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    All STEAMed up

    About five years ago I bought Half Life 2 and installed it, loved the game, hated STEAM. Now that WTNITW is threatening to use STEAM for the actual railsim game (what we got here is the beta, the fact that we paid cash for it notwithstanding), I'm wondering if more recent users can offer some comments on any improvements. I was gonna attach a text file with the STEAM log from HalfLife 2, but it's over 200kB so I copied just a single day of the log, attached at bottom. Biggest problem was trying to play other games while STEAM was constantly phoning the mothership in the background, if they haven't fixed that I'll pass. Found a Wikpedia thing, here's a snippet of that;

    Half-Life 2 release
    Main article: Half-life 2#Distribution

    On November 16 2004 Half-Life 2 was officially released. The game required activation via Steam to play the game. Later in the day of the launch, a significant number of buyers (both through Steam and retail) found themselves unable to play the game, due in part to a bottleneck of Valve's Steam system. The European authentication servers went down for a reported 5 hours before being fixed, preventing those with accounts stored on them from decrypting or playing the game they had bought. Other problems included long download times, glitches and seemingly unnecessary updates. It came second in 1UP.com's Top 5 Botched PC Gaming Launches.

    Security

    Many hacks sprang up following Half-Life 2's launch, each claiming to be able to circumvent Steam and enable the user to get the games for free. Valve responded to these hacks by patching the servers and disabling accounts. It is still possible to download and play some games from Steam, and the games are unrestricted for single-player, LAN play and on illegal "cracked" servers (as and when they can trick the master server).

    Criticism of Steam

    Privacy

    Steam collects and reports anonymous metrics of its usage, stability, and performance, all, with the exception of Valve's hardware survey, without notifying the user at the time of collection or offering an opt-out.

    Steam is also used to report similarly anonymous and non-identifying data by several of its games. While some forms of this data are reported back to the public in aggregate form, for instance the results of the aforementioned hardware survey and gameplay statistics, other non-identifying data has been known to be collected without any indication (as is described in Valve's privacy policy). The only known example of this undisclosed collection of data has been that of the level of fragmentation of Steam's files. The data was used to justify the development of a defragmentation option within Steam to reverse the performance-degrading process. "Rather than having to guess or estimate performance bottle-necks", a Steam Update News entry said at the time, "Steam gave us the ability to precisely solve the real-world problem."

    System failure
    The error European owners of Half-Life 2 received when trying to activate their game

    It is necessary to validate every Steam game online before it can be launched, although an offline mode is available. There are no alternate methods of activation such as via telephone or fax, which causes the system to deny access to those without Internet connections. According to the Steam Subscriber Agreement, Steam's availability is not guaranteed and Valve is under no legal obligation to release an update disabling the authentication system in the event that Steam becomes permanently unavailable.

    Temporary system failures may occur preventing users from activating their games. The first temporary system failure affected Europe on November 2004 just after Half-Life 2 was released, and in December 2006 the root authentication servers were unavailable due to storms in Seattle.

    Forced auto-updates

    By default, to play a game offline, Steam and the game itself must be fully updated. When Steam starts online, the system checks to see if there are updates available. If there are, the user is forced to wait for update process to finish before being able to play again, though games can be streamed online. These updates cannot be rolled back by the user, which prevents users with unusual or unrecognized issues reverting their software to its previous, functional state. Steam can be set to stay offline and not attempt a connection, but this offline mode has its own restrictions and limitations, including preventing games which have not been updated from running in offline mode.


    That pretty much describes my experience with STEAM, I had the CD version but was unable to play when the internet was disconnected. Had the same experience with the download version of railsim, altho that was EA download manager, nothing to do with STEAM.
    Attached Files
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    #2

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      #3
      This could be a problem for me as I stop all internet access with the firewall when I play a game or do other functions. Alco wondering what will happen with Anti Virus and Spyware programs and Steam? What about Vista's UAC? Positively do not want to give an outside program Admin rights.

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        #4
        Originally posted by jamesphh View Post
        This could be a problem for me as I stop all internet access with the firewall when I play a game or do other functions. Alco wondering what will happen with Anti Virus and Spyware programs and Steam? What about Vista's UAC? Positively do not want to give an outside program Admin rights.

        As mentioned over and over, you do not need to remain connected to the internet when playing a game that was downloaded off of Steam.

        I’ve downloaded plenty of games/racing sims from Steam over the years with XP, Vista and now Windows 7 and have not had any problems with any of them.

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          #5
          If it is just a question of downloading something which does not require a live connection to the Internet in order to install it then and later, then why involve STEAM and similar web sites ?

          What is wrong with Railsimulator.com making them available from their web site as they have done with other Payware from their Shop ?

          One way or the other they will have to pay somebody for the bandwidth being used by their products downloads !

          Before moving my Internet connection from the now defunct VISTA computer back to my WIN-XP computers, I had to download whatever to the former and after USB-Mem-Stick moving it over to the WIN-XP Sims Only computer install it on it.

          Programs which would not let me do that I just did not buy !

          O t t o
          Web site: www.otto-wipfel.co.uk

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            #6
            Hmmm

            Curious tho, you said you had no problems with Half Life 2, I never had a day's luck with it, what time frame are we talking about? Possibly they fixed something after I gave up on it, that's what I'm trying to find out here. I actually prefer download to boxed versions when copy protection is involved anyway, having an autistic kid also playing these games the care, feeding and preservation of the Holy Sacred Key Disk is not an option for me. Major differences in how they're done tho, compare three games;

            1. Rail Simulator downloaded from the EA store.

            Need the EA download manager to run, and it fools you - the download manager will actually work and launch the game when you unplug the internet cable, but after I lost my internet connection it worked for about a week, then refused to launch railsim. So I played Oblivion and Silent Hunter 4 instead;

            2. The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion downloaded from www.Direct2Drive.com

            Quick short validation procedure, then I never heard from them again, can even make backup copies that work without installshield nonsense.

            3. Silent Hunter 4 downloaded from www.Direct2Drive.com

            Mucho copy protection, filling out 6,000 digit validation codes and confirming my mother's kindergarten teacher's hat size, and the download version includes that StarForce crap that disables the ability to watch DVD movies in the DVD drive, dunno why. However;



            Even without an internet connection you can just click CANCEL when it tries to phone home, and it will launch the game anyway no matter how long you're offline.

            That's my primary concern here, will it still work with no internet connection (Half Life 2 didn't back in 2005 for me) and will it work and play well with others, IOW stay out of RAM until I actually want to play that particular game? Irritating as the Ubisoft Autopatch is, at least it doesnt try to autopatch until you actually launch the game - with Half Life 2 I'd be working on an MSTS route and the editor would suddenly crash, investigation showed that STEAM was detecting "idle time" and trying to update.
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              #7
              Originally posted by sniper297 View Post
              Investigation showed that STEAM was detecting "idle time" and trying to update.
              That is a problem with much software from Microsoft, Symantec, Adobe, Live Updates, etc, I was not aware of until switching the Internet back to my WIN-XP computers and upgrading them to AVG-8.5 Pro, which tells me when anything on my computer attempts to use a live Internet connection.

              One of the reasons why I shut down the Internet when it is not used by me.

              There are many times when I can see the green data transmissions LEDs on my USB-Broadband modem flicker when connected to the Internet, doing nothing on it Internet myself and wonder what is going on.

              I have been looking for a program which can monitor data being transmitted from my computer and log what it is, but so far have not been able to find one !

              O t t o
              Web site: www.otto-wipfel.co.uk

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                #8
                If everything about Steam is true I'm out. I live in a third world county in Indiana. I don't have access to anything but a dial up connection and on a good day it blazes away at 5.0kbs.
                Any auto update would make playing the game a career move.
                Dave....
                Artificial intelligence is no substitute for natural stupidity.

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                  #9
                  From my reading of the knowledge base you are able to turn off auto updates for a game and turn off the steam client auto start with windows.

                  John

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                    #10
                    But does offline mean "off line"?

                    Yeah, question there;

                    "By default, to play a game offline, Steam and the game itself must be fully updated"

                    That was true THEN, question is it still true NOW? If not, and it's possible to actually play the game and update/patch whenever you want, then guys like Sparky would be able to do it. And of course he NEEDS to play it, living in Indiana is so depressing you gotta have trains!

                    I really don't care about the paranoia aspect either, somebody wants to know what books I read on the john I'd be happy to tell them provided they email the question instead of running spybots that interfere with other stuff and slow down my system. McAfee is a PITA that way, I'll be playing railsim and suddenly get heavy stuttering or just a dead stop, then McAfee pops up saying it installed an update. Try to disable all that and the blasted thing pops up with warnings that you ain't fully protected and you can't shut them up. Getting so you can't tell a virus from an anti-virus program, either one screws up your computer.
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                      #11
                      Originally posted by sniper297 View Post
                      Curious tho, you said you had no problems with Half Life 2, I never had a day's luck with it, what time frame are we talking about?
                      I suggest you do a little research on the subject, Half Life 2 is considered by many as a benchmark game as far as performance/graphics are concerned. Probably the best as far as optimization goes and it’s ability to run excellent on a wide variety of hardware. I’ve even had it run very well on laptops with mediocre specs and with any of today’s higher end hardware it just screams.

                      Not a game I would want my niece or nephew looking at though.

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                        #12
                        Rephrase the phrase

                        Didn't mean that the way it sounded, I concur wholeheartedly - Half Life 2 graphics were stunning, performance was smooth as silk, gameplay was outstanding, loved every minute. What I MEANT was I never had a day's luck with STEAM, it was the one factor that screwed up a great game for me. Your mileage may vary, Rich Garber had nothing but problems with SH4 prior to the first patch, for me SH4 worked fine from day one. Possibly that was also a difference between DVD and D2D versions, who knows.

                        Anyway what I'm trying to find out here is how STEAM works NOW, did they get all the glitches hammered out in the last five years or no?
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                          #13
                          Originally posted by sniper297 View Post
                          Didn't mean that the way it sounded, I concur wholeheartedly - Half Life 2 graphics were stunning, performance was smooth as silk, gameplay was outstanding, loved every minute. What I MEANT was I never had a day's luck with STEAM, it was the one factor that screwed up a great game for me. Your mileage may vary, Rich Garber had nothing but problems with SH4 prior to the first patch, for me SH4 worked fine from day one. Possibly that was also a difference between DVD and D2D versions, who knows.

                          Anyway what I'm trying to find out here is how STEAM works NOW, did they get all the glitches hammered out in the last five years or no?

                          Gotch ya, lately I’ve used Steam for Half Life 2 (The Orange Box), Race 07 and GTR Evolution and haven’t had any problems downloading or getting updates for those games.

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                            #14
                            I only play at night Sniper. During the day I have all this corn to watch grow!
                            Hmmm...maybe I'll paint a wall this weekend and watch it dry.....That would be different...
                            Dave
                            Artificial intelligence is no substitute for natural stupidity.

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                              #15
                              My son and I use Steam all the time and have not had any problems at all. The failures you talk about were in 2004, software has changed in the past 5 years you know (at least for those of us who gave up on XP years ago :-) ).

                              Mike

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