Where did the Spawn go?

May 10, 2004

I recently had a brief conversation with a friend about the current state of online PC gaming. No, this is not going to be a Pickle style rant about “PC Gamer” and how they are ruining the online experience. The discussion was about the recent release of Halo CE or Halo Custom Edition as it is being called. Halo CE is a 170MB free download that was put out by Gearbox. It is essentially a revamped and reworked Halo multiplayer. I never had the pleasure of playing Halo PC so I can’t attest to the problems that people experienced with that game. What I do know is that there were a whole lot of pissed off people.

Halo CE was meant to rectify that situation but after some thought, I think it may have made it worse. Halo CE is a standalone release by Gearbox that is not officially supported by Microsoft/Bungie. This release is meant to address some bugs in the graphics and netcode department from what I understand. Basically it is one big patch that just happens to be a standalone game. This “patch” is multiplayer only and is not compatible with Halo PC. In fact, there will also be no further updates to Halo PC, just to this new standalone multiplayer game. Lost yet?

This conversation I had left us both wondering why PC developers are making it so hard to get this multiplayer thing right. This is even more apparent in trying to setup LAN play. I agree that there are a ton of games out right now that seem to pull this off flawlessly, but why then are some games doomed to failure on a platform where multiplayer determines the popularity and demand for a game? If someone has the recipe for perfection then why hasn’t everyone figured it out?

I fondly remember playing Starcraft back in the day. Only one person has a copy? No biggie, we will just install the spawn and play on the LAN anyway. What ever happened to that concept? Many people are forced to purchase an additional copy of a game just to engage in LAN play. It seems to me that the developers would make it as easy as possible to get people hooked on LAN play so they would justifiably make the purchase of the full game. Instead, many companies are releasing half done games that are in a virtually unplayable state and expecting people to be ok with paying $50 a pop. That ventures a little off topic so I will steer us back and wrap things up.

I have all but stopped playing PC games right now and I stick with my consoles. This is not to say I have a strong preference one way or another, because I really don’t. Consoles fit my schedule right now, so consoles it is. I don’t mean to pick on Gearbox or any other developer specifically. I just want to see developers put the effort into the games that was evident in many of the older games I used to play. Did this issue have any affect on why I sort of phased out PC gaming? No, but I bet there are some people out there that might answer yes to that question.