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PC Games (Games)

Journal ObsessiveMathsFreak's Journal: The Trouble With PC Games 5

I just bought my first PC game in a long time. Oblivion. So far I've been at this for about five hours and I still haven't managed to actually get around to playing the game. No sir. First you must troubleshoot. Now I remember why I stopped buying PC titles.

The First issue on install was the graphics. My card is an older Nvidia 5200, which to be fair, did have 256MB of RAM. After much questing, I eventually discovered that I needed to change a shader setting in an ini file to get things to run anywhere near smoothly. An ini file!! I was under the impression that those days were long behind the PC gaming sector. Clearly not.

The major difficulty turned out to be with my joypad. Oblivion, by default, is set to use the diabolically carpal tunnel inducing control scheme known as "The Keyboard and Mouse". I would use the handy and ergonomic dual analog joypad I have, but Oblivion flat out refuses to detect the last of the four available axes, blowing that idea out of the water. And no matter which way I tweak the setting, the game simply will not become playable without that fourth axis.

After over eight years away, I return to find that PC game creators still expect me to use the keyboard to move about. What's worse, they now expect me to use WASD instead of the arrow keys. Who came up with that bright idea? W is not directly above S you know.

Never mind the fact that before I even installed the game needed an obscene 4.6GB of hard disc space!! Going on the last "first person" type PC game I purchaced, MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, which took up 65MB of space in 1997, that corresponds to a space requirement inflation rate of about 60% per year. Take that, Moore's Law. Well, the hard disc equivalent at any rate.

I suppose I should thank Bethesda, the creators of Oblivion. I had been considering upgrading my current PC to avail of what the PC industry might offer me, now that the console market is in a slump. Now, having spent 60 on the best game the PC sector has to offer, I can say with confidence I won't be buying a gaming rig anytime soon.

I'm still going to try and play Oblivion. It seems a student of the old school western RPG. Lots of dungeons, item and quests to keep you busy. I will not be "comfortable" playing it, hunched as I shall be, hands splayed out over two devices, one paticularly ill suited to its task; rather than reclined comfortably in a nice soft chair with controller neatly in my hands. Alas.

The moral of this story, is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I missed you too PC gaming... you cantankerous old bastard.

Update: After a few hours of research, I managed to get the game to run very reasonably throughout the first dungeon. Everything was fine, including the control scheme, and I ironed out a few minor bugs on the way. It was al looking quite good. Very good in fact.

However, once I reached the overworld, things quickly took a turn for the worse. It looked terrible, crashed continuously and I have neither the time nor the inclination to basically debug Bethesda's beta software. So Oblivion is going to stay on the shelf for a few years. Maybe when I next upgrade my main rig, the game will be playable. Until then, I'm not wasting my time with what is essentially a buggy Xbox360 port.

My advise to anyone considering purchasing the game is to leave this one to stew for a year or two, because it's not finished.

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The Trouble With PC Games

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  • by grub ( 11606 )

    I had a JE re: Oblivion a few weeks ago. It's an amazing game, worth the work to get installed. That said, having similar hardware across the board is where the console people have it better, Oblivion for the Xbox 360 needn't be tested on every video and sound configuration.
    • It's an amazing game, worth the work

      Worth the work?
      I don't play games (other than MOO-II) and so as you can imagine I havn't bought a title in ...well, a long time, but I refuse to accept *any* amount of work to play a game.... I've always figured I'd eventually get a game console, but who has the time?
      sheesh, and people bitch that there's some work to get an OS going ... to be safe and productive with. A game? so _not_ acceptable. It better work out of the box as far as I'm concerned.

      • I'm not making excuses for the hoops some people have to go through, just saying Oblivion is a great game and worth a bit of work (I had to tweak for my video card). I'm a die hard bsd/unix/mac guy but for games I have to keep a Windows box around for gaming as that's where most of the gaming development goes. Have a chipped xbox which is nice but you can't beat a keyboard/mouse combo for first person.
        • 'm not making excuses for the hoops some people have to go through, just saying Oblivion is a great game and worth a bit of work...

          As a further update, I will only say, at standard tech industry rates, I've probably put about $1000 worth of man hours into fixing and debugging oblivion. At the moment, I'm trying to hack the Oldblivion [] source code to get it to work with the latest patch. It's safe to say this qualifies as work.

          • I get the feeling that buying a newer video card doesn't have as much cool geek factor as hacking it up to work on your own. ;) Nothing wrong with that so long as you enjoy what you're doing. By the way I had never heard of Oldblivion before, thanks for the pointer. A few people at work will find this useful.

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