I love playing games on my PC, I really do. But at the same time, I find myself completely frustrated with it on a regular basis. I’m sure I’m not alone on this, but here’s some of the main issues I have with PC gaming…

Hardware

It seems no matter what you put in your case or how much cash you drop on it – you never reach that stage where you can simply fire up any game you feel like playing and get the best experience possible out of it. There’s always tweaking to be done and settings to be changed. Especially the first time you play a new game. Generally, I find the first 15-20 minutes are spent tweaking settings and trying to find the best configuration for my system. Meanwhile, I’ve had to endure a dozen or so loading screens and butchered the opening sequence of the game.

There are ways this can be avoided, of course. But it takes extra work that developers apparently don’t feel is worth their time to invest in. I’m talking about auto-configuration after testing your system’s hardware. I’ve only seen a handful of games that actually include an auto-detect for visual settings, but of those games, only 2 come to mind that really worked. Half-Life 2 was the first. After waiting close to 45 minutes for it to install and verify, I thought I was in for another 30 minutes of tweaking, but that wasn’t the case. The video settings were auto-detected and had been set to the recommended values for my system. Not only that, but I didn’t have to go back once to change anything. F.E.A.R. took this a step further and actually runs a quick benchmark on your system and gives you an average, high and low framerate report before you play. Again, never went back to change anything. On the other end of the spectrum – among those games that do have an auto-detect but simply don’t work. The Call of Duty franchise is the worst culprit I’ve experienced. Even now, when I select ‘optimal settings’ it sets the resolution to 640×480 and most details on medium when my system is over 4 times more powerful than the minimum required setup. I wish I could say this was improved in Call of Duty 2 – or better yet, the United Offensive expansion pack, but this is not the case.

Media Types

Why in the fuck am I still opening games to find 5 miserable CDs instead of a single DVD? Have DVDs not been around long enough to make the switch? Are DVD drives not cheap enough yet? I’m completely floored by this! Gamers are expected to spend $800 on a videocard, but not $30 on a DVD drive. Maybe it’s production cost? I realize CDs are cheaper than DVDs – but when you factor in printing, it has to work out to be at least close to the same if not cheaper to burn and print a single DVD over 5 CDs.

“Please insert the disc labeled ‘CD 1’ to play”

To make matters worse – after sitting there swapping CD after CD while installing, you’re expected to insert a CD every time you want to play the game. This used to be easy to get around with no-CD patches, but with the inclusion of the god awful anti-piracy software they’ve been using lately (Starforce, I’m looking in your direction), this is no longer possible. Well it is, if you’re willing to jump through hoops for an hour or so to get it to run – usually includes manually unplugging your optical drive(s) each time you want to play. And if this wasn’t enough of an inconvenience, there’s still games being packaged with 5 CDs and no case for them – paper sleeves instead. What do people do that don’t like to hang onto the boxes do with those and how do you access them easily?

A few games have got around the mandatory ‘insert CD’, which I’m happy to see. But there is a price. Half-Life 2 runs through Steam, which checks with their server and verifies your game each time you want to play. Wouldn’t be a problem, if it didn’t take a minimum of 5 minutes from the time you click the icon in your start menu until you’re actually playing the game. City of Heroes is the only game I’ve personally seen do this well. I guess since it’s an online-only game, they verify you when you login.

Controls and Shortcuts

Can this be standardized – PLEASE? If not the controls, at least shortcuts to common functions like quicksave and quickload, and even screenshot. Nothing worse than playing a game for an hour only to find out when you were hitting F5 to save, it wasn’t doing shit cause they decided to move quicksave to another key.

I go through this every few months – where I’m almost ready to give up PC gaming. Then Half-Life 2 comes out… then Battlefield 2, then F.E.A.R…. PC as a platform will always have those games that tower above the rest and lead the pack. That’s about the only thing that keeps me hanging on to this expensive and frustrating hobby of mine. Consoles never seem to have those titles that just blow you away and are so far ahead of the curve – whether it be from a graphical standpoint or technology. Even now, the Xbox 360 is almost upon us and the reviews that have been rolling out are very promising. Call of Duty 2 received the same score from GameSpot on PC and Xbox 360 which is almost unheard of. But let’s put that into perspective – Xbox 360 is at about the same level as PC is now. What’s the life span of a console? 3 to 4 years? Think of how far the PC will have progressed in that time. Or better yet, compare a current PC to an Xbox.

I really wish I could just let it go – pick up an Xbox 360 and never look back. But I just, can’t, do it! I’ve tried so many times and failed each and every time. If anyone has some advice for breaking the habit, so to speak – I’d love to hear it! And since we’re on the topic – anyone planning on picking up a 360 next week?

8 Comments

I think Vista is supposed to be doing some pretty funky things with the games/hardware/tweaking issue. I can’t remember what exactly, but I think developers have been positive about it.

I go through cycles with gaming. I bought a PS2, played that for a few years and neglected my PC.

Upgraded my PC, and apart from very occasionally I haven’t touched my PS2 in about 18 months.

Now my softmodded Radeon 9800se and overclocked XP2500+ don’t really cut it any more, and I’m hopefully picking me up a 360 on launch day (Dec 2 in the UK) – so the cycle continues!

I’ve never been able to buy a console on launch before, but I couldn’t resist.

Hardware – Looks like you want a console 😛 **

Media Types – Come to Europe, almost all games come in DVD format 😛

ÃÆ'¢â‚¬Ã…â€Å"Please insert the disc labeled ÃÆ'¢â‚¬ËœCD 1ÃÆ'¢â‚¬Â² to playÃÆ'¢â‚¬Â? – I’ve never had a problem with this thanks to http://www.megagames.com/gcracks.html

Nice Site by the way! I found you listed on CSS Beauty.

**(only joking)

hallelujah!!! you say it brother

Crouching in F.E.A.R insulted me, I think it was Z or X or something like supid like that.. and wasn’t opening doors F? I hate having to remap every single game, every game should be like Battlefield 2/Tribes.

Your right Copy protection is getting to be too much, people are pissed as it is right now with sonys latest escapades http://www.cnet.com/4520-6033_1-6376177-1.html

On the hardware side, I think its moving way too fast. Developers arn’t hitting the potential of the stuff out now. Think about the super nintendo, by the end they were doing incredible things with that tired old machine. I think developers are just starting to get the feel for XBOX and now bang, new hardware, start alll over again.

We should all band together and say "Were not buying anymore new crap, build games that uses todays stuff"

Anthony: It’d be great if Vista had better games support. I do remember hearing vague things mentioned about it, but no solid details. Here’s hoping!

Good luck with scoring a 360 on launch day!

Ryan: You’re lucky you get DVD format for most games. If a game does ship on DVD, it usually costs $10-$20 more and is labelled "collector’s edition".

I usually get nocd patches from gamecopyworld – I can’t stand Mega Games. No search – are you kidding me? Anyway, same deal, though. A lot of the newer games require you to mount a mini disk image, run 10 apps to hide your virtual drives, unhook your optical drives, stand on one foot and fart 3 times.

BPAndrew: Yeah, F.E.A.R. had a couple wonky key configs too. But F is pretty common for use/open. That is, if you’re able to lean – E is taken for lean right.

I’m with you Matt. Luckily most of the games I play (when they work with my laptop) have the move keys setup correctly, or they at least show you the controls before the level loads.

As far as the media type you kind of have to way it out. $10-$20 for the DVD or Hanging on to 5 CDs (the DVD always wins out when possible)

Oh, thanks to your post about Call of Duty 2 (and your video of it) I will be picking up a copy tomorrow. Luckly the demo I downloaded worked on my Laptop. Then in a week I’ll be enjoying it on my new desktop.

Also Anthony, good luck with the 360. I personally will not be getting one anytime soon, I will stick with my PS2’s and my PC’s.

Hi Guys,

Well, come on for a sec.. You couldn’t be that annoyed, think about the fact that consoles are sh*t compared to let’s say an alianware PC. And by hte way does it really hurt you to take the timeand remap? Otherwise, the console games can’t even reach the LOD and fun of a pc game, because they don’t evolve, only once in two to three years. I might sound like a PC fan which I am, and trust me, I’m pretty old and have tried even namco old coin ups at my time (now I’m an active game developer), but consoles are way down the drain when it comes to face the pc. Not to mention, that a pc is much more usable.

For standars, I don’t think that while you played HL2 you experienced frustration because the key mapping. Had to tweak it? Well take the time and get to know your gfx card, then immediately you’ll know that the game won’t run smooth with 4x antialiashing but with only 2x.

My advice, play big titles which are tested correctly, because game testing irons out the problems from above.

Cd’s well, you’d be astonished that most of our world uses floppy disquettes instead of CDs, but there will come a time, when you’ll be frustrated with a game because it came out on DVD and not a holo-disk.

Regards,

PC fan

Hey guys, im Noob, but wow was i ever blown away by the comments posted, i thought i was the only one who believed console games will never compare to PC, all my friends…PS2 this, XBOX that, they never understood why i would never get near a console, finally i realized im not the only one! =-D As for all the other comments, well theres not much i can say, i dont play many PC games, i stick to the ones that my PC can handle, Counter-Strike, Warcraft3 TFT, (i bought half life 2, but my PC runs it choppy, anywayz its been great!

I totally agree with you man, this is why I prefer consoles over computers when it comes to gaming. I just spent 30 min running tests on Quake 4 to see what settings would run best on my computer.

Why can’t just pop the fucking DVD (or CD), install and just run the damn game without having to go through hell before playing the damn thing?

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