Category Archives: rants - Page 2

Terms that mildly displease me #243 & #244

#243 “Concretion”

Concretion sounds stupid.  Please, just say concrete type.

#244 “Action”, as in “he’s Actioning it as we speak”

Action is a noun.  I will not stand for this!

Steam is testing my patience

Steam is great; Steam is good.  What’s not to love about the venerable, all-singing, all-dancing Steam?  Well, how about the fact that they shut down their servers for ‘routine’ maintenance at peak UK gaming hours without forewarning anyone?  How about the fact that, without these facilities, you cannot play online or chat to friends?  Moreover, how about the fact that Valve doesn’t even have the ability to warn its customers to expect the downtime despite having a client installed on every steam user’s machine?

I was in the middle of a close game of L4D2 team versus and suffered from some hardware lag, so I quickly restarted L4D2 to try and get a smooth framerate, as did one of my friends.  When we attempted to rejoin the game it was not possible; the friends service was down and connecting via the console/server browser was also a non-starter.  So, it’s game over for tonight.  Why do we accept this?  I’ve lauded Valve and generally think Steam is really good, but this is totally unacceptable and it’s the second time it’s happened in a single week which is making me irritable.

Including the beta phase, Steam has been knocking around for the best part of a decade now and yet we — the paying customers — are expected to go onto the steampowered sub-forum and check for scheduled maintenance prior to settling down for an hour or two of gaming.  Does anyone really think that’s an acceptable practice?  I can forgive Valve for doing maintenance during peak hours (as it’s always peak hours for someone in the world), but considering how tied into steam we are, the least they could do is add the functionality to warn gamers when scheduled maintenance is approaching so they can take appropriate action.

Just think!  We could get a little pop-up in the corner of the screen via the Steam UI saying “Sorry, but friends will be going down for scheduled maintenance in x minutes; you will not be able to connect to games during this time.  We expect maintenance to take 30-60 minutes”.

While waiting for maintenance to conclude, we could read a book, watch TV or complain on a forum where your constructive, good natured thread will be closed / deleted without any explanation (as well as the follow up that complained about your constructive thread disappearing).  Er, nice job mods. I can’t play a nice relaxing game, nor can I (politely) vent about it on your forums.  While I’m not exactly harking back to the days of manual patching and won.net, at least we didn’t have to put up with this particular kind of bullshit back then.

Still, at least Mac users will soon get the chance to not play the games they’ve paid for!  That’s good news, right?  Anyway, resume the festivities.  The viral campaign is fantastic and we all love Valve.  Just ignore this blemish and airbrush it from history.

Clownshoes DRM coming soon

Can you believe this horse shit?  Yes, you read correctly.  DRM that requires you to be online.  At all times.  Not at all irritating.  Check the calendar, folks — it’s not the first of April.

I’ve already had enough of the likes of Securom messing up my (paid for) games.  My trials and tribulations included misfiring versions of Fallout 3 (randomly stopped working and required a reboot) and Race Driver: GRID (I had to eject the disc prior to starting the game every single time).

Unfortunately, Ubisoft’s latest ‘solution’ looks far more invasive.  Do these companies honestly believe that penalising their paying customers will lead to improved sales?  It’s a guaranteed road to ruin.  There’ll likely be a cracked (read: superior) version on torrent sites within the week of release — possibly a day zero effort.  I don’t advocate game piracy, but I could swear that certain game publishers do.

Along similar lines: I’m already fed up with the amount of games that require extra bullshit.  Every single extra step that I have to take is a barrier between me and your game.  Recently, many games are starting to demand a Windows Live account, even when I don’t care about it.  Batman was bad enough for it, but GTA IV on the PC requires me to sign up for a Windows Live account and then constantly nags me to sign up for the Rockstar Social Club.  This adds an extra two screens to click through every goddamn time I want to launch the game.  I don’t want to watch some user generated bollocks video about a clown on a moped, I just want to play the game.

I feel like William Shatner in “I can’t get behind that”.  Leave me the hell alone!

Here’s the old way of playing a game you’ve recently purchased:

  1. Install
  2. Click on shortcut to launch game

Sounds pretty good to me.

Mouse Input in FPS Games

Am I the only PC gamer that is really, really fussy about mouse input?  I say this because it feels like every other PC game I play comes with default input settings that are beyond jarring, yet most reviews fail to mention it.

This typically involves inbuilt mouse acceleration and/or input smoothing.  Here’s a tip for budding FPS game designers: I have no mouse acceleration because I don’t like it; adding it a default non-configurable behaviour is nothing short of infuriating for someone who is fussy about these things.

This is only going to get worse as more and more games are developed across multiple platforms.  What goes for consoles does not necessarily go for PCs, particularly when it comes to input.

NB: These things are subjective, so I say ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ enclosed in hyphens quotes.  However, my opinion is better than yours — this is the Internet after all! — so I’m probably right (no hyphens quotes).

Doing it ‘Right’

Games that do it ‘right’ usually take the OS mouse settings and meddle with them very little.  No smoothing, no acceleration.  If options exist for the game, you can tweak til your heart’s content.  TF2 is a good example of this; it has several mouse smoothing and acceleration options, but doesn’t enable them by default.  As such, it ‘just works’ out of the box using your OS settings, but there is scope for customisation.

Doing it ‘Wrong’

Games that do it ‘wrong’ can commit any number of crimes, from smoothing or buffering the input over multiple frames (causing extra input lag), to using acceleration by default in their game input logic.  I.e. your preferences get clobbered by the game and there’s nothing you can do about it.  Maybe there’s some obscure editable .ini files with esoteric options to fix it, but should you really have to resort to such meddling to make it feel ‘right’?

Sometimes you don’t even realise how bad it is until you re-acquaint yourself with a game that does it ‘right’.

The Wall of Shame

Games that offend the input gods (in no particular order):

Battlefield 2

I love BF2 and have 1300+ hours logged, but god damn, it has some weird-ass floaty mouse input and acceleration going on — I had a game recently and had forgotten how bad the input was for infantry combat.  I’m a pretty good infantry player in BF2, but compared to something like CS, it’s like being drunk.  Being drunk can be fun, but I’d like the choice all the same.

Mirror’s Edge

The input is generally fine for movement and fast paced bits, but when you have to aim a gun you realise how awful it is (I guess this was partly down to the game’s combat having a melee focus, but still).  I had to grip my mouse like I was squashing a potato or something.   My mouse is set up with low sensitivity, but it felt like there was no fine control due to the acceleration, plus they varied the horizontal sensitivity based on your view angle.

Left 4 Dead 2

L4D2 is basically the same as L4D1 which had perfect mouse input, but it has an option named “Enable Multicore Rendering”.  Enabling this option increases my framerate a little, but it also adds a strange, unwieldy “floaty” feeling to the mouse input.  I’m guessing it causes extra input lag because I cannot aim worth a toss with it enabled, but disabling it returns my input to L4D1 standards (i.e. good!)

Thief 3

I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that the mouse input in Thief 3 was so utterly horrendous that the game was rendered unplayable.  I went poking around in configs and changed various settings according to internet guides, but it was all to no avail.  It was so very very choppy, unresponsive and uncontrollable that I gave up after a few hours of play.  Horrible.

Visual Studio 2008 ordering fail

Something I’ve just noticed is that Visual Studio falls far, far short when it comes to solution ordering.

Not only does it fail in an utterly abject fashion due to ordering things in an arbitrary fashion, but it doesn’t even allow you to drag things around and order them manually.  The end result is a frustrating experience, especially when you’re trying to make your solution neat, tidy and easily browsable.

I don’t understand why this is the case, because when you move projects around they are ordered alphabetically just fine.  Save, close and then re-open the solution and your projects will lose most of their ordering.

It’s akin to raking leaves into a neat pile then sitting back to admire your handy-work, only for Steve Ballmer to crash through your garden face, scrape the rake across your shins and then kick leaves in your face while bellowing “WOOOOOOO YEAH!”.

Well not really, but still.  It’s annoying.

Success

Here’s one I just created.  It looks grand.  Everything is ordered just as it should be.

Success!

Success!

Failure

Here’s the same solution after it has been closed and re-opened.

Fail!

Fail!

The ordering is FUBAR.  There’s an issue on Microsoft’s VS product feedback page about this and it was duly ignored by the looks of things :(

How can something so simple not just, well, work?  Anyone know of any workarounds to enforce ordering?