Saturday, September 11, 2021

Updating Blade & Soul To UE4 And Other First-World Problems


This is going to be one of those "Isn't modern life wonderful?" posts, steeped, of course, in world-weary irony as such posts always are. I'm typing this in some discomfort, with the receiver of my seldom-used landline awkwardly clenched between my left ear and left shoulder as I listen to half a dozen bars of (admittedly rather pleasant) instrumental music, interspersed every few seconds with a recorded message.

I'm attempting to call my credit card company in response to a letter I just received so I can add an email address and mobile number to my account, at their... I want to say "request" but actually "command" is more like it. If I don't, I won't be able to use my credit card for online transactions any more.

My bank has already asked me to do this, twice. I've been ignoring them because I don't use my bank card to make online transactions. I use my credit card instead because it comes with much better statutory legal safeguards, dating back to the days when even owning a credit card was considered a big deal and people were deemed in need of protection not only from fraudsters and criminals but their own inevitable lack of self-control.

The letter I received only offers one means of adding these details: a phone call. That seems counter-intuitive. You'd have thought it would be available through the website at least as an option. When I called, I expected I'd be keying the details in somehow but apparently not. There was no sign of anything like that in the multiple choice menu so here I am, on hold (about twenty minutes so far, no information on how many ahead of me in the queue, could be here for hours...) 

Meanwhile, my PC is busy downloading almost 50GB of an mmorpg I already have installed. This week Blade and Soul upgraded to Unreal Engine 4 and if I ever... excuse me a sec...

... ah, that's the credit card details updated! Now all I have to do is remember to have my mobile with me when I use the card. And have it charged. And switched on. None of which I do by habit because I have a lifelong aversion to phones, probably due to having grown up in a home where we didn't have any kind of phone (and back then there really was only one kind) until I was in my late teens.

Then again, I did have a full-time job for several years that mostly consisted of talking to people on the telephone for eight hours a day, which is how I became fluent in the NATO alphabet, something I've since found useful only for answering questions on TV game shows (not me being on the shows, you understand, just watching them at home and shouting out the answers, as you do. Well, as I do.)

A seldom-observed fact about the NATO phonetic alphabet, by the way, is that half the words it uses are so unfamiliar to the ear that if you try to use them to people who haven't learned it it causes more confusion than it avoids. I generally revert to using common names like "Simon" or "Fred" rather than peculiar notions like "Sierra" or "Foxtrot".

Given that, and the fact that I'm really very good on the telephone (clear, confident, good telephone voice, all of which come with practice) I probably should have gotten over that aversion by now and I would have, if it wasn't that my actual aversion is not for the mechanics of the process but the "being available to anyone who wants me, whenever they want me" part. 

You might think cell-phone etiquette would suit me perfectly, what with the asynchronous nature of the communication now everyone uses text instead of speech but you still have to reply at some point. It's an obligation I prefer to avoid.

We seem to have wandered some distance from the point, or I have and you've followed along if you're still reading. I was talking about updating Blade and Soul, I think. Let's see how that's coming along. Ah, 45% done. Great. By the time I finish this post it might be almost ready for me to log in and see what havoc the upgrade has wrought, which was what I thought I was going to post about when I started this nonsense an hour ago.

Yes, that was my plan. I was wondering what I could post about today. I worked yesterday and I'm working tomorrow (an unusual circumstance now I'm down to two days a week) so both those days will be Pitchfork #25 posts and I wanted to get a regular post of some kind up inbetween. 

Of course, I could just skip a day, but you know what it's like. Don't want to break a streak. I haven't checked back into July but this is my 41st consecutive day of posting since Blaugust began and I'm at the point where not posting feels weird. 

Probably ought to deliberately break that pattern, as Pete said he was going to do yesterday. Only I notice he has a post up today so it's not as easy as it seems, stopping cold turkey. (What's the vegetarian or vegan equivalent of cold turkey? And anyway, why is it even called "going cold turkey" in the first place? I think I know but if I'm right, why isn't it called "going cold goose"?)

Dragging this thing back to the supposed theme I began with, annoying modern world stuff, why, exactly, do I need to upgrade my installation of Blade and Soul to UE4 in the first place? I was playing B&S regularly before Bless Unleashed arrived and it both ran smoothly and looked great. I play plenty of mmorpgs and Blade and Soul looked as good as most of them and better than plenty. Is a UE4 upgrade supposed to get more people to play?

I wasn't complaining then but, look, here I am, complaining now, and I haven't even got in to find out how badly it runs now and how it looks no different, which I am betting is going to be what I'll find when the downloaad ends. Speaking of which, do we really need to re-downoad the entire game every time any mmorpg has a graphical update? Isn't there some way to patch just the bits that matter? I'm sure it worked that way, once.

Ah, but in those days most customers had very limited data plans with their ISPs and there would have been hell to pay if they'd all had to download another fifty gigs. Now it's assumed everyone can do it without blinking so it keeps happening. Like the confirmation numbers my credit card company plans on sending me to make sure it's really me using my card online, I'm pretty sure all these changes are for the convenience and security of the supplier not the consumer. 

I was fine with my card as it was and I was fine with my game as it was. None of this is being done to help me. It's all to help whoever's creaming off the profits. But then, that's late-period capitalism for you. I guess I should feel grateful they aren't asking me to pay for the changes, too.

At least the credit card update went through smoothly (He says with fingers crossed and hand pressed flat against a wooden table. I got this table as a wedding present from someone I never saw again after the wedding, by the way. I think it's one of only two wedding presents I still own. The wedding was in 1981. The divorce was in 1987. My ex-wife didn't want anything when we split up except her share when i sold the house. Even the lawyer said it was one of the most amicable divorces he'd ever handled. We still exchange Christmas cards thirty-five years later although I did stop sending her birthday presents just after the turn of the Millenium.)

Okay, I'm setting a high bar for digression here. Final attempt to get to the point. I did have one, once.

The UE4 update for B&S did not go through smoothly. Not at first. I began by just clicking the desktop icon to see if it would do everything for me. The launcher popped up, I logged in and the launcher immediately crashed with exception errors.

I tried that a couple more times. Same thing. Tried it with Admin priveliges. Same thing. Tried it from the executable instead of the shortcut. Same thing. 

I googled the error and didn't get much help. I did learn that the new UE4 version of Blade and Soul drops all controller support. Now you have to play the game with mouse and keyboard. People who've been playing it with controllers for six years are not happy about that. I certainly wouldn't be if it had happened the other way around.

One thing that I did pick up while reading was that there should be a new NCSoft launcher to access the download for the upgrade. You might have thought they'd automate that upgrade through the old launcher or at the very least pop up a notification telling you where to go get it. Nope. Neither of those.

I dug around on the NCSoft website and found these installation instructions, which include a link to the download of the new patcher. I downloaded it, made a new folder for the re-installation of the full game, which I knew was coming next, installed the patcher, ran it, successfully this time and here we are. 

Or here I am, waiting for it to finish. 65% done now.

I may or may not get around to a post about how different things are under the new regime. I'm hoping by then I'll have something better to write about. 

I bet you are, too.


  1. Actually I loved this! Made me chuckle several times which is a fine start to a Saturday. Hope the game worked in the end.

    1. Thanks. Yep, seems fine although if anything the graphics look a little less clear than they used to. That could be my memory though.

  2. I do so enjoy unasked for improvements to software that make it "better."


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