Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Good Grief, Charlie Bandwidth

I missed out on the original Secret of Monkey Island the first time around, but I still rate Monkey Island 2 as one of the best games I've ever played, so I was understandably excited when LucasArts released their visually and aurally enhanced (but otherwise apparently untouched) Special Edition. The only real decision I had to make was whether to buy the Xbox version from Live Arcade or the PC version from Steam, which wasn't a very tough one. I figured the game would be better suited to mouse control, I was used to playing adventure games on my PC anyway, and I'm not that much of a Gamerscore whore that 200 points worth of achievements were going to sway me. Besides, it was also slightly cheaper on PC; 800 Microsoft Spacebucks equals 10 United States Dollars, but due to the magic of intercontinental price discrimination, 800MSP is R96, whereas 10USD is R80.

So, this morning I purchased it from Steam, only to receive an unpleasant surprise when I tried to install it. You see, the Xbox version is a little over 500MB - I know because I tried to download the trial version to see how the control scheme would work on a gamepad - but the PC version is apparently 2.16GB. Quite why it's so much bigger, I don't know. Uncompressed audio, perhaps, but as the artwork in both games is at the same level of detail in 1080p, it seems odd that the PC version is four times the size. That's quite a chunk of game to download for a person with a 378kb link and capped bandwidth. In fact, 2GB of bandwidth will cost me more than the game itself did, and seeing as I always exceed my cap each month, it's not just an opportunity cost, either. In case it isn't obvious, this is one of the reasons the shift towards digital distribution doesn't excite me that much at the moment. Well, that and the fact that I'm a packrat and like having shiny bits of plastic to show for my expenditure.

This isn't the most ridiculous incidence of this problem I've had, either. I won a code for a copy of Lord of the Rings Online, and I picked up a code for a free copy of Age of Conan from a website giveaway - these are full retail copies with activation and a month's subs included, not trial versions - but I worked out that for the same cost as the bandwidth to download either of these games, I could actually buy a boxed copy of the game from a retailer, and pay for an entire year of subscription to it. I'm sure you'll all agree that the situation there is a bit daft. I'm hoping the Seacom cable going online will help increase our bandwidth and decrease our costs, but even this will apparently take time.


  1. Yup - same issues that caused me to swear off steam - though now I'm living in the 'real world' it's just more convenient to use steam ;)

    I believe the following should work:
    Install steam on your work PC (or somewhere where you're not paying for the bandwidth ;) ) & download the game overnight / over the weekend.
    Then stop steam, and go find where it has installed the game & copy to big flash drive / dvd.
    On your home pc, stop steam & copy the files from the flash / dvd into the appropriate directory.
    Restart steam & check the games status and I think that should work.

  2. Alternatively, give me a shout and we can make a plan ... unlimited bandwidth that is being put to no use on weekends = plenty of opportunity to download STEAM stuff at a speed of about 250KB/sec ... of course, it requires you to move your stuff around, or as Dan suggests, run a VM from my office with the steam stuff installed, and download to the VM