Category Archives: Games

sudo for Windows

I recently had the pleasure of re-installing my sons XP gaming machine after he infested it with viruses, worms, rootkits and everything else he could find on the internet. It’s my own fault really, as I let him run with administrator priveleges because I couldn’t be bothered to set up his games to work properly under a limited user account.

So, now that he’s back up and running (with very limited access), a handful of his games don’t quite work properly and still require administrator access. The “RunAs” command in Windows is practically useless because you still need to enter the administrator password – and then the game launches with the administrator profile, including the registry and documents and settings, and not the profile of the logged on user.

What’s really needed is an equivalent to the Linux sudo command, so that the game can be run with admin priveleges, but with the correct user profile. Enter the greatest utility that I’ve found so far this year – surun.

Surun implements privelege elevation in a safe, secure, and trivially easy way. It makes the “RunAs” command look as useless as it really is. And best of all, my sons games all work flawlessly and he can only elevate those applications that, as the system administrator, I specifically add to a list of known programs. This means that he can’t start an elevated command prompt or anything like that and wreak havoc on the system again.

If you need to run programs that require administrator access on a limited user account, do yourself a favor and get this program. It is completely free and it makes Windows security work in a sensible and painless way. Get It!

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Spore vs The Force Unleashed

Just a quick note to let Electronic Arts know that I won’t be buying Spore – at least until they remove the draconian DRM from it. I’m not paying $50 for a game I can only install 3 times, even if I uninstall it after each new install. What happens when the activation servers go offline in a few years?

Anyway, enough people have written about this, including bombing the Amazon reviews for the game, that I don’t really have much to add. Other than the fact that I won’t be pirating it either. Downloading and playing a cracked version will only enforce EA’s view that the game didn’t sell due to piracy – and not becaue of the ridiculous restrictions placed upon it.

So I bought my son Star Wars: The Force Unleashed for his birthday instead. It’s not a very deep or challenging game, but until you’ve seen a seven year old jumping up and down on the couch while cutting down clone troopers with a Wii remote, using his force powers to blow everything up – well, you just haven’t lived!

Smooth Move, Warioware

At the behest of my wife I have recently purchased a Nintendo Wii. Actually, she wanted to get the Wii Fit, but since the Wii is somewhat of a pre-requisite, we had to get one first.

Warioware Smooth movesAnyway, I’ve been keeping my eye out for some good party games that the whole family can enjoy together, when I came across this list of the best ever Wii games, on Gamespot. As you can see, Warioware Smooth Moves scores 9.1 out of 10 and is even credited with editors choice. Reading through the review, it sounds like the perfect party game – fun, innovative, hilarious, easy to play etc.

However, to play the multiplayer game (for which this game comes so highly recommended) you must first complete the single payer game! In what universe does this actually make sense?

I came home from work yesterday, showed the game to my kids and of course they immediately wanted to play it. I fiddled around with it for a bit, but couldn’t get the multiplayer game to activate. I finally went to the internet and discovered the amazing truth – that you must complete the single player game to unlock the multiplayer game!! So there we all are, crowded round the TV and looking forward to a night of hilarity and the game is useless. Well, unless everyone wants to watch someone else play through it first.

The really daft part of this is that whoever completes the single-player game will have an innate advantage over everyone else who has never played it! I’m really finding it hard to understand why Nintendo decided to cripple what is essentially a party game, by forcing you to play it alone first.

I’m seriously thinking about taking it back to the store for a refund.

Trollgate:London

I’ve recently started playing Hellgate:London, a PC game from the “creators of the award-winning Diablo® series and the fathers of the action role playing genre”. The basic premise is that London has been overrun by hordes of demons and the only safe place is in the London Underground.

The game itself is actually pretty good, and with the release of Stonehenge (additional content for paying subscribers) and a host of bugfixes and some skill-balancing, the game seems to be maturing very quickly. Sure, it had a rocky start and there are still some features missing that would really make the game stand out, but overall it’s quite an enjoyable experience.

Unfortunately, there are some people that seem to disagree. And it’s not so much that they disagree (it’s a free country after all), but rather the manner in which they choose to voice their discontent. The official forums are filled with hate and vitriol directed towards Flagship Studios.

For casual players seeking help with the game, their requests are drowned out in the noise and personal attacks from players that are dissatisfied with the game.  The level of abuse has reached ridiculous proportions, with sites like Flagshipped.com ridiculing the game.

The problem is, that these people are actively destroying the game. They are scaring away potential players from what is essentially, a good game. They are eating away at the community like a cancer. Anyone that is considering purchasing this game is going to be put off by these trolls – and that is a real shame.

As I said, I’ve been playing since Christmas and I’ve been having a wonderful time teaming up with people to battle the hordes of demons. The new Stonehenge area in particular, seems to really foster a level of team-play that doesn’t exist in the basic game. Which is good, because the basic game is designed to be played solo or in a team – it’s entirely up to you. Stonehenge on the other hand, really gives a feeling of a small squad of soldiers about to be ambushed by who-knows-what.

Anyway, if you’re on the fence about this game, try it out. You don’t have to subscribe right away – you can play the base game for as long as you like (online or offline) for the initial purchase price of the boxed package.

See you in Hell.

“Remember the dead. But fight for the living.”

Game Copy Protection vs. Piracy

Earlier this week, I decided to pull an old game off my shelf and run through it again. I’ll do this every now and then, especially for good games or games that I think might run better on a newer system. So, I installed and played Spellforce for a few hours before heading off to bed.

The next morning, I launched the game and was immediately greeted with the following message:

conflict: a hook process was found. Please deactivate all Antivirus and Anti-Trojan programs and debuggers

Well, isn’t that interesting. I Googled around for a bit and found numerous other people with the same problem. The general advice was to disable spyware/virus scanners, cross your fingers and hope for the best. No support from the developers at all.

After about an hour of fooling around disabling various applications, rebooting and generally wasting time, I took a trip over to GameCopyWorld and downloaded the cracked version. I didn’t download the entire game, just the “fixed” executable that is intended to allow you to play the game without the DVD in the drive. However, the cracked version had the following extra benefits:

  • Play the game without the DVD in the drive
  • No need to enter the serial number to activate the game (which is a huge benefit, as the serial that I have contains several ambiguous instances of 0 and o, l and 1, making it a total PITA to type in and get right)
  • Cracked executable is only 3Mb – the official executable is 15Mb.
  • The game actually works!

So, the official version of the game won’t work, but a “cracked” version works perfectly – and even contains extra benefits – when compared to the version I paid money for.

Is it illegal to use the cracked executable on my system? Really, I don’t care. If push comes to shove I can prove that I own the game, but given the developers lack of support for such a widespread problem I really don’t think it’s going to be an issue.

However, the bigger question is: When are software developers (and the DRM-happy music industry) going to realize that these copy-protection measures serve nothing except the alienation of paying customers. If the software can be cracked aanyway, and become more useful (or even just useable) in the process, why bother to include it in the first place?