Tuesday, January 03, 2012

No more coal ..

It's a somewhat sad day. The Steam winter sales have all dried up and there's no more coal in my gift pile. Unfortunately it didn't turn into one of the mega prizes either, but I'd guess there would have been over 10 million chunks of peaty potential out there to compete with my remaining 4.

This holiday sale has reached a significant milestone in my love / hate relationship with Steam. I KNOW that the achievements are made to get me to buy new games (even old games with achievements are there purely as a reminder that the game was good, and you might want some DLC or new version before you're done), but I just don't care. It's fun. The first day had Dungeons of Dredmor and Orcs Must Die on sale along with snowy achievements. Both of those games I'd looked at in the past, but the achievements and cheap price were enough to get me to buy and play both of these. And it was fun. The next day the same. Wake up and load up steam, what will I be playing today? I trusted Steam to look after my holiday entertainment and it duly delivered.

Toward the end of the sale my interest had waned a little from that initial excitement, but looking back over the whole 12 days I've probably played 75% of my games directed by the achievement list. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't a list of things that you could win, or what you might be able to craft coal into, but rumours of winning all valve games was enough to keep converting the coal into something.

There has also been 2 significant advancements in the steam interface; you can store gifts instead of immediately passing them on, and you can now open gifts yourself. I know you used to be able to wangle both of these previously, but the recognition that people want to do this is what I'm happy about.This leads to a new purchasing method for me, especially in sales. If I like the game, but am not going to play it immediately, I can now buy it as a gift for myself, then only open it when I want to play it. This way if I haven't gotten around to opening it and someone else wants it, I can pass it on or trade it rather than having it sit uninstalled and locked into my steam account. I know it means that I'm probably going to buy even more 75% sales as speculators, but it's purely because it's making it easier for me. Convenience = win!

Steam is doing more and more things right. And best of all, it's getting out of the way for me to just play the games I want to play. I haven't had too many intallation or game issues recently, and my gripe list is getting smaller.

Speaking of the gripe list:
 - Please default games to NOT automatically update. I'm sick and tired of firing up the PC in the morning and having TF2 download another 2Gb.  There has got to others that are conscious about their bandwidth usage.
 - "Do not automatically download this game" means DON'T DOWNLOAD!! There's been a couple of games that keep updating regardless of the setting. The only fix seems to be to pause it during an upgrade and never unpause.
 - "This game is currently unavailable" meand that the game wants to be patched before you can play. Don't know why because most were single player games. It's getting in the way of me playing the game. Remove it or at least make the message a little more informative.
 - DX11 / .NET framework checks. Why does every single game want to install one or both of these common components? Can't steam detect that they are installed and skip this step? I know that they are probably embedded within the actual game installs, but I'd like Steam to be at least be able to provide games an idea of what's currently installed. Actually if this causes more games to not run on load, it can stay as it is, but I'd see this as the way of the future.
  - Allow an option to be less viscious with the SteamGuard checks. It feels like every month I've had to verify myself again, even though I have Steam open almost constantly. Yes, it's me. I'm still here. Considering turning it off, but I do like the idea and I do have almost $2000 to protect.