Re: [stella] Copy Protection

Subject: Re: [stella] Copy Protection
From: "Roger Williams" <mer02@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 16:29:06 -0800
From: John Saeger <john@xxxxxxxxxxx>

> I don't understand the collector thing either.  As if counterfeit money is
> more valuable than real money because it's *rare*.

This can be the case.  Case in point: Artificial Linde Star star
sapphire rough is now worth more than most real star sapphire
rough.  The chemist who made them for Linde died, and took
some of the secrets of the process to the grave with him.  While
there are other artificial star sapphires, Lindes have a unique look
which hasn't been duplicated, and the supply of them is finite.  This
makes them intrinsically valuable, at the moment more valuable
than most real star sapphire rough.  That will change the day
someone duplicates the original Linde process, but it's the way
things work. "Genuine" counts for points on value, but "Rarity"
counts for even more.

This is why carts with the rare metal sticker, the rare prototype
ROM, and the rare sideways-applied sticker that got out the door
are more valuable than other carts which play exactly the same
game.  It's also why money which has been misprinted or miscast
and then distributed despite the mint's QC procedures is infinitely
more valuable than plain old money of the same denomination.

Most collectors begin collecting for a sense of completeness.  When
all the major items are collected, they move on to the rarities.  Having
bagged every genus, they go for every species.  Eventually they
reach a level where completeness becomes impossible, so they
angle for the rarities, going for uniqueness instead.

This is part of the problem with my BAStella idea -- while it's good
to attract new blood to the platform by lowering the entry barrier, it's
not good to lower the value of Stella object code by glutting the
market with easily-produced product.  Right now it's a pretty
prestigious thing in some circles to get code running on Stella at all.
This makes any homebrew game intrinsically valuable.

At this point, any distinct Stella cart is a member of a small class.
There are probably less than a thousand distinct, completed
Stella programs which have ever been distributed to the public.
It is within the bounds of possibility for a collector to complete
his set -- perhaps at first with ROM images and then in the late
going with actual original carts in increasingly perfect condition.

There are probably more like a thousand million distinct BASIC
programs.  What happens when anybody who can hack in VB
can make a new Stella .bin that actually runs?  It's a delicate
situation.  The idea of marking BAStella .bins uniquely is there
simply because of the way the collector market works.

Hardcore collectors lose all interest in utility or beauty; they
will leave the real jewelry in a safety deposit box and wear
cubic zirconia so it stays safe.  There are 2600 collectors
who do this exact same thing -- the rare carts are in a safe
place, and duplicates or the Cuttle Cart get plugged into the
2600 console.  It's a much different mindset from the person
who just wants to play the game.  It's exactly the same game
on a Cuttle Cart, on your own 2532 on a Frankencart, and
on the original cartridge; but only the original cartridge is an
original cart.

--Roger Williams

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