Sources of constant amazement

I don’t know, maybe it is just me.
But I am amazed that in 2005, running an online game requires an advanced degree in military cryptoanalysis. OK, so the game itself is not new, but still..
Wanting to play good old Age of Kings (Conquerors) I had to spend a considerable number of hours opening ports on my standard-setup router. If you don’t know what that means, take heart – I had no clue myself until I entered the misty lands of router arcana. “Considerable number of hours” was the main point.

Then, when I get to zone.com where one goes to play this timeless (if hard-to-get-to) masterpiece the system repeatedly fails to accept that I am logged in, the ActiveX applet which lists game rooms fails to load several times, and getting to the AOK sub-site I have to go back to the front page two or three times on every visit because of the obscure redirect system at work.
Mind you, this does not happen once. It happens every time I (and you, probably) go the The Zone. Now, if this had been some freeware hobby-developer creation then by all means I would not have ranted, but this is Microsoft displaying that they cannot get a reasonably simple player matching system to come anywhere near working order.

Ahh, you might be thinking, this is just some anti-MS crusader who’s actually just enraged that his Firefox is not welcome on The Zone. Well, there’s also that of course. But in fact I don’t consider this a particular MS issue. In my unsystematically formed opinion, and feel free to express your own, this year of the Lord, 2005, continously sees the release of games which suck (in the academic sense of the word) in terms of basic usability. Oh no, the gameplay parts often work fine. But the setup screens… The menus… All that which is the subject of basic go-look-it-up user interface design is often embued with a logic directly out of the darkest dreams of H.P. Lovecraft. Often these games will be fun to play, but they’re really, really, really hard to use.
No idea what I’m talking about? Go play Need for Speed Underground online. But don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

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