Sunday, November 11, 2007

Richard Garriott's Pain in My Ass

As a game designer I tend to take a very critical look at how other game companies do things. ...and then I complain about them. That second part doesn't have anything to do with being a game designer, that's just me. I’m not saying I, the company I work for, or the product we just put out is perfect either, it’s just that it isn’t very professional to complain about those things in public so I’m forced to pick on other people and their products.

It is day 4 in my attempt to play “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa”. I have now given up on my attempt to get my normal account name back and am trying to use my other account. At this point I am also trying to act like some average consumer when faced with problems. For example I am now pretending I know nothing about the connection between the game and NCSoft, specifically the fact that I have to use a Master PlayNC account to then add “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa”.

The little card with my “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa” Serial Code that came in the box simply says to launch the game and follow the instructions. I click the “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa” icon on my desktop, it loads the PlayNC launcher and I click on “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa” under the Installed list and then press “Play Now.” It goes through a patch check, EULA, logo screens, skips the movie because it already played it once when I first installed and updated and I am eventually faced with a login screen and asked for my account and password.

It has not yet told me that how I should go about making an account. The only options I can select are Options (Video/Audio/Game/Key Bindings), Cinematic, Credits, and Exit.

I type some random stuff in the account and password fields and press return. The computer is now locked up and both ALT-Tab and CTRL-ALT-DEL do nothing. I know what the problem is. They blew test number one. They didn’t take software firewalls into account and Zone Alarm’s little dialog is blocked behind their screen and they won’t let me ALT-Tab out to say that it’s okay for “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa” to access the Internet. I have to force shut down my machine at this point because it doesn’t appear to be timing out.

Luckily Zone Alarm now remembers incomplete failed software access attempts so I just have to open up its menu and say allow “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa”. Before Zone Alarm did this if you never answered the ‘Allow’ or ‘Block’ dialog the program wouldn’t show up in the list. Granted if you aren’t familiar with stupid launcher programs that do crap like this, you still wouldn’t know why your computer is locking up.

Okay so I get back to the password screen and type random stuff and it just tells me to check my spelling etc. It does say that if I need help retrieving account information I should go to for more information. But it has never told me how to go about creating an account in the first place.

I go back to the PlayNC launcher and press the Help link. It loads up Internet Explorer which is NOT my default browser. I use Firefox. For a moment I shake my fist at the computer while pretending I’m a ranting, anti-Microsoft, computer guy. I yell and scream for a few minutes about the “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa” sullying my computer with Internet Explorer and probably downloading viruses as we speak. Seriously, if you are going to launch a browser, launch the default browser on the machine.

Lets look at the link on the Serial Code card, RGTR stands for “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa” and it yes, every where they print the name of the game they have to spell out the whole thing. Kinda like the old Virgin Game’s “The 11th Hour: The Sequel to the 7th Guest.” Same thing and I swear it made the manual twice as long. It’s so stupid. Marketing feels that putting Richard’s name on the title like that might help sell the game. He’s a famous guy, we all love Ultima. I get that, I get putting it on the box, but the extra step of bonding his name to the title is annoying. It is ridiculous to read when used in a sentence. And they obviously don’t want you typing that whole thing out in the URL so they shortened it to RGTR which now isn’t connected to the either his name or the game anymore! You might have noticed I’ve gone back over this post and replaced everywhere I had Tabula Rasa with “Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa” just to drive the point home. I do wonder if I could legally put out my own game called “Joseph B. Hewitt IV’s Tabula Rasa”?

Anyway the official game web site… going to look through their forums to see if anybody else has this problem. Community link to Forum & Fansites link… to umm no official forums. They are all fansite forums.

Okay I give up. I didn’t mean to write another really long complaining post. I was just going to post a small thing about them locking up my computer with Zone Alarm and it somehow blew up into this whole thing. I’m going to turn my brain back on and log in with my PlayNC account. I really don’t know how a casual, non-technical, person would ever figure out how to actually log into the game. Going to the PlayNC site, creating an account there, adding the game through that site, THEN logging into the game isn’t a natural process. You would think they would put all that on the Serial Code card but instead they link to the official game site. There do seem to be people online right now playing "Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa" so maybe it’s just me.

1 comment:

Kilo said...

At least you could get through the patch. My install of Tabula Rasa keeps breaking down when I try to patch it, because various files somehow can't be written for no reason at all. Such as the very complex and important version.ini, where, if you go in and manually change the version number after the updater fails to "repair" the "broken" file, gives no problems at all. Unfortunately, that's only one of the inexplicably inaccessible files, and the others aren't so simple as changing a version number.