There’s a big blizzard outside, so today was bound to be a stay indoors type of day. Once I realized this in the early afternoon, I figured “eh, might as well get Steam and buy Half-Life 2″. I was going to eventually get it anyway, and it’s not like I need to go out into the cold to get it at retail, so why not?
The first 10 minutes was easy. Just downloaded the client, installed it, complained about the UI, and then went on to buy Half-Life 2 Silver. The process was quick and painless; before I knew it, I was choosing what games to download. I selected all, and then realized that it meant twenty fucking gigs. Yeesh. I choose only Half-Life 2 and Counter Strike: Source… it’s only like 6-8GB.
Hour One: watching it download and download, while listening to some music and surfing a bit.
Hour Two: I realize that I really don’t want to go outside into the blizzard despite the need to go pick up some groceries, so I order a pizza. Not long after, the game launch screen tells me that the game is ready! Woo.
I click to play, the resolution changes, and… nothing. Manually terminate the application, try again… nothing. Ok there. Hit support, see a few pointers, try a few of them out and… voila, the Valve logo pops up. Then a loading screen. Then nothing again. This time, even ctrl+alt+delete doesn’t save me.
Apparently, when Valve says the “game is ready”, they mean that it is not. I try a few things more, fail again, and loudly curse. At the exact same moment there was a knock at the door. That freaked me out a bit.
As I eat my pizza, I figured that I should wait for the download to hit 100% (it was at 65%) and try again later, despite the fact that Steam is telling me that I can already play the game. Lucky for me, I was getting some good network performance.
Hour Three: at 100%, I launch and it works! It works, and it blazes. Nice and fast, good performance, better design. I play it, I like it, I continue playing.
Hour Four: man, this game is good and the visuals are stunning and… crash. Try again. Crash. Time to redownload that 450 MB file.*sigh*.
Hour Five: “this should work now, why don’t I try to play this game at 1024 resolution?” Hey, this runs well. Alright, I finally made it past the area that kept crashing on me. Hmm, the sound is clicking a bit at this resolution, I think I’ll set it back to 800… crash.
Hour Whatever: give up on the game in frustration, will return to it when I feel up to it again.
What I have played of the game is really good, but this whole experience isn’t selling me on the concept of digital distribution. Maybe for smaller files, but not for something this massive.