Eidos Interactive WTF



  • So, this happened to me around May 2008, but I thought I'd share it with you.  There are several WTFs in the story, but at least it has a happy(ish) ending.

    I was looking through Steam's game offerings one day, when I noticed the Commandos pack (containing all four Commandos games) for a relatively decent price.  I bought the pack, and happily downloaded my four new games.

    Figuring I'd start at the beginning, I opened Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines and played the first mission.  Halfway through, other businesses required my attention, so I attempted to save and quit.

    The "save" option was grayed out.  A few hours of googling confirmed it - Commandos does not work properly on Windows XP, and there's basically no consistent way to fix it.

    So, step one - I e-mailed Eidos tech support, explaining where I bought the game (Steam) and what the problem was (the Save option is grayed out and unusable).  Their auto-response on May 10 reads "we'll get right on it."

    Two days later, I got the following e-mail:  "You can quick-save by pressing Control-S.  This is on page 4 of the manual."

     WTF #1: Quick-save was also disabled.  WTF #2: I bought the game on Steam, and therefore didn't get a manual.

    My reponse was lengthy but polite; I explained these two problems, added that my Googling found that tons of other people were having the same problem, and further remarked that they should not be selling broken games.  Finally, I requested that they actually look in to the issue rather than copy and paste a scripted reply.

    Their response was a request that I send them a DxDiag diagnostic file as an attachment, which I promptly did.

    WTF #3: They closed the ticket after a few days with no response.

    I opened a new ticket, providing the same information.  Repeat the first few e-mails; I sent another DxDiag diagnostic file.

    WTF #4: They closed the ticket again, this time mentioning that they never got the dxdiag file.

    WTF #5: A few e-mails later, we find that their e-mail system blocks attachments.

    So, I copy the contents of the dxdiag file into an e-mail directly, and send that to them.

    WTF #6: They send me PDFs of the game manuals.

     I respond that that is not remotely relevant.

    WTF #7: I get a message several days later (and here I'll copy and paste from the relevant e-mail):

    "I spoke with the development team, who said there are a couple reasons you might be experiencing problems with our games." (No, really?)

    " -  Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines was released in 1998, and only supports Windows 98, not Windows XP." (Steam explicitly prevents you from running games in Win98 compatibility mode.)

    " - Laptop configurations vary too widely to be able to support them all, so we don't support laptops." (And desktops are less varied?)

    " - Many laptops are limited in their ability to be used as gaming machines. This is because of memory configurations, their micro-channel architecture, port configurations and sound systems that are primarily designed to be used with productivity software."  (So, a 2 GHz dual core processor with 2GB DDR2 RAM and a GeForce 7300 Go is incapable of running a game from 1998?)

     " - The other common problem is that laptop systems will attempt to compress the traditional version of the standard 101-function keyboard (found on almost all desktop systems) into a much smaller keyboard configuration. This is usually done by relying on multifunction keys that allow the user to assign different functions to the same key. Unfortunately, this has been known to cause problems with our games."  (This is, of course, theoretically possible, but ridiculous nonetheless.)

    " - Sorry, we can't help you.  Contact Steam for a refund." (Steam's policy is that they don't give refunds, and they make this abundantly clear every time you make a purchase.)

    Alright, that's a few more WTFs there.  But let's go on.  In my reply, I specified that the issue was also present on my desktop computer; I referred them to three forum threads on three different sites (one of which was Eidos' own site) in which various users were having the same issue; I pointed out various other bugs people have with the games under Windows XP, including the "OUTPUT" folder being missing (and creating it fixed some issues for some users; this was not my problem).

    No reply.

    In the meantime, I get on the phone with Valve's tech
    support.  (Dr Kleiner's voice greets you.  It's nifty.)  I speak with a
    first-teir support guy for a few minutes; he agrees that the situation
    is ridiculous, and tells me he'll get back to me later that day after
    he speaks with his superiors. 

    I then call Eidos' tech support on the phone (for the first time).  She asks that I send in a dxdiag report from my desktop and a summary of what's happened so far.  I do so.

    Later that day, the guy at Valve calls me back saying that they have approved a refund; I ask if I can wait a bit to see if Eidos will fix the problem.  He gives me his direct number.

    Moments after I get off the phone with Valve, Eidos responds to my e-mail with "Make sure the folder named 'OUTPUT' is being created when Steam installs the game."  (Sound familiar?)

    I responded by saying "That's not the problem here.  You seem entirely unwilling to help, and you're selling a game written for one OS on a platform incompatible with your game, and you refuse to fix it.  Valve has offered me a refund, something they claim to never do, so I'm taking it."

    So I had my refund, but Injustice (TM) was still being perpetrated.  The guy at Valve said he couldn't get them to stop selling the broken game, but he'd bring it up when he got the chance.  (Last I checked, Steam no longer sells Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines or Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty, so apparently SOMEBODY got something through the red tape.)

    That's my happyish ending.  "ish" because I wanted to play those games :(

    Things I left out: The reception voice mailbox at Eidos HQ was always full.  I tried calling other people at Eidos (whose direct numbers are readily available online), including their VP of marketing, and I left messages on their machines since they never answer their phones, but I never received a reply.  At one point I sent Gabe Newell at Valve an e-mail, and never got a reply, though honestly I didn't expect one.  I sent the Consumerist an e-mail about it, but even I'll admit it's not interesting enough for them to pick up the story.

    Anyway, most of you are going to say TL;DR, but if you read the whole thing, I'll buy you a cookie if we ever meet in person.



  • @Heron said:

    Anyway, most of you are going to say TL;DR,
    Too right:  TL;DR@Heron said:
    but if you read the whole thing, I'll buy you a cookie if we ever meet in person.
    Oh!  In that case, this was an excellent post and I'm glad I read the whole thing.  I trust there will be no pop quiz before receiving the cookie?

     



  •  I'll take the cookie. Thanks.



  • @bstorer said:

    Oh!  In that case, this was an excellent post and I'm glad I read the whole thing.  I trust there will be no pop quiz before receiving the cookie?
     

    Yes, there will be a quiz, but only after removing from you any possible means of internet connectivity or saved copies of my post and locking you in a windowless faraday cage with a microphone and speaker.



  •  Good story, and yes I actually read the whole thing.

     

    I wouldn't really blame the guys at  Eidos.  Once a game has been released and sold they really only support it for the first year or so until they make their initial sales.  After that they really don't give a crap.  Your paying $40 and expecting a tech making $50/hour to actual come up with a fix and push it out just doesn't make sense economically.  I agree though that Valve should stop selling it in this case (which it looks like they did), but it's hard to blame Eidos for that.



  • @Heron said:

    @bstorer said:

    Oh!  In that case, this was an excellent post and I'm glad I read the whole thing.  I trust there will be no pop quiz before receiving the cookie?
     

    Yes, there will be a quiz, but only after removing from you any possible means of internet connectivity or saved copies of my post and locking you in a windowless faraday cage with a microphone and speaker.

    Fine... trudges sullenly back to the original post to actually read it



  • @amischiefr said:

    I wouldn't really blame the guys at  Eidos.  Once a game has been released and sold they really only support it for the first year or so until they make their initial sales.  After that they really don't give a crap.  Your paying $40 and expecting a tech making $50/hour to actual come up with a fix and push it out just doesn't make sense economically.
     

    No, I don't really have a problem with that.  My biggest annoyances were the tech support WTFs.  Valve handled it appropriately, from my point of view; I got my refund, and they eventually stopped selling it.

    But Eidos' tech support is TRWTF.



  • @Heron said:

    if you read the whole thing, I'll buy you a cookie
    Woohoo!@Heron said:
    if we ever meet in person
    Dang, there had to be a catch.



  • @Heron said:

    The other common problem is that laptop systems will attempt to compress the traditional version of the standard 101-function keyboard (found on almost all desktop systems) into a much smaller keyboard configuration. This is usually done by relying on multifunction keys that allow the user to assign different functions to the same key. Unfortunately, this has been known to cause problems with our games.
    What are the odds that plugging a 101 keyboard into the laptop USB port won't fix these particular 'problems.'



  • @PJH said:

    What are the odds that plugging a 101 keyboard into the laptop USB port won't fix these particular 'problems.'

    If we generously assume that their claim isn't entirely BS, then your solution would probably completely solve the issue.

    However, I'm inclined to believe that either their code is completely moronic (I've never written input code that cares what kind of keyboard you're using), or they're just listing off BS reasons to avoid supporting laptops.



  • OMG noob!


    1. Install Win98 on a VM.
    2. Copy game to VM drive.
    3. Play.


  • @superjer said:

    OMG noob!


    1. Install Win98 on a VM.
    2. Copy game to VM drive.
    3. Play.
     

    OMG noob!

    1) I don't have Win98.

    2) Games bought on Steam won't play unless Steam is running.

    3) Steam refuses to run in Win98.



  • @Heron said:

    OMG noob!

    1) I don't have Win98.

    2) Games bought on Steam won't play unless Steam is running.

    3) Steam refuses to run in Win98.

     

    4. PROFIT 

     




  •  I had a similar problem with Age of Conan, a relatively recent game that supports Vista. However, some idiot coded in an absolute path in their updater application, and since Steam doesn't install the game in the path they expect, their updater doesn't work. Specifically, it continually updates itself to the same version over and over and over.

     I find it both alarming and sad that:

    1) Valve doesn't bother to even slightly think about testing whether games on Steam actually work correctly or not

    2) Despite that, Steam is still the best games download service out there, because, amazingly, all the others are WORSE!



  • @blakeyrat said:

    1) Valve doesn't bother to even slightly think about testing whether games on Steam actually work correctly or not

    Right or wrong, Valve doesn't have control over that.  They just write contracts with publishers.  They then give the publisher the APIs necessary to make games compatible with Steam.  If the game's startup code calls the Steam auth library, Valve calls it good.

    (I'm not a Valve employee, of course, nor do I have any special knowledge, that's just what I gather happens.)

    TRWTF is that publishers themselves don't bother testing games on new platforms before selling them - but what do they care?  As what's-his-face said in response to my last post,

    4) Profit!

    2) Despite that, Steam is still the best games download service out there, because, amazingly, all the others are WORSE!
     

    QFT.



  • @Heron said:

    The "save" option was grayed out.  A few hours of googling confirmed it - Commandos does not work properly on Windows XP, and there's basically no consistent way to fix it.

    This is WTF #0.  I have to wonder what their save function does that causes it to break between Win98 and WinXP.  Though I suppose the save function might still work, but none of the ways to access it work, which is a giant WTF.


    " -  Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines was released in 1998, and only supports Windows 98, not Windows XP." (Steam explicitly prevents you from running games in Win98 compatibility mode.)

    I'm not familiar with Steam, but why/how does it prevent you from running games in compatibility mode?


    Anyway, most of you are going to say TL;DR, but if you read the whole thing, I'll buy you a cookie if we ever meet in person.

     

    TL;RA,GID

    Stuff like this is why I usually stick to consoles.  I have many memories of fun yet insanely buggy games (SiN anyone?) that required hours of downloading patches on dialup.

    On the other hand, at least they usually tried to fix it, instead of taking the NES developer approach and pretending the bugs made the game challenging and fun.



  • @TechWTF said:

    ... their micro-channel architecture ...

    ^-- Dude ur totally making this part up



  •  

    I'm not familiar with Steam, but why/how does it prevent you from running games in compatibility mode?

     Steam's authentication stuff uses APIs that were not present in Win98, so if you run Steam games in Win98 compatibility mode, they won't work.



  • I bought a game on Steam once.  Team Fortress 2, to be precise.  Of course, I refuse to support Micro$oft's monopoly so I was running Steam inside Wine.  Steam actually works just fine within Wine and after purchasing the game and waiting a few hours for the massive download to complete I was able to install TF2 and join a server.  Unfortunately, the game crashed as soon as it tried to load the 3D renderer.  According to the Internet, some people have had success with TF2 on Wine but they all had fancy desktop computers with super-fly nVidia cards and I was using a laptop more suited to running vim than 3D games with a crappy Intel graphics chip.

     

    Anyway, it was a waste of $50 and several hours.  I never did get to see if TF2 was any fun (I played TFC for hundreds of hours back in the day) but I don't really care much about games these days.

     

    Anyway, I just think it's wrong for Valve to sell games on Steam that won't work on laptops running a pre-1.0 release of a collection of reverse-engineered libraries written by dirty FOSS hippies in the spare time that would have been spent playing video games if the hippies'  had an OS that could do more than successfully emulate a 1970s dumb terminal and sometimes browse the web so long as the site doesn't use Flash or ActiveX or video or sound or HTML tags that are too pointy...



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Anyway, I just think it's wrong for Valve to sell games on Steam that won't work on laptops running a pre-1.0 release of a collection of reverse-engineered libraries written by dirty FOSS hippies in the spare time that would have been spent playing video games if the hippies'  had an OS that could do more than successfully emulate a 1970s dumb terminal and sometimes browse the web so long as the site doesn't use Flash or ActiveX or video or sound or HTML tags that are too pointy...
    Hey, that's not fair!  Linux has Tux Racer!  That's like a game!



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    I never did get to see if TF2 was any fun
    It is. I just started playing recently, after the third class update, so I don't know how it was back in the day when you probably bought it, but I bet it was fun then too.  

    Since that's the only game you ever got, I recommend that you sell/give your account to someone who will enjoy it.



  • @bstorer said:

    Linux has Tux Racer!  That's like a game!

    Linux also has Frozen Bubble 2.



  • I've found Linux quite capable of running many games through Wine.  Unfortunately, anything based on the Source engine is finicky at best - but then, the Source engine is finicky in Windows, too, so I can't really blame Wine there.

    But anyway, Darwinia runs natively in Linux, as do the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness games.



  • Does Commandos work with Wine? Might be worth a try. (Though it's probably not possible for you to test it, now)



  • @bstorer said:

    Linux has Tux Racer!  That's like a game!
    Great, now that background music has started playing in my head again.  I thought I'd rid myself of it.

     I've never had any trouble with Steam, even when migrating between Vista and Windows7 (without downloading all those GB worth of games again).  I guess I'm lucky I didn't try Commandos: Behind The Times or Commandos: Beyond the Limit of Compatibility.



  •  @derula said:

    Does Commandos work with Wine? Might be worth a try. (Though it's probably not possible for you to test it, now)

    No, when they gave me a refund they took the purchase off my Steam account, so I don't have the files anymore.

    I suppose I could track down some bargain bin copy (possibly on ebay?) and try.  Might be worth it.

     

    @Eternal Destiny: My experiences with Steam have been essentially perfect, as well, even if you take into account the whole Commandos business.  I am a great fan of Steam; I buy on Steam when I have the choice.



  • @Heron said:

    No, when they gave me a refund they took the purchase off my Steam account, so I don't have the files anymore.

    I suppose I could track down some bargain bin copy (possibly on ebay?) and try.  Might be worth it.

    I just found a copy of Commandos: Beyond the Call of Duty on my shelf and... what can I say, when I played it back then, I at least made it onto the (tutorial mission?) island somehow, now I can't even get past the first few enemies... what the hell I don't get this game. Save option wasn't disabled, even if I tuned Wine to emulate WinVista. Untested: Actually saving or stay ingame for more than thirty seconds without dieing.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Anyway, I just think it's wrong for Valve to sell games on Steam that won't work on laptops running a pre-1.0 release of a collection of reverse-engineered libraries written by dirty FOSS hippies in the spare time that would have been spent playing video games if the hippies'  had an OS that could do more than successfully emulate a 1970s dumb terminal and sometimes browse the web so long as the site doesn't use Flash or ActiveX or video or sound or HTML tags that are too pointy...

    Whew, this one is huge AND hairy. I'll just stick with the initial part: it's wrong for Valve to sell games on Steam...



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Anyway, I just think it's wrong for Valve to sell games on Steam that won't work on laptops running a pre-1.0 release of a collection of reverse-engineered libraries written by dirty FOSS hippies in the spare time that would have been spent playing video games if the hippies'  had an OS that could do more than successfully emulate a 1970s dumb terminal and sometimes browse the web so long as the site doesn't use Flash or ActiveX or video or sound or HTML tags that are too pointy...

    Bad analogue. A software company has the right to choose which platforms they support. Other platforms may work, but the company is in no way responsible if they do not. Nor are they responsible for your financial loss for purchasing a product with the intent of running it on an unsupported platform and then finding out it doesn't work after all.

    I don't know the process for getting a game on Steam, but there are several possible WTFs here:

    • Eidos being utterly ignorant of which platforms Steam supports, even though they clearly were aware that those games don't work on WinXP
    • Valve not checking the games for actually having WinXP support
    • Eidos delibrately lying to Valve about WinXP support to get their games on Steam


  • @Heron said:

    @Eternal Destiny: My experiences with Steam have been essentially perfect, as well, even if you take into account the whole Commandos business.  I am a great fan of Steam; I buy on Steam when I have the choice.
     

    I have constant problems with Steam:

    http://blakeyrat.com/index.php/2008/12/steam-more-like-scam/

    http://blakeyrat.com/index.php/2008/08/why-pc-games-suck/

    That top entry is about a pricing error that not only would Steam not fix, they didn't even bother to reply to my support ticket. Not even after the sale was over. I don't like doing business with any retailer that won't fix a pricing error-- Valve doesn't get a "pass" because they sell video games.

    The second is about a game installer that claimed to be able to integrate the installed game into my Steam account, but instead only failed horribly and wasted hours of my time.

    Unless it's an MMO, or some other game that absolutely requires a PC to play, I'll always go for the Xbox 360 version over the PC version. PC games developers have jerked people around with low-quality product for far too long, and sadly, for the most part most PC gamers just love to get their hands on a buggy piece-of-crap they have to spend 6 hours fiddling with before the damned thing even runs. It's like a meta-game for them. I'd rather just shove the disk in and hit Start.

    The reason I bought Age of Conan from Steam is that the only other way to get a product key would be to either buy a box (hah!), or to buy a copy from some other games download service that sucks more than Steam. God forbid they allow me to just upgrade the trial account directly from the website like every other MMO in existence...



  • @tdb said:

    Bad analogue. A software company has the right to choose which platforms they support. Other platforms may work, but the company is in no way responsible if they do not. Nor are they responsible for your financial loss for purchasing a product with the intent of running it on an unsupported platform and then finding out it doesn't work after all.
     

    My broken-sarcasm-detector-detector just went whoop whoop.



  • @tdb said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    Anyway, I just think it's wrong for Valve to sell games on Steam that won't work on laptops running a pre-1.0 release of a collection of reverse-engineered libraries written by dirty FOSS hippies in the spare time that would have been spent playing video games if the hippies'  had an OS that could do more than successfully emulate a 1970s dumb terminal and sometimes browse the web so long as the site doesn't use Flash or ActiveX or video or sound or HTML tags that are too pointy...

    Bad analogue. A software company has the right to choose which platforms they support. Other platforms may work, but the company is in no way responsible if they do not. Nor are they responsible for your financial loss for purchasing a product with the intent of running it on an unsupported platform and then finding out it doesn't work after all.

    WHOOSH.

    One day you'll get used to morb.



  • @belgariontheking said:

    One day you'll get used to morb.
    Better than being used by morbs.

    Filed under: not that I would know



  • @tdb said:

    I don't know the process for getting a game on Steam, but there are several possible WTFs here:

    • Eidos being utterly ignorant of which platforms Steam supports, even though they clearly were aware that those games don't work on WinXP
    • Valve not checking the games for actually having WinXP support
    • Eidos delibrately lying to Valve about WinXP support to get their games on Steam

     

    Those are some of the WTFs I was getting at.  As for Valve checking, it may not even have been up to them depending on their distribution contract with Eidos.  But, as I noted, those games are no longer for sale on Steam, so someone eventually did something about it.


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