So I got Age of Conan a couple of weeks ago, and finally decided to try it out. I went through the collective craziness that was the installation, to discover that while I could run the game, it couldn’t stream art in fast enough for me to see what was going on. It wasn’t that big a deal to me, so I figured I’d add a second gig of memory to my machine to see if it helped, and then I’d let it go.
As far as I can tell that second stick of memory fried the board. Over the course of the weekend I’ve ended up basically replacing every part, one by one, as I’ve discovered I can’t reuse it for one twatty reason or another. And I still haven’t actually managed to put anything together yet. I’m kind of scared to, honestly.
I love PC gaming. PC gaming, in a sense, will always be where my heart is. The games that got me where I am today will always be PC games, and in many ways it is still the best platform to work on. But, my God, it is a crappy platform to work with. The sheer number of failures possible at each stage boggles the mind, the wallet, and a huge amount of time:
- The hardware has to work. Every component that doesn’t work has to be replaced, if you can even figure out which pieces are the problem. Spend $100 for each part.
- The hardware has to be put together correctly. If something isn’t seated correctly, go back to step 1.
- The hardware has to be heated and powered properly. If not, go back to step 1.
- The OS has to work. I haven’t tried moving Windows around since they set up all the security locks, so it could mean another copy. Spend $100.
- The software has to be installed.
- The software has to be patched.
- The computer must have hardware capable of running the software at a decent speed. If not, go back to step 1.
Notice the amount of time and money between step 1 and step 7. 7 steps, hundreds of dollars, and days of work just to figure out if you can use a piece of software! Or you could just spend 3x as much on a pre-built system. And if ultimately you decide it wasn’t worth it, you can’t return the software, because it’s opened. Or you could just buy a console. Plug it into your TV, insert disc, profit. Wow. When you buy a piece of software, the price tag shouldn’t read: $50-$1500, use at your own risk.
I know, I’m preaching to the choir here, but it’s easy to forget how ridiculous it is to assume anyone will engage in this kind of maintenance. There’s a reason the lowest common denominator for games is the browser game. No computer these days fails to run a flash game. It doesn’t even need the CD drive, which is good, because that’s not standardized either (see most laptops). Why hasn’t someone, Microsoft, Dell, Gateway, AMD, IBM, heck Apple, anyone with clout, seriously tried to turn the PC into a closed system? You know, that thing that’s made consoles so successful. Given the savings of mass production without customization, software that was guaranteed to run well on all systems would be a godsend. One ranking that would tell me that it would work, not just the useless “Windows score” in Vista, something that’s a true guarantee that I knew when I bought the machine. A “Dell 2” or higher. A Playstation 3. PC specs are pretty standardized these days anyways, despite the intense craziness involved in setting them up. All you really need is the CPU+memory and the video card. And as a software producer, I’d love it because it just might bring back all those lost, confused customers that have stopped buying PC games for some obvious reason. Given the amount of money spent in either PC build failures or package markups, it seems like there’s a lot of money to be made. I’d buy one.