Sunday, September 12, 2004

Why I won't be buying PC computer games

Big City Games - Official Site - FIM Speedway Grand Prix
Minimum System Requirements

Windows® 98/ME/2000/XP
Pentium III 500 MHz or equivalent
128 MB RAM
500 MB Hard Disk Space
DirectX compatible Graphics Card with 16 MB RAM
DirectX Compatible Sound Card
DirectX 8.1 or Higher
56k Modem for Internet play

The 7 yo and I are racing around the hardware store. He catches site of a pile of cheapo games, and at $5 a shot I weaken and grab this one.

Lesson #1: The cost of purchase is not related to the cost of ownership.

Go to blackboard and write 1000 times.

Without looking I assumed this was some discarded game from the 1990s. Something that old has a ghost of chance of running on the kids Win98 game machine or my the family Win2K box. (I don't let those stability destroying suckers onto my personal XP work machine.) Wrong. It's vintage 2003. Those "minimum requirements" are laughable.

I sort of got it running -- if one had extreme patience. A 20 minute install copied 350MB or so of data to my drive. The first time I tried it on the Win98 machine it promptly exceptioned with a "chrome ....dll error". I located a 1999 update to the old video card and it installed. Didn't show parts of the interface dialog boxes though -- probably some missing video functionality.

The next install was on a vintage 2000-2001 machine running Win2K. In theory it well exceeded the minimum specs -- after I updated DirectX from 5 to 9c. In practice the video didn't show (I suspect it needed a more recent version of Windows Media Player -- although that wasn't in the minimum requirement list). The game ran like molasses -- I suspect it really needs a fairly high end modern 3D graphics card (I'd set the display options to pretty minimal).

Finally I uninstalled and gave up.

Beyond RELEARNING lesson #1 for the THOUSANDTH time, this experience inspired a new conviction. NO MORE PC GAMES. I'm not willing to invest in the PC hardware to run them -- in particular I'm not willing to upgrade my hardware every 1-2 years.

I'll be educational software that's cross-platform (Mac/PC) IFF I know I can trust the recommended hardware specs. Otherwise I'll get a dedicated game box and keep the game stuff away from the PCs.

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