Games For Windows Live sucks

There is no way I can put it any better; Games For Windows Live (GFWL) is awful. Not only is it cumbersome, especially when combined with other forms of DRM such as those built into Steam, but it openly punishes gamers who most want to use Microsoft products.

Way back when, my first encounter with GFWL was Fallout 3. At first, I thought it was pretty cool that I could play Fallout 3 on my PC and get achievements in it that were reflected in my Xbox Live account. I don’t recall having any problems with using my Xbox while playing Fallout 3, so I didn’t get why so many other people had complaints about GFWL. It was just one more login to get it started, what’s the big deal?

Not too long ago, I bought the Game of the Year edition of Fallout 3 through Steam so I could play through all the DLC that I missed. I wasn’t thrilled to find out that even the Steam version had GFWL, but that didn’t immediately make me regret buying it. Since then I’ve gotten Fallout: New Vegas, which uses Steamworks, which provides the achievements and the ability to buy DLC through Steam.

I’ve played through Fallout: New Vegas and purchased all the DLC separate from my initial purchase, and never had a single problem. Throughout almost the entire game, I’ve watched TV shows and movies through Netflix on my xbox 360, which requires me to login to my Xbox Live account because an Xbox Live gold account is required to use Netflix.

Now I want to go back to Fallout 3 and play through it again, except when I start the game, it logs into my Xbox Live account and promptly disconnects from my xbox. GFWL and Xbox Live will not allow me to be logged into both services at the same time on the same account, despite the fact that I’m doing entirely different functions on two different devices.

I want to play Fallout 3 on my PC, and watch Netflix (which requires its own login and account, with its own costs!) on my Xbox 360. Because of Microsoft’s policies, I cannot do both without some inconvenience, being either having to re-login every time I finish an episode of a TV show or movie, or risk having achievements malfunction and not being able to use the DLC that I want to play in Fallout 3.

Because of these hassles, I can barely muster the enthusiasm to play Fallout 3. During my vacation, I sank over 40 hours into Fallout: New Vegas and watched an unholy amount of Netflix because the DRM and copy controls were not preventing me, the legitimate, paying consumer, from using those products which I’ve paid for. The other side of that is Fallout 3, where the DRM is actively working against me to prevent me from using both products at the same time.

These frustrations are what drive so many others to video game and movie/TV piracy. If I were downloading movies and TV shows illegally, I could watch as much as I want while being logged into GFWL because watching local media on an Xbox 360 does not need an Xbox Live gold account. Similarly, if I were playing a pirated, cracked copy of Fallout 3, I’d at least be able to play the game while being logged into Xbox Live because the cracked copy would bypass GFWL.

This doesn’t just affect Fallout 3. I have Section 8: Prejudice, which also uses GFWL, which I also can’t muster any enthusiasm to play. Section 8: Prejudice is also mostly a multiplayer game which takes advantage of GFWL matchmaking services. There is no logging in, logging out, logging in like sometimes works out in Fallout 3. It’s either GFWL or Xbox Live but never both. With these kind of irritations, it affects the community of a game. If it’s a hassle to play Section 8: Prejudice because of GFWL, it’s easier just to play one of the bazillion other multiplayer action games on PC that don’t need GFWL.

DRM only punishes legitimate, paying customers. It’s not a hassle for people who illegally download and pirate games and movies. Games For Windows Live is particularly bad because it doesn’t just affect one product, it affects multiple products across multiple platforms. I will be more wary in the future not to buy games that use Games For Windows Live because it sucks.


Clive Barker’s Jericho is not Clive Barker’s Undying

I have a lot of love for Clive Barker’s Undying. It oozed Clive Barker from beginning to end. It was a colorful, imaginative, and well-made first person shooter. Jericho is basically the polar opposite of Undying.

The premise of Jericho is that you play a member of a team of witches, warlocks, priests, and other occult figures sent to investigate an opening hole in the middle east. A bad guy is trying to open a breach to release The Firstborn, the thing the Christian god created before he created mankind. The team jumps back through times in which others have tried to unleash The Firstborn and so goes from modern times, to World War 2, to the crusades, to ancient Rome, to Sumeria.

So your guy dies early on, but he can possess the other members of the team, which gives the game its strongest hook. You can freely jump from team member to team member, each with unique weaponry and special abilities. The weapons all sound and perform really weakly. It takes a full magazine to kill the most basic enemies and it sounds you’re firing a rapid-fire BB gun. They all lack power. Of the special abilities, only a couple are worth using. There’s one that lets you shoot a guided sniper bullet, which will kill three enemies in one shot, and another that shoots a fire demon that automatically hits enemies and sets them on fire.

The design also suffers. No matter what time period you’re in, the game’s color palette has three colors: black, brown, and red. The enemies lack imagination in their design. Take a body, wrap it some straps, put a bag on its head, and color it brown and black. Ta da! And they all just run at you until you’ve put enough bullets in them to put them down.

The ending, like the rest of the game, is a complete disappoint. Spoiler alert, that childlike figure that has led you toward The Firstborn is The Firstborn. The Firstborn is a glowing green toddler. Like the previous bosses, it takes a little use of your special powers to beat The Firstborn, and then the game very suddenly ends. No epilogue, no resolution.

I don’t know what to say. I’ve tried really hard to like Jericho but it just doesn’t measure up to Undying. Supposedly a sequel is in the works. Hopefully it’ll fare a little better.

Personal Nonsense


Where the hell did today go? I can’t think of a single thing I did today that could be considered productive. I’ve watched some TV shows, and played some games but not much, and that’s it. Oh well.




I am, for the most part, okay with downloadable content (DLC). They usually expand the game, and are typically cheap enough to more than warrant a purchase for their content. However, I do not like reminders that some DLC exists because it was carved out of the game so that it could be sold later.

Case in point: Dragon Age: Origins. I know DA:O is an enormous game. I know it. I know it is chock full of content. So I find it odd that when the game opens up (as in, once you’re past the tutorial stuff), a conversation with a random person in your camp ends in a dialog option for “download new content to begin this quest”.

At first I thought that maybe it was one of those pieces of DLC that is offered as an incentive to people who buy the game new (which I did), and thus free. But when I opted to download it, the game pulled up the DLC menu, attempted to purchase the addon, and found I had insufficient Bioware points. So it wasn’t free, and this guy is hanging out in my camp as some sort of living advertisement for this non-free content and probably won’t go away until I buy it.

(Entirely-too-long-sidenote: why does every company need their own form of moon money to sell their DLC? Seriously, why can I not exchange American dollars or Euros or Zimbabwe dollars, or some other real currency for it? I don’t understand why they insist that I convert my cash into their limited-purpose currency, except to coerce me into buying more of it than I can spend. If my American dollar converts to 80 moon dollars, I can guarantee that those moon dollars will only come in $12 blocks, and that the content will sell in nice, clean $5 increments, thus leaving me with 160 spare moon dollars that are completely fucking worthless. It is irritating.)

Is this necessary? When the game starts, there’s a Downloadable Content menu option right there next to Load Game and Options. If you read any video game news site regularly, you will be beaten over the head repeatedly every single time a piece of DLC comes out. And if you don’t have regular internet access, and you’re playing DA:O offline, you can’t download any DLC anyway!

What I’m getting at is that for an immersive, and well thought out game such as Dragon Age: Origins, being given a dialog option that says “Download New Content” is entirely unnecessary and detracts from game’s experience. It’s a reminder that I’m not playing the whole game, because this piece is missing; a piece so vital that I’ve being given an opportunity to fill it in at first stop, in exchange for more money than that I’ve already spent.

Personal Nonsense

A roommate returns.

About midway through finals week, one of my roommate’s left. He said he was going home for a few weeks and didn’t really give a timeframe for coming back. That weekend, my other roommate moved out entirely to go live with his girlfriend. I had the whole place to myself!

I relaxed a little more. I kind of let myself spread outside of the confines of my room. All good things must come to an end, however, and my remaining roommate returned yesterday.

I almost wish he hadn’t left, because I got used to living alone. I could wander around the apartment in my underwear whenever. I could leave dishes and pans in the sink for a couple days. I didn’t have to get my clothes out of the dryer as soon as they were dry. I could leave a mess of razors and face cleaning stuff in the bathroom.

But now I have to go back to living-with-other-people mode. And it’s annoying.