So it seems I’ve finally caught up to 2007, not only have I got this twitter thing (about which I have another blog entry forming) but after 920 days since the last time I used it, I’ve re-installed Steam. I’ll be first to admit, I’m a sucker for a bit of a freebie give-away, and what better give-away is there than Valve’s Portal free to claim till May 24th.
Now at this point, I might have talked about the game (not that it’s really useful any more), or about how Steam has fixed those things that made me stop using it, over 2 years ago. Unfortunately, everything that I disliked about Steam then, seems more or less to still be present in Steam now.
I current live in a British post-war new town suburb, which means my local internet exchange, is quite literally miles away (about 2km as the crow flies). So this ludicrous notion that Steam seems to have, that everyone on-line has a 50Mbps 2ms latency connection that never ever has an issues whatsoever, makes using the service, rather challenging, hence my original dropping of it.
This is a run down of my latest experience with Steam:
It took about 2 minutes to download the 1.5MB pre-installer for Steam, which then took another 10+ minutes to update. After which Steam.exe decided not to play ball, and just sat idle in processes, holding 10Mb of RAM. One ‘End Process’ later, and I’m greeted by the login, which I fill in, and click Login, which Steam decided it didn’t like, and stopped responding.
At this point, I gave up for a while, figuring the servers might be a tad busy. So I tried again, an hour or so later, and after a little persuasion, and 2 more unresponsive processes, I was greeted by…. another Steam update box. You just updated Steam, what could possibly have changed? No matter, it was a quick update, and Steam’s GUI finally appears.
What I get is Steam showing me the Store, minus all it’s CSS styling, white background and blue links, and an update window on top, that after a couple minutes, decides to show me a 503 – Service unavailable page. Promptly after loading all this, Steam again stops responding, and has to be forced closed. Relaunching it, I manage to catch the stop button on the Store, and while the update window still shows a 503, Steam remains responsive at last.
So I close that, and start finishing around, looking for the things that previously irked me. An Offline mode, that you have to login once to use, no option for bandwidth throttling, and games that patch the data files, while still downloading the patch, rendering your game a useless clutter of data. Unfortunately these are all still as present in Steam today as Steam 2 years ago.
That last one really bugs me, okay live patching is fine for things like MMOs, but single-player games? Even games with an on-line option, shouldn’t be crippled this way. Disable the Multi-player, download the patch in the background, give me a little pop-up and apply it once it’s all downloaded. That way I can still enjoy the game, I paid for, when I want to.
As it stands, on slow connections, an update happens, and I’d be locked out of my game while it downloads, which in the case of some updates that measure in the hundreds of MB, is likely to be a while. Multiple hours, if I drop everything I’m doing on-line, and let Steam takeover, days, if I stop and start it, when I have a gap, by which time, for certain titles, it’s quite possible there’s another update to get and the whole thing starts over. Not fun.
I know this sounds quite whiny, but really, it can and really aught to be done better than this.
Well, that’s that, Steam can sit for a while, until I get some free bandwidth. In the meantime, I shall go do something constructive.