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Classic Games (Games) Microsoft PC Games (Games) Windows Games

Microsoft Reboots Two Classic PC Games 275

Posted by Soulskill
from the what's-old-is-new dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ever since it launched the Xbox, Microsoft has had a fickle relationship with Windows as a gaming platform. On one hand PC gaming is a major driver of hardware and operating system sales, but on the other hand the PC is inherently less secure than the Xbox console, with piracy much more likely to impact sales of a PC title than a console one. Games for Windows Live has been an attempt to bring some of the success of Xbox Live to the PC, and while many games have shipped with support for Games for Windows Live, it hasn't exactly been a favorite of PC gamers. After all these half-hearted efforts, the last thing anyone expected was for Microsoft to announce new PC-only reboots of two classic game franchises, Flight Simulator and Age of Empires. But yesterday it did just that, announcing a massively multiplayer version of Age of Empires and a new Flight Simulator called Flight. The big question is whether Microsoft can make Games For Windows Live relevant in a market where Steam has taken hold, or if it's too late."
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Microsoft Reboots Two Classic PC Games

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  • GFWL, no thanks (Score:5, Informative)

    by cbope (130292) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @05:03AM (#33299112)

    As long as it's attached to GFWL, no thanks. GFWL is such a piece of shit I will not have anything to do with games that require it. If you want me to buy your game, do not tie it to GFWL. It is unstable and a huge pain in the ass to deal with. MS should fire the management that came up with it; it does not in any way help Windows as a game platform.

    • Re:GFWL, no thanks (Score:5, Informative)

      by EvilIdler (21087) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @05:20AM (#33299186)

      To pile up on the hatred: Live accounts will also occasionally expire. Accounts tied to purchases. Fuck MS.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I think they fixed that years ago, it was due to the passport account expiring due to over a year of inactivity or similar.
    • Re:GFWL, no thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Xian97 (714198) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @05:21AM (#33299194)
      The only game I have tried through Games for Windows Live is Warhammer 40K Dawn of War II and it has yet to ever be able to connect - it always returns error 0x81051911. The troubleshooting steps Microsoft has you go through include everything from port forwarding a half dozen ports to resetting your TCP/IP stack, yet I can play any other online game with no issues, including connecting to X-Box Live on my sons console. GFWL is a POS and I won't buy any other game that requires it.
      • by jimicus (737525)

        The only game I have tried through Games for Windows Live is Warhammer 40K Dawn of War II and it has yet to ever be able to connect - it always returns error 0x81051911. The troubleshooting steps Microsoft has you go through include everything from port forwarding a half dozen ports to resetting your TCP/IP stack.

        That's not troubleshooting. Troubleshooting is when you log exactly what's going on, dig through the logs, work out what the error is and then propose a solution based upon that. Or, if you personally aren't equipped to do that, the system provides some means for you to submit the logs to someone who is.

        What you're describing is "Choose a random item from a list of half-a-dozen or so things which seem to make some sort of sense based on the error code, try it, lather rinse and repeat until success. If no

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by fprintf (82740)

          Your technical notion of troubleshooting is entirely much more complicated than the consumer/user version of troubleshooting. What you described as "choose a random item from a list" is exactly what MS and any other consumer company label as troubleshooting. Look in the back of many device manuals and you will see a section labeled "troubleshooting" where it gives a description of the problem and a list of things to do/try.

      • Same here though the game was GTA4. Not sure if it was the same error message but I never managed to get it to work.

        • by wjousts (1529427)
          I had similar problems, but did eventually get it working. IIRC, I had to set up my router to give my desktop a static IP address and then set up firewall exceptions for various ports coming from that IP address. I'd played GTA4 with an offline account and I decided I'd see how it worked with an online account. Totally not worth the effort.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cduffy (652)

          I got GTA4 working to my satisfaction (memory-editing hackery and save-game hacking in single-player mode is fun, and if I paid for the game, who's to say that I can't/shouldn't?) by using a replacement for the GFWL DLL which stubbed out the icky stuff. Sadly, such a thing isn't available for the entire GFWL-based library.

      • Re:GFWL, no thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

        by YojimboJango (978350) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @07:15AM (#33299814)

        The only game I have tried through Games for Windows Live is Warhammer 40K Dawn of War II and it has yet to ever be able to connect - it always returns error 0x81051911. The troubleshooting steps Microsoft has you go through include everything from port forwarding a half dozen ports to resetting your TCP/IP stack, yet I can play any other online game with no issues, including connecting to X-Box Live on my sons console. GFWL is a POS and I won't buy any other game that requires it.

        Believe it or not I bought Bioshock 2 through steam, and it still required GFWL. I had to go through all that and more just to be able to save my progress in the game. Included in this mess is having to type in a CD Key twice for a digitally downloaded game (once to install the game, and once to tie it to my GFWL account).

        Never again. Ever. YMMV, but all two games I've ever purchased that required GFWL have required googling for a solution to their DRM hassles to get the single player up and running. Never ever again.

      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        The only GFWL game I own is Fallout 3, and it worked just fine. Achievements appeared on my Xbox, which would be nice if I cared at all about gamer points.

    • Re:GFWL, no thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Spad (470073) <slashdot@spad.YEATSco.uk minus poet> on Thursday August 19, 2010 @05:27AM (#33299238) Homepage

      What's that? You want me to register for a GFWL account and sign in every time I load the game just so I can play in single player? Good luck with that.

      Yes, I know, you can create offline accounts, but you still have to create them and sign in just to play single player and yes, I know Blizzard have done the same thing with Starcraft II & Battle.net and they're fuckers for doing it too.

      • Re:GFWL, no thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte AT drunksnipers DOT com> on Thursday August 19, 2010 @05:33AM (#33299254) Homepage

        Don't forget about all Steam games.
        Or the recent Bioware games.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          I don't know what Bioware's up to, but I think Steam is different... since you're buying the game from them and getting it download-only, setting up an account is less invasive, since you had to do it to make the purchase to begin with. GFWL games require you to setup an account and login every time you play for a game you purchased in a box at the store. To that I disagree wholeheartedly. If I buy something at the store it's mine and unless it's something like WoW, I do not want to have to sign up with

          • Re:GFWL, no thanks (Score:4, Informative)

            by naz404 (1282810) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @06:24AM (#33299470) Homepage
            The new version of GFWL can run in offline mode which is a welcome change for those with flaky internet connections. That being said, it's still irritating and its only use is to record GFWL achievements in single player games.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by petermgreen (876956)

            I don't know what Bioware's up to, but I think Steam is different... since you're buying the game from them and getting it download-only
            IIRC half life 2 (and I think other valve games too) requires you to sign up to steam and activate and your copy through it (and IIRC the activation process involves a forced update to the latest version of the game) even if you bought your game as a boxed copy.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by El_Muerte_TDS (592157)

            Bioware/EA also offers download only versions of the games. Steam games can also be bough as "normal" retail versions, but still require Steam. When you bought a retail Steam game (like: Just Cause 2, Borderlands, Mafia 2, Half Life 2, etc.) you will have to through the additional hassle to set up an account. For Steam games you also have to log in every time you want to play a game.

            GFWL does have an auto login feature. GFWL doesn't require logging in or being online, it depends on the games. Most GFWL game

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by wjousts (1529427)

            I don't know what Bioware's up to, but I think Steam is different... since you're buying the game from them and getting it download-only,

            Except when you buy the boxed game in the store....and still need a Steam account. That's why I'm not buying the more recent Total War games.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by morari (1080535)

            I don't know what Bioware's up to, but I think Steam is different... since you're buying the game from them and getting it download-only, setting up an account is less invasive, since you had to do it to make the purchase to begin with.

            Yeah. Imagine my surprise when I bought Half-life 2 down at the local Wal-Mart on a whim, only to discover that I couldn't play it because 56K was the only available internet at the time. Steam is no less shitty than Games for Windows.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            "You are offline, loading the game anyway, 'cause we love you like that" screen.

            Yeah, glad that works for you.

            For me it's almost always. You are offline, something you did we didn't like so we are treating your game as online only, fuck you.

            And it ALWAYS happens when I'm waiting at the airport and just want to play a few offline, single player games.

        • by Pharmboy (216950)

          Fallout 3 and Bioshock 2. I bought both on Steam, both use Windows Live, so I have to log into both to play them. Love both games, I freaking hate Windows live. It told me I already had an account on Windows Live, and getting it to work the first time was a bitch. Now it just works, but I don't care for MS tracking my gaming. Gabe and Steam I worry a little less with.

        • by MobyDisk (75490) *

          Single player steam games do not require you to sign-on to steam. (There might be some, but I have yet to encounter one. Let me know if you find any so I make sure not to buy them.)

        • by MrNemesis (587188)

          I'm not trying to say Valve are saints and Steam is the rapture, but it's so much better than GFWL (God-Awful?)

          Like the OP, I also got saddled with it on my last system with DoW2. It worked maybe 60% for connecting games, and connections would frequently drop out. It would frequently lock up the admittedly crappy BT router I was forced to use at the time when negotiating UPnP. There's a god-damned banner ad at the bottom. A bunch of publishers have chosen to go the "you must be logged in to play!" option wh

        • by tenco (773732)

          Don't forget about all Steam games.

          I'm done with Steam, but for a different reason. Bought several games on it, like Warhammer 40k and CS:S. Then I decided to try some CS1.6 and see what's all the fuzz about it from so-called "progamers". Guess what. I got an advertisment in the game for Valves Orange Box! E-mailed them that i find that outrageous and that they should remove it. They: sorry, can't do that. Me: i guess i can't buy from Steam then, anymore.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Blizzard at least gives you something in return for it... you can chat with friends playing other games. I don't have Starcraft II at all, but I regularly chat with friends playing that game from WoW.

      • Re:GFWL, no thanks (Score:5, Informative)

        by arth1 (260657) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @08:51AM (#33300844) Homepage Journal

        Offline accounts is a nice idea, but the way GFWL has implemented it makes is worse than nothing.
        1: You still need to sign up for a Windows Live account and Microsoft Passport to activate it.
        2: If you save your progress in offline mode, and then log in to online mode, your save progress is unavailable. Even on the same machine.

        I did the big mistake of buying a collection of games on Steam that looked nice: Dirt, Dirt2, Fuel and Grid. Then I discovered that I could play but not save my progress without signing up for an account I didn't want. And would get interrupted every few minutes by a notice saying the servers could not be reached. It turns out that the service doesn't appear to work through NAT if instead of a cheap cone NAT home router, you have full symmetric NAT. In short, the games were a waste of money.

        It's getting ridiculous when in addition to the Steam DRM, you are subjected to Securom (or worse) AND have to enter a CD key to use online AND have to sign up for a Live account. The incentive to download a cracked copy has become rather large, and isn't caused by pirates, but by MBAs who don't seem to understand that making your paying customers jumping through hoops make it more likely that they'll go somewhere else for their fix.

    • by morari (1080535)

      Games for Windows Live isn't that bad. So long as they're not trying to charge for online play again, it's not really any more noticeable than Steam. Besides, an RTS and a Flight Simulator are games that simply cannot be done correctly on a console.

      They also mention Fable 3, but I don't recall ever getting Fable 2 for the PC?

  • Wow i must be tired (Score:4, Informative)

    by Adambomb (118938) * on Thursday August 19, 2010 @05:03AM (#33299116) Journal

    Am I insane or is the woman superimposed on the right hand side of the [weirdly purely flash] Flight site topless with propellers for nipples?

    or both?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2010 @05:12AM (#33299162)

      You just made thousands of Flash- and Microsoft-hating nerds knowingly enter a pure-Flash Microsoft site.

      Truly well played!

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      When I load up the page on a 1280x1024 monitor, I have to scroll to the right to see that. Maybe that was snuck in as a joke during testing because it was "off screen" during QA.

    • by mangu (126918)

      topless with propellers for nipples?

      You've been reading too much Slashdot. Now go and play outside, it's a lovely day.

    • by Canazza (1428553)

      she's wearing a shirt, it looks like propellers because she's semi-transparent

    • I think she walked into a propeller, its taken a chunk out of her chest and reduced her top to tatters. Seriously, I sent a minute squinting trying to make it out, as logic tells me it cant surely be the case. So I'll give MS the benefit of the doubt and say its the effect of the semi transparency.
    • by mestar (121800)

      I cannot answer your question confidently, further study will be needed.

    • Pasties, under a semi-transparent shirt.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      Am I insane or is the woman superimposed on the right hand side of the [weirdly purely flash] Flight site topless with propellers for nipples?

      That's nothing. Stare at the picture of clouds opposite the weird lady with propeller-nipples. Keep staring.

      After a while, you can clearly see a naked man bending over with his junk hanging out the back.

      Uh, nevermind.

  • The big question is whether Microsoft can make Games For Windows Live relevant in a market where Steam has taken hold, or if it's too late.

    He must have a different definition of "relevant" than mine to make that a "big question".

  • AOE MMO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2010 @05:13AM (#33299172)

    Unless it's persistent (which it isn't), how can they claim that it's a "massively multiplayer"? You might as well call any online game a "massive multiplayer" if:

    a. It has a game lobby
    b. Many people can play online at once.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go play my favorite MMO, Counter-Strike.

    • Counter-strike doesn't have a lobby...

      What about Diablo II? Server-side persistent characters, servers can't be hosted by players (at least officially), both PvE and PvP play...

      No, the true definition of an MMO is very large numbers of players being in the same game world at once. In a strategy game that could be ownership of small territories on a large world map. In an RPG it means literally many characters in the world.

    • by kellyb9 (954229)
      Eh... I'd prefer a flight simulator MMO anyway.
    • According to the trailer it is persistent.

  • by Cigaes (714444) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @05:15AM (#33299178) Homepage

    At least, reboots are something Microsoft are very good at.

  • Games for Windows (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @05:18AM (#33299182)

    My understanding, based on an editorial in Edge earlier this year [edge-online.com], is that GfW just plain flat-out doesn't work. Not in the sense that its limited user base makes for poor multiplayer or that it has insufficient publisher for its downloadable games service, but in the sense that it does not reliably allow you to download games or play online.

    • by Klinky (636952)

      What else should we expect from the same company that brought us PlaysForSure [wikipedia.org], which doesn't always "Play For Sure".

      • by jimicus (737525)

        What else should we expect from the same company that brought us PlaysForSure [wikipedia.org], which doesn't always "Play For Sure".

        Come on. That name was a blatant attempt to introduce FUD into a marketplace where previously there had been none. In this case, the FUD was "How can I be sure my MP3 player will play tracks I buy?"

        Given the number of legitimate online music stores that operated at the time, the correct answer to that would have been "What are you talking about? You can't buy music online anyway!"

      • It was a typo when they dictated it for marketing. Harold Shaw was the program director. The name was meant to be Plays For Shaw - it works for him, but it might not work for you.
  • by cronius (813431) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @05:25AM (#33299220)

    The term "reboot" is used to describe something "done again", but I think it's a pretty stupid word to use as it's not descriptive at all. Does my OS or hardware somehow radically change whenever I reboot it? Maybe Windows users experience this, I don't know.

    When I first heard the term years ago I immediately disliked it. It feels like someone that don't work with computers as a profession thought that it was "cool" or "trendy" to use "pc terms" outside their original context, so "reboot" was the victim of the day.

    < /rant >

    • by srothroc (733160) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @05:38AM (#33299270) Homepage
      The way I see it is that "reboot" and "restart" are pretty much synonymous, so outside of the computer context, people say that they're "rebooting" a show or series. The difference in that area, for me, is that "restarting" implies that there's some kind of continuity -- for example, the modern Doctor Who show builds off of the old one and shares continuity. A "reboot," on the other hand, is a ground-up revamping. It still probably annoys you though.
    • by fbjon (692006)
      The software can radically change with a reboot.

      Rebooting a show or series is like pressing the reset button: everything is cleared from the table and begun anew, but still with the same hardware basis. However, what happens in the boot sequence? Which OS do you choose in grub? Is there a live cd in the drive? You might end up somewhere completely different compared with before the reboot, even though the underlying principles are exactly the same. Similarly with shows and series, the subsequent seasons an

      • by cronius (813431)

        The software can radically change with a reboot.

        Rebooting a show or series is like pressing the reset button: everything is cleared from the table and begun anew, but still with the same hardware basis. However, what happens in the boot sequence? Which OS do you choose in grub? Is there a live cd in the drive? You might end up somewhere completely different compared with before the reboot, even though the underlying principles are exactly the same. Similarly with shows and series, the subsequent seasons and games = boot sequence.

        I guess you could look at it like that: When I reboot a computer you "never know what you're gonna get," but I'm not really buying it. Rebooting isn't viewed as something inconsistent or earth shattering: You expect a consistent result when rebooting a computer. Sure you could boot another OS, but that OS was there all along, it didn't just appear. You could boot a live CD but the old OS would still be there. Rebooting is a pretty safe, normal event that is related to consistent results without anything une

        • by internewt (640704)

          You are right, reboot is a shite term. It's clearly just marketing bollocks.

          Reset would be a much more accurate, but reset kind of implies that it (a TV series) was done wrong in the past. If the old series' DVDs are still on the shelves, you don't want to do that!

          Taking a word from the world of tech means there isn't much baggage of extra meaning to most people that "reset" does have. Apart from to geeks like you and I who hear shit like "Batman has been rebooted", and cringe.

    • by Spad (470073)

      Reboot: To start over from scratch. These days it's not entirely accurate what with these new-fangled "hard drive" things, but go back a bit and that's exactly what a reboot did.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Reboot: To start over from scratch.

        Only if you have a computer without persistent storage...

        I doubt Microsoft has started over from scratch, but I guess time will tell.

      • by cronius (813431)

        Reboot: To start over from scratch. These days it's not entirely accurate what with these new-fangled "hard drive" things, but go back a bit and that's exactly what a reboot did.

        This is interesting. I was not aware that it was an old expression (predating PCs, which you're implying). But after checking with the free online dictionary, I'm not sure it is, since it's not mentioned outside of a computer context (correct me if I'm wrong).

        The term "booting a computer" comes from the term "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps" meaning that you're helping yourself / being independent (accomplishing some task). A computer booting thus means something in the line that it's starting up and

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      When you reboot a computer (especially an old one without much by way of persistent memory) you are losing all your session-specific data, and restarting your programmes from their original parameters. Assuming you don't feed in exactly the same inputs, the new session will produce markedly different results.

      When a TV show is "rebooted" you are getting rid of everything that has happened so far and restarting based on just the original premise.

      Seems like a good enough analogy to me.

  • ... they are not committed to the platform since they adopted xbox as their strategy for entering the gaming market. Only in hindsight did they realize the damage they did for the relevancy of their platform as a whole. The nerd in me hopes linux and linux apps finally comes of age and the only reason people will keep windows around is for certain games and more and more real work will be done on linux or within the browser.

    • by tenco (773732)
      Games are not the problem. Support from hardware vendors is the problem. I use Win 7 on my netbook because I don't trust the OSS implementation of SHE (i like to get the full 11 h out of my netbooks battery, not 6 h) and I want a stable WLAN connection (read: ndis wrapper).
  • by Tom (822)

    Well, at least when I go by the availability of the website, it should be renamed to Age of Empire offline, because it apparently is.

    And I dimly remember that "Flight" (or maybe "Flight!") is already taken as a name for a computer game. Not that anyone at MS would care.

    • by game kid (805301)

      And I dimly remember that "Flight" (or maybe "Flight!") is already taken as a name for a computer game. Not that anyone at MS would care.

      Why would they? Is Microsoft Flight taken? If the original dev team sue for being too close to "Microsoft Flight Simulator" they'll just brush 'em off with hand-held fans improvised from leftover product key stickers and maybe call it Windows Flight if they're nervous. A little pair of blue birdies tells me they'll find ways of keeping names without keeping names and w

  • by ledow (319597) on Thursday August 19, 2010 @06:36AM (#33299552) Homepage

    I never stopped playing AOE (specifically AOE2:Conquerors). I *DID* stop playing it online because MS just sucked the life out of the multiplayer aspect by locking it to a single vendor for online matchmaking and then destroying that facility when they got bored of AOE.

    So, what's here for *me*, someone that wants to play AOE but was forced by Microsoft's enforced-obsolescence to stop playing it online unless I wanted to faff about with third-party software or entering IP addresses? I won't believe it won't happen again, and I don't believe that a new MMO "reboot" will be anywhere near as good as the AOE2:Conq. And are we talking about a monthly subscription model or can I actually *OWN* the game (or at least my copy of it) forever?

    In the meantime, playing the classic version over a private VPN it is.

  • When I read this I was hoping for another 3000 levels for Chip's Challenge and a deeper, more story-driven engine.
  • Will the default airport still be meigs field?

  • I bought Batman Arkham Asylum and had numerous problems with Games for Windows Live.

    GWL slowed the loading of the game, gave weird errors, and there was even a problem getting a patch due to this running in the background.

    I haven't bought a game with GWL since.

    I boycotted Steam for 5 years after having a bad experience 1 time, I'll probably give GWL that much time to correct their issues as well.

    BTW:
    Steam still has MAJOR faults that nobody really mentions on gaming sites very often such as server lists not

  • Seems like just yesterday that they canned the whole group that made Flight Simulator...

    That lasted a long time. What was it like 9 months ago?

    This 'Flight' better be pretty awesome. X was pretty nice once they patched it to use multiple cores and now you can find it cheap on sale. If 'Flight' doesn't add anything beyond graphics (which were awesome on X if you could crank them, including multiple positionable monitors/views) then there's no reason to upgrade.

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