When I was 2 there was no such thing as a home computer. When I was 4 the very first one appeared, and my dad got it right away. Some of my fondest memories are of sitting on his lap as we played text adventures together. So it is with utter mad delight that I receive my 2 year old’s requests to sit on my lap as I play games today. And with access to all of PC gaming, I’m usually able to meet his requests of, “Daddy, can we play game with…” That is, right up until I try to run any of them.
“Daddy, can we play a motorbike game?” came the request one day last week.
“Yes!” I said, particularly pleased because I’d had the foresight to install both Trials Evolution and Trials Fusion on Steam a few weeks back, anticipating that he’d love watching those. “I have a motorbike game right here!”
“No you don’t,” came a voice I’ve grown to fear. The dull, dreary voice of Ubisoft’s monstrosity, UPlay. I fucking hate UPlay.
Steam is obviously a giant pile of shite, worse with every iteration, creaking under the weight of its own clusterfuck of a design. We’re not exactly a site that shies away from reporting on that. But at least, in the main, when you install a game you just click on it to play. Sure, you have to sit through “1 of 3…” installations of software you know full well is already installed on your machine because Steam just sodding installed it with the last seventeen games you played, and explaining to a 2 year old that we have to sit and stare at this small dark window for an undetermined period is annoying, but it’ll likely load.
Even EA’s Origin is pretty much fine now, if somehow more poorly laid out than even Steam – quite an achievement on their behalf. It was appalling for years, but it’s really not any more. Origin is now annoying because it exists, rather than because of anything it actually does. (Oh, apart from always having a new update to install before it’ll start. Apart from that.) But UPlay is just baaaaaaaaad.
Launching either Trials game from Steam in fact launches UPlay, which is already irritating beyond comprehension. Because then UPlay inevitably needs to be updated, because God willing it’s months since you had to run it. And for both games it then helpfully went on to tell me that actually the game doesn’t exist.
“Wait Toby, sorry. I’m not sure what’s happening. Let me try again.”
UPlay maintained that neither game exists. I’m fairly certain they do, since I’d downloaded them and all. And there they were in my UPlay library, existing. But launch them… no. So I tried uninstalling, which brought up Windows’ uninstaller. Smooth, Ubisoft, smooth.
“Sorry Toby, look, I’m going to have to try downloading it again. This is going to take a while.”
I uninstalled the games from Steam, since that’s where I got them from. They didn’t disappear from Uplay. They were, it believed, still installed. Oh good grief. It’s nearly tea time, and then it’ll be bedtime. I can’t tell him we’ll do this later. It’s our chance today.
“Toby, look, this isn’t working. We may have to try tomorrow.”
I reinstall Trials Fusion, this time through UPlay, and it loads. But what it loads. A broken version of the game that will only allow me to try to play races I can’t access until I’ve completed tutorials. Tutorials it won’t let me access. I quit, and restart.
“Yes, I know sweetie, but it won’t let me play.”
I reload, and now, at last, I can play. The tutorials I’m forced to go through, despite knowing how to play, are accessible. Except they incessantly stop me from playing to tell me things I already know. And then comes the cry of “TEA TIME!” from downstairs.
A few days later Toby asks for “a car game.” Yes! I think. I know just the thing – I always have Burnout: Paradise installed on my PC, because it’s one of my favourite games. Now, that’s a game that’s famous for being so bloody awful to start, but at least I’ve played it to death.
Except it’s somehow not installed anywhere. Origin says it’s not installed there – oh gawd, did it not survive moving the HD into a new PC? Argh. But Steam hasn’t done that. Why isn’t it on Steam?
“Daddy, where car game?”
I’m trying so hard. And once again the impending deadline of teatime looms, and once again a game I know is installed won’t bloody load.
Oh for FUCKS SAKE. Steam has, beyond all explanation, decided to forget one of my install locations. An entire SSD of Steam games gone from the list. After guessing their ghastly Settings menus I find where to re-add it, and ping! Burnout’s back!
And has forgotten all my progress.
Meaning we have to not only sit through its interminable dozen or so opening screens, but also watch that godforsaken intro video in which it pointlessly tells you the names of all the locations on the map in a completely useless fashion, before then making you sit through an enforced photograph sequence despite there being no webcam attached to my machine, then that UTTER ARSEBUCKET DJ Shitforbrains or whatever his dumbass name is waffling shite at me and not just letting me drive a pretend car around a pretend track.
“Daddy, show the car again!”
“I’m trying, honey. I’m trying so hard. But this… bloody thing…”
Not swearing isn’t the hardest part of this. It’s seeing the wonderful patience on my little boy’s face, as he tries so flipping hard to be cool about his disappointment. Daddy’s excitedly promised a car game, but instead we’ve seen settings screens, Steam windows, loading screens and a lady talking bollocks over a picture of a map. And yes, of course, “TEA TIME!”
I end up apologising to my boy, feeling like such a shithead because games think they’re so fucking important that they need to make you jump through ludicrous hoops, rather than just double-click on an icon and then have the option to start playing. “Oh no no, you need to do these tutorials first, I’m quite sure. And this intro video. And here’s four seconds of the game, and then we’re going to freeze it to explain things to you instead of letting you have any fun.” Games are dicks. I hate games.
“That’s ok, daddy. Don’t worry!”
Oh gawd I want to hug him until we both explode, his disappointed face, trying to comfort me because I got him hyped up and then essentially said, “Actually, no, despite your being so patient you don’t get to see the game, and we’re going.” So tea waited a little bit longer last night and we drove a car around while daddy muttered oaths at DJ Atomicunt.