Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition, constant UAC popups

So on a recent reinstall of my Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition in Steam I was confronted with a UAC (User Account Control) popup from Windows every single time I started it. Dark Souls used to use Games for Windows Live in the past. As some point it switched over to Steamworks. Unfortunately the installscript.vdf file was not adjusted to reflect this. It still tries to call the gfwlivesetup part of the setup because it never completes and the required registry key is missing. So because of this is falls into an infinite check, popup UAC cycle.

To fix this, open up the registry editor by running regedit, navigate to ComputerHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREWow6432NodeValveSteamApps211420, in the right pane right-click, select New » DWORD (32-bit) Value and name it gfwlivesetup. Double-click this newly created entry and enter 1 for the value. Exit the registry editor and start Dark Souls. You should not see the UAC popup anymore.

Steam indefinite update paused

So recently I had an issue with Steam where the Witcher 2 update got stuck at 99% and the status "Update Paused". No matter what I tried with the pause/resume button, I couldn't get it to budge from this status and actually update.

After a while I grabbed Process Explorer from the Microsoft website and checked the files that were being opened when I toggled this state. I noticed a reference to Steamsteamappsdownloading20920CookedPCpack0.dzip. Then I also noticed a file reference to Steamsteamapplogscontent.log. Upon checking that file I found a notice that it was trying to preallocate about 11 GB for this pack0.dzip. Checking my drive status, I saw that this particular drive letter only had about 9 GB left. Freeing up some space allowed the update process to actually start and finish, after which I got even more space back, since it seems Steam downloads these files and then replaces them, deleting the temporary one. So I guess the lesson learnt is that you should always have enough disk space free as the single largest file in any of your games.

Small touches that inspire

It's the littlest of things that can really brighten my mood when I notice them. In this case I was watching Fallout: New Vegas' DLC trailer for Honest Hearts. In the trailer you see the player with a pistol and on one side of the pistol at least is written:

καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν

This is Greek and refers to the second part of the verse of John 1:5 in the New Testament of the bible, meaning in English: "and the darkness did not comprehend it". In my opinion a great way to bring enlightenment by the bullet.

What is that flaw with computer RPGs?

In the article "Jeff Vogel's View From the Bottom #7" Jeff Vogel talks about how he starts to hate computer roleplaying games (RPG). It is funny, but I have recently been thinking about these things as well.

I recently moved house and finally had normal use of my PlayStation 2 and various other equipment again. So I set out to finally finish Final Fantasy IX, X and X-2. Final Fantasy IX wasn't as bad as X was when it came to having to grind your way constantly in order to not suck at the next part where some boss enemy would otherwise kick your butt hard. What's even more perplexing is the fact that Square Enix in some strange state of mind forces you to go through games of reflex (some very bizarre) in order to obtain some item so that you can get the other item/weapon/thinghymajig that will enable to more easily beat the game.

Now, I am not sure what part got confused, but would I be playing an RPG game if I wanted to be tested on my reflexes? If I want to test my reflexes, I'll fire up Half-Life 2, multiplayer Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, or CounterStrike. I never understood these games of reflexes in adventure games like those from Sierra (remember Leisure Suit Larry) and I do not understand them from the point of view of an RPG. No, I do not want to do a bloody Chocobo race! Perhaps I am alone in this mindset, but I do not think so. I do not mind categories to blend, it can make games more interesting, but in these cases it just serves no point whatsoever.

Perhaps this is why Zelda always didn't annoy people. It does not pretend to be one thing and annoy you with something else. You are attacked in real-time by monsters, you fight back in real-time. You have a wimpy three hearts of energy at the start, but as you beat more bosses you gain more hearts. Alternatively you can find more heart pieces that will, once you collect four pieces, give you an additional heart as well. Parts you cannot do or reach is solely due to you not having item X or Y. And you typically do not have to jump to various hoops to get these items. Normally it's either reaching some location and open a chest or beat a monster and gain said item. There's one part in Oracle of Seasons where you have to dance in order to obtain the boomerang. It might take you perhaps three of four times to get it right, but it is obtainable.

Now, try to race the Chocobo in Remiem Temple and try to get three chests. No matter how hard I tried, and granted I might just be bad in this, I managed to get one or two chests only. Reaching for the third always made me loose to the other racer. It gets even more bizarre in the manner that you need one or two 300-400 page strategy books to find out about all secrets. I am all for secrets, but this is getting bizarre beyond comparison (and yes, I have two of the Japanese Final Fantasy X books, and one for X-2, if only for the artwork).

Now, I played World of Warcraft for a few months, but it became so tedious. The moment you encountered someone from the opposite faction who was perhaps two-three levels above your current level you might just get your butt handed to you. I will readily accept that someone of a higher level can beat you more easily, but normally you have at least a fighting chance. Also, to obtain these levels you have to go grinding (the act of sharpening, in the case of MMORPGs the act of building up experience points to gain a higher level) in order to improve. Sure, I can accept the fact that you need experience, it is no different from joining a martial arts group in order to learn a specific art. But there is a big difference here, I think, between the paper based RPGs and the computer ones when it comes to characters and experience. With the paper-based ones you can at least express yourself and choose your path, especially along the axis of alignment (good, evil, chaotic, lawful). With World of Warcraft, no matter which faction you choose, you wind up doing quests that all push your character towards a lawful good or neutral good alignment. You do not have the option yourself to assume a mantel of evil. And that also brings us back to major problem with computer RPGs, you make no lasting impact on the world around you. And ultimately, this was what RPGs set out to do with the paper-based variant. We all loved The Lord of the Rings that we wanted to play our own parts in such grandiose stories and alter the course of history or at least die trying. So, aside from the time spent on the game leveling and gaining items, just what exactly did you accomplish in the world you played in with, say, World of Warcraft?

Dark Age of Camelot

Currently I am playtesting a lot of MMORPGs and today I tried out Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC). It just didn't work for me. The entire moving feels sluggish, the interface feels clumsy and the non-player character (NPC) interaction reminds me of dealing with old-style MUDs. The setting seems promising though, especially the inter-realm warfare, but to me the pleasure was quickly drained due to the highly annoying user interface (UI).

There's no easy way by default to get to the option screen. I mean, people nowadays almost expect the escape key to be bound to the game menu or options menu. Nearly every game has this. The entire UI handling is slow that it feels like trying to maneuver through syrup or something. Not to mention that the talking with NPCs is grating, you get a window with some text, some word is underlined, you click on it, you get more text and it goes a few times like this, and you wind up with some quest.

The graphics do not look too bad or dated, but didn't really inspire much. And the weird thing is that I already experienced some strange glitches where one moment I saw a bunch of enemies standing around and next they just disappeared only to rematerialize a few seconds later.

Perhaps the game gets better later but it just couldn't keep me enticed. The slugginess is compared to World of Warcraft, Ryzom, and EverQuest II.