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Happy 20th Birthday to Combat Mission Beyond Overlord ---Really???


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I bought CMBO/CMBB/CMAK/CMBN/CMFI/CMRT/CMFB (and all expansions) even when I didn't have time to play, because I liked the company and the community.

You can check my membership date goes back to 2000.

In July, I reported a problem that CMFI would not update properly (opening up a ticket), I tried every suggestion I was given in various permutations.  It still does not work.  My last communication from Support (John) is more that 2 weeks ago.

I am a retired software engineer and understand that some problems are really hard to solve; and solving a single customer's problem may not be a cost effective for the business.  Although it was hinted others are increasingly seeing the same problem with CMFI being unable to activate after updating.

I AM THE 20 YEAR LOYAL CUSTOMER.

I expect that "thank you" is more than just slick marketing, but sincere.

I expect to have someone respond to my 3 ticket queries for status.

Customer service is about making the customer whole and maintaining a positive relationship.  Ideally, that would be making CMFI work; however, I am open to discuss other options, since I understand that $500 USD in paid hours cannot be spent just working on my problem.  So, we might discuss other possibilities.

John, BFC,

Am I really a valued customer over 20 years?  Is someone going to step up to the plate here?  I felt it was in bad form, not simply to reply "We are working on it, and give it 4 weeks, please."  Perhaps, it is bad form for me to post here, but I have invested 5 hours trying to install.  And would like to see some good faith from BFC, then just dropping me, because it cannot find a technical solution.  (I never chose eLicense.  You did.  I never pirated your game.  I paid you directly full price.  So, I don't know why I am the loser here?)

Thank you.

Your loyal customer of 20 years.

PS:  I have taken the liberty of making backups of everything in case I should accidentally delete something of consequence.

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If you've been working with John on this for awhile, it may come down to some strangeness with your system and the patch. He may be trying to get Charles, the programmer, to possibly look at the issue and that may take some time. Or even more likely the issue may have been forwarded to the DRM provider's support to see what they can figure out. In either situation the response time is out of his control and he may simply be waiting for some sort of reply (and thus no new information to relay back to you).

Ever since CMBN eLicense is no longer the DRM system in use (it was used for CMSF1). The new system functions quite differently from eLicense and has generally been less problematic, especially when it comes to the interference that some security software can cause.

Does the patch simply not apply and CMFI remains at the old version or does CMFI not run at all now ? I assume John has had you try gsClean to clear out the activations and re-activate. What happens when you try to activate the game/modules ? Are you able to activate if you install everything without the latest patch ? Do you have any debuggers or other system analysis tools installed/running ? I know in the past it was mentioned that the DRM system may not run properly with such tools installed and running.

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3 minutes ago, Schrullenhaft said:

If you've been working with John on this for awhile, it may come down to some strangeness with your system and the patch. He may be trying to get Charles, the programmer, to possibly look at the issue and that may take some time. Or even more likely the issue may have been forwarded to the DRM provider's support to see what they can figure out. In either situation the response time is out of his control and he may simply be waiting for some sort of reply (and thus no new information to relay back to you).

Ever since CMBN eLicense is no longer the DRM system in use (it was used for CMSF1). The new system functions quite differently from eLicense and has generally been less problematic, especially when it comes to the interference that some security software can cause.

Does the patch simply not apply and CMFI remains at the old version or does CMFI not run at all now ? I assume John has had you try gsClean to clear out the activations and re-activate. What happens when you try to activate the game/modules ? Are you able to activate if you install everything without the latest patch ? Do you have any debuggers or other system analysis tools installed/running ? I know in the past it was mentioned that the DRM system may not run properly with such tools installed and running.

This is from memory:

(1)  I tried the normal patch upgrade that everyone uses.  It said I had to reactivate and couldn't.

(2) John gave me something to reset and then reactivate.  It still didn't work.

(3)  John gave me the complete installer for the latest version.  It still didn't work.

(4)  John gave me something to reset some internals and my system and a game EXE to replace the installed one.  It still didn't work.

(5)  In all cases, I am getting some error 216 and it says "activations exceeded".  He said that this has increasingly been seen by others.

I have all other titles, and they work fine.  The former CMFI worked fine.

I understand this may be a third party issue.  I understand this may never be found.  I once found a 1 byte bug in 3 weeks with 3 teams working on it.  Why?  There was a hard contract to move data centers.  In only a few more days, my employer would have been forced out of business.  My search started with 50,000 lines of post-mortem dump which in plain English is 50,000 lines of numbers.

Point of fact.  No one has sent me a one line update for more than 2 weeks.

Point of fact.  No one has been willing discuss an exchange of similar value which would be acceptable to me as compared to maybe waiting months.

It think my 20 years deserves better than the above.

What do you think?

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Perhaps respond to the ticket one more time asking for an update. This should make the ticket pop up in the ticket management system and John may respond with what he knows at the moment. I don't think there is any intentional slighting going on here. The ticket is still open and he may simply be waiting for assistance that may not be very timely in a support situation. I don't know the volume of support tickets that John deals with and it may simply be an unintentional oversight not to inform you of the status. He very likely has no idea what the time line may be for any answers from the DRM company and whatever they may have figured out.

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, Schrullenhaft said:

Perhaps respond to the ticket one more time asking for an update. This should make the ticket pop up in the ticket management system and John may respond with what he knows at the moment. I don't think there is any intentional slighting going on here. The ticket is still open and he may simply be waiting for assistance that may not be very timely in a support situation. I don't know the volume of support tickets that John deals with and it may simply be an unintentional oversight not to inform you of the status. He very likely has no idea what the time line may be for any answers from the DRM company and whatever they may have figured out.

I will take your suggestion and bump the ticket.

Thank you.

Edited by markshot
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Not sure how this isnt an easy fix.

Wheres the problem now? Being unable to use the update? So the game installs and works but not the latest update? 

Its been a while since ive been in the pc troubleshooting business.

 

I would uninstall CM from windows Add or Remove Programs. Then I'd run a trial (Not free anymore?) of Ccleaner, clean the registry etc. 

Now you should be able to install the game again and it should work fine. And if it doesnt, then the files are fricked. 

 

If its the DRM, then its very likely not your system causing the issue. Not sure how tinkering with the motherboard will fix anything

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Artkin,

Thanks.

It's a DRM issue.  BFC acknowledges this.  Their client fails to communicate successfully with their server.  I have given this maybe 7 hours, but do not plan to build a new machine from parts to debug BFC's DRM.

John has tried to be helpful, and has given me various BFC reset utilities and other stuff that I don't know what it is doing.

I am a retired CTO with plenty years experience going back to machine language coding in HEX.  I have enough experience with tech.  What I don't have is a working copy of CMFI.  Once upon a time, it was just CMFI v2.11, but due to BFC's assistance, now no version will activate.

You are quite right.  In a distributed environment, the problem could by with DRM servers (and system software, O/S, or the DRM server itself).

I have attempted to address 2 distributed issues myself:

* I have VPNed to the USA as I reside in Asia.

* I have used process context software to put CMFI on the same side of the International Dateline as BFC.  I have seen Quicken which is owns the USA's PC based personal finance market choke on the International Date Line when trying to update portfolio prices.  Certainly, Quicken is huge compared to CM.

I HOPE THAT BFC WILL CONTINUE TO TRY TO ASSIST ME AND I WILL HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THIS COMMUNITY WHICH I JOINED IN 2000.  Thank you.

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After some initial signs of life, work on my DRM problem seems dead again.

It is more than v2.11 cannot be activated.

No version of CMFI can be activated.  In short, I have lost my entire investment in the product.

Also, given the DRM lack of reliability and on again off again technical support, one wonders if it prudent to purchase any new modules or engine upgrades.

---

I was in the software engineering (systems programming) field.  I practiced "zero defect" releases.  It was matter of honor that no one could find a flaw in your work.  I realize this is less important for game developers than programmers for power grids and chemo therapy.  But call me old fashion.  I still subscribe to pride in one's work.  This is something all programmers can experience regardless of whether someone's life depends on the lines you write.

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I know how annoying these type of problems can be. I have solved many, including CM problems, using the following approach. 

Uninstall the CM game you are having problems with. Delete all registry entries pertaining to that game only. Reinstall, Activate and update.

If you still have problems uninstall all of your CM products. Go to your registry and delete all entries having to do with CM, Combat Mission, All title names, and Battlefront.

Reinstall everything from scratch. Editing the Registry is easy, but you must be very careful not to delete unrelated items. Go slow and be sure.

I would not recommend this for everyone, but with your background in software engineering I am sure you are comfortable working with the Registry.

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z1812,

I appreciated your suggestion.  But I still expect some actual support out of BFC.

As best I can tell their activation actually leaves some hidden files on the disk.  It was apparent by tracking their process with an activity monitor.  I understand they don't want to clarify what their DRM does to assist in really making use of my time and skills.  That is their right as it is mine not to have my time wasted blindly debugging for them.

I just have trouble with the premise CMBO buyers and all that came after are valued.  When I am getting advice from John which would shut down software that controls my fan profiles for an OCed PC; this is only a step up from "Is the power cord plugged in?".  It is, and CMFI does not activate.  They need to do better either at a systems level or business level.  Simply saying "tough luck" to customers of 20 years is not an acceptable business strategy.

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BFC/John,

Ticket ID: 28206413 (6 weeks now)

CMFI cannot be activated.

* CMFI

* V3 Engine

* V4 Engine

* Gustav Line

* Rome to Victory

Are all products which I have paid for, and you have failed to deliver.

I await your response.  Same to be posted to the ticket.

Edited by markshot
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46 minutes ago, Artkin said:

I'd hope if this ever happened to me I'd be at least presented with the option of a refund no matter how much i kick and fuss

Once it was obvious that it could not be resolved by plugging in the power cord, BFC has simply disappeared.

The policy of BFC seems to be if they cannot quickly fix it easily, then they just pocket your money and from there avoid you.

The fact that they entered into a contract to supply a game in return for payment, and that they have breached the contract does not seem to concern them either ethically or legally.

But I can assure you as a matter of law, it is concerning.  Since their agent (meaning an individual acting on behalf of their business), John, has acknowledged that the specific error has been seen previously, and is, in fact, becoming more common.  If a business sells a product or service of which it knowingly cannot deliver, then it no longer is simply a matter of "breach of contract", rather that is the legal definition of "fraud".

Again BFC, may feel that fraud is not a serious matter for a small indie game company, but, in fact, it is.

Suppose CMv2 did not sell like CMv1 did.  And suppose BFC wants an infusion of $500,000 VC cash in exchange for some equity.  Or suppose BFC would like to cash out, and sell the CM franchise to Slitherine.  In most cases, an investor or buyer will do a docket search for any pending cases.  Because the risk of pending cases is generally considered an unknown with an unlimited downside.  It is death for a business such as BFC which might be looking for an infusion of capital or for a sale.

My professional/legal advice to BFC would be to take their failure to deliver the stipulated product/service seriously.

The following purchases cannot be activated.  This changes it from a game satisfaction issue to a "contractual issue".


CMFI
V3 engine
V4 engine
Gustav Line
Rome to Victory

 

This sentence by John which has been well preserved changes if from "breach" to "fraud".

 

"Ah, the dread 216 error. The is a new "special" error message that we started seeing last fall."  (John Costello, agent of BFC)

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1 hour ago, markshot said:

Once it was obvious that it could not be resolved by plugging in the power cord, BFC has simply disappeared.

The policy of BFC seems to be if they cannot quickly fix it easily, then they just pocket your money and from there avoid you.

The fact that they entered into a contract to supply a game in return for payment, and that they have breached the contract does not seem to concern them either ethically or legally.

But I can assure you as a matter of law, it is concerning.  Since their agent (meaning an individual acting on behalf of their business), John, has acknowledged that the specific error has been seen previously, and is, in fact, becoming more common.  If a business sells a product or service of which it knowingly cannot deliver, then it no longer is simply a matter of "breach of contract", rather that is the legal definition of "fraud".

Again BFC, may feel that fraud is not a serious matter for a small indie game company, but, in fact, it is.

Suppose CMv2 did not sell like CMv1 did.  And suppose BFC wants an infusion of $500,000 VC cash in exchange for some equity.  Or suppose BFC would like to cash out, and sell the CM franchise to Slitherine.  In most cases, an investor or buyer will do a docket search for any pending cases.  Because the risk of pending cases is generally considered an unknown with an unlimited downside.  It is death for a business such as BFC which might be looking for an infusion of capital or for a sale.

My professional/legal advice to BFC would be to take their failure to deliver the stipulated product/service seriously.

The following purchases cannot be activated.  This changes it from a game satisfaction issue to a "contractual issue".


CMFI
V3 engine
V4 engine
Gustav Line
Rome to Victory

 

This sentence by John which has been well preserved changes if from "breach" to "fraud".

 

"Ah, the dread 216 error. The is a new "special" error message that we started seeing last fall."  (John Costello, agent of BFC)

While I understand your pain, don't think that the way you are handling the issue is, in general, a way that will help you get your stuff sorted the quickest. The fraud thing isn't helpful either (!). Just my 2cts, do whit it what you like.

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Weeks have gone by without a response.  That is sufficiently patient.  (This failed even to produce the illusion of a "valued customer".)

Fraud isn't a subjective noun, it has clear definition under US contract law.  I saw a company go under not because of the suit directly, but because they could not close a deal as a result of a suit that had been filed.

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Anybody who recommends 1830 because they understand Black Scholes option pricing has a high chance of being a difficult customer.

I have:

CMBO (3 copies - one with a real printed manual)

CMBB 2 copies

CMAK 3 copies

CMBN - just updated to v 4.03 having not played it for about 5 years as I'm no good at it.

 

But basically I have had 20 years of happily blowing stuff up - and when I did have some trouble Shullen### helped me out.

So, I am a happy customer. But i still can't win "Cats Chasing Dogs"  :)

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11 hours ago, BFCElvis said:

I just sent you an update.

 

John, I have received and responded.  Let me just be clear (since I was the one who made this matter public).

I don't expect an instant fix or a 2 month fix, but I expect maybe a sentence per week as where we stand.

Otherwise, I expect to be offered options such as swapping my CMFI investment for SF2; showing good faith in our 20 year relationship.

I owned a small business and consulted to many small tech businesses.  I have a soft spot for small businesses.  I appreciate what BFC does and that they provide a quality product for what is a niche market.  I don't want to want to simply write off CMFI.  I want BFC to make me whole by fixing the problem or giving me options.  I think our 20 year relationship says that I am not simply bored with CMFI and trying to finagle a free game out of BFC.

Thank you, all.

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