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Why I don't play PC games.


Steben
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So, I got the Orange Box today at retail for PC. I've heard lots of good things about Portal in particular - it seemed to be my kind of thing. Also, I figure, why not let this be the step to get me back into PC gaming, which I abandoned years ago, for reasons I could not recall.

I mean, I didn't pick my laptop out to be a gaming rig, but it had all the necessary specs to run the program (although not the recommended video card), so what could possibly go wrong, right? Ha. Imagine my frustration when the game totally stopped responding sixty seconds into the game, that is, when I first stepped through a Portal.

Research on The Google dug up this thread, along with other. Apparently the integrated Intel 945gm chipset just... doesn't work with most of The Orange Box. However, there's a handy fix on this page, right? Well. Sort of. I got to exercise 14 in the game before it decided to slow down to a nice 2 frames per second, because apparently I'm not allowed to place portals too far away from each other before the game goes wacko.

Ugh.

The obvious solution would be for me to shell out the cash money dollar bills to outfit my desktop PC (which hasn't been upgraded since 2003, maybe) to play these games. But, honestly, by the time I've spent that much money, I could have just bought a 360 or PS3, which is guaranteed to play any game on the system perfectly.

Now, particularly in this community, I'm sure there are a lot of you who'll balk at this stance. So, really, what is the point of gaming on a computer? Aside from the games which are exclusive to the PC platform, why would you invest in PC gaming?

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I mean, I didn't pick my laptop out to be a gaming rig, but it had all the necessary specs to run the program (although not the recommended video card), so what could possibly go wrong, right? Ha. Imagine my frustration when the game totally stopped responding sixty seconds into the game, that is, when I first stepped through a Portal.

Research on The Google dug up this thread, along with other. Apparently the integrated Intel 945gm chipset just... doesn't work with most of The Orange Box. However, there's a handy fix on this page, right? Well. Sort of. I got to exercise 14 in the game before it decided to slow down to a nice 2 frames per second, because apparently I'm not allowed to place portals too far away from each other before the game goes wacko.

This is where you fail miserably. If you had done any research at all, you would have discovered that the Intel 900 series chipsets (any of them) are NOT meant for any kind of 3D gaming. At all. They are simply incapable of doing it. Everything can go wrong when you do not have a 3D capable video card, since that is what actually renders the game. It is the most important part of any modern gaming PC.

Tldr: Read the box, check the specs, make sure you are capable of running the game, and you will come to enjoy PC gaming.

Besides, the PS3 version has graphical issues, and Playing TF2 on the 360 with a controller and being limited to less than 16 players just isn't right.

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Agreed.. do your research first or else you are almost guaranteed to run into problems. That said, my computers have always had relatively low-end graphics cards (decent procs/RAM) and I don't have any problems playing most games that I care to play.

That being said, PC gaming is typically an expensive investment and I get a lot more satisfaction out of consoles. So I agree with you in part.

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You can get a video card that'll do the job for ~$100, more or less. However, PC games do tend to have a ton of problems, from hardware standards to copy protection. The industry keeps managing to shoot itself in the foot, despite the hardware getting quite cheaper than 5 years ago.

Personally, from Steam to rootkits to Securom, all these things really keep me away from the industry more than almost anything else. In addition, the keyboard & mouse isn't healthy for hardcore gaming since stuff like carpal tunnel syndrome just becomes too big of a setback with a non-ergonomic setup.

I'm more than willing to shell out for a rig, but unfortunately the industry just doesn't want to market itself right.

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I could have just bought a 360 or PS3, which is guaranteed to play any game on the system perfectly.

HAA HAA WAHT?

There are lots of games on console systems that don't work. Ones I've personally run across range from FPSs and hack-n-slash games. Metroid Prime 1 did this annoying thing where it would freeze trying to enter doors. And there was this one X-ox game that crashed and started spitting out programming code or something.

As much as I like console gaming, it's not perfect.

Except for Gameboys. Man, those fuckers were rock solid all the way through. Drop them down stairs, dunk them in water, kick them down a hallway, throw them at someone else... and the fuckers still worked!

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HAA HAA WAHT?

There are lots of games on console systems that don't work. Ones I've personally run across range from FPSs and hack-n-slash games. Metroid Prime 1 did this annoying thing where it would freeze trying to enter doors. And there was this one X-ox game that crashed and started spitting out programming code or something.

As much as I like console gaming, it's not perfect.

Except for Gameboys. Man, those fuckers were rock solid all the way through. Drop them down stairs, dunk them in water, kick them down a hallway, throw them at someone else... and the fuckers still worked!

Nintendo has had a great reputation for well built systems...excepting when they switched to disc-based systems. I never had that problem in Metroid Prime 1, but I have had some other issues. However, nowhere near as buggy as PC games tend to be.

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I had Mario Kart 64 freeze on me once, I had perpetual trouble with the N64 memory cards, and I've seen battery-saves spontaneously erase themselves before, so even the cartridge systems weren't perfect. But they were pretty darn solid most of the time.

I think part of the draw of PC gaming, at least for some, is the whole pimp-my-computer aspect. There's a certain amount of pride involved in being able to run new games at 90fps that goes beyond the mere enjoyment of the game itself.

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Nintendo has had a great reputation for well built systems...excepting when they switched to disc-based systems. I never had that problem in Metroid Prime 1, but I have had some other issues. However, nowhere near as buggy as PC games tend to be.

The Gamecube and Wii are very reliable, I don't really see why you would say otherwise.

I did encounter the MP bug, and I could make it happen repeatedly by going straight from the ship to the first elevator. Thats retro Studio's fault though, not Nintendo's.

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The Gamecube and Wii are very reliable, I don't really see why you would say otherwise.

Well, relative to their previous consoles/handhelds, not really - for example, one of my friend's Gamecubes fell from a table ~3 feet high and stopped functioning, whereas that wouldn't happen with the NES or SNES.

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Well, relative to their previous consoles/handhelds, not really - for example, one of my friend's Gamecubes fell from a table ~3 feet high and stopped functioning, whereas that wouldn't happen with the NES or SNES.

To me, it seems to go like this:

If a device uses optical media, it becomes infinitely more fragile. This applies to everything, be it music players, game consoles, even computers.

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I don't believe you can make a great PC gaming system from scratch for $400, by the way (the cost of a 20GB PS3.) A capable one, yes, but the nice thing about consoles is that they just work out of the box. There's no question that PC gaming is clunkier and more cumbersome, whether it's the time it takes to boot up the gaming experience, to general responsiveness, to having to worry about your PC becoming slower and more cluttered over time..

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This is why I could care less for games like Crysis. Tri-SLI($1800 worth of video cards) can't even run the game on max settings. So I'm not going to get a game where I have to run on medium to low settings to play, then it looks like ass.

Personally, I dislike the whole multiple GPU solution. If you use two cards, you should get twice the performance.

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I don't believe you can make a great PC gaming system from scratch for $400, by the way (the cost of a 20GB PS3.) A capable one, yes, but the nice thing about consoles is that they just work out of the box.

Not super great no, but enough to play the Orange Box and other games that scale relatively well at decent settings. Besides, putting it together is half the fun.

There's no question that PC gaming is clunkier and more cumbersome, whether it's the time it takes to boot up the gaming experience,

Thats negligible, especially if you have a fairly fast hard drive. I would compare it to PS2 load times, if that.

to general responsiveness,

Don't know about you, but response has never been a problem with me, especially with mouse controls.

to having to worry about your PC becoming slower and more cluttered over time..

This does not happen if you know how to take care of your computer. Disable java, delete cookies, defrag with something other than Windows Defragger, don't use Norton, McAfee antiviruses, avoid IE like the plague, don't frequent suspicious porn sites, and you're set.

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I'm honestly sometimes surprised at how well my 2003/2004 AGP computer is keeping up. Up until I've read some of the specs on the insanely demanding games this year, I've been able to run stuff like Oblivion, the Bioshock demo, the C&C 3 demo, and a decent number of their brethren either decently all maxed out (15-20fps), or pretty well all maxed out (20-30+ fps)... and that's with a 7800GS, 1GB of PC3200 RAM, and a P4 at 3.00E GHz (I think it might be a Prescott, but I've never been able to find out for certain). Sure, stuff like Gears of War and them will probably choke my PC now, but still...

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Not super great no, but enough to play the Orange Box and other games that scale relatively well at decent settings. Besides, putting it together is half the fun.

If I saw such a system I'd believe it. My $1600 workstation doesn't even really run stuff that well.

Thats negligible, especially if you have a fairly fast hard drive. I would compare it to PS2 load times, if that.

Not everyone keeps their computer on 24/7. When you pay your own electric bill it definitely makes an impact. If you're already booted up then yes it can be relatively fast, assuming your system is tweaked and optimized.

Don't know about you, but response has never been a problem with me, especially with mouse controls.

On my current computer, UT:3 has fairly lagged mouse controls. Likewise for Hellgate London. Starting up Portal takes awhile too. My system is in general tweaked for max performance, too. I cut background crap to a minimum.

This does not happen if you know how to take care of your computer. Disable java, delete cookies, defrag with something other than Windows Defragger, don't use Norton, McAfee antiviruses, avoid IE like the plague, don't frequent suspicious porn sites, and you're set.

I'm not stupid; I do a LOT of optimization to my computer and always have. I do all that stuff and there is just no denying that over time, as you install more and more software and fill up your hard drives, performance takes a hit. On the other hand, my PS2 works as well as it did when I first bought it. Same speeds.

Maybe IF I built or bought a computer with the SOLE purpose of playing games and kept ALL other tools and utilities off, plus paid meticulous attention to maintaining it, this wouldn't be an issue. But no matter what way you slice it, it's more work just to get to where consoles are (and have been) for years.

Not to say I don't play games on my computer. I've been a PC gamer for way longer than I've had consoles, and I will always play RTS/FPS games on my computer (as well as MMORPGs, if I ever go back to them.) But in general, gaming on a PC is not as smooth of an experience as modern console gaming. This is confirmed especially after I picked up an Xbox 360 and a Wii a few weeks ago.

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Disclaimer: I have an amazing gaming rig. Stats at the end of the post.

PC Gaming has a lot of problems that don't happen with consoles.

One of the largest issues you'll find with PC games is inefficient coding. I present Bioshock as an example. Compare its framerate on MY computer and on a 360 and you'll see that the PC version was a 360 port and not the other way around. On my rig I could run it at 1920x1200 (16/10. Just a tad taller than 1080p.) on medium reliably. On an 360 it runs the equivilent of max settings at 1080p without a hitch. Why is my vastly more powerful machine not keeping up?

Bioshock is just one example. Here's another, though this is a PC exclusive. Dark Messiah of Might and Magic also suffers from inefficient coding. Long load times and poor performance dogs this title pretty badly. But here's the kicker. It uses the Source engine, so it looks and feels much like Half-Life 2. HL2 was well-coded though, and performed well on even mediocre PCs. My computer had top notch HL2 performance and lackluster DMMM performance. There really wasn't much a diference in graphical detail, so this is quite inexcusable.

While consoles allow for extensive hand-optimization, the amount you can optimize on computers (cpu instruction sets, for one) is nothing to sneeze at. Another huge issue is threading. The Xbox 360 has 3 general purpose processors. You bet your ass the games are threaded to use all 3 at once. Are PC games threaded to take advantage of multi-core computers? SOMETIMES...

Console games don't have the DRM bullshit or clunky content delivery schemes PC games have (and industry leaders believe MUST have, because you don't need anything expensive to copy DVDs). Sure consoles are region locked, but this pales in comparison to all the crap that piggybacks PC games.

Console games are also more efficient with secondary storage, loading up your hard drive with gigs upon gigs of data, far more than found on console game discs. And some require you to have the disc in the drive on top of that!

There are some exceptions of course. Unreal Tournament 2004, Half-Life 2, and World of Warcraft all ran great on mediocre hardware. On the other hand, titles I've already mentioned along with some historically abysmally coded titles like the original EverQuest run much, much slower than they should, based on what the games demand graphically.

Bottom line: If you want guaranteed good performance, Get a console.

My rig (so you can't say my Bioshock/DMMM performance issues are due to poor hardware):

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600. (4 cores at 2.4GHz each)

4 gigs of DDR2 RAM

GeForce 8800 GTS 320MB, latest drivers

1.2TB of HDD space, 7200RPM

It runs Crysis at 1920x1200 on medium.

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Well in my opinion, PC gaming is worth it if you have capable hardware because PC gaming usually offers a superior experience to consoles. Whether it be Controls, Graphics, Customization, Mods, Patches, and Online-play. Online-Play is a huge draw for me because PC games have been online for years they are only getting better. I have yet to play a console game that can match the experience of PC online gaming. Its also free for the most part, with each game having is own service and servers. Battel.net is a great example. Mods are also things you can't regularly get on consoles.

So in my opinion, it may cost a lot of money to get a great PC experience but often more times than not, its worth it. PC exclusives (Like Warcraft) is definately a big draw for me too though.

Edit: By the way, it only took about $880 bucks to build my rig. So its not like every good gaming PC needs to cost 1000+ dollars.

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Now, particularly in this community, I'm sure there are a lot of you who'll balk at this stance. So, really, what is the point of gaming on a computer? Aside from the games which are exclusive to the PC platform, why would you invest in PC gaming?

Because the PC exclusives tend towards superiority. Don't blame the game for your machine's inadequacies - you noted that you're not using the recommended card, you have none to blame but yourself.

And for the record, I run Crysis at 1680x1050 all settings on high. Very playable. And Bigfoot, I checked - even on Low settings, Crysis looks anything but ass.

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I'm glad that we're getting some of the best and niche PC games ported over the Xbox, Xbox 360 and PS3 because I've apparently been missing out on a lot of gems all these years. Dreamfall, The Orange Box, Elder Scrolls, Unreal Tournament 3, Bioshock...awesome stuff there.

On the other hand, I'm not the type of guy that plays games on a PC because of the whole "keyboard, mouse" setup. I've never been a fan for this type of control even though a lot of people say that it's the coolest setup in terms of FPS games. Also, I really don't feel like worrying over tech specs and buying more upgrades (graphics card and the like) with each game I want. I'd rather waste that money on buying the games themselves, their respective consoles, and upgrading my gaming hub with an HDTV and 7.1 surround system.

From what I'm hearing these days, the PC market is really going down under because the latest games require some heavy-duty graphics/physics cards to make them run. CRYSIS bombed at retail because most people can't run the damn game...I think it needs like 5000$ worth of PC upgrades to get the most out of it. Same thing with UT3, while not as heavy as CRYSIS, it still needs a really good PC to get the most out of the game. I'd rather get a PS3 or 360 to play PC ports....it's a lot cheaper and I don't need to worry about graphic cards, installation problems, errors, and the like...even if the console ports don't look as good as the PC ones runned on high-end setups. Hell, getting consoles are a great option for PC fans these days because developers are paying more attention to please the original market. I hear that UT3 for PS3 can work with a keyboard/mouse setup and they've been recently testing the waters on MODs.

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You can build a capable PC rig for ~$1000 these days...or even buy one from an OEM if you look hard enough for the deal, although you sacrifice upgradability for reliability. If you have spare copies of Windows, a monitor, mouse, and keyboard you don't mind reusing, you could even bring it down to ~$600-700. The problem is, is it worth the hassle? Most would say no. For years, most PC gaming developers have shown that they do not understand how to market, and it continues today, even worse than before. What I don't understand is how such a well-funded sector fails at one of the fundamentals of a business, especially when computers are so ubiquitous.

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The biggest difference for me is the kinds of games available in each setting. I've always loved platform games like Sonic, and they just don't make many platform games for desktops. On the other hand, I have liked a few FPS games, and most of them were made for PCs.

A computer dedicated to running games will likely do that job better overall than a multi-role computer. That means that in general a Nintendo or a 'gaming rig' desktop is preferable to a general PC for running games well. And those gaming rigs seem like overkill to me. There's my two cents.

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