M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Tuesday, September 06, 2005  

Fun and Games: Mutually Exclusive?

One thing I don't miss about my early days of PC gaming is that moment when the install splash screen comes up and there's that long, suspenseful moment when you wait to see if the game you're hoping to enjoy will even work on your machine.

I don't miss it because it still happens.

The weekend before last, Zen Viking was in town and he came over on Saturday to play computer games. We didn't have a game picked out or anything; we just figured that with the teetering stack of unopened game boxes and jewel cases in my study, we'd probably be able to find something to divert us for a few hours.

We bought Myst IV Revelation months ago, as soon as it came out. I tried to install it back in May, but quickly discovered that I had about a third of the hard drive space and half the processing speed it calls for. So that was out of the question. But that was okay, since Myst games tend to take weeks rather than one Saturday. We put it aside and dug into our stash of games made by the PC gaming equivalent of CheapAss Games.

We shuffled through them and, after some discussion, settled on The Crystal Key. I went into the study to install it while they played with M. Small. I watched the progress bar reach 26%, then 42%, then stop. The entire system froze, in fact. I tried again. Same result.

We picked another game. Dark Fall, I think. My computer didn't even read the disk on this one.

Same with Traitor's Gate.

Obviously there was some problem with my computer. I brought down a spare CPU; hooked it up to my monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers; and tried to load The Crystal Key. Which froze the system with the progress bar at 42%.

The other games I tried behaved similarly.

I went back upstairs and unhooked Trash's computer, the best, most powerful box in the house, from its peripherals and hauled it downstairs. I hooked it up in my study. The best, most powerful box in the house could not resist the system-freezing properties of The Crystal Key. At 42%, no less.

Again, the other games failed to install properly.

We tried a different game, which we knew wouldn't be a problem because it was relatively dated. The hurdle it threw up--the fact that the system didn't have Quicktime 4.0 installed--seemed surmountable. We just waited twenty minutes while it uninstalled Quicktime 6.0 and installed Quicktime 4.0 in its place.

And then it didn't work anyway.

The next game we tried didn't last long. Once it gave us a message saying it required Quicktime 2.0, it was done as far as we were concerned.

We resigned ourselves, then, to playing Myst IV Revelations, knowing we wouldn't make much of a dent in it given what was now left of our afternoon. I put the install disk into Trash's drive, saw that the process was going to take a good thirty minutes, and went to hang out with everybody else in the living room.

Thirty-one minutes later, the game refused to work. The launch screen would come up, but if you clicked on Play it would just disappear. We installed again. Same deal. We tried swapping the disks between the two CD drives. No joy. No help in the ReadMe file either (which, as always, might as well have been called the BiteMe file). We went online (after plugging in the Ethernet cable, of course, because I hadn't doen that when I hooked up everything else) and found the source of the problem.

Myst IV Revelations is available exclusively on DVD. This means you need a DVD drive on your computer to play it. Which was not a problem, because, as I've said, Trash's computer is fairly advanced, and it has one.

What is a problem is that Myst IV Revelations does not work on a system with Windows 2000. The site even has this totally condescending way of putting it: "Keep in mind that Windows 2000 is primarily an office operating system, and is not optimized for computer gaming." Like we're the idiots for having a hard drive that outstores NASA's entire Apollo program ten times over and a video card that didn't exist a year ago and a built-in DVD drive separate from the CD-ROM drive, and we're not running them on a computer with a seven-year-old operating system. Gee, sorry. Stupid us. Fuckers.

Of course there was a patch, which we downloaded. Of course it didn't work.

And then we tried this game that has Tim fucking Curry in it. It installed and started fine, but then when we actually began game play, in place of a game display we got an error message reading "You must have Quicktime 6.0 to play."

By this time it was down to a Sherlock Holmes game that Trash and I had each tried and gotten stuck halfway through, and Sam & Max Hit the Road. We went with the Sherlock Holmes game.

I'm proud to say that we finished it in about six hours. This was, of course, with liberal use of a couple of online walkthroughs, especially as midnight drew near. We wouldn't have needed nearly so much help if we'd been able to play for an extra three hours instead of spending three hours trying to actually get a game going.

Old friends, old computer problems. The nostalgia of it all just about made me shit my pants.

Today's best search phrase: "Trash can turkey." Oh, just buy a deep-fryer, you cheapskate.

posted by M. Giant 9:10 PM 4 comments


De-lurking to post... when I first read "Trash can turkey", I thought it meant Trash (your wife) can (is able to) turkey (wha...?). Threw me for a loop before I realized trash and can needed to go together to form a noun, instead of a noun-verb phrase. I thought turkey was some kind of new dance or something. Or maybe gobble like a turkey? Anyway, I think I'm fully awake now. Thanks for the morning's brain teaser! :)

By Anonymous felides, at September 7, 2005 at 6:26 AM  

Trust me, you are not missing anything by not getting The Crystal Key to work. The graphics were crappy, the story was non-existant, and it only takes about 2 hours to play. It's a poor, poor substitute for the Myst games.

By Blogger Rebecca, at September 7, 2005 at 7:01 AM  

Thanks, guys -- it really was like those marathon game nights of old. And the lameware issues just made more room for quality time (with the bambino, as well as y'all).

May I recommend a good time-waster? 'Urban Dead' is a low-tech and thoroughly fun Web-based zombie movie. And it should work, honest.

By Blogger Febrifuge, at September 10, 2005 at 11:46 AM  

(just google up the name and you'll find the Urban Dead site.)

By Blogger Febrifuge, at September 10, 2005 at 11:47 AM  

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