Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ventaur Koss - or why piracy advocates bug me.

It isn't often that I use my blogs to out trolls, the last instance being Simon... somebody... griefing in CoH Issue 7/8 Hammidon. Ventaur Koss thus earns the distinction of being the second troll to be annoying enough to generate a posting. As before, an NCSoft game is involved, but this time it is Tabula Rasa.

What makes this more... out of the normal... is that the beta, pre-launch, and first few days of retail release have been filled with trolls much more obnoxious than Koss. I have a list of about 18 different people who only logged in at lvl 1, hung out in the training zone, and used the general chat to advertise and promote World of Warcraft. I have about 4 people who only log in, stand in one place, and shout that "this game sucks," and promote the wonders of HellGate London. I have others, like Lithos (third to be outed), that claim they were extensively involved in the beta, and then proceed to ask for high level equipment or how to perform certain commands that were never in the game to begin with. When confronted, some of these players respond with "what ever floats your boat" or other such comments unconcerned that somebody would dare call them out. I have others on my ignore list that simply did their best to get around the profanity filter. I've seen more ways to spell out slang names for parts of male and female anatomy in the space of 4 hours than I have after over 2 years in City of Heroes.

So, why does Ventaur Koss stand out? What makes him special? Because he was advocating piracy, and lamenting that certain piracy organizations had been shut down by "federal agents."

Now, I have a special hatred for pirates, most notably from the time of Sega World Weekly. Upon revelation that I had certain un-released titles and was able to comment extensively on them with other members of the press who ALSO had copies, one person refused to believe that I had said titles. The only way they would accept proof? If I sent the hard-copies to a known pirate organization.

Thing is, it is hard to argue with some people, like the members of The Pirate Bay. I hate the RIAA and MPAA as much as they do. In some cases, I really don't understand why TV studios are so concerned with bit-torrent copies of their content, especially if the TV Studio is an Over-The-Airwaves provider, such as ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and whatever UPN is now (I don't care, don't email me). If I have a rabbit ears or digital tv antenna, I can pick up their shows without paying the studios one cent. What is the big deal if I obtain the episodes from an online connection?

That being said, I can also take steps to minimize my involvement with RIAA and MPAA, and content producers can also take steps to minimize their involvement with the RIAA and MPAA. For example, RadioHead and Nine-Inch-Nails have both left their labels. RadioHead's last album was released outside of the realm of the RIAA and MPAA, and Trent Reznor has announced that his next album will be released in a similar manner. Granted, I don't care for their music, and I'd probably raise a glass of champagne if Trent Reznor got smacked by a Greyhound Bus... but I do have to give props for breaking away from the real pirates of the music and movies industries.

With all that being said... why would Ventaur Koss's promotion of piracy bug me so much?

Well, because he was complaining about outright piracy of video games, and what I witnessed, a specific complaint against a group of people shut down by federal agents for remaking a console game.

My problem with this is that most game developers are fairly lenient about remakes or appearances of their characters in other titles. One specific example is Capcom which gave the Shin Megami Tensei developers permission to include their top selling, and top ranking, Devil May Cry lead character, Dante, in Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. Keep in mind that Atlus's hottest titles barely sell more units than Capcom's biggest failures.

Look at this way. Most game developers and publishers don't want to spend time or money remaking games, or re-imaging games for that matter. If a small time team brings a project to the publisher or developer directly, say, like remaking Chrono Trigger, chances are they will be able to secure a license for cheap, or in some cases, no cost. Square Enix and Nintendo specifically launched the Q fund back on the Gamecube to promote and finance such small time developers. Talking with Nintendo's development handlers back just before the Wii launched netted comments indicating that there are a few venture capitalists lined up to back Wii development for such developers.

What bugged me most about Ventaur Koss is that he was promoting piracy of video games... in a retail video game. Now, I honestly don't know if Blizzard considers such behavior acceptable in their leading MMO... but I think it's reprehensible. Now, I'm not dumb enough to think that I can stop piracy outright, and I'm not dumb enough to think that people like Ventaur Koss will just go away.

What I do think is that they should be kicked, perma-banned, and made clear they are persona-non-grata. Here's hoping NCSoft has enough guts to terminate his account.
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