on May 17, 2010
We’re going to be doing the Fallout 3 DLC Operation: Anchorage sometime in the next few weeks. I should probably just buy it and give it a try so I’ll have something worthwhile to say when the time comes. So let’s go shopping!
1) Hm. How do I get the DLC? Five minutes of Googling around takes me to lots and lots of previews and reviews and movies and… geeze. How the heck do I BUY this thing? Oh! I see. Er. No, that’s just ordering a disk. Is it still “DLC” if you don’t “DL” it?
Ohhh. Here we are. A forum thread where someone asks this same question and someone else explains that the DLC is only available via Games for Windows Live. Hm. I go to the GFWL site and sure enough, they have the DLC. Except, I can’t even see how much it costs. It won’t tell me anything about price here on the website. Apparently I have to install the client just to see the pricetag? If I install GFWL and then find out this (reportedly) three-hour DLC is $20, I’m going to be mighty pissed.
Well, I was just ranting the other day about how I’m worried about the Steam market share. I’ve tried Impulse and Gamer’s Gate. Might as well try GFWL and see how it measures up.
2) I download the GFWL client. Well, I download the launcher that will install the client. And now I can-
What? The installer says I need a Windows XP hotfix? As in: I need to alter my operating system in order to install a DLC store so I can consider buying a game? Fine. Jerks.
3) Reboot what? Close all my programs? I’M IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMETHING HERE, ASSHOLE.
Suddenly we hit level four of a nested problem and I begin to become unreasonably irate.
4) Fine, computer rebooted. GFWL installed. Get my windows all open again so I can resume the stuff I was doing. Now where was I? Oh right…
Browse the store. Okay. $10. Not a great price for three hours of content. If fact, that’s pretty damn abysmal. But I’ll pay it. Let’s get some Microsoft points. I enter my credit card, confirm all the details, and fiddle around as you do with these sorts of transactions. After which…
Oh wow. “Transaction cannot be performed at this time”. A completely generic and uninformative failure message. How… Microsoft of you.
5) Let’s follow the link to see what the problem might be…
What? A popup? You want to know if I’m using a black or a white Xbox? And what interface I’m using? I don’t… I don’t see how this is relevant to the problem at hand. What if I didn’t own an Xbox? But fine, you nosy idiots. I’ll randomly make some choices so we can move on.
And… nothing. There is absolutely nothing anywhere on this page that gives me the slightest clue as to why my transaction couldn’t be processed at this time. This page is – as the URL suggests – 100% about Xbox issues and doesn’t even mention GFWL.
Wrong credit card number? Servers down? I don’t even know if the problem is on my end, or theirs. It just mysteriously doesn’t work and nobody can do anything about it.
6) Okay. Google tells me nothing. I jump back to GFWL and just try the operation again in blind desperation. But it seems I’ve been logged out. Like, GFWL times out after a while? Like a webpage? Well, if we were doing this through the web, that would be fine. But then why did I have to download this client and patch my operating system so I could use what is basically a web browser?
Fine. Name. Password. Re-submit.
And it works! Whew.
7) Okay. I come back to this window, type the above 3 paragraphs, Alt-Tab back to GFWL and hit “download”.
But it has logged me out. Again.
There is no way to simply stay logged in. No way to have it remember my password. And it logs me out after five minutes every time. Is this really how it works? You have to keep typing in your password all the time?
8) Okay. Download done. Now what? I mean, how do I play it or activate it or install it or whatever? There’s nothing for me to click. It just says “downloaded”.
For laughs, I fire up the game, but the content isn’t there. So, I need to do something. GFWL has no directions whatsoever. Nothing. I hunt around and find “Download Management”, which offers a link to where all of my downloaded content is stored locally.
The specified directory is empty.
Well, I downloaded 336Mb of something. It must be somewhere on my computer, although it’s pretty hard to search for it when you have no idea where it might be or what it might be called.
I scan my hard drive for everything beginning with “anchorage” and eventually it finds the goods in:
C:\Documents and Settings\Name\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\XLive\DLC\xxxxxxxx\xxxxxxxx\xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx\Content
(I replaced some huge numbers with X’s because I have no idea if they encode anything sensitive or not.)
Not exactly intuitive. There are three files in there. Because I’ve spent hours messing about with community mods, I recognize them and I know to put these files into Fallout 3/Data and then start the mod manager, enable the mod, and then launch the game. I do not think this is a reasonable thing to expect all users to know how to do.
9) At last, I can play my content.
Six years after Steam claimed the entire New World of digital distribution, Microsoft is still fumbling around trying to figure out how to use the internet. If this was a game of Civilization, then Gabe Newell is working on stage three of his spaceship to Alpha Centauri, and Bill Gates has just showed up to attack him with a catapult and a spearman.
(A small silver lining: The DLC didn’t come with any DRM that I can see. It’s just loose files and I’m pretty sure I could back them up and use them on a later computer without having to authenticate anything.)
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.