Valve

Steampowered Hoarding

 I am staging an intervention. Yes, for you. I know, odd that you just randomly came to this site and realized that there was in intervention just waiting for you? Don’t leave – stay. Here, I wrote a letter about my feelings and I am going to read it to you. One moment, Dr. Drew is just in the other room, entering now.

Tell me how you really feel…

Dear You,
 I am here today because I love you. Throughout my blogging life, you have supported me in everything I have wanted to do. You stood proudly in the comments section – even when I wrote bad posts, replied to me in your own comments section and even put me on your blogroll.  I always admired your sunny outlook on life and love of helping people. Over the last 12 years your involvement with blognation has been inspiring. It caused the whole interwebs to take notice providing us with an opportunity to become closer as we did something good for others together. I miss doing this with you.

Person, your Steampowered Hoarding has become a problem that you cannot control on your own. It is affecting your relationship with the whole blognation and me. Friday night, when James, Mike and I came over for dinner, you smelled like alcohol when you answered the door. You bought a humble bundle while we ate, and you kept sneaking back to the computer room to buy Friday night steam sale titles. By the end of the evening, you had mixed up all of our names, and the names of the games you had just bought.

We have reserved you a spot at a treatment center. They are expecting you tonight. It is not far from here, and a taxi has agreed to drive you. I have already packed a suitcase for you; it is waiting in the car. And, you don’t have to worry about finances, the treatment facility has contacted Anook and arrangements have been made. All you have to focus on is getting well.

You won’t have to worry about the house, the dogs, or the blog. Willhelm is perfectly capable of taking care of the dogs and Bhagpuss will do the housework on his own and Zubon will come by to help with everything. Your Steampowered hoarding doesn’t have to go on any longer, help is waiting for you. Please, will you take the treatment that is being offered to you today?

Love,
 Isey

what your Steam Library looks like

Letter outline compliments of writing an addition letter 411

 I try not to use STEAM too often. Ever since that fateful day when they stole $18 out of my wallet and refused to give it back. I started looking at them for what they really were – an enabler! They assist people into the sick, sad and pointless Steampowered Hoarding and once you start, it takes a full intervention to get out.

Looking at my own Steam library is what showed me the light. Here are games I have yet to play (or even install) because I got such great “Deals” on them:

  • The Witcher 2
  • Skyrim
  • Batman Arkham City
  • Dota 2
  • FEAR 1
  • FEAR 2
  • FEAR 3
  • Guardians of Middle Earth
  • War in the North
  • Mortal Kombat Kollection
  • X-Com Enemy Within
  • …. and more if you count less than 10 hours played…

I know that list is nothing compared to most, because I only STEAM socially. I’m not a heavy user like most. Some weekends, the odd party during the week. I’m not addicted – I don’t wake up in the morning and STEAM or anything like that.

The solution is clear – just don’t buy unless you plan on playing the game in the next 14 days. It’s a simple rule. If you haven’t bought it already there is a reason for that. If you are only buying it because it is on sale, then you probably don’t really want it to begin with.

The best here is that it will ALWAYS go BACK on sale on Steam – so if you miss it once, don’t fret – you will have ample opportunity to buy it (and probably not play it anyway) when it goes back on sale again another time when you aren’t playing or planning on playing it anyway.

Steam does a great job of giving such great deals that hey – you are silly NOT to buy. It’s like I tell my wife – if it’s on sale don’t buy it for the sake that it is on sale – buy it if only you really want or need it. You still have to spend $20 even if it is %50 off from $40 – and you don’t gain the difference in your pocket – $20 isn’t magically appearing in your wallet when you buy it.

Please – if you or someone you love STEAMS, call the hotline. It has to stop!

 

I’ve Created a [zombie] Monster [survivor]

There’s a lot of coverage and interest with The Terminator vs. Video Games trudging through the Supreme Courts right now. I’m sure blognation will cover it much better than I but I’ll share a story about games and parenting as a gamer and a parent of a 5 year old. While I do not claim to be the world’s best parent (my son would disagree with that statement – as I am sure every parent’s kid feels their parents are ‘the bestest’) I do try to answer his questions honestly. When he started asking for a brother or sister, and the inevitable questions began about how do babies get in bellies, I did explain about eggs, and how the mommy needs a daddy to help make the egg a baby, etc. Of course I did it in a non graphic way of trying to explain to a child how things work without really letting the cat out of the bag.

So, at breakfast yesterday when we were having eggs and toast for breakfast, he exclaimed:

“Daddy! Mommy is eating eggs! So now you go kiss her belly and then the egg will crack and a baby will grow! Can I watch?”

Next time I am using diagrams. Erm. Maybe not.

I have been a late adopter for games as of late and just picked up L4D2 as a huge fan of the first title. My 5 year old has his own laptop and plays his own uber MMO (Club Penguin) and after physical play time, or just winding down, we’ll sit on the couch and take an hour playing our games together. He caught me playing L4D2 and became completely enthralled in the game. I’ll share some fun/interesting observations after the break –  just don’t call Child Services on me.

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Valve Announces L4D2 – Fans Rejoice/Hate

Exciting news for fans of the game for sure!

A sequel so close to the original – (Left 4 Dead launced last November) seems to have the fans of the title confused. Some, who have spent tons of hours in zombie guts glee are extactic that the new game, with new features and improvements, is coming out so quickly.

Others feel ripped off – and that in typical Valve style they would be playing free upgrades and mission packs for a long time from now (a la TF2).

Read the comments in this blog announcement to see the ruckous.

I can understand the fret from an economics point of view, but the fandom in me from a title I logged 100 hours playing for the box (through the single player, co-op, co-op versus and recently free released survival mode) and loved every minute. A game with set play, limited levels, and replayability isn’t going to hold me much longer than that. I am ready for something new.

So it comes as no suprise, that I am pretty excited about the announcement.

In Valve’s defence (if it’s needed) or additional cheering (which camp are you in this announcement?) they haven’t said the pricing structure, future support for L4D1, or anything of that nature. One would suppose that the majority of the fan base of L4D1 will pick up the new title, leaving less games for people who stick with L4D1. You could also make the argument that by next November, a lot of people will be tired of the original title and ready for new anyway.

Will be interesting to see how it all pans out. Whatever Valve has touched lately turns to gold – hopefully that translates into gold zombies, and not upset L4D1 fans.

Tuesday Smorgasboard

It really doesnt.
It really doesn’t.

Lots of little gaming going on. Will touch upon them.

1) LOTRO revisted: While I am trying to organize friends to go through the trial, nothing concrete is set up although a little interest and a couply people hopping on Brandywine. I said this before and I will say it again – the fact that LOTRO doesn’t allow you to play their two new classes WITHOUT buying MoM is a terrible design decision and puts me in a bad mood immediately at the character creation screen. I wanted to test drive the Warden for the trial again – it made my list of favorite fantasy classes although I only got to level 10. My beef with this is that the characters start at the exact same spot as the previous character classes so not having them available upon start is just a silly money grab. I am trialling the game to see if I am going to resubscribe – let me choose the character I want to play. The high end zones included in MoM have no impact on the class selection – it will be months before I even get to MoM – so let me play them dammit! To be fair, they do  have a 10 day trial for MoM – but on the welcome back weekend I can use my old box (that I paid for). Maybe I do want to resub, and maybe the game is fun enough to buy the expansion (when I get there) – but it will be awhile before I get there, and I want to do it as one of the new classes. We are off to a poor start, me and LOTRO. So I rolled a Champion, and if all goes well I am going to have to drop $40 bucks on an expansion and reroll to a character class I want to play. Shame on you, Turbine.

More random stuff after the break.

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Customer Support 2K9 – Updated

*I noticed some Google searches pushing people to this blog post. I DID find a solution (all on my own) and I posted it in my 2k9 forums thread – linked in the article below. GOOD LUCK if you are having the same problems!*

Customers suck, right?

We bitch and moan about EVERYTHING! Go read technical support forums. Whine whine whine. Threats – both against the company, and the people who are trying to help. Customers are impossible to please – so it is understandable that companies have varying degrees of how they do – and don’t – attempt to. I consider myself an “ideal” customer. I know things take time to remedy, and besides essential living services I give that time to be fair. I don’t make unrealistic or false threats. I know the people who are helping me are paid poorly, and have a specific job to do, in a manner that is typically scripted and must be followed. (“Is it plugged in?” = le sigh). I am also competent enough with a PC that I generally just find my own fixes on the internet and make it work. I rarely contact customer support unless it is the last beacon of hope for me. The past three months I have contacted four different companies regarding software/hardware questions and problems and I am going to share my results with you – ranked from worst to best. There is a bit of a surprise here. After the break.

The absolute worst ranking company isn’t one company but a handfull, all lumped together. Boutique laptop companies. I talked about my search for a kickass portable gaming rig here. I still haven’t received contact from any of them after I even wrote FOLLOW up emails. The crux was this: I have $3000 burning a hole in my pocket and I want to give it to you. I want to give it to you BADLY. You have competitors with the same product, so I am going to choose the company that gives me the best time frame to build in. Just send me an email with an expected ship date and my money is yours. ALL yours. Zero replies. Astonishing, really. If I sent YOU an email, saying here, take $3000 just tell me how long it will take you to deliver on your chosen profession on my chosen product, I am pretty sure you would hit “reply” to that email. If not the first one, than the second. Sad. Good news is I learned an online friend of mine builds laptops with similar specs and can get wholesale prices on parts, so now he gets my business. Shocking though, right? Lumps of Coal.

Equally as bad is 2K games. My first (and possibly last) 2K games title was Bioshock off of steam. I didn’t check beforehand, but there are major, major problems with Bioshock and their audio system (FMOD) in Vista 64. One thread alone with Vista troubleshooting has 3000 replies. That is just one thread, dating back to 2007. There are hundreds of others. I made my own thread 6 days ago. I still haven’t received a reply from anyone there, except for one other person with the same problem as mine saying “good luck getting a response”. My first post listed my specs, my issues, and all the workarounds I have tried (none work). I made it half joking but I had already spent ~15 hours at that point trying their “fixes”. 15 hours is a lot of self customer service, so figured it was time to ask the pros. I made the post a bit funny to show I wasn’t angry but really needed help. The following day from that post, I realized I forgot to add other pertinent information, so I made a second post. I had also learned at the FMOD boards they had a fix done – but it had to be coded into the game for a patch – and of course the FMOD folks encouraged everyone to speak to the developer as it couldn’t be fixed on their end. I added that tidbit in. I also added in at this point that there is no way I am buying Bioshock 2 if they can’t get Bioshock 1 to work after being out a full year, and FULLY AWARE of the problems. That is not a “threat”, it is an honest observation. After spending 24 realtime hours at this point to get their product working on a completely up to date, great gaming rig, the cracks in the quality of programming at 2K games is really showing. The fact they hadn’t solved this problem (a year later) shows they don’t care for their own titles – or customers. 3 full days later I realized I hadn’t received a response yet, so I asked a fair question – whether or not Bioshock has been abandoned by 2K games (they are working on the sequel) and whether they planned on patching or fixing the code. It is a fair question. Yesterday I found out there may be a problem (*I* found it out – no one told me from 2K games. I had to keep searching and working on it by myself) with my audio drivers (which I had previously thought fully updated) so I patched them – and got brand new errors. So I posted those errors and also asked if the 2K technical support forums were the correct avenue for me to be searching for my answers to my technical problems with a 2K product (should be a rhetorical question, I know, but I just wanted to make sure). So, after almost a full week, ZERO responses. Sad, right? Dead kittens in a sack.

Now we tip the scales on the good. I had an issue with a Steam purchased game so I set up a ticket (it was Bioshock, btw. HAHA!) I immediately received a response saying my email would be read within 24 hours. Thank you. A response – I don’t care that it was automatically generated, but I received a response nonetheless. Three days later I had my answer. Three days isn’t perfect of course, but Three days for a definitive answer to my question is very well acceptable by me, and fair for a company that probably receives 1000’s of inquiries. Silver star to you, Steam!

Gold Star? You will never guess it, because they are the most evilest and terrible gaming company on the planet – EA games. I had two tickets with them this year, one for BF2142, and a second for Warhammer Online. I get the immediate auto-generated response – again, I am fine with this as at least I know my submission got through. My BF2142 issue was responded to, and solved, within 24 hours. My Warhammer Online problem was responded to the SAME DAY. So, all evil aside (I am pretty sure reading blogs and whatnot they actually hate their customers – right?) at least I know that they support their products and respond to me as a customer.

As an online customer living in an online world I do not have the time to sit on hold on a phone line. It has to be far cheaper and more effective for them to hire a person to read forums and emails anyway. That is why I give ample time, knowing other customers were there before me. I can see it. As a customer, all I really want is a fair and honest response so I can meter my expectations. “Yes, we are working on a fix, but it is 2 months away” would actually satsify me – I have a lot of other games I can play in the meantime, and I can quit trying to juryrig the title and wait for the definitive fix. “No, we are not going to patch that title anymore, we have all of our resources focused on new and exciting titles to make sure the same problems do not occur in our future games” – I would accept that too – and MAYBE would even try Bioshock 2. I will just return BS (haha, funny acronym considering the circumstances) and put those funds towards their newer, better, actually functioning title. “Thank you for taking the time to contact 2K games. We have a high volume of customer service requests at this time, and will get to yours as soon as possible.” I may even still like 2K games with that response. Why? Because it is a response. Any response shows they actually have an inkling of care for their customers.

Do you know of a company that has great customer service? What companies do you know of that have terrible CS? Are the companies consistent, or does it vary from person to person? I would like to make a list of companies I know who are servicing their customers and stick to them to avoid future bad experiences.

Left 4 Cool

I don’t really “review” games, and I am not going to start today either. Will keep it simple and sweet. If you like FPS’s, play L4D. If you like Co-op, it is well done. If you like opposing Co-op, it’s a great game. If you like Zombies, go buy it. If you like a base achievement system, ca-ching. If you like perfectly paced gameplay in the aforementioned settings, buy buy buy. I don’t throw the word perfect out a lot. Now that that is settled, I want to talk about the absoulte, most awesomest, fantastical gameplay mode in the entire universe that is also included in Left 4 Dead. After the break.

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I’ll Take an Effexor Cocktail to Go Please.

Sheesh, where did the week go? It CAN’T be Friday already. I haven’t even started my week yet. I barely gamed all week, dabbling a bit in WoW, spent some good time in L4D, and attempted to workaround my Bioshock/Vista issue. Bioshock 2 – you will not be purchased. There are over 3000 replies on various threads on the 2K forums regarding the same problems I am having. You can blame FMOD, you can blame Vista, but I bought *your* product and it can’t be fixed without a patch. You are still selling the game, still support it. It was my first ever 2K game, and it will be my last if you don’t fix it (hell, at least tell me you are working on a fix instead of leaving my specific thread unanswered on your official Tech support boards for a week.) Just tell me you care. That is what customer support is.

Le Sigh. More depression after the break.

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Monday Mourning – Nov 17, 2008

To be honest I don’t get what most people hate about Monday mornings. I tend to work weekends, so there is definitely no rest for the wicked at ihaspc. My to-do list on Mondays is as long as any other day but I tend to ease into everyone else’s typical work week – check blogs, prioritize tasks (I know, the irony, considering that comes second) and catch up on emails. Usually Multitasked. I decided Mondays will be my little themed post where I ramble off a bunch of randoms. What better way to “start” the week?

RIP – Burning Crusade: Much how mauve is the new pink, Burning Crusade is the new Azeroth. Empty. Of every class except Death Knights. If you play by your tune and have a healer alt in the 60’s now is the optimum time to level that toon up – there are hundreds of Death Knights begging – and paying – for healers to work with them through instances. One group offered 100 gold for a basic Ramparts run. Of course, his name was Chucknorus so you might hold out for 200 gold. With everyone in the mad dash to be the first 80 (most classes/races have already hit that mark on server firsts on Whisperwind) I wonder if destroying old content areas such as Azeroth and BC gives Blizzard cost savings on server loads, etc. – that resources normally held to hold high populations in those zones. Perhaps abandoning that content is as much a business as a stupid move? On a side note, how in the hell is the Wow Armory service STILL in beta?

More after the break.

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