Wednesday, April 11, 2007

PC Gaming Frustrations

I'm a die-hard PC gamer. My favorite games and even types of games are PC only. I've never really gotten into console games. The last console I owned was the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

But sometimes PC gaming gets really frustrating. Now, I'll admit that my current system is not top-of-the-line. In fact, it's probably closer to bottom-of-the-line by now, especially as it's a laptop. But WoW runs decently on it, so it's okay for my purposes.

In any case, I picked up Jade Empire: Special Edition today. I install it, and run it. The game launches one of those setup utilities where it reports what can go wrong. It reports that my desktop is running at 16-bit and that I have generic monitor drivers, and this may cause a problem. I shrug and launch the game anyways.

The game immediately crashes to the desktop.

I set the desktop to 32-bit and try again. The game crashes again.

So I set out on that time-honored ritual of the PC gamer: updating drivers. I hit up Windows Update, get all the DirectX updates, get new video drivers, new motherboard drivers, new sound drivers, pretty much everything I could find.

The game still crashes to the desktop.

I reinstall the game. It still crashes.

I give up and jump to the Support forums. After perusing threads, and examining logs, it turns out that my video card is below the minimum specifications. Which does suck, but was a reasonable risk given the quality of my computer.

What really annoys me is that this wasn't caught by their setup utility. Rather than giving pointless warnings about bit depth of the desktop, telling me that my video card isn't supported would have been far more useful.

It's getting close to raid time, so I leave Jade Empire to the side and fire up WoW. Ironforge seems a bit laggier than normal, but I chalk that up to random internet chaos. I get to Karazhan, and zone in.

When the fighting starts, my graphics start stuttering like crazy. Thinking something had changed when I updated video card drivers, I turn down all the graphics settings. No help. The game is pretty much unplayable.

I drop from the raid, and try to find older drivers. Finding older drivers turns out to be annoyingly hard. I go to the computer manufacturer's website, but for some reason it isn't working, and keeps timing out when I try to go to the support section.

Eventually, after Googling, I manage to get older drivers from the European site for my computer manufacturer. Installing those returns WoW to normal.

Sometimes gaming on a computer is a giant headache. If I had an XBox, all I have to do is toss the disc in the machine and it would magically work. No fiddling with drivers, or mysterious crashes. And it would cost so much less money.

It's especially ironic that all of this trouble was caused by a game that was originally made for a console.


  1. The flip side, of course, is the console gamer who is stuck with an awesome-yet-incredibly-buggy port of a PC game that can't be patched or modded. Elder Scrolls III was a terrific game but boy howdy was it a trial in epic frustration sometimes.

  2. You could've used the "Roll Back Driver" built into Windows XP instead of searching all over the net for the older driver.

  3. Doh, completely forgot about "Roll
    Back Driver". It's been a while since I've had to do this.