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Topic: Blowing Off Steam

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NEStalgia

Figured that's a nice fun thread name for the continuation of the topic from the comments section on some old PC Gamers with a grudge against Valve and Steam.

Pasting the last comment from the comments thread for clarity before responding:

biscuitsandtea :

Looks like I've found a clone of mine

There's a lot you've addressed that are basically opinions of my own, and I'm very happy for that. Friends and strangers that I played with long ago have either long stopped playing games or switched over to console games. Whenever we do feel like playing PC games, we all opt out for much older games like SWAT 4 and Quake 3 because todays games rely on Steamworks and rarely have local coop support, and we've struggled to get those games working properly on our machines as well.

In a way Steam did save PC gaming from fully becoming an Strategy/MMO/Simulation only platform. Who would have thought to see typical console exclusives end up on another platform? Certainly not me, but it seems we've come full circle in a way. Even Microsoft knows this, hence their Xbox Play Anywhere and OneStore programs.

Don't get me wrong though, I still don't like Steam, or Valve for that matter. I actually intended to type up my dislike of Valve as a developer but somehow that got lost in my thoughts. I think I'm getting a little old

Regardless, what I meant to say earlier was that I did not like Half-Life 2 in the end. I'm one of the few who do not like that game, and I much preferred Half-Life 1 at the time, mostly because as you said it did feel like Quake, but much more grounded. Still, props where they're due, I much prefer the original than the sequel everyone clamoured over.

I did enjoy Team Fortress 2 as well, it was a very unique game. Though once the community was able to add their own creations to the game ruined the artstyle, as well as the balance of the game. Real shame how that turned out. I don't like the rest of Valve's games except for Portal 2, which I thought was an excellent game despite the game's humour consisting of throwing paragraphs of dialogue at you.

Valve hasn't done much else these days. Last I checked Steam has become the equivalent of Facebook for gamers and effectively finding out new ways to generate income from the client itself instead of making new games. If today's PC gamers want me to consider the platform again, while carrying around the Steam = PC mentality, then Valve has to show me that they do care about their platform. Bloating the client with pointless, poorly made additions like Big Picture mode will not work. At least Microsoft still produces games :/

Anywho I hear you about the hardware failures. Back then dead on arrivals were common for me, but these days every part I purchase seems to have no trouble. Though I did have an issue with a RAM stick I bought not too long ago

PC may have its advantages, that I know very well, but the mindset of your average PC player these days is enough to turn me off completely. I just wish some folks would understand!

Edit: I forgot to mention, I've omitted a lot of my thoughts here. I'd love to continue this discussion in a forum thread if you don't mind. Much easier to list out my thoughts, especially since this comment box is too small for my eyes :/

@cfgk24 Join the club! More the merrier, I'd like to hear your thoughts on Steam, too!

Edited on by NEStalgia

NEStalgia

NEStalgia

Haha, yeah, it seems like "PC gamers" today are a whole different group cut from a different cloth than back in what I consider the golden age of PC. Back then we had tons of genres, tons of isometric RPGs, odd genres that don't even exist much anymore, and tons of RTS, of course. But back then PC power meant games that could never run on consoles were possible. Around the time of XBox it seemed like all the PC genres except RTS had moved to console too, and usually, console was the lead version and the PC version was crippled as a result. PC gaming was doomed! I was surprised to find out years later it wasn't doomed and was still alive and well. But years after that I realized this was something new, this all-Steam group that hoarded games for $15 each on sale, and it was just a whole different scene. The other odd change I've found is half the time when talking with someone who loves Steam the conversation I tend to assume is around AA and AAA type games, the big ones from known companies, just as it was in the old days (Blizzard, id, Epic, Interplay, whoever.) and often times they start defending Steam on the grounds of all these indie games. So it's always an apples to oranges discussion.

And it's so funny that PC has all but forgotten the LAN match, and a Nintendo console is the one that brings it back! Consoles have become what PCs were in the late 90's and PCs have become expensive consoles. It's surreal.

HL2...I just don't get it. I think that was the beginning of Valve worship and the PC hive mind. Everyone heaped endless praise on that game like it was the greatest thing ever. I was psyched to get started on it (after my 20 hour install from my own CDs thanks to Steam), and was floored by how simply awful it was. It was pretty, sure. The physics was cool, yes. But the disjointed gameplay, the on-rails scenes, the completely patchwork barely coherent story. The game was a mess. And they spent YEARS on that. It's still considered by so many one of the greatest games, and from an objective viewpoint I can't see that at all. They never even managed to explain why giant trash compactors were set up all around the city to crush it. There was no motive or rational or enemy goals even properly hinted at. A story that goes with "the story is what you want to think it is" There was a great story to be told there, and the game managed not to. Which makes sense. Not a pinnacle of gaming in my mind.

Ahh, I did forget Portal 1 and 2. Those were wonderful experience in gaming that I'm stunned came from Valve. They've hinted they'll never make such a game again, which is kind of sad. Their attempt at putting Steam on Playstation with Portal 2 was hilarously sad though. And it was beautiful that PSN went down for the big hack for a week when it came out and ruined the whole scheme.

Overall I think valve is spinning their wheels. Comfortable as a retail monopoly, out of resources for development. They took that Steambox detour that went so horribly. "It's not a console, it's just custom hardware with a custom OS to play games on! And it's really expensive!" As long as the PC=Steam hive mind continues and as long as major publishers can't get their act together to challenge them directly, they're fine. If they're disrupted, they're in trouble. Meanwhile, EA is still missing, but will uPlay ever work?

Hardware: YEah I never had DOA as much as it worked fine for months then suddenly all failed in bizarre ways. And the freezing/overheating issues were so real. Never had a PC that didn't start having weird hardware problems within 3 years when I was building gaming setups.

I think the mindset of PC gamers has never been great. The PC Master Race meme may be newish but the mentality was always there. Heck I was part of that at one time. But yeah the current mindset...maybe the most troubling part is the value perception. The Steam sales and such, like App Store and Play Store have convinced tons of people that digital content has no value, and they end up with an entitled sense that "I'm not paying above this minimal price because that's the normal price to expect!" I like cheap as much as anyone, but undervaluing the product is a fast track to ruining the whole industry.

I left out lots of thoughts too, but wanted to make sure I don't procrastinate writing and starting the thread TOO long

NEStalgia

cfgk24

@Nestalgia I'm afraid I only have a small opinion as I didn't remain a PC gamer . . never did like downloading games as such - I prefer the in house reliabllity of consoles

cfgk24

6ch6ris6

okay so what is this thread about? bashing valve and steam? anything else really?? i'm sorry but i don't quite get it.

Steam: ACAB or 6ch6ris6
waiting for a pricedrop on switch

biscuitsandtea

@NEStalgia Where to begin, it's a lot to think about. Computers were my lifeline back when I was a teenager to my early 30s. To reiterate, its not so much that I dislike computers as I am tired of them. The only thing I really dislike is Steam and the whole movement of folks trying to get everyone onboard the "Steam machine", so to speak.

You bring up an excellent point with the Steam machines, heck I think Valve has removed those from the store in favour of the Steam Link and controller devices for streaming your games to another display in the house. Not a bad thing, I think I'd find a lot of use for it, but I'm not a fan of streaming anything, especially video games. Valve's hardware push was weird, I remember Gabe Newell not liking Windows 8 not because it was a terrible OS, but because it had an integrated store to purchase applications from. Nevermind that the store never carried any games you'd find on Steam back then, the store front has only become a threat now since Microsoft merged xBox and Windows 10 to work together. Whether that actually works out is beyond anyone but it brings me to my point about SteamOS.

In an effort to effectively turn your $1000+ machine into a console, SteamOS, this debian-lite operating system with a Steam skin slapped onto it was born. There's a lot wrong with this, one of them being that Linux isn't popular, and I don't believe most folks could ever actually operate anything more than Windows or an Apple device.

I don't think this initiative went anywhere, and the last Steam machine I saw at Best Buy was sitting in a used box on the clearance rack. It's been there for a few months, I don't think anyone actually wants it. I might buy it myself just to play around with it but I don't expect much from it, considering that most Steam machines I saw on sale were console-like in shell and overpriced as an Alienware.

I'll be keeping my replies short. Much easier than typing out essays, and we can tackle all these points much more efficiently

@cfgk24

I love physical media as well, but very few PC games come that way nowadays. Like NEStalgia said, I think it's devalued video games in the eyes of many these days.

Edited on by biscuitsandtea

biscuitsandtea

NEStalgia

I haven't forgotten this thread! Just haven't had a chance to reply in full yet

NEStalgia

NEStalgia

@biscuitsandtea Yeah, I'm in the same position. I still love tech, but since I work with PC problems all day every day, I don't like continuing to do it when I get home. I can't unplug from my tech, thus I'm constantly using gaming systems, phones, tablets, or laptops, but I don't want to fight with it either, I just want it to work, so for home I've consolidated to laptops, game machines, etc.

Steam machine was a disaster from the beginning. At first it was Valve intending to build an ACTUAL console and enter the race to push the Steam store into console space. Then they tried sneaking Steam into PSN...which went badly. Then they talked for years, every E3 about the revolution Steam machine would be. Then at some point they snapped to reality and figured out that maybe competing head-on against Sony, Microsoft, AND Nintendo was probably not a smart idea from a company with zero hardware experience and limited capital. Then decided to expand PC gaming with Steam with an open spec proprietary system spanning from cheap entry system that plays indie games to powerhouse systems, and as you see at your Best Buy....that went about as well as anyone could have guessed. But fanboys thought it would destroy consoles forever.

Technically SteamOS isn't the worst of their problems. Nothing wrong with a proprietary distro, and the idea of it, like MythTV, was supposed to be that you don't need to mess with the OS, it's just a console.... Since most Steam gamers seem to be Linux inclined and love messing with their gear anyway, and the majority really seem to use their PC as a console anyway, it wasn't too bad an idea on the surface for a lot of people. Personally I'm against the use of a PC as a console, but that does seem to be what the "gaming PC" for most PC gamers has been for some time. It's not offensive as a product really, its just that it seems obvious that all it did was appeal to existing customers, not expand the market for them.

@6ch6ris6 More or less. It's an overflow conversation from one of the news comments threads where a few of us were discussing problems we have with Steam and Valve in general going back to its early days, after others were speaking very highly of it.

(more to come)

NEStalgia

biscuitsandtea

@NEStalgia Same here! I don't like handling computers all day because I already do it for a living! Besides that, I don't want to deal with an ever increasing amount of PS4/XONE -> PC ports that have issues with them at launch (not to mention, some of them never receive more than a few fixes). I'm not really sure why people want consoles dead, because without consoles I don't believe a lot of developers will target PC specifically these days, unless of course it's been their home platform since the beginning.

Which comes back to the whole SteamOS thing. I think Valve can make a home entertainment platform, but Microsoft is in a much better position to do so because of Windows taking nearly the entire pie of the OS market. Which makes Valve's attempts rather silly, I think they should focus on keeping PC more technical rather than dumbing down the overall experience. You keep the hardcore community happy that they have more variables to control, and those folks can in turn make the overall UX easier for newcomers that are interested in PC gaming, something that Valve isn't very good at. I still don't like the fact that I need to use a 3rd party skin to be able to see the Steam client on high-dpi devices properly.

I also wanted to talk about the rather poor port quality of console games that make it to Steam. It seems that for every major launch from a 3rd party that primarily works with consoles (specifically the PlayStation lineup) there's always some sort of issue(s) at launch that either persist or eventually get fixed. For example, Tales of Berseria recently came out on the PS4 and Steam platforms, and at the moment there seems to be issues on the PC end of things. For one, any poor soul with a surround system won't be able to run the game, and the party member AI do not work properly. None of these issues happen on the PS4 version, but as of this writing they still persist on the PC version.

Now I can't blame this on Valve, but this is actually a reason I avoid playing games on PC. I don't like to mess with my settings constantly to get broken games working, and in some cases there can't be anything you can do about it!

I do have issues with Valve's QA control, however, but I'll save that for another time.

And sorry for the late response, I tend to reply as soon as I can but things do come up.

biscuitsandtea

NEStalgia

@biscuitsandtea Oh I'm terrible with responding to big conversations in a timely manner....I usually defer them until I have time to respond carefully, which means I end up responding to everything else first! I've let whole weeks laps

Anyway, yeah the console ports. That started around XBox (one...err..first...er...plain?) time. People cite the PC version as the best (because of the graphics) but oh the horror of trying to get half those games to run. I remember the days when they'd ship the game broken, see if it sold well, then patch it if needed. My favorite defense of that practice is "but the modders fixed it by (illegally) hacking the DLL and it was WAY better than the console version!" In what other industry does that actually fly? Oh, well Hyundai released a new car...it doesn't actually start up most times, the engines randomly fall out the bottom, the doors fall off, the airbags randomly activate, and the horn, once you turn it on, never turns off. But that's ok because I know a couple grease heads down the street that were able to fix all of it for free!! They just needed to break into the factory to use the tools to do it, but it's all good 'cause now they put on custom alloy wheels and a spoiler as a bonus! Way better than the factory original!

People, like Yorumi did earlier in the conversation, seem to conflate successful indie studios operating in PC with "PC gaming" while discounting the products from the major publishers. All those studios he was listing are run as a labor of love, not as a real business. They're basically garage enterprises that the owners will work themselves to the grave just to make their product they want to make. It's great as a consumer, sure, but it can't be compared against actual businesses. Meanwhile what the big companies put on PC is generally TERRIBLE in quality.

Oh boy, Steam doesn't even play nicely with high DPI while everyone's railing on Sony for 4k support? Honestly?

One odd thing with PC is it's split into two camps, and neither are at all related, and both are convinced they're the main PC market. The one is the type that appeared in this conversation: The ones who insist PC gaming is the cheapest thing ever, the hardware runs games forever, and the software is cheaper. The other thinks PC gaming is about buying new pairs of SLI cards every 5 months because the others are obsolete. How these two different markets ended up defending the same space will confuse me forever I still have nightmares about when you HAD to buy new cards every 5 months just to get things running

And I agree completely about not wanting to mess with settings constantly to get things working.

Back to the physical games thing. I have always hated digital. Limited bandwidth certainly forced my hand in that, but the whole sense of even getting a new game feels diminished. To this day it's a big event to me to open the shrink wrap, pop open the game, I feel like I've bought a product. I have a backlog in shrinkwrap piled up. But when I OPEN it it becomes "real" Digital....you buy it, dl it, it's just kind of there....never actually real. Convenient at times. I did get Splatoon digital since I want to hop in randomly. I'll probably get the next Animal Crossing digital so I can check on the town randomly. But Zelda...I don't want to clik on the icon. I want to load the game so I'm currently playing it. Maybe kids today don't get it, but it changes the experience, in my mind. I don't feel the same playing a game digitally as loading the cart/disc and playing. It's not really an "ownership rights" thing as Steam wars usually go. Just an actual sense of the "weight" of the game. Or rather the importance of it. It's also convenient. Swap the game to any other identical machine and it runs. No install, no wait, no low disk space, just insert and go. Disc space is a big deal. Without installs (unlike PSXBox and PC) you, over time, buy your storage space for "Free" with every game purchase. Terabytes worth if you're a big purchaser. No hard drive, no data management involved. That's a neat feature. Even discs, though, for PC, I liked keeping my drawer of disks and grabbing the game. Installing it from disc rather than downloading. For the price, it's nice to have something to unwrap

NEStalgia

biscuitsandtea

@NEStalgia I'm afraid I'm as bad as you, considering I just got around to this post here

Yes, broken games were a defacto for a lot of titles around the time Xbox made its debut. At least, as far as I remember, I never had to update Quake or games like Rune Gold since I got them.

I remember that a lot of those issues stemmed from DRM practices that publishers were integrating into their games. One game I remember that had bad DRM (aside from HL2 of course) was Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, which used the famous Starforce DRM. I think it took almost a year for that game to get cracked, which I admit is very impressive for DRM back then, but IIRC also came at the cost of security to your system. Just like Sony's rootkit, which was used for exactly one published album at the time, it weakened the core of Windows. And if there were conflicting drivers, errors, or whatever that the DRM didn't like? You were presented with the blue screen of death.

Yes, modders can fix these issues. Yes, cracking the game can fix these issues (ironically I needed to use NODVD cracks to get some games to run properly), but at what cost? The potential hazards of untrusted software invading my OS? Why should I need to rely on modders to fix the games of these developers? It's not like they're getting paid for it, which I think a portion of the profits should go to these folks considering many developers themselves can't be arsed to fix these problems.

Indie studios that start on PC tend to stay on PC because they can provide the instant support of sending out additional patches if something breaks another function, but you don't have that liberty on consoles, where Microsoft required QA testing back during the 360 era and additional patches came at a cost. The game had to be functional, otherwise you were penalized. I don't remember how Sony handled it but I don't believe they were charging developers to provide patches.

Do note that I understand things break. Software doesn't always come out exactly how you want it to be, but it can't be a constant reoccurrence that the consumer expects the game to be broken day one!

And I have to agree with your observation of these two groups. The folks that chant that PC gaming is cheap aren't correct in the slightest, at least relative to the cost of a console. I've seen this group offer computer builds that were often gimped, or basically useless after their lifespans ran out because either the parts (mainly the motherboard or CPU) were too old to be upgraded/supports upgrades, forcing a new purchase of parts all over again after some time.

The other group loves to spend big bucks on PC parts. Nothing wrong with that, if you have the money and you can spend it on what you love, by all means enjoy it! A lot of console players do not have that kind of income, nor the knowledge of SLI builds.

I've actually seen both groups argue with one another over the years, especially the last 4 years with the release of the PS4/XONE. Like you said, I don't understand the discussion. If you want a machine that won't pass on itself within 4 years, you need at least 600$ minimum, and that's if you just want a basic machine with no strength in GPU performance.

Regarding physical games, I can wholeheartedly agree with you there. Nothing beats a wrapped copy. It's all plug and play! Yes there are patches and unfortunately for many complex games that's inevitable, but I enjoy the satisfaction of clicking in a new cartridge or placing a new disc into the tray. Not only that, the property of the media, the license, is specifically in my hands. No need for long wait times to download the game, either. I can decline a game update just by being offline!

Digital games are great for indie developers who can't publish physically, and they're also great because they are "easier" to manage, but I won't take anything less than a physical copy in my hands

And yes, in regards to Steam it does not look very good with large screens. It's very blurry, and I have to use a skin called Metro for Steam, a very well-done skin that I wish was packaged in the client, but all Valve seems to do these days is play it safe.

I'd also like to throw in that Windows still doesn't support controllers for the desktop view. I can't enjoy a PC on the big screen like I can a console, though I hear this will change over the coming year.

Once again I apologise for the reply time! I tend to get carried away doing other things, but I'll reply as fast as I can.

biscuitsandtea

NEStalgia

Whoops....I never replied! I read the response, replied to the daily news comments and forgot to come back. Sorry about that!

Quake had tons of patches, but nothing required to get it to run, most of it was online related (which was the core of quake) and Rune Gold was the post-patch "complete" edition. But yeah, most patches back then were fixes for obscure bugs you could create by doing something here or there, but nothing needing patching to actually make the game work (recently, aside from the nightmare that was Asassin's Creed Unity my favorite was Just Cause 3 that would crash at the end of the tutorial/first mission without fail before the 3.5GB patch. And that's PS4!) How did they not know in testing that was broken? You couldn't even play the first 25 minutes of the game! Back in the day my only broken game was Myst. It would crash in the Mechanical Age at the top of the tower every time. Apparently there was a second printing that fixed it and they had to send me a new disc to fix. I had to way days for a CD to arrive to continue playing

Oh geeze, Starforce. NOW I'm getting flashbacks of why I loathed PC at the time! Before I could buy ANY game I had to research what DRM methods it used, and eliminate much wanted games from the list. I forgot how horrible that was. I still have the limited edition steel box Chaos Theory, still in shrink wrap, because I bought it and THEN found out it used Starforce!

Meanwhile Steam people kept telling me how they never experienced all these problems with games and I never caught on that's because Steam was the DRM. Cozy little setup they had going. And yeah, the cracks and mods required....if it needs outside people to break it to make it work who distribute it on priracy sites and "technically" using it is a criminal offense, the product is just plain bad. Oh geeze it's all coming back to me...what a mess it was! Maybe it's different these days, or on Steam, or whatever, but it leaves a very bad taste that doesn't invite a return trip!

I'm glad to see you also see flaws in the "PC is cheap" thinking. I was starting to feel crazy with all the people saying how cheap it is. Maybe if you buy a lot of games, and only buy on steam sales, the hundreds you save over years does add up to cover the up-front cost on the machine, but IMO at absolute best it's all break-even versus consoles, and only for the most heavy purchasers of games. I'd probably fit that camp but many wouldn't. And then there's the maintenance. It never, ever ends in terms of drivers and the like. "The game won't run!" "Oh edit this config file and change that XML file, does it work now?" That's not entertainment, that's something I should be paid for The "PC is cheap" group also likes to justify it by "well you need a PC anyway". But who in their right mind uses their productivity PC for gaming given the DRM and all else? And if you build a dedicated gaming PC you're back to having a very expensive (and ugly) console.

I never got into SLI/Crossfire. It was all the rage, but it always seemed like a terrible price of diminishing returns. It boosted running at higher resolutions and running more AA, but never provided as meaningful a boost in performance as running a better single GPU. And I had a hard enough time managing the heat and power requirements of one GPU! All my GPUs ate themselves up, I'd end up mounting box fans on the case....it was a mess. I'd then upgrade my whole machine to start over again with hardware that wasn't bad, and then the new machine just developed a new bad set of hardware that would randomly be problematic. Probably heat related, no matter how much I spent on cooling.

Peronally I find the "skys the limit" spending crowd more tolerable than the "PC is cheap" crowd. The high rollers know they're high rollers, are proud they're high rollers, and know they're playing with the Mercedes of video game machines and it's "above" most other people. They tend to keep to themselves. The "PC is cheap" crowd carries their soap box under their arms to offer, on a moment's notice, the commonry a chance to repent their sinful ways and seek the light of PC, justifying it by contorting in any direction required until a pretzel is a comparative straight line to support the belief

$600? Heck last I looked the average decent video card was $400 on its own. Decent power supplies were $200.

NEStalgia

NEStalgia

Oh, and about digital vs. physical, I do dislike the push for digital. They're using my bandwidth making me pay for a subscription to a provider to effectively supply their distribution logistics for them, all based on an assumption that everybody has unlimited. And then I need to buy the storage medium for it too! But they save little money due to the costs of running servers and outgoing bandwidth. AND they lose marketing exposure in physical store space. Everything about digital seems lose-lose to me. I can't comprehend why it's so well pushed. I see it settling 50/50 for the customer base, and thus they have to support both models indefinitely, or alienate core markets (which they can ill afford in the era of "5 million sold is a failure!")

NEStalgia

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