconds in the last version and that was it, but this is continuous. It might be something with my computer because it has been acting up for the past few days…

        1. Hm, I really am a bit suspicious of your machine… no-one else has reported this problem yet, and we’ve had something like 100,000 installs to date. And the Webstarted version still stutters too does it?

          1. I’ve also got a stuttering audio problem with the game. Every few seconds the game freezes up while the sound stutters, then resumes. I’ve got an Athlon 4000 processor, 2gb ram, on-board sound, 9800gtx graphics. Perhaps my CPU isn’t up to spec?

  3. That’s nice DRM but I would have made 2 versions of the demo, one that is locked from the start and one that isn’t and then e-mail the people who can’t unlock the demo with the unlocked version. I also think you’re underestimating how cheap people are, especially if they are children with no money or people who hate paying online. Remember how many people pirated the humble indie bundle. (even taking into account people who pooled their purchase into a single amount)

    1. I prefer to think about the majority of people who paid for the games rather than the crappy pirates. I don’t care about bad people anywhere near as much as I care about good people.

      I just noticed a thread (hurrah for google alerts) over on TIGsource forums where apparently somehow I’ve been pigeonholed as someone who cares more about the money than the games. WTF. The internet is awful. Too bad I’m banned and can’t reply.

        1. Permanent it would seem, but not so bothered about hanging out there, it’s a small forum and there’s too much work to do. Annoying thing is Paul Eres should know me quite well by now, and not only did he pretty deliberately misrepresent the whole thread (which is still there for posterity – it was all about making sure that it was recorded for posterity that some lazy sods had ripped us off, and then a bunch of trolls came along) he even got the URL to our site wrong. Doh. Still, what the hell.

  4. Wow, that is some guilt trip with the hinting, honestly I would buy more Puppydog games (Been having my eye on DroidAssault for a while) but the prices don’t make much sense to me, most of the games I have bought of late have been from Steam during the big sales, things like:
    Torchlight – £3.74
    Left 4 Dead 2 – £5.10
    Borderlands – £5.32

    £15 for DroidAssault is a bit jarring to me – but that’s just my opinion.
    (Something also tells me PC users don’t like paying more than £7 for anything that doesn’t make full use of their GPU’s…)

    1. We’ve got a bit of an exposure problem… it’s all very well selling games for a fiver if you can get 10x the sales, except that… we don’t get very many visitors. Steam’s great for developers because they can literally throw a million eyeballs at your game for a week. (They also don’t have any refund policy for that matter, and you rarely get demos, but that’s another story…)

      In fact at the end of the day Steam is pretty seriously devaluing the efforts of the majority of indie developers while at the same time rescuing a chosen few. It’s a bit of a crappy dilemma. We want to get more expensive and more niche but with Steam valuing incredible titles at £5 we have to be pretty radically different to even get noticed.

  5. Cool writeup on the DRM stuff. But for godssake, can you please make your font bigger? I don’t like to strain to read, I’d rather hit the scroll bar any day. Anyways, great work!

  6. Great game!

    I think there may be a bug: I’ve earned the ‘Gold’ medal, supposedly awarded for completing a level on the highest difficulty, even after selecting the option to restart it at an easier difficulty.

  7. Another problem to report with version 1.52 (mac version). It doesn’t seem to properly save my progress across sessions any more. I was halfway through the moon, and when I exited the game and reloaded later, it put me back on Earth at the Warsaw stage! I never had this problem with earlier releases of the game.

            1. I just had this too. Yesterday I was almost done with the moon, but when I just started it up I was on level 3!

              I’m on Windows.

              1. Thanks for the great DRM settings.
                My Mac died last week and I’ve moved over RoTT and Droid Assault to a new PC.

                However the SAVE on my PC version is buggering up too. It keeps sending me back to the 2nd mission on Earth, regardless of save.

                Any ideas/help??

                    1. Unfortunately can’t fix this one quickly :( But a few days is not so bad. Besides the 1.6 release will almost certainly break all the save game progresses again anyway … the perils of beta software! Or should I say alpha.

  8. Well, you just got previewed in this month’s Edge magazine (the only serious gaming magazine left, from a journalistic viewpoint… if that is even a word)… so sales should be up soon.

    I just made a forum search on Penny Arcade and you don’t have a thread there yet. When that happens, I think sales will shoot up as well.

    I wouldn’t worry. You are doing what you like doing, and you’re doing it good!

  9. Some good news! Enjoying the new update, has been very tough, actually almost gave up at one point on Saturn.

    Some bad news – the first level of Titan I play, the smaller baddies are indestructible. I still get points for each hit, though it does not register visually. The game crashes within a few minutes of refinery placement/enemy spawn. So I’m briefly rich, but can’t use any of it.

    I’ve tried with just using several of one type of turret, with and without barriers etc. but i can’t figure there is any particular reason for the crash. A baddy stepping on a mine (normal and cluster) is instant crash too. So yeah I’m all out of ideas. I’m on a Mac, let me known if you want me to test anything.

    1. Wait – you’re on Titan? But there aren’t any Titan levels! (Puzzled) Maybe I forgot to disable them. Ah well. Don’t play Titan! It’s not actually done yet. Chaz has only just finished the rocks and roads.

      1. Puzzled is correct.

        I have no idea how I managed it, or why I should even claim to have managed it, I just clicked all the pretty buttons. I do struggle to quit once I’ve started Basingstoke (I live in Reading, so that was nice to see).

        Must say though, Titan does look great, keep up the good work!

  10. A stance on DRM that doesn’t assume all customers are lying, thieving filth? Crazy! But pirates will steal all your moneez! Your profits will drop 3000% due to piracy! Small, cute kittens everywhere will die!

    I’m a software developer, so I can understand the need for DRM. But thanks for making the simple assumption that my primary goal in life isn’t to steal your life’s work and bring ruination to you and your posterity. I wish more game devs had that attitude. I still haven’t purchased Starcraft 2 specifically for that reason. It doesn’t appeal to me to pay $59 for the privilege of being treated like a criminal. On the other hand, you have my $13.37 to do with as you will!

  11. Hello.

    I really like your DRM scheme. It’s deviously light-hearted. I thought I’d let you know that I have almost no money, but I was able to get Reveng of the TItans (I’m writing this in the Steam Overlay while playing it) in the Humble Indie Bundle. And no, I didn’t pirate it. And I do feel bad that I can’t support your company more. I really like ROTT and appreciate your devotion to customers. I wish EA Games shared your attitude. (Rage building….)

    Feature request? Do you think it would be possible to unlock a cheats mode after beating the campaign, or something like that? Cheats would be fun. The game is really tough (in my opinion), so I play one or two levels at a time, every so often. Thanks for creating a very unique game! I love the humor in it, too.

    -David

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