The Cartridge-Only philosophising

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By Kai Magazine

Paragon (1303)

Kai Magazine's picture

14-12-2015, 18:10

Talking about commercial market, some information for those who purchased "Life on mars" but still do not have a moonsound/opl4 compatible;
Once more I remind everyone that ericb59 (another of our pillars in this comunity) can create opl4 cartridges on demmand, and at the lowest price (as far as I know).
He calls them "fm blaster" and I realized when I recomended this opl4 to many "Life on mars" buyers that the name is missleading, and I actually had to make an effort to convince them that this small cartridge is in fact an opl4, not an fm pac.
If you are interested, contact with ericb59 for more details.

By snout

Ascended (15187)

snout's picture

14-12-2015, 19:08

Guiseve, please refrain from asking for full versions of scene releases from now on. MRC is all about supporting the MSX community and without actual, active developers we would all be nowhere. This topic has now more or less become a lobby for digital versions of games that so far have only been released on cartridge. Let's focus on that.

By RetroTechie

Paragon (1563)

RetroTechie's picture

14-12-2015, 20:59

NYYRIKKI wrote:

may I suggest that you put a name + some sort of checksum or a secret ID number inside the digital versions. It is not a copy protection, but in the unlucky case the digital version gets leaked by some reason, you at least get to know who did the wrong thing.

Careful with that! Buyer is not always the person who leaked. Games get borrowed, or dumped when owner isn't looking. There's 2nd hand stuff that original seller can't track, and (like anything) things get stolen sometimes. Perhaps even storage media with legally purchased downloads on them.

That said, watermarking is a user-friendly method. For example mix the order of subroutines before putting through an assembler. Make a limited # of versions like that, slip a few serial #'s in random places in between the code, and it'll be near-impossible to turn into a 'no-name' copy. But easy for developer to take a copy, and have a good indication where it came from. I'd be careful about using that for "naming & shaming", but rather share that info with other developers, use it to know your buyers better, and perhaps not sell anymore to the worst offenders.

But let's face it: there's people who would buy something regardless whether it's € 20 or € 50, there's people who might buy it depending on price or format, and there's people who wouldn't buy something no matter what. I could think of a few reasons NOT to provide digital downloads:

  • The trivial-to-copy argument. There's little to no evidence for that imho, and the reverse also holds true: illegal copy serves as free advertising (at least to some degree it works that way for movies, music and games).
  • The artistic argument: yes you'd want your "baby" to come as a cartridge, in a velvet-lined big box, with colorful manual. A simple .rom or .zip floating on someone's hard disk may feel like a 'cheap' (as in: poor quality) product.
  • ???

Perhaps more interesting, is reasons why a developer would provide digital downloads:

  • It's easy: small amount of work per copy. Amount paid is essentially 100% profit.
  • Even if you charge just a small fee: for any buyer who has that pocket money to burn, why not take it?
  • Likewise: for those folks that will download anyway, why not make sure they get it right from the source, and take a small fee in the process?
  • Easy to provide even when circuit boards and cartridge boxes run out.
  • Avoid shipping delays and hassles as described for Brazil etc.
  • Option to get paid in Bitcoin or whatever so the tax man won't know... Wink
  • Maximizes your user base. And probably profits, too.
  • Last but not least: make users happy by providing software in ways / formats they prefer.

By hap

Paragon (2021)

hap's picture

14-12-2015, 21:53

Hey I'm serious about supporting KAI and donating 15 euros and get Life On Mars.rom in return. Smile Come on let's make the list to 20 and prove that we support the developers.

As for leak-protection, it won't work. You buy a game, friend buys a game 1 month later. Have a MSX tech guy compare the 2 files and erase the ID.

By Kai Magazine

Paragon (1303)

Kai Magazine's picture

14-12-2015, 22:37

I just wrote about the "List" project on the main thread of "Life on Mars" news so you guys stand a chance.
Anyway, as you can see after so much talk about digital purchases, the list is amazingly short. I am not surprised. This is not the first game we digitally sell.
Ilusion city mega cd demo only produced 2 digital purchases, and it was only 6 euro if I remember correctly...
The other games, 6 or 7 digital purchases (costumers).
It is not as if our games are particularly bad, or unatractive, I am sure most people in this chat tried them, and will at least test "Life on mars" on their emulators, since it is something new and never done before, etc. But most of them will do it for free. No matter what they say here, so in my opinion, all this discussion is pointless.
The facts will prove me right (unfortunatelly) in just a few days, and even then, they will continue repeating the same things...
EDIT: Sorry for the generalization, as I said before, THERE ARE in fact legit digital buyers who support the msx developers, just fewer than it looks by reading this thread.

By mtn

Master (248)

mtn's picture

14-12-2015, 22:52

Kai Magazine wrote:

Regarding Life on Mars, it could be a good "social" experiment to create a list of potential digital buyers, let's say 20, and if from today to February 1st, the list gets to 20 potential buyers, We will ask for the payments then, and send the digital version of Life on Mars for 15 euros to those 20 buyers on February 1st, (we will even personalize it with their own name in each rom)

What do you say? this should be interesting. I am really intrigued to see if there are as many real digital buyers as they say.
Our past experiencie says otherwise, I doubt we will even get to 10 (I know there are some legit buyers who will participate) but what the heck, let's give it a try!

Any interested, please put your nick name in the list and resend the entire list in the next post so noone gets lost.

Goal: 20 digital buyers. Time limit: February 1st.

Ready, set, GO!

Count me in aswell.

However - Page 9 or 10 on a already somewhat tiresome thread might not be the ideal place for marketing this?

Surely this (deep down the thread) is not the only place for marketing this experiment? Because that would not be fair to "the experiment"..

(Not that I really have that much I should say about things like this, considering my past, but anyhow.)

By turbor

Champion (427)

turbor's picture

14-12-2015, 22:53

Count me in for a digital version of Life on Mars for 15 euro!

I don't mind paying for software, but I'm also in the situation that the real HW I have is in (permanent) storage and I can't find any space to set it up here @ home. So I also use convenience of emulators. Needless to say that I use only that one emulator that aims for perfection Wink

I even have bought physical cartridges (Popeye's English Game immediately springs to mind)that haven't had a change to play yet due to the lack of physical hardware. And frankly, that is why decided to let Life on Mars pass by this time.
I fully agree with the collectors value of a physical cartridge in a nice box with manual and all, but to have it laying around in a cupboard with no possibility to play it...
So I gladly support developers if I get the change to enjoy their work.

Come to think of it, I bought spacemambow 2 and never used the cartridge, I mailed the developer to ask for a romdump and the specs of the "mapper" since it wasn't yet implemented our emulator. And I never leaked the dump neither!!
Same goes for the Goonies game, bought the cartridge and never had the change to play it... Crying

By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (109)

anonymous's picture

14-12-2015, 23:08

It seems that the original theme (a guy openly asking for pirated games to a community which is basically composed of the game developers themselves) has expanded to a bigger debate. Basically, the answer to all of messages in this thread is: theory vs practice. In theory, many things are possible but in practice they are not. In theory, cold fusion is possible but in practice, it has not been achieved. In theory we can say maaany things, but if they are not supported by facts, the theory is useless. Let me explain this:

* Emulator users vs physical MSX users: In theory, one can love MSX and play games only under emulation. In practice, that almost never happens. And those saying that "I only play on emulators but I love MSX"... well, I can believe you but... know what? To my ears, that sounds exactly like those who say "Homeopaty worked for me, so it must be true.".

* Digital games vs physical games: In theory, digital games are a perfectly valid way to distribute games. In theory, people would like to pay for digital games. But in practice, that almost never happens. @Kai explained this with numbers: his physical games sold reasonably well but the digital copies sold almost nothing. These are the facts. Sure some of you want to pay and have actually paid for digital copies but that's not the rule, it's the exception. So, saying that "I paid for a digital copy, so digital copies are good for this community" is like saying "A friend quit smoking using laser acupuncture, so, it must be true".

* Not being able to play some games: Yes, sure that cartridges prevent some people playing some games. Because of the price (they are not so expensive though), because of the lack of space (seriously? I cannot believe that, but maybe here in Spain we all have huge houses because of our excellent economy... my cartridges fit in my small house), because of shipping costs (that's the only believable explanation I've heard, to be honest) or because they don't have an MSX (I neither have a Sega Genesis and I don't complain if I can't play new cartridge releases for that console in my emulator). But if you can't have a game because of whatever, sorry to say, deal with it. I'd like to have a Ferrari, but I can't pay for it and I'm not asking to Ferrari workers to send one to me for free.

* Exposure/complimenting developers vs paying for the games: Do people like @Giuseve *really* believe that developers must give their games for free? So he must be able to save let's say 30€ and developers must be happy because of... exposure? because somebody says "I like it"? My God... there is a place for that: facebook. And I won't spent a year working on a game just for a couple of likes. If I want to have "likes", I just have to post a picture of my lunch on facebook or of my dog on instagram.

* Piracy vs perfectly legal: Yes. Sure. We all have piracy at home. Know what? I sometimes download movies. But there are at least two differences between that a what giuseve-like people do. First, I buy movies much more often than I copy them. Do giuseve-like people buy? I don't think so, and, again @Kai messages clarified this. Second, I don't write to Paramount, or Universal, or to Brad Pitt saying "here is my mail: send me the movie, otherwise you are Evil". And, basically, that's what @giuseve did and what some other people in this forum seem to somehow... support. Another difference is that piracy in this small community has an extremely larger impact than piracing a movie.

* "Let's all be friends. Stop arguing and enjoy all of the new MSX productions" That's another trending topic here and my answer is no. What giuseve did is totally unacceptable. The "let's all be friends" reinforces giuseve-like behaviors. People asking for pirated games, especially the ones done by the community members, should be warned and banned if necessary.

Overall, in theory emulator users will buy digital copies and do not distribute them to other people. In practice, this is as true as astrology works because, you know, it worked for a friend.

By ren

Paragon (1225)

ren's picture

15-12-2015, 00:30

Couldn't it be interesting, and this is an idea I have for a while already, to invent a new format?
Something like Hudson's BeeCard, or something like (the size of) NDS cartridges..

For one, this would trim down physical/storage size, games could be shipped in a simple bubble envelope.
Like the BeeCard you would need a mother/base cartridge to boot these.

Since it's a very popular/common cartridge, I could also imagine a new iteration of the MegaFlashROM being created which would be able to take these cards.. Smile

Just an idea / thinking out loud.
Last year there were (suddenly?) quite some new cart releases it seemed (mainly because of Eric's shop making things easy for devs I guess.) No offense to the creators, I appreciate every production/effort, but 'even' a so to say 'simple' game like Jawbreaker II got a cart release.. But/and it seemed quite some people wanted one.
Also because I myself was quite quickly bored with the game / didn't see much replay value in it, I had the feeling mostly people ordered for the sake of 'having it' / collecting? (But it could be I'm missing something.. ;)) (Or perhaps 'just' supporting the authors..) (Or a mixture of these aspects perhaps.. :))

Another possibility would be to use (full-size) SD cards, or create a bigger card, which would simply house an SD card inside, so we just re-use existing (cheap) technology.. (certainly no HW guy, so spare me ;))
I do like the size of the BeeCards.. :) (never had one in my hands though..) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTgo4g_9MKI&t=33s
And I feel small games like Jawbreaker II (or e.g. this) then would be suited better to distribute in such a format.

IMO 'small' (but I guess what's regarded as 'small' is also a subjective matter..) games don't need a (big) box etc. (In a way I also feel that's a kind of 'waste'...)

Related to the Jawbreaker II (and (in a lesser extent (because it feels 'bigger')) Uridium) release I had the idea: why not release a MSXdev cart with all the edition's games on it, add a nice loader menu, etc?
No need to create a cart just for e.g. Jawbreaker II IMO.

Anyway, anything is possible if we want it (and are willing to work together ;))

Btw, a similar discussion was started by the OP last year: http://www.msx.org/forum/msx-talk/software/new-msx-software-... (which I still recalled when seeing this thread arise).

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (3069)

sd_snatcher's picture

14-12-2015, 23:12

Please add me to the list for the digital versions of "Life on Mars", and the "Illusion City Demo".

But since they're digital, I want the release with everything on top, with all goodies included like the digital games on GOG, or the releases on the MSXdev. That means, if possible: Big smile

- A copy of the game
- Manual and covers in PDF format
- Soundtrack in some standard format, like KSS, VGM,
MBM, MFM, or whatever
- Wallpapers?

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