29 October, 2009

Keepalive: Borderlands, Torchlight

written by Blain Newport on Thursday, October 29, 2009

I've cut back on my Borderlands. Apparently there's a multiplayer bug where you can permanently lose skill points. That sucks a lot. I'm guessing once PC users learn how to hack save files it will be fixable, but for now, I'll stick to single player.

It's pretty pathetic, really. The internet is pretty much the same place it was over a decade ago. These problems were pretty much sorted out in id software's original Quake (1996). There are Doom source ports done by enthusiast coders for free that work far better than Borderlands. Heck, even Saints Row 2, a pretty terrible PC port that also uses GameSpy for networking worked fine.

I had to spend fifteen minutes figuring out that I can't use the same GameSpy profile with Borderlands that I use for Unreal Tournament 3 and Saints Row 2. Why is that? I had to use some old profile I hadn't used in years. What possible reason could there be for that? Why would any developer use GameSpy? Even when I forwarded all the relevant ports, going as far to put my PC outside my firewall where it's more vulnerable to hacking, it turns out that Borderlands networking simply doesn't work on my PC.

But I wanted to support Gearbox and play when the most people would be playing, so I bought it new.

Never again.

In a related note, I downloaded (but haven't yet had time to play) the demo for Torchlight. It's a cartoony Diablo clone from some of the makers of Diablo. There's a whole story where many of them were working on a game called Mythos, which folks on the PA forums greatly enjoyed. But their company went under. Mythos got bought by a South Korean company who decided to make it South Korean exclusive for some reason. Now Torchlight is being sold as a single player game with hopes of raising enough money to make it into another free to play Diablo MMO (like Mythos).

I'm rooting for these guys. It seems like they've worked very hard to make this happen. (Torchlight was developed in something like 11 months.) But I don't care enough to spend money without playing a demo first. If Gearbox, Valve, and Infinity Ward will PC gamers like this, I don't think any developer can be trusted.

Maybe that's fair. Maybe PC gamers have earned developers' disrespect by pirating. But I paid full price and got a pile of headaches for it, and I'm through with developers saying "we'll patch it". If you can't do it even close to right, get out of the industry.

"Never again" is probably an overstatement. But I'm going to start including the price I paid in my reviews to keep myself honest (and because it can color a review).

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