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Jumping the Shark Podcast #137

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Bill was born a traveling man and so he’s MIA just one more time this week, as Brandon and I pick up the reigns for Jumping the Shark 137. This week we get back to focusing on games as I prove that even a generally sober guy can drive like a maniac when behind the wheel of Driver: San Francisco. Brandon, meanwhile, has grievances to share with Risen 2. And we continue our addiction in Summoner Wars. Finally, we talk about the uPlay hacking fiasco and why Ubisoft’s insistence on having it install alongside their PC titles is emblematic of a self-defeating industry that’s utter determination to control how we play threatens to instead drive gamers out of the hobby.

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Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and proceeded to spend over 16 years as a development editor for Pearson Education, publishing books, videos, and digital learning products under the Que and Sams Publishing imprints. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd has also been a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets. Follow him on Twitter @ubrakto or check it out his website at ToddsFoolery.com.

6 thoughts to “Jumping the Shark Podcast #137”

  1. I surely agree that PC gaming has gotten substantially better through the years.

    Ubisoft’s various DRM measures, from the Always Online requirements to the sometimes-erratic uPlay autopatching services, are some of the worst and most disruptive in the industry.

    They’re also fairly distant outliers. The next closest example is…Diablo III’s rocky launch, maybe? Most all the strategy, RPG, shooter, MMO, and simulation-type games I play on the PC include robust auto-patching features for the software, the OS, and even the drivers. It’s every bit as effortless as on my consoles, except the games look better and run smoother in the balance.

    Important note, though: I’m running a single high-end nVidia card. You don’t have to browse a support forum very long to know that more exotic builds tend to get finicky in a hurry.

    1. I’m not sure how big an outlier this is anymore. Depends on how you look at it, I think. The egregious bugs and problems with uPlay specifically isn’t particularly common, but the practice of installing more than just the game is increasing. Mass 3 needs Origin running to play, for example. And Bioware has incurred more than a few horror stories with DLC authentication. I just installed Wings of Prey this week and it too installed extra software that launches itself automatically on first play (named similar to uplay is intended to support the multiplayer component). Blech!

      1. Oops, I was thinking of when DRM tools and other bits of auxiliary software interfere with the gaming experience. Ubisoft’s perfect storm of draconian demands and unstable implementation is, I think, a stand-out failure in an otherwise reasonable market.

        But requiring gamers to install other junk with their games? Yeah, that’s a uniquely PC-based irritation and it’s definitely on the rise. The number of steps required to make Grand Theft Auto IV function have deterred me from playing the version I already own; every time I consider it, I realize how much more convenient it would be to simply drop the 360 disc back in. :p

  2. Time for a little uPlay horror story : I bought Driver San Francisco as well during the sale, and sadly, haven’t been able to enjoy it because of the terrible uPlay thing.
    Basically, if you are unlucky enough to have an internet connection with which the Ubisoft servers have a certain amount of latency, the constant checks semi-fail and freeze the game for 5 seconds every 20, rendering it unplayable. As those online checks are performed even in offline mode (sic) or beyond firewall permissions, the only known work-around is to desactive the WiFi card totally… but then, beyond the obvious bother, I get errors telling me I can’t access online features at the end of about any activity.
    I am not being honest : another workaround would be to just move to a new location, closer to their servers.

  3. When I first got Steam, it was with the Orange box, and the install took four hours on my (back then) puny 512kb ADSL line. Steam can still be a pain in the proverbial on a good day. Origin has so far given me very little hassle, but I also only have three games on it.

    I have avoided Ubisoft games like the plague for a few years now. Made an exception for R.U.S.E. since it wasn’t infested with Ubi DRM, but it still forces Uplay and therefore an online connection to play.

    Oh, and Todd – well played on the LA Noire pun. I laughed at least as loud as Brandon.

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