The light at the end of the tunnel slips further away...
March 08, 2009

This morning, I got up bright and early to play my new game. I put the disk in the drive, started the installation, and sat back.

This was two hours ago. I am still not even close to playing Empire: Total War.

Sega issued a statement last week about why they'd opted for Steam as a necessary playing platform, mumbling things about piracy, community base and achievements. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think anyone other than Valve has ever forced this before. There's always been the option of Steam installation, of course, and anything digitally downloaded through the service is going to be, by definition, Steam-activated. That's fine.

But I bought Empire in a box from a shop. One of the advantages of this, aside from having a physical product to hold and cherish, is that it's the 'instant play' option - however long the installation takes, then away.

The boxed copy of Empire, like Half-Life 2 so excruciatingly did all those years ago, splits its installation between disk and download. So, after spending 90 agonising minutes crawling up to 50% complete, the installation then connected to the internet, and began to download the rest of the game from the Steam servers. All remaining 7.5GB of it.

This section of the installation process began about 20 minutes ago. So far, it's shifted up from 50 to 55%.

I can just about pretend to understand why the game forces activation through Steam, and why it has to populate the Steam Games list for multiplayer. I completely fail to comprehend how anyone should get away with forcing you to download half the enormous game you just bought in the shops. HL2 was painful, but at a little over 4GB, perfectly managable. This is 15. 15 solid gigabytes of updates, mandatory patches and half the fucking game.

Presumably - it's the only rational explanation I can think of - it's so that everyone who installs the game, ever, will be automatically patched to the latest version. This is no excuse, particularly for those with slower internet connections. If I want to download a patch and get a more optimised playing experience, that's my own perogative, and I'll do so at my leisure. If I just want to get on with playing the thing that you deemed stable enough to release in the first place, I should be able to do that too.

It's now up to 56%. I imagine my Sunday strategy plans may have to be radically rethought.

UPDATES: I foolishly decided to fiddle with the server location to increase speeds. It's reset to 50% and is even slower.

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EmP EmP - March 08, 2009 (05:23 AM)
This will give you time to get back ta work on your Penumbra reviews!

This topic demonstrates why consoles remain my first choice platform for gaming. You put a disk/cart in, you turn on, you play.
Halon Halon - March 08, 2009 (08:20 AM)
I actually prefer digital distribution when it works. Something is wrong with Steam this weekend. UT3 also uses Steamworks but probably 60% of people can't download it. They probably have a server issue that will hopefully be worked out by next week.
Lewis Lewis - March 08, 2009 (01:13 PM)
Updates: something went tits up between Steam and the installer, which apparently has happened to quite a few people trying to play Empire. The game installs, then Steam thinks you've just bought it via Steam, and starts downloading the whole thing again.

Turns out as soon as the install had finished I could play it. Deleted the additional files... voila. Done.

It's a bit good.
EmP EmP - March 08, 2009 (02:21 PM)
Its funny because it happened to you and not me.

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