Definitely Not Fantastic

Upon re-reading yesterday's post I realized, much to my literary horror, that I used the word fantastic at least half a dozen times. Since I have a reputation of unadulterated laziness to uphold, I'm going to refrain from any editorial swapping of synonyms and simply blame my repetition on the sugar high from the cake, which I ate one-third of for breakfast yesterday.

In other news, I believe I finally figured out why I always put on 10 pounds in the fall. Hmmm...

But what is most certainly not fan.., err, excellent is my experience with the new action-RPG Hinterland. After hearing many positive things about Tilted Mill's new city-building action-RPG hybrid, I decided to give in and download it. So I installed Valve's online delivery service Steam, resurrected my account from when Half-Life 2 was the sparkling NKOTB, and promptly downloaded the aforementioned Hinterland for $20. I love me some action-rpg, Diablo-clones and the PC is certainly the tool best suited for playing them.

When you can play them, that is.

Steam installed effortlessly, but despite several hours -- yes hours -- of troubleshooting with Hinterland, I have yet to even manage to see a title screen. I've read message boards, I've installed the new patch (the game only released on Tuesday, but there's already a patch), I updated Nvidia drivers, and I even rolled-back my DirectX drivers. Nothing. The only solace I can take in my predicament is that the game is currently unavailable through Steam -- perhaps the developers finally put it back in the oven to finish cooking? As one person in my shoes had posted on their message board yesterday, "I didn't pay $20 to be part of your beta test."

Amen, brother.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is why PC gaming has yielded so much ground to videogame consoles. I'm not the most computer-literate person out there, I know this, but I do know the basic tricks to get a game to run and I'm not necessarily new to this -- I have played PC games on and off for over 12 years. Some of my favorites of all time are PC-exclusives. But I don't want to have to close every background application to play a game. I don't want to have to download and update and roll-back drivers to play a game. And I sure as hell don't want to have to dive into my router's configuration and mess with port-forwarding settings just to play a game. This shouldn't be necessary.

But this is where the format is headed. Hinterland doesn't exist on a disc. You can't even just download the executable file from the developer's site. No, you have to use Steam, the front-end online delivery service. This is all fine and good when everything works the way it should, but what about when it doesn't? Is the problem with the game? Is it with Steam? How am I to know? I can tell you what I do know, I won't be trying this again, that's what. It's just not worth it.

I just want to buy the game, install it, and play it.

The Xbox 360 allows me to do this. The Nintendo DS allows me to do this. And I trust that even the PS3, Wii, and PSP would work this way as well if I had them in my possession.

The PC as a games machine is something for people with far more tinkering-time on their hands than I have. Fortunately, PC-exclusives are few and far between these days. Fortunately, indeed.


Brad Gallaway said...

Amen, brother.

Right there is why I've played about four or five PC games in the last ten years.

Until it's truly, absolutely, flawlessly plug-and-play, consoles and handhelds will never be usurped by anything PC or online-based.

Jeff C. said...

This is the #1 reason why I left the PC behind in favor of consoles. Too much work!!