To: Ashcraft
From: Totilo
Re: TWO WEEKS, I HAVE MADE IT!!

Today was the day I was wondering if the PC Gaming Alliance had lost, been zapped by whatever Death Star they are fighting. Today was the day I wondered if the Games for Windows team are a bunch of sadists. Today was the day I was reminded that to visit the shores of high-end PC gaming is to step on the sea urchins of possible graphics-card incompatibility and to sweat under the sun of not knowing if, maybe, it's the drivers that are the problem?

My experience trying to get some new games to run well on my Windows gaming laptop today made me feel like the guy with the busted engine, pulled over to the left of the passing lane, the engine dead for who knows what reason. I guess PC gaming also made me think in metaphors today. At least that's a perk!

I despise the confusion of PC gaming and the need to constantly keep up with it in order to understand it. Earlier today, StarCraft II didn't recognize my graphics card. Really, StarCraft II?

My Nvidia GeForce 9800 appears to be well beyond the minimum spec for that game. It didn't recognize it, so it asked me to guess which settings would be best for running the game. My graphics card and my entire Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 2.26Ghz, 4GB Ram laptop is two years old, and I haven't played a high-end PC game all the way through on it since Spore of two Septembers ago. I ran a little bit of Dragon Age on it without trouble last year, I think, but today I learned my drivers are two years out of date. Was it easy to get new ones? Only after I downloaded the wrong Nvidia updater (nope, I don't want the 9800 updater, but the 9800 mobile updater) — and after I downloaded the wrong one a second time (nope, I'm on 64-bit Windows Vista, not 32-bit).

Thanks to another high-end PC game I was trying to run, I also thought today that I needed to upgrade to DirectX 11. Nope, DirectX 10 would be fine. The good people of Twitter even helped me find the right program to ensure my DirectX 10 was up to date (I had to download two programs to update it and confirm that it was okay). These Twitter people made more sense than the results of the various searches I made today in Google. Thank you, Twitter!

I'm sure it is a sign of how powerful and manually-directed PC gaming is, but why today did I have to run a program called DXdiag to see what's going on in my PC, and why did it not make any sense? What was the point of Windows reacting to a crash in a new game I was trying to run by telling me: "Fault Module Name:d3dx9_42.dll" and not offering a solution?

To the people who make PC games and systems, I ask... why is this stuff not automated? Why does my hardware not keep itself up to date? Are there really that many variables in PC gaming set-ups that no computer can determine what it needs to run and then fetch that stuff from the Internet? If my computer can run Crysis, why can't it do that? If iTunes can update itself, why not Direct X?

I love playing independent games on my PC. Every year I play dozens of them as I judge them for the Independent Games Festival. I would be thrilled to play more games on this laptop of mine. But the confusion and stress I had of getting Sim Tower or Apache whatever-it-was-called to run on my 486 way back when I was a teenager is just as severe when I try to run new games on my computer today. Where's the improvement?

Ash, this is a long way of saying that if you want to make Mrs. Bashcraft's day, update her drivers.

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