Friday, 8 March 2013

launch day

I've made a bit of an error when it comes to my plan to play SimCity all weekend.

I ordered it through amazon, but I always use the free delivery by default and I've forgotten to change it to first class for the SimCity order.  Since I almost always order a bunch of stuff all at the same time I would have had to order SimCity separately and didn't.

Bit of a blow, but then given a lot of people still seem to be having huge problems with accessing and playing the game, perhaps it's not too bad if I have to wait a while before I start.  I understand there's a bunch of patches being applied to the servers so hopefully that will help.

The game also seems quite buggy.

The slightly odd thing about some of the bugs is that they were identified back in the first beta over a month ago.  Terrain and roads seems to have quite a few issues and you'd think that, even if they couldn't change the game code for launch (production and shipping issues) then that would be one of the first things it patches.

Games of course are generally like all forms of entertainment for me in that I have huge stacks of them sat waiting for me to play.  Occasionally I do of course and I remember one time I launched a game that had been quite big and popular at release and the first thing it did was download a gigantic patch that was bigger than the game code itself.

This of course was months after it had been released so it was a combination of all the patches most people had gotten over a long period of time, but it shocked me just how much had clearly been broken in the game when it was shipped.  Apparently this is quite a normal thing nowadays.  Games cost so much to make they want to get them out as quickly as they can so things like proper, in-depth play-testing and bug fixing fall by the wayside.

You can kinda see the logic and it's actually a consequence of the ever-improving complexity and capability of computers and technology.  A good few years ago if you did an FPS people didn't expect it to be utterly gorgeous to look at, but now they do and that sort of thing is quite costly to do, even though it doesn't impact he game itself.

Of course there are potential shortcuts in that you can use some else's game engine, but that's never really going to be possible with a game like SimCity, so I image a lot of the money had to go on making the fundamental engine (glassbox) work right, rather than fix some visual clipping bugs to do with terrain and roads.

There might be a side-advantage of not getting the game until next week.  Since I've got the Monday off I might be able to use that time to clear up some other stuff I need to do.  This is going to be a horribly busy month for me (I'll write a blog about it next week hopefully) and it might be useful to tick a few of the more tedious boxes this Monday.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

well that's just great

So I blogged on Monday about how I had been hit by someone while driving a courtesy car, well I went out to my car yesterday lunchtime to find that someone has hit my proper car.

We're not talking major damage - it's a scratch on the rear bumper - but that's not the point.  Actually it kinda is - it's a small scratch so they've obviously just fucked off so that I don't demand they pay to repair it.

It's actually the second time it's been scratched on the bumper in that exact place.  I therefore suspect that it's the same idiot that's done it.  Indeed I actually suspect it's not happened at work at all, but it's the fucktard neighbours where I live.

I know they've already driven into my landlord's garage a couple of times.  Part of the problem is they're builders and both the houses next to us have had a lot of building work recently as well and builders are the exact archetype that is the wine van man - or "cunt in a van" as I like to call them.

Of course it could be at work it's happening - that's certainly where I notice it, but then that's where I see the car in proper full light and when I'm not tired.  If it is work my guess is it's people who go to the dump and don't find the right turn.  We're near the dump/recycling place and although clearly signed a lot of people miss it and end up having to turn around.

I'm surprised there aren't more accidents actually as the roads of the industrial estate have become chocked with parked cars.  It started last year after the big snow - I think a lot of people decided not to try parking in the proper car parks when it was snowy and then decided they liked parking on the road.  Certainly the proper car parks don't seem full yet there's all these cars.

Although saying that I think also they've been moved over from a neighbouring industrial park that has very little parking.  There certainly used to be a lot more cars parked on the proper roads than there is nowadays.

I seem to have really been in the wars with the car recently.

I don't think I blogged about it but a couple of weeks ago I was following a large articulated lorry (it's from a delivery company from the industrial estate and I've seen it a few times).  It was going down totally inappropriate roads, because it's shorter/quicker than using the main roads.

But for a big artic that also means he's slow so I was quite close behind.  Well, he went through a bit where there's some low-hanging trees (well, for an artic or a bus - they're not low for normal cars!) and he broke off a big chunk of tree that fell off and bounced off my bonnet.

In some ways I was lucky - it was a big piece and wood is quite dense so it would have been heavy and could easily have smashed my entire windscreen.  And of course in other ways I was unlucky, because it hit me and could easily have simply hit the road or whatever.  It's left a really noticeable dent in the bonnet but again, nothing that requires repairs, it just makes the car look beat-up.

Of course I considered an insurance claim, but unlike the hire car accident it wouldn't have been too difficult for them to say I was too close.  Plus it's not really his fault - the road doesn't ban wide/tall vehicles, so could they even argue it was the council's or the homeowners fault for not properly trimming the trees?

And speaking of windscreens, not long after the bonnet I got a stone chip on my windscreen.  This of course was just a couple of weeks before the MOT (chips above a certain size in certain zones of the screen are failures) so I didn't have a chance to get it looked at.  Small chips can often grow but this one seems stable.

As I say, my car is quite dinged up.  A lot of it comes from people in supermarket car parks hitting you with doors or bumping you as they manoeuvre (badly).  I always try to park out of the way in empty bits but that isn't always possible and doesn't seem to have helped.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

oh dear

So SimCity launched in the US yesterday... and appears to have been a bit of a disaster.

The problem, as feared, is that thousands (or hundreds of thousands? millions?) of gamers have all obviously been trying to download and play it all at the same time.  Now if there'd been some way to stagger them (they've staggered countries) or otherwise spread the load in a sensible way they might have had a chance, but as I understand it the game is the best part of 20gb.

Even if 1,000 people are trying at the same time that's 20 terabytes of data to download so you can image the amounts of data if there's more like 100,000 people.  Apparently there have been huge wait times to even get to the start of downloading, let alone downloading or even playing it.

I'm also guessing that a lot of people had to install origin as well so that will also have added to the load.

I recall personally experiencing a very similar issue with Half Life 2 - I tried to install on day one and basically failed as there were just too many people trying to do the same thing.  However when I tried the next morning it was as easy as pie.

You can kinda see the issue - the only times the loads are going to be this sever are at launch.  So if you put in loads of capacity then when you're into the steady-state phase you're probably way over-supplied with capacity so you either need to strip some of it away later, which in itself will likely cause some problems, or planning for the steady-state and simply taking the initial problems on the chin.

Of course that doesn't stop it being any less frustrating for the individuals who, rightly, feel they have bought something they can't actually use.  And that's a particular issue for something like SimCity where it's always been a single-player, off-line game and a game that could still, even in this iteration, work that way.

For me personally I'm obviously just going to have to suck-it-and see.  I should have the game for the weekend and I have the Monday off so hopefully if I'm persistent and I pick my times well I should be able to get it working.  But it's a very popular series in Europe and they've lumped all of us in together, so I wouldn't be surprised if there are similar problems to the US.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

a minor prang

So yesterday I didn't post, and it was basically because the day was very chaotic.

My car was in for a service and MOT and I'd decided to get a courtesy car.  I don't usually do this as the garage and where I work are close enough for the train to be a sensible (if bizarrely costly) option.  However, this time I'd thought I would.

So I dropped my car off and signed all the paperwork for the car, which was a Nissan Note, but when I got in the fuel warning was going - there was just 30miles worth of fuel in it.  However, I wasn't sure if it was diesel or not (I suspected it was) so I had to dash back in to check.

This and the time it took me to fill up (I had to stop at the Tesco garage as it's the only one I knew I could get to and they had some weird thing on the pump where you have to press if you want to pay at the kiosk or at the pump and I didn't work this out for a while) meant I was late getting to work - not by much, but still late and of course I was wanting to go early in order to pick up my car.

And then the fun really started.  I'd figured I would use the courtesy car as a bit of a test drive as I've never driven a note before, but as part of this I checked out the boot and the seats and all the things like that.  This made me slightly later setting off than usual and unfortunately it also meant that I was leaving at the same time as someone who works in the office next to ours.

And she hit me.

I was driving along the bit that leads out to the main part of the industrial estate and she basically reversed straight out and hit the car.  The damage was pretty minor - scuffed bumper sort of territory - and if it had been my own car I'd have been keen to help her out and let her pay for the repairs direct.

However, it was a courtesy car.  Not my car.  The damage was also way too obvious that I could have tried to pretend it hadn't happened.  If they'd have taken even a cursory look at the vehicle it would have been obvious and if I'd not said anything then that wouldn't be a good situation to be in.

I swapped what details we had (difficult for me as obviously it was the garage's coverage, not mine and she didn't have hers to hand) and then called the garage.  Which was when I got my next shock - unless she admitted liability I would have to pay them a £500 excess.  Obviously I'd then have to try to recover this from her insurer (or also the garage if it was less than £500).

But of course my car was in for a service and MOT, and of course it was the level 3 (most expensive) service which meant, all together with a few parts that needed doing, it was already going to cost me £390.  That could have meant I would have to pay £890!

I therefore decided to dash back home and get my own policy to see if it covered me for driving other vehicles, and the answer was sort of - I was covered for 3rd party when driving other vehicles.

Luckily she did admit liability and the garage therefore said they wouldn't take the excess (although noted that if there was a problem they may need to).

Anyway, that also meant I had to go extra early and of course had to make lots of personal calls in the afternoon and, to be frank, I was rather flustered, so I didn't get any chance to even think about a blog, let alone do all my work.