PC Gaming – Entropy Death?


I suppose we all get to do this once in a while.  I need to rant and this seems as good as place as any.  Allow me to regale you with my tale of woe (such as it is) and you may ignore it at your leisure.


Tonight I decided it was high time I started playing videogames again after a brief hiatus to build my new computer and tinker with some new music production toys.  I had about 4 titles in mind that I wanted to spend some quality time with.


First, Black & White 2.  Gorgeous game -- the little bit I've played was entertaining enough, but the eye candy and production values make it something of a novelty for a PC title.  The game does not appear to have an incremental game save feature, but I was undeterred.  The game seems easy and forgiving enough that I don't feel I should have to save every 10 minutes for fear of my in-game animal avatar accidentally getting less evil.  What a mistake that was.  After 45 minutes of play, the game froze on me.  Hard lock, and on my current PC, not a damn thing I could do to get any useful debugging information from it.  45 minutes of game I don't really wish to play again.  And so, I'm done with this game, probably for good.


Game 2: Battlefield 2.  Good old Battlefield, you've never let me down.  Seems there's a new patch available.  A 170MB download, but well worth it -- there's a whole new map.  Patch installed, game started, multiplayer servers enumerated.  I join my first server, wait through 30 seconds of loading, 2 minutes of waiting for something that is "validating my client files" to prevent me from cheating somehow.  I guess they don't know how you can just turn the lighting effects to low to remove dark areas from the game and make players in buildings into sitting ducks.  But I can live with a little load time, this is one of the best games I've ever played.  Not 15 seconds into the level, I'm uncerimoniously dropped back the game menu UI with the message "connection to server is lost".  No worries, I'll try a different server.  Same problem.  The time for panic has come.


This marks the start of a two hour quest to configure my router, my NIC, and my firewall software; each test requires me to sit though unskippable EA logos and 2 to 3 minutes of anti-cheating software downtime.  After trying a number of connection variations including a direct line fro my PC to the internet modem without any semblence of a firewall, I remain defeated.  All this for a game I've been playing successfully two months ago.


At this point, I'm tired.  I don't want to play PC games anymore.  I dread the thought of dealing with an online anything.  So I play Katamari Damacy 2, which is a very good game and has not crashed once on me.  Sure it lacks the depth of gameplay I've been craving, but it gets my mind off of router settings.


This is why everyone says PC gaming is dying.  If a software developer with years of experience in multimedia APIs, network programming, and realtime graphics development can't get any of his favorite games to work, what chance does the average user have?

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