Network storage in stone age

I'm back from at least part of this summer's travels, probably more
travelling to come. Which reminds me of an issue I thought of a while
ago.

When Microsoft was announcing XBox 2's supposed lack of hard drive,
people were assuming this meant complete and total move to
server-stored profile and game data. Personally, I guess they're just
using some memory card system or other. The following is just some
pondering on how this supposed "Game Passport" idea might fly
today.

I live in a rather technological area. Here, I have broadband Internet
connection and if I felt I would have any need for networked gaming on
console (net gaming is for PCs only, dammit!), it might be possible to
arrange it.

In these travels, I simply picked up my Gamecube, put the thing and
the games and cables into bag, and away I went. My game saves were on
a memory card in my wallet. When I got to my destination -
considerably less hightech neighborhood, with decent computers but
where 56k modems are the height of communications tech, with lost hope
for ISDN
glimmering in the people's eyes - I simply
unpacked the stuff, plugged the thing to my Commodore monitor, and
there I was, playing
SSBM.

Now, let's see how well this thing might with our hypothetical
network-aware microboX NetExtremePassport in year 2008. Let's suppose
Nintendo and Sony had bowed before the will of Microsoft and all
console systems were finally standardized and united in harmony... yet
leaving Trip Hawkins weeping on 3DO's grave.

I'd arrive to my destination, drop the Gameicosahedron on the
table, and plug the thing to the monitor and wall. Then, I'd find the
huge three-prong plug telephone cord, plug the other end to the tiny
little RJ11 on the back of the unit... wait, I'd probably have to plug
in an external modem first - after all, no one's using these modems in
2008, at least in sweet theory!... and then spend next 15 minutes
messing around with the controller and putting these modem settings
right. (Presets for multiple locations? Surely no one will use the
thing in multiple locations? Huh? Some NetExtremePassport licensee
making a portable console?! Unheard of!)

And then, finally, everything is set up. I'd hit Connect. Modem
handshake. Wailing. Wailing. Wailing. Modem
handshake. Wailing. Wailing. Modem handshake, with hang up in
middle. Reconnect in 10 seconds. Modem handshake... and so on. (Don't
you love mysteriously low-quality rattling phone wiring? No wonder
they invented error correcting protocols!)

Connecting to server, slow as usual. Wait, it's down. Retry in 5
minutes. Yaaaawn.

Skip some frustrations. Wind Waker's data, for comparison, would be
close to a mebibyte, if I calculated right (which I probably
didn't). That's a couple of minutes of waiting. And the games of 2008
are probably even more save-space-hungry than current games...

Oh, and when I save the game, I'd have to do all this connection
nonsense again.

And somewhere, on the comfort of their couch and a broadband
network, a lone gamer reads the message from their screen: "The server
is down. Apologies for the inconvenience." Another night that was
going to be wasted on playing games is going to be spent on even more
pointless things.

Argh, this is too silly to even think of. I was going to say that
networked game data storage isn't going to happen as long as
communication systems are what they are, but instead, I'm just going
to say that networked game data storage isn't going to happen -
things over the network are always going to be slow and
frustrating.

As an option and alternative, it is going to
work, but never ever as the primary save method.

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