Happy Fun Time with Electronic Arts

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | October 1, 2012 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: editorial, ea, battlefield 3

You know, I used to love Electronic Arts.  There was a time in my younger days where seeing their name emblazoned on a PC game box as I wandered the aisles of Electronics Boutique was all I needed to see to buy it.  I can still remember the scrolling colors through the big "E C A" on my Commodore 64 as I anxiously waited for Bards Tale or Racing Destruction set to load.  Ah...the good old days.

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Sadly, that warm and fuzzy feeling is long gone, and over the years I've come to dislike just about everything about EA and what they've become.  My most recent foray into the mess that is EA has killed any nostalgia I had for them.  Let's walk through the fun.

I love the BattleField series of games, and have been an avid fan of them ever since the days of BF 1942.  Some of my best memories of LAN parties were BF 1942.  Whether it was driving like mad in a Jeep from one end of Wake Island to the other to try to stop a flag capture, or jumping into a T-34 in Kursk, it was about as much fun as I can recall having with a video game.  Over the years I've picked up most of the BF incarnations and when Battlefield 3 came out, I picked up a copy on release day for my XBox.  I generally like playing games on PC's over consoles, especially First Person Shooters, but I had a few friends that were playing on XBox and we all wanted to jump in and play together.  Even though I'm awful using the controller to play, we had a blast, but after a few months we stopped playing.

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Fast forward to the other day and the PcPer crew decides they want to play BF3 after the recent podcast.  I definitely can't pass up the option to get in on some Battlefield goodness, so even though I've already forked over $60 for the game and another $20 for the first expansion pack to EA on my XBox, I'm stuck with having to buy another copy of the game, just so I can play on a different platform.  Off to Amazon and another $35 funnels into EA's coffers.  Two hours and a 10 GB download later the install starts and up comes...

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Ugh...Origin...really?  I can understand why EA wants its own online game distribution system, but c'mon!  I already have a ton of games through Steam and everything works without a hitch.  Origin is a mess and I've had nothing but problems with it in the past.  I dislike using it so much that I won't buy a game if I know I have to install and use Origin to play.

But I digress.  I've already thrown another $35 at EA and we're going to play tonight, so I guess I'll just deal with it.  Hoping to fire it up and get my keybindings setup and a little bit of practice in I double click on the BF3 icon and a browser window opens.  What in the heck?  A browser?  Where's the game?  I close the browser figuring something is wrong, double click on the game icon again and up pops the browser.  Jeezalou.  I struggle for a few minutes trying to remember my ID and password for EA's site and when I finally do get in I'm looking at my stats page for my soldier.  My soldier on the XBox.  Clicking through the menus I vainly try to find a button that will let me launch the game when I notice a little drop down arrow under my Soldier name that says "BF3 XBOX".  Click on that and there's "BF3 PC".  Seriously?  I have to start over and lose all my unlocks?  My google-fu finds that there's no way to merge the two, because apparently EA doesn't understand the concept of a shared database.

Regardless, I eventually find a button labeled "Quick Match" and here we go...

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<Click>

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Holy batsnots, seriously?  In this day and age, I can't play a AAA title video game on my PC because my default browser is 64-bit?  Good lord!  I really don't want to change my default browser just to play this game, so I end up having to fire up a 32 bit version of Internet Explorer, copy and paste the link into that just so I can try to launch the game.  Error message doesn't pop up, but now I apparently need a few plugins.  At this point I had to replace my keyboard as the head bashing knocked a few keys off.  Once I get all the plugins installed I click on the "Quick Match" button again and...

Waiting...

Waiting...

Still waiting...

Continue reading our editorial on the pains of Battlefield 3 on the PC...

Manufacturer: PC Perspective

I say let the world go to hell

… but I should always have my tea. (Notes From Underground, 1864)

You can praise video games as art to justify its impact on your life – but do you really consider it art?

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Best before the servers are taken down, because you're probably not playing it after.

Art allows the author to express their humanity and permits the user to consider that perspective. We become cultured when we experiment with and to some extent understand difficult human nature problems. Ideas are transmitted about topics which we cannot otherwise understand. We are affected positively as humans in society when these issues are raised in a safe medium.

Video games, unlike most other mediums, encourage the user to coat the creation with their own expressions. The player can influence the content through their dialogue and decision-tree choices. The player can accomplish challenges in their own unique way and talk about it over the water cooler. The player can also embed their own content as a direct form of expression. The medium will also mature as we further learn how to leverage interactivity to open a dialogue for these artistic topics in completely new ways and not necessarily in a single direction.

Consciously or otherwise – users will express themselves.

With all of the potential for art that the medium allows it is a shame that – time and time again – the industry and its users neuter its artistic capabilities in the name of greed, simplicity, or merely fear.

Care to guess where I am headed? Buckle in.

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Subject: Editorial
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Introduction, Low-Power Computing Was Never Enjoyable

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It was nearly five years ago that ASUS announced the first Eee PC model at Computex. That October the first production version of what would to be called a netbook, the ASUS Eee PC 4G, was released. The press latched on to the little Eee PC, making it the new darling of the computer industry. It was small, it was inexpensive, and it was unlike anything on the market.

Even so, the original Eee PC was a bit of a dead end. It used an Intel Celeron processor that was not suited for the application. It consumed too much power and took up a significant portion of the netbook’s production cost. If Intel’s Celeron had remained the only option for netbooks they probably would not have made the leap from press darling to mainstream consumer device.

It turned out that Intel (perhaps unintentionally) had the solution – Atom. Originally built with hopes that it might power “mobile Internet devices” it proved to be the netbook’s savior. It allowed vendors to squeeze out cheap netbooks with Windows and a proper hard drive.

At the time, Atom and the netbook seemed promising. Sales were great – consumers loved the cute, pint-sized, affordable computers. In 2009 netbook sales jumped by over 160% quarter-over-quarter while laptops staggered along with single-digit growth. The buzz quickly jumped to other products, spawning nettops, media centers and low-power all-in-one-PCs. There seemed to be nothing an Atom powered computer could not do.

Fast forward. Earlier this year, PC World ran an article asking if netbooks are dead. U.S. sales peaked in the first quarter of 2010 and have been nose-diving since then, and while some interest remains in the other markets, only central Europe and Latin America have held steady. It appears the star that burned brightest has indeed burned the quickest. 

But why?

Continue reading our editorial on the problems with low power x86 processors...