I’ve owned Dark Messiah of Might and Magic for awhile, buying it from a GoGamer.com 72 hour sale for dirt cheap. It’s definitely reinforced my recent decision to always prefer the Xbox 360 version over the PC version.
Why? Well, I started installing Dark Messiah about a half-hour ago, and while I’m typing this it’s still installing:
- Put in the DVD. If I had the Xbox 360 version of this game, I’d actually be done by now. But since this is a PC, there’s an installer involved.
- It asks me which various pieces of shit software I want to install along with it; I know the actual answer is “probably none,” but since I don’t know what exactly “PlayLinc” is, and whether it’s required by the game or not, I make the stupid decision to install it anyway.
- Now there’s about 15 solid minutes of just copying files from the DVD to my HD. It’s funny, because I happen to know the Xbox 360 port of this game is identical to the PC version. My PC, hardware-wise, is actually superior to the Xbox 360 in every possible way– it’s faster, both CPU and GPU, it has more disk space, it even has a faster DVD drive. Yet the Xbox 360 version spends approximately 15 seconds installing, maybe 30 if Live has to patch it.
- The main installer, even though it’s not all the way finished, starts up the PlayLinc installer. Neither of these installers actually tell me what he hell PlayLinc is, or why I would want it. But, oh well, I made my bed and I might as well lie in it. I hit go. Because I’m dumb.
- PlayLinc’s installer triggers a really, really nasty “this program is doing something very bad and you should not let it” dialog from Vista. Basically, it’s trying to install a low-level driver for some reason, with no security certificate. (That means that, for all Vista knows, this driver was developed specifically as a rootkit or a virus.) I deny permission. But wait, why did I see this dialog at all? (Well, to be fair, Dark Messiah’s software requirements say “XP only,” probably specifically because they knew they wouldn’t be able to sneak their crapware driver past Vista.) What does the driver do? I dunno; at no point did PlayLinc even tell me what it did, much less the driver it attempts to sneak past me.
- Now Steam becomes aware of the game, and asks me to enter a long and complicated serial key. It’s 25 characters long, and printed in a font that makes it impossible to tell whether characters are I or 1. (They’re I. I found this through trial and error, of course, meaning I had to type this code in twice.) Xbox games don’t have serial keys; you put the disk in, you play. You want multiplayer? It just works, no serial key at all. You want Xbox Live to give you patches? No serial key needed.
- We’re about a half-hour into the process now, and just before the point where I started typing this rant. Steam gave me this lovely dialog:
It’s looked like that for the 5 minutes it took me to decide to type this post, the time it took me to type all the previous bulletpoints, the time it took me to take a screenshot of the dialog and uploaded it into WordPress. It still looks like that. The progress bar hasn’t moved one single percent! Of course, it is doing something– it’s totally pegged one of my CPU cores to 100% and it’s thrashing my drive like crazy. Since the first installer knew I had Steam already, why isn’t the game already installed “into” Steam? Whatever that even means.
So it’s now been 45 minutes and change, and I’m still not playing Dark Messiah. I’m not even looking at the first cinematic. If I had the Xbox 360 version instead of the PC version, I’d be on level 5 by now. If this were Portal instead of Dark Messiah, I’d be done playing by now!
PC games need to be installed, even though the Xbox 360′s inferior hardware can play the exact same games with no installation.
PC games need serial keys entered to play online and patch themselves, even though Xbox 360 games with online play require no serial keys.
PC games that rely on Steam suck ass, because Steam sucks ass. Xbox Live has no such ass-sucking problem.
PC games frequently install hacks and nasty crap onto my PC. Things like seedy and unnecessary device drivers, or low-level hacks like PunkBuster. Ask yourself why any video game requires Administrative permissions to run. Xbox 360 does not have these problems, I don’t worry at all that playing a particular Xbox game will make my 360 software unstable or slow it down.
When are PC gamers going to get sick of this bullshit and demand higher quality products? There’s no technical reason the PC can’t do every single thing the Xbox 360 is doing, PC game developers just don’t care. At all.
I’ve now had plenty of time to finish this post, add links, edit it, format it, preview it several times. And that Steam progress bar hasn’t advanced a single pixel.
Update: Since Steam is still installing (15 minutes after publishing this post originally) I actually looked up PlayLinc on Wikipedia:
Playlinc was a game browsing and messaging platform that enabled multi-player game play, voice chat and game management. Playlinc is no longer in existence.
Ah, so the random crap I just installed on my computer apparently is “no longer in existence.” Oh how I wish that were true.
Update 2: It’s now 4 hours later. Steam never finished after two hours, so I gave up on it and uninstalled the whole shebang with the intention of starting the entire install over again. In the process, though, I learned that once I plugged the serial key into Steam it is actually capable of downloading the game from its own servers, apparently. So I got the download started, and now it’s at 70%. Whee.
A recent “live chat” with an Earthlink customer service representative. Proving that if you ever see anything that looks like dry-loop DSL in Washington State, you’re dreaming and should go back to bed.
Chat Information: Thank you for choosing our secure EarthLink Sales chat. All agents are currently assisting other customers. Thank you for your patience. You are number ’1′ of ’1′ customers in line. Your estimated wait is ’0′ minutes and ’30′ seconds.
Chat Information: Hello and welcome to EarthLink’s secure live Sales chat. You are chatting with Kelly K..
Kelly K.: Thank you for using EarthLink’s live Sales chat. How can I help you today?
James Schend: Hi, I currently have Verizon and I want to drop my landline phone service and get dry-loop DSL, is that a service you offer?
Kelly K.: Great, I can help you with that.
Kelly K.: Let me see what is the best service available for you.
Kelly K.: To do a check for service I will need your full name, phone number and complete physical address at that location.
James Schend: My name is James Schend
James Schend: Phone is ___-___-____
James Schend: And address is __________
Kelly K.: Thank you.
Kelly K.: One moment while I get that information for you.
Kelly K.: Thank you for your patience.
Kelly K.: I see that you are serviceable for our High Speed DSL service.
Kelly K.: Our Freestanding (Dry Loop) DSL Internet is not available at that location yet.
James Schend: Ugh, that’s no better than Verizon. Is there any way to be notified when it’s available, or request it?
James Schend: I’d rather not give Comcast any money, but I’m sick of being ripped-off for a local phone I never use.
Kelly K.: I am afraid no. Well you can keep your phone service to the minimum so that our Highspeed DSL Internet can run.
James Schend: What would that cost per month?
Kelly K.: This is a best effort technology with speeds up to 1.5mb on the download and up to 128kb on the upload.
Kelly K.: Right now I can save you $99 by waiving the fee for equipment and activation. You then get the first 3 months of your contract for only $12.95/ mo. and the remaining 9 months are just $39.95 each.
Kelly K.: I can get this started for you right now, if you would like.
James Schend: I’d rather have 3 mbit, is that available?
James Schend: That’s what I currently have through Verizon.
Kelly K.: Sure.
Kelly K.: This is a best effort technology with speeds up to 3.0mb on the download and up to 384kb on the upload.
Kelly K.: Right now I can save you $99 by waiving the fee for equipment and activation. You then get the first 3 months of your contract for only $19.95/ mo. and the remaining 9 months are just $39.95 each.
Kelly K.: Would you like me to get this order started for you?
James Schend: What kind of phone service comes with that? You said the bare minimum, but I still ahve to pay all the phone taxes
Kelly K.: Well we do not provide phone service.
James Schend: You just said it would be minimum phone service to qualify for DSL
Kelly K.: I am just telling you that you can keep your existing phone service to the minimum cost so that you can use our Highspeed DSL Internet.
James Schend: That’s no different than what I have now, except I have to pay 2 bills every month
James Schend: Instead of one
Kelly K.: Well that’s right but EarthLink DSL service is rated the best service by PC Magazine as well as JD Power. With all of the additional features that we offer with our Internet service that is hard to get with other companies , along with our Award Winning Technical and Customer support
James Schend: I don’t care about any of that, I just want internet service at a decent price with NO local phone and NO cable TV.
James Schend: I don’t know why it’s so damned hard to get that.
James Schend: I’m knowledgeable enough on computers that I guarantee that I’ll never call your tech support or download your software.
James Schend: I just need service.
Kelly K.: I understand your concern but our Freestanding (Dry Loop) DSL Internet is not available at that location yet.
James Schend: It’s 2008. When will it be? When I’m long dead?
James Schend: Sorry, I’m just so frustrated that I’m chained to this goddamned useless phone.
Kelly K.: I understand your frustration.
James Schend: Well, thanks anyway for your help. But paying more and having two bills instead of one isn’t an improvement.
Yes, just because Washington State is home to Microsoft, Amazon and Nintendo of America doesn’t mean we get any reprieve from the lousy state of Internet provider monopolies in this country. God-forbid I go my life without a useless and annoying land-line telephone, Verizon’s doing me a favor by offering me shitty service!
(P.S. Yes, I realize I was pretty rude to the sales person there. Oh well.)