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Friday, February 18, 2005

Steam really blows

Wow. I never thought a company like Valve would so completely jump the shark, but I personally believe they have with Steam.

I've got nothing against online delivery methods. I don't even think I'd mind the occasional online authentication system. But the fact that Valve has decided that Steam is their sandbox and I have to ask permission from Steam to play with any of my toys I've might have left there - ever - is ridiculous.

Compare this - I installed UT2004. I got the ECE DVD because I had lost my older DVD after my last move. I put in one disc, I put in a installation path, a few minutes later I'm trying out Frag.Ops. That's the way an installation is supposed to work.

Valve, who decided not to release a DVD version of Half-Life 2, has me installing five CDs in succession starting with Steam. Then Steam asks to connect to itself, and it does. And then Steam updates itself, and it succeeds. Then it asks for my username and password, which I give.

And then Steam dies. Or lost a frontal lobe, making it impossible to talk to itself anymore. Any attempt to run Steam or play Half-Life 2 says that Steam isn't up and running and to go check the status page (which says that it's running).

Did I install Half-Life 2? Yes.
Did I install Steam? Yes.
Is Steam able to talk to the network? Yes.

And yet, I can't play the game I've only had since Christmas. That's pretty sad. In overextending their design of Steam to be this all-reaching all-powerful coordinator of information, Valve introduced a single point of failure. And when that fails, you might as well pour concrete on your sandbox.

I'm reasonably sure it's some conflict between the earlier install and this one - but Steam won't tell me. Nor will it help me work around it. I might be so inclined to 100% wipe everything Valve off my drive, because then a completely fresh install might work. But I also might just wipe everything Valve off my drive and tell them to go stuff themselves.

For the curious, this isn't the first time I've had problems running Valve's software...

1 comment:

Winkyboy said...

Wow. That sounds like I could have written it, describing the exact same experience I had... I've still got Half-Life2 on my hard drive, an' I'm probably 50% done with the game, but Steam bothers me SO much that it motivates me NOT to play it.

I look at UT2004 and see a far-more wonderful game, even though it's almost a year older than HL2. As you said, the ease of installation is there... but add to that the cash value of the game (you can buy the non-ECE version for $14.90 at the moment on plus the embarrassingly-massive amount of professional user-made mods... PLUS the ease of making those mods... you've got years of game time with one tiny purchase.

In related news, it sounds like the ever-coming Duke Forever is going to use a digital delivery system. ( This creates a HUGE dilemma for me. Despite the agonizing wait with no hope-bearing promise of delivery, I still want the game, especially considering that it uses Unreal technology. Yet, would I re-live the Steam experience to have it?

No. I wouldn't -- so I hope that xStream is NOT a Steam-like entity...