Elemental: No Copy Protection, Activation, LAN and more

By on August 15, 2010 2:31:13 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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There’s been a lot of discussion on these kinds of topics on recent games and I thought I’d give you our perspective on it.

No Copy Protection

Elemental, out of the box, like all of Stardock’s other games, has no copy protection whatsoever.  However, you obviously need Internet access to get updates.  But then, why should this be necessary?

Because Elemental, unlike our previous games, has really been designed to be a game that people can play for decades, this is something that has concerned us. Because we want to encourage people to have the latest version but at the same time, we are aware that some people are worried that 10 years from now, they won’t be able to get the “better” version.

So here is what we’re going to start doing on our developed titles: We’re going to start making archival DVD versions of the game that can be sent to customers.  We already do this with Object Desktop (our most popular non-game product).  This archival version would have no copy protection whatsoever. It would just be a DVD you can put into your machine.

So starting in October, what we will do is make archival DVD editions of our games starting with Galactic Civilizations II: Ultimate Edition and Elemental.  Roughly every year or so, if there have been updates, we’ll create a new archival version of the game that people can have sent to them (it’ll just be a DVD).

LAN Games

There’s been a lot of questions of how someone would play Elemental on their LAN with their friends.  Here’s my suggested way to do it with minimum hassle.

#1 You’ll need to install Impulse on the machines that will be playing the game. But that’s all. Just install and go to step 2.

#2 Go to http://anywhere.impulsedriven.com which is the web interface to Impulse. From here, you would download the web package of Elemental. As long as Impulse is installed on the machine, you can install the game.

#3 When you install, type in your serial #. If it’s on a LAN, just use your single DVD key, Impulse::Reactor’s GOO uses smart activation (i.e. it doesn’t have a “activation limit” type system) so you can just install it on the various machines on your LAN.

#4 When your friends come over to play, they will need, once in the game, to logon with their own accounts (so they or someone will have to provide them with a serial # to attach to their account but they can use it at your LAN in game).  This is because on day 0, the data from the game is handled by our servers (this way, when we update the game data for balancing players don’t have to update their game which would be a real hassle for LAN players).  Eventually we plan to release custom servers so that players can make their own stuff but we won’t have that ready at release.

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August 16, 2010 9:54:30 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting CatfishBiff,
What is the process of "attaching" a serial key to an account?

It sounds like I have to use a serial key to install the game on multiple computers.  But then when someone else wants to play on that system, they have to have their own serial key attached to their account.

What is the difference between installing with a serial key and attaching a serial key to an account?

 

I have one copy coming and want to install it on multiple PC's in my house.  Then, if I can get enought interest with other friends, I assume they can purchase a key online and use their own account so we can play on LAN.

There will be no "conflict" between the original key I use to install on the LAN, and their NEW key which will be attached to their account?

Think of how it works in a game like WoW. When you want to play online, you login with your account. That account has your serial tied to it, and it works.

Same thing here. To play Elemental online, you'll log into reactor. It'll know who you are and things will work. So your friends on the LAN will need to log in to the game's MP server with their account info, but it shouldn't matter who installed it.

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August 16, 2010 9:56:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Annatar11,
I like how Frogboy never actually said "This game has LAN Support", and everyone is jumping on him as if he did. He just gave instructions on how to install the game easily on your networked machines so people could come over and play. Reading comprehension isn't that difficult, people.

 

@Tridus:

Brad has said that in the multiplayer there are features that are disabled that we normally have in single player (for balance). I have no idea which ones. But if certain buildings/spells are not available you would almost  certainly have to rewrite the AI for it to be any kind of effective. An AI with instructions to build an armory as soon as possible when there is no armory available might have some issues, for example. 

In any event, I would love to go down point by point back and forth with you, but I have to go to work. I may reply back when I have time today.

I want a space pony for my Sovereign, or the game isn't finished!

 

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August 16, 2010 9:57:23 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting CatfishBiff,
What is the process of "attaching" a serial key to an account?

It sounds like I have to use a serial key to install the game on multiple computers.  But then when someone else wants to play on that system, they have to have their own serial key attached to their account.

What is the difference between installing with a serial key and attaching a serial key to an account?

 

I have one copy coming and want to install it on multiple PC's in my house.  Then, if I can get enought interest with other friends, I assume they can purchase a key online and use their own account so we can play on LAN.

There will be no "conflict" between the original key I use to install on the LAN, and their NEW key which will be attached to their account?

If you order from Stardock directly, the process is automatic. When your order is charged, the serial number is automatically associated with your account.

If you buy a box at retail, it contains a serial key but the game installation does not ask for it. You'll have to manually register the game in Impulse (main menu pulldown > register a product or whatever it's called).

The registration does not care about what computer or what IP it's on, it only cares about the account. Installing the game is not tied to any particular account, just that installing from an Impulse archive checks that you have bought the game (basically to prevent people from sharing the archive on torrents, etc). So it's not that you "use a key to install", but that the install just checks that you have the game registered and are allowed to install it. Again, note that this only applies to the archives created in Impulse, not DVD installs. So, there won't be any issue with your friend coming over to play. You'll log in with your account, s/he can log in with theirs and the game won't care.

Hopefully that clarifies it

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August 16, 2010 9:59:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks.  That's what I figured, but I'm not that familiar with Impulse so I wasn't sure.

 

Battle.net works great and if this is similar, it should be perfect.

 

Now I just have to worry about getting my cheap friends to pony up for a copy/seriel key of their own.

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August 16, 2010 10:06:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting StevenAus,

However, this issue has developed momentum, whether or not it was a misunderstanding in the beginning.  It needs to be resolved somehow - not sure exactly how though.

What can be done now to resolve this issue, given what has already happened in this thread and the unlikelihood of any serious clarification being enough to satisfy the various parties involved?  Because we are as a community, and Stardock is too, hurting because of what has happened in this thread.

Best regards,
Steven.

Agreed. A lot of this is buliding up expectations for things that wound up not being there. I mean, he said we'd have custom servers for LAN and modding, and we don't. We might get them later.

Had they been upfront about that at the start "you won't have LAN or MP modding at release, we'll look at it later", I don't think this conversation is happening. But they didn't do that.

The simplest way out at this point is just to offer up a refund for anybody who took the expectation of LAN and MP modding seriously and is now pissed off about not having it. There's not very many of them, and it's good customer service.

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August 16, 2010 10:44:06 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting NTJedi,

Quoting Polynomial, reply 120If I was Frogboy, I would go crazy too. Elemental's LAN policy of each person buying a serial key is not insane. Besides, this game will be primarily single player anyways.

So a family of 4 is expected to spend $200.oo so they can all play Elemental together and then if the first expansion costs $30.oo they are expected to spend another $120.oo so they can all play with the expansion!!  Since money is obviously not a problem for you then you should setup a foundation/charity where you buy the game for normal size families and larger so they can afford to play the game.

In regards to singleplayer take a look at what it has done for the Galactic Civilization forums... barely any responses for months.  Makes me almost want to use a shotgun and put it out of its misery.  I can easily list many older multiplayer games where the forums are still buzzing with conversations and new stuff.  While I definitely play BOTH singleplayer and multiplayer it's clear longterm love comes from the multiplayer communities.

Yes! Why do you think Stardock OWES you unlimited LAN!? They're a business! Unlimited LAN is a terrible business model!

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August 16, 2010 10:46:24 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting psychoravin,

Quoting Polynomial, reply 6


Quoting Nesrie,
reply 5
Quoting Polynomial, reply 2Archival DVDs? Really, Frogboy? Is there reeeaaally that much demand for patches on DVDs?I think this is awesome, and yes there is. I want to be able to have access to the game, as Stardock intended it to be played, long after Stardock is gone (if that happens of course, it might not).Great new, and thank you.


No, there is no demand for patches on DVDs. Its for the few crazy types of people who have issues with the new crazy digital download era. Stardock is not going anywhere. Their primary business model is not even in video games.

Fraid you are wrong there bucko there's plenty of demand for patches and games on DVDs. Just because YOU don't use a method of service doesn't mean the world doesn't. I prefer patches and games on cd's or dvd's always when/if I can get them. I have an archive of patches on disc and external hard drives now. I actually double backup my patches and some games that allow it like Matrixgames .exe and setup files.

Saying Stardock is not going anywhere shows your ignorance to the PC world. Plenty of PC companies have come and gone since the home computer world began. Where is Microprose? Strategic Simulations? 3DO? Sierra? just to name a few. Anything can happen in the business world and no business has any guarantee on surviving forever. So, I'll take my DVD's and cd backups anyday all the time whenever I can get them.

So, Thanks Stardock and Brad for realizing reality out here.

You listed all gaming companies. Stardock might not even be 50% games. An no, this is not a sign Stardock is going anywhere. Its for the crazy people who don't have access to high speed patches. Its archaic, but that's what its for.

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August 16, 2010 10:47:09 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

so we cant play against 32 players on our servers because we cant make server ?

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August 16, 2010 10:50:13 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Icepick,
Wow...you guys really don't think things through, do you? Frogboy left the thread b/c ya'll were really starting to upset him over the whole lan nitpicky thing, and you do realize that he is the one that decides how many of his company's resources go into multiplayer, if any. I am not a software company CEO, nor do i play one on tv, but if I saw these posts and I was in charge, you'd see multiplayer support sometime in 2012, if ever. The man has repeatedly, and emphatically, stated that this is a single player game with multiplayer tacked on to it. 

 

Quoted for truth.  This is a single player game first and foremost, as has been stated, if anyone else was paying attention.  Perhaps I might suggest that this isn't the game for you people if multiplayer is the only thing you are interested in.  Go play some SC2 it has plenty of multiplayer possibilities.  

 

I'm looking forward to the single player focus because there are already plenty of games with only the multiplayer slant.  

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August 16, 2010 10:56:06 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Seriously, the two or three people in this post complaining about LAN, your annoying. You got your expectations up on something that was never really clear to begin with. You should have handled the situation with just a little bit of class instead of whining like a child because that is exactly how it seems. If your really that upset, cancel your pre order, ask for a refund and move on. This is a product like any other, if you don't like it don't buy it. Now if you want to have some clarification on what exactly is going to happen with LAN in the future, you should ask in a polite manner. If it is not what you expect than again, just ask for a refund on your pre-order and move on.

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August 16, 2010 11:46:04 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Polynomial,


Yes! Why do you think Stardock OWES you unlimited LAN!? They're a business! Unlimited LAN is a terrible business model!

 

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August 16, 2010 11:49:26 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I for one love the idea of the archival DVD (moreso, even better if it is available as a download for overseas people) - burn and store away for re-install or updates.

Years ago I had a wide range of problems with patching GC, primarily due to having upload filters on my registered email address blocking me sending authentication keys (Stardock were, as oft are, great in their help), so I am keen on the idea of being able to get content based support disks.

 

And WooHoo on going Gold - looking forward to the August release for digital purchase and for it to arrive in Australia on the ~9th of September for hard copy purchase.

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August 16, 2010 11:59:53 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting BlackRainZ,
Seriously, the two or three people in this post complaining about LAN, your annoying. You got your expectations up on something that was never really clear to begin with. You should have handled the situation with just a little bit of class instead of whining like a child because that is exactly how it seems. If your really that upset, cancel your pre order, ask for a refund and move on. This is a product like any other, if you don't like it don't buy it. Now if you want to have some clarification on what exactly is going to happen with LAN in the future, you should ask in a polite manner. If it is not what you expect than again, just ask for a refund on your pre-order and move on.

QFT!

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August 16, 2010 12:20:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, a few too many assumptions in this thread.  And you know the combination of internet forums and assume...

Best regards,
Steven.

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August 16, 2010 12:38:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting hermes33,
What Frog is saying is that IF these two things are true

1. you want to play multiplayer on the servers that Stardock set up(you use impulse to access them)

2. the other players are connecting to the internet(server running the game) through the same LAN 

THEN the easiest way to play multiplayer is to follow the instructions given in Frog's original post.

 

You can't play over LAN right now. The only servers that exist are StarDocks own.

The server software allowing you to set up LAN games will be released later.

 

 

QFT -   There is no LAN support in the game.   You have to log on to play multiplayer (imagine that).    Custom Servers may come out in the future if there is a demand for them.   

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August 16, 2010 12:40:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting NTJedi,

Quoting hermes33, reply 131What Frog is saying is that IF these two things are true

The server software allowing you to set up LAN games will be released later.

 


However it requires IMPULSE login which requires Internet.... any LAN which "requires" WAN is not  LAN.

 

But they never claimed it was going to be available for LAN only support.  You are playing on the stardock servers.   How do you plan on doing that without internet (or sitting in the server room with the servers)?

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August 16, 2010 12:47:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well ive been playing games since bubble bobble and yes ive pirated almost every game ive ever played.

but i do buy the games that i think are worth the money, by enabling the possibility of people pirating i do believe you actually sell more products in the end.

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August 16, 2010 1:07:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Tridus,

Quoting Annatar11, reply 172I like how Frogboy never actually said "This game has LAN Support", and everyone is jumping on him as if he did. He just gave instructions on how to install the game easily on your networked machines so people could come over and play. Reading comprehension isn't that difficult, people.

You sure about that?


Beta 2 won’t have the custom games in them. That’ll come later during the beta.  With custom games, players can set up their own unique servers for LAN play or simply to create their own modded game experience.  For instance, a custom game I’d play would be 2 humans on the same side vs. 20 AI players.

Seems hard to setup our own unique servers for LAN play if there is in fact no LAN play.

 

Just because this was mentioned in a beta topic, doesn't mean it was promised for the final game.   I think people are being intentionally difficult for no reason.   Those that want true LAN only play (no internet) will have to wait until custom servers come out.    Honestly, that is a good business decision on Stardock's part.   This is primarily a SP game, no matter how vocal/obnoxious the MP minority is.   It would be dumb for them to sacrifice SP features (AI, monsters, quests, etc) for LAN support which by most posters admission they want so they can have multiple non-paying people play at the same time.  

 

??  Are you serious, I should support people who don't pay for my game instead of people who bought the game, just because there is a chance that I might sell some more copies.???

 

Come on folks, we all know that Stardock and Brad in particular are uniquely understanding and giving to their customers.   There is no reason not to support them.  Sure, if you want something than ask for it, give your arguments, but don't be intentionally obnoxious or rude just because its a forum.  

 

"LAN support" is not in the released game.   The MP game requires you to logon to Stardock Servers to play.   Each person has to have a unique key to play the game.     

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August 16, 2010 1:13:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

"LAN support" is not in the released game.
it has something good too more ppl will come on the internet servers to play

and it will lower the effect on piracy

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August 16, 2010 1:44:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Murteas,

Just because this was mentioned in a beta topic, doesn't mean it was promised for the final game.   I think people are being intentionally difficult for no reason.   Those that want true LAN only play (no internet) will have to wait until custom servers come out.

People were expecting a feature, and that feature is missing. They voiced their displeasure. It got "difficult" when the thread turned into talking about piracy and how it's a SP focused game. But hey, it does have multiplayer, and that offering is missing stuff it shouldn't be (both LAN and modding).

And I'd say it does count, since Brad is the authority on the game. He talked specifically about custom server support because it's required for modding in MP, and also for LAN play. Modding is a core feature of this game, it's entirely reasonable to expect it to work in all areas of the game at release. It doesn't. That got buried by the LAN issue, but it's another symptom of the same problem. Since most of the information about the game has come from his journals, how do we tell which ones "count" and which ones don't?

Paying customers who want those features are entirely within their rights to bring it up.

Honestly, that is a good business decision on Stardock's part.   This is primarily a SP game, no matter how vocal/obnoxious the MP minority is.   It would be dumb for them to sacrifice SP features (AI, monsters, quests, etc) for LAN support which by most posters admission they want so they can have multiple non-paying people play at the same time.

There was actually one guy who said that, the rest of the piracy talk was actually from Brad. What SP features have to be sacrificed in order to make the promised modding features in the game also work in MP? None. There's no conflict here in features, except they ran out of time and the MP area didn't get finished.

Come on folks, we all know that Stardock and Brad in particular are uniquely understanding and giving to their customers.   There is no reason not to support them.  Sure, if you want something than ask for it, give your arguments, but don't be intentionally obnoxious or rude just because its a forum. 

Going back to the first couple of pages, I don't see a whole lot of obnoxious or rude from the people talking about lack of LAN play. I do see people trying to redefine what "LAN support" means, other people dismissing the whole thing as unimportant to a SP focused game, and Brad giving some non-answers about the LAN issue (followed by flippant remarks about piracy farther in).

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August 16, 2010 2:07:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting hermes33,


Where does it say that you need to log in to impulse when using the server software that will be available later?

 

Read the steps from the original post and you'll see step#4 requires logging into impulse which means using WAN.  And while Stardock might cover its ears yelling, "LA LA LA LA LA"...  it doesn't change the pure facts that LAN which "requires" WAN is not LAN.

 

Quoting Polynomial,


Yes! Why do you think Stardock OWES you unlimited LAN!? They're a business! Unlimited LAN is a terrible business model!

Says the view of a short term profit... longterm profit means focusing more on getting as many people as possible to play the game first instead of placing complex security methods to financially absorb as many customers first buying the game. Secondly it doesn't have to be only about Unlimited LAN... providing HOTSEAT would allow most families to play together. 

It's obviously unreasonable to purchase several multiple copies for those few times a year when relatives visit.  It's actually sad Stardock hasn't considered the family demographic.  I guess if family was important for Stardock would have not been overlooked.

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August 16, 2010 2:11:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Tridus, 

I think that ultimately the issue comes down to this:   Stardock decided to put LAN support (i.e. Custom Servers) on the list for post-release.   They did that so that they could finish other things that they deemed more important.

 

You feel that any MP game should not only have  internet games avaialble but also complete modding and Lan Support at release time or it is unfinished from a MP perspective.   

 

I disagree that for the game to be complete it needs those features.   That you took Brad's comments as a promise is unfortunate, and is probably the reason most developers don't comment on forums.   Just because Brad said he wanted those features and they were initially planned doesn't mean that they were guaranteed to be in.   The same can be said for continuous turns, just because they were said to be in, and then were taken out doesn't mean that I am not getting what was promised.

Bottomline:   Stardock didn't intentionally mislead you.   They want to provide custom servers still, they didn't make it for the release version.   LAN play with a single copy is not an option in this game, and is not the best business decision anyway.   

The point of the thread is: "Hey you can get the game set up on your internal network that is connected to the internet before your friends come over to play.  Here's how you do it... BTW you will each need a unique serial to play on the Stardock servers you are connecting to."  The point was never to say this is how you set up a LAN only game or if/when the game will support 15 players playing 1 copy of the game on a non-connect LAN with 15 mods running on a custom server.

 

I respect that you are disappointed, and I don't have any problem with you posting to ask for more LAN support, but I do have a problem with the feeling of entitlement people have.   You pre-ordered a game that could have changed wildly before release, it could be a FPS and you took the risk by pre-ordering that you were going to get whatever they produced whether you liked it or not.   If you felt that a certain feature was critical to your happiness then you shouldn't have ordered until after the fact.  That you feel mislead doesn't mean that you were.   

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August 16, 2010 2:17:38 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting Tridus,



Going back to the first couple of pages, I don't see a whole lot of obnoxious or rude from the people talking about lack of LAN play. I do see people trying to redefine what "LAN support" means, other people dismissing the whole thing as unimportant to a SP focused game, and Brad giving some non-answers about the LAN issue (followed by flippant remarks about piracy farther in).

That person is just trying to dismiss MP concerns by trying to label anyone obnoxious and rude just for asking questions.

We're just days from release and the information on multiplayer is thin at best. None of this would have been such an issue if Stardock had just come out and released actual information on MP. Don't come out and give some weird little "trick" about getting this game to work on LAN when the game, in fact, does not work on LAN.

We deserve better than that.

If Elemental is not going to support LAN at release, say so. If Elemental will not support LAN ever, say so. If custom servers are still beholden to Stardock servers, say so. There is a pattern here people defending Stardock don't seem to want to acknowledge, open and honest and for god's sake clear answers. At least Blizzard was 100% clear on what they were doing, and how they were doing it before release day. Ubisoft was pretty clear about their intentions as well to those who were paying attention to what they were saying. They're crap systems, but at least they were open, clear and honest about it.

If you're forcing client/server multiplayer to combat piracy, say so. Brad is the one that linked these two together, this server thing and pirates. There has been one person, one person who wanted like 15 people to play with one serial key. LAN does not imply that you cannot encourage customers to buy multiple copies of the game. LAN only implies that nothing outside the area network is needed which is certainly not the case here.

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August 16, 2010 2:18:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting NTJedi,



It's obviously unreasonable to purchase several multiple copies for those few times a year when relatives visit.  It's actually sad Stardock hasn't considered the family demographic.  I guess if family was important for Stardock would have not been overlooked.

 

Why should they provide a way for these situations when the financial benefit is nil.  By your own description those family members are not going to purchase their own copies, and if they did then great, then would just have to login to their impulse account and BAM they could play on your computer.   So why are they providing free game copies to your family?

 

As a family man myself I find it very unlikely that you sit down with the 6 kids and play game all together at the same time for hours.  If so, then that is awesome wish I grew up in that family and that my kids even liked TBS games.   But can you admit that situation is probably not the most common for people.   I have 4 computers at home (all very new), and I will install Elemental on all of them.   However, I understand perfectly that I cannot play against my son in a game unless I buy an additional copy of the game.   This is the same thing I had to do for Dawn of War 2 or most other modern games.   It really isn't that big of a surprise is it?   

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August 16, 2010 2:21:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Murteas,
Tridus, 

The point of the thread is: "Hey you can get the game set up on your internal network that is connected to the internet before your friends come over to play.  Here's how you do it... BTW you will each need a unique serial to play on the Stardock servers you are connecting to."  The point was never to say this is how you set up a LAN only game or if/when the game will support 15 players playing 1 copy of the game on a non-connect LAN with 15 mods running on a custom server.
  

If the LAN games with custom servers require logging into Impulse than it's not LAN.  One of the main reasons gamers gather together for LAN games is to remove the unpredictable/unstable internet variable.  If Elemental is going to need an umbilical cord into Impulse then two and possibly three *extra* variables can crash the game:  The Stardock Servers hosting Impulse, The ISP of the gamer and depending on Stardocks IT infrastructure possibly the ISP of Stardock.

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