on Nov 21, 2007
I’m a glutton for punishment. I knew I was in an uneasy truce with Steam when I came back to play Half-Life 2 again. This week I picked up Episode Two. Yesterday they put out a patch that broke the game for me. As I walk around, my view jitters up and down as if I’m falling through the ground, then snapping back to ground level over and over again. It’s maddening and makes the game more or less unplayable.
I didn’t even know they had patched the game. I just fired up the game this morning and found the thing was broken. Steam likes to keep your games up-to-date for you, meaning it downloads and applies patches without asking or telling you. I wasted a good hour fiddling with options, re-starting, re-booting, and generally wasting my time because I had no idea the game had been patched.
You can turn auto-update off, but when I did that with other games I found that when a patch came out it wouldn’t let me run the game until I’d applied it. I tried going off-line to run my game it it gave me the oh-so-helpful error “That action could not be performed at this time.” So I relented and re-enabled auto-update. Now they broke my damn game for me.
I checked the “update history” to see what the patch did, but clicking on that brings up a blank window. (And once it crashed Steam.) Sigh. As always, problems with Steam tend to be rage-inducing nested problems.
I checked the Steam news page, and they didn’t even mention the update. I only knew there was one because I read about it in the forums. I joined the forums myself so that I could add my two cents, but even after entering a CAPTCHA (six digit multicoloered case sensitive, booo!) confirming my email, and then “activating” my account, I still have to wait for a human to review my registration and allow me to post. “Thank you for your interest in Steam. Please jump through these complimentary hoops.”
So now I’m posting my gripes here, and we can all suffer together.
- Never alter the software on the user’s computer without their permission.
- Don’t force them to update, because the update might break something.
- Always inform the user of what a patch contains.
Even Microsoft has this much figured out. Jerks.
How can their games be so awesome and their delivery system be such an abomination? They will agonize for days over placement of health, foes, and weapons within gamespace to create maximum user enjoyment and weed out frustrating situations in the game, but Steam itself is infuriating at every turn. Now I have a nice block of time off coming my way and my new game is busted.
To the Steam fans out there: Is there some hidden checkbox to tell Steam “Stop being such an ass****”? Please tell me where it is. I want to like these guys, I really do.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.