Tech Support and internet in games

So a slightly odd weekend on my part. Friday night our internet went out around Midnight. I tried to power cycle the gear a few times – nothing came of it so I left it off for the night. Still not working come morning. Spent about 3 hours on the phone with tech support before they decided that my modem was probably the issue, but they couldn’t schedule a visit until Wed, so we should just trade the modem in ourselves at a shop on Monday. Blah.

Then, I get told by my daughter that something odd happened with the Wii when she tried to use it before me in the morning. I fire it up and find that the system has been reformatted and somehow a parental code put in place afterward. Likely both done by accident by my daughter, but a pain. Of course, looking up the phone number for Nintendo online was a bit of a challenge that morning as well since I was still without internet. Bummer.

Bit later I tried my PS3 and tried to save a new season on a baseball game, and it tells me I’m out of hard drive space. Huh? I had nearly 13 gigs a week ago. Nothing immediately jumps out at me as wrong, but I am in fact down around 75mbs is all. Eventually, I get internet again by smacking the modem down on the computer center out of frustration – and suddenly there were full lights and connectivity again. We’re so trading that modem in tomorrow. But, now I had the chance to look up other support numbers.

Sony’s was really no help. Basically the tech said that I must have too much stuff on there. I go through what’s on there – a handful of demos, some themes, some game saves – he’s stumped and basically says I have to reformat or send it in. Yeeeah. So after I get off of the phone with him, I spent the next hour and change going through every single bit of data on my hard drive to find that some associated file with the ModNation Racers demo has become corrupt and shows as 12.5gigs used. Deleted that, and the world of Playstation was again sane. Next up was the Wii… here, the tech support was solid. I’ve really only ever had to contact Nintendo for help 3 times ever:

- Once when my daughter jammed a DS game in so hard/at a bad angle that the connection pins in the cartridge slot bent. They had us send it in and fixed it for free even though the issue was not covered by warrenty.

- Once when I had trouble getting my downloaded Super Mario Bros. for my Wii to display. Turns out the default Wii setting is 480i and not 480p – my TV couldn’t handle it on that when it worked on other things. Changing the setting however fixed it and the tech got it within 30 seconds.

- Getting the Parental Controls unlocked on my system after my daughter’s morning mishap with the Wii. The guy was completely nice and solved the problem in less than a minute for me.

So my first set of observations? Wii tech support is quite good, cable and ps3? Not so much.

My other observation? How much online connectivity affects your gaming. I had been logging a bunch of time into Demon’s Souls lately – but the experience is nowhere the same offline. Next up, my baseball game took forever to load each time as it tried to connect to online services each time I started it. On a similar note, my son’s been staying with his Grandpa the last couple of weeks, and he has been trying to play Little Big Planet and a few other games online. Some things work, most games won’t if he’s online. It’ll try to force an update that won’t work. He can play online with me, he can send me messages, he can play some updated games online – but he can’t actually install the updates because of my uncle’s router security settings. It’s a bit frustrating for him I suspect, since he can usually just fire it up and play from home with no problem.

It’s amazing what a major part of gaming our online connectivity has become. Most of the time it just runs behind the scenes. Other times you’ll boot the game and get a message that the EA servers are not available and you’ll realize that you’re not getting the living scrolling updates of sports events at the bottom – or even be able to play the game if you don’t log out first. Overall these innovations are quite cool – especially when implemented as well as those in Demon’s Souls is – but it’s a service we tend to take for granted – until it’s gone for a couple of days.

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