Archive for the 'Games' Category

Left 4 Broken – UPDATE

Left 4 Dead has made my choice for me: I will be playing games on the Xbox 360.

I pulled up its properties, and told it to “Verify integrity of game cache…” which I remember being key to a number of problems.  I chugged my hard drives as hard as possible for 5 minutes, and then the properties window disappeared.  “Left 4 Dead” in the Steam window became “Left 4 Dead (0%)”, and further investigation reveals that the game would like to saturate my downsteam bandwidth for about two hours, and then maybe it will feel like playing with me.

Forget this noise; I have actual games in the next room.

Left 4 Broken

I finally decided last week to try Left 4 Dead.  Pedant convinced me that it’s not too scary, especially when playing with the clan.

I’m still not sure how scary the game itself is, but the process of trying to play it is a terrifying reminder of why my desire to play PC games is waning:

Pre-purchase the game and pre-load the game content.  Steam makes this easy.  Here, Valve, is lots of my money!  Here, Steam, is lots of my bandwidth and disk space!

Some weeks after release, decide to play the game.  Double-click the game’s icon to play it! …except instead of a game about zombies, I get a window telling me to update my video drivers or risk destruction.  It includes a link to nVidia’s website, which asks me which of 55 different video cards I have – a quick trip into Windows Device Manager tells me it is a pair of GeForce 8600 GTs, which I happen to know are working together via SLI – and starts feeding me the driver…

…at 14 KBps, which will take hours.  A quick trip to Google tells me that my old friends Guru3D are mirroring this download, which comes down at nearly 200KBps – as fast as possible with my current connection.  Yay!  Installing the drivers takes between 10 and 20 minutes, including the time it takes to remember that the installer turns off SLI, and getting it turned back on (via another dedicated control panel).

Ahh, that wasn’t so bad, was it?  Double-click the game’s icon to play it! …except instead of a game about zombies, I get a window telling me that it is decrypting the game content.  This takes about 10-15 more minutes, and when it’s done, it just goes away.

Still, not so bad, right?  It’s still at within an hour of when I decided to try the game, and if gaming is arguably a zero-benefit activity[1], then upgrading drivers and waiting for decryption is an activity of similar value.  Of course, I also didn’t pay cash money to install drivers, but let’s not split hairs.

Instead, let’s double-click the game’s icon to play it! …except instead of a game about zombies, I get a window telling me that it’s has to download some game content.

K finishes making steaks, so I retreat from the computer room.  DAY 1 OF TRYING TO PLAY LEFT 4 DEAD COMPLETE.  RESULT: FAILURE.

It all reminds me of this, and not in a good way.  But today, I have no plans, so I’ll give it another go.  Since the game finished downloading content sometime last week, I should be good to go!

Double click the game’s icon to play it!  …except instead of a game about zombies, I get… nothing?  The game does not even try to launch, and it does not send any of its other windows to me to explain why.  The HDD LED blinks a few times, something has happened, butI have no idea what.

I find myself about to reboot the computer, check for updates, and then hit the forums for information.  I have no idea how long this will take, and I’m starting to lose the capacity to care.  I played Gemcraft for an hour today, and all I had to do was go to a website!  I could have done that on my laptop!

These days, there is very little that I want to do with Windows, and I know that this box would make an excellent Ubuntu workstation.  The main thing holding me back is the fact that I want a gaming PC more than I want an Ubuntu workstation[2], but if all a gaming PC is good for is installing drivers and eating bandwidth, I wonder why I bother.

(What to do… Beautiful Katamari on the big screen in the living room, or rebooting and trawling forums in the back room…)

  1. I would argue that it is not, but by so arguing I would admit that it is arguable, at least. []
  2. I already have a Mac Mini running Ubuntu on this desk, so the marginal benefit would be in the faster processor, larger RAM capacity, and increased 3D capability – none of which are particularly compelling to me in a Linux context right now.  Also, I am running iTunes and PlayOn on the Windows machine, and I’d have to find a way to run those – probably a problem for virtualization to handle. []

State of the Games

For the sake of the people who actually keep track of what games I’m playing, whether to get recommendations or try to play multiplayer, a quick log of what I’m doing in gameland hides beneath the jump.

Continue reading ‘State of the Games’


Let Him Show You Them


I haven’t been able to finish any of these Pokémon games since I picked up something to play them on. It’s kind of shameful, and I don’t really know if the problem is an inability to save state or the general lack of critters I like. I’m 75$ certain it’s the latter.

(I think he meant 75%, not $75 – although I’m sure both of us have chucked far more than that amount after these little beasts.)

On one occasion, PDMM came to visit me and K, and we spent a few hours one afternoon sitting three-across on the couch, playing Pokémon on our DSes.  I remember that it was a lot of fun, and I made a mental note that I should play more often.

Then I did, and remembered:  I liked Pokémon, not Little Boy Walks Around Dismally In The Woods After Dark.

You see, my problem with these games (since Pokémon Crystal) is that all of the games are now on a stupid real-time clock[1]  That means that if you are playing at 8 AM, it’s morning in the game, and at 8 PM, it’s night. Different creatures appear depending on the time of day, which gives a clear incentive for playing at different times.  This is a neat idea.

Also, to indicate that it is nighttime, the game’s palette becomes very desaturated and dark, giving a dim and gloomy overtone to the entire game world.  For my purposes, this is considerably less neat.

Guess what?  I have a job during the day, so I’m mostly playing games at night, and if I wanted dim and gloomy, I have any number of modern shooting games to play. [2]  Furthermore, I’m not so into the Pokémon games that I’m interested in playing over lunch, or first thing in the morning before work, or every weekend.  It is a diversion, not a religion.

(I have also experimented with adjusting the clock.  For a while, I was actually playing Pokémon on Tokyo time.  For some reason, this became disorienting, especially when I wanted to play any other game that interfaced with the system clock, such as Animal Crossing.  It was also irritating, because I was very conscious of circumventing some part of the game in order to enjoy it.  I have played – and attempted to play – enough PC games to get my fill of that particular sensation.)

I’ll admit, the real-time clock concept seemed pretty cool at first.  But whether it’s in Pokémon, Animal Crossing, or really any game, synchronizing the game clock to the real world clock is actually harmful to any sense of immersion, and by extension, fun.  It’s just one more annoying gimmick that will keep me from playing.[3]

I’m sure that these features are part of a scheme to keep kids from playing games for too long at a sitting, and they’re just working too well on me.  Still, I’m stuck inside while the real sun is out.  Don’t you dare keep me locked out of virtual daytime, too.

  1. Before Pokémon Crystal, my problem was simply that I didn’t have a GameBoy. []
  2. I even have DOOM 3, which is pitch black and scary.  That’s like dim and gloomy taken to the extreme.  Also, it is stupid.  That’s like irritating taken to the extreme.  I guess that means that DOOM 3 is basically just Extreme Pokémon. []
  3. Here is where I narrowly avoid ranting at length about Nintendo’s various and egregious stupidities of the past few years.  Perhaps in another post. []

Mega Man 9

Are You A Bad Enough Dude

With the likes of Jeff Gerstmann and Ryan Davis at Giant Bomb decrying Mega Man 9 as way hard, I wondered if maybe I had made a bad decision in buying fully three copies of this downloadable gem.[1]

However, a Gamasutra article about the game gave me hope that I could get along with the challenge.  Now, at my in-laws’ house, I have determined experimentally that I am, in fact, still a hard enough dude to enjoy some Mega Man, by knocking out Galaxy Man, Jewel Man, and Plug Man already, and itching for more (once Dad’s done watching the Rose Bowl).

(However, I’m not too hard a dude to appreciate this little guide.)

  1. One on XBLA, one on my Wii, and one along with a copy of Mega Man 2 on my youngest brother’s Wii.  This last one was so that I could play in our PA hotel room, but also so that he’ll have a chance to hone his skills. []