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Malik (1/9/12)

After not getting help from Ubisoft with the problems connecting to Uplay and/or Conflux to play Heroes of Might & Magic VI, I tried to get a refund from Steam. I'm not one to often demand a refund from a game that was on sale and not to my expectations. HoMM6 is a different matter since the game is rarely able to connect online, which basically nerfs the offline and online modes. Sadly, I'm not hearing anything from Steam (unless you count the which most HoMM6 posts deal with the game being unplayable for the last week). As it stands, I think I'll offer a final chance for Steam to help me out with this. Failing their action, I think my next step will be filing a complaint or two with the FTC and the Washington State Attorney General's Office.

It may seem like a large step for something as minor as a video game, but Ubisoft is doing nothing to make their lemon of a game into anything more than a useless waste of HDD space and money. As one person on the Steam HoMM6 forums said, "It's like getting molested and paying $25 for the privilege." I also have to say that if Ubisoft is going to pull this type of draconic and broken DRM, then Steam should do the right thing and delist all Ubisoft software until the publisher can do more than make customers feel like criminals.

The change subjects a bit, I think if the Denver Broncos beat New England with the same style that they used to take apart the Steelers, then I may have to just give up on watching the NFL. The Giants beating the Flacons (the superior team) in such a lopsided victory (2X-2...forget the exact Giants score), it is weird. To see Tebow as an amazing long passer is just beyond what my brain can handle. Tebow is not a good QB. In fact, that is being nice. Tebow is garbage and would be better off making the transition to receiver like many college QBs have had to do in the NFL. However, last night changed that in all of the worst ways. One game doesn't make a QB, but that one game being in the playoffs is beyond what I can comprehend.

On the note of NFL QBs, I want to make a single prediction before the draft and the next season rolls around. Last season, I thought Andy Dalton would be a perfect draft pick for the Seahawks. Many analysts disagreed...entirely. It was said that Dalton wouldn't be able to handle making it in the NFL and would be a third or fourth round pick at best. Well, he was picked far earlier (and the Seahawks didn't take him, of course). While he may have lost on Saturday, he took the Bengals to a playoff appearance in his rookie season...with a team that was just bad, with the exception of one amazing rookie receiver. If he could do so much while being so underrated by the supposed experts, then I will make another prediction of the hidden superstar in the next draft class.

I want the Seahawks to pick up Kellen Moore from Boise State. He makes me think of everything Andy Dalton had going for him a year ago, but with an even better presence leading his team. I see Moore going for lower than the first round, but he will be a steal at any round. He will be an amazing QB, like Dalton, and will help to save any franchise in desperate need of a long-term solution for the passing game (like the Seahawks). I bet Moore will go before the fourth round (which is when many professionals see him being picked), but he will be ignored for far too long. I would love to see him picked, however, in the top 15...which will easily be when the Seahawks can get him for closer to what Moore is actually worth.

My other prediction, beyond Moore being an amazing rookie who will stand out as a potential offensive rookie of the year for the next season, is that the Seahawks will be stupid, once again, with the QB position. I'm afraid to say it, but I think Charlie Whitehurst is going to get a contract with the Seahawks. Also, I see T-Jack being the starter for the Seahawks next year. I see Seattle skipping on a long-term franchise QB in the draft and trying to strengthen the O-line and the pass rush game with some new D-line players. Unfortunately, not every team is the Ravens or the 49ers (able to play an amazing defense in order to help fans forget about a less than amazing passing game). If anything, I see Seattle trying to pick up another second string QB (failing to get Flynn from the Packers), or trying to make a goofy power play by taking Sanchez if the Jets are able to get Peyton Manning after the Colts pick Andrew Luck in the first pick of the draft.

Sadly, whatever happens, I see Seattle once again ignoring a solid franchise QB in order for a short fix while tweaking the rest of the team. Even if Seattle, through some inexplicable action, acquires Moore, I see them putting him second or third while T-Jack is given the top spot in the roster despite not being a quality QB. I mean Josh Portis never got a fair chance this season despite being better than Whitehurst (Portis may have been undrafted, but so was the top receiver for the Seahawks this year...undrafted doesn't mean unskilled).

Anyway, with the NFL season over for Seattle, I have to just think ahead since my next dose of sports will be coming in March when the Sounders FC start coming back to the pitch and the Mariners start showing their (hopeful) improvement in spring training.


Malik (1/13/12)

I've been a bit absent as I left the fun world of enjoying life and have been facing the "grown up" world of responsibilities and all that. In particular, I've been having one hell of a time dealing with my whole Steam-Ubisoft-DRM problem with Heroes of Might & Magic VI. I started with trying to get some answers from Ubisoft, and their support just entirely failed. Then I said I wanted a refund on this purchase if the game cannot be played reliably (since their DRM servers are about as consistent as the winter weather has been around the US). After no responses from Ubisoft, I wrote Steam detailing the entire problem and how Ubisoft would not offer any real help or answers...or any support at all when they took their forums offline. After four days, I wrote Steam again, since I heard nothing. After two more days, I finally got a reply from Steam, which detailed how to properly connect to Steam. A perfect form letter response for a problem I didn't have.

This is when things started to get fun. At this point, I wrote Steam again to explain that their support services work best when they offer actual support and not just deal with whatever problem they decide is the quickest to answer with a pre-generated form letter. I also once again told them if I cannot reliably use the damned game, since Ubisoft seems to be unable to offer true 27/7 stability for Uplay, I need a refund. What is the point of a strategy game in which you could lose five hours of game play just because the damned Ubisoft servers have a one second hiccup? This is also when I got fed up with the damned issue and filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office in Washington state (where, conveniently enough, both myself and Valve are located).

That was two days ago. Today I finally got another response from Steam, in which they actually seem to read my support ticket...or at least skim through the main points. More than a week after I first contacted them, I finally get a link explaining the DRM for HoMM6 and a new support ticket link location for a different group that handles support for HoMM6 with Steam. In other words, I finally get a response that seems to both offer me a chance to review the DRM (which I know quite well and it is making a game non-functional since Ubisoft cannot keep things reliable on their end) and to run in a circle by starting a new support ticket. Wow...that is what I call useless support.

So, I'll go ahead and play nice with Steam. I'll do what they say and start a new ticket (Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V are such amazing shortcuts when dealing with complete bullshit) and point out, once again, that the game cannot run reliably, so it just should have to be my problem. I'll even be happy to read the damned DRM link they sent me, since it appears to Steam Support that I don't know what DRM is, despite repeatedly informing them of the DRM issues with this damned game. I mean this isn't like any of the malware DRM crap that you normally see...this is a type that I think was designed to be less invasive, but instead it only makes it more frustrating. Hell, if I could take one of the damned old school DRM malware programs, I'd happily that over the current Ubisoft method of torture of requiring two servers to function properly (Uplay and Conflux) at all times. If this was a case of failure to run the game on my end (my internet will not be stable or my PC is not powerful enough to run the game), I'd take the loss and look into eventual upgrades or better internet connectivity...but this is not my problem...only it has become my problem.

In the end, I think after doing one more round of playing nice, I'll just drop this matter. Well, I still want my money back. I mean I don't even attempt to run HoMM6 since I can't stand the thought of pouring more time into this game only to see it vanish when Uplay loses a connection or when Conflux goes down. However, I'll just wait the four weeks for the Washington state Attorney General's Office to start my claim (sadly, being government, by the time anything may get accomplished, I may have completely move on from this...still, at least they serve as a free resource to cut some of the bullshit in Steam and Ubisoft support).

Final note for today, before I call it quits...Q.U.B.E. is an amazing game. I tried it after seeing the game constantly on sale on Steam (even if their support sucks ass, Steam still is a necessary evil) and seeing a video or two online (Giant Bomb has a great video on QUBE). It's hard to explain what this game is, but it looks amazing in an unusual form of detailed simplicity. It's also a game that feels like a must-have for any fans of Portal, FPS engines used for puzzle games, and anyone who likes Pushmo on the 3DS. Just an amazing game...and so damned hard to really explain besides saying it feels like a cross of Portal, Pushmo, and a sterile operating room...all of that meant in good ways.


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