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Month: November 2009

Left 4 Dead 2

Left 4 Dead 2

If I’m not at work right now, I’m playing Left 4 Dead 2. It just released on Steam for PC Tuesday night.  It’s one of the first games I’ve actually pre-ordered well in advance of the game and pre-loaded from Steam’s online service.  Here was my experience:

  1. It was unexpectedly late by over an hour with no explanation – Steam prominently posted that the game would release/unlock at 9pm PST on Tuesday.  I loaded up Steam on my PC at 9pm, but it showed as still not released yet.  I went to the forums, but the Steam Forum website was so overloaded that no amount of cajoling would get the page to come up – it just timed out continually.  The main purchase page said it was still set for 9pm release, but there was absolutely no status, news, or updates on why it wasn’t working.  I went to other gamer forums where people were beginning to rage.  It was midnight on the east coast, and folks had been staying up late to try it out.  I watched an episode of Mythbusters and a Twilight Zone while the online rage continued – and utter, complete silence from Valve as to what was going on.
  2. Unlocking/decompressing it went awry – Around 10pm, the Steam forum started to come back enough to read what problems people were experiencing.  First off, restart the Steam service (which took several tries while the login attempts timed out) – then my machine recognized that the game was released.  I clicked on the app to trigger decryption, and after a little while with the dialog up indicting it was trying to verify something – the box went away and it did nothing.  No error message, also no playable, decrypted game.  I rush over to the forums which are already lighting up with folks having all kinds of problems.  I dug through the problem descriptions until I found a likely solution and had to follow these steps to get the thing to start decrypting:

    # Exit Steam
    # Open a ‘Command Prompt’ (cmd.exe if you are using ‘Run…’ from the start menu)
    # Run: “c:Program FilesSteambinSteamService.exe” /repair
    # Note: Change “c:Program Files” to wherever you have steam installed. For a 64 bit OS the default would be: “c:Program Files (x86)SteambinSteamService.exe” /repair-
    # Start Steam

    This worked, but I STILL need to do this every time I restart Steam or the game won’t load…

  3. Random crashes to desktop: After decryption (about 20-30 minutes total – now making my 9pm release time about 10:40pm), I finally got the game to play after a few more clicks on the game with silent failures while it’s trying to ‘sync’ with something, then it fires up.  Glorious!  I hop into a game and start having a blast (literally and metaphorically).  I play for about 2 hours, then right in the middle of the finale of Dark Carnival – it crashes me right to the desktop. No warning, no error, etc.  Wham.  I restart and after about another hour, it does it again.  Then one final time and I go to bed.  Already folks are seeing all kinds of problems, and this was one of them.  Next day, I have Steam verify the downloaded game cache – and it has 2 corrupt files that it re-downloads.  Shesh – had been playing it for hours and it didn’t check that?  But it still keeps randomly crashing to the desktop – and someone on the forum suggests this solution:

    1.Click on Start
    2.Click on My Computer
    3.Click on Your C: Drive
    4.Find & Open Windows Folder
    5.Find the CSC folder/right click then properties/Security
    6.You will need to get or give your user account admin rights to the folder once you do that make sure you give all rights to that user.
    7.Click apply & click ok
    8.Close down Steam and Restart it
    9.If Done Correctly Your Left 4 dead 2 game will work with no problems.
    10.Enjoy The Game
    11.If your still having problems make sure you look over the steps in this list and make sure you did everything right

  4. It works – but still utter silence from Steam/Valve – All this finally appears to fix my problems – but there’s lots of others still having problems (such as the dread error 35, error 2, and others still around from the demo release) that prevent them from playing the game.  Valve has still said absolutely nothing on the forums about anything going wrong.  It’s just users helping each other.  Overall, I’m seriously re-evaluating ever buying something pre-load from Steam again.  For the first time in a long time, I really felt utterly helpless after getting a new game and wondered how many days it might be before the game I bought a MONTH ago might work.

Still, Left 4 Dead 2 is an amazing game – and it’s fantastic fun.  Steam has now left a horrible taste in my mouth – but it’s done that before.  Still, I’ll certainly be spending most of my nights playing this for the forseeable future!

McDonalds call-centers its drive-ups?

McDonalds call-centers its drive-ups?

Due to a lot of my work with Project Offset, I’ve been flying a lot more lately.  I was late for catching a plane, but desperately needed to get some food in me.  I swung by a McDonalds and hit the drivethru.  I ordered a sausage sandwich, but when I go to the window, I realized they quoted me $2.50 or such and the board had read $1 something.  When I got to the pay window, and asked about it – and the guy said, “Yeah, sometimes those guys ring it up wrong”.  Huh?  Did you take my order?  No, he tells me that this McDonalds has its drive-up order taking boards hooked to call centers somewhere else some of the times – mostly in the mornings.

Long story short – the guy taking your order might be half-way around the country.  I don’t wonder if this was something that these call centers have turned to since the do-not-call list has really cut down their volume, but it’s an interesting development.