Music is intrinsically tied to my work. If I’m hammering out a piece, I’ll have something with some of the energy or emotions I’m trying to capture blasting out. This afternoon, while working on an Escapist piece about the joy of intelligent people revelling in being gloriously stupid, I’m listening to This Corrosion on repeat. In my multitasking manner, I lob in a review CD of something I’m going to be looking at next and click install.
Immediately, my listening pleasures of Andrew Eldritch rocking out with his metal pole is turned into an ugly cacophony as the install program decides to plays its own music too.
This isn’t on.
You can see what a developer is trying to do. They’re trying to turn your first experience with the game into an actual event. Yes, they think, the installation sequence is an ugly necessity in PC Gaming… let’s turn it a little magical. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some games try to explain their stories, or offer exciting pictures of the game in action to whet the appetite or even try and give a few basic tutorials. Some people may even watch them. But the idea that just because I’ve decided it’s time to prepare to play your game it’s time for you to take over my PC is just one of those ‘orrible pieces of developer arrogance.
I tend to think this sort of thing is just down to developers getting over-excited about their own game. And who can blame them – they’ve probably spent years working on it. They want the experience of getting acquainted to be a fanfare! This is important! Welcome something wonderful to your life!
Except we just want a program that unintrusively puts the program on your hard-drive and then sods off.
Basically, this sort of behaviour makes the developer into the sort of MySpace user who embedded a song on their page, necessitating the person visiting to press “stop” to carry on with their browsing. It’s attention seeking nonsense, believing that their existence automatically takes priority over everyone else’s. It’s the kind of thinking which leads to a developer deciding it’s too much effort to make a game which ALT-Tabs to desktop and then restore back in because… well, why would anyone want to go to desktop?
(This is clearly another rant: Games which make you turn off your IM, just because that’ll make you bounce back to desktop. Not so bad when you can go back to the game, but in the ones which don’t alt-tab and then hang when you go back in… well, it’s time for the every-popular monitor punching.)
Despite install sequences asking you to turn off programs, developers – being users themselves – know that no-one does. If a game has an install which plays music, it’s taking over your PC before it can truly entertain you. Your choice is to turn off whatever music you were listening to or – more likely – just turn off the sound full stop. The latter was always necessary with my shitty old PC, which couldn’t play sound off the CD without slowing down, so anything playing during an install played as a fucking droning hell which sounded like a lost track from Metal Machine Music. Clearly, anyone who has a “music off” button is forgiven… but there’s not exactly many who do this. While we’re at it, we damn those whose install menu plays a low humming noise to appear to be an old-skool steampunk computer console or something to a nearby hell to the music-players too.
Death to Install Music!
(Without turn-off functionality)