Not funny? Or not fun?

Shamus Young at Twenty Sided Tale does a webcomic called Stolen Pixels on “The Escapist”.  The webcomic series is really funny and you should all read it.   But he almost had a fairly disastrous situation when this happened to him (fortunately, he was able to turn it around into something funny):

Basically, he wanted to use Garry’s mod to do his comic, and he’s insanely busy and so on a very tight deadline.  The software is on Steam, so he was on-line, went on in on-line mod, and then it seems that the software decided that it wanted to update.  But, somehow, the system was too busy to allow that, so he decided to say “Screw it!” and work off-line.  Except that once the system decided that it was out-of-date, it flagged itself as such and the Steam software says “You can’t use Steam off-line if you aren’t up to date!”  So, he couldn’t get the update — to allow it to work on-line — because of traffic on the Steam servers, but then couldn’t back out of it and work without the update because Steam decided that you shouldn’t do that.

My big question is: Why?  Why in the world did anyone think that doing that was a good idea?  Heck, why did anyone think that forcing you to update is a good idea?

Now, for Shamus this could have been a big problem, since this is essentially a paying gig for him.  But I’m going to be more shallow and relate it to the average, run-of-the-mill person who simply would like to play some games at some point: me.

Since, my PC is old and out of date.  I know that the most recent components in it are at least 7 years old.  I can’t play anything new, and have a hard time playing some of my older games — MMOs, mostly — that have updated their graphics at all.  I need to at least add more RAM to get those to work well, and really should get a lot more updated to do that.  So, thinking about that — and thinking that, hey, this system may not last — I was pretty much set on updating my desktop PC, getting new components and avoiding — hopefully — sudden system failure, and as a bonus being able to play some of the most recent games.  Since I’m not getting a PS3 any time soon, that sounded like a good use of money, and I could afford to spend enough to get a pretty top-of-the-line system so that I could play without worrying about anything for a while.

And then the DRM schemes raise their ugly heads.  See, I look at Steam, and look at this problem.  If this ever happened to me with a game, I’d be disappointed, annoyed and upset.  I don’t normally patch (unless I have to).  I don’t even like turning my connection on if I’m not playing something on-line.  The fact that you have to turn the automatic update thing off for each game is really irritating, and the fact that if you wanted to update something you might get stuck by other people doing things on the servers is not good, either.  At least for anything that isn’t an MMO and that I might want to play — even on-line — without logging into official servers or Steam.

See, I’m a simple man.  I just want to have a game, start it up, and play it whenever I want without having to worry about all this stuff.  I’m not against downloading games — and so avoiding the “Go to a store and get it” — but I don’t mind having to go to a store either.  But in all cases, at the end of the day, what I really, really want is to have a game that I can install, uninstall, start, move and play whenever and however I want.  If I pay for the game, I want to have the freedom to play it how I want to play it without all this validation and interaction and extras and all of that stuff.  I want to be able to never, ever patch it if I don’t want to.  I want to be able to play it on a machine that I never hook up to the Internet.  I want, well, to be able to play it.  And the new DRMs and the like stop me from doing that, at least potentially.  So they stop me from having fun.

So, if I get a new PC, the only games that won’t irritate me look like: MMOs.  Why?  Because I have to log into them, and have to play them on-line, and have to patch them when they patch the servers.  It’s the price of getting that unique set of gameplay, and I’ll accept that.

I wouldn’t accept it for a single player game, like Sakura Wars.  I wouldn’t accept it for a mod program like Garry’s Mod.  I won’t accept it for the bulk of what I’d buy in new games.  So, then, is a new PC worth it?  Are MMOs enough to bother getting a new system?

I’m not so sure anymore …

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