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Malik (1/17/12)

I was out yesterday, since my work is one of the few (it seems, to me at least) that still shuts down for MLK Day. So, I spent most of the day playing in the snow with my dogs and enjoying life. Well, that sounds dandy, but the truth is I played some in the snow and primarily decided to try out my backlog of Steam games. I finished Q.U.B.E. (awesome game if you like puzzles, spatial reasoning, and Portal) on Sunday and needed something new to play, so I started up the Penny Arcade Adventures Episode 1.

I had that game on hand for almost a year, but never played it. There was just too much to play and it never looked like the obvious next game for me. That was a bad line of logic. I played through about thirty minutes on Sunday, and the remaining ~6-7 hours yesterday. It is, without a doubt, a better game experience than I expected. So much so that I'm now starting up on Episode 2.

To slightly change gears, I've decided I'm done with purchasing through Steam. I'll still use the game I have and any that may be gifted to me in the future. After fighting for a refund on Heroes of Might & Magic VI, I've taken one too many insults from Steam. Actually, yesterday marked two to many insults. The first being that I couldn't get a refund only because the time I put into the game made it used. This is judged off of the Steam clock used to remind you of how long you have played a game. The problem with these clocks is that they count up from the second you lauch a program from within Steam. So, if you play something like Skyrim, which first loads a splash screen of sorts asking if you want to play, view a read me file, set the options, quit, or load a mod, and then you don't make your choice. Instead, you walk away and go to sleep for the night. Well, when you come back in the morning, the game clock will say you have five hours played (what, doesn't everyone else get too little sleep?), despite never even launching the game.

This is a problem with HoMM6 since I spent way too many hour sitting on the Uplay log in screen...which counts for Steam as time playing the game. It's like counting time spent in a car as time driving said car...when it's actually a lemon and you just sat in the drivers seat trying to figure out why the engine wouldn't turn over. For Steam to say this is why the game cannot be refunded is an insult. I was trying, repeatedly on New Years, to get the game to work before calling the entire experience a failure. So, I guess the correct answer to trying to get a refund through Steam is to never try...of course then they will tell you to try the game, or try to get it to work, which then makes it used...when then means no refund...which means you never should head just exploded from circular logic.

The other insult, which I find rather hilarious, is that Steam cannot refund my purchase since by loading the game it made Steam spend precious money on maintaining their server. In other words, if I but a game through Steam, then it better be used in moderation or else I'm wasting their precious money. Strangely, if this was an issue, I doubt that one would have the option to link games purchased outside of Steam (either physical disk based games, or digital downloads from Amazon, for example) to Steam without paying a premium surcharge. Either that, or the Steam business model is broken and the company shall fail due to burning money on servers due to them discounting so many games at the holidays to the under $2 range...actually, that sounds like pure stupidity, so I cannot accept that. Yes, it costs money, but not so much that they can use "play time" (if fighting the Uplay servers is actual playing, then I need to quit playing games) in HoMM6 as a waste of their money.

Anyway, I have an official complaint with the State government (Washington, which is where Valve is coincidentally located, has great consumer protections against faulty products). Until it all gets settled and I see a return of my $27.49 (I'll even ignore the state sales tax in this), I'm just calling it quits with buying from Steam. They have my money, and I want a value returned for this investment.

<UPDATE>: As I prepare to post this, I've finally gotten a possible compromise from Steam.  It looks like I may get store credit, rather than a refund.  If this does pan out, then I'm perfectly happy since I'll no longer feel cheated by Steam, so I'd be spending money with them again anyway.

On one final note for the day, the Mariners traded Pineda (who came pretty close to looking like a rookie of the year contender last season) to the Yanks. Well, the trade reminds me of why I have given up on the M's. I mean they got, in exchange for a top of the rotation pitcher, a power hitting catcher (Jesus Montero). The one problem is that while Pineda is a definite MLB starter, Montero has ~18 games in the majors...all last September. Also, the M's best power hitter in 2011 is their catcher (Olivo), and Montero is being called a future 1st baseman/DH. Well, the M's have that covered with Carp and Smoalk. In fact, once again, the M's have traded a definite starter for a potential prospect. It's like watching the Pirates, except they knew how to turn this type of illogical trading into a money maker. With the M's, they cannot win and they cannot even handle losing correctly.

Thank goodness that the MLS season overlaps with the MLB season so I'll have something good to look at when I have to turn my head away from the M's in disgust.

Also, probably no post tomorrow since I'm looking at 6-10 inches of snow (snow storms are rare in the Seattle area, and 6-10" in one day is almost unheard of) and that means I'll be too busy acting like a kid to think about being productive like an adult.


Malik (1/20/12)

I've spent the last couple of days in a winter wonderland of sorts. Well, it would be a wonderland if it didn't turn into an ice storm that left me unable to leave my home. When I have the ability to leave my home, all I want is to be at home playing some games and relaxing. When I'm trapped in my home, all I want is to leave and not be reminded of the damages that are probably building up around my house. I mean a thick sheet of ice on everything looks awesome, but if you're into horticultural (plant) activities, you don't want to see trees being demolished by not being able to sustain the weight on the branches.

The snow and ice this week was like something that turned my happiest fantasies (I love good snow) and twisted it into a nightmare as it turned colder and wetter...which then turned it into a sheet of ice. I mean when you have six inches of snow on the ground, but when you step on it you don't sink in due to a half inch sheet of ice above the snow, there is something wrong. When you can throw a block of ice the size of a baseball at your car and see nothing happen (not even a crack on the outer ice shell), there is something wrong. When you love walking in the snow and you cannot even handle going a half mile without stopping to think, "this is stupid and dangerous," there is something wrong.

Anyway, I took some time to play the second episode of the Penny Arcade Adventures game. However, with my mind demanding that I leave my home, I only picked up about 3 hours over two days. This is less time than I put into a game when I have responsibilities like work and chores. Still, I think I'm near the end. It's sad to see this game end since no third episode ever came along (and the game, in this format, is dead). I mean the game is beyond fun if you enjoy the comedy of Penny Arcade and it's a great RPG engine that was utilized in this short lived series. The engine is amazing since I'm a fan of the Shadow Hearts games (well, at least the first two) and this engine builds upon the style used in Shadow Hearts.

I'm still waiting for a final resolution from my Steam and Ubisoft hell that started when I decided to buy Heroes of Might & Magic VI. I thought I was close to a refund (or credit), but I have not heard anything beyond what I heard on Tuesday. Since Valve is located in Bellevue, WA, I can understand a delay. After all, the entire region was blanketed in snow and ice, so I'll assume the action will come from an office that may have been shut down due to the weather. I really hope this comes to a good conclusion soon, since I still refuse to buy from Steam until this is settled...and I'd love to pick up the Saints Row The Third DLC that came along this week.

On a final note before I call it quits for today, some football thoughts. I'm seeing the 49ers pulling off a crazy upset against the Giants in what will be a close game that should have all the excitement of the Saints game last weekend. For some reason, I think it is San Francisco's year. Will they win in the Super Bowl? No. Will they make it to the big game? Yes. As for who they face...I don't think any sane man could deny that the Pats are beyond amazing this year. I'm no New England fan, and I really just don't like Brady...but they are a team worthy of some massive respect considering how damned good they are on all fronts. After seeing them dismantle the Broncos (which wasn't a surprise for anyone outside of Denver), it is obvious that they will destroy anything in their path.


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