Sway Speaks - War is Hell

Last night I went to bed planning to post a vitriolic rant about the frustrations I went through trying to install and play Battlefield 1942 last night. I was close to putting the thing up on ebay less than three hours after breaking the seal on the box. The forums at Planet Battlefield weren't very encouraging either. There were dozens of posts about high-powered computers and low-powered performance, and nobody really had any answers. As usual, a good sleep has calmed me somewhat and I'm able to deal with the mess with a little more patience.

Instead I would like to ask you about your experiences with PC games. How much effort are you willing to put into making a game work? This is different than spending hours in forums and dangerously tampering with your registry and config files in order to squeeze better gameplay out of a game you are already enjoying. I would consider this a legitimate expenditure. I often tinkered with Tribes and would fiddle with Writer's scripts  for hours just so I could knock a few seconds off my turret placement. However, the game played fine from the moment I installed it. Tribes 2, as many of you know, was another story. I had upgraded my computer in the months leading up to that game's release so I knew that I would be ready to play. That game choked on even the best machines upon install. Hundreds of megabytes of patches later, it still doesn't seem to be the game everyone was hoping for.

Rather than focusing just on the negative, I am happy to give kudos to the games that did work. Clearly, the experience may not have been the same for you. However I always have a habit of checking out the forums of new games to get an overview of the things the majority of people are complaining about. If people are complaining about aspects of the gameplay instead of posting topics like "PLEASE HLEP!", then I usually take it as a good sign.

I saw this happen, specifically, with Warcraft III and Neverwinter Nights. I know these games are a little old already, but I'll touch on that in a moment. When I looked on the Warcraft III boards, I saw mostly complaints about balance and rush techniques and build orders. When I installed the software, it was three hours later when I next looked at the clock. I was deep into the Human campaign and giddy with gameplay. The same thing happened with Neverwinter Nights. Say what you will about the content of the game. Most of us at least got to see it. It installed, updated probably, and ran. Three hours later I hadn't actually made it out of the character generation screens, but it wasn't because of any issues with the game. I was still working on a good fatal flaw in the creation of my female half-orc (as if being a half-orc wasn't fatal flaw enough). Oh, the reason I mentioned these two older games is because shortly thereafter I installed Dungeon Siege and the Zone multiplayer service made me cry and return to my console for a while.

No, I'm not about to call for a boycott or anything yet. I was partly to blame since I didn't check the forums before I bought the game. I should have known better. Yes, consoles may find themselves on the same slippery slope now that they're going online and software can be patched after release. I'd probably just reiterate the general attitude of this website and recommend that you stay smart about your game purchases. We'll try and keep you informed of the disasters out there. What games have been terrible or wonderful experiences out of the gate for you?

Comments

This isn't about any one specific game in general, but what really irks me is when the low-end system requirements on the box don't actually run the game well at all. I'm all about free-market capitalism, but one of its main tenets is that the consumer has to be fully informed about the capabilities/requirements of a good or service in order to make purchasing decisions that benefit his/her life (and by transferrence of funds, the whole community). Admittedly, a lot of games are good about this, but there have been some big hits that were less than honest about their low-end system requirements. Unreal comes to mind first. I've heard some people complain about C&C: Generals.

I'm sort of speaking on behalf of others here because my computer is usually upgraded and ready to go for the release of a game I really care about, but I do think it's an important issue. On the flipside, some games seemed to take whatever you had, and were simply amazing. While Unreal was somewhat less than honest about its sys-reqs, Unreal Tournament (with settings turned low) seemed to fly on just about any machine.

Fortunately I've had very few games that made me want to tear my hair out in the wway that Tribes 2 did. BF1942 however was one of those games. Fortunately I personally didn't buy the game. I was watching my workmate eagerly install BF1942 on his at the time monster (2.6ghz, Radeon 9700 pro) PC only to have the game run at a snails pace. Gutted was not the word and even after a couple of days tinkering with drivers etc nothing was helping. Said game was promptly returned to EB for a credit on  a new game. BF1942 unfortunately seems to have an air of Tribes2 about it and hence I didn't pick it up.

However I did get a shock with a game that normally run's like clockwork for me and it just goes to show that even the most (normally) reliable games can encounter hiccups!

When I bought Neverwinter Nights I was running a low end machine with win98, okay so I couldn't see it in its full glory but at least the game ran. However when my new office PC arrived and I installed my GeForce4 Ti card AND winXP the game just refused to run! NN seems to have an issue with WinXP on my machine. So to play it I have to keep my old PC in storage. I've encountered weirdness like that before with games but it's normally been confined to 1 or 2 machines.

But games like Tribes 2 and BF 1942 seem to suffer on most peoples machines as opposed to just 1 or 2. I don't know why maybe bad coding, who knows? but it does make it seem like some games companies just employ lazy coders or haven't done enough QA testing. I also know however that some games are just rushed out, against the developers wishes, to make a quick buck.

.I thank god for the internet as it's harder for a games company to foist bug ridden crap out on an unsuspecting public than it was years ago .

(Oh and don't even get me started on "Tech support" on most games)

Rant over!

Up until recently, every game I purchased ran fine out of the gate, but all that changed the day I bought C&C: Generals.  I didn't hear too many horror stories from other gamers but after the installation was complete I just couldn't get this game to run.  Upon clicking the play icon the cd drive went into high speed spin mode sounding like a car redlining and then the game consistently crashed to the desktop.  Thank God for Gamecopyworld and their no-cd patches.  It's the only thing that saved me and allowed me to play this game out of the box.

Otherwise, Windows XP and my Radeon 9700 Pro have been surprisingly stable and even older titles all play pretty well.

!... what happened to the same game quality that Eidos' Deus Ex has shown us, the game ran 100% out of the box... and they only had one patch, which I did not need to install in order to play and finish with out a crash or bugs or anything else that was recently discovered...