So earlier tonight, there was a pricing error on the Games for Windows Live Marketplace. Somebody forgot to carry a zero and Age of Empires III was listed for the low low price of $0.10. Given that I really like Age of Empires, I jumped on the chance. Amusingly enough, since I didn't have a credit card on file, it let me buy the game using Microsoft Points. Sure, 10msp is more money than $0.10 (by about 3 cents), but considering I still have 12,000msp to spend, it's not a big deal. To download AoE3, it asks me to install the GFWL Marketplace. That's fine, I guess - I thought I installed it when I installed FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage, but since I uninstalled FOUC, it must've uninstalled GFWL with it.
The program they give me on the page I bought Age of Empires III from boots up, and once it downloads the data required to install GFWL, it pops up with an error telling me that in order to proceed, I need the Games For Windows Live Redistributable CD. Now, to my knowledge, there is no GFWL Redistributable CD. GFWL is either installed from the web or it installs as part of a game installation. Putting this sort of thing on its own separate disc seems a bit silly. The error, however, was a familiar one. When Ashuku bought me a cheapo copy of Company of Heroes, it too had trouble installing, because at some point, one of the .NET Framework installations had gone awry. It took me days to clean the bad install out and re-install a fresh, correctly-working copy of .NET Framework, but eventually I did. When it came time to install the first version of Games for Windows Live, .NET Framework pitched a similar fit, and once again, I had to manually correct the installation to get GFWL to work. When it came time to install that copy of FlatOut Ultimate Carnage I was talking about, GFWL attempted to simply update itself from within FlatOut, and surprise surprise, another, similar error. So I was used to this.
Therefore, I went hunting. To fix the GFWL problem I had with FlatOut, it was a simple matter of browsing to the GFWL website and downloading the full GFWL install (this was the solution given by Microsoft themselves in a troubleshooting FAQ). For FlatOut, that worked like a charm. I was a little skeptical here - the GFWL Installer they gave me with my AoE3 purchase was actually from the official GFWL website. But still, I dug around, and found a link to the GFWL Installer from Microsoft.com (rather than gamesforwindowslive.com). The GFWL installer from Microsoft.com was of identical size to the one I was provided with my AoE3 purchase, opened what seemed to be an identical looking program, but managed to complete the install just the same. Hooray! Once completed, it asked me if I would like to launch the GFWL Client, and I obliged.
The window disappears, and I alt tab around, browsing the internet and chatting to my friends. After what had to be at least 3-5 minutes pass, the GFWL login manager finally pops up. It already seems to know my login details (likely from FlatOut), so I tell it to log in.
Oh, that's probably because I changed my password since the last time I used GFWL. But it won't let me enter a new password. As it turns out, I have to uncheck the "Remember Password" box for it to let me enter a new password. I enter my new password.
I uncheck "Remember my account". I type my Xbox 360 Gamertag instead of my email address.
I re-enter my email address. I quadruple check my password. I type it one letter at a time, as slow as possible, making sure it is correct.
By now, I have entered every possible combination my account would be stored under. I have absolutely, unquestionably, entered my credentials the correct way. Right below the checkbox for "Remember my account" is a button cryptically labeled "Forget my account". I click that. It erases my email address, my password, and removes my gamerpic. I re-type my email address and password, and hit sign in. It signs me in!
The login manager goes away and the Games for Windows Live Marketplace finally lays itself bare before me. It looks a lot like the Steam Marketplace. Before I have a chance to really browse, though, I notice something has gone awry. The HDD access light on my computer has gone solid red. The computer itself is grinding to a halt. It's the GFWL Marketplace. It is devouring my system whole. I can't do anything. I can't type, I can't switch to any other windows... for all intents and purposes, the computer is frozen. Minutes pass in this state. I get just enough control of my computer to type a message out in the chat room me and my friends hang out in.
<BlazeHedgehog> GFW LIVE IS AWFUL
By now, I've been fighting with GFWL for going on 30 solid minutes, just trying to get the program to launch. Sick and tired of it, I CTRL+ALT+DEL to bring up the Task Manager, hit up the Applications Tab, select "GFWL Marketplace" and hit "End Task". Yes, I'm sure I want to force this application to end. It disappears, closes out, but not before leaving me with one final middle finger: Windows alerts me that in the process of closing, the Games For Windows Live Marketplace has crashed.
Really? I'm shocked.
I decide it would probably be a good idea to send the error report to Microsoft. Clearly, there is something wrong with their software, and they should be notified about it. While I relay the story of what just happened to me to my friends, over what must've been at least another ten minutes or more, the Error Reporting software sits there, forever "Gathering information" for the error report it is going to eventually submit. It's bringing my system to its knees, almost to the same degree GFWL Marketplace was.
As this is happening, Windows pops up with an error.
Are you serious? You're serious, aren't you. I cancel the error report and open the task manager again to find that even though I ended the GFWL task, even though the program itself crashed, somehow, some way, the process is still running. This time, no fooling around. I force the process to end, and all related processes. Now completely expunged, its vice grip on my system lifts and things return to normal order.
You are running out of virtual memory! Windows is increasing the limit of your virtual memory paging file. During this process, memory requests for some applications may be denied. For more information, see "Help".
Needless to say, I'm afraid to open the GFWL Marketplace, now. I worry that, much like Steam, it's going to start up with my system. What was it doing? Was it scanning for GFWL games I have installed? Shouldn't it have like, notified me it was going to do that beforehand? Should it have really taken that long? Xfire scans my system for every game it supports every time it starts up, and it literally takes seconds and has zero impact on system performance.
Needless to say, I'm unhappy, and I may not ever actually get Age of Empires III installed as a result.
<Doandl_Dukc> aren't you glad you didn't pirate.